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Monday, April 30, 2012

Storymakers



I’ll be at the LDStorymakers conference soaking in knowledge, pitching to an agent, and meeting lots of my writing friends. But before I can get to the Promised Land I must finish all the costumes for my 12 old son’s musical theater class!

So as much as I want to be blogging this week I have to get these freaking costumes finished, so I can work on my pitch.

If you will also be in Provo on Friday leave me comment so I can look for you :) See you there!

Peace out until next week!

-Angie

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Conference Prep—Log Lines



I need the combined power of all your brilliant minds. I must come up with a log line or elevator pitch. I have a hard time with these, because I never know what to focus on.

Everyone should know how their story is different from the rest. With mine I wanted to go with a “What if what you thought should be a happily ever after wasn’t? What if it was a nightmare?” I think that is my hook, but I don’t know for sure.

I have a few log lines, will you give me your thoughts, feedback, suggestions. Which one makes you want to read my book?



Simple:
When seventeen-year-old Jocelyn’s family is murdered by her betrothed, Prince Zven, she accepts help from a handsome soldier and a group of colorful pirates to blackmail the prince for her freedom.

Romantic Tension:
When Lady Jocelyn escapes certain death from the hands of her betrothed, she is forced to accept help from an unlikely source, the mysterious soldier Taggert, the man who her best friend has fallen in love with.

Dramatic:
For seventeen-year-old Jocelyn, being betrothed to the charming Prince Zven should've been perfect—instead it's hell. When she learns he has murdered her family and plans to poison the king, she must find a way to stop him and secure her freedom.

Ensemble (too much info?):
Happily ever after turns into a nightmare when seventeen-year-old Jocelyn discovers her betrothed, the handsome Prince Zven, has murdered her family and plans to murder the king. She enlists the help of a handsome soldier, a drunken rogue, and a jilted pirate princess to stop the prince and gain her freedom.

I just don’t know anymore. My brain is kind of mush. HELP ME!

-Angie 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Conference Prep—10 Reasons Pitches Don’t Work


I was going through my files and stumbled across this. I pulled it from Kristin Nelson’s blog months ago. This is all great advice and I need it :)

-Angie

10 Reasons Pitches Don’t Work

Reason 10: Generic descriptors of the story

Reason 9: Overkill on World Building details and not enough about the story itself.

Reason 8: Explaining that unlike already published SF&F novels, your work has character development

Reason 7: Popular trends (such as Vampires, Werewolves, or Zombies) with no unique take clearly spelled out in pitch

Reason 6: No mention of or insight into the characters who will be driving the story

Reason 5: The manuscript is 250,000 words (or more!) and this is unpublished, debut author

Reason 4: The work is called SF&F but it sounds more like a mystery or thriller or something else.

Reason 3: Convoluted Plot that I can’t follow in the pitch paragraph

Reason 2: SF&F stereotypical archetypes as the “hook”
--the mysterious object
--the unexpected birthright
--the quest
--the villain that has risen again
--exiled to another planet
--mayhem on spaceship to new planet
--Androids with heart of gold
--The main character as the key to saving the world or species
--the just discovered talisman

Reason 1: No hook—or mention of a plot catalyst that is new or original in this genre

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?—Cassie Cook


Cassie a.k.a. Miss Green Lantern 

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome to Won't You Be My Neighbor! Today I have a guest who really needs no introduction. She’s taken the internet by storm with her humor, Harry Potter references, self deprecating comments, and potty jokes. I now present...CassieMae! (Did you all read that in a ring master voice? That's what I was going for :)

Cassie: Oh! Now I can picture we're in some sort of circus! Let's just keep the clowns in the back. I may pee myself if they join us.

Angie: I agree no clowns! I don't want you to sit in urine the entire interview :) Alright are you ready for this? Are you wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater or sneakers? You have to pick one. It's tradition

Cassie: Crap, this means I have to wear clothes? It's not even Sunday! Okay, okay, I'll grab a sweater and sneakers, as long as I can stay in my PJ bottoms.

Angie: Of course you can! I live in P.J.'s—Don't tell my hubby though. He thinks I get dressed. I do, but sometimes not until right before he comes home :)

Alright I need a fun first question...What is your favorite house hold core? And what is your least favorite?

Cassie: Household chore? What is this you speak of? ;) I guess I would have to say I don't mind cooking. I make cookies and bread on a daily basis. (Not sure if that's a chore or not, but there you go.) And I hate laundry. I've told several people I'm ready to join the nudists just so I'd never have to do laundry again.

Angie: Laundry is the bane of my existence! I swear it multiplies like bunnies in my basement. You’d think I was playing Barry White down there! I wrote a flash fiction piece about laundry I'm going to link it here. It will make you laugh :)

Cassie: Oh my gosh, do it! The worst part about doing laundry is I swear I fold all the clothes but when I open the drawers all the clothes I've previously folded are strewn everywhere in there... including my hubby's drawers. What is the point, I say!

Angie: There is no point. Blast that laundry!

Okay, question...You are so open on your blog about your life and writing. Will you tell me something I don't know about you?

Cassie: Is there anything? haha! I talk in my sleep, but I think people assume that since I talk all the time, lol. Seriously, I've lost my voice due to talking too much. Anyways, one time the hubs tape recorded the conversation I had with him while I was sleeping... all about how Luke's light saber changes colors throughout the movies and I didn't understand it. I'm quite the thinker when I'm not fully awake, lol

Angie: What are you talking about? The color of Luke's light saber is super important. I love it when people talk in their sleep! It's so funny for those of us who are awake :) My son screams in his sleep, usually at his brother...or me. LOL!

Cassie: I freaked out all the leaders last year at girl's camp cuz I bolted upright in my sleeping bag screaming, "Where's the bacon!"                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Angie: But that is crucial information. A person can't be expected to sleep well if they don't know the bacon is safe. Why don't people get it?

Ooo, I have a good question...What has been your biggest accomplishment as a writer SO FAR ?

Cassie: Oh gosh, I have no idea! You come up with some tough questions!

Everything seems like an accomplishment. From putting down the first word to finishing the first draft, to having the guts to ask people to read it, then having the thick skin to hear honest answers, then rewriting and sometimes moving on to the next project. Querying alone is an accomplishment no matter what response you get. Same with entering contests and starting a blog and connecting with other writers and readers. It all feels so unreal to me, so I guess my biggest accomplishment would be just to have the right to call myself a writer.

Angie: I love this answer! It is an accomplishment just to have the gut so follow your dream.                                                                                         

Cassie: That and when you tell people, it's kinda like you're a celebrity, lol. They have no idea how to respond!

Angie: It is like you've said, "I'm Cassie and Princess Leia is my mother." People get this weird look on their faces and say, "That is nice." It is hard to tell people you are a writer especially when you aren't published.

Besides telling people, what specifically is the hardest thing about writing for you?

Cassie: Waiting. I'm totally not a patient person.

Angie: LOL! I can see that about you :) If it makes you feel better I'm not patient at all either!

Here’s a very revealing question...What would be the perfect day for you? Sun up to sun down (keep it PG Cass :)

Cassie: A PG perfect day, hmmm? Well, I'd wake up to the sound of crackling bacon (any Office fans out there? ;) ) then me and all my peeps would head to Harry Potter world and spend all day drinking butter beer and riding the rides. We'd taste all the candy in Honeydukes, then we'd hide behind bushes or walls and jump out at people walking by calling out random spells. I'd use Levicorpus the most because it's my fav. ;) Then we'd pass out in the Gryffindor common room while the HP theme song played in the background. 

Angie: I almost asked you what book you would live in if you could, but I was pretty sure I knew the answer :)

I can picture you jumping out and pelting people with spells! Under what circumstances would you use an unforgivable curse?

Cassie:  I would NEVER use an Unforgivable Curse! They probably wouldn't work anyway cuz I wouldn't mean them. Okay, maybe that's a lie. I would use the Imperious Curse on the hubs in an argument, just so he'll say I'm right and then move on. :)

Angie: Oh I wish we weren't muggles :)

You write terrific male characters. In fact one of your MS is from the POV of a teenage boy. What do you think teenage girls can learn by reading male POV's

Cassie: The reason why I love reading male characters, whether it's in their POV or not, is I like getting inside their heads. Men fascinate me, lol. I think the stereotypical thing about men being on a one-track mind is a bunch of fooey. Girls can read about a guy and realize, "Hey, he worries about some of the same things I do." It may not be all at once, but he worries about them. :)

Angie:  I think that is SO true! Men have feelings too :) How revolutionary. I love to write men. I steal A LOT of my material from my hubby who tells me how he feels about everything.

Cassie: I just channel my inner dude and hope it comes out sounding like a guy, lol.

Angie: You do dude very well :)

Time for the pageant question. You don't even have to change. I'm going to use my homemade elder wand on you...Somunium Vestio! I hope you like green.

Cassie: Not to strum my own guitar, but I totally look hot in green! 

Angie: Yes you do!

Now to the question...Who are you more like, your mother or your father?

Cassie: Definitely my mommy. My daddy is an introvert all the way, but my mom and I are the loud ones with no filters. Our family dinners are epic. We once had a whole discussion on animal pee on trees, and if certain kinds would change the quality of the paper. My dad kept his head down during the convo while my mom laughed her butt off while my brother debated and I. My mom also talks to herself and often gets ignored cuz we have no idea if she's talking to us or not.

However, if you’re talking about looks, I take after my dad. Big round eyes, big round butt, dark hair that’s turning gray, long toes and hairy legs.

So, I look more like my daddy, but I act a hecka lot more like my mommy.

Angie: That is so funny! Your mom sounds awesome!!! I would love to meet her :) And does your dad know you think he is a hairy long toed introvert?

Cassie: Haha! I'm not sure. But he will now!

Angie: I'm going to tell him :)

Thanks for stopping by Cass! You are one of my favorite people on the web :) I'm so glad you wrote me an e-mail asking me to cohost a blogfest with you—before we were even friends.

Cassie: Thank YOU Angie!!! Gotta say, once you started this neighbor thingy, I was like, "Oh! I hope she asks me!" Hehe! I like feeling special like that.

Angie: You are special. Thanks for answering my weirdo questions. 

Well there you have it. Everyone check out Cassie’s blog and give her a thumbs up! She also shares a fun blog with her CP’s—Falling for Fiction. It rocks :)

I won’t have a Neighbor post next week, because I’m going to be too busy getting ready for my writing conference. But don’t worry. I will have some fun ones lined up when I get back.

-Angie

Monday, April 23, 2012

Conference Prep—Let’s Get It Started!


I LOVE writing conferences! A weekend of talking about writing, learning about writing, hanging out with people who love writing—it doesn’t get better than that.

I’m going to LDStorymakers on May 4-5. I went last year and it rocked my world. So I thought it would be fun for us to talk about conferences these next two weeks (except for tomorrow—I have an awesome Neighbor interview for you).

And I’m pitching to an agent for the first time so I’m going to need your help. Please check back with me so I can pick your brilliant minds :)

What do you think? Writing conferences—love them or leave them?

-Angie

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Random Ramblings—Bad Books


Bad books make me grouchy. Not just, “What is the matter? Why are you frowning?” grouchy. But, “Steer clear of Angie, she is mean!” grouchy!!!

I’ve read a few doosies this year already and bad books kill me! They make me lose a little faith in authors, agents, publishers, and editors. What could they all be thinking? How did no one catch this travesty?

So in an attempt to learn a lesson, I’m digging deep here:

What makes a book bad?

Slow starts
Slow middles
Slow ends
Cheesy dialogue
Unrealistic plot twists
Stereotyped characters
Too much world building
Too much description
Too much swearing
Not enough emotion
Characters not moving the plot forward
Unrelatable characters
No tension
No conflict
No kissing (just kidding—kind of)
Bad writing

So cheer me up :) What is your number one complaint in bad books?

-Angie


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crafting Corner—Miracle


This isn’t so much of a crafting tip as it is a break through! Now if you all already know this humor me :)

Do you ever feel like your head is so full of words you just want to empty it? And wouldn’t it be nice to do it as fast as you could talk?
 
Who has used the app—Dragon Dictation? I’ve just discovered it. And it is a MIRACLE!

All you do is speak CLEARLY into your phone or computer and it types your words out and you can e-mail it to yourself. The first time I tried it I thought the app was broken, but it is important to talk SLOW and ENUNCIATE.

I will admit I felt like a fool sitting in the parking lot next to Starbucks (you do need an internet connection for it to work), but I “wrote” 800 words in 30 minutes last night. AMAZING (at least for a slow writer like me). I have to do a little tweaking, like adding punctuation, but it is still a break through.

So I want to know who else has tried it? Do you love it? Any other writing break throughs you want to tell me about?

-Angie

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Leigh Covington


Hey bloggers! You are in such luck today. I have the spirited and feisty Leigh Covington! I love Leigh! She is one of the very first bloggers I met last May when I started blogging. She pretty much rocks!

Leigh: Awww! Ang, how is it that you always make my day? For real! Meeting you in the blogging world has been more than a treat! You're an awesome blogging friend and an inspiration. I love you!!! Oooh, wait, is that creepy? Don't worry - I don't mean it in a creepy way. tehehe. But I may or may not be watching through your window right now!

Angie: Alright then, test...What am I making for dinner?

Leigh: Uhhhh. Hot dogs? Or spaghetti. Definitely spaghetti!

Angie: Oh, so close! Lasagna! You must be able to smell the tomato sauce from the bushes :)

Leigh: LOL!

Angie: Okay, I have a great starter question for you, but it needs a little set up...

Leigh: Okay... hold on a sec. I need my sweater. My sunshine yellow one!

Ahh… that’s better. 

Angie:  I like your sweater! Very bright! I'm wearing my olive green one, so we clash a little, but I'm too lazy to change :)

Leigh: And I like your sweater. We’re so official looking, even if we do clash. I’m all for it. Let’s wear these to Storymakers, okay!

Angie: Such a great idea! Clashing sweater twins!

First question…Leigh Covington is your pen name. I know your real name because I've been following you for so long. And can I just say that it makes me feel special, like knowing that Clark Kent is Superman. I feel like I'm in on a great secret or something.

So getting to the question...Why did you decide to use a pen name and when people meet you in person do they call you Leigh? (I saw pictures of you at dinner with Shelly and the caption said "Leigh and me"-- it made me laugh).

Leigh:  You are totally special to know about my "secret identity." Obviously, anyone who followed me before knows about the change, but it's always fun to find someone who doesn't know. For instance, when we went to the Writers Dinner in SLC, I met Morgan Shamy for the first time. I always tell people they can call me "Abby." Morgan was blown away that Leigh wasn't my real name! It was awesome. I love it.

Honestly, I think having a secret identity is kind of fun. It's like I can be 100% me... uncensored!
Too many times, I have my poor mom shaking her head wondering why I did this or said that. Now, she can blame it on Leigh Covington! *insert maniacal laugh*
But in a more serious manner, I didn't really love my name before. I mean I like "Abby" but my name just didn't flow. I love authors who have awesome names. But I couldn't think of any on my own so I did a contest. Then I picked out some of my favorites (which was horribly difficult, BTW) and I let people vote. It was so much fun and I liked letting my friends in on my secret.

Angie: LOL! So do you say, "Hi I'm Leigh, but you can call me Abby" ?

Leigh: Yes! I totally say that! So weird, right? It just comes out! I try to say, "Hi, I'm Leigh.  Uh... but you can call me Abby." *sigh* There's no escaping it. But I try to answer to both. I'm totally used to Leigh online, I'm just not used to hearing it in person. One day I will be! The other trouble is that half of the people are calling me Leigh and the other half are calling me "Abby". It gets confusing and people are bound to ask why they're calling me Abby. It's all pretty comical. Just another funny reason to have a pen name.

Angie: I have a fun little question for you. I'm going to give you five words and you are going to write down the first thing that comes to mind. Word association :) No cheating.

Cuba, Raisin, Yeti, Tension, Blacksmith...I gave you the first five words that came to me.

Leigh: Now you're getting tricky. I feel I might be lame on this. I wrote them all down first. Here are my answers...

Cuba—Travel
Rasin—California
Yeti—Scary
Tension—Ooooh
Blacksmith—Sexy

FYI—Afterward I had to actually look up a Yeti to make sure I knew what it was. I was right. Whew. That would have been embarrassing!

Angie: Good answers! My little sister had a question like this during pageant interview. They said Cuba and she said Bikini :) Too funny!

I love that you said Sexy for Blacksmith! I think it's the giant forearms pounding metal...or the leather pants...or the sweating...

Leigh: Darn it - now I have to take off my sweater. Do you have a fan? It's hot in here right? It's not just me?

Angie: It is hot! A blacksmith will do it every time ;) Maybe I should add one to my story.

Leigh:  I think we both need to add a blacksmith to our stories. Oh the possibilities!

*shakes head*  I’m sorry. Oh yes…the question.

Angie: *laughing* You are very close to finishing your MS, or maybe you are done now?!?! What I want to know is...What was the hardest thing about writing your story, and what was the easiest?

Leigh: I am practically done with my story. (Does that count?) I need to fine tune the ending. I think the end of a book is so important, I really don’t want to screw it up. I am currently revising my first few chapters and tweaking a few things in my other chapters. Then I will finish up the ending and get it out to some alphas. 

Can I say that this has all been hard? LOL. Honestly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Okay—I’m a lot of a perfectionist. Sometimes I look back through my chapters and can’t believe I’ve let anyone read it so far. But…I know they can help me improve it. I know they can see what I don’t see because it’s easy to be blind to your own writing. I want my story to have a delicate balance of plot, characters and action. I like detail, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. I like action and good pacing. And I want a killer ending. Honestly…is that too much to ask?

*sigh* Easy part? Writing. I just think writing is fun. I love to create new worlds and bring life to my characters. I love having a say over which way the story will go and what surprises lay around each corner.


Angie: Perfection is never to much to ask :) I loved your story! I feel so lucky you let me read the first few chapters. I agree that endings are SOOO important! I'm a fan of the cliffhanger, but I know that annoys some people. 

Leigh: I really enjoyed reading your story, so I wanted your opinion on mine. I'm glad you liked it, but prepare yourself. I'll be begging you to read more!!!
And I kind of like the cliffhanger too. I should say I DO like it, as long as most of the stuff is wrapped up. If you’re going to write a trilogy it’s almost impossible not to have a cliffhanger. There has to be something leading into the next book! That makes it so much more exciting!

Angie: It makes a world of difference if you can find someone who writes in a similar genre to you and have them critique your story.

Next question: I know that besides YA your write Picture Books. I love great picture books! When they are done well they can be brilliant storytelling. Do you have a favorite PB author? And why?
  
Leigh: Oh man! That's hard. There are so many fun picture books. One of my very favorites is Sandra Boynton. She writes for really young children, but her illustrations are darling, her prose is fun and she writes in rhyme. The stories are great and my kids love to read them over and over. And I like them enough so reading them over and over isn't a problem.

I have also grown to love Jane Yolen’s “dinosaur” books. She writes “How Dinosaurs Say Goodnight” and other dinosaur books. They are fabulous! So fun to read and great illustrations. They’re high on my “like” list these days.

Angie: I love both of those authors! Sandra Boynton is a favorite at my house as well. My 12 year old son likes to read But Not the Hippopotamus backwards, "hippopotamus the not but..." What a weirdo :) 

Have you ever read the Gossie books by Olivier Dunrea? The ink and watercolor pictures are priceless and they are sooo funny! Buy worthy!

Leigh: LOL! That is too funny about him reading it backwards! Ha! Now I have to try it. Kids come up with the best ideas.

I haven't read the Gossie books. Now I'm bummed. I wonder if I can find them at my B&N store? If not, I'm sure I can find them on Amazon and heaven knows I love making an amazon order!

Angie: They are so worth it especially for little ones (1-4 year olds). GossieGossie and Gertie, and Ollie are my favorites!

I think it is about time for the pageant question. That snuck up on us fast! How about this one...What is one thing that symbolizes happiness for you?

Leigh: Oh man! That really did sneak up on us! I should warn you, I'd make a terrible pageant girl. I tend to ramble. So... with that warning, I'm going to start out with the color yellow. You know, the bright, sunshiney yellow, like the sweater that is hanging on my chair thanks to all that blacksmith talk? I love yellow. It is bright and happy and reminds me of the sun. I'm always happier in the warm and sunshine.

But happiness is more than that. To me, happiness is family. Happiness is friends. Happiness is the innocence and creativity of youth. Happiness is camping with my family and kissing my kids goodnight, or having my kids bring me soup when I’m sick. It’s different for all of us, but happiness is what truly envelopes your heart.

Whew. Did I pass? Feel free to lie and tell me I rocked it!

Angie: First off...I NEVER lie (except to my kids) and Second...You did rock!!! Solid 9.5 *clapping and a little whistling*  I LOVE your answer! Happiness is what envelopes our heart...can I quote you from now on?

And Third so funny... I would totally pick yellow as the color that reminds me of you :) And you know I have a thing for color.

Leigh: I'm blushing a little. I didn't blow it! I'm debating on a sigh of relief and a dance of giddiness! I don't know which one to do!

You can totally quote me. I’ll feel so cool! LOL. And that’s cool that yellow reminds you of me—although it might depend on my mood, hahaha. I’m like you. I think color is so much fun. You’ve made me love it even more after reading your book, and knowing how much you love symbolism. You’ve got to love that stuff!

Angie: Such a wonderful job Leigh a.k.a. Abby!

Leigh: Thanks for the opportunity to be your neighbor. Angie! I love theses interviews and it has been so fun to participate.

Angie: You are awesome! I love your bright happiness. You know someone is happy when you can feel it through the internet :)

Leigh: Dude! Now I need to use that quote! It's awesome! As are you!

Wasn’t “Leigh” great? Head over to her blog and tell her so.

-Angie







Monday, April 16, 2012

Mostly Back


I had such a great spring break! I stayed up late with my kids watching movies. Finished off 4 books and 150 pages of critiques. Let my kids play the iPods until their brains turned to mush. And kissed my sister’s one year old twins until they were chapped :)

I had a fantastic idea for today’s post inspired by all the fun reruns I got to watch at my parents (they really need to get a DVR).

But while I was coming up with ideas at 1:00 am about all the things we could learn from Murder She Wrote, I got tired. I mean as AWESOME as Jessica Fletcher is (how many Russian ballerinas can one woman help defect anyway? The woman is a nation treasure) it turns out there isn’t all that much to learn in Cabot Cove.

So I’ve taken this day to recoup and catch up on laundry. But I missed all your awesome posts. And I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Believe me you don’t want to miss this :)

-Angie

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Break


Do not under any circumstances google Spring Break and look for pictures! Drunken flashing STD swapping parties aren’t really my thing anyway. This pic is more my speed :)


 My kids have the week off of school for Spring Break so we are visiting Grandma and Grandpa! I love how quiet their house is…at least it was until we came!

I will be back bright, early, and refreshed on April 16th. I wonder how many books I can knock off in a week?

If you are here for What’s my type? Part 2—I posted it early.  Happy Spring!

-Angie

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Funnies—Lawrence Welk


Have you ever been flipping through the channels and you come across the Lawrence Welk show on PBS? The only thing you can think is, “What the H^%*! Is this for real?”

Yes! Yes it is!

But even better than the Lawrence Welk show is the parody of the show that the do on SNL!!!

This is kind of old, and it will take you a few minutes to watch, but I promise you…IT IS WORTH IT!

I could watch this a million times and it never stops being funny. SERIOUSLY! It will make your day!!!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Crafting Corner—What is my type? Part 2


I wasn’t going to post this until next Wednesday, but then I realized I will be gone all next week. My kids have spring break and we are headed to Grandma’s house :) So you get two days of crafting advice.

Like I said yesterday, Blake Snyder’s book Save the Cat is awesome. He talks about the 10 different story types. Every type has rules that if you follow them will make your story stronger.

If you missed yesterday here’s the link to the first 5 story types: What is mytype—Part 1.

1. Wish Fulfillment Story: Somehow the MC makes a wish that changes everything. It doesn’t matter if the wish comes from a genie, wishing well, love potion, or magic beans. The wish must somehow change the wisher.
The Purpose: This is so simple—your MC must be someone we want to root for. Who wants to see a billionaire get another million dollars? But human nature being what it is, we don’t want to see someone have it too easy :) Ultimately the MC must learn that magic isn’t everything. It is better to be normal—like the reader—and grateful for what you have.
Examples: Freaky Friday, My Unfair Godmother (side note—I had a hard time finding good examples of this story type, so if you have a great wish fulfillment story—the field is wide open)

2. Coming of Age Story: This type of story is as old as time. We love it because every one of us has gone through it and can relate.
The Purpose: To say these stories are about change is terribly obvious. They are about the pain, growth, and torment of LIFE. But usually the catalyst of the story is an outside source. Only going through the experience can offer the solution.
Examples: Catcher in the Rye, Paper Towns, Are You There God? It’s Me Margret

3. The Love Story: This is of course the obvious romantic “love story” but stories about two friends also fall into this category. Ultimately this story type is about relationships.
The Purpose: At first the two MC’s hate each other (or have some other kind of conflict), but as they go along they realize how much they need each other, but that just leads to more conflict. Then we have the inevitable “all is lost” moment (a personal favorite). But the final resolution comes in the moment when both characters surrender a little of themselves for the other. In my opinion sacrifice is true love!
Examples: The Kite Runner, Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte’s Web

4. Regular Guy Huge Problem: I love this kind of story because it is so relatable. Who doesn’t feel like their life is one ongoing huge problem?
The Purpose: Take one regular guy (or gal) give them a GIGANTIC problem and shake HARD! The worse the problem is the more potential for heroics.  The real key to this story is that your MC must overcome his/her problem because of a talent or ingenuity that ONLY they have! Why is your MC uniquely perfect to solve this problem?
Examples: The Maze Runner, Night, Harry Potter (we can debate my choice to classify Harry here, but I think of all the story types this one fits the best. I know Harry is not a regular guy, but he thinks of himself as average. And we all have to admit that Voldemort is a HUGE problem!)

5. Monster in the House:  I borrowed Snyder’s title (I couldn’t think of a better one :) This is also a very primal story type, “Something is trying to kill me, and I must get away!” The monster can be lots of things: zombies, monsters, animals, crazed killers, toxic viruses.
The Purpose: According to Snyder the rules of this story type are VERY strict. You break the rules the story will fail. Rule 1) The must be some kind of “house” or contained place: an island, a house, a spaceship—a place characters cannot easily escape. If you break this rule it will undermine your tension. Rule 2) A sin is committed (usually some form of greed) that creates this monster bent on punishing its creators and sparing those who recognize the sin. Rule 3) The rest is run for your life!  
Examples: Jurassic Park, I’m Not a Serial Killer, Cujo

Here are all 10: Monster in the House, Regular Guy Huge Problem, The Love Story, Coming of Age, Wish Fulfillment, Superhero, Underdog, Mystery, Family Saga, and the Quest.

I had tons of people say that their stories are multiple story types. I just wanted to say—Your main plot is really only one type, but then you can have subplots that use the other types.

One reason you need to focus on one type is that different stories have different motivations. A quest story is about learning something about yourself through a journey. A love story is about sacrificing a little of your ego for love. Wish fulfillment is about learning to be grateful for what you have. If you try and mix too much you get split motivations.

I hope this was helpful :) I love this kind of stuff. Story structure fascinates me. So now that you have all ten—what type of story are you writing? Remember only pick one!

-Angie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crafting Corner—What is my type? Part 1


We’ve all heard it…There are no new stories. I guess that is only partially true. There are basic story structures that have stood the test of time. But what we do with these structures is our own.

Like I said on Monday, I just finished reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Amazing book! Purchase worthy. He wrote about 10 story types, and knowing what is expected in these types can improve your story.

I wanted to blog about this, but I don’t want to plagiarize Mr. Snyder. So I’m going to give you the story types, but give it my own Angie spin :)

After I started writing this post I realized it would be super long, so I’m going to break it in two and post the second half next Wednesday.

1. The Quest Story: This story type is as old as Greek mythology. Have you read Odysseus? The quest story follows a hero (sometimes with a group of friends or sidekicks). The hero needs something and must go out on a quest to find it.
The Purpose: What you need to remember about a quest story is that the real story is not about what the hero is searching for, but about how the journey changes him and what he learns. If all you focus on is the end result you miss the point.
Examples: Lord of the Rings, Fablehaven, Wizard of Oz

2. The Family Saga: This story type is about groups of people and how they interact with each other. Family can be a bit misleading it can mean: traditional families, military, offices, political groups, religious groups, girlfriends, etc.
The Purpose: Stories of this type tend to explore what is good about “families” and what is dysfunctional. When is it honorable to sacrifice for the group and when is it foolish? Often told from the POV of the new comer, the question is usually, “Who is crazier? Them or me?”
Examples: Little Women, Animal Farm, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

3. The Mystery: Yep, this is pretty self explanatory :) Readers are the detectives. If you are writing a mystery making your MC relatable is important, because the reader mush be able to see themselves in the character.
The Purpose: The mystery is less about “who” did it, but “why?”  It is about readers discovering something about human nature that they didn’t know before.
Examples: Agatha Christy, Dan Brown, Mary Higgins Clark

4. The Underdog: Don’t we all love an underdog? We do! We can see ourselves in them, because haven’t we all felt like we can’t win against the big bad world?
The Purpose: You need a MC to fight against the institution, but you also need some kind of insider to help your MC navigate this uncomfortable world. You don’t need to make things impossible for your MC, but in the end David must beat Goliath.
Examples: The Hunger Games, Flowers of Algernon, Diary of a Wimpy Kid

5. The Superhero: Extraordinary guy thrown into an ordinary world. There is a little special in all of us, which is why we love these stories so much.
The Purpose: This story explores the idea that even being special is hard. The hero must deal with the small minds around him that just don’t get it.
Examples: Artemis Fowl, Frankenstein, all Comic Books J

Here is a quick peek at the next five: Monster in the House, Regular Guy Huge Problem, The Love Story, Coming of Age, and Wish Fulfillment. Want to read the post? Click here!

So what type of story have you written? Does your story fall into one of these categories?

-Angie

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Kelley Gerschke


Kelley being creative!

Welcome everyone :) It's time for another "Won't You Be My Neighbor." I'm so excited to present Kelley Lynn! She is a talented author, SOOO nice and she's a freaking engineer!!! Talk about overly gifted :)

I've got on my Mr. Rogers sweater (Pink today...Mr. Rogers wore pink, right?) so I'm ready to go.

Kelley: I don’t remember if Mr. Rodgers wore pink…even if he didn’t this is your program not his. Move over Mr. Rodgers!! :)

I’m super excited to be here!! Isn’t technology great? I’m answering this from a hotel lobby in Philly since I’m on a business trip for that engineering job. It’s good to know I’ve got you fooled into thinking I’m overly gifted. I’m still wondering if I’m even remotely gifted ;) I figure it I throw myself into a number of things I’ve got to wind up good at at least one of them! (Fingers crossed its writing.)

Angie: You are super gifted!!! I love technology too. I'm writing back from my iPhone waiting in the Jr. High parking lot.

That brings me to my first question...What is one talent you wish you had, and why?

Kelley: Oh boy. There are so many things I'd love to have a talent for. I think I'd have to go with cooking. Right now it is literally dangerous for me to be in a kitchen. I've melted plastic bags to glass 9 by 13 pans and have scars on my knuckles from sticking my hand in the oven without mitts. Not to mention nothing I cook tastes good. So then it’s like, why bother? Haha.

Angie: Hehehe :) Cooking is a lost art! I wish you lived by me, I would teach you to cook. I'm actually a pretty good cook, but I hate it!

My three kids are so picky they've sucked the life out of cooking for me. I can make perfect chicken enchiladas and they will ask for cold cereal?!? YOU SUCK KIDS! (Did that sound bitter? Yes? *sigh* I guess I am)

Kelley: Where do you live? I'll move there... :)

Haha. You're only slightly bitter. Someday they'll appreciate your fantastic cooking abilities. Force them to learn too! That way they won't end up like me...

Angie: I went on a six month cooking strike! Seriously! But it didn't help :( 

Okay, no more about me. I have another question for you. I know you are superwoman! You run half marathons and play soccer. I want to know...How is writing like playing sports? (Did you see how I "pitched" you a metaphor opportunity?) 

Kelley:  That was well done. Thanks for the metaphor.

Writing is like sports because we all have our strengths and weaknesses and rely on others to accomplish our goals. Let's take soccer for example. Usually there are those on your team that are better at offense, others specialize in defense and the rest run around the midfield. (Then of course there's the goalie. VERY specialized.) Each position needs some skills more than others.

So how is this like writing? We all have our strengths. Some of us are better with dialog, some with action, some with character development. It’s funny but when I started on this writing journey I through it was a solo endeavor. WRONG! Writing with the intention to share our work is anything but solo. We need help from other writers, beta readers, CPs. The whole journey needs a team to reach a goal (or get a goal, in the analogy of a soccer team. :))

Angie: Oh, that was beautifully delivered!!! I love a great metaphor. 

Kelley: Oh thanks! I stole it from the guy next to me on the airplane. ;)

Angie: Whatever you stole it from the guy on the airplane. "Excuse me, sir? Do you have a writing metaphor I can borrow?"

You are SO right! I've learned so much in the last year and most of it has been from other writers. Do you feel like you learn more from critiquing or being critiqued?

Kelley:  Hmmm... This is a very good question. I definitely learn from both. But I learn more from critiquing, I think. There's something about analyzing someone else's work. Determining what you like and why. What you don't like and why. Plus my CP's work (including yours, my dear :)) is SO good, I learn an incredible amount about writing an engaging story.

Angie: I completely agree about learning from critiquing. Pacing, internalization, world building, and characterization are all things I've learned from reading other authors :)

I feel like we need a fun question. If you were a candy bar what kind would you be and why?

Kelley: I would be a Nut Roll. How can you go wrong with peanuts and caramel?
Plus it’s like a hidden gem. Not everyone knows how wonderful they are. AND its sort of a joke we've got going with a few writers about how
amazing Nut Rolls are. I want to be that amazing :)

Haha. How ridiculous is this answer??

Angie: I love Nut Rolls. I knew there was a reason I loved you, beyond the obvious.

Here's a question I'm curious about...You live in Wisconsin (my sister lives in Milwaukee, btw :), do you have a supportive group of writers where you live? Where do you meet most of your CP's or other writers you are close too?

Kelley: Your sister lives in Wisconsin! She must be SO COOL! ;) ;) Does she write?

I actually don't know any writers in my area. Most of my friends and family don't even read. (My sister says if I get published she'll wait till the movie comes out...haha)

I found my betas and CPs in a number of ways, but all online. My first CP, Theresa, I found through the website, Ladies Who Critique. She is an amazing writer and very good at critiquing. I actually found another four CPs through Cassie's call for CPs. I answered the call and she hooked me up with Jade, Jen and Hope. I also found Leigh, but for the life of me I can't remember how our relationship began. I think she was searching and I was searching and the stars aligned and we found each other. :) Again, all these ladies are fantastic and 'specialize' in different areas of writing. AND they don't mind telling me what they think which is one of the most important aspects of CPs/Beta Readers.

Which brings me to YOU, my dear. You realized that our stories were similar and offered to give mine a look. Brilliant as you are you found my plot holes, inconsistencies and lack of tension. Each one of you is vitally important to the success of my work. (We're kinda all like that soccer team we talked about earlier ;))

Angie: You are sweet to think I am helpful. We sound like a soccer team :) Can I play the position that moves the least? You know the position that sits on the field and counts blades of grass? (I guess I've been to too many 5 year olds soccer games :)

Here in Utah I am within a super short car ride of tons of writers and bloggers. And even though I'm neighbors with a few, we also met online. The online writing community is amazing!

Kelley:  The online community is amazing! I wish I were closer to all you wonderful, talented people, but alas, I just have to sit longingly behind a computer screen, wishing for the day when you all sign six figure deals and can fly me out to meet you at your incredibly popular book signing ;)

Angie: I would love for us all to get mega deals. Then maybe we could all fly somewhere fun like Hawaii :) I bet Cassie would be a blast in Hawaii!

Okay time for the infamous pageant question. Are you ready? Can you tell me who these people are: John Boehner, Ben Bernake, and Mahmoud Ahmajdinejad?............

I'm just kidding. Although I have asked a variation of this question in SOOO many interviews. If you know you can impress us all (but we will never really know if you googled them or not :)

Real question...What is the best advice your parents have ever given you? And did you realize it at the time?

Kelley: Haha. I actually know who the first two are. I do try and keep up with the news and have it on in my house as I'm doing things. So I know John Boehner is the Speaker of the House and Ben Bernake is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. I did have to google Mr. Ahmajdinejad, the President of Iran. :)

I think the best advice I've ever gotten was from my mother who lives by the philosophy, 'Live your life with no regrets.' I think at the time I realized it was important and have made it my mantra as well. When faced with a tough decision this is what I ask myself. Will I regret doing it? Will I regret not doing it? If the answer is yes, I do the opposite. I realize we all make mistakes. (In my case MANY mistakes). But mistakes aren't the same as regrets. I don't want to look back on my life with any regrets.

So far so good ;)

Angie: That is EXCELLENT advice. I think with the exception of breaking the law and poor moral decisions, most people regret what they don't do. I think writers are really brave. We open ourselves up to the world. We tell people who we are deep inside by what we write, and we do that knowing that some people will reject us.

Kelley: I completely agree. As writers we are really brave. Because though we might not realize it, there is so much of ourselves in our work. We might think we're writing about characters completely opposite ourselves and events we've never experienced, but we're in there. We have to be in order to put in a believable voice and compelling fiction.

And yes, people will judge us but it’s so much better than not writing and not sharing. Because far more people will be touched and encouraged in a positive way than those who aren't. We write for those people.

Hmmm...was that too deep? Haha

Angie: No, that is the perfect amount of deep :) 

Thanks for stopping by today Kelley! You were awesome. Next time I come visit my sister (she is a book lover and one of my best Alpha readers) we can go out and get custard!

Kelley: Saweet! That sounds awesome. Yes, we'll have to get custard for sure!

Thanks SO MUCH for having me. This was a lot of fun!

Angie: So much fun :) Thanks Kelley!

And thanks to everyone for sticking around for the whole interview. I need to be more concise. I can be super long winded.

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