Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Everyone!!

May the New Year bring everyone health, happiness, success, and many, many shiny new words :) Happy New Year's!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Games Begin In Just a Few Short Days!

All right ya'all....we've got 20 days until my book comes out....and we're going to have some fun until the big release :D

In the tabs at the top of my blog, you'll find one for Book Release Games. This page contains all the info you'll need on all the upcoming games leading up to the day of my book release and Blog Tour kick off. The links and specifics of each game will be listed and active the day they begin, but you can find general info about what's coming up now.

Once the Blog Tour gets underway, I'll list links to all the stops on the Tour as well as links to any giveaways that may be occurring. PLUS, I'll have info about how you can enter the huge Grand Prize Giveaway at the end of the Tour.

So...what is the first game, you wonder? Well, my book is a guide book on how to write essays and term papers...those pesky, hair-pulling, unfortunately necessary and required aspect of every single English class in the country. If you are going to school or know someone who is, an essay is in your future, plain and simple. My book is design to make those assignments a little easier, because let's face it, papers can be a pain to write, even for those of us who write for fun!

So we'll have a few games centered around essays and writing with some fun books and swag as prizes.

The first game/contest kicks off this Saturday Jan 1st so don't forget to check back here for details!

In the meantime, I could use a little help. My awesome stepkids got me a Borders gift card for Christmas (do they know their step mama or what!!) Any suggestions on books? I've got a few in mind, but am having a LOT of trouble narrowing them down LOL What was your favorite book this year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Things I Learned From My 7 Year Old

So much about surviving in this business depends on attitude. Rejections, critiques, reviews...they can all get to you if you don't have the right attitude about them. Keeping a positive attitude can be anything but easy.

But it is possible to have a positive attitude about anything if you choose. Something that was brought home to me as I watched my 7 year old open his presents on Christmas morning.

He's a cute kid on any morning, but this Christmas, he was so flippin adorable I almost couldn't stand it. He didn't stop smiling once, not even when things didn't really go the way he wanted.

For instance, he and his sister received desks (she for her art, he for his science and art projects). They were both very excited about them, and about the presents stacked on top. Now, these presents went along with their desks (they were filled with office supplies, crayons, markers, stickers, etc). And since they both always get in my computer paper for their projects, I thought having their very own stash of paper would be fun.

My son unwrapped his paper (it was the first present he unwrapped) and when he saw what it was, he said, "Oh you gotta be kidding! Paper?"

Now, he could have said this as "Oh you gotta be kidding, paper?" *insert sarcasm and exasperated eye roll*

But it was said with a laugh and a smile. He put the paper to the side (instead of chucking it across the room) and moved on. Some kids would have reacted with a much different attitude. (And he has since had a lot of fun with that paper, so it's all good) :D

My favorite moment of the day came a few minutes later as he was going through his stocking. He found a box of those storybook lifesavers (which Santa forgot he didn't care for). He held them up, smile from ear to ear, laugh in his voice, and said "Awesome I hate these!"

Now, I think he was saying "awesome" and then realized what it was and switched to "I hate these" - but either way, he didn't throw a fit, he didn't even look disappointed, he just put them down and moved on. And gave the rest of us a good belly laugh at the same time :D

It got me thinking. How do we react when something doesn't go our way in the writing world? What do we do when a request that looked so promising comes back with a rejection? What do we do when a manuscript we thought was clean and polished and ready to go comes back from a critiquing with so much red you can't see the white of the pages anymore?

I realize everyone is going to have a moment where they want to quit, hit delete and never write again, or shoot off a nasty email to the person who sent that rejection or critique. It's natural and totally understandable to feel supreme disappointment. We pour our hearts and souls into our work and it hurts when it doesn't make it.

You can't do anything about how other people view your work. You can't make an agent sign you, or make that editor buy your book, or make your crit partners send your manuscript with a big smiley face and a "PERFECT!" rating.

But you can politely thank your crit partners and move on, even if you cried yourself to sleep over their comments, even if you'll never use one of their suggestions. They took time away from their own work to read yours. Just say thank you with a smile on your face and move on.

Got a bad reject? STAY AWAY FROM THE REPLY BUTTON. Resist the urge to tell that agent/editor that they don't know what they are talking about. Maybe they don't. Maybe passing on your book will someday be the biggest regret they ever have. I'm sure the people who passed on Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling and John Grisham give themselves a little kick every now and then.

But it doesn't matter. This business is subjective in the extreme. Everything depends on getting the right book in front of the right person at the EXACT right time - over and over again. You can't control any of that. But you can control your attitude when disappointment comes your way. You can have a minute of mourning for the shiny possibility that didn't pan out....and then put a smile on your face and move on. Bigger and better things will be waiting for you if you have a good attitude and keep on going. A bad attitude will burn a lot of bridges and wear you down.

If my son and thrown a fit over the paper or the unwanted candy, Christmas morning would have been miserable for everyone. There were much better presents under the tree, more delicious candy in the toe of his stocking. But he never would have found that out if he'd stopped unwrapping after the first disappointment (and to be honest, his attitude about that paper was so good I'm still not sure if he was disappointed or not).

Bottom line - you are going to wade through a lot of coal before you get to the good stuff. Having a bad attitude about it will make the journey miserable for you and everyone you are involved with. A good attitude will make even crappy candy and stacks of computer paper a lot more fun, and it will make finally finding that shiny new bike under the tree a much more rewarding moment.

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! :) May our new year be filled with good attitudes and awesome rewards for hard work :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

(My post from the OA yesterday) :)

It's a couple days after Christmas, the year is drawing to an end, and it is inevitable that our focus begins to turn to the shiny new year waiting just around the corner. I've heard the phrase "New Year's Resolutions" bandied about frequently in the last several days. It's not a term I like much. Mostly because it feels like yet another to-do list I'm going to fail to accomplish.

So this year, I decided to make a Desire List instead....everything sounds better with the word "desire" in it....okay, maybe not EVERYTHING, but it certainly sounds better than "resolutions" which just makes me think of "requiem" for some reason, and that just isn't a fun word.

Anywho....what do I desire for next year? The usual, I be a better mom and wife, write some books, sell some books....and of course lose 10 (+ a few dozen and a few dozen more) pounds.

There are a lot more things I'd like to do, more goals to accomplish, but really, those are the big ones for me. Spend more time with my family....continue working on my writing career. Or to simplify it even keep my focus on the big picture.

I figure if I keep it simple and keep my focus narrowed on what's truly deep down important to me, maybe the stress of trying to keep up with everything else will lessen. Maybe I won't be so hard on myself when my blogging fizzles. Maybe I won't feel so guilty if I spend a few extra minutes with my kids instead of on a manuscript. Maybe I'll let my exhausted body rest instead of staying up till the wee hours of the morning plugging away on some project or other.

Maybe. :)

I think too often we allow ourselves to get so overstretched and engrossed in whatever million projects we've got going on that we forget to focus on the big picture, the main goal, the one thing we really, truly want. We allow the details to swamp us until we forget the goal we were working toward in the first place.

Operation Awesome's Lindsay mentioned Pointilism in her awesome post a few days's sort of like that....We get so focused on the dots we don't see the larger pictures. Are the individual dots important? You betcha. Without them, there wouldn't be a larger picture. But if you spend all your time staring at those dots, you'll never see the masterpiece they form.

So, next year, I'm going to try to focus on the masterpiece, and spend a little less time stressing over the dots. :)

How about you? What's on your Desire List for the new year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

And the Christmas Coutdown Begins....

Is everyone ready for Christmas!? I can't believe it's just days away. My kids are so excited....luckily (for me) they are still in school. They got a week off for Thanksgiving, so they only get a week off for Christmas. They are in school right up till Christmas Eve (Thursday is their last day). Of course, this would be a bit irritating if we were traveling this year, but as we aren't, I'm going to enjoy having my days free to get ready for the big day :)

I'm going to take a Unplugged Week this week so I can hang with my family and take a short break before things start picking up momentum in preparation for my book release in just a few short weeks (squeee!!!!) But, I'll have a little Christmas funny posted for you every day :)

I hope everyone has an amazing holiday and I'll see you next Monday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leah Clifford on the OA

Come to the OA today!!! We have the fabulous Leah Clifford stopping by to answer all your questions! Don't miss her!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Funnies

Have an awesome weekend everyone!!!! And don't forget to stop by the Operation Awesome Blog on Sunday for a Q and A session with the lovely Leah Clifford :D

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You...

Upcoming events!

On this Sunday (the 19th), the OA will be hosting the fabulous Leah Clifford in a fun Q and A session. Stop on by and ask Leah anything you've ever wanted to know and she'll stop in throughout the day and answer your questions :)

And starting in Jan (just a couple short weeks away) I'll be kicking off my book release festivities. Every week leading up to my release on Jan 20th, we'll be doing something, prizes, contests, and giveaways! Stay tuned for more details! :)

Now, I know my blogging has been a tad intermittent for the last week or two (or three) - however, I think my heating problems have finally been solved, my internet seems to be working at last, my laptop is up and running, and I'm ALMOST caught up on crits and projects. I think LOL So, I will try my hardest to stick to our regularly scheduled blogging :)

In the meantime, I feel very out of the loop....what's going on with everyone? How are projects going? Querying? NaNo edits? Tell me what's been happening!! :) Is everyone ready for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Your Point?

When it comes to writing either non-fiction or fiction, there is one thing you should always ask yourself....what's your point?

No matter what you are writing, you should have some sort of goal in mind - what are you really trying to get across to your reader? For non-fiction, most narrative essays will have some sort of moral to the story, some reason for telling the tale. And for non-fiction works such as term papers and other types of essays, there is always a main point to the paper. When choosing arguments, evidence, and examples for your project, keep your main point in mind...make sure everything you are writing supports that point.

For fiction, what is the main point of your story? What are you leading up to? When writing your scenes, make sure they are leading somewhere...there shouldn't be anything in your story unless there is a reason for it to be there. It needs to move the plot along, there needs to be a reason you are spending time depicting what you are depicting.

Just remember your point :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

Well, the year is drawing to a close and I'm very happy to say that I've just about reached my 52 books in 52 weeks goal. I never think it'll be a problem to read 52 books in a year....that's only one a week. Yet somehow, it always becomes a challenge. Of course, part of the reason is because I'm only counting new books, not the many well beloved books I reread through out the year.

I've noticed that I tend to go in spurts. I'll have several weeks, even months, where I won't read a new book, or even an old one, at all. Life gets in the way, a wonderful burst of writing productivity hits (I rarely read when really immersed in a WIP), deadlines hang over my head, children need attention, and that darn laundry ALWAYS needs folding. But then, I'll have a week or so where I read book after book after book, devouring them with every waking moment.

As long as I get them in, I'm happy. I've reached 50. I need just two more books....and I have about three more weeks in which to get them read. I know I'll be getting a bunch of new books for Christmas...but that won't give me much time to read by the end of the year. So, I think I'll have to browse a bookshelf or two and get in my quota for the year :) (Check out my list on my sidebar if you want to see the new books I've read this year. I loved them all!!)

Did any of you participate in this challenge (or one like it) this year? Did you meet your goal? What's the best book you've read this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Epic Contest of Awesome

Beth Revis is having an absolutely epic (and I don't use that word lightly!) contest. With not one, not two, but 99 prizes available in addition to an incredible grand prize. If you haven't entered yet, head over there now!!

Friday Funnies

If you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.
~ Kingsley Amis 

You really ought to read more books — you know, those things that look like blocks but come apart on one side. 
— F Scott Fitzgerald 

I don't take drugs, I take books. 
— Ingeborg Bachmann, Malina

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Writer's Christmas

So my husband and I were sitting at the table the other day discussing what to get the kids, and each other, for Christmas this year. I usually just get my own presents and pretend I'm all surprised :) but this year I'm making him get me something (aren't I mean? Mwahaha) I told him I already had his present picked out. He said he had no idea what to get me.

I'm confused by this.

Aside from the fact that we've been married almost 10 years, I'm a writer. I'm not that hard to figure out. I'd be giddy over a few spiral notebooks and a new pack of pens. Especially if there was a cute stack of designer PostIts on top. (I heart me some stationary!) Sure, there are some "harder to figure out" gifts I'd really enjoy like a few new computer programs or maybe some new CDs for my playlist.

But really, if you are ever in doubt about what to get a writer, you can resort to the always popular gift card to your local bookstore. I go after new books the way our cat goes after cat nip. Want to make me really happy? Get me a huge gift card to the bookstore and a new bookshelf to put all my shiny new pretties on....and a pile of new stationary 'cause like I said, that stuff is ALWAYS fun :)

What is your ideal Christmas gift? What do you think the perfect writer gift would be?

p.s. thanks for all the "warm" wishes :) The heater is still out (we've dropped a few more degrees so I am REALLY hoping the heater parts come in SOON) but we are really doing okay. It's toasty warm upstairs in the bedrooms with the doors closed and the space heaters going full blast, so we've just been hanging out up there. My real whine is because my laptop is dead until my new charger gets here (hopefully today!) so, since the main computer is downstairs and it's too cold to work down there, I'm not getting anything productive done. Except laundry. But, you know, I'd rather be writing LOL

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fingers Frozen...Can't Type

Happy Wednesday morning everyone :) I really just popped in real quick to say that I'm just popping in LOL Our heater finally quit over the weekend and while the landlord sent someone out, they have to special order parts. Which means, it's 45 degrees in here and my fingers are seriously too cold to type LOL

The new charger for my laptop should be here today (frozen fingers crossed) so I'll be able to take it to my room where it is actually fairly warm as the space heater is able to completely heat the smaller space.

So for today, let me just wish everyone a happy, productive, and warm middle of the week :) I'm going to go hide under some blankets now :D

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tutor Tuesday - Settings

Whether you are creating your own settings while writing fiction or analyzing settings while writing non-fiction, this story element is an extremely important part of the equation.

Let's look at non-fiction first. You have to analyze a story for an essay and you decide to look at the settings of your piece. Some stories have more pronounced settings than others. In some books, the setting is more of a subtle background, the stage on which the actors play, while in others, the setting is almost a character in and of itself.

Say you are asked to write a literary analysis of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some questions you may want to consider when analyzing the setting of this book are:

* What is the time period? Would this story have worked better set in a different time?
* What is the location? Would the story have worked better elsewhere? Are several locations used in the story? Do they work? Would a specific scene have worked better in another setting? If all the scenes are set in the same location, would the story have worked better set in several different locations?
* What season is the story set in? If it is set in winter, would it be better set in summer? Does the season echo what is happening in the story? (example: Do the love scenes occur in the summer while the trial occurs in the winter, or vice versa?)
* What time of day is it when important events in the story take place? Do the sinister things happen at night while the happy things happen during the day? Why do you think this is?

While the setting may seem like a simple part of the story, it can actually have a huge impact on what is going on. The events detailed in The Scarlet Letter either wouldn't have happened or would have happened in a very different way with a very different outcome if the story had been set someplace like the farthest frontier outpost or an indian village or in the southern states...even during the same time period.

The setting of a story, not just the physical location but everything about it (time of day, season, outside (forest or beach) or inside (and what type of building if inside)) can greatly impact the success of a story. Thoroughly exploring this literary tool can be a great start to your literary analysis.

For fiction, you can ask yourself these same questions as you are creating your settings. Are you creating the best setting for your story? Would it work better somewhere or some time else? Are you giving enough detail for the reader to see the setting without going overboard?

This one can be important. In the first draft of my first novel I described my character pulling up to her home and spent 4 PAGES describing in minute detail every nook and cranny of the house. And I did that several times throughout the book. I was convinced if I didn't give the reader all that description, they wouldn't be able to see the location.

But you know, readers have great imaginations. Give them enough to get them grounded, to let them know what your world looks like, without drowning them in pages of description that they'll never read. I generally start skimming if there is more than a paragraph of description, no matter how beautifully written. Chances are, your readers will too :)

What is your opinion on settings? Do you like long, descriptive passages that describe every detail, or do you like to set things up in your own imagination? What is your favorite literary setting?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Would you Die?

I was going through some of my favorite quotes last night and came across one that said something about how you should only write if you would die if you couldn't. And another one which said something along the lines of "If I only had six minutes to live, I wouldn't stress...I'd just type faster." Or something like that.

Which got me to thinking, would I die if I couldn't write?

Honestly, no, I wouldn't die. And I wouldn't spend my last few minutes on Earth writing either.

But then, I thought about something else that we've talked about before. We discussed on several occasions how even when we aren't writing, we are still writing. Story ideas and scenes and dialogue and characters and settings and everything that goes into our stories continually swirl through our brains whether we are committing all those things to paper or not.

So no. I wouldn't die if I couldn't put my thoughts on paper. But I don't think it would be even remotely possible to shut of my internal writer. It's just part of me. It's how I see the world. There is always an internal monologue in my head, always. Have you ever scene The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black)? You know how Amanda (Cameron's character) is always hearing those voice overs (she makes movie trailers and keeps hearing these voice overs describing her life). That is EXACTLY how it works with me. I'll think about a scene or see something in real life that sparks a thought, and it's like watching a movie scene in my head...sometimes with narrator and sound track playing in the background. :D

I'd never stop thinking about writing everything down, but I'd survive, I think, if I couldn't. But for the, that's a part of the unique pile of quirkiness that is me :)

How about you? Would you die if you couldn't write?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blog Chain - Tales of Totally Random Awesomeness

All right, my blog chain lovelies :) For our last blog chain of the year, I get the honor of picking the topic. So I thought we'd have a little fun :D Her Royal Sharkness Janet Reid often runs fun little contests in which she'll list 6 totally random words that entrants must form into 100 words or less stories. I've participated. I've enjoyed. Now I want to see what you guys can come up with :)

Soooo, thanks to my husband's awesome flip-through-the-dictionary-randomly-stopping-and-blindly-pointing-to-a-word technique, here is your task:

In 100 words or less, write a story using the words ride, post, soulless, local, dehydrator, girdle. Your story may take on any form you wish. The only two rules are 1. you can't simply list the 6 words; you must actually craft them into something creative, and 2. you must use ALL six of them.

Have fun :D Be sure to stop by Shaun's blog tomorrow to see what he comes up with! In the meantime, here is mine :)

The soulless girdle squeezed the life out of me. Every breath a fresh tidal wave of pain. But I looked good. The local boys wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. I twitched, paranoid my ridiculous undergarments would ride someplace unfortunate. I sighed. I’d never be one of those girls on the cover of the magazines, the ones that looked like they’d had one too many run-ins with a dehydrator. But I had curves no stick-post runway model would ever have. I gave my dress a final tug and stepped into the flash of camera lights. Show time. (98 words) :D

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funnies

Best rejection letter E.V.E.R. :

We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity
— rejection slips from a Chinese economic journal 

Lightning does occasionally strike and occasionally the result isn't a corpse. 
— Tillie Olsen on publication 

The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. 
— Robert Benchley

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Having a Good Day :)

Why, you ask? Well, despite the fact that my heater is once again not functioning (the pipes are probably frozen again so hopefully by this afternoon they'll thaw enough for it to kick on) and the fact that my kids are home due to flooded roads all over town (they were back to school for a whopping 1 day after a very long Thanksgiving vacation) I am STILL having a good day because....

MY BOOK IS BEING PRINTED AS WE SPEAK!!! I type LOL AND I also got to look over my full cover (front, back, and spine) for final approval yesterday. Just TOO cool :)

Ooooo, AND there are two incredible blurbs on the back cover of my book - one by the lovely and wonderful Suzanne Palmieri, and the other by my very dear friend/crit partner/agent sista Christine Fonseca. How cool is that!!!?

So, despite the minor set backs of the day, still:

How is everyone else doing on this fine Thursday?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mystery Agent Contest at Operation Awesome!

Welcome to December!!!

To kick off this lovely month right, we've got a brand new Mystery Agent Contest over at Operation Awesome. Here are the details:

All YA and adult subgenres except for Christian fiction, erotica, MG, and picture books.

Please include title/genre in the comments.

The first 50 one-line pitches posted will be considered. Mystery Agent will choose one winner.

The winner will have Mystery Agent's full attention when they send their full MS. Yep, you heard me right -- YOUR FULL MS! So don’t forget, please have your manuscript ready to send before you pitch.

We will post when the 50 slots have been filled, so even if there are 50 comments, go ahead and leave yours unless you hear otherwise from us. We'll have actual comments or questions in there as well, so not all of those 50 comments will be entries.

Good luck to everyone!!!!