Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recent Reads: Fragments

Book: Fragments by Jeffry Johnston
Book Count: 4

Chase is a junior in high school and he wakes up each morning not able to completely remember it. The accident that took the lives of four of his friends. He was the sole survivor. Him and the drunk driver who hit them.

Everyone is on edge around Chase. His parents continually ask how he is, though they detach themselves from his answer. The people at school are overly nice to him, but he just wants to be treated normally.

When the memory flashes from the accident lead to him recalling other memories. Darker memories, Chase begins to panic, because he would rather remember the horrible night of the accident than the ugly past he thought he'd moved on from. But for him to move on, he has to face the truth. About what happened and just how involved he really was.

The overall story was compelling and unexpected. I didn't know where it was leading, but I wanted to find out. My only issue: it took me a while to get a handle on the overall voice of the narrator. As I read, the way the character spoke and thought, it didn't seem to be like a normal 16-17 year old boy. It seemed too mature in some places, but too childlike in others. It isn't until the story came to a close and I'd put the book down, letting the tale resonate in my mind for a while that I understood the character better. And maybe that was the point here. It wasn't about "getting it" as soon as I was done reading. It was about looking at the bigger picture and finding out that what you see isn't always what you get, and what you get isn't always what you want.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Flying with My Muse

Long time no real post. *sighs*

Traveling for work is not nearly as glamorous as it is on TV, although I was upgraded roundtrip on my flights last week. SWEET!!
On my flight out to Jersey this week? It was like a 35,000 feet crash back to reality: Coach. Middle seat. Uh, yeah. I will forever appreciate every single upgrade I ever get from now on. FOREVER. I couldn't even bust out the pen and notebook to write in coach. It was that cramped. I'm only 5'1" tall and my knees were touching the back of the seat in front of me! And then the person reclined her seat! Uh, Hello, nice to meet you.

Okay, enough about that. On to my WiP...

So on the upgraded flights I was able to get quite a bit of writing done. 42 pages in my notebook to be exact. I've been trying to write whenever I get a chance, but being on the road has made it so that when I was home over the weekend, I just wanted to hang out with the family. Reasonable, I think. Gotta be realistic about the priorities. Plus, we didn't have the internet (we just switched providers) and so I already knew I was going to be behind on my forum reading and #RSthrowdown updates, so I figured I'd just wait until I wasn't taking anymore time from the kiddies.

Back to my 42 pages. I haven't typed them in yet, so no idea how many words that may be. And then on the flip side, when I was able to get some catching up done in the hotel yesterday, I edited instead of wrote. My brain was a little fried. A bit like Tuesday after a whole day of training. But I did get something writing-worthwhile out of the training. The last segment of Tuesday's session was all around the 2-minute pitch. Or the elevator speech. So something I can definitely apply to the whole query/pitch etc. thing on the writing side. See, I knew there was a reason I NEEDED to come to this training. *winks*
Okay, for now, that's it. Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent."

-Marilyn vos Savant

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Done Manifesto

I don't remember where I saw this first so unfortunately I'm not able to provide credit where credit is due, but I have loved it since I read it. It is currently my desktop background and though it makes it hard to find my icons sometimes, it keeps me realistic. Here are my two favorite parts of this whole thing:



What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Educator Night - 7 YA Authors @ B & N

For any teachers/writers/readers in the Salt Lake area:

7 local YA Authors will be at the Barnes & Noble at Jordan Landing (about 7800 South Bangerter Hwy) on Thursday, April 23, 7:00 pm.

They are doing book signings and having a panel on writing.

The participating authors are: Sara Zarr, Randall Wright, A.E. Cannon, Mette Harrison, Emily Wing Smith, Jessica George and Shannon Hale.

Here's the link to the event details:

If anyone's able to make it, let me know how it is. Unfortunately for me, I will be missing yet another YA author event due to travel for work. (The last one was Laurie Halse Anderson @ King's English in Salt Lake while I was in Puerto Rico. :( ... )

Work in Progress Wednesday: What Happened?!?

New words (since last update post): 0
Chapters edited (since last update post): 1

The other day I said I needed to change my #RSthrowdown goals for the week. Well, I wasn't kidding. Since then, I've written virtually no new words on my WiP and have been diligently editing away on the completed ms: JM. In fact, I've been so diligently revising/editing said completed ms that it appears I may have another couple rounds of editing to do once I really tell myself that I can't ADD anymore. Not one more sentence. Or line. Or word. When I thought JM was complete, it came in just barely over 89K words. And now? In the midst of revisions/editing round 3? Last night I was barely able to shave it down to a good even 90K. What?! How did this happen? I keep asking myself the same the question.

I think the new stuff is good. Better than what was (or clearly was not) there before. I thought I was getting close to being done. Ha! Yeah. Maybe next week.

Also, I only got the 1 chapter edited last night because I wanted to spend some time with the fam because I'll be traveling with work for the next couple of weeks and so fam time will be limited to the weekends I'm home. But I wanted to share a great moment with our 3-yo (P) @ the grocery store:

P: Can we get popsicles?
Me: If you want. But we're going to the bookstore. [said popsicles would melt with the 75 degree weather we've been have in SLC]
P: But we don't have popsicles at home.
Me: You can pick. Do you want to get popsicles and go straight home or do you want to go to the bookstore?
P: *finger pressed to lips* Hmmm. I want to go to the bookstore. We can just get popsicles next time.
Me: You are so my kid.

I did pick up a couple books at the bookstore (P wanted the uber-expensive version of The Hungry Caterpillar and nothing else, so she had to settle for a promise of taking her to get her her very own library card.).
I've heard some great things about - both YA fantasy. I'm primarily read YA contemporary fiction, but lately I've really been trying to stay openminded about the "other worlds" that are other genres. We'll see how it goes and I'll definitely give my thoughts on here. Stay tuned!
So while I'm on the road, blog posts will probably be even more sporadic than they already are - though I have been trying to be consistent a couple days a week. I'm trying to get things together so I can just get some posts scheduled, but not sure if I'll have enough time. I'll be back in the swing of things mid-May. With all the flights, maybe I'll get some good writing done.

Okay all, have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Change of Plans

New words (since last update post): 0
Chapters edited (since last update post): 11

I'm falling a bit behind on the blog. Must come from having spent this past weekend stretched a bit too thin!

Friday night worked with HsJ Entertainment to put on a charity even too benefit the Lupus Foundation. Thanks to everyone who came out to support and make the event a success!

Saturday we had a family wedding. Traditional Laotion weddings begin early in the morning with the ceremony at the bride's home. In the evening there is a reception that runs until super late. So 2 nights in a row of not getting home until 2 AM. Seriously, I'm too old for this.

Sunday was a catch up day. On sleep mostly. I did get in a good chunk of editing and also got some reading in too. Keep an eye out for some new Recent Reads posts!

This made me think about my priorities a bit more and at least for the week, I revamped my #RSthrowdown goal. I am focusing on the editing side of things for JM. I've received a lot of good input from critiques and as it typically is, when you're the writer, you get so close with your projects, you can't really see what needs to be fixed. Luckily, I've had a few people who've given me the proverbial slap on the back of the head and brought me to my senses. So I'm hoping as I work through this round of revisions, JM will get the love it needs and end up in a better place. Hopefully by next week things will have calmed down enough and my brain will be back to fully functional and I can make up for lost time on the writing side. I feel like I'm neglecting 4LW.

Well, have a great day, all. See you on the next page.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn't work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach."

-Roger von Oech

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WiP Wednesday

Okay, I’m changing up Wednesdays.

From Wonderings to WIP. Why, you ask? Well, firstly, because I can ;-) and secondly, because I wonder all the time. Forcing myself to keep them to Wednesdays only is working to my detriment, so I will be jumping on the WIP bandwagon. I’ll admit it.

As I did with Twilight and Harry Potter, I’m not above jumping on the bandwagon when I see fit.

So, WIP. . . well, for starters, here’s my current #RSthrowdown update:

New words: 685 (before I fell asleep with my laptop on my lap.)
Chapters edited: 1 ½

As I’ve said before, I guess I don’t write like a lot of others out there. I’ve tried to go chronologically, but it turns out it looks more like a very rough “strawman” outline. So now, I just write what comes to me and then I plug it in where it looks like it should go. (Cut & Paste is totally my friend here.)

Clearly, I have a long ways to go on the editing side, but sometimes things come to me later in the game. Rarely do I start projects with what Chapter 1 ends up being. In fact, in my last 3 projects, I believe Chapter 1 was one of the last, if not the actual last chapter I wrote.

So as I’ve been editing the later chapters in JM and writing new stuff for 4LW I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the first chapters of each. JM’s first chapter has recently undergone major revisions and it was the actual last thing I wrote for that project. I’m still getting some great feedback on it.

With 4LW it’s been a little more difficult, as the structure and style it is written in is very different from what I’ve done in the past. So we’ll see what becomes of this.

Well, happy day to everyone (especially those in rainy/snowy Utah dealing with the insane weather).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Keeping Up - Just Barely

Weekend word count update: (Fri-Sun): 4610
Weekend Chapters edited: 4

In the interest of health, well-being and hanging out with my kiddies, I took an extra vacay day from the blog. That and I had so many technical difficulties yesterday, I was nervous to try anything more fancy than checking email and writing.

But I was productive. I swear. For a holiday weekend, it was crazy busy and I was still able to keep up with the #RSthrowdown and #wordathon, but I think all the late nights caught up to me Monday and I didn’t get hardly anything done on the 2 projects I’ve been focused on. (The rain outside is really just reminding me of how guilty I feel for already missing my goals and we’re not even an entire week into #RSthrowdown yet!)

Mostly, I write at night. Really late at night. So late sometimes, some would consider it early morning. My husband does. So I’m shifting my daily goal (500 words & 1 chapter edited) to look at it from the 24-hour perspective instead of a Monday-Tuesday-etc. time frame. We’ll see how it goes.

This forum has really helped me stay motivated and I'm thankful to ElanaJ for organizing and for everyone in the group for being so positive and supportive!

And finally, there were a few writing contests publicized throughout the past week. I’m sure you’re aware of all of them, but just as a refresher here are some links:

Miss Snark’s First Victim: Secret Agent (now closed – go critique when the postings go up!)

QueryTracker: One-Line Hook (now closed, I believe)

The Knight Agency: Book In A Nutshell (closes April 20)

Good luck to anyone who entered. Good luck to all my peeps in #RSthrowdown with your goals! I figure, I still have until 10 PM tonight to make my Monday night goal – lol!

See you on the next page!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Fave Shots

So a while back I blogged about going with my husband (S) to help out on a photo session for some bridals he was doing for my cousin. It was his first time out doing wedding stuff and I just wanted to show a couple of the shots he did. The pictures turned out pretty good considering this was his first experience doing bridals.

R and M were really good sports about trying different things and they also had some great ideas for shots too. Their two girls are super cute and they were really cooperative. I can't get all the pics up on here, but here are a couple of my faves!

Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Current WIP (FLW) Wordcount: 26,097 - Goal: 60,000

Yesterday on her blog ElanaJ issued a Writer's Throwdown for anyone interested to commit to a writing goal. I threw my hat in right away. I have heard other writers say they have goals of 1,000 words a day or the like, but I had never committed myself to this. This is where the guilt came from. Because I didn't have a goal to be accountable for and anyone who may check in to help keep me motivated, sometimes I would go days and days without writing anything new only for this to culminate in a week of sleepless nights and several thousands of pent up words spewing forth. For some people, maybe this is still a good route to go. For me, it didn't used to be a big deal. But now, with two small children who do not understand the concept of "sleeping in" this is not really a great option anymore.

So the goals I've committed to?
500 new words/day for the next 30 days. This will make 15,000 new words in the next 30 days.
Also, a secondary goal is relating to my completed ms (JM) which is in revision stages. This is to edit 1 chapter a day, with 26 chapters, it will be pacing right along with the WIP project.

So here I go.

Good luck to anyone else joining the Throwdown!

Recent Read: Girl Overboard

Book: Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley
Current Book Count: 3

I picked this book up several times. Its been out for a while. It actually just came out in paperback this past January, but still, it took until now for me to make the commitment of reading it. What got me? I'm a snowboarder too. Not hardcore or anything, I'm generally just good with speeding down the mountain, feeling the wind brush my cheeks, the snow beneath my board. There's something exhilirating in it, something that can almost make you feel like a superhero or superhuman, flying down the mountain. It's freeing and the air is crisp, clear and clean all around you. And it doesn't matter who you are or what happened last night or what you have to get done tomorrow. It's just you and the mountain.

You don't have to worry about fitting in, you don't really have to worry about anything (except maybe making it to the bottom to get home at the end of the day). I got that. That was one part in Girl Overboard I completely got. The other part, well, you can only fit in if you let yourself. If you say you fit in, you will. So long as you think of yourself as an outsider, everyone else will too and you'll never truly belong until you decide you do.

Syrah Cheng is the cliche "girl who has everything." Her father's a billionaire and she has everything she wants. But what she wants is to just fit in as she is. She just doesn't know it yet. She's the black sheep of the family; her half-siblings are almost old enough to be her parents and treat her as though she was the spoiled, bratty child they never wanted in their lives. She doesn't see much of her parents aside from their appearances on magazine covers. Her friends are scarce, as most people are just interested in her for her family's money, and the one place she's always been able to be herself has been on the mountain.

After a snowboarding accident keeps her off the mountain, some recoup time forces her to re-evaluate what she has, and who she has, in her life. When she finds out her friend's sister is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, she realizes that even if there are people out there who would use her for her family's assets, she could use those assets for the power of good.

For me, Girl Overboard was a story about making your place, even if you feel like you don't belong. And even then, if you have the power to do something in this world, make yourself a superhero, catch some air and do something good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Wondering

Today's thoughts? All about critiques.

I had an epiphany yesterday. It stemmed from a critique I received.

Now, many people will say that close friends (and family) will not usually give you full-out honest feedback. Uh-uh. Not J. She is very good with the red pen. In addition to that, she usually gives me thorough and thoughtful suggestions overall. So now she has me going in for round umpteenth of revisions on my current wip (henceforth known as JM). Thanks for the feedback, J!

So this leads into the other thing I've been thinking about: Well, I feel a bit new to this whole 'net writer's universe and when I initially started blogging (June 2008), I wasn't very good at it. I would forget. I got too wrapped up in my writing and I guess that's a good thing, but I didn't realize the universe that was out there. Now that I've succumbed to this alternate universe, though I still find it completely overwhelming with information, I have found some great advice from other writers, published and not, agents and publishers.

My wondering, you ask? Critique groups are a close knit bunch and finding one to participate in can be tough. From some of my reaching out, I've found that most groups have been together for a while and are pretty swamped with their own projects as well as the critiques of others already in the group. Being a newbie, I understand their hesitancy at taking on one more person in the group, especially with not much knowledge of said writer's abilities, etc.

So now I ask you, what kind of writing groups do you participate in? What are the best ways to find crit groups? Any suggestions for a newbie are welcome!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Upcoming Events: Fundraiser for Lupus Foundation of America

For anyone in the Salt Lake Area or who will be on
Friday, April 17.
A fundraiser for the
Lupus Foundation of America,
sponsored by
HsJ Entertainment.
**don't get me started on that whole private club business ...

Early No More

Today, in an effort to add efficiency and cross extra things off my to do list, I made it a point to show up to work early. What happens? My laptop won't work in the docking station. We fix that. Then what? My mouse and keyboard won't link up.

Now even though it sounds like I'm totally whining, I'm not. I swear. I'm just making the observation that I should not attempt to come in early to do more as it always works out that I end up doing less.

Moving on. Today's going to be mucho random. There are just a few things on my mind.

Firstly, Elizabeth Scott, author of Bloom, Perfect You, and Something, Maybe is having a contest on her blog to get a a couple ARCs and several other YA books. I've enjoyed Elizabeth Scott's books and am making sure I'm in on this contest!

Secondly, the hubby and I watched parts of the NCAA b-ball champs last night. MSU v. UNC. Mind you, I'm not a huge sports fan, so it may not seem like much, but throughout the game I was bored. The point difference was too significant to warrant getting really into it. I like the clinchers, the games where you don't know who's going to win until the very last seconds and even then it isn't clear who is going to take it. (Like the Kansas game last year.) But nonetheless, Congrats to the Tarheels! Great job!
Thirdly, Twitter. I know, its just another one of those websites, but I really love Twitter. I accepted it when people mocked me for joining another site. I smiled and kept my "I told you so's" to myself (well mostly) when they all jumped on the bandwagon with me. And I moseyed along when I would catch the big white whale telling me Twitter was overcapacity. I was starry-eyed and in new website love. Then yesterday. The Twitter-monster (relation of the Dryer-sock-eating monster) began to eat my tweets. Yes, that's right. My 140-character, carefully crafted thoughts were disappearing! My friend advised we should contact the Twitter-monster and discuss if we needed to pay a Twansom for the return of our tweets, but the tweets were gone. Alas, *sigh* we were only left with the memories. The shiny, sparkle of my Twitter love is a bit faded now, but today will be a better day. As with all passions, you must take the good with the bad and work through it.

So with that said, tally-ho and away we go. Off into the sunshine. Because, yes, we have sunshine and a 70 degree high today. Rain and snow tomorrow, but let's not borrow future bother!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recent Read: Wintergirls

Book: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Current Book Count: 2

This was a pickup based on some reviews from others on Goodreads and a couple other author blogs I follow. It had me curious. The issue of eating disorders comes up now and again, usually when a celebrity or some sort of celebutante lands themselves in some sort of rehab, but Wintergirls came out as the news has been eerily quiet on the issue.

The story of Lia, a girl who had a deal with her best friend Cassie about who would be the skinniest. After Cassie's death, Lia's still trying to win the deal. Having been in treatment for anorexia twice before, Lia knows the tricks to beating the scale. She's figured out most of the ways to beat the system. As Cassie's ghost haunts her, egging her on the deadly path to become the skinniest, it's clear that Lia isn't interested in another stint in treatment, she just wants to be the skinniest.

Weight and self-image are such big issues in American society, it's difficult for anyone, male or female, young or old, to truly escape it. Isn't that why people get Botox injections? A nip here, a tuck there? Aren't there so many pills, diets, workout regiments and special cleansing treatments out there purely to assist people in improving their images, internal or external?

As with Lia, giving in sometimes becomes easier. Then it just becomes routine and who you are. Eventually it starts to wear on all those around you, your friends and family, and everyone suddenly wants to help. When they weren't interested before. But you can only be helped if you're ready.

Wintergirls is a story about Lia and her battle with anorexia. It is also a story about a family’s journey to recovery and finding out that when something like anorexia is waging a battle against one person, it will take the whole family to win the war.
For more information on eating disorders a couple websites to visit:

Friday, April 3, 2009

2 Cents: QueryFail/AgentFail

I got back from Puerto Rico late last night/early this morning. The flight in from Atlanta was delayed due to thunderstorms in Jacksonville. Correlation? Our pilots were flying the plane coming from Jacksonville. What was supposed to be a 15 minute delay turned into 45 minutes . . . and sometime just before 2 A.M. MST I finally walked into the house.

Puerto Rico was great, but exhausting. Work trips always are. They aren't site-seeing trips, so the most I saw of the beach was what was out my hotel room window, or through the back doors of the lobby as I was hurrying to the car each morning. If I go back, I'll have to plan an extra day. On a separate note, on the last night there, there was some weird bug in my room, buzzing and itching woke me up and that was what led to my trip to the Insta-care this morning. Diagnosis? I was allergic. To something. Puerto Rico? I hope not. The food (YUM!)? I hope not. The bug? Yeah, probably. Now I'm on a couple meds for it and the doc said it would get worse before it got better. Yay, because I look super cute with hives and a big red nose.

On the flip side, as I said, I did finish a couple books on the flight down there. I don't like to give my opinions until I've read a book through twice, so I'm working on my re-readings now and a Recent Read update will be coming soon.

In un-Puerto Rico and my own novel reading news . . . #queryfail and #agentfail are everywhere. My thoughts? #queryfail on Twitter back a few weeks ago was snarky, constructive and some-what instructional "what not to do" comments. The feedback that was posted on #agentfail based on Jessica Faust's post on the BookEnds blog didn't seem so much along those lines. I thought they weren't witty or snarky comments told in 140 characters including hashtag; most of the comments posted in response to Jessica's blog came across as outright mean and I don't think that has ever been anyone's intent, on either side. There is just frustration on both sides and no clear way to mitigate that. What's the cliche? You can't please all the people all the time? It's just the way life goes. You're going to get frustrated, you're going to get upset, you're going to throw things and need to vent. You can do this without being mean.

When it comes down to it, I will follow the next installment of #queryfail --> Query Fail 2: Queries Never Die not because agents are being snarky or mean, but because I want to make sure I don't do what I shouldn't. It isn't hard to follow instruction. Count this as constructive criticism and move on with your day. As a writer, if you took all critique to heart, why on Earth would you ever want to be published? It would just be a daily heartbreak for you and personally, I don't think that would lead to a very fulfilling life.

Just my 2 cents on the matter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday Wondering

Right now I’m lying across the bed in my hotel room in San Juan, Puerto Rico listening to the sounds of the distant highway traffic mingle with the Atlantic Ocean as it slaps up against the rocky shore below my balcony. Current temperature outside? 78 degrees F. Current temperature inside? 78 degrees F. Just the way I like it.

Moving on . . . I started thinking about my wondering for this week days ago. Just fleeting thoughts. I should have written them down. The moment I sat down in front of the computer I was at a loss. What was I wondering?

I closed my eyes and the first thing that came to mind? Frogs. The tiny little poisonous dart kind that leap around in the jungle? Yeah, those ones. What the . . . I don’t know where that thought came from either. What was this followed by? The weather (as always), books (keep an eye out for more Recent Reads), the fam (missing S & the kiddies), and then, when I closed my eyes again to try to come up with something else, there was a lull in the traffic noise filled by the sound of waves crashing below and I had an epiphanous (is that a word?) moment.

Inspiration is a fickle thing, coming when it wants, leaving when it feels like it. I always wonder how I can catch a little ray of it and keep it in my back pocket for day when the only thing that comes to me are thoughts of poisonous dart frogs.

When I started writing again I still remember the moment. The raw emotion I felt that I had to get something down on paper. Within a few days, I had more than hundred pages typed out. A few weeks after that, another hundred pages. In 6 months I had written more than I had in the previous 10 years.

All it took was one moment. Hearing the right thing. The right time. Feeling it. Knowing it.

A few things that inspire me?
1) The fam
2) Music—a little bit of every genre
3) The ocean
4) That singular moment of a quiet deep breath when no one else is around
5) A perfect tall half-caf mocha latte with a shot of vanilla and whip cream (mmmmm . . .)
Oh, yeah . . .

6) And poisonous dart frogs. Especially the red ones.

What about you?