Thursday, December 31, 2009

YA Highway's epic book survey!

I'm doing this just for fun. But Kirsten Hubbard made this survey for YA Highway. If you fill it out on your own blog, be sure to post your link at YA Highway, and you can win a copy of Fire by Kristin Cashore (an awesome book!)

BOOKS

  • Most imaginative: This one is hard...I can't settle on one, because so many were imaginative in different ways.
  • Scariest: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. Obviously not in a horror movie way, but I didn't sleep much that first night after I read it.
  • Edgiest contemporary: Living Dead Girl again. By far.
  • Creepiest SF/dystopia: Hmm. I guess The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I mean, zombies are creepy.
  • Most evocative historical: I didn't read anything historical this year. Eek.
  • Best love story: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

SCENES
  • Scariest: I think I could pick a few scenes from The Hunger Games or Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins where I was terrified for the characters. Also, the end of Candor by Pam Bachorz.
  • Most disturbing: Every last line of Living Dead Girl.
  • Steamiest: There were a couple pretty good steamy makeout scenes in both Evernight and Stargazer by Claudia Gray.
  • Most exciting: My heart didn't stop pounding through the whole end of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
  • Biggest tear-jerker: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I cried pretty good. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta was also moving.
  • Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!!) : Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins surprised me, and I didn't expect it to, so that made the surprise extra awesome.

CHARACTERS
  • Best couple: Brigan and Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore were awesome. Aislynn and Seth in Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Jonah and Taylor in Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.
  • Who you'd want as your best friend: Nya from The Shifter by Janice Hardy, or Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Both are pretty kickass, but also seem like people I could get along with.
  • Who you fell in love with: Gale from The Hunger Games. Nick from The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Balthazar from Evernight by Claudia Gray. Those are my top three.
  • Worst (best?) villain: Oscar's father in Candor by Pam Bachorz, because he was a villain of the worst sort: the kind who doesn't even realize they are one. Ray from Living Dead Girl for the same reason (and many more reasons. Just...ew.)
  • Best character twist (who you loved, then hated, or vice versa): I know there were characters I had a love/hate relationship with in books I read this year, but none are coming to me off the top of my head, so I guess this one will just be blank!
  • Best character names: Cabel, from Wake by Lisa McMann, and Fire (and Brigan) from Fire by Kristin Cashore.
  • Worst character names: Peeta. And Gale (but only after I realized Gale=Gail. This didn't connect in my brain, at first). Both from The Hunger Games. I wasn't a big fan of the name Po, either, from Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but I liked the character.
  • Favorite all-around kickass female: Katsa (Graceling) and Katniss (Hunger Games) were both pretty kickass. And Nya from The Shifter.
  • Favorite all-around kickass male: Nick (The Demon's Lexicon) and Brigan (Fire).

MISCELLANEOUS
  • Best book cover: I really love the cover of Fire by Kristin Cashore, Wake and Fade by Lisa McMann, Break by Hannah Moskowitz, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and Ironside by Holly Black. Probably more, too. It was a year of pretty cool covers.
  • Best title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
  • Most memorable voice: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Something about it was just so distinct.
  • Most memorable first line: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."
  • Best setting: The Forest of Hands and Teeth had a chilling/beautiful setting, with its forests.
  • Most beautiful writing: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
  • Will any of the books you've read in 2009 make your life list of Favorite Books? Yes! Several did, actually. Evernight by Claudia Gray, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Shifter by Janice Hardy, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
So there you are. A lot of books are on there multiple times, probably because I mostly tried to do everything from memory. I read some wonderful books this year, and I hope to repeat the trend in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2010 goals

It's the new year (almost). Resolution time. My resolution in 2009 was to stop biting my nails, and I kind of forgot about it until sometime around November, when I suddenly decided it was just life or death that I accomplish this.

I'm making progress, for sure, although I don't think I've quite kicked the habit. I'm aware when I do it, which is a good start, and I've been able to grow my nails out to a reasonable length a couple times.

For 2010, I think I'm going to resolve to finish kicking the habit, and also stop some of my related bad habits: chewing the skin on the side of my nails, and when all else fails, my hair (I know, ew) or sweatshirt strings.

But I have other goals, which for me is a whole separate thing. For the purpose of having them in a concrete form, here they are:

1) Using lol less (and maybe smilies too). Okay, yeah, this is a really basic sounding goal. But I don't like how often I rely on smiley faces and lols in emails, forums, twitter, etc. to relay that something is a joke, or that I find something funny or sad or happy or whatever. I should be able to express myself without emoticons and lols, so moderation would be to my benefit.

2) Eating better. I am one of those "lucky" people who can eat just about anything and not lose my figure. I'm a wisp of a thing, and it's likely I always will be. However, thin does not necessarily equal healthy. While I'm in good condition now, certain health conditions, like high cholesterol, run in my family, and I'd rather get my eating habits in order before the time comes when I suddenly have to stop eating everything I love because my cholesterol has shot through the roof. For this year, I think my goal will mainly be portion control when it comes to snacks. No justifying my massive mound of potato chips by telling myself, "but I'm also eating this nice, healthy sandwich!" And I definitely need to eat more fruit. I love fruit, but sometimes I forget about it.

3) Exercising! I never exercise. Walking and lifting the toddler are about my only exercise activities. I don't think I need anything intense, and I'm not interested in losing weight, but exercise is just healthy.

4) Getting an agent. This is my scariest goal, because I have no idea how attainable it is. I think it's attainable, but it's one of those things where you never know. If it doesn't happen, I guess I'll know I need to write a better book in 2011!

5) Owning a book that's autographed by the author. It was a sad day when I realized I own no autographed books, let me tell you. This is a small, random, fun goal to offset some of my more challenging ones!

6) Writing one (or more) new books. I was going to make my goal two at first, or even three, because I can definitely write more than one book in a year. But I'm thinking my next WIP might be a little taxing, and I foresee several months of work going into the thing. Not to mention my unedited rough draft that still needs work, and any other things that may arise. Ideally, I definitely think I'd like to write two brand new rough drafts, at the very least, next year. Just because.

So those are the six goals I had the urge to share with the world. I hope everyone has a happy (and safe) new year!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yeah that's really all.

Just wanted to wish the world a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for commenting!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why, hello there, new WIP

First of all, I have to direct you to Kirsten Hubbard's blog, because I received a package very similar to this, and, as you might guess, I am now in food Heaven. I lack self-control, though, so I dug in long before even thinking about taking pictures. Kristin Miller's baked goods are as delicious as they look when she blogs about them.


When you've returned from drooling, I'm going to ramble a bit about my WIPs.

I set myself up to be very busy for the next couple months or so. I'm not sure how it happened this way, but it did. I just finished a rough draft of my WIP titled (for the moment) Dead and Alive. It's so petite--53,000 words, which is a fantastic length. I surprised myself, though. Usually, I'm not nearly so succinct!

When I was nearly finished with it, I had my usual 'what will I write when I'm done with this?' panic. It wasn't dire, because it isn't like I'm not busy. But my ideas usually stay as strange little floating objects that don't really form into anything until I remind my brain that maybe it's about time it formed one into something.

It formed me a high fantasy WIP. And I think, I think, it might just be sort of kind of unique. Which is something I've always always always wanted. I love high fantasy, but it's so very hard to come up with a plot, characters, and everything else that stands out from the rest. I anticipated it being a couple of months before I was ready to write this, but that wasn't the case, because it came to me a lot more suddenly than I expected, so I'm already writing it (a little bit) now. This is what will keep me busiest, once I get going.

In the meantime, I'm editing Unthawed. Its middle section (mainly) had a little bit of a makeover a couple months ago, and then I set it aside for space and simmering. Now I'm doing the more difficult job of making it polished, and cutting out words and pieces of scenes that aren't needed. I hope to be done soon, because I really want to start querying it again! (Even though this is probably the most awkward time of the year to be querying). It wasn't horrifying before, but it's definitely going to be more ready this time.

So I'm in a fun cycle of balancing writing and editing, and it's so much fun.

This is probably all you'll hear from me about the about the high fantasy, because I fully intend to be weirdly silent about it. It's just easier that way.

I hope everyone else is having as much fun with their writing, and I hope this post didn't bore anyone to death!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas and political correctness

This has nothing to do with writing. At all.


But it isn't the holidays if I don't get on my soapbox.

I'm Christian. I celebrate Christmas. I say Merry Christmas to people, because I grew up in a tiny little town, and from kindergarten to eighth grade, everyone in my class was also Christian. Nobody's feelings were hurt if I didn't also mention the other holidays that happen this time of year.

And nobody's feelings should have been hurt, even if they weren't Christian. Christmas has become very commercialized. Atheists celebrate it too. Agnostics. Whoever feels like it! It only has religious meaning if you want it to have religious meaning. Other holidays around this time of year, Hanukkah, for example, are strictly religious.

When I say (or type) Merry Christmas, I don't mean, "Have a great holiday season, but only if you're Christian, because otherwise I hate you". I mean, "I hope you have a wonderful holiday season." I gratefully accept any well wishes this time of year. Even if I don't celebrate the holiday, I appreciate that someone wants me to have a good one. December, to me, is a month of family and closeness, not hostility and anal retentiveness.

I really think it takes political correctness to a whole new realm of ridiculousness to get upset over being wished a Merry Christmas. So if you are someone who does, breathe, take a step back, ask yourself why it's so offensive. And know that whoever said it to you probably wasn't trying to convert you, they were just trying to be kind.

And so ends my regular holiday ranting. I hope everyone has a wonderful season, no matter what they celebrate, or even if they celebrate nothing at all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments, everyone!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life on the edge

I was thinking about 'edgy', as is maybe obvious from the title of this post. I'm just so unsure what to do with this concept, and frankly, I'm a little bit over the word. See, there are some things that I've read and I think, okay, I understand why this would be labeled 'edgy'. Living Dead Girl comes immediately to mind.


But beyond something so obviously 'edgy', I just. don't. get. it.

I'm going to explain why, using my WIPs to help me. * (That would be Dead and Alive, as I'm tentatively calling my WIP, even though I'm not sure it'll stick--better than untitled, though--and Unthawed, because Ignited is in that weird, "new adult" zone.)

So, Unthawed is so very not edgy. They don't really swear, no one has sex or does drugs or drinks or anything like that. None of the things that tend to win books that little "edgy" label, by my best judgement. But it is so violent. Pretty much everyone my MC knows gets killed in the first/second chapter, brutally. And then there's more death and violence after that. But apparently that's fine? That's not horrifying, not potentially scarring? At least, not compared to...

Dead and Alive has sex and swearing and I guess overall the whole concept is a little unpleasant, what with my MC having been killed before it starts. I'm not sure whether or not this would be labeled edgy. Because as this post makes very clear, I'm no expert on the subject. But it's definitely way closer than Unthawed.

But the thing is, swearing isn't anything a teen wouldn't hear every single day at school, if not at home. The sex, well, it's not like teens don't know that other teens are doing it, even if they're not. It's not like my characters are S&Ming it or something. It's not edgy, in my mind. And those things I just said are exactly why I hate hate hate when every book with one little swear is suddenly edgy, or why characters are suddenly so amazingly teen when they start in with their pot smoking and their drunken escapades.

If I were thinking about 'edge' in terms of the real world, not literature, violence (even if that violence is an animal/mutant mutilating a human) would be SO FAR above things like normal sex between two people (teens or adults) and above casual drug use or alcohol drinking (alcoholism and drug addiction are different--those for me fall into the 'I see why this might be labeled edgy' category.) Swearing isn't even on my edge radar at all.

So the use of this term 'edgy' baffles me and I kind of want it to go away. Or not go away, but be more limited! Isn't there a middle ground between clean and gentle happy place writing and edgy? Can't something be more suitable for those in the upper YA range without being 'edgy'? Why does sex=omg the shock and horror? Am I wrong for thinking enough YA has these elements now that it's silly to think of them as some sort of special category?

Feel free to agree with me, disagree with me, explain to me what big picture element I am missing in my confusion.


*Note: I am definitely not trying to label the edginess of my WIPs, because I'm honestly not particularly concerned with whether or not they are. It's just easier to use examples.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My YA decade

For some reason, it randomly hit me this morning (that's this morning as I'm writing this, on Tuesday the eighth) that this was an insane decade of change in my life.


In 2000, I graduated eighth grade, and I was fourteen (well, fifteen by the end of 2000). I remember thinking that was just the coolest thing ever, being the class of 2000, even if it was only middle school.

Then I spent the next four years in that angsty, amazing, devastating, beautiful time known as high school. Instant messaging programs were only just starting to get popular (or maybe they started to get popular a couple years before that, but they hit their stride when I was in high school) and we discovered new ways to torture each other, like printing out AIM conversations meant only for our eyes and showing them to others, or talking to someone while at a friend's house, pretending to be that friend while they watch, giggling. We had epic fights over boys and who was better friends with who and who betrayed who and other things that seem so ridiculous in hindsight. I had boyfriends and lost boyfriends and had to decide how I felt about drinking, drugs, and having sex (all of which I decided to save for college, in the end--except drugs, which I opted not to try at all. In a non-judgmental way. It just wasn't my thing.) I thought my breakups were the most heartbreaking of all time, and no one could possibly understand how hard it was. I went to prom, I had a blissful senior year (at least, the second half). I parted ways with a boyfriend in my last ever technical breakup, and it was kind of beautiful, in retrospect. Everything then seemed so dramatic, so huge, and now when I think back, the things I thought were so horrifying tend to hide in the back of my memory, and all I can remember clearly are the amazing times I had.

And then I went to college, where I made good decisions and bad decisions and luckily no really, really bad decisions. I joined a sorority and I went to fraternity parties and I grew into myself. It was a time of seeing my potential rather than my flaws (especially in how I looked). I met amazing people who will be my friends until always, and I met my boyfriend who will hopefully also be around until always.

And then I had a baby and got a dog and an apartment and started my life as an adult.

Which means, this decade pretty much encompassed my entire transition into adulthood, because high school was that first big change for me (tiny kindergarten-eighth grade school, where I already knew half my class before I even arrived at age five! The 90's were quite a comfort zone, despite all the changes that go on in the tween years). It's kind of amazing to think about how insanely much I've changed over the past ten years. I don't think I'll ever do so much growing in one decade again. I mean really, from nervous freshman in high school who was scared she would go to the wrong classroom to Mom. That's pretty full circle.

For the next decade, now that I don't have to worry about growing myself anymore--much, I'm going to have to get started on some of my life goals (minus the one major already achieved one--having a child!)

I know this post wasn't really very writing related, but with 2009 about to end, I had to do it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RTW: A quick and fun questionnaire

So this week, I'm answering three questions that SEEM simple and easy to answer, but they are so not.


Question one: What are the best three books you've read this year?
Okay, this question would almost be easier if it were what one book. So, my three best. Eeeeeek. It's hard to choose between...five books (or technically seven, but I'm a cheater.) I'll try to narrow it down.
1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I read this in May (or June?) and was dying by the time Catching Fire (which totally counts as the same book) came out at the start of September. It is just. so. good.
2) The Shifter by Janice Hardy. I expected to like this book, but I didn't expect to adore it as much as I did. It is awesome. The world building, the characters, the plot, it was all great.
3) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I think Kirsten makes everyone she knows read this book--and with good reason! It's amazing, and so very beautiful.
(I also really really loved The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan and Evernight and its sequel, Stargazer, by Claudia Gray...there, I cheated. And there are tons of other books too that could almost make this list, but I won't cheat THAT much.)

Question Two: If you could meet one author living or dead, who would it be?
Well, there are tons of living authors I'd love to meet, but I'd like to be optimistic and say I could still meet them one day! So...I think I'd like to pick someone whose writing is so well known now, but who probably never realized they'd be so very everlasting (because even if you're cocky, how could you ever guess?) Shakespeare comes to mind, but he'd probably be boring to talk to. I kind of think Mark Twain might actually be an interesting person. I think I would go with him.

Question Three: What book are you most looking forward to in 2010?
This one is hard too. It splits three ways (I KNOW the question says one. I can't do it. So in order of when in 2010 they'll be released...)
1) Hourglass by Claudia Gray--the third book of her Evernight series. Since I couldn't put down the first two, I've been looking forward to this next one for MONTHS.
2) The third Hunger Games book, because how could I possibly not be looking forward to it?! I will probably be dying for it by the time the thing comes out.
3) The Duff by Kody Keplinger. Because it's awesome and I can't wait to read it in its shiny, published version.

If you haven't yet entered the amazing giveaway on YA Highway, you definitely will want to visit today, because we've added a mini giveaway. Even if you win the mini giveaway, you aren't disqualified from the big one, so enter enter enter if you haven't!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments, everyone!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Free books!

At YA Highway. A giveaway in celebration of our wonderful followers!

It's a pretty insanely awesome prize package, so...GO.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RTW: Where I admit my literary crushes

Warning: this is not going to be nearly so profound as I wish it would be. My rational side thinks my literary crushes should be very different than who I actually choose. And if my boyfriend reads this—I still love you most.

I sort of liked the way Leila did this, so I’m going to shamelessly copy her and do section one: authors I want to be and section two: characters I would want to be with if they were real.

Section one: aka where I become scarily fangirlish.

First and foremost, I have a small obsession with things written by Garth Nix. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I just love his writing. I’m pretty sure Shade’s Children was the first dystopian I ever read, and it’s still my favorite (or maybe it’s tied with The Hunger Games.) It’s so different and so interesting. That’s what I like about his writing. It’s just interesting. And it makes me feel inspired.

I’m also in awe of Suzanne Collins for her world building. And JK Rowling for the same reason. Thinking about all the work and backstory and world building that went into Harry Potter makes me a little dizzy, actually. I don’t care if you were one of the few people who weren’t a fan of this series, you’ve got to respect her for that. And hell, I think I have to throw Philip Pullman in here too. The His Dark Materials trilogy was nothing if not complicated.

I have kind of a new envy of Melina Marchetta for her amazing, beautiful descriptions. She makes it seem so much easier than it is.

Section two: aka the fun section.

The first crush I ever remember having on a character was Will from the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. This has changed over the years—Will is twelve, and while I first read that book when I was thirteen or maybe fourteen, I’m now double his age. I still love him, but differently! I also had (um, have) quite a thing for Lord Astriel, because he’s pretty badass. I mean, he wants to do something and he does it. Creating a giant connection between worlds? No problem. Trying to kill God? Sounds easy enough.

And I can’t leave out Harry Potter—not the character, but the series. There are just so many better options to crush on than poor little Harry. For me, Sirius Black is #1, with Fred Weasley in second. Sirius, because, well, YUM. He survived (and escaped!!) Azkaban, and he was the one on the good side that I thought was most likely to do something that might be considered “bad” if he had to. I don’t know why that’s an attractive trait to me. But it is. Fred, I’m not actually sure why I find him so attractive. And even more curiously, why it is absolutely certain in my mind that I like Fred and care nothing whatsoever about George, his identical twin. There’s just something. I also kind of want to be Ginny (book Ginny—movie Ginny is so blah). People seem to love her or hate her, but I liked how she grew into herself as the series progressed, and she was a pretty strong person, by the end. When Harry went into his little emo we have to break up so I can save the world and you won’t be hurt moment, she didn’t break down about it, she just accepted it stoically. I thought that was awesome. Although if I were her, I would’ve said, “No thanks, Harry, I’m leaving you for Malfoy.” Oh which reminds me I also kind of love Draco Malfoy.

I think the rest of my literary loves come from more recent stuff. Not that Harry Potter isn’t recent, but in the scheme of things. I really liked Prince Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore. He was a great love interest, because he was all soldiery and awesome, but he was also very sweet sometimes. Seth, from Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Seth doesn’t fit my usual likes, because he’s actually more sweet than he is anything else. Sometimes that’s nice. I think I mainly liked that when Aislynn told him about being able to see faeries and all of that, he didn’t freak out and try to flee, he said, “okay, what do we do about it?” It was obvious he cared about her a lot, but he also thought about what he wanted. Especially in Fragile Eternity (the third book) I thought he got even better. Murtagh, from Eragon by Christopher Paolini is also awesome. He’s the only reason I’ve stuck with that series, even though obviously Christopher Paolini doesn’t love him the same way because Murtagh has not had nearly enough scenes since the first book. NOT EVEN CLOSE. I just thought Murtagh was one of the most flawed and well developed characters. Actually, no. He was the best developed by far. He has the most interesting past, the most interesting personality, and the most reasonable behavior.

My three biggest crushes at the moment, in no specific order: Nick, from The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. He is insanely awesome. He literally does not understand how to feel things like love. I know, an attractive trait, right? But he is so dangerous and straightforward and he’s kind of perfect, in a twisted way. Balthazar from Evernight by Claudia Gray. I’m aware he’s not the love interest of the book. This only makes him better, because it means he’s free for me. If I’m going to be going after a vampire, I’m going to do it right. I wouldn’t want one who was constantly emoing out, I’d want one who could actually protect me from danger. I like that even though Balthazar might’ve wished he had never been made a vampire, he accepted it, made the best of it. He does things right and he makes mistakes, but he’s the kind of vampire that makes vampires actually sexy. And Gale, from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’m pretty sure Kristin wants to strangle me every time I say this, because of how few and far between his scenes and lines are. But he is just…awesome. Every time he does have a scene, he’s doing something great. He does things for Katniss that he thinks she needs rather than what she wants. He’s brave and strong, and he is just great.

That’s probably about good enough. And long enough. Visit YA Highway to see what everyone else said!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Things I'm thankful for

So it's a little past Thanksgiving now, but I was away this weekend. Kirsten tagged me in her 10 things I'm thankful for post, so I figure I better do this!

All the even ones have to be writing related.

1. My family. And I mean the whole thing: my boyfriend, son, and dog, of course (yes, my dog is family!) My parents and my sister. My boyfriend's mom, sister, and brother-in-law, and his aunts who take us in whenever we decide to travel up there and get tired halfway along. All four of my grandparents, who I am blessed to still have around, and everyone else. Family is always important, and I'm really lucky to have a good one.

2. My moose loves. They make writing fun. I don't feel like I'm doing it by myself anymore, because I have Kirsten, Kristin, Michelle, and Amanda to share my ups and downs with. And I can feel happy for them when good things happen, and it's almost as amazing as if the good thing happened to me. I love that we all happened to appear on the AW boards around the same time (Seriously, I checked--three October 2008's, December 2008, and February 2009), because there is something eerily synchronized about us, despite our differences, and living all over the place.

3. My friends. Because friends are important too, you can't only have family. My friends are so interesting and wonderful and they still like me even though I'm terrible at keeping in touch (my writer friends probably think this is a lie, but seriously. I fail.)

4. My imagination. Maybe this seems like a weird thing to be thankful for, but honestly. Ideas matter--that is, good ideas matter. I like that I'm imaginative, because I want my ideas to stand on their own. I don't buy into the whole "it's all been done" thing. If I thought about it that way, then why would I even bother to write? I'd rather think that there are infinite ways I could make my writing stand out, if only my imagination can do it. And I have a good imagination, so I really think, when I force it to try, I can come up with unique ideas.

5. Where I live. Okay, not specifically at this very moment (although I do like my apartment, but I'm just not a city person) but in general, I love you, America. Do I like every last thing about this country? Of course not. But I do love it here, and I love where I grew up. Northern New England will always be my true home no matter where I move in the future. It's perfect.

6. Absolute write and its people. There are more awesome people in the writing world than just my meese. I honestly think I would be so lost without AW. Where else are there several active threads just about YA every time I check? Where else is there a thread where everyone links their teasers on Tuesday? Where else would I find people who actually are excited about reading these teasers each week? It's amazing, it's a community, and it's real. I'm not going to list everyone from there who I think is awesome, because there are too many of you. All I can say is, thank God for the internet, because it really is a blessing.

7. Our troops. They can't ever be thanked enough. Seriously, nothing I could possibly do or say is good enough to thank someone for being willing to risk their life so mine can be safe. Whether you agree with this war--or any war--or not, our troops are brave people and we should all be so proud of them, so grateful to them, so happy they are there for us.

8. Other people's writing. Published and unpublished. Books inspire me to write. Not because I read them and think "oh, good idea, let me write about that with just a few tweaks." No, it's because when I read a really good book, when I can feel how much the author loved writing it, it reminds me why I write.

9. My immune system. It's spectacular. I'm so lucky. Colds tend to pass me by, or if I do get them, they're usually pretty brief/mild. My health has always been good overall, and I'm glad for that. Being healthy is something we sometimes take for granted.

10. My books. I'm not published (or agented) yet. But I can't be either of those things if I'm not writing. And I have feelings of snuggly warmth toward the things that I write. They're labors of love, and I can see myself growing and improving with each draft, with each WIP. Writing is one of the best (THE best?) hobbies in the world, and I'm so glad I feel love toward what comes out when I put a pen to paper.

Tagging. I want to spread the love, so I'm trying to go for people whose blogs I follow who haven't already been tagged in ones I've read, and who haven't done this yet:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RTW: What else do I do with my time?

So, I'm not really all that exciting. Reading and writing have always been my main hobbies, ever since I was a little tiny thing. These things make me happy, so when I have some spare time, why would I not read or write?


I do also like to play computer games, sometimes. The Sims being a particular favorite, although I've sort of gone off that now. It's amazing (but not bad!) how much time a one-year-old takes up. If the internet counts as a hobby, I guess I'd have to list that. I love reading blogs and twitter and keeping up with everyone on forums.

I also like the outdoors. I enjoy things like hiking and going for walks (which are kind of the same thing--one is just a more strenuous form of the other, really.) I like horseback riding and I like spending time on farms.

So there you are, the excitement that is me. But really, having exciting hobbies doesn't necessarily make you an interesting person. Caring about your hobbies does.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks to all who commented! This was an especially good Teaser Tuesday, I enjoyed reading all of yours as well.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

RTW had me thinking about soundtracks

...So I made one!

It's a giant mess of songs, because I made one unorganized playlist to encompass all three of my WIPs, so I made it play on random, just to make it even more fun.
So, these are songs that fit either:
Ignited, which is about demons--in Hell.
Unthawed, which is about surviving insane people in a future post-ice age world.
or
Untitled WIP, which is about a girl who is dead but sent back into life to learn some things about herself.

You can see why this makes for a disorganized playlist. But I'm satisfied, and sufficiently distracted for the day. I put the playlist at the bottom of the blog, so I took it out of this post so my blog doesn't load slowly!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RTW: The influence of music

This week's topic is hard/easy for me to answer--songs we associate with our WIPs. I like to write with music sometimes, but more often than not, it just distracts me. I also find that if I try to associate things in my WIPs with music while I'm writing, I end up not writing it the way I want, because I'm trying to fit it to a mood someone else has already created. I don't think everyone has this problem--just me, probably.


I have vague playlists for both Ignited and Unthawed, but only a couple random songs so far for my still untitled WIP. I might have to do what Kristin did and make an actual playlist to post on my blog, but I'm not sure I'm quite ambitious enough for that today.

Most of my playlist songs come from artists like Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown, because that's just what I listen to already. But I also find rock a really good music genre for inspiration. It's intense and moody and raw. And I want my writing to be like that--in the right places.

But if I had to pick just one song for each WIP, I think I can do it. I'll try:

Unthawed: I like both Second Chance by Shinedown and It's Not My Time by 3 Doors Down for this one. The first one more in relation to the end than to the majority of the book, and the second one I hope is more obvious (even if I sort of take my own meaning from the song rather than maybe what they intend...)

Ignited: Glycerine by Bush is kind of perfect. It's the best match of anything I listen to, anyway.

Untitled WIP: Life Is Beautiful by Sixx:A.M. Alright, so it doesn't fit perfectly, but I haven't really had time to think about this one, and this is my absolute favorite song in all the world, and some parts of the song, especially the second line "you can't live until you die" are really dead on.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The love

So this is a lame thing to blog about maybe, but I finally feel in love with my (still untitled) WIP. I vaguely blogged about my writing on Friday, and about this WIP, but I've now worked through everything that's going to happen in thorough detail, and it's ballooned to 20,000 (or possibly a bit over--some is still handwritten) because I've gotten really obsessed with it.


I have the small fear that it (or aspects of it more than the thing as a whole) will be too similar to something else that I just haven't read, because I'm not well-read enough in contemporary to be writing something that takes place in a mainly contemporary setting. This is why I have betas.

It's also making me feel a little morbid.

But I love it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Writing and my inexcusable love of badboys

This might get really long. Just to pre-warn everyone.


So writing. I haven't actually blogged about my own writing all that much lately. Mainly because it tends not to be all that interesting of a topic, I've realized (especially if I do it too often) but also partly because I've got my WIP in somewhat of a protective little cocoon of mystery.

It's still untitled, because I have no idea what to title it. (I'm told that I can't call it Untitled unless that actually goes with the story in some way...of course, it doesn't.)

But all my characters are now named, and I researched all the things I needed to research, and I whined to Amanda about how I think I will fail at writing it because it's too hard, and then realized it's not going to be as hard as I thought (thank you, research), so this week it's blossomed from 7,000 words (where it was stuck since I first decided to try writing it in...August? July?) to just over 11,000, and it's just coming to me very quickly and happily.

So, that's all I really wanted to say about that.

Earlier, I was thinking about my love of "badboy" characters. And why. First of all, let's be clear what I mean when I say bad. Not emo. Not bad for the sole reason that they are a vampire who lusts after blood (and somehow miraculously manages to always control this lust with minimal effort but great amounts of whining). Not bad because they drink or do drugs or sleep around. Bad because, for whatever reason, they're a little dark inside. And because they can take care of themselves--and not just because they've got some special advantage due to immortality/superhuman abilities of some sort.

On a side tangent: it surprises me how often male characters are actually not very strong people. Sometimes this is necessary, of course, because not everyone is strong, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't done to make a mediocre female main character look stronger or braver. I won't give examples, because let's face it, that just will make me look mean.

Back away from side tangent: The reason I was thinking this is because last night I stumbled upon somewhere that said "Peeta or Gale"? (The Hunger Games) and on twitter, there were hashtags for teamnick or teamalan (The Demon's Lexicon). And I am so black and white about this, it's never ever a question in my mind. I like Peeta. He's a sweet little dear thing, and if there were no Gale, I'd be perfectly satisfied for he and Katniss to end up together. But, Gale exists. And Gale can hunt for things, and works in the coal mines, and he would rather fight than flee and hide. In The Demon's Lexicon, I am not even tempted to be swayed from preferring Nick. He's angry and cold and doesn't feel bad about killing people. Yet somehow, I find him attractive.

The only reason I've stuck with Eragon for three books, despite hating the main character, is because of Murtagh. Eragon (the character) spends 90% of his time feeling guilty about having stepped on ants or crushed a blade of grass (and the other 10% of his time is split between pining after someone he should never be able to get but probably will in the end, and killing people in battle, because apparently that's somehow different from ants and grass.) Murtagh is too busy having actual problems to worry about such pointless crap. Instead, he's just badass.

Sirius Black. I mean, come on. The guy escaped from the horrible wizard prison with the dementers guarding it. And you just know that even though he's on the good side, he'd mess some people up if he had to. This is why he's my favorite of everyone in Harry Potter.

I think my point is made.

And there is this little voice inside that says, "you have a very disturbing taste in fictional men." But you know what? I ignore that voice. The voice just doesn't understand.

I'm not sure there was entirely a point to this post, other than to express my love for badass guy characters. I thought I had a point, but it got lost somewhere in there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RTW: What I read (besides YA)

So this week's topic is nice and simple. Because we all write and read plenty of YA, but it can't be all we read.


I think it goes without saying that I read a lot of books that are more pictures than words--it's kind of part of the deal when you have an eighteen-month-old. I'm very over-critical and particular about these. Since I'm reading them out loud, I don't like when they rhyme but have no rhythm. It makes it very hard for me to read them in a pleasant sounding way. But a lot of them are better than you'd think. (Michael is especially fond of one called Five Little Ducklings. I think this is more because of the soft ducklings he can grab to easily turn the page than the story, though.)

I also read a fair amount of MG, mainly because my mom reads a lot (she teaches fifth and sixth grade and likes to know what they're reading) and she recommends things to me. MG can be awesome.

And adult. I like fantasy. So mostly when it comes to adult books (I don't know how to say that. The way I'm saying it makes it sound like something you get in the curtained off section in the back of the video store...) I read fantasy. I won't list all the fantasy I've read, since there's quite a lot. I also read the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel. This is apparently considered fantasy (at least by some?) but in my opinion, that's wrong. It's historical fiction, and then any fantastical things that happen (the only one I recall off the top of my head involved rituals and talking to ancestors) could easily be explained away because I'm pretty sure there were hallucinogens involved. Nothing read like fantasy. I could rant about that, but I won't. Anyway, loved it because of the prehistoric times. Wasn't such a fan of the fourth book in the series basically being an excuse for the two characters to have sex frequently throughout the entire book. Wasn't a fan of some of her descriptions that went on way too long. Was really super extremely impressed by the research and effort that went in. Loved when mammoths made appearances. I've read several books by Stephen King. Some Nora Roberts and other authors like that because my mom likes them and they were around.

And I read plenty of other things as well. I'm not so into non-fiction (unless my parenting books count. Thank you What to Expect in the First Year!) But I like to read magazines when I get my hands on them--Reader's Digest, mainly. Sometimes trashy tabloids. Some of my boyfriend's boy magazines, if they have good articles. (They do sometimes! This is not a myth.)

It's probably a long and meandering way to say that I will read pretty much anything, if it's near me and I've got the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award


This lovely blog award comes to me from one of my most favorite people, Kristin Miller. She and her baking and her writing and her blog could not be more awesome. And this is my first ever blog award, so yay for warm fuzziness! Thank you, Kristin!


My requirements, now that I've received it (which are also the requirements of those I pass it along to!)
  • Copy and paste the pretty picture in which you see on the top left corner onto your own blog.
  • Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
  • Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
  • Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
  • Link to those 7 other bloggers.
  • Notify your 7 bloggers.
So I'll start with seven things you don't know about me. (Don't be scared.)
  1. When I was a wee little child, my career plans went like this: I was going to become a veterinarian/farmer. Then, I was going to use my veterinarian/farmer/cow loving skills to translate mooing into English, and I was going to write a book of my translations. This was going to be some sort of bestseller, apparently, because I anticipated it making me millions. I had big plans for my millions, which included things like: individual heated and cushioned stalls for each cow with automatic manure removal devices, a waterbed with fish in it (I didn't really foresee potential problems with this at age eight), and separate houses on what I think would've had to be a very large property for the several breeds of dog I wanted (including a wolf), as well as all the various farm animals I wanted. And a moose. I always wanted a pet moose.
  2. I am slightly obsessed with history. In particular, prehistoric times, the Roman Empire (actually, that whole time period, really), Vikings, colonial America, ancient Egypt, and the Middle Ages in Europe.
  3. Despite my mooing to English translation idea falling through, I would like to move back to the country sooner rather than later. If not on an actual farm, at least in a place where I can have chickens, and maybe a couple cows, and definitely a horse. There's nothing like waking up to the sounds of animals going about their business, and the smell of the outdoors.
  4. Even though I like to whine about winter, I really don't think I could live for very long in a place without all four seasons in all their glory.
  5. I love ruins and caves and creepy old homes or buildings. I absolutely want to go to Romania one day and visit "Dracula's" castle.
  6. I had never held a baby until I had one.
  7. Despite my intense love of dairy products, I don't like most soft cheeses.
So now, for my seven other bloggers to award. I chose: Amanda, Kirsten, Kristin, Lee, Leila, Michelle, and Veronique. In reverse alphabetical order (because dear little Amanda always gets to be first otherwise!) here's why:

Vero: Is just one of the nicest people. I love reading her teasers, her writing updates, her interviews with her characters. And her blog is so gorgeous with all it's stunning pictures, it makes me want to apologize to my blog for not putting in more effort!

Michelle: Not only is her writing awesome, but she also does so many other interesting things. She's a little rockstar. And may be one of the funniest people I know. And the food blog she does as a little side project (because she's too cool for just one blog!) will leave you drooling.

Leila: I think Leila could write a blog post called 'how to dig a small hole in your front yard' and make it sound like the most gorgeous and amazing activity of all time. Everything she writes is really just that beautiful.

Lee: Her teasers are awesome. Mainly because her writing is awesome. Her site is beautiful, too. Also, she is automatically on my cool list just for the simple fact that she lives in Maine. (We'll ignore Maine's little epic fail from the start of this month. Because otherwise, Maine pretty much rocks.)

Kristin: Mrs. Multi-talented. I want her to live with me and be my personal chef. Her posts are intelligent and thoughtful, and her writing makes me happy. She is also a crazy person who within a day or two (if she hasn't already) will have read 100 books this year.

Kirsten: Her amazing beautiful wonderful book, Like Mandarin, will be out in 2011. Her blog keeps you updated on this, provides the rare and spectacular teaser from one of her WIPs, has the CUTEST pictures of baby animals (a new one each week!) and will make you jealous with stunning pictures from her travels. She also shares my love of sloths.

Amanda: Her blog highlights her quirky, adorable humor. Her posts are like thoughtful little rays of sunshine. And she gives great advice, too. She is so very wise, even if she likes to pretend she's a lost little noob. Don't be fooled.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yum..

I made apple crisp, and it tastes delicious. I just thought this is something that should be shared with the world.


I am shockingly unskilled when it comes to baking, so just the fact that I peeled the apples (with a knife!) without slicing a major artery is a feat. No, actually, that may be exaggeration. I'm pretty good at not cutting myself.

Just not so good at baking.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

RTW: How did you choose your genre?

...Or how did your genre choose you (courtesy of Michelle).


I don't think about it so much until after. Because if I told myself, "I want to write something contemporary," no contemporary ideas will come to me. If there were any simmering, they will hibernate. I know, because I've tried it before.

I thought, "I'd like to write a good urban fantasy minus supernatural creatures." Nothing came. Then I forgot about it, and, what do you know, my latest WIP is urban fantasy, and has no supernatural creatures.

When I wrote Unthawed, I really had no idea what it was. I still have no idea what it is, really. Thank you speculative fiction for giving me a nice, sweeping genre to put this thing in. It's definitely some sort of sci-fi, and it could probably be called post-apocalyptic, but both of those just feel so misleading.

I could never have anticipated something that started with, "I want to write a story with mammoths in it" would become what it did. And I'm glad I didn't try to label it before I wrote it, because I think I would only have confused myself.

I think generally speaking, science fiction and fantasy call to me more. Fantasy, in particular, is my brain's snuggly place. So most of my ideas are going to land somewhere around there. But look out, other genres. I will come for you one day.

Visit YA Highway for other posts on this topic, and to link your own!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks to everyone who commented!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roadtrip Wednesday: How I name characters

I’ll start with things I never do: I never name characters after family, friends, relatives, ex-boyfriends, etc. It’s just awkward, and I also think I’d find it hard to make their personality their own. My subconscious would accidentally give them the personality of whoever I knew with that name. I also never use names that are impossible to pronounce, have a lack of vowels, or have apostrophes in the middle of them. There could be a place for names like this, maybe, in other people’s writing, but not in mine. I also learned the hard way about not giving characters placeholder names. A character I intended to be minor in my WIP Ignited, who I randomly assigned the name Harry (for the sole fact that it seemed like something someone could be named who had been alive for eighty years, even if they weren’t human), grew to become one of the most important characters, but by then his name had kind of stuck. So even though I don’t like it (and, of course, who do you think of first when you hear the name Harry?) it became his name, and I can’t make myself change it. So, from then on, no naming characters without a little bit of forethought.

As for how I actually pick them, it can either be really simple or really complicated. I always want their names to feel right to me, but not too right. I don't want the name to fit my character's personality (or looks) so well that it feels like I'm using it as a plot device. Some just sort of decide their names on their own—the name Olivia for my newest MC just sort of popped into my head. I liked it because it’s popular enough not to be weird, but unpopular enough that it’s a little different (although I’ve noticed more Olivias lately, so maybe this name is coming back in?) In Unthawed, Dusty was just Dusty, there wasn’t a question. And Charlotte was Charlotte. But Emma and Grant took some time. I opted against giving them unique, futuristic names, because when I try to pull that off, I always feel like I’m being weird rather than futuristic. Some people can pick those names well, but I can’t. You'd probably end up reading a book with a main character whose name was Pufferfish Smith. So I looked at simpler, more common names, figuring it could also be believable that some of the old classics stayed popular throughout time. Emma’s name just needed time (and some baby name websites) to come to me, and Grant’s took searching through lists of characters on soap operas (there are so many! And of such varied ages. This was one of my better ideas). In my latest WIP, I still have some important characters who I haven’t been able to settle on a name for. They will come to me, and I will wait (well, wait, but also look at soap opera websites and baby name databases!)

Now, wander over to YA Highway to see how the rest of the ladies (and blog commenters) name their characters!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks to everyone who commented!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roadtrip Wednesday: Haiku WIPs

YA Highway's Roadtrip Wednesday topic this week: summarize your WIPs in a haiku. Now, this combines two things I am not good at: summarizing briefly, and writing poetry. So what you will see here is probably not going to be breaking any haiku records of awesomeness, but I have to admit, I did sort of have fun. Don't take too much from these, though. I only kind of captured any of my plots.


Untitled WIP:
Sent back from the dead
To recapture her nature
Finds danger lurking

Ignited:
War in Hell’s bleak depths
Demons and humans entwined
Death the only end

Unthawed:
Beneath frosty plains
A fearsome beast is unleashed
Wreaks havoc above


If you want to write a haiku for your blog, go on over to YA Highway and link it in the comments section. And don't forget to check out the other Highway ladies' blogs, because they are awesome.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Roadtrip Wednesday: Rough Drafts

This week's topic is: how rough are your rough drafts?


Mine vary. It goes a lot, lot better if I outline first. Otherwise, it tends to be sort of a mess and a good part of my editing time goes into fixing everything so it makes sense. Now that I've discovered outlines, my rough drafts tend not to be too hideously awful.

But I definitely have to cut rather than add after my first draft. If there's a scene I am not sure belongs, I write it, even if it means cutting it later. I also tend to add in some redundant or unnecessary sentences, and obviously those need to be cut too. And conversations between characters can definitely sometimes go from the realm of necessary for moving the plot forward to just plain conversation. Sometimes, I just sort of forget to stop.

I like not editing what I've written until I'm done, which I didn't really used to do, and I think it's benefited my drafts, actually. When I go back and edit constantly, it takes me out of the story and the writing can get shaky.

It helps me to remember that I can always take away or add things in second drafts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Gone...
I mean, it's Wednesday now, after all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Widening horizons

Advance warning: this post may make no sense, and may ramble. But it's something I've been thinking about lately, so I'm giving it a go.


When I was younger, I lived and breathed fantasy. Of the epic sort, mainly, but also the Redwall series, because of the animals as main characters. Pretty much everything I write in high school (and younger) was epic fantasy or had animal main characters (although the animal thing kinda faded after middle school). Now, there's nothing wrong with that. I knew what I liked, and that's what I read.

But somewhere along the line, I convinced myself that I didn't like contemporary all that much. There are a lot of things that caused this, everything from how boring I found Sweet Valley High to the creative writing class I took in high school, which happened to be populated by all the...let's say offbeat kids. It was like a competition to see who could write the thing that made the least sense, and had the most drug use, sex, and suicide/depression references possible. And I was not (and still am not) into edgy for the sake of being edgy. So this is the image I had of contemporary, and it stuck with me.
For a long.
Long.
Time.

But then I slowly started to feel like I was limiting myself, only reading fantasy (and a bit of sci fi...and the odd historical fiction). I felt sort of like I was running out of options (which is ridiculous, because I'm still finding great fantasy all the time, like The Shifter which I just finished and LOVED) and I started to feel like I was missing out.

So I started branching out. I took recommendations not just from my Harry Potter loving friends, but from the ones who would die of boredom reading it, too. The first contemporary novel I recall reading and enjoying after that fateful creative writing class cemented my dislike at age sixteen was I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, recommended by a close friend my junior year of college. The thing we both enjoyed most about it was the fact that it took place at a fictional Ivy League university, and we could picture it being ours.

And since then, especially recently, I've gotten much more open minded about my reading choices, and much better at finding great things to read on my own. (And of course, by recommendation from wise people like my lovely moosers). Most notably, I'd always thought of literary writing as this scary thing that would be too fancy and go over my head or bore me. But then one fateful day (this post is so much more fun if I write it as though it's a tense and exciting story...) I noticed that the super awesome Kirsten Hubbard wanted beta readers, and even though I didn't know her very well at the time, I thought she seemed nice and Like Mandarin sounded interesting, so I volunteered.
And it was literary.
And it was beautiful.
And it didn't go over my head or bore me.

And there went the last of the genres I *feared*. And it's led me to read some pretty spectacular books in the few months since then. I know, it took me pathetically long to figure out that literary wasn't scary. I think I just needed to understand what it was. Because I have to say, once I realized what literary was, I discovered I'd already read it. (I Am Charlotte Simmons, now that I think about it, is definitely very literary. But see, at the time, I just thought the writing was the way it was because the author is an old dude. Which makes me sound ignorant. But this post is basically a giant confession, so there it is. I was kind of ignorant.)

And here's the whole point of all that: although I don't think I'm ready to tackle anything literary myself, having seen the way some of my fellow writers (again, I have to credit my moosers with this) use their words to create the most amazing, vivid images, it's made me more aware of my own word choice. I'm definitely still a work in progress, but I think even in genre fiction, there's absolutely a place for beautiful images (um, beautiful, unpurple images, that is!) and it took me a painfully long time, but I am so aware of it now, and my writing is much better for it.

So, in the moral of this enormous post, branch out. Don't ever limit yourself with ridiculous generalizations about entire genres, and for the love of God, don't let it take you as long as it took me to figure out how much they all can help you, even if you really only write one.

And since I mentioned literary YA...there's an awesome interview with Melina Marchetta, author of Jellicoe Road, posted on YA Highway. Not to mention other awesome posts by amazing ladies who inspire me just as much as (more than?) anyone currently published...as they all will be one day soon.

Just to end what I hope is not too boring and nonsensical of a post on a sentimental and loving note.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roadtrip Wednesday: How I get ideas

I am a random idea getter. I’m not someone who is overtaken by a new idea each week. Usually my ideas come from a little seed I plant in my mind that stews and stews until it turns into something viable. For example, Unthawed started as a desire to write something with mammoths in it. I had this thought in about January, and sometime between January and the end of March, it evolved into an actual, outlineable idea.

I guess I’m inspired by my interests more than anything else. I like to blend together my interests to make something that is (hopefully) different from what’s already out there.

As for what triggers the ideas to form in my mind, it can really be anything. And I mean anything. I get a lot of ideas while in the shower, the rocking chair, or doing dishes (aka any task that involves little/no mental stimulation). But the tiniest little thing can be what sparks an idea. A leaf blowing in the wind, a news story, a specific line in a TV show or song that my brain connects to something else.

My mind is a strange place. You just never know what you might find there!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday...I am a sheep.

Thanks for the lovely comments everyone!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reading and writing

I have been neglectful of my poor blog.


So, writing: I'm about 7,000 words into my WIP, but I've decided to take October to figure out the things that bug me about its plot, and then try to NaNo it. I'm 20,000 words (typed) into my rewrite of Ignited, although I would not be surprised if I have another 20,000+ more in my notebooks--I've written some scenes out of order as they come to me, because some just come really clearly. It's weird how the plot is so completely different, yet so the same, as the original version. I'm quite pleased so far. Unthawed is being queried, so no status updates on that.

Reading: I want to do mini-book reviews again, since I read more books.

+Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott: it was...amazing. It feels weird to say that I loved it, because that doesn't feel like the right word at all. It made me so sad, disturbed, all the bad emotions, yet I love the fact that it stuck with me, and the writing was so amazing. I mean I actually was with this girl the entire way, and I got real butterflies in my stomach (of nerves) when I was scared for her. I think everyone should read this book, or everyone who can bear in mind that it's haunting, and not a light read, despite its misleading short length.

+Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr: I am really glad I read this. It made me like Wicked Lovely more than I did originally. I was unsure whether or not I wanted to read it at first, because reviews on Amazon held a lot of dislike for the ending, and I didn't want to read it if it was going to make me angry. But in fact, I loved the way it ended.

+Tithe and Ironside by Holly Black: I enjoyed these. I haven't read the middle one, Valient, yet, but it's in my TBR pile. It's standalone-ish. I think Tithe is better if you also read Ironside, but I thought the author did a really good job exploring the darker side of faeries.

That's good enough for tonight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Books!

First of all, if you have yet to, you absolutely need to visit YA Highway for our super entertaining Unlabor week.

And because apparently I don't have enough to do in life, yesterday I wrote a list of all the books I read this summer (or all the ones I read for the first time this summer) and wrote little mini-reviews of them. It was sort of fun, and good to force myself to really think why I did or didn't love something, so maybe I'll do this for more books in the future. We'll see. Yes, I read shockingly few new books this summer, but in my defense, I did do a fair bit of beta reading, and writing. Anyway, enjoy my mini-reviews!

+Wake and Fade by Lisa McMann: I liked these books enough that I’ll read the third, but I'm kind of lukewarm about them. The style was both a plus and a minus for me. I liked the feeling of whipping through it, but also felt sometimes like I was reading an outline. I did think the relationship between Cabel and Janey was well done, and the plot was interesting, although this isn’t the sort of plot I'd normally go for. I have to admit to feeling a little misled by the blurb on Wake. I thought it would be more dream oriented than it was. I don’t really know how to explain what I mean by that. I do think it’s worth reading, though, and I see why the series is popular. It’s just not on my favorites list.

+The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: I enjoyed this book quite a bit. There were some things that I didn’t feel got explored enough, and I never fully understood why Mary was so obsessed with the ocean. But I thought it was, for the most part, well written, and the characters were very distinct from each other, and had flawed personalities. Mary was maybe a little too flawed, but I still wanted it to work out for her. And the zombies were completely creepy. I’m not really a zombie loving girl, so I didn’t expect this book to grab me, but it did. I guess I liked that she managed to do zombies without making it all about the zombies--it was new and different.

+The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: I’m reviewing these next week on YA Highway, so all I’ll say is that anyone who hasn’t started this series needs to. Immediately.

+Evernight and Stargazer by Claudia Gray: My absolute favorite vampire book (or maybe tied with Dracula). I can say this with certainty. I read Evernight at a time when I was feeling pretty blah about vampires, but I like searching Amazon for books I see in people’s signatures at AW. It had gotten good customer reviews, and I always thought Claudia Gray’s posts on AW were so intelligent so I decided to give it a try. And I loved it. And loved Stargazer even more. If you’re looking for a different version of Twilight, this isn’t going to be what you want, but if you’re looking for a story that makes fantastic use of vampire mythology, is well written, and has a good plot, then pick it up. It also has plenty of romance (more than I’m usually a fan of, to be honest) so vampire romance fans should like it too. Alright, so, basically, if you enjoy vampires in any way, read these books.

+The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: I couldn’t get into this book at all. I started reading it last September, and only just finished it this summer. I don’t want to review it harshly because it’s very well researched and it’s an interesting story, but it just didn’t hold me. The style was too academic for me, and everything was explained really slowly. It’s not that I don’t have an attention span, but it was pretty tough to get through.

+Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: I liked this. I actually like it more than I thought I did right after I finished it. It gave me an interest in reading more books about faeries, so I’d say it did its job. I especially liked that she made her character sort of an off the beaten path kind of girl without making her be stereotypical and emo. Because not everyone with an interest in piercings and tattoos is off in a corner crying and wallowing in how much their life sucks. Aislinn makes her own choices and takes as much control of her future as she can, and I like that. There was actually not much I disliked about this, I can’t actually put my finger on what makes me say I ‘like’ it rather than ‘love’ it. I’d definitely recommend it to others, though, and will be reading more of the series.

+Break by Hannah Moscowitz: This was really good, and I don't read all that much contemporary. It was actually less edgy than I expected. Or maybe my edgy meter is off? Either way, none of the swearing was out of place; I wasn’t reading through and thinking ‘ok, she dropped that f-bomb just to be edgy’. I sometimes had a little trouble understanding characters’ motives (Naomi, in particular), but I thought the premise was intriguing, and the writing was great. And I liked the characters, Jesse in particular.
+The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau: This book is MG, but just because something has twelve-year-old main characters doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy it! I had a little bit of a hard time getting started with this, but once I got into it, I really liked it. One thing I loved was that in a weird way it reminded me of The Giver, which is one of the best books ever, in my opinion. The similarity was in the enclosed cities, not knowing what was out beyond, having jobs chosen for them when they were through school. But this was a different kind of dystopian. I completely recommend it, especially because I think pre-teen boys would enjoy it just as much as girls.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wow it's been long...

I haven't blogged in about three weeks--eek! I try to be better than this.


It's just, there hasn't been too much to say. I'm querying, but I really am keeping all of that stuff to myself for the most part. I don't want to discuss who has a partial of what with the whole world, because it's really just my business. Not that I mind when other people share, but it's not my way. I'm secretive and weird. Always have been!

I felt compelled to blog, though, so...you get this piece of joyousness. I guess I'll just summarize what I'm working on at the moment. First, there is Unthawed. I'm not doing much with it right now, a few little touches, and as I'm typing this, the lovely Andrea is giving me suggestions to fix my least favorite chapter, and I like her suggestions, so I may have to work on that sometime soon. Then there's Ignited, which I am rewriting completely from scratch (for the most part). I made a pretty outline and everything. I don't think trying to query it afterwards will be a good idea--my characters are now in their early 20's (aka the age no one wants to read about, apparently) and I'm pretty sure that even though it technically could be a stand alone book, it would be crappy without being a series. So, two things right there that would make it near impossible to snag an agent with. But I'm having fun, and that's what writing is all about. And item #3: my untitled WIP. This is going slowly for several reasons. 1) present tense. I like having it in present tense, and I think it'll be a good tool for this particular story, but I've never done it before, so it's tricky. 2) I have a little bit of a lack of focus, I can admit it. 3) This is technically urban fantasy, but it's like 97% urban, 3% fantasy, so it's a little out of my normal realm. I don't like writing about the real world! 4) I keep having conflicting ideas about where to go with it, despite my beautiful outline. It ends up the same no matter what, but there are a few different paths I can take, and I want to think about them all before I get too far in.

So that's all. The excitement of my writing life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The things you learn

I meant to blog yesterday, but I didn't. I haven't been very productive today, so I think blogging is the least I can do.

First of all, congrats to Kody Keplinger on her book deal for her debut novel, The Duff! For more info on that, you can go to one of several different blogs. And since I don't think I ever said so (on my blog) congrats also to Kirsten Hubbard for her deal for the super amazing Like Mandarin. You will all be missing out on some major awesomeness if you don't buy both of those books when they come out.

And in unrelated news, Michael is exactly fifteen months today! Not like it's a birthday, but since I happen to be blogging today, I might as well mention it. He may be starting the terrible twos early. But it's alright, because he's very adorable while he does it.

So, on to the reason I actually meant to blog: I finished my editing, and am about to start querying Unthawed! Prepare for a long winded explanation of all the fun things I figured out for myself while writing/editing this beast.

Rewriting: not just for parts where the plot needs to change. Alright, so I haven't been under a rock, and I was aware that rewriting existed. But I had never before thought to rewrite something just because it didn't quite work for me. There was one chapter about a third of the way in that I felt was just not giving off the fear that it needed to. The characters had just stumbled into a situation where they should've been terrified, but they were way too calm. I tried editing the scene I already had, adding in more fear from Emma, the MC. But I still wasn't happy. And then I realized something.

If I hate the chapter, how can I expect anyone else not to?

So I made a list of the important things that needed to be revealed in the chapter, set aside the original, and wrote it completely from scratch. It's so much better now.

It's true, you can cut a lot of words without those redundant sentences. I had plenty of them. Sentences that drove the emotion home just a little too hard, sentences that stated the obvious. My manuscript went from about 72,500 words down to about 68,500. Part of that was cutting some unnecessary chunks, but I definitely think I cut at least 2000 words just from getting rid of useless words or sentences.

First chapters don't always come out like crap. I usually have a huge problem with first chapters. I'm never satisfied with how my first chapters come out. But after all my revisions, I actually feel happy with this one.

Imagery is awesome in the Arctic. I may have had too much fun changing my cliche type sentences (eg. butterflies in the stomach) into not cliche sounding descriptions that drew from Emma's arctic surroundings. It's surprising how much untapped imagery there is if you give it a lot of thought. Which is something I'd never bothered with before.

I have the best beta readers in the world. I could not appreciate them more. Everyone who read this for me is so amazing, and it would not be what it is without them. *Hugs beta readers* Anyone who tries to polish their writing without the help of super awesome people like these is insane.

So that's about enough, although there are probably thousands of other things I could say. I'm excited to start querying, and no matter what happens, I love this story and I'm glad for the last few months I spent working on it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

(tiny) Teaser Tuesday

So yesterday, I had a little milk related incident which has made my keyboard awesome and sticky. I think I need to rinse it out with water (as suggested by the internet), but the idea of putting more liquid into it scares me a little...so we'll see.

Anyhow. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I've been editing. And now I'm finished! Working on my query and my synopsis a bit today, and I'm hoping that by Thursday or Friday I can send out my first batch of queries. It's pretty exciting!

So enjoy a tiny snippet. I know it's not much of a teaser, but it's all you're getting.


[teaser gone!]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No teasering...but it is Tuesday!

I don't feel like doing a teaser this week--can't always do them, or you'll have my entire book up here! But when it's Tuesday, and everyone's blogging, which gives me the compulsion to do it as well. I'm cool like that.

So it's hot. This has been just the worst summer, weather-wise! Not only has it rained for most of the past two months, but this past week it's been painfully hot. And we don't have an AC. Fans work, and use a lot less electricity. But it's still unpleasant.

I don't have much that's interesting to say; I've been working really hard editing Unthawed for the past two weeks(ish). It's coming along. It's not going as fast as I might like, but I am putting a lot of thought into it. I've cut a couple thousand words already, even while adding things here and there. That makes me happy, because I think it's turning out nicely. Aren't I optimistic?

Friday, July 24, 2009

The most epic blog post of all time

Okay, not really. But I am not the most creative titler. I don't want to only post on Tuesdays, because that's just boring. So enjoy my writing update (it will be small).

This week I've mostly been editing editing editing. I'm now on post-beta edit #2. The first edit went pretty well, but this second edit is going even better. I got rid of some distracting things in my first edit, so now its easier to see the specifics. But it's very slow going. Three chapters down, twenty-eight to go. I'm having so much fun, though. It's definitely coming together, which is exciting.

And I decided to write my WIP in present tense. I don't know why. Writing something in present tense has never even been on the radar for me, but there were just all these signs that my subconscious wanted me to write it in present tense, so last night, as a reward for all my good editing progress, I switched the first chapter (which is all I've written so far) into present tense. It sounds better than I imagined it would. I'm cautiously optimistic about how this will go. I can pretty much guarantee that this story will either be super amazing or it will be a complete nightmare. We'll find out when I start working on it again!

So that's all, I think.

Oh except, can it stop raining, please? Seriously. It's been like two months since we've seen the sun for more than a couple days in a row, and it's getting old.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday...for real this time.

Not like last week when I put that in the title just for the sake of it! This is from the first chapter of Unthawed.

[teaser gone!]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday...minus a teaser.

Yeah, I don't feel like teasering today. But I'm blogging anyway. About nothing, I just realized.

I went on vacation the past four days to Maine. It was nice. Relaxing. Internetless.

But now I'm back today, and had a lot to do. I haven't gotten as much beta reading done as I wanted to, or cleaning either. There is so much crap in my apartment, and every time I go somewhere, it feels like we come back with more baby toys! So instead of saving all the stuff the baby no longer uses (or never used, or I don't even know what it is...) for some imaginary future person who will need it, I'm throwing out a whole bunch of it. We just don't have the space. But we have even more stuff than I thought, so even working all afternoon has only gotten me about half finished.

I'm starting to get close to ready to query, which is kind of exciting. My query needs a little more tweaking, and I need to write a synopsis (actually I wrote half of a crappy rough draft version already--go me!) And I have about half left to go with revising Unthawed (the new title makes me happyyy), then it will go to a couple more beta readers. And be revised again. I think it's not in too bad of shape, so hopefully that goes well. By the end of the month, I hope I'll be able to start sending it to my pretty list of agents!

I know. That was boring. I'm posting it anyway, though.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

This is from my new WIP, which I can tell already is going to take me forever to write. It doesn't really have a title yet. Nor am I going to share what it's about, though mainly just because I'm feeling lazy. This is from only a few paragraphs into the first chapter, so it shouldn't be too confusing. But it's very first draftish, FYI.


[teaser gone!]

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My week (and happy fourth!)

First of all, the obligatory happy Fourth of July! Even though it's driving me insane with all the fireworks, and I haven't been able to accomplish anything between the poor dog freaking out and the baby waking up on and off. Grrr loudness.

This was a pretty cool week for me, lots of fun things happened. I got to be really excited for other people's successes (SO excited), interview Claudia Gray for YA Highway (which was beyond awesome), spoke with some of my college friends who I hadn't heard from in a while (busy little things with their medical and vet school stuff!)

Those were the big things. Then there were smaller things, like working on my query letter, which finally has a rough draft that's like...sandpaper rough, not edges of a saw rough. And starting to work on my revising, which I find very fun. The best part is when I look through my beta comments, and I think she's right about that. Maybe it's weird to like comments that express that I'm doing something wrong, but I wrote it; I'm not going to see everything. I guess it just makes me happy to see that people want to help me, and aren't afraid to point out mistakes. AND on the subject, Shattered Ice is getting a shiny new title: Unthawed. Thanks to brainstorming by Kirsten & Amanda. Some of you probably already knew that I wasn't really all that fond of my title (especially if you were one of the multiple people I groaned about it to over MSN when I was first writing it), so when it came up, I was ridiculously happy for some help finding a better one. I want to do everything I can to attract love for it from agents, after all!

Soon I will be brave and show my query to others for it to be torn apart, then I will be even more brave (actually, less brave--somehow non-agents are scarier...) and start actually querying!

Oh and like I've mentioned previously, I am slowly writing something new, which is untitled at the moment. I kind of like it so far, and will probably post the beginning on the next Teaser Tuesday. I'm not in any rush to finish it, but it's nice to have something to work on. I have the strong feeling that it'll get hard for me to write somewhere in the middle, because despite the fact that it's fantasy, I think it's going to be a lot more of a 'finding herself' type deal than what I usually do. Usually, I like to have pretty distinct problems: the warring demons in Ignited; the creature that kills Emma's family in SI (or in Unthawed! I'm going to keep forgetting that I retitled it, I know I am.) But in this one, there is nothing like that at all. It's also going to have a lot more normal high school business, so we'll see how I do with that. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon, with a snippet from Shattered Ice. It's not going to be a super long one. But enjoy!

[Teaser gone]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eek it's been too long...I fail.

My weeklong vacation to my parents' house has caused me to badly neglect my poor blog *strokes blog*. So I'll just make a joyous list of things that have happened between the last blog entry and now:

-SI is still with some betas, and I've had feedback from others. I like that I've given myself space from it, because aside from looking at the comments betas have made, I haven't looked at it since I sent it out. Which should give me a fresher eye when I go in to edit. My mind has already formed the idea of a pretty decent edit on the last chapter, though. And smaller edits elsewhere, to clarify and strenghten things. I look forward to it--editing is fun! But I'm procrastinating doing it a little bit, mainly to finish with the last of my beta projects (or the last for the moment, at least) before I distract myself with getting wrapped up in it again.

-I've been working on rewriting Ignited, which is still very fun. I'm finally doing it the way I want to instead of the way I feel like it's supposed to be, and it's making it a lot better. I've also made it less linear, less obvious what's going to happen. Because who doesn't like surprises? Not sure exactly what I'll do with it after I'm through, but I don't care. I love it, that's what matters to me.

-New story idea, which I mentioned in my last post, has taken form. I wrote the first few pages of it, then a rough outline, and finally a pretty specific outline (minus names for a lot of characters. Names have become my nemesis...grr.) So I guess I'm going to write it. I've set myself up perfectly to make it my project for that JulNoWriMo thing, but I haven't decided whether or not I'm actually going to do it yet. Because I sort of wanted to write this one nice and slowly. We'll see how I feel on...Wednesday haha. I think it'll be fun to write, anyway.

-Query letter: I FINALLY WROTE IT. It sucks, but it's written. My goals for this week are to a) make it better enough that I can show it to others and let them critique it without dying of embarrassment and b) write a synopsis. I'm almost as bad at synopses as queries. However, I actually think SI will be not that bad to write a synopsis for. Look at me, with the optimism.

-And most importantly: I blogged today on YA Highway, so...that of course needs to be read. Hehe. But no, actually, everyone else's posts are amazingly awesome, so if you have wandered across my blog and haven't made it there yet, it's a way better read. And we've now made it super easy, the 'follow' option is up on the side so you can become a follower with just one click. That sounded like an infomercial. Maybe I have a hidden talent?

Anyway, when the rambling starts, the blog entry needs to end. So...it's ended.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The wonder that is writing

Ok, so it's really hard to come up with interesting blog titles, seriously.

I have Shattered Ice out with betas, so I'm trying my hardest to ignore it for right now. For at least another week, even though I'm already starting to get it back from some of them. I'm pleased with the feedback so far--fixable problems! There's always the terror that someone will send it back to me with no comments except at the end in giant red writing, "This sucks and I hate you for making me read it."

So what am I doing in the meantime? Having the best time ever rewriting Ignited. Making it my own fun experiment. And I'm really enjoying the result! I am sometimes surprised by my own brilliance. No, just kidding--I'm not really that cocky. But I wanted to get rid of one aspect of the story (FYI for those people who don't know...which is 99% of the world, Ignited is book 1 of 4) that only comes up in this first book, and never plays a role again. It made me have to change several other aspects (mentally--I haven't gotten that far yet on my rewrite) and I think it makes the whole thing a lot trickier, and a lot more awesome.

And then there is my new idea. I want to write it and really, really don't want to at the same time. It's wicked annoying. To be honest, I think I'll probably break down in a couple weeks and play with it a bit, because besides having a currently fuzzy ending, it's a pretty firm idea. And I like it because it involves the afterlife, and I have a weird obsession with writing about afterlifes, or things that take place in afterlife locations (hence the Demons living in Hell from Ignited).

All of this is my way to procrastinate writing a query letter for SI. Which I WILL do sometime this next week. I will. If I don't have a draft, I don't have anything to edit. So I have to just do it. But ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yes, it needed that many h's. I am no good at making my stuff sound interesting in one paragraph.

Oh and as a last note, I have been so blessed with the things I have gotten to/am getting to beta read. Serious awesomeness, and that's all I will say.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I felt like I should.

It's been a week since I last posted, so I figured I should. I don't have all that much to say. Done writing Shattered Ice, done editing it (at least for a little bit!) I have the strong feeling that I should write a query and a synopsis for it now and just get them both out of my way, but I really don't want to. I actually tried to earlier, but I opened my document, opened a blank document, and then thought 'there's no way in Hell a synopsis is coming out of my brain right now.' Oh well. I will force myself to do it eventually!

I've read a bunch of books over the past couple weeks--The Hunger Games; Forest of Hands and Teeth; Wake; Evernight; Stargazer. And I liked them all. Wake (by Lisa McMann) was entirely different than I expected, but still good once I got past feeling misled by the blurb on the back of it. Forest of Hands and Teeth (by Carrie Ryan) was ridiculously action packed, and it impressed me a lot. The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins) is now on my list of favorite books ever (I even got my boyfriend to read it, and he LIKED it. This is monumental. If you knew him, the person who refers to fiction as "fake books," you would understand.) Evernight and Stargazer (by Claudia Gray) also are now going on my favorite books ever list, particularly since I thought Stargazer was even better than Evernight, when I often feel that second books can fall flat. Definitely not the case with this one. My faith in there still being good vampire books is restored. I think actually that I'll write a review of Evernight and all its amazingness (and maybe something else, at some point, if I'm not lazy--I'm all written out at the moment, need at least a couple days off), but I'll do that at YA Highway rather than here. Since I haven't done a book review on this blog yet, why start now?

Oh, and yes, that was a subtle hint to wander on over to the YA Highway blog if you haven't yet. For all your moose/writing needs.