Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blog Me MAYbe: A New Friend

Today is Wednesday for Blog Me MAYbe. That means that it’s May I tell you something about someone else? day.  I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about someone I met through Blog Me MAYbe. Eliza Tilton. I randomly clicked on her name and found a total kindred spirit. She’s a writer of YA fiction and a gamer (that’s video games, not like poker, folks)! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do an interview with her.

Me: Welcome, Eliza. And thank you for doing this. Why don’t you give us the quick and dirty guide to you. You know, what do you write, how long have you been writing, what’s your favorite candy… that kind of thing?

Eliza: I write YA, mainly romance but in different categories. My first real novel, not trunked but put aside, is a YA fantasy. My current WIP is a YA contemporary romance

I’ve been writing forever. I used to write tons of adventures in middle school. In the fifth or sixth grade I completed my first book—a 40page pirate adventure, which I still have.

As far as candy, if I HAD to choose only one… sour patch kids FTW! I once ate a pound of them in high school, in one afternoon. Love those things.

Now excuse me while I raid my son’s Easter basket (you can’t talk about candy with a pregnant chick).

Me: LOL! Congratulations!! Your MS & WIP sound cool. I should probably tell everyone that I was super stoked to find out you play/love video games. There are (at least that I’ve met—shout out to my crit partner, Rebekah Purdy though) very few writer/gamers. So, if you HAD to give your top two favorite YA novels and your top two favorite video games, what would they be?

Eliza: Top two? Hmmmmm.

Me: Should I go top five?

Eliza: I don’t know which is harder, the games or books! Yes, FIVE! I can do five.

Me: Okay, Five it is.

Eliza: For five YA books:

Games, this is tough. I think I’ll pick one from each console.

PS2…. I’m going blank on PS2! LOL One minute…

Me: LOL No worries. I can’t even remember a PS2 game. Though I do have to give a shout out for Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast!

Eliza: I still have a Dreamcast.

Me: I totally have a Hello Kitty Dreamcast. I loved that thing.

Eliza: Nice! Since my brain is refusing to work… PS3: Eternal Sonata and Dragon Age II.

Me: Okay. Back to business, here. That’s quite a range for books. It seems like you like a darker bent to you stories. Does that play into your writing in some way?

Eliza: Yes. I’m not into funny, chick-lit type stuff. The Iron King has a bit of humor, but it’s more party banter between characters. All of my writing has some kind of dark element, whether it is in a villain or a twisted teenager boy.

Me: Oooh. Twisted teenager boy. That sounds interesting.

For games, I have to ask. Did you like Dragon Age II more than Dragon Age: Origins?

Eliza: YES. There were a lot of great things about Dragon Age, but a few things that dropped the rating: The Deep Roads, the choice with Morrigan at the end and the fact you didn’t get to experience all the results of choices you made throughout the games.

Dragon Age II: I’m on my third play through.

That’s all I need to say. Swoon.

Me: OMG my Hawke is TOTALLY with Fenris. Sigh. He’s the hardest to get. (sorry folks, gamer-talk!) I’m totally (happily) off topic here. On to the next question. So what’s your writing process? Do you belong to a group, or community?

Eliza: I’m a member of YALITCHAT and Query Tracker. Both have been amazingly helpful for different reasons. I met two of my crit partners on query tracker and have had some wonderful help on my queries. YALITCHAT is a great place to meet other bloggers, writers and partake in great contests. They’re having a pitch slam on May 28th.

My writing process is a little backwards.

Me: Love YALITCHAT. I’d love to hear more about how it’s backwards.

Eliza: An idea comes to me, and it can be either the beginning, middle or end. I try to write a quick query or outline. Then I end up writing chapter one, then chapter fifteen. Stories have always come to me in scenes. For example, my current WIP, I had the end, beginning and part of the middle done. I had about twenty pages I needed to write to get me closer to the ending I wanted and I had no idea how I was going to do that, until I had to. Somehow, I always manage to fit all my scenes together to make one story.

I tried writing a book from start to finish… couldn’t do it. I ended up going back to my old ways.

Me: That’s a super interesting method. It sounds really refreshing. Just write what you see and connect it all when you have to. Do you have any writing pet peeves?

Eliza: I’m not a fan of heavy description. I like fast paced novels. Long blocks of description or emotional thoughts make my eyes glaze over. The only downside, I’m always having to add description back into my novel. Where most people have trouble cutting 90,000 words.

Me: That is SO me too! Too funny. I have to confess that I clicked on your name through Blog Me MAYbe because you have one of my favorite names. What kind of names do you go for with your characters? Do you spend a lot of time finding names or researching them? Or do they just sort of come to you when you think of a character?

Eliza: The only name I ever researched was Avikar: YA fantasy. Every other time, the names just pop in my head. Although, I’ve learned to check them. My next project will be a YA futuristic romance. I wanted to name the MC Damien Walters. Then I googled and realized that was a real person!

Me: Oh yes. I wonder what writers did before google.  Do you write to music or silence, or, since you’re a mom, the sound of playing? (I’m only a dog mom, and I often write to the sound of the two dogs mucking about the living room)

Eliza: Depends on my mood. I spend my lunch hour at work writing. If the scene calls for it, I’ll put on Pandora on my phone and listen. Most of the time, I’m just happy to be able to write and drown out any unwanted sounds if I need to.

Me: That’s cool. So final question(s). Do you find inspiration in life or through other books, movies, games, or a combo of all of that? Are there any big concepts that really ground or theme your writing? Like ethical dilemmas, first loves, etc.?

Eliza: Everywhere. I can leave church with an uplifting feeling and ready to write, or I can sit outside on a nice day, enjoying the breeze and feel the need to express it. Other books do inspire me. If I read a book that emotionally gets to me, it makes me want to write.

Two big themes that ground me are: Forgiveness and redemption. I guess it’s because I’m a Christian and am super thankful that God decided to give me a second chance. I love watching screwed up characters get that too. The villain becoming the hero, etc.

Me: That’s very cool. I love when villains become the hero too! This conversation just speaks to what a huge gift writing can be, in so many ways. It brings people from a wide variety of backgrounds to common ground.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview. I feel like I’ve mad e anew friend!

Eliza: Thanks! You too!

It was a completely enjoyable interview, and if you’d like more Eliza, check out her blog or follow her on twitter at @ElizaTilton.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blog Me MAYbe: Name Match-up Contest

**UPDATE** So I got some emails that eluded to the fact that perhaps I made it too hard to get ALL of the matched names. New plan. The person who gets the MOST matched names wins. Crystal wins for yesterday. Let's see who can win today! If you don't know, guess. You may win. Here are the new rules. At the end of the day today (midnight PST) whoever has either all or the most right wins. If there's a tie, there will be a tie breaker... though, I'm kinda a push over so you may both just get books! See. Even more reason to play.

Today is Monday for Blog Me MAYbe and that means it's, May I tell you something about writing? day.

I always struggle with this topic. As an unpublished-always-struggling-to-finish-a-project-writer I feel like I'm a little unqualified to write anything of substance on the topic of writing. But there's one thing that I do love to talk about. And that's character names. I troll baby name sites so often that you'd think I were pregnant. In fact I get google ads about belly balm all the time.

You know those games where you match the super hero to his or her real world (no, not the MTV series) name? Well, we're gonna play it this way. I'm going to list character names, and you're going to match them with what type of character they are! HINT: they are all YA book characters.

To add that extra incentive, the first person to post the correct order will get a YA book of their choice. Seriously, you get to go to Powell's (my favorite bookstore) and pick out what book you want, and I'll have it sent to you. Sweet, right? So here we go...

1. Sabriel                            A. Hogwarts Student
2. Cassel Sharpe               B. Midnighter
3. Howl                               C. Lioness
4. Neville Longbottom        D. Fairy Godmother
5. Jessica Day                   E. Curse Worker
6. Maggie Winters              F. Necromancer
7. Alanna                           G. Wizard

Please post as follows (note, this is not the right answer!)
1C, 2D, etc...

BONUS: if you can name the books & the authors for each, you get a SECOND book (of equal or lesser value, of course)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blog Me MAYbe: It's Abhorsen not Abortion

It's Monday for Blog Me MAYbe. That means it's May I tell you something about writing? day. Since I'm permanently stuck on either revisions or creating something new, I thought I'd talk about a series of books that breaks lots of rules, including a could-be confusing name, but does it with style and serious draw.

Now, I will admit. If you're not into fantasy, you will not like the Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix. If you do, they are easily one of the best in young adult or adult for that matter. Though hardcore adult fantasy fans will likely find them too tame.

Before we get to the name, let's start with the rule breaking. We've all been told (over and over, and then have passed on this knowledge as if a badge of honor of having done it ourselves) that you should pretty much never start a story with a prologue. But they work so well to get your point across super fast and tell a lot in a one to two page punch, right? Right. Well, at least in Garth Nix's first book in the series, Sabriel, that's totally true. The prologue works for him.

Most of us have likely been told not to use too many gerunds ("ing" words) because that means you're telling. *gasp* And most times, I'd totally agree with this. I use them all the time, and catch myself often. I almost always find them when critiquing (lol). At first, it looks like there are a ton of them. But here's the trick... he uses them right. Here's an example:
"Feeling relatively warmer, Sabriel resumed climbing up the last, winding portion of the path, where the incline was so steep the pathmakers had resorted to cutting steps out of the granite--steps now worn and cumbling, prone to sliding away underfoot." - Garth Nix, SABRIEL
He's only using them to describe something the MC is doing with the first two. She's feeling and climbing. The rest are in reference to other things. So it's not a sentence full of: She's sitting, thinking of her long lost grandma as she is winding the yarn into a ball. Which would be so wrong to write.

And finally, the title. In fact it's the title of the third book, as well as the series. Abhorsen. It seems a little close to abortion. Doesn't it? In fact I was reading the third book--This was a few years ago--and the edition I have is red. Someone actually asked me if I was reading a book on abortion and what that funny symbol meant. But in the end, it's a whatever moment.  Because these books are so good, that Garth Nix can continue to break every rule in the book and I'll continue to read them.

Do you break rules? Are there books out there that you love despite the rule breaking?