Saturday, July 30, 2011

Libster Award

Being part of Deana Barnhart’s Blog-O-Rama has been more fun that I could have imagined. There is something so inspiring about connecting to other people who have the same dream as you. And the support is amazing! I love being part of a group that genuinely wants others to succeed.

Fellow writer Lisa Ann who has the coolest job and an amazing WIP gave me the Libster Award. Thank you Lisa—you are so sweet :) Go check out her blog. She is the winner of the Query Contest and the 200 Word Contest. It can’t be long before an agent snaps her up.

The Libster Award (meaning friend in German) is meant to connect us even more and spotlight new bloggers who have less than 200 followers—but hopefully not for long. The rules of the award are:

  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet—other writers.
  5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

Here are some of the friends I’ve made.

  1. Amber Plante: She is a writer and an editor—HOW COOL IS THAT! She has fantastic tip on her blog. I love to visit it.
  2. Amy Kennedy: She writes Steampunk. Her query and 200 words left me wishing I could go the book store and buy her story—who doesn't love revenge?
  3. Katie Dodge: She is hilarious and she leaves the most supportive comments :)
  4. K.V. Briar: Her first 200 words hooked me also, and I love her literary insights in to everyday things.
  5. Kim Karras-Confessions of a Bibliophile: Her writing is beautiful. What else can I say?

So writers of the world unite! Show them your support and thank you to everyone who has helped me this past month :)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Word Whirlpool

So, I've fallen and I can't seem to get up. I've been cranking out my latest re-write to my critique partners and I find myself falling into a bit of a Word Whirlpool, if you will. Just a couple of days ago, I thought, 'I'll have my main character wink at this girl.' It was perfect. Just the right amount of heart pounding, tension building flirtation. Then two chapters later, I thought, 'It would be awesome if this bad guy gave a wink to the girl. Because that just cements his super creepiness.' Right? So, I inserted a 'wink' scene there as well. A chapter later, two of my characters shared an inside joke and before I finished writing the paragraph--voila, there was another wink.

Am I the only one that does this?

I call it the word or phrase whirlpool and it's just as annoying as getting two lines of a song (usually the only two lines that I know) stuck in your head. It rotates through your mind over and over again; surfacing while your in line at the grocery store, or watching Dora the Explorer with your daughter or Googling something on the computer. You start humming and then the two lines pop in your head and whoosh! You're in the whirlpool.

With my writing, I discover or create something really great: an idea, a description, a word...and then I cannot get it out of my head. Before I know it I am using the same word or phrase to describe a cascade of water, a ray of sunshine trickling through the open window, as well as my main characters hair falling on her shoulders--all within a few chapters. I don't care how brilliant the word is...three times in a row is too much!

Apologies to Angie and Amy who are no doubt tripping over all of my 'winking scenes'! I know that re-writes and line edits are in my future, but any other suggestions?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What went wrong with the book I read…

I recently read a relatively well known book, and while the premise was AMAZINGLY clever—the book fell flat.


Far narrative distance. The story was told through a series of letters. This has been done well before (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is as great example), but in this book I just read I never connected to any of the characters. The narrative distance was too far. I was never part of the action. I was told what happened afterword in a detached way—“We kissed on the peir. It was very passionate.” Okay, I guess if you say so. Wish I was there :)

No voice: I couldn’t tell the characters apart. I got so annoyed with this that I made it into a game. I tried to guess who wrote the letter before I got to the end. Some letters were so boring I just skimmed.

Contrived word choices: Some of the word choices the author used were ridiculous. I’m a fan of cool words—but only if they add something to the story. Why say laconic when brief works just as well? I can understand that it can be important to character voice or story flow to use big words, but it didn’t work here.

I learn something every time I read—what to do—what NOT to do. I understand that writing is subjective—so maybe I’m wrong, but whether I am or not—good and bad books make me a better writer.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fright and Flight - 200 Words

So this is it—Deana Barnhart’s final week of “Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blog-O-Rama”, and this week it is the first 200 words of our WIP. This is how I see it—if I really want my book published, I should be willing to share my MS. So here are the first 200 words of THE ALABASTER REFUGEE—Chapter 1-Fright and Flight.

Night covered the forest like a heavy blanket waiting for a movement or a noise to throw back its cover and reveal the secret hiding there.

Jocelyn lay flat—her stomach pressed to the earth and the chill from the ground seeped into her skin. Was it the cold or the fear making her skin rise in angry goose bumps?

I’m trapped! She swallowed her panic in breathless gulps. From under the overgrown bush, she could see the path straight ahead. It’s too late. With guards chasing her, Jocelyn had two options—run or hide.

She chose the latter.

Now she waited.

The blustering pursuit moved closer to her with each shallow breath. Jocelyn reached her hand to her neck and let her fist close around a broken locket—its jagged face cut into her flesh. I’m still alive, the pain reminded her. She willed herself to remain still, fighting her every screaming instinct to—Run! Run! Run!

The earth throbbed as boots hit the ground in a chaotic cadence.

They’re here! Jocelyn’s body stiffened. I only made it to the woods!

She could hear them sifting through the dense vegetation bordering the well-worn trail.

“Any sign?” A guard bellowed.

“Not yet, Sir.”

“Keep looking. She can’t have gone far.”

Thanks for any thoughts or help :)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Unsorted Consequences

It has been a long week. I posted this on my family blog, but my husband thought I should post it here too :) So just for fun...

This is a true story and—a warning!

Screams from the basement crawled up the stairs.

“Ugh,” Angie growled at her laptop. “Why can’t those kids play outside? Too hot—whatever! When I was little we played outside in 120 degree weather—all day—uphill both ways.”

The screaming didn’t stop and Angie slammed the computer shut. “Seriously? Don’t they know how to use inside voices?”

She stomped to the stairs, hoping her loud footsteps would silence the kids and she wouldn’t have to find them.

No such luck.

“Hey,” she yelled. “What are you doing down there?”

Now that she stood on the landing she could hear snarling, moaning, and crying.

“What the…” She grabbed the rail and took the stairs two at a time. “If you boys are teasing your sister, I’m going to—”

But she stopped cold on the last step. The door to the laundry room was bulging abnormally—in and out, in and out—like a breathing lung.

“Kids?” She called, softer this time.

“Mom?” A muffled cry called from behind the door.

Who was that? James? McKay? Nicole?

Angie stepped forward and put her hand on the doorknob only to pull back quickly from the cold wet metal. Is it sweating? No, that can’t be. This is silly.

She took hold of the doorknob and turned. The door flew open—knocking her into the wall.

Out of the door tumbled a sea of soiled laundry.

Mud crusted pants.

Popsicle stained shirts.

Stiff week old underwear.

Every article of clothing she’d neglected this past week broke over her like a wave—pulling her under.

Angie clawed her way to the surface, past pen marked church shirts and wet swimming suits, gulping for breath.


“James?” She saw his face for a fraction on a second before a whitecap of dirty whites crashed over him.

She tried to swim to him but the undertow was too strong. “Help me! Please! Someone help!” But even as she said it her heart dropped. Who would help? No one could hear her.

Like a cork from a bottle something shot out of the sea of clothes—the long twisted tentacle of sheets and—Nicole tangled inside.

“Momma!” she cried, reaching out her hand. Angie echoed her movements, but couldn’t reach her baby.

The sheet swung a sobbing Nicole around the room before pulling her back under.

Desperation now ripped at Angie. “I’m coming. Don’t worry.” But she was worried. How will I get them? She heard a muffled yell and tried to turn. “McKay?”

She could only glimpse his wild hair before he slipped beneath the clothing current—hands grabbing air.

Something wrapped around Angie’s ankle and tugged. She searched for something solid to grab—nothing! All around her pillowcases, picnic blankets, and summer shorts swirled in dangerous eddies.

The Thing holding her ankle pulled harder and in a large splash of mismatched socks—she was gone.




Higher and higher.

The laundry rose like an angry tide—flooding the stairs—one at a time.

I know. I know. It isn’t a happy ending—but laundry never is. Moral of the story: Undone laundry will eventually kill us all :) or We all need maids :) Take your pick!


My kids names have been changed to protect their guilt. It's mostly their laundry after all :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Description and Design

Description: How much is too much?

I popped over to Donna Weavers blog today and she had a great post about how much description to use and what to leave to the reader’s imagination.

Donna wrote about her stepmother who creates beautiful flower arrangements—but Donna struggles to. I like this comparison because I think the rules of design can be applicable to writing.

There are many design rules, but one I use when I’m designing a room or a flower arrangement is the Rule of Three.

The Rule of Three: Use three things to add depth and diversity. So if I was doing a flower arrangement I would look for:

Size: I use different sized flowers. Your eye always notices the biggest first, but the other fill in the blank space. How this applies to writing description: Readers always notice the obvious first—tall, small, black, or white. But if you use description well it will fill in the blank space of your story, adding to mood, setting, voice and even plot.

Color: Use an odd number of colors—one-three-five, I usually never go over five. How this applies to writing description: Just like color a little goes a long way—I think one or two well constructed sentences of description goes a long way.

Shape: Use different shapes. In flower arrangements shapes add texture. They challenge the eyes. How this applies to writing description: Use all five senses to describe. Multiple sensations add texture to a story.

My biggest complaint about description is that it can sometimes sound like a check list: Tall—check. Dark—check. Handsome—check. Yikes—check.

I love well done description. It can be some of the most memorable parts for me.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You might be a writer if…

1. You walk through your daily life with characters talking in your head.

2. You notice the sky and think, “Those clouds look like butter spread across warm bread.”

3. Your house could be burning to the ground and it wouldn’t matter as long as you get two more pages out.

4. You write dialogue on your arm with pen in the grocery checkout line, because you don’t want to forget it.

5. You can describe black hair in 20 different ways.

6. You can type and change a diaper at the same time.

7. You hear words like “loquacious” and “brindled”, and even though you may not know what they mean—you like them anyway :)

8. You see story hooks everywhere you go.

9. Your friends and family are sick of you talking about Voice, Mid-Point Reversal, and High Concept Ideas.

10. Your children have eaten cereal for dinner—on more than one occasion. Hey, they like it—they do.

11. Words like: really, very, even, that, and was—have become your nemeses.

12. You notice unbelievable plot holes in Dora the Explorer—okay, maybe you don’t need to be a writer to see that.

Hello. I’m Angie and I’m a writer.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


So here goes nothing :) As part of Deana Bernhart's "Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blog-O-Rama" I am posting my still in need of work--Query Letter. Please give me your feed back. Tell me what you like and dislike about it. What grabs you and what turns you off. Thanks :)

Dear ….

Seventeen year old Jocelyn’s world collapses when her family is murdered by Prince Zven—her betrothed. And she is next.

After discovering Zven’s secret plan to poison his father the king, she escapes with her life and his secret.

Jocelyn finds temporary asylum, but when Prince Zven closes in she must alienate her last friend by accepting help from the mysterious soldier Taggert—the man her friend has fallen in love with.

The thrill-seeking Taggert is more than willing to help Jocelyn flee the ruthless prince. Danger is good for the soul after all, and what could be more dangerous than racing across the kingdom with Jocelyn?

Taggert uses his questionable connections to elude the prince and enlists an eclectic group of allies to aid Jocelyn: a drunken rouge, a jilted pirate princess, and a silent enigmatic spy.

Jocelyn and Taggert’s new romance is interrupted when it becomes apparent that one of their allies is sending the prince information about her whereabouts. Who is the betrayer? And can Jocelyn use Prince Zven’s secret to stop him before he uses the betrayal to find her?

THE ALABASTER REFUGEE is a YA adventure/romance, complete at 95,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Angela Cothran

-I've left off info about myself, because I've read all over the web that unless you have been previously published--they don't care. Is that right?

Friday, July 15, 2011


You hear it all the time—Don’t use clichéd writing! My sweet mother in law gave me a fun book: THE DICTONARY OF CLICHES. It has over 2000 entries—crazy right?

What exactly is a cliché? It’s anything that has “lost originality, ingenuity, or impact by long overuse.” I think we all know not to use “the cat’s out of the bag” or “caught red handed”—unless we are being ironic or humorous. But along with cliché phrases I think we need to watch out for cliché characters, situations and scenes.

Agent’s write on their blogs all the time about this cliché or that cliché and it always surprises me. Here are a few:


  • Damsel in distress
  • Hero saves everyone from danger
  • Wicked step-family
  • Wise grandfatherly figure that has all the answers
  • Emotionally scarred super villain
  • Bad boy who is secretly soft and sweet
  • Girl who doesn't realize she’s beautiful
  • Annoying younger sibling
  • Misunderstood misfit
  • Spoiled mean rich girl


  • New kid at school
  • Prince or princess posing as a commoner
  • Two people start off hating each other and then fall in love
  • Hero must save the world from and evil villain
  • Someone is transformed with make-up or clothes into the popular kid
  • Moody gunslinger type comes out of nowhere and helps family beset by baddies. (Good addition Tony:)


  • Chasing down your true love in an airport
  • Meet cute by bumping into someone.
  • After-life scene in billowy white clouds
  • Nerd getting shoved into a locker or taped to a flag pole
  • Beer party on the beach
  • Confessions of love in the airport, at work, in the rain, at the train station, after throwing rocks at someone’s window—I could go on.

It isn’t that any of these ideas are bad—they’ve just been over used. Any could be a great place to jump off—just make them different—change them to something unexpected.

Does anyone have any other clichés? If so post them on your blog and leave me a link in the comments and I will link it with this post—or just write them in the comments and I will add them to this list. I think the more clichés we know to avoid the better our writing can be.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Story Chain...The Rocky Tale of Dio Franklain

The delightful Deana Burnhart is hosting “Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blog-o-Rama” this month. Week 2—a story chain:) How fun!

I’m almost at the end so if you want to read from the beginning check out Nata’s blog and follow along. The charming Robin Weeks posted right before me.

My assignment: Continue the climax from the above post using the words: Velcro, pastel, jumble. So without further ado…

The green dust caught in the breeze from the open window and swirled round and round—like a jumbled whirlpool.

Incorporeal at first but then one by one concrete wishes formed. Ice cream cones. Bicycles. Bags of gummy worms. Clothes. Phones. Computers.

And Dio’s father.

“Dad?” she whispered. Dio was so shocked her hands fell useless to her sides—like gunk filled Velcro.

“Dio?” He looked around squinting his eyes. “How did I get here?”

"Dad, where have you been?" She ran to him.

“I don’t know. It feels like a dream—like another time or dimension.”

A crash on the lawn interrupted the reunion. Roddern parted the curtain and a pastel dawn peaked through.

“It’s too late,” Roddern ran a hand through his hair. “They’re here.”

Want the next installment? Check out the lovely Melodie Wright’s blog. Happy Reading:)


Plot Device

This video was on Agent Kristen Nelson's blog last tuesday. It was so funny I couldn't stop laughing. So for all of you who didn't see it I thought I would share :)

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

"Did you know sharks can live outside the water for five years." - I learn something new everyday.

-Angie :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest

I’ve always loved poetry :) From Where the Sidewalk Ends to The Lady of Shalott. I love the motion of the words and the way they feel spoken aloud.

Shelly Brown is hosting a poetry blogfest and I thought—how fun! So here is my original poem. I wrote it as an introduction to my second WIP.

Entwined in conflicting embrace,

Joy and sorrow weave through our lives,

A thread of darkness and light.

Brave is the soul that grabs hold

And finds sweetness in both.

Thanks for reading and any thoughts :)


Friday, July 8, 2011

Bones of my Story

We moved from Boise about four years ago. We sold our home by ourselves and so I spoke with many of our prospective buyers. Without fail they all told me that our house had 'good bones' but it wasn't the right fit. Not all of them said it exactly like that, but that was the basic gist of the conversation.

Our house was built well...good foundation, solid roof, intelligent design. But even with all those factors in place, they still walked away. Maybe we were asking too much, or maybe it was the crash of the stock market. Probably both.

I've wondered about the bones of my story, my novel. How is the design? Have I crafted it with a solid structure? Have I painted a realistic and viable back story? Have I covered all the plot points, patched up any holes?

And last, but not least...Do my characters want to live here? Why? What sets my story structure apart from all the others on the market? Does my design suit my protagonist? My antagonist? Will it showcase and provide a large enough stage for my conflict?

Are the bones of my story strong enough to support some dramatic blows? Could it withstand a few stretches of imagination? The windows might rattle, and the pipes might leak...but by the final chapter, after all the twists and conflicts, will my story be standing?

I've been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. It's one of those books that I read, and re-read, make notes, and then read once more. It has several levels to it and each time I flip through it, I feel like I get a new insight from it.

One of Larry's main points is: your story must have the organization, strength and basic architecture to support all of your themes, characters, plot twists, conflicts, etc. Basically, does your house have good bones?

I'm doing some renovation of my story. I think it has all of the right elements, but I discovered, with the help of my writing partners, that there are a few cross beams missing, or maybe a few tiles on the roof need repair. Who knows, after the repairs are made, I may throw out an extra wing, or put in a skylight. Who knows. Whether it's a cabin or a cathedral, by the time I type the last word, I want to proudly pronounce, 'This house has good bones.'

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adverb Charades

Okay…it’s a book…three words…first word...sounds like...

Don’t you love charades? I kick butt at it. I guess it helps to have a husband who can read my mind. Wow, I’m off subject already—not a good start.

I was telling my critique partner Amy just the other day that when I come across a sneaky adverb—I like to play adverb charades. I don’t know if I explained it good enough to her—so I will try again.

How to play:

  1. When editing or writing and you come across an adverb you know you need to cut, you play—adverb charades.
  2. What actions can you put into your WIP to replace the adverb?
  3. Think about how you would act out the adverb in charades.
  4. Voila—writing magic.


  • Before adverb charades: “I’m not going,” Annie said stubbornly.
  • After adverb charades: Annie plopped all 40 pounds of her uncooperative self at my feet—shooting me a challenge with her eyes. “I’m not going,” she said.

I use this game all the time to fix my pesky adverbs. I like to think of adverbs kind of like place holders. When I'm in my first few drafts and I just want to write organically, I leave them in. But I always try and replace them with something that shows more.

Did any of that even make sense? It's been a long day :)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Answer my question?

I'm going to be an active participant in Deana Barnhart's Find an Agent Blog-a-Rama. So this week here is my deep, weird, probing question:

How can you really tell if an agent is truly great for your book? We can all find little snip-its about various agents online here and there, but how do you really know them? Do you pick an agent with a great client list--or will they be too busy for you? Do you pick a new hungry agent with less experience? How do you really know who to query and pick? Prayer?

Some one in the great blog-o-sphere must have a little advice. I'm all ears--or eyes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Movie Dream Come True!!!!

Austenland by Shannon Hale is one of my top 10 favorite books. When I first read it years ago I said, "I would love to see this as a movie."

HIP HIP HOORAY! Dreams really do come true! The Hollywood Reporter just broke the news. I can die happy!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...