Monday, January 30, 2012

Alphas, CPs, and betas

So, the last time I got to go to a writing meeting with my Idaho Falls peeps, I got to do a presentation of different types of editing partners. It was thrilling. But since I typed up all that information anyway, I figured I might as well share it with you guys too.

Now, before we get into the meat of the post, you just need to remember that, unfortunately, this terminology is a little interchangeable (particularly CPs and beta readers). I'm just giving you my interpretation. Okay?

Alpha Readers
  • What are they?
    Alpha readers are the people you give chapters to while you're in the middle of writing your manuscript. They're all about mid-draft idea bouncing and morale boosting.
  • Why do you need them?
    Alpha readers are kinda rare, but that's because many people don't need one. They're the cheerleaders of the writing world--the people who give you a push to keep writing or offer you a second opinion early on.
  • Who should you look for?
    An alpha reader can be anyone, though spouses are pretty good. The general idea is that your alpha reader isn't going to critique you on anything, so don't expect your hardcore critique partners to be alpha readers.
  • So who are your alpha readers?
    Boyfriend and Kirstin. Boyfriend has some magical brainstorming powers and Kirstin is very good at not letting me fall into a vortex of despair and self-loathing.

Critique Partners
  • What are they?
    Critique partners are the hard-hitters. They read your finished drafts, make all sort of edits, and help you determine what needs to be changed. These are the people who know your story as well as you do, love your characters to death, and will help you succeed.
  • Why do you need them?
    You are biased towards your story. Critique partners are not. They are the voice of reason and can help you make objective editing decisions.
  • Who should you look for?
    A writer who is a) not afraid to tell you when something sucks OR rocks, b) who is capable of separating professional and personal, and c) will not let you get away with anything subpar. Past that, everyone wants something different in a critique partner. Maybe you need a male CP to help you tweak your male POV, or someone who can understand your characters' motivations better than you can. Every writer has different strengths and weaknesses, so you and your CPs should compliment each other.
  • So who are your critique partners?
    Well, the lovely Brenna for one. And Daniel and I have been talking about trading pages. However, past that, no one yet. :) I'm definitely interesting in chatting with any interested parties . . . though be warned, I'm a super slow editor and am nowhere near ready for, well, anything.

Beta Readers
  • What are they?
    Beta readers are the final step of the editing process. After you've edited your manuscript into the grave, it's good to let some fresh eyes take a look. These are the people who will check your manuscript for readability and consistency.
  • Why do you need them?
    They haven't read your manuscript before, so they don't have outside knowledge and they aren't attached to any previous versions of it. Thus, they're representative of an actual reader, which is important.
  • Who should you look for?
    You want someone that likes to read. That's all that's really needed, though fellow writers are always good at paying careful attention to story elements.
  • So who are your beta readers?
    Uhh, good question. I don't really have any now. I might hit up my NaNoWriMo group or do a call-out on Twitter. *shrug* We'll see when I get that far.

So there you go! Next week I'll talk about where you can find a fabulous alpha reader, critique partner, or a beta reader to help you with your manuscript. Look forward to it. *thumbs up*

But until then, what do you think about all of the different types of editing partners? Have you heard about all three of these roles before, or are any of them new to you? And do you have alpha readers, critique partners, and beta readers? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A particularly kreativ and versatile post

Something exciting happened to me last Friday. I got nominated for two different blog awards from two different people! Woo!

So thanks to two fabulous ladies: Krista over at I Take the Pen for the Kreativ Blogger Award and Julia at Life As it Is, Dreams As I Make Them for The Versatile Blogger Award! Take a moment to go check out both of their blogs, as Krista runs some fantastic flash fiction challenges and Julia is archiving her adventures with dreadlocks. :)

As per being nominated, I have to do a couple things:
  1. Thank and link to the peep that nominated me.
  2. Share ten (kreative)/seven (versatile) random facts about myself.
  3. Award some other nifty bloggers.
Like last time, I'm going to combine these and give you ten facts instead of seventeen, okay? So voila:
  1. I'm pretty musically inept. Looking at sheet music makes my eyes cross. I played the piano for about three months, and the only reason I survived is because I memorized the songs.
  2. I'm one of those people who likes cleaning if it involves organizing something. Packing boxes seriously appeased my inner Tetris queen.
  3. Speaking of Tetris, I love it. A lot. Playing helps clear my mind.
  4. I'm madly in love with superhero cartoons. They're a nice combination of action and ridiculousness. Some favorites would be Avengers: Earth's Mightiest HeroesJustice League UnlimitedTeen Titans, and Young Justice. But the list goes on.
  5. I also enjoy superhero movies (maybe I should just say that I love superheroes in general?). A recent favorite was Thor because it was essentially a movie about sparkly space vikings. It can't get better than that.
  6. I have long fingers and slender hands. When I was a little kid, my parents' friends who own sheep used to tell me that I had good hands for helping sheep with difficult births. I was, understandably, horrified.
  7. After much deliberation, I've decided that peanut butter M&Ms are the best writing snack ever. Cheez-its and homemade Crispix mix are a close second.
  8. I've officially gotten to that point in my crocheting career where I can completely wing a project or alter a pattern and it'll still turn out decent.
  9. After using Spotify for a couple months, I would have to say it's one of my essential computer programs. I love how easy it makes finding new music.
  10. I'm a big fan of card games, if only because a single deck of cards can equate to so many different things. Favorites include pinochle, euchre, oh hell, and cribbage (though you need a board for that).
Wasn't that thrilling? Anyway, time for some award nominees:
  1. Brenna at Blissfully Brenna - For once, I actually get to nominate her first! She's one of my fabulous CPs and you should all annoy her until she updates more. >:D
  2. Daniel at Daniel Todd Noyes - One of my IF writing buddies. He knows his stuff and has got a great sense of humor, which shows its face on his blog.
  3. Jessie at Little Bonobo's Book Cafe - All of her posts are interesting and she magically says everything I feel . . . also, she writes about magical binturongs.
  4. Kirstin at SqueezeBoxPharm - Because now that she's actually updating, we've been regaled with exciting accordion videos! On a semi-regular basis!
  5. Thea at Thea's Writing Asylum - She's all about zombies. Writing about zombies, reviewing about zombies, crocheting zombies. Just go visit her. 
  6. Kate at The Queen of Creativity - You know me. I've always gotta pimp my mother when it comes to blog awards. Plus, she does pretty art.
Alrighty, that's all from me for now. But here, because I know you were all waiting for it, my standard "I know award posts are boring" video to entertain you guys:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 5

Yes, despite my packing and despite my endless driving, I have been writing!

Days Left to Deadline: 41
Days Worked On: 3 or 4-ish?
Morale: Still doing okay
Total Word Count: 99,975 (300 less than last week)

Thoughts: Was almost done with chapter 4-4 and it was awesome . . . but then everything got irritating. Realized that the beginning of chapter 4-4 should really be back in 4-3 . . . which is written from a different POV . . . which is the POV that the beginning of chapter 4-4 was originally in. Sigh. Also realized that characters are out-of-character in the middle of chapter 4-4.

So everything is out-of-whack.

Also, total word count went back below 100,000! Woo! If you weren't sure, this is a Big Deal. Trying to get the end total to be somewhere around 90,000-ish though . . . so I still have a bit to go.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dear Idaho Falls

Dear Idaho Falls,

Today I am leaving you. Hopefully for a long time.

Either way, I thought you should know that I will miss your falls. And your proximity to Yellowstone National Park. I will miss driving by your dog park every time I go into town. I will miss writing meeting at Shari's and going to The Villa on Saturdays. I lament the fact that the instant I decide to leave, your library decides to start lending e-books and that the Bella Vita is now open until 9 PM.

However, I am happy to be leaving you for a place with a little more wordliness. I will think of you while I'm shopping at the Japanese grocery store.

Stay classy,

Friday, January 20, 2012

On the road again

If you've been a longtime follower of Squidink, you might remember when I went to Portland, OR last spring. If not that's cool. All you really need to know is that that trip was all about apartment hunting and that, uhh, I didn't end up getting an apartment.

But I finally have an update: I'm officially moving to the Portland area!

I don't have too many details yet--most of them still need to be ironed out--but I'm heading over there on Monday. Thus, I've been packing all week . . . which sucks . . . but I'm almost done and moving definitely makes up for cardboard box hell.
Boxes are more plentiful than they appear.
Anyway. Do you guys have any good news to share? It doesn't have to be anything big--sometimes you have to set aside some excitement for the little things in life. So tell me what you guys are up to in the comments!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

WIP "Wednesday": Week 4

Well, since yesterday was all about making statements regarding SOPA and PIPA, here's my standard WIP Wednesday post a day late:

Days Left to Deadline: 47
Days Worked On: Uhh . . . two
Morale: Still doing pretty good
Total Word Count: 100,275 (that's down 170 words from last week)

Thoughts: Didn't increase my work hours any, but I have a decent excuse that I'm going to talk about tomorrow. Despite this, I took a significant bite out of chapter 4-4. Instead of endless pages of stuff that need to be changed, it's now a bunch of pieces that need to be connected. And I got to talk about a "hank of rope," which made me happy.

Then I looked at chapter 6-2 (which, despite the numbering, comes after 4-4) after I got sick of working on 4-4. Then I remembered that 6-2 is the chapter with three separate walking montages. Seriously. They talk, life sucks, they walk, and then they do the same thing TWO MORE TIMES. It's 6000 words of horrific.

I also attended a local writing meeting, which made me want to get back on track again. It's shocking how much of a morale boost those things are. :)

And finally, I discovered that The Civil Wars' "Barton Hollow" reminds me of Kai and Eva (two of the protagonists) for some reason. The song's about criminals and my story isn't . . . but I think it's something to do with the duet and the idea of being a wanted person on the run. *shrug*

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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Speak out against SOPA and PIPA!

Monday, January 16, 2012

One year with a Kindle 3

About a year ago I got a Kindle 3 and joined the world of e-books. Despite appearances, I was a bit wary about having an e-reader. Why? I just happen be one of those tactile people who like collecting things, so the idea of hardcovers arranged neatly on my shelf is a happy one. Either way, I thought I'd give you an overview of my thoughts after a year of e-reader happiness.

The good:
  • E-ink. As a person who gets migraines from eye strain, this is a Big Deal to me. Screw backlit LCD screens--when you want to be reading something for hours on end, e-ink is the way to go.
  • With programs liks calibre and DownloadStory, you can read nearly anything on the Kindle, including fanfiction and unpublished manuscripts. I love being able to do this.
  • Reading while eating, crocheting, etcetera is now completely possible. Without, you know, crumbling up the pages of your book or losing your place.
  • Say you secretly love romance novels, but you don't want anyone else to know. With an e-reader, you can now read your romance novels everywhere with complete anonymity.
  • Kindles come with a built-in dictionary. This is fabulous.
The bad:
  • With the black and white screen, it's not quite the same as having a gorgeous slip cover or colored ink. Then again, if you care about that kind of thing, you'll probably be buying hardcovers anyway. I still do when it matters.
  • You can't really get a book signed. I mean, if I'd purchased the e-book version of The Fault in Our Stars, I wouldn't have gotten a hanklerfish. And I like my hanklerfish.
  • Honestly, the Kindle's organization system is a little lacking. There are no nested folders, you can't directly delete anything from a collection, and it a bit wieldy to even get things into collections.
So, do you have an e-reader? If so, which kind (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc?) and what do you think about it? Has your e-reader replaced traditional books for you, or do you still indulge in the occasional hardback? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post: The quest for the crochet zombie

It's been a while, but today is a day for a guest post! Woo!

So Thea Gregory, one of my lovely Twitter peeps, is currently doing a blog tour for her Zombie Bedtime Stories. I've only had the opportunity to read the first installment, Locked In, but it was definitely a treat. Envision your standard zombie apocalypse . . . but written from the POV of a victim. Yeah. That's right. Our main character becomes a zombie. It's fabulous. Go check it out. Now.

Anyway, being that Thea and I bond about crocheting all the time, today she is going to regal you all with her adventures in crocheting a zombie. Enjoy!

When I was 9 years old, I started making teddy bears. Pictured is the only remaining relic (that I know of) from that time. As you can see, I had a very weak grasp of proper stitching and pattern-making, but a strong appreciation for the macabre. Perhaps Bear simply came before his time. 

During Bear’s almost 20 year stay in a basement, I received a book for my birthday, Creepy Crochet by Christen Haden. It contained all kinds of marvelous wonders, like how to make your own crochet Trojans, zombies, vampires, robots, and even Chuthlu. I was fascinated, and my quest to create a crochet zombie began.

I hit one immediate snag—I didn’t know any of the stitches! As the granny square queen, I can basically make a giant square blanket. While this is amazing, useful and a great way to spend the winter months, it doesn’t help me create my zombie empire, or re-enact the Zombie Bedtime Stories with little dolls. Because, who wouldn’t want to act out zombie fiction with crochet dolls?

So, my old friend Google and I teamed up for yet another adventure. I made many attempts to start at the logical source—the head. What’s a zombie without a brain? I tried, again and again, but eventually I was sent back to the drawing board. So, I started with an arm, a project that was a bit less ambitious. At first, I thought it would just be a finger hat, and posed accordingly.

But, miraculously, the arm came together properly. Afterwards, I fashioned another arm, in green. I made the arms different colors, because he’s my crochet zombie, thus he needs to be special.

Emboldened by the success at creating two almost symmetrical arms (zombies don’t need symmetry, they need brains) I decided to return to making a head. Despite forgetting to count my stitches, I pressed on, eventually coming to a roughly spherical shape.

But, disaster struck.

My arm had cramped up, and I could no longer continue. Not wanting accept defeat, or to deprive Bear of his new little brother, I cobbled the old, discarded attempts into a mouth and hair. Then, I added buttons for eyes, and stitched on his little arms. I used a sharpie to give his eyes the proper bloodshot effect. No cutesy giggly eyes for my zombie.  Bear would be jealous, after all.

Thus, I created a crochet zombie. Not in the fashion that the book recommended, but he’s made of crochet, cute, and obviously a zombie. For the moment, that’s good enough for me!

The quest for the perfect crochet zombie shall continue! 

Thea writes zombie stories and science fiction. She was raised in rural Quebec, where her imagination was often her only friend, and this upbringing also engendered a fanatical love of reading and books.You can stalk her at her blog, Thea's Writing Asylum, or on Twitter as @TheaIsis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 3

Oh look, there was actual progress this week!

Days Left to Deadline: 55
Hours Worked On: Oh crap . .  I forgot I was supposed to be paying attention to this. I have no idea. I worked on three of this week's seven days.
Morale: Sort of better or something. *thumbs up*

Chapters Edited: Like . . . a half of one (5/27 total)
Words Cut: Umm, I added 126 words (3,366 total)
Total Word Count: 100,445

Thoughts: I suspect that these stats I'm "collecting" are actually somewhat deceptive and useless. I may revamp them for next week. Any suggestions?

Anyway, actually edited some this week. Re-read old chapters to get back on track, fixed some sucky sentences in said chapters and highlighted things that needed a more in-depth fix. Shockingly enough, I like chapter 3 now. This is pretty much equivalent to hell freezing over.

After that, I worked on chapter 4-4 (all of my chapter numbers are screwed up right now, fyi), which is mostly a lot of re-writing from a different POV . . . which is strangely more obnoxious than it should be. Though, I guess it's a good thing that my characters don't think alike?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Printz award book challenge

ETA (01/09/12): Well, after some more digging around, it looks like there isn't a year-long challenge specifically for Printz award books. So . . . I'm going to host one just because I want to. :) Go to the tab at the top of the blog or click here to check it out.

Haha, so I had this brilliant plan to host a reading challenge, and throughout all of my research on the matter I didn't succeed in finding a challenge that overlapped my own idea until about two days ago. Sigh.

Anyway, the challenge I was going to create was about Printz award books. In simple terms, the Michael L. Printz award is named for a librarian who was super active in the Young Adult Library Services Association and is pretty much THE young adult book award. If you read YA, you've probably see the seals before--they're giant, metallic P's:

Now what does this have to do with my reading challenge that isn't?

Well, I've only read three Printz winners (Ship BreakerGoing Bovine, and Monster) and six honor books (Stolen, The MonstrumologistThe Book Thief, The House of the ScorpionThe Body of Christopher Creed, and Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging). As of right now there are 12 winners and 45 honor books. I obviously need to read some more of them. And if I need to read some more, there's a good chance that YOU should too.

I'm not hosting it anymore, but if you're interested in tackling some of the Printz award books too, check out The Printz Project. It's a perpetual challenge instead of a year-based challenge, but it definitely deserves a little attention.

So, have you guys read any Printz winners or honor books? If so, which ones and what did you think about them? Also, what kinds of reading goals are you planning to tackle in 2012? I'm planning on reading some more Printz books, but the only definitive challenge I'm going for is the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. Tell me what you're up to in the comments!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Safe & Sound

Okay, this is old news, but I thought I'd share for anyone who hasn't stumbled upon it yet. Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars have put together a gorgeous song for the film adaption of The Hunger Games and, well, I want you to listen to it. Because it's pretty and all but screams Katniss and Prim.

So, thoughts? Did you hear about this weeks ago, when it was first released? Or did I get to enlighten at least on person? And, most important, do you think this is an appropriate song for The Hunger Games? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Week 2


Hours Worked On: Nada
Days Left to Deadline: 62

Chapters Edited: 0 (5/27 total)
Words Cut: 0 (3,240 total)
Total Word Count: 100,319

Morale: Still hiding in a corner
Thoughts: In my defense, I have ambitions to actually work on my manuscript today. The program is even open now! Also, found a song that seems particularly inspirational, so that should probably help. Feel free to throw more imaginary fruit at me in the comments though.

Monday, January 2, 2012

December Book Roundup

After much toil and heartache and many hours spent staring at words, I successfully read 100 books and have thus completed my Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge! Woo!
Anyway, let's get onto the book roundup. For the uninitiated: At the beginning of each month I do Twitter-length reviews of the books I read during the month prior. Genres are listed at the beginning of the reviews and my absolute favorites are marked with a star ().

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal
Memoir--Amusing vignettes on life, love, and family. Honest and personable and full of Crystal's voice. Kinda wish there was an audio book version though.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
YA Paranormal Romance--Mara wakes from a horrific accident and can't remember what happened. Delightfully creepy and mysterious, but I hoped it'd be a stand-alone.

YA Noir--Atlanta's been drawn into a battle against high school bullies. Dark, gritty, and full of badassery. Also, Atlanta's very much a girl, which rocks. 

Paper Towns by John Green
YA Contemporary Fiction--Margo is a mystery, and Q is going to figure her out. Lots of great ideas on what it means to be a person, but I didn't relate to the characters.

Toradora! Vol. 1 by Yuyuko Takemiya (Baka-Tsuki translation)
Light Novel--Ryuuji's a normal kid who looks like a ganster and Taiga's a doll-sized girl with attitude. Cute romantic comedy, but holy jarring translation, Batman.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
YA Fantasy--Plain Kate is just a talented wood carver, but everyone thinks she's a witch. This story is compelling from the first page. Also, a talking cat. 

And there you guys go--the last six books I read during 2011! So, did you guys have any reading goals, and, if so, did you have the pleasure of meeting them? What was the last book that you read this year? Tell me in the comments!