Friday, March 5, 2010

Back to Blogging!

Update! HIATUS LIFTED! In case you didn't know :) Glad to be back, with house-buying craziness  behind me and the rough draft of my novel finished, woot woot!! Below is my original blog post, in case you missed it. xo Di

I was once a lurker. In the truest sense of the word. I wrote Sinister and Wishmaker in the space of one year. During that time I tootled around on Querytracker. I followed blogs and read forums but NEVER commented. Ever. Well, except on one message board but it was completely not writer related and ANYWAY, that's not the point. The point is, at the end of last summer, while I was still querying Sinister-- and around when I finished writing Wishmaker-- I decided to start a blog. It was a good time for it, because I wasn't focusing on my writing, I was focused on querying.

But now I AM focused on a new book. Not querying or revising it, but writing it. And writing a book changes things for a writer. For me, it changes everything.

It seems that every writer works differently. I become engrossed. I want to spend every free second I have in my story, with my characters, and free time is hard enough to find without being an active blogger. Now that I've gotten to the point in the wip where I'm all heated to work on it, honestly, if I could lock myself in a room somewhere and write from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I'd do it. 

So where does that leave my blog?

It leaves my blog... not as loved as it used to be. I'm SO HAPPY I started blogging; I've found I'm much more social than I thought I could be, and I've made so many friends. True, treasured friends. However... househunting and kids aside, I've been so engrossed in my wip that I have COMPLETELY gone back to my lurking ways! I never comment on your blogs anymore, and it seems anti-bloggish to just keep posting and posting without commenting on everyone's awesome posts; their thoughts and hopes and worries and dreams. 

The problem is, if I write for an hour a day (let's say) and spend more time blogging or catching up on comments than I do writing, the progress is made in my blog and not in my story. The story is where I want to be, you see. The stories are what I hope to build on.

That's why I'm turning off the blog. For now.

I hope you all still say "hi" on Twitter, or send me an email now and then. I'm not going anywhere, really. I'm just switching into deep-lurk mode, at least until my story is where I want it to be. I lurked on a lot of blogs and forums before I started blogging, and I doubt that will ever change.

To avoid the Coaster looking like a sad, abandoned ghost-blog, I will be switching it to private. If you like the links or want access for whatever reason, email me and I'll give you the password. I'm only doing the private-thing so when OTHER people wander over here by accident, they don't see the blog. I'd rather that than have people find some dusty, month-old post staring back at them. And also, I like having all the blogs I'll be lurking at right here in one easy place for me to find them, so I do still want the page to exist.

I want to mention, I'm taking the advice of a few bloggy agents I've read recently, and making my actual web page more the focal point. Up until now, my actual web page has been little more than a placeholder. Eventually, I hope it will be where agents find me, should they take any interest in my project and decide to click the link I send when I query. 

To sum up, starting on Monday, the Coaster will be closed off. Since so many of you are on Twitter, I'm sure you won't miss me too much :) Check my website to see what I'm up to, and definitely email me! My (still in progress) site is and when I start the query process again, I might just come out of lurk mode and be the social butterfly I never expected!

Take care all! And very happy writing :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Interview Answers, Including My Writing Journey

Thank you to everyone who gave me questions to answer for my 100th(ish) Post Celebration Q & A, you guys are awesome. Below are listed the questions, answers, and award recipients of The Official Awesome Award! (It's actually a poster, but it's awesome!!)

And now, the recipients and questions:

Amalia T. asked...

My question for you is: Who is your favorite Star Wars character and why?

also: Favorite Mythological figure? and why!

(am I allowed to ask two? Are they potentially the same question? ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE!)

Now, to answer your first question: My favorite Star Wars character... how to choose? They could all be favorites in different ways. Favorite character to hang out with? (Chewbaca) To battle the Sith with? (Obie Wan Kenobe) To grab by the face and kiss? (Han Solo). I think, if you're backing me into a corner here, my absolute favorite character, the one that makes me happiest to see, is R2D2.

The second question is MUCH easier to answer. My favorite mythological figure is known in mythology as the goddess of many things... the hunt, the moon, the light, chastity/purity; she's a daughter to Zeus, a sister to Apollo; Diana in Roman mythology and my namesake in Greek: Artemis.

Shannon O'Donnell asked...

So...which is better - Star Wars or Star Trek?! :-)

Ha! I like your question, and the answer is STAR WARS!!!

Mary Campbell asked...

Does your hubby like your writing?

My husband doesn't read fiction! Talk about the ying to my yang, right? I've tried to get him to read but, the man just doesn't. He won't read my stories, but he is thoroughly in awe of the fact that I write for pleasure. There are few worse tortures to him than writing.

Julie Dao asked...

If you could be in ANY musical, what would it be, what character would you play, and why?

I LOVE musicals!!! (Exclamation abuse!) It's a close call, because I love so many. Forced to choose... I think... Phantom of the Opera. I'd play Christine (naturally), and the reasons are: the gorgeous costumes, being in Paris, the beautiful music, and the entire Masquerade dance sequence. (This was SUCH a tough question. It took me forever to narrow it down! Les Mis, anyone?)

Amber Tidd Murphy asked...

Here's my question, and it's a two-parter.

Have you always lived in Cali? If not, where are you from?

I haven't always lived in Cali. I grew up on Miami Beach, South Beach actually. We moved to L.A. the summer before tenth grade. I love both places for different reasons, but one thing I missed about South Beach, growing up, is the fact that it was totally fine NOT having a car. There was so much to do within walking distance, and public transportation was a snap. Not so true of being a teen in L.A.

Natalie Murphy asked...

Hmm, a question...Is there a song, image, book, movie, etc... that inspires you more than all the others? Do you have one of each that has your Muse all excited?

Good question! I'm definitely inspired by other creativity, be it music, movies, novels-- art in general, really. Big, epic movies with adventure and romance definitely get me thinking of my own work; art inspires my imagination for sure. Music fires up my muse probably more than anything else. I'm all over the map with music, but deep, meaningful songs like In the End (Linkin Park), You Found Me (The Fray), Apologize (OneRepublic) tend to make me think of my wip's male protagonist. Fun songs like I'm Yours (Jason Mraz) and love songs like I Will Be (by Leona Lewis) have me thinking of the female protag. There are tons more songs but I am terrible with song titles and names!!

Sara McClung ♥ asked...

What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you while traveling? (hehe wicked me)

Such a meanie!! Just kidding ;) Okay, the MOST embarrassing? How do I choose from so many embarrassing moments? Okay, "while traveling" narrows it down... I think it would be the time I went to the beach with my then-boyfriend, now-husband and my brother. We were jumping waves when one of them got me-- and I mean GOOD. I tumbled over and over until the sea spit me out on the sand. I couldn't even see straight from the craziness of my hair wrapped around my face, and when I stood up I didn't know why my brother was laughing like a maniac. Yeah yeah, my one-piece bathing suit was down around my waist. It had a low back, and somehow both straps came completely off in the tumble. But everyone on the beach thought it was grrrrreat. I still blush thinking about it. Awesome.

Erica asked...

Hmmm. What's the best idea you've ever came up with, but haven't written yet?

*throws confetti* *realizes she has no idea how many posts she's had on her own blog*


Wow, you really want me to give away the farm? Okay, here's one I think is good, and I haven't sat down to start it: A sixteen year old girl who can't look people in the eyes without seeing their pasts accidentally looks into the eyes of a girl being chased by a supernatural force (which I'm leaving vague here on purpose, heehee).

pauling asked...

Congrats! And, my questions is - what has been your lowest moment and your highest moment when writing?

My lowest and highest moments-- when writing-- hmm. When writing I'm deep in my characters' minds, so their lowest and highest moments are mine. If you mean, as a writer, my lowest moment was when I gave up. I thought I was such a rock-hard awesome writer, I'd been in critique groups and taken creative writing in college, but I'd never sought publication. And doing so made me feel small and insignificant. There were so many people trying for the same goal, and being a writer for publication is completely different than being a writer for a creative writing class. The truth is, I AM small and insignificant, but it's up to me to grow and make myself relevant. When I figured that out, and got over myself, that's when I was ready to come back. That was a high point, because it was like my mind opened up on a door that had been there all along: rejection is a tool for growth. To be honest, my highest moment was my first full request. Every full sent out is intense, because that is the closest point to getting The Call that an aspiring author typically can be.

Voidwalker asked...

My question, is, IF you had to be stuck in an elevator for 4 hours with any 3 of your blogger friends, who would you chose to be stuck with. (I know I'm in there, but besides me, who would you choose lol)

Well of course you'd be there Void, that's a given :) So I'd be stuck for four hours? And I'm supposed to bring along three additional blogger friends for this little trip? Wow, I'd have to do a drawing, truly. I mean Wendy and GwOE for sure, they're my critique buddies, but as for the third I don't know if I could narrow it down! (BUT, you must answer!!!) Okay okay, I will then!! I'd take an agent-blogger, and hopefully he/she would be charmed by us by the end of this bonding session and offer to look at our manuscripts!

Angie asked...

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Another impossible question to answer!! Again, forced to choose one, I'd say Coldstone's Cookie Doughn't You Want Some in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone, yuummmmmm!!

Elana Johnson asked...

My question: Your sidebar has six novels you've written or are working on. How long have you been writing? Have you queried before? Basically, what's your journey been like to this 100th post?

Hee hee, she wants The Journey. First I'll give you the short answers: Writing stories since junior high (around the time I started reading steamy historical romance novels). I should, technically take two of those stories off my sidebar, since one will never be written and the other is a short story I don't plan on making into a novel anymore. And yes, I have queried before.

And now... The Journey.... get comfy and bring some snacks, I only know the long way around.

Okay, so from the above you can surmise that I'm the kind of writer that has always written. I HATED writing for school, but I wrote stories for myself. Mostly out of boredom after finishing reading the romance and fantasy novels I was addicted to. I pretended to take notes in class, but really I wrote and wrote and wrote. It was extremely cheesy stuff; VERY damsel-in-distress.

Fast forward to college. My senior year I took creative writing because I needed three more units for my full financial aid. My stories had become more "real" to me by then, and I had started thinking more and more about maybe-someday going for publication. So, the class was great. I loved it! I didn't say anything to the professor about my secret ambitions, but she stopped me after class one day and told me, well, she said a bunch of things every writer hopes to hear, and encouraged me to focus on novel-writing (everything before this had been short stories). You can imagine what this did to my head. I went through what a lot of writers probably go through, and I thought I was the most talented author to ever set her fingers to a keyboard. I was freakin' awesome!!!! EVERYONE said so. My mom, my friends, my professor, of COURSE I would be published. Such a given. So I graduated and became serious about working on my masterpiece, a medieval romance novel. It took me about a year to finish it. I became involved with RWA, found a critique group, and six months later sent out queries.

It took another six months to realize the thing wasn't any good. I reworked and reworked, cried at harsh critiques (even though I asked for them), cried at the rejections (even though I was the one putting myself "out there"), started other stories, came back to the first novel, and spent altogether... probably two or three years querying and reworking it. Meanwhile life went on, I taught 3rd grade, had kids, wrote some short stories, started and stopped a few other novel ideas (including a YA), and still nothing was happening with my romance novel. I finally got it through my skull that the story itself might never be good enough. I shelved it. Then took it out a few months later. I saw it for what it really was. Not good.

I had gotten a nibble from a magazine on A Christmas Treasure by this point. That's the short story that's on my sidebar because it was my first (and only) "Yes, we'll publish this!!" even though the magazine went out of business before the Christmas issue came out. I was prideful back then (okay, I still am, but not as much!), and this acceptance had been validation. The Am-I-Crazies subsided and I decided to focus on another novel, the Castaway one over there. And I made a stupid move. A big one. So dumb!

I queried Castaway before it was finished! Yup, that's like, third or fourth in the Query Commandments, right under Thou Shalt Not Call Agents/Editors and Thou Shalt Never Send Rude Correspondences. I can't claim ignorance. I'd gone to enough conferences and been learning from agent/editor interviews for too long for that kind of bonehead move. But I had wasted so many years on the first novel and I felt like I needed to catch up or something. But anywayyyyy, where was I? Oh yes, the dark moment.

The dark moment happened after I was rejected again and again for Castaway, the unfinished novel I shouldn't have been querying. The validation from my college professor and Arabella Magazine were distant memories. I decided I was a fool. A hack. I couldn't do it. I stopped writing completely, which was weird. I even stopped reading. Weirder. I tried, reeeeeeeally hard, not to be a writer. I distanced myself from everything writer and book-related. I didn't want to be reminded.

This lasted over a year. My husband noticed me becoming more and more sparkless, and apparently he understood the connection of me not reading or writing, even though I never made a formal announcement to him or anything. One day out of the blue he dropped me off at Barnes and Nobles and told me to go nuts, he'd be back whenever I called him to pick me up. It was right after Christmas. I still remember all the holiday books stacked at the front of the store. After more than a year away from reading ANYTHING, it is not an exaggeration to say this was a life-changing moment for me. I gravitated toward fantasy and romance, as usual, and picked up a fantasy, Eragon, not realizing it wasn't "adult." I was instantly transported, and when I found out it was shelved in YA it made my head spin. I found a whole new genre, and fell in absolute love with it. I gobbled up book after book, and it wasn't long before I turned my eye to my own writing.

I had started a few YA stories long ago. I opened one up, which at the time was called Sanctuary. It's now Sinister Charms (Sinister on my sidebar), and I think it took me only four months to finish. I queried Sinister to fifteen agents, in batches of three. I received five form rejections, five non-responses, a few partial requests and one full request, which all ended in rejections. The requests were definitely cool, but I didn't let them go to my head this time. And after fifteen queries, I stopped. I can't say why, but something told me (tells me) that Sinister isn't the right novel to query. Fifteen may not seem like a lot, but I remembered the years and years of rejections on the medieval novel, and I don't want to do that again. If it isn't good enough, I want to move forward.

I wrote Wishmaker during Sinister's query period, but have never revised or queried that novel. I think it's a sweet story, but I KNOW it isn't strong enough. While deciding whether to revise and make it stronger-- or not, and let it be another learning experience-- I came up with another idea for a new story. I think this one will be strong enough to be the novel I WANT to query with. And that is my current WIP, which I call Fated.

There's the journey. So far. I hope you're not sorry you asked :)

jdcoughlin asked...

And since I'm posting after Elana, I have to echo her questions. Sum of the journey for us. What would be The Word if you could only use one?

I hope I summed up the journey well enough for you!! The Word? Hmm, don't know if I'm sure of what you mean, but I'll take a stab: success.

Carolina Valdez Miller asked...

1. If you had it to do over again, would you go with an iphone? NEVER!! Blackberry or death!

2. If forced--I'm talking, threat of needles in your eyeballs and lobster claws on your nose--to choose one of your WIPs as your #1 favorite, which one would it be, and why? Fated. It's scary how cool this story is turning out.

3. Have you ever forced your child to eat something that you yourself hated as a child? Ugh, I wish I could say no!! I make my son take a bite of his salad every time we have it. I hated salad as a kid, and so does he.

4. What is one thing you said you would never do and ended up doing in the end? I said I'd never send my work to cyber-buddies that I haven't "met" in real life. I'm really glad I decided to do this!

5. What is the biggest writing/publishing mistake you've made? Ha! Only one? Querying an unfinished novel, definitely.

6. Favorite type of cheese and what do you eat/drink with it? Unspicy nacho cheese! I eat it with popcorn, chips, crackers, on broccoli, baked potatoes... the better question is, what DON'T I eat it with?

7. What is one thing you would sacrifice for hairlessness from the neck down for the rest of your life? Oh. My. Gosh. You know me SO WELL! I would sacrifice T.V., but that seems too easy because I don't watch that many shows. Oh!! I would turn in my Disnelyland annual pass forever, and never go to Disneyland/Disney World again. That is an enormous sacrifice for a Disney freak like me. Still not enough?? I would sleep on my back instead of curled up on my side, I would build Transformers for an hour a day, I would do math! (I hope the hairless fairy is listening!!)

8. Be honest. Do you like your 103rd blog post better than your 100th? On that note, what is your favorite blog post ever? My 100th post was the Valentine's Day Lovefest post!! I like that one better :) As for my favorite blog post ever... I think it's This One.

9. If nobody were watching, what is one thing you would eat with your hands that you would normally otherwise eat with utensils? Pie, lol. Actually, most desserts. But with pie pick at it with my fingers, right out of the tin. I convince myself that I'm only having a taste and not a whole slice, but come on, right? I eat like, three slices-worth of pickings!

Carolina Valdez Miller asked...

Does this mean I get to claim your awesome award 9 times? Hmmm???

Yup! "Now announcing, nine-time Awesome Award winner, CAROLINA!!!!"

Janelle asked...

Would you like to buy a box of girl scout cookies?? Yes, I've bought too many already!!


okay... here's my question:

Peeta or Gale? Peeta!!!

wait, I know the answer to that too...

let me try again...

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?

I think I already know, but you may surprise me.

Oh, good one!! I bet you think I'm going to say Disney World or Hawaii, but you said "anywhere," which implies that cost is not an issue, so in that case I would do a grand tour of Europe, starting with Paris :)

Thanks for "interviewing" me everyone, I hope you had fun :) I'll end with the 100th Post Questionnaire I gave Tina on her big day:
1. Coke or Pepsi? Coke

2. Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars

3. Elvis or The Beatles? Beatles

4. Edward or Jacob? Doh. Why did I ask her this? For Bella: Edward. For me: Jacob.

5. TV or internet? Internet

6. Fame or fortune? Fame

7. Lip gloss or lipstick? Lip gloss

8. Beach or mountains? Beach

9. Jet plane or cruise ship? Jet plane

10. Hugs or kisses? Kisses