Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feeling Resolute

How did you do on your New Year's Resolutions for 2009?

Perhaps your New Year's Resolution journey of 2009 bore some resemblance to mine. I took out my newly purchased, virgin notebook with the neat cover and not a single page scribbled on. Just like I envisioned 2009 to be. I listed what I wanted to do (in categories) and even went for smaller goals which then would add up to bigger goals.

I did good in January. I started slipping a little in February, and then by March I hid it in the bottom of my nightstand drawer so it would quit mocking me. Sound familiar?

As 2010 draws near, I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. And of course, me being such a list-nerd, I will make some. But first I want to share some of my thoughts.

*Warning: Old-person type ponderings are about to follow.

The older I get the more I realize that, for me, the most precious commodity is time. It never stops, it's finite, and you can never take back time you have wasted. The tradition of making New Year's Resolutions is really about prioritizing our time. You sit down and consciously think about what is really important.

A website on prioritizing techniques says this: "Prioritizing skills are your ability to see what tasks are more important at each moment and give those tasks more of your attention, energy, and time. You focus on what is important at the expense of lower value activities."

My hubby has a saying that drives my children nuts, but is so true:

You can do anything you want, just not everything you want.

May I suggest this year that for your New Year's Resolutions you really think about what's important and re-prioritize. Set resolutions that will focus on those things, rather than cluttering up the list with things that are good to focus on, but may not be the best to focus on. Don't sacrifice your time on lower value activities.

That's what I'm going to do.

Of course, I could always follow Calvin's example:


Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

crapulous - Word of the Week #82

crapulous - [KRAP-yuh-lus] - adjective:

Definition:
1. Given to or characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating.
2. Suffering from or due to such excess.

Usage:
After the last week of treats, food, and sitting around with family, I had no choice but to haul my crapulous self to the gym this morning. Ugh...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Tune for you

Merry Christmas! Here's my favorite Christmas Carol, "Carol of the Bells," and a really cool version of it.



I love how it has the lyrics, because even though Carol of the Bells is my favorite, I never bothered looking up the words. I just sort of mumble-sang-along. "Oh hear the bells, mumble silver bells, mumble mumble ring" etc. *sheepish*

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Talking Sports...or War... or Sports.

I figured I couldn't let 2009 end without talking a little about sports or about war. So here's a quasi sports/war post. Sort of.


BCS DECLARES GERMANY WINNER OF WORLD WAR II.

United States Ranked 4th.

December 4, 2008

After determining the Big-12 championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany the winner of World War II.

"Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work--including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule--our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking."

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States the BCS commissioner stated, "the US only had two major victories-- Japan and Germany . The computer models, unlike humans, aren't influenced by head-to-head contests. They consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event."

German Chancellor Adolph Hiter said, "yes, we lost to the US , but we defeated #2 ranked France in only 6 weeks." Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn 'style points' to enhance Germany 's rankings. Hitler protested, "our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces."

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented, " France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking they only fell to #2."

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines .





*If you don't know what the BCS is, click here. Then go back and re-read this post--it will make more sense.

**Dedicated to my DH who cares about this sort of thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

myrmidon - Word of the Week #81

myrmidon - [MUR-muh-don] - noun

Definition:
1. (Capitalized) A member of a warlike Thessalian people who followed Achilles on the expedition against Troy.
2. A loyal follower, especially one who executes orders without question.

Usage:
I want politicians who think for themselves, not myrmidons to any party.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Into the Abyss

The last week I was tagged for a couple things. And as is often the way with bloggy games of tag, I get to share some stuff about me. So you get a glimpse into the abyss of my often scatterbrained mind (hence the title of this post).

First Tamara of the super cute haircut (just pop over there and look at her pic with her DH and I dare you not to agree with me) over at Chasing Dreams gave me the Honest Scrap award.

I get to pass this on to other bloggers who I feel have honest blogs. Perhaps even brutally honest. (I've found that with brutal honesty usually I'm the one who ends up worse off. I'm toying with the idea of getting "Open mouth, insert foot" tattooed somewhere on my body, preferably somewhere I see it often as a reminder to think before I speak.)

And I choose:
Elana Johnson
Jody Hedlund
L.T. Elliott
Kimberly at Temporary Insanity

I'm not sure how many I'm "supposed" to choose, so I'll stick with 4 to make it easier on myself. And I also get to share ten facts about myself. Let's see... how to make this interesting... I know! Let's make it Christmas-y.

  1. For the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me: a warm electric blankey.
  2. For the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 2 published books, and... (we'll skip the whole repeating part. But if you want to sing it, go for it!)
  3. For the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 3 beautiful kids
  4. For the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 4 different college majors (business, commercial art, composite dance, physical therapy) until I finally decided on one
  5. For the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 5 golden onion rings!!! (Which is the only way I like to eat onions, esp. after the one summer when we had frozen onions in a deep freezer that died and we didn't know it until the smell seeped out. Cleaning up frozen, thawed, and spoiled onions that smell akin to a decomposing corpse does not an onion-fan make. Is that TMI?)
  6. For the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 6 running races last summer
  7. For the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 7 brothers-in-law
  8. For the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 8 glasses of water I should be drinking every day but don't
  9. For the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 9:00 as my wish bedtime
  10. For the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 10 more surprise characters that popped up wanting a part in my 3 books I'm working on. (Some are pretty insistent, too!)

And not only did I get that little award, but L.T. Elliot over at Dreams of Quill and Ink also tagged me for an interview-thingey. (I think it's called a meme. I'm embarrassed to admit I had to google "meme" to find out what it meant, but since I just got an honest blog award, I better be honest, right?)

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was my Middle Grade NaNoWriMo novel. And I still have a story I wrote when I was 8 or 9 about kids that find a magic tunnel in a nearby house.

2. Write poetry?
No. I have a very, very short poetry attention span.

3. Angsty poetry?
Maybe I should give it a try.

*clearing throat*

Roses are red

Wait a minute! That's so cliche; everyone does roses. I don't want to be pigeonholed into a flower that everyone thinks I should like because I'm a girl. What if I don't like roses? What if I prefer lilies? Or daisies? I should be free to choose my own flower without everyone telling me what to do! Freedom from the oppression of roses!!

**See, that's why I don't write poetry.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
I really like fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal, urban fantasy is good, too, and mysteries, some general fiction, the occasional Dean Koontz, historical fiction once in a while, and romance once in a blue moon only if it's funny & not too graphic or sappy, fun picture books, and... Yeah, I'm an eclectic reader. It all depends on my mood.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
A two-faced goblin that ate disgusting food and loved to push everyone else's buttons. He was a blast to write, though.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
I'm hoping one of the ones I'm working on right now. *crossing fingers*

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
See the answer to #6.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
I prefer not to think of it as writer's block, but more of a stubborn muse. And she's dang stubborn sometimes.

9. Write fan fiction?
No.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Type. *shudder* Definitely type.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Not necessarily. I'm an OCD de-junker, which also includes my computer. :)

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes, because I can be dang stubborn sometimes.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
So far Parenting the Ephraim's Child because it's still helping people.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
I'm not sure.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I tried romance, and it didn't work at all. I suppose because I usually laugh hysterically at romance (even if they're not funny ones). I've never been a particularly angsty person either, so I don't do angst real well.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Alternate worlds/realities or our own world with a twist.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three. (Am I insane??)

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
No. But I think I should, so I'm going to give myself one. I predict a future blog post on that.

19. What are your five favorite words?
Aargh! *pulling at hair* I have to pick just 5?! I don't know. Maybe twit. Or perhaps superfluous. But discombobulate is a good word. And pedantic is a classic word. I think my number one pick should probably be indecisive.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Lara, my MC in my current paranormal. Except she has cool powers that I don't.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Everywhere.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Sometimes.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
I favor twisty endings.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
I would have to say moderately.

25. Does music help you write?
Yes, unless it's the wrong pick for the scene. Then it messes me up.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

**I cheated and looked it up, because I can't quote myself like that. :)

"They don’t train for the smells. The contingencies, the weapons, the sights and sounds—yes. But not for the gummy slick odor of blood that hung over the ramshackle house like haze. Coating the peeling wallpaper and tattered furniture. Fresh enough that it stuck in the back of Max’s throat like mucus that wouldn’t cough up." --from deleted prologue for Going Under


I will now pass this meme on to...to...to.... the four people I passed the Honest Blog awards to. *whew!* Such pressure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WIP Wednesday


I know, it's been a while since you've seen my poor little, neglected WIP Wednesday pic. (Does it look a little droopy to you?)

I'd like to start off celebrating that I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping. Woot! I'm also in the thick of whirlwind school projects, dance recitals, Christmas events, choir practices, etc.

**To keep this blog from getting too boring, I have inserted random cartoons throughout. Any bearing on content is purely coincidental.**


On the writerly side of things, I am ripping apart my (disjointed) NaNo novel through Holly Lisle's How To Revise A Novel Workshop (my hubby's Christmas present to me, and Mother's Day present, as I informed him after I signed up). At the top of the course website is this saying in big letters: "Create the Book You Want From the Book You Have." I have the book I want, and I have the book I wrote, which are quite different. Hopefully soon the two will meet. I'm three weeks into the course and on my third read-through of my novel and I already have a huge list of what needs to be fixed.

I am also diving back into writing the rough draft of Going Under, my YA paranormal that got dropped like a hot potato when I started NaNo. And the funny thing is that a month later I'm still stuck where I was a month ago. Funny how that happens. If any of you have a killer ending idea that isn't cliched and boring like the one I have planned, send it on over, because my ending kinda stinks. My goal is to have that figured out by next WIP Wednesday.


My co-writing project has had some progress, which then screeched to a halt when my co-author's hard drive failed. It makes it hard to email back and forth, as you can imagine. We should be back in business soon.

Another big thing is that the Writer's Conference that I am chair over opened up for registration. *applause* We have some national editors/agents and some great guests, but that took a lot of last minute work to make sure everything was working like it should. Here's the link to the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, if you're interested. It's comparable to other, big conferences at 1/5 the price.


So, there's my Work In Progress Report. Anybody else have some great progress to report?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

7 Habits of Successful Writers


If any of you have ever played a sport or musical instrument, then chances are you first took lessons from someone that already knew how to do it. After you moved past the clarinet-that-sounds-like-a-dying-duck phase or the sending-almost-every-tennis-ball-soaring-out-of-the-court phase, you probably started noticing people that played very well. And if you're like many others, then you started watching--and often copying--the professionals to get better yourself. Sports magazines are filled with articles on "How To Serve like Federer" or, until recently, "How to golf like Tiger Woods."

If you want to be successful in any field, then you watch and learn from those who are already successful. And that applies to this crazy world of writing that I'm spending so much time and energy in. I've been following successful authors on their blogs and Twitter, and I've been noticing some patterns, or habits, if you will.

So...Drum Roll...

The 7 Habits of Successful Writers

1. They write. Even when they don't feel like it or when the muse is being stubborn or when they feel a little under the weather. They write even when the story seems to merely held together by spit and paper clips.

2. They read. They read to see what's being published, what's out there, and what's not. They do their homework and their research. But above all they read because they love it, and that's why they write.

3. They aren't afraid of change. I'm talking about in their writing. They revise, change, re-write, and try new things.

4. They treat it like a job. Just like any job, writing has it's boring and monotonous moments, and those moments when you'd rather have a vacation day. But if you want to be successful, you have to treat your writing time like a job that you're getting paid for--even if you aren't. Yet.

"I only write when I am inspired, and I see to it that I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."--Peter de Vries

5. They listen to music. This is sort of iffy, but it comes up so often that I think there has to be something to it. I like to write to music, because it helps get me in the right mood for a scene. If I pick the wrong music then it goes against me.

6. They don't hide in their shell. They get out and experience life and other people, even if it's just watching them. Otherwise what would they have to write about? These days, authors also have to do a lot of their own marketing, which means that they have to interact with the public, too.

7. They keep writing. They don't wait around to see what the editor/agent/critics/public thinks about one project; they are already busy on the next one.

Apparently I'm not the only one in the blog-o-sphere with this idea. If you'd like to see what others believe are successful writing habits, here are some links:

10 Habits of Successful Writers at The Writing Journey
Writing Habits of Successful Authors I've Known by Alan Rinzler
Learn from the Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers on Write To Done

I'm sure there are more than 7 habits, but Stephen Covey made the magical number seven catchy, so I'm going to limit myself. What other habits of successful authors have you noticed?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Word of the Week #80

**I chose this week's word because it reminds me of the word fungus, which makes me giggle.

fungible
- [FUHN-juh-buhl]- adjective or noun

Definition:
adjective
1. (Law) Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation.
2. Interchangeable.
noun
1. Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Usually used in the plural.

Usage:
Whining is not restricted to a certain child in my house per day. It's perfectly fungible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shopping vs. Writing

Shopping isn't my thing. No, really. I have my list, I get in, and then I get out. Unless it's the books or paper section (Oooo! Look at all those cute little notebooks!), but I usually avoid those sections so I don't spend too much.

But yesterday I went shopping. For several hours. It's a necessary evil this time of year.


I didn't even get on the computer until, like, 5:00! Shocking, I know.

I went from 3 gifts purchased (and all from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and all of them entire series, so technically it could be considered 11 gifts) to almost completely finished with my Christmas shopping.

Yippee!

Now if any of you are addicted to wrapping presents, I'd love to hook you up. I'll even provide the tape. Anyone?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting to Work

I'm now beginning revisions on that NaNoWriMo project I was so proud to finish last week. Some parts are so horribly bad they're "horribad." Or did I really write that? bad. And the answer is yes. Yes I did really write that ending where I summarized in one paragraph what should probably have been a whole scene and finished with "And they all lived happily ever after."

*cringe*

Here are a few thoughts about the process of revising my "horribad" manuscript, expressed in Motivational Posters:

(Or, in my case, you aren't being paid at all, yet.)

(I need to stock up on deodorant. Too bad it won't help the stinky parts of my story.)


(I'm crossing my fingers for the diamond.)

Anyone else dared to look at their rough drafts yet?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Seeing the Spark


If you're like me, then many times ideas come at the strangest times. Sometimes they hit out of the blue, like a flash or spark. And if you don't pay attention, then they're gone. I think anyone pursuing creative endeavors (like writing, music, art, etc.) has to train themselves to pay attention. You have to see the spark.

I've had idea sparks while I'm driving, or while listening to music, or from a painting, or while watching a person walking ahead of me in the store. I've started carrying around a little notebook that I can whip out and write the idea sparks down so I don't forget them.

Sparks can come from anywhere and anything. And just to prove it to you, here are some things that have tickled my spark. (Let's start a new phrase, shall we?)

Pictures like these:


Previously undiscovered ecosystems. (See this article.)

Dreams. (Hey, it worked for Stephenie Meyer.)

A phrase like "a chapter of loathing."

This song:




You can also go to resources like this Imagination Prompt Generator and creativewritingprompts.com for a little more help if you're spark is a little low.

What about you? What sparks your imagination & creativity?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Word of the Week #79

gallimaufry - [gal-uh-MAW-free] - noun

Definition:
A hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.

Usage:
Other people have color-coordinated Christmas trees and decorations, while I prefer a gallimaufry look.

But not quite this bad.


Or the houses you can see on uglychristmaslights.com. But I'm kinda digging this one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finished for real

Whew! I finished NaNoWriMo on Monday, but today I finished the ending of my rough draft. And since I didn't actually start writing until Nov. 3, this means I finished the entire rough draft in one month and one day.

Of course, parts of it are horrible. We're talking really scary.

Yeah, that scary. But it's written now, and later I can fix the horrible parts.

Yippee!

*Make sure to check out yesterday's post for a good laugh to start the weekend off right.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sometimes You Have to Get Creative

Like when you're finishing up the rough draft of your NaNo novel. You know, the book you decided to write the day before and therefore didn't actually have a plan or definite end in mind, and you thought you'd figure it out as you went along but failed to take into account that you'd get to the end point in a few days. Yeah, like that.

Any guesses what I'm struggling with at the moment?

Here's a great commercial on getting creative in your approach. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Linkey Love

I was going about my day, cruising through my 14 mile-long To-Do list (I let a lot slide during NaNo), when it hit me: I didn't write a blog for today.

*Gasp*

Commence quick bloggy-scramble.



So here's a little Linkey Love for you all!



  • Caro Clarke has several helpful articles, so take a look around her site after reading this article on The Doldrums.

*Anyone else thinking of that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End where they're just sitting there? (Or maybe that's just an excuse to put this pic on my blog.)


  • Marybeth Lansing talks about Insecurities on her blog. (I'm with you, girl!)

  • Agent Rachelle Gardner had a 3 part guest blog series on Marketing that starts here.


I was happy to hear it, because so far that's all I've bought for my Christmas shopping. Granted, I haven't really started yet, but I do have a bunch of books I bought online on Cyber Monday because shipping was free. *Yippee!* And if I am really, really, careful then no one will know I read all the books before wrapping them, right?

Kidding! (Sort of.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And... I'm finished

NaNoWriMo is officially over and I made it to 50,000 yesterday. Yea! Today I'm taking the day off. My house, brain, and family will thank me.

Congratulations to all the other finishers!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Word of the Week #78

**Warning: New Moon movie mention in this post.

oneiric - [oh-NY-rik] - adjective

Definition:
Of, pertaining to, or suggestive of dreams; dreamy.

Usage:
While several thousand women and girls think that Edward is a very oneiric hero, I'm all about Jacob. Definitely.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Now THAT'S a Turkey

I'm going to try this out.


Here is a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey.

1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.
2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully. (see attached picture for details)
3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.
4. Watch your guests' faces...


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thinking Thankfully


It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to those things we are thankful for—and gorging ourselves with monstrous amounts of food. So, in the Thanksgiving spirit, I will share some of those things that make my heart swell with gratitude. BUT I want to dig a little deeper than the normal list of blessings: family, friends, house, cars, freedom, security, blah, blah, blah. Here are some more overlooked, but equally wonderful, blessings that I am thankful for.

• Central Air (with programmable thermostats) – can you even imagine life without it? I can, because I grew up without it.
• Power windows – Remember the days of the crank handle? Or, if it was like my car, the days when the handle didn’t work and you had to open the door, put a hand on each side of the window and wiggle it up or down.
• Email – Blessed, blessed email. I don’t have enough room to wax poetic about it.
• Twitter and Facebook – I can pretend to be social without ever having to actually speak to someone face to face.
• Electric Blankets – truly marvelous, especially the ones with 2 controllers so that I can crank my side up and be toasty warm while hubby has his side totally off and is usually sleeping on top of the covers.
• Indoor Plumbing – all you have to do is consider the alternative: outhouse in the middle of January or chamber pots. Yikes!
• Duct tape – the cure-all for even the most repair-challenged.
• Flash Drives – I am thankful for these with the very core of my being. Maybe you have not had your computer crash the day before a 400 page manuscript deadline, only to have all of your backup on discs, then go from friend to friend to friend to find that they don’t even make computers with a disc drive anymore. (Okay, breathe… I’m hyperventilating just remembering. And yes, this was a few years ago, so don’t think me that technologically-challenged.)
• Online backup – it was the best decision I put off for a year and then finally did 3 weeks before a complete computer crash.
• Cleaning magic erasers – you know, the white ones that get off practically anything? I would like to rain kisses on whoever invented it. Probably a woman, so maybe just shake her hand.
• Seamless running socks – they are worth every penny.
• Disposable Diapers – I don’t care how much money you want to save, dunking rags in the toilet to wash off the poop is so not worth it. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
• Microwaveable Pot Pies – I love the things, but heating up a whole oven for one weeny little pot pie and then having to wait 35 minutes for it to cook? I don’t think so! Now pop it in for 4 minutes and Voila!
• Calluses – I go without shoes as often as possible when it’s warm enough so my feet get lots of these.
• Sun – Ahhhh. Vitamin D!
• Homestarrunner – LOL
• Digital cameras – just keep clicking, just keep clicking. Clicking, clicking, clicking.
• Thesaurus/Dictionary.com – I cannot elaborate, announce, declare, affirm, convey, or verbalize how utterly, conclusively, and entirely appreciative I am for this website.
• Emergen-C – my coffee.
• My iPod – if my house were on fire and my family were safe outside, I might dive back into the burning building for my iPod. And my computer. And my pictures. Anyway… I love my iPod.
• Books – some people drink, some take drugs. I’m addicted to books.

Seriously though, above all I am thankful for all the special people I am privileged to know and love: my family, my friends and neighbors, and my brothers/sisters in the crazy, schizophrenic world of being a writer. You enrich my life. I am thankful for those who sacrifice for others and for the miracles I have witnessed. Please remember to take a moment and count your blessings this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Word of the Week #77

tyro - [TY-roh] - noun

Definition:
A beginner in learning; a novice.

Usage:
Though I was a mere tyro, the accomplished skiers were kind enough to ski around me when I crashed, which averaged about every five minutes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The plague of Writer Brain

I've suspected this for a long time, but after last weekend I think it's official: I suffer from Writer Brain.


I think it began when I started watching people and thinking things like, How would I describe the way that man walks? or Ooo, look at that woman chewing on a piece of hair without even realizing it, I'm going to use that. Then I started carrying a little notebook to scribble down things like a description of the teenager I saw in the weight room that looks just like what would happen if someone turned a bull dog into a human. I notice how some people always look at your chin when you talk to them, or how one woman walks around the track with her head tilted to the side, like she's leaning into the curves.

Phase two was when I became a chronic eavesdropper, like the time two construction workers outside my house got into an argument and I sat right next to the open window so I could hear better. I listen in on others' cell phone conversations and imagine what the person on the other end is saying. If two people are having a lover's quarrel I inch closer, and I'll end my own arguments quickly sometimes so I can run off and take notes.

The next stage was when I started thinking "What If?" all the time. Like the other week when my children told me about their friend's dog that pees when he gets excited. What if a person had that character trait? Imagine the situations and neuroses that would arise out of that? I even said it something like that out loud. After my kids looked at me in surprise, they jumped right in the game of What If? (I'm sorry, guys. You have no chance, really, with the mom you've got.)

Then last weekend I was with a group of friends who were talking about a tragedy several years ago where a husband hired a hit man to kill his wife. The wife happened to be the cousin of one of my friends. So everyone was talking about how horrible it all was, etc. in appropriate somber tones.

And I was thinking, How would someone find a hit man to hire? If you were just a normal, good Christian guy, where would you even start looking for one? And then how would you do it so the police wouldn't find you? My mind was racing on the logistics of how that would even work out, in case I ever wanted to use that in a story.

Without realizing it I had said my thoughts out loud. There was silence as everyone turned to look at me. "I mean, what a horrible thing! I can't believe people are really like that," I quickly said to cover up my faux pas.

But really, how would someone like me go about finding a hit man? Where would I even start? I guess I'd have to ask the shadiest person I know, hoping that they'd know someone who knew someone? Or are there sites online where hit men post their resumes? Maybe they don't post their resumes but just put down GPS coordinates that will lead to a place with their contact information, like Geocaching for hit men...

**Note: I am not planning to hire a hit man. Really. I'm not.

Please don't hate me, I'm just a victim of Writer Brain.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lowering the Bar


I've talked about rough drafts and embracing the crap before, but it's taken on a whole new meaning as I'm cranking out words for NaNoWriMo. It is taking sheer will to ignore the "to be" verbs, the passive voice, and the shoddy sentences. But I'm doing it! And forging ahead. (Just past the half-way mark. Woot!)

Whenever I get the urge to go back and fix something I try and remember how much time that wastes, because I just need to get this first draft finished. Then I can revise to my heart's content, and whine about it then.

But for now, I'm lowering the bar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

It snowed over the weekend, and so that makes it the perfect time for:

A) snow boots
B) hot chocolate
C) fuzzy slippers, electric blankets, and sweats
D) another Christmas book review
E) all of the above

If you guessed E) then you're right on. (Good for you!) I'll have to let you take care of your own A-C because I can't help you out a whole lot on that, but I can take care of D) for you.

Today's Christmas book review is An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson.

From the back cover:

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events — or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill.

Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable — which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better. Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.

An Angel on Main Street fits perfectly in the uplifting, Christmas feel-good-and-be-thankful-for-your-blessings niche. And its short enough and a smooth enough read that it won't knock you over into the "Ahhh!-I'll-never-get-this-finished-just-like-I-won't-finish-my-Christmas-shopping-and-I'm-now-a-ball-of-stress" that happens so often during the holidays. (But then, I might just be projecting my own issues.)

I appreciate Kathi Oram Peterson's reminder that there are angels that surround us and live next to us every day. And that sometimes we are the ones called on to be the angels. I recommend An Angel on Main Street for a nostalgic Christmas read with a good message. You can find out more about Kathi on her website.

And because I love my blog readers, here you go:

A)

B)


C)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Word of the Week #76

bombinate - [BOM-buh-nayt] - intransitive verb

Definition:
To buzz; to hum; to drone.

Usage:
Throughout the month of November, computers across the world bombinate late into the night or at the early hours of morning as thousands of NaNoWriMo writers type like mad.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Like Twilight? Give Firelight A Try.

If you haven't seen it, here's a hilarious SNL parody of Twilight starring Taylor Swift. My hubby, who's never read Twilight or seen the movie, even laughed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work in Progress Letter of Apology


Dear Blogosphere,

I must apologize for my neglect the last little while. You see, I'm doing this crazy fun writing project called NaNoWriMo and I'm so stubborn tenacious that I sometimes move along at a snail's pace just to make sure I'm still moving. So some days I don't always have time for you.

To all the blogs stacking up in Google Reader, I'm sorry. I will probably neglect you for a few more weeks, and by then I'll probably have 2000 un-read posts and might just have to clear them all and start over. But I'm sure your blogs are great.

To all my bloggy friends who are still posting awesome blogs while racking up insane wordcounts in NaNoWriMo, I'm sorry. You won't see many comments from me, but know I still love you. And you make me sick--in a purely loving, writer-crush kind of way.

To my own blog with its dashboard full of half-written, meaty, content-filled posts on Twitter, habits of successful writers, and other topics oozing profundity, I'm sorry. Please bear with me. Once I don't feel like brain cells are oozing out my ear by lunchtime I will finish you all--pinky promise. But maybe not until December, because not many writer-types would be reading them until then anyway.

To my husband who would like to play a leisurely game of whatever on the computer without his wife hovering and giving him the evil eye, I'm sorry. I know the computer isn't mine, just mostly mine. And I'll try and take my twitchiness in the other room.

To my butt that has spent a lot of time parked in the computer chair, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for the treadmill workout this morning. But you are spending a lot of time parked in the computer chair.

To my Christmas shopping list and my yard work and my basement, I'm sorry. I'll get to you before Christmas. At least I hope I will.

To my friends and neighbors who I walk right past without acknowledging, I'm sorry. I'm not really being snooty, I'm just concentrating on stuff like plot points and character arc. Just peek at the contents in my shopping cart and if they look totally random then chances are I'm in my own book world.

To my Twitter followers who've had to endure some really weird tweets the last week, I'm sorry. I'm blowing off steam and I *think* I make sense, even though sometimes I don't.

To my main character who just got made a complete fool of by genetically engineered kittens, I'm NOT sorry. And you better buckle up, buddy, cause it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Warmest regards,

Jaime, a.k.a. Bookmom

P.S. I'm at 14,000 words into my Zero Draft for NaNo (I like calling it a Zero Draft, because that first draft is really so horrible it almost doesn't deserve the title First Draft, and then you don't beat yourself up so much about yucky writing when it's only a Zero Draft). And I'm also at about 6,000 words of Dragon Wrangler, where my co-author is sending me her Zero Draft and I'm making some revisions and hopefully nudging it over into a First Draft.

P.P.S. Anyone else feel like they need to apologize this month?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review - Santa Maybe by Aubrey Mace


Dear Santa,

I've been a good girl this year. (Well . . . pretty good.) I have a nice life and there s only one thing that I really want one thing that s missing. If you happen to have an extra one lying around your workshop, I would really like a husband. I promise to take good care of him.

Love, Abbie


Now that Halloween is over I feel like I can realistically post reviews of Christmas books. And I was excited by the first Christmas book I've read for this season, which is Aubrey Mace's latest book, Santa Maybe. I really enjoyed the other book of hers that I read last year, Spare Change, so I settled in for some fun reading.

(And yes, per stupid FTC soon-to-be-enacted requirements, I did get a copy of the book from the author, so theoretically I could sell it and get rich--except I won't. I'm sure I'll somehow get taxed for that.)

Abbie was one of those girls that always fell in love, but after a series of relationships that never ended in happily ever after, Abbie decides it's not for her. Now Abbie owns a bakery and devotes her whole heart, soul, and time to her business. On Christmas Eve, a silly mood overtakes Abbie and she writes her note to Santa. The next morning she wakes up to find a man sleeping under her tree. He's not exactly wrapped up with a bow, but he is good-looking, intelligent, helpful, and has amnesia. As you can imagine, there are several fun directions that premise can go.

Santa Maybe is a light and fun read and definitely one I'd recommend for anyone suffering from holiday stress. Or for those not suffering from holiday stress. Or for those who are trying to ignore the holidays because they haven't even started thinking about Christmas even though their neighbors spent the weekend putting up Christmas lights. (Who, me?)

You can find out more about Aubrey Mace on her website or at her blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Word of the Week #51-#75

It's time to celebrate 75 weeks of Word of the Week. Here's the post with links to the first 50.

And now for the next 25:

51. imbroglio
52. myokymia
53. flense
54. fillip
55. tergiversation
56. limn
57. nimiety
58. gamine
59. daedal
60. quidnunc
61(a). quondam
61(b). pejorative (apparently I can't count)
62. velleity
63. glabrous
64. melange
65. sui generis
66. escutcheon
67. pule
68. prestidigitation
69. decrepitude
70. temerity
71. mendacity
72. discombobulate
73. outre
74. equipoise
75. sapid

I hope you enjoy all the new words and try to incorporate them all into your vocabulary. Today. Amaze total strangers with your intelligence! Or at the least get some weird looks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breaking the Chains

Do you ever feel like as soon as you start a project that you're already behind? Like organizing your basement, or winterizing your yard (or maybe that's just me). Or what about your NaNoWriMo project?

Here's my little secret: I don't know if I'm behind or not.

I'm pretty OCD about numbers and I love spreadsheets, but for NaNoWriMo I decided to try and channel my inner free spirit (it's in there somewhere, I'm sure). I've sent my internal editor on a vacation, and the part of me tied to numbers has also been gagged and shoved in a closet. The idea is that I'll just enjoy the writing and not worry about the numbers.

Since I do have to have some sort of goal, I counted the days in November that I could theoretically write - not Sundays because I take that day off. Then I took 50,000 words and divided it by those days. I figured that I'll be good if I write about 2050 words a day, and so far I'm doing okay with that.

Still, the OCD Number Jaime bangs on the closet door whenever I read stuff like "Should be to 12,500 by the end of the day!" from other people. Then I start to think, perhaps I should subtract Thanksgiving, since I probably won't be able to write a lot then unless I do it at 3 a.m. Maybe I should figure out what my word count should be by the end of this week, and the end of next week, and then I could make a spreadsheet. Oooo, what about a graph? I could color-code it and...

Back in the closet! *shoving her in and slamming the door*

I'm breaking free from the number chains!



Who wants to join me?

For a good laugh, check out InkyGirl's NaNo comic for the day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SATA - Suck at Titles Anonymous

I know there's strength in meeting together with others going through the same struggles. So I've decided to start my own support group.

Welcome to the first ever meeting of Suck At Titles Anonymous, or SATA. If you've ever written a book or story under the title of "My Story" or "Stupid Freaking YA Book" or "Some Awesome Title" then this is the place for you!

Pull up a chair, or. . . well . . . stay in the one you're already in.

First of all, it's important that you know that you're not alone. There, take a deep breath and just feel it sink in--you're not alone. *supportive, therapist-type smile on the whole group*

Let me give you a happy thought:

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

There, don't you feel better now?

As so many other support groups do, SATA will also be adopting a Step Program to success and healing. Today we'll work on the first three.

Step 1: Admit that you are horrible at titles.

Step 2: Believe that a power greater than you will eventually come up with a better title than "The One With the Fairies."

Step 3: Realize that you can't do it alone. You may need ask for help from other writers, loved ones, children, Twitter or Facebook friends, or strangers on the street.


Time out for a group hug.


Now comes the sharing portion of our group meeting. I'll start. Right now I'm working on a Middle Grade novel and my working title is "The Bad Guy Book." I've tossed around the title of "The Villain's Tale" but I know that sucks, too.

How about you? What are some of the bad titles you've come up with?

I'm NaNo'ing - Bring It On!


You see that little badge in the sidebar? Yep, I'm NaNo'ing. I finally decided late Saturday night, Oct. 31st, to take the plunge and be all official for National Novel Writing Month, which started at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 1st.

I'm so ecstatic to join all my fellow NaNo'ers! Now I won't feel left out. Do we have a secret handshake or something?

I've signed up, I know I need to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, and... now what? Do I report my word count somewhere official-like? Is there a forum or something somewhere where I could procrastinate rather than write? I guess I can enter the NaNoWriMo popularity contest and start collecting "Buddies?" (I'm Bookmom2000. Be my buddy. C'mon. Please?) I'm a newbie at this, so maybe some of you seasoned NaNo'ers can give me some direction.

But for now I'm scrambling to do at least *some* pre-writing so that I have a clue where I'm going with this book. The first question: Can I outline and draft at the same time? The second question: Can I not spiral into the depths of despair by comparing my puny word count with those already being posted? (Seriously, people! How do you DO that?!?!)

I figure that I can prolong the torture over a few months to produce an atrocious first draft, or I can just crank it out in a month and be done with it. So, for better or worse, I'm NaNo'ing!

(Is it just me, or does NaNo'ing sound like an obscure desert planet in the Star Wars universe?)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In which Jaime laughs so hard she falls off her chair

*wiping tears*

Anyone else remember Lost Boys? Wow, I loved that movie! And the soundtrack...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Word of the Week #75

sapid - [SAP-id] - adjective

Definition:
1. Having taste or flavor, especially having a strong pleasant flavor.
2. Agreeable to the mind; to one's liking.

Usage:
My children rave about the sapid garlic lime chicken that we grill; they call it "The Best Chicken in The World."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Twitter Addiction

Since my blog on Wednesday seemed to be of interest to at least a few people, I thought I'd share this (via L.T. Elliott). Once you do figure out Twitter it does have the potential to be addictive. Or at least get some grumbles from your significant other.

*True story: My DH scored a free night at a nice bed & breakfast in the mountains for our anniversary last summer. I have never seen so many antlers used in decorating before--even the toilet paper holder was an antler. Of course I had to tweet about it. (Of course!) And then we had the most expensive dinner I've ever had in my life, so of course I had to tweet about that. And the crossbows bolted to the wall deserved a tweet, too. Comments in 140 characters or less just burst into my mind, so I whipped out the phone and quickly texted to Twitter. Until my hubby put his hand over my phone and said, "You're not going to tweet everything about our stay, are you?"

I put the phone away.

But, in my defense, I have never tweeted while driving; I always pull over first. :)

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Always Trust the Squiggle Under the Word

The Spell Chequer

Owed Two A Spell Chequer


Eye halve a spelling chequer,
it came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques, four my revue,
miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
and weight four it two say,
Weather eye am wrong oar write
it shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid,
it nose bee fore two long.
And eye can put the error rite
it's rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased two no.
Its letter perfect awl the weigh,
my chequer tolled me sew.

**I wish I knew who originally wrote this so I could give credit, but I received it as an email.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's with this Twitter thing, anyway?


I'm pretty vocal with friends and acquaintances about my love affair with Twitter. (Thanks, friend and techo-savvy guru Matthew Buckley for getting me hooked!) Usually the response I get is a raised eyebrow and a disbelieving look. I mean, it’s called “Twitter,” which sounds like something a six-year-old would say over and over while giggling, like the word “pooh.”

Eventually some of the skeptics decide to give it a try. Then I get emails, messages, and conversations that go something like this:

“I heard all about this Twitter thing, so I reluctantly gave in and joined. Now I have an account, 4 followers, and I don’t get it. Who cares what I eat for breakfast or that I’m going to the store? This is stupid! I'm going back to Facebook.”

Impatient are you, my young Padowan. Knowledge need you.

*cough* *clearing throat*
Okay, that's enough talking like Yoda. I can't even do it in a blog.

Anyway, what I was trying to say by channeling the little green dude is that perhaps the problem stems from not understanding Twitter and how it is, and more importantly, is not, like Facebook.

*Disclaimer: I am a Twitter enthusiast, not a Twitter expert. You can find several discussions, articles, and blogs about Twitter and why it's popular and how it's changing the world and why the little bird should be your favorite animal, etc. etc. I'm just sharing why I like it and why it's valuable to me.

What Twitter is not:
Twitter is not the place to connect with your ex-boyfriend's best friend's sister that you lost touch with after high school. Neither is it the place to build your own farm, aquarium, or medieval castle. You won't find BeJeweled or MahJong or notes with 40 random questions that you then pass on to your friends. You can't post 140 pictures of your last race, (*adopting innocent, "who, me?" expression*) or take quizzes about which 80's movie you are, or what your birthday says about you, or what your Native American name is. And on Twitter you won't see everyone else you know who is doing all these things.

What Twitter is:
1. Twitter is like removing all the extraneous bits of Facebook and leaving the status, but Tweeters (or tweeps) don't use it like the status updates in Facebook.

2. Twitter is more public than Facebook, because anyone can follow you on Twitter, but you don't have to follow them back. This is why you'll see so many celebrities on Twitter, because they can have a kerjillion fans but not have to wade through a kerjillion fans' worth of Tweets.

3. Twitter is more business. It's for staying current in an industry. I follow hundreds of writers, editors, agents, and publishers, and the vast majority of them I've never met. Yet they carry on a constant conversation with each other and their followers about the industry. When the whole best-seller price war happened I knew about it right away, as well as their reactions to it. I also find out what drives agents nuts, when they get excited about something in the business, and when they have a big deal. The people share links to great blog posts, contests, or things of interest to the business.

4. Twitter is fast. You only have 140 characters per Tweet, so you won't get rambling discourses. If you want to check out someone's link you click on it, if you don't want to, you don't. If you like something someone else said, you retweet it.

5. Twitter is what's happening in real time. Here's an analogy--> if Facebook is the 30 minute evening news, Twitter is the ticker at the bottom of the screen.

6. Twitter is also entertaining. You learn how to tweet something that is a) interesting and/or b) informative in an entertaining, ADHD way. And you get to know another side of people.

7. Twitter brings together people for real time conversations. When your tweet involves a common topic, then you include what's called a hashtag. It involves a # sign and a word or string of words. Then people can search for that hashtag and pull up all the tweets on Twitter about that subject. Some common ones I use are #amwriting (for tweets about my current WIP) or #writegoal (self-explanatory). There are hundreds of people using these hashtags and it develops into a network of people with similar interests. They cheer each other on, or vent to each other.

Like this tweet this morning by @GripeMaster: "Done" in the sense of "done until tomorrow, when it becomes worthless because I changed everything--again."#amwriting

*Oh, can I identify with him!

There are even groups that set up a certain time to talk about a topic. For example, the topic of #nano is pretty hot. Some agents do an hour of answering questions on #askagent, some authors do #askanauthor, and there are several groups of writers, readers, agents, and publishers that participate in discussions like the weekly #kidlitchat and #yalitchat. It's like sitting around and instant messaging with dozens of people at once who like talking about the same things as you, and you don't even have to shower.

You can use the Twitter Search to find the conversations under these hashtags, but if I want to follow a conversation as it's happening I prefer Monitter, which is a free, real time, live twitter monitor. It gives you three columns so you can follow three topics at once--and never get anything done. ;)

Try following one of these conversations. Twitter user @Georgia_McBride hosts #YAlitchat on Wed. @ 9PM Eastern. #Kidlitchat Tues @ 9 Eastern. Here's a link to her post where she explains more about it, and where she posts the transcripts after she's done. You don't have to participate or even have a twitter account, but you can see what it's all about.

Beyond the Twitter site:
Slogging through one column of everyone's tweets on the Twitter site can give anyone a headache. When it gets better is when you start using organizing programs like the one I use, called Tweetdeck. You can organize the people you follow into groups which then have their own column. I have a column for all that I follow, a column for agents/editors, a column for published authors, a column for writers, and a column for my friends that I know personally (that way they don't get buried under the hundreds of other people's tweets). I also have a column for Direct Messages (like private email - but still only 140 characters) and Mentions (when someone responds to me or retweets me - basically anything that has my username in it). Tweetdeck now also has a Facebook feed, so I can see Twitter and Facebook all from one program. It saves sooo much time.

A tiny note on Twitter Etiquette:
Give proper credit. If you like something someone else said or linked to, then make sure to give them credit with their twitter name (the @ sign and their name). Like this tweet this morning from @MFAconfidential:

Getting published takes passion, persistence & patience by @JaneFriedman via @mystorywriter @CafeNirvana ~ http://bit.ly/2fVmK1

You can find a whole slew of articles on Twitter Etiquette, and I don't want to get too long-winded, so just Google it.

The Best Way to Learn is To Follow Those That Do It Right:
If you're only following people that tweet the minutiae of their day, then it's hard to figure out how to work Twitter right. I learned best by reading what others said. So here are a few people I recommend to follow to learn.

@MichaelHyatt
@NathanBransford
@maureenjohnson
@lwhodareswins
@problogger
@inkyelbows
@agentgame
@RachelleGardner
@lilithsaintcrow
@Georgia_McBride


**Ahhhh! Brain freeze! I'm drawing a blank and I had a whole list yesterday. I'll write them down from now on and post them all in another blog, promise. Just look at the people I follow on Twitter (I'm @bookmom2000- click on the Follow Me button in the sidebar). There are so many good ones.

You can also check out these lists:
15 Twitter Users Shaping the Future of Publishing
100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter
15 Must-Follow Comedic Film Actors on Twitter

Does Twitter Make You a Better Writer?
Here's one blogger's opinion about How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer. I'm not so sure I agree with it, but I'll still pass it on.


Thanks for sticking with me this long, dear readers. This turned out to be a rather wordy post, so I'll forgo the discussion on how to get followers for a future post. Along with a more complete list when my brain will work with me. I hope this has been at least a little helpful, and do chime in with all the things I've missed or your Twitter questions. :)