Monday, December 31, 2012

No Kiss Blogfest

I just signed up for the No Kiss Blogfest! Here are the rules: You must write a scene from your favorite books, movies, TV shows, or your own WIP showing the almost kiss. Yup, I'm a slow burn kind of reader so I love reading those not-quite-but-oh-so-close kissing scenes.

For more deets  Click Here and head over to Frankie Diane Mallis' page for the linky list.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis The Season

I can't believe Christmas is four days away!!!! Sorry for the blog silence but things have been kind of hectic. And after the Connecticut tragedy last week I kind of just wanted to crawl under a rock with my family and hide-out. I'm taking a wee break from the blog (but not from the internet because I don't think I could survive) and focusing on being with my family and enjoying the Holidays and New Year. I hope all of you hold your loved ones especially close and remember all the good there is in the world (and there is good, despite the media portraying otherwise). I'm also working hard on more Fire and Ice revisions after getting some feedback from a beta, kind of excited but also freaking a bit. Oh well, such is life. Happy Holidays All!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding Your Voice

Not every character is the same. Not every story is told the same way. There are books that seem light but have darker undercurrents. Books that uplift you, that are quirky and completely their own thing. Which is why it's so important to find the perfect tone for your story. Sometimes it can take a while to hit that perfect stride, but I promise, if you keep at it, you'll find just the right way to tell your story. The authors I admire most are great at conveying the mood of their book through various methods, the way a character speaks, the setting, the prose.

 Take the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins for example. It's a fun read, Sophie is a character full of hilarious inner dialogue and witty comebacks dealing with some seriously messed up stuff. If you look at the story just as 'fun', you'll miss the deeper issues taking place, such as the abandonment Sophie feels because of her father, not being able to trust the guy she loves, the secret her mother keeps from her, anger, fear- all those things are there. The setting is a perfect background for all the crazy that unfolds, but it doesn't overwhelm the reader or the story. Sophie never loses the thing that makes her her while she's at Hex Hall, because it's her voice that makes the story.

Then there's The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stievfater, a book where the setting sets up the mood in a major way. It's a freaking island where angry, murderous horses wash up and try to eat you for crying out loud. It's the perfect place to establish the tone of the book. You know right away that this place is dark, that dreams die beside the harsh reality of the island's life. In this story it's not necessarily Puck or Sean showing us the bleakness of the island's history or the fear of what's ahead in the race, it's the island itself that carries the story, that molds how the story is told. Sean and Puck are just a way for us to be introduced to the island, the eyes that help us to experience Thisby.

It's important for the author to establish the tone and voice of the story within the first few sentences. It's also important that it continues throughout the book, consistency is key. And it can be hard to get the hang of it at times, but once you get into the groove of things, the story really takes off. It's also important to be honest and genuine with the story, don't force it to be something it's not meant to be. A lot of times a book will feel flat or fizzle because there's too much going on, the reader doesn't connect because they feel overwhelmed. Like I said, it can take time to figure out the perfect way to tell the story, but the end result is worth the trial and error. And the reader will thank you for taking your time to tell a story only you could have in the most authentic way possible. No forcing or pushing involved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

All I Want for Christmas

Last week I said I wanted snow, I needed snow. It's December and Christmas is around the corner, but it doesn't feel right without the cold, fluffy, white stuff. And guess what happened? It snowed this weekend. My kids woke me up on Saturday morning with "There's snow outside!" shouts coming from their bedrooms. It was exciting, but then I thought "Maybe I should have asked to win the lottery instead." But alas, I asked for snow, which is much more likely in December than winning the lottery at any time of the year. It also got me thinking about my Christmas list. I don't want a lot, I've finally reached the part of my life where receiving gifts isn't all that exciting anymore. But if I could have one thing, well, here's a list of things I want:

1. A gift card to Barnes and Noble that never runs out of funds. Can you imagine the kind of damage I could do that store? Not only for myself, but also for my kids and loved ones. Passion for books runs in the family.

2. A never ending supply of chocolate. My secret stash always seems to run out too fast so I would love it if my favorite chocolate would just magically refill itself without me having to step foot out my door.

3. A teleporter. Flying is just way too dang expensive. It would be nice just to pick a destination and press a button and voila! I can be there in minutes and drag as much luggage as I want without being charged an arm and a leg. On the plus side, my husband is getting more and more motion sickness as he gets older and we'd be able to avoid the puke-inducing turbulence.

4.. The Revisions Master. I would love a tool that had the ability to read my thoughts and all those revisions I want done and just took care of them for me. Wouldn't that be handy?

5.  A new microwave. Ha! Our over-the-stove one died a while back so we took our free standing microwave out of the garage and have been using that instead. I hate all the counter space it takes and want it gone. But we've been waiting for a rocking deal to buy a really nice one. Microwaves are one of those things you don't realize how much you depend on until its gone. And this is a totally doable gift.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Five for Friday

1. Sickness. Lots of it. You guys, I had the most epic puke session Wednesday evening. I know, TMI, but it was AWFUL. And its been going around for the last couple of weeks. Seriously, everyone is getting the bug. It sucks.

2. We're getting our Christmas Tree this weekend. The kids are excited and so am I. Can't wait to decorate that sucker. That sounded less than Holiday Spirit-y, but it was full of Christmas Joy.

3. I just started The Diviners by Libba Bray and am enjoying it, but it is a beast of a book clocking in at over 600 pages. It shouldn't be too much of an issue since I already like the direction the story is taking and since I'm a pretty fast reader anyway.

4. I really want some snow for Christmas. It just doesn't feel like the holiday season without white little flakes falling from the sky.

5. Who watched the mid-season finale of Once Upon A Time? I was really happy with the way they closed certain story lines while opening up new ones. I hate when shows drag out one thing for an entire season, which on network television is usually around 20+ episodes. Oh, and I can't forget The Walking Dead! Another awesome mid-season finale. February can't get here soon enough.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December Wha?!?!

It's hard to believe that the year is almost over. I'm a little bit sad and kind of disturbed that it went by so fast. This trend started once I had children and it seems to be taking place faster since my oldest started school. I am super excited about Christmas and New Year's (we have a mattress party on New Year's in our house where we pull all of our mattresses to the living room and stay up watching movies and eating junk food), but I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for 2013. Or for what 2013 may mean for me.

Despite my goal for starting the query process this year, it didn't happen. And boy am I glad it didn't, because holy crap, my story was NOT ready for agent eyes. But I made some serious revisions to Fire and Ice and I'm pretty happy with where it's at right now. I'll probably do another round once I hear back from betas and CPs, but I'm so close for it to finally be out there in queryland. The fear of the unknown is a big factor in my hesitance. I am fully aware and prepared for rejection (okay, maybe not FULLY prepared), it's a part of the biz, as they say. What I'm not prepared for are the close calls and silence. Agh! It doesn't sound fun, but if that's what it takes, then I'll hang in there.

In the meantime I'm going to continue my NaNo Pirate project (which is just over 35,000 words as of right now) and the contemporary I started this past summer. At the end of the day all we writers can do is continue writing, it's the only way to get closer to our dream of getting an agent and that publishing deal. And I'm happy to say that my love for writing will not be swayed by the fear of the unknown or the possibility of rejection.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five for Friday

1. The Raven Boys was fantastic. Seriously can't stop thinking about it. I can't believe I have so much time left until the next one comes out...and then two more years after that! Why?!?!

2. I finally put up Christmas decorations this week and I'm loving it. Scented pine cones are one of my favorite things about this time of year and they're scenting up my kitchen as I type this. The only thing we haven't put up is the tree. We've gotten a real one for the last few years and I don't want it to die before Christmas night. On another Christmas related note- I haven't even started my Christmas shopping for my family yet...NOT GOOD.

3. Today's the last day of NaNo and I was right on my 30,000 mark. I'm 28,991 words in right now, hopefully I'll get to the full 30 after today is over.

4. After a string of good-luck with my reading selection, it seems to have run out. The Raven Boys was one of the few I've enjoyed the last couple of months and it's driving me crazy. I would love some recommendations.

5. My youngest is finally crawling around and it makes me all misty-eyed and proud. She's my last so every milestone is especially sentimental. I can't believe how old my kids are, I kind of don't want them to grow up. But then again, changing diapers isn't exactly fun, so I guess growing up has its perks. Just wish time would slow down so I could enjoy those small moments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Tuesday...

My creative energy feels like its been snuffed out. I went into NaNo quite optimistically with all the enthusiasm of Rowley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid on the first day of school. But alas, the steam has run out and I keep staring at my blinking cursor, waiting for something to happen. It's okay, I made it past the 25,000 words mark. I think I'll get around 30,000 when all's said and done...which isn't bad, but I had hopes of reaching the grand 50,000. Oh well, maybe next year?

Meanwhile I've been busy entertaining out of town guests and then being an out of town guest. Thanksgiving break was awesome and it was great to see family and have delicious food. I even made a pumpkin cheesecake that turned out beyond amazing. I am quite proud of myself, and it was devoured by the masses. Woohoo! All in all it has been a good November...I'm just a little freaked out that December is going to be here in a few short days. I'm so NOT ready for the Christmas madness that takes over all the shopping centers. I am, however, ready for the Christmas music (it always cheers me up, even in the middle of summer when it's 90 degrees outside) and awesome movies, whether they're classics like Meet Me In St. Louis, or those awesome original Lifetime ones. I really hope all of you other NaNoers are having more luck than me, and if not, don't beat yourself up over it, as long as you gave it your all then you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five for Friday

1. On the NaNo front I'm just over 20,000 words in...I have some catching up to do. Which is going to be next to impossible since we have family coming into town TONIGHT and then next week is Thanksgiving! Ahhh!!! If I just keep repeating 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,' it'll all be okay.

2. The library just notified me that The Raven Boys is finally available for me!!! I'm super excited...and this is yet one more distraction keeping me from my NaNo goal...but it's Maggie Stiefvater, you guys!

3. Did I mention that after revisions Fire and Ice was just over 84,500 words?!?! I must remind you that the original draft was over 128,000 words...I'm pretty dang proud of myself for cutting and making the story tighter and stronger. And I've finally admitted to myself that I'm an over-writer. Is there like a therapy group for this?

4. I watched the City of Bones trailer and am freaking out!!! August can't get here soon enough. Oh, and then there's the Warm Bodies trailer which is also making me quite excited. 2013 is setting up to be a good movie year.

5. I'm seriously craving a hot chocolate right now. I love Star Bucks' Godiva hot chocolate, I have to have one every winter...so delicious, it can put you in a chocolate coma.

Have a warm and fun weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

This Is How I NaNo

With a bag of chocolate and a side screaming kids. That's how I roll. But so far so good. I'm a bit behind, but plan on catching up this week. Right now I'm 15,500 words in and feeling strong. There have been a few snags, but I'm slowly making my way over them. I'm also trying not to jump around with the plot (like writing a scene ahead of time I really want to) but being a pantser is sort of a part of me. I did a brief outline before I started writing the story, but like I said, it's brief and doesn't help contain the pantsing part of me all that much.

There are definitely benefits to being a pantser, we're always prepared to learn new things about our characters and find that one scene we didn't even know was a part of the story but becomes essential to the plot. Not saying this doesn't happen to plotters, but pantsers find that seed of discovery througout the whole manuscript because we really don't know what's going to happen next. In very few instances I may know what I want the sequence of events to be, but for the most part writing is very much an adventure for me.

How are all you other NaNoers doing? If you aren't NaNoing, how's the writing going? I hope you're pantsing, plotting, revising away.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five for Friday

1. So far I have just under 12,000 words written for my NaNo project. I would have more but I've been a bit distracted with reading.

2. It's getting cold here...like thick coat cold. I was hoping the mid to high 60s weather would stick around for the rest of winter, but I guess that was asking for too much.

3. I'm sort of obsessed with this song:
If it doesn't work it's Phillip Phillip's song, Home. 

4. I watched the trailer for Les Miserables, and it looks spectacular. I had no idea Anne Hathaway could sing.

5. Okay, I'm getting really hungry...haven't had breakfast yet...so I'm going to go eat, which is VERY important. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Best Book of October

It's RTW over at YA Highway and it's that time of the month again...time to choose my favorite read of the month. For me it's a toss up between:
 Just Listen by Sarah Dessen



and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

 
 
These are two very different books, one a YA contemporary while the other a YA fantasy. I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again, Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. I read Keeping the Moon sophmore year in HS and haven't stopped reading any of her books since. My senior year I read This Lullaby, my favorite book by Dessen. I think it hit particularly close to home because the MC and I were both ending HS, saying goodbye to our friends, dealing with a lot of changes. And Dexter is an awesome love interest. So when I heard Just Listen had a cameo of my favorite couple, Remy and Dexter, I was shocked I hadn't read it yet. Usually I'm on top of things like that, but somehow I missed this little gem. Just Listen was a sweet story with relatable characters that took on a serious issue and dealt with it in a sensitive matter. (And I loved that Owen was so not what you expected him to be.)
 
I love a good fantasy, in fact I go out of my way to find one, which is why I have been anxiously waiting to read Throne of Glass. Celaena was not what I expected from a character. As an assassin imprisoned for months I figured she'd be a bit more...bitter, but she was actually pretty bubbly. It took me aback, but I appreciated her positive outlook on life. Maas did a great job with description, I could picture the palace as if it were right in front of me. The only issue I had with this book was the love triangle. I definitely prefer one guy over the other and think Celaena had way more chemistry with him than the other love interest, so I'm hoping she'll pick him in the end. That's my only gripe, and I now I'm going out of my mind wondering what's going to hapen in the sequel...yay!

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo, Revisions, and Betas, Oh My!

This weekend was full of writing delights, and revision plights. Okay, so I'm done with revisions (for now) but I wanted to rhyme...it's what the cool kids do. I got just over 7,500 words down since Nov. 1st began...not too shabby. I would have more, but I took yesterday off and watched the first season of Homeland after my hubby begged me to (it's one of his favorite shows). So far I'm really enjoying it, but it kind of also freaks me out because of the terrorist aspect...stuff like that hits a little too close to home.

I sent the newest and most polished (not saying I didn't miss a grammatical error here or there) version of Fire and Ice to my CP. I'll be waiting anxiously to see what she thinks (*fingers crossed she doesn't hate it*). But I need more eyes, so I was hoping a few of you might want to Beta for me? Pretty Please? If not, that's totally cool, but if you can, please leave a comment or e-mail me at prernapickett at yahoo dot com. I'm willing to read something of yours in return, if you so choose to volunteer.

Okay, back to NaNo. I'm discovering all sorts of fun things about my NaNo project. I had a somewhat clear idea of what I wanted to do with the plot (I had a beginning and end, that is the extent of my drafting), but other things have popped up that are making it much more interesting than my original plan...isn't that fun? Right now I'm gorging on the words like a starving model at an all you can eat buffet, but I'm not expecting this to last (but wouldn't it be great if it did?). Until then, I'll be happily typing and focusing all of my energy on getting to that 50,000.

Time for me to get off the interwebz and get to writing. Hope all you NaNoers out there are doing great, I'm cheering you on. And don't forget to let me know if you're interested in Beta-ing.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I have just over 2,000 words down for my NaNo novel as of right now. Not too shabby.

2. Halloween was a success, and since my oldest didn't have school the next day we got to trick-or-treat later than we normally would. My kids seriously got loaded up...I might sneak some of their goodies now and then.

3. I'm done with revision! Well, I'm doing another quick round just to make sure I didn't miss anything, but all the major stuff is done. Yay!

4. I just finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and really enjoyed it. There were a couple of things that bothered me...well, mainly the love triangle...I'm so over them. But over all I thought it was a good read and I enjoyed it.

5. Everyone back east who was effected by hurricane Sandy is in my thoughts and prayers. I have family and friends who live in the DC area and I worried over them during this past week. We've been watching all the news updates and the devastation is just beyond what I think anyone really expected. I wish I could fly out and volunteer with clean-up effort, I'd really love nothing more. I'm sending positive vibes your way.

Monday, October 29, 2012

That Time I Said I Wasn't Going To NaNo But Then Changed My Mind

I know, I know, I really need to work on a shorter blog post title. But honestly, it sums up what happened so perfectly I wouldn't change it if I could.

I really wasn't going to NaNo this year, especially with revisions draining my time, but then the idea came to me. The shiny bling-bling of a new story that keeps blinding your eyes. And, I'll confess, I can't resist anything shiny. So I gave in and am joining the NaNo ranks of 2012. What is my goal for this year? For those of you who weren't around last November, all I wanted was to get to 25,000 words, half of the NaNo goal. This year I'm going to shoot for 50,000. I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot of my new story, but I'll give you a hint- Pirates. If any of you are also going to NaNo it up, please let me know, I'm prernapickett over there. I hope all of you who are and aren't going to NaNo are successful with whatever goals you may be aiming for in the month of November. Here's a happy November to all of us!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reviews: What I Can't Stand.

I enjoy reading reviews of the books I've read. It's quite interesting to read the difference perspectives people hold on one piece of work. Some reviewers get their point across very well, giving specifics as to why or why no they like a book, others just like to plain old bash it. As a writer (did I just say that out loud?) I respect anyone willing to put themselves out there and have their work be judged so harshly. You put so much of yourself into your work. You agonize over the plot, on how to make your characters stronger, how to make the story jump out of the pages. It's a hard job, and not everyone can (or should) do it. We all have a right to orn opinions, it's ours and no one should be able to take it away or keep us from sharing it. However, what I absolutely can't stand reading in a negative review is "I can't believe the love interest actually fell for the MC, she's so annoying" or "what's so great about her?" And "she's nothing special, why are two guys interested in her?"  Ummm...because that's who the story is about. I don't care how much you can't stand the MC, it's their story, that's why everything happening in the book centers around him/her, if he/she weren't there, none of the plot would take place. The story is about them, and at times it is them. Seriously, people, if you're going to write a review about how much you hate a character or book, at least give reasons that make sense. Then there's this "i figured out the plot within the first ten pages, why didn't the characters?" Because then the book would end after ten pages. I guess I'm just simply not as smart as you since I didn't solve the mystery. The point is the author wrote a story he/she loves about characters he/she cares about. We can't write to please everyone out there, or even one specific person. Criticism is a part of the biz, as they say, and it's going to happen. Haters gonna hate. (How many more cliches can I write?). But if you're going to write a review, be thoughtful and give examples of what you did or didn't like. Okay, so you hate the MC, what is it that gets to you? Honestly, as a writer I want to know so I don't make the same mistakes. And saying she's boring and stupid aren't reasons, what's so boring about her and how is she stupid? Anyway, that was my little tangent. I'm done. What about you guys, do you ever read review for books you liked or hated? What irks you about certain types of reviewers?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Five for Friday

1. Why isn't there a magic button that finishes revisions for you? I'm almost done with mine, but it seems to be taking forever. Even still, I'm glad to be able to fix up my manuscript. I just wish I had a bit more time to work on it during the day. If I had two solid hours just to write, holy crap I can't even imagine how much I would get done!

2. I am living in a house of sickness. My oldest missed five days of school. Yeah. The other three are also sick and slowly recovering. Do you know what that means? I'm next.

3. I finally watched the second season of Awkward. and still love it. Cannot wait for next season!!!

4. Finally ordering Halloween costumes this weekend. My oldest is going as Hulk and my younger little guy wants to be the Thing from Fantastic Four, which was kind of a difficult costume to find since it hasn't been popular since oh, I don't know, 2005. My 2yo daughter is going as a cheerleader and my baby girl is going to be a Kangaroo (my sis-in-law let me borrow the costume and it's way cute and warm).

5. It has been raining like crazy around here this week. We haven't had real rain since April and I love it! I miss all the rainstorms from back east, they were hardcore.

Okay, the timer on my microwave is beeping which means my kids mac and cheese is done. Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Comfort Reading

Whenever the leaves start to change and the chill in the wind starts picking up, I feel a need to pull out some of my favorites and re-read them. Maybe it's the shorter days with looming darkness that fill me with a need to wrap myself in a blanket by a fire and read something comforting.
I think it's the leaves that get to me.
 

 I firmly believe in rereading books you love. I do it every year during the fall. Some of my favorites include the Seven Waters trilogy by Juliet Marillier, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and Tithe by Holly Black. Reading these old favorites takes me back to when I first read them and make life seem simpler somehow, because although many things have changed since then, they haven't. What about you guys, are there any books you enjoy rereading for comfort? And do you find that the fall season holds that same sort of nostalgia for you that it does for me?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Contest Winner!!!

Sorry it took me til today to post the winner but we got back into town late last night and I've been in recovery mode. But I'm excited to announce the winner of Girl of Nightmares is....

Kirsten!!!!
 
Okay, Kristen, I'll e-mail you to get your info. Congrats!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Five for Friday

1. Today's the last day to enter the Girl of Nightmares contest. If you're interested click HERE.

2. I've been out of town since Wednesday visiting family and as much as I love seeing everyone, the hotel bed is doing a number on my back. I feel so old typing that.

3. Lots of revising got done this week. I'm 3/4 of the way done and had a breakthrough with a chapter I've been struggling with for a while. Such a relief.

4. Halloween is just around the corner and I have yet to get my butt in gear to get my kids their costumes. 6 yo wants to the Hulk while the 4 yo would like to be the Thing (the guy from Fantastic Four). My girls don't really care (especially my 6 month old) which makes it more difficult to find something for them. Should be interesting.

5. With the cold settled in and the air crisp with the smell fallen leaves I am starting to crave hot chocolate more and more. In fact, I might go make myself some right now.

Have an awesome weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reminder

Just a reminder that a chance to win a copy of Girl of Nightmares ends on Friday!!! Go HERE to check out the details.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I've been organizing. It's intense. Now that the weather has finally turned, I felt it was time to put away summer things. Kid summer things, more specifically. Even though it exhausted me, I felt suprisingly good. It's nice to clean house.

2. Still plowing through revisions. The more I delve into my manuscript the more loose ends I realize I need to tie up. Definitely the down side of revising.

3. I'm still running the Girl of Nightmares contest. It's open til next Friday, so go enter!

4. Have you guys seen that Suburu commercial where the two little boys decide to wash the dad's car by themselves? Any of you not buying the dad's reaction? I honestly think I would burst into tears if my kids did that to my car.

5. I caught up on Once Upon A Time this week and I am so freaking excited about this season!!!! Seriously one of my favorite shows.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Goals Goals Goals

Before I get to the post, just wanted to remind you guys that I'm running a contest! Click HERE if you're interested in winning a copy of Girl of Nightmares.

I've had a few goals set  this year. One of which was to start querying Fire and Ice before the end of 2012...that doesn't look like it's going to happen. But I'm actually at peace with it. Mainly because I know the work I'm putting into it is going to give me a greater chance of interest than if I sent it out now.

Usually when I can't check a goal off my list, I find it rather defeating. It's natural for us to be our number one critics. We're hard on ourselves because we know more than anyone else what we're capable of. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a certain goal can't be attained within the allotted time you set for yourself. That's why I'm thinking I shouldn't set BIG goals, like querying, within a time frame.

There are other goals on my list I have accomplished that I'm pretty happy about, but there are a couple I'm putting on the back burner for now. What about you guys? Any goals you haven't been able to check off? How did you feel about it?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Contest Time!

Finally! I finished Girl of Nightmares this weekend! I was not disappointed.


Now it's time for one you lucky readers to win a copy of it! Here are the rules (they're super complicated so you might want to get your paper and pen ready to jot down some notes): 1. You must be a blog follower. 2. You must also leave a comment telling me of your favorite scary story/legend along with an e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. 3. Unfortunately I can't do an international contest...shipping fees are cray-cray, so contest is only open for US residents. (Sorry. I want to run an international one during the New Year so look out for that international people).

The winner will be chosen through an intricate process where I put all your names in a hat and draw one out. I know, it's super advanced. Contest will close Friday Oct. 12 at 11:59. That's all folks! Good luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I'm so freaking addicted to ebay right now. Let me make something very clear, I haven't used my ebay account for around four years. Yeah, been a while. But that all changed when paypal sent me a notice letting me know I had unspent funds in my account that needed to be well...spent. I can't explain the euphoric high I start riding when I see the words 'You've Won!' it's NOT GOOD. I have been smart about the purchases, most of the items have been things for my little ones. And books, I bought five books, most of them the third to trilogies I have yet to finish.

2. I recently finished City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare and LOVED it. She really is an amazing writer. Can't wait for the Clockwork Princess. Only a couple more months!

3. I'm also finishing up Girl of Nightmares and am thoroughly entertained by it. Like I said before I'll be running a contest for one of you lucky winners to snag up the copy. Probably some time next week.

4. I'm in the thick of revisions and while I'm consumed in the process and enjoying it, I keep wanting to go back and change more stuff. I keep telling myself to finish this round first and then go back if it's absolutely necessary.

5. The trees are changing color here! I LOVE FALL...super excited about wearing jeans, sweaters, and boots. I admit that I did spend some of my ebay money on a good pair of boots. Who doesn't love boots?!?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Falling Again

Ever fall in love with your manuscript all over again? It's been a while since I've felt passion flaring for Fire and Ice. When you've been working on one manuscript on and off for a few YEARS, the desire to delve back in again sort of just wears down to little nubs of frustration. For a while I've gone 'meh' and I couldn't put my finger on why I wasn't super excited about working on it. Again, it's been years in the making, so I guess ups and downs are to be expected, but it's been on the down side for a while. Ever get the feeling there's something wrong with your manuscript but you can't quite put your finger on it? Something has been nagging me about Fire and Ice for a while. In the beginning I sent it out to agents way too soon (thankfully only to a handful of them, but that still doesn't make me feel any less embarrassed that they had to endure the atrocity that was my first query letter). I thought I was ready, it thought the manuscript was ready. Boy was I wrong.

When I reread and revised Fire and Ice I knew it had potential, but I didn't know how to make the most of that potential, I didn't know where else I could take it. I'm finally at the point where I KNOW what wasn't working (thanks in part to my CP) and am going through the whole thing all over again to fix it. And I'm loving it. Not to say I don't get stuck every now and then, but I'm happy to be stuck, to think on how to fix things as I go ahead. The passion has been reiginited. I falling in love with my characters all over again, starting to get IT. All you writers out there know what IT is, I know you've felt it too. It's totally refreshing to have that desire to work and make my manuscript stronger push me at me. It makes my writing stronger and it makes this whole experience fun. What about you guys? Is there a manuscript you couldn't quite get right, but weren't ready to give up on? How did you overcome the downs?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Judgey McJudgerson

I've talked about the Judgey McJudgerson's before. You know the type. They're the ones that look down on me for having four kids and looking like I'm twelve (one of the perks of being short). Those who whisper behind their hands because they've come to a conclusion about mewithin a milisecond. We all judge people, let's be honest, whether we mean to or not. Human beings make judgements based on religious or non-religious beliefs, gender, skin color (I've been called an Arab before and NOT in a nice 'oh, are you an Arab?' way). There are LOTS of ways to judge someone else. I'm guilty of doing it (and trying to get better about not doing it), and I'm sure all of you have done it at least once in your life. And if you haven't, you're a liar and your pants should be on fire.

But what about judging someone based on their writing? I find it somewhat hilarious that readers come to some pretty far-fetched and firm (to them) conclusions about an author based on their books. At times there is an underlying message that's pretty blatant, but that doesn't happen all that often. Let's talk Twilight for a minute (I know, I know, I can feel you guys rolling your eyes). Many people have made judgements about Stephenie Meyer because of this book. That she is severely lacking passion in her love life, why else would she write about Bella's and Edward's love like it's the end all be all? Or she thinks it's perfectly okay for a guy to be controlling, because Edward is that creepy stalker boyfriend who won't leave Bella alone.(These aren't necessarily my opinions) She's sending the wrong message to impressionable young girls about abusive relationships and abstinence (just like when an author writes about teens having sex doesn't make that author a sex addicted freak who wants young girls to get pregnant/ STD). But let's be real here for a minute, I'm pretty sure when Stephenie Meyer sat down to write her book, these thoughts were not floating around her head, she didn't have some secret agenda against women or one that was pro-abusive relationships. She wanted to entertain us. She loved her characters and wanted to tell their story. And honestly, if a mom, sister, cousin, aunt, grandmother, whoever takes issue with the content within a book then they need to sit down the girl wanting to read the material in question and tell them what's up. As a parent it is MY responsibility to explain certain things to my children, and not force those issues on other people.

What I'm getting at is we need to stop judging each other. We have every right to our opinions, freedom of speech, people. But being mean about our opinions makes the judger look like a jerk. There is a perfectly acceptable and courteous way to share our opinions without being judgmental about it. At the end of the day, as an author, all i want is to write a story I'm passionate about. I want to share my characters with other people. I want readers to love them just as much as I do. I don't have propaganda I want to shove down other people's throats (not saying there aren't people out there who do have an agenda of some kind, but for the most part authors don't). And if I don't like the content in a book, hating on the book and the author isn't going to get me anywhere. Really, it's a waste of time. Use that energy on doing something positive. Write a book that's the opposite of the one you hate. Be productive and let's stop judging on each other.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five for Friday

1. Wow, it feels like forever since I've done one of these! What's been going on, you ask? Life. Lots and lots of life, filled with small moments of writing.

2. I really want to give a big thank you to all you awesome people who left critiques for my query and 150 words, you're the bestest! I really took the critiques to heart and worked my butt off to get the query to near as perfect as possible.

3. Michelle Krys recently ran a contest...and I won! What did I win? A copy of Girl of Nightmares, the much anticipated sequel to Anna Dressed In Blood. Now, I'm not telling you this just to gloat and be all 'I win you lose! Na-na-na-na-bo-bo' but because I want to share the gift. Once I recieve my copy and am done reading it, I'll hold my very first contest so one of you lucky people can read it too! Woohoo! I'll post more deets once I'm actually done with it.

4. If one word could sum up this week it would be revisions. Lots of them. I'm not even half way through. My awesome crit partner pointed out some serious issues within Fire and Ice, issues that I needed to know about. And I'm going about fixing them. I got some writing done on my WIP, but my main focus has been on revisions. I'm not gonna lie, it was daunting at first. But once I started, it became easier. Getting started is the hardest part, am I right?

5. I just finished the fabulous Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson and just adored it. Highly recommend to any fans of Jane Austen and old fashioned romances. So sweet.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GUTGAA PItch Perfect Bloghop

Unfortunately I wasn't one of the 100 able to make it into the pitch contest, but there's a bloghop for those of us who didn't going on. Below I've pasted my query letter and the first 150 words for all of you to shred into little pieces of humility. Okay, so be a little nice with your critiques. Fire and Ice is a YA paranormal romance.


Sixteen year old Shelly Paladine doesn’t need a stupid merit badge to prove she can start a fire, all she has to do is snap her fingers. Suddenly bestowed with a power she never asked for, all Shelly wants is to keep the fire at bay while hiding the secret from her adoptive parents. After she’s attacked by a troll with questionable hygiene, and receives text messages warning her of impending danger, Shelly knows the simple days of just trying to keep herself from spontaneously combusting are long gone.

Enter Kale Vanderhoof, a guy that makes Shelly’s heart race with his easy smile and boy-next-door good looks. But there’s more to Kale than meets the eye. He’s got a power of his own, and he’s not alone. Kale reveals some secrets to Shelly, like the fact she’s a part of a secret organization, the Circle of Elements, that keep scary beasties from harming humanity. Unfortunately Kale isn’t the only one hot on Shelly’s heels. Her mysterious texter makes it clear that if Shelly doesn't do everything she asks of her, well then the whole world is pretty much going to end.

With the fate of the world on her shoulders, Shelly becomes her stalker's puppet and the first thing she wants is for Shelly to get closer to Kale and infiltrate the Circle. As Shelly spends more time with Kale, the line between following orders and free will begin to blur, and Shelly begins to question the control her stalker has over her. But is she willing to break free from her puppeteer if it means losing Kale and all that she's found in the Circle?
And the first 150 are below. (Technically the first 151).
Here’s the deal; I was pissed. Standing there, listening to my mom go on about how I was giving up on my future if I gave up dancing, was the last thing I wanted to be doing.  I’d rather jump out the window of our tenth-floor apartment and take my chances with the sidewalk.
            “You can’t just throw your future away like this, Shelly.”
            “Actually, I can,” I shot back, fighting the urge to grit my teeth.
            “But you’ve worked so hard for this. I’m not saying that going to NYU is a bad idea, but ballet has been your entire life. And you’ll be giving it up for what? A few minutes at some pointless frat party?”
I resisted the urge to, once again, point out how I wasn’t some naïve little girl who would get suckered into stripping naked the first day of college to streak the football field.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Categorization: Someone Else Said It Better

This is a subject I struggle with when it comes to defining the genre my story is in. The amazing Jennifer Laughran just a wrote a great post about it. Click HERE if you're interested.

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet



I'm participating in an awesome bloghop run by Deanna Barnhart, and our first assignment? Meeting and Greeting each other. So here are my answers to the questions.
 
Where do you write?

Anywhere. But mostly on my couch. It's leather...and comfy. Sometimes outside. Other times at the dining table...wherever I feel the need.



Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

The wall outlet where my laptop is plugged in. It's the reason I chose the specific spot on the couch.



Favorite time to write?

ANYTIME. Really. With little ones running around, and school going again, I have to make time to write. It usually doesn't matter if I'm 'in the mood' or not, I just have to do it.


Drink of choice while writing?

I'm so boring-water. I'm not much of a soda drinker, and I dont' drink coffee, so...yeah.



When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Is there such a thing as complete silence? Huh...I don't remember what that's like anymore. Honestly, I can write in any setting. Yes, even with four kids running around my living room screaming and chasing each other. I'm adaptable.


What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

My latest? Probably my extended family. They're quite an interesting bunch. I started writing it in July when it sort of just hit me. I'd been thinking about it for some time, but then BOOM, the opening scene came to me and it was so perfect I couldn't not write.


What's your most valuable writing tip

Seriously? I'm not an expert. And I feel kind of ridiculous giving any sort of advice to people. But I think the thing I agree with that other authors have suggested is reading. Lots and lots of reading. It's truly invaluable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

RTW: Best Book of August

Ahhh! I read some pretty good books this month, and they're all SO different. I'm not sure where to begin.


 
As you can see I've had a busy reading month. In part of the vacay and our 14 hour drive to LA. But It's been a good reading month also. I'm just having a hard time picking a favorite since they're all in different genres (all YA, that's about the only thing they have in common).  One was about angels and demons, star-crossed lovers caught in the midst of a war. Another a fantasy-dystopian (i didn't even know such a thing existed!) about a girl lost in a decaying world, and her reluctant hero. Another about a new goddess who can't seem to get her husband to notice her, and is then forced to confront his ex. One about a girl who stalks the family next door who's suddenly a part of said family. The last about four brothers with extraordinary powers, the youngest of whom falls for a girl trying to move on from the past. They were all good and all different, and I enjoyed them all for different reasons. So I guess I'm cheating by not picking one. Oops. Sorry...but I hope you pick at least one of them up and enjoy it as much as I did.
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Five for Friday

 1. So, I'm back. The vacay was great. We went to the beach (Santa Monica Pier was crazy busy, Redondo Pier, and Malibu). My husband and children had their first planetary experience at the Griffith Park Observatory. The boys loved it since the Transformers have hung out there before. We visited Universal Studios and took a tour where I got to see Wisteria Lane and the Bates Motel. On the way down and back we stayed in Las Vegas and went swimming because walking in 116 degree weather is like a death wish. And we all got go to the Hoover Dam! We had delicious food and good company. The only down part was not spending as much time with my dad as I would have liked. He was working the first half of the trip and sick the last half. Oh, and we also broke down in the middle of Utah...yeah, that was fun. But I guess you can't have a family vacation without some sort of car trouble.
That's me and the babes in front of the Hoover Dam. The sun was glaring in my eyes so I'm kind of squinting.
                                         
2. Wanted to let you guys in on an awesome even taking place in September lead by the awesome Deana Barnhart Gearing Up to Get an Agent. I've already signed up (lucky 150) and it sounds awesome! So if you're looking for an agent or getting ready, Click Here for more details.

3. School starts back up on Monday and I'm kind of freaking because I'm going to have a child in first grade and my baby boy is going to be gone ALL DAY. I'm not sure how many tears I'll shed, but there will be many.

4. I just finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and holy crapoli! Fabulous, in a word. I can't wait until Novemeber. BTW, the covers are beyond gorge.

5. My wonderful husband got me a Kindle for our seven year anniversary. It came in the mail right before we left for our vacay so it was perfect timing. I was able to download a few books and read them on our drive over to Cali. Good times.

Hope all of you had an awesome month! Can't wait for GUTGAA!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vacations, back-to-school, and writing

Just wanted to pop-by and say I'm going to be a little less present in August. We've got an awesome family vacation coming up, school starts up in a few short weeks, and I'm desperately trying to get my manuscript ready to query. It's going to be the August of insanity! I'll stalk you all every now and then, there might even a be some sporadic blog posts here and there, but for the most part I'm going to be busy trying to wrap my head around the fact that Fire and Ice might finally be getting there. Hope you all have an awesome month full of fun adventures, whether in real life or in your writing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RTW: Best Book of July

What's the best book I've read this month? I read several good books in July, including:





and


But my favorite would have to be Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. I mentioned it before in a post, but I was really impressed with the way the author wrote from a guy's POV so authentically. The book is a quick read and never felt slow-pacing. I think she handled the subject of PTSD in a way that's sensitive to those going through it themselves, especially those fighting for our country. All in all July was a great reading month and I'm looking forward to what August brings around!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Letting Go

We've all had to do it. As writers, it's a given. Letting go of some of our favorite scenes.
It's difficult, but at the end of the day we have to have a critical eye for our own work, and make the tough decisions. As much as we may love one scene in particular, we have to think to ourselves 'is this doing anything to further the plot and keeping the reader engaged, or does it mean something to me and only me?'.

 I did a lot of cutting this weekend. Thanks to some great feedback (shout-out to Molly and also Melanie). I'd been putting off changes for a while, possibly because I'm lazy, or maybe just plain scared of the work I would have to do, but once I started it became easier. My story used to be over 128,000 words (ugh!) and it is now sitting pretty at 100,388. It's still high for YA, but oh my gosh, it's actually less than my projected number. It feels good. The story is tighter, it flows better, and is now officially in the YA category. My characters started off in the middle of their senior year, with the story ending after their first semester in college. I had multiplepeople tell me that it might be a bit too old for YA. So, I went back and changed the timeline, which I'm sure you can guess, required many other changes throughout the manuscript. Hence the reason I was putting it off.

 One of the reasons I saw things more clearly is because I haven't worked on Fire and Ice for a few months and I had fresh eyes. I know you've heard it a lot, but put your manuscript away for while, let it rest, give yourself a break, and when you get back you'll be able to spot those problematic areas. I'm glad I listened to the advice and faced my fears. I'm not completely done editing, I'm going to do one more sweep before feeling comfortable enough to send it out. But my manuscript is closer than its ever been before and that's both exciting and oh so scary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RTW: Reincarnation and Me

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.


Here's this week's prompt: If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?

Holy crap! I can't even begin to imagine all the possibilities. There are so many characters I love and admire, choosing one just doesn't seem fair. I thought maybe a paranormal character, like a vampire or werewolf, but I really don't want to live forever and have no desire whatsoever to be that hairy...so I chose Sarah from Labyrinth. Yes, the one created by Jim Henson. Now before you tell me that it doesn't count because it's a movie, let me tell that this is in fact also a book. There's actually a couple of books based on the movie. I LOVE this story. The idea of traveling to a different world and meeting the Goblin King, it's something I would have so much fun experiencing. All the adventures and characters you get to meet. I guess it's more the little girl in me that wants this. I was eleven when I first watched Labryinth and began my obsession. I might even change my mind and stay behind with the Goblin King, you never know.

I have to tell you, I could list like twenty more characters I'd love to be reincarnated as, but I won't bore you too much. What about you guys, any characters out there you would switch places with in a heartbeat?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Somebody Slap Me

I was minding my own business this weekend, editing my manuscript, trying to rework my query, when it smacked me in the chest.

The doubt.



My confidence crashed down, my shoulders slumping with the weight. It was quite sudden and really annoying.

I've been riding a high the last few weeks while working on my current WIP. I'm loving the story and it's flowing fairly easily, compared to past projects. I've been in my groove. So where did this sudden hit to my confidence come from? I don't really quite know. Maybe it's because I'm getting closer to querying Fire and Ice, maybe because I've been reading some really amazing books, or maybe it's just me being a big old boob. I'm not sure which, but I'm working through it. How? By WORKING through it. Yup, I'm still writing. I'm not going to give up that high so easily, especially when it makes me feel lighter and happier. My current WIP is special to me. Not that any of my other manuscripts aren't, but there's something about this story that's driving me, zooming past the limits. I just hope the doubt dies down for a while. And if it doesn't, I'll just punch it in the gut some more by ignoring it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I had family in town from Monday-Wednesday and it was great to see them. My cousin, whom I haven't seen for five years, was here and it was nice to catch up.

2. I finished In Honor by Jessi Kirby. Another recommendation. Greatly enjoyed it. Confession: I was crying within the first few pages.

3. Got some writing done this week. I'm not on as much of a roll as I was a couple weeks back, but I'm not all dried up yet.

4. I really enjoyed doing the Bloghop this week. Looking forward to signing up for more.

5. I think I'm going to take the month of August off from blogging. We're going on a family vacation and school starts back up towards the end of the month, so I'll be absent. We'll see how things go.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hanging For My Hangers

It's time for the Hangers in this Bloghop! Once again, the ladies at Falling For Fiction are holding this shindig, so go say hello.

The hangers go along with the five hookers I posted on Monday
1. That string finally seemed to be pulled too tight, and it snapped away.
2. The ride home was going to be longer than I had anticipated.
3. Then I released her to a world that no longer made any sense.
4. “Start explaining.” My voice was tight.
5. Then maybe, if it was possible, I would find the green-eyed gem that had unknowingly changed my life forever.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Get Hooked On My Hookers

It's Bloghop Time! FFF is running the show, so stop by and read some more Hookers. Mine are below.

 These are from Fire and Ice. I hope you guys enjoy.

1. Here's the deal; I was pissed.

2. She was staring off into the distance the first time I saw her.

3. Work was crazy busy

4. I finally managed to successfully get my so-called best friend off the phone

5. Sitting on the edge of my bed with dry clothes, a blanket around my shoulders, did little to block the cold air trailing my skin, leaving a numbing sensation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I devoured Something Like Normal by Trish Doller in half a day. Okay, it's kind of a slim book, but it never felt lacking, in my humble opinion. I was even satisfied with the ending. It felt authentic. The author did a great job of getting a guy voice down, I even heard a dude narrating it in my head. (I may need to get that checked out). Warning: there is drug and alcohol use, foul language, and sex, but nothing is graphic.

2. It was over a hundred degrees here ALL week long. Needless to say, we didn't go out much. And air conditioning is now my best friend. As weird as it is to say (or write), I can't wait until it goes back down to the 90s.

3. I watched Mirror Mirror yesterday (you know, that other Snow White movie that came out this year) and it was super cute. Predictable, cheesy, and sugary enough to give you a tooth ache, but I enjoyed it.

4. On the writing front, things are still progressing. They're a little bit slower since I've hit the middle and am kind of going through a bit of writer's block, but I'm working through it.

5. They have Downton Abbey season 2 available on Hulu Plus! I watched the first two episodes this last week and already I'm nervous about the fates of certain characters. I'm sure I'll shed a few tears.

Happy weekend, All. Keep hydrated!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday

Today's RTW topic is a bit controversial. Here it is: What movie have you seen that actually (gasp!) improved on the book?

Uhhhhhh...yeah. This one is a bit tough. I can give PLENTY of answers when it comes movies that sucked compared to the book (*cough, Ella Enchanted, cough*), but that's not the topic. It took a little bit of thinking, going through my DVDs to see what movies I had that were based on books, and I found one. And it's not necessarily better, I just enjoyed it a bit more than the book. Okay, here it is...The Princess Bride. Yup. Here's why: while I truly enjoyed the book, I felt like slapping Buttercup across the face through the whole thing. She is a complete ditz in the book, and it kind of ruined her for me in the movie. She actually delights in telling Westley what to do all the time, it's kind of sadistic. And she cries too much for my liking. She's a silly girl and it makes me upset to see her so...weak. Especially because in the movie she seems to be quite the opposite. I guess that was my biggest gripe with the book. And I love the movie so much I'm afraid that the book might not have lived up to expectations even if I wanted it to. It's a tricky thing when it comes to favorite movies vs. the book. At the end of the day I think you should still read the book, if only to get a better grasp at the world William Goldman created, it's quite inspiring. And it's a funny book. You'll definitely laugh. Who knows, maybe you'll love the book more than the movie.

Monday, July 9, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons

You go to the store and buy lemonade. Isn't that the way it goes nowadays? We have so many conveniences at the tip of our fingers I think some of us may have forgotten how to *make* lemonade. I was thinking about this the other day. My six year old still doesn't know how tie his shoe laces. I'm pretty sure I did at his age. Not calling my kid stupid or anything, but it makes go 'huh'. With velcro shoes all the rage, it doesn't seem as important as it used to teach him how. Not that I won't. I will. He is going to know how to tie those shoe laces by the end of this summer if it's the last thing I do. But honestly, can you think of all the things younger generations won't need to do or learn because of how many advances we've made as a society? Not just with perfecting the art of making velcro shoes, but with computers, internet, cell phones. It amazes me.

As a writer I have to take these things into consideration as I put them in my writing. Some of things my character's are doing when it comes to technology, or even saying, as is often the case, aren't going to be relevant in the future. While I was working on Fire and Ice I had my MC's exchange a few phone calls. Now remember, I started writing Fire and Ice way back in '08. I've since then deleted all those convos. Why? Because no teenager talks on the phone anymore! Texting is the name of the game, and if you don't do it you're totally lame.. Seriously, my little brother is four years younger than me and whenever he's around all he does is text, text, text. Every time his phone makes that dinging sound I want to throw something at his face. But that's what it's like now. People don't communicate anymore, they text, IM (hey, I used to do this too. I guess I'm not that old), facebook, tweet at each other (wha???Never thought back in the day that this would be a 'thing').

I guess what I'm trying to get at is, don't show your age in your writing, especially in YA. Kids are more observant than we give them credit for, and picky, and if your characters are calling each other and having real conversations that aren't face to face, they'll 'call' YOU on it. Don't be a mom or dad in your writing, be cool. Not that I know how to do that anymore. I'm not sure if I ever was, now that I think about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

That Time I Signed Up For a Bloghop

Okay, guys, I don't know if you've heard but Fall for Fiction (also known as FFF) is holding a Hookers and Hangers bloghop.


This is how it's going to work:

Hookers & Hangers Blogfest July 16th & July 18th

We all know how important the first and last lines are in every chapter. This blogfest will hopefully get your HOOKERS and HANGERS polished making it impossible for readers to put down your book and leaving them begging for more!


On July 16th, post the first sentence from each chapter.

On July 18th, post the last sentence from each chapter.

Post as many as you like!

We will be judging everyone’s first three HOOKERS and first three HANGERS. We’ll each pick two winners (MOST ENTICING HOOKER and MOST IMPOSSIBLE HANGER) making a total of ten winners! Winners will receive a 10 page (double spaced) critique and a Friday Spotlight on FFF!
Awesome, right?!? I think I may post my Hookers and Hangers from my current WIP, which I'm sort of really excited about. If you would like to sign up, click HERE.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Let's Talk About: Downton Abbey

We interrupt ourregularly scheduled writing post. Okay, so I finished the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix and I have many FEELINGS about it.

First off, superb writing. Great settng, intriguing subplots, and wonderful acting. One thing i want to discuss is my immediate dislike of Mary Crawley. She got on my last nerve. It wasn't until the last couple episodes that I wanted to do something other than roll my eyes when she came on screen, which was a lot since she's a pretty major part of Downton Abbey.

Mary and Edith: someone please put these two in time-out, for realz. The whole time I watched them interact with one another I kept thinking "please, please, please don't let my daughters grow up to be like them!" I didn't feel bad for either  one  when they started messing with each other's lives. They deserved what they got.

Sybil: Now there's a girl I like. She is my favoritist. And I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that. She's sweet, kind, generous, and foward thinking. I can see a romance subplot invovling her and a certain chauffeur for next season. I hope I'm right.

Dowager Countess Violet Crawley: kicks ass. Makes me laugh. Perfection.

Isobel Crawley and the Dowager: I want more of them together. They are awesome . Their interactions were by far my favorite thing throughout the season.

Matthew Crawley: Too good for everyone except for Sybil, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm glad he wasn't some guy who was going to stick around and get walked on the whole time, that would have been boring. I hope he does more of that in the next season.

Mary and Matthew: Please let them do something with Mary to redeem all of her awfulness in the first season. I'm sorry, i didn't root for these two at all. I kept wanting Matthew to slap her in her superior face.

Thomas: The character you love to hate. I didn't like that they made him mean for no apparent reason. I want back story! And I want to see that side of him that makes you kind of like him even though he's the bad guy.

William and Daisy: Daisy, Daisy, Daisy, you are cluless. But they would be so cute and perfect together. Make. It. Happen.

Mr. Bates and Anna: Poor Mr. Bates. I really felt for him. Out of everyone, I wanted him to get a happy ending. And I like him with Anna.

Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes: I liked that you got a little info these two, like the fact Mr. Carson and danced and sang for a living, or that Mrs. Hughes had a marriage proposal at one point. I enjoyed watching scenes that involved these two.

Ms. O'Brien: Another character you love to hate. I'm not so sure about her. What she did to Lady Grantham is pretty much inforgivable. Not sure what to expect from her next season.

One other thing that made me go 'huh?' is the Turk storyline. I'm not so sure about that one. I'm curious to see if it continues in season 2.

All in all I greatly enjoyed Downton Abbey and am pretty upset that Netflix doesn't have the second season available yet. I do like that the characters aren't so black and white, that there are gray areas with them. Hopefully that continues. And I'm hoping that at some point I start liking Mary.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Five for Friday

1. So much writing, you guys. I'm so proud of myself for finally getting there again. It's been an uphill battle since Baby Girl 2 came into the world, but I'm getting back my writing legs.

2. I just finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey and I have so many FEELINGS about it that I'm planning on doing a post to discuss them next week.

3. Reading wise I'm finally finishing up Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth series. I'm right in the middle of The Dark and Hollow Places. So far I'm liking it. I'm just glad the series has shown improvement throughout each book. And that all the lead characters have had distinct voices.

4. We canceled our TV. I know, for a professed TV addict this is a tragedy. But it' actually freed up a lot of time for me. Not just for reading and writing, but being outside with my kids and and being more active. Not that I sat around on my butt all day ignoring the little ones before, but it's nice not having that distraction. We still have Netflix with our X-Box, but I only watch like an hour or two of TV per day.

5. Since it's summer vacay I've been trying to think of things to keep my children preoccupied. They can only run and play outside so much. Besides, the heat is getting to be a bit unbearable and I don't want them out there getting heat stroke. We've been making weekly trips to the library, arts and crafts, and reading time, but I'm kind of running out of ideas. Do any of you have suggestions? I would greatly appreciate them.

Thanks all! Have a great weekend, and don't forget that sunscreen!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Desperately Seeking Inspiration

Ever have one of those moments when an idea for a new story hits you. The opening scene is just perfect, the character's voice so real that it seems to whisper in your ear, and you can't help but want to write it down. Now picture where you are when this occurs. Is it in the shower? Are you in your warm bed, snuggled in with the blanket, the promise of sleep just moments away? Or perhaps you're driving your kids to school, and you know that writing and driving isa no-no, but you want to rationalize it anyway.

Welcome to my world. Writing inspiration can be inconvenient at times, no matter how great the idea is. And for the most part, it's during those inconvenient moments that ideas come to me. Maybe it's because your mind is at ease and you're not really trying to get something down. But when I plop down on the couch with my handy dandy laptop, inspirations seems to be chased away. NOT. COOL.

I'm going to try deep breathing meditation type exercises from now on when I try to write. You know, the whole 'close your eyes, think of your happy place, open your mind to new possibilities' bit. Maybe it'll work. But I think in the end I'll just fall asleep, face on keyboard. Here's hoping something works, so I can get to the core of my current WIP.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five for Friday

1. Setting up routines was the focus of the week. Since summer break has started (and since the baby arrived) things have been a little...disorganized shall we say, in Chez Pickett. Thankfully I'm finally getting into the groove of things and starting to get the kids on board with the whole 'routine' thing.

2. In case any of you are wondering (and I'm sure you are since you all find me so very interesting) I'm right on target with my goal to read one book a week this year. I think I might even surpass it if things keep going the way they do.

3. Writing was so-so this week. I got almost 3000 words down. I'm hoping to change my target to around a thousand words a day. Now that it's summer I can take the laptop outside while the kids are playing and kill two birds with one stone.

4. The heat wave has hit my neck of the woods. It was so humid yesterday for a minute I thought I was back in Northern Virginia. It was the 'shade won't offer you any relief' kind of heat. That's one thing I DON'T miss about back east. Humidity and I are not friends.

5. Nothing spectacular planned for this weekend. Hoping to get some yard work done, and hopefully some writing. Would love it if the heat let up just a bit.

Have a splendiferous weekend all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: Fever

Wow, where do I begin. Depressing. That would a good word to sum up this book. So why did I keep reading? Undercurrents of hope that pop up in the midst of some pretty awful things.




That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, I just had a hard time trying not to cry. Rhine's world is bleak, real, dangerous, and ugly. ***SPOILER***: So at the end of Wither, Rhine and Gabriel escape the confines of the 'compound' and the father-in-law from hell, Vaughn. And now, well, things aren't going much better. Kidnapped and forced into the red district, Rhine becomes the object of ...interest/ creepy affection to Madame, the woman in charge. Don't even get me started on poor Gabriel. He's spent most of his life in servitude and hasn't really faced the realities of their world outside of the house before. What he endures is completely unfair, but also totally expected considering the world they live in. Then there's the ending. Gah! Lauren Destefano's writing captures the heartless nature of the future so well and it kept me turning the pages. It is poetic and grim. I do have a few gripes, like the prose. Although well done, it can be a bit much at times. And I also want more character development for Gabriel. So far I'm not as connected with him as I want to be. All in all, I'm looking forward to the next one because I REALLY need to know where the heck it's all going and how it's going to end. Hopefullyit won't be as tragic as I think it will be.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Temptation

I am considering some serious rewrites to a manuscript. Right now my focus should be on finishing my WIP, which is halfway done, but I'm instead thinking about the flaws of a finished manuscript. I have 'the grass is greener' syndrome. This happen every few months or so. I'll think all is well in my writing world, then I'll get hit with the bug and start questioning my storyline. Where is it all leading? And is it getting to that destination the right way? I then want to tear through the whole thing and redo it from start to finish. Which, as you know, will take a while. I'm a slow writer. Not beccause I lack passion or anything, but because there are one too many distractions in my life (four of which need constant care and attention). Gah! Frustration at its best. Here's hoping I can hang on and finish one thing before tackling another. Hopefully by then my ridiculous need to redo the story will have flushed away.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Now This Is Happening

Anchorman is one of my all time favorite comedies. EVER. I mean, really. Classic lines such as 'It's an optical illusion' and 'Loud noises!' and my all time favorite, ' 60 percent of the time, it works every time.' In the scene below Ron (Will Ferrell) has a run in with Jack Black. Ron decides to discard a burrito out his car window, which in turn causes Jack Black to crash his motorcycle. Of course, the guy is pissed (rightfully so) and he decides to seek his revenge. He proceeds to drop kick Baxter, Ron's beloved dog, over the bridge. Before he does so, he says the words my husand often repeats, 'Now this is happening.' The viewer doesn't know what he's going to do, but we expect whatever it is to be pretty hilarious because of those four words 'now this is happening'. As a writer, you shouldn't do this. Why? While this is hilarious in film format, it doesn't translate well to readig format.



We as writers need to do a better job of showing the reader what's about to happen without spelling it out like Jack Black does. The anticipation is one of the best parts of reading a book. Saying 'now this is happening' is too direct in writing. I don't want to read a book that goes something along the lines of this: " Jack picked up Baxter, then he kicked him over the bridge. After that Ron started to cry.' Can you imagine reading an entire book that sounds like that? Yeah, not so much. So show, don't tell. Stay away from the 'now this is happening' syndrome. And watch a funny movie.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Five for Friday

1. First off, sorry for the blog silence this week...it took some time to get things back on track after this past weekend.

2. The party was a success, even with a few last minute additions in attendance. The bouncy house was a great idea, and we had water guns for later on when the heat got to be too much.

3. We had family in town from Saturday through Tuesday and it was a BLAST. Exhausting, but so much fun. It's always nice to see them.

4. I've been writing and feeling more like my old self. And I've been reading as well. I finished Anna Dressed In Blood (so good and scary), I'm almost done with Delirium, and I just got Fever.

5. How was your week? Any book suggestions?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five for Friday

1. First off, Hi there *waves awkwardly to new followers*. It's nice to see some new faces (as much as you can through the internet), thanks for being here.

2. You guys, we rented a bouncy house. Yup, we're officially into the grade school era of birthday parties, where elaborate shennanigans take place to ensure that your child and his/her friends have the best time ever. Tomorrow's the last day of school and my son's party is on Saturday, therefore we have to pull out all the stops to make it the most happenin' get together EVER.

3. Speaking of summer, hello! When did this happen??? I know I've mentioned it before, but seriously, where did the time go? I really need to get back into good writing shape.

4. We have family coming in this weekend for the party, as well as other family fun times. It's going to be nice, but also craaaayzay.

5. I'm excited for Summer break because that means a family vacay. We're going to LA to visit my dad in August and it's going to be awesomesauce. We're thinking about going to San Diego too and doing the Sea World thing. What are you plans for this upcoming 2012 summer?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Static Electricity

Ever rub a baloon on top of your head? If you haven't, try it out, it's guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again (and you can zap someone afterwards, you're feeling kind of evil). Notice how it leaves your hair standing on its ends, almost Einstein like? That's what I liken a writer's brain to.
 <-- Your brain on writing

There's all these crazy ideas roaming around in your head, fighting to stand out from the others, leaving you feeling (rather than looking) like a crazy person. Each strand can be brilliant on its own, or can fizzle to nothing. I found something out, if you add and subtract a few strands here and there, you might make something AMAZING out of nothing. I had a few ideas that were just that, ideas. But there was nothing special about them, but I intertwined those 'blah' ideas (dull strands) and poof! You got some volume! As writers, we're kind of a hot mess of hair growing by the second, sort of like what happens to mine when any sort of humidity gets near it. But at times, that hot mess can be that gem you've been waiting for. Don't give up, add a few ideas together to see if they make any sort of coherent story and go from there. I've been known to mesh a couple of them together. If nothing else, you might get a good laugh out of it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back In Time

No, not like Will Smith in the newest MIB movie (which my 12 year old self can't wait to see), but like the opening up of an old manuscript you might have decided to put away for a while.

There's an old project that has been on my mind for some time. It's slowly gnawing away my unwillingness to go back into it. Not because I didn't love it, but because I have OTHER projects that I need to focus on right now. But it just won't go away. It's a beloved story that started in my head back when I was fifteen. I wrote about 40,000 words and then shifted my focus onto something else, something that was a bit more 'commercial'. I love this story, the way the characters come together in the most unexpected of ways. I think it might be time to stop being afraid and work on something for the love of it, not because it might give me a better chance of being published. I've put that dream on the back burner for now, and instead want to focus on strengthening my writing and doing what I love. Everything else can wait until later. I think I might be getting a hang of this patience thing. Maybe I'm growing up after all (um, not likely). What about you guys? Are there any stories you want to get back into? Lofty goals that aren't pushing at you anymore? Something that reminds you of your love for writing?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Five for Friday

1. I'm out of town...The hubs had a work thing and he dragged along his family (meaning me and the kids). The kids are LOVING the pool, even my 2 yo, who hates baths.

2. I finished Froi of the Exiles (sequel to Finnikin of the Rock) and boy was that ending a doozy. I am way too impatient for the last in the trilogy. I have less than a year to go (by like a month).

3. I started running again and it is so nice. For some reason I get some great ideas and scenes while I'm in the work-out zone.

4. My oldest has one more week of school and then it's Vacay time. He's not too happy about the idea of having no school for 2 1/2 months...I'm sure things will change as he gets older.

5. It's Memorial Day weekend here in the states. Do you guys have anything fun planned out? I'll be hanging with the kids and the hubs in Washington.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vomit of the Hands

Someone once told my mother-in-law she has diarrhea of the mouth. I believe it was one of her elementary or middle school teachers. While this is true and often hilarious (sometimes it gets her into trouble) it made me thing of something writing related (of course!)

You're working on a scene and trying to find the perfect way to describe a room or a clever/ hilarious way to say 'I don't like you' (Here's what I came up with: I loathe you, you are repugnant, you make me want to punch you in the face) and you end up repeating yourself in many well written (more often just plain awful) ways, and you can't decide which you like best. Either you hate all of them, or you like a few of them a little too much and decide to work them ALL in, because the idea of cutting your cleverness out just tears you apart. This is, my friend, is what I like to refer to as vomit of the hands.

It's a disease all authors face. Especially during that painful first draft. And I've found that even the best of us tend to get redundant in published form. There are only so many ways of letting someone know how beautiful a boy or girl is. Seriously, I've noticed this A LOT when it comes to the description of love interests (yes, we get the male lead is chiseled with abs the even Captain America would envy, yes the girl is so beautiful she defies all laws of  humanity). I'm guilty doing this, there I admit it.

Just because it happens doesn't mean all hope is lost. We can beat this thing. Together. Let's lend support to one another, either by critiquing or beta reading. Tell someone when it's happening. They might deny deny deny, but sooner or later they'll realize that using the terms radiant and luminous within the same paragraph to describe a room is a bit repetitive. But most important of all, we need to learn to let go. Pick a word and cut the rest. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. I bid you good luck as you fight the good fight against this insidious disease.