Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Question: Where do you find inspiration?

My Answer: Everywhere.

For my Theatre Education class, we're asked to post 'teaching ideas' rather regularly. These range from short ideas about how to teach something to full lesson plans. I've found inspiration for these from the strangest places--sometimes one word someone says sparks something in my brain and it just takes off.

Pan, the Greek God of shepherds and flocks
Most recently, I was trying to think of a lesson plan to outline, and as I sat at my laptop I chatted with one of my roommates. I can't remember what we were talking about, but I said the phrase 'pan out'. Pan. The Greek God. Satyrs. Satire. Theatre. Greek chorus. "I GOT IT!!"

It's amazing how the human mind works, isn't it? It makes connections that we don't necessarily see if we aren't keeping our mind open. It is from these connections we gain the most invaluable inspiration, because only your brain can make those specific connections.

I think I've mentioned before that the idea for the paranormal novel I'm working on right now came from chatting with my cousin on facebook. The idea for my series, VICTIM OF PROPHECY, came simply form wanting to write a book about a boy destined to be a king--that's not even the focus of the story anymore. The idea for another book in my 'story ideas' folder came from a dream I had. Another was inspired by events in my own life and how my life would be different if I'd changed one decision.

You never know when an idea is coming, so don't ever squelch your creativity!

Where have you found inspiration?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recurring Injuries

A year ago, I was texting my best friend, Houston, while walking up some stairs. As a consequence of this foolish action, I fell and banged my knee up pretty bad. Still, I could walk on it so everything was fine. I would just deal with the pain.

That weekend I worked the football game. It was raining and the ground was very slippery. I worked at the top of a small flight of stairs and unfortunately fell three times. The third time, I wasn't able to get back up. The EMTs took me from my post to the hospital where the doctors determined I'd sprained my MCL (the tendon on the inside of your knee).

Because the actual sprain happened at work as a consequence of the rain and my position, I was given worker's compensation for it. I was on crutches for a few days and then wore a knee brace for a few weeks. Everything seemed fine afterwards.

Earlier this week, my knee started hurting again. At first, I ignored it--I am overweight, after all, and as such my legs are often sore and tired. But when the pain didn't go away, I started noticing how similar it felt to when I'd sprained my MCL last year. I was still hoping there was nothing wrong, but walking home from work today I could feel the tendon moving around under the skin. *sigh*

So I'm going to go to the doctor tomorrow. I hope it's not as bad as it was last year, and hopefully it's not even sprained. Maybe it's just a little sore...

Sometimes things that we did years ago come back to bite us. A decision we made to put our novel in third person may have been completely wrong for that particular story, and a year later when you think you're ready to query you have to go through and change it to first person. Sometimes a character's name may be wrong, or the name of a city, or some other small but important detail that effects the entire story. Sometimes we say or do something at a conference that gives an agent the wrong impression of us. I could go on and on.

The problems aren't going to go away if we ignore them. It doesn't matter how long we've been working on our WIP or how ready we feel to query, if we don't address the problems that are there they're only going to get worse.

I certainly hope my knee doesn't get worse...


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Discovery: "Ooh, look what I found!!"

We have little moments of discovery every day of our lives. For example, today I discovered that I absolutely cannot read a book while I'm doing the laundry. If I do, I will never know when the washer stops.

I also discovered that the catering service I work for makes breakfast burritos.

Another one: there are people in this world that play out weddings with their dogs.


Though these discoveries can have an affect on our lives (I will never look at a pekingese dog the same again...), they're not the kinds of discoveries I want to talk about. I want to talk about FIRE!

Sometimes we're just playing around with our WIP, testing our characters, getting to know them, having fun (yes, writing can still be fun!) when all of the sudden something jumps out at us. Something BIG. I mean oh-my-gosh-I-have-to-add-another-book-to-my-series-big. Okay, it doesn't always have to be that big, but you get what I mean.

The problem is, a lot of the time authors choose to ignore these moments of inspiration. They're so close to their goal that they don't want to have to deal with a new character or plot point, even if it will greatly enhance their story. That's when you get books that seem rushed and incomplete.

Personally, I had a trilogy and a prequel planned for my series. I was almost through writing the prequel (for background research) when someone pointed out to me that the story was moving waayy too fast. When I sat down and thought about it, she was right. Thus, book one became two books.

Is this a lot more work? Heck, yes! But totally worth it in the end.

What kinds of discoveries have you made in your writing? Has it changed the way you approach a first draft?


YA Confidential Launch Party!

There are so many awesome blogs out there, but have you guys been to YA Confidential yet?

Click here!

Not only is it a fabulous site with fabulous people (and an awesome idea for the site--who wouldn't want to be a secret agent? ;p) but they're hosting a HUGE giveaway AND the chance to win critiques from Sarah LaPolla and Vickie Motter!

To find out more about these agents and the awesome ARCS YA Confidential is giving away, head over to their post! You won't regret it, I promise you!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Jump and Fall 'Till You Fly

(That is an actual picture of me standing on a cliff in the Orkney Islands.)

When I graduated from High School, I wrote a song entitled I Could Be for my family, talking about how much they've influenced my life and how they've always believed in me. Here's part of one of the verses:

And now I have courage to try
I'll jump and I'll fall 'till I fly

When I wrote these lyrics, I believed every word of them. Since, I've obviously had times when I've doubted  and haven't been willing to get up after I fall.

Since my first week of school here at Brigham Young University, I've been auditioning for shows. Every single show. A year and a half, I auditioned, not getting a single role in anything.

Friday night, I was ready to give up. I was signed up for auditions for a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, but decided to skip it. I thought I was just wasting my time.

As I sat in the fine arts center, my friend Darcilee came up to me. She'd just auditioned for the murder mystery, and was wondering why I wasn't there. I told her about my fears, how I didn't think I was good enough or would ever get a role in anything.

She had two words for me: bull crap. Okay, she didn't say those specific words (because it's not her way of speaking) but that was her message to me. She didn't try to force me to do anything, but she let me know she believed in me.

I took a deep breath after she left and decided to suck it up and try again. When I looked at the audition board, I saw there was an audition that night for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. By coincidence, I'd watched the movie earlier that week. Though I only had half a monologue prepared and the director wanted two contrasting monologues ready, I decided to go anyway. Luckily she had some cold reads for people who weren't as prepared.

I felt better after the audition and had a good time, despite my worries. The next morning, I got up and immediately checked my email. I'd made callbacks. I was excited, but still not hopeful--I've made callbacks before, and nothing ever came of it.

Callbacks were a blast, and I had a lot of fun just letting go and being myself. In the back of my mind, though, was the thought that this wasn't worth it. I wasn't going to get a role. I might as well give up.

The director, Heather Starr (coolest name ever, right?) told us she would have the cast list posted by Monday morning. She said she would email us, and when I still didn't have an email this morning I figured my suspicions had been correct. Still, I wanted to check the board and see who'd made it. I knew it would be hard for me to not see my name on the list yet again, but it was something I had to face.

I walked up to the board and read that Heather's internet had been down, which was why she didn't email us. My stomach flipped. I scanned the page.

Gertrude/Player 2------Tiffany Garner

If I knew how, I would have done a backflip right then.

So what's my point in telling you this story?

Don't give up. Never give up. Someday, you'll find the right fit--the right agent/editor, the right publishing house--and fulfill your dreams. You are worth it, and all your hard work will pay off. I'm going to remind myself of my experience with auditioning as I start to query. It will be long and hard, but it will work out in the end.

I'll jump and I'll fall till I fly


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years ago...

I was only nine, but I remember as if it were yesterday.

We were out of school for the day. My mother called me and my three younger siblings into her room. The news was on. As she scrambled for the phone, I watched the second plane hit. I didn't understand what was going on.

It wasn't until I saw the panicked look on her face that I realized it was real.

I sat on her bed, staring at the TV screen even after my mom had turned it off. How could anyone do something so horrible?

The house was silent all day. Even my three-year-old brother was quiet.

When my father came home, we all gathered as a family and prayed for those who were still trapped, and for those who had lost loved ones. I prayed for what felt like hours that night even after we'd finished praying as a family.

I remember going to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and secretly being terrified we would be the next target. Every day before I left my home, I made sure everyone in my family knew how much I loved them.

November 2002, my family flew to Europe for a two week trip. Though it was amazing, every time we stepped into an airport my heartbeat quickened. I remember how much security there was and how intimidated I was by the people around me.

When we moved to New Jersey, I remember talking to the families of people who died, or should have died but for some reason didn't make it to work that day. One of those people is my cousin.

I am proud to be an american, and raise my voice in song to my Lord and Savior on this day and all others.

Where were you?


Friday, September 9, 2011

Even a Chameleon Has Limits...

This is one of my pet peeves--some people are so plot driven that they fail to notice when they're characters don't fit in that plot. They can be great characters, but when they're placed into these cookie-cutter positions for a certain plot structure, they're uncomfortable and unhappy.

And the reader doesn't like it much either.

You may sit there looking at your little chameleon and say, "Oh, doesn't he look so cute?" But if he's miserable, your readers won't be able to connect to him. You won't be able to connect to him.

Don't force your characters into roles they don't fit. Craft the plot around them, not the other way around. And if you have a specific plot in mind that you're character's not meshing with, give him a different role or find a new character! Everyone's flexible as long as you don't force them into things.

Even a chameleon has limits.


PS--New followers! SQUEE!! Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let's Play Tag!!

You wonderful five followers of mine have been TAGGED!

Brigid Gorry-Hines at My Life as a Teenage Novelist
Lynda at W.I.P It

Now that you've been tagged, you have to share 10 random facts about yourself on your next blog--whether they be funny, exciting, embarrassing, or simply interesting (or even boring) is up to you! When you've finished, pick five worthy bloggers to be TAGGED! I can't wait to see what you all say!

A huge thanks to Kelley at Writtled for tagging me! She just got her 200th follower, and you should definitely add to the list! Also, she has some great random facts of her own posted here!

So here's my ten facts:

1. I am afraid of corners. Not being cornered (though that too)---corners. As in, there are four walls in a room and the spot where two of them meet. Yeah.

2. I own nine Harry Potter wands. Eight of them are replicas from the movies (Harry's, Ron's, Neville's, Luna's, Ginny's, Voldemort's, and Hermione's x 2) and one is my very own from Ollivander's Wand Shop in the Magical World of Harry Potter! In addition, I also have the time turner, a Gryffindor house uniform (cloak, tie, sweater), and other random nic nacs from the movies. Thank you Warner Brothers and Universal Studios!

3. Going along with the last one: I sewed Hermione's dress from the yule ball in the fourth movie for Easter one year. Here's the picture of me in it:

4. Over the summer, I did a six week study abroad in London. During those six weeks, I went up to Scotland with five other girls. While in Scotland, we backpacked, flagged down a bus, and were stalked by cows. Yes, cows.

5. I am a musical theatre enthusiast, but I have yet to see such classics as Oklahoma and South Pacific, amongst many other things I should be familiar with but am not. I have, however, seen Naughty Marietta, which is hilarious!

6. I am constantly using the British spelling of words without even realizing it. Like 'traveling'. I had to work hard just now not to spell it with two 'l's.

7. I have a passion for the Sims. When I get stuck in a spot in my WIP, I open up Sims and create my characters in the game. I recently bought the Sims Medieval, and I pretty much squealed.

8. Favorite TV shows: Psych (James Roday is my hero!!), Bones (can't wait for the new season), and Doctor Who (what's going to happen next?!?!)

9. I hate horror movies, but I love horror stories. It's just watching it that I can't stand.

10. I am obsessed with swords. Obsessed.

Can't wait to read your ten facts! And, if you weren't tagged, what's a random fact about you?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Beginnings

So it's been a while since I last posted. For those of you reading, thanks for coming back! It's been a wonderful start to the new school year and I am so excited to apply for my major in October. Well, excited and scared. (10 points if you know that musical)

I've been thinking a lot in the past few weeks about new beginnings, and how we can use them as a jumpstart to our writing. Of course everyone makes New Years' resolutions, but I think most people also make resolutions at the beginning of a new school year or other annual event in their lives, no matter how informal they are.

So how can we fit writing into these resolutions?

I had a number of things on my list when I started this school year: attend all my classes, do all my assignments, do well in said classes and assignments--all your basic school goals. Then there was: take more pride in my appearance, lose weight, be more outgoing, serve others--your standard 'this is how I would like to change' goals. Next on the list was: get promoted or get a raise at work, work the maximum hours per week, put money in savings, afford a car--your standard monetary goals.

In short, I am taking eighteen credits, applying for my major, working two jobs, holding positions in my church, and auditioning for and volunteering to help with plays. (Oh, and being social with my friends.)

Where the heck does writing fit in?

A lot of people would simply say that it doesn't. I have many friends that are talented writers, but once the school year starts, they put aside all of their projects because they need to 'focus'. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not what I wanted to do. This year in school, I hope to: finish rewriting the draft of Secondhand Heart, write Closed Mind for NaNoWriMo, query and pitch agents for Open Eyes, attend the LTUE Writing Conference next semester, and figure out the ending to my paranormal novel.

Sounds like a lot, but it's all about time management. My planner is marked up and highlighted almost every hour of the day, so I give myself time to get everything done that I need to. I do homework a couple days ahead of time so I have more free time on other days. I take time out of my evenings to go to a dinner group. Every night before I go to sleep, I give myself some time to read. I've gotten into the 'swing' of things, and it's all coming together smoothly. When you make time for things you want to do, you'll get them done.

And a note to you college students out there: none of this works if you don't do your homework and attend classes. Trust me--I've tried.

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