Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Fun!

For all of you writers out there --

Simply copy and paste your word count into the box and you get a new kitten for every hundred words (or however many words you choose.)

Link found at kellyrfineman's Live Journal page. Stop by and say hi.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beware the Danger Punches!

Over Thanksgiving, my family and I went on a Royal Carribbean cruise. If you've ever been on one of those ships, you know they have all sorts of cool things to do on board, many of which will earn you a danger punch.

You sign away your life on a waiver, and they punch your sea pass card. At first, we scoffed. And then, this happened:

After 40 minutes, I had a blister the size of quarter on my foot. I will spare you the pictures, but suffice it to say, I had to buy emergency flip flops, and a week later, I am still unable to wear any other shoes.
Fortunately, we all remained safe while doing this:

But then came roller blading where my brother in law tore something in his knee, and the water park where a friend fell off a 15' iceburg in a reverse belly flop.

In addition to those injuries, my mother in law hurt her rib on a chair, Small Child got a black eye from a bed, and my husband got his nose cracked by Small Child's hard little head. In fact, there was only one person in our party who escaped injury altogether. Needless to say, we stopped scoffing the danger punches, lest they heard us and inflicted more injuries upon us.

Beware the danger punches, my friend. Beware.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Realistic Characters

I've been watching Terra Nova this season, because dinosaurs = yay! And I've been willing to forgive its other flaws, but since I write YA, this particular one bugged the snot out of me.

On a recent episode, a 16-year-old boy and girl were sharing their first kiss. The boy breaks away because he has a girlfriend 85 million years in the future. The girl he was kissing says (paraphrased of course), "It's okay. I still like you, and I will help you get your girlfriend here."

My immediate reaction was, "No self-respecting teenage girl whose only competition was 85 milliion years away would offer to bring that competition face to face with her."

My husband, who was watching with me, said, "Forget about the girl. No 16-year-old boy would stop kissing a pretty girl when his girlfriend was 85 million years away."

In any type of storytelling, there must not only be rich and interesting characters, but also characters that stay true to their age. For me, the scene felt more like a plot contrivance than something that would organically occur. However, I might have believed it if the couple was older. Perhaps the guy was married, and his wife was not allowed to come. For 16-year-olds, it simply didn't ring true for me.

So what do I take from this? When I'm writing, I need to strive for honest, real reactions from my characters. If an interaction doesn't feel right, perhaps that bit of business needs to occur with other people or under different circumstances. Will it always ring true for everyone? I doubt it. But it's a worthy goal.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I fell in love with If I Stay the first time I read it, but for me, once I turned that last page, I continued the book in my head, creating my own happy ending for Adam and Mia. So I was hesitant to pick up Where She Went. I didn't want my happy ending to be shattered. Well, I have to admit it was shattered, but brilliantly so.

I love this book.

When Adam fell into that void, so did I. When Adam wept, so did I. And when the ending came, I was blown away. Left with a hangover in the best possible way. I only hope that one day, I can write such powerful words and leave such lasting effects. Thank you, Gayle, for giving me an ending that I love even better than my own.

And now, can someone please recommend something light and fluffy?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

"Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization."
(Description from Goodreads)

Reasons you should read this book.

1. This is a dystopian that manages to break the mold that so many have fallen into lately. Namely, the "My world is, it's not," syndrome. There is never any assumption that this world or its inhabitants are perfect. But, it's very very real.

2. The prose is amazing. Moira Young shows so much of the world and Saba's character just through her language.

3. Saba is an unforgettable heroine -- flawed, courageous, determined, and loyal.

4. And the romance is hot. (That alone is enough for me.)

Seriously, read this book.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Forever Trailer by Maggie Stiefvater

You know you want to see it.

And here's the link to purchase the book. Go. Now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Critique partners, vacation, and fun

Yesterday, Maggie Stiefvater posted a critique partner love connection over on her blog. I posted over there, but I figured I'd put my info here as well. I have a wonderful critique partner in Dianne K. Salerni, but I would love to have a second pair of eyes to look over my work. I am currently working on a revision of Spirit World, my ABNA entry from last year. As some of you know, I had queried it, gotten a lot of positive responses, but no offers. My cue to revise. Here's a brief description:

Riesa Adair can hear the dead, but somewhere between her summer in a mental institution and her stepfather’s attempt at an exorcism, she learned to keep quiet about it. But that doesn’t mean the voices have stopped. When her unique talents attract the attention of a powerful Spirit, her daily battles for sanity turn into a war for her soul.

It's YA paranormal romance, and I'm aiming for 75 - 80k in this revision.

Business stuff out of the way, I just got back from vacation. Cruising in the Bahamas with the family, Yay!

Good times were had by all until Small Child and I came home with a stomach virus. Not cool, Royal Caribbean. Not cool.

We also celebrated Small Child's second birthday.

He is wacky fun, and getting wackier every day. Here is his Jaws impression. He even makes the sound effects before he attacks.

Anyway, things are fast and furious here. The writing, the growing, the hijinks -- good times.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How to get free (or cheap) books

There's been a lot of talk lately about book piracy. Instead of wagging my finger and saying, "No, no, no," I've decided to do a post on how I get my books without spending a lot of money. Now, I still buy lots of books (especially if I go to author signings because I want to support the hosting store), but these tips help take a dent out of what I spend.

1. Twitter - Book publishers often have Twitter only contests where all you have to do is retweet. HarperTeen is one of them. Penguin is another.

2. Book blogs - Some require you to follow them. Some don't. Some have lots of extra entries available, but that takes more work if you're willing to do it. Mundie Moms has contests all the time. As does The Story Siren. There are dozens more out there.

3. Publishers websites
Harper Teen - They have Sneak Peaks where you can often read the first 100 pages or so. They also have Full Access where the entire book is on their website for free.
Simon and Schuster - You can even sign up to receive an email when they post new ones.

4. Book giveaway sites
Free Book Friday
Free Book Friday Teens
Kids Buzz
Goodreads - This site is for cataloging and reviewing books you've read or want to read. But if you click on "find books", then "giveaways", you'll find dozens of pre-release books that you can enter to win. You must be a member of the site, but it's free to join.

5. Advanced Reader Copies - I don't request these because I don't review books on my blog. As a writer, I feel it's a conflict of interest. However, The Story Siren has a great post on how to obtain them.

6. Swag Bucks - It only takes 450 points to get a $5 Amazon card. I find that by playing their TV ads whenever I am in the room with a computer, I can get 450 points in a week or so. That means every 6 weeks, I have $25 to spend on Amazon, and can get free shipping. They also have deals where you can get half price gift cards for places like Amazon or Plus, you earn swag bucks for making those purchases.
Disclaimer: If you are under 18, please consult your parents first.
Search & Win

7. Any gift giving occasions, ask for book gift cards. Usually you can get better prices online than in the stores, especially for new releases. Although if the gift card is for a local independant bookstore, all the better. That keeps the money in the community.

8. Library - Where I live, you are allowed library cards in not just your county, but in the adjoining ones as well. I live on the corner of 4 counties, and have library cards in 3 of them, so I have a huge database at my disposal. In my county, I can go online, request a book and they mail it to me for free. In the other counties, I request a book and they send it to the nearest library for me to pick up. This is awesome. Use these resources if you can. Plus, the greater their circulation, the greater their funding.

9. Copyright free books - There are many of these databases online where you can read classics for free.
Project Gutenberg

10. Check the e-reader options on Amazon - Sometimes publishers will offer new releases for free downloads in the first few days of release for publicity.

Well, that's a lot of options for free reading. And, if you are lucky enough to obtain a free book through contests or ARCs, and you love it, please tell the world. Because that's what free books are all about, getting the word out to new readers. is another.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writing Woes (or Embracing the Difficult Ending)

I've been working on my most recent novel, Princess, since May. I'm on version 4.2. Four because I have had 4 completely different endings, and .2 because of rearranged scenes, etc. (Yes, I'm a little bit OCD) And those different endings have been causing me undue amounts of stress. I could never find the right one for my characters and the story. Today, I finally hit on why. I had originally intended it to be a stand alone story. It's not. The characters have choices to make and not a single one of them will lead to an easy resolution - or a hard one - in 60 - 70 thousand words. Their world is changing. They're beginning a journey, and this particular novel is only the first step.

Now, why does this pose a problem? Because I have seen I don't know how many agents say things like they want a stand alone first novel, and if it sells, then they'll talk sequels. So I've been fighting with my story, not telling it as I feel it should be told, and trying to force it into a different shape, like I'm trying to reform a silly band.

Well, no more. I will let the story unfold as it should be. I will give it free reign, and if it's meant to be published, it will happen. If not, I will have one more novel under my belt, 70,000 more words of practice. But the story will be true.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Today I went back and read my New Year's resolutions from last year to see if I came close to completing any of them. And then I laughed. So, instead of rehashing the resolutions I failed to accomplish because they were ridiculous to begin with, let's look at what I did accomplish.

1. I finished a pretty good draft of Spirit World, and I entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition. I made it into the top 50 out of 5,000. Top 1%. I even got a pretty good review from someone from Publisher's Weekly via the contest. Not bad at all. Afterwards I did a few tweaks and submitted it to agents. I got 10 requests for either full or partials. And 6 nicely worded rejections. I assume the other 4 are rejections as well since I never heard from them. What did I learn? Spirit World was not ready to query. But I got some positive feedback as well as things to work on if I decide to revise and query again. I haven't made that decision yet because I'm busy at work on...

2. I started work in May on a new novel I tentatively titled Princess. I know that will not be it's final title, but it's what I call it for ease and consistancy. I'm currently on revision 4, and hopefully the last major one before I query. We'll see what my readers have to say about it after I finish revising.

3. I wrote quite a few short stories, trying to improve my writing. I think I succeeded at least a little bit in that capacity. I had a story published last year. Oddly enough, a vampire one. I try to stay away from them as rule because of the oversaturation in the market.

4. I won a contest for a 20 page critique from the amazing Tessa Gratton. (Who else can't wait to read Blood Magic?) I sent her the first 20 pages of Princess. She had some wonderful things to say about it, as well as some very constructive things which I am trying to apply to my entire work, writing and critiquing. I can't tell you how valuable her words were. Especially since her critique appeared in my email box the same day as Treetastophy 2010.

Also that same week, I met one of her critique partners, Maggie Stiefvater. She was doing a stock signing at a bookstore about an hour away and I made the trek out there. That meant the world to me, to be able to talk writing and books with Maggie freaking Stiefvater. OMG!

So, 2010 didn't turn out quite the way I had planned, but it was still good. Instead of making specific resolutions this year, I'm going to vague them up a little. I simply want to try to be the best writer I can be, and hopefully snag an agent along the way. If it's not with Princess or Spirit World, then maybe the next one. Or the next. Regardless, I plan to keep writing.