Monday, August 27, 2012


Here are the winners for my 200 Followers/Anniversary Giveaway.

1- In exactly ten words, pitch me your book or another famous story.
And the winner is...Emily R. King! Here's her pitch: Sparkly vampire craves Jane Doe but knocks her up instead.
Haha, I love it. Emily, email me your ten pages and query whenever you're ready and I'll forward it to Taryn for your free critique!

2-If you were stranded on an island and could only take one book with you, which would it be and why?
And the winner is...Kathryn Purdie! She chose to take Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Her comment convinced me to finally pick up that book and read it. And now I totally get it--guys if you haven't read this one yet, do it. Kathryn, you can choose from the following books (my top 5 favs) and I'll send it to you. Just shoot me an email with your choice:

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

*Please note that Keturah and Lord Death is out of print but will be re-released this October with a gorgeous new cover...I can't wait, so if you choose that one I'll probably send it then.

3-I love movies almost as much as I love books, so I want to know...what is your favorite book to movie adaptation and why?
And the winner is...Connie B. Dowel! Connie's favorite adaption is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I recently re-watched this one and I have to agree, it's a great adaptation indeed. Connie, email me your address and I'll send Hunger Games to you ASAP.

4-And finally, one winner will be chosen at random to receive a $20 Amazon gift card for a book or movie of your choosing. 
And the random winner is...Kelley Lynn! Thanks for commenting (and dancing too!) Could you email me and let me know whether you'd prefer a gift card in the mail or via email? Either works for me.

Thanks to all who played along and especially those who threw in a few '80's dance moves for the celebration! Winners can contact me at ilimatodd AT gmail DOT com.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

That is so cliché

cli·ché   \klē-ˈshā\

1: a trite phrase or expression; also: the idea expressed by it
2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
3: something that has become overly familiar or commonplace

I'll be honest. Up until, oh, a week ago, I thought I had this one figured out. I was the one to quickly highlight and click that comment button when critiquing your manuscript and point out, "Cliche! Try again." I avoided using commonplace sayings and overused descriptions in MY manuscript. I would never go there--such an elementary writing mistake.

Then I get my edits back from my agent. Yeah. So this is where I fell short: several of my descriptions were just too easy. The words might have been written in a new way, unfamiliar, and therefore I thought: non-cliche. But the idea behind it? It's been done before. I needed to come up with fresher metaphors and a different way of looking at things. To quote Jennifer: "When an easy option presents itself in fiction, ignore it and move on, to seek out the more surprising and often more challenging options."

And what a challenging process it has been. Whining and pulling my hair out and lots of chocolate kind of challenging. Here's what it looks like, pretty much:

1-I can't do this. It's too hard.
2-Why is this happening to me?
3-I tried and it sucks. See? SEE?
4-Ooh, distractions on the internet.
5-Pass the chocolate.
6-Wait, this might actually work.
7-*move words around aimlessly*
8-Delete. Delete. Command Z. COMMAND Z!
9-This is beautiful stuff. Wow, I'm an amazing writer.
10-Shed a tear and give an impromptu speech to the Pandora web page.

Yep, sounds about right. Then I move on to the next cliche. And as my CP's well know, the process may also involve some nail-biting freak-outs where I send them emergency emails to make sure I haven't completely lost my mind. Usually at steps 3.5 and 8.2ish. you catch yourself using cliches in your writing? How do you go about fixing them? *Bonus points to whoever can point out all the cliches I've used in this blogpost.* I'm just kidding, sort of. :)

You all know how much I like music. One of my favorite bands is Sigur Ros based out of Iceland. Here's an awesome music video of theirs that takes a common cliche and turns it on its head.

And finally, poll results:
55% of you have never read the last page of a book before reading it. Very good.
27% of you have done it once or twice but don't make it a habit. I think I can forgive that.
9% of you do it all the time. Um...are you INSANE? I want names and numbers. Now. :)
And 9% of you said no comment. "Is wise, this choice you make," says Ilimayoda.

Thanks for participating!

Monday, August 20, 2012


If you haven't commented on my 200 Follower/Anniversary Giveaway yet, there is still time. I'll probably choose the winners in one week, so go and help me celebrate. You can win a movie, book, Amazon giftcard, or query/10-page critique from a Teen Eyes editor.

In September, my dear friend Deana Barnhart is hosting the Gearing Up To Get An Agent blogfest (GUTGAA). Hoards of agents and small presses will be taking a look at your pitches, along with several other prizes throughout the month. I will be helping out behind the scenes, so what are you still waiting for? Sign up now.

In a couple of weeks I'll also be participating in the What I Did Last Summer Fact or Fiction Bloghop hosted by Emily R. King and Melodie Wright. I'm a terrible liar, so sign up here--that way you can laugh at my feeble attempts in doing so.

I just got edits back from my agent, so guess what I'll be doing this week? Pretty much THIS.

In September the Killers release their latest album, Battleborn. (That'd make a cool book title, ya?) This makes me so so happy, you have no idea. I'm still trying to convince my husband to fly us to Ireland to see them in concert for our anniversary. Ya, like that'll ever happen. :) I'll leave you with their album trailer. I know, I didn't know they made trailers for music albums either. It works for books, why not music?

*it may send you to youtube to watch. no worries.*

And finally, a poll. I've never done one before, but I love hearing from my blog readers, and there's no easier way to get instant feedback from you than with a quick Q&A. Have a great week, all.

  • Never! That is sacrilege.
  • Maybe once or twice, but it's not a habit of mine.
  • I do it ALL the time.
  • No comment (in an effort to avoid the wrath of Ilima should I admit to such evil doings).
More polls: Online polls

Thursday, August 16, 2012

200 Followers/Anniversary Giveaway!

This month has been an epic one for me. I've reached 200 twitter followers, 200 blog followers, and it's been exactly one year since I started blogging. Add to that signing with an agent, and it is officially party time here in Ilima-land.

So to celebrate, I'm matching it with an epic giveaway with a few ways to win. All you have to do is answer one or more of the following questions in your comment. I will pick my favorite response to each question:

1-In exactly ten words, pitch me your book or another famous story. (Ex: Girl learns ill grandmother is wolf in disguise--shenanigans ensue.) Winner will receive a free query critique AND 10-page critique from the amazing Taryn Albright: writer, agent intern, Teen Eyes editor, and my CP. And if you haven't heard of Teen Eyes yet, go and check out all the amazing services they have to offer.

2-If you were stranded on an island and could only take one book with you, which would it be and WHY? Winner get's to choose a book from my top five fav's:

3-I love movies almost as much as I love books, so I want to know...what is your favorite book to movie adaptation and WHY? Winner gets a copy of Hunger Games the movie. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Here's a clip from one of my favorite adaptations, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, in all of its BBC glory. Can you say best on screen kiss EVER?

4-And finally, one winner will be chosen at random to receive a $20 Amazon gift card for a book or movie of your choosing. All you have to do is leave a comment, so even if your answers to the previous questions are somewhat lacking (as if!), you can still win. Score!

Answer one question, answer all, or just say "hi" in the comments. Either way, promise me you'll bust an '80's dance move in honor of the occasion. And what better way to dance than to the best fake '80's band of all time:

Monday, August 13, 2012

What If? Fairytale Madness Blogfest

Today I am participating in the What If? Fairytale Madness Blogfest. Participants are to post a 300-word flash fiction piece of an altered fairytale. You must change either part of the plot, a love story, a tragedy, or add some comic relief. The bloghop is going on all week, go here to enter.

I decided to do a plot twist, and because I am utterly uncreative, I'm recycling an old idea I had that is a twist on Sleeping Beauty. Forgive me if you've seen me post another version of this during A to Z in April. It was hard dwindling it down to 300 words, but I hope you enjoy:

The first thing I feel are lips so forceful, they cover all of my mouth and I think my breath is being stolen from me. But then I feel air flow in, not out. And I realize the lips are trying to give me life, not take it.

I sit up and gasp. I’m in a hard plastic bed with a hinged cover that reminds me of a coffin.

A man shakes his head. I know, just by the shape of his lips, he is the one with the life-giving kiss. “You’re alive,” he whispers.

“Where am I?” My voice is dry, cracked.

“Moab,” he says, rifling through a bag on his shoulder. “Utah.”

The words mean nothing to me. My head is fuzzy and I struggle to remember how I got here.

“I’m Phil,” he says, handing over a clear bottle filled with water.

I drink greedily, letting too much of it spill onto my clothes.

“I was hiking through the canyon.” Phil steps toward me, then back again, unsure. “I found this room hidden in the rock.”

I press my hands to my temples, trying to remember something. My family. Danger. A curse.

“I saw you through the plastic,” he continues. “Breathing and peaceful and…” Phil rubs the back of his neck. “When I opened the cover you stopped breathing and I didn’t know what to do, so I—”

I touch my mouth and remember his lips on mine.

“I’m so glad you’re alive.” Phil gestures to more plastic beds in the room. “Do you know who these people are?”

I turn and see a brother, sister, mother, father. It is my family.

I read a digital clock strapped to my ankle. 100:00:00:05:36. I’ve been asleep in this cryogenic chamber for a hundred years.

“What’s your name?” Phil asks, finally daring to step close to me.

“Aurora,” I say. “But my friends—and those who save my life—call me Rory.”

Phil smiles. "Nice to meet you, Rory."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When is done really done?

I've been slowly rereading my book this week, taking notes and marking it up in preparation for plotting book two. It's been almost three months since I've read it, and I've been surprised by how many mistakes I'm finding in my "query-ready" manuscript. A couple of misspellings, a few slipping out of tenses, and a number of extra words to trim to tighten up my sentences. I know time away from our projects helps us come back with fresh eyes, but how long is long enough?

I must have read through my book a bazillion times (slight exaggeration), but I'm still surprised by the number of mistakes I'm catching. Is the fact that I'm reading it on paper this time make a difference? How much time away is enough to reset our brains? Days, weeks, years?

And even though I'll be doing revisions with my agent, then later editor, there's a chance we won't catch everything before it goes out to print and into the world. I mean, how many books do you read and find errors in the text? Lots. And that's just line editing type items. What about improving character development, catching plot holes, better word choice? There are always things that can be changed, but at some point, you've got to say enough is enough...but when is that?

For me it might be when I'm ready to throw that book (or computer) across the room--and if I don't have to look at that thing again for the rest of my life, then good riddance. (Nerdy homeschool fact of the day: did you know Shakespeare coined the term good riddance?) I have a feeling, though, that it will have to be even longer than that. So I guess what I want to know is, how do you know when it's good enough?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why Yes, I Will Be Your Neighbor

Thanks for all the congratulatory comments on my "I Have An Agent" post. Wow. Your warm wishes are much appreciated!

I'm back from vacation refreshed and ready for some writing, but I'm not really here today. I'm visiting Angela's blog at Live to Write, Edit when Necessary as part of her "Won't You Be My Neighbor" interviews. So go and check it out.

Bonus: you get to see a picture of me in my no make-up, stringy-haired, fresh-out-of-the-water beauty. You're welcome.