Sunday, December 25, 2011

Resolutions: 2012 Edition

Here a few of the things I hope to accomplish this year.

1. Have a baby- okay, this one is pretty much a given, but I thought I should put something on the list I KNOW I can and will do.

2. Read more books- this one is going to be SO hard. <- insert sarcasm. I read around forty or so this year, maybe a little less. I'd like to read one book a week in 2012. I'm a way fast reader so I think this is doable. But then again, with yet another newborn, it might not.

3. Finish two manuscripts- this one is a little bit of a cheat since I already have two stories that I'm part of the way through with. But it's hard not to get distracted, or abandon a project when things get rough. I'm determined to make this happen, and focus more on writing than in previous years.

4 spend quality time with my kids- I want run and play with them, not just be around them. I want them to grow up with memories of mom and dad doing fun things with them.

5 Query Fire and Ice- some time this year I know I'll be taking that plunge and entering the query trenches, I just don't know exactly when.
6. Be kind- this includes being grateful, and giving also. I want to be a better me. Kindness goes a long way in this world, and being a believer of Karma, I know that I need to put positive energy out there in the world, and not negativity. It's also good for my soul and health.
Okay, I think six is pretty good. I have those more personal goals like losing the baby weight after baby arrives, eating more healthy, being more organized and everything, but those resolutions are a dime a dozen. Hope you all have a happy new year and amazing 2012. Wishing you all the best. May we all be able to check off a few of the resolutions we make at end of 2011.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wanted to wish everyone an awesomesauce Holiday weekend. Our yearly X-Mas eve traditions include a trip to the movies with the kids, baking cookies for Santa, some personal religious touches, and staying up well past midnight with the husband wrapping presents. And then on Christmas the madness sets in as our living room is showered and covered with said paper, decorating of gingerbread houses, and a delicious ham for dinner. I might check in before the New Year, but that's not likely. The husband has the next 11 days off, so we'll be doing lots of family oriented things like finally raking the leaves. Have fun and be safe, guys!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favorites of 2011

I'm not numbering these since I can't pick a fave. But I did enjoy all of them!

-Divergent by Veronica Roth
-Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
-Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (Supernaturally was also good)
-Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
-Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
-Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
-Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
-Entwined by Heather Dixon
-City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
-The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
-The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
-Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
-The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
-Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
-Hourglass by Myra McEntire
-You Against Me by Jenny Downham
-Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
-Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Organizational Skills (or lack thereof)

I was up until one last night planning out my day. I blame it on the pregnancy. There's this thing called nesting that we childbearing women go through where we have an overwhelming need to get things ready for the baby's arrival. Which is still about 18 weeks away. But here's the thing, I have NEVER been a very organized person. I've always admired the woman (or man) that can fit every detail of their life into carefully labeled plastic bins. I don't function like that. Apparently I need chaos in order to function. I have at least five spiral notebooks laying around the house with different variations of Fire and Ice (along with my other story ideas). Sometimes (if I'm lucky) I'll stumble upon one of these magic notes and figure writing stuff out, other times (more often than not) I'll spend a good hour tearing my house apart searching for the elusive cure to my writer's block. This is wasteful time, people. And if you have kids, you know that an hour of searching can easily turn into an all day thing.

Let's move on to the computer. I'm pretty sure I have ten different versions of Fire ans Ice saved on there. Each stage reflects my growth as a writer, but most them are not really helpful or needed.

this is why I was up until one. Because I realized the overwhelming task I have set myself on with my lack of organizing. The hole is deep. But I really want to tackle it. Not all at once, mind you. But I want to be organized by the time the baby arrives. I don't think I'll ever get to the color coordinated calendar of events organized, but I want to get to the a place for everything, everything in its place (or something like that) organized. I at least want to know where my notebooks are at all times in case inspiration strikes.

On a a side note, I don't know how present I will be over the next two weeks with Christmas and New Year's around the corner, and with my oldest at home. If I am absent, just know that I'm around and that I'll be back (read this in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice). Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Five for Friday

1. We found out we're having a girl! This will even out the boy-girl ratio around here. We'll end with two of each, which is pretty perfect. We're excited, but now the grueling task of picking a name comes into play. Since I'm Indian we gave Baby Princess#1 an Indian name, we'd like to keep the tradition going, but we're very particular about names in this household (the husband, more specifically). So, we might not even have one by the time she arrives in April. Wish us luck!

2. I have been on a writing roll this week, which is always so, so nice. I took a mini break after last months editing and NaNo ended, but now I'm back, baby! And better than ever (or so I hope)! Currently I've put the NaNo project on hold until I figure out a couple of puzzling plot points. Right now I'm working on Cursed (the witch project) and it's going well. As I mentioned in a previous post, I started this one over again. And thus far, I am pleased with my decision to do so.

3. Christmas is just over a week away and we're finally starting to gather all the presents. My husband and I don't really exchange gifts anymore, not because we don't want to, but because we have so much more fun watching the kids rip theirs open. We want to make it more about them than us until they get to age where they start WANTING it to be all about them. (Not looking forward to that.) Curious to know what was on the almighty list this year? Angry Birds was a big one with the boys. And our little girl just wants another baby doll. She is obssessed with those things. I guess she's at that age.

4. Does anyone else have a hard time picking gifts out for their parents? My dad isn't too particular, which makes the search all that much harder. My mom always says things like "I just want something that has meaning." Uh, okay, whatever that is. Seriously, they're impossible. I need to call the sis and figure that one out with her.

5. I've been listening to a lot of 'grim' music the last week as I work on Cursed. The themes are somewhat darker, so it's necessary. Not suicidal dark, but definitely the emo kind of dark. It's weird, I always assumed silence was the main tool I needed to get into writing, but lately I've found that music tends to transport me better into the minds of each of my characters. I even have playlists for each of them. But that's good, it makes it a bit easier to get into the groove of things.

That's all folks! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I never did get into Dystopian until reading the Hunger Games trilogy. But then again, I'm not alone with that one. I'd heard some pretty positive things about DIVERGENT, but was hesitant to pick it up because of all the comparisons to the Hunger Games. But then I remembered how off those comparisons can be. Every book with some sort of love triangle is immediately compared to Twilight. Thankfully, Peggy Eddleman settled my battle when I won a copy of DIVERGENT through a contest she was running.

Here's the description from Goodreads:
Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place her in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

The main similarity I noticed between The Hunger Games and Divergent was the brutality. Both the MCs are put through the ringer. But where Katniss was forced into her situation because she wanted to protect her sister, Tris chose her path of difficulty. Also the romance is more forefront in Divergent. It took a back seat in the Hunger Games trilogy. Okay, I'm done comparing the two, I just wanted to talk about specific differences.

I did enjoy the 'after' world Veronica Roth created. The whole five factions thing was pretty cleverly put together, and I found myself debating over which one I would join if I were ever put in such a position.

When I first started Divergent, I wasn't so sure of Tris, the MC. She seemed a little...weak. But she later proved me wrong, and I was glad for it. I'm not a fan of the 'weak and helpless' female MC, especially one that CHOSE to be put through what she was. And Tris was able to stand up for herself, which is always nice.

Tris is not spared when it comes to the initiation part of joining Dauntless (you have to complete certain tasks before you can join, and if you fail, you get thrown out and are 'factionless' which is apparently very bad). I definitely cringed during certain scenes, because it did seem somewhat extreme.

Then there's the romance. Four is a trainer for the Dauntless, and he's VERY GOOD at what he does. A lot of people complain when the MC immediately gets the attention of the guy, but really, there would be no romance plot if there wasn't an attraction. I was attracted to my husband when I first met him, is that wrong? NO. It's NORMAL. The way that Ms. Roth handled the romance aspect was also well done. I didn't feel like things were going way too fast between Four and Tris. It would have been pretty unrealistic given the circumstances they were put in. As I have said before, I like romance in my story, but I'm not a fan of the "I've only known you for less than twenty four hours, and I know we've only made some grunting sounds at each other, but I love you" kind of romance.

All in all I went through this book pretty quickly. It took me less than a day to finish. Which is pretty impressive considering how long it is (over 400 pages). I guess that would be my only gripe with the story, it never felt urgent until the last hundred pages or so. But when it did pick up, I was pretty far into it to care about the pace. And I would have liked to know more of how the whole world came to an end. But since this is going to be part of a trilogy, I guess there's still time to get answers to my burning questions. All in all I would give it a four and a half out of five stars. And I would definitely recommend it to my friends and family (actually, I already told my sis that she NEEDS to read it). If you enjoy the dystopian genre, you'll enjoy DIVERGENT. It had all the elements I look for in a good book- action, adventure, romance. I'm looking forward to the next installment

Monday, December 12, 2011

Such is Life

I went to sleep with a massive headache last night. And since I'm pregnant I can only take Tylenol, which seems to have disappeared. All I could find in the medicine cabinet was ibuprofen, which is the only pain reliever that works for the husband. Thank goodness it went away on its own.

Last night was the mid-season finale of Once Upon a Time. If you haven't seen it yet, don't worry, this is a spoiler free post. But I will say that the ending left my mouth agape and my heart heavy. It was good, one of the best episodes this season if not the best, but the twist at the end wasn't really to my taste. That doesn't mean I'm giving up on the series, I'll just be hoping for something to happen that might not. And of course the turmoil I felt made its ways into my dreams. I kept making the ending the way I wanted it, instead of how the writers wrote it. Even though I wasn't happy with what took place, I have to keep reminding myself that not everything will go the way you want it to.

This got me wondering, what makes someone give up on a series, whether television or book. I'm one of those people that finds it increasingly difficult to leave a series the more I get invested in it, even if I'm unhappy with the direction it takes. I can't seem to give up hope. The one show I left this season was Terra Nova, and that was because I wanted more kick a$$ dinosaur time, which the show was lacking. And the storylines were the kind that made your eyes roll and grumble, 'been there, done that'.

When I tried to remember a book series I'd given up, I couldn't come up with anything. There were a few instances where I felt like I wanted to shove the book away underneath a couch cushion, but I didn't stop reading the series. Even when Richelle Mead threw that bombshell in during book three of the Vampire Academy series, I couldn't stop reading. But that's because she's a master storyteller and knows how to keep you wanting more. I can think of maybe one recent series that I *might* be giving up, but I'm not sure yet (no, I won't be divulging the name). I think as a reader (or tv viewer) we get invested in the lives of the characters. It's what makes you keep coming back. For some reason I find it much easier to give up a show than a book, because really, I don't feel like investing hours on end to a tv series that is around 20 episodes long and lasts for who knows how many seasons. At least with books, we know that sooner or a later there will come an end. And it won't take hundreds of books to get there (well, it might, but I've never read a series over seven books long). Reading is more of my passion than watching television. I'll give up my favorite show to pick up the newest book by my favorite author any day. But that's just me.

What about you guys. Was there a time when you gave up on a book series, or television series. YOu don't have to be specific if you don't want to be. But I'm curious as what the final straw was. Whether it be the increasing number of loose plot holes, or characters that got to be way too annoying, or maybe you weren't satisfied with the direction the story had taken. What was it that made you go 'eh, I'm done.'

Friday, December 9, 2011

Five for Friday and Awards

All righty, everyone, I got me some more awards! Woohoo! A big thanks to Ninja Girl for giving me these unwarranted and prestigious awards. Seriously, though, she's very sweet. And you all should stop by her blog and congratulate her on getting an agent!!! The blog awards I recieved are the following:





and:


According to the rules I'm supposed to share some random facts about myself, and then pass these AWESOMESAUCE awards along to others. Christmas is all about sharing, so this goes well with the Holiday season. Also, since I do my Five for Friday today, I thought I would just share those facts about myself in place of the usual post. Here goes nothing:

1. My sister and I are married to brothers. That's right, we keep it all in the family. It's actually pretty cool since our kids are double cousins. We have three kiddos that are only a few months apart in age and are best friends.

2. I've been writing since I was little. It started with random mysteries, moving right along to Princesses. But my true passion as a child was writing love songs. That's right, Peeps, I wrote about the longing for love and the heartbreak of loss at the ripe old age of nine. Even more embarrassing? My mom kept all of my incredibly insightful lyrics. They went something like this: "Oooh baby, baby, don't break my heart. Oooh baby, baby, I love you." I know, I am a poetic genius.

3. I love to lay on the trampoline and watch the clouds go by with my kids at my side. They have some seriously hilarious interpretations of what a certain cloud resembles. As a mother, these small moments are the ones that stay with you for a lifetime. I don't believe in stifiling a child's imagination, and if my kid swears that one of those clouds looks just like a Jelly Fish riding a motorcycle, than darn it, it does!

4. Since English was not my first language, I have a tendency to say certain words incorrectly. I often mix up my Vs and Ws. My husband thinks this is hilarious and often imitates me, making it sound like I have some incredibly thick Russian accent. I also misprounounce comfortable. I say it like this: comftable. Notice how certain letters are missing in my pronounciation.

5. I love dark chocolate. This is a grevious sin to my mother-in-law (okay, slight exaggeration. I used to hate the stuff as a kid, but now I can't get enough. To me it means I'm an adult (yeah right!), that my tastes have matured to a much richer state.

Okay, so I'm going to pass these along now.
First off, let's start with Peggy Eddleman. She just got an agent AND her books is going be published by Random House in 2013! This week she is sharing some tips with everyone that will help you get that much closer to finding yourself in that position, too! And she says she will write for cookies, that's my kind of gal.

Why don't you stop by Susan Kaye Quinn's blog. Her book OPEN MINDS just came out and I'm hearing wonderful things about it.

Meredith Moore is also an up and coming writer. I love her five random thoughts on Friday posts, and she also shares her journey in writing and life with her own uniqe style of storytelling.

Becky Wallace asks, What's Your Thought on That? She always ends her posts by asking you a question relating to her posts. And she's a mama that has found herself an agent and is trying to get published.

The 1000th Monkey is a great blogger that shares little excerpts from her current works. I very much enjoy reading more of her story. She also shares her experiences in finding Beta Readers, Critique partners, and pretty much anything that we face along this publishing journey.

That's is for now! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. See you next week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shelving a Project You Love

I've wanted to be a writer since I was little, and began to understand that I could actually make up my own stories instead of having to read the boring ones assigned to me in school. But as I got older I put that desire aside because it wasn't 'realistic'. I attempted to write again in college, but found myself floundering in self criticism. It wasn't until my second kiddo was six months old that I started to seriously write again. Why? There was a story that had been gnawing away at my imagination for some years, and I knew if I didn't get it down, sooner or later it would drive me to insanity.

So, with the self doubt ever looming to chop me to bits, I began my journey. A month later the idea for Fire and Ice came in to play (yes, I am one of those annoying writers that NEEDS to work on more than one project at a time in order to sustain my writing mind). A couple months into the writing gig I decided it was time to do some research, because...well, I thought I might actually try and publish something some day. It was then that I came across those two dreaded words: query letter. I'd never heard of such a thing, but looked into and naively thought 'it can't be that hard'(if only I knew!). After the initial search,I wanted to know more about the market. I learned of trends, what was selling what was not, how difficult it is to get an agent (pretty much near impossible according to quite a few people), all those things that wrench your heart with fear and crush your confidence with reality. I realized the story I was working on, the one I loved, was going to be a hard sell, especially in the YA market(it's a scifi/fantasy).

I never once thought of writing for adults, I've always known that YA is my niche. So did I want to make my characters older for a better chance at publishing? Not really. The story didn't work if the characters were older. So, with reluctance in every click of the keyboard, I disembarked from my story. It was hard, but I knew that it just wasn't the right time for it. I focused instead on Fire and Ice. I don't believe in writing for trends (although my previous few sentences might suggest otherwise). Every so often a story so different from what's 'hot' at the moment will come along and make us rethink the whole market when it exceeds expectations with its success. Knowing this, I still didn't feel that it was the right time for my story.

Over the last few years I've started and shelved several projects. Such is the way of the writer. But that one story is always nearest to my heart. Why? Because I love the characters, the world that they live in, their journey. But most of all I love it because it got me writing again. This story might never see the light of day, but I'll never be able to fully let go of it because of that reason. Every now and then I'll open up the document and work on it, just for fun. At first it was hard to put it away, but it became easier over the years. Especially once I started to fall in love with Fire and Ice, and once I realized I had more than just one story in me. I have MANY (maybe too many. I'm a little ADD with the amount of projects I try to take on at once). In end I'm happy with where I am as a writer. I'll continue to grow and learn. Some day I might even land an agent. And maybe, just maybe, a day will come when this story can finally spread its wings and fly into the hands of an eager reader.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five for Friday

1. I got to 25,000 words! Actually it was more like 25,156. I'm happy with it, and now I'm really getting a good feel for the story.

2.We're taking the kids to the movies later today! Groupon had a great deal last weekend where you could purchase 2 tickets for twelve dollars! Normally going to the movies costs an arm and a leg, but it won't be too bad with our deal. We're thinking we'll see either Puss in Boots or Arthur Christmas. I would like to see the new Muppets movie, which I've heard wonderful things about, but I think the kids prefer cartoon animation.

3. I'm still working on my other Witch project while doing my NaNo WIP...and I started that one ALL OVER again (the witch one). It was only about 26,000 words in, but that's a lot of writing. The reason for scrapping it and doing it over? I just wasn't happy with the progression I made. The other day I went over it and decided it was lacking something...that I couldn't quite figure out. I still love the idea and I want to finish it, but I also want to be happy with what I have down, even if it needs A LOT of editing. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made I order to better the story, and in this instance it was twenty six thousand and some odd words.

4. Can you guys believe it's already December? I have yet to break out the tinsel and decorate the house, but we're getting a real tree and I want it to last as long as possible so we'll probably do that stuff later on in the month.

5. I'm leaving you all with well wishes. Hope you have an awesome weekend. Maybe you'll get some Holiday shopping done! Another thing I need to add to the list.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNo Update and Other News

Word Count: 24,152
I have until midnight to get to 25,000. I'm confident that I can.

A quick question to you NaNo veterans. Do you still upload your story, even if you didn't reach 50,000? I think you do, but I'm still getting the hang of the NaNo thing.

In other news, I finally joined Twitter! I'm @prernapickett, so look me up. I'm going to add a gadget to my side bar on my blog page some time later this week. So far it's really interesting to see SO many writers on there. It's crazy how all this social networking connects everyone. Pretty cool.

Okay, so I've mentioned on here before how much I dislike writing Query letters. Mainly because I suck at them. I've been practicing, and have improved, but it's still a pain. Then I realized that a synopsis is so much more evil than a query letter. Having struggled with this for quite some time, I found this awesome post over at rubyslipperedsisterhood on writing a Seven paragraph synopsis. Yeah, you read that correctly- SEVEN. This post has helped me SO MUCH with the dreaded synopsis. Now that I have a clear outline of what my goals should be for each paragraph, it's much easier. Follow the link and see for yourself. If this is something you struggle with, much like myself, it'll change EVERYTHING *says in a deep, booming voice*. Okay, the caps was a bit dramatic, but it's the only way to get you to understand how much its helped me out.

Hope everyone is enjoying their last day in Novemeber. All you NaNoers, write your hearts out in these last few hours left in the day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNo Update and a Cry for Help

19,552 words so far. There are only a couple of days left, but I think I can make it. For some reason I keep forgetting to update my word count on my NaNo page. Oh well, if I do it before the 30th I think I'll be in good shape.

Moving right along to my cry for help. Many of you know I finished the most recent edits of my finished manuscript, Fire and Ice, and I've finally come to the point where I can do no more...on my own. I have a couple people looking over it right now, but I could always use more insight (and I welcome it). So, my request is this: are any of you interested in beta reading for me? I need two or three more perspectives, and it would be so wonderful to get a little extra help. I mean, I think we all get to the point where we can't do anymore without it. I've really pushed myself and I'm finally comfortable enough to let others take a look at it and give me some advice on what I'm doing wrong, and what I'm doing right. It's harder to notice your own flaws. I am more than willing to do a tradeoff. If you a need a beta reader, or even a critiquer, I am your gal. I've been focusing so much this month on writing, that in December I want to rest a little, which is perfect timing if you want me to read your stuff. And I'm a very fast reader. If you are interested leave me a comment with an e-mail address or e-mail me at prernapickett at yahoo.com and I'll give you the details. Thanks for sticking with me you guys! And I should also mention that I don't take critiques personally. I've learned that in order to improve, constructive criticism is much needed. Good luck to any of you still participating in NaNo. There's only so much time left, but you can achieve your goal!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNo Update and Gratitude

18,779 words so far! I'm hoping to get to 25,000 before the end of the month. I don't think that's a far fetched goal at all.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow (Yikes!) I wanted to write out a list of some of the things
I'm grateful for. Even though you may not celebrate it, I don't think it's ever a bad time to just be thankful for all that you have.

First off, my family. I love my husband and children for putting up with all of my imperfections (and there are many). They accept and love me for who I am. And my husband continues to encourage me in this crazy writing thing, even if it doesn't amount to anything except heartache. And my extended family is pretty great too! I have parents who love and encourage, as well as in-laws who do the same!

I'm thankful for my imagination. If i didn't have anything going on up north, then i wouldn't have ideas for stories. I love making up a brand new world of impossible possibilities.

For the writing community I discovered this year. You all are so kind and welcoming. It's nice to know that I'm not alone. If I ever need any encouragement, you guys are there, ready to comment away!

For all those materialistic and technological things I enjoy : my home, clothes, food, that my husband is able to provide for our family during these tough times around the world and the economy. Air conditioning during the summer, and heat during the winters, my washer and dryer, my microwave and oven. So MUCH More.

And for books! They inspire me,and push me to do my best (much like you guys). I love curling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book to keep me company. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's like heaven.

What about you guys, what are you thankful for?

And of course for the simple things in life

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five for Friday

1. I know it's late, but technically it's still Friday in my neck of the woods. Who else hears Al Roker's voice in their head when you hear that phrase? No? I'm crazy all by myself?

2. Word count:14588 Editing:100% donezo! Okay, I really didn't get as much writing in as I wanted, but I finished editing! Hooray! My focus all of next week will be working on my NaNo novel. Like I said before, I don't care if I get to 50,000 words, I just want to dig deeper into the story and find the heart of it. That sounds kind of gruesome, but you know what I mean.

3.Kristan Hoffman wrote this amazing post about what really matters in writing. I read it and it goes along well with my post earlier this week about doubt and comparing our work to other's.

4. Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Yikes! I know not all of you that read my blog are in the States, but I have a huge place in my stomach (and heart) for Thanksgiving. I love the food, the whole idea of remembering to be grateful for the things you have, as small as they may seem, and being together with family. Although this year it'll be just our little family celebrating together, it's still wonderful. My husband has been traveling SO MUCH for the last month that the idea of traveling again down for the Holiday kills him. And he feels like he hasn't spent any real time with us here at home, and he just wants to focus on spending time with our little ones. Especially since he'll be traveling again next week from Mon-Wed (he'll be back in time for Thursday's huge meal) and the week after also.

5. I just wanted to wish you all a happy weekend. I'll keep working hard on my writing, and check in on your blogs. I might be absent later next week with Turkey day and everything, but I'll be here in spirit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNo Update and Doubt

Word Count: 13,684 Editing: 95% done

I've been experiencing sluggishness and self-doubt. As authors, we often have these symptoms, sort of like the Circle of Authorship. It's almost a rite of passage. When you do this job (and yes it is a job, so stop stifling that laugh in your sleeve you in the back) it's difficult to keep things in order. There is no specific set of skills that one needs in order to succeed in it. Well, you do have to be willing to sit your butt down and work and be passionate about it (passion is very key), but other than that you don't need much else. There's no test to gage our moral compass. We don't have to share an experience where we had to overcome a difficult work situation involving a hostile co-worker(unless you count yourself as that hostile person).In these times of confidence crushing moments, we have to remind ourselves why it is we do what we do. Because we love it.

You know what makes these times even worse? Comparing yourself to someone else. Let's be honest, this is a waste of time. All authors are unique. Each of us has our own way of telling a story. A way of conveying a mood or scene. Getting yourself down because you can't write like someone else is pointless. Can you imagine if Stephen King had written the Hunger Game trilogy? (And yes I'm using The Hunger Games in lieu of all the frenzy everyone is in over the trailer). It would not be the same masterful piece of work it now is. I'm sure Mr. King would have thrown in a haunted house or monsterous alien creature in there somewhere, or some other supernatural element, because he's really good at those things. But he didn't write it, Suzanne Collins did. And I can't imagine anyone else doing it. Do I wish that my prose was as beautiful and purposeful as Maggie Stiefvater's? Yes. But it isn't. And that's her thing, it's what she's known for. Do I wish that everything that came out of my characters' mouths were as witty and sarcastic as the ones from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series? Of course! I don't know how that woman comes up with such fun exchanges, but she's way good at it. You know the great thing about reading? You can learn from it. How awesome is that we get to read in order to learn? This is the best job ever! We may not be able to get it ALL right, but we can get better at it by enjoying someone else's work, and practicing our own. If I can't write it, at least I can take enjoyment in reading it.

At the end of the day we have to remind ourselves that we are who we are, and we write the way we write. You may hate the way a sentence sounds right now, but you can always go back and change it. That's the great thing about writing and editing.

Nothing is going be as perfect as you envision it in your head. Writing is a continual learning process. I don't think there will ever come a day when one of us says "Finally, I know ALL the things!I'm the master of my craft!' And if you do, more than likely it probably sucks. Yes, there are days when I think "All of this is garbage, who would ever want to read it?' And others where I think "Hey, this isn't half bad.' I don't think I will ever get to the point where I think it's great or even good. But that's the burden we writers carry with us. It's our job to be self deprecating. It keeps us going. And if you have one of these Circle of Authorship moments, make sure you have people around you to keep you going. Encouragement is huge in this industry. We feed off of it. Criticism is helpful, too. But with self-doubt continually looming over our heads like that one grade school teacher that never cut you a break, we need support. So, I support all of you. And I hope you'll support me. I'm not going to wallow in misery, I'll rise above it. Sometimes it just takes time. I'll get back to writing in order to make it more presentable. And some day I'll share it with all of you. Thanks for sticking around!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo and Edits

Word count: 12772. Yes, I got work done this weekend! Even with the madness of Saturday evening. Turns out we had some last minute family come into town along with family that had already planned on coming. It was kind of stressful and crazy, but it was fun to see everyone. And the kids love to play with their cousins, so it worked out in the end.
Edits:85% done. I'm getting to the end. It's so close, I can almost taste it. But I've been REALLY tired the last couple of days, after going to sleep after midnight on both Saturday and Sunday, so I'm not sure how much work I'm going to get done. My only desire for the day is to take a nap! Ahh, that sounds heavenly. But we'll see. Might be near impossible with the kids.

Tonight the hubby leaves for a couple of days for work. I'm thinking I'll be much more productive by tomorrow night. AFTER the kids go to bed. Well, that's it for today. Hope everyone else is doing great with this challenging month. There's so much going on, especially with Thanksgiving fast approaching. And with Thanksgiving comes Christmas preparation. Seriously, what's up with all the Christmasy things already EVERYWHERE? Give Turkey day the acknowledgement it deserves! It is MY favorite Holiday! Great, now I'm craving Turkey and stuffing. And Pie. Okay, better go eat some lunch. I'll be back for another update!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A NaNo Update On Friday

Okay guys. I don't have a usual Five for Friday since I've been pretty busy writing and editing. My mind is all mushy and gooey from the amount of brain energy I've exerted this week. Unfortunately, that leaves very little left over for everything else. So, NaNo word Count:11,295. I'm making progress! And I'll do even better next week when I have time during the nights to write. And Edit Update: 50% done! I've spent most of my time editing my story over the course of the last two days and I'm not doing too shabby. Hence the reason I haven't written as much as I should. But I'm getting work done, and that's all that matters. With a hard copy in my hand, it's so much easier to see the mistakes I've made, and to cut scenes that just aren't doing anything to move the story along. Good thing, too, since my word count is still a little bit on the high side. Hope all of you are doing great with whatever projects you're working on. I'm going to keep up, but we have family coming to visit over the weekend, so I might not be able to get much of anything done. Have an awesome Saturday and Sunday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspiration and Nano update 4

Word count as of this morning? 10749. Yeah, I kind of lost momentum, but I predicted that this would occur. But on the plus side, I finally have a hard copy of my other story to edit by hand! Which is another reason for the slow word count. Isn't it amazing how many things you notice once you have your story on actual pieces of paper? Yeah, I have a ways to go with that one. But the husband is going out of town yet again next week, so I'll catch up then. Moving on...

I wanted to write the story I'm working on for NaNo because of a dream I had. But that dream was inspired by a few movies from my past that I absolutely loved. Mostly the scenery. So I'm going to share some images from those movies and talk about them a bit. (Note, I do not own any of these pictures.)

First up syfy's original movie, Alice. I watched this for first time last year and loved it.

The scenery was amazing and I really loved the original take on Wonderland. I am very inspired by nature in all its glory.


And then there's this guy. Hatter!

Another Syfy original I loved was The Tin Man with Zooey Deschanel.
Like I said, I love original takes on classics. And this was no exception. Who doesn't love the Wizard of Oz? It inspires many people.

Water plays a big rolec in the story.


I loved the new take on the evil witch and her tower. Very modern and industrial looking.


The last movie I watched when I was in middle school. It has stayed with me after all these years well...because I loved fairytales and magical lands. The Tenth Kingdom is kind of a long one (at almost ten hours), but was so much fun for me to watch when I was younger, and even now. I can't wait to show it to my kids.


The scenery was so beautiful, and it totally transported me to that other world full of magic.


And, of course, you can't forget the evil Queen.

There you have it, a few movies that inspired my new WIP. Love them all. If you haven't watched any of them, give 'em a try. They're pretty fun and make you feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nano Update 3

Sorry about no blog post yesterday. But I was having one of those days, where reality becomes all too real. Life is hard, and it only seems to get harder. I'll admit I shed a few tears, because sometimes crying is the best medicine. Then I wiped them away and put on my big girl panties and told myself to get over it. It may be hard right now, but it'll get better. No, this had nothing to do with my ventures in writing, it was just life telling me to suck it up and deal with it. But I am in a better place and I've been writing. My word count is now at 10,246. I'm proud of myself for moving on. Life is still very real, but it's so nice to have a way of escaping. I love that about writing. The ability to get away to the world you've created in your own head. If nothing else, at least I have my writing. But I'm lucky because that's not the only thing keeping me going. I have a wonderful family and awesome friends. Life is good. The word count hasn't vastly improved since last week, like I had predicted, but it's better than nothing! And I'm way more motivated to get more done. Yesterday I worked on a scene that reminded me why I fell in love with this story in the first place, and felt so strongly about writing it. I'll be back to share a few pictures of what inspired the NaNo project. Other than that, hope all of you participating are typing away at that big 50,000 number. And to everyone else, good luck with any projects you may be working on. Have an awesome day. And please, if life gets to be too much, don't be afraid to cry. It does help...a little.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five for Friday

1. Nano update 2: 7661 words. Way more than I thought, but once I get going, nothing can stop me. I'm a fast typer. This number won't likely change over the weekend b/c I plan spending it with my family. And the husband returns this afternoon.

2. Edit update: About 2/3 of the way through. I spent most of yesterday ( when my children allowed it) working on the edits. The other 1/3 will get done once I have a printed copy to go through with a big old red pen. I'm proud of myself. You have no idea how much I was dreading having to make even more changes, but I felt inspired and it worked out.

3. For others doing NaNo, you can feel free to add me as your writing buddy, I'm prernapickett on there. If you want me to add you, just leave a comment and let me know. I would love to know how the rest of you are faring. And encouragement is much needed.

4. As I mentioned, my husband comes back today. Thank goodness. I do not sleep well when he's gone. Every single sound I hear is an intruder or ghost out to get me. It didn't help that Wednesday night was the windiest its ever been around here so there was much shaking and rattling in the night.

5. I don't have a fifth...sorry. I'm boring, I know. Good luck to all you NaNo participants! I'm cheering you on from behind this screen, so it's probably a bit muffled and hard to make out. Have productive and fun weekends all!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNo Update 1 and Halloween

Okay, I'm 4,233 words in. I know, that's way more than I expected only a day and a half in. How did pull this off? Well, there's the fact that I've been planning this story out in my head for about a month, so I knew exactly where I wanted it to start. I've been itching to put it down on paper. Also, my husband is out of town, so my nights are pretty lonely, which makes it possible for me to stay up and write. And my oldest is out of school the rest of the week for parent/teacher conferences so I can stay up late without too many consequences. Nice! Unfortunately this means that the miraculous word count will significantly dwindle once next week rolls around. I also wanted to give a Halloween update.



Did you notice the picture? Yeah, we went as the Superhero Family! I was Super Woman (obvs), the husband was Captain America, my oldest little guy went as Spiderman, and my little little guy was Iron Man, while baby Princess went as Super Girl. (Which was cool since her outfit was pink, silver, and white while mine was the traditional Superman colors of red, blue, and yellow. More often than not people thought I was Wonder Woman.) All in all everyone loved our costumes and we had lots of fun. And the kids got enough candy to last them until Easter, the next big candy holiday that we celebrate in our home. Okay, that's all folks. Tell me, how's it going with you guys, if you're participating on NaNo? If not, I'd still love updates on what you're working on and what not. Other than that, I'll try to be back on Friday for a Friday Five post.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It's finally here! The holiday all kids look forward to (well, that and Christmas). I'm pretty excited to get my little ones in their costumes and take them trick-or-treating. My boys even have the whole jingle down, you know the one 'trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat'. They have even practiced on their bedroom door, taking turns being the trick-or-treater. As 'spooky' as this holiday is supposed to be, I'm more into the fun of it, and not the 'it's the night the veil between the dead and the living is thinnest' thing. I don't my kids having nightmares over it.

And let's not forget what tomorrow is. NaNoWriMo. Wow, where has the time gone? Seriously. Only two more months until the end of 2011! Well, I have to say, I'm looking forward to the challenge November is going to present for me. Juggling my every day life with trying to write as much as I can, while editing another novel, that's going to be interesting. I might not have hair by the end of it, or only patches of it left where I didn't pull it out. We'll see. But I love writing, and to me NaNo isn't about the word count, but the motivation. I know some people are going to do everything possible to make it to that 50,000 words, but honestly, I just want to write something I love and not really pay attention to the number. I've been looking for a reason to start a new project, and NaNo was the push I needed. It's surprising that I'm not going to put myself through the ringer to get to that 50,000 word count, considering how competitive I can be, but I'd like to think it's because I'm mellowing out in my old age. (Yeah, I know, I'm not old.) I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing over the next month, I want to focus all my energy on my story, but I'll try to pop in every now and then. I also have a few posts in my que for those days I have no desire to blog what-so-ever.

Okay then. Good luck to everyone with November, whether or nor you're doing NaNo. I'll keep you guys in the loop as much as possible. Other than that, have fun with it!
PS: Steph Sinkhorn is holding an AWESOME contest on her blog maybegenius.blogspot.com. Ch-ch-check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Five for Friday

1. First off a big thanks to Ruth for giving me the Versatile Blogger award. It happened a while back but since my memory is slowly failing me, I kept forgetting to mention it. Go check out her blog from the link above.

2. I realized this week that I'm making my character do something in my manuscript because I want her to, not because it's what she would do. Now I need to go back and fix this screw up on my part. But it's going to add tension to the story and make it more of a page turner, which is good. It'll also cut my word count, which is also desperately needed. Why am I hesitating? Nano is a few days away, and writing a new project while overhauling my other story seems daunting. But at the same time, I took some time off recently and it has really refreshed me. I think I might be up for the task because of it. And I always love a good challenge.

3. There's a contest going over at confessionsofawanderingheart.blogspot.com to have your query critiqued. By an actual agent. How much does that rock? The window is slim so set your clocks and do another do-over of your query before submitting. I have to say, I got some great feed back from Steph, but it's always nice to get another critique. I'm a perfectionist and I really want my query to sparkle. I seriously hate queries. I've gotten better at them over time, but they are still the bane of my existence. And so much is riding on it! Gah!

4. I've been thinking a lot about what I want from this writing gig. An agent? Yes. To be published? Yes. Fame and money? Well, money would be nice but I'm not so sure about the fame part. I've said before that I have realistic expectations, the kind that have prepared me for years of struggling, but that's not to say i'm looking forward to it. Well, I am looking forward to the pay-off, not so much the gut twisting agony of rejection. I get excited whenever I read a post by fellow bloggers after they can finally announce their hard work has paid off, and that they are now agented. It gives me hope. Please keep posting this good stuff, along with the aftermath of gaining representation. I love reading about edits and how hard you all are still working because it helps prepare me even more for what might come. So congrats to all of you with agents, I hope I can join your ranks sooner rather than later.

5. In other news, I finally convinced the hubs to watch the first season of Th Walking Dead. Zombies freak me out, I have an unfounded fear of them. I even have an escape plan in case of a zombie apocalypse. Zombies: it's one of those ideas that is so far fetched that you wonder why you're scared. But I am. And why do I subject myself to this show with this fear? Because it's fantastic. The writing is incredible, and really, I watch because of the characters. It's not a show for the queasy, there is blood and guts. But if you can get beyond that, awesome show. Now if only I can get him on board with Doctor Who...that might be asking for too much, I'm afraid.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

I've always loved fairy tales. I especially love books that retell my favorites with their own personal spin on things. I started with Zel by Donna Jo Nopali back in Junior high. I then made my way to Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. After that I discovered Robin McKinley and her magical way of creating a whole new world on classics with stories like Beauty, Spindle's End, and Rose Daughter. Beauty and the Beast is probably my all time favorite but the Twelve Dancing Princesses comes in at a close second, both of which Juliet Marillier did retellings of in Heart's Blood and Wildwood Dancing, I highly recommend both. All of this brings me to Entwined, the book I'm reviewing. Here's the description from Goodreads:

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


I can't put into words how much I love books that introduce me to a world such as the one presented in Entwined. Heather Dixon did a great job of recreating our world into one of magic and mayhem. It felt real, solid, and possible. This story probably stays more true to the original 12 Dancing, but it never felt mundane. I was excited about what was going to happen next. And I really liked the main character, Azalea the oldest of 12 daughters, which can be hard to pull off. Sure thre were times I wanted to shake her, but for the most part I think she was a solid character who followed stayed true to herself. I loved the character of the King,a man of mystery who slowly unravels into a more well-rounded character as the story progresses. The romance was sweet and made me smile. Then there was Keeper, a guy whose motives are shady from the beginning. I always like a good bad guy, and I found one in this story. There was also an innocence in this book that I can appreciate, it made feel young again. Also, if you love dancing, this one has a lot of it. The title comes from a particular dance that Ms. Dixon cleverly created for this story. Heather Dixon did a great job, her writing was wonderfully woven, and her description of the enchanted forest transported me. I loved that the 12 daughters were given names alphabetically. I have a hard enough time naming just a few characters, but twelve girls? Yeah, tough one. But I loved all the names Ms. Dixon chose. And the alphabet thing gives you some insight into just how much the King likes organization. This book had no cursing or compromising sexual situations, which I found refreshing. Sometimes I need a break from both those things. All in all, a fun read. If you enjoy retellings, this one is great, and like I said, pretty true to the original.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Reality

Doesn't it always feel like Monday sucks all the joy from the weekend out with reminders of bills that need to be paid, laundry that needs to be folded, and cleaning that needs to get done? Unless of course you work all weekend and Monday is your Saturday, in which case Wednesday is the vampire-like sucking culprit.

My weekend wasn't too bad. My dad came into to town for a couple days. Visits from family and friends always gets my butt into gear for cleaning, and that was the case last week. My house was pretty much emaculate, of course this will last all of one more day before my kids get into destruction mode again. I also got some outlining done! Look at me being all productive and organized. Being a pantser, it was hard to get it into my head that I can't just wing it this time around. Normally I would start working on a scene I felt most passionate about, whether it was I the beginning middle or end, it did not matter. This makes the editing process a big old B-word. Why? Well here's a taste of what I usually go through:
*Humming along into the magical world of edits* ( I like editing, so sue me). *Pauses when she stumbles upon a scene that just doesn't make sense* "Hmmmm...this isn't supposed to happen for another hundred pages. Oh well, I'll just copy and paste it where it belongs."

This is a sample of what happens CONSTANTLY. I try and write a scene out where I think it belongs, but it doesn't always work out. And the copy and pasting thing is so tedious and boring, it takes away any real useful time for actual edits. By time I get everything in the right and proper place I have no energy left for the good stuff. I promised myself it's not going to happen this time around. I want to start at the beginning and make my way to the end in a timely and efficient manner. But it's scary. What if I get to a scene I have no desire to write out? A scene I have yet to figure into the story? That's why I'll have my handy dandy notebook. Seriously, it's quite helpful to write out certain scenes in a notebook that are gnawing away at you and type them in when you get to the right place. I have several notebooks laying around my house in case of inspiration, and I stand by this method of writing. I wrote my first attempt at a novel in a notebook, for some reason I find it more...romantic, perhaps? To write by hand than type everything out in front of a cold, hard machine. I don't have a laptop at the moment so it makes it difficult to write about anything and everything at somewhere other than my cave-like basement. I have mused over pulling out the desktop from the wall and carrying it around, but that might look a little odd to some. Anyway, that's what my plans are for NaNo. I have an outline, I know what my goals are, and in a week and one day I'll attempt my grown-up version of writing. Hope all of you are figuring out your own methods in surviving November. Good luck!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five for Friday

1. First off I wanted to thank anyone that has stopped by and read my campaign entry and left encouraging comments and who also might have voted for me. You guys rock!I'm going around and reading the other entries, and like last time I'm impressed by the many talented writers here online. It's amazing where each individual imagination goes with one idea.

2. I also officially signed up for NaNo! My username is Prernapickett if any of you participating want to look me up.

3. I got some reading done and I have a book review coming your way next week, so keep a lookout.

4. I've been planning my NaNo entry out in my head over the last couple of weeks and I'm getting really pumped for it. I haven't written anything down, but I might start planning out more concrete ideas and details. Is that cheating? I'm not going to start writing the story or anything, but I do want to have an outline of some kind done. I'm usually a pantser with my writing, but with only one month to do 50,000 words, I'm afraid I won't have the luxury of winging it. Or I could start planning in November as I write. I don't know, I am conflicted.

5. I got an award a while back that I have to pick up. I'll do that next week also and share a few more fun facts with all of my new and old followers. And if I haven't said so yet, WELCOME! It's nice to see some new faces.

Alrighty, hope you guys have good weekend. My dad will be here tomorrow so I'll be kind of busy. Check in with you all on Monday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Third Campaign Challenge: Waking From Paradise

It's here, the third campaign challenge! Here are the details:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

that it’s morning,
that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
that the MC (main character) is bored
that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

Here's my entry: Waking From Paradise

A yellow, orange haze cast across the vast blue sky, cloudless and perfect. The water rippled, meeting the shore slowly with its turquoise taint.
Goosebumps lined her flesh as the morning chill nipped away. It was going to be another ninety degree day, but at five in the morning, wearing a two piece on the beach was asking for the barely there cold to make its presence known.
“Isn’t it beautiful, Katie?” His eyes twinkled when he asked the question. “The most synbatec sunrise on the face of this Earth.”
She rolled her eyes, completely over it. Then there was the wastopaneer smell behind them that was killing the mood.
Rising from the ground, she shook out her bathing suit, letting the grains of sand grinding against her butt fall while her stomach jiggled.
Tanner held out his hand, his chocolate brown hair shifting with the small breeze. Her own dark hair was being tacise, as usual, completely untamable. Why did his always look so perfect?
Clasping her hand with his, the chill got stronger. He pulled her in closer, wrapping his arms around her bare back. His lips claimed hers and she felt herself sigh against his touch. Clinging to him, she suddenly felt an overpowering sense of panic, reality trying to wake her from the dream. Her eyes shut tight, she fought against whatever part of her was starting to wake. The stench got stronger, overpowering the other details of the morning. Then it finally hit her.
Her eyes flew open and she jumped away. The unidentified smell of dying flesh knocked the wind out of her. Everywhere she turned, there were corpses, a trail of his appetite.
“Damn, I was so close to having you.” The smile returned to his face. That familiar, hungry smile. She screamed.

Word Definitions:
Synbatec- incredible
wastopaneer- strange
tacise-stubborn
I'm entry number 61 if you all are interested in voting, but no pressure! Hope you enjoy :).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

No, this post isn't about my love for the Spice Girls, which I have mentioned once before, and despite the fact that there is talk of another reunion. It just so happens that the lyrics from their famous hit "wannabe" fit perfectly with what I want to discuss today.

I'm curious, I want to know what you, as writers AND readers, want more or less of in the market. Here's the thing, I don't write for trends, I write what I'm most passionate about. I will say that when I first began writing I worked on a Vampire story. Not in the trend we've recently seen where the girl falls for a Vamp, but rather the whole "wow these are bad mothereffers and we better haul a** if we don't want to end up as soulless, blood sucking monsters." I shelved the idea after the fire fizzled out. It's still an interesting concept because I really want to see more creeptastic vampire stories, but I have other projects that are calling to me right now.

Here's what I would like to see represented more often in the books I read:
- Boys with feelings. What's wrong with the guy who cares, who doesn't act like a douche one second and a witty charmer the next just because he can? Sure he may have daddy issues (and maybe a few mommy ones) but that doesn't mean he can't be nice. That's not to say I want a guy who cries every time he watches The Notebook, but someone who feels and cares enough to be there. I hate it when the nice guy gets pushed aside for the cocky jerk. Ladies, there's nothing wrong with going for the guy who treats you with respect.
- I also want more smart girls. A girl who gets good grades, that isn't labeled as a nerd for arming herself with knowledge, a girl who can kick butt and save the guy every now and then. I've heard so many complaints about Mary Sues, and I second that proposal to stop the insanity. A girl can be awesome way before a boy walks into her life. Adding some eye candy can just be a plus.
- I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for romance. I'm much more likely to enjoy a story if there's some kissing involved, but let the characters fall in love over time. They can be attracted to each other before L-O-V-E factor comes into play, but saying "I love you" after only a week or month, and sometimes even a day of knowing each other isn't realistic. Work with the tension, the growing feelings, I think the pay off is much better when you take this route.
-Maybe you don't care about any of these things but would much rather see a specific genre represented. I love sci-fi and high fantasy and there's not enough in the YA market. And of course, books targeted for boys.
Okay, so maybe I missed something that you feel very strongly about, I want to know what that is. So, I ask again, what do YOU want, what do you REALLY REALLY want?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five for Friday and Pay It Forward

1. You guys, I've decided to do NaNoWriMo. I got this EPIC idea for a new story on Sunday night while I was dreaming ( I get a lot my ideas from my dreams, they are pretty vivid) and it won't go away. And I'm also way freaking excited about it.

2. I went to the library *squeals with excitement*, and found some treasure (the treasure being books in this case, just thought I'd explain before anyone starts asking for handouts). This is my first venture into the library nearest to us, which is kind of sad because it is literally down the street. The reason I don't go? Three little monsters that make taking trips just about anywhere impossible and cause much anxiety. However, the husband is home today because he was out of town from Tuesday- Thursday for work. So, he made it up to me by giving me some ME time, which is muy importante.

3. Halloween is a magical time of year filled with candy, monsters, ghouls, and children's laughter. But mostly candy. Now that I'm making up with chocolate, I am looking forward to raiding my children's stashes. My faves include: reese's peanut butter cups, milky ways, m&ms, starburst, and skittles. I've never been a fan of candy corn. I think it's because I never had any until we came to the states when I was 6, and therefore had never before celebrated Halloween. Over the years I've acquired a taste for them, but I can still do without. They're just way too sweet.
My kids, on the other hand, seem to love the stuff.

4. As mentioned, the fall season is here, and one of my favorite treats to bake is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are delicious! My mother-in-law has the best recipe, and I would like to share it with you:
-1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
Mix together and in a separate bowl combine:
-2 1/2 cups flour
-1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin spice
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
Combine flour ingredients with the butter ingredients. Grease cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 mins. I check mine after 10 because my oven tends to cook a little faster. Enjoy!

5. I'm sort of cheating with this fifth one, but I really didn't want to do a whole different post, so here goes. I'm sure you all have heard about the Pay It Forward Blogfest being held by Alex Cavanaugh and Matt MacNish.



I've decided to join the fun and pay it forward. Here are the three blogs I hope you'll visit:

1. Christine Rains- she's a paranormal romance writer, stay-at-home mom much like myself, that has some really fun posts. I also enjoyed her entries in the Campaign challenges thus far.

2. Melanie Stanford: Melanie posts about her journey as she tries to break into the publishing world, and I've often found myself nodding along to the plights she faces at times. She was also wonderful enough to critique my writing and gave me some great feedback.

3. Tiffany Garner: Her blog title, Victim of Writing, says it all folks.

'kay you guys, I'll be back next week. Until then, hope you find many wonderful adventures to immerse yourself in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: You Against Me By Jenny Downham

Okay, so I've mentioned before that the subject matter in this book is sensitive, so don't come after me because I recommended it...I gave you a fair warning. With that said, this was the first book I read by the brilliant Jenny Downham, who is also the author of Before I Die. I've heard a lot about Before I Die, but haven't had the pleasure of picking it up, please don't come after me with pitchforks and fire. Here's the description of the story courtesy of Goodreads:

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.


Rape is a topic that most don't take lightly. The statistics around the world when it comes to the prosecution of rapists is disheartening, I feel very strongly that not enough is done to someone who commits this horrendous crime. I know women who have survived this traumatic and life changing act. Which is why I was hesitant to pick this up. But an author I really like recommended it and so I decided to give it a chance. I think Ms. Downnham did a great job of giving us a look into the lives of the people directly effected by the rape- the victim's family and the acussed's family. Most of the story is focused on the relationship blooming between Mikey and Ellie. The consequences of people discovering this budding friendship are high. You really get a good insight into Mikey's life. His little sister is the victim and he feels that it's his responsibility to get revenge against Ellie's brother.That's when Ellie comes into the picture, and suddenly he wants to be around her and get to know her, using her as an excuse in his plan for revenge.

Not only are these two characters facing opposing moral dilemmas, but they also come from the opposite sides of the track. Mikey is 18 and the provider for his family. The oldest of three, he must take care of his younger sisters as their mother deals (or doesn't) with her alcohol addiction. This puts even more pressure on Mikey to take care of his sister after the rape. On the other hand Ellie lives in big, fancy house, where all the materialistic things she needs are provided. Her parents even throw her brother a party after he posts bail! Yeah, I didn't get it either, I mean your son has been accused of rape, what's there to celebrate? But once you get to know the parents, especially the father (man did I want to punch this guy in the face on several occasions), you understand why they do the things they do. And even though Ellie has those materialistic things in her life, it doesn't mean that she gets the emotional support many teens need.

Ms. Downham does a good job of exploring that line of fact and fiction. What really happened the night of the rape? Did Mikey's sister make it up, or jump to conclusions? Did Ellie witness something in her brother that night she isn't willing to admit to herself? Slowly the pieces of the puzzle come together, and you get the whole story. You get pulled into the attraction and relationship between Mikey and Ellie, and even find yourself hoping that they can make it as they use each other to make sense of the chaotic mess in their own lives. One character that did surprise me in this story was Ellie's mom. At first I thought 'great, another mom who has no clue' but by the end I was grateful for the picture Ms. Downham drew, and expanded, with Ellie's mom. Another issue this book explores is the stigma that surrounds rape victims. The "she was asking for it" excuse, or labeling girls with names like 'slut' or 'whore'. It is completely unfair that a girl is called names for something such as this, while the guy is a hero. This needs to stop in society! And rape victims are NEVER asking for it, EVER. If this is a story you can handle, give it a read. I recommend it if you're trying to make sense of what someone might be going through after they've experienced this crime. I do know that women AND men should be more knowledgable of the reality that surrounds the every day world. These things are very real and take place ever day. We might not be able to stop it, but we can help others to survive it.

As a side-note I would like to say that I enjoyed the setting of this book. It takes place in England so they use a lot of the slang from that region, but I am familiar with it thanks to Marian Keyes, Jill Mansell, and Louise Rennison.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Living A Lie and The Query Doctor

Not many people know I'm a writer. Even fewer know about this blog. I'd like to say it's because I'm a private person, but really it's because I'm afraid of being judged by others. You know that look you get when you tell people you're a writer? The one of skepticism that is followed by some eye rolling. I'm proud to be a writer, it took me a long time to even admit to myself that I was one, but I don't feel like sharing that with every person I come in contact with.

Generally I don't trust people enough to tell them something that's so close to my heart. It's not that I have some wall around me (although, I guess some people may take my looks as hostile. Honestly though, I never even realize I'm giving a certain look to people because I have so many of them)but I'm the kind of person that once I let someone into my life, they're there to stay. That's not to say I'll follow them around, threatening their lives if they decide to leave, but they'll always be in my thoughts. I often find myself wondering about a close friend from my past that I haven't talked to in years, hoping that they found some happiness and are doing well in their own lives. Every now and then I call my friends back East to see how they're doing, but not often.

I'm loyal to a fault. If a friend of mine, one of the ones I don't really keep in contact with, were to call me for help I'd be there for them. It's just who I am. That's why once I fell in love, I stayed in love.

When I first started writing, I didn't tell ANYONE. My husband accidently stumbled upon me sneaking on the computer for a chance to put some words on paper and I finally had to confess what I was doing. Then I told my mother-in-law, because she's an incredibly supportive person and I knew she wouldn't look down on me, or make me feel ridiculous for finally chasing that dream I had put on hold years before. Soon after word spread in our family (as it does in most, like wildfire) and I wish that it hadn't. This was mainly due to my husband's big mouth, I love him, but sometimes when he opens his mouth things come out that I'm not expecting. Why do I wish that they hadn't? There are people in my family that I take no issue in knowing that I write, for example my sister, my mom and dad, my brother, a couple of my sister-in-laws (my husband comes from a family of six kids, he's the youngest and the fifth boy, so I have MANY sister-in-laws) and a few of my brother-in-laws. There are some I wish didn't know simply because our relationships aren't very strong, and they are the kind of people who do the roll eye thing when they find out. And I'm sure they don't have much faith in my ability to do anything other than talk SUPER DUPER fast (Seriously, I am a REALLY fast talker, especially when I get going on something that really interests me). The ONLY people that know about this blog are my husband and mother-in-law. I don't think I'll be divulging that information any time soon, and I'm going to make sure my husband doesn't either.

These are my private thoughts as I pursue a career in writing. It's often easier for me to share these things with perfect strangers than the people closest to me. Just like I'd rather get feedback on my writing from these strangers (you guys, even though I'm getting to know you all better and am becoming friends with you) than share it with the people in my life. Maybe because their opinions matter so much to me I don't want them to feel obligatd to say nice things. You guys don't have that problem, and even with my growing friendships online, I know that we all share a mutual respect for writing, so I know that you are much too kind to give me false positive feedback. And at the end of the day, I REALLY want honest opinions on what is and isn't working in my writing. So, sorry about this long post, but I just thought it was time to come to terms with the lie in my life. Some day I'll be able to share these things with the rest of my family, but for now I enjoy writing my thoughts in the darkened corner of my basement, without everyone knowing what I'm doing. Sometimes it's good to have a secret just for yourself. Did any of what I just wrote make any sense to you guys? If so, I'd like to hear your stories about coming out of the writing closet.

Okay, I'm done. I also wanted to let you all know Steph Sinkhorn does a weekly post called The Query Doctor for anyone needing help with...well, their query letter. I sent mine over last week and she gave me some awesome feedback. I'm going to send her my revamped version later to see what else she thinks I can improve upon. So, follow the link to her blog, Maybe Genius, if you need another pair of eyes to help with your query.
Hope you guys have a wonderful week! I'll be back on Wednesday for that book review and to possibly share some more incoherent thoughts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Five for Friday

1. Pretty good week! I got even more writing done, started taking Unisom for my morning sickness, got interviewed, and ate chocolate after WEEKS of separation.

2. As for that interview, please try to hold your applause, just kidding. Head on over to Little Red Writing Hood if you're curious enough and want to know more about me and my writing. You can also check out the interview I did of Sabrina right here.

3. I'm contemplating doing NaNoWriMo...what do you guys think? I think it's the boost I need to start working on another project I have yet to tackle. Have any of you participated? And if so, how was your experience?

4. I'm also thinking about doing the Twitter thing. How has it worked out for any of you that have accounts? The only thing holding me back is how time consuming social media can be. I have fun reading other people's tweets, but there's not much going on in my life that would interest people, or be enough to update with a 140 characters.

5. Okay, I know I was supposed to do a book review, but other things came up. What can you do? Such is life. I promise to post it next week. The book is You Against Me by Jenny Downham. Look it up if you're curious.

All right. Come back next week to read some more exciting posts about my life and writing! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interview: Little Red Writing Hood!!!

Hey everyone! Here's the interview I was able to do with Little Red Writing Hood herself. It was fun, and my first time interviewing ANYONE, so maybe the questoins come off a little generic. However, these are the questions I am most curious about when it comes to my fellow writers.

Okay here goes nothing!

PP(that's me!): When and why did you start writing?

LRWH(Little Red Writing Hood): It all started from when I was born.... just kidding, of course! I guess I started writing during the middle of my freshmen year in high school, when I was twelve-years-old. I had just moved to the Philippines in September and I was going through some rough times. I became homesick, alone and such a crybaby! I hated myself back then because I moped around and thought about the past way too much. I was too shy to talk to anyone so I didn't make a lot of friends then. Don't get me started at what was starting to happen in between my parents' families!


In order to escape all that, I hung out in the library to read a lot and eventually went to writing. Writing soon became a burning passion for me and I never want to give it up!


PP: What works have inspired you throughout your journey in the writing world?

LRWH: There have been some but I completely forgot them! Hmm. It was mostly the people behind them that inspired me, rather than their works.



PP: Tell us a little about a project you're currently working on.

LRWH: ...Now that's a hard question since I have no idea where I'm going with it and if I wrote down a summary, I wouldn't even understand it myself. I can tell you that it had been one of my very first WIPs since I started writing and it had stuck with me for a long time.



PP: What do you hope to inspire/convey to your readers with your writing?

LRWH: Dreams do come true? No, Disney stole that.

This is going to sound cliched but I really want to inspire readers to never give up, keep your imagination alive and you're never too old, or young, for anything (teenagers can go trick-or-treating too)!



PP:What do you absolutely need to have in order to write?

LRWH:Music. Definitely music. I like to write the emotions the songs convey and it really helps me keep in the flow with my WIP.


Thank you for interviewing me, Prerna! This has been an awesome experience :D


And a thanks to Sabrina for letting me interview her! Check out her blog from the link above. Hopefully I have some more interviews to conduct in the future. I love getting to know my online writer friends. Have a great day everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monkey Mondays

Why? Because I kind of feel like a lost monkey, jumping from tree to tree, hoping to get something accomplished by the end of the day, other than munching on bananas. I started taking Unisom over the weekend for my morning sickness. So far so good. Downside? I'm tired. Even more so than usual. I take half a dose before bedtime and the little bugger works well into the morning. I even ate breakfast this morning, granted it was brownies and ice cream so the nutritional value was slim to none, but it was delicious nonetheless. I don't want to live in a world where eating dessert for breakfast is unacceptable. The downside of being even more tired? My motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch and watch the season premiere of Dexter is nonexistent. But I did get some more work done over the weekend and I plan on trying to do some more. I'm working on the other shiny new project as well, so it looks like I may not be as incapacitated I believe myself to be. How did all of you spend your weekend? Oh, I'll be posting Little Red Writing Hood's interview on Wednesday. Oh crap, I just got a hankering for some seafood no thanks to a Red Lobster commercial.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Five for Friday

1. I wrote three days in row! It was surprisingly refreshing. I felt energized, maybe because I put more than two coherent sentences together. Mainly because I've been putting off changing a scene at the end of my manuscript, and I finally got it together the way I want...for now...actually, until tomorrow when I realize it all sucks and redo the whole thing.

2. I read an awesome book last week and I plan on doing a review next week. The subject matter is sensitive, but I think the author handled things brilliantly.

3. Look out for an interview here of Little Red Writing Hood herself, Sabrina Llave, and she'll also be interviewing me on hers. I'll keep you posted on when things actually take place.

4. Dr. Pepper is my new best friend. I'm sorry, chocolate, you've been replaced, but only until the morning sickness goes away, then we can get things back on track. Yeah, I know soda is horrible for you, especially when you're pregnant, but it seems to be the only thing keeping me going at the moment.

5. I'm about to go make some book purchases, and that is always wonderful and exciting! I'll keep reviewing books here, maybe I'll make my Wednesday posts reserved for those. I'm going to go back and review some books I enjoyed in the past. Be forewarned, there are a lot.

Have an awesome weekend full of joyful reading, possibly some writing, and quality time with your loved ones. I think I might just continue to spend it with dear old Dr. Pepper.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Superstitions

A black cat just ran across my yard. It was cute. Now I'm not a cat person by nature, dogs are more my type (not that I want to take care of one at the moment, I've tried it and things did not work out in the end), but I'm not one of those people that thinks black cats are a sign of a bad omen. In fact, I think black cats might be good luck. Instead of having a sense of dread take over when I saw this animal scurrying about, I took it as a good sign, that even though things seem difficult right now and my dream may seem impossible, good things are around the corner. Yeah, that's a lot of interpreting on my part,maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I don't think so. I'm not a superstitious person by nature, but sometimes I find myself doing things that may tell people otherwise. Like how I try to avoid walking on cracks, or opening umbrellas indoors, but I don't live by these beliefs. Who even decided black cats were bad luck? Ancient Egyptians and other cultures around the world believe that cats protect us from evil spirits. Then there are those that believe they will suck the life out of you while you sleep. I don't know where these superstitions were born, but I know that cats aren't evil by nature, they just like to do their own thing. I won't ever own one because 1. My husband is very allergic to them and 2. So is my mother-in-law, and contrary to popular belief, I actually really like her and enjoy having her around. If I ever did get a cat it would be jet black and I would name him Binx. What about all of you out there, are there certain superstitions that you live by? Or maybe you made your own superstitions? Or do you think that the whole thing is a bunch of hoopla?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Contests!!!

If you haven't already heard about the contest taking place over on YA confidential then click here
It's freaking awesome. I mean, you could win a critique from actual agents! Sarah LaPolla (she's on my list to query!!!) and Vickie Motter. You can also win a bunch of arcs as well. I think it sounds pretty sweet, so go and follow the instructions to enter! It closes on October 7, so you still have time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

MIA

Sorry I didn't do the usual Five for Friday last week, but I severely lacked energy. I spent most of this weekend curled up on the couch thinking about writing. Not.Fun. And the sad part is last Thursday was my hubby's birthday. In case you're wondering, we didn't do much celebrating. We're postponing any kind of celebration until I feel better. All I have to say is I better be normal by Thanksgiving, or I might just lose it. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, mainly because of the food, but I'm especially excited this year because we might be in LA celebrating! Actually, I hope I'm better by Halloween, I don't want to be miserable while my kids are out trick-or-treating with their cute little selves (and I want to be able to sneak some of their candy). What else happened this weekend? Our college football team is ranked in the top five of the nation and so my husband went to the home game on Saturday (as part of his birthday present), he has season tickets. Now I know some of you may be thinking, who leaves a poor pregnant woman suffering from morning sickness with three kids for the better part of the night? Well, my husband more than made up for leaving me. Our refrigerator was lacking some important components (like food) because I can't stand to go the store, what with all those different smells melding together, it's a recipe for disaster. So, my hubby went shopping for me. And then yesterday he even made dinner! I was pleasantly surprised. I honestly can't remember the last time his version of dinner wasn't going to a drive through. Confession: when my husband and I were dating and first married, he did ALL the cooking. I knew that if I gave it a try I would succeed, how could I not with two parents who are gifted in the culinary department, but it was nice having him take care of it. Then when I got pregnant and was so sick I could no longer work, I took over the kitchen reins. I am no gourmet chef, but I think over the years I have really bloomed as a cook.

Okay, enough of my rambling that has nothing to do with writing, which is the point of this blog. I'll be back on Wednesday (or maybe even tomorrow...the suspense is going to kill you!) to share a contest I recently discovered. I'm also going to attempt the new Campaign Challenge, but with my lack of brain function, that might be the equivalent of me trying to climb Mount Everest. We'll see. Thanks for sticking with me you guys, I promise I'll try to write far more interesting things than my pregnancy turmoil from here on out. Hope all of you had a wonderful, productive weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hidden Enemy

You know when they say that the only thing standing in the way of your success is yourself? Well, there's a reason for it, because it's true. Going through my work, rebuilding scenes, creating new ones, I came to the realization that I am my own worst enemy. There's no one out there wishing for my failure (well, maybe there is, but I just don't know it), but even so, it's not like they have any control over whether or not I succeed. That, my friend, is entirely up to me. Laziness can be a big factor keeping me from my dream, along with morning sickness, but the power is in my hands. I can make the choice to get up every day and either put in the hard work and push myself, or sit on the couch and moan and complain about the unfairness of it all. In this industry luck can be a big factor in if you get that six figure deal, or a more reasonable pay day, or yet another rejection. But what's wrong with making our own luck? When things fall apart people like to say, 'everything happens for a reason' but here's the thing, NOTHING is going to happen unless you make it happen. You're not going to get that dream job unless you apply for it, you aren't going to win the lottery without a ticket, and you sure aren't going to be published if you don't sit your behind down on the chair and type your little heart out. YOU are in control of your fate, take it in your hands and make something happen. Disclaimer: results may vary. It might take you over a hundred queries before you land an agent, or only fifteen (if only I were THAT lucky) but it'll happen. Sooner or later, if you put in the work, practiced your craft daily and got better, read a lot of books, immersed yourself in writing, it will happen. I'm not sure where my journey is leading me, I have no clue if I'll ever get to the point where my work is published, but I have faith that no matter what, I'm doing what makes me happy. I won't give up. I'm going to make my own luck.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing and Television

So last night were the Emmys and Modern Family was the big winner of the night and I have to say that that made me happy, especially Ty Burrell's win as Phil Dunphy, who just happens to be my husband's hero, everything that man does on the show is like gold to my husband. And I was beyond ecstatic that Kyle Chandler won an Emmy for his role on Friday Night Lights, a favorite of mine. I may have mentioned this before but I totes crushed on Coach Taylor when I watched that show, he is perfect. The only thing I was disappointed in was that Steve Carell was snubbed, I love Michael Scott and cried on his final episode on the Office, he deserved the win. Okay, I watch way too much TV, I think I've established that fact by now, but it was fun watching Jane Lynch host and laugh out loud at some of the antics, especially when Andy Samburg and his crew took over the stage (anyone else get a kick out of the William H. Macy scene?).

Okay, moving on...I could probably continue by breaking down all the fashion hits and misses (Nina Doberav killed it...Amy Poehlar not so much), but I'll spare you.

I did get some work done on the writing front. No, I did not spend all weekend watching celebrities get ready for award season, as much as my post points to the contrary. I did some outlining along with working out some of the other minor details ( minor meaning trying to name my characters...the witch has a name, so does the leading lady's love interest, but I'm still struggling to find the perfect name match for the protagonist). I am not the most organized of writer, I kind of jump in head first and work out the details later on, which is probably why it took me so (embarrassingly) long to finish the first draft of The Circle of Elements. I'm not going to make that mistake again. I'm excited about this project, and isn't that always nice? What about all of you, what kind of writers are you? Organizers that would give Martha Stewart a run for her money, or do you just jump right into the story? I don't think there's a right or wrong way to write a story, as long as you get it done in a reasonable amount of time and are proud of what you created, that's all that matters.