Monday, August 31, 2009

Quote of the Week

"People become quite remarkable when they start
thinking that they can do things. When they believe in
themselves they have the first secret of success."
- Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, August 28, 2009

So Glad It's FRIDAY!!

I'm tired. And I feel like this has been, like, the LOOOOOOOOOONGEST. Week. Ever.

The 4-year old started preschool. She loves it. I mean LOVES it. So much so that when I dropped her off on her first day, I had to holler to her to come back and give me a kiss goodbye before she left for her day. Yeah, the kid is all about schoolish stuff - she totally got my bookworm-nerd genes.

With preschool comes 1 morning a week I drive car pool. After much shuffling, scuffling, rearranging and maneuvering, we have discovered 3 booster seats do not fit well in the back seat of my sedan. So now we need a new car. I haven't had a car payment in 7 years. Not looking forward to this.

Speaking of my car, the registration expires this month. For the first time EVER the husband was timely on and all safety and emissions stuff has been done (yesterday). All that's left is renewing online.

And remember, when we went out of town (who can forget the infamous Rest Stop adventure)? It was because the Husband and his brother had plans to do some serious vehicular improvements on his "Ladybug" - aptly named by the 4-year old. (I'll find a picture and it will explain everything, but not right now. I'm too tired right now.) Anyway, Husband LOVES this car. Anyway, on his way home after picking up Preschool & Toddler from daycare, he was rear-ended. SUCK. All the people are okay, but the car is injured, though still functional.

This takes us back to, oh, wouldn't it be nice to have a new car. *sigh*

Moving along, on the brighter side, I've been querying a bit on the DL. I like to think I have a pretty thick skin, but it is my own false self-assurance and I have decided I really don't. So here is my thoughts on queries and you can take it for what it's worth.

Rejection sucks.
Requests rock.
Waiting is akin to the 7th circle of Hades.

You can probably tell where I'm sitting.

Okay, well, sorry for the full o' venting post. Just had to ramble a bit to get stuff out of my system. But hey, it's Friday, right? So seriously, my weekend can only get better from here!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fun Times!

I recently had a chance to meet two of my online writer friends! After some finagling of schedules and some kid wrangling, I was able to meet Elana and Suzette for lunch (all of us with our girl kidlets in tow - blurred for privacy).

Elana and Suzette are exactly the same as online! What you see / read and what you get are it. I loved the chance to meet with a couple great people who "feel my pain" of being a writer in search of publication. And I'm glad that we live close enough to each other that we can hang out.

That leads me to the question of online personalities. Are you really you online? If not, why not?

I have to admit, I try to be myself online, but my writer personality is a little different than the one I maintain at my day job. The worlds are just very different, but I like to think that I am still me. I don't know, I guess we'd have to ask Elana and Suzette if I was different! ;-)

Thanks for a great time girls! Looking forward to another lunch date!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WiP Wednesday: #Wordathon

This last week I participated in 6 days of #wordathon, the Twitter updated version headed up by @jimsissy. For more deets check out her out at the Fire Drill.

Well, last week's Wednesday 6:00 AM to Friday 6:00 PM session I focused on editing. Then in the Friday 6:00 PM to Sunday 6:00 PM session I focused on new words.

Weekday #wordathon: Pages edited = 217
Weekend #wordathon: New words = 3,467

Yay me!

And since then what have I been doing ... Let's see... I watched High School Musical and High School Musical 2 (and yeah, I'll admit it, I enjoyed it!).
Went to IKEA and picked up some awesome cork potholders.
Picked up some school shoes for Phephe at Shoe Carnival ($10 off!)
Spent way too much time online.
Oh, yeah, and have been having some difficulty finding new words. Maybe I'll just go read a book instead....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Recent Reads: Love You, Hate You, Miss You / Shiver

Book: Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Book Count: 28

After a horrific car accident leaves Amy's best friend Julia dead, Amy's parents send her to rehab where a therapist there asks her to keep a journal. In it, she writes letters to Julia, counting the days since Julia's death. Through these letters, Amy remembers Julia for who she was, and who she doesn't remember her being.

As always, Elizabeth Scott's writing is compelling and emotional. Another great read.

Book: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Book Count: 29

So I heard a little about this book on Twitter, from agents who found it to be amazing. I saw it at the bookstore. The cover was interesting, but didn't tell me anything. Then I read the inside jacket. OMG. I had to get it.

Grace has watched the wolves who live in the woods around her home since she was a little girl. One wolf in particular, with yellow eyes, seems to always be there, watching her back. Her wolf. He is there every winter, watching, protecting. One day Grace meets Sam. A boy with yellow eyes and she knows he is her wolf. But as the winter approaches, Sam must fight the shiver to keep from losing himself and Grace forever.

So good. If you haven't read this one yet, go get it. Read it. Really.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Cool to Be Kreativ!

Thanks to Amanda! She passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me!

I have to say, it took me a while to get going on this whole blogging thing and now that I've found what great and supportive writers are out there, I've made some amazingly talented new friends!

The rules for this award are pretty simple to follow:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. (below)
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

* * * * * *

Soooooo, 7 interesting (and very random) things about me . . .

#1-My 4-year old and I were supposed to share a birthday - she was due on my birthday! But she decided she didn't want to share, so she waited a few days to show up.

#2-I wrote my first "book" in four 6-subject spiral bound notebooks in the 8th grade. I still have them in a box in my parents' storage shed. I haven’t read them recently, but when I last read them, uh, yeah, they sound like I was in Jr. High all right.

#3-Bacon . . . it is one of my food groups.

#4-I'm an almost insomniac. I can't sleep more than 3 hours or so a night or else I'm not functional the next day.

#5-Since I've been driving I've been in 4 accidents (none were my fault-really, I swear). 3 of them were with Dodge Neons. They're out to get me, I swear!

#6-My name was never supposed to be Wendy. I really was named after the wind. If I had come out a boy, my name would have been Rocky. As in, the Sylvester Stallone-boxer Rocky. (I'm so glad I'm a girl!)

#7-I read really fast - approximately 100 pages/hour. So, yeah, I DEVOUR books and I'm always looking for recommendations! So if you have any must reads I haven't gotten to yet, let me know!

* * * * * *

Here are 7 other Kreativ Bloggers for you to stop by and visit!

1. Being Beth
2. Writer Musings
3. Working My Muse
4. Words, Words, Words
5. The Screaming Guppy
6. Fire Drill
7. Notes From the Writing Chair

Go check them out!

Quote of the Week

"The most essential factor is persistence - the determination
never to allow your energy or enthusiasm
to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come."
- James Whitcomb Riley

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recent Reads: A Modern Faerie Tale

Wow, it only took until August, but FINALLY I've reached the quarter-way mark! I'm not sure about this whole reading 100 books thing anymore, but dang it, I am TRYING!

Anyway, I’ve heard so much great stuff about the A Modern Faerie Tale series and apparently my new "thing" is Faery and all things related so I picked these up for my recent trips out of town. I'm not sure if this is a trilogy or if these are the first three in a longer series, but here's my take:

Book: Tithe by Holly Black
Book Count: 25

The first book in the series introduces us to Kaye, a girl who is not your average teenager. She's been raised as a roadie for her mother's various bands, grew up with invisible faeries as best friends, and when a strange attack brings Kaye and her mother back to her childhood home, she comes face to face with who and what she really is.

It definitely lived up to the dark and edgy reviews I had read. There were a few slow parts, but I liked the story overall. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but not in a bad way. My biggest complaint: there wasn't enough. When the story was over, I felt like there wasn't enough development, or, I don't know. What was there was good, but I just wanted more.

Book Title: Valiant by Holly Black
Book Count: 26

Which leads us into why I picked this one up! :) But Valiant isn't about Kaye and Ellen and Corny and Roiben. This book introduces us to Val and her gang of misfits, taking us into a whole different realm of Faery-land as mortals and fey alike struggle to survive as faeries are being murdered.

I actual liked this book better than Tithe. The characters felt more developed and real all within the span of a book the same size. And as it were, it isn't an actual sequel to Tithe, but merely the second book in the series (trilogy?), one can read this book without having read the others and still be okay.

Book Title: Ironside by Holly Black
Book Count: 27

This was actually the sequel to Tithe. This story follows more closely Kaye and Roiben's relationship and pulls in characters from Valiant as well. Ironside was definitely a place where Kaye did more growing up, continuing from Tithe. There was more at stake for her here and therefore more for her to consider in her actions. It pushed to the forefront that there isn't always one right answer and not everything can be clearly answered in black or white.

Overall, these books were very remniscent of the Melissa Marr Wicked Lovely series. They switch their focus, the second book in both series focusing on different characters with cameo appearances from characters we've already met.

Although I enjoyed these books enough, if I had to make a recommendation on Faerie stories, I'd go with Wicked Lovely. For me, the character development and and perspective shifts worked better for me and overall, I just enjoyed the stories more.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Thought: Location, Location, Location

Last Thursday while I was in Mexico City with work I brought up the thoughts about settings in stories. Real or make-believe, I think where a story takes place is as important as the characters the story is about. The setting is almost another character itself, because places have so many facets that make them what . . . where they are. All locations have a personality and that's something to keep in mind in your writing.

In my recent travels, I've found that being out of my element really helped keep my creativity refreshed and introduced me to a few places with very different personalities.

So, I'm continuing last Thursday's Thought to share a some pics from a few places I've been in the last few months.

The view out my hotel room door in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This is the view out my hotel room balcony in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A definite Yin / Yang situation here.
* * * * * *

A couple pictures of the amazing Utah / Nevada desert. Don't mind the glare, that desert sun is HOT!
* * * * * *

A couple pictures of Mexico City. So different from what I imagined, but exactly what I've seen in movies and on TV.

So there you have it, a few places that have inspired me.
What are your inspirations for your settings? How do you pick your settings? Or do your settings pick you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Listening to Yourself

The new thing I have finally been convinced into trying is the read aloud editing method. So literally, listening to yourself read your book. The first few pages, it felt weird. I kept going and now, 75 pages in, I'm amazed at the transformation. Thank you, Track Changes, for showing me how much progress I've made!

Reading my manuscript out loud has given me a whole new perspective on my project and though I'm in the final editing stages (75 pages in, I've only dropped about 500 words), what I have done just feels CLEANER!

I think that's the real "WiP Wednesday" update, but the whole listening to yourself thing has gotten to me on another level.

Some of the feedback I've received on these and other projects in the back has been fabulous and insightful and really helped me improve my writing and storytelling. It's always great to hear someone tell you they love your story, it is very motivating to keep writing. The funny thing about telling someone a story sometimes is the "it was really good, but . . ."

By this I mean, when someone suggests plot changes.

I've tried really hard in my critiques to understand the motivations of the writer & their characters. In essence, this is their story and I'm just along for the ride.

I understand giving suggestions about maybe moving a paragraph to a bit earlier in the chapter, or even flipping a couple chapters around is one thing, but that's not what I'm talking about.

How do you handle critiques when someone gives you suggestions that would cause you to change cause-and-effect situations and possibly all of your characters' motivations? Doesn't this change it from being your story to being theirs?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Free Books!

Anyone who knows me knows how much time I spend at the bookstore.

There's a bag at Barnes & Noble that tells you how much of a bookworm I am:

"When I have money I buy books. If there is anything leftover I buy food and clothes."

Yep. That's me. So when ElanaJ @ Mindless Musings let me know of this contest I HAD to partake! You should too! Look at all these books you could win!

1. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ARC
2. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen ARC
3. Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters ARC
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ARC
5. Troy High by Shana Norris ARC
6. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott ARC
7. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn ARC
8. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
9. Death by Series by Linda Gerber (3 books total)
10. a 5 dollar giftcard from Walmart (you can buy yourself half of a book with it, lol)
11. 3 Sarah Dessen books ( Just Listen, This Lullaby, Someone Like You)
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Fire By Kristin Cashmore ARC
14. Last but not least, I have some extra amazon cards, so I will also include a preorder for CATCHING FIRE BY SUZANNE COLLINS. It will be shipped to on or around Sept 1st (whenever they ship it)
AND a book of your choice (under $15.00 please and it can be a preorder as long as it comes out in September-so many good books get released)

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Enter here!<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Quote of the Week

"It's never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise."

-Nancy Thayer

Friday, August 14, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Another Friday and another trip home. This time, instead of a non-stop between where I am and where I wanna be, I have to connect. LAX, one of the most traveler spiteful airports in the whole freakin' world!

So I am writing this before Friday to let you know that this post will probably be nothing more than me rambling about how when I get home I will be too tired to fully function and will probably just take a nap. A long one. But only if I get home to find the house in a state similar to how I left it and not as though a hurrican has rushed through it.

We'll see. Wish me luck on getting that nap in before I gotta go pick up the kidlets.

Catch ya later!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Thought: The Wheres

So today is the last full day in Mexico and I've decided that if I can't truly uncook my brain enough to write new words, I'm just going to take in EVERYTHING around me and use it as inspiration, yanno, when that part of my brain starts to work again.

Over the course of the last few months I've taken a lot more pictures of my surroundings than I ever remember taking before and it has really helped me in figuring out where something happens in my new wip as opposed to just being random about location.

I've mostly tried to base locations in my books on places I've been or am really familiar with. My new project has me thinking outside this box of "safe" places I can pick from and now I've gone a bit camera crazy, trying to find just the right place for each of the pivotal scenes. Well, the ones I've been able to find words for anyway. (See yesterday's post.)

So what places inspire you? Are they real? Have you been there? Or are they imaginary and you're always there?

Would love to hear your thoughts. . . I'm off to the office, then going to click some more pics of the area. Will put some stuff up to share when I get back home!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Uh, yeah. I think the title of this post speaks for itself.

It is my second full day in Mexico today and I'm always more tired after my second night in a new place. Traveling with work always leaves me a little fried. Spent last night huddled in corner reading and fell asleep way too early - now I'm tired from too much rest! So I'm off to spend the day training, in meetings and then a late dinner at a great (so I've heard anyway) seafood restaurant.

Hoping that good food and good drinks will cure the fried-brain-itis I am suffering from. At least it will take some of the pain away, right?

For everyone else, happy new wordages!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Recent Reads: 100 Dogs / Lost It / Stealing Heaven

Book: Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
Book Count: 22
The premise: Karma can be a bitch, literally. It is the story of infamous teenage pirate Emer Morrissey who is cursed just before she's murdered, to live the life of 100 dogs before she is reborn as a human. The kicker? All her memories remain intact.
Interesting take on curses and reincarnation.

Book: Lost It by Kristen Tracy
Book Count: 23

The story of Tess Whistle and how her junior year turned bizarro with the drop of a blond Jesus Christ portrait. Her parents up and leave for some wilderness camp to "find themselves," her outspoken, lottery-winning, sexy underwear buying grandmother comes to stay with her, her best friend is trying to build a bomb to blow up a poodle and it's all enough to make her think everything is losing it.
A recommendation from my 17-year-old sister, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was an overall amusing and humorous read.

Book: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
Book Count: 24

Can I just start by saying I love Elizabeth Scott?

Danielle is funny and snarky and even as an 18-year-old silver thief, accomplice to her mother, she's completely real. When Danielle's mother cases out the town of Heaven for their next heist, Danielle didn't expect it to be any different from any other job. Heaven is completely different from any other place she's ever been and suddenly Danielle decides the life she's always known isn't the life she actually wants.
Danielle's story is simple on one side, crazy complicated on the other, but despite it all, she felt real to me and that was what made this one of my new faves.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I cannot give you the formula for success,
but I can give you the formula for failure - which is:
Try to please everybody."
-Herbert Bayard Swope

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's In The Bag??

Just something for you to think about today, as I'm (again) out of town with work. (I know you are all TOTALLY jealous I'm going to spend 2 days traveling for a 1 day meeting, but *sigh* what do ya do?)

Since I have this trip I'm currently on and another trip next week, I decided I'd clean out my purse so I could travel in a semi-Zen state, yanno, where I could find my passport at check-in and know where my wallet is and stuff. Wow, I couldn't believe the things in there. It was like a treasure chest, full of things I didn't even realize I had, a bunch of stuff I thought I'd lost and yanno, just stuff!

Maybe this is why so many of my thoughts were jumbled up and all over the place and I felt like I had writer's block on the current wip. My working notebook has to live in here! If I was my notebook, I'd be all jumbled up and easily confused too! (Not that I'm not anyway, but that's a whole other post.)

So I've decluttered and reorganized and determined what my MUST-Haves were. This is what was in my purse when I got onto the plane:

Sorry for literally dumping all that on ya, but wow, I can't tell you how much that helped clear my head.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Laptop-less

This past weekend I accidentally left my laptop at the office. I didn't have a chance to go get it and I have to say, I felt like I was missing a limb. Ever sympathetic, my husband pretty much did this:

We do have a family PC at home, but the word to emphasize there is FAMILY, so I am NOT allowed to monopolize it, no matter how much I'd like to. Most of my writing is done at home, swapping between my laptop and desktop via flash drive, making it so at any given time I have my work saved in 3 different places. (More on backing up your work at the QueryTracker blog.)

In defense of my dear husband, though he may not completely understand the "writing thing" as he calls it, he has provided me with a whole slew of awesome notebooks to pack around with me.

They are big enough to last a while, small enough to fit in my handbag - more on this later this week - and are inspiring to look at in and of themselves. So as I've been finagling my way through my latest wip and have been inspired by a couple more thoughts, I've found that I'd be lost without my notebook. They have been great for ideas and have even helped me keep my random Post-It Note jotting in order.

So this weekend, all my thoughts were recorded in one of these beautiful books, awesome in their own right. And thanks to their awesomeness (and size allowing for them to be ever-present) I did a whole lot of jotting, thoughts ideas, more outlining of my overall story arc. Yep, sometimes, getting out of the techie-ness of writing proves to be a very good thing.

These little notebooks are also abfab when you are stuck in a very snug coach seat for a 4 1/2 hour flight and need something to work on! Any tech-less must haves that you tote around?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How Nice!

Angie, over at Notes from the Writing Chair, gave me the One Lovely Blog Award! Sweet! Thanks so much, Angie!

I wanted to highlight a few other Lovely Blogs out there by passing on the award!

Beth Lahie over at Being Beth
Christine Fonseca at The Musings of Christine Fonseca
Amanda Bonilla at The Keyboard
Elana Johnson at Mindless Musings
Michelle McLean at Writer Ramblings

Thanks to these folks, I've learned so much about the writing process and have made some friends who can totally relate to the stresses of being a writer and of life in general. If you haven't already, go check them out!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I don't know what the future may hold,
but I know who holds the future."
- Ralph Abernathy