Sunday, May 31, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly."
--Julie Andrews

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mirror Mirror, Part, er, 1.5

Here we are on a lovely lovely Friday and here are the answers to the character descrips I put up on Wednesday.

#1 - I had never been one to covet, but I looked up at her now and suddenly wished I was pretty too. Everyone always told me I looked just like my mother. We had the same straight, dark hair, on my mother it was a compliment to her olive complexion; it made my never-tanned skin look nearly transluscent. My dark eyes only emphasized just how pale I was. (pg. 13) == Complicated by me

#2 - I look into the medicine cabinet mirror and . . . turn from one side to the other, attempting to evaluate my . . . face objectively . . . My nose is now small and delicate, almost perfect . . . sculpted cheeks of Pocahontas . . . my lips, they look . . . fuller or plumper or something. (pg. 70-71) == The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam (1 of 2)

#3 - I should be tan, sporty, blond--a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps--all the things that go with living in the valley of the sun. Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I was always slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete; . . . I looked at my face in the mirror as I brushed through my tangled damp hair. (pg. 10) == Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

#4 - She gives her straight dirty-blond hair a lesson with a wet comb . . . (pg. 68) == Wake by Lisa McMann

#5 - . . . (think bushy-eyebrowed president of some country you've never heard of). But although my heritage may explain m y stature, thick dark hair, and olive complexion, it's not responsible for my oversized hooked nose, my nonexistent cheekbones, my oversized chin, and last, but definitely not least, my buck teeth. (pg. 3) == The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam (2 of 2)

#6 - . . . all I've done with my short black hair is run my fingers through it. I know I look "undone," but I don't care. (pg. 50) == 4 Letter Word by yours truly ;)

#7 - . . . sun is behind me, melting my sheet of dyed black hair to my scalp. I knew my whole going-Goth decision was going to turn around and bite me . . . (pg. 2) == Grace by - yes, me again

#8 - Out the corner of my eye I could see the ends of my straight, black hair. Flat, lifeless. I glanced back at my cousin and wished I was tall, graceful and had that stop-traffic kind of beauty. Instead, I'm just like every other Asian girl out there: long black hair, brown eyes, and completely ordinary. (pg. 2) == Just Maybe by, well, yeah, me last one though

#9 - . . . so vain about my long blond hair I wouldn't dream of scraping it back into a ponytail and hiding beneath a big hooded sweatshirt. (pg. 3) == Evermore by Alyson Noel

#10 - . . . I felt her hand move down the back of my head, smoothing my red hair, which we did have in common, alther hers was now streaked with an early gray. We also shared our pale skin--the redhead curse or gift . . . as well as our tall, wiry frames. (pg. 11) == Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I've truly decided that in all this, so long as I know what my characters look like, that's all that matters. At least in draft 1. We'll work through the rest of it later.

Okay, I know that's sort of a crappy way to close out the week, I'm just running a little low on the inspiration and thought provoking antics as we had a daycare crisis this morning and I've been working this very very very short post for the last 7 hours. That's what you get with a 12 month old who doesn't want to sleep an almost 4 year old who thinks she's a big kid: 2 very excitable assistants and not a whole lotta work done.

I'll have more next week!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recent Reads: City of Bones

Book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA Fantasy
Book Count: 10
Uh, okay, hi. Playing Recent Reads catch up again, so you'll be seeing lots of postings in the next few days.
What's not to like about the cover of this? It was one of those books that I just kept gravitating toward, but was hesitant to pick up. You'll notice my recent swerve into reading lots of YA Fantasy/Paranormal, so when it came down to it, I caved to my inner judge-a-book-by-its-cover self and picked this up. Man, oh man, that was one of the best book buying decisions I EVER made!
City of Bones is Book 1 in The Mortal Instruments trilogy (imagine my excitement that ALL 3 of the books were out and I wouldn't have to sit around anxiously awaiting the next one). Clary Fray is at a nightclub with her best friend and she sees something bad going down. While her friend heads off to get security, she follows the would-be criminals and ends up witnessing a murder by three teenagers covered in tattoos. But when her best friend returns, security in tow, they find her in a back room alone. Except she's not. She just seems to be the only one who can see the teenagers.
When her mother is kidnapped, Clary ends up turning to the teenagers for help. The teenagers are actually Shadowhunters, humans who hunt/kill demons, and the lead Clary into the middle of an invisible world, one she never knew existed before. Faeries, werewolves, vampires and warlocks: they are all real and not just children's stories. It's discovered that the man who took her mother is after The Mortal Cup, a powerful Shadowhunter relic and to save her mother, Clary has to find it.
I'm really not doing the full synopsis of this book justice, but for those who love Fantasy/Paranormal/Urban Steampunk - whatev, and not that I'm an expert on any of those genres, but I thought this was a MUST read. And a MUST even for those who maybe wouldn't normally read those genres as well. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Referencing my post regarding pictures that make me think of my characters and the stories of their lives, I thought I'd toss this one in there too.

As a writer, when characters show up in my head, I know what they look like. I know how tall they are, the color of their hair, eyes, skin. I know how they walk, the way their faces squinch up when they feel certain emotions, the curve of their lips, the arch of their eyebrows.

So how and when do you convey these things to the reader?

Agent blogs abound advise against the typical "she looked in the mirror" or "he caught his reflection in the darkened window" scenarios. They are common and predictable.

My struggle right now is finding the best way to describe what the main character/narrator looks like, because most descriptions in books are around who they are looking at and interacting with. (Twilight and the beautiful Edward, anyone?)

Any partialities to getting the whole description over with in a few sentences, clumped into a paragraph, or do you weave the characteristics through the story? I've tried both techniques and always struggle a bit with, the is it enough, is it too much issues. Something I'm currently going through with 2 of my 3 wips right now.

Below I have a few examples from various published works as well as a few of my own. I've also included page numbers so you know how far into the story you are before you, as the reader, "knows" what a character looks like.

Take a look and see if you can figure out which ones I've written and which ones are published works. I'll put up the answers on Friday with some more thoughts on this whole, figuring out what characters look like, thing.

Unfortunately no prize for this game, well, except that overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you guess correctly! ;)

#1 - I had never been one to covet, but I looked up at her now and suddenly wished I was pretty too. Everyone always told me I looked just like my mother. We had the same straight, dark hair, on my mother it was a compliment to her olive complexion; it made my never-tanned skin look nearly transluscent. My dark eyes only emphasized just how pale I was. (pg. 13)

#2 - I look into the medicine cabinet mirror and . . . turn from one side to the other, attempting to evaluate my . . . face objectively . . . My nose is now small and delicate, almost perfect . . . sculpted cheeks of Pocahontas . . . my lips, they look . . . fuller or plumper or something. (pg. 70-71)

#3 - I should be tan, sporty, blond--a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps--all the things that go with living in the valley of the sun.
Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I was always slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete; . . . I looked at my face in the mirror as I brushed through my tangled damp hair. (pg. 10)

#4 - She gives her straight dirty-blond hair a lesson with a wet comb . . . (pg. 68)

#5 - . . . (think bushy-eyebrowed president of some country you've never heard of). But although my heritage may explain m y stature, thick dark hair, and olive complexion, it's not responsible for my oversized hooked nose, my nonexistent cheekbones, my oversized chin, and last, but definitely not least, my buck teeth. (pg. 3)

#6 - . . . all I've done with my short black hair is run my fingers through it. I know I look "undone," but I don't care. (pg. 50)

#7 - . . . sun is behind me, melting my sheet of dyed black hair to my scalp. I knew my whole going-Goth decision was going to turn around and bite me . . . (pg. 2)

#8 - Out the corner of my eye I could see the ends of my straight, black hair. Flat, lifeless. I glanced back at my cousin and wished I was tall, graceful and had that stop-traffic kind of beauty. Instead, I'm just like every other Asian girl out there: long black hair, brown eyes, and completely ordinary. (pg. 2)

#9 - . . . so vain about my long blond hair I wouldn't dream of scraping it back into a ponytail and hiding beneath a big hooded sweatshirt. (pg. 3)

#10 - . . . I felt her hand move down the back of my head, smoothing my red hair, which we did have in common, alther hers was now streaked with an early gray. We also shared our pale skin--the redhead curse or gift . . . as well as our tall, wiry frames. (pg. 11)

Meanwhile, I need to go hide all the mirrors in my stories so my characters don't describe themselves from their reflections.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's In A Picture

Like most (if not all) writers out there, I have a forever growing list of To Read books. Every time I take one off the list, a handful more replace it. So there is always something I want to read, but for each visit to the bookstore, that something has to leap out and dig its claws into me and hang on for the ride.

In most cases, I've seen the books online, I know what the cover looks like, so it isn't a surprise when I physically see it. Some covers are complex and involved and detailed and your eyes dart all over trying to take in all the images. (I'm thinking something like The Mortal Instruments trilogy.) Others are simple, basic and usually at least a little bit symbolic. (The famous Twilight apple, anyone?) And then there are the other covers. Just something to grab your attention, something to make you think, wonder, want to know what is inside those pages.

Whilst walking between the shelves on a recent bookstore visit, my eyes panned over the cover of Evermore - which was a Recent Read for me. The cover is definitely a grabber. It draws the eye, but in my sister's words "it looks like a vampire book," I get that. It does. The dark background, the girl in shadows, the red tulips. Very vampiric - similar to the black/red/white themes of the Twilight Saga. It turned my sister off for a long time (though she just informed me about 15 minutes ago that she finished reading it last night and really liked it) but it was a book I kept going back to and picking up until the day it came home with me. So I think it did it's job.

But it's all in your audience, right?

Another example for me personally is Girl Overboard. I'm a snowboarder. A little absent from the mountain since I had kids, but I will go again. I swear it. Maybe next winter since Utah does have the greatest snow on Earth. I digress. Girl Overboard (another Recent Read) got me because of the cover. I kept going back to it. Partly because it was a girl with a snowboard and partly because I didn't get the title: overboard, like when you fall off a boat? But those colors, the vibrancy, the--for lack of a better word--life in this cover really pulled me in.

I am a visual thinker who, of late, has been seeking some motivation. I've started collecting images to represent each of my wips. Something akin to the character journals many others keep, I suppose, but something I have not done before. It has definitely been helpful and given me a better understanding as to why others do something similar. I've been able to figure out where I'm going in certain situations and if nothing else, at least know where I've been. The fact that they are all in anime is just a tribute to my current other obsession! :)

On that note, here is a visual representation of each of my current wips that are in various stages of completion:








Just Maybe











4 Letter Word












Grace









Okay, that's all for now! Have a great (short) week everyone!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing."
--Sara Teasdale

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seeking Good Advice on Real Life

I just took a quick look at my posts this week, and uh, yeah. Real life totally sucks the creativity out of me. Almost no blog posts about writing, and very minimal on books in general.

I really need to work on that.

It's tough, though. Real life is what it is and things need to be done. Places need to be gone. Laundry washed and children fed.

I'm wondering what everyone else does to balance real life and their creative mojo. Today's probably an extreme example, but for me, if I get some writing in today, it will be after the kids go to bed tonight, but chances are, I'm just going to go to bed too. I'm that tired.
Creativity? What's that?

But any tips on balancing an awesome, but exhausting, day job, kids, family, house . . . with yanno, "the next great American novel" efforts? *rolls eyes* - even my cliches are getting worse. . .

Pulling out my notepad and pen, ready to take notes. Fire away!

A Thursday Thought: The Perfect Man

Wow! A new segment and two weeks in a row! I totally wasn't expecting that.

I'm on a plane home from Baltimore today, so really, this was a REALLY late Wednesday night thought, or early Thursday morning thought, depending on what time zone you're in, but I figured I'd round to the next full day, yeah? Okay.

What was I saying again? Oh yes, the perfect man.

I have been reading a lot of YA Fantasy lately and have found this "perfect guy" thing coming up again and again. Edward Cullen is described again and again as perfect in looks, charm and intelligence. Damen Auguste, the adjectives are less repetitive, but similarly descriptive. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

So what of the lovable endearing guys who are flawed?

I've said before, I am a big Sarah Dessen fan. So much so that one of my all time favorite books is This Lullaby. I realize that Ms. Dessen doesn't write YA Fantasy, more on the YA Contemporary Fic side, and this is probably why. Within This Lullaby is Dexter. A sometimes employed musician with wild curly hair who forgets to tie his shoes, doesn't really know how to do his laundry, challenges people to completely insane things (think eating a dozen bananas in 1 sitting) and can't seem to stay in one place for very long, Dexter is the complete opposite of all these idealized, arguably perfect characters I've read about in recent YA Paranormal/Fantasy.

That being said, does this mean that in order to be a good male protagonist in this genre there should be something that makes him arguably perfect? It would seem so, to me anyway. That's not to say that the endearingly lovable guy who doesn't have great hair and chiseled features doesn't have a place in YA Paranormal/Fantasy, but it would seem less likely that his place is alongside the female protag.
Maybe I'm completely off base here and it's just been the books I've chosen to read in this genre, I dunno. Definitely correct me if I'm wrong. And if you have any recommended readings to help me find a "Dexter" in YA Paranormal/Fantasy, I am game!

In reality, there are way more Dexters out there than there are Edward Cullens, so I just wanted to point that out. Not that the Edward Cullen-esque guys don't exist. I'm sure they do. I just wouldn't hold my breath.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Pictures

A last little Wednesday night note:

We had some new family pictures done by my abfab girlfriend, Joanna Taylor of Joanna Taylor Photography.

Check 'em out HERE!

And if you need pictures done, check out her website www.joannataylorphotography.com

Thanks Joanna! Hugs!

I'm Going Home Tomorrow

It's Wednesday. Late Wednesday. And normally this would be a Work In Progress Wednesday, but I haven't exactly had much time to "Work in Progress" ... Just work. Not nearly as fun.

I am actually writing this and going to post in real time. As I begin typing, it is 10:37 PM Eastern Standard Time and I am sitting in my hotel room in Baltimore watching a re-run of NCIS that is not really a re-run to me because I haven't seen this episode before.

It was the second day of a big meeting for work and I'm headed home tomorrow. I'm pretty excited to get home, but I'm on a super early flight. Like, 7:15 AM. I know that doesn't sound really early, but the hotel is about an hour from the airport. Also, if you haven't been to Baltimore-Washington International before, the car rental place is like a 15 minute shuttle from the airport. And you never really know what the security line will be.

So basically, I have to be up at like, 3:30 AM to get ready like I'm going to work, but instead, go to the airport in time. All goes well and get home, I get to go straight into the office, real life doesn't take care of itself, yanno?

Seriously, man. Suck.

Oh, and last night I was up until 3:17 AM before falling into not a very good sleep. So should I even bother going to sleep tonight? I don't even know.

But hey, on the bright side, I'm Going Home Tomorrow!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Miracles of Sunscreen

I'm on a flight to Baltimore this morning and wasn't sure what to blog about before I left for the airport today, but thanks to my sister V who fell asleep in the sun in my backyard on Sunday afternoon. This one's for you.



Will check in again from the east coast! Happy Monday everyone.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recent Reads: Killing Moon

Book: Killing Moon by Rebecca York
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Book Count: 9
>>>> Didn't I say I've been severely behind in posting my Recent Reads?

So this was the second book in Ms. York's Moon Series that I've read. Awesome. I liked it even more. This one felt even more real, more like this world could really exist within our own.

This one follows the story of Megan and Ross. Ross is Sam's cousin from Eternal Moon. Of course there is the romantic stuff, but the story of this one I found more compelling. Megan is a genetic researcher who ends up doing analysis on Ross's blood and finds far more than she's expecting. Ross is a private investigator working with the police to investigate the mysterious disappearances of several women in the area.

I don't know what about this made it more interesting for me, but although I have found that I like romances, this one felt less like a romance and more like a contemporary fiction with romance elements. Hmmm, maybe that's what Ms. York has done that's sucked me in . . .

Quote of the Week

"Give me such courage and I can scale
the hardest peaks alone,
And transform every stumbling block
into a stepping stone."
-Gail Brook Burket

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Recent Reads: Eternal Moon

Book: Eternal Moon by Rebecca York
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Book Count: 8

I picked this book up along with Kiss of Darkness by Jennifer St. Giles. They both fall in the same genre, but feel so different. Again, I was a little leary of the whole alternate universe thing, but this is even less so than the world Ms. St. Giles has created.

Rebecca York's world is paranormal, but far more real than I expected it to be. Everyone's just like you and me, well, except some of them have powers and others turn into werewolves. In Eternal Moon, Renata is a reincarnated goddess working as a private investigator working on a case with the police to catch a murderer. The story was more than just romance and it wasn't far out enough for me to lose interest. Ms. York's work has actually pushed me to pick up another one of her books. More on that later!

So if you're interested in paranormal romance that isn't too far out there, I'd recommend starting with the Moon Series by Rebecca York. It's just enough without feeling too over the top. Imho, anyway.

Recent Reads: Kiss of Darkness

Book: Kiss of Darkness by Jennifer St. Giles
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Book Count: 7

I've recently found myself sucked back into the paranormal world. It started with some excerpts off of an agents blog and spun into my return into all things fantastical.
I've never really read romance . . . well some Danielle Steel here and there when there was an associated TV movie or something, but that aside . . . this was different.
Ms. St. Giles completely transports her readers into another world, all the while, still keeping you in this one. It was an introduction into the world of paranormal romance for me, and I have to say, it wasn't too shab. . .

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recent Reads: Evermore

Book: Evermore (The Immortals Series) by Alyson Noel
Genre: YA Fantasy
Book Count: 6

I picked this book up several times before I finally decided to get it. There was just something about it that made me hesitate.

Ever since I read the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer, I've pretty much decided I was vampired out for a while.

Not that this is a vampire book. It's not. It took me a couple days to convince my sister of that too. Her words, "well look at the cover. It just looks like a vampire book!" She has a point. It does. That was what I thought too. And that was the reason for my hesitation.

I'm glad I got over that. I kept telling myself I didn't want to start another series until all or at least most of the books had come out. Yeah, like I could say no to a book that keeps calling my name.

So basically, Ever is in a car accident that kills her family, but somehow she survives. And as she recovers, she finds herself able to see people's auras, hear their thoughts and get flashes of their whole lives when she has physical contact with them. She's a freak. Then she meets uber-hot new guy Damen and something about him intrigues her. She can't see his aura. Or hear his thoughts. And physical contact with him is, well, amazing. Everything about him is anything but freaky. Until she follows him home.

Again, this is NOT a vampire book, despite what the cover may lead you to believe. It's a fast read with some great characters. Have to say, Miles, Ever's best friend, has got to be one of my fave comedic characters in a while!

The second book in the series, Blue Moon, is out in July and I'm really looking forward to it. At least the wait won't be too long. This has been a new kick I've been on, YA Fantasy. I've mostly read YA Contemp Fic in the past and that has been the genre I write in. YA Contemp Fic and some Adult Contemp Fic, but I've been working to broaden my horizons, I suppose. And all this reading... well, it makes for some great research!

A Thursday Thought: Pie O' Knowledge

A new segment that will appear semi-regularly. Probably not weekly, but I'll do my best. Though I have lots of thoughts - most are not nearly as profound as I'd like them to be, but maybe they can provide a bit of random trivia to you, or better yet, maybe they could lead you to a few of your own profound thoughts . . . hmm, now there's something to think about.

So yesterday Eric over at Working My Muse did a post around Realizing How Much I Don't Know. Funny thing this, because during my travels recently one of the sessions of training I was in covered a sort of "What You Know" topic. The three highlights we discussed? Well I have a little Pie o'Knowledge chart to show you. (ElanaJ - chart queen extraordinaire - might appreciate this!)
#1 - You know what you know.
Well, yeah, that's obvious. I know a lot of things about a lot of things. Some of them relevant to this adventure to be published, some of them not. Some of them important to life, some of them just simply random trivia. I know who I am, where I went to school, what I do for a living (sort of). I know the year, make and model of all the cars at my parents' house (there are a lot of cars) and I can sing every Taylor Swift song from both her albums (that's a whole other story). But yeah, I know what I know.

#2 - You know what you don't know.
Easy enough to make a list of these things. Also, like #1, fairly obvious. I don't know how to play the piano - though I wish I did. I don't know how to ride a motorcycle. I don't know why my office is an arctic ice box even though the thermostat is set at 85 degrees F. These are just a few of the many things I know that I don't know.

And the biggest piece of the pie?

#3 - You don't know what you don't know.
Well, yeah. I would list stuff here, but I can't seeing as if I knew that I didn't know it, it would then move into #2. So I don't know what I don't know.

Make sense? Okay then.

So what's the learning? Why am I babbling endlessly about this? Well, this may have been a training about some corporate strategy planning I was at, but this applies to writing as well.

The goal of it all is to figure out what you don't know you don't know, move it into what you know you don't know, so that you can learn more about it, and then move from there into knowing what you know.

It's just about continuing to learn. Continuing to grow and hone the craft and know that there will always be things you don't know you don't know, but as soon as you figure out that you don't know it, that big huge hunk of the pie gets just a little bit smaller and what you know, whether it's something you know or don't know, will get bigger.

Are we clear? Okay, good.

Just wanted to give you something to think about!
[Update: correction on the motorcycle driving - ride or drive, clearly I don't know how ;) Thanks Eric!]

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WiP Wednesday: So Many Stories, So Little Time

First things first: Today is my last FULL work day of the week! Huzzah! Tomorrow is a half day and then we're getting our family pictures done. And Friday I'm off because it's the baby's (E) 1st birthday and we're having a family day. Okay, gloating over my last work day done. Moving on...

I've been trying to focus, I really have. With my current wip I'm just over the halfway point, I think. Right about 36K words and I'm looking at hitting around 70K with it.

Herein lies the problem, and I've mentioned it before: I have writer's ADD. Seriously. As I've said, I've been working diligently on 4LW for several weeks now, thanks to the Writer's Throwdown Challenge and my willing myself to concentrate on just the one project. That's where the problem is.

Working on one project at a time is simply NOT in my nature. I'm through and through a Gemini and because of that, I am a multi-tasker by heart. I can't help it. Where is all this random rambling going, you ask? Well...

I started a new project. Well, not started, exactly, it's been there for a while, sitting around for the last year with just over 5K words in it and I had a thought the other day that didn't fit into 4LW and I wrote it all down and realized yesterday where it goes. So now, again, I have 3 projects running at various stages.

JM: (YA Contemp Fic) Finishing up revisions then will set aside to cure
4LW: (YA Contemp Fic) About 51% complete at 36,103 words
and the new-old one Grace totally a working title and actually doesn't mean anything so don't read anything into it...
Grace: (YA ... something. Not sure yet where this is going.) I have no idea how complete it is, but currently it has 8,366 words

My goal is to finish revisions of JM by the end of the month. I've had some great feedback and am currently working that through the ms. I also am really trying to focus on 4LW. I'd like to have a completed first draft by July, then the real fun starts. (I'm totally an editor at heart.) And Grace, well that will just have to figure out what it wants me to do with it. I have some thoughts, but nothing solid and I hope it doesn't end up back in my unfinished projects folder.


On a different note, we had a family trip to the bookstore last night and one of the books P got actually kinda makes me think of myself. The Very Busy Spider ... Very busy indeed. The other one she picked out was Panda Bear, Panda Bear What Do You See?.

Me? I picked up a couple new books too, you'll have to stay tuned to my Recent Reads to find out what I picked up.

Okay, Happy Busy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wordle

Wordle: Like the Weather

Recent Reads: Dreamland

Book: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Fiction
Book Count: 5
Ahhh, the first book in my new Recent Reads format.

So I'm a huge Sarah Dessen fan. Love her. Thanks to my sister V for introducing us.

I once received a compliment from someone that some of my writing was very "Sarah Dessen-esque." Yeah, I printed that comment and have it pasted in my writing journal.

Okay, anyway, back to the book.

For a long time I didn't want to read this one. No real reason. When my sister babysits for us, we pay her in books - there's a reason I'm telling you this, I swear. I think this actually costs us more money because we all go to the bookstore and then my daughter and I almost always get a couple books too. Anyway, this was one of the books my sister picked up and as it would be, I ran out of reading materials and this book dropped into my lap.

I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was about how much I liked it. I have yet to read one of Ms. Dessen's books that I don't like. She just makes things so believable and vivid, as though you're the one walking through the pages. Her characters are real and could be the girl next door, the one down the street, your best friend or your sister and in Dreamland, Caitlin is no different. The story of a girl struggling to escape her perfect sister's shadow, in Dreamland Caitlin learns that life for the "perfect" maybe isn't so great.
Though it is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book (that slot is still reserved for This Lullaby because I Dexter), I did enjoy Dreamland.
And as for Sarah Dessen books in general ... I'm excited to pick up the paperback of Lock and Key when it comes out. (I've had to wait for paperback because I'm a dork and need to have all my books in a "series" match. )


Monday, May 11, 2009

Recent Reads Update

Re-Tweet of one of my recent Twitter updates:

RT @windyaphayrath So behind on Recent Reads blog posts. Currently showing thru book 4 - actually in the midst of books 8 & 9. I read far faster than I blog.

A few things:

#1) I'm leaning away from full-on reviews of the books. Instead, just citing the book, genre, book number in my count to 100, and a blurb on my thoughts. I'll make sure to include a link to the Amazon or GoodReads page if you want more details on it.

#2) As soon as I tweeted and blogged (earlier today) this, I realized I had completely discounted a few other airport reads I picked up. Romance novels ;) I haven't read much in the genre before, but it was an emergency and I needed a good distraction. So I guess my reads are jumping all over the place now. YA, Romance, Commercial ... all fiction still. As one of my cohorts and I discussed, I just don't find a non-fiction on the economic impact of the Great Depression on current times great before-bed reading.

#3) I've added another section to my blog: Currently reading. This is hopefully going to help me stay on top of blogging my Recent Reads. My problem isn't so much the blogging part, but how quickly I read. I average about 75-100 pages an hour when I read for my own enjoyment, so by the time I sit down to write a Recent Reads blog, I'm generally 2-3 books behind already. If I'm not writing during my usual writing time, I've got my nose stuck in a book. Hopefully streamlining the blog posts and including updates in the currently reading section will help me.

Okay, that's all for now. Just wanted to throw that out there, because reading is like research, right? As much as I hate research, well, this kind I can/will definitely do!
What are you reading?

Family Time

I didn't get near as much writing done as I wanted to this past weekend, as I've been playing catch up at work since I was out of the office. Did some editing on one of the wips, unfortunately, probably not the one I needed to be working on.

We spent Mother's Day doing some shopping - mostly for me ;) - and then topped it off with a stop at my grandma's house. Luckily, my husband's family and mine are pretty close, so some members of his family came over too, so we had 4 generations on both sides barbecueing at my grandma's house. Good times.

I really did want to get some writing in over this past weekend, but it turned out to be much more of relax and recover weekend than anything else. I read some (I'm really on book 7 of my Recent Reads to 100, I've just been slow on the reviews side), I didn't write nearly enough and then just cuddled with the kids, which is a good thing since P keeps telling me how much she misses me even though I'm sitting right in front of her. Melts your heart just a little every time she says it too.

My daughter says the funniest things sometimes and most of the time it is when she's speaking with my sister, V. We went to the park for a picnic on Saturday and just watching their interaction brought on a strange sort of deja vu for me. My sister is 11 years younger than me. P is 13 years younger than V. So the age difference is about the same and their relationship is so similar to what I had with my sister it's almost eerie. And more recently, I've seen where this sort of interaction has been bleeding into my writing. My current wip still in 1st draft stage has so many of this relationship dynamic pulled in, it made me wonder how writers figure out just how the relationships in their projects will work. Mostly familial relationships.

How do you know a brother and sister will get along? Or maybe just when they will get along? Do all siblings have the intrinsic sense to protect their own, or is it just wishful thinking? Are these relationships built on your own experience with your siblings or something you wished you had with your family?

The answer, I'm guessing, for most is that it's all of the above. When you're getting along, things are great, when you're fighting, not so much. But it's life and that's what makes life so colorful. Besides, who wants to read a book about siblings who are best friends who never fight and have no conflict and agree on everything? Seriously, even the Brady Bunch didn't get along sometimes.

Just rambling now. I guess all this family talk is what happens after you've spent the last 8 weekends bonding with anywhere from 2 to 4 generations of your family.

And there's my phone buzzing - text from my sister. Well, happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!


Quote of the Week

"People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates."

-Thomas Szasz

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back! .... Temporarily At Least

Hello, World!

So today I am back. Home and in my office. Staring out at the fabulous staircase I have oh-so-missed while I was traveling with work. Who would've thought I'd ever miss the whole monkey at the zoo vibe I get because my office window overlooks the top of the staircase and people come up the stairs and just stare at me? Anyway, at one point I was in 3 timezones within 4 days. Yowza! To all those who travel extensively with work, whatever kind of work you may do, *bowing down*.

I don't normally travel much at all with work, prior to this past two weeks, I'd been on 3 trips in about 3 years. Things just culminated and suddenly I understand much more what the people I work with mean when they talk about how much they are on the road. It's tough. I missed my kids, my husband. I missed my bed, my stuff. And I missed have MY time. On a work trip with a big group, it leaves little time to hole up in your room and work on your book. There's a level of social interaction that is expected.

The expectation aside, there are some changes being made at a higher level that impact our whole team and it was a tough thing to have to accept. But hey, as I've been advised repeated ... "I serve at the discretion of my leadership" ....

Okay, that's enough whining. So I haven't had much time to write. Read. Sleep. Or pretty much anything. Even this morning, being back home, my body is still trying to figure out what timezone I'm in and if I should be hungry now or later. Seriously. So to solve that problem, I've just taken on eating all the time. Probably not the healthiest of options. But I have a week home to stabilize before I head off on another week-long trip to the East Coast. Baltimore this time.

Meanwhile, in what little writing I have been able to do, I've found some places where I definitely need some work. A while back I read a blog post by Lady Glamis: Working in Layers and I am really understanding that concept better now. That initial flow of your pen, though it may be fabulous as a first draft, that is what it is. A first draft. There are SEVERAL of these long before any project is truly ready. And each run through, another layer should be added. *Lightbulb* - Yeah, I really get it now.

In addition to that, I am still writing in my "organized-haphazardness" way what the "voices" in my head tell me. I did get to the point where it was such a hodge podge of sections, I've gone back and layed it out to match my outline. I even had to print out a calendar and make notes on it so I've got a sort of timeline when things happen and I'm not having things happen in the wrong order. My husband thinks this is totally bizarro and I've thought about it much too thoroughly, but I don't get how he can stare at a box of fishing jig-thingys for ten minutes deciding which one is the right one for his next trip. *Raises cup of coffee* to each his/her own, I guess.

This was just an update, I've not been that great about keeping up and have found myself stretched a bit thin, but over the next week, hopefully, I should be able to get back to my routine. At least until I'm thrown completely off track by my trip to Baltimore.

Ahh, well, back to the grind of it. At least I remembered my coffee this morning. Oh yes, did I forget to mention that all these trips have me back on my coffee addiction? And I have been so good since I had the baby! (E will be 1 next Friday! Eeek! Time flies...)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Life Sucking

*** So I had technical difficulties last night .... but here it is ***

It's so late... barely still Wednesday at home, but I'm trying, I really am.

I've been on the road now since Thursday, April 23. Home for weekends only. I miss my kids. I miss my husband. I miss my bed. And I miss home cooked food. I don't know how the folks I work with do the traveling 50% or more of the time. It's tough. I have so much more respect for them!

So anyway, I've been involved in these all day meetings. Last week, Monday and Friday were travel days and Tues-Thurs were solid days of meetings. This week, travel Monday... and tomorrow I get to go home. Woohoo!

While I was sitting in today's meeting (we covered a lot of very valuable and good information) I realized, no matter how tough, exhausting or insane these multiple day all day meetings are, no matter how much I like the people I work with and enjoy seeing them, I feel like my life is sucked from me each and everyday. This leaves little to no creativity by the time I get to this point: being online in the hotel.

This all leads to me just being really really tired. I wish I could write more. But I can't even keep my thoughts straight. So yeah. While it is still Wednesday in Utah (even though I'm in California), I am totally zonked, I'm going to bed.

Really, this was just supposed to be an update to say I will have a much better WiP post next week. When my life isn't getting sucked from me. Regardless, I think I'm just too wordy for my own good. Okay, really now. Good night.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Raining Inspiration

(This picture does not do justice to the darkness that fell with the rain last night... but hopefully you'll get my drift...)

On the way home from dinner yesterday, this was what we were driving into.

Dark.
Menacing.
Dangerous.

What was I thinking? OMG (Seriously, I thought those letters), this is going to be pivotal!

You see, I haven't written much YA Fantasy. I started something a while back and haven't touched it for months. And last night, as my family and I were driving headlong into this mess, because we have no choice seeing as home was that way, I felt like I may have found a key piece to my fantasmic world.

Anyone else out there stumble into something that grabbed onto you so tight, begging to be a part of your life somehow that all you could do was hold on for dear life?

It was something for me to think about as the rain was falling horizontally across our windshield last night.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Quote of the Week

"No deposit. No return."

**found on any plastic soda bottle nowadays...

Why was this my quote of the week? Basically this: if you don't make an investment, whether it be in your job, in your writing, in your family or in your life, well, you won't get any sort of return, will you?