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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. 

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.

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