Friday, September 30, 2011

In Which I Crown Some Winners

*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

I have a quick announcement to make before I get to contest stuff. I'm trying out CommentLUV on the blog. It'll be here for the next little while, at least, because I'm annoyed that Blogger doesn't let me reply to individual comments. I think this will work out much better. Feel free to let me know what you think as you use it. :)

On to the contest results!

Rather than use, I used a rather unorthodox method of selecting my winners. I only had 12 entrants, so a random number generator for 22 slots seemed a little silly. Instead, I wrote all the names on little slips of paper. If you had more than one entry, you had more than one slip, naturally. I folded them all up and laid them in the middle of my bed. Since we live in Arizona, having the ceiling fans on is a must in the summer, so I let the fan do the random selecting. :) The first three papers to blow into my lap were the winners (and trust me, they were blowing everywhere!).

And the winners are....

Brooke R Busse

Bess Weatherby


Whee winners! :D Now, I bet you're all wondering who gets which prize...and in response, I have some really exciting news. C offered to do character sketches for ALL 3 OF YOU! Isn't he awesome?! Winners, please get in touch with me at jadencoal (at) gmail (dot) com for further instructions. :)

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! I'm looking forward to more wonderful contests in the future. :) Happy Friday!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Still Have Some Surprises Up My Sleeve...

*In case you missed it, I made it to 100 followers over the weekend! I'm running a giveaway with some really awesome prizes, including a character sketch, so check it out! You have until tonight at 11:59 pm Pacific Time to enter. :)*

*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

So last week, I won the One Lovely Blog Award from Stephanie. Here's what it looks like:

Now, remember how I said getting awards never gets old? Well, I kind of lied to you. See, getting recognition for being a cool/unique/versatile/sweet blogger never gets old, because it feels good knowing that other people get you and like what you're doing. HOWEVER. The listing-of-the-random-facts-and-sending-it-to-so-many-people-that-the-meaning-gets-lost part DOES get old. And fast.

Last weekend, while chatting with my new friend Julie, we realized something. We've both been getting the same 5 or 6 awards, and not one of them actually recognizes the writer behind every blog. Because, dear reader, writing is HARD. It's sitting in front of a blank document for an hour before you decide on the perfect opening sentence. It's biting your nails while you wait for feedback on your most recent chapter. It's, as Julie said, taking a deep breath before you tell your friends, in a not-so-loud voice, "I'm a writer, and I'm working on this fantasy-but-not book for teenagers-or-maybe-grownups."

And sometimes, while we go through all that, we feel like the world's stinkiest skunk. Like we're wallowing in the stench of our own work, and it's never going to smell daisy-fresh like the published book of so-and-so. I know, because I've been there. In fact, I'm feeling particularly skunk-like right now, marinating in the miasma of my own self-doubt (did you see what I did there? :P). But it's our pocket writing buddies (or crit partners, if you will), and this fantastic writing community, that hang an air freshener on our skunky noses and tell us it'll be ok. And that is why Julie and I decided that we needed our own award.

It's an award for the friends we keep in our pockets. An award for the blog followers who always comment, even if you feel like your post stinks worse than Limburger cheese. An award for bloggers who inspired you to do better. Here's what it looks like:

My fiance designed it, because he's helpful like that. :) So here's the deal: You don't have to pass this award on to a certain number of people. You don't have to list random facts about yourself, or join a secret puppy-loving society, or anything like that. We just ask that (because this is a feel-good award) you share one thing about yourself that makes you feel GOOD. It can be something about your writing, something about your "real life," food you ate, a book you read, a song you heard. You should also thank and link back to the person who gave it to you, but that goes without saying. Julie and I are passing it to 5 people to get it circulating, but you can pass it to 1. Or 10. Or keep it until someone comes along and changes your universe. It's up to you. :)

My one good thing is this: In the past month, I have gained more confidence in myself than I ever thought I'd have. I put myself out there, and e-mailed people who moved me with their blogs. Without that confidence, I wouldn't have even met the people I'm passing the award to.

Julie, this whole friendship thing we've got going turned out to be so much more than I thought it would be. Thanks for being my constant pocket companion. :) You're always there to read my skunky words when I need you to, or talk about books for three hours, or design really cute blog awards. I can't wait for the actual hardcore-critique portion of our scheduled programming. :P

Christine, thanks for responding to my first e-mail. I've learned a lot about blogging, and critiquing, and Jurassic Park from you. You helped me go from vague-and-boring-hook to killer-intriguing-hook in a matter of weeks, and I thank you for it. :D

And to these lovely followers:

Andrew, for reading my first Campaign piece, and liking it so much that you e-mailed me to tell me so. It made a world of difference. :)

Angelina C Hansen and Skye, for supporting me both in the blogosphere and on Twitter. If I ever have a question or a gripe, I know who to turn to. :)

Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: The Best Book of September Is...

*In case you missed it, I made it to 100 followers over the weekend! I'm running a giveaway with some really awesome prizes, including a character sketch, so check it out! You have until tomorrow at 11:59 pm Pacific Time to enter. :)*

*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

It's Wednesday, my favorite day of the week! That's partly because the work week is halfway over, but also because I get to talk about book-related stuff without actually having to think of a topic. :P Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway (which is a great blog, if you haven't checked it out yet).

Today's question: What was the best book you read in September?

This is a pretty easy question, really. I'm nearly finished (thanks to a couple hours of reading time yesterday morning), but it's by far the best read of September.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I don't want to tell you guys too much about this book, because I want you to go into it without any pre-conceived notions. But seriously, it is glorious! Laini Taylor is a master weaver of words, and her prose is so delicious that I recommend savoring rather than devouring. I'm probably going to need to reread next month, just so I can enjoy it all over again. :P

Just another reminder, for those of you who missed the notification at the top (I'm onto you, you guys who see announcements and skip over them for the meat of the post :P): I'm running a giveaway to celebrate collecting reaching 100 followers. My fiance has graciously agreed to do a sketch of one winner's MC, and there are two books to give to two other winners. You have until tomorrow at 11:59 pm Pacific Time to enter, and the link to the contest post is at the top of this one. Go enter! You know you want to... :D


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (Or My Brain is Too Muddled from Illness to Think of a Clever Title)

*In case you missed it, I made it to 100 followers over the weekend! I'm running a giveaway with some really awesome prizes, so check it out! :)*
*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

I woke up on Sunday morning with a head cold. It was delicious. Okay, not really. But I did get to stay home from work yesterday, which was kind of nice. I was a useless lump for the majority of the day, choosing an Ugly Betty marathon and hot tea over actually being productive and writing. Don't judge me.

Anyway, today is Tuesday, which means another teaser. This meme is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. You can participate too, if you want. Just grab the book you're currently reading and open to a random page. Share a two-sentence excerpt, but don't include any spoilers. We want to tease people into reading, not ruin their appetite for the book. :) Be sure to include the book's title and author so that other people can add it to their TBR pile if they want to.

I'm still reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. With the Campaign, and trying to write, and finishing up flower girl stuff, and getting sick, reading has been a little low on my priority list (sad day, I know). Plus, this book is just too good to devour quickly. I'm savoring it. So, here you go:

"Beautiful men and women with distorted shadows came and scorched their handprints onto doors before vanishing skyward, drafts of heat billowing behind them with the whumph of unseen wings. Here and there, feathers fell, and they were like tufts of white fire, disintegrating to ash as soon as they touched the ground."

There you have it! And seriously guys, if you haven't checked out my contest or my Campaign piece, go do it. The links are at the top of this post, and I promise you won't regret it. :) Happy Tuesday!


Monday, September 26, 2011

How Writing is Like Bowling

*In case you missed it, I made it to 100 followers over the weekend! I'm running a giveaway with some really awesome prizes, so check it out! :)*
*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

Over the weekend, I was chatting with one of my writing buddies and was hit with a stroke of brilliance (okay, maybe not brilliance, but it IS a really good idea :P). There are tons of writing analogies out there. You know the ones, things like "writing is like driving" or "writing is like video games," stories that help us make sense of this crazy road to publishing. Here's a new one to add to your database: writing is like bowling.
The pins represent your goal. In the case of most writers, the goal is getting published. When you first start writing, you throw a lot of gutterballs. There are a lot of unfinished novels, finished novels that will never go anywhere, and short stories that weren't deemed worthy to see the light of day. As a new writer (or a new bowler), it's important to remember that gutterballs are okay. They help you grow as a writer (or bowler), and teach you how to get over those inevitable mistakes.

Crit partners are the lane bumpers. They give you the framework you need to make those spares and strikes more frequent, and keep you from getting all those embarrassing gutterballs. While playing with bumpers is often seen as cheating, keep in mind that crit partners are a necessary part of the writing process. I don't know what I'd do without mine, and I highly recommend finding a partner or small crit group if you don't have one already. :)

Every time you query, you're knocking down a pin. You might not get anything from it, and your score might not be that high at the end of the game, but it's progress. Sometimes you get lucky, and an agent will request a partial or full. You've knocked down half of the pins, or most of the pins! They might get back to you and say you're not quite what they're looking for, or you may never hear from them again. The frame is left open, but it's still progress.

On the other hand, they might decide to sign you, in which case you've scored a spare! You wrote something that was good enough to catch an agent's attention, and they want to work with you. Say thank you to your trusty bumpers and get to work on something else. :P

Then comes the day we're all waiting for. You've written an amazing manuscript. You've hooked an agent, and they've been sending your work to editors in hopes of getting a sale. You get word that an editor likes your work, and desperately wants to publish it. You've got a contract, and have finally scored the strike you've been waiting for. With any luck, you'll only go up from here. You'll score more strikes, until you've got three in a row (a turkey), or four in a row (a hambone), or even five in a row (a yahtzee)!

Perfect games are difficult to score when bowling, just like writing a string of 10 perfect books is difficult. But with hard work, dedication, and lots and lots of practice, I know we can all make it there. :) Happy Monday, and don't forget to check out my giveaway if you haven't seen it!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Love You All So Much That I'm Giving You Free Stuff

*Please don't forget! If you liked my second Campaign piece, I need your votes. Head on over and "Like" my entry (#51 on the list)!*

In the wee hours of the morning Saturday morning, it happened...I passed 100 followers! Seriously, you guys, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read my word vomit thoughts and showing your support with comments and follows. :) To thank you, I'm running my first ever CONTEST!

Here's how it's going to work: To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me a little bit about your MC(s). You can talk about their looks, their personality, what they're facing in your story, etc. Anything you want to share is fair game. If you'd like extra entries, make sure you're a follower (+1 entry). You can also tweet/Facebook (+1 entry) or blog about it and provide a link (+1 entry). Please leave links in your comment so I can verify the extra entries. :)

"But what can I win?!" you ask. I'm offering three prizes, so three of you will be winners! Whee! I have two books that I think are hilarious and completely underrated. They are:


The third prize is a bit different. One winner will win a character sketch of their MC, provided by my incredibly artistic fiance. For example, here's the sketch he did of one of my MCs, Faron:

Awesome, right?! And you can win one of your very own!

So, wrapping up the logistics: You have until 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Thursday, September 29th to enter. Winners will be selected using and announced Friday, September 30th. As far as how the prizes will be distributed, the person who's pulled first will have first choice and so one. You can choose whichever prize tickles your fancy. :) In the spirit of being fair, this contest IS open internationally.

That being said, good luck, lovely followers! I'm looking forward to reading your entries! :)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Deadly Imago

It's that time again! The second challenge for Rach's Third Writer's Campaign. The idea this time was to craft a post (it didn't have to be flash fiction this time, but that's what I did) that's 200 words long. It needed to have "imago" in the title, and contain "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," and "synchronicity" in the post. If we wanted an extra challenge (which I always do), we could include mention of a mirror and make it 200 words exactly. I'm proud to say that I did all of it!

Here's my flash piece, entitled "Deadly Imago."

The pond was hidden, buried deep within a forest that only the brave or foolish dared enter. Its surface was eternally undisturbed, shining with an ethereal silver glow. Jewel-bright flowers dotted the surface, leaves held aloft by air-filled lacunae. The locals called it the Mirror.
                Azalea had been searching for it for weeks. By the time she finally stumbled upon its location, she was on the verge of collapse. The sight of the elusive pond rejuvenated her, pulling her toward its edge with an unexplainable magnetism. Tiny pink flowers, her namesake, bloomed beneath her feet with each step; she hardly noticed.
                At the Mirror’s edge, Azalea stroked the petals of a sapphire blossom. She was mesmerized by its beauty, unaware that these particular blooms exuded an imperceptible miasma with each photosynthetic cycle. She lifted the flower to her face and inhaled deeply.
                Almost immediately, she was overcome with the urge to oscitate. Her exhaustion, it seemed, had caught up to her. She lay down, head pillowed on the grass, and her heart ceased to beat. The path of pink azaleas she’d left in her wake began to wither. There was no one, save the Mirror, to witness the perfect synchronicity.

I actually had a lot of fun with this one. It seemed difficult at first, but I found a lot of inspiration while looking up the meanings of the words. If you like it, I hope you'll swing by and "Like" my entry. I'm #51 on the list (which is weird, because this is my 51st post...). :)


...But You Can Judge It by Its Hook

Brenda Lee Drake is hosting the Can You Hook a Teen? Blogfest this week. It runs through tomorrow, so if you'd like to enter, there's still time! The idea behind the blogfest is to get a teen opinion on the first 250 words of your manuscript. There are prizes involved, and it's also a great way to read other people's work and get additional feedback on your own.

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, a YA fantasy novel:

They were getting darker. The whorls and lines that covered Faron’s torso were now the light brown of field mouse fur. They would certainly be visible to anyone who saw him without his shirt. Faron scooped a handful of water from the stream, scrubbing it over a patch of skin on his stomach. He knew it was futile, but it was habit at this point. He still clung to the hope that they would prove to just be dirt after all, rather than permanent markings.

Faron knelt on the stream’s grassy bank, running the cool water over his head as he tried to remember when he’d last bathed. He’d been on the move for days, choosing continuous motion over rest. He knew he wouldn’t sleep anyway. His ghosts would be waiting for him. Instead, he moved ever forward, hoping to reach the market in Terra before the other clans moved on.

He knew his future was bleak. As far as he could tell, he had two options. He could either choose to remain with the Fanai society by marrying into another clan, or he could leave the only culture he’d ever known and be an outcast. Neither prospect was overly appealing for an eighteen-year-old. He wished his father were there, or his mother. They had always given advice and guidance when it was needed. But much as he might wish for them, this was a decision he would have to make on his own.

I don't think I need to say it, but just to be on the safe side, all these words are mine. Please don't steal them! But feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. :)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Shouldn't Judge a Book by Its Cover...

It's that time again...Road Trip Wednesday! This blog carnival is brought to you by the lovely folks at YA Highway. :) Today's questions is: what are your all-time favorite book covers?

I know you're not supposed to, but I judge books by their covers all the time. In fact, it's what makes me pick up books in the first place (unless someone recommended them to me). I'm not too picky about cover art, but some things are major turnoffs. I don't like overly busy covers, or cartoony ones (unless they're on comic books/graphic novels), or overly sexified ones. I like simplicity, and shiny things, and pretty colors. That being said, here are a few recent covers that have really caught my eye. (It would take far too long if I included books I've read in past years...just saying).


Wildefire's cover is probably my favorite of the year. I love the color, and the actual cover is this weird paper that feels really soft. It also has a glowing flower, a lily to be specific (which is my favorite). It's simple, beautiful, and has movement (even though it's flowers).

Imaginary Girls

Holy wow. This cover is gorgeous, and so dynamic while still simple. I love the contrast of the red and white, and how she's underwater-but-tilted. It's so wonderful!

Hush, Hush

The pose! The shirtless guy! The feathers! And did I mention it's shiny? I love this cover, along with the covers for Crescendo and Silence. They're all beautiful!

What are your favorite book covers?


PS In other news, I passed 1000 page views yesterday! Wheeee! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You All Know I'm Such a Tease...

Whee, it's Tuesday, which means...Teaser Tuesday! I've seen people participating in this meme (hosted by MizB), but never did it myself. Until now! All you have to do to participate is grab the book you're currently reading. Open to a random page and share two sentences from that page. Be sure not to include spoilers! The idea is to entice, not ruin. :) When you've shared your sentences, list the book's title and author so other people can find it if they're interested.

My teaser comes from:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

"Over the years she'd found that was all it took, that lazy smile, and she could tell the truth without risk of being believed. It was easier than keeping track of lies, and so it became part of who she was: Karou with her wry smile and crazy imagination."

Seriously, if you guys haven't heard of this book, you need to add it to your TBR pile. Laini Taylor is a wonderful storyteller, and the book is amazing so far! :)

In other news, I won another award. No big deal. (Totally just kidding about that...I'M SO EXCITED!) Tara from Tara Tyler Talks gave me this little beauty:

And now you're all going to be subjected to EVEN MORE random facts about me. Oh Lord...

1. I loathe broccoli. It made me throw up once when I was seven, and I've hated it ever since. I did eat a piece recently to see if my tastes had changed. The answer was a resounding no.

2. I've lost approximately 70 pounds since high school. Clothes shopping is infinitely more fun now than it ever was then.

3. I think I might be one of the few people keeping Raisin Bran in business.

4. I prefer to sleep on my stomach. My fiance spends the entire night tucking my elbows into my sides.

5. I want short hair so so bad, but I know I look way better with long. So...I got bangs this weekend instead. :P

6. I honestly enjoy watching Deadliest Warrior. Not only do you learn things, but there's something satisfying about watching people beat the tar out of jelly-mold-torsos and pig carcasses.

7. I have a small herd of stuffed hippos gathering in my bedroom.

I also get to pass this award on, and I think it's supposed to be to 15 bloggers. I don't even know if I have 15 blogging friends who haven't gotten this award yet, but I'll give you 5. Fair? I think so. The winners are:
Yay winners, and thanks again to Tara for passing the award to me! I feel so loved... *wipes away a tear* Happy Tuesday!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Can You See Why I Prefer TV Shows?

Double post today, woohoo! I wasn't going to do the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest (run by Alex J Cavanaugh) because I didn't even hear about it until this morning, and I felt like it was cheating to enter so late. However, after reading other people's entries and seeing how fun it is, I caved. Here's the description from Alex's blog:

Today, post a list of up to ten of the worst movies you’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. Films that just oozed awfulness and featured plot holes so big you could drive a bus through them. Any genre or year, but only theater and straight to video/DVD titles. (We already know SyFy Channel movies suck!) Sign up, grab the button, and give us the worst! And be sure to visit others participating in the blogfest!

Let me just start by saying this: I'm notorious for turning down movies in favor of doing something else. I used to be really into movies, but now I just see them as a waste of two hours. I usually don't have the patience to get through an entire movie without multitasking, and I'm often disappointed by movies everyone else raves about, so I just don't bother. That being said, there are a lot of movies I enjoy, but there are just as many that I don't.

I don't think I want to torture you with a list of ten awful movies. Plus, I don't think I want to sit here and think of ten awful movies. I'll just give you a couple of the worst ones I've seen and we'll call it good, ok?

The Last Airbender Poster

This movie was the second one that made me want to get out of my seat and leave the theater (see below for the first). I'm a HUGE fan of the original Avatar (the cartoon one from Nickelodeon), and after devouring the series I was excited for the movie. It. Was. Awful.

First of all, for a movie that's being adapted from a TV SHOW, there were a lot of mispronunciations. One of my biggest pet peeves is incorrect pronunciation; it starts to sound like nails on a chalkboard, and it literally makes me cringe. Imagine my horror at sitting through 2 hours of that. Seriously, M Night Shyamalan, you couldn't watch the original show and learn how to pronounce the names?

On top of that, the bending was sooooo slow. I know they were trying to show all these beautiful Tai Chi moves, but in the cartoon (and in life, if this sort of thing were actually possible), the bending was fast. I mean, it's supposed to be a self-defense or attack mechanism. It should be fast, right? In the time it took them to do one move (in the film), someone could have snuck in with a knife and finished them off. Ugh. Moving on...

The Human Centipede

Yeah, I can't even put the picture up for this one without getting the heebie-jeebies. My friends decided it would be a good idea to watch it after seeing the South Park spoof. Oh, they were so very wrong. I don't enjoy horror movies. I'm a big chicken, and totally not afraid to admit it, so the idea of watching a movie with a crazy German doctor who wants to sew three people together mouth to bum to form a human centipede? Pass. But I was at their house, and I wasn't going to go sit in another room while they watched it, so I suffered through it. Mistake.

I was traumatized for a week. It was soooo gross! Not only was it disgusting, but it was a terrible movie in general. The plot was awful, and they made the main characters these ditzy college girls. I'm sorry, but no girl, not even the dumbest blonde on the planet, would have made the same stupid decisions they made in that movie. Seriously. Whoever came up with the idea for that movie needs to be banned from ever making another one. Ick.

Siren Poster

I just watched this one recently, and did not enjoy anything about it. To sum up the premise, three friends go on vacation for the weekend. They find a deserted island, with a girl stranded on it. They stop to rescue the girl. She's actually a siren who's trying to kill them all. It had the potential to be ok, but it was really just dumb. I didn't like anything about it, and the horrible high-pitched-squealing-that's-meant-to-be-a-siren-call? All it did was hurt my ears and send my poor puppy into a frenzy. Don't even waste your time with this one.

Eragon Poster

I have enough material for an entire post on what I hate about Eragon (both the book series and the movie). This was the first movie I've ever left in the middle of and demanded a refund. It was terrible, but I'll spare you my angst.

Don't waste your time with ANY of these movies. Do something more productive with the two hours, like...writing a novel. :P


The Pressure Is Off!

This weekend was far busier than I wanted it to be. I had this idea that I was going to get lots of work done on wedding projects (I'm working on flower girl stuff at the moment), and maybe even some writing (since I got all that wonderful advice from everyone last Friday). Sadly, that didn't really happen. I did get some wedding work done, but not as much as I would have liked. And I didn't get any writing done.

I DID have an epiphany this weekend, though. I realized that I'm far too hard on myself, and that last week was evidence that too much pressure turns me into a whining sack of emotion. I'm not doing that anymore. Starting this week, I'm taking things one day at a time, and not pushing myself if I feel like I need to take a break. Much as I'd like to be, I'm not Superwoman, and I can't do everything I want to do at once. There simply aren't enough hours in the day.

Here's to a better week, and accomplishing things one tiny step at a time! What about you guys? Any revelations this weekend?


Friday, September 16, 2011

Once Upon a Time...Wait, Where Are We Going With This?

So there's this princess. And she's a little bit of a brat, but mostly because she's unusual and has been shunned her whole life. The servants in her palace think she's strange and whisper about her behind their hands, even when she's around. Her parents were afraid of her, and foisted her off on nurses and maids, showering her with gifts to keep her happy. Then they died, and her uncle was charged with guiding her until she was old enough to rule in her own right. He's nice and all, but doesn't really try to understand her.

This is Orla, the character who's been nagging me to write for days. So yesterday, I sat down to write (and got 200 words!), and what did she do? Clammed up and refused to talk. Did I mention she's kind of a brat?

I'm trying to figure out what moment I should start her story with. I've already written Faron's opening scene, and Orla's is supposed to be next, but I'm thinking I might need to skip over her. I've been mulling it over for days and haven't really thought of anything that works for her personality. Maybe if I move on to another character, she'll get annoyed and I'll finally get something I like.

What about you? How do you figure out beginnings (which, for me, are the hardest part)?


PS In other news, I'm 22 followers away from hitting 100! Seriously, tell ALL your friends, because once I hit 100 there will be a giveaway. And it will involve a book. Or two. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Living on the Edge (Of a Nervous Breakdown)

I really should have written this post yesterday. I try to post in the morning during the week, so that everyone gets a chance to read and comment (if they want to), but currently I'm sitting on the couch with Dora the Explorer shouting at me in the background. I think it's safe to say that inspiration is probably not going to strike me while she's telling me to "Say Map! Louder!" And for those who are wondering, I'm not watching because I want to. I'm watching because Bug and Bean are watching, and I can't leave them alone for five seconds these days without a fight breaking out.

I guess it's a good thing I wanted to talk about distractions today. :P I'm usually pretty good at tuning out background noise while I'm writing or reading, but my biggest distraction these days isn't an external stimulus. It's a combination of stress and the anxiety it causes. I've felt like I'm on the verge of a breakdown for the last few days, and I haven't really been able to concentrate much on my manuscript. It's a shame, because Orla's scene is next, and she's clamoring for attention. Unfortunately, I'm far too distracted to be able to sit down and write out what she wants me to say.

The majority of my stress is wedding-related, so I'm hoping that once I mail out invitations this weekend and slowly tackle other projects on my list, this anxiety that's got me in a choke hold will ease off. It would be nice to not feel like I constantly need to cry/throttle someone/crawl into a hole.

How do you deal with stress, and how do you keep it from affecting your writing schedule?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: I Feel Like We've Come This Way Before...

It's Wednesday again, which means it's time for another Road Trip! RTW is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway, so if you've never participated, bop over there and check it out. The topic this week is:
What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm primarily a fantasy writer. I've dabbled in other genres, but I always find myself writing in magic, or dragons, or tiny winged people. You get the idea. I read to escape ( life gets pretty stressful, and I like going to completely different worlds rather than hanging out in this one), so I tend to create new worlds that would never or could never exist.

I'm also big on family and relationships, so those themes show up a lot in my work. I come from a very close family with very open lines of communication, and I strive to represent that in my stories. Not everyone's family is that way, and I do offer diversity in terms of character back-stories, but for the most part, you'll always find strong family ties or relationships that evolve and tighten over time. Life is pretty meaningless without family and friends to share it with, wouldn't you agree?

As far as settings and scenes go, there's a lot of nature in my work. I don't really consider myself an "outdoorsy" girl by any means. I prefer toilet paper and indoor plumbing to camping in the woods, and I have a fierce hatred for flying things (bugs, bats, most birds). However, I can appreciate the beauty of nature and I spend a lot of time hanging out outside. My fiance and I hike a lot, and I enjoy being at parks or walking through the woods in the early morning or late afternoon light. The Earth and its creatures never cease to amaze me, so I incorporate them as much as possible in my stories. Usually if I write magic in, it draws power from nature. :)

I think that's about enough from me, but what about you? What recurring elements show up in your work?


PS I also won the Liebster Award...again! Thanks go to Christine! :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Because Who Doesn't Love Tea Parties?

So last week, I told you I was in South Dakota because my mom was throwing me a bridal shower. I finally have pictures, so you're all in for a photographic treat today. :P Let me just start by saying that the invitations for this party were teapots, and asked guests to wear an outrageous hat if they had one. When I got to my parents' house, one of my best friends (I have two, and this particular one lives in Minneapolis) arrived to spend the weekend with us, along with her boyfriend.

The day of the bridal shower, one of my South Dakota friends arrived early for a hat-making pre-party. None of us had hats, so she picked some up for us and we spent the morning decking them out with flowers (that I made) and feathers and ribbons. It was totally awesome, and yielded some pretty amazing hats!

 This is my hat...isn't it beautiful?! The green flower has a banana button on it. :D

 This is M's hat. She went for a blue/brown combo that was totally awesome. :)

 This is C's hat, which she purchased but is fabulous anyway.

 My buds, rocking our hats!

The hat-making part wasn't just fun because my friends were there. It was the combination of friends and a mixed bag of unusual buttons. I mentioned before that we used the fabric flowers I made to decorate them. In order to do that, we needed buttons for the middle. Mom found this bag of buttons at Hobby Lobby, and didn't really know what she was getting when she bought it. But look!

I don't know how well you can see them, but we found an exceptional mix of buttons. We even made up a story to go with all the buttons on this hat. You see, there's this baby in a pink blanket, who's going on a fishing trip. So she has a fishing pole, and a suitcase with a cupcake and a change of clothes, and her canoe. But there are these other babies standing in her way. The green baby is nice, and spends most of her time with her watering can and trees. She has a green crayon for taking notes on all her plants. But the red baby twins are trying to stop the pink baby from fishing. They have all kinds of sinister things, like red crayons and ladybugs, to prevent her from making it to her trip. But the police are after them, so don't worry! Yes, we did make all this up as we dug through the buttons. And yes, we realize we need hobbies. :P

Anyway, while we were making hats, my brother and M's boyfriend decided they needed hats too. They attended the bridal shower, since my brother is my man of honor (I don't have sisters and didn't want to choose between my friends) and M's boyfriend had nowhere else to go. They left to go find hats for themselves, and this is what they came back with.

 They had glow-in-the-dark swords, giant glasses, and princess hats. I renamed them Princess Buttercup (my brother, on the left) and Princess Petunia (M's boyfriend, on the right). :P

Once everyone had arrived, we started off with some games. We had a name game, in which each person in the circle had to say their name and how they knew me, as well as the info of each person before them. It got pretty lengthy, and hilarious! We also played a trivia game, with questions about me and my fiance. This is me in the seat of honor, watching everyone scramble for answers during the trivia game. ;)

We also played a game where everyone had to trace their hand on the floor without bending their knees. My job was to listen to what they were saying and write it down. What we didn't tell them was that everything they said was going on a list of things I should say on my wedding night. We got gems like "I'm a lot more flexible than I used to be, but not by much" and "I think I need to spread my legs wider." Naughty, but so so fun. :)

The last game we played involved naming my first child using only letters from my name and my fiance's name. It yielded some pretty hilarious and inventive names!

After all the games, we had little sandwiches, mini cupcakes, and tea for lunch before opening presents. It was such a wonderful party, and I had a lot of fun spending a few hours with friends I rarely get to see. It was the first of three bridal showers (oh, the joy of living in a different state from family and friends), so I'm excited to see how the other two turn out!

When's the last time you got together with friends and family? What was the best part?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Monday Morning Inspiration

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending an author talk featuring Aprilynne Pike. You may know her as the author of the Wings series (which I recently discovered and love), and she's local here in Arizona. She talked about her road to publication, and then opened it up to audience questions for a while.

Her road to publication was, as she put it, "a typical one." She wrote off and on for a few years, completing four and a half novels and receiving over 200 rejections before selling her first book. It was quite the story, complete with the births of three of her children, meeting Stephenie Meyer (also local), and some major ego shrinkage (her words, not mine :P). It really made me realize that even our favorite authors have had to face rejection, and some of them have had to face a lot of it. What matters is how badly you want it, and how hard you're willing to work.

I don't think I've told many people my story so far. I've been writing since the fourth grade, although I was telling stories verbally before that. I got serious about writing in high school after being inspired by Christopher Paolini. As I got older, I realized how lucky that guy is, and that he's not a very good role model for publication. I mean, for one thing, his books are blatant rip-offs of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. For another, his parents owned a small publishing company, so he got a publishing deal with no work at all.

Anyway, I slogged my way through a lot of half-finished stories throughout high school. The summer after my freshman year of college, I finally finished a novel. It was the best that I could do at the time, and I proudly shared it with my family and friends. They cheered me on, of course, telling me that it was awesome and that I totally had a future as an author. Looking back on that first draft, I can recognize that it was terrible, and that my best now is a heck of a lot better than my best then. The manuscript I'm currently working on is a new version of that book, but with lots more plot and character development and a few fresh takes.

I used to still worry that I'm not talented enough to be an author. I think the best piece of writerly inspiration Aprilynne gave was this: being a writer is more about work than it is about talent. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to make your writing shine, someone will recognize that and cut you a break. If you're not, maybe you need to reevaluate your career goals.

I'm setting a new goal for myself in terms of my writing. I want to write 80,000 words (a completed manuscript for my current WIP) by the end of the year. Which means that if I haven't posted DONE on the first of January, you have my permission to ceaselessly berate me until I finish. I want to start querying agents next year, but to do that, I need to get my behind in gear and finish this thing. I've done a draft in three months before, so I'm confident I can do it again.

Anyone want to join me? What are your writing goals for the rest of the year?


Friday, September 9, 2011

For Funsies

Whee, it's Friday! Except my Friday hasn't exactly been stellar. :( Hopefully the evening portion goes better...
Moving on, I've been tagged by Mel Fowler, which means that you all get 10 random facts about me now. Then I spread my cooties to tag 5 other people, who you can learn 10 random things about later. we go!

1. When pumping my gas, I cannot leave the pump until the dollar amount ends in a 5 or 0. My fiance purposely ends it on a different number just to screw with me.

2. My favorite color is green, except of the olive variety. Blech.

3. I have 30G of music on my computer, and it encompasses everything from Beethoven to Bob Marley (genre-wise, not alphabetically, because goodness that would be limiting).

4. I enjoy being alone, but with company (each person working independently, but in the same room). I blame my dad.

5. I'm probably one of the only women alive who wouldn't kill for chocolate. In fact, I think chocolate would probably kill me. The only time I'll eat it is when there's peanut butter involved.

6. I've recently become addicted to Project Runway. It's completely unexplainable, because I'm fashion-challenged and would never wear the outfits from the show, but I love it anyway.

7. I prefer swimming to any other form of exercise.

8. E.T. freaks me out. I haven't been able to sit through that movie since I was 7.

9. I enjoy watching nature documentaries. The Earth is a fascinating place, and the plants and animals that populate it never cease to amaze me.

10. This was a heck of a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Do you feel like you've known me for years? ;) I think I'm going to break the rules on this a little (gasp!), since a lot of my blogging friends are either a) uber-busy or b) have already done this before. So...I'm not tagging anyone! However, I would be incredibly happy if you decided to leave a random fact about yourself in the comments. :)

Happy Friday!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Holy wow, this book was amazing! I honestly didn't think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. I finished it yesterday (yes, it took me less than 2 full days...what of it? :P) and was pleasantly surprised. I think the best part about this book is that even though there is a sequel, everything was tied up nicely at the end, and I don't have to spend the next 2 years cursing Ransom Riggs for leaving me hanging. :)

Miss Peregrine's has a lot going for it. The writing is absolutely beautiful, for one thing. I found myself stopping and rereading phrases and passages, the way I do when something resonates with me and I want to remember it later. One such sentence: "Sometimes you just have to go through a door." Jacob was making a stormy exit after an argument, and even though he had to face the person moments later, he just needed to "go through a door" to feel better. I can so identify with that, and I thought it was wonderful. You'll have to hunt down other nuggets of gold yourself!

The photography aspect was awesome as well. Fun fact: if a book has pictures, I look at all of them before I start reading. I have no idea why, but it's a habit of mine. When I first received this book in the mail, I looked at all the photos several times. Sure, they were weird, but they didn't really have an effect on me at all. However, once I started reading, they got creepier and creepier, to the point where not only could I not read the book at night, I couldn't even have it sitting on my bedside table while I slept (I'm a bit of a wimp, and totally not ashamed to admit it). The haunting prose combined with these strange images made for one creeptastic story, and I ate it up.

I definitely recommend Miss Peregrine's to anyone who enjoys a good spook story. It's not about ghosts at all, but the atmosphere of the novel made me feel like it was. I enjoyed it immensely, and hope you will too.

For those who have read it, what did you think? And if you haven't picked it up yet, will you?


PS If you haven't had the chance to read my flash fiction, you can find it here. If you'd like to vote for me, I'm number 221. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: I Was a Teenage Villain

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted by YA Highway. This week they've asked:

What non-YA character would you like to see star in a YA book as themselves?

It took me a while to think of an answer for this question, since (if I'm being honest) I don't really read too many grown-up books. Even though I'm 24, I've found that it's a lot easier for me to identify with and lose myself in YA or middle grade stories. Adult fiction is just so...dull, for the most part. That's not to say that I never read it; I'm just very picky about it.

Anyway, when I did finally come to a conclusion about the adult character I'm most interested in seeing in their teen years, I knew it had to be a villain. Sure, the nice guys have great stories too, and some of them come from very fascinating backgrounds. That being said, as a psychology major, I'm far more interested in the paths that brought the villains to their villainy. After some careful thought, I think the character I'd most like to see in a YA novel is Captain Hook.

Peter Pan has always been one of my favorites. I mentioned it in this post (which was also birthday related), and I'm sure I'll discuss it again. Captain Hook is quite a character, and one of the main reasons I loved that book so much. For one thing, he's a pirate, which is the ultimate in cool when you're 8. Now that I think about it, pirates are still pretty cool...

Also, he's a very angry man, and harbors a very intense hatred for Peter Pan. I'm curious to know what exactly happened to Hook that made him so angry. I mean, there's the whole chopping-off-his-hand-and-feeding-it-to-a-crocodile thing, but there had to be a reason they were fighting in the first place. What was Hook's childhood like? How did he get to Neverland? Is he really such an evil villain, or is he more like Snape and was just horribly misunderstood? If only Jim Barrie were alive to answer all these questions!

So what about you? Which adult character would YOU like to see in a YA novel? Leave your answers in the comments! :)


You Guys Are the Best!

I leave the internet for a few days, and I come back to find 50 followers! :D *happy dances yet again* I've already started putting together a 100-follower-giveaway-extraveganza, since (with any luck) that will be coming up very soon. Spread the love and send your friends my way, and it'll come even sooner. There are books involved, people! :) Thanks again for all your support...I love all of you already!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm ba-aaack!

I'm back from vacation! Hello to those of you who have just joined the party. :) It's so wonderful to have you here!

The bridal shower was a success, just in case you were curious. It was a tea party, complete with outrageous hats, and I promise I'll post photos as soon as I have them. My mom was running the camera, and I didn't have time to load anything onto my laptop before I left,'ll get them when I do. :P It was a blast though, and it was wonderful to see my family and friends, even if the trip was a VERY short one.

I finished The Unwanteds (by Lisa McMann) on the plane, which was incredible. I highly recommend that book if you enjoy middle grade, Harry Potter, the arts, magical battles, or any combination of those things. :) I just started Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (by Ransom Riggs), which I'm enjoying so far. It's weird, and slightly creepy, but the writing is beautiful and I can't put it down.

I'm also participating in the first Campaigner's challenge, so you get a tiny sample of my writing. Yay, you! :P The rules were to write a piece of flash fiction or poetry that begins with "The door swung open" and is 200 words or less. Additional challenges were to end with "the door swung shut" and to make the piece exactly 200 words. I did both of the additional challenges, so we'll see if that makes any difference lol. Here's my piece!


The door swung open. The corridor stretched endlessly before her, torchlight dancing on the stone walls. Emily remained on the threshold. Her heart thundered in her chest, though she couldn’t be sure if fear or excitement was behind its frantic pace. Eyes closed, she drew in a deep breath and stepped out into the corridor.
                The stone was cool beneath her bare feet. The only sound that accompanied her was the soft crackle of the torches in their sconces; her feet, brushing the ground as lightly as a lover’s caress, made not even a whisper of sound. She moved quickly through the corridor, heading for the open doorway at the other end of the hall.
                Upon reaching it, she halted abruptly. Silent and still, she waited just outside the brightly
 lit room. She could see the books, worn leather spines beckoning her forward, urging her to lose herself in the pages. Did she dare enter? The opportunity was not likely to present itself again; this was the first time she had ever seen the great wooden door open. It would mean her death if she were discovered.
                Emily inhaled deeply and stepped inside. She smiled as the door swung shut.

And there you have it, folks! If you like what you read, you can vote for me here. I'm number 221. :) I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend, and I look forward to reading all your entries for the first challenge. Happy writing!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted

I'm going on vacation! No, it's not anywhere exotic...I'm spending Labor Day weekend in South Dakota with my parents. Mom's throwing me a bridal shower so that my Midwest friends can attend, which I'm totally excited about. I think it goes without saying that I probably won't get much writing done.

Oh, what's that? I didn't update you on my progress this week? That's because there really wasn't much. I managed to eke out another 200 words, which is 200 words farther than I was Tuesday. I finished a scene, which is major progress, and when I get back from vacation I'll get to start on the next one. But with spending a few precious days with my parents, catching up with my friends, and having the most kick-a tea party bridal shower in the history of bridal showers, I won't have much time to devote to my WIP or the blogosphere. Sorry, guys. :(

Pretty sure you'll all be right where I left you when I get back. :P Happy writing, and have a safe and wonderful Labor Day!