Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truth Revealed

The contest is still going. Stop by HERE and make a contribution to the story. Don’t have a full 200 words, write what you feel.

Hello there, my trusted friends. Kind of funny I would pick that phrase considering the entire point of this post is to show you exactly how I lied to you. This is different from the last post where I revealed the TRUTH
On Friday, I posted six things – one of which was the total truth. And I fooled you all. But I guess I did cheat just a little. There was a itty bity bit of truth in each one – but only one that didn’t contain a single embellishment or change in story.
So, let’s see…1) When I was in the third grade, I won the school spelling bee. I went to regionals, but was out smarted by a kid that had a giant bald spot on the back of his head. Looking back, I’m guessing his mom got a little careless with the clippers. –FALSE  I did fair well in a spelling bee in the first grade. I still have a fancy yellow certificate with a bee on it around here somewhere. But I only won in my class, and that’s as far as it got. Don’t know a kid with a random bald spot, but I could see how it could happen.

2) The day after I bought my last car, a pregnant woman crashed into me in a mall parking lot. Her friend got out of the car and started yelling at me like it was my fault. Meanwhile, the pregnant lady started crying. I felt so bad that I started apologizing. Did I mention that she hit me? –FALSE This is my favorite kind of lie and something I use a lot in storytelling. I’ve combined two stories for dramatic effect. The second car I ever owned was quite literally ran over on my second day of owning it. The tiny CRX was parked behind my friend’s mile high truck, and he backed over it – onto the hood. I did have a fender bender in a parking with a pregnant lady. I know she was preggos, because her friend told me about 15 times. To this day, I don’t know who hit who. I did apologize a lot, but that’s my thing. I say “sorry” and “thank you” constantly. Dunno why.

3) In the second grade, I started a petition to have one of the teacher’s aides fired. I thought that she was very mean- and with no reason. So I pranced about the playground and had kids sign up. I walked it right into the principal’s office, who called my dad. –TRUE    Truth is stranger than fiction. Her name was Ms. Culbreath. I thought she was sooooooo mean. I did actually start a petition. I did take it to the principal. They did call my dad. He told this story often, and told it with pride. I think he encouraged the wrong behaviors – cuz see what happened *points to self*. He knew I was different – and wanted me to always be me. Something I forgot to be on occasion. I believe he’d be quite proud that I started writing, that I have this blog, and that there are people that get a little giggle and hopefully an occasional nugget of wisdom when they stop by. That’s why I picked this story as my truth. Love ya, Dad!

4) The first place that I rented by myself was outside of San Antonio. It was a two bedroom trailer, with a lavender bathtub, sink and toilet in the bathroom. I was so excited that the first thing I bought was a matching shower curtain. Then my friends and I drank heavily, and I got to be the first one to yack in the purple toilet. –FALSE  The trailer was in a small town outside of Shreveport, LA and it did have said purple toilet. I made jokes about who would be the first person to yack in the lavender toilet, but no one ever did. We did get drunk my first night there, and we spilled enough beer on the carpet of that raggedy trailer to fill a keg – but no yackers.

5) I’ve always been a music lover. I started playing the violin in the third grade and played until the sixth grade. I only quit, because the cute boy thought it was lame. The cute boy that I am sure is now lame. –FALSE I played the violin in the third grade for about half a year, and then quit. I have no idea why I quit. It would be the first of many things I started and then flitted off to find new hobbies. That novel that I talk about – that would be one of the first things (hobby wise) I saw through to completion. The soul’s always searching. *grins*

6) I went to my senior prom with my (at the time) boyfriend’s best friend. Poor guy got grounded, and was trying to be nice by offering up his buddy’s services. He, basically, just drove me there, and I hung with my friend’s all night. I found out later that the boyfriend sent him as a spy. Naughty, naughty, boyfriend.  –FALSE  I went to a homecoming dance with my boyfriend’s best friend my junior year. The boyfriend (who was much older and way cooler) was out of town that weekend, and to not be a total jerk found a friend so I wouldn’t be going stag. It was very odd to be thankful and pissed at the same time. But he wasn’t acting as a spy. He hung out with his friends – I hung out with mine. Boyfriend couldn’t care less. Ahh, the bad boy phase. It all helps with the writing, huh?

So, loves, sorry for telling you lies, sweet little lies, but now you know a little more about me. Probably more than you wanted.
Watcha Say Wednesday will return next week. But tell me what you think of my lies.
And don’t forget to drop down and continue Claire’s story. She sounds like she’s getting into a bit of trouble. Get her in more or help her get out – whatever speaks to you.  It’s your story – tell it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Keep It Going Contest

*Due to this week’s contest, I will reveal the truth to my Creative Writer lies from Friday night’s post on Wednesday in lieu of Watcha Say Wednesday. So, there's still time to make a guess if you'd like. 

Guys and gals, it’s time for another installment of the “Keep It Going Contest.” The contest is a spin on an old campfire game. Below you will find the beginning of a story. The game is to add your own creative spin to it. Unlike writing prompts, I want you to do it right here in the comment section.

HOW TO PLAY: Here’s how it works. The first commenter will add to my contribution, the next will add to theirs, and so forth, building onto it like a puzzle. So that when the contest is over, I will take all the comments and show what we created. (Here’s what happened last time.) You just need to read my passage and the last comment made, and then add your own contribution to the story. I recommend typing out your part in a separate doc so that someone doesn’t jump in front of you before you hit submit. On Wednesday and Friday, I will create a comment summarizing what we have so far to make it easier on those that show up in the middle of the week.

RULES: First and foremost you must become a follower. That’s step one. There are multiple ways to earn entries into the contest.

PRIZES: Oh yes, there are prizes. There will be two sets of winners.

*The first is strictly for those that contribute to the story. Entries should be limited to 200 words. One winner will be randomly selected from the comments section from the list of contributors. That winner will take home their choice of either a $15 gift certificate from Amazon or a 15-page critique from me (any pages you like, although most use this for the first 15).

*The second is open to everyone. Winners will be randomly selected, and there will be two of them. Each winner will win one of the following, which they will select: Critique of your first 10 pages or $10 Amazon gift certificate. Point system is as follows:

1) Be a follower. +2 if you were already a follower, +1 for all new followers

2)Submitting your contribution to the story in the comments. Please limit your entries to 200 words, however, multiple entries are allowed. +5

3) Blog about the contest +3

4) Posting a link to the contest on the sidebar of your blog. +2

5) Follow me on twitter +1

6) Post a link to the contest on Facebook or Twitter +2

DEADLINE: The contest will run from now until Saturday, April 3rd at 11:00 pm EST. I will announce the winners the following Monday.

Questions and comments are welcome.

Have fun with it. Be creative. Take this story wherever you want it to go. Seriously, just because I don’t mention vampires, werewolves, or three-legged wooly boogers doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.

Not my finest work, but I wanted to give you guys a different genre this go round. I don’t generally write YA, but I think it’s enough to get you started.

Here we go…
Claire’s morning started with a scream - Mother’s. Mom was beyond pissed when she saw her daughter’s purple-tinged hair. Tired of her long golden locks and the innocence that came with them, Claire lopped off her hair to chin level, dyed it, and then went to bed in a puddle of tears. 

She begged and pleaded with her mother to not make her go to school today. She didn’t want to see Gavin. Couldn’t face him. But Mom pushed her daughter out the door with a female warrior battle cry.

“Not going shows weakness, and we Fitzgerald’s are stronger than that,” she had said. 

Claire drug herself through the red double doors of Piedmont High. Taking an alternative route to her locker, she kept her eyes busy, trying to avoid the boy with pale skin and hazel eyes. She crept up to her locker ninja style.

The pictures of a happy couple stared back as she swung open the metal door. She swallowed down the guilt, and pinched back the tears. Stronger than that. 

The locker slammed shut, nearly crushing her fingers inside. She saw the black boots first. She forced her eyes upward, and into furious eyes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Randomly Delicious & awards

Well, this is going to be a very random blog, but sometimes that is what we need. First, I want to say this week’s Watcha Say Wednesday was awesome! I learn so much from you guys, and it was fascinating to see how other writers create their stories. (If you didn’t chime in, you still can.) It seemed the majority came up with a concept first. That’s me, too. I come up with the concept, normally a “what if,” then I interview characters until I find the perfect one that will breathe life into the concept. Then find their natural habitat – and go from there. This was fun. I hope you guys are enjoying WSW as much as I am. Maybe next week won’t be so crazy, and I can weigh in more, but I did enjoy seeing all the wonderful responses come in.
This week I learned that writing = sleeping. I can stay up really late when I’m writing, and the next morning I’m a ball of sunshine. However, if I stay up because I’m trying to take the legs out from under my to-do list –yea, not so much. The next morning I need coffee on an I.V. drip, and turn into Queen Grumperella. Very strange, but enlightening.  
Next Monday, I will be rolling out --- wait for it --- wait for it --- The Keep It Going Contest. Details and the story will be posted Sunday night – so come back by. I’m making a few changes based on the suggestions received.
Laurel over at Laurel’s Leaves passed on the “Creative Writer” award. I think you’ve seen it about, but the rules are for me to lie to you five out of six times and you get to guess which one is the truth. So, remember – I didn’t lie to you on purpose—Laurel made me do it.
So, here we go.
1) When I was in the third grade, I won the school spelling bee. I went to regionals, but was out smarted by a kid that had a giant bald spot on the back of his head. Looking back, I’m guessing his mom got a little careless with the clippers.
2) The day after I bought my last car, a pregnant woman crashed into me in a mall parking lot. Her friend got out of the car and started yelling at me like it was my fault. Meanwhile, the pregnant lady started crying. I felt so bad that I started apologizing. Did I mention that she hit me?
3) In the second grade, I started a petition to have one of the teacher’s aides fired. I thought that she was very mean- and with no reason. So I pranced about the playground and had kids sign up. I walked it right into the principal’s office, who called my dad.
4) The first place that I rented by myself was outside of San Antonio. It was a two bedroom trailer, with a lavender bathtub, sink and toilet in the bathroom. I was so excited that the first thing I bought was a matching shower curtain. Then my friends and I drank heavily, and I got to be the first one to yack in the purple toilet.
5) I’ve always been a music lover. I started playing the violin in the third grade and played until the sixth grade. I only quit, because the cute boy thought it was lame. The cute boy that I am sure is now lame.
6) I went to my senior prom with my (at the time) boyfriend’s best friend. Poor guy got grounded, and was trying to be nice by offering up his buddy’s services. He, basically, just drove me there, and I hung with my friend’s all night. I found out later that the boyfriend sent him as a spy. Naughty, naughty, boyfriend.  
Guess away…
I’m passing this along to…
Another award…
Michael over at Mental Masturbation (Is that not the coolest frickin name for a blog?) gifted me with the Creative Writer Award, well one that doesn’t turn me into a pathological liar. If you haven’t been over to his blog, go check it out. He has something new daily. I am awarding the following Creative Writers.
Last, but not least. My newest attempt at a query letter is up on Public Query Slushpile. Stop by and let me know what you think. I am trying out a less is more philosophy. Wondering if it works, or if it just makes it more confusing. 
That’s all I have for today. Stop back by on Monday for the contest.
Which one do you think is the truth? Which one do you think is the biggest lie? How the heck was your week? And what do you think of my new philosophy of write=sleep?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesday: What comes first?

Currently, I am in a weird spot. Just finished up revisions for a project and am letting it rest for a while before I slice into once more. During this month of waiting, I am focusing on my marketing plan. But the not writing is killing me. Knowing how consumed I become in a novel, I have decided to turn my attention to short stories and am falling in love with the concept. In the past two days, I've created the outlines for two new stories. Because of the length, I'm not afraid of starting one or the other- I'll just write them both. This is something I always struggle with when it comes to a novel - being pulled between multiple ideas and not knowing where to turn my focus.

This brings me to my question for today's Watcha Say Wednesday.

 When you begin a new project - what is your jumping point?
For you, what comes first?
Is it the beginning or an outline?
A character or the setting?
A concept or the climax?

Answer what speaks to you, and ignore the rest. But do tell- I am quite curious.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It Is All Research

This past Saturday, my husband and I took our two children to Decatur’s annual Touch the Truck. A normally vacant lot overflowed with tow trucks, fire trucks, police cars, an ambulance, and the crowd favorite, the SWAT mobile, which was the size of a moving truck and included everything such as a kitchen sink and two flat screen TVs. A three-year-old boy’s paradise. A SWAT team member placed his black tactical vest upon my son. It swallowed the boy and was so heavy that it might as well have been an elephant – but with the strong man’s hands holding it gingerly in place, it was a perfect fit in the toddler’s mind. We then topped my son’s noggin with the helmet that nearly covered his lips. The boy giggled and made his “I mean business” face as he drifted off to his imaginary land where he is the defender of good against evil sock monsters and three headed broccoli ninjas.
As his eyes stopped seeing the real world, I began to take note. Why, this is a writer’s paradise as well! (Especially crime, mystery, and other death-wielding writers.) My mental notebook came out as I explored the workings of a police car, questioned the number of people that could fit in the SWAT armed vehicle, and discovered the gadgets found in the back end of an ambulance. I was surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and professionals who were eager to answer questions, - and blessed with two inquisitive children, who I fed more questions to. Hey, it’s cuter when the seven-year-old asks how the computer inside a police car works and what does this button do, and that one and this one and so on. Without this trip, I wouldn’t have known that the backseat of a police car is made of an unforgiving grey plastic or that the storage bins in an ambulance came directly from Target and match the ones that I have at home. All facts that add realism to a scene.
The truth is – it is all research. Everything we as writers do, see and feel can be stored in our mental databases and extracted for future use. Every time our heart is broken – it is research. When we fall in love – research. A broken copy machine – research. A sip of wine crosses our palette – yep, you guessed it – research.
The trick is being aware. Opening your senses – all of them – to the world around you. Taking it all in and filing it all away. Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Life is filled with scenes; all we have to do is record them and play them back with our own spin. The world is our oyster, and as writers, we have the God granted talent of being able to turn every grain of sand into a pearl.  
How do you use the world around you? What grains of sand have you transformed into a pearl? Do you keep a notebook on you at all times, or do you lock it away in your mental database?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can't. Stop. Reading.

What makes a page turner? What about a book keeps you from sleeping?

At some point, each of us has come across a book that has grabbed us by both eyes and not let go. We’ve fought to put it down, and failed horribly. They’ve left us walking into work with dark circles under our eyes. Forced us to spend our lunch hours tearing through as many chapters as possible. Turned us into complete addicts.

Twilight did this to me, and though I loved them, it wasn’t the stellar writing – it was something else. Hunger Games is another that kept me up at night. Let’s go old school – Bridget Jones Diary. So what is it about these books? Are the pages lined with crack?

I went back and looked at some of the books that have done this to me to see what it was that made me cling to them, and choose reading versus a night out on the town.

Characters you genuinely care about – Becoming emotionally invested in a character, will keep you coming back with every spare minute you can muster. You know if it ends poorly—you will need to take a few days off to mourn. A character that you relate to and desperately want to see succeed.

Cliffhangers at the end of chapters – We naturally want to close a book at the end of a chapter versus the middle, but when the chapter ends with a car wreck—we HAVE to know who lives, who dies, and how the heck’s the Ferrari. So, we start the new chapter, and darn now we are back in the middle. Keep reading. Now, the body is missing. Well, where did it go? Next thing you know it’s 3:00 am, and you’re hiding in the closet with a flashlight trying not to wake the rest of the house.

Reverse Arc – A story has a natural arc. Each chapter is generally designed the same, building to the climax and then slowly bringing the reader back down. The reverse arc throws all that out the window- starting with action, covering slower parts in the middle of the chapter, and planting you back at the top of a climax at the end, propelling you into the next chapter.

Forget the drapes - Now, I personally have a tendency of skipping past the pages of beautifully written prose discussing the tiny butterfly pattern that is woven into the blue wallpaper. Couldn’t care less. I want to know where the heck did Hot Guy go, and is he the one holding the bloody knife? Maybe that’s just me, but a book that leaves a reader quivering for more is not doing so because of the mass amount of description. I couldn’t tell you what Bella’s room looked like, but I can tell you there was a vampire hanging out in there.

This can not end well – A storyline that appears to have a definitive ending, one that will crush your soul, but the writer gives you the tiniest inkling of hope--will pull you to the end. You may be reading it while peering through your fingers, but you are reading forward. I give it up to Stephanie Meyer on this one for sure. Breaking Dawn! Hello! ‘Nuff said.

Make ‘em laugh – A book that is just fun to read will make a reader cling to it, and heck, even come back for more. It’s not the same Zombie response of, “Must finish book, have to finish book, Boooook.” But the pages flick by just the same. You know the saying – time flies when you are having fun – well so do the chapters. Bridget Jones Diary was one of the first books that did this to me. I hoped things would work out for her, but laughing out loud alone in the dark is why I could not put that book down.

This list is not complete, but I think it’s a good start. So you tell me ...

What are some other things that glue you to the writing? Do you use any of these page turning techniques in your writing? What’s a book that grabbed you and wouldn’t let you go?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesday: Hook or Bust

I am blogging from my phone today. How ya like that? I am sitting in the parking lot, waiting for my religion class to start. This semester I'm tackling religion and tax accounting. Just seems wrong.

Watcha Say Wednesdays are a chance to share your feelings on a particular subject. Anonymous comments are on for those in the Writers Protection Program.

My question to you, and I'm really curious about this- how forgiving are you to authors? How long do you give them to hook you? And if you find yourself losing interest, do you keep reading or return to the to-be-read pile? And if you keep reading--why?

What's the deepest you ever made it into a book, and then decided to put it down?

Answer what speaks to you, and ignore the rest. But do tell- I am quite curious.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hi, My name is...

Today marks my 50th post. There was cake here earlier. Sorry you missed it. But… only two more weeks until the next Keep It Going Contest – so there’s something.
Yesterday, I finished up my most recent round of edits.  It is now tucked away in a folder titled - Do Not Open Until April 15th. Based on the feedback I have received, I am hoping that I will be able to do light clean up (mostly line edits), and then start querying. To prepare (and to keep my hands off the manuscript), I will be spending the next month focusing on marketing, perfecting the query letter, and writing the *shivers* synopsis.
The first step of marketing is figuring out who you are. When I started this blog, I set it up as A.J. Frey. I did so, because I wasn’t sure about having my name out there with a bright neon sign saying that I was writing. I was still a little afraid. Going by my initials helped me step out and start publishing this blog.
This weekend, I decided to google myself, well A.J. Frey. Here’s what came up.

Do you see the second item? OMG! I don’t want to do die of some horrible disease. Ahh!  And Hockey?! The facebook is not even mine. I don’t exist.
So, then I searched my maiden name. Well, I won’t post that. She’s in the adult industry. Don’t want us to get confused – so that’s a no.
Lastly, I decided to see what happens when I search my own name. My real name. I mean everybody I know already knows that I write – so the secret’s out. 

Five results. All five belong to me. When I googled it originally, it was only one – and that was from when I made the Dean’s List. (Yep, I’m a nerd.)
Now, you have the blog, the dean’s list, my entry into the Dear Lucky Agent contest, and a comment I made on Nathan Bransford’s blog today.
I don’t know that if/when I get published I will want to be so accessible, but while I am trying to become published – yes, yes, I do.  If they are looking, I want it to be easy for an agent to find me. But with this comes added responsibility. I have to keep my name clean.
I have locked in my slice of the web. So, now if you type in  www.aliciajfrey.com – you will get me. (Google will redirect you if you continue to use aj-frey.blogspot.com) I’ve started playing around with the pages. The “About Me” is the only one that is currently active, but I will be adding to them each day until I get it like I like it.
So, hello all – My name is Alicia!
So, are you using your real name? What do you think of the About Me section? Are you using Blogger’s pages? If so, are you doing it in lieu of a separate website?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Confusing Me Will Only Make Me Better

Yesterday, I mentioned that I have a chapter currently up for review on Critique Circle.com. For those of you that are not familiar with this site, it is a free website where writers can post their work for others to review. You earn points for reviewing other people’s chapters or short stories and then use those points to post your own work. It’s a great place to get many critiques on individual chapters in a short amount of time. Your pages are up for one week and can be critiqued by as many as six critiques as a newbie, and an unlimited amount as you move out of that queue. On average, I normally receive about 5 or 6.

What I find the most interesting is the range of those critiques, which is true with all critique groups. Each of them provides great insight, and what I can take from them is invaluable. I have received four different critiques so far, but they are so varied from each other that they remind me of this season of American Idol.

RANDY: Dog, that was a hot one right there! I’m blown away. (Stand up, chair falls over)

ELLEN: That was great. Not what I would have done. Maybe exactly the same, but completely different. But I like you. (Awkwardly looks to Kara.)

KARA: I expected a little more, but I think it is a 100% improvement from before. (Cuddles up closer to Simon.) But you can do better. (Pushes Simon away.)

SIMON: Look, that was complete rubbish. I don’t know what I prayed for more—for it to end or for a power outage.

(Ok, I didn’t get any Simon’s. Thank goodness!! But I have in the past, and when I first started. I’m still traumatized. Haha.)

What is even funnier is that the site has a wonderful feature that allows you to combine all of the inline critiques into one document. Fantastic. Ok, that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that there was one line in particular that all four critiquers commented on. Two absolutely loved it with multiple exclamation marks, and the other two “didn’t get it” and it “just wasn’t working for me, dog.” That last one is not really a quote from the site. But you get the idea.

So what do you do?

--There are some things where they all pointed out the exact same thing. That’s easy – fix it.

--If one person points something out that no one else has ever touched on, I listen with both ears. I mull it over and see if there is validity to it.

--Split 50/50 – I have to follow my gut, listening to the arguments from both sides, and do what I think is right for my story.

--A mixed review? You can’t always just go with majority. Each review is slightly weighted. Do they read the genre; what is their experience; how far down the path are they; do they “get” my quirkiness? (Some people just don’t, and that’s ok.) But never discard based on any of those facts nor use them to just do whatever the heck you want. You have to listen, but the application of these critiques has to be well thought out.

--Lastly, don’t touch anything until it’s all had time to simmer. What may have earned an eye roll when you first read it – may turn out to be the best piece of advice you receive.

What may come from these critiques could be simple line edits (misplaced question mark that everybody except me caught) or major rewrites. Time will tell. I will tell you what I have learned so far--this is getting much closer to finished. Maybe just one more round. :-)

So, what do you do when you get conflicting critiques? What type of critique group are you in?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Breathe

I have pages in two different people’s hands right now, and my “new” first chapter is posted on Critique Circle.com. Having new people read your work is exhilarating and terrifying. And I’m very lucky and happy to have people that are browsing through my words, and helping make them stronger.
But it is full disclosure time. I am never more neurotic than when I am waiting on a review. I pray in time this will get better for the publishing business is all about waiting. I know this, and that is why I make sure that my crazy is kept internal. Well, with the exception of this post. The only reason that I share this so openly is because I don’t think that I am alone.
But you have to recognize this for what it is and not give into temptation to pester those blessed souls who have offered to read your work. To not fill their inbox with insane messages of …
--- “What page are you on?” ---
---“Nevermind, don’t read it. You won’t like it.”  ---
--- “I know you’ve had fifty pages for only thirty minutes, but what do you think?” ---
--- “Your silence means you hate it. Am I right?” ---
--- “Please love me.” ---

*Just so we are clear, I have never ACTUALLY sent any of those* :-)
Please note, my anxiety is not a reflection of the critiquers, only of my own impatience.

These people are there to help you get stronger, not to validate you as a writer. And the process of waiting is one that you must become accustomed to if you are serious about the business.

--- You must wait until your manuscript is ready before querying.
--- You must wait and query slowly—not sending a mass email to all agents who you think rock.
--- You must wait to hear back from said rockstar agents.
--- They ask for pages, you must wait to hear if they love them.
--- If they love them, you must wait for them to find the publisher that thinks you rock.
--- Found a publisher, you must wait on that much dreamed about cover.
--- Cover’s on shelf, you must wait to see if people love your characters as much as you do.

And if they do, all the waiting will make that moment all the sweeter.

No matter if it’s the wait for a critique, the wait for the words to be your version of perfect, or the agent’s email to finally hit your email box after the thirty-seventh time of you sending an email to yourself with the subject ‘TEST” – BREATHE!  Take a deep breath, find something else to do, channel your anxiety into beautiful art, and don’t forget how blessed you are to have been given the gift of words.

The choice to write can be made in a minute, but the decision to become a writer is not one that should be taken lightly. It is a journey no less difficult than Frodo’s. This business requires determination, courage, resolve, patience, strength, and wonderful friends who help put you back on the right path when one of those is faltering.

Celebrate each accomplishment. Brush off each down fall. And put your best write forward.

Much love to all of you for being my Samwise on this journey!

So tell me. What are you waiting on? Are you a patient person? Do you stress when others have your work? Or do you stay cool as a cucumber?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesdays: Dare to Dream

I hit 50 followers today!! Woohoo!!! Thanks everyone!! (Ok, over the quota on exclamation marks. I'll simmer down.) ! - sorry that one slipped in there on its own.

On with it...
Whatcha Say Wednesdays are about you. Your thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. Dig in as deep as you wish, or vere off in a new direction.

This week…Daydreaming

Do you allow yourself to daydream about becoming published? Or do you forbid yourself?

If you do, what is it that you think about? Seeing your book on the shelf? The book becoming a movie? The design of your cover? The Nobel Peace Prize? Helping other authors? Oprah? What have you romanticized?

Anonymous comments are on for the chickens. Haha - That was just a joke. I understand the need for anonymity and also for ane-ne-ne-mome. Nemo, hello?

Share with your compadres.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Contest Winners and The Complete Story

I hope you all had as much fun with this contest as I did. I believe this is going to be a regular occurrence here on Eyes 2 Page. From where I was sitting, it was so exciting watching the story unfold.

Before I announce the winners to the Keep It Going Contest, I have an award to give out.
The Sunshine Award came to me via Laurel at Laurel’s Leaves. (Thank you!), and I want to pass it along to a few people that bring a little sunshine into my life with their wonderful blogs.

Alright, without further ado…
The winners of the contest have won their choice of either a $10 gift certificate to Amazon or a critique of 10 pages – their choice.

The winners are…

Congrats to each of you! Email me by clicking on the envelope, and let me know which you would prefer.

This was so much fun. Thanks to everyone who played along. I added an ending to the story, and have posted the story in its entirety for your enjoyment. Lots of talent went into the story below!

Did you have fun with this contest? Any suggestions for a better name? Suggestions to make the contest even more fun?

The story…

Janet paced back and forth, wearing out the pile on the speckled berber rug. Tommy should have arrived over two hours ago. He was supposed to be in, out, and back in her arms. The bags were packed, the car was gassed, and the GPS was programmed.
“What’s taking so long?” she said aloud, releasing the blinds. The new crease in the thin plastic strip showed her impatience.
She turned on the television, finding the local news. Forcing herself to sit down, she stared, praying that the newscaster would not tell her something that her cell phone had not.
Her skin nearly touched the ceiling when the doorbell rang.
She leaped from the couch. Not bothering with the peephole, she swung open the door.
“What are you doing here?” Janet asked.
                                                                                                ---A.J. Frey

Standing poised at the entrance was the tenacious and diplomatic Sonya Reed. Beautiful and wealthy with clothes to match. Smart as a whip, and just as flexible; in bedside manners as well as politics.
"I haven't come at a bad time have I?" Sonya asked. Her devious, plastic smile suggested she knew the answer to her own question. Sonya’s commanding demeanor was so powerful she needn’t even ask to be let in; she simply wafted through the doorway like a casual breeze, took off her gloves and tossed them onto Janet’s shoulder.
Sonya sauntered into the room, casually surveying the bags lying around the sofa. “Where are you headed?” She asked.
Janet slowly closed the door, her eyes fixed on Sonya.
“Vacation?” Sonya asked, still strutting around the sofa, pretending to not notice Janet walking toward the bags. “You know, with all the money Tommy’s going to get from that deal with Martin you two could travel anywhere you like, couldn’t you?”
Janet laid Sonya’s gloves on the arm of the sofa. She was so nervous she almost laughed. “Yeah—I—I guess we could.” There was a pistol stowed away in the open bag closest to Sonya. Janet feared she had already seen it, but wasn’t certain enough to give up trying to conceal the weapon. She carelessly grabbed a few random items off the coffee table (coasters, magazines, a remote) and moved toward the bag, trying to look as though she intended to pack the items away.
Sonya turned, nonchalant, meeting Janet’s eyes with her own. “You should.”

The tension in the room is unbearable. Janet maintains her gaze, as she reaches into the bag slowly.
Sonya's eyes avert down to the bag, attracted by the shine of the barrel of a Glock 17 being pulled out.
"What are you doing?"
Janet's grip is unsteady, but she raises the gun and points it at Sonya. "I don't have the patience for your bullshit right now, Sonya. This deal is going to change our lives."
Sonya smiles, "What, are you going to shoot me?"
The door opens behind Sonya, and Janet reacts impulsively, answering her question. Sonya's  body drops, as Tommy stops in his tracks.
"What did you do?"

"Nothing. I... Ugh..." She looked down at the gun. Had she actually pulled the trigger? She certainly hadn't meant to. Oh, boy. Now what was she going to do?
Sonya stirred, slowly opening her eyes.
"Oh, thank God. You passed out," Janet said, offering her hand to help Sonya to her feet.
Sonya slapped her hand away and glanced over at Tommy. "You get it?"
He nodded.
"Perfect. Now, let's get the hell out of here."
Janet's heart sunk. "What's going on?"
Sonya laughed. "She has no clue? You've been a bad boy, Tommy. I thought you were going to tell her."
He shrugged. "Never got the chance."
Janet fisted her hands on her hips. "Tell me what?"
Tommy faltered, his eyes flickering toward the gun just long enough to declare his guilt.
Janet’s gaze narrowed and she shook her head. The puzzle pieces began to click together in her mind so obviously that she cursed herself for not having seen it before. Of course. It had been Tommy and Sonya all along. Why would she ever have thought that he would choose her over someone so dangerous, so seductive? Someone who oozed confidence and sexuality. Someone who… was still alive.
“Damnit.” Janet raised the gun toward Sonya. The relief that she had not shot her quickly soured into regret.
“Jan, it’s -“ Tommy began. Janet kept the gun trained on the smirking woman and thought she read sadness in Tommy’s eyes.
“It’s Elise, sweetheart,” Sonya cut in. Janet felt the foundation within her begin to crack. Tommy’s warning glance at the woman was not lost on her.
“Sonya, don’t-“
“Why not?” the woman mused. Janet knew that Sonya was ruthless, but to be that careless in the line of fire? Then she saw it. The slight bulge under her armpits. The faintest squaring of her fitted shirt. She was wearing a bulletproof vest. Janet knew immediately that she was out of her league.
“She’s alive, kitten.” The words rolled out of Sonya’s scarlet tinged lips lazily and Janet hated her. Detested her. But now, she needed her. Because now this woman stood between her and her only child, a child that had been dead to her for the past two years.
Her grip faltered. "You're lying."
Sonya's eyes danced in challenge. "Am I? How would you know?"
Janet stared at her. She felt her resolve diminishing. She looked at Tommy, hoping somehow she could see what was in his mind.
"Just put the gun away, Janet. We can talk about it," Tommy assured her.
She shook her head, blinded by the tears already gathering in her eyes.

What did it matter now? She raised the gun again and pointed it at her baby’s Daddy. Tommy had no intention of turning over the money. Worse, he had no love for the child she’d willing sacrificed to his scheme. Her beautiful daughter Elise, used so carelessly in a game of cat and mouse with her father, Argus Frump. Her evil step mom in on the swindle all along.
Janet’s hand shook with her sobs. “But where is Elise? How do I get her back?”
Tommy frowned. “Back? We signed the adoption papers a week ago. It’s a done deal. Your Dad gets Elise, we get the money -”
“We; as in Tommy and I,” Sonya purred. “Stroke of genius that was, my love, offering his grandchild in place of the daughter he disinherited. Once he changed his will for his brother to be her payee, there was no sense my killing him.”
“But you signed the pre-nupt knowing you’d never get a dime, Sonya.”
“You can’t really believe I was in love with your balding, pouchy gutted father.” She licked her botox filled lips and puffed out her silicon filled chest. “It’s been Tommy and me all along. Who knew old Argus would really cut his only daughter from his will.”
“Tacky, babe,” Tommy warned. “Don’t give away all our secrets.”
Sonya's face hardened. “Now put that gun down, you silly twit. Or, we’ll release the video of you shooting me onto U-tube.”

"Bitch, please."
Those words are muffled by the sound of a gunshot. Tommy's face loses its expression, and his shirt turns red in the center. His body drops to the floor, due to a fatal, center-mass shot.
"Tommy!" Sonya screams, and drops to her knees, in what appears to be agony. "Don't you die on me! Not without telling me where the money is!" She hits him, out of anger, and realizes that it is not just her and Janet in the room. She looks to her left, to meet the business end of a second Glock 17.
"You ok, baby girl?"
"I'm fine, dad."
"Good, your daughter is downstairs, with my money, and Tessa. Why don't you go to the car, while I take care of this."
"Thanks, dad."
"Sonya, dear, I just don't think this is going to work out between us."

“Dad, let me,” said Janet, her eyes showing the full betrayal that her heart felt. “Please.”
            Argus handed the pistol to his daughter. Without the beat of a heart, Janet pointed it directly at Sonya’s head and fired, sparks of flint and blood cascading in the air. She didn’t repeat the mistake from earlier. This woman was out of her life for good.
            “Come on,” said Argus, gripping the doorknob.
            Janet paused for a moment, finally given the gift of clarity. “Elise is really downstairs?” she asked.
            “Yes, baby girl. Let’s go see her.”
            “Couldn’t crack the safe without me, could you?”
            Dear old dad’s face fell. “What?”
            “You need me to get the money.”
            He stared eye to eye with the barrel of his own gun. It was vibrating nervously in his daughter’s hands. “Jan, hun, it’s not like that.”
            “Oh, really. How is it? You made me believe she was dead. You and that bitch of a wife conspired against me. You stole everything from me. And when you realized that she was betraying you with Tommy, you needed me once more.”
            “No, baby, you’re wrong. Yes, I did some bad things. But, I love you. I came here to save you.” He stepped towards her, arms stretched and one hand heading straight for the pistol.
            Janet was done trusting. She was done being betrayed. She steadied her hand. “Bullshit, Dad, you came to save yourself.” And she fired.
            She shoved the gun in her bag, and then tossed the straps over her shoulder. She took the stairs two at a time. Her heart swelled when she saw the car. Elise was sitting in the back seat, kicking her feet. She stayed focused.
            “Where’s Argus?” asked Tessa.
            “He’s upstairs. He needs some help. I had my hands full.” She dropped the bag on the pavement beside the red sedan. “Why don’t you run up and see what you can do?”
            Tessa’s uncomfortable smile lifted her from her seat, and she ran up the steps.  As soon as she hit the first step, Janet tossed her bags in the back, and bent down to kiss her daughter.
            “Hey, gorgeous girl? Want to go to Disneyland?”
            “Woohoo,” said the little girl, her blonde pigtails bouncing with excitement.
            She kissed her daughter once more, climbed in the front seat, and left the rest behind.  
---A.J. Frey

Thursday, March 4, 2010

*Oh, Want You Be My Beta*

Look at all those new bright shiny faces. It’s so good to see all of you. There’s one more day for the CONTEST. And don’t forget to come back by on Monday for the results show. Kris Allen will be singing. Oh wait, that’s not here; that’s Idol. It’ll just be me, but I’ve got presents.
**This is the faux cover I created, instead of working on revisions**
I am nearing the end of my revisions and will be placing the manuscript in hibernation for a month. While I am not touching it, I wanted to see if anyone would be interested in reading it.
Ideally, I would like two people that have not read previous copies to please read it. Critiques can be as detailed as you want or just broad reviews, and I promise not to cry if you tell me, “Wow, this was complete crap. Were you high when you wrote it?” And in case you were wondering,  No – I was not. My first (original) chapter has been critiqued by about ten people, the second by about six, but the rest by only one other person, but she read it twice. (Love ya Beej!) Adding the new chapters changed the story, and I need some fresh eyes on it.
I prefer someone that enjoys urban fantasy. I’d give it a rating of somewhere in between PG-13 and R, maybe if there was a PG-16, but it is definitely an adult read due to violence, language, and sexual content. But not horror. Readers of Charlainne Harris, Laurel K. Hamilton, and Jeri Smith Ready would probably appreciate it most.
If you’d be interested in reading or have questions, shoot me an email (click on the envelope to the right) or respond in the comments. In return, I’d be more than happy to return the favor. I am a fan of just about anything except for literary fiction (mostly because I don't think I would be able to offer a helpful critique), and prefer not to read stories that end where everybody you made me love dies. One of them, two of them, but not every-freakin-body. (Stupid, beautiful, Atonement!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whatcha Say Wednesday: Indulgent vs. Inspirational

I want to start by saying thank you to everyone that has participated in the contest so far. This story has more twists than a bowl full of s’ghetti. Is Tommy still alive? Will Paw kill Sonya? Is there three legged wooley boogers after all? It’s all up to you.

To add even more fun, I am adding a more defined plus system that will give everyone a chance to enter the contest. DETAILS

VOICE OF DOUBT: You can’t change the rules halfway through the game.
ME: I’m not changing the rules. I’m just giving everybody extra entries and better odds.
VOICE OF DOUBT: Oh, ok. See ya later. Hey, what time you doing revisions?
ME: ‘Bout 9:30 or 10. (Slaps forehead)
VOICE OF DOUBT: Cool. See ya then. I’ll bring wine.

Ok, on with today’s post.


Whatcha Say Wednesdays are about you. Your thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. Dig in as deep as you wish, or veer off in a new direction. For the comfort of those who would prefer to express their opinions with a sense of privacy, I have turned the anonymous comments back on.

MR. OBVIOUS : Um, you call it Watcha Say Wednesdays, but you’re posting it Tuesday night.
ME: Yes, but that’s so it will be up all day on Wednesday.
MR. OBVIOUS: You could just call it Tell Me Tuesdays.
ME: Yes, but then it would be posted now and there’s barely any Tuesday left. Now, shhh, I’d like to get to the point.

On Friday, I saw a wonderful video on Notes from the Writing Chair. Watch it here. The song and the video touched me very deeply. I believe this is something that we writers and artists often struggle with. After showing the video to many of my friends and family, a line of dialogue opened that led to a light debate on the strength and responsibility of words. And I would love to hear your thoughts and beliefs on the subject.

When is expressing your opinions through your work indulgent vs. inspirational? We all have opinions and beliefs, and authors and artists tend to see the world differently from the rest of the planet. We are given the ability to see our environment with both a bird’s eye view and also the detail of a microscope which makes us that much stronger in our craft.

The question is – when is this expression for us or when is it truly for the benefit of others?

Two extreme contrasts are Lennon’s Imagine vs. when another rock star tells me whom I should vote for in an upcoming election.

Secondly, is there a place for it in Fiction? George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind.

What are your thoughts?