Sunday, October 30, 2011


You know that feeling you get after finishing a really great scene? Going through a round of edits, and making some fantastic changes? Finding out things about your characters you didn't previously know?


I just edited a third of my book. Today. A THIRD. And when I say 'edited,' I mean, 'maybe-two-paragraphs-from-chapter-two-stayed-the-same.'

Yeah. Talk about tiring.

But if I didn't have church in the morning, I can guarantee you I'd still be working on it. I'd still be editing. Why? Because it's freakin' amazing!

I love that feeling. I crave that feeling. This is why I started writing in the first place--to feel that accomplishment and excitement. To discover stories, not write them.

(Don't worry, most of my editing is not like my experience with chapter two. But it's definitely been a long haul.)

Don't forget why you started writing!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Killer Characters Blogfest--Antagonist Challenge!

Click here to learn more about the Killer Characters Blogfest, and to find links to others' entries!

Today is the final installment of the Killer Characters Blogfest, and we're supposed to pick our favorite literary antagonist.

I put off my decision until I'd read everyone else's posts, and there are so many good choices. I realize that some people won't agree with my choice, but here it goes!

Voldemort haunts my nightmares--often. He's KILLER in every sense of the word. Though the calm, cool collective-ness with which he kills people is haunting, he's even more haunting because of these scenes:

He attached himself to Quirrel's soul, then left him to die. He is the incarnation of Satan in this respect. He uses people to benefit himself and infects them with his evil spirit, then leaving them to die when things start turning around. This happens over and over in the books.

HE CAN'T DIE. Granted, once the Horcruxes are destroyed he can, but up until that point he is invincible! And look at that picture! Probably one of the most haunting, disgusting images I've ever envisioned (it was even worse when I imagined it before the movie came out!) Oh, and another thing: He's barely human.

He's been evil since childhood. I don't know about anyone else, but this scene in Half Blood Prince made me squirm. A helpless orphan is rescued by Dumbledore, told that he has a new home to go to. But think about all the things he did as that 'helpless orphan'. From the moment he was born, Tom Riddle was a Killer.

And last but not least, let's not forget this moment:

He tried to kill a BABY. I'm assuming he succeeded in killing others. But a one-year-old child was his target when he attacked the Potters, not his parents. I can't think of anything more evil.

Oh, and let's not forget about the rest of the hundreds of people he killed and had killed. Let's not forget about James and Lily, Alice and Frank Longbottom, Dumbledore, Sirius, Ms. Burbage, Fred, Mad-Eye, Snape, Tonks, Lupin, Collin Creevey---need I say more?

Voldemort will forever haunt my nightmares. How about you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Killer Characters Blogfest--Protagonist Challenge!

Click here to learn more about the Killer Characters Blogfest, and to find links to others' entries!

So, I missed yesterday's Killer Supporting Characters, but I have an excuse! I passed out at work and my friend forced me to go to the ER, even though it wasn't necessary.

But here I am today, pleased to share my Killer Protagonist!

Ellie from Courtney Allison Moulton's ANGELFIRE!

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE this book, and a large reason is because the characters are so KILLER! Ellie is not only a real, believable high school student dealing with normal teenage problems, but she's also a kick-butt, reaper-slaying heroine called the Preliator. Oh, and did I mention she has the best sidekick/love interest ever?

I. Love. Will.
There are so many reasons Ellie is a Killer Protagonist, but here's just a few:

1. She's a natural fighter. From the very start, her skills with her khopesh swords (which she summons out of thin air, by the way!) are amazing. At the same time, she trains hard, and gets even better as time goes on.

2. She can enter the Grim. As part of being the Preliator, she has the ability to sense reapers and fight them in a world invisible to mere mortals called the Grim. When she's in the Grim, her mortal friends cannot see her, despite the fact that she can see them.

3. She has a sense of humor. Throughout everything that happens in the books, her sense of humor remains constant. I laughed out loud at more than one point as I read!







You sure you want to read on? Okay...


She is the Archangel Gabriel!! 

How much more KILLER can you get??

Enjoy the rest of the blogfest!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book review: POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil

To see my Afterglow for this book, click here.

This book was a wonderful, frightening surprise. Set in the Catholic culture, Bridget, a student at St. Michael's, discovers that she has the power to banish demons. Exorcism has never been something that really interested me, mostly because it creeps me out. This book did an amazing job of creeping me out but still keep me engaged--I cared about the characters and I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

There was a bit too much language for me at some points, and some of the adults acted too young for their age. Parts of the story-line were predictable, but the ending took me completely by surprise! It's rare that a character realizes something before I do as the reader, and when that happened here I was thrilled. I love being surprised, and Gretchen pulled it off in the end!

If you're looking for something spooky to read over Halloween (or any other time of the year) pick this book up! It's a wonderful addition to any book shelf!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time for an update

I've actually known this for a couple of days now, but I was just musing over it.

So, I didn't get in, but I wasn't rejected either.

It's complicated.

I'm going to be very candid here: I have depression. There was a point during my freshman year of college when it became almost too much to bear. I've come far from that point and am getting better every day, but that doesn't mean I don't still struggle.

When I received that email, I assumed it was because my advisers wanted to talk to me about my grades (my GPA's not as high as it should be, because of problems with the depression). In actuality, they were more concerned about my mental health than academics. They want to make sure I can handle the work and stress involved in this major before accepting me.

So I'm going to be meeting with them on a monthly basis to discuss my progress and what's going on in my life. Then, when time comes around to apply again next year, I'll hand in a new application.

This doesn't mean I'll definitely get in next year, but at least one of my teachers is confident I will. I wish they had accepted me and then monitored my progress, but I understand why they're doing it the other way around.

Positive: they care enough about me to work with me and not just set my application aside.

So I have another whole year to muse over my future. This truly is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I'm hopeful I'll be able to show them the progress I've made and am making with my disease.

Thank you all for your kind wishes!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Theatre and writing: best friends!

Application update: I'm meeting with my advisers tomorrow at 3:00. Hopefully I'll have some good news for you afterwards!

All right, answers to questions:

Becky Mahoney said: Tell me about what you're reading!

(Becky's blog)

Currently, I'm reading both POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil and POSSESSION by Elana Johnson. Loving both so far! I've gotta finish POSSESS this weekend for my book group, and when I do there will most likely be a review on here :)

Amparo Ortiz said: If you could pick any character from a YA novel, who would you like to hang out with in real life and why?

(Amparo's blogOperation Awesome)

There are so many! At the moment, definitely Will from ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton. I'm kind of in love with him. (For those of you who haven't read the book, just know that he's an incredibly protective guy who's head over heels in love with the MC. And he's hot. ;p)

Susan Francino said: Well, since I've read some of your work, I'm interested in how you reconcile religion and magic in your fictional worlds. (But if that's too personal it's OK.)

(Susan's blog)

Aah you ask the best questions! It's not too personal at all! Since there's so much I want to say on the topic, that's going to end up a blog post :)


Thanks for the questions! Now on to today's blog post.

(Kudos to you if you read this whole thing, because I have waaayy too much to say...)

This is inspired by Susan's question from yesterday.

Susan Francino said: How does acting and theater in general help you with/influence your writing?

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this question! I should have done a blog post about this a while back, but here it is now.

When I first started considering majoring in the realm of theatre, my heart was set of Music Dance Theatre (MDT). My life's goal was to be on Broadway. (It would still be nice, but I'm more realistic now :D)

My father, who's an accountant, sat me down one day and asked me to major in something more 'practical.' For some reason he actually wanted me to be able to eat when I graduated college.

I kind of rolled my eyes, but I told him I'd major in theatre education, just to appease him. Truly, it was a backup plan, because I still wanted to spend my whole life performing.

Maybe I just grew up, but something happened my senior year and my heart was opened to the possibility. I was the musical director for the four musicals we did (I was also in each one), and I felt such happiness and pride in helping others achieve their potential. I even had to teach one actor to sing--when we started, he couldn't even match a pitch, and by the performance he was able to keep in key the majority of the time. When he did mess up, it sounded like harmony and magically worked!

The joy I received from this was unbelievable, but nothing compared to when my little brother played Winthrop in our production of The Music Man. For years, I'd been trying to get him to do theatre, because I knew he'd be fantastic at it. Finally, he relented, allowing me to sign him up for the show.

Before the show, he spent all of his time playing video games, and was very shy and quiet. It was amazing to watch him open up and explore new possibilities. He gained so much confidence and had a blast, way more fun than he thought he was going to have! I was his coach when he didn't come to rehearsals, and I looked forward to that time so much.

From that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a drama teacher more than anything...well, anything aside from being a mother. I've seen how drama can change people's lives, and I've seen how it's changed my life. If I spend my whole life in the classroom and never get published as a writer, I have to admit I will be completely satisfied. (I will wish I was published, but most people only get to pursue one passion in a lifetime!)

There are so many lessons to learn from theatre, especially in relation to writing. For the sake of time, let me suggest just ten:

1. Writing itself! I've done a lot of playwriting units, and it's helped me get ready to write a novel.

2. Character development. I think this speaks for itself. If you don't learn how to properly develop characters, you can't portray them on stage.

3. Plot structure. You learn how to best convey a plot to an audience to keep them engaged. Unlike writing, in theatre you have the advantage of knowing whether or not your audience is engaged in the story the moment you start. It's taught me so much about how to formulate dialog and action.

4. On that note: dialog and action. You don't get inner dialog or description in theatre, just action. The story moves quickly, and if it doesn't the audience stops paying attention. It's helped me to keep my story more active and not dwell on certain scenes longer than I should.

5. Discipline. My senior year of high school, I was at the school every day from September 15th to April 26th, most Saturdays and some Sundays. We did nine plays a year, and very often I was in two or three (one time four) at the same time. On top of that, I had church responsibilities and had to complete all my schoolwork and apply for college. I learned discipline, all right, and that's helped me make and keep goals pertaining to my writing.

6. Interpretation. So many times high schools in the area did the same shows, and it was so interesting to see everyone's different interpretations of the same script. It's helped me look at concepts a different way to make my stories more original.

7. Confidence. I had to make choices with each character I played, and those choices weren't always easy to sell to the other actors or director. I learned to stick to my guns and do what I believed was right, and it always turned out well in the end. Same with writing: I have to remind myself when my CPs tell me to change something that this is my story, and I know the best way to tell it.

8. Teamwork. In accordance with that, I learned how to work with other people and take their suggestions to make me better. I also learned how to give constructive criticism in order to help others.

9. Persistence. Auditioning is painful. Even more painful than querying for me, because if you're rejected in an audition they're rejecting you, not your book. (I'm not saying querying isn't incredibly painful, because it is, but this is how I personally feel!) But when I've persisted, it's always ended up landing me some amazing parts. I'm hopeful someday I'll get an amazing agent :)

10. Be positive! The rehearsal process is long and tiring, just like edits. But every time I get up on that stage to perform, all my hard work pays off. The exhilaration and excitement I feel reminds me why I'm putting myself through all the work. There's not a better feeling in the world than an audience's applause, to know you've affected their lives in some way. That's my goal with my writing as well.

I could go on forever, but I won't make you stay here that long. Suffice to say, I wouldn't be where I was without theatre. I wouldn't be nearly as determined to get published and wouldn't have the discipline to have even finished my first novel. Something else may have given me the drive, but for me personally it was theatre.

This is why I want to be a drama teacher: because I know that theatre will influence every one of my students, no matter what profession they go into, because the concepts taught are applicable to life in general, not just the arts.

What's influenced you? What in your life effects your writing so much you can't even express it?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Answers to questions....and the BIG question

Thanks to those who asked questions! Here are my answers!

Katrina L. Lantz said: What's your favorite movie from the past couple of years?

(Katrina's blog)

That's so hard because I love movies so much! One of my top favorites is definitely Harry Potter 7 part 2. Closely followed by Tangled. Sherlock Holmes is up there as well, as is Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I can't really narrow it down further than that...

Becky Mahoney said: What aspect of writing (dialogue, description, action, etc) do you think you're best at? (P.S - GOOD LUCK!)

(Becky's blog)

Thanks for the good luck wishes :) I'm definitely best at conveying emotions. I was going to say description, but sometimes I describe way too much and sometimes too little. But conveying emotions, whether through dialogue, inner monologue, or descriptions is my strength.

Prerna Pickett said: favorite books?

(Prerna's blog)

ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton is my all time fav at the moment. Closely followed by Harry Potter, the COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexander Dumas, the ODYSSEY (yes, the epic poem), and TEN LITTLE INDIANS (also entitled AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) by Agatha Christie. All are amazing works of literature for all different reasons. If you haven't read one of them, do it!

Michelle McLean said: any weird writing habits you MUST do while writing?

(Michelle's blog)

For a while, I could not write without a bag of Doritos at my side. Thankfully I've broken that habit. In general, I HAVE to have music on, and there's one particular playlist on that works best. Also, whenever I get stuck I play Minesweeper. Trying to break that habit too...

Susan Francino said: Hi Tiffany! I'm on blogger now :D How does acting and theater in general help you with/influence your writing? And good luck--I hope you got your major of choice!

Welcome to blogger, and thanks for the good wishes!

LOVE this question! I can't even begin to describe how many ways it's helped me improve my writing and be a better writer from the start. There's characterization, the structure of a story, making things seem natural, dialogue--sooo many aspects! I think I'm going to have to make an entire post about this one (thanks for the idea)!

And now for the BIG question I know you're wondering about...

Did I get into my major?

I got this email in my inbox about an hour ago:

Dear Tiffany,

Thank you for your recent application for admission to the Theatre Arts Education program at Brigham Young University. We are unable to make a decision on your application at this time. 

We would like you to make an appointment as soon as possible to meet with [such and such a counselor] to discuss your application and interest in the Theatre Arts Education program.  Please initiate contact with [said counselor] to schedule a time to meet; she can be reached at [provided email].

We appreciate your interest in the Theatre Arts Education program and look forward to meeting with you.

The BYU Theatre Arts Education Admissions Committee

So the answer is, obviously, I still don't know. It's about to kill me. This is worse than querying could ever be.

I'm trying to set up an appointment for tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some news for you then.

In the meantime, any more questions to keep me distracted? lol


Question Me!

Ok, to get my mind off of the pending email telling me whether or not I got into my major (eek!! I'll get it today!!) I'm opening up to questions!

Any questions you have, just put them in the comment section, and I'll answer them in the next post. You can ask about my favorite book, movie, what my book is about, how I got interested in writing, why I'm majoring in theatre, or anything else you can think of! I'm an open book!

Looking forward to answering your questions! (And getting my mind off the waiting!)


Friday, October 14, 2011

The Waiting Game

Though I am querying right now, that's not the waiting game I'm talking about.

First, let me say hello and welcome to all my new followers! I look forward to getting to know you all!

So now to what's on my mind...

For the past four years, I've wanted nothing more than to be a drama teacher. The theatre education program at my university is an amazing program, and every step I take to get closer to my goal is exhilarating.

This morning, I turned in my application. Twelve hours later, I'm still sick to my stomach. By Tuesday night, I will know whether or not I've made it into the program, and there's nothing more I can do about it now.

My future is out of my hands.

It's like querying, only a million times worse. I want to be an author, but my desire to be a teacher is absolutely overwhelming. I'm so passionate about theatre, about the arts, and about helping those around me. I want to do that for the rest of my life, and now four strangers are deciding if I'll even get the chance.

At least I know this will be over by Tuesday. I'll either get in or I won't. It's not quite as long of a waiting game as querying.

But it's still torture.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Twenty-Two Days....


My plan? A story about a young boy destined to be a king...
Yeah, that sounded dreadfully boring.

What do YOU plan on writing about??

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Idea Parade!

So, I've been posting a lot on inspiration lately, and here's yet another one!

Today was our homecoming parade, and I sat out on the side of the road in the cold for an hour and a half, all in the name of school spirit. I've never been a huge fan of parades, mainly because they always seem to be super crowded. I do like the social aspect, though, which is why I attend. I love spending time with friends and family, and it's even better when people are throwing candy at you.

Because of my knee injury, I wasn't able to participate in the candy-grabbing, but I was able to witness it. The parade was only held on half of the road, so the other half (where I was sitting) was still open for cars to drive on. Candy flew through the air towards us, but a very small amount made it safely to our group. The majority of it landed in the middle of the road, to be run over by unsuspecting cars before any of us had the chance to save it.

This got me thinking about inspiration. When an idea comes to us, sometimes it may not come so far as to hit us square in the face. Sometimes we may need to get up and go out to it. Are those ideas any less precious than the ones that come to us? Can we sometimes go to ideas?

How many small ideas have you had that you let float away? Now, I'm not saying we can write something about every little idea we have, but I have a folder on my computer with endless ideas, most of which I will probably never use. Sometimes I get an idea in the middle of a conversation and have to jot a note for myself. I don't know if I'll ever use it, but an idea is precious, and can spark new ideas.

So my challenge to you is to not let those ideas be run over by the cars. Try to pick them up quickly, before it's too late. You never know what jewels you may find.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Two Cents on Outlining

"To outline, or not to outline, that is the question."

Apparently it is according to quite a lot of bloggers out there.

I am by no means saying it's a bad thing to post about outlining (what am I doing, after all?) but I challenge the idea that it really matters whether you do or not. For some people, outlining is an essential step in the writing process. For others, it's a deterrent to their muse. Personally, I do both depending on the project and the phase it's in.

I outline when:

  • The plot is particularly complex
  • I already have some ideas for the end (or later books) and I don't want to forget them
  • I'm having trouble moving the plot on past every day activities
  • I'm about halfway through my first draft
  • I'm getting ready for NaNoWriMo
I do not outline when:
  • An idea or concept pops into my head and I just have to start writing
  • I'm getting to know my characters in their 'natural' environment, without worrying about what happens next
  • I'm super familiar with the subject (ie the story is loosely based on my life)
  • I don't get an outline done for NaNoWriMo (by the time November runs around, you just have to start!)
  • I have absolutely no idea where the story is going and just want to play with it
(All of these are subject to change depending on the day, time, weather, mood I'm in, place I'm writing, underwear I'm wearing, etc.)

Here's the one thing that bothers me about outlines: authors, if your characters are not fitting in the plot you outlined for them, change either the plot or the characters. Don't be afraid to deviate from your outline if that's the right thing for the story!!

So outline or don't outline--whatever works for you. Because quite honestly, I don't see it as any of my business.

Happy writing! :)


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hey, I'm a person too!

This morning was the first session of my church's general conference. The man in the middle of this picture is President Thomas S. Monson, our Prophet and head of the church. When he got up to speak this morning, he wore the same goofy smile as the one in the picture, and squealed out "Hello! I was wondering who I should get to substitute for me today!"

I love President Monson. He is such a spiritual man and truly cares about each and every member of the church, as well as those who are not of our faith. He is such an inspiration to me. But, if he didn't have that wonderful boyish personality to go with it all, I don't know if I would feel the same connection with him that I do.

Too often, especially in YA, the authoritative figure, or the one who's supposed to have all the answers, doesn't seem to have a personality. He or she seems other-worldly, as if the rules that apply to everyone else don't apply to them. They have no family, or it is never mentioned, and they don't seem to do anything but sit around and wait for the next scene they're in in your book. How boring is that??

President Monson is one of the many examples we have in real life of an incredibly inspirational person who is also an incredibly easy to relate to. I feel like President Monson is just like me, and that he went through the same process I am of strengthening my faith in God and his gospel. Shouldn't this be our goal when we're writing? Shouldn't we want our readers, and characters, to feel like they can relate to those characters? After all, they're people too! They have a backstory, families, hopes and dreams--shouldn't we give them all of that?

What are some of these characters you could relate to? Couldn't? Do you struggle making your 'authority' figures easy to relate to?

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