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:


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.