Friday, October 29, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 7

A couple short questions today, courtesy of my high school friends.


What was your first impression of Mrs. Chie?

First off, you'll notice that I changed your teacher's name up there to her "codename." That's to make it all seem cooler. Second off, I wondered how long it'd take for you guys to start asking me about her.

Let's see... You realize that it's been many years since I first met Mrs. Chie, and that I've slept since then, right? I mean, I'm almost 34, the brain cells don't work like they used to.

If I recall correctly, Mrs. Chie was actually my hubby's friend first, so I kinda met her through him. I don't really remember exact first impressions, but I do remember the moment I found out she was a high school English teacher. I was working on Avarice at the time (the book that went away to a farm to live with a nice family that loves it) and I asked her, "Hey, do you think you could look at a little bit of this for me?"

Well, looking at a "little bit" of this turned into looking at every scrap of writing I did during the day, as I did it. Mrs. Chie is one of my "alpha-betas", meaning she gets to read every word that comes out of my head at just about the moment that I get it typed down. Before ANYone else. Her advice is always thoughtful and spot-on, and I'd be lost without her.

Do you ever get recognized in public?

Are you kidding? My own family pretends they don't know me in public. (Okay, that's not true.)

No, I don't get recognized in public. I imagine that very few authors do. I mean sure, there's the big ones. Most people would probably recognize Stephen King or J. K. Rowling if they passed them on the street. Stephanie Meyer, maybe. I'd recognize Jim Butcher, but that's 'cause I'm a rabid fan (and because he lives in my city, so running into him isn't unlikely).

But for the most part, I think authors have a rather peculiar kind of fame. I mean, their fans can be just as rabid as any movie or rock star's, but their appearances aren't as...public?

I don't ever envision being chased down the street by a pack of screaming fans. Book enthusiasts (at least in the adult literature world, I make no promises about the YA world) tend to be a little calmer than that.


AND... Do you know what's coming up on Monday, folks?

That's right, it's NaNoWriMo time!

After much waffling and a few Real Job(tm) scares, it has been determined that yes, I WILL be doing Nano. And I WILL be using Nano to get started on Book 3 of the Jesse James Dawson series (still untitled, of course). I was going to work on a new project, but as time got closer, it just wasn't speaking to me like Book 3 has been.

Thanks to my hubby (and to Mrs. Chie), I've been able to brainstorm and fill the hole in my outline, so really, I'm pretty good to go! In fact, I could start today if I wanted (but that would be against the Nano rules)

If anyone is participating in Nano and wants to buddy me, leave a comment with your username, and I will gladly add you. The more the merrier!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Release Day!

Happy release day to Jim Butcher (and happy birthday too!) for his short story collection Side Jobs.

Been waiting for this one. All you Dresden fans, you know what I'm talking about. But I can't get my hands on it until this weekend, so no spoilers! Shhh!

Also, happy release day to a write friend of mine, Tim Power, for his middle-grade novel, The Boy Who Howled!

Gonna be grabbing this one for kiddo, I think it's right up her alley.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 6

And here is the next installment of questions from my high school friends! They're really starting to get some insightful stuff going on here!

What is your favorite novel made into a movie?

Ooh, my favorite? Hmm…

Well (and this probably marks me as old) I’ve always been a fan of The Crow, which was based on a graphic novel rather than a book… I think as far as adapting the imagery faithfully, and the overall atmosphere of the world, the movie did a wonderful job.

The Lord of the Rings movies were also amazing adaptations. At the risk of being lynched by a mob of angry Tolkienites, I would say that those movies kept the epic essence of the books, and eliminated some of the more…meandering sub-plots. Normally, when they start hacking things out of books to make them into movies, I get a little wary, but in this case I think it worked to the good.

I will also cite The Dresden Files. It was a TV series, rather than a movie, and while it altered a lot of Jim Butcher’s details, I think it kept the heart and soul of the books. I was sad it only lasted one season.

The first few Harry Potter movies did well, I think, but they eventually started leaving so much out that I think it was a detriment to the later movies. It’ll be interesting to see how the final two play out, with some of the pertinent details never established.

It would honestly be easier for me to list the book-to-movie progressions that have disappointed, mostly because you remember the bad stuff easier than the stuff that went well. Especially with books that people dearly love. They hate to see their beloved characters tampered with. For a really good movie, they’ll be a bit more lenient, but if the screenplay/direction/acting just isn’t there…nope.

Do you ever find yourself struggling with making your plot lines original sounding? If so, what kinds of things do you do to make it more interesting?

I see what you did there, sneaking two questions into one. Ya’ll are just trying to see if I’m paying attention.

Well, first I need to respond to this question like this: There are no original plots left. True story. If you break down every book/TV show/movie into its base components, every story has been told.

I mean, just off the top of your head, how many different Romeo & Juliet movies can you think of? Y’know, the ones where the boy and girl come from different places in life, but try to find love despite their warring families?

Or how about the “stranger makes war on an unfamiliar people, then learns to love them and adapt to their ways”? Just thinking about it now, I can come up with four and that’s not even trying.

So yes, I struggle to make my plot lines original. But really, I just have to remind myself that, while the storyline may have been done already, it’s still a storyline that people enjoy. I mean, the Romeo & Juliet dynamic has proven popular for centuries now. Why mess with a good thing?

The thing I can control is my execution of the plotline. The easiest (though also often done) method is to take the standard trope (stop: Look the word up. Miss Chie will be happy if you do) and turn it inside out. Take one of the basic elements and make the opposite happen.

Maybe your Cinderella is the boy in the story. Maybe the dark and sinister man is actually the good guy. Maybe the zombie plague is really the cure for cancer. Who knows?

Whatever you decide to do, it’s HOW you do it that makes it uniquely your own. While Jesse’s core story, that of one underdog against the world, isn’t unique, Jesse himself is. I’ve never seen another protagonist done quite the same way, and that’s why he catches people’s attention.

If you sit around and try to think up a plot that’s never been done before, you’ll never put a single word on the paper. Don’t try.


I had a lot of fun with these this week! Thanks so much!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Evil League of Evil!

Well, ok, not quite...but close.

Remember I had news? Well, this is it!

I have been asked to join The League of Reluctant Adults! If you've read my blog for a long time (there's like...two of you, right?), you'll know that it's something I've always wanted to do, so when they asked, I said yes WITHOUT the alcoholic coercion!

There are actually three of us being inducted (kidnapped?) on the same day, so all this week on the League blog, they'll be doing introduction posts. Kevin Hearne's is up now! Go check him out... Er... I mean, go introduce yourselves, and learn about his upcoming books!

But really, I'm very excited about blogging with such an amazing group of authors, and I hope you'll all duck over there and get to know some folks you may not have read yet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 5

You will notice that this week's queries are a day early. That's because the kids in question have a day off tomorrow. Enjoy it kids! Wish I could be off too.

(Yes, I know I'm already WAY off. Har har har)


Did you ever want to throw away a piece when you were almost done with it?

Actually did throw away a piece... Or at least trunked it. (Trunked: meaning to stuff in a trunk, never again to see the light of day) I was 78,000 words into Avarice when I finally hit the realization that it was fatally flawed.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good story! And I think someday when I'm a better writer, I'll go back to it and make it everything I know it could be.

It was a hard decision, and sometimes I still go back and open up a few of my favorite passages just to read them again. In little snippets, it's really good! But as a whole it doesn't hang together like it should.

(Ask Miss Chie about that. She's read it)

With the assurance that Jessie James Dawson will save your soul, what would you sell your soul for?

Even knowing I'd get it back for sure, I think the only thing I'd sell my soul for would be my daughter. That's just kinda a mom thing to do. There's nothing in the world that I want that I can't get myself.

Wow, that was kinda a short answer, wasn't it?

What was your "Plan B" if you did not get published?

Plan? There ain't no plan...

Seriously, I didn't really have a plan B.

I suppose that, had I never been published, I'd still be trying. I honestly expected it to be a much longer process with a lot more rejection than I had.

I guess, if I hadn't succeeded, at some point in the future I would have had to step back and re-evaluate my life, and decide if I wanted to keep going. I think every writer hits that point.

Honestly, I may have eventually given up submitting to agents/publishers, but I never could have given up writing. I get all twitchy when I'm not putting new words on paper, and I'm not a very pleasant person to be around.

Though, I could totally see myself putting my work up on the internet for free, maybe, if I hadn't been published. Y'know, like a serial novel on my blog or something.


I guess I'm just glad I never had to make that decision.


And in my own news, when I got home last night, I had the back cover copy for A SHOT IN THE DARK waiting for my approval. It looks great! It never fails to amaze me how other people can make my books sound so much cooler than I remember them being.

When I have permission to share that with you, of course I will.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 4

Where did you go to college and why did you go there?

I went to school at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and I earned a BA in English with an emphasis in Literature.

Honestly, I chose Jewell because I visited and fell in love with the campus. It was beautiful, it was small enough that I didn’t feel like a little worm on a big hook, and they had a good English program.

I actually chose my degree track with an eye to being a writer someday. I chose the literature emphasis so that I could learn how to read and to break down what I was reading into its key components. If I could learn how all the pieces fit together, I knew I could build my own.

Who inspired you to write your books or become an author?

Oh now see, ya’ll are just getting tricky now. You tried to ask me this a couple weeks ago, and I kinda dodged the answer. Tricksy hobbitses.

Hm… I don’t know that I can lay my original urge to write at the feet of any one person. Especially when I was young, the greatest thing anyone did for me was simply NOT tell me to stop.

I suppose, though, as I got older, my husband was one to truly encourage me. If I said I wanted to be published, he took it as fact and never let me forget what I was striving for. No matter how dejected I got, or how neurotic, he was there to keep me moving.

And, I will admit, that the author Jim Butcher was also an inspiration, and for a totally ridiculous reason. Seriously, you guys are gonna laugh at me.

I picked up one of the Dresden Files books, way back when I was first starting to be a fan, and I read the author bio. And it said that he lived in Independence, Missouri. And I was suddenly like, “Holy crap, this guy lives like fifteen minutes from me!”

For some reason, it was like a light going on in my brain. I thought, if HE can do this, if he can get published and he lives right here in Missouri not spitting distance from my house, then I can do it too. The mystique was suddenly removed, and it all became very possible for me.

(side note: I have since become very good friends with Jim's sister, who is a lovely person, and despite living so close together, we don't get to hang out nearly enough)

What was it like knowing your work was going to be published?

Well, I almost wrecked my car. True story.

When I got the call from The Agent, telling me that we’d sold the JJD series, I was driving home from the dentist of all places, and my 6-year-old is watching me from the back seat, very worried, saying “Mommy, maybe you need to calm down…”

Even though it was what I had been working for all along, it was still fairly surreal. I think part of me thought it was a really elaborate practical joke until about the second advance check cleared the bank. (it would have gone down as the MOST expensive practical joke ever, btw)

And even now, a little part of me still can’t believe that people are reading my “little story”. People I don’t know, have never met, have never even heard of. They’re reading words that I wrote, learning to love characters I invented.

Surreal is the best word I have for it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Heads Up!

You have a chance to win a copy of A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS here at Secrets and Obsessions! Winner is chosen on Wednesday, so get a move on, leave a comment!

Also, it's October and do you know what that means? It means that November and NaNoWriMo are just around the corner!! Do you have your NaNo idea yet?

I'm currently working on the research portion of mine. My participation of course depends on my edit schedule with Book 2, but barring that, I'm planning busting out my words like everyone else!

If anyone wants to be my friend on NaNo, leave your user name in the comments so I can add you to my list!