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Friday, December 31, 2010

Last official post of 2010

And so now we've come to the last official post of my first full year blogging! I had so much fun doing this and I hope that you guys did too and that maybe you learned something you didn't know before.

I met two of the three goals I had for 2010 and I think that's pretty darned good!  In case you were wondering, my goals were to write 2 books, acquire an agent, and to have a publishing contract.  Well, I wrote 2 books, started 2 others, finished a short story, and, of course, found my perfect agent.  Came pretty darned close to having a publishing contract, so...I guess it's really 2 1/2 out of 3 goals.  :D

This year I have some more writerly goals and I've decided to share them in the hopes it'll help me get them in the coming year!

1)  I want to write 3 books (finishing books from last year is fine) and 2 short stories

2)  I want to have one short story accepted somewhere

3)  I want to have a publishing contract

4)  I want to attend at least 1 writer's conference.

As you can see, I've upped the ante a bit there from what I accomplished this year.  I think it can be done.  Though, arguably 2 of those goals are out of my hands. So, those are the ones that I'm most worried about.

So, let's hear it.  What are your goals this year?

And to sweeten the pot, I'm holding one last contest.  But, I'm doing it different.  As always!  YOU get to pick the prize.  Sorta.  It's a book prize, not like a car or something.  :D  Just comment below with a goal and what book you want and I'll choose a random winner.  It is open internationally.  And, yes, you do need to be a follower of the blog, but that's easy.  Just click over to the left and become a follower.  :)

That being said, I hope you have a very happy new year!!

ETA:  Comments are moderated (can't figure out how to turn off moderation.  :)  Just be patient, all comments will be approved.  )

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tip Thursday: Advice: Sorting the wheat from the chaff

Normally I'm all about providing you with tips that helped me on my journey to get published (even if I'm not quite there yet), then I stumbled across a blog today that got my hackles up.  I won't post a link to the blog, or give specifics, but here was this person, spreading his "advice" like it was gospel around the interwebs and from my experience at least three-quarters of it was wrong.

Then it got me thinking, don't I spew advice every week and isn't my experience different from everyone else's.  Who's to say my advice is better than any one else's.  And to honestly answer that question, I'd have to say no, it's not.  But, and this is the theme for today's writing, I only post advice that has worked for me, or other (smarter than me) people have said.

So, since the Internet is so large and any monkey with a keyboard (including myself.  :) ) can blog, how do we determine what's good advice and what isn't in regards to publishing?  Here are my "rules" to what advice I take and what I don't.

1.  Money flows TO the author:  If a blog or person suggests anything that will COST you money (beside postage or paper or something), then you need to tread with caution.  For instance, the blog I ran into actually suggested hiring a freelance editor before sending your work to agents/publishers.  While not necessarily a to-don't it's definetely not a hard and fast rule that you have to or even that you should.  In fact, in my opinion,   while an editor can be helpful, it's necessary to know how to edit your own work. Agent,  Rachel Gardner, says:
Many agents and editors are uncomfortable with writers having too much outside editorial help prior to being contracted, because it can mask a writer's true abilities. I'd hate to get you a 3-book contract with a publisher based on that stellar first book, only to find out that you had a ton of help with it and are not able to deliver that quality of book a second time.
2.  Always check credentials:  Take in mind who and where that person is in publishing.  Advice from an editor at one of the big 5 is going to be different than a free lance editor who edits for aspiring authors.  Agent advice is going to be different than an author.  And a veteran author's advice is going to be different than a newbie.  While each of these people can have great advice, personally I'd listen to those "in the know" before someone who doesn't have the experience yet.  (And yes, I'm including myself in this.  If you read an article by say my agent, disagreeing with everything I'm saying, than please, feel free to ignore me.  :)  However, most of my advice comes from hearing it over and over again from those professionals, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe in saying she won't disagree with me.  :D  Which brings me to my next point. )

3.  Where have I heard this before?  How many times have you heard/seen this advice?  If you've never heard it before, chances are you can disregard it if you disagree.  If you've heard it a LOT, then you probably want to do some more research on why they've said it, then chose at that point to disregard or not.  Who the advice giver is important here because sometimes you have herd mentality, where one person says something and a lot of yes men will agree. It doesn't mean it's the truth.

4.  Beware the agenda.  Be sure to read between the lines and see why a person is saying a particular thing.  If a person is saying all aspiring authors should hire a freelance editor and they're a freelance editor, then you might want to check in a few other places to make sure.

5.  What time is it anyway?  Make sure to check when something was said.  For such a slow industry, the rules change quickly.  Something said ten years ago may not be relevant today.

And lastly because this post could really go on forever, beware anyone tells you to "lower your expectations."  Publishing is hard enough to keep your motivation up without someone telling you that.  Granted you need to make sure your expectations are realistic, not everyone is like Stephenie Meyer.  (See my post here.)  But there's no reason not to shoot for the stars.  Publishing is one of those quirky businesses where anything is possible.

 Anyway, there's a ton more things, but if you take all advice with a grain of salt and use common sense,  you should be all right.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Results and guest post

First, I wanted to let you know that I'm guest posting over at Adventures in Children's Publishing about what it's like after you have an agent and it doesn't happen like Stephenie Meyer.   I hope you read and comment over there. 

No book review today, I'm afraid.  I'll get one out for next week, but due to the holidays and revisions for my agent, I'm slacking.  :)

And now, as promised, the result of last week's contest.  The winner of The Preacher's Pride by Jody Hedlund is Sheri Larsen!  Congrats, Sheri!  I'll get that book right out to you.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Music Monday: The Game Has Changed

My newest music obsession.  This one is from TRON: Legacy.  I'm as much in love with the movie as I am the soundtrack so I couldn't not post it. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tip Thursday: Tips and Tricks for Beginning Writers

When I was first beginning to write, I honestly had no clue what I was doing.  I figured, since I loved reading, writing would come naturally.  Which, for the most part it did, but not all of it, and when I hit a block, I didn't know how to fix it.  So, here's a few tips I found that have been beneficial to me, so I'm passing them along.  The original and full post can be found here.  

Tips and tricks for beginners

  • Do some short exercises to stretch your writing muscles – if you’re short of ideas, read the Daily Writing Tips article on “Writing Bursts”. Many new creative writers find that doing the washing up or weeding the garden suddenly looks appealing, compared to the effort of sitting down and putting words onto the page. Force yourself to get through these early doubts, and it really will get easier. Try to get into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

  • If you’re stuck for ideas, carry a notebook everywhere and write down your observations. You’ll get some great lines of dialogue by keeping your ears open on the bus or in cafes, and an unusual phrase may be prompted by something you see or smell.

  • Work out the time of day when you’re at your most creative. For many writers, this is first thing in the morning – before all the demands of the day jostle for attention. Others write well late at night, after the rest of the family have gone to bed. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

  • Don’t agonize over getting it right. All writers have to revise and edit their work – it’s rare that a story, scene or even a sentence comes out perfectly the first time. Once you’ve completed the initial draft, leave the piece for a few days – then come back to it fresh, with a red pen in hand. If you know there are problems with your story but can’t pinpoint them, ask a fellow writer to read through it and give feedback.

  • HAVE FUN! Sometimes, we writers can end up feeling that our writing is a chore, something that “must” be done, or something to procrastinate over for as long as possible. If your plot seems wildly far-fetched, your characters bore you to tears and you’re convinced that a five-year old with a crayon could write better prose … take a break. Start a completely new project, something which is purely for fun. Write a poem or a 60-word “mini saga”. Just completing a small finished piece can help if you’re bogged down in a longer story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Book Review Preacher's Bride

The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
Paperback: 379 pages
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 feathers
Source: Publisher

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher—whether her assistance is wanted or not.
Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.
Yet Elizabeth’s new role as housekeeper takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child—and man—she’s come to love.

REVIEW: I’m a little late on getting this review out. Unfortunately. I originally read it when it first came out, but never got around to reviewing it.

I feel like I'm repeating myself over and over again. This was another book that I loved. I read it for 4 hours straight today. I'm not generally a reader of Christian fiction, but this blew away every thought I had about the genre and I really can't wait to own my next Jody Hedlund. And to find out that the story was based on a true one, made it even better.

It starts with the main character, Elizabeth, hearing a baby cry as the town, including the child’s father, tried to help the mother of the babe as she died. It bothers Elizabeth and she tries repeadetly to care for it, but an elder woman (an important figure head of the town) refuses to let her. Elizabeth decides to take things into her own hands and goes to the poor section to go get a nursemaid for him, even though she knows she’ll get in trouble for it, which of course makes the other woman incredibly angry and will come back to haunt Elizabeth later.

Because of this she ends up becoming the housekeeper for the now widowed, John—a radical but highly regarded preacher in this town--and cares for his house and his three other children, including the eldest, a blind child named Mary.

Almost right away we’re tossed into a political and religious war when an enemy of John’s threatens to spread lies about John and Elizabeth, which quickly escalates into brutal beatings and vicious murders.

CHARACTERS: Ms. Hedlund's characterizations were superb and I truly felt I was apart of the story and felt for the characters, especially for poor Elizabeth and everything she endures during the course of this story. Elizabeth is an extremely likeable character with her quiet strength, confidence, and ability to adapt to any situation. Even when she made choices I wouldn’t have, I couldn’t help but see why she chose that path. John, was another good character. Even if there were times he wasn’t very likeable, it was always very obvious why he made those choices.

COVER: I think it’s perfect for this book. It gives the perfect hint that it’s historical and shows that quiet strength that Elizabeth embodies for the entire story.

This is truly a book you can't put down once you start reading it and I will be suggesting this book to every one I know.

Find Jody Hedlund
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Purchase Preacher’s Bride
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

Since this is Christmas Week, I'm giving away a copy of The Preacher's Bride.  What do you have to do?  Just fill out the form below and then comment (not necessarily required, but helpful.  :) )and tell me your Christmas Wish (well, your wish for what you want to see more of on my blog in the next year.  :)  )  Open Internationally.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Agents: Gatekeepers or Champions?

Agents always get a bad rap when it comes to writers, especially those of us who’ve suffered through a butt load of rejections. Agents are too picky…They only want bestsellers…they’re only out for money…

And, well, it’s more than likely true. It IS their JOB after all. They only make money when their author’s make money, so it pays to be picky who they pick up, and if the author turns out to be a bestseller, even better! But there’s no guarantee that the book an agent signs will sell, let only become a bestseller, so…yeah…not really a valid argument to not have an agent…

Anyway, that’s not really why I decided to write a post.

It’s actually because of this. I’m not going to go into details, but if you read the post, you’ll get an eyeful.

The reason I’m writing, is that this is a classic example why getting an agent or having a literary attorney look over your contract before you sign it is a good idea.

Agents are more than gatekeepers. They’re your champion. They’ll make sure your book finds the perfect home. Which publishers are looking for your kind of book, which editors you’ll work well with, and what publishers to avoid. They’ll negotiate a contract that’s in YOUR best interest and if the worst happens and something happens with your publisher, they’ll help you figure a way out of the mess. They’ve “got your back” so to speak. Because they want you, generally, for your entire career. Again that whole if-you-don’t-make-money-neither-do-they thing.

If you absolutely don’t want an agent, you absolutely NEED to hire a literary attorney to look over those contracts. Just because a “publisher” claims their contract is author friendly, doesn’t mean it is. In fact, it may be downright predatory. And a literary attorney is going to be able to spot the nuances that a normal contracts attorney isn’t going to be able to see.

Now, I’m not saying the most commercial publishers are bad. If you’ve done your research, then chances are you’re not going to run into a vanity press in disguise, but there are enough scam publishers out there, that you really need to be careful.

So, in my opinion, it’s just easier to find an agent who will walk with you through every step of the process. Who will listen to your gripes, help you brainstorm new book ideas and generally help guide your career down the path you want to take.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Music Monday: Can't believe It's Christmas

Okay here's where I share how strange I really am.  I'm completely in love with the Veggie Tales.  I started watching them with my son when he was 2 and even when he outgrew them, I kept the DVDs so I could watch them in secret.  Now I watch them with my daughter.  My favorite part of Veggie Tales is their songs and they've even spread out to making Christmas Songs. 

Here's one of my favorites:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New comments program launched

Hi all!  I just launched a new comments program so I can reply to each of your comments.  I love getting comments, but I found that bloggers native comment function wasn't all that conducive to actually having a "conversation."  Therefore, I found this program and I'm hoping it works.  So, if you all would be so kind as to leave a comment (just a simple hi will do.  :) ) I would be grateful! 

Thanks soo much!  And have a great weekend!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Funny Friday: Best Idea Ever

I found this a few months ago when someone (maybe Jen? I can't remember) tweeted about it and now every time I hear the original, I start singing the lyrics to this one.  People look at me a little odd, but whatever.  I'm a writer.  I do strange things.  :D

And to give Jen her due you can find her here.  

And now:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tip Thursday: Passive vs Active Voice

On another of my posts, I've had some social commentary from a reader who corrected me on something I said to another commenter about passive vs active voice.  Ultimately she was correct, what I'd originally said was active was, in fact, not active voice. However, I disagreed with the example she used to demonstrate her point, as it didn't use the original examples and confused other readers who emailed me to ask what in the heck she was talking about.  :)  So I decided to do a post on passive vs active voice. 

In my search for references, I went to my trusty grammar divas who already covered this topic.  Since they said it better than I could, I'm just going to copy and paste it below, with a few more links to places that have posted on this.

Passive voice is one of the most difficult grammar issues fiction writers struggle with every day. It’s the redheaded stepchild because it’s awkward, wordy, and generally vague. Active voice tends to be crisp and direct. Ergo, to ensure your readers understand what you’re trying to say and enjoy doing so, active voice is your best bet.
You’d think knowing what voice to use would be easy because there are only two: active and passive. However, many a writer has ground teeth, pulled hair, and/or stomped feet trying to rewrite a sentence into active voice that his or her editor or critique partner has marked as “passive”.
The voice of a verb shows the strength of the subject of the sentence. Not physical strength, perception strength. Editors feel active voice is more direct, dynamic, and—literally and figuratively—active because attention is directed at the “doer” of the action. Passive is, well, too passive for most commercial fiction.

In the active voice, the subject of the sentence takes the action of the verb, i.e., is the actual “doer” of the action. Let’s use a familiar joke to explain.
Why did the chicken cross the road?

The chicken is the subject of the sentence, i.e., the doer of the action. This is active voice.

Why was the road crossed by the chicken?

Here, the chicken is the doer of the action, but not the subject of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is the road and is receiving the action. This is passive voice.
Now, let’s illustrate the difference using sentences a reader might find in commercial fiction.

Active voice is when the subject of the sentence takes the action of the verb, i.e., is the actual “doer” of the action.

John threw the ball across the road.

The spider bit Samuel under his swimsuit.

Passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is acted upon.

The ball was thrown by John across the road.

Samuel was bitten under his swimsuit by the spider.

Passive voice is not any use of to be (in any form). The key to identification is:

Must Have #1: form of “to be” + past participle = passive voice. (Does past participle sound like the latest energy drink? Think a verb form ending in –ed that expresses completed action. Of course, there are a few exceptions like paid, thrown, bitten, and driven.)

Must Have #2: A receiver of the action (a direct object) that is the subject of the sentence.

May Have #3: The doer of the action is in a prepositional phrase that begins with by or sometimes for. Why may have?

A body was found last night. = passive voice

Not all passive voice sentences contain by or for.

The prince’s generosity surprised Summer. = active voice

Summer was surprised by the prince’s generosity. = passive voice

Adrianne’s coming-out party was a blast. = active voice

Adrianne’s coming-out party was held by her parents. = passive voice

Tired of editors, contest judges, and/or critique partners circling every was and marking it passive? What they forget is that only transitive verbs (those taking objects) have a passive voice form.
John threw the ball across the road. = active voice

The ball was thrown by John across the road. = passive voice

However, linking verbs (not helping forms) only suggest state of being and can’t have a passive voice form—though some people interpret a state of being as a passive form. Well, maybe, but it’s not a grammatical VOICE form.

John was a teacher. = active voice

The teacher was John. = active voice

Confused? Remember, a linking verb does not show action. It connects a word or words in the predicate (the verb and any objects, modifiers, or complements associated with the verb) to the subject in the sentence. Forms of to be (am, are, is, was, were) are common linking verbs. Others include grow, look, became, appear, look, taste, and remain. Because linking verbs don’t show action, they can’t be active or passive.

Why is avoiding passive voice so important? Passive voice is a grammar issue the fiction writing community—especially within the romance genre—takes seriously. Passive voice is not grammatically wrong, but most editors feel active voice is more direct, dynamic, and—literally and figuratively—active because attention is directed at the doer of the action. They see passive voice as passive writing bleeding onto the page. They see an author unwilling to grab a hold of their prose and commit to producing strong, aggressive writing.

Passive voice can also drive a reader insane with its contorted, artificial structure. And we don’t want to drive our readers crazy, do we?

How to Fix Passive Voice
It’s easy. Simply switch the sentence order to make the doer and the subject one.

The tablecloths were discarded after the party by Cheri.

Remember, in passive voice the subject of the sentence receives the action, not the actual “doer” of the action. Here, the subject of the sentence—the tablecloths—receives the action—were discarded. Who’s the actual “doer” of the action? Cheri.

Cheri discarded the tablecloths after the party.


After the party, Cheri discarded the tablecloths.

That’s better.

Jackson was wanted by every woman in the bar.

Subject of the sentence? Jackson. What’s the action? Wanted. Actual “doer” of the action?

Every woman in the bar. Ready? Switch!

Every woman in the bar wanted Jackson.

That’s better.

Is Passive Voice Ever Okie-Dokie?

Sometimes the object of the action is the important thing, not the doer. Here, passive voice is the better way to go.

That maniac turned Mysia’s car upside down on Tuesday. = active voice

On Tuesday, Mysia’s car was turned upside down by that maniac. = passive voice

Sometimes you have a sentence with two clauses. Here, passive voice creates a shift in subject that makes the sentence flow.

As the Laird surveyed his lands, his enemies plotted treachery. = active voice

As the Laird surveyed his lands, treachery was plotted by his enemies. = passive voice

Sometimes the doer of the action is unknown and therefore we must use passive or rewrite the sentence.

Burglars stole the jewels last night. = active voice

The jewels were stolen last night. = passive voice

Sometimes the detachment between the subject of the sentence and the doer of the action works for stronger prose.

“He’s round sunburned face was marked by a certain watchful innocence.” Reflections in a Golden Eye, Carson McCullers.

Here, the emphasis is on innocence. Rewriting the sentence into active voice would ruin the author’s intent.

“You can be defeated and disoriented by all these feelings.” Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott.

Here, the emphasis is on you. A rewrite would kill Anne’s masterpiece.

“The body lay on the back, the head toward the door. A candlestick was yet clutched in the right hand.” Wilderness, Robert Penn Warren.

The last sentence, in passive voice, delivers a dramatic punch.

Jane was taken to the cleaners.

Idiomatic phrases allow us some liberties. Not many editors would poo-poo a sentence like this one.

What About Passive Voice in Dialogue?

That’s between you and your character. If active voice suits the speaking style you’ve created for a character, go active voice. If you need to show a character’s indecision, hesitation, or discomfort, go with passive voice. Just remember to distinguish character indecision or hesitation from author indecision or hesitation.

Final Tips on Passive Voice

1) Write the way you speak and your writing will be more lively, powerful, and engaging than writing the way you think writing should sound.

2) Still not sure whether to go passive voice or active voice?

3) Try both and decide what sounds smoother.

4)Still, still not sure? When in doubt, go active voice.

5) Don’t worry about passive voice until you’re in the editing stage of your manuscript!

Remember, write first; edit later.
List of other sites that talk about passive vs active voice.

Ask an editor
Words fail me
Grammar Divas (worksheet)
The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mr. Edit
Patricia Wrede
Fiction Writers Mentor
Online English Class (worksheets)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Book Review Paranormalcy

Paranormalacy by Kiersten White
Publisher: Harper Teen (August 31, 2010)
Paperback: 352 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 4 of 5 feathers
Source: Trade

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

     REVIEW: This is another book that I picked up mainly because of the cover (it’s so PRETTY!), but also because of a the hoopla surrounding it. I first learned of it during my own agent hunt last year when I was researching her agent, Michelle Wolfson. And Kiersten did a blog post on how her first book didn’t sell. After that I started stalking following her. ☺

     The story is a little slower than I would have liked, but I did enjoy it. And I have to admit the romance wasn’t at all what I had expected (from other reviews I’d read), but there is some there. Other than those things I didn’t really have any expectations for it. I was hoping it would keep me entertained and it did.

     It starts off with Evie, who carries a pink tazer she calls tazie (isn’t that cute?!), being “attacked” by a vampire. Pretty typical of the recent paranormal stories, but then Evie completely kicks butt and turns the tables on him so she can put some kind of ankle bracelet that acts like those police trackers, but instead of tracking them, it monitors their “vital signs” and if they break the law they are “neutered,” which, has a more literal meaning later in the book, but in the beginning it just means depending on the creature, they are killed.

     We then follow Evie as she’s transported back to IPCA, where she works because of her ability to see through glamours and see the paranormal creatures for what they are, by a faerie, Rath, who Evie has a strange romantic history with and plays a fairly large part in the story as he puts Evie in an unwilling love triangle. We also meet her best friend, who happens to be a mermaid who lives in a tank in IPCA and talks to Evie through a computer and eye movements.

     Then we meet the hero, a shapeshifter named Lend, who borrows the “skin” of several of IPCA’s staff to break in. Evie puts a stop to it and attaches the ankle tracker. She develops a friendship, then later a romantic involvement with him and learns a prophecy about herself. Throughout the rest of the book Evie’s internal conflict is between her duties and the want and need to be a normal teenage girl where she goes to high school and has a locker—which she’s apparently quite fond of. ☺ ( Having once been a normal teenage girl, I don’t see why, but I guess if I remember wanting to ride the bus to school when I was younger and I suppose it’s about the same feeling. :D)

     I have to admit, that the major appeal of this book for me was its uniqueness. It wasn’t just like every other paranormal out there and kept me reading because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I highly suggest it if you’re looking for a good read that’s different than what you’re expecting.

     CHARACTERS: Evie is a strong character, but is made stronger by her weaknesses. Her longing to be normal is something that every person who remembers high school can relate to. Lend is sweet and while he pretends to be strong around the adults, through Evie you can glimpse some of that naïveté that makes him the perfect hero and perfect for Evie. Reth on the other hand, even though I’m seeing him through Evie is not a character I liked. Although, I’m pretty sure this was Ms. White’s intention. He was selfish, uncaring, and cruel. While I could see sparks of why people may like him, I just couldn’t get past all his negatives to like him.

     COVER: I think it’s perfect for this book. With the beautiful pink dress on the kick-butt beautiful girl and, the storm brewing in the background, sets the mood of the story wonderfully.

     If you’re looking for a unique story, that’ll keep you reading and has a hint of romance that’s perfect for almost all ages, then this is the perfect book for you.

Find Kiersten White

Purchase Paranormalcy

Paranormalcy book trailer

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music Monday: Holiday Tunes!

I chose this song since this is what I've felt like lately. I didn't even post anything last week, because I just didn't think I could write a post without ranting.

Everywhere I go people are just so rude!  I couldn't believe it last week when I was completely treated like crap at the post office.  And I was told, "You wouldn't want to work at the post office during the Holidays.  Give the lady a break," by a guy a few people behind me, when the post office worker completely ignored me and called the person behind me in line and I called her out on it.  I told him that just because it was the holidays didn't mean you STOP giving excellent customer service.  To my surprise, I was the bad guy because I didn't take the worker's crap!  

Even putting lights up was a Herculean task that required entirely TOO much time and money.  First 3 strands of lights were completely dead. And I had to buy all new ones.  And, of course, the strings I bought last year are longer than the strings I bought this year, so I had to make ANOTHER trip to get 2 MORE strings.  Then the Christmas tree I had for 11 years finally gave up the ghost and I had to buy a new one, which meant ANOTHER trip to the store because I bought a bigger tree and needed MORE lights, ornaments, and garland. 

On top of all this, my daughter decided that since mommy was stressed out already, then would be the PERFECT time to act like a hooligan! it's a new week, that started out with a BANG on Saturday with DH's birthday.  We went out to his friend's house and spent about 4 hours shooting targets for his birthday.  Then Sunday we went to Kobe's Japanese Steakhouse for his boss's birthday and had so much fun.  So I'm hoping that this week will be better than last and this song is to symbolize the OFFICIAL  ( ;) ) start of the holidays. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Music Monday-Katy Perry

I'm posting this because I think it has a great message.  And, in light of all the recent bullying crap that's going on all around, I thought we all needed a little reminder.  Plus it's a great song!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funnies- Turkey Recipe

This is a little late, but WELL worth it.  Enjoy!  This is courtesy of my favorite site:  College Humor. And this video I found just last week.  If you're a writer, you'll get it.  :D

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tip Thursday: Inspiration Amnesia

If you're like me, then you've gotten ready for bed and, just as you're about to doze off, your mind gives off a gem that's absolutely perfect for your WIP, or a story you're plotting, or something.  Whether that be dialogue, the whole plot, or the missing piece of the puzzle.  Of course, you commit it to memory and go back to sleep.  When you wake up, it's gone!  You know you had something, but you can't remember what that something was. 

Inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times.  Just like a cold or an unwanted relative.  Fortunately, there's help for inspiration amnesia.  Here's a few tips I found to help you, whether you're in the car or in bed (the full article can be read here): 
  • Keep a dashboard clipboard with a small notepad in your car

  • Carry a small notepad in your purse, briefcase, or pocket

  • Keep a notebook on your bed stand

  • Or if you prefer, use a micro cassette recorder

  • A handheld computer or PDA can also be great for catching ideas; especially when you are in public.

However you decide to capture your ideas, you must do so as soon as possible.  Immediately, if you can.  This applies even at night--perhaps even more so at night.  At no time is an idea likely to be more vivid than at night, and at no time is it likely to fade faster.  If you wake up in the middle of the night to a great idea, you really need to write it down.  Get yourself a drink of water, jot the thing down as completely as you can, and go back to sleep.  In the morning you will be in a much better position to judge whether the idea holds any real promise.  This is much better than waking up certain that you had the inspiration for the next Great American Novel last night--and now you can't remember what it was!

So...let's have it.  What's your advice for inspiration amnesia?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Bad Girls Don't Die Book Review

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
Publisher: Hyperion (June 22, 2010)
Paperback: 346 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Purchased

When Alexis’s little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.
Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey’s shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?

REVIEW: I have to admit I bought this book simply because I’m shallow. ☺ A friend of mine picked up this book and showed it to me. It was completely creepy—which apparently I’m into lately—and so I flipped to the back cover to see what it was all about it. And I didn’t read any further than the first sentence. It was about DOLLS! Probably a creepy doll. So, I bought it, set it in my TBR pile and promised myself it would be the first book I read when I finished first round edits on my dystopian.

Which I did!

I started the book the day after Thanksgiving, while I drove around waiting for my husband to do some of his shopping and, to be completely honest, I wasn’t really all that impressed. To me it started off slow, but it quickly picked up pace –within that first chapter—and I couldn’t put it down.

I had really only one expectation going into it and that was it needed to be creepy. I was not disappointed. Almost from the beginning we’re treated to a scene where the heroine—Alexis, or Lexi as she’s sometimes called--is outside her house in the middle of the night and taking pictures of her house, when a strange light appears out of nowhere. She takes a few photographs of it, then walks into her house, so as not to spook her kid sister. The light follows and ends up finding her room by “sitting” outside her window in a tree.
Then is a bit of a boring part, but it really couldn’t be helped and really helped develop Alexis to the reader. We’re shown that she’s a loner and that she hates the cheerleaders, especially a girl named Pepper (but really who wouldn’t hate a girl named Pepper. LOL. Except Pepper Pots from Iron Man, that is. Can’t hate her. :D) who was instrumental in forcing her best friend to leave the state because she was teased so much because of her weight.

We’re also introduced to the “hero,” Carter when he smacks Lexi in the head with a door—accidentally, of course.

After all the introductions to the secondary characters (Pepper, Kasey, Carter, and another cheerleader named Megan) and some whining about her parents, the story really takes off and it was almost impossible to put down.

From creepy dreams, to doors that open for themselves, and even a possession or two it was perfectly hair-raising and sinister. And for the most part kept me on the edge of my seat asking, “What the heck is going on here?!”

Even the ending—which I will NOT spoil for you here—was superb. I usually find myself slightly disappointed with how an author chooses to end a book, but this time I was only disappointed it was over!

Characters: Alexis is the perfect teenage girl. Riddled with angst, but not in a way that makes you groan because it’s clichéd. She has a love/hate relationship with her parents and sister, as is normal for girls that age, and something any teenager—or young in heart—can relate to. She’s tough and doesn’t let anyone boss her around, and while she’s a rule breaker, she does so on her own terms. Not to fit in. In fact, she could care less about fitting in. She just wants to be left alone by everybody. Carter on the other hand, is practically perfect in every way, and completely the opposite of Alexis. It makes for some great conflict. And while this book wasn’t a romance, the romantic elements were awesome because of the chemistry between these two characters. Kasey is also really well developed. I found myself vacillating between feeling sorry and worried for her and angry at her. Not a comfortable spot to be in, considering, but one of the elements that really drove this story forward.

Cover: As I mentioned before this was the main reason I purchased this book. It was exceptionally creepy, yet beautiful at the same time. Honestly I’d love to have the picture blown up and framed, so I can place this in my home, I love it that much.

If you’re looking for a creepy thriller that will make you sleep with the lights on and the covers over your head, this is the book for you. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next two books.

Find Katie Alender
Katie Alender   /   Blog   /   Twitter  /  Facebook

Purchase Bad Girls Don't Die
Amazon    /   Barnes & Noble   /   The Book Depository


Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Monday: Bruno Mars

Welcome back from Thanksgiving break.  I hope you had your fill of food, family and fun!  I know I did.  I had a blast at my DH's boss's house.  And I had deep fried turkey for the first time EVER.  I LOVED it.   I know, I know, completely redneck, but I suppose that's what I am.  :D  I ate entirely too much of everything.   And later that night I did it all over again at my parents'. 

I didn't get any writing done, then again, I wasn't planning to.  :D  I started in on my TBR pile and made a dent, only to fill it again during the black Friday sales.  What can I say?  I'm a glutton for punishment.  However, I think I'd be willing to go by death by book.  :D

A friend of DH's gave us enough pies and bread to last at least a year, if not longer.  And not just pumpkin!  But apple, blueberry, cherry, etc.  I think if any of you see me, I'll look like a giant ball with arms and legs.

Anyway, enough about me, what did you do this Thanksgiving? 

Since I'm getting close to 250 followers, I want to remind you I'll be doing a large give-away! Partially because I reached 250 followers and also because I missed my 1 year blogversary.  So make sure to pass the word that I'm here.  :D

And now, without further adieu, this week's selection for Music Monday.

This song is on Artifact Spirit's playlist because no matter what the "Evil stepmother" does to Mai, Del loves her "just the way she is." 

Hope you enjoy. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Week

Hi guys!  *waves*  Just a quick post today to tell you I'm taking this week off from blogging.  I will be back next week with more advice, a few book reviews, and other such wonderful things.  If you're still waiting on contest goodies to be mailed to you,  my email program deleted some emails and I lost addresses.  PLEASE, please, please email me again with your addy so I can get these winnings out to you.  Thanks. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two more blog awards

I keep meaning to post these, but I never remember!  So, I'm doing it now.

Both of them come from another writing friend and the wonderful things she's said about me and my blog made me teary.  So thank you Dorothy Dreyer!

The first is a strange award.  No really that's what it's called!  And I LOVED this one.  It's SOO true!  I'm a bit strange and I celebrate it gladly!

 The next one is a beautiful Life is Good award and comes with questions, so here ya go:


1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?
No I love being open about my blog.  Besides that would completely ruin the point of wanting everyone to know who I am!  :D

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:
My husband would be able to answer that better than I can.  ; )

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
A little girl who wonders why she's looking at old, fat girl.  :D

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?
Arnold Palmers:  1/2 lemonade, 1/2 iced tea

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Read a book in the bath or hot tub. Or go horseback riding in the woods.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
Getting published.  Getting published.  And...oh yeah, getting published. :D

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?
I was the shy one.  People thought I was rude and prissy because I was too nervous to speak to anyone.  And I always had a book with me so I wouldn't HAVE to talk to anyone.  I was just too shy, though.  If they'd come up and talked to me, I would have talked back.  I like making new friends.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?
Poignant as in touching, not poignant as in sad: the births of my children.
  (BTW, I totally stole this answer from Dorothy, because it's exactly right.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
I don't know.  I guess it's just easier to use myself as an example, but I can do both fairly easily, so...I don't know.   

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Definetely read.  I hate talking on the phone.  It makes me feel weird with all the silences that must be filled.  Give me a good book and a cold drink and I'm good to go.

So now I'm supposed to pass these on to other bloggers.  Here's my lovely list.  

The girls from Oasis For YA:

* Jessie  at The Daily Harrell
* Sheri at Writer’s Ally
* Nikki of her self-titled blog
* AE Rought at Love, Light and Shadows
Other writer friends
* Liz Czukas at her self-titled blog
* Larissa Hardesty at Larissa's World
* Jaclyn Dolamore at her self titled blog
* Kristi LaPointe at Mommy Barbie
* Adventure's In Children's Publishing
* Leah Crichton at her self titled blog
* MJ Heiser at Dispatches from Jaenrye
* Slushpile hero
* Jody Hedlund at her self-titled blog
* Lynn Rush at Catch the Rush
* Jordan Deen at her self titled blog

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Make your own luck? Or a roll of the dice

There is no such thing as luck, someone once told me. You make your own luck. By working hard and never giving up, you’ll always succeed. And for the longest time I believed that was true. And I proved them—and myself—correct at every turn.

Did I want to make it through boot camp? Work harder! Did I want to succeed at breast-feeding? Never give up! So when I decided to write professionally, I applied these two logics. Work harder and never give up.

For nine months, I spent every second I could spare writing, critiquing, revising, editing, rewriting. Until, by chance, I found a post about my soon-to-be agent. And this weird tingle tickled my stomach, so I sent off my query with partial, though it went against my own rule to not snail mail unless specifically requested. And my other rule not to send to non-responders, which is lucky I did, because about a month later I was offered representation.

So, some of you are saying, what’s the point? We’ve heard this all before. I know. ;) But see, even then I didn’t believe in luck. I worked hard on that MS. I wrote, rewrote, revised, edited, and suffered through a few rejections. Plus I visit that site every day. I was bound to find an agent through there. ☺

Well, about 2 months ago, I was sitting watching my son playing a video game, struggling through a story that was kicking my butt, and it hit me. The what if question all us writers get. And that question was, what if a little girl was stolen from the surface and dragged to live with this monstrous woman who brainwashed her in this underwater utopia/dystopia?

I immediately started plotting it out. Obviously, it quickly mutated and is completely different than that first what if question, but I couldn’t stop. Even when my agent sent me revision notes on two of my other stories, so we could go back out on submission, I had the hardest time pulling myself away from the computer.

I even brought my laptop with to RWA Nationals so I could keep writing. My characters wouldn’t shut up. And then the most amazing thing happened, the story changed AGAIN.

I realized I was writing in my most hated of writing styles. First person, present tense. And that it was good! I couldn’t get myself to write in past. No matter what I did, I always reverted back to present tense. And Evie, the MC, had this most amazing voice. It was formal and informal at the same time. So, I gave up. And wrote it the way it wanted.

Even though I’d plotted it out, things changed while I was writing it. It went from mildly dark, to darn near pitch black at the end. And still it wasn’t enough. I had to go back through the MS again, and again. To get it right.

In the meantime, it’s gone back to my critique group, who loved it. Then my most trusted critique partner, who fixed the few present tense slips. And then when I was pretty sure it was perfect, it went off to betas. And all reports back are: It’s great. When can I buy it?

Now it’s in the hands of my awesome agent, and I’m nervous as hell, because it’s unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever written before. But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written.

And I STILL can’t get the story out of my head.

I just have to hope Natalie likes it and some editor snatches it up, because this has proven beyond a doubt that while hard work and never giving up are important, luck goes hand in hand with it.

Being in the right place at the right time means everything.

So, share with me. What’s your opinion? Is there luck? Or do we make our own luck?

Also, I'm in two places at once.  I'm here and over at Makin' Baby Grand talking about World-building in YA Science Fiction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My hero: J.K. Rowling.

So, just a quick blog post today because I’m still in post-Harry Potter bliss.  Last night I went to an advanced screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I” and let me tell you, it was AWESOME.  Seriously and truly.
That, of course, prompted this blog post, because J.K. Rowling is my hero.  And I mean that.  I honestly don’t use that term lightly, but J.K. Rowling deserves it.  The fact that she started writing HP on napkins, on the train, and…everything else she did.  Then, to know her UK publisher gave her a teeny, tiny advance for it and it didn’t do very well at first, only to be picked up by Scholastic and do what it did…yeah, makes me realize that fairy tales do come true.
Also, the fact that she isn’t afraid to hurt her characters in a way that moves the story makes me envious.  I have such a hard time hurting my characters, but it’s necessary.  And I have to remind myself they’re not real. LOL.
If there was one person in the world I would want to meet and just talk to it would be her.  Because she seems so nice, despite having all the fame and money she could want.  And the fact that her writing has spurned hundreds of thousands of kids to read.  Yep, don’t think I could have picked a better hero.
Also, this probably isn't going to  happen, but I'm actually trying really, really hard to see if I can get an interview with her.  Like I said, it's probably just wishful thinking, but I can try.  Hasn't she taught us that nothing is impossible, no matter how improbable?
So, my lovelies, who’s your hero?  And why?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Artifact Spirit

Here's another scene from my current WIP.  It's rough, as it's my NaNoWriMo novel, but hopefully you'll still enjoy it.

Mai felt a jolt, then another.  And another.  And she opened her eyes and looked down her body.  There stood Analise, slowly chipping away at Mai's body with a hammer and chisel.  The bisque--brown, hardened clay--that had surrounded her metal innards, flying in every which direction.
Mai wanted to close her eyes tight against the view, but she was as fascinated as she was horrified.   It did not hurt, what they were doing, but neither did it feel good.  It was, to put it gently, uncomfortable.
The boy that had placed her on the table was working on her arm.  Though his hands and muscles were larger than the woman's, he was more gentle.  Delicately carving off the bisque, one layer at a time until Mai's shiny metal bone structure showed.

The sound of her skin cracking was worse than she could possibly imagine.  There was no possible way to describe how much it hurt her.  Not physically.  There was only pressure physically.  But mentally, she was broken by the sound.

They were taking away who she was with their chisels, picks, and hammers.  She'd been special.  Different.  Beautiful.  Now?  She had no clue what she'd look like.  She only knew, if she could weep, she would.

She wanted to yank away, but the straps holding her to the table allowed no movement.  Besides, what was the point of fighting now.  They'd already done their damage.  And she'd been forbidden by the goddess to reveal herself to those not of the

Mai stared up at the ceiling, doing everything she could to block the sound of the cracking from her ears.  Apparently the goddess had been wrong.  It was not more dangerous to reveal herself to people not of the Adair family.  Who knew what other horrors would await her if she did.

After what felt like an eternity later the cracking finally stopped.  Analise stepped back into Mai's view and she smiled down at her, placing her hand along Mai's cheek.

"Such a shame about this pretty face, though." She narrowed her eyes at Mai.  "I wonder if there's a way to pull this back off without cracking it."

Mai watched as the woman, grabbed the edge of her face, right under the chin, and tugged lightly.  A smile formed on the woman's face, then she turned and went to a little work table off to the side and came back with a little machine that had a serrated circle on one end.  On the other was something Mai didn't know what it was.  But when Analise pressed a lever on the side of the device, it hissed and a cloud of steam billowed from the back of it.

The circle started spinning and Mai whimpered when Analise brought it close to Mai's neck.  Since the woman didn't stop, Mai assumed the sound was lost in the whine from the machine.
Analise place the rotating circle right underneath Mai's jaw, and Mai felt a vibration as the whine from the machine grew louder and a blanket of dust erupted from it.

The vibrating moved up the side of her face, past her eye, at the hairline above her forehead and back down the other side, exactly as she'd come up.
Mai fought to keep her eyes open and unstaring, but she couldn't help but follow the path Analise took.  However, the woman was so focused on her task, she didn't seem to notice.

When the woman put the machine down, Mai, closed her eyes briefly.  She knew what was coming and she wasn't happy about it.

Analise put her hands on either side of Mai's head and slowly lifted the painted porcelain, that was Mai's face.  Analise turned it to face her and Mai stared at it.  This would be the last time she saw it.  Something that had been a part of her for a hundred years.  That made her, her was gone.

The woman clicked her tongue, then sighed.  "Don't worry, sweet thing." She patted Mai's metal structure.  "Analise is going to put this in a safe spot for you."  She smiled down at Mai, then set the porcelain on the desk.  "Now let's peel back this hair, so we can put that aside as well.  It's so beautiful.  I think they used real hair.  We'll have to make sure to do the same with your new ones.  Only the best for you."

Analise moved behind Mai's head, and Mai couldn't see her anymore.  However she did feel the tug and hear the ripping of the cloth that held her elaborate hair style in place as it tore from her metal skull.
The sound echoed through her and she finally just wanted to close her eyes and keep them that way.  However, without her face, there were no lids to keep her from seeing.
But that didn't matter for long, because Analise reached her suprisingly nimble fingers for those brown colored orbs and pulled them out of the sockets.
Mai didn't know if it was a curse or a blessing that she couldn't see the rest of what was happening to her.