Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Blog


Hello all! Thank you so much for dropping by this blog. Feel free to look around at some of my archives to see what I've had to say in the past. If you want to know what I'm up to now, please visit my new blog at christinaggaudet.com.

Thanks again for visiting, and I hope you enjoy my new website.

Christina

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Craziness

I know I said I'd start getting more blog posts done, but a couple of things have happened this week that have made me break that promise. 1) I finished my novel. Well, as much as one ever finishes. I've written, rewritten and edited the thing and now it's out with a few beta readers. I can't wait to hear back from them. 2) My website went down. This has given me a chance to try to make something much nicer and more professional. The problem is that I'm not really sure how to do that yet. I have a layout in mind, it's just the building it that's a problem. A A) Which means I'm trying to teach myself Drupal. So far my brain doesn't like it, or the amount of time it's taking up. B) Also, if I ever figure the whole thing out, I'll probably be moving the blog from here to my main page. Which will make a difference to all five of you actually following the blog through google. Anyway, all this means is that I've been busy. And there may be changes here soon. Hope they are all good ones.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Follow Friday

Things have been a little crazy for the past week. I haven't had a chance to sit down at my computer for more than a few minutes at a time. However, I'm determined to get things back on track with my writing, starting with this blog.

Today is Follow Friday and it happens to be the 100th blog hop hosted by Alison and Parajunkee. There are giveaways on some of the blogs so check them out.

1. When did you start blogging?

Oh, jeez, that's a bit of a hard question to answer. I've had a number of blogs, including one on Livejournal back in the day. This blog I've had since March 2011. That's when I made the decision to self publish my novel and wanted a blog so that I could use it to meet other authors and maybe some readers.

2. What is your favorite part of book blogging?

Getting a chance to talk about books is so much fun. I tend to do it whether or not anyone is listening. Talking about myself is even more fun, and my hope is for other writers to be able to learn from my successes and failures.


3. What is your favorite book(s)?

Growing up, my favorite author was Tamora Pierce. She was my hero. After reading her series Lioness Rampant, I knew I wanted to write YA fantasy.

However, my favorite book that I've reviewed so far would have to be Frostbite by Richelle Mead.

Which reminds me, time to get back to writing some reviews...



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No-No’s in YA fiction


There is so much YA fiction out there right now that it’s not particularly surprising that agents and publishers and even readers are sick of seeing certain trends. One of the most obvious is of course sexy vampires. It’s been done to death, pun intended, and agents are prone to gag and throw the work out the window if they see it come across their desk.

This reaction makes a lot of sense. In order to sell something, you need to have a fresh, exciting and new product. Otherwise, what’s going to convince people to pick up your book in particular when everything around it looks exactly the same?

I get this, I really do. But here’s the problem. My book is full of current YA no-no’s. To the brim. Let me show you some examples. Please don’t get mad at me.

List of no-no’s for YA stories that I completely ignored and threw into my novel;

1-      Parallel worlds / Portal fantasy.
            This has been done, and done well (think Narnia) so most people are sick to death of seeing it. Also, a lot of writers start with a portal fantasy, which means that agents and publishers tend to see poorly constructed and amateur manuscripts of this type cross their desk regularly. See so many of them, and eventually the words “Portal Fantasy” are automatically associated with badness.

2-      Fantasy
            On the same lines, Fantasy is done done done. See that huge section of the bookstore with “Sci-Fi and Fantasy” written above it? Yeah, there’s where the fantasy stories belong right now. YA apparently has no room for this kind of story, especially things that are considered “high fantasy” (think Lord of the Rings). While I understand there is a full genre for these kind of books already, and most are geared toward a younger crowd anyway, I still find this the most frustrating no-no. Tamora Pierce was my favorite writer as a child, and I hated that there was nothing else similar to her at the time. While this has shifted significantly, I still see a barrier where fantasy is meant for boys, and they like the adult section just fine, while paranormal fantasy is for girls and they can find their sexy demons in YA.

3-      Magic
            Thanks a lot, Harry Potter. You might have opened up YA fantasy and helped to bring out some of the best books I’ve ever read, but you completely ruined magic for the rest of us. No one’s going to match your success, though many have tried, and most agents can’t be bothered with it anymore. They see magic and it’s an instant ‘yawn.’

4-      Paranormal romance
            Yeah, I get it, sexy vampires are so over. Way too much out there, just look at the shelves, yadda yadda yadda. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be done in really fun and exciting ways. Such as, maybe the guy isn’t a vampire who’s trying to be with the one he loves while fighting an uncontrollable urge to kill her. What if it’s a werewolf, or demon, or... yeah, okay I see the point. Overdone and completely predictable. I am properly ashamed.

5-      Retellings of fairytales
            Alright, this one is a bit of a stretch for my story, but the original idea was loosely based off a fairy tale. I also get why this is being frowned at right now, just look at what’s out there. Two Snow White movies in one year, Once Upon a Time (TV), Grim (TV), Cinder (book), Beastly (movie/book), Red (movie/book), and the list could go on forever. This is made even worse when you think about the fact that the story has already been done to death for hundreds of picture books before these writers take the idea and make it their own. Still, I for one could stand to see a couple more.

Does this mean I should print off a copy of my book just so I can crumple it up and eat it while crying about the fact that I’ll never do anything interesting or creative? Well, maybe, but I’m not going to. I love my book. I don’t write for trends, which also means I don’t write to avoid trends either. I write the stories that are in my head, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.

Maybe this book won’t interest any agents or publishers, but that’s not my ultimate goal, and I hope it never is. I am my audience, and my only hope is that there are some other people out there that enjoy what I do as much as me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day jobs and moving forward

Don't quit your day job.

Wise words that I've heard time and time again. As fun as writing is, it's never going to pay the bills. After all, every writer I know has had another job to supplement what little income they make from writing. However, most of the people who talk about how important it is to keep your day job, are also people who have good paying, enjoyable jobs. As much as they might want to have more time to write, they by no means dread going into work every day.

What's the advice for someone who has a part time, minimum wage job that not only doesn't pay the bills but makes the person miserable?

I've been doing the same crummy job for nine months now, and have been talking about quitting for about eight. It was a temporary thing, and at first it really did help. I had enough hours to scrape by and it got me out of the house regularly.  As the hours began to get cut (down to maybe 8 a week) and the atmosphere went from bad to worse, I realized I needed to get out.

The thing that has held me there for so long is the complete lack of opportunities. For whatever reason, it's been impossible to find a different job. I have a BA in history and a diploma in graphic design. I should be able to find something, from secretary work to a junior design position, especially since I do have the experience. However, after eleven years of working at seventeen jobs, not counting freelance work, I've come to realize something. I'm not satisfied with a job that simply pays the bills. If I'm going to be doing something that takes up the majority of my time and energy ever day, I need it to be something that I love.

After watching the commencement speech by Neil Gaiman, I made a decision. In his speech he talks about how the most important thing you need to do, besides making good art, is to always be working toward your goal. If your offered a job that doesn't place you a little closer to your goal, then it really isn't the right thing for you to be doing. For a long time I wasn't sure what my goal was. I was in denial. It seems so blindingly obvious to me right now that I can't believe I couldn't see it before. I'm a writer. That's what I love. That's what I've always loved. There will always be other things that I'll enjoy doing for a time such as drawing and graphic design, but writing is always what I'll come back to.


What does all of this mean?

Well, despite all of the wise advice, I've made the move and quit my day job. It's time to move forward toward my goal. I am well aware of how hard it's going to be. I know that there's a good chance I won't be able to pay my bills. However, I can't continue letting that fear keep me from doing what I know I should be doing. While this isn't the right move for everyone, for me I know that it's the step I need to take.

Now it's time to emerge myself in the terrifying and highly competitive world of freelance writing.

It's time for everything to change.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week of Writing - Day Six

First off, sorry I haven't been updating my progress with my week of writing a bit more. My bad. At least the reason is because I've been busy writing, not because I gave up.

The writing stage of my three part plan became a bit more difficult than I anticipated when I realized that I needed another chapter before I could get to the ending. Therefore, what I thought was going to be about 9000 words turned out to be 12339 words.

But guess what?
I DID IT!


I just finished the second draft of my novel. And unlike the first draft, I'm feeling really confident about this one. Of course it needs work. Some of that work may be major, but I'm really happy with the characters and the plot. All that remains is fixing any holes and making it pretty. Not an easy thing to do, but I'm definitely a step in the right direction.

I've been meaning to mention, since some people have asked, that this book is not a sequel to Magic High. I'm so sorry if that's what you were hoping for, but I'm really excited about this new book that I've been calling The Box. At some point I would love to revisit Tabetha's world, but I honestly think that you won't be disappointed by the new world and characters.

It may have taken me twice as long as I was hoping, but I am so pleased with what I've accomplished in the past six days. I probably won't be able to make it to steps two or three in the next day or two as life is going to be a bit hectic, but never the less, this is the best early birthday present I could have ever given myself.

And thank you so much for everyone who's been reading this and encouraging me along the road. There's still a way to go, but for now, I am one happy girl.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week of Writing - Day Three


Alright. I'll admit it. I’m a little behind on my week of writing. But it’s still good. Still good. I can make a comeback.

My overall goal is to get around 9000 words written by tomorrow, which in theory will finish this draft of my book.

Day one I got about 2000 written. I’m really not a fast writer, so overall, that was a pretty good day for me. Not as great as I was hoping, but nothing to scoff at either.

Day two was a little less successful. The entire day was supposed to be dedicated to writing, since I knew today was going to be much busier. And what did I do? Flop around on my couch whining about how hard it is to write.

Poor me, I had to do something that I enjoy. I know, you all feel such pity for me.

And so the final result was only 1000 words, which brings my two day total to 3000 words. Hmm, wasn’t that supposed to be what I’d write each day? This leaves me with approximately 6000 words left to write by tomorrow.

I may be behind, but I’m definitely not out yet. I still have time to finish my goal, especially since I wasn’t very clear if I had to be done before May 24th or if I have that day as well. Very clever of me to have left myself some wiggle room.

But enough updating. It’s time for me to get back into the story and try and get those final chapters written.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week of Writing - Day One

Ready to roll with just a little hint of the crazy in the eyes.
I love to give myself deadlines. I almost never meet these deadlines, but it's super fun to try. With that in mind, I have a new project for myself. I call it…

Finish Writing Your Book You Lazy Bum


I know, awesome title, right? I've always been really good with titles. *cough*

Anyway, the goal is to finish my novel to a point where I can send it to beta readers in exactly one week. Why May 24th? Well, there are two reasons. First, I believe it's possible for me to get the work done in that time while at the same time, it's not too far off that I can slack. Also, it's my BIRTHDAY! (Cash gifts only, 'kay thanks.)

I know there are a lot of people who don't understand the big deal about birthdays, but I'm not one of them. I love them. A full day every year all about me? Uh, yes please. For me it's a lot like New Years. It's a time to look back on the last year of my life and think, what did I accomplish and what will I do next? I really want to be able to say that I finished writing a novel, especially since it was one year ago that I released Magic High.

And so, here's the plan. I have about four chapters left to write. My chapters run about 2300 words long. I also have two or three chapters that need major edits in order for them to work. Finally, I'll have a full read through of the novel and make any final edits so that the book, while not perfect, will be readable.

My timeline?

Day One to Three: Write the final pages. (About 3000 words a day)
Day Four and Five: Make major changes.
Day Six and Seven: Final edits.

And just to make things a little more difficult for myself, I haven't been writing lately, so I'm really not used to sitting down and plunking out 1000 words a day let alone 3000.

Am I crazy? Yes. Can I do it? I have no idea. But I do think that either way, by day seven, I'm going to look a whole lot like this.

Honestly, what am I getting myself into?

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Work Space - Final


 There have been many reasons why I never posted pictures of the final stage of my basement work room. The most important reason is that I've never felt like it was truly finished. It was usable, but I never felt comfortable in the room.

Today I finally got myself into gear and rearranged all of the furniture. There are still some minor things I'd love to do, such as better organize my art supplies, and put up some art on the walls, but for now I'm happy with how the room feels.

A note on the colour of the walls. I know a few people were surprised that I went so dark, but there's a reason why I chose that colour. I've used that shade of blue or one similar for every self promotional logo and design I've ever done. If you're reading my blog from the actual site (christinaggaudet.blogspot.com) you'll see that it is also a very similar colour. It's been my favourite colour since I was a child and it's one that I always find both relaxing and inspiring.

I'm feeling really great about this project, even though it took months longer to complete than I intended. Finally I have a place to get my work done, whether its drawing, painting, crafting, writing, designing, reading, or whatevering. After four years of living here, this place finally feels like home.

Forget how the room used to look? Check out day 1day 3, day 4, and day 5 of the transformation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The dreaded writers block


I think every writers blog ever and then some have covered this topic. And most of them have given great advice and suggestions on how to beat writers block. If you’re looking for advice, honestly you’re in the wrong place. But if you’ve ever experienced writers block and want a sympathetic ear, I’m here for you.

Writers block sucks. No matter what causes it, there’s no denying that sitting at your computer and staring at the screen for hours can really get you down. The longer you’re blocked, it seems, the harder it is to start writing again.

I’ve spent days trying to write out the last 1000 words of the chapter I’m working on. 1000 words, no problem, right? Apparently it’s completely impossible. Unfortunately it’s not the kind of block that I can just force myself through. The problem is that I have no idea what needs to happen next, so I can’t even skip forward a bit and carry on. Getting myself to write isn’t a problem, however, the story that I need to be working on is completely stalled. 

I had a self imposed deadline to finish this draft by the end of the month. Apparently I don’t work well under pressure, even when that pressures coming from no one but myself.

Have you suffered from writers block? What helped you get over it?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review - Frostbite


Book Review

Frostbite – A Vampire Academy Book
Richelle Mead

Find this book at: Amazon | Indigo | You're local bookstore

Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series. While I picked up the first book because I was in a vampire craze for a short time, I chose to read this book much later because of how much I enjoyed reading the first.

If this is the first Vampire Academy book you’ve ever read, the prologue will help you understand what’s happened so far in the series. If you’ve read the first book and have any sort of memory of what happened, skip the prologue. Seriously, don’t waste your time. I nearly set the book right back down while reading the over explanatory and poorly written prologue. It was written from the point of view of the main character, but it was too forced and ended up sounding nothing like the rest of the book.

Happily, the rest of the book holds none of the same problems as the introduction and delivers a fast pace and engaging read. Physically, the main character, Rose, is almost perfect with an amazing body and drop dead good looks. She’s also stronger and faster than most other people. However, her mental state and her lack of social graces when dealing with people like her own mother—whom we get to meet in this book!—makes her character both believable and likable.

The relationships are definitely the strongest part of this series. While the hierarchy of vampires and the physical fighting are great, it’s the relationships Rose has with her best friend, mother, boyfriend(s) enemies and so on that makes me want to keep reading. Having a kickass main character doesn’t hurt either.
This book is highly recommended for people who love to read about relationships, want a bit of romance, and enjoy the supernatural.

5/5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's march break in PEI this week! So, I've decided to make my ebook Magic High available for FREE until Monday as a special treat. Please grab yourself a copy and let your friends know as well. If you like it, don't forget to say so on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords or anywhere else you'd like.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What’s this story about again?




Photo Credit
I don’t know if anyone else deals with this problem, but I always find that about three-quarters of the way through writing a book, I’ve forgotten how the whole thing started. I more or less remember what has happened, it’s the how that alludes me. At this point I start panicking that the tone and characters of the story might have wildly changed and that what I have now doesn’t even resemble what I started with.

The fact that the book I’m writing is a rewrite where the character and tone differs greatly from the original version doesn’t help. I can’t remember which details come from which version and the character’s differences have become all muddled in my head.

What is my solution? To read my own book, of course. The best part is, at this stage, I’m not worried about doing much editing. In fact, I’m not going to do any other than perhaps write down some notes for later. That means there’s a chance I can actually enjoy reading my own story. Since my memory’s so bad, I’ll probably even be surprised by some of the things I wrote. I always know I’m on the right track when I laugh out loud at my own jokes.

Do you ever forget what you’ve written? And if so, have you ever been able to read and enjoy your own book without the pressure of making it better?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Embarrassing



Photo Credit
There is no denying it, I’m a klutz. I drop things, I walk into things, and I regularly hurt myself in ways most people don’t know is possible. As a teenager, doing things such as falling up the stairs while walking in front of one of my crushes and dropping a glass bottle of red soda all over official yearbook files four minutes after having the principal sign them were weekly events in my life.

Did I cry a lot? Heck yes. All the time. But I also laughed at myself too. One thing that made me feel much better was the knowledge that other people had the same problem of standing upright on flat surface as me.
I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I write about embarrassing teen moments. Not only are they funny to read, but maybe someone out there will feel a little bit better about their own embarrassing moment by reading about some of the over the top things that happen to the characters in my books. 

My embarrassment usually occurs from me falling down or saying something without thinking. What makes you or your character embarrassed?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cut it out


Original Photo Link
Cry. Whimper. Whine.

But I don’t wanna delete that paragraph/chapter/section of the book. It took me so long to write. There are some great moments in there. The character development is amazing.

There are so many excuses as to why that piece of writing should stay in the book. I know since I’ve used them all. But there’s a reason that it has to go and that’s because you know it does. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be having the argument with yourself in the first place. 

So instead of thinking about all of the reasons why it should stay, remember why it needs to go. It doesn’t advance the plot. The writing is not your best. Your characters actions are forced. Whatever the reason, stop arguing with yourself and cut it out.

Can’t bring yourself to hit the delete button? I feel your pain. Instead of hitting delete, why not try cutting instead. I keep a separate file for all of my scenes that no longer work or that I wrote for another section of the story. That way at least all of my work doesn’t disappear in the blink of an eye, and there’s always the chance that in the future I’ll be able to fit in those bits.

Do you have a file for those deleted gems?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review - Wide Awake Princess

Book Review

The Wide Awake Princess
By E. D. Baker 

Find this book at: Amazon | Indigo | You're local bookstore

I picked this book up on a whim based entirely on it's cover. Although part of me really wanted to hate the style of illustration, I was drawn to it and knew instantly it was a book that I'd enjoy. The back blurb helped confirm that feeling when I read that it's a new take on an old fairy tale and there was going to be just a little romance and a whole lot of humour in there amongst all the action.

The story is one that most everyone knows, a princess is cursed at birth to prick her finger and sleep for a hundred years until she's woken by true love's first kiss. What you might not know is that the princess has a little sister, Annie, who happens to be completely  immune to all forms of magic, good and bad. When the spell is cast and the entire castle is put to sleep, it's up to Annie to find the right prince to break the spell.

Non stop action fills each page as we're thrown from one fairy tale to another with ease, including elements from tales such as The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea and many others.

There was so many things happening to Annie and her companion for her journey, Liam, that I occasionally wished for more time to breath within each stop in Annie's journey. As it was, we barely get a chance to imagine each setting of the story before we're pushed forward to the next location and fairy tale.

The characters were mostly well developed despite the sometimes overwhelmingly large cast, but they were all outshone by the main character who's clever wit was very appealing.

This was a very amusing and entertaining read that contained everything that it promised; action, humour, romance and a strong heroine.

4/5 stars

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nothing to fear here


Everyone has fears. For writing it’s one of the easiest ways to develop your character. Give them a fear or two, and *poof* they’re more rounded characters.

Ever since I started writing novels, I dutifully gave each character a random fear and maybe even have them deal with it at some point in the story. However, I never really understood the fact that it’s not just the fear itself that matters, but also how the character deals with that emotion.

I’m terrified of spiders and heights (I know, I’m so original) however; my reaction to encountering each fear is completely different. If I come across a spider, or accidently touch one, I can usually control that fear and calmly walk away. For heights, when the fear hits me, I panic and usually can’t do anything but fall down to my knees—lying down’s even better—and whimper.

Someone else might be equally afraid of the same thing and deal with their fears completely differently. That reaction, not the fear itself is what makes characters interesting.

Do you spend time giving your characters specific fears? How would they react when they’re forced to face those fears? How do you react when facing your own fears?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Edit vs Rewrite


A quick note to let you know that the price of my ebook, Magic High has dropped to $0.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. Other distributors should catch up with the price change soon.



When I finished my first draft of my latest novel, I sat back and thought, ‘Great! Done. Nothing left but edits.’

*Cue laughter*

I edited a few chapters, made minor changes in sentence structure, fixed plot holes, checked for consistency, and all that fun stuff that needs to be done before the book can be called complete. And then a couple of people in my critique group mentioned that my main character was very similar to Tabetha from Magic High.

Oops.

Then I realized, it’s impossible to change the personality of the main character in any way without completely changing the entire story. After all, the novel is written in first point perspective. I may as well have decided to write the story from a completely different characters point of view.

After a lot of groaning and whining and arguments with myself, I finally accepted the fact that the book will be better after a full rewrite. And after all, the whole point of editing is to make the story as awesome as possible, right?

There is always the fear that rewrites will never end. All I have to do is look at my comic, Never to see rewrites gone wrong. However, I'm confident that this draft is much stronger than my first, and I’m hopeful that once it’s complete, I’ll be able to move on to final edits and then copy edits.

*Fingers crossed*

Rewriting complete drafts is a part of my writing process, but I know that not every author believes it’s necessary. How much editing do you do? Have you ever rewritten so many times that you lost interest in the story altogether?