Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Fun Time! Sorry Sorry!

My blog exploded with followers yesterday!  Welcome, everyone!  If you haven't picked up your cookies yet, please do so now.  And feel free to leave a comment in this post to introduce yourselves, your WIPs (if you have them), or anything else you'd like us to know.  :D

So today is Saturday Fun Time! and I thought we'd go a little cultural today.  It's always nice to look past our borders and find talent in the realms beyond our shores.  With that in mind, I bring you Super Junior--a South Korean phenomenon.

To tell the truth, I actually laugh every time I watch this video.  I don't know why.  It's not like they intended it to be funny.  Actually, I think they thought they were being sexy (which is, actually, probably why I laugh).

Click that play button.  You know you want to.  ;)

~Emily White

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let's Party!!!!!

101, baby!  It's time for a contest!

I just don't know exactly what kind of contest to do.  As the numbers under my followers button has slowly crept up, I've been wracking my brain for ideas.  And those ideas have gone from epic-oh-my-goodness-how-can-I-not-do-that? to slightly-less-epic-but-still-really-cool.  However, that just relates to the prizes!  I still have to figure out the actual contest.

So, my good readers, let me ponder these events and get back to you on Monday with my master plan.  Until then...


By the way, all my new lovely followers who made this possible, I have something for you.  A big fat welcome!

and treats.


~Emily White

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Bit About Me--My Weak Tummy

I react badly to vaccinations, and yesterday I got a tetanus shot.  For that reason, this will be a very short post.

I feel like crap.  That is all.

~Emily White

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

But We're So Much Better Than Everyone

A few weeks ago I was getting my hair done and my hair stylist, in an effort to strike up some conversation, asked what was new with me.  Well, this was just a day or so after I finished the rewrite of Aurumenas, so that was top on my mind.  I informed her of my latest accomplishment and I got...the look.  You know the one.  The look where the one giving it thinks we've accomplished nothing greater than finishing a scrapbooking project, but they're sure we think we've just won the lottery and are bound to become the next big thing.

Yeah.  It was irritating and I immediately wished I'd kept my mouth shut.

The look was quickly followed by the high pitched voice one usually reserves for children.  "Oh yeah?  What is it about?"

I knew and she knew she didn't really want to know, so it was painful giving her my one sentence pitch.  Her eyes immediately glossed over when she figured out I'd written a sci-fi, and YA at that.

That's when I did what I wished I'd done from the beginning and brought the conversation to an end by saying nothing.  After a few nods of my head and "uh-huhs" she soon realized I was done talking.

This kind of stuff happens a lot.  I've heard some version of this tale from quite a few other authors over the years.  People just don't understand us.  They can't grasp the scope of our vision or the strenuous labor we pour into each and every sentence.  We are arteests and they are simply ignorant, unworthy of our time.  Only those who truly understand us should ever be allowed to have access to the fruit of our minds poured out on paper, otherwise they will taint the beauty and elegance of books with their tacky, ignorant ways.


That's silly.  We may be artists, creating something out of our imagination, but unless we intend on only writing for our own enjoyment, we're also businessmen.  The moment you put it in your head to seek representation or publication, you've turned an artistic hobby into a business.  It's too late for you to start complaining about how people might find out about your (hopefully) soon to be published book, or who might read it. 

If I'm going to bother to write a book for others to read, I want as many people to have access to it as possible.  Giving them that access is not tacky.  We as writers should want everyone to read, no matter who they are or where they're from.  

I've been a part of a lot of groups throughout my life, and every group always (without fail) thinks they're better than every other group.  They think they are more compassionate, understand the world better, are more intelligent, etc.   

But notice I said "group."  That's the funny thing about groups because if you were to take people individually, they probably wouldn't necessarily believe those things about themselves.  One or two may, but for the most part, people understand that they do not know the most or they are not the most skilled at something.  However, when you put the group together and pit it against another group, the people feed off of each other and the group almost becomes a sentient being and wholly other.

Look at politics, for example.  If you were to put a democrat and republican together, they would most likely be able to carry on a civil conversation.  They would give their points during their turns and respectfully listen to the other when their turn was done.  You put a group of democrats against a group of republicans and conversation is impossible.

The same is true for any group (that one just happens to be the most visual in today's day and age).  Writers sometimes have the habit of looking down on non-writers.  Not individually, but when the group gets together.  I've been a member of a lot of writing communities and it happens in every one.  And it's easy to see why.  We writers are often looked down upon by people who don't write, because everyone thinks they can do it.  When we share our stories with each other what inevitably happens is we try to bring ourselves up, convince ourselves we are accomplishing something, by looking down on those who looked down on us. 

But here's the truth:  you are accomplishing something.  When you let the laundry or dishes pile up or the dust settle into thick mounds on your furniture, it's not because you're being lazy in front of the computer.  It's because you're working.  Don't doubt that.  But don't start thinking that you're work is too good for some people, either.  If it's really good and worth reading, then everyone should have access to it.

~Emily White

  For another great post on this topic, go to Hairnets and Hopes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Monday!

Which means the weekend is over.  Boo!

But it also means it's time for an update!  Woohoo!

Yes, I seem to have turned into Dr. Seuss.  I really don't know how that happened.

Now because I'm still editing Aurumenas and will be doing so until I query in September, and because editing seems to be boring to everyone but me, I decided I'd do an update on something a little different today.

My garden!  It's so loverly and delicious, I can't help but share it with you all!

This right here is box garden #1.  As you can see, I'm growing marigolds, onions, and tomato plants (in the back).  What you might not have noticed, though, are the little pepper plants in the middle rows.  The empty squares had romaine lettuce in them, but they reached the end of their season so I pulled them out.

And this is box garden #2!  There are peppers, onions, tomatoes, and marigolds in this one too, but the big leafy thing in the back is a pumpkin plant.  My husband and I built a little trellis thing to have the pumpkin grow up instead of around.  There are also a couple pea plants in the back, but you can't see them in this picture.

Here's our one and only pumpkin.  We have LOTS of flowers, but only one pumpkin so far.  See how it's just hanging out?  Making these big plants grow up saves a lot of space.

Here's my water garden I've been working on.  I dug most of the hole last summer when I was very pregnant with my youngest.  My husband finished up the digging last Mother's Day (it was his gift to me).  Yes, I did place all those heavy rocks (all of them except the big round one right in the water--way too heavy for me).  There's some loose stone on the floor of the pond that I had just put in and they weren't washed, so that's why the water is all dirty.  If the water was clear, you would see that there are different levels in the pond.  I plan on planting some water lillies next summer when this is all done.  I'm also going to move some of my herbs and plant them right up against the pond.  You can see the lavender in the corner of the picture right now.  On the other side of the picture, I have a peony, but you can't see it.

Here's another angle!  I'm going to put more loose stone all around the bigger rocks and plant some moss and grasses around it.  There's the peony plant!  It's new so it doesn't have any flowers yet.  And off in the distance is my overgrown herb garden.  I did not expect them all to get so big so fast!  I have to move them around a bit to space them out.  And now that I'm really looking at this picture, I realize I have to fix that column.  It's leaning way too much!

So there it is!  My garden-in-progress.  Do you guys have any home improvement updates?  It is summer after all.  :)

~Emily White

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Fun Time! Things that make you go ahhh...

Saturday is the day I like to post some YouTube videos I've come across that for one reason or another I can't help but watch over and over again.

Today's video is just plain adorable.  Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I take thirty seconds out of my day to enjoy the simpler pleasures of baby bunnies in costumes.


Okay, for some reason, I can't paste the code for the video on here.  But no matter!  Simply click here and be prepared to go ahhh.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review--Wings, by Aprilynne Pike

First of all, there's a great discussion going on here about why on earth aren't we advertising books on TV??  Please join in!

If you don't know by now that I love fairies, well you must be extremely new.  And if that's the case, welcome!  I'm glad you're here!  Here's some cookies.

So of course any book about fairies is immediately going to pique my interest.  Wings does not disappoint.  Aprilynne Pike adds a new take on an old myth in many surprising ways.  I've envisioned fairies in what I thought was every way imaginable, but I was blown away at the twists in this book.

Though it seems to be geared towards girls, there are many scenes in this book I'm sure any boy would like.  And of course there's the ever expected love triangle between Tamani, David, and the MC Laurel.  Though a love triangle has almost become cliche in YA, Pike delivers it in a new, refreshing way.  I usually pick a team, but in this book I honestly can't decide who would be better.  

If you haven't read this book, I highly encourage you to do so immediately.  

~Emily White

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Aren't Publishing Companies Doing This??

The vast majority of people in this country and around the industrialized world watch at least one hour of television a day.  And some people watch a lot more than that.  This may upset people in the writing industry because we wish everyone would spend their time reading more books, but let's be honest with ourselves.  People prefer the mindless entertainment TV has to offer.  Reading may not be a dead form of entertainment, but I'm pretty sure it's growing old.  It will always be there as the quaint little old grandpa we love to visit from time to time at the nursing home, but it's failing to keep up with all the other modes of entertainment available.  More and more people admit to not reading at all.*

And why is that?

I'll tell you why.  Publishing companies are not advertising to the masses the way every other industry in America has realized they need to advertise: commercials.  And I'd like to know why.

I have seen perhaps two commercials for books during my entire life, and those books were already mega-sellers.  And sadly, the commercials were bland.  They said nothing about the content within the books themselves.  Instead, they only mentioned that such and such was available at B&N.  You would have to already know what the book was about to get excited, and chances are you would have already known the book was available.

I had never even heard of Twilight before the movie came out and that book was a big seller.  It wasn't until I'd seen the movie advertised on television that I knew the book existed at all.  Yes, perhaps that is sad on my part, but how are people who don't normally read supposed to hear about the new releases?  How are books supposed to generate sales if the only advertising being done are in book stores or on blogs (and author websites)?  How are teenage boys going to be persuaded to buy YA with a male MC if they don't know it's out there?

Book trailers are gaining in popularity.  Yes, the vast the majority of them are cheesy, but I think there's a lot of potential there.  Books aren't visual, but people are.  We all know that it's the cover that gets a person to pick up a book in the first place.  Why can't it be a commercial?  Imagine how many new readers a publishing company could generate if they advertised a book just once or twice a day on a major station.  How about advertising a new sci-fi on a video game?

Commercials are expensive.  Very expensive.  But they're worth it, otherwise companies would have stopped using them.

Publishers already seemed to have gotten the hint that most people like surrounding themselves with electronics, hence ebooks.  So why not go another step further and start advertising on television?  We can't ever reach new readers if we aren't willing to meet them where they are.  And yes, people who watch television also like to read.  People haven't stopped reading because they don't like doing it.  They've stopped because they don't know anything new is out there.

So why do you think publishing companies don't do this?  Do you think they haven't even thought of it?  If you were self-publishing, would you consider buying some air time on a local station to advertise your book?

*Non-fiction and manuals not included.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Update

It's Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I know I didn't post anything for Saturday Fun Time, but I had to bake bread that day and let me tell you, it's a whole day affair.

Bake bread, you say??  Yes, I make practically everything from scratch because well, it's cheaper.  A lot cheaper.  And when your family lives on one income, you have to find ways to save money.

But today's post is about my progress on Aurumenas!

Editing is moving right along.  I've gotten about a quarter of the way through with my beta and I'll be working on the last few scenes of the book today.

There's something so sad about working on the last scene, though.  I'll by no means be done with editing, but working on your MC's last words is a little like saying goodbye.  I've been with these characters for almost two years now and knowing that my time with them is coming to an end is kind of sad.  Oh, I know that if this story does get picked up by an agent and then a publisher, I'll still be spending lots of time with my characters, but unless I get a multi-book deal, this will be as far as their stories go.  I'll know what became of them in an abstract way, but no one else will.

Do any of you get a little sad when working on the last scene of your WIP?  And speaking of your WIPs, how's the progress going?  Share!

~Emily White

Friday, July 16, 2010

Music and Writing

I think a lot of us do this--listen to music to help us find inspiration for our writing.  I, for one, cannot write without music in the background.  Other things can too easily distract me if my brain isn't totally focused on working on my book.

So of course I have a theme song for Aurumenas that I must share with all you dear readers.  A friend of mine introduced me to this song a while ago and he said it reminded him of my book.  Boy was he right.  It was like the song was made just for Aurumenas.

Listen and enjoy.

Fireflight is now one of my favorite bands.  I could listen to their music all day long (and often do).

Any songs that remind you of your own WIPs?

~Emily White

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Bit About Me--the Summer lazies

Okay, I'll admit it.  I've been feeling lazy lately.  I don't know if it's the heat sapping all energy from my brain or what, but I just can't focus.

I look at all those sparkly blogs out there and I think, oh just one peek.  But one peek turns into many and then I just have to hit the refresh button to see if there's anything new.

Why do I mention it?  Because I can't think of a darn diddly yarn thing to post about.  I know.  I have failed.

Do you ever get hit by the Summer lazies?  What do you do about it?  Watch more YouTube?  Yes??  oh...uh...neither do I.

~Emily White

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I've noticed an alarming trend in fantasy and science fiction over the last few years.  Though authors have improved somewhat in avoiding the Mary Sue syndrome when constructing their heroes, they've left their villains flat and unsubstantial.

I must admit that it didn't hit me until a few months ago when I was watching a Veggie Tales movie with my oldest son.

The villain's opening scene in which he sang this song:

"I love taking candy from children.
I laugh when they blubber and cry.
My heart leaps with joy
When I break their new toy!
I'm just an ordinary super villain kind of guy."

Clean and clear; the villain is established.  No child in his right mind would have any sympathy for him any longer.  The gourd was evil through and through.

That works for kids' shows, but more and more adult and YA novels are going this route now, too.  You want to eliminate all doubt about who your villain is?  Have him rape a woman or a group of women, kill children, disembowel the elderly, and laugh while he's doing it.  Clean and clear; the villain is established.'s not that interesting.  It's predictable and practically every other villain portrayed in literature in the 20th and 21st century has done the same (especially in fantasy).  Too many authors don't want their readers to have a chance at sympathizing with the villain, and that's a shame.  A truly scary villain is one who has a conscience.  Someone who believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the hero in the tale.  You create a villain like that and you have someone who's unpredictable and truly dangerous--unstoppable.

For myself, I like creating a little doubt in my WIPs.  Sometimes, I'll string the reader along, let them think they know who the villain is and change it up on them at the end.  The clues will all be there, but they won't know until it's too late.  I've done this with a few of my short stories.  In one of them, the MC himself turned out to be the villain (though he, of course, would swear he was the hero).

It's possible and better to do this because no human being is ever just pure evil and just pure good.  Without getting into a whole theological argument, for the matter of this discussion I refer to a human's standard of good and evil.

Let's take Hitler for example.  As far as I am aware (and if I'm wrong, please forgive me), he never murdered a single human being, raped a woman, or even cheated on his taxes.  He was a hero to millions and loved by many.  He was monogamous and even a pet lover.  According to today's standard--a pretty good guy.

And yet, he has become the standard for everything evil today.  Why?  Though he may have never personally dirtied his hands, millions of people died because of him.  But still, he thought he was right in doing it.  He thought he was saving his country.  He was more deadly and terrifying because he thought he was the hero.  Those under him carried out his gruesome orders because they, too, thought he was the hero.  I don't know if Hitler necessarily enjoyed hearing about the deaths of his victims, but we can be sure he thought it was his solemn duty to make sure it was done.

A victim of the holocaust (I don't know his name) attended the trial of one his guards years after WWII.  He went there prepared to see justice done upon a horrible man.  When he saw the guard, he started weeping and said later it was because he realized the man who had done such horrible things to him and the other prisoners was just a human--not the monster he had imagined.

Human beings are never just one thing.  The hero is not always good, chivalrous, and honorable, and the villain is not always despicable, loathsome, and terrible.  Both of them are usually somewhere in between and quite often closer to one another than they'd ever imagine.  It's all about perception.

One does not have to rape and/or murder someone to be evil.  They just have to go about getting their goals accomplished in a slightly different way than the hero.

What do you look for in a villain?  Do you like his evil personality to be clear cut, or do you like a little variety and depth?  How do you usually depict your villains?

~Emily White

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vampires Suck

Okay, you guys know I love Twilight, but this looks freaking hilarious!

Update on Aurumenas:

Still editing and getting it all nice and shiny for writeoncon.

~Emily White

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Two Loves

Mm hm...

I must confess I have a weakness for techno music.  I also have a secret love for watching men fight.  Put it together and you get this:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Knowledge is Bliss

With my husband's change of schedule (Wednesdays and Sundays off), we've done a lot more mini vacations.  A few weeks ago we traveled to Allegany State Park and rode our bikes along the paths there, two weeks ago we went hiking, and yesterday we went to a 19th Century living history museum.

Though it may seem that these whole day trips take away from my writing time, what they add is far more valuable.  I grew up in the country surrounded by woods, so I've always had a pretty good knowledge base for nature.  However, over the last few years, I've been living in a city and I was beginning to forget just how quiet it could get in the woods, just how refreshing the sound of running water in a stream is, and the absolute beauty in the music of rustling leaves.

I like writing about things I've experienced so it was nice to refresh my memory on these points.  I often feel like a fraud if I'm trying to depict something in my WIPs that I really have no idea about.  There's always the fear that someone who knows better is going to call me out on it.  So, of course, I do a lot of research.  If I'm going to describe a particular area, I want people from that area to go, "yes!  That's exactly true!"

Luckily, with sci-fi, it's often possible to create a story world directly out of my imagination, but I still use what I've experienced to make everything seem more realistic.  For example, the first few chapters of Aurumenas are set on Talia, a desert planet.  My inspiration for this location was actually Kuwait.  During my few weeks in that country, I developed a certain awe for the absolute beauty of the open landscape (the sunsets, the sunrises).  Plus, it's easier to describe the effects of 130-145 degree weather when you've actually lived through it.

And yesterday I learned a few things about weaving, blacksmithing, spinning, and a plethora of other 19th century activities.  Will I ever need these facts for a sci-fi?  I don't really know, but it's certainly nice to have it at my disposal.  Some of the most mundane things can help solidify the reality of your story world, helping your readers to connect.

So how do you like to gather information?  Do you google, ask someone with first hand knowledge, or try to experience it for yourself?

~Emily White

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Writing Blind

There's a saying that an author is the worst judge of his/her own work.  As I'm editing Aurumenas, I realize just how true that is.  I feel like I'm going through it blind.  I know what parts are supposed to be high in tension, sadness, joy, etc., but with knowing precisely how it's all going to pan out, I can't know for sure if a reader will feel the way I want them to feel.

When writing the first draft, I often run the risk of being redundant just to make sure the reader really gets what I want to come across.  Instead of making my point, though, I end up slowing down the pace and treating my readers like fools.  Even when editing, I'll keep the redundancies because I assure myself that they're necessary.  "It's so important that they get it, though," I'll say.

Of course, there's consequences to being overzealous in cutting out anything you feel is redundant.  Sometimes, I'll go through a section armed with the delete button and end up taking out things that were vital. Instead of drilling my point to death, I'll make it such a mystery that the reader is left going, "huh?"

So where's the middle ground and how do you get to it?  Some people put their works aside for a few weeks to come back with fresh minds.  I'd say this works to an extent.  I've done it and found I can get a basic idea of how a new reader will feel.  Ultimately, though, you still know everything about the book even if you forgot individual sentences.  You just can't read it the way a brand new reader can.

That's where betas come in.  You must be careful in picking your betas, though, because not everyone is going to like your book or grasp its vision.  You could tear your book to shreds trying to please a best friend who never read or liked the genre you write in.

Before settling on a beta(s), you have to know exactly what you want out of your book, and you have to have at least a vague notion of its strengths and weaknesses.  Only you can know your story world inside and out.

Sometimes the best beta can fall in your lap.  A few weeks ago, I'd written a post where I dropped a hint that anyone who was interested in my particular genre should email me because I was looking for more betas.  Well, someone emailed me that day.  This was a person I'd seen around Nathan Bransford's forums and who'd commented on my blog a few times, so I was relatively confident she wasn't just some fly by follower who I'd never hear from again.

So I sent my first 100 pages to her, and let me tell you, I couldn't ask for a better beta.  There are sections I knew needed expanding, but I couldn't quite figure out what exact parts needed to be touched upon.  She'd go through those areas and tell me exactly what it was and I'd feel like my muse was just injected with a shot of adrenaline.

Though I'd been writing blind, hoping and praying the right emotions would come across, I've now found my eyes.  I fully intend on making those cookies for her when it's all done.  ;)

Any techniques you want to share for editing?  Anything we haven't heard of before?  And if you have a beta, how did you find him/her?  Was it a lifelong friend or someone you met through a writing community?

~Emily White

By the way, my lovely beta, I didn't mention your name because I didn't know if you'd want me to.  However, if you'd like to get your name out there, by all means wave your arms around, scream, let everyone know who you are.  :D

Saturday, July 3, 2010

4th of July and video

Tomorrow millions of people in this country will be celebrating the 4th of July.  This day has come to mean hot dogs and hamburgers, fireworks and sparklers to a lot of people.  But to those who signed the Declaration of Independence it meant death--death in the pursuit of freedom.

Each signature challenged the English monarchy with this one statement:  Come kill me and my family, destroy all those I love, but I will not live oppressed.

In a day and age where few Americans are willing to live without their TVs or cell phones, perhaps we should be reminded of how those who first dreamed of what this nation could be decided to sacrifice everything they had.

Those first patriots were called Yankees, but they embraced that derogatory term and wore it with pride.  And though they were willing to give everything up, those who lived through the years of war gained something the world could not have imagined--freedom, rights, a voice, the chance to rule themselves.

Since the beginning of our government and this free nation, there have been those who hated us and what we stood for.  They have fought to undermine our Constitution because those words give hope to billions around the world.

Like the kid with the shiny new toy in the playground, we must be prepared to fight to protect what is ours from those who wish to trample it underfoot.

So when you look at those fireworks tomorrow night, remember why those first patriots stood as one against England.  Remember what they fought for and what their descendants are still fighting for.  Freedom is never a guarantee.  It must be bought and paid for each and every generation, by soldiers and citizens alike.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eclipse--The Review

First, a shout out to aspiring_x (aka Victoria Caswell) at Hairnets and Hopes.  She just started her blog and already I see it becoming one of my favorites.  Head on over and become a follower!  I'll wait.

Are you back yet?  Good.

I know I said on Tuesday that I typically don't like movies based on my favorite books, but Eclipse was actually pretty spectacular.  There were differences and liberties taken, but I could see how they were necessary to increase drama and suspense.  Do I like that Edward is always depicted as a weak fighter in these movies?  No.  But I see how doing so helps shape Bella's movie character a little better.

That being said, the fight scenes were pretty awesome.  And the director could not have made a better selection in replacing the previous actress for Victoria with Bryce Dallas Howard (the lady in Lady in the Water).  She was precisely how I always imagined Victoria to be--flaming red hair, babyish voice, and all.

Most importantly, though, the acting improved dramatically--even Jacob's Quileute friends seemed to fall into their roles a bit better.

All in all, a very good movie.  I was even contemplating seeing it again on the very same day.  If only I were not so poor.

Watch it.  Enjoy it.  And try to ignore all the giggling teenage girls sitting around you.