Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu scare

I don't have a whole lot to say about it. You'll want to check into news sites for information, not this blog. However, I do have to share this phrase, which I *wish* I'd thought of.

Aporkalypse Now


*laugh* *snort* *chortle*

(You have to laugh at life in order to stay sane, right? Now go wash your hands!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Move over Bella & Edward, here come Stella & Tedward

One of the highlights of the conference for me was this chapter by Spencer McKay, who didn't make the deadline for the First Chapter Writing Contest (the lucky grand prize winners won an Amazon Kindle II and an Alphasmart Neo - I don't have either, and I want them both!) but Tristi Pinkston graciously read the scene for all the attendees. I was laughing so hard I cried, which was a little unfair since I had to get up right after and announce the winners of the contest.

So, if you love Twilight (book or movie), here's the scene for your enjoyment:


* * *

“I know what you are,” I said. I looked at Tedward. “Your skin is green. You’re impossibly cheerful. You pay for everything with gold coins.”

“Say it,” he urged.

“You’re … a leprechaun.”

“Yes, Stella,” he said. “I am a leprechaun. How did you figure it out?”

“Hopsy told me.”

Tedward growled. “Hopsy is my mortal enemy. His people and my people have been enemies for years. Finally a truce was made, but it’s an uneasy truce. Leprechauns and Easter Bunnies will never be friends.” He reached out and touched my face. “I’m glad you know the truth about me, Stella. But I’m not just any leprechaun—I’m an evil leprechaun.”

“I’m not scared of you,” I said.

“You should be,” he said. Suddenly he was at my side. Then he was on my left. Then he was on my right. Then he was hanging upside down from a nearby branch. He was making me dizzy—or was it his sparkling white smile that made me weak?

“I could kill you,” he said. “I could rip you in pieces and eat this half with mustard and that half with ketchup.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” I said.

He reached out to touch my face. “But I could.”

“But you wouldn’t,” I said.

He trailed his fingers down my face. “I could strangle you and leave you out here in the woods.”

“Do go on,” I said.

“No, Stella,” he said, touching my face. “I have a rope in my backpack. I could hang you. You shouldn’t trust me.”

“But you won’t hurt me.”

He opened his jacket and I saw a gun in a holster under his arm. “This is a Glock. I could shoot you right now. I have thirty-seven vials of poison in my pocket. Plus, I have a knife in my boot. You shouldn’t trust me, Stella. I’m telling you. I’m dangerous. But, I love you, all these death threats notwithstanding."


I reached out and slapped his arm. “Silly boy! Whatever would you want with me? I’m just a wan, pale, homely little thing.”

“Stella, don’t you know how beautiful you are?”

“No, no, I don’t. I am wan and pale and homely.”

He touched my face. “You are beautiful. And your smell … do you have any idea how good you smell?”

I picked up a piece of my hair and sniffed it. “I’ve been told I smell like freesia …

“Freesia? Who would want to eat freesia? Girl, you smell like a double bacon cheeseburger with a side order of onion rings. And a Diet Coke.”

“A Diet Coke?”

“A Diet Coke. Do you see why you’re in danger?”

“You’d kill me for a Diet Coke? Real Coke, maybe I can see, but Diet Coke?”

“You shouldn’t be with me, Stella. I’m no good for you.”

“But Tedward, I trust you. After you saved me from the collapsing bridge and the falling tower and the crashing bus and the stampeding elephants and the cholera and the tumbling shopping mall, how could I not trust you?”

“But you can’t! Don’t you see? Your fingers look like French fries …”

“I thought you said I smelled like onion rings.”

He groaned. “Don’t remind me. You’re making it worse.”

“I trust you, Tedward. I believe in you.”

He reached out to touch my face.



After you finish laughing pop over to author Tristi Pinkston's blog where Spencer guest-blogged and read his comments.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forget writing, I'm going to be a music video star

Last weekend was the LDStorymaker's Writer's Conference and it was an incredible event! I was privileged to be on the conference committee that put it together. One of the fun (and perhaps foolish) things I agreed to do was help with a music video that was a spoof of the Nickelback song "Rockstar." This one is called "I Wanna Be a Bestseller" and it's for all the writers in the world. It stars authors and friends, who all would love to be a bestseller.

(I can't believe I'm sharing this...) Hit it!



And here are the lyrics (thanks to authors Heather Moore and Crystal Liechty):

I'm through with submitting to agents who won't read my queries
It's the end of the world if I never get published
This novel hasn't turned out quite the way I want it to be
(Tell me what you want)

I want a two-book deal, for a hundred million bucks
And a bathroom I can use my laptop in
And a king-sized office big enought for my ego 'n me
(Tell me what you need)

I need a five-star listing from Kirkus Review
And a medal from the Newbury committee too
Gotta hit the New York Times list the first week my book is out
(Been there, done that)

I want a cabin full of Whitney Awards
And a top ten rating on Amazon
Somewhere between J.K. and Stephenie is fine for me
(So how you gonna do it?)

I'm gonna trade this book for fortune and fame
I'd even change the end and get a pen name

[Chorus]
'Cause we all just wanna be Big Best Sellers
And live in huge houses getting great big checks
the muse comes asy and the words come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we're too stressed to eat
And we'll hang out at the Book Expo
In the VIP with Stephenie Meyer
Every vampire writer's gonna wind up there
Every wanna-be author with their chapters to share

Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller
Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller

I wanna be great like Dan Brown without the angels
Hire three assistants to answer my emails
Take a two week tour and expense my signings for free
(See ya in Barnes and Noble, ha ha)

I'll bring bathrobes 'n slippers back into fashoin
Call my editor from my agent's mansion
Gonna date an actor who wants to star in my movie deals
(So how you gonna do it?)

[Chorus]
'Cause we all just wanna be Big Best Sellers
And live in huge houses getting great big checks
the muse comes asy and the words come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we're too stressed to eat
And we'll hang out at the Book Expo
In the VIP with Stephenie Meyer
Every vampire writer's gonna wind up there
Every wanna-be author with their chapters to share
I'll be too busy to check my reviews
Won't matter to me 'cause Paramount's on line two
I'll remember what it used to be like back when
My books got rejected by even my friends

Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller
Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller

Gonna sue anyone who has a similar story
Gonna act real surprised at all my glory
I'll get famous authors to endorse my book
Tell Oprah how I come up with my hook

'Cause we all just wanna be Big Best Sellers
And live in huge houses getting great big checks
the muse comes asy and the words come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we're too stressed to eat
And we'll hang out at the Book Expo
Gonna follow Stephenie Meyer around the show
Every vampire writer's gonna wind up there
Every wanna-be author with their chapters to share

Gonna sue anyone who has a similar story
Gonna act real surprised at all my glory
I'll get famous authors to endorse my book
Tell Oprah how I come up with my hook

Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller
Hey, hey, I wanna be a Bestseller

Monday, April 27, 2009

Word of the Week #50

Wow! I can't believe I've done 50 of these. And just to let you know, I'm going to do my very best to post the Word of the Week every Monday. I went to a writer's conference over the weekend (more gushing about that soon) and feel energized and ready to go. It's almost like making New Year's Resolutions. And one of my post-conference resolutions is to be more regular with my blog. So expect WOTW every Monday. :)

schadenfreude - [shahd-n-froi-duh] - noun

Definition:
satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.

Usage:
One of the best things about the Storymaker's Writing Conference this last weekend was the absence of schadenfreude or negative competition; everyone there honestly wants to succeed together.

*loved it!*

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Give Up

I'm really involved in a writer's conference this weekend so there aren't a whole lot of free brain cells at the moment, but here's a link to a great blog post about Susan Boyle and not giving up.

If you are like me and are one of the few people in the country that hasn't seen the clip of Susan Boyle in the show Britain's Got Talent (I saw it just a few days ago), then here's a youtube clip of it. Watch it first here.

Then read the blog "How Do You Know When To Quit" at Murderati. It's inspirational.

So find your dream and don't give up!

(And just ignore those 37 agent rejections, dangit!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Word of the Week #49

susurrus - [su-SUHR-uhs] - noun

Definition:
A whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.

Usage:
I can't wait for summer to lay in the grass under a shady tree and just listen to the susurrus of the leaves.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: The Second Siege by Henry H. Neff

No, I did not get run over by a bus. Yes, I have been brain-oozing-out-my-ears busy. Give me another week and I'll get back to some regular blogging. Pinkie promise.

For today I want to post a book review that I've been meaning to write for a long time. And in just a few sentences we'll get right to the review of Book 2 of The Tapestry Series. But first there's some back story to this review, so if you're a new-ish reader you may want to click over to my review of Book 1: The Hound of Rowan (warning: it involves a heavy layer of snark) and then over to Part 2 (where the author popped by and remarked on the scathing, snarky review). And Part 2 is really the only reason I picked up The Second Siege. So, without further ado...


The Second Siege by Henry H. Neff

My biggest problem with The Hound of Rowan was the almost freaky similarities between Neff's story and Harry Potter. I don't know if those similarities were just coincidence, or if the author heard that criticism while he was working on The Second Siege, but in the second installment of The Tapestry series the story jumps the Hogwarts Express track and goes in a completely, can-there-be-anything-less-like-Harry-Potter direction. Perhaps a little more like a Mad Max direction, which took me completely by surprise.

And it was way better. *applause*

I'm not going to give you a rundown of the entire plot, because that's kind of boring and it's just easier for me to cut and paste the back cover blurb.

Grave Forces are converging to seize control of the Book of Thoth, a hidden artifact whose pages hold the key to creating—or unraveling—the very threads of existence. Under the care and tutelage of Cooper, Rowan’s most lethal Agent, Max McDaniels and David Menlo embark on a quest to protect the book from the demon Astaroth, who would exploit its secrets with dire consequence. And with Astaroth free after centuries of imprisonment, the world outside Rowan’s gates has already become hostile. Far from home, cut off behind enemy lines, Max and his allies must journey across Europe, descend into the fabled Frankfurt Workshop, brave the tangled corners of the Black Forest . . . and cross beyond the veils of our very world.

That's some good copy, eh? If you really want to know more then you can just go read the book.

So for my review I'm just going to start by giving Neff a big, hearty slap on the back. (Um, a nice "Way to go!" kind of slap. Not a "What were you thinking?" slap. Just to clarify.)

The characters were more fleshed out, although I still want to know why David knows all this and how he's a sorcerer. *And feel free to take notes, Henry. I don't mind :)* The Second Siege has a bunch of witches, an ancient curse, old magic, celtic mythology, the Sidhe (I mean, how can you go wrong with them?) and some nice apocalyptic shivers, along with a dash of sci-fi and a twist ending that's not all fluffy bunnies and dancing through the tulips. And there's a big fight at the end between the good guys and the bad guys where they actually fight, with actual consequences and hard decisions. They don't just talk it out and walk off in such an anti-climactic non-battle that the reader screams and throws the book across the room. *cough* (Read Breaking Dawn, anyone?)

Unfortunately, the creepy hag Mum still plays a part, but I like her better in comparison to her creepier sister. Max's dad is still bumbling around, but you can easily ignore him. Agent Cooper still rocks and you learn the answer to a mystery in Max's life from the first book. And again, Neff didn't take the fluffy bunny way out of that resolution, either.

I would recommend The Second Siege and look forward to the next book in the series. It's just too bad The Hound of Rowan came off so much like a Harry Potter copy, because The Second Siege is so much better. I'm afraid some readers may not give it a chance.

Oh, and the illustrations were pretty cool, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Word of the Week #48

Sorry for the blog silence. Really busy at the moment.

ululate - [UL-yuh-layt] - transitive verb

Definition:
To howl, as a dog or a wolf; to wail; as, ululating jackals.

Usage:
I can usually tell when my son and daughter are fighting by the piercing ululating that always happens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Word of the Week #47

pertinacity - [pur-tn-as-i-tee] - noun

Definition:
The quality of being pertinacious; persistence.

Usage:
To find an agent in the publishing world you need a decent story, at least a rudimentary grasp of grammar, the ability to follow guidelines, some way to shake off the rejections, thick skin, and a huge helping of pertinacity.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snow, Soreness, and Revisions, Oh My!

Sorry for the blog silence the last little while. I had one agent give me suggestions for a major-ish rewrite of the manuscript I'm shopping around, then I had another agent ask for the full manuscript. (WOOT!!) But I wanted to give her the best version so I pretty much ignored everything that wasn't essential (like housework, dinner, brushing my hair, the phone, etc.) to do the revisions the first agent suggested so I could send the revised book to the second agent. And do it in a short enough time so the second agent didn't think I was blowing her off or something. I sent the final, new & improved, version off this morning. *whew* The revisions made it a much better book. The first agent was spot on and I am soooo grateful she took the time to give me the suggestions.


And in the middle of all that I ran my first half-marathon race (that's 13.1 miles for all you non-runner types). In the snow. And cold. Did I mention it was snowing?

I'd like to think that I looked all composed and athletic when I was done, like this pic.

But it was realistically more like this:


And I want to apologize to the people in the parking garage who didn't want to watch me wiggle out of my soaking wet clothes and change into dry ones (thanks to Jenn for the great advice!) but it really helped.

I'm happy with my performance. I pushed myself and finished in 1 hour 47 minutes, which is a pretty steady pace of about 8 minutes per mile. Yea! The guy who won the whole thing finished in 1 hour 9 minutes. That's just unbelievably fast! I'll take my time, though.

A couple of fun things to share about the race. It snowed the whole time. Oh, wait. I already mentioned that. *But* there were still people running in shorts and tank tops. I was all layered up with gloves and fuzzy wrap covering my ears.

There was also a pretty big crowd, so we were crammed together in the lane of the road that was cordoned off. I was sort of close to the starting line and could see some race official stand on a truck and yell for a minute. I have no idea what he said, because none of us could hear him. Then a gun went off. Many people (me included) weren't expecting it so a lot of ladies screamed. I didn't, but I sure jumped. I thought that was kind of funny.

Another interesting thing was that there was a division of the half-marathon that was a relay race, so I couldn't let all the runners blowing past me after mile 6.5 phase me, because some of them were in the relay and so had just started.

One important thing I learned is that it's not easy to drink Gatorade from a little Dixie cup while running. Is very messy.

Even though I was pretty sore yesterday, overall it was a fun experience and I'll probably run another one. I've had a lot of people ask me if I'm going for a marathon next, and the answer is "No." Sorry. I have no desire. Two hours of straight running is plenty. Much longer than that and I think I'd just get bored. I will do some more Sprint Triathlons, though. But not in the snow.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to Childhood

We love all kinds of books at our house. Here are some of our favorite picture books. (I'm sure I'll think of a ton more after I finish this post.)


Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Caterpillow Fight by Sam McBratney, Jill Barton (Illustrator)

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont, Illustrated by David Carrow

Food Fight! by Carol Diggory Shields, Illustrated by Doreen Gay-Kassel

Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi, Illustrated by John Manders

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Illustrated by Anita Jeram

Piggies by Audrey Wood & John Wood

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, Illustrated by Lane Smith

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

Pig Pigger Piggest by Rick Walton, Illustrated by Jimmy Holder

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood
*Hey, There's two from them on this list.*

Parts by Tedd Arnold

Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi

Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail

Well, that's a good start. There are so many good ones to choose from!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yippeeee!

One of the agents I queried wants to read the full manuscript. She called my idea intriguing!

I read the email three times to make sure it really said what I thought it said. Then I screamed. My husband came running to see what was wrong.

Happy Dance!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Everybody run and hide!!


It's the...

CONFICKER WORM!!

That virus that's already infected thousands--nay, hundreds of thousands--of computers, only *lower voice to a whisper* you don't know it yet.

That's right ladies and gentleman! It's mean. It's nasty. It will steal all your personal information for some acne-ridden hacker to use for obscene amounts of Star Wars paraphernalia! Or X-box games from Walmart.com.

And it goes live on April 1st!

BEWARE! Assume you're already infected and just go download this, or this, or that. Or... better yet, go to your friend's computer which you hope isn't infected and download the fix-it software, then email it to yourself. Then install it to get rid of the nasty worm. We think.

But no matter what, back up *everything* cause chances are you'll lose it all. *Gasp* *Panic* *Run through the streets screaming like a banshee*

Yet, here we are. April 1st. *yawn*

This is so Y2K. Remember that? All kinds of panic and then... nothing.

Yeah, April Fools on us all. I think the companies that sell external hard drives or web-based backup services were in on it.

*You can read all about the Conficker worm here or here.*