Monday, December 27, 2010
So... um... you might have noticed that my week off has turned into more like a month off. It's been a crazy month and I'll be back with you soon. Pinky Promise! Just a few more days to take care of things...
I hope you all are having a great holiday season.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Yesterday: One chapter polished. One sick kidlet taken to the doctor and fussed over. One dinner cooked. Several homework assignments completed needing my
Today: One chapter polished. One chapter revised. Word count on the revised chapter stayed approximately the same, but half of those were new words. It's much better now but still has a couple spots needing some major fixage. A bunch of emails taken care of.
I am 7/10 finished with my major revision. And I'm liking it, I'm really liking it. *celebration*
How are you doing with your projects of the month? (Even if they're not NaNoWriMo.)
Monday, November 15, 2010
I told you last month that I'm not doing NaNo, and I'm not. I still stick with my decision to focus on revising my current project, but as I see the NaNo camaraderie and drama (i.e. "I didn't get my wordcount in because my dog died!") on Twitter and Facebook, I'm feeling a little left out. I want to post wordcounts, or participate in a 1K in an hour sprint, or go to a NaNo writer's retreat.
*Envision Jaime outside a store, her face pressed against the display window as she gazes longingly at the inside.*
Solution: I don't have to stay at the window! I'm going to start reporting my revision progress.
Revision is tricky, because I do a lot of it longhand (so counting words would be a beast). Plus, the train wreck I'm fixing requires tossing entire chunks (we're talking entire chapters sometimes) of my rough draft. So in a day I might have tossed 10 pages and written 4 pages, which would give me a negative total.
I still want to participate in the writing frenzy, though. Now I just have to figure out how.
Keep writing all you NaNoers!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
1. The movement of the eye when it makes a sudden change, as in reading.
2. The act of checking a horse quickly with a single strong pull of the reins.
Sometimes keeping an eye on my kids tests my saccade abilities to the maximum. They are rarely still.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
My kidlets have started tuning out when I talk, so I've decided it's time to get in touch with my inner movie announcer and awesome-up my presentation skills. These skills can easily transfer over into my writing. My plan isn't complicated. It merely involves slight changes to the way I talk, mainly by adding "-inator" to the end of words (which automatically rockets the coolness factor).
My car is no longer a van, it's now the Family Transportinator.
It's not doing the dishes, it's loading the Eating Utensil Scrubbinator.
We're not spraying wasp nests in the rock wall, we're wielding our Evil Stinging Pest Eradicator.
When it's raining, you open the Rain Repellinator.
Forget homework, it's time to work on the Future Education Placinator.
I'm not wasting time on Twitter, I'm becoming a Networking Informinator.
And, just for my boy kidlets, they have to take turns cleaning the Flushinator, because they're contributing Poopinators.
**Note: I actually used the last example when helping Kidlet #2 study the suffix "-ator" which means "that which."
**Note 2: Since I wrote this post, I have discovered that the villain in the Disney cartoon Phineus and Ferb adds "inator" to all of his evil genius inventions. However, I came up with the idea first.
Here's a short, less than 2 minute video on how presentation can make anything cooler.
Have you had any experiences where presentation mattered almost more than the words?
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I started thinking about some of the perilous things that have happened in my life, like:
- Getting caught in waist deep mud in an irrigation canal while going after my favorite toy mermaid. I didn't drown, thanks to an older brother who pulled me out. But I didn't get my mermaid back. *sniff*
- Being run over by a car when I was 3. I remember getting woken up in the middle of the night in the hospital by the nurses shining flashlights in my eyes. Rude!
- My sister and I slid several times on our butts on the cement slopes underneath a freeway overpass. It wore holes in the seats of my jeans.
- Pretending to be characters in a story that were magically transported to another world. Of course, the paranoid neighbor's yard was much more otherworldly than mine. They called the cops on me for peeking in their windows. (It was a castle! And I was, like, 9 years old.)
- Getting completely and inappropriately screamed at for throwing those red berries on decorative bushes at passing cars. I figured out after several unsuccessful attempts with my friends that in order to hit the car, you had to throw the berries just before the car passed. This psycho guy slammed on his breaks, backed up, and chewed me out up one side, down the other, and then repeated. My friends all bolted and I stood there taking it. To the psycho man: it was a child-size handful of red berries on your windshield. Go get some help for your road rage.
- Exploring several derelict buildings that were probably on the verge of collapsing. As a mother I have nightmares my kids will "explore" in their mother's footsteps.
- Having the police called on us because we discovered that super rubber balls bounced incredibly awesome in the post office (off all the PO boxes) and it was the perfect place for a rubber ball bounce off. Not so much.
From the back cover:
Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago. What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back. Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.
My perilous experiences don't hold a candle to what the girls in the book go through. Kidnapping, murder, escape, trekking across the country, corrupt law enforcement, etc. Perilous is a true YA suspense that will keep readers turning pages to find out what happens. And there are rumors of a sequel/series to help tie up some loose ends.
Confession: For some reason I had in my mind that this was a paranormal. Once I realized I was completely mixed up, I enjoyed the book much more since I wasn't waiting for a vampire/werewolf/demon/angel/witch/psychic to show up. This is no way a criticism of Perilous, it's more a confession of my own airheadedness.
Overall I enjoyed the book and recommend it to those who like suspense.
That being said, there were a few things that marred my enjoyment of the story.
I would have liked to know the other girls that were kidnapped along with the main character. I almost started thinking of them as sidekicks, and sometimes had to stop to remember who was who. If some chapters had been from their point of view, I could have connected with them more as individuals. For example, after a particularly traumatic thing happened to one character, it would have further invested us in the story to show in her own thoughts how her experience completely changed her outlook and approach to circumstances. I wanted more about the characters and how they changed, rather than just the events happening.
The girls also spend a lot of time on the run in wilderness areas. I think there needed to be more set up at the beginning showing that the girls actually had survival skills. Even just mentioning one went camping all the time with family, or something. If you dump your average 3 teenage girls in the wild--even with a few supplies--there's no guarantee they even know how to start a fire or find shelter. That pushed the believability envelope a little for me, but I wanted to know what happened so I suspended my disbelief.
Perilous will be out Nov. 16th, but I think you can get it now on the Kindle. You can find out more about Tamara, her books, and her blog tour on her website, at tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com. You can also read the first page of Perilous on her site.
BIG NEWS: Tamara is doing two giveaways in connection with her release.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I used Random.org to randomly pick 3 random numbers. (Did I mention it was random?) And then I matched those numbers to the comments from the last 2 weeks. Give the winners a round of applause.
The winner of a copy of Graceling is...
The winner of the Manic Bloom CD is...
Comment #11 -- Crystal
Tomorrow you'll want to stop by for my late book review of the book Perilous, which you won't want to miss because the author has some of her own awesome giveaways, including... I kid you not... one of these.
*Just for the record, I hate being late, and so not meeting the deadline for this book review has made me twitchy.
Wednesday we shall return to regular bloginess, which in my case means posts on writing & books, running, stuff that makes me laugh, words of the week, and a smattering of everything else.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Explanation of my sentence:
Today I am supposed to post a review of Tamara Hart Heiner's book, Perilous. She contacted me ages ago and sent me the PDF. Unfortunately life and Halloween got in the way, and before I knew it November was here, the kidlets had major projects due that required use of the computer, etc. (No one else has that problem, right?)
So I haven't finished Perilous yet (Oh, to have an e-reader!) and I don't think it's fair to review it until I reach The End. I shall finish it this weekend and post a review next week, so come back then. Perilous will be released Nov. 16th, but here's a sneak peek at the cover.
Have a great weekend, NaNo-ers!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
If ignored, emails can bury you faster than an avalanche, and are just as hard to dig out of.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Instead of NaNo, I'll be doing ReviseMo of my last year's NaNo. :) I'm over the halfway point of massive rewrites and I've gotta get this puppy finished. My goal is to do it by the end of November. So while thousands of you will be cranking out 50,000 words in a month, I'll be finishing the polishing of 50,000 words. And then it's on to querying and the fun fun of the agent hunt.
GOOD LUCK to all of you NaNo-ers! Stop by once in a while when you need to take a break because your brain is oozing out your ear and your fingertips have gone numb from pounding on the keys. And because I think so many of you are frantically getting ready for the start of NaNo this week, I'm going to extend the deadlines for this week's giveaways and add one more.
Comment on any posts this week and next week for the chance to win a copy of Graceling, a Manic Bloom CD, or the book Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, by Beth Fantaskey.
Confession: I have no idea if this book is even any good. I picked it up purely for the sheer awesomeness of the title (title=win.) and the back cover copy. I haven't actually read it.
From the back cover:
Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior-year "get a life" plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he's her long-lost fiance. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But Jessica has never even been kidssed--how can she possibly commit herself to a long-term relationship? Or an eternal relationship, for that matter?
It sounds exactly my kind of romance: tongue-in-cheek and no moping for several months. The story could be pure cow's tripe, but I really hope not. If you win it we'll have to both read it and compare notes.
Good luck with your last weekend of freedom!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Pertaining to going about in the night; night-wandering.
My husband suffers from insomnia, so lately he's taken many noctivagant trips to work at 4:00 a.m.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Is it not the best Halloween-y cover? I can see a Tim Burton film opening with this very image. I want to read the book, so I even entered the contest. But if you don't want to enter that's okay. More chances for me to win. :) If I'm eligible.
Last week I talked a bit about music and how it goes hand in hand with the creative process for a lot of writers. It only makes sense that I would give away some more music, right? Right.
I love a lot of popular music, but I also listen to a lot of less-known or independent artists. And there's some good stuff out there, let me tell ya. Like Under the Influence of Giants (favorite "Mama's Room"), Jem (favorite "24" or "They"), and Broken Iris (favorite "A New Hope" not on player but the ones are there are good). The links are to Myspace pages or places you can listen for free.
One of my favorite bands-you-may-not-have-heard-of is Manic Bloom. This is some seriously awesome music. I won't write an in-depth music review, mostly because I don't know enough to do that. Just imagine me speaking with a nasal voice and an English accent: "The tonality of the main singer's voice mixes perfectly with the harmonics of the guitar, all pushed by the syncopated beat of a mixture of drums which showcases the classical pedagogy of the keyboardist. Blah, blah, blah." (Don't ask me what that means, cause I have no idea.)
Here's my review: I love their music!! And so I'm giving away a copy of their latest EP, "In Loving Memory." Free music...
You can listen to some of their songs at www.myspace.com/manicbloom. The song that I first fell in love with is "Running to the Scene." You can also learn more about them at www.manicbloom.com.
If you want more than one chance to win the CD, Dragon Wrangler is giving one away this week, too, and so is Lori Cunningham on her blog (she also tells more about them, since she's one of those knowledgeable music-types, minus the English accent.)
Have a happy Tuesday, all! I'm off to fight with the midpoint of my book. What I planned isn't going to work, but I think I've finally figured out how to shuffle, shift, and adjust. Now to do it and see if it works.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Congratulations!! I'll be in touch to get your address and get the CD in the mail.
That means it's time to announce the giveaway of today. (Oh, yes. You heard me right. This isn't the giveaway of the week, this is the giveaway of today.) Everyone knows I'm a book addict, and so we have another of my favorite books to give away: Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
From the back cover:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight--she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...
There is a companion book, Fire, that is more recent, but I liked Graceling more. And it's my blog where I have all the power (Muah-ha-ha), so this is the book I'm giving away. Comment on any posts this week to be entered to win.
If I were Graced with a skill, I think I'd like to not need sleep. Or maybe the skill to make anyone I talk to feel better. However, being Graced could have a downside. Maybe if I had the Grace of no sleep I would yearn to dream and withdraw from consciousness. If I had the Grace to make others feel good just by talking to them, maybe I would be constantly barraged by others and not want to uplift them anymore. Hmmm...
What Grace would you like to have? And if you want to take it one step further as a writer thinking exercise, what would be a downside of that Grace? (Inherent conflict, baby!)
*Pop on over to Dragon Wrangler's blog for a chance to win a book from her. I might even try to win because I want to read the book she's giving away. It's very Halloween-y.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I'm a big goal proponent. I have my own goals for various aspects of my life, like my goal of reaching a certain 10K pace in my running. Then there's my goal to focus a minimum of 2 hours a weekday on writing--not blogging, not Twittering, not emailing, but actual writing. I have the goal of biting my tongue instead of barking at my children like a drill sergeant. I also have the goal of really listening when I talk to people, rather than planning my response. One of my goals is to finally decorate my bedroom (we've lived here 7 years and the master bedroom is still the second-hand-stash-everything-here room). I also should probably clean out from under my refrigerator--eventually.
I've had a goal for the month of October, and I even told 3 or 4 people about it (accountability and all that). My goal was to finish the rewrites on my MG fantasy so that I could begin querying in November. And how am I doing? With 11 days left in the month, I am just shy of the halfway point in my book. Unless I totally ignore the rest of life and my family, it's probably safe to say I'm not going to make it.
And that's okay.
I'm loving how the rewrites are turning out, and if it takes me longer to get the book I want and that others enjoy reading (including an agent and publisher) then that's okay. That's the more important goal anyway.
I think sometimes we focus so much on OUR GOAL (yes, it's capitalized for a reason) that we choke out all possibilities for flexibility. And then when we fall behind in OUR GOAL, we feel like a failure. One of the techniques teachers learn is to monitor and adjust. That has stuck with me ever since I heard it.
Set your goals. Work toward them. Periodically monitor and adjust. Then keep working toward them.
Life usually doesn't go as planned. Things get in the way, you lose sleep and can't think, your kidlet gets sick, you get sick, the car breaks down, etc. If you are so cemented into doing things one way, then you're just setting yourself up for failure.
So by all means set goals, but keep them flexible enough that you can actually reach them.
What goals do you have? And how are they going?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Random.org kicked out the random number of 7, and L.T. had the 7th comment of the week. I'll be in touch.
Let's keep the fun going with Awesome Giveaway #3 in the Month of Giveaway Awesomeness. But first, make sure to check in often in the next 2 weeks, because we will be giving away more than one thing a week. (Oh, yeah. Sprinting to the finish, baby!)
If there's one thing that writers love almost as much as books (no, I'm not talking about chocolate) it's music. And often that's because music and writing go hand in hand. Many writers have certain music to go with specific stories. It helps get them in the right frame of mind and kick start their muse.
When I'm doing heavy revising, like right now, I tend to listen to movie soundtracks, like from the "Bourne Supremacy" and "King Arthur," or keep things silent. But I have written entire scenes to single songs put on repeat, like a final, climactic battle scene to "Sahara" by Nightwish. And this song is my YA Paranormal. All I have to do is listen to it and I am instantly transported into the story. (Ack! I have to quit listening to it! I have to finish my MG first.)
There is also a music genre out there that is less known but is a great muse catalyst for me. It's called Electronica, and it's often dramatic and lyrical at the same time. Groups such as Delerium, Blue Stone, Conjure One, and Balligomingo are big. (Raise your hand if you've heard of them. No?)
Because I love and listen to Electronica A LOT when I write, I want to introduce you to the sound, and what better way than to give away a CD!
I have, in my very own possession, the Unseen Album from up and coming Electronica artist Lori Cunningham. All you have to do is comment on any blog this week to be eligible to win.
“Unseen” features thirteen beautiful original works ranging from soaring vocalizes set in soothing soundscapes to complex instrumentations that interweave driving beats with Lori's intricate vocal style. While each song is unique, they all invoke you to experience emotions unseen by most.
You can find out more about Lori and listen to samples of the songs on the Unseen Album on her website, www.Loricmusic.com, but here's a sampler of her angelic voice. Emeria is her latest project and isn't out on CD yet, but this video gives you a great feel for the electronica genre.
What music do you listen to when you write?
Friday, October 15, 2010
Michelle talks about how Halloween is a great time to consider the possibility of the more Halloween-y (my own word) potential heroes out there. She lists her Top 5: Angels, Demons, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies.
Those are all great, and they are also the ones that easily come to mind. So that puts the onus on me (onus = great word. Go look it up and use it this weekend, I dare you!) to come up with at least 5 different supernatural heroes. I'm up for the challenge, though. And for my list I'm digging into my research for my first MG novel, "The Spear of Victory."
1. Cat Sith/Cat Sidhe
A fairy creature from Scottish and Irish mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Some common folklore suggested that the Cait Sìth was not a fairy, but a transformed witch. Just imagine the possibilities! Especially if it's a shape-changer (even better if it's a hot guy shape changer).
2. Bean-Fionn/Water Woman/Jenny Greentooth
This faery is very protective of children and a kiss from her renders a child almost indestructible. She has also been known to give directions to lost travelers. She will however, drown those who displease her or who hurt and abuse children. What a heroine! What if your MC is abused and gets help from this supernatural creature? (Just throwing out ideas.)
3. Blue men (not the Las Vegas group)
These supernatural sea creatures were said to live in underwater caves in the Minch, a straight between Lewis, Long Island and the Shiant Islands near Scotland. The Blue Men looked like humans with blue skins. They where infamous for swimming alongside passing ships, and attempting to wreck them by conjuring storms and by luring sailors into the water. If a captain wanted to save his ship he had to finish their rhymes and solve their riddles, and always make sure he got the last word. Some think the Blue Men may be Fallen Angels.
Mimis are fairy-like beings of the Indigenous Australians of northern Australia. They are described as having extremely thin and elongated bodies, so thin as to be in danger of breaking in case of a high wind. To avoid this, they usually spend most of their time living in rock crevices. They are said to have taught the Aborigines how to hunt, prepare kangaroo meat and use fire. Believed to be trickster spirits, the Mimi disappear into the rock walls of caves and shelters and sometimes leave their shadows behind, which appear as paintings.
A supernatural Water elemental which takes the form of a horse, malevolent. They are Scottish water faeries. Usually they are seen as young horses, but sometimes they appear as hairy men. They haunt rivers and streams, letting men mount them and then riding off into the water, dunking them.
There's my list of obscure supernatural heroes, and yes, all of them are in my book.
What about you? Which supernaturals are your favorite?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
1. Marshy; boggy.
2. Soft or flabby.
When people wonder why I get up at 5:00 a.m. to go to a weight class, I tell them it's to avoid getting the old woman quaggy arms.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Oh, yeah. Where can I get an idea like that?
You have to watch the book trailer. ROTFLOL
Don't forget that any comment on a blog this week will give you an entry into the Awesome Giveaway #2.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Oh, wait. You want to know who won the delciously mouthwatering yummilicious caramel apple of delight from last week?
Mmmm. So tasty...
Well, I had 29 comments on the blog that were eligible for the giveaway. I used random. org to generate a random number from 1 to 29, and it spit out the number 4, which would would be Yamile!
She commented, "I will eat one of those babies even with my braces! So delicious looking." (Just promise you won't tell your orthodontist I'm the one who gave it to you.) I'll be in touch.
Let's keep up the giveaway fun by giving away something you'd expect from a blog called Bookmom Musings. And that would be...
I fell in love with the book, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, in the first two sentences.
"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with the dog's blanket and the tea-cosy."
I Capture the Castle relates the adventures of the Mortmains, an eccentric family struggling to live in a decaying English castle in the 1930s. Narrated through journal entries of the intelligent and delightful teen-aged girl, Cassandra Mortmain, we meet her extraordinary family. First, there is her eccentric father, a writer who had one literary masterpiece published years ago, but has been unable to write since. Then there is her sister, Rose - beautiful, vain and bored - and her stepmother, Topaz, an artist's model who likes to be dramatic and commune with nature. Finally, there is their neighbor Stephen, incredibly handsome and hopelessly in love with Cassandra.
Cassandra records events and her feelings with humorously insightful honesty. The result is a book both marvelously funny and genuinely moving. It made me smile, chuckle, laugh, and even stop and think.
Any comments on any of the blogs this week gets you in the drawing for this. Don't forget to pop on over to Dragon Wrangler's blog for her giveaway of the week, too. Good luck!
(And just so you know, I'm toying with the idea of doing a second giveaway this week, too. But for the moment I haven't decided. I'll let you know when I make up my mind. )
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Ouch. Anyone else cringing at the words of this rejection? Yeah, it's pretty harsh. But it's honest. I know, because I wrote it to myself.
"Whoa! Back up. You wrote your own rejection?"
Yes, I did. It was part of a lesson in a a monster-load-of-work-but-completely-worth-it course on novel revision. After two excruciating months of reading and re-reading my rough draft without TOUCHING it (which was like dragging myself up a hill in a hailstorm by papercut-covered fingertips) and taking copious notes on what worked (10%), what didn't (90%), I could finally look at my book objectively and know what needed to be fixed and why.
Before we actually started figuring out specifically how to fix our books, the teacher made us write our own rejection letter. We had to try and see our book with the eyes of an agent or editor, and make it brutally honest. You've now read part of mine.
After the gut-twisting "Oh my gosh, I totally suck!" faded away, I knew that I wanted to make sure no editor/agent/reader ever thought that about my revised novel. It gave me direction and motivation. I now keep it where I can see it while I'm revising.
Try it. Look at your current WIP, not with the eyes the author who ripped out bits of your soul with each keystroke, but as an editor/agent who will look at it totally objectively. Then write a rejection letter--with specifics--to yourself.
Once you have it, read it over and over. Then vow to yourself that you will never actually get that letter, because you *will* fix those things.
And go do it.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
1. A joke or jest.
2. A trick or prank.
3. To joke; to jest.
4. To make fun of; to mock.
The funniest comedians are the ones that jape about the normal aspects of life in a new way.
Brian Regan is a master of this.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Don't get me wrong, this blog is about writing and books, but it's also about whatever else I feel like. And for the kickoff giveaway of the month, I feel like giving a lucky blog reader something from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
"WHAT?!" say those of you who know me and know I don't like chocolate. No, the world hasn't ended. You see, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also sells Caramel Apples.
Like the Apple Pie Apple: "This is not your ordinary apple pie. We take a large Granny Smith apple, apply a thick coat of fresh, creamy caramel, then dip it in sweet white confection. Then, while still hot, we roll it in brown sugar and cinnamon. Like Grandma used to make, only better!"
You get 8-10 slices of delicious goodness that will send your taste buds on a frenzied journey to ecstasy! Sigh.
One lucky commenter will win one of these babies this week!
The actual logistics of this giveaway are a bit tricky, since I can't really mail one to you. ("Oh, look, I got apple pie mush with a stick in the mailbox.") I can place an order for you, but then you have to go to a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location to pick it up, and there may or may not be one near you. The other option is to send you a Cold Stone Creamery gift card, because many Cold Stones also have Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory products, and there are a whole lot more Cold Stones around the country than Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory locations. (You would have to pinky swear you'd use it for an apple, though.) Once we have a winner, the two of us will figure out the best way to get you your apple of yummilicious awesomeness.
And for those of you who *must* have something involving chocolate, Dragon Wrangler's got your back. (Just give her a little time to get the blog up, since she probably tore her rotator cuff the other day and typing is painful.)
Happy commenting to fight for that apple!!
Monday, October 4, 2010
I'm a LOTR fan, but not a LOTR fantatic.
**Confession: I didn't actually read LOTR until I had my first child. My brother was/is a LOTR Fanatic (yes, with a capital "F") so I think I rebelled against it for a while. Either that or "The Hobbit" cartoon traumatized me for 20 years. (Oh, the horror!)
What does LOTR have to do with October? Well, dear readers, I shall tell you. In the hobbit culture, when someone has a birthday they give gifts rather than receive them. For those who don't know, I just had a birthday. And I thought that rather than dwelling on the fact that I am *old*, I would celebrate it all month long by giving away things to YOU. And then I got 100 followers and that just makes the idea even more perfect!
"Great!" you say, "Now what crazy hoops do I have to jump through to win?"
Sometimes blog giveaways can get a little...complicated. In order to get an entry you have to become a follower, blog about the contest and link to it, tweet every other hour on days that begin with an M, T, or S, put a placard on your dog while you walk him in a parade, answer a bunch of questions, play a game of Twister where every time someone has to put a body part on a yellow circle you have to chant "I will win the blog contest," etc.
In case you can't tell, sometimes that annoys me. So, because this is my blog and my Month of Giveaway Awesomeness, I'm gonna make the rules. In order to be entered to win any of my giveaways you have to...
Wait for it...
Post a comment--any comment--on any of the posts for the week (except this one), and you are entered to win the giveaway(s) of the week. Now, if you want to blog about my giveaways, become a follower (and I hope you do), tweet about my blog, or put up a billboard, that's great! If you tell me about it, I may arbitrarily grant you anywhere between 1-100 extra entries, depending on my mood, how much my kidlets are fighting, and the phase of the moon.
And if that wasn't awesome enough (which it is), I also talked Dragon Wrangler into doing some giveaways, too, although I think she's doing it just because October is her favorite month. So you can mosey over to her blog and get double the chances to win something in the... drum roll and reverberating echoey movie announcer voice...
Thursday, September 30, 2010
On Pitching (not baseball)
11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch by agent Rachelle Gardner
The Last Thing An Agent Wants to Hear From You on Storyfix.com
On the Craft of Writing
12 Dos and Don'ts for Introducing your Protagonist on Anne R. Allen's blog
250 Chances (or the importance of a strong opening for your book--and tips on what NOT to open with) on author Janice Hardy's blog
How do you HOOK a Reader? Understand Great Beginnings by Kristen Lamb
5 Things A Writers Always Overlooks: chaos, lag, flab, overkill and anticlimax. by Victoria Mixon
Middle Grade Vs. Young Adult on the Invincible Summer blog
5 editor’s secrets to help you write like a pro on Remarkable Communication
Conflict--Why Should We Care by Nicola Morgan
Inception's 4 Rules for Ultimate Influence by Jeff Sexton
**I put this on because I loved Inception so much. Brilliant layered storytelling! I left the theater thinking, How can I do that? Of course, the group we were with gave me that "Oh she's just doing the crazy writer thing" once I started talking about playing with multiple yet simultaneous time lines.
"Leonardo Di Caprio looked nice," one of them said.
"Oh. I didn't notice," I replied.
So there are just a few things to keep you busy for the next hour. Did I miss any good posts you came across?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
regnant - [REG-nuhnt] - adjectiveDefinition:
1. Prevalent; widespread.
2. Reigning; ruling (usually used following the noun it modifies): a queen regnant.
3. Exercising authority, rule, or influence.
She fixed them with a no-nonsense stare. "Listen up, children. I am the mother regnant here, so you have to do it because I say so!"
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wowsers! To celebrate I'm going to... to... to...
... post this celebration picture.
Rayna M. Iyer (Hi, Rayna!) is my 100th follower. *applause* If I were in India I would shower her with confetti and give her a prize.
Wait a minute... that's not such a bad idea. (Not the confetti.) Giveaways are always fun. But I can't just throw out any old giveaway. I have to plan. *rubbing hands together* I'll get it all put together and let you know about it soon.
Thanks for following my blog. :)
Monday, September 27, 2010
That makes me, like, 2 degrees of separation from fame and glory!
It's such an honor! *waving hands in front of eyes* *sniff* Really. I don't know what to say.
And no, it's not just coincidence. (Let me have my moment of delusion, okay?)
Friday, September 24, 2010
How to Write Compelling Characters, a la Jaime at Bookmom Musings.
1. Riddle them with weaknesses, flaws, and a behavior tendencies that seem to get them in trouble. As human beings, we all have weaknesses, flaws, and tendencies that we wish we could erase the minute we do them. As readers we can empathize with that because it's part of life. This will make your characters more real to your readers. And more real to you (which is important as you write them).
2. Give them at least one character strength that you admire. Maybe it's persistence. Maybe it's kindness to others who might not deserve it. Maybe it's the ability to laugh at oneself.
3. Make sure you have some plot problems that stem directly from your characters' weaknesses and strengths. Stick with me here. Sometimes our strengths get us into trouble too, and the true test of someone's mettle is if they stick to that strength even when it hurts.
4. Make your characters grow and change as a result of events in your story. Even better if it is by overcoming a particular weakness that a character gets the girl/beats the bad guy/saves the world/saves the whales/becomes the popular kid/etc.
5. Make your characters sparkle in the sun. (Kidding, kidding.)
All of this is easier said than done, but it can be done. I also suggest looking at some of your favorite characters in books with an eye towards why you found them compelling. I bet you'll see some of the things I mentioned. (Except the sparkling.)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Some Word Nerd gems:
"Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven. I <3 style="font-style: italic;">pretentious in the lyrics.
"Now or Never" by Josh Groban. Not even mentioning his divine voice, just this line should do it: The tattered thought balloons above our heads sinking in the weight of all we need to say. Sigh. (If you click on the YouTube link the song actually starts at about the two minute point.)
Several songs by Sting/The Police are wonderful, but what do you expect from a man who was an English teacher before a musician? I like "Wrapped Around Your Finger." Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis. A literary reference even! *squee*(Be kind to the video. Remember it was from the early 80s.)
Or Fortress Around Your Heart which has some great lyrics, including the word chasm. That's just a fun word to say: chasm, chasm, chasm. It's almost as fun to say as schism.
Then there's One Week by Bare Naked Ladies, which is pure fun wordy randomness. My favorite line might be I'd like a stinkin' achin' shake I like vanilla, it's the finest of the flavors Gotta see the show 'cause then you'll know The vertigo is gonna grow 'Cause it's so dangerous You'll have to sign a waiver. (Technically it's more than one line but yousayitalltogetherwithoutbreathingsothatmakesitonephraseright?)
The song 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago holds a special place in my heart because they managed to make a whole song about trying to think up a song. Oh, if only I could write a book about trying to write a book. (Forget the video, just listen to the song. They had to make some sort of story to the video or else it would be 4 minutes watching the group sit on the floor in the middle of the night. 25 or 6 to 4 is the time and I think they just plugged it in the chorus.)
I know I'll think of more songs after this post is published, but I'm always open to adding to my Word Nerd playlist. What are your favorite writer songs?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
1. The essence, nature, or distinctive peculiarity of a thing.
2. A hairsplitting distinction; a trifling point; a quibble.
3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.
I want to thank you, dear blog readers, for putting up with my quiddities and coming back to read my posts anyway.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I know most authors hate to get their bio pictures taken. A friend went through the whole sordid experience only to have her editor tell her that it looked too much like a yearbook picture.
There's the life or death decisions of what to wear, which accessories, how to do your hair, whether to leave the hobo beard or go clean shaven, do your own makeup or hire someone else to do it who will cake it on so thick you wipe it off and end up doing it yourself anyway, etc. And then there's the all-important decision of the general feel of the picture--the mood you want to evoke.
There are so many options:
Thoughtful. (Make sure to stare into the distance.)
Intense. (With a hint of I'm thinking of a hundred ways to incapacitate you.)
Other-worldly. (A good choice for paranormal authors.)
Distinctive. (With curly hair that others can't resist pulling just to watch it bounce back. Yes, I have read Ramona the Pest.)
Scary. (Which is really unfortunate if you write for children.)
Leaning against something. (Argh! Should I lean against a wall or a lamp post? I can't decide!)
With an interesting background. (I think this photo was doctored. I hope.)
Or, there's always this option.
That one sounds good to me.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
When I was young an older lady who knew my love of reading gave me about 50 Barbara Cartland books. I read them all, and to this day I get a little twitchy about ellipses in dialogue because every heroine in Barbara Cartland books talked like a half-wit. "Oh, I... don't know... about... that..."
I eat around the chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies. Along the same vein, I leave all the M&Ms in the trail mix.
I sing along with songs on the radio, often very loudly (much to my children's embarrassment).
I was on the drill team in high school and I still have my sequined outfit and pom poms.
I know all the words to the song "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice.
I switched majors four times in college: business, commercial art, dance, and physical therapy. I finally graduated with a BS in pre-physical therapy, a minor in composite dance, and enough random credits to have graduated twice.
Orlando Bloom is hawt, esp. in Pirates of the Caribbean. Just saying.
I once dressed up as a cholera victim for Halloween. We had a class presentation in my Microbiology class on Halloween and I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I was told it was quite a realistic costume.
I can't make myself burp. Various boyfriends tried to teach me, but I'm belch-challenged.
I don't like slow songs. *gag* My husband says I'm not quite natural.
My non-writer friends sometimes don't get my humor. I guess they don't find atrocious typos in marquees as funny as me.
I don't watch TV. Sometimes I go weeks without seeing a single show.
I used to play the drums.
I have an extra ankle bone. (Technically, it's a tilted navicular bone, not an extra one, but it means I have a really prominent second bump on the outside of my ankles that makes it painful to wear ice skates or high top shoes.)
Anyone else feel like sharing a random confession? I know at least some of you also know all the words to "Ice Ice Baby."
Monday, September 13, 2010
1. Swift; rapid.
1. At full gallop.
1. A rush, a gallop or stampede.
1. (used as a hunting cry when the chase is at full speed.)
I would rather sleep today, but life is coming at me full tantivy.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
“Are you lost, little human?”
A girl, maybe two and a half feet tall with dark skin and curly black hair stood a few feet away. She had bare feet and wore a short dress the color and texture of spring leaves. A flicker behind her revealed a set of translucent wings that opened and closed like a butterfly’s.
He sagged in relief. A harmless fairy; she’d probably help him.
She tilted her head and stroked the trunk of a nearby tree. Her small hands had fingers too long to look right, topped with claw-like nails. Some instinct deep in Bradley snapped into alarm-mode. The fairy watched him with a predatory intensity, like the tiger at the zoo that had always made him uneasy. One day it escaped its enclosure and mauled several people in the crowd before being shot.
He straightened as much as he could. Slowly. Cautiously. “I’m not lost.”
She curled her fingers, scraping gouges in the bark of the tree. “Yes you are.” She smiled, revealing pointed teeth. “You’re in the forest.”
She leapt at him, graceful and lightning fast.
Bradley scrabbled in his pocket. Found the charm and yanked it out.
The fairy stopped just beyond the reach of his outstretched arm. The charm swung back and forth, just spelled leaves and acorns in a vial dangling from a silver chain, looking too small to offer much protection.
She fluttered back and forth in the air, like an animal pacing its cage, her wild eyes fixed on him. He kept the charm between them, holding her back. She tried several times to get to him, but an unseen force stopped her every time. Bradley silently sent a quick prayer of gratitude to the universe, Aunt Claudia, and the impulse that made him grab the charm at the last second.
The fairy hissed. Her face looked gaunter than it should, with sunken cheeks and protruding cheekbones. Almost skeletal. They stared at each other for long moments. He couldn’t move, and she couldn’t reach him. His arm trembled.
Bradley started when she laughed. It wasn’t the uplifting, tinkling laugh of a normal, sane fairy. “That bauble will only protect you so far,” she said. She waved a hand. The branches around his leg bent, making the hole wide enough to pull his leg out. The fairy circled him, then flitted away through the trees and out of sight.
Bradley wrenched his leg out of the trap and gingerly put weight on his aching ankle. It didn’t buckle, thank goodness.
“This could be quite entertaining.” The fairy’s voice seemed to come from every direction.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Here are the lyrics, interrupted by my thoughts (in red).
by One Republic
(You can listen to it on YouTube here.)
I was writing
Thinking with my long hand
Put pen to paper
Everything was sinking
**At this point I'm hooked. I think better when I write, as the long letters I composed during rough spots in relationships throughout my life will attest. And when I hit that sweet spot and really get going in my writing, it is a lot like sinking and getting lost in the words.**
Then start to wonder
How you gonna handle me
When I'm under
Swimming in the darkest sea
**Sad as it is, my writing imaginary life bleeds over into my real life. I can be grumpy when characters won't work with me. I can be elated and on top of the world when a scene or chapter comes together in a dazzling way. So when I'm swimming in the sea of my own world, those around me have to "handle" me a bit.**
Everybody wants you to make it
Its all yours
Everybody wants you to take it
Its all yours
Everybody wants you to make it
Its all yours
Everybody wants you to T-t-t-take it
**I think the writing community is one of the most selfless, giving group of people I know. You can't turn around without tripping over dozens of authors/writers/agents/editors who sincerely want you to succeed and spend energy sharing information to help you do it. All of us book lovers want more great books. If you've got a great book in you and the drive, determination, and bull-headed persistence it takes, I want you to make it. When I listen to this I flip it and and think that it's all mine, if I can put in the work to take it.**
Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love
Like it was made for you
Like it was made for you...
**One of the reasons I keep writing is so that I can see the light in the face of someone who reads my books and has connected with something in them. It's an emotional connection and bond that's almost like a spark of love, because I have given a bit of myself to the book, and a reader has accepted it and enjoyed it. I hold that motivation in front of myself, like a carrot, to keep going when it gets difficult. It's a motivation made for me.**
Tell me something
Something that can move me
Don't tell me lies
Or I swear you're gonna lose me
**I have to move my readers, and be genuine. If it's fake or contrived then I will lose them. This also applies to me as a reader.**
Begin like an ocean
Jealous of the fish it feeds
Swimming inside of me
**I'm afraid I don't have anything profound for this part.**
Everybody wants you to make it
Its all yours
Everybody wants to take it
Its all yours
Everybody wants you to make it
Its all yours
Everybody wants you to T-t-t-take it
[Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love
Can you feel all the love]
Like it was made for you
It was made for you
Like it was made for you
It was made for you
Can you feel
Can you feel
Can you feeeel
**Ultimately writing is about feeling. Intellectual writing can never touch people like things that make them feel, because emotion is such a vital part of the human existence. I have a tendency to try and divorce myself from my feelings, so I have to make a conscious effort to not push it away, and just feel. So the words "Can you feel" has special significance for me.**
Do you have songs that inspire you?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I'm talking about perishable skills. You've heard the phrase Use It or Lose It? Perishable skills are ones that you lose if you don't use them.
Reading is not a perishable skill, but I contend that thinking is. (Not the oh, look, that cloud looks like a rhinoceros thinking, but problem solving, analytical thinking. Just try to do advanced algebra after not doing it for several years, even if you used to be a whiz at it. Go ahead, try it.)
Riding a bike is not a perishable skill. Running, on the other hand, is. If I take time off from running, then I have to spend several days playing catch up to even feel like I'm back to where I started. Having experienced this phenomenon several times, I now make sure to run at least a little every week.
Writing most definitely is a perishable skill. The more you write, the more you feel like writing. And when you take a break from it, the harder it is to start up again. Some of the things I learned from participating in National Novel Writing Month last year (besides the fact that yes, I can produce a shocking number of words that are mostly crap) is that 1) I could write consistently, day in and day out, 2) I discovered my best output per day (I was mostly coherent to a certain number of pages, but if I had to go beyond that you could kiss decent writing goodbye), and 3) when I wrote consistently it was easier to write consistently.
So mind your perishables, because it's easier to maintain your groove/habit than to get it back.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some advanced algebra.
Monday, September 6, 2010
1. To bask or warm in the sunshine or before a fire.
2. (Of wood) to season by exposure to heat.
I'm trying to beek as much as I can before fall.
Note: That sentence is just funny! And yes, it's just a coincidence that beek rhymes with geek.
Friday, September 3, 2010
It took me a week to get my copy and by then it felt like everyone else had already read it, including my 12 yr. old who stole it out of my hands and devoured the whole thing while I did things that couldn't be put off like making dinner, picking up children from school, etc. I threatened him with the removal of all he held dear if he uttered a single spoiler.
I'm happy to announce that I've finished it now (Yea!) and recommend it. But only if you read Hunger Games and Catching Fire first, or else you'll be soo lost. I might even review Mockingjay, but not today. Today I'm going to share another good book.
Any girl who loved Anne of Green Gables and/or Pride and Prejudice will feel at home with Scones and Sensibility by Lindsey Eland.
It's a middle grade book (grades 5-7) but I loved it. (No need to comment on what that says about my maturity.) I went through an Anne of Green Gables phase (though not to this degree) and loved meeting the younger me through the pages of the story.
Growing up in a cozy seaside community above her family’s bakery, 12-year-old Polly has always been a romantic. After she reads Pride and Prejudice, though, her yen for successful love stories spills over into daily life, and she determines to spend her summer matchmaking among the locals. Of course, everything goes horribly awry, and Polly is forced to confront the impact of her meddling: “This isn’t your dumb Green Gables or England or whatever. This is real life!” says her furious best friend. To better emulate her favorite book’s “enchanting heroine,” Polly narrates in a mannered, archaic voice (“I vow to call you on the morrow!”) that may try some readers’ patience but provides comedic moments in her mixed metaphors and the curt responses she receives: “Put a cork in it,” growls her sister. The plot is as light as pastry filling, but young romantics may recognize themselves in Polly and in her puzzlement over the way love and attraction happen in the twenty-first century, beyond the pages of books.
When I saw Scones and Sensibility at my library I scooped it up, not because of my love of Jane Austen (I'm a "meh" Austen fan) but because I had read in other blogs about the great character voice. And sure enough, it lived up to the hype. You can't help but love Polly, and she is most definitely a unique character.
I had a blast reading this book. Unfortunately I can't share it with my sons, because it's not really up their alley. They wouldn't be able to get past the pink cover. But when my daughter gets older, I'll be happy to get it for her.
Monday, August 30, 2010
I wonder if Lady Gaga is visually impaired or if she just likes nitid clothes, makeup, eyelashes, headgear, footwear, and accessories--all at the same time.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Unfortunately, the trick with getting in on the next big thing is that you have to be in on it before it actually becomes the next big thing. Enter the past time of trend predicting. I've seen several comments to the effect that "Zombies are the next vampires," which may be true, but that means it's too late to ride the zombie wave. Unless you have a smoking idea. (See idea #2)
I've decided to throw my own
1. Were Jack Rabbit - A fresh take on the ever popular were-legends. A lovable guy with protruding ears that transforms into a crazed desert animal with a thirst for blood. Or carrots.
Michael Phelps would be a shoe-in for the movie. He has the ears and the speed. Although I'm not sure how much jack rabbits like water...
2. Zombie Pirhanas. A family on the verge of collapse takes an extreme bonding vacation to the Amazon Basin. The inherent conflict of this idea almost takes my breath away. So easy!
And the movie from the novel can always be in 3D.
3. Hindu Mythology. The Greek gods are so the last big thing. Imagine picking up a book with the title Aarushi and the God of Many Arms. Aarushi could team up with a holy cow to save the world.
4. Ghost Hunters. You've got supernatural and cool gadgets in one place. Like petticoats and blue eyeshadow, it's about time for Ghostbusters to come back in style, right?
5. Cell Phone Horror. Something like "Tron" where people get sucked into an alternate dimension through accidentally texting a secret code. I bet Dean Koontz is already working on this one as we speak.
I hope you all enjoyed this sneak peek into the future and The Next Big Thing. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments. Then when it happens you'll get all the credit and glory.