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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Signing Off For The Holidays

This is my last post for the year.  I hope you all have a great holiday weekend!  Before I go, here's a quick update from the last post.

1.  I took the kiddos to see Tangled this week.  It was wonderful!  I'll definitely purchase this one when it comes out on DVD (my middle child called dibs for her birthday).  I laughed and even got teary-eyed a few times (BTW this equals WIN for me).  Hubs will take me to see Tron Legacy sometime next week when we can con someone into babysitting for us.

2.  Christmas shopping is officially DONE!  I did forget one present (always seem to do that), but the situation was corrected yesterday with a trip to hell-mart Wal-mart.  I went with the my sister and all of our kids (insane, right?) but we made out in one piece with only one meltdown from my toddler and one from hers.

3.  I was informed I have to take finger foods to two different places on Christmas Eve.  I knew about one last week, but I found out about the other this morning. UGH! Now I have to make another trip to the grocery store. #pleasehelpme

4.  But all that aside, I'm getting super excited.  I LOVELOVELOVE watching everyone open presents, especially my kids.  The way their little faces light up, the squeals of delight, I love it all!  

5.  But the Big Painting Job is making me a bit nervous.  #whatwasithinking

6.  And that's about it.  I'll leave you with one of my very favorite Christmas songs.  I hope you enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

>


Thursday, December 2, 2010

So You Want To Write a Novel

This video is hilarious!



Also, Shannon McMahon has a new feature on her blog called Anonymous Critique.  The way it works is that a volunteer shares his/her work and you can give feedback.  It's a great way to support a fellow writer and you could look into submitting your own work for critique.  Check it out:)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hating Game

I've never done anything like this before, but Talli Roland is one of my super cool blog buddies and she's the debut author of a book that sounds incredible.  Check it out! 

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/hNBkJk
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/hX2ieD

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at www.talliroland.com.


About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end? 


Sounds great right? And if you're not already following Talli's blog, check it out!  She's funny and so incredibly sweet!  I'm glad to count her as one of my writerly friends:)

Monday, November 29, 2010

No New Ideas?


So a while back, I read a review for a YA book that is going to be released next spring and I had to do a facepalm. The name of the government in my book (that I thought was original, btw) is the name of the government in the other book. A book that is going to be published. Ugh!  Then a few days ago, I read a review of another YA book that is going to be released soon and I discovered that something else I used in my book has been used in this other book.  And it's something I will definitely have to change. *double facepalm*

Have you ever written a book and discovered that some of your ideas have already been used?

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Baby's Getting a New Name

Okay, I'm not talking about any of my kidlets.  That would be weird.  The WIP is in the midst of getting a huge makeover and with that comes a brand new title.  I've made a big plot change and the original title gives things away (Yeah, I'm going for a mysterious thing here cause I'm mean like that).  To be honest, it's hard.  I've been calling it this one thing for over a year now and I've got to get used to thinking of it differently. And if I'm having issues with changing the title, I couldn't imagine how authors feel about having to adjust to a new title after they have a book deal. 

So I'm back to the revising trenches, trying to come up with something brilliant for a new title (forgot to mention that I don't have a clue what the new title is going to be yet). Fun times;)

Are you attached to your current title?  Have you ever had to change your title and was it difficult or no big deal to you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fear


So Halloween is almost here.  The time for candy, costumes, and scary things.  Things that make you want to hide under your covers.  So what scares you?


Do you have a fear of walking down a cold, dark street at night, wondering what's making all those noises you can't see? 


And to make it worse, what if you saw something like this peering out at you from the shadows?
You better believe I won't be standing around very long.


Ugh, who can forget spiders?  I'm terrified I'll wake up and find one crawling on me! *shudders*


This was a big one for me when I was little.  I was sure there was something lurking under my bed, waiting until my parents went to sleep so it could get me.


Clowns! Enough said.

So what scares you?



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reasons I'm Glad I Don't Have a Book Deal (Yet)

I'm not going to lie - I want to be published.  Sure, I write because I love it.  Isn't that why all writers write? (Because chances are we're not going to get rich by it).  Anyways, I've been focused on finishing my WIP and jumping into the madness of Query-land and let me tell you it's stressful.  I've been putting too much pressure on myself. Not a good thing.

And then I had an epiphany.  Why am I doing this to myself?  Shouldn't I enjoy this part of the writing journey?  So here's my list of why I should be thankful I don't have a published book.

1.  No pesky agent or editor breathing down my neck.  That's right, I answer to no one right now. I mean, having one of those is almost like having another boss! *shudders*

2.  No pesky agent or editor means I have all the time in the world to work on my WIP!  I can finish it in a few months if I want, or I can take a few years.  It's up to me. (Alright, I admit the second does involve lots of procrastination).

3.  No deadlines!

4.  No bad reviews!

5.  I have the freedom to write what I want, when I want! Nobody can tell me I can't write a YA Vampire/Angel/Werewolf love story! (Complete with SPARKLES!)

6.  I can abuse ! and ( ) to my heart's content!

7.  And.....I'm drawing a blank!  Give me a number 7!  What's a good reason to be thankful for not having a book deal (yet)?

Monday, October 4, 2010

You Wrote How Much Blogfest

A few weeks ago, Patti Nielson had a cool idea for a blogfest. Starting Monday, September 27th, participants were supposed to write down every minute spent writing or editing until Friday, October 1st.  So I said to myself "Hey, maybe I'll get a few chapters knocked out of the way if I do this."   I'd been stuck revising chapter 3 for quite a while, so I thought this would force me to power through it.  Well, just take a look at my times.


Monday, Sept. 27  - 1 hour 
Tuesday, Sept. 28  - 45 minutes 
Wednesday, Sept 29  - 1 hour 25 minutes 
Thursday, September 30  - 1 hour, 45 minutes 
Friday, October 1  - 4 hours (Yay!)


Okay, so I was weak the first four days.  I wasted lots of time checking blogs, Twitter, and e-mail during the day.  Now it's  hard for me to write during the day anyway because of my extremely energetic toddler, but to be honest, if I had really tried I could have squeezed more time in by limiting my time on the Net.  I know because that's what I did Friday.  I allowed myself to read exactly five blogs, check Twitter once for ten minutes, and check e-mail once in the morning and again after my writing was done.  As a result, I'm happy to report that I did finish the pesky chapter 3!  One of my problems during the week was that I kept staring, thinking, typing, deleting, and staring some more.  Yep, the joys of revising.  But it's done and my CPs have it, so on to the next chapters (finally).


What do you think about keeping track of your writing time?   Have you ever tried this?  If so, does it work for you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

When Taking a Break is Bad

I love breaks.  Breaks are good most of the time.  But if you're like me, sometimes breaks can go on for a long time.  For me, most breaks relate to my writing.  I've always heard that if you're stuck, take a break.  Or if you're so frustrated with your WIP that burning it seems like a good idea, take a break.  And that's great advice.

But.....

When the break that's supposed to last for a day or so stretches into weeks or even months, then you've got a problem.  I know all about that.  I finished my first draft for my first WIP at the beginning of August.  And it took me 11 months to do it.  Yep, you read that right.  Eleven. Freaking. Months.

I'm not even finished.  I'm in the middle of Revisionland, and I've started to find myself succumbing to those old urges again.  It's hard to figure out what needs to be cut or what needs to added, so I tell myself I'll take a quick peek at The Black Hole of Time Suck (AKA Twitter).  Or I'll check my email.  Repeatedly. Then there's all those blogs I need to catch up on....

Folks, it's a vicious cycle.  Sometimes, I don't even get my writing done for the day because of some serious procrastination.  Not. Good.  And when I'm hit with the "I'm a hack writer" days, the writing break seems to stretch on forever.

Now I do have one suggestion for breaking the "writing break" cycle.  My CPs and I have Smackdown sessions that have helped me become really productive.  It's simple...we get on Instant Messenger (or you could use Twitter) and we set a time like 30 minutes.  That 30 minutes is for writing.  When time's up, we check in and give a status update.  Works like a charm for me.

So do you have any ways to break those "too-long writer's breaks"?  What's the longest writing break you've ever taken?

Monday, September 20, 2010

You Shouldn't Read That!

Well, Banned Book Week is almost here (September 25 - October 2).  We're less than a week away and some more books are being challenged. One of them is Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak.  It's being challenged by a professor in Missouri because he thinks it's soft porn because of two rape scenes. I'm not going  into all of the details, but really....challenging a book because of rape scenes?  Yeah, the guy has the right to have his own opinions, like everyone else.  But I'm completely, totally, one hundred percent against someone trying to force their own opinions on other people.  Namely, trying to have a book banned and removed from school libraries because they don't think the content is appropriate.

As a parent, that ticks me off.  Nobody should have the right to tell me what my children should or should not read.  EVER!  Parents should have the right to decide for themselves what is appropriate for their OWN children.   In fact, I've never read Speak, but I plan to buy it now because of this.

Furthermore, I started thinking of other banned books.  I knew of some books that had been challenged (The Harry Potter series), but I was curious about others.  Boy was I surprised.  The following is just a few of the books I read when I was in middle/high school. I love all of these books, and all are on the banned/challenged books lists.

Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret
Then Again, Maybe I Won't
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Handmaid's Tale
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
On My Honor
Lord of the Flies
Blubber
The Color Purple
Bridge to Terabithia
The Dead Zone
How to Eat Fried Worms
The Goosebumps series
A Wrinkle in Time. (The book that made me think I could be a writer one day)

So what do you think about book censorship?  Are there any books on the banned/challenged lists that you love?

** If you have a Twitter account, you can follow more of this discussion with the tag #SpeakLoudly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Speculative Fiction Rocks

I've never been drawn to books, t.v. shows, or movies that deal with ordinary things.  Give me something weird, something unusual, something fantastic.  Why?  I guess it's because, to me, real life can be rather boring sometimes.  Don't get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but I need an escape outlet when seeking entertainment:) 

So I guess that I'm drawn to anything under the speculative fiction umbrella.  Aliens, space travel, time travel, dystopias, ghosts, angels, faeries, and zombies all rock my world. (I'm getting tired of the vampires/werewolves thing.)  It's the element of the unknown, taking an ordinary person in ordinary circumstances and throwing them smack dab in the middle of something extraordinary that gets my blood to pumping.

If you could look at my bookshelf you'd see The Hunger Games trilogy, The Gemma Doyle series, The Mortal Instruments series, The Dead-Tossed Waves, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Life As We Knew It (and the two sequels), Hex Hall and so on, with only a few contemporary titles spaced out.

This isn't something I've latched onto recently - I've always gravitated toward the strange and unusual.  (Hmmm...does that make me strange and unusual? )  Anyway, I remember when I was little, I LOVED watching Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, all of the Indiana Jones movies, and Poltergeist.  Yeah, strange pickings for a kid, much less a female.  My friends thought I was weird, but oh well, it's what I liked. 

So what kinds of things do you like to read or what types of t.v. shows/movies do you tend to watch? Any suggestions for me to read/watch? (And I'm not a snob toward other genres - I'm willing to  check out anything if I get a recommendation.) Thanks!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Mockingjay?

OMG, I'm soooooooo ready to get my copy of Mockingjay!  I plan to get up bright and early-ish tomorrow to make the hour long drive to the nearest Barnes & Noble to get mine (I will be there when they unlock the doors, I tell ya)!  Yes, I know that the pre-order option is available, but I was afraid they'd lose my copy or something like that and then I'd have to wait DAYS before I could read it.  I'm paranoid like that.   

Anyway, I've heard that spoilers are already popping up on the 'net, so I'm trying to stay away from them.  But it's hard because I want to know what happens.  Catching Fire left us with a HUGE cliffhanger (which is awesome and sucks at the same time).  All I can say is I hope Katniss makes the right choice. #TEAMPEETAFTW

And before I go, here's a fabulous fan-made trailer for The Hunger Games. (Found at http://myhungergames.com/).  Check it out!



So are you looking forward to Mockingjay? Are you Team Peeta, Team Gale, or Team Katniss?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grammar School With Snooki

This is why you should pay attention in English class!


Monday, August 9, 2010

I Did It!

Okay, so I know it's been a loooooooooong time since my last post. Like end of June long time ago. I was supposed to take a few weeks to finish my WIP, but you know how life gets:)

Anyway, I'm super excited/doing flips/shouting from the rooftops giddy because I did it!

I. Finally. Finished. It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right folks, I am out of drafting mode. Done. And let me tell you, it feels ah-may-zing. My CP, Tina Lynn, was IM chatting with me last night while I finished that last chapter and she celebrated with me when I typed "The End." (Poor thing stayed up late so she could be there when I finished!) And being the huge dork that I am, I actually cried. Please don't judge.

So what's next? Well, it's been forever since I even started this thing, so I have a lot of distance between me and the beginning chapters. That means I could take a few days off then start revising (and the lovely Natalie is waiting to read it, but I won't let her until I fix the first part).

Or I can go to plan B. Shiny New Idea. Yep, one of those bad boys has been tickling my subconscious, itching to get put on paper. Not sure which route I'm going yet, but I'll made a decision soon. Right now, I'm celebrating!!!!!!!!

So where are you in your WIPs? And how do you celebrate once you finish the first draft?

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'll Be Back*

Okay folks, I'm going to sign off on blogging for a week or two. Nothing is wrong. In fact, the opposite is true.

I'm almost finished with my WIP! *cue the music, fireworks, or whatever*

I know a lot of you have already finished a book (or twelve), but this is the FIRST one I've ever attempted to write. And it's almost done! I need to add another five chapters or so, then on to revising! I'm going to try to squeeze every spare minute I have to finishing this thing.

But, seeing that I have other duties (namely taking care of the kiddos who require an INSANE amount of attention during the summer), I'm going to have let some things go. Spotless house, gone (well, that was never the case to begin with;). And blogging is going to have to go on the back burner for a while.

So I'll see ya when it's done!

*Yep, I was totally going for The Arnold's voice here;)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baby Steps

Okay folks, I've come to a realization. I'm not going to write a book by racing through the whole writing process. I know, shocking;) In fact, it's going to take a lot of time. See, my attitude has been Holy crap! I've got to finish this thing! Kind of like it's a one step deal - write the book, end of story. But it's not like that. (Yes, I know you have to edit and all that fun stuff, but I'm not there yet.) Writing a book takes a series of steps. There's no cheating allowed, no skipping anything, no writing so fast that you start and end with a book deal in three months.

It. Is. Going. To. Take. Time.

You know, like taking baby steps. And each step will get you that much closer to your dreams. Sure, sometimes you're going to fall down, but you need to pick yourself up, dust off those doubts, and push on.

Baby steps.

So have you come to any realizations lately?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Forgotten Gift

I was cleaning out my desk a few days ago and I found something that a dear friend gave me years ago just before I graduated from college. She knew that I was having doubts about being a teacher and that I really *wanted* to be a writer. I can't remember if this was a graduation, Christmas, or birthday gift (sorry, severe mommy brain prevents me from remembering these kinds of details), but I remember how I felt when I received it. Relief. Gratitude. Happiness.

So what was the gift? It was a framed quote. Now I can hear some of you - Yeah, yeah, so what? What's the big deal?

Well, it's the quote itself. I have no idea who the author is, but it was so inspiring to me. It said:

If you imagine, you can begin. If you believe, you can achieve. If you start now, you can fulfill...your dreams.

Pretty cool, huh? I was relieved because someone finally understood that I had a dream and it wasn't stupid of me to want to pursue it. I felt gratitude because she was the first person to get that dream. And I was happy because it made me feel that my dream wasn't some childish fantasy.

I used to have that quote next to my computer, and I'm not sure how it was lost in all of the junk in my desk - I'm gonna blame the kiddos:) But now I have it proudly diplayed again next to my laptop.

So do you have anything that inspires you? Have you ever had somebody help you realize that your dreams are valid?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Isuckitis

I think I've come down with Isuckitis. What? You've never heard of it? Well, it's a nasty ailment that usually strikes most writers at some point during their careers . It can come at any time: during the first draft, during revisions, or when your crit partners are reading your chapters. And occasionally it has been known to flare up before a writer even types one word of a new project, causing said writer to abandon it in favor of seeking an alternative use of his/her time (Twitter, blog hopping, facebook - you get the picture).

So what are the symptoms?

* Thinking everything you write is complete crap even though yesterday it seemed brilliant.

* Staring endlessly at your monitor, watching that little cursor as it mocks you for not typing anything. You almost can hear it- YOU *blink* SUCK *blink* YOU *blink* SUCK

* Hating your work so much that you abandon it for weeks, telling yourself that you "need a little break."

* The inability to open your Word document.

* Have I mentioned that you think your work sucks to the millionth degree?

So.........does any of this sound familiar? Have you been struck with Isuckitis recently? If you have, please tell me how you got over it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tagged!

Natalie at The Sound of Rain tagged me this week with a fun questionnaire. Let's see how many things you have in common with me:)

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?

1. I was teaching a class of 20 six and seven year old kidlets (otherwise known as first graders).
2. I was still adjusting to being a mom to TWO girls. Girl 1 was seven years old and girl 2 was two years old.
3. I was still living in the same town I'm in now.
4. I was trying to decide if I wanted to stay at the school I had been teaching at for the past five years or look for another teaching job.
5. I was still in the WANTING to be a writer stage. (Yeah, shame on me.)

Question 2: Where would you like to be five years from now?

1. Published (of course!)
2. On the bestseller lists (I can dream, right?)
3. Traveling
4. When not traveling, living in a different town (I've lived in the same town all. of. my. life. - time for a change of scenery)
5. Writing full-time for a living (with all of my kiddos in SCHOOL)(Yeah, I know this may interfere with my traveling plans, but I'll work around the school schedule - or hire a nanny)

Question 3: What is (was) on your to-do list today?

1. Make sure the kiddos have been fed
2. Make sure the hubs has been fed (yep, he's like the fourth child)
3. Take a nap
4. Figure out what book I want to read next since I finished Hex Hall last night (and it was wonderful, by the way)
5. Write (duh!)

Question 4: What five snacks do you enjoy?

1. Cupcakes (preferably chocolate)
2. Chocolate chip cookies
3. Chocolate candy bars (Stuff like Hershey bars, KitKats, Reese's Cups, ya know)
4. Chocolate ice cream
5. Cheese and crackers (Gasp! Something not chocolate!)

Question 5: What would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Pay off all of my stinking bills (and yes, they reek)
2 Pay off my relatives' bills
3. Give loads of moolah to different charities
4. Finally get a new car
5. Be able to support my traveling hobby without feeling guilty and buy houses in at least five different countries (why five? I dunno, I just like that number)

Now to tag five other folks!
1. Kristen
2. Tiffany
3. Jade
4. Carol
5. Karen

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I Learned From LOST

Yes, I was one of those millions of viewers who tuned in for the big LOST finale. This post is not a recap of the episode or an analysis, but my thoughts on why I loved the show so much.

I've heard a lot of people (and my hubby is one) say that they lost interest in LOST after two or three seasons because they were, well, lost. They couldn't understand where the story was going or things didn't make sense. But that was one of the things I actually liked about the show. It was that sense of what in the hell is going on and when are we going to find out that kept me going back week after week. Yeah, I'm weird like that:)

And another thing that kept me glued to the set, threatening anybody who dared to talk to me during the episode with bodily harm (just kidding!), was how the relationships evolved between the characters. I actually started to care for them and wanted them find their way off that island just as much as they did. Ya'll, I bawled during the episode a few weeks ago in which three major characters died in the space of a few minutes (I was the only one awake so I let the tears flow). And during the finale, my hubs was awake and I wanted to bawl again, but I sucked it up (he would have given me so much grief if he had seen me do that).

Now a lot of folks have complained that a lot of questions were not answered during the finale. Sure, I was irked because I wanted to know all of that stuff, too. But I didn't let that take away from my overall enjoyment. What was more important to me was that the characters were allowed to have a "happy" ending. Now that doesn't mean that I want all stories to have happy endings, but I wanted these particular characters to have one because of all the bad things that had happened to them on the show.

So, yeah, I'm gonna go through LOST withdrawl for a while. (I did when Battlestar Galactica ended, too.) But I'll live:) And hopefully, I'll find another show and plenty of books that have characters who are equally entertaining and enthralling soon.

So are there any books, t.v. shows or movies that have characters that you have fallen in love with?

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Need More Books

I never thought this would happen, but my TBR pile is down to three books. Yep, you read that correctly. As I am typing this (and trying to ignore the extremely high-pitched, LOUD screams coming from my toddler), I am looking at The Maze Runner, Beautiful Creatures, and The Body Finder stacked next to my laptop. And at the rate I'm reading things, I'll need some new material in a week:)

Therefore, it's time for a Barnes & Noble run!

My most recent infatuation was The Dead & The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Finished it last night and I LOVED it. I'm definitely going to pick up the sequel (This World We Live In) and I'm jonesing for Spells by Aprilynne Pike, but I want to pick up a few more titles when I make the hour-long trip to B & N next week (I live in the middle of nowhere, seriously). Yeah, I know I can go online and order stuff, but I need to get out of the house for a while. Plus, I like petting the shiny new covers;)

So please give me some suggestions! Of course, I'm partial to YA, but I'll read most anything. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tunnel Vision

So a few days ago, I was driving through a town about 30 miles from where live and I stopped at the red light in the center of said town. Now my sister lives there, but I didn't have any plans to see her that day - I was just passing through. I went through the light and a few minutes later my cell phone started ringing. I answered it and heard my sister laughing on the other end.
Me: What's so funny?

Sis: Didn't you see me at the light?

Me: *Pretty sure a puzzled look is on my face as I try to remember if I saw her* Nooooo. I thought you had to work today.

Sis: I do. I was on the way to work and I was waving like crazy at you. Didn't see me, huh?

Me: *Thinking Duh* No, I wasn't paying attention.

Sis: Figures.

So now you know - I do not pay attention to my surroundings when I'm driving. I focus on the road ahead of me and not much else. Yeah, I know that's a dangerous way of traveling, but that's how I roll. For years, I've had people tell me that they always wave at me when they see me but I rarely wave back. It's not that I'm a snob (I promise that I'm not!), but I don't look around.

And that's not a good thing. When I'm the passenger, I love looking around and taking in the scenery. Observing places that are different from the ones I have to look at every single day is actually fun, but unfortunately I don't do it too much when I'm the one in charge of driving.

So....what does this have to do with writing? Well, I've realized that I've been doing the same thing with my WIP. I've been so focused on the end result that I've started to ignore the scenery around me. My kids and hubby started to complain a lot. Things like I love my computer more than them (ouch!) and that I'm going to turn into a vampire if I don't get outside more.

So I've cut back. My blogging has slacked off, as well as my commenting, and my word count is nowhere where I want it to be, but that's okay. I'm not a published author, so I don't have to rush and finish things on a deadline. I'm still learning the craft, so it's fine if I take my time. Sure, I want to be finished with this thing, but my family has to come first.

So do you have tunnel vision with your writing? Do you focus on it too much at times, or have you figured out the perfect balance? Because if you have please let me know;)

Friday, April 30, 2010

So You Want Flaws

I've read a lot lately about how your characters should have flaws. Anything to keep them from being too "perfect" cause we all know that perfect is boring. Well, I thought I had given my MC some flaws. To me, she's a bit whiny at times and had some issues with her father, but I realized that I needed something else when one of my CPs told me recently that my MC was too good.

Um, I was kind of surprised. I thought I had that covered. But when I think about it, she's right. I don't think I went deep enough in showing those flaws. Sure, they are evident in a few places, but not enough to make the reader remember them from chapter to chapter. And certainly not enough to show how the character has changed from the beginning to where I am now in my WIP.

Also, I just finished reading The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan and let me tell you, she has the flawed character thing down perfectly. The MC is likable to an extent, but sometimes I had a hard time sympathizing with her choices. It really made me realize that I have a lot of work to do with my own characters.

However, I'm not going to make a lot of changes for now. I'll save that for revisions:) But I do have some questions for you: What kind of flaws have you come up with for your characters? Did they come easily to you, or did you have to go back in and add them later?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dear Blog

My Dearest Blog,

I know, I owe you a huge apology! I was supposed to unplug for one week, and what do you know? It's been two weeks. I know you feel neglected and all that, but I have some really good excuses. Ready?

Well, you know I have kids. Three of them. And they actually want me to pay attention to them. Shocking, I know! Since the weather is getting warmer here, they have been constantly wanting me to go outside with them and, ya know, spend time with them. Then there's the whole feeding thing. Yeah, it's a never ending job, but I have to do it:)

Now don't forget that I live in the south, and the pollen is horrible here! Stupid trees are going into overtime producing the stuff, and wouldn't you know that I'm allergic to it. My poor eyes have been itching all of the freaking time for about three weeks now. The only thing that helps is Benadryl, and you know what that stuff does to me. ZZZZZZZ.

And of course, there's the WIP. Yeah, I was going to try 1000 a day, but that didn't happen. With all the other stuff going on, I was lucky to stick with my 500 words, and that didn't even happen every day. (Yes, I know that I'm failing miserably at my writing challenge - please don't rub it in.) But the good news is that I'm over 46,000 words in said WIP, so that has to count for something.

Sooooo...my poor, pitiful neglected blog, can you find it in your heart to forgive me? I still lurves you lots, and although I still have a life to live, I'll try to be around a little more often. At least until the next unplugging session.

Love,

Me

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Haz Some Soulmates!

Okay, I've been keeping some awards all to myself again. Yeah, bad me, but I will attempt to remedy that soon. No really, I will;) It may take me a few weeks (cause I'm slap dab in the middle of a writing challenge), but I'm determined to share the love with some of my very favoritest blog buddies.

Today I've got the ultra-cool Soulmates Award that my awesome cp Tina Lynn gave to me like forever ago (okay, it was a few weeks, but that seems like forever to me). Now this one is really fun to pass along. Check out the rules.

1. Five recipients.
2. Make up something about the people you give the award to. (Yep, this is the fun part!)
3. Link to the people you give it to.
4. Link back to the original award post.


Now for the recipients.
1. Mariah at Constantly Risking Absurdity. Mariah is a time-traveling cowgirl. She used to live in Texas circa 1885, but when she rejected the affections of an evil shaman, he sent her to a place far, far away. So far that she landed in our present. But don't worry - Mariah has adjusted well. Now she's a famous author and guess what she writes. Yep, westerns.

2. Natalie at The Sound of Rain. By day, Natalie is a mild-mannered brilliant college gal. But by night, she lives it up at the lead singer of a heavy metal rock band. You've probably heard of them, but I can't tell you the name. She made me swear to never tell which band because that would totally mess with her personal life.

3. Jen at Unedited. Jen is a multi-billionaire. But she didn't win it playing the lottery. She earned it when she wrote a best-selling tell-all novel about every movie star that is alive today. She dished on things that even the paparazzi doesn't know about. How did she do it? I don't know...if I knew I would have written the darn thing;)

4. Tiffany Neal is a literary agent in disguise. She pretends to be an aspiring author and mingles with all of us still trying to make our WIP's brilliant in hopes of discovering the next Stephenie Meyer. I lurve you lots Tiffany and I'll send you cupcakes every day!!!!!

5. Kristen at Take It As It Comes. Kristen has the ability to read people's minds. Be very careful of what you are thinking when you are talking to her on Twitter or she will spill the beans to everyone.

Congrats to the recipients!

I also want to tell you that I will be unplugging for the rest of the week. My word count in my WIP has been steadily increasing each day, but I want to challenge myself to try and write 1000 words a day for the next week. And I know I'll never be able to do that if I'm distracted with blogging. So I may pop in from time to time, and I'll definitely be on Twitter some, but I won't have time to comment on a lot of blogs. See y'all next week and happy writing;)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roller Coaster Monday

Ugh! Let me tell ya, 6:00 a.m. was a rude awakening for me! See, my kids were out on Spring Break last week and we kinda sorta got into a bad habit of staying up late and sleeping in late. Please don't throw rocks at me - we're just night owls around here:) Anyways, I dragged my poor, sleep deprived butt out of bed and went about the fun tasks of getting myself somewhat presentable, acting like a drill sergeant in order to make the oldest child get herself ready, and helping the middle child with her morning routine while trying to keep her awake.

Now I did make sure the kids were in bed at a reasonable time last night, but I didn't collapse into sleep mode until around the 1:00 a.m.-ish hour. Being that yesterday was Easter and I spent all day with the family, I didn't get any quality "me" time to write until late last night. Then I had to cut a lot of words that I labored over on Saturday and still meet my 500 words a day goal because I have to answer to my fabulous crit partner/slave driver
Tina Lynn. (Check out her writing challenge at her blog - she will hold you accountable!)

**Hold for a moment - having to help the middle child with a homework problem*

So....where was I at? Um, yeah, I was telling you about my glamorous morning. Okay, getting to the point here. My wonderful, angelic sister-in-law took pity on me yesterday and offered to babysit the youngest for me today! I was so excited because I that would give me about six hours to write and blog or check out Twitter. With no distractions!!! So I dropped her off, raced back home and....fell asleep. And I didn't just nap for an hour or two - I slept for FOUR hours. Yeah, I know, I was ticked at myself. All that precious time wasted because I was exhausted.

And because I was so mad at myself, I ignored my writing. Yeah, I know, that was stupid, but I needed to get myself together because I felt awful for sleeping so long this morning. But it turned out to be a good thing because I happened to check out
Frankie Diane's blog and I found out that I won her contest!!!!!! Yup, you read that correctly - I am going to receive a personalized signed copy of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting!

Okay, I was on a high. I mean, I squealed like a little girl when I found out I won, so I'm glad nobody was home with me at the time. I checked out some more blogs and left the house while still in a good mood around 2:30 to pick up the girls from school. But an hour later I was ticked again. My car broke down FIVE times on the way home. FIVE times. I would go a few miles, the car would suddenly lose power, and I would have to pull over on the side of the road for a few minutes before it would start again. My hubs knew about it yesterday (said something about the fuel filter needed to be changed) but he told me it would be okay to pick up the kids. So a few angry phone calls later, I made sure said filter would be changed today.

So that's my roller coaster day so far. I seriously hope that the rest of the day is peaceful and uneventful. How has Monday been treating you? Let me know!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Embrace the Junk

So...do you have any idea where I'm going with this post? No, I'm not talking about the junk you find in your house (and yes, my house is full of junk). And I'm not talking about junk mail, either. I'm all about the writerly kind of junk. Ya know, the stuff that you painstakingly write each day. The stuff that seems to be brilliant prose as it flows from your fingertips, then shockingly turns to utter crap overnight. Sound familiar now?

What can you do about it? Is there any way to make that stuff come out right the first time?

The answer to that is a resounding no. Yeah, that's hard to hear. I know, it was hard for me. I was naive enough to think that if I took my time and carefully went over each chapter with a fine tooth comb before I sent it off to my CPs, then they would send it back with much love and accolades. Boy was I wrong!

It's taken me many, many months to figure this little bit of wisdom out for myself and I'm sure you've heard it, too. First drafts are going to suck. They are going to be crap. But they don't have to stay that way. That's what revisions are for. Now for me, I thought if I revised as I went, I could save myself a lot of time in the long run. (And I know a lot of you may be able to do that and that's great, but it has not worked for me.)

So what am I going to do now? I'm going to write straight through until this first draft is finished, and that means I have to embrace all of the junk that I will write. I'm finally at a point where I can accept that and not cringe, so my objective is to just get the story down and fix everything after the fact.

Because you can fix what's on paper, but you can't fix empty pages.

So what do you think? Embrace the crap and just get the first draft done? Or take it slow and steady, revising as you go? What works for you?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Doubt Monster

Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. The Doubt Monster (TDM). The evil creature that never completely goes away and loves to whisper all of your fears about your writing to you. I won't bore you with the things it usually tells me (cause I'm sure it has visited you before).

I was doing fine for a while. TDM seemed to have taken a leave of absence from my house. I was making progress with my neverending WIP. Then last week, it came back. Slimy little sucker showed up one night when I was happily typing away and stopped me cold in my tracks. And all of the old fears came flooding back.

It's not like I've had a really bad crit, either. My cp's are wonderful ladies and they always point out things that I could do differently or things that I need to work on, but I've never received one of those what were you thinking crits. But honestly, I keep expecting to get one every single time I post a new chapter for them to critique. Every time one of them posts their review of my work, my stomach does this sickening flip as I open it. Seriously. Then I let out a huge sigh of relief when I get to then end and find out that they don't think I should burn my ms.

So how do you fight TDM? How do you get past those thoughts that hold you back?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Do You Keep Your Muse Happy & More Sweet Contests

Wow, it seems like contests are all about these days! I have two more to share that are too cool for words! (Did you like how I used two, too and to in the same sentence?) Okay, first Beth Revis is having a wonderful giveaway to celebrate her MAJOR book deal! (Yes, she just sold her debut series, and it's YA sci/fi which is one of my very favorite genres in the whole world!) Anyway, she is giving away two prize packs: one for writers and one for readers. Let me tell you, I would be happy to have either one, but of course I'm chomping at the bit for the writer one:) The contest ends April 3, but I highly suggest you enter now. Cause if you wait and you're like me you just might forget and that would be awful! The second fantabulous contest is from Sara at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler. She is giving away 12 prizes combined into five packages, so that means there will be five winners! Her contest ends March 22, so enter today!

Now for the post:) We all talk about her (or him if that's your thing). Ya know, the ever-elusive muse. The fickle creature that shows up on a whim and can make your writing session a dream of effortless creativity and singing prose or a tortuous event that makes you want to pull out your hair rather than try to squeeze out one more word. So what is the magic formula? How do you get her to sit by your side and whisper sweet nothings in your ear so you can happily type away? Well, if I knew the answer to that I would be writing 24/7.

I've been guilty of saying "I can't write today because I'm not inspired." Or "The muse isn't with me." Or my personal favorite "I don't know what to write cause I'm stuck." Any way you look at it, it all comes down to the fact that something is holding you back. I think that's why so many of us blame it on the muse. It's easier to blame something else other than put the responsibility on our own shoulders.

So really, what can you do about it? Well, some things that have worked for me are:

*Take a long walk

*Take a long, hot shower (that had my muse positively purring last night!)

*Feed her (mine loves chocolate and Dr Pepper, but you really need to pinpoint what yours is into)

*Read (A lot of bloggy friends suggested this one when was in my slump and it really works)

*Give yourself some time off (take a break for a few days because sometimes putting pressure on the muse is counterproductive)

*Remind yourself that the first draft WILL suck and you can and WILL fix things during revisions (this one is very hard for me to follow)

*Have a brainstorming session with someone you trust (crit partners, spouse, a friend or anyone who could help you with your writing)

So what have you done to keep your muse happy? Is there any one thing that works for you every time? And have you ever tried something that had the opposite effect and made your writing session seem like you were in hades?

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's Your Gripe?

I don't know what's going on, but it seems like any and every little thing is getting on my nerves lately. Stupid little things that usually don't faze me are really getting under my skin. I really need to open that Word document so I can FINALLY finish chapter 16 in my WIP, but I'm too aggravated right now. So to relieve the stress, I'm gonna list a few things that are driving me crazy. (Please feel free to click away now because this is gonna be a completely random and nit picky list).

1. Why won't my youngest go to sleep? I mean, I put her down over two hours ago and she keeps whining. I've checked in on her and she's dry, fed, etc, etc. (I think she likes torturing me). And on that note, why won't she sleep through the night? WHY?

2. Why can't my oldest two get along? Do they really have to fight every single day? Really?

3. Why can't the hubs put the toilet seat down? Would it kill him to do it just once?

4. Why does the house look like a tornado just blew through it? I spent over two hours picking it up yesterday after the birthday party. But you would never know if you went through there now.

5. Why does everyone in my family think I can drop what I'm doing to run errands for them or babysit? I'm not your personal assistant.

6. Why am I avoiding my chapter 16? It's almost finished. What's the big deal?

7. I saw Alice in Wonderland this weekend. Loved it. But why did the White Queen flutter her hands about? It looked ridiculous and I couldn't stop staring at her freaking hands in every scene she was in.

8. Why can't I decide which book to read next? I've narrowed it down to one of three books (all YA dystopian) but I can't pick one. And no, eenie-meenie-miney-moe has not worked:(

Okaaaaay, that's enough griping for now. Sorry for all that, but I do feel better now. So, do you have any gripes to share? Go ahead, let me hear what's bugging you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Agent Crushes and Some Wicked Awesome Contests

Yes folks, I've heard about some fantabulous contests! And these two are top-notch (I mean, I wouldn't be blogging about them if they weren't so awesome)! First up is the 500 followers contest being held by Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins at Shooting Stars. Talk about some sweet prizes: book giveaways, Enstrom's Toffee (sounds wonderful), and a 40 page partial submission PLUS a critique of those pages by literary agent extraordinaire Suzie Townsend of FinePrintLit. Next, Elana Johnson is having a contest in honor of reaching 700 followers (yep, you read that right - 700). Not that I'm surprised or anything cause Elana's blog ROCKS! She's giving away 7 books that are a must read. Both contests end Sunday, March 14. So...what are you waiting for? Sign up today (if you haven't already).

Okay, on to today's subject: agent crushes. Yeah, I know I'm nowhere near the querying stage yet, but I do take the time to read agent blogs and I even follow some of them on Twitter. If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend it. Not only do you gather a lot of great writing tips from those agents, you can sometimes get a feel of their overall personality. That is valuable in it's own right because, for me anyway, when I finally do start to look for an agent, I want to look for those who I feel like would be a good match for me. I want my future agent to be someone who is easy to talk to, maybe shares some common interests, and I want them to be honest.

Now I'm not trying to put the cart before the horse, but I have started writing down a list of agents who I plan to query one day. All of them have excellent credentials and a proven track record, but there's one who I really, really, really want to be my future agent. (No, I'm not going to say who this person is....I don't want to jinx myself.) Anyhoo, this person has a very helpful blog, is fun to follow on Twitter, and I just have an overall positive vibe about him/her. So am I setting myself up for disappointment? I have no idea. I just know that I have to get my butt in gear and finish my book and then edit it until it's the best I can make it. Then we'll see:)

Do you have any agent crushes? If you do, are you planning to query that person first or will you query some other agents first to see how things turn out?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Who Believes In You?

Since I've started writing, I've gone through many ups and downs. Nothing can beat the incredible high of writing the "perfect" sentence/paragraph/chapter. You want to sing, dance, shout or do whatever it is that you do when you're happy. You know, the kind of things that usually embarrass anyone who's within ten feet of you . Then there's the flip side of the coin - the stark realization that everything you write is utter crap. You open your word document, expecting to look over the brilliant prose you created yesterday, and instead sit and stare in open-mouthed astonishment at the junk that has somehow appeared and you think WTF??!!!

This journey we call writing is like a huge roller coaster - you're up in the clouds one minute, down on the ground the next. It's enough to make your insides all tingly in anticipation of the good things you're going to write, then turned upside down and in knots when you come crashing down in a fit of the I-suck-and-I'm-never-gonna-write-anything-good-and-people-will-laugh-at-me-when-they-read-this. Makes you scream and hide, doesn't it?

So what do you do? Keep going? Quit?

NO! Don't quit! Don't even think about it! I don't know about you, but writing is my dream. It's what I have wanted to do since I was little. Sure, it seems like there's more days than not when I think my writing sucks to no end, but I am getting better. And you are, too. Whether you know it or not, each day that you write you learn something new. You learn from your mistakes, learn things that will make you a better writer.

And think of all the people who believe in you - your support system. Keep those people close to you because they are your cheerleaders, the ones who will support you when you're at your lowest. For me, that includes my husband (even though he doesn't "get" the whole writing thing, he understands this is what makes me happy), my girls (they always say things like "Mom, when you get published you can...."), and my bloggy friends. When I read your blogs or chat with some of you on Twitter, I really and truly feel like I'm part of the writing community. Thanks for making me feel so welcome and know that I really value all of you.

So, who is a part of your writing support system? Who do you lean on when you feel like your writing is "unreadable."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Whew! It's been a long week, but I'm so happy that I can officially "plug" back in and visit blogs again. And to answer your question (if you're asking), yes I did reach my goal of 5000 new words. *cheers and thinks about doing a cartwheel but then remembers what happened the last time (and it wasn't pretty)*

Let me tell ya, I did go through a blog withdrawl of sorts on my first official "unplug" day. In fact, every time I tried to write I found myself getting online, so I gave up and cleaned the house. That's right, I spent my first day scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. But in my defense, there's something about a clean house that fuels creativity, right? Hey, that's what I told myself and it worked:) Then I spent way too much time on Twitter that night, so day one was an utter writing failure.

The next day was a little better. In between chasing the toddler and just flat out procrastinating, I did churn out a whopping 500 words. *hangs head in shame*

Friday was much better despite the fact that both of the older kiddos were sick. Even though all three kids were at home that day, the muse decided to pay me a visit and I cranked out about 1600 words. Yep, that was a personal best for one day of writing, and I didn't even do that in one sitting. Every chance I had a breather, I was at the computer tapping away. But like I said, the muse was a-singin' and I was a-listenin'. And when she visits, you DO NOT turn her away.

The weekend was basically shot. Between my niece's birthday party and cookout on Saturday and spending time with the family on Sunday, I produced very little. But Monday and Tuesday were very productive days, so I was able to meet the goal.

So what have I learned?

* I can function without blogging for a week.
* Twitter can suck a lot of your time, but I need some interaction with my writing peeps:)
* The more I attempt to write, the more I WANT to write.
* The more I attempt to write, the EASIER it gets.
* I'm a lot happier when I write.
* I still love my WIP. I've been in a writing slump for the past few months and I've had doubts about whether I should continue this project or start something new, but I'm going to finish it. I owe it to my characters to tell their story.

And that's it. I missed you A LOT, but unplugging is a good thing. I got way more accomplished than I have in the past two months combined, so I will do this again.

So what's been going on with you? What have I missed in the past week?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Signing Off

Well folks, I'm signing off. No, not permanently! (I would curl up in a little ball and not be able to function if I did that!) But I have come to a conclusion. I love blogging. Way too much. As a result, my writing has suffered horribly. So I've decided to embrace the ever-popular unplugging week. *sighs*

I've heard about this wonder, but I resisted partaking for several reasons:

* I love blogging (yeah, I said this but I REALLY love y'all)
* I learn so much by reading your blogs
* I love "talking" with all of you out there
* I didn't think I could unplug without going through withdrawl (still not sure about this one)
* I'll MISS you too much (no really, this is not gonna be easy)

Now I'm not gonna unplug completely. Not sure I can go cold turkey. So I'm gonna allow myself to read five blogs a day (no commenting *sniff*) and I'm gonna allow myself a little time on Twitter each night after everyone is in bed. So maybe I'll see you there:)

By the way, my unplug week could end early. I'm making a deal with myself that if I get 5000 new words before next week I can blog again. Keep your fingers crossed for me or feel free to act like my boss and ask for a progress update:) Okay, going now for reals:(

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reading Outside of Your Writing Genre

Okay writers, you've all heard the advice, right? Read a lot and be sure to include books that are NOT in your genre. But how many of us actually do that?

I confess, I tend to choose books that are in the same genre in which I write, which is YA spec fiction. Now I didn't always do that. Of course, I've always gravitated toward science fiction and fantasy, but I've also read romance (contemporary and historical), thrillers, and mysteries. I've never been too much of a fan of pure literary works (sorry to those who do enjoy them, but it's just not my thing) and I've never really been into non-fiction. Over the past year, I've pretty much stayed to the YA novels, with one exception. I love James Rollins, who writes thrillers, and usually try to pick up his books when they are released.

But something about my current WIP has me down lately. The past two chapters have been very dark and depressing, and I've made very little progress with the writing there (yeah I know, bad writer). Anyway, I was in the mood for something more uplifting and without the usual teen angst that comes with YA, so I wandered over to the romance section at Barnes and Noble last week. And I found the newest release by an author that I used to read all of the time: Julia Quinn. She writes historical romances set in England during the Regency Era. Anyways, I ended up buying What Happens In London and I'm really enjoying it right now. I had forgotten how funny her books can be (she always includes an element of humor in her stories).

Now I'm a little less than halfway through, but something positive is happening. I'm finding myself actually thinking about my book again. Shocking, I know:) But folks, I was at the point where I didn't even want to open the word document to look at my ms anymore. I mean, the bad things happening in there was pulling me down. So I guess the change of scenery (literally) that I'm getting from Ms. Quinn's book is giving me a breather, and now I'm able to concentrate on my book again. I have to get the thing finished sometime, right?

Do you find yourself reading books in different genres? Why or why not? Do you find that reading different types of books helps your own writing?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back To The Land Of The Living

Oh, what a terrible weekend I've had! I think I mentioned last week that my middle child had a virus. Then we had the wonderful/awful snow day. Thought we were in the all clear then BOOM! Saturday night the oldest child came down with the virus while the hubs and I were eating out at Carrabba's . We found out when we got home and I ended up staying up half the night with her (and my poor sister-in-law/babysitter got it too). Spent Sunday getting over it then Monday got even worse. The youngest child woke up at the crack of dawn sick (won't give you the gory details) and by lunch my hubby came home sick. I thought I was gonna get off, but no. That night I came down with it (stupid Lysol let me down)! Fun times, I tell ya:(

I felt sort of better last night and since I missed all of you so much, I got on the net to check out all of the fabulous things I had missed. But Blogger decided it hated me, so I couldn't comment on anybody's blogs! And my computer is getting slower. I keep getting messages about my virtual memory being too low, whatever that means.

Sorry for the rant here. Things have just sucked to the millionth degree for the past few days. But on a brighter note, I did find out that I was one of the winners of Karen's contest! So that made me feel great (except for the fact that I couldn't comment on Karen's blog last night)!

So how's things going for you? Please share some good news! I could use some right now:)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Contest Winner!

Sorry I'm so late posting the winner of my 100 followers contest. We've been enjoying the snow before it melts since we rarely get any here. But that's probably a good thing cause my living room carpet is a disaster right now:)

Anyhow, I won't keep you waiting. The winner of the contest is: (cue drum roll)

Kristi Faith

Congratulations! Your gift certificate from Barnes and Noble will arrive by e-mail in a little while.

And a huge thank you to everyone who entered the contest! You guys are the best:)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Contest Reminder and The Last Award

Okay folks, just a quick reminder that my 100 followers contest ends tonight at 11:00 EST. A $25.00 Barnes and Noble gift certificate is up for grabs. Click on the link above if you want to enter!

Before I get to the final award that I need to pass on, I've got to tell y'all that it's SNOWING here. I know, some of you are going big freaking deal, but it hasn't snowed here in eight years. My oldest child was three during the last snow storm and she barely remembers it. My two youngest girls have never seen it (except on t.v) and they are in awe. It's barely sticking to the ground, but they had to go outside and run around the yard for a while. Nothing like seeing the huge smiles on their faces and hearing their delighted giggles. I was smiling right back at them, then I saw the carpet next to the door. Mud, grass, and god knows what over there right now. *grumbles* Stupid snow! Don't get me wrong - I'm excited to see it (just not as excited as my kids). But....guess who gets to clean up the mess they leave behind from the millions of trips in and out of the house. And it won't be the hubs:(

Now on to the award! Today I'm passing on the From Me To You award. Two lovely ladies gave it to me late last year: Julie at Literary Jules and Carol at Carol's Prints. Thank you so much and again I apologize for being such an award slacker! I'm going to pass it along to two blogs that I really enjoy visiting: Anissa at Anissa Off the Record and Karen at Eternal Moonshine of a Daydreaming Mind. I've been following these blogs for a long time, and I always smile when I visit them. And both of these ladies are having contests now, so hurry over and sign up!
Now I'm supposed to share 7 things about me.
1. I only eat lettuce in salads. Hate it in sandwiches or anything else.
2. My birthday is next month:)
3. I flew in an airplane for the first time three years ago. Was scared to death at first, but once we were up in the air I loved it.
4. I've always lived in Georgia.
5. I don't like getting flowers for Valentine's Day. Seems like a waste of money for something that will be dead in a week.
6. I do like going out to eat on Valentine's Day (without the kids). And my husband always lets me pick the restaurant. This year we're going to Carraba's.
7. I love sleeping in. Having to get up at 6:00 in the morning sucks to no end and I'm just as excited as my kids when they have school holidays. Yeah, I have to deal with the fighting and other fun stuff all day, but at least I get plenty of rest cause my kids sleep just like me:)

That's all for now. Have a wonderful Friday and please check back tomorrow to see who wins the contest:)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reading Time vs. Writing Time

I feel like a writing failure right now. I'm supposed to be participating in Saradise, hosted by Sara at Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler, but things just keep happening to keep me from my manuscript. My oldest was sick on Monday, and today my middle child has the virus. Needless to say, no writing was done on Monday and so far today I'm batting zero. (I did crit two chapters and work on chapter 15 in my ms last night, so there's a little something.)

Now you might be thinking Um, couldn't you still write when they are asleep? Well, I could, but I started a book Sunday night. I picked up Fallen by Lauren Kate a few weeks ago and let me say that I'm hooked. Read three hours Sunday until my eyes couldn't stay open. I was drained on Monday from being on sick child duty, so no writing (hey I can't think when I'm that tired). Instead I read for two hours that night. Last night I only read for an hour because of the critting and writing I did. But I was positively itching to get back to reading. And today....well let's just say by the time I'm done cleaning up puke all day, I really don't think my creative side will be functioning very much. Now I could be wrong, but that's the way I work. Then there's the book, calling my name. Oooh, I want to get back to it. *Picks up said book and strokes the cover*

So how do you get in quality reading time AND writing time? My free time is so limited that I feel I have to choose between the two and I hate doing that. I want to do both! Every day! Oh, how I wish there was some super energy pill so I could have the stamina to work round the clock:)

*****

Okay, now for the second award I have to pass on. Today's award is the Honest Scrap Award. I received this one from the super-talented Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and the awesome Julie at The Climb. You're missing out if you haven't visited their blogs before! I'm going to pass this award to Jon at Jon's Life. Very cool dude. He's new to blogging, but he's picked up a lot of followers very quickly. Shows how talented he really is! So check out his blog if you haven't found him yet. You'll be glad that you did;)

Friday, February 5, 2010

My 100 Followers Contest!

Well, I am thrilled that I have over 100 followers now! *Waves like crazy - Hey Ya'll!* I'm so glad you found your way over here! And I'm not just saying that. I never thought I'd have so many people actually interested in what I have to say, so I'm thrilled! (Um, yeah I did say that already, but ya know I'm EXCITED!!!!!)

So in honor of your awesomeness, I'm holding a contest. The prize will be a $25.00 Barnes and Noble gift certificate. That way you can pick out any book that you want to read:)

Now for the details. I'm not technical or anything, so I'm going to use the old-fashioned name in the hat. Your name can go in more than once. Here are the ways you can increase your chances of winning.

** You have to be a follower of this blog. If you're already a follower you get two entries and if you're new you get one entry. (I do have three kids and I'm a little crazy at times, so let me know which one you are).

** Leave a comment telling me what book you are looking forward to reading and why. For example, I'm looking forward to reading Paranormalcy by Kiersten White because I've been following her blog for a while and she is hilarious.

** You get one extra entry if you mention this contest in a blog post.

** You get one extra entry if you tweet about the contest. (Please use @mehlane so I can see it).

The gift certificate will be sent via e-mail, so make sure you leave your e-mail address.

And that's it! The last day to enter the contest will be Friday, February 12 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Good Luck:)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dreaded "T" Word

Yes, I'm talking about themes. The bane of my existence when I was in high school. I know, weird for someone who loves to read, but a discussion of story themes always made me want to snooze when I was a teen. No, I didn't actually fall asleep in class. I made every effort to appear attentive and fascinated, but I silently prayed that the teacher would not call on me because I knew I would look like an idiot. And I tried to sit behind really tall people:)

Anyways, I just didn't see the point of having to know about the theme of a story. I just wanted to be entertained when I read. And I confess, even when I first started reading books about writing, I usually skimmed over any reference to themes.

But when I started my current WIP, I decided to give the whole theme concept another shot. I kept reading books, articles, and blogs that preached the importance of knowing your theme. So I figured if it keeps showing up everywhere, then there must be something to it. So I made a list of what I thought of as being central to my book. I even wrote them on a sticky note and taped it to my desk.

And you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT! Yeah, all of those writerly type professionals actually knew what they were talking about. Because when I go back over my themes, I am constantly reminded of where I need to go in my story. I like to think of it as a guide to help me when my characters have a choice to make. I just refer to the themes and ask myself What would (insert character name) do? Why would he/she do this?

And I'm going to list a few of the themes from my WIP because I know you're dying to find out:

*Staying true to yourself
*Dangers of blindly following authority figures without fully knowing why you're doing it
*Hope for a better future

So how do you feel about themes? Love them or hate them? What are some of your themes?

******

Oh, before I leave you, I found my list of who gave me some awards. I have three, but several different people gave them to me. Since it takes forever to link other sites (courtesy of my very slow computer) I have decided to pass them out one at a time.


Today's award is the One Lovely Blog Award. I have a bunch of wonderful people who gave it to me, so I'll list them out for you: Natalie B., Tina Lynn, Carol, Elle, and Yaya. Thank you guys so much! And I'm going to pick just one blog to pass it on to: Jen at Unedited. I found her blog recently (well she found mine first) and I've really enjoyed getting to know her. And check out her post today. She has the neatest, cleanest writing space I've ever seen! So not like mine:0)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Award Day!



Natalie at The Sound of Rain gave me the Over The Top Award. Thanks Natalie! You're so sweet! (And if you haven't checked out her blog yet, do so. She's awesome!)

First I have to answer these questions with one word. I have a tendency to be a little wordy when answering things, so this isn't going to be easy!

Your cell phone: Charging
Your hair: Brown
Your mother: Caring
Your father: Funny
Your favorite food: Italian
Your dream last night: Fading
Your favorite drink: Dr Pepper
Your dream goal: Novelist
What room are you in: Kitchen
Your hobby: Writing
Your fear: Failure
Where do you see yourself in 6 years: Published
Where were you last night: Home
Something you aren't: Extroverted
Muffins: Strawberry
Wish list item: MacBook
Where did you grow up: Georgia
Last thing you did: Laundry
What are you wearing: Sweater
Your TV: On
Your pets: Loud
Friends: Comforting
Your life: Peaceful
Your mood: Happy
Missing someone: No
Vehicle: Old
Something you aren't wearing: T-shirt
Your favorite store: Barnes and Noble
Your favorite color: Green
When was the last time you laughed: Today
Last time you cried: December
Your best friend: Sister
One place you go over and over: Wal-mart
Facebooking: Rarely
Favorite place to eat: Carraba's

Now to pass it on to five blogs that are over the top!
1. Sara at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler
2. Julie at The Climb
3. Diana at Writing Roller Coasters ***
4. Patti Nielson
5. Roni at Fiction Groupie

Well, being the severe slacker/procrastinator that I am, I was going to pass on a few more awards that I got LAST YEAR (November and December), but I can't find my list of who gave them to me. And I refuse to pass them on without acknowledging those fabulous people. So I will search my study and pass out the awards (yeah, I know you're dying for that) as soon as the missing list is recovered.

*** This is a shout out for Diana. She is having a sweet 100 followers contest at her blog. Check it out! The deadline to sign up is this Friday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Do You Worry About Trends?

I'm sure you can name at least half a dozen books that feature one or more characters that would fall under the vampire, werewolf, wizard, faerie, fallen angel or whatever is hot at the moment category. Sure, it's easy because they all have taken the publishing world by storm. But do you find yourself trying to fit your stories into one of these categories because they are so popular?

I confess, when I was thinking of ideas for my first WIP, I tried to come up with a brilliant faerie idea. But I fell flat. Why? Because even though I have read some faerie books that rocked (Wicked Lovely and Wings), I'm not really that passionate about the subject matter. I mean, give me a good book with a cool premise and I will really dig it, but if it's not something I love, I can't think of anything to write about, much less something new and original.

So I fell back to a genre that I've always loved, no matter what. The good old dystopian (um, that didn't sound right, did it?). Anyways, you know the advice - write what you love, not what's popular. Folks, I started getting into dystopian books when I was in high school. Granted, I had to go to the adult sci/fi section to find them, but I devoured the ones that I could find. (Remember The Handmaid's Tale? Loved it!)

Well, now I've come across a few blogs lately that have said the dystopian novel is, well, hot right now in YA. I think The Hunger Games series is responsible for that. But, sheesh! Here I was thinking I was working on something relatively different and now I have to face the fact that agents are probably being swamped with this type of story. And at the rate I'm writing mine, the whole dystopian craze will most likely be considered yesterday's news by the time I'm ready to submit.

So what about you? Is your current WIP subject matter something that is considered trendy right now? Or is it something completely different? And how did you pick your subject matter?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another Writing Epiphany

Okay, before the actual blog post I want to give a shout out to a wonderful blog that I've been following for a few months now. Janice Hardy, author of The Shifter, has some awesome advice for writers. I've spend some time checking out her posts and have found very useful tips. She covers a whole range of topics like opening lines, how to plan your book, and the importance of knowing where your characters are emotionally. So check it out - you won't be disappointed!

Sometimes when I'm staring at a blank screen on my laptop, wishing that blinking cursor would quit mocking me, I reach for my handy-dandy writing notebook. It's the one in which I have all of my writerly tips, inspiration and whatnot, secrets for writing the next Harry Potter. (Yeah, I wish!)

Well, last night was one of those I-don't-have-a-freaking-clue-what-to-write-next-I-suck-as-a-writer moments, so I procrastinated via the notebook. And I came across this gem that I had forgotten about.

**Plot is the mechanism by which your protagonist is pushed up against his or her core desires and/or fears. Stories have to be reducible to something concrete - almost always an intense desire or fear. (Courtesy of Writer's Digest Magazine)

And voila, everything made sense again. I am going to have to keep reminding myself on a daily basis what the whole story is about, what my main character wants above all else. That in itself will make it easier to get inside her head and really understand what choices she will make and more importantly why she makes them.

So do you know what your mc's core desires and fears are? Do you find that this knowledge makes it easier to write your story?

Monday, January 25, 2010

What I Learned This Weekend

Way back before Christmas, I purchased The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass. I had intended to read it before now, but ya know things just got in the way. Anyway I finally started it this weekend and I'm about halfway through now. Can I just say that I'm loving this book! I've learned so much from the first part and I'm itching to finish it. Being the nerd that I am, I keep highlighter pens with me and highlight sentences or sections that I want to remember. And if there's something I really really really want to remember, I'll copy them down in my writing notebook. (I know, you don't have to tell me how weird that is).

One of the things I love about the book is that Maass uses tons of examples from literature to illustrate his points. I've always been one to learn by seeing how others do things, so this really helps me to crystallize the concepts in my mind. If I find a particularly good example, I draw a star next to it. (I did this kind of stuff in my college years. Don't know why, but it helps me when I want to remember something).

But there's one problem. When I hit the chapter about Scenes That Can't Be Cut I had one of those "Aha" moments. See, there was two key points that Maass made in this section that stood out:

1. Every scene needs two turning points - an outer turning point (or what actually happens to change your pov character) and an inner turning point (what the pov character learns and/or realizes).

2. You should identify your goals for each scene and make sure every element in every scene in some way makes the goals more likely or more remote.

Ya'll, it was like a light bulb clicked on in my head. All I could think was Have I been doing this so far in my WIP? I couldn't get this out of my head. And on Sunday I decided I couldn't write any new words until I knew for sure (I'm a little obsessive-compulsive about stuff like this). So I got out my notebook and proceeded to write a one page summary of each chapter I have completed so far. Then I tried to identify my goals for each section and the two turning points. Folks, let me tell you this took for-ev-er. Like about three hours to finish. Well, I do have three kids who like my attention:)

But in the end, it was sooooo worth it. I discovered that I was on the right path for some chapters, but I have A LOT to fix. I even remembered I had a character at the beginning of my ms who I haven't even mentioned again. Got to decide if I'm gonna bring her back in some way or just delete her. Then there's the whole info-dump, backstory riddled chapter 1. *turns bright red and cringes* By doing this exercise, I found a few places in which I could sprinkle that backstory to make things more interesting. Now I'm fighting the urge to go back and fix all of those things. I'm afraid if I do that then I'll never finish the first draft. *bangs head against desk*


So for now I'm going to *try* to resist the urge to edit and move forward. Yes, I know I have a lot of crap to fix, but I know it can be done. And the good thing is that I can use these two key points to make sure I do a better job of writing the last half of my WIP.

Alright people, here's the questions. How do you know if you're on the right track in your WIP? Do you use these key points to help you when writing? Do you have any writing resources or tips you would like to share?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Hour Of Pure Happiness

So yesterday I had to get out of the house and take my youngest for a checkup. Two hours of sheer hades doing that (which consisted of one hour chasing her around the waiting room and another hour in the back room waiting for the actual exam and shots. Fun times I tell ya.)

As I exited said doctor's office, I thought I need a break before I head back to the house. Now I can't take the kid just anywhere, but where can I go so I can relax while she's with me? Of course, I made a beeline for my happy place. Where is that (you may ask)? Well, let's say it together: BARNES AND NOBLE!

I could feel the tension just melt away as I pulled into the parking lot. People who happened to notice me must have thought I was a bit loopy because of the huge grin plastered on my face. I got the stroller out, plopped my daughter in, and practically flew inside. I don't know about you, but when I first enter the store I stop for a moment and just inhale. I mean, there's nothing like the scent of all those new books surrounding me!

I proceeded to spend the next hour walking around in peace, browsing through the selections. I was in heaven! One, there wasn't a lot of people in there, unlike Saturdays when you can barely move. Two, every single person in the store always behaves in a civilized manner. Have you ever noticed that? No hollering at kids (the few that I saw were very quiet). Even my child behaved:) Come to think of it, I didn't hear any raised voices period. Unlike trips to Wally World, um, Walmart where you may come across God knows what kind of behavior in the customers. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about:)

So, after all that browsing, I decided on three books: The Dark Devine by Bree Despain, Fallen by Lauren Kate, and The Breach by Patrick Lee. I heard about the first two by reading blogs, but I first learned of The Breach on Twitter. A few people who I'm following tweeted last week about how good it was. Now to decide which one to read first.

So have you spent any time at your happy place lately? And have you read any of the books I selected? Which one would you recommend that I read first?