Monday, May 9, 2011

Who should I be when I grow up?

A week or so ago, I met Meg Cabot!!!

I am so glad I drug myself down to the Barnes and Noble to listen to her speak in person.  Somehow, being close enough to reach out and touch someone while they are speaking (not that I did that or anything, geez) makes the whole experience much more powerful and real.
She was very funny, of course, but also deadly serious about how hard it is to be a writer whether working on your first book or your 25th.  When asked which book of her own was her favorite, she paused and then replied that it has to be the one she is working on at the moment.  In order to complete the arduous process of getting to The End, she said she must immerse herself in that story alone and make it the sole focus of her energies and that doesn’t leave much room for thinking back on her past creations. 
Just love her and her inscription in my book was Believe!, because I may have mentioned my desire to be just like her when I grow up—and no, it SO doesn’t matter that I’m older…sigh.
Here is a great interview with her by some other fans at the same signing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Had the best morning writing in Starbucks...

First of all, let me say just how much I love Starbucks.... 

From the smell of rich coffee, to the hub-ub of people chatting, to the cushy chairs and cute little tables--I love every bit of it.  And, I just realized today, that Starbucks is my muse.  I can write at home, but the laundry keeps calling and if I get up to make myself coffee, the dishes practically SCREAM to be washed.  I can't think about hot boys or space aliens or all the fictional possibilities half so well as I can in that cushy Starbucks chair.  I need an assigned seat at Starbucks every day of the week for a few months so that I can finish this first novel.

Unfortunately, my employer would probably not allow me to take 40 personal days....sigh....

I may have to try this out in the evenings sometimes.  Maybe instead of heading to the writers group, I will head to my writers spot and just finish that first draft instead. 

How do you make this gig work? Please let me in on your secrets!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

I LOVED this book!  I stayed up very late to finish reading it.
At first, I thought my failure to develop an immediate emotional connection with the MC  Rose was a flaw in the book.  But, in reality, I was feeling like Rose--disconnected from all real emotion.  This is her journey and the major story arc that I didn’t catch until half way through.  She denies she has feelings or opinions or a personality even, because she is damaged and the consequences of expressing herself have been so dire in the past.
Late in the story, her emotional vault pops open and she begins to evolve into a character we want to love.  Also, there are plenty romantic elements and I can’t wait to know more about Otto, but, in the end, Rose saves herself.  I like that.
This book has a SCIFI flavor, but it’s not heavy on the science.  That’s OK with me.  I really don’t need a lot of details about how statis tubes really work—just enough to understand the premise of the fictional world build around it.
I finished this book a week ago and I’m still thinking about it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ever deleted a bunch of work...argh..gah...speechless

I needed to scan a file off my printer, so I used the memory stick with my edits from last week on it.  VERY BAD IDEA.  Apparently, very-crappy-printer likes to reformat memory sticks and create a new folder all it's own.  GAH!

Ok now, it's not like I deleted my whole WIP.  I had just reworked the first two pages of chapter one to really pop.  And I liked it--a lot.  

Deep breaths...

So, I found the most recent copy on my laptop and got to work with all the lines I could remember while they were still fresh-ish.

I do the memory stick thing so that I can work during lunch at my job and then take it home and keep going after the kids are in bed.  What do you guys do?
I'm seriously considering paper, but the versioning will be hell!!~

Monday, March 7, 2011

More DFW Con Gems

Jamie Harrington Totally the Bomb says Pay it Forward.

Make friends with other aspiring writers at the same place in the process that you are and then help them whenever you can.  You will develop amazing friendships and a support system that is essential to your well being as a writer.
Set up a google alert that will tell you whenever someone mentions your name online.  This allows you to respond quickly to thank them for the nod and also allows you to reciprocate.
Keep blog posts under 500 words plus a cool picture.  Some of the blog readers only display 500 words, so most followers won’t click through after the 500.
Lock down your personal Facebook account and create a fan page for yourself (even though this makes you feel like a tool since you don’t really have fans yetJ).  No need to permanently scar the psyche of your unsuspecting young readers with the edgy, inappropriate humor of your adult friends.  This has to be done BEFORE people you don’t know start trying to friend you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Agent Jessica Sinsheimer's Advice on Query Letters from DFW Con

Jessica Sinsheimer

Her advice -- the short version.
Send queries Tuesday thru Thursday during regular business hours.  They get way too much sent over the weekends and your work could get lost in the shuffle.
Don’t bother sending queries in August or December.  They are too busy to deal with them.
Tailor your query to show that you did some research about what the agent likes to represent.
Some reasons she says no to queries:

Bad writing in the query letter (Hey, if you can’t write a query what are the odds on your book?)
Sounds like a public service announcement
Inappropriate to YA
Some reasons she said yes:
Writing style in the query

Do not start with a What if question in your query.  Without exception all agents at the conference say they hate this technique.

What new query advice do you have?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DFW Writers Workshop this weekend!

Whew!  Having I have survived the siege on my personal domain with my sovereignty intact, I recovered quickly from having a malfunctioning body part removed.  Sounds scary right?  I thought so too, which was the reason for my panic about invading hordes last week.  I managed to plan ahead well enough to discourage even the most insistent helpful friend.  THANK GOODNESS!!  The absolute last thing I want when recovering from illness or injury is someone stopping by to chat.  Hair sticking in every direction is my personal right under such circumstances and I would feel the need to comb it or something if visitors arrived!
Anyway…DFW Writers Conference.  Yea!!!
I am losing my jangly nerves about this and starting to get really excited.
Since I joined the writers group in August just before starting this blog, I have access to the Friday night happy hour meet and greet with all the agents, publishers and writers that will be part of the conference!!!  AMAZING! 
I just have to figure out what to say other than…ILoveYourBlogBookWorkAndItsSoCooltoMeetYou.  Yeah, that is one word.
I am looking forward to meeting Weronica Janczuk from Lightning and Lightning Bugs a Publishing Blog and Rosemary Clement-Moore who wrote the fabulous Prom Dates from Hell series.  Rosemary is part of the writers group, but she’s never been at the meetings when I have.  I might even get to see her on Wednesday night since she is doing a little pre conference class at the group.  Ok, so I might be stalking her just a teeny tiny bit, but only in the nicest—I totally want to be you—kind of way.
I would love to know if anyone has been to a writers conference before and has pointers.  Do I really need business cards?  They feel silly to me, but I want to network.  Could I just print up a few dozen little cards with my contact info on them to hand to people who ask….  I’m more of a scrap of paper from my purse networker thus far, but I suppose I might run out of scraps if things go well.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nutty Obsessions

We have all got them. Fear of heights, flying, waking up naked at school ... Or having strange people realize you have messy dresser drawers full of holey underwear and old sweatpants.  Ok, maybe my fears aren't so typical, but they're MINE!

I have reorganized half my house over the last week because of this OCD insanity. I don't actually worry about living with these things on a daily basis.  I mean, mismatched socks and worn out favorite pajamas stuffing my dresser don't actually bother me a bit.  It's just the idea that, in the event of an emergency, someone like mother-in-law or a helpful neighbor, would be examining my life through the lense of domestic madness.

I think it goes back to my horror when I babysat and opened cabinets in search of utensils to make popcorn or cocoa and found an explosion of crumbs and partially clean pots.  I wondered how anyone could live that way.

Now I know, of course.  I wash my dishes while double checking homework, doing laundry and supervising lunch preparations for the next day.  I'm lucky I don't end up washing them in grape jelly while putting cascade on the PBJ sandwiches.

So, anyway, what are your irrational fears--writing related or not.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Icefest 2011!!!

My life entered into a strange cocooned holding pattern due to all this ice and snow that we are enjoying here in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Everything is at a standstill except for my kids, who are on a repeating loop of inside outside upside down…change clothes, warm up, and do it again…

In addition.. I'm still sickish...which means I have ALL the best excuses for doing only what I really feel like doing.

So, I’ve watched most of Roswell and some of Veronica Mars. I’ve read Scott Westerfield’s Uglies Series—which was very cool.  I found a new favorite author Jandy Nelson (The Sky is Everywhere). I also watched that Charlie St. Cloud movie..ugh.

Finally, I think I may have exhausted all my laziness….nawww.

Did I work on my WIP…that’s a big nope.  I procrastinated further by checking email.  In amongst the spam and sales fliers, I found a reminder to finalize my agent selection for pitch time at the DFW Writers Conference at the end of the month.  Since my manuscript is a mess and I’ve been staring at my TV screen more than my banging on my laptop, I’m in no position to pitch.  I feel a little like a poser, party crasher, faker and basically unworthy to attend.

Ya know what though…I booked this the moment I could. In August.  I plan to go, learn, and just BE in the presence of other people who understand what it’s like to yearn to be a real writer. All this even if I stick out as a wannabe.  Plus, I've never to gone to a conference of my own free will. I've been to quite a few work mandated, exceptionally boring events, but never to anything I wanted to attend.  So, I’m going to crash the party and hang on every word I hear.

Oh, and guess what--a very sweet blogger—Nancy over at N.R.Williams Fantasy Author gave me an very first.  So I’m officially stylish. ***grins***


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No more birthdays for me dang it…

No this post is not about the fact that I feel old…so very, very old after my birthday yesterday.  It’s about how my birthdays are just catastrophes. Now, I’m not talking about parties not going as planned or not getting gifts that I like or even people forgetting, no.  They are soooo bad it’s funny.  In hindsight, that is.
I am an all around hearty person, except for my own personal kryptonite which is food related.  Sometimes food and I get sideways and I have to eat SUPER BLAND for a few weeks to get back on friendly terms with the stuff.  But because I love food, this is almost like saying I quit breathing until my lungs heal. 
Anyway, I had an attack of kryptonite poisoning half way through the day and had to hurry home to curl up in a fetal position until it resolved itself.  My sweet 5 year old and the babysitter brought me hot mint tea to calm my stomach (I so rarely get pampered that this just melted my heart).  Great birthday so far, right? 
Well, I always keep my iphone in reach—which I’m addicted to it at this point.  I’m sure all you plotters can see where I’m steering the story at this point.  Hot tea, iphone nearby, house full of small children and a sick not-paying-much-attention mom….Oh yeah, all this equals one minty, marinated iphone. 
Oh, but that’s not all, oh no.  My new quilt also was covered in tea and needed to be washed.  
My new chocolate brown low sheen, silky quilt came out of the washer covered in something that looked like that paste on a stick from kindergarten.  You remember that stuff with the wonky smell. OHMYGOSHYOUHAVEGOTTOBEKIDDINGME.
I know all this might sound sad, but I think if it was caught on film it would look much more like Cinnamon slips on a banana, pours tea on her head, and falls in a bucket.  Come on—it’s 100% Three Stooges.
Anyway, I’m going to try to remember only the lovely card my husband gave me about how I do so much for everyone and how he couldn’t live without me.  (He also sent me some gorgeous flowers that arrived after I went home sick, of course—but he still gets big hubbie points this year). And, I will probably frame a couple off the pile of homemade cards from my kids. Otherwise, I think I will file this day under my birthdays SERIOUSLY BLOW and forget it ever happened. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

The I’m going MULTIMEDIA edition

OK.  So, I didn’t even look around to find the trailer for Blessed when I did my review.  Once I saw all the media put together in someone else’s eye popping blog post, I realized I’m doing it wrong!  Which leads me to the format of today’s post. 
I have been trying to fulfill my daily writing commitment, but am hitting the usual, what happens next wall.  And, although I’m caught between the rock of no writing and the hard place of being bored with any story I plot too heavily in advance, I think I am going to have to get serious about plot once more.  Last time I did that it sucked all the fun out of discovering what my MC was going to do next and I shelved the story.
This time, I was trying to just know the beginning and the end and let the middle happen through the divine intervention of my writing muse. But, she ain’t singin’ at the moment and I’ve made promises to myself and the blog universe.  To that end, I went in search of help and found an interesting video series on YouTube by Martha Alderson – also known as The Plot Whisperer.

I’m trying it out at the moment, so my daily writing for the next week will all be on these sweet, multicolored index cards I’m holding up.   Then, I should be ready to rock on through this first novel—HECK YEAH!!! (That’s me trying to remain upbeat about plotting.  On index cards no less. )

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Loved Tantalize and Eternal, so begged for an early copy of this one. 
It’s got vampires, werewolves, shifters and an Angel!—What’s not to love?
Quince Morris, a neophyte vampire converted against her will, discovers that she must save a whole slew of Austin’s residents from becoming vampires after having eaten tainted desserts at her restaurant. The boy she has privately loved for years, Kieran, flees Austin to protect his family from his own uncontrolled hybrid werewolf shifts in the opening scenes of the book leaving Quince alone and lovelorn. 
She must save her restaurant, the unsuspecting infected Austinites and her own soul while learning to live as a secret vampire-- all in 450 odd pages.   Luckily, she picks up a new troop of helpers including an earthbound guardian angel named Zachary to help her on her journey.
What I liked:  I like a strong female main character that has courage, will, and a brain of her own. All these compliments can easily be applied to Quince Morris.
 I’ve lived near Dallas for a long time so I also like the Texas humor and comments.  So many books use New York, Miami or some anonymous wilderness location for setting, so I do enjoy the particularly Texan references sprinkled throughout Blessed.
I think it’s magical when a writer can reinvent the usual threadbare stories typical of paranormal fare creating a whole new mythology and Cynthia Leitich Smith definitely applies a new spin to the tale of Mina and Dracula prime. Historical references woven into paranormal stories provide context and corroboration to the fiction. 
Not so much:  The abbreviations of things like Austin Police Department as APD and guardian angel as GA.  My reading flow was interrupted by these unnecessary abbreviations too often and I found those pauses in the flow of the story grating. 
The platonic relationship between Quince and Zachary dominates the first ¾ of the book providing for less emotional engagement and romantic tension than have existed in the previous two books Tantalize and Eternal.  I missed that a bit.

Good read for us YA paranormal fans that like action, a little fairly chaste romantic, and plenty of  fantasy story creativity.  I recommend Blessed and eagerly await whatever Cynthia Leitich Smith writes next.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo…Why November?

Only a guy (yes, I did read the book, so I do know it was a guy) would suggest writing a book in November.  I mean, other than December, there’s no busier time of the year for a woman with children. 
I have to plan large family gatherings coordinating the schedules of both my family and my husband’s, start making kids Christmas lists since over Thanksgiving dinner everyone related to me will at some point whisper “So, what does E or ZoZo or the king Henry—my kids—want from Santa this year?”, and all the while keep up Mom’s taxi service since all the sports games and practices continue until a couple days before Thanksgiving.  And, of course, with anyone even remotely related to me coming over for a visit, I have to begin house cleaning of the ‘I think I need a toothbrush to get that’ variety. 
So, November for NaNoWriMo, just didn’t happen for me this year even though it was the first November after I read the book and started blogging. 
But, all is not lost.  I’m making up my own challenge-- my own month of writing.  I started yesterday with my first 500 words and, although it’s not much, it is a reasonable and attainable goal for someone with 3 kids, 2 jobs, one husband and lots of laundry.  I will write 500 words a day for the next 30 days.  No excuses!
So, what are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo and personal writing challenges?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My first SHOUT OUT !!! SQUEE!

Ok. I'm really not a squee kinda girl.  I more of a low key, "Wow, that's so cool" person.  But, I'm still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing and I AM REALLY EXCITED and appreciative when someone who's been at it a bit gives me a boost.

So, go on over to Colene Murphy's site The Journey and see how she mentioned me like 20 TIMES--SO COOL! 

Whew.  I feel much calmer now, but still glowingly happy.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Buried Treasure!

Okay, so maybe it was actually just very dusty treasure, but TREASURE just the same. 
Have you ever found a box of your own writing that is so old you can’t remember writing it?  And then, the best part….you start reading and think, this is good stuff!  Oh my gosh, it just makes me so happy that I want to hug myself. 
Who knew cleaning the attic could bring something more than a sense of accomplishment along with the requisite dust induced upper respiratory infection.
Has this ever happened to you?