Monday, January 25, 2010

In a Mood

(Prepare yourself for a long post—I’ve been absent a while….)

I’ve been very cranky the last few days. Absolutely, downright peeved. Ever get like that? Like you’re not fit to be in the company of humans? Yeeeahhh…that’s been me—I haven’t wanted to do ANYTHING. I’ve sat, staring at my computer, at all the work I need to do—worse, at all the things I want to do…and yet, I can’t seem to do more than sigh melodramatically. No work, no play—just staring, feeling snarly.

I need a cat, I think. Cats are generally cranky, so we’d totally get one another, maybe.

cranky cat

See? It’s like me in cat form.

Anyway, you can imagine why I haven’t been in the best of moods to blog lately. I was afraid you’d end up with some foul-mouthed tribute to Marilyn Manson and lame jokes about Massachusetts. Or maybe you’d get a teary farewell vlog to Conan. *El Sighito.

But then, my rockin’ CP, Alexandra Shostak sent me something entirely way too cool, which seriously brightened my spirits: a “fake” (but friggin awesome) cover for my first completed novel, AETERNUS. Oh my word, check it out:


OMG!! BEST. GIFT. EVER!!!!!!!! I luvs you, Alexandra!! Thank you so much for this uber special gift. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m beyond thrilled, and I will treasure it always. It’s 100% the shiznit.

So, now that I’m feeling much more chipper, thanks to my amazing critique partner (and to my other brilliant CP, Sara McClung, who always makes me happy as well), I feel far more able to blog about awards I’ve received lately.

+The Picasso Award was given to me by the ever supportive, ultra talented Sara McClung.

Now, Sara, who I nicknamed Awesomer ages ago because she’s so dang awesome  actually passed this award on to me 22 December—yeah, I know, I deserve a bit of a flogging for taking so long to blog about it. But I am ever so grateful to Sara and to the award she passed on to me. Now, the receipt of this award requires me to first list seven things about myself, but I won’t torture you with that here. If you’re interested, feel free to check out my last post with eleven things about me…. Second, I need to pass this award on to seven other blogs, so here you go. Clickety click on these marvelous blogs:

+The next award was given to me by the lovely, super sweet Shannon Messenger. Thank you, Shannon for your kindness (and for being so very entertaining pretty much all the time)! My apologies for taking so long to blog about this!

award silver_lining

I believe this one requires me to pass it on to five uplifting blogs, so here you go, five blogs I find pretty darn silver liningey (though these are only five of many, by the way):

+And yet a third award (man, I’ve never felt so popular!) was bestowed upon me by the admirable and ever so generous Corra McFeydon. Thank you, dear Corra, for thinking of me, for commenting on my silly blog posts, and for being so supportive.

creative writer award

This lovely award had no expectations or instructions attached, so I think I will pass it on to my CP’s that are two very fine writers with amazing blogs. So, here’s to you, my lovelies:

and to two other blogs that provide us regularly with brilliant fiction:

And finally, I was given this Happy Blog award by five people for whom I have the deepest respect and admiration: Diana Paz, Southern Princess (Courtney), Heather (See Heather Write), Melissa (Chasing the Dream), and Christine Danek. Yes, I’m totally lame for waiting so long to post this award.

happy award

To accept this beeeeeeautiful award, in addition to passing it on to ten other happy blogs, I’m supposed to identify ten things that make me happy.

And since I’m in a rather slap-happy mood now, I’m capable of thinking about upbeat things. So, I will write my happiness list, but I want it to be special. And I don’t want just a list. Maybe a vlog??? (Oooooo!) I’ll think on it and get back to you. Maybe you’ll be shocked to discover what makes me all giddy like a school chick. Or not.

Anyway….this whole moody business has me thinking a lot about the process of creating mood/atmosphere in your writing. And because this is—ultimately—a blog about my writing journey, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on the matter. Yeah, I know…writing lessons=boring. And since I’m not generally a boring person, I will tell you something not boring….

Setting the Mood….

If that one is a bit ancient for you, try this one:

On Writing:

The mood in your story is EVERYTHING. The mood pretty much encompasses all that is good (or bad) about your writing. It sums up your characters, the setting (obviously), the language, the voice,  the plot, the conflict and ___(insert every buzz word about writing)___.  What does this mean? If there is no discernible mood in a scene, then you have FAILED.

Dude, I am soooo dramatic. Okay, so maybe not “failed” in all caps. Maybe it’s more like, “Hon, you’ve got some work to do here.” The fact is, when you read a scene, you should get a strong sense of mood—the picture should feel clear to you. So, think of it as a scene in a movie—in particular, think of just about any scene from a well-done horror film. What happens in those scenes to scare the living tar out of you? You get dim lighting, shadows, creepy music, scared whispers, scritchy-scratchy sounds, gravel crunching, and for some reason, a bizarre amount of eyeball close-ups. All of these things add to the feel of the film--they suck you in. But what happens if you take that “Dunnnnn dun” creepy music out of Jaws? You get a big mechanical fish in water.

But how do you accomplish mood in writing? Why, with your language, of course. Seems easy enough, but it’s actually harder to do than you’d imagine. If you’re writing a story about a goth, introverted teenager lost in the conformity hell that is high school, you can’t write things like

Annalise walked down the hall, thinking about how much she didn’t like this school.

Ugh. Horrible, right? Totally generic. Doesn’t tell us much. Okay, try this one:

Annalise tread down the brightly lit halls of her new high school, feeling a bit like an outsider.

Eh…better, but it doesn’t set the right mood. “Brightly” implies happy, for starters—even if the halls are bright. And overall, it’s still kind of sloppy. Let’s give it another go:

A defeated Annalise trudged through the overly bright corridors of her new high school, shuddering as she passed through the thick mass of Abercrombie and Fitch hell.

That’s a seriously long sentence, but you get my drift. You have to set the mood with carefully chosen verbs and modifiers, and even nouns (notice the change from “halls” to corridors” which feels sort of dungeon-like, doesn’t it?) You also need to be careful with setting. Notice that even though I set Annalise in a brightly lit hall, the use of the adverb (gasp!) “overly” gives us a sense of Annalise’s mood, so that in this instance, the contradictory setting actually helps to intensify the dark mood of the scene. And of course, the fun addition of “hell” after the oh-so-popular Abercrombie & Fitch reveals much about Annalise’s attitude towards the conformist students, while creating an atmosphere of a very dark place where bad things happen. And guess what? You also got a taste of the conflict, right? Annalise is so gonna have to deal with those A&F wannabes.

OMG, I totally got boring for a second there. Forgive me. Anyway, these are just some minor thoughts. Maybe I’ll write again on the subject. When the mood strikes.

So…what do you do to set the mood? Got any really good mood-revealing sentences? I’m very curious…Dunnnnn dun.
Just a quick note to say that our
Cosmic Coincidence flash fiction contest ends on January 31—that’s only six days, people!!!

Simon Larter and I are hoping to see your short story in our inbox soon (carolsimoncontest AT gmail Dot com). For a refresher, check out the rules at Simon's blog and the prizes at my blog. Please do consider entering. Think about what a great opportunity this will be—not only can you win fab critiques and books, but you have the chance to showcase your skills with a really cool writing prompt. If you’re one of the winners, we’ll also feature your story on both our blogs with all the reasons why your story (and you, by default) are amazing.  And it is now within your power to boost my self-confidence (or crush it entirely).


  1. Wow. That was a long post - totally worth it, though. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your fake cover. It is truly awesome!

    Congrats on your many awards, Carolina. You deserve each of them, and you chose great blogs to share them with! :-)

  2. Congratulations on all the awards! And I agree, totally awesome fake cover.

  3. Oh my goodness, what a great cover and friend. Thanks for sharing it! What awesome kindness! And it makes me want to read your book!

  4. Shannon is right - long, but worth it. Great post on setting the mood. Love the book cover. What an awesome gift!

    And thankees for the blog award. I'm with great company. :-)

  5. Congrats on all the awards and I LOVE the fake cover! Awesomesauce!

  6. Ooh! Thanks for the award, good lady. I shall frame it and hang it over my mantel, above the roaring fire (which I do keep going in the summertime, thanks for asking), and will lounge on the bearskin rug, sipping scotch and ruminating on the coolness of awards in general and this one in particular. Uh...

    Hey, when I write a novel, can Alexandra make me a fake cover too? That's teh cool!

    Really, thank you, Carol. You're a gem. (And one of the nice ones too--not like cubic zirconia or anything.)

  7. Carol! You are so sweet. Thanks for the award. : )

    Oh and that cover is beautiful. I am so jealous!!!

    Happy Monday. : )

  8. Congrats on all those awards!! And that's a sweet cover your friend made for you! Beautiful! The kind I would pet in the bookstore!

  9. Thanks for the shout-out! And you have amazing critique partners!!!

  10. Shannon, you are so kind! And yes, crazy long post. I realize now I should have split it into two. Ah well.

    Elle, Thank you! Alexandra did a fab job. I was super impressed.

    M.Gray, thank you! How lucky am I? You should have seen me dance around when I first saw it.

    Feywriter, thank you! And you're welcome for the award! I've been wanting to pass one on to you for a while now ;)

    Frankie, you're so sweet. And yes, total awesomesauce.

  11. Simon, thank you, but um, where else would you have put the award? I'm actually very curious to find out. On your fridge, I suppose? Hmmm...but thank you for the vivid image--although I do so hope that bearskin rug is imitation.

    I will be sure to ask Alexandra if she will make you a fake cover. But you will have to accept whatever cover she gives you, given her own interpretation of your book. Cuz that's how artists roll, my friend. Must not put any limitations on inspiration--even if that means she sees Miss Piggy and Kermit as your MCs. No buts.

    All kidding aside (mostly), thank you for the kind words. Although I'm not sure how to feel about the cubic zirconia clarification--as if it was necessary.

  12. Kimberly, you're welcome! You deserve endless awards. I love your blog. And don't be jealous! It's just a matter of time before you get your own real cover. (but, yeah, I'm totally lucky, aren't I?)

    Kristin, Oh, thank you! Alexandra is a true gem. Talented and generous. And thank you for stopping by! I look forward to following your blog.

    Robin, you're welcome! And yes, I hit the jackpot with my CPs!

  13. What a gorgeous cover! I would pick that up in a minute! Your book looks very interesting!

    Since this is your awards post, I guess it's fitting that I gave you a blog award today, come check it out here!

  14. Kelly, why thank you! And many additional thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to following yours as well.

  15. Valerie!!! Awww, that is so sweet of you. I'll run right over. Thank you!! And many thanks for the compliment, but it's all Alexandra--she's brilliant, isn't she? Super lucky me!!!

  16. Congrats on your awards and thanks for the award. Also, thanks for your advice on my bit on patience. Love the cover ;) and your piece on writing. Have a great day!

  17. Thanks for the award!!! Ya know, I've been in a semi-crabby mood for a few days, too. But getting recognized by one of my very fav bloggy friends does have a way of making me feel so much better:)

    Love love love your fake cover. *drools a bit* No wonder you're in such a good mood now!

  18. Congratulations on all your awards! I can relate to the mood, I'm feeling a bit angsty myself today. Maybe I should hang a notice!

  19. Congratulations on a mantle-full of awards, and thanks for the shout-out! I like being all silver-linery.(I confess I've got the award, already, so I shall thank you but not pass it on this time).
    That faux cover is amazing--what a cool friend. And that ought to turn around the crankies. When I'm like that I'm not even fit company for cats!

  20. Christine, many thanks, hon! Hope you have a wonderful day, as well.

    Melissa, Awwww...that is so sweet. So glad to help out with the grumpies ;) Isn't Alexandra the best? I feel like that kid showing off at school cuz of my new toy, but I can't help it!I'm so in love with this cover.

    Tamika, thank you very much! I think a notice is probably a great idea. I know my husband would probably appreciate it if I stuck up a sign when I'm feeling out of sorts. Haha! Hope you're feeling a little less anxious soon.

    Tricia, you are too adorable and so very silver linery. You were an obvious choice for me for this award. I can see why you already have it. I should have been more careful to check your blog thoroughly. Doh! But thank you for the sweetness. And I must say, something about seeing your manuscript come to life, even through a fake book cover definitely helps lift your spirits.

  21. It appears you're going to require a new shelf to display all your awards. Wow! Couldn't think of a nicer home for them to go to... :) There's nothing like a shiny new award to lift one out of the doldrums.

    Love the faux cover! I'd definitely be framing that beauty :)

  22. Ahh... Thank you so much for passing the award on to me. That is awesome!!! Now I need to start thinking of who to give it to. Congrats on all three!!! I love your blog, it always inspires me to write. I enjoyed what you discussed today regarding mood. It is so important. And sentance 3 rocked!!!

  23. Great awards! Congratulations and thank you for the helpful mood exercise.

  24. Congratulations on all the awards, and that is a stunning book cover.

  25. Wendy, Oh my, yes. I love the blog bling. Between the awards and the faux cover, I'm pretty much flying high. Thanks for stopping by, hon, and for your kind words.

    Eva, You're welcome. You know I love your blog! Your stories are wonderful. I'm glad my blog post was enjoyable and useful to you! Thanks for your generous words.

    Liza, thank you so much! You are so kind. On occasion, I actually do discuss writing ;) I hope it was useful to you.

  26. Medeia, Thanks, sweetie! I'm so proud of that book cover, and I didn't even create it! It's all my brilliant CP!

  27. Carol you are just too sweet. : ) I love your blog too.

    Oh, and sentence!

  28. Woah this was an awesome post - so many different things to take my fancy - I love the fake cover (imagine if that's what it really turned out like - beyootiful!) and I totally know what you mean about being so annoyed with the world and irritable that you can't even bring yourself to put the energy into a happy blog post! Here's to a trouble-free tomorrow where the world is filled with rainbows and little leprechauns!


  29. Aimee, what lovely comments! Thank you for stopping by. Chuffed you enjoyed the post. I stopped by your blog as well--and I must say, I look forward to following you...or I will, once Google Friends is up and running again ;)

  30. Thank you Carolina! I'm so glad you think we're uplifting and I'm also glad that we do a good job of covering up our moodiness. Phew. We love hanging out with you everyday and it has been great getting to know you!

    I'm glad you're out of the slump. Been there, done that.

  31. Carolina,

    Thank you so very much! I will wear it proudly on my blog, as will my ratties!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  32. Hi again- I just noticed your comments- I want to thank you for attempting to follow me - arrgh google follower can be the WORST. I hope you stop by again when its up and running. I look forward to conversing!


  33. Lisa and Laura, how very kind of you. Same to you! You two are about the funniest, sweetest duo in the blogosphere--actually, you're the only ones I know, I think, who aren't married to one another ;) So glad to know you.

    Hilary, you're welcome! Always a pleasure.

    Aimee, Oh you're welcome! It's a bit of an annoyance, these technical fails, but rest assured, I'll be back to your blog ;) I've added it to my blogroll. Thanks for checking in with me!

  34. Hey Carol, I'm going to send you some cookies! Email me your postal address at cristin dot terrill at googlemail dot com.

  35. Yay! Thanks for the award C ♥

    Also, very cool thoughts about mood... It's one of the things I don't think about enough in my own writing!

    I'm looking forward to your happiness post ;-)

  36. Thanks for the award Carol!!! You rock! I love reading your blog and you are always highly entertaining...never boring!!! I will display my new award proudly today! Woo hoo!

    I'd also like to add that your friend is that cover...seriously!

    Happy Tuesday!!!

  37. "A cat in human form." Oh, how I can relate to that. Congrats on your awards.

    I like what you wrote about mood. I think that's the first thing that helps me decide if I am going to read a book. I skim the first 2 pages and if the mood is inviting, I want to read more.

  38. Look at you and all your fun awards! You deserve every one of them. And no, I have no idea what you mean about being in a funk for several days on end.

    Oh wait, I blogged about MY OWN FUNK twice.

    And yes, get a cat. Not only are they grumpy at the right times, enabling you to sit with them and marinate in your crankiness, but they are also self-cleaning and don't care if you randomly leave town for several days on end.

  39. Lol you guys make me blush with the sharing of the fake covers thing. :-P

    I like this post a lot, but especially the cat.

  40. Okay- I think this is the longest post. Ever. I love your fake cover. It's awesome. I think I need to try my hand at one of those to help motivate and encourage me when I need it. A cool cover of my WIP would totally hep in that area. congrats on all the awards too. You deserve all of them!

  41. The cover is beuuuuuutiful!! Congrats on all the words, you really deserve them.

    I'm glad all those things made you feel less snarly lol :)

  42. LOL okay, that was supposed to be "congrats on all the awards," but having a five-year-old screaming in my face to put on Lego builders dot com made me a little frazzled :)

  43. Cristi, yay!!! Does this mean I won? Hooray!

    Sara, well thank you, sweetie! I look forward to putting that post together. If I can manage to work my video camera. Yowza, there should be a class for these technical things.... What? There is? Huh.

    Kristi, oh you flatter me!! Geez...but it means a lot coming from you. I've enjoyed your blog posts tremendously. I think I remember the very first one I read of yours...dealt with the weather, I think? Well, you deserve endless awards, darling.

    Scobberlotcher, why thank you! I think I'm the same way regarding mood. I like to be able to see it, you know? To me the mood is sort of like the aromas wafting out of a restaurant. It's what makes the experience.

  44. Anne, You are too sweet...but I know all about funk madness. I think perhaps something has been floating through the blogosphere, putting us all in a funk. So, I was able to very much relate to your posts. But look at you look like you're feeling better about things--I mean, you posted an awesome short, and that says a lot. And your new author pics?? Fabulous. And now it's just a matter of time before your book is submitted and accepted...I know it! As for a cat, I'm afraid it would be irresponsible of me. If it were not for the cries of, "We're hungry, Mommy!" I might very well forget to feed my kids. Haha! But my sis has 4 kitties, so I get my fill of 'em ;)

    Alexandra, you rock, sweets!! I owe you for this cover. Alexandra=gold. And I totally posted that cat pic thinking of you, btw!!

    Kelly, Hahaha!! OMG, I know, right? I should definitely have split it up into two. In fact, I just might. Jsut because I have nothing ready to post today. Ha! But thank you for your kind words. And I does something to you to see a cover for your book. It's pretty amazing.

    Diana, you crack me up!! OMG, I adore you. I do believe that I should be congratulated on my words, too--I mean, did you SEE the length of this post? Hahahaha!! And your 5 year old sounds like my 3 year old--incredibly persistent. They say it's actually supposed to be a good character trait. But, I mean, seriously? Whoever said that has never actually had to deal with children, I think.

  45. That was like 3 blogs in one!
    I like your thoughts about mood. I think I may add that to my (growing) list of scene requirements, although I have a bullet point called "subtext" which means "stuff that is implied but not explicitly stated" so mood falls in there somewhere. maybe.

  46. Love the book cover! Very cool. I made one a while back but it's no where near as cute as the ones Alexandra makes.
    Congrats on the awards!

  47. Andrew, thank you! I think you're right in seeing a link between mood and subtext as they both seem to deal with the layers beneath the more obvious layers, although mood, I think, is less of a hidden layer. More of a general sense of the overall picture created, maybe? Thanks for your input!

    Courtney, thank you! I'd love to see your book cover. I don't think I saw it on your blog? Or did I just miss it?

  48. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have been behind the last few days in the blogging world and am just now really getting back into the swing of things!

    Congrats on the other awards by the way! Oh LOVE the fake cover ;o)

  49. Courtney (Southern Princess), you're welcome! And welcome back to the blogosphere. I take a fairly regular break from it myself ;) Thank you for your kind words <3

  50. No, I haven't posted it on my blog yet. It hasn't fit into any of my recent posts ;P On day I'll get around to putting it up. But because your special, you can see it here
    Fake Book Cover. :) xoxo

  51. OMG, Courtney, it's amazing!! You have to post it. Wow! Thank you for sharing it with me. Love it!

  52. Thanks for the award. I know! I'm so late to the party I think I missed it entirely.

  53. Anissa, you crack me up! The party didn't start until you got here ;)


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