Friday, July 31, 2009

Spreading the Bookworm Love

I love to read. Almost as much as I love to write.

I'm a big fan of libraries, bookstores, supermarket book sections and any other place that is an avid supporter of books. This includes places that provide good reading material when they know you just have to sit there. Like the doctor's office or most other kinds of waiting rooms.

Well the fam and I headed out for dinner the other night and ended up at the nearby Chili's. We put our name on the wait list and sat down to, well, wait. I looked across their little greeting area and what should I see?

Yes, that's right. That is a BIG basket of books they have setup for the kids to look at and read while waiting to be seated. How awesome is that?!? Mind you, my husband thought I was a total dork wanting to capture this pic and I'm sure the other people standing around thought I was a total weirdo too, but hey, I can't help giving props to an eating establishment that has not only thought of the little ones, but have opted for books over toys to entertain the kidlets as they wait!
I have no problem admitting I'm a total bookworm and I'm all about anyone who wants to spread that bug around!

So here's to you, Chili's @ Jordan Landing in WJ, UT. You rock!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Game On!

Last night was the MLS All-Star game. That's Major League Soccer, in case you weren't sure. It was the MLS All-Stars against Everton (a major team from the UK). The game was played here in Utah at the Rio Tinto Stadium, home of Real Salt Lake, so I was privy to the huge crowd that gathered for the sold out game.

I'm not a huge sports junkie or anything, and my husband isn't a huge soccer fan, but he enjoys watching some of the bigger games and as I happened to be in the room, I was along for the ride. So with the game on TV right in front of me, I couldn't help catching bits and pieces of it.

Well, watching these guys running back and forth trying to score got me thinking. It's sort of like this whole working toward getting published process, right?

Game 1: Getting an Agent
Okay, so your book is the soccer ball.
The goal is getting an agent.
All the players on the field? Those would be the agents.

So as soon as you send out those queries, Game's On! Your book floats out there amongst the agents, until one (or more) make a request, so one of them is taking control of the ball. It could be a goal, it could be a pass, you just never know.

And if you are lucky enough to get a goal in that first game (sign with an agent) you just move on into the next game.

Game 2: Getting Published
Your book is still the soccer ball.
The goal is being published.
The players are now the publishing houses you and and your agent submit to.

Still following?

If one of the games ends in a shootout, well that just represents all those revisions that an agent / publisher could ask for. More chances to get the ball into the goal.

In all soccer games everyone loves to hear the shout of GOAL!!!! Especially when it is your team (your book) getting the goal! So get your game faces on! We've got some goals to score!

Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering about the MLS All-Star game: It ended in a tie 1-1, forcing them into a shootout. Final Score: 6-5 Everton. Ah, well, as in everything else in life: You can't win 'em all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WiP Wednesday: New Projects

Back from vacation and sooooo trying to get back into the hang of things. I think most of my brain is still on a vacation to recover from my vacation.

I haven't posted a WiP Wednesday for a few weeks now because, well, I was feeling a bit WiP-ped by the current "big" project. I was in a rut. Didn't know where I was going with it. So many unanswered questions, wasn't really certain what was going to happen. And the voices, well they were being pretty mum about the whole thing, so it wasn't really helping me out any.

But then, during our vacation, I dug out some wordage from who knows where (probably a precursor to a Rest Area stop near Cedar City *wink wink*) and I'm back in the game. And on top of that, my Gemini-can't-focus-on-just-one-thing-at-a-time brain has come up with another 2 project ideas to work on! As many of you know, I do have a bit of A-D-D so I struggle severely if I have only 1 set of voices in my head.

Yeah, I know. I'm totally crazy, but the first step is admitting it, right?

On the flip side of new writings, current stuff . . . 1 is out for final review (I hope) with betas right now and other is with my live crit groups . Hoping I can get some things back and perhaps have some queries off before the end of the summer? Will keep ya posted!

P.S. I feel I need to make a confession regarding my addiction. I did fall off the wagon, but only for a moment. I had a little bit of a Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino, but it made me feel like throwing up. I couldn't even finish it. So I think I may have kicked the coffee habit. Now to find another vice to keep me awake after sleepless nights writing . . . suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bad Mojo & Big Problems

A while back my friend Elana over at Mindless Musings posted about finding the problem in your
novel. Not the problem with it, mind you, she meant the over-arching plot arc, the main-conflict-save-the-world-from-a-meteor sort of issue. Since I read that post it got me thinking.

And thinking.

And thinking.

And . . . yup . . . thinking.

Well, last week we went on a road trip to visit my in-laws in a small town in Central California. My husband's from a small town and it's a nice quiet place to do absolutely nothing (or to write if the mood strikes). My husband has a car that he absolutely adores, but its pretty old. We bought it for almost nothing and he loves to tinker with it. So the primary intent of the trip was for him and his brother to really fix it up.

The car is old EVERYONE doubted we'd be able to make it safely the 763 miles from our doorstep to Small-town, California, but we did. Just slower and with a much more Zen attitude.
Something that's a must if you're doing a long road trip with 2 kids under 5. Safe and sound in CA we just hung out-though I did go see HP 6 (so good!).

The way home, the part NO ONE made any comments about was where we ran into our "problem." I'm pretty superstitious, but more along the lines of gut feelings. When we got to Vegas, I saw a delayed text message come in from my brother: Did your car die yet? Seriously? Like why would you ask something like that? What kind of bad mojo are you trying to spread?!?

We made it past Mesquite and in a (really nice) Rest Area 13 miles out of Cedar City, our car just couldn't make it any further. Luckily, my dad was on his way back for CA also and was just driving into Vegas, so with info from the DH, I asked him to pick up some things for us. Lucky for us, the Rest Area the car gods decided we needed to hang out at was fully equipped with mowed grass, pavilion covered picnic tables, real flushing toilets (clean bathroom!) and vending machines. Oh, yeah, and, most importantly, COLD A/C!

While we waited for my dad to meet us with the necessary goods, (sounds sort of like a drug deal, didn't that?) I played with the kids and we ate a lovely vending machine lunch. 4-yo P loved it. After our lunch, we broke out some of the kids' travel toys and they played while I dug out my notebook and wrote.

And thanks to the bad mojo, I think I have figured out what's going on in my new project. So thanks to some quality Rest Area time where my biggest problem wasn't, at that moment, my biggest problem, I've found my Big Problem in the writing project. Now we just gotta figure out what the Big Problem in the car project is. Will keep ya posted!

P.S. Clearly we (finally) made it home, but here are some times according to Google how long the trip should have taken us // and our actuals:
Home to our destination in CA = 763 miles, 11 hours & 31 minutes // actual: 763 miles, 14 hours & 18 minutes
CA to home = 765 miles, 11 hours & 28 minutes // actual: 765 miles, 20 hours & 4 minutes

It's a good thing we decided our approach to all problems on this trip was contained in one little three-letter word: ZEN

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote of the Week

"I have always grown from my problems
and challenges, from the things that don't
work out, that's when I've really learned."
- Carol Burnett

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Hi All,

Blog will be dark for a few days (yet again, I know). Am visiting family in bright sunny small town central California. They have internet, but it is so slow. If I have time to camp out at a Starbucks, I'll post but if not, will check in when back home on Monday.

Hope everyone has an awesome rest of the week and to all my fellow Utahns, have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recent Reads: 3 More!

Book: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Book Count: 21

Loved this book. It felt more real than anything I've read in a long time, and that's not to say I haven't enjoyed my recent readings. Maybe it had something to do with the Salt Lake setting, I don't know. The story of Jennifer/Jenna's and Cameron's friendship and how they changed as they grew up just felt deeper. And I knew the ending wasn't what I expected, but I thought it was the perfect ending, because sometimes things don't work out exactly the way we plan, or the way we want them to.

Book: The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
Book Count: 22

Okay, so this is the book I won from The Knight Agency blog. It's signed and everything. One of my newer treasures. The story is about a woman who has been in the witness protection program for the last 20 of her 26 years. She's changed so many times she isn't entirely positive what her hair color is anymore. But when the U.S. Marshall in charge of her cases "loses" her and she stumbles into the man she's spent almost her entire life hiding from, she doesn't know who the good guy is anymore. A compelling first novel and a great read

Book: Doing It by Melvin Burgess
Book Count: 23

Uh, I think the title says it all.

Still really hoping to get to 100 books by the end of the year . . . I've still got 163 days left to read 77 new books. I can totally do this *crosses fingers, chanting to the tune of the Little Engine That Could* I can do this, I can do this, I can do this . . .

Any and all book recommends are totally accepted! Keep in mind, it isn't that I'm not keeping up and reading constantly, I am, I'm just only counting the NEW books I'm reading. My repeat-recent reads: Diary of a Crush trilogy by Sarra Manning, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, Wake by Lisa McMann, Harry Potter (#1 - with my 4-year old P), just to name a few.

Currently on the night table:
Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Fishing On the Edge by Mike Iaconelli
The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Lost It by Kristin Tracy
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
On list to pick up SOON:
Blue Moon by Alyson Noel
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Graceling by Kristin Cashores
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Tithe by Holly Black
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Just to name a few ....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Where I was born and how I have lived is
unimportant. It is what I have done with
where I have been that should be of interest."
- Georgia O'Keeffe

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When It Rains

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program, er, planned blog post with an important message:

Due to some vehicular malfunctions, the continuation of the Covers conversation has been rescheduled to . . . a later date. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you're interested, here's what happened. (I didn't even have time to upload pictures!)

Last week the inside driver's side door handle of my car broke off. I guess I just don't know my own strength. We waited for the new part to come in. Yesterday, the window - which I had been rolling down to reach out and open the door from the outside - decided it no longer wanted to roll down. I had to crawl out the passenger door. And you can only do that so gracefully. Luckily, the part came in and my husband was going to fix it.

At the parts shop to pick up the new door handle, Husband calls and tells me his muffler fell off. Just fell off. Well, italso got wedged underneath the back end of his car, but it is all taken care of now. So he needs a new muffler (and piping or whatever goes with an exhaust). This comes after last week when his radiator blew.

So *sigh* I didn't get to finish up my research for the blog post. Suck. I was actually starting to *gulp* like research. Sort of.

Anyway, I guess when it rains, it pours.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exposed Cover

Yesterday I was at the airport, headed out to San Jose for some meetings. My gate was across from the E terminal bookstore (right next to the Starbucks - nonfat green tea latte = YUM!) A great place to people watch for the half hour before my flight boarded.

What was the general observation? A lot of people browse through those airport bookstores. Whether they buy or not, it is definitely exposure for an author. It got me thinking about these people, browsing through the racks, and the placement of the books. All of them are placed cover-out. In essence, letting these wary travelers "judge a book by its cover."

In about 30 minutes what was the book I noticed the most people gravitating to? It was probably about a 60/40 split on men to women picked up or looked at (it was on it's own rack, so I know they were looking at this particular book) James Patterson and Maxine Paetro's SWIMSUIT.

It's sexy, it's provocative, screaming for attention in a terminal full of bored travelers playing the waiting game. But it DEFINITELY was no magazine with a page count of 416.

So it got me thinking, what makes for a great, jump-out-at-you cover?

I'm more than guilty of judging books by their covers once I've run out of suggested readings. If a cover doesn't work for me (and it varies from book to book) chances are, I'll do little more than scan the title/author info. So what do you think makes for a great cover to pull people in and get us reading?

Colors? Words? Pictures?

Any thoughts? More on this tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: 4 Letter Word

Firstly, I went to my first live crit / writers' group last night and it was great. A very eclectic mix of people and even ran into someone who I (sort of) used to work with! Small world. I'm looking forward to the next meeting!

Moving on, as I haven't written much recently and I am going to be on an airplane this morning, in San Jose for the day (meetings), and yet still home in time for dinner - the kidlets don't even have to know I'm gone! - I thought I'd post a little tidbit of my recently completed wip: 4 Letter Word. Haven't done a Teaser Tuesday before, so hope you guys like (or hate) - strong feelings are good :).


* * *

Under the awning of the front porch I realize I didn’t drive. Staring out into the buckets of rain the sky is pouring almost makes me go back inside.
To Caleb.
My fingers throb at me.
“Shit,” I mutter as I pull the hood of my sweatshirt over my head and step into the torrent. Could this day get any worse?
Within the first minute the sheets of rain have soaked through my clothes. It is only five blocks home—walking isn’t so bad when the sky’s not falling—but today it feels endless. I know I’ll have pneumonia or something by the time I make it to my house.
A couple cars pass by slowing to ogle the weird girl walking through the downpour, drenched to the bone, but no one stops. This isn’t surprising. No one in this neighborhood would offer me a lift home in my current condition. My soaking wetness would ruin the interior of their fancy cars. It’s unfortunate that I would cast my mother in league with these same people.
Halfway down the third block a car pulls up beside me.
I walk faster, uncertainty and fear exploding inside.
I’m about to break out in a sprint when I feel a hand on my shoulder. Spinning on my heel, I almost deck Stephen. If he didn’t catch my fist in the palm of his hand.
He grins. “Ninja speed,” he says loud enough so I can hear. The rain’s roar drowns out all other noise.
I drop my fist. “Sorry,” I answer.
“What are you doing?”
“Obviously I’m walking home!” The edge in my voice makes him take a step back and I feel immediately guilty for taking out my anger on him. “I just—”
“Get in!”
“What?” I’m surprised by the offer. I know how much he loves his car.
“Get in!” he yells, already opening the passenger side door and chasing his sister into the back seat. “Reagan! Get in the damn car!”
I don’t know what to say, but I know I’m very cold and very wet. I don’t give myself a chance to think twice and am settled into the passenger seat of the car before he says anything else. My teeth chatter as Stephen turns up the heat and points the vents at me.
“So you make it a habit to walk alone in the dark on stormy nights?” he asks with a grin.
I haven’t ever noticed how nice his smile is before now. Even if he’s being kind of a jerk to me, he still did stop to give me a ride. And now he’s probably as wet as I am from his brief stint outside the car. “Shut up,” I reply. “Thanks for the ride though.”
Stephen shrugs and starts driving.
“Hi Reagan,” a quiet voice behind me says.
I turn to see Hannah smiling at me. “Hi Hannah.”
“How come you were walking in this weather?”
With a sigh I mutter, “It’s a long story. A long, stupid story.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blocked by the Evil Pencils

I know I've been kind of quiet for the last week. Aside from the weekly quote, I didn't post ANYTHING last week and I feel guilty about that. When I first started this blog, I seriously didn't know what I was doing. I did 3 blog posts in 3 months. That's how pathetic I was. I vowed to be better. And I have been. Since then, I've been consistenly posting, not everyday but I've tried to post at least 3x a week. Except for this past week. I believe my issues bled into my blogging.

My problem (as for many writers/blogger . . . people in general) is that real life just sort of, jumps out at me and Ta-Da! throws my normal routine all out of whack. Real life. Gets me every time, sucking every little tidbit of creative mojo from my brain.

While we're on this whole lack of creative mojo, something I wanted to get out in the open: I've written almost nothing in the last couple of weeks. Revisions, sure. But new wordage. I believe the magic number might be something like . . . 10? That would be words, not paragraphs, pages or chapters. 10 words. I suck. Whew, I feel better just confessing that.

I blame it on the evil pencils . . . no matter that I do almost all my writing with my laptop or notebook & pen . . .

On a different note, I'm going to be attending my first in-person writing group meeting tonight. Totally stoked to meet some new people and learn some things. It has taken me a while, but I think I'm on firmer ground now, with the whole crit group / beta readers thing. (Thanks to everyone who helped point me in the right (write - LOL!) direction!)

Quote of the Week

"No passion so effectually robs the mind
of all its powers of acting and
reasoning as fear."
- Edmund Burke

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WiP Wednesday: Stewing

The last week or so, I've mostly just been letting projects stew. I think I finally have my query letter ready for a certain project. I finished the first draft of another. And I'm still trying to layout the new one - I keep asking myself questions I can't answer about characters and stories and backgrounds.
So, yeah. Stewing.

Not wanting to waste my wanton efforts of productivity and knowing that I do need to go back to do revisions and edits this is what I've done in the interim as the brain has been playing the stewage game with words. . . We'll call it "editing my yard" yeah?:
Once upon a time, this was a HUGE hydrangea bush. Alas, it is hydrangea-ing no more. And we (my dh and I) are both unbelievably ecstatic about that! Now we're just waiting for the death of it (unfortunately by way of salt and horribly toxic chemicals-we could find no other way!)

Here are some of the casualties, both of the hydrangea bush as well as trimmings from 3 trees in our backyard. I was ruthless. Still working on that same ruthlessness on the wordage side . . .

Up next? Well, if it stops raining and doesn't rain again *crossing fingers* the ground might dry up enough we can mow the lawn. Freak Utah weather, I'm not holding my breath.
So really, this is probably the one that is the MOST like all the revisions I have to get done. It's there. It needs to be done. But (insert random weather related excuse here) is keeping me from it. *sigh*

What about you? How are your wips coming along??
P.S. Still looking for Recent Reads recommendations if anyone has any. I mostly prefer to read fiction of the YA variety and any sub-genre in there, but I'm totally open to suggestions from any genre!