Writing Craft Books – Recent Purchases to Recommend

I just indulged and bought a small passel of writing craft books and I thought I’d share them with y’all.

The Literary Enneagram: Characters from the Inside Out

As entertaining as it is illuminating, THE LITERARY ENNEAGRAM offers a fresh version of the standard “Great Books” course, using characters from literature to show the inner dynamics of the nine Enneagram personality types and their variations

I discovered the Enneagram for myself a little over a year ago and immediately began reading up on it to use to help with characterization. Then I discovered this, which is perfect for me. Just started it yesterday, and so far has been very illuminating. Very helpful in developing the character arc and emotional range of your characters.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.

I began using their website back when I first discovered it in 2009 and am so delighted to finally have this in book form for easy reference. I just got it, so haven’t had a chance to peek inside, but my only wish with the website was that they had more examples of what these emotions feel like on the inside. A lot of times the entries only relate what the observable body language is, which the main POV character can’t usually know if we’re writing in Deep POV. The book may have more of this.

What To Do Before Your Book Launch

What To Do Before Your Book Launch is a guide for authors, covering everything from working with your publisher, to reading in public, to help for publicity and marketing, to using (and misusing) social media, to how to dress for your author photo…and far more, including cautionary tales, worksheets, timelines and etiquette tips.

I wasn’t sure if this would live up to the description, but it was definitely worth the purchase price! I haven’t yet been through this stage, so can’t say how accurate it is, but it seems to be very helpful in explaining what to expect, even getting into tips on how to pose for your author photo. Lots of scary cautionary tales as well!

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View

Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don’t tell issues. My Best to You, Jill

Again, I wasn’t sure about this one, but it was worth it. Most of the stuff I already knew, but man was I craving such a craft book over a year ago when I was first struggling with understanding Deep POV. For those still trying to learn it, I would definitely recommend this. Each chapter ends in recommended exercises. For those unpublished writers already familiar with it, it would be helpful for the review and for perhaps one or two subtle points. As I said, most I already knew, but there were a few nuances, with examples, that definitely helped me.

What recent writing craft purchases have you made? Are you a total dork about buying them like I am? I love ‘em. What’s your favorite?

How Accurate Do Your Historicals Need To Be?

I’ve heard various opinions on this, either in conversations with fellow writers or in blog posts. One thing I’ve found is that opinion amongst those romance writers I’ve talked to vary WIDELY.

One writer I talked to, when I said that the historical inaccuracies in one NYT Bestselling Author used to bother me, but her delightful writing and humor won me over, stated she couldn’t read her works because of the inaccuracies. I’ve heard others say that they don’t worry too much about historical accuracy when writing because they consider the historical past a fantasy world.

I think I fall somewhere between, with my bar as a writer higher than as a reader.

While I agree that the worlds we are creating for our reader are fantasy worlds, that fantasy world can be popped if we’re too careless with facts. It’s true that we write about situations and events that might not have happened, heck, I wrote a time travel, and we know there just weren’t that many scorchingly handsome, progressive-thinking single dukes to be had in Regency England for our Bluestocking heroine. But I do think we have a responsibility to be as accurate as we can while still creating that fantasy world for our readers.

I feel like if a book has the basics down, I’m able to suspend my disbelief and immerse myself in the straight-up Regency with the aforementioned hijinks of the duke and heroine, or into the wonderful world of vampires, werewolves and tea in Victorian England, like Gail Carriger’s wonderful Parasol Protectorate series. I wonder if it’s the same level of tolerance paranormal writers talk about? You can have one made up thing/premise, but throw in more and you risk popping that bubble?

So if the premise is what we’re making up, shouldn’t we try to be as accurate as possible with the day-to-day, non-plot elements? Nothing yanks me out of that world than simple historical details that could easily be fixed without affecting the plot. Some things that yanked me out recently:

  • Addressing someone by the wrong title. It should have been Lady Something, not Miss Something
  • Introduction etiquette–who-gets-introduced-first type of thing.
  • Having the heroine refer to wearing bloomers (and using that word) in a Regency. Not only a problem with word choice, but they didn’t wear pantaloons or drawers in the early Regency.
  • Having an historical character know that a Jane Austen novel was written by Jane Austen and the book is set prior to 1817. I blogged about fact-checking last year and about this particular date.
  • Using modern day valuations for transactions. I remember one historical where the hero gave the heroine like a 100,000 British pounds piece of jewelry. While yes, today, that would be extremely expensive and would show how wealthy the dude was, did the writer understand how freakishly, astronomically expensive that would have been in modern terms when converted to the valuation of the pound in the novel’s time?
  • Using the word fiancé or fianceé in a Regency. They used the word betrothed until about the 1850s.
  • A Scotsman from the 900s wielding a claymore.

I know that there’s way more than this that will yank me out, but that’s all I can think of that I remember, or came across in my reading in the last week (wish I’d taken notes!). I also know we can’t possibly get everything accurate, because sometimes even historians are divided about what really happened. And also because sometimes we just can’t know. Or it’s something that only someone with a doctorate in history would happen to know. After all, we’re not writing non-fiction, we are writing entertainment. But for things that are basic, like what they ate and wore, etc., we should strive to be as accurate as possible. That’s my take.

Also, others might look at some of my examples and roll their eyes as their tolerance as a reader is lower. And that’s fine. It’s all about the reader and what keeps their willing suspension of disbelief.

This also underscores how important Beta readers are. I know mine have caught numerous historical inaccuracies and anachronisms in mine! (Thank you!)

As a reader, where do you fall on this spectrum? Writers, how accurate do you strive to be? As a writer, is your reading tolerance higher or lower than what you write?

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Stormtroopers Dressed as LEGOs for Halloween

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Mountain,” by Tonic

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Working With a Cover Artist–Lessons Learned from Working in the Web Design Industry

I thought I’d share my limited experience of working with a cover artist by talking about how I communicated what I wanted, which I pulled from my experience of being on the designer end for over a decade, albeit in web design.

So, Monday evening I shared my new cover for my first release ever, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS. As I stated in that post, I love the cover. Here’s how I increased the odds I’d love it.

Communicate what you mean

So many times back when I worked in web design, we’d get frustrated with clients who couldn’t communicate what they wanted and would basically say “I don’t have time. I’m not an artist, just make me something edgy.”  Or “I’ll know what I want when I see it.” Oh boy. Lots of times our definition of “edgy” did NOT match theirs. Quickly we began honing our interrogation techniques questions we’d ask so that we could get a good idea of what the client actually meant. We also made sure to ask things about what they hated (even specific colors) and to ask if there were any strong dislikes up the chain (nothing sucked worse than creating three mockups, going back and forth with the client until one of the three matched what they wanted, going into production and creating the graphics for the website and then when the decision-maker up the chain who couldn’t be bothered to be a part of the original negotiations finally looked at the fully-functioning-ready-to-make-live website and the predominate color is green, AND THEY HATE GREEN. Argh.)

Things I took away from that experience that could apply to communicating with cover artists:

  1. Try to come up with words that convey the mood and style you want.
  2. Realize that your definition of those words might not be the same as the artist’s
  3. If there’s anyone whose opinion matters to you, get their input in the beginning
  4. Communicate any strong dislikes. What if you hate the color green and the whole background of your cover is green? Is that the artist’s fault if you failed to mention it? No. And now you’re in a position where you’re going to have to decide whether to suck it up, or negotiate with the artist and potentially ruining your working relationship

There’s trust in this relationship. You’re trusting an artist to create a visual representation of your work. But there’s trust happening on the other end too: the artist is trusting that you’re communicating fully with him/her and that all the hard work they’re about to do won’t be wasted and have to be thrown out because you couldn’t communicate effectively.

Anyway, with all this in my background I was acutely aware of being on the other end for a change. The publisher gives the authors a good detailed questionnaire to help with this process, but that’s only as good as what the author chooses to put in there as answers. Some must not be very communicative, because when I complimented the cover artist for nailing it, she said “You were very concise with your descriptions on your CA, so I have you to thank for that.”

So what did I put in there?

You might think from what she said that I was specific as to what the cover should look like precisely, i.e. “I’d like a guy and girl playfully touching foreheads, a beer bottle in the foreground and a Welcome to Vegas sign in the background.” Nope.

Instead I listed elements that were part of the story and let the artist figure out how best to represent it. I also included excerpts of description and setting in case it was relevant.

So what did she mean by concise?

Part of the questionnaire asked what we’d like to see on our cover and part of my answer had this:

Font: Nice, clean font.

Imagery: Not too busy

Mood: Light, sexy, funny

But remember the client who wanted “edgy”? Everyone has different definitions for these terms, so with that in mind, I expanded on what I meant by these in the rest of the questionnaire. So in the next question, which asked what we didn’t like, I used that area to expand on two of these to help illustrate my definitions of these. I stated that I didn’t want the scripty type fonts and inserted covers to show what I meant. I then also inserted covers to illustrate what I meant by “too busy”

And then in the optional section where it asked for a cover that I liked, I knew I couldn’t find a cover that had my mood or had specifics to fit, so instead I used it to show designs I liked that helped illustrate what I liked as far as style. And I used covers from the same publisher so I could stay realistic as far as what could be done. (In other words, I knew there wasn’t a budget for setting up a photo shoot with models). Here was what I put:

Here are some covers where I think the cover looks classy, clean (clean as in not too busy) etc. NOTE: These are meant to convey what I mean by classy and clean—obviously the mood and content of these wouldn’t necessarily work for mine. And again, not saying others aren’t classy and clean, only that this is what I consider it to mean–everyone has different definitions, so just letting you know mine ;)

And on the first go, she came back with exactly what I wanted! Yay! And because I’m still just so dang excited, and it seems fitting to do so, I’ll close with the end result:

To sum it up, even in this aspect of the book business, it’s best to show not tell ;)

One cover does not an expert make, so please, use the comments to help expand my limited experience with yours! Have you worked with cover artists before? What are some tips you have for helping this process go smooth and end with a wonderful cover? Do you have any horror stories to share as cautionary tales?

Throwing Confetti! Cover Reveal for Beer and Groping in Las Vegas!

I can’t quite believe it! This is my first ever cover! And it’s HERE! And I absolutely adore it! The awesome Dawné Dominique is the cover artist.

The other good news is that the publication date got moved up from January to December! So here’s the skinny:

BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS
A contemporary geek romance
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing
Release Date: December 19, 2012!!
Length: Novelette

Blurb:
Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she accidentally makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.

What do y’all think?

Book Lovers Open Thread

This post is for you! Love books? Share why! What are you reading right now?

I’ll go first :)

I can’t remember when I haven’t loved books. Some of my earliest childhood memories are about reading books. As I grew older (still a kid though) and still obviously had way too much time on my hands, I used to pretend my books were part of a library and I would create little card catalog squares that I’d tape on the spines. Some of my children’s books still have those little slips of paper. I have no idea what system I used or if I just made it up. I think I even had check out slips on the inside and tried to make my brother check them out from me. I don’t think it worked.

I’ve always dreamed of having a library in my house where I’d need a ladder that slides on wheels or a track. Sigh. Someday. I just love physical books and having them on shelves or in stacks around me bring me comfort. I love looking at them. That’s why I’d never be able to fully go digital.

It’s rare that a day goes by when I haven’t read from a book. At my local hamburger joint, the kitchen staff calls me “The Reader” because I sit at the bar twice a week and read and eat my hamburger.

I also generally have more than one book going at a time. I used to be better about alternating non-fiction with my fiction, but I’ve gotten lax lately, unless I’m needing to do research.

What I’m reading:

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma. I picked this up about a month ago and found the tale interesting but apparently not interesting enough as it’s still sitting in my To Finish pile. It’s told from an Omniscient POV.

Characters real and imaginary come vividly to life in this whimsical triple play of intertwined plots, in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.

What happens if we change history?

Félix J. Palma explores this provocative question, weaving a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting—a story full of love and adventure that transports readers from a haunting setting in Victorian London to a magical reality.

A Groom of One’s Own by Maya Rodale. Picked up all the ones in this series last week for my Kindle as they’re only .99 right now and am a sucker for characters who are writers. The plot is well paced as I really want to finish and find out what happens! My only quibble is some of the historical inaccuracies which pulled me out of the story several times. Mind you, I’m not one of those that needs to have it all accurate (that’s impossible) and we’re writing fantasy after all and walk a fine line between reader needs/expectations and historical accuracy. But these were small, non-plot-related details that could’ve easily been fixed without affecting the story. It’s weird because I can tell she’s researched the time period.

Miss Harlow’s marriage in high life
London, 1823 
A handsome duke. His beautiful soon-to-be duchess. A whirlwind courtship. It is this author’s privilege to report on the event all of London is talking about: the upcoming wedding of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon to the only daughter of the Duke of Richmond. Every detail of the “Wedding of the Year” will be reported in these pages as a London Weekly exclusive.
But I, Miss Sophie Harlow, must confess to a secret infatuation with this “double duke” that can only lead to trouble. It is impossible that this notoriously upstanding gentleman would ever jilt his bride for a scandalous female newspaper writer. And yet . . . the arrival of a foreign prince, the discovery of a shocking secret, and one passionate kiss could change everything. Will this perfect duke risk the scandal of the year to marry the woman his heart desires?

How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling. This was one of my free books from RWA. Just started it and enjoying so far. Was pitched as The Bachelor set in The Regency.

Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. Love is not necessary–nor desired. But how to choose among a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London’s infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she’s not the most captivating woman he’s ever met…

Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she’s determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife–she’ll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke’s affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan’s desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker’s number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.

Werewolf in Seattle: A Wild About You Novel by Vicki Lewis Thompson. Just started reading this one too. Another freebie from RWA.

The last thing Colin McDowell wants is to inherit his Aunt Geraldine’s mansion in the San Juan islands off the coast of Washington. As the pack leader of the Trevelyans in Scotland, he had little time to travel halfway around the world to take care of his inheritance.

But the trip takes a pleasant turn when he meets Luna Reynaud, the young secretary his aunt hired shortly before she died. He isn’t sure which surprises him more-Luna’s clever plan for turning the mansion into a resort of the fact that she’s drop-dead gorgeous. Both intrigue him-until he learns that Luna is only a half-breed. There’s no way a pack leader can mate with a woman who’s partly human…or is there?

Celtic Myths and Legends by T.W. Rolleston. I blogged about this last week and am still enjoying it.

Masterful retelling of Irish and Welsh stories and tales of the Ultonian and Ossianic cycles, the voyage of Maeldun, and the myths and tales of the Cymry (Welsh). Favorite and familiar stories of Cuchulain, King Arthur, Deirdre, the Grail, many more.

So what about you? What are you reading? What do you love about books?

Six Sentence Sunday – 10/21/12

Welcome to #SixSunday!

NEWS: This week MUST LOVE BREECHES won 1st place in FF&P’s On the Far Side contest in the time travel/steampunk/historical category and a full request from the judging editor. It also finaled yesterday in the Windy City Four Seasons Contest, paranormal category.

Today’s Six Sunday is from STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, my steampunk romance set in Mobile, AL. I’m skipping a couple of lines from last week’s entry. Setup is that he’s just rescued a lady from a frightened horse on the busy streets of Mobile and the heroine witnessed it and in the part we’re skipping she exclaims how heroic he’d been. This is in his POV and he’s the first speaker:

“There was nothing heroic at all in my actions. Please, do not read more into it. It only required a calm demeanor and a firm hand.”

This didn’t seem to dispel her misconception. She only smiled, which lit up her whole face, her eyes dancing merrily. “You are too modest, sir, I know your game–I’m onto you.”

As always I welcome constructive feedback.

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Baumgartner Space Jump LEGO Reenactment!

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” by U2

NEWS: This week MUST LOVE BREECHES won 1st place in FF&P’s On the Far Side contest in the time travel/steampunk/historical category and a full request from the judging editor. It also finaled today in the Windy City Four Seasons Contest, paranormal category

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Confessions of a Contest Whore…

Hi, my name is Angela, and I’m a contest whore.

It’s taken me finding an agent to finally break this habit I started  less than a year ago. I thought I’d parse what it’s been like and things I’ve learned in case it might be useful to others.

To give a little background, I entered my first contest in December (didn’t final) and have been ridiculously addicted ever since. I’ve only participated in RWA (Romance Writer’s of America) chapter contests, and for those unfamiliar with this unholy round, local and special interest chapters of the national organization hold contests whereby for a fee, you can compete with other authors in your category, get feedback from judges (usually some of them are published authors), and if you final, get your MS in front of a coveted agent or editor. Sometimes you can win things other than a certificate and kudos (money, extra pitches at contests, pendants).

So, I happily began marking my little Men of the Stacks calendar at my writing desk with deadlines and forking over the $20-$35 entry fees, nervous and excited. In the beginning, I didn’t expect to final, I was mainly doing it for the feedback and to see how I fared against other unpublished writers. I still remember my first final notification. I had just checked into my room at the hotel in New Orleans for FF&P’s Fantasy on the Bayou writer’s conference (March) and looked at my email on my phone before getting freshened up for my FIRST PITCH EVER. And there was a notice that I’d finaled in Washington, DC’s Marlene Contest. I was stunned and overjoyed and also SO GLAD of the confidence booster as I embarked that weekend on so many firsts (first writer’s conference, first time pitching to an agent, etc). It told me that I was not crazy for embarking on this writing thing.

Other finals followed, as well as many other times where I fell short (sometimes by one spot) and didn’t final. The finals told me the first one wasn’t some fluke like I’d secretly suspected. Over the summer was a day where I finaled in two, bringing the total number of contest finals to seven. I remember thinking, okay, not only were the others not a fluke, this must mean something. As of today, MUST LOVE BREECHES has finaled in ten contests (and won one of them so far), and STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY (which I’d just started entering) has finaled in one (haven’t heard back yet on the few others it entered).

So what have I learned through this madness?

Entering contests is a good trial run at receiving reviews

You will get tons of feedback, sure, but it sure as heck won’t be consistent. I’ve literally had judges in the same contest mark the same sentence as either needing to be cut, or as one of their favorite lines. I’ve had judges say they hated my heroine, and others that loved her. Same with the hero. What this has taught me is that I can’t please everyone. This has been good practice for what it’d be like if I ever get published. I can’t argue back with the judges, even when they’re wrong (yes, they can be wrong). Just like reviewers might be. I can’t get mad if they scored me low because they just don’t like time travels. Just like reviewers might not. I can’t get down every time I don’t final and/or get a low-balled score. Just like I can’t with reviewers.

One tactic that came out of this was that I realized that having a strong voice could hurt me with some judges who just didn’t like it, period. And their score would skew my final score. So then I began to only enter contests that dropped the lowest score when my goals changed from wanting feedback to wanting to final.

Entering contests is good practice for evaluating feedback

With this varied feedback, you quickly start to learn how to evaluate feedback and whether you should heed their advice or not. The absolute WORST thing you can do is make every single change that every single judge suggests. First off, it would be impossible because they can be contradicting another judge. Second, they don’t know your whole story and your characters and sometimes you have to trust your gut. Finally, they could be flat out wrong. And I don’t mean subjective, I mean literally. I had one contest where the judge gave me a 3 for grammar and punctuation (3s in contest lingo is 3 out of 5 and indicates that the entry requires major revision before sending to an agent or editor). Confused I looked at my entry and only three things were marked. Not only was it a tad excessive to give a 3 for three errors in a 50 page entry, but all three were wrong! The lady didn’t know her grammar. Being thorough, and a little insecure, I double-checked my grammar sources. Yep, she was wrong. One of them was for a sadly dwindling form of grammar–the subjunctive mood. Some of you might say, well it’s a tad formal nowadays to use it, but the part she marked was from the hero’s POV and he’s an educated man in the early 1800s, so dangit, he’d use subjunctive mood. I won’t lie, sometimes when reading feedback, I gave the computer screen the finger. But I chalked it up to toughening up my writer’s skin and as a growing experience. Many times I got invaluable feedback that really helped me see what I was or wasn’t doing.

Entering contests helps you network

Sometimes judges will leave their name, or will contact you after you send your thank you. I’ve had many who have told me they want to be notified when (and believe me I ate up this optimism as they seemed to have more faith than I on this outcome) it’s published. I duly added them to a group in GMail I created for that eventuality, if it happens. I’ve struck up email correspondence with some. I’ve had others recognize me at conferences and say nice things. Look, this journey is hard, so every positive experience you, er, experience, is something to be savored.

Entering contests builds your bio

I listed my contest finals not only on my About page, but also in my query letters to agents.

Entering contests can open doors

I got a request for a full from an e-publisher (I didn’t send it though as I was pursuing agenting first) who was judging the final round in one contest. In another, an agent was judging in the initial round and told me in the last comment in my MS that if I was still seeking representation to contact her. After a while, I started feeling the pinch financially of entering all these contests. Coupled with already getting invaluable feedback, I changed my goal to who would judge final rounds and I began to only enter those contests whose final judges I wanted to be in front of.

Entering contests can help impose discipline

Having deadlines to make cannot hurt you at all. It will help get you used to revising in a hurry to make a deadline, or to plan ahead, etc. Regardless, you work out your system in this setting rather than with an editor.

Entering contests can help train you for the submissions process

Each contest has different rules for formatting and for what to send and how. Just like agents and editors. Some contests won’t refund you the money if you don’t do it right. You learn what standard manuscript formatting looks like and to read instructions carefully. Just like you’ll need to do when querying.

Entering contests can buoy you

All of us face doubts about our writing–whether we’re good enough, whether it’s pure crap, whether it’s superficial drivel. Getting comments from judges who absolutely loved your story and your characters can give you the boost you need when you feel yourself slipping into self-doubt. I literally had last-minute, grave misgivings about querying in September. I’d done everything I needed to do and it was time to query, but I had a panic moment where I seriously worried if it was ready. I worried about sending the partial requests I’d gotten at RWA because if it wasn’t ready, I’d just blown it with those two agents. Same with any others I queried, as many nowadays ask for the first 5-10 pages. I DM’ed my writing buddy Jami Gold on Twitter and she stepped me back from the Self Doubt Cliff and reminded me of my contest finals and win. I seriously had to tell myself that yes, okay, those meant something. It gave me the confidence to go for it.

What about you? This isn’t a pure confession as I haven’t revealed how many I entered, but are you also addicted to these things? Did you learn anything I haven’t covered? Did you also get conflicting feedback? How did you handle it?

Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Who Was She?

This year Ada Lovelace Day is today! In celebration, sites around the world are spotlighting women in math and science. To learn more about this and read some amazing stories, visit the site Finding Ada.

I thought I’d instead revamp a blog post I did last year on just who she is and give a round up of awesome Ada news that happened this past year.

If you’re a new visitor to the site, you might first be wondering why I care about Lady Lovelace? Well, besides thinking she was made of awesome, she’s my main secondary character in my time travel romance MUST LOVE BREECHES, for which I just found an agent, so it will be on submission with publishers soon. I purposely picked 1834 as the year my heroine time travels to so she could meet Lady Lovelace when she was still single (and known as Miss Byron).

So, who was she?

Steampunk lovers know her as one of the character’s in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling‘s alternate history novel The Difference Engine, where Charles Babbage finishes his invention and the computer age is ushered in much earlier.

Computer programmers might have heard of her, because she’s credited as being the world’s first computer programmer. In fact, the United States Defense Department named their new computer language, unveiled back in 1980, ADA.

Want to really understand the power and importance of Lovelace and Babbage’s work? Watch this great video giving the background and also plans to build the Analytical Engine.

Did you know, though, that she was the only legitimate daughter of that bad boy of English poetry, Lord Byron?

Another cool fact: she actually, as a child, tried to invent a steam-powered horse! She was so steampunk! She had her scientific pen pals send her dead birds so she could measure wing span to body mass. I’m not making this up.

Besides The Difference Engine, she’s also a main character in this novel: Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land (P.S.). I came across this at a library sale, talk about serendipity! It’s an imagined novel of Byron’s but set within two different story frames: one present day emails of a researcher who has ‘discovered’ this lost novel, and ‘notes and letters’ written by Ada about her attempts to recover the novel and hide it from her mother.

She’s a main character of a webcomic by Sydney Padua called 2D Goggles, or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. This past year they announced the comics will finally be in book form! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage- BOOK!. They also now have a Lovelace & Babbage app for the iPad!

And someone made a LEGO mini figurine!

Are you now scratching your head wondering why you’d never heard of her? (If you already have, yay!).

This last year in Lady Lovelace land:

Totally sold? Halloween’s coming up! Here’s a page on Lady Lovelace and how you can make an Ada Lovelace costume for Halloween

Blog/News posts and other cool linkages:

Biographies: