Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I've been a busy little elf the past few weeks getting ready for the big day. The shopping is done and the presents are wrapped. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with the housework between working through last Friday, our family party this weekend, and coming down with doozy of a head cold. So today I'll be a busy little house elf as I try to get the house in order before going to Christmas Eve mass and waiting for the Man in Red.

To all my fabulous friends, a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy every moment with your loved ones. Looking forward to getting back to writing and blogging  later this week!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Fire of Merlin Now Available

I'm excited to announce that Donna Hosie's, The Fire of Merlin is now available from Amazon. This is book 2 in Donna's trilogy, The Return to Camelot YA series. You can order both Book 1, Searching for Arthur and newly released, The Fire of Merlin by visiting Donna's author page here. For a fun, time traveling adventure in the land of Logres, download these two books today.






A word to those who are still writing, only 27 hours left of NaNoWriMo...
KEEP GOING! YOU CAN DO IT!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

First, congrats to those who have reached the 50,000 word count and won NaNoWriMo!

A big, heartfelt WOOHOOOO!!! to you all. (I'm looking at you Donna Weaver :) I am so very proud of you!

As of today, Wednesday, November 21, 2012 I have a total of 8,243 words. Not jaw dropping by any means but I am proud. Most days I start my regular schedule at 5:30AM and don't have a moment to sit until 8:30 in the evening. That's when I start writing. There are some nights when "butt in chair" meets "head on desk." Last Friday night, I was on the desktop in my computer room and my 16 year-old was on the laptop. After a while I heard, "Mom, you're sleeping!" I was slumped to the side of my chair with my eyes closed. Not a very productive night.

According to my NaNo stat indicator I'm 41,757 words behind, which means I'll finish my novel on March 7, 2013. Okay then. March 7, 2013 it is.

I didn't mean to turn this into one of those me, me, me posts that I try to avoid. The point is, I'm not trying to justify the fact that I'm not going to win NaNoWriMo. I knew that on October 31st. I'd like to direct you to Tasha Seegmiller's blog post titled Success and Failure. Her last two paragraphs (before the bolded questions) are exactly how I approach November.

Tasha's awesome words:

So, to those of you who thrive on cranking out words at light speed, I applaud you.  I'm in awe of you because I'm not now nor will I ever be that fast.  And to those of you who are a bit more like me, just remember the key is to keep moving forward, writing our best in the way that allows that to happen.  And while we sit on the side of the freeway, watching the other writers fly past us with MS's in hand, we can still celebrate our progress as well.

In September, my word count was 0

In October, my word count was 0

November, so far 8243

This month, which is not by any means over, I've pushed myself to write every day and I'm seeing results - real results. And I'm ecstatic! This story is taking shape and I'm pumped to continue this pace even past November until the story is finished.

To those who have finished or are well on the way, I'm in awe of you. Well done!

But if you're like me, dreadfully behind, and you're thinking, "Why bother? I'm not going 'to win' NaNo anyway. I say, "You're wrong." You've already won. Keep going! We'll 'not win' together!

Are you still deep in NaNoWriMo? Tell me how it's going.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Writing Through the Weekend

Short post alert. It's NaNoWriMo, people!

For me, weekends are a great way to catch up on my NaNoWri Mo writing if I couldn't achieve my daily goal during the week, or to get ahead knowing full well the craziness that awaits during the coming week.

Here are few tips that I'll try to follow on November weekends:

1. Set the alarm (groan) and get up early. Modified version: Only hit the snooze once. Okay, twice but that's it!

2. Let everyone know that they're only allowed to wear pajamas all weekend to cut back on laundry loads.

3. Stock up on chocolate or whatever gets you through. "Whatever gets me through" last night was one glass of wine which led to two which led to me following asleep at the keyboard. Better stick to the chocolate.

4. Use a chair cushion (no explanation needed)

5. Let everyone know I'M WRITING - "What do you mean you need a ride to soccer?"

6. NO TV - Modified version: only watch half of the Notre Dame football game. Okay, keep office door open and run in when I hear the ND fight song after a touchdown/field goal.

Do you have any special NaNoWriMo strategies for weekend writing? Please share and then get back to writing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Fire of Merlin and Hot Knights Giveaway!



Hot knights in a giveaway? Sign me up! Oh, well, that's not exactly what my writing buddy, the fabulous Donna Hosie, had in mind for her giveaway. Instead, it's the next best thing. But I'll get to that at the bottom of this post.

As you may remember, I helped Donna promote her debut self-published YA novel, Searching for Arthur, the first installment of her ebook trilogy, The Return to Camelot series. If you haven't read it and would like more info, please click here and then come back.

On November 30, 2012, the second ebook in her series, The Fire of Merlin, will be released through Amazon. And how awesome is that cover? I want her hair. Just sayin'. *ahem* Here is the blurb:

The Return to Camelot series continues in The Fire of Merlin.

Seventeen-year-old Natasha Roth, and her brother, Arthur, are reunited once more with the Knights of the Round Table. Unfortunately their joy is not shared by Arthur's girlfriend, "Slurpy" Samantha, whose hatred of Natasha has not been lessened by time or distance since the Roth family relocated to London.

But Natasha's happiness is short-lived.

The knights come with ill news from Logres: a magical darkness has fallen over the land. The Lady of the Lake, Nimue, is battling against her former lover, Merlin, whom she imprisoned before the enchanted sleep. He has been freed and Natasha soon discovers that her own actions the previous year unlocked more than just a gateway between the past and the present. When "Slurpy" disappears, a frantic Arthur decides they must leave the 21st century once more and return to Camelot.

With her beloved Sir Bedivere by her side, Natasha follows the sound of the bells and leads Arthur and the knights back into Logres. But there are more than bells ringing in her head. Natasha starts to suffer from terrifying visions in which she sees the destruction of Logres.

As the darkness continues to infect the living, the people start turning on one another, accusing outsiders of witchcraft. Terrified that Natasha will be hurt, Sir Bedivere takes her, the dwarf Byron and Byron's sister, Guinevere, into the safety of his father's castle. Yet nowhere in Logres is free from fear and suspicion, and Sir Bedivere unwittingly leads Natasha into a terrifying chain of events in which time itself is manipulated.

Natasha must uncover the truth about the danger to Logres and those she loves. Who is the real threat to Arthur? Can myth and legend become fact? What is the secret that "Slurpy" is now hiding? 

And for the love of all things holy, when will Logres invent saddles?



Now about that giveaway. Searching for Arthur, the first ebook in Donna's series, will be available as a free download from Amazon from November 1st to November 4th. Seriously! It's free!  So if you love a contemporary Arthurian tale with a strong female lead character, a nasty nemesis, time travel, and hot knights, why not give it a read?  

To read the first installment of The Return to Camelot series, click here to download from Amazon. If you don't have a Kindle, like me, no problem. I was able to download a free Kindle app for my computer so that I could read Donna's novels. Easy as pie. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Talk Me Out of NaNoWriMo





I wasn't going to participate this year.
What's stopping me? I have an outline, character profiles, etc.                  
My schedule is just too crazy.                                                                     
So is everyone else's schedule. AND soccer season just ended.                  
I have no down time to do anything for myself as it is.                                  
I could definitely squeeze some time in every day for writing. It will mean sacrificing reading, getting up early, STAYING OFF THE INTERNET.
I can't decided how to start my novel - I've tried three times.
Try four and go with it. It's a first draft!
I can't write that fast.
I can't write any slower.
This isn't really my style of writing.
How's my current 'style' working for me? It's not.
What if I fail?
So what? I can try again.
I know I'll never reach 50,000 words in 30 days.
I will have more words written than I do now. And who knows? This might be THE year.
Am I doing this?
Okay, fine. Unless someone talks me out it.

As you can see, I can't think of a good reason NOT to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe you could come up with one for me and I'll refute it. So, I guess I'm in. Who else is participating? Are you excited or nervous?                             

                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Queen "B"s

Last Friday evening, I attended an author event at the nearest Barnes and Noble bookstore. It featured three awesome women YA authors whose last names all happened to begin with the letter B:



I'm not sure what they're looking at but from left to right: Sarah Rees Brennan, Holly Black, and Libba Bray

Cassandra Clare was scheduled to appear on the panel but unfortunately she couldn't attend much to the disappointment of my teen posse. But then, her last name begins with "C" and I would have had to think of something more clever for a title to this post. So, I guess it evens out, right?

Anyway, back to the event. If you've ever been to a panel event or a single author signing (single as in "the only one" not their marital status) and you love books, and especially if you dream of the day when you might be the featured author, that moment when you see the author is thrilling. At least for me it is.

We were cramped into an area which was much too small for the number attending. I mean, seriously. Four YA authors were supposed to speak, there were about 4 rows of chairs (maybe 24 chairs total), along with about 6 comfy chairs against the window (I'm thinking those people must have camped out or bribed the staff to get those). If you didn't get a seat, you stood cramped together or sat on the floor at the bottom of the table - not much room. I stood behind the chairs, but got to lean against a bookshelf. It was on the warm side, I was tired, and they were late due to traffic. However, those feelings melted away when I spotted Libba, followed by Holly, and then Sarah walking down the aisle opposite me toward the gathering. There's something almost magical about seeing someone in person who has contributed something so creative to the world - whether it be a book, music, art...I don't know, call me crazy.

The night began with the trio humorously bantering back and forth, and chatting about each other's latest books: Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken, Holly Black is between books (Black Heart, the last book in her trilogy, was released a few months ago and  Doll Bones, an MG novel will be released in 2013), and Libba Bray's The Diviners. The highlight had to be Brennan's spontaneous "interpretive dance" version of The Diviners. 

Sarah brings Kami, Angela, and Jared to life during her reading from her novel, Unspoken.

Then each author read an excerpt from her own novel. When Bray read from her prologue from The Diviners not a sound could be heard from the audience. Brennan's read was highly entertaining and was complete with accents and a little disrobing...ahem. Holly could have promoted from her latest book, Black Heart or from Doll Bones. But did she? NO! (that's a surprised no not an angry no, people). Instead, she pulled out the stapled pages from a portion of her unfinished manuscript, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. How awesome is that? Can I say how that spoke volumes to me? Trusting her audience with the beginnings of a new work. And the excerpt was wonderfully creepy!

Next was the question and answer session. My favorite question that was asked was, When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Sarah knew at 7, Holly knew at around 9, Libba at 18. Although each shared a personal story related to that moment when she knew, Libba's story was very moving. Holly spoke about how finishing a first draft was the hardest part of writing for her, and about how difficult it was to take an idea that's inside her head and getting it down on paper the way she imagines it.

In the end I was glad that I went even though I didn't wait around for the signing portion. It had been the end to a long week and I wasn't feeling that great (the beginnings of a cold), there was a big crowd, and the girls were anxious to leave. These women were a class act.

Have you read any books from these authors?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have You Heard?

1. One of my most favorite Harry Potter loving writing friends - otherwise known as Donna Weaver - recently signed a publication contract with *Rhemalda Publishing! I am over the moon! She is hardworking, talented, and one of the nicest people I know. And now she can add author to that list. You can read her announcement here and all the details here. Congratulations, Donna!

*Donna will appreciate this. Do you know what the first thing I thought of was when I read Rhemalda Publishing? I'll let you guess.

2. Sticking with the Potter thread that seems to be running through this post, have you heard that Emma Watson is playing the role of Sam in the Perks of Being A Wallflower, due to be released on September 21? I loved this book and can't wait to see her recreate a member of a completely different trio. I'm  especially excited because the author Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay.

3. I am back to my crazy work-school-taxi schedule which includes little free time, BUT the writing bug has bitten and I've been squeezing in a bit of writing time each day. Yay.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Goodies

Hey!
How've you been?

Just popping in to say I miss you and I hope to blog for real soon. The second half of the summer has proved to be nothing short of chaotic. Thankfully, it's been all mostly good. The highlights include my parents unexpectedly visiting for a week. We had a blast spending time with each other every day, especially since my dad has had some serious medical issues and we hadn't seen my parents in 3 years. Also, the last few weeks have been focused on shopping, organizing, and packing for my oldest child who is leaving for college. I'm proud and excited (and sad and wish I were going off to college for the 1st time). This is huge and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to react when leave him 900 miles away [he's 18, Suz, not 8], but I did buy the biggest box of tissues I could find, just in case.

Suffice it to say there has been little time for reading, writing, blogging, or internet time. However, before I scoot out of here again, I'd like to mention a couple of good things happening in the writing world.

First, if you haven't heard already, my buddy, Donna Hosie has an agent! She's being represented by Beth Phelan of the Waxman Agency. Yay, Donna! She has worked so hard, and even through the ups and downs of her writing journey, she never lost faith in herself and her writing. She's truly an inspiration to me and many others.Why not click over her blog, Musings of a Penniless Writer, and congratulate her? And if you're not a follower, I'd encourage you to follow her blog. She's sooooo close to 300.

Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing. If I wasn't driving a round trip of 1800 miles this month, this is what I'd be doing right now. Another dear Donna friend, Donna Weaver, from Weaving A Tale or Two is writing like a maniac this month trying to reach 50,000 words. Keep going, Donna! I believe in you!

Also, Write On Con is happening, like, now! What I love about this conference, besides the fact that it's FREE, is that even if you can't participate while it's happening, the threads and vlogs are up to view when it's convenient. I can still listen to the awesome advice from agents, editors and authors at my leisure.

Oh! Have you seen Josin McQuein's cover for Premeditated? I can't wait for this book!

So that's about it! I hope to visit your blogs as soon as things settle down in about a week or two.

What's been happening with you? I'd love to read about it or even a quick hello in the comments.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Favorites 7/6/12

Favorite Song of the Week
"In February" by Delay Trees - Special thanks to Jason (and I suspect Tuuli too :) for recommending this Finnish band. This song is a great addition to my current WIP playlist. It perfectly captures a mood I'm trying to write for my main character.

Favorite Dream
David Grohl gave me a pixie haircut using a razor. Not quite the Stephenie Meyersesque dream that would inspire a novel and catapult my writing career. That's what I get for sharing my "worst haircut ever" story with my sis-in-law recently and watching Foo Fighters videos last Tuesday night.

How sweet is this little sleeping chickadee?
Favorite Summer Moment
My 8-year-old loves to go out in our backyard and explore after dinner. The heat of the day has subsided and it's quiet, except for the birds calling back and forth to each other. Often, I join her and read or write outside. Last week we watched two chickadees hop around a spruce tree on the other side of my fence in my neighbor's yard. After a while, the pair flew down to the fence, hopping from the pointed top pickets to the horizontal rails. Then one chickadee nestled itself in the corner between the post and the top rail. We watched it, amazed at how after a short time, the little bird appeared to be sleeping. And sure enough, the other chickadee did the same  in the corner of the next post. As twilight approached we left the sleeping birds and went inside. They've repeated this ritual every night since. Moments like this: Gold.

Tell me about your favorite anything this week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

One Word in Front of the Other: IWSG


If you saw this badge in your blogroll yesterday and today, you'll know that it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I think I need to add my name to the official Alex list because I missed a couple of months, but I'm posting today anyway.

I'm in the infatuation stage of my latest WiP. Head over heels with my first chapter!

Instead of jumping right into to my ms this time with only a couple of character names, I thought about it a lot. I listened to music, wrote a lot of notes and let the ideas simmer. I've had this idea inside me for such a long time that knowing where to start overwhelmed me. I did have a couple hundred words written down from when I first attempted this last fall, but soon realized that this was not where my story needed to start. But where?

To answer that question, I needed to know not only where I wanted to start but where and how I wanted this to end, and how to get there. Actually, I had a pretty good idea on how it was going to end, but there was a huge, wide gap in the middle.

Until last week. Again, the music. I can't explain it, but somehow the story poured out as I listened to "Simple Song" by The Shins and "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters to name a couple. Before I knew it I had a long list of plot points that I could easily organize into an outline.

Three things have helped me in this starting over process:
1. brainstorming and solitary thinking time (something that I have now that the school/work year is over)
2. an outline identifying my starting point, my ups, downs, and turning points, conflicts and resolutions.
3. reading books on writing - I want to emphasize here that I wasn't looking for any answers or shortcuts, but rather wanted read the experience of others. I learn so much by reading about other author's journeys and feel inspired to find my own way.

I just finished the first chapter and want to jump for joy. I'll admit I was afraid of where those first words would come from and if the rest would follow. And they did. Because you know what? I'm a writer and I love to write.

If you're doubting yourself and feeling insecure, I'd like to recommend a book I'm reading now called Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg. It's encouraging and reminds us that we write because we find joy in the act of expressing ourselves with the written word. Sometimes there are times  in our lives that take us away from our writing. Sometimes it's a short time while we finish a project, study for exams, take care of sick children, etc. Other times it's a long stretch - 9 long months for me - and we wonder if that same joy will return, wonder if we'll remember how to write, and wonder if it's worth starting over.

Let me assure you, if you're meant to be a writer, it's worth it. That familiar pull to spend an hour on the computer or with my notebook, the satisfaction of writing a 500 word scene without blinking and then reading it back and thinking, "Damn. This is pretty good." There's nothing like it.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Creating Characters

*Favorite Things Friday will return next week. I intended to get this post up earlier in the week but life butted in instead. I thought it would be too long with the favorites.

I'm currently developing the main characters for my new WIP and having a blast. One element of this novel is to create a strong, trio of friends. I've been reading some great posts and chapters about how to develop memorable characters, and thinking about some of my favorite literary characters, particularly in children's literature.I thought I'd share a little about how I'm approaching these characters and how I'm shaping their personalities.

As I searched around the net for tips on this topic, I knew I didn't want to fill in a huge character trait sheet. Some authors love this method when they're starting out.. And I say, "If that's what inspires you, go for it!" Instead, I thought about what was important to me, what do I like to know about someone, and tried to come up with my own brief profile for my main characters and some secondary ones.

At first I just brainstormed and took notes, particularly after listening to music which I felt represented something about that character. The floodgates of personality and backstory open up when I listen to these songs. Then I try to organize my thoughts in each character's profile. I'm also asking myself questions about how I want to portray relationships between characters and taking notes on that. Below, are a couple of links to recent posts about developing characters which I've found helpful. And I've included the brief profile and some of the questions I've been using. I hope you find them helpful.

Excellent posts on character development:

Crafting Multi-Layered Characters @ Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing
Developing Characters with multiple posts on different topics relating to character @ Janice Hardy's blog, The Other Side of the Story.


Name:
Song:
Age:
Place in family:
Physical Description:
Personality Traits:
Quirks:
Comforts:
Favorites:
Pet Peeves/Frustrations:
What is s/he good at:
Not so good at:
Fears/Insecurities:
Hopes/Dreams:
Beliefs:

Backstory Information:

Questions:
How did they meet each other?
What has sealed their friendship with each other?
How do these friends relate to their parents/family? How does affect who they are and how they relate to each other?

Do you create your characters before you start writing or develop them as you go along? Do you use a profile or character sheet? What do you like to ask yourself (or your characters) as you create them?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Favorite Things Friday

As most of you know, I'm a messy blogger. Oh sure, the blog itself is neater than my bedroom - with a place  for posts, bio, books read, followers (Hi all!), and so on - but there's no rhyme or reason as to when or what I might post on a given day. I like it that way. So I thought I'd experiment with a little organization. Hopefully, I won't break out in hives. Fridays are going to be Favorite Things Friday. This will be an easier post for me to write and the favorites might be anything: books, songs, movies, television shows, moment of the week, latest discovery...whatever. Then I'll turn it over to you to share a favorite from one of the week's categories. Pretty simple, right?

Favorite Songs (not necessarily new, just recent faves of the week)
Little Talks by Of Monster and Men - my 8 year old and I love this song. I've been known to call her from  the car so she can listen at home and sing with me.
Whirring - The Joy Formidable
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me - The Smiths (an oldie but a goodie) There's nothing like a brooding Morrissey to get me in the mood to write a heavy, emotional scene.
Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes (discovered this older song on the no good horrible day that I describe below. It does relate to favorites - really - but I understand if you want to skip my rant)

an aside:
 If you heard wailling and teeth gnashing a couple of weeks ago, it's because my favorite radio station, WFNX, was sold and will at a later unknown date, be replaced by a different genre. The rumor is country music. This is THE station to listen to in the Boston area for great alternative/indie music, the REASON I started listening to The Smiths, The The, Talking Heads, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, The Shins...the ONLY station which not only plays alternative music long before the mainstream stations discover a song that could be a crossover hit, but they play other songs by those groups that you NEVER hear elsewhere (except if you have satelllite radio, which I don't) or you listen on the computer (I'm just not on it long enough). And... I'll stop hear and spare you my full rant. This a portion of the monologuing which my kids had to endure the day I learned I'd have to give up the radio station I've loved for twenty something years, the radio station that has provided the soundtrack to my life. Yeah, mom can get dramatic at times. They rolled their eyes too. No worries.

Favorite Book This Week
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I promise I'll stop mentioning this book, eventually... but not today. I know it's not everyone's bottle of Yahoo, but this novel really struck a chord with me. This is my second post on Perks (and really it's only a mini mention) so you know there's at least one more coming. You may recall I gushed about Laini Taylor for 3. I'll move on, I promise.

Favorite Blog Posts
THIS is why I love Kiersten White.


This concludes the first Favorite Things Friday. What do you think - regular feature or nix it? What are your current favorite songs books, and/or blog posts?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Reading: What I'm Looking Forward To, Part II

On the last day of school, my kids received their summer required reading lists. Thankfully, there's been little grumbling about them this year. My soon to be 8th grader has a couple of required, one to pick from a variety, and one of her own choice. My sophomore is pumped that she gets to read The Hunger Games as one of her required books.

Me? I look forward to making my own list since I have more time to spend reading. My perfect list is a mixture of current YA and adult fiction, at least one classic, and at least one reread that's been on my mind over the past few months. I'm also adding a new category called Vintage YA which I'll blog about soon. I may also throw in a writing craft book, a biography, something non-fiction.

So, without further ado here's my tentative, subject to change on a whim at any time, summer reading assignment:

Current:
I define current as anything published from about 5 years ago up until now (or soon to be released)

1. Endlessly by Kiersten White (to be released July 24th) - I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I loved Paranormalcy, loved Supernaturally even more, and am looking forward to how Kiersten wraps up Evie's story.
2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth - I've had this one reserved at the library for a while. It's due in any day now.
*claps hands together gleefully*
3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - reading right now

Classic:
These are novels that I've never read but feel I should at some point in my life. I'm considering the following:
The Great Gatsby - This one is at the top of my list. Have you seen the trailer for the movie? Very cool.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Reread:
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Miscellaneous: (biography, non-fiction, craft, etc.)
Writing the Breakout Novel  by Donald Maass (reading right now)


Vintage YA: 
A new category for me which may turn into a regular feature of my blog.

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I just finished this last week and feel the need to reread it already! Post on this novel coming soon.
2. Feed by M.T. Anderson (this would also fall under the reread category)
3. The Giver - Lois Lowry


What about you? Do you read more in the summer? Do you like to create a summer reading list? Any book you're dying for me to read? Do tell in the comments below.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I'm Looking Forward To: Part I

I am officially on summer vacation which means I'm home until after Labor Day. I started writing a post of what I'm looking forward to this summer but quickly realized I should break it up into a few posts. There's just too much! I decided to leave out the personal stuff which would be boring to most and concentrate on writing and reading.

#1 - Most definitely, working on my WIP. As of now it only has a working title of After, and about two and half written pages, but I'm using a completely different method than my usual minimal outline and write by the seat of my pants.

Although I put my writing on hold during my busy late winter, early spring months, I never stopped reading. And I read some terrific books (see right sidebar for 2012 books read). The books that I absolutely loved had one thing in common: well developed characters. I'm making it my mission to try and do the same with my novel. And so I'm doing a lot, A LOT, of prep work before diving into the writing. I want my characters to come to life in my readers' brains. I want readers to feel like they really know my characters. Physical description is important yes, but ultimately I think we visualize our own versions of characters. What's more important, imho, is what makes a character tick: her background, her likes and dislikes, his quirks, his hopes and fears, her friends, his  talents and shortcomings, etc.

I'm not using character charts or questionaires at this point, though some authors swear by them. Instead I'm using a method which sort of presented itself to me. Music. I love music and it's always been important in my own life, especially while living through my teenage years and 20s. Lyrics, melodies, and tempos have carried me through the ups and downs of my life experiences. About nine months ago I was brainstorming  in my head while driving. Hey Jude by the Beatles came on the radio. Immediately, I thought "Jude," perfect for my female main character. The hopeful lyrics lead to me visualizing this girl's emotional journey, and I wrote out a rough sketch of her story. Since then, about a half dozen other songs have triggered a feel for some of my other characters. It's wild! I never in a million years thought that I'd plan a novel through the feelings and visualizations that I experience while listening to these songs, but the truth is, my characters have begun to take shape. And it's exciting!

Another method I plan to utilize this time is storyboarding. I read a fantastic post on storyboarding by Mary Carroll Moore who blogs at How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book.  Her video goes through the method step by step and I think my novel could really benefit by it.

Do you use music or create playlists to inspire you while writing? Have you used storyboarding to plot out  your novels? If not, what's your favorite method if you have one?


Monday, June 4, 2012

Searching for Arthur

I'm thrilled to feature Searching For Arthur, the debut young adult urban fantasy novel, self published by my dear friend, Donna Hosie. First, about the book and then an interview with Donna below:



Legend tells of King Arthur, mortally wounded at the hand of the traitorous Mordred in the final battle of Camlann. Before he was taken to the magical Vale of Avalon, Arthur declared that one day he would return, when the kingdom of Logres was once more in need of his leadership.


That day has now come. 


It is hard to make friends when you’re constantly on the move. Seventeen-year-old Natasha Roth’s father is a diplomat, and so her mother – who is paranoid about terrorists – has moved Natasha and her brother, Arthur, to their eighteenth house in seventeen years: Avalon Cottage, deep in the heart of a Welsh forest.

Yet the terrorists are closer than they realize.

While out running, Natasha falls into a hidden tomb and awakens the legendary knights of Camelot: young warriors who have been in an enchanted sleep for a thousand years. All have been waiting patiently for the return of Arthur from the mysterious land of Avalon.

And now the knights are awake, they intend to reclaim their king.

When Arthur goes missing, Natasha joins forces with his girlfriend, “Slurpy” Samantha, in order to look for him. Natasha believes Samantha has fewer brain cells than an amoeba; Samantha believes Natasha is a freak. Retracing Natasha’s original steps to the hidden tomb, they bicker their way into a Welsh mountain and beyond, to the realm of Logres where the Knights of the Round Table are rallying once more.

Natasha falls in love with Sir Bedivere, the most loyal of knights to Arthur. He may be in dire need of a 21st Century razor, but he still possesses a set of lime-green eyes that can melt the soul. Yet just as Natasha starts to find confidence in this mystical land, Samantha deserts her. People who play by the rules are of no use to “Slurpy”. Samantha will take her own path to Arthur, aided and abetted by the dark arts which she willingly absorbs from a hot young stranger called Mordred.

A race across magical yet deadly lands is on. Natasha battles dwarf-riders, dragons, and eventually “Slurpy” to reach Camelot, where Arthur is held captive by the barbarian Saxon, Balvidore.

Natasha’s woes become numerous. What will happen to her and Arthur when the knights realise the eighteen-year-old boy they thought was their king, is in fact a math student with appalling taste in girls? Can two people with a one thousand year age gap really have a relationship? And for the love of all things holy, how is a girl supposed to ride bareback in a pair of skinny jeans?



First things first, Donna. I'm so freaking proud of you, girl! Okay, now on to the questions.

1. You're a married mom with three children and a puppy, plus you work full time...how do you juggle writing with the responsibilities of a very busy everyday life? I am ├╝ber organised. I have to be. My family comes first, but I am lucky that my children are all of an age where they are pretty self-sufficient. I really enjoy my job, (I am the Executive Assistant to a Government Director-General), and I work long hours. So my writing takes place in the early morning, and I am talking 5am, and I try to grab an hour in the evening as well. My husband doesn't even realise 5am exists! It can be done and I am very driven so I make it work. However I don't beat myself up if circumstances mean I have to miss a day of writing. It fits around me, not the other way around.



2. While writing Searching for Arthur, what part of the writing process did you find the most difficult? Oh other writers are going to hate me for this, but I don't find the writing process difficult. I've never had writer's block; I've never hit a mid-novel slump. I rarely write more than two pages a day, so I think about a particular scene, write it, and then save and close. I don't think about writing then until the next day when I am fresh. I enjoy editing because my view is you are always making the ms better. If there was one stressful aspect in the creative process of Searching for Arthur, I would say it was turning down representation. I really battled with everything you learn about "making it", but once the decision was made, it was a weight off my shoulders.

3. What makes you keep writing on the days that you feel like giving up? I never feel like giving up. I love it too much. And I have always had this self-belief that I could do this. There are a million things I can't do - I can't cook, I am hopeless at sport - but I can think of a good story and put in down on a page.

4. How long did you consider self publishing before you took the plunge? It was in the back of my mind for about 6 months. Then I spent a month seriously considering it and learning about the process before deciding to withdraw from the agency model. I published Searching for Arthur 5 months after that, so I certainly didn't rush into it. It isn't right for everyone, but I decided it was right for this series.


5. What advice would you give to those who are considering self publishing? Become informed and take your time. I see too many writers finish a book on the Monday and upload it by the Friday. This is your career so you cannot cut corners. I formatted no more than a chapter a day because I wanted it to be perfect. I would also recommend a professional cover designer. I have had so many wonderful comments about the cover of Searching for Arthur. It was done by Design for Writers and it was a truly collaborative experience. It is perfect. Taking control over every aspect of my release has been very empowering but I am all too aware of the responsibility. DO NOT RUSH INTO IT!

6. What authors have inspired you? J.K. Rowling has been a huge influence and I get pissed off when I see industry professionals say you should never mention her. Why the hell not?! She created a world that was fantastical and yet believable and, as a writer of urban fantasy, this is exactly what I want to emulate. I love Stephanie Perkins, Philip Pullman, Victoria Hislop, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon is my God! Too many to mention. Oh, and Tolkien, and Kate Morton, and...

7. Snack of choice?  Chocolate. Or cheese. I love cheese. My heaven is going to be made of cheese. Then I will eat it all and end up fat in Hell! Which will probably be made of asparagus which I hate!

8. What are you working on now? Now Searching for Arthur is published I am working on getting the sequel ready for release by the end of the year. I've spent over a year on it already and it is in the final editing stages. It will be called The Fire of Merlin and I really love it - (the character of Slurpy Sammy has a really fun/evil story arc in this one.) I also have an entirely different series ready to roll; the first book is called The Devil's Intern. It is about four time-travelling devils and that is currently going through the revise and resubmit process with five literary agents. I haven't decided 100% what I am going to do with that one in terms of publishing. Wait and see I guess!

And now for the part where I blush and get all squirmy and embarrassed. But because she's my friend and it's her moment to shine, I'll give her free reign to share some additional comments. 

I would just like to be indulgent for a second and grab this moment to thank Suzie again - she is also in the credits of Searching for Arthur but sometimes things need to be repeated! Suzie has been my dear friend for a number of years now and every writer needs a Suzie! She has supported me through tough times and championed me through great times. She gave me her time, which often proves to be the most generous gift of all.

Thank you so much, Donna. It goes both ways, my friend. I wish you much success!

You can visit Donna Hosie at her blog, Musings of A Penniless Writer and purchase her e-book, Searching for Arthur through Amazon.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Retellings


A Curse Dark as Gold
I'll admit it, I'm not drawn to fairy tale retellings and I don't usually seek them out. I'm not sure why because when I discover one accidentally, I'm usually not disappointed. For example, Plain Kate by Erin Bow is based on Russian folklore and was an excellent read. And the fact is this corner of the MG/YA market is quite popular. Have you noticed the stream of Snow Whites and Red Riding Hoods at the movies lately?

On a recent trip to my local library, Elizabeth Bunce's, A Curse Dark as Gold kind of presented itself to me. As I was searching the shelves for something to read, I picked up Starcrossed, another of Bunce's books. The jacket read, "...author of  ACDasG, winner of the ALA Morris Debut YA award." This piqued my curiosity, and as luck would have it, Curse sat on the shelf, tucked up tight against the other book. I read the jacket and was intrigued that it was a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Though I've always found Rumplestiltskin rather creepy, it's one of my favorites because of how the miller's daughter finally outwits him. If you're not familiar with the tale click here to read more.

Bunce's excellent storytelling and likable main character drew me right in. Charlotte is strong, courageous, and determined to keep her family's mill running despite problems that arise, both the seemingly ordinary and the unexplainable, which have plagued the Millers for generations. The mystery is slowly revealed throughout the novel and revolves around a curse which Charlotte denies at first, but eventually must face and overcome. I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling and would recommend it to anyone who loves YA historical fantasy.

Below are other novels based on  fairy tales, mythology or folklore.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (based on the Snow Queen)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (inspired by the Greek myth Theseus - click link for an interview with Collins about her inspiration for the trilogy)
Beastly by Alex Flinn
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Myer: Cinder (Cinderella), Scarlet (Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White)

I've heard good things about Cinder and recently reserved it at my library. Can't wait to read it!

What do you think about fairy tale/folklore retellings? Not original enough or entertaining? What are some of your favorites? I'd love to add them to my TBR list.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Made It: My Ode to May

I made it to the other side of May.
I'm lighter, brighter, and almost, but not quite, carefree.
I'm not going to lie to you, folks - it was not an easy month.
It was full of very high highs, of the most memorable moments.
And it contained an extremely low, low. One that made me stare fear in the face and almost took my breath away. I wish I could share it here. But to put it into words for all to see...I'm not ready for that. I'll just say that I came close to losing someone I love. But thankfully, I didn't.

May, I love you.
I wish that I could slow down and cherish every one of your days, but you always seem to pass in the blink of an eye.
My boy graduated from high school and is on the brink of his next great adventure: college.
I tearfully watched my youngest as she joyfully received her First Communion (and her 2nd and 3rd, etc. with just as much joy).
I noticed how the showers you brought deepened the green grass of my lawn.
And how you dressed my shrubs with beautiful fuschia and purple flowers.
The warmth of the sun and the gentle breezes blowing through my open windows comforted me on some of my darker days.

The end of May is now in sight; it's Memorial Day weekend. Three days of no committments, nowhere I have to go,
The fear lingers a bit, but it won't consume me.
I shared many happy moments with family and friends, some of whom  I haven't seen in quite some time. And I have a deeper appreciation for the free time that I now have. I plan to not waste it, but to use it wisely.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You, Nathan Bransford

Do you ever feel like you're letting everyone down - your family, your friends, the writing communtiy, yourself -when you stop writing? I do.

Today's post by Nathan Bransford couldn't have been written at a better time. Sometimes I feel like my writing life - my me time, my novel, the friends I've made through blogging - are slipping away. I am in the midst of the most hectic month this year with proms/dances, awards ceremonies, my daughter's First Communion, birthday parties (3 [make that 4 since I began writing this post]), graduations, the science fair, along with spring sports. When there is down time, I sleep, snatch a few moments to read, or watch something that requires little concentration (I've become a big fan of HGTV and Storage Wars on A&E. Who knew?)

I'm a firm believer in what Nathan wrote in his post:

Life comes before writing every single time. Do what you need to do.

My new mantra.

I know I didn't need it, but thank you, Nathan, for the permission to put my writing on hold.  I can see the end of the madness; it's within sight.

Looking forward to a productive June, July, and August!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blog Hold

So, you may have noticed I've been scarce lately. My life has been happening away from the computer for the last few months. That's a good thing. Big things are happening in my family. I've mentioned my oldest who has finally heard back from all colleges about acceptances and financial aid. I'm so proud of him and I couldn't be happier about the school he will be attending for the next four years. At the same time, I'm going to have get used to my first born leaving home and living hundreds of miles away. The lump is already hardening in my throat.

But I didn't start this post to focus on what's going on in my life. I suppose I just wanted to touch base with you all. See, I have this niggling voice in the back of my brain. It whispers, "They'll forget about you. They don't care if you post or not. They'll move on without you." I know this isn't true or at least I hope it isn't. But I guess I'm just insecure about being forgotten, ignored, or scrolled over (that's gotta hurt. kind of like a steamroller). Because no matter how much I claim that I'm fine, I like being accepted into group of like minded peers, being validated by others who write.

And so I feel I can tell you that I still feel like a writer, even though I haven't been writing.
What I have been doing in the midst of everything is reading (albeit a lot slower), thinking, rereading an old draft, and planning on which direction I need to take.

And sometimes when I'm feeling sorry for myself and feel like my writing/blogging life is on hold, I say these words to myself...

Write for Yourself
Blog for Yourself
Read for Yourself
Be Yourself...not what you think others expect.

I hope you are all well. Those of you participating in A-Z...well done! I'm enjoying your posts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is special. I'd even dare to call it perfect. I realize that this is highly subjective; that there will be someone who won't share the same opinion as me. But when you read such a book, it stays on your mind and you want to tell all you meet.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is such a book.

Though I don't usually post reviews, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Monster, especially since I haven't seen many reviews of this book around the blogosphere. Trust me...this is a gem of a novel. One that I will buy in hardcover and be proud to add to my collection of favorites.

A Monster Calls is the extraordinary tale of Conor, a 13-year-old boy, dealing with a painful truth, as he tries to handle living with his mother who is undergoing cancer treatment. Now wait a minute. If you're thinking, "Yeah. This is not my kind of book. It will be too sad and depressing," may I suggest that you give this book a chance (and trust me, you'll only need the first chapter). Not only did I fall in love with Conor, but I was fascinated by the monster "that comes walking" to visit him.

Okay, that's all I'm going to give away about the story line. But let me share one more thought. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (and if you haven't, why not? this is one of the most amazing books ever written...ahem, but I digress. sorry for the opiniated aside) and most you remember how you felt when you finished that novel. When I first heard that The Book Thief was about a girl living in Nazi Germany who steals books, I put off reading it because I thought it would be too depressing and not really my kind of book (whatever "my kind of book" actually means). After many recommendations, I finally borrowed it from the library, became completely immersed in Liesel's story, smiled and cried as I read it,  hugged it tightly to my chest when I finished, and declared it one of my all time favorite books.

A Monster Calls is a very different story, but it had the same effect on me. In my humble opinion, every word is perfect, every illustration is perfect. Words that come to mind are powerful, haunting, and yes, sad.

But every word, every tear is worth it. Read it. You won't be sorry.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Walk Like A Zo-om-bie

It's not the B-side to the Bangles', "Walk Like an Egyptian." Though now that tune will be on replay in my head all day.

But if you find yourself feeling like the undead, or exhibiting 1 or more of the following zombie-like symptoms this morning...

  1. eyes swollen shut and/or dark circles under your eyes
  2. shuffling around the kitchen or workplace
  3. uttering unintelligible moans that sound something like cooooffeeee
  4. an unnatural craving for your neighor's, spouse's, workmate's brains
(scratch that last one. if you do have an appetite for innards then you may want to examine where you've been sleeping lately.)

...don't panic! The acopolypse isn't here just yet. It's only...

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!


Give yourself a couple of days to adjust and in no time you'll be back to feeling your normal early morning exhaustion.

But until then enjoy the extra hour of daylight today. Here in the northeast, the temps will be flirting with 70 degrees this afternoon. My advice on how to eliminate that zombie state of being is to get out there and bask in the beautiful sunshine, or if you're like me, open a window and take a nap.

How do you handle daylight savings time? Love it or hate it?


Monday, March 5, 2012

Mourning A Piece of My Childhood

Last week was long and exhausting: work, anxiety over college forms, and tackling projects around the house. But I was able to work through it with patience, diligence, perseverance, and even a few tears.

What I didn't expect to deal with last week was mourning the death of one of my first crushes...Davy Jones.

Over the past few days I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos of Davy which has brought back many memories of my adolescence. I  loved watching reruns of the Monkees during the 70s. Although the band was created for the television show, something I didn't know at the time, I instantly fell for the shorter Monkee with the dark, bowl cut hair, cute dimples, and British accent. Oh, that accent! I don't remember how old I was exactly when I discovered the Monkees, somewhere in the 10 to 12 range. I loved their zany antics and catchy songs. But the only one who set my heart a flutter was Davy.

What I'm going to write next will undoubtedly sound goofy to some, (though I suspect not to my female readers) but remember my age at the time.  Forget the boy (another Dave) in my 4th grade class who shot 'i love you' notes across the room with elastics to get my attention. He even had a similar hairstyle - bowl cut around the ears (it was the 70s, folks). Wasn't interested. Most of the boys I knew either acted weird, ignored me, or teased me. Alex liked to point out that I walked funny. Richie thought it was funny to ask me, "Why don't you ever talk? And what's on your forehead? (pimples)"

Watching Davy on that silly TV show stirred something inside me. Around this time I started taking tenative steps away from childhood and toward young adulthood, experiencing feelings that were both confusing and exciting at the same time. I began to think, Hey, maybe boys aren't that bad after all. Maybe kissing a boy wouldn't be that bad (if he looked like Davy). Maybe the Monkees will come to my town someday, like they sing in the opening song, and I'll get to meet him! Yes, I was a bit of a daydream believer.

Leif couldn't do it.
Donny didn't do it.
Shawn? Uh uh.

But Davy? He could and did.
Davy was cute, fun, had a smile that lit up the room, could sing, and did I  mention his accent?


Rest in peace, dear Davy. Thanks for the sweet memories.

Tell me about your first adolescent crush.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tag, I'm It!

I've been tagged not once but twice this week. First, by RachelMaryBean at Writing On the Wall and also by Donna Weaver at Weaving A Tale or Two. That's what I get for trying to run away in my slippers.


The Rules:
1. You post the rules! Check
2. Answer the questions and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
3. Tag eleven some people and link to them.
4. Let them know you've tagged them.


First up - Rachel's List


1. What is one item on your bucket list? Spend a night in the Ice Hotel.


2.  Please share a goal you have accomplished. Still working on those.


3.  What's the next book onyour To be read list? Crossed by Ally Condie


4.  What's the last book you loved? My current read, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, before that Plain Kate by Erin Bow.


5.  What author would you love to meet? (Alive or dead is fine, it's a fantasy after all) J.K. Rowling


6.  If you could pick a name for yourself, what would it be? My married name is perfect for me


7.  What was your first pet? A schnauzer named Lucky


8.  Chocolate or caramel? Is there anything better than chocolate? If so, I haven't discovered it yet.


9.  Do you like to read about the past, present, or future? All of the above.


10. Where would be your dream vacation? A secluded, ocean-front cottage anywhere.


11. What did you have for dinner last night? roasted red pepper and pepperoni pizza and a glass of chardonnay


Second up - Donna's List (or How to torture your friend with mind boggling questions. These were hard, but very creative, Donna.)

1. If Abe Lincoln and George Washington got into a fight who'd win--and why? Oh dear. History and I don't get along. Um, Abe because he wore a taller hat?


2.  What was your favorite book in 2011. I wrote a post about my favorites here. If I had to choose one it would be Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins with Laini Taylor's, Daughter of Smoke and Bone a close second.


3.  If you had a magical snail that could grant wishes, what would you ask for? Three hours of me time every day.


4.  What would your last meal be if you were on death row? Okay, my first thought was, "What in the name of all things holy am I doing on death row???" Once I got past that: a tender, juicy steak, garlic mashed potatos, asparagus, two warm dinner rolls with butter and a couple of glasses of chardonnay. For dessert, a sampler of some of my favorite Italian pastry and a slice of chocolate truffle cake with a cup pot of Kona coffee.


5.  Who is your favorite, Bill or Ted? Why? Not sure. I've never seen the movie.


6.  What will your weapon of choice be for the coming zombie apocalypse? Why? A blindfold. I'm terrified of zombies. See post here.


7.  Who is your favorite literary stalker? I'm not sure I understand this question. Or maybe I haven't come across many fictional stalkers. Would Snape be considered a stalker. If so, Severus.


8.  If people were thrown in jail for bad habits, what would you be thrown in jail for? Eating too many sweets.

9.  What is the most distant place you've ever visited? Medjugorje, Yugoslavia


10. If a spaceship were to land outside your house right now, would you get in? If yes, where would you ask it to take you--and it could be anywhere you wanted to go. No way I'm getting on a spaceship voluntarily. Just sayin'.


11. Who is your favorite author? That's like asking me, who's your favorite child? Just can't answer it.


Now my questions for those I tag  Mwah, hah, hah, hah, *cough* hah!

1. What is your favorite shade of blue?
2. Morning or night person?
3. Name a book that made you cry.
4. What literary place, real or imaginary, would you like to visit and why?
5. Sweet or sour?
6. What would you do if you had a day all to yourself?
7. Do you write on the computer or longhand?
8. What was your favorite book as a child?
9. Name one possession that you couldn't live without.
10. How many states have you visited?
11. What music, if any, do you like to write to?


And now for the helpless victims:
Laura Josephsen @ Everything you didn't want to know about writing
nutschell @ The Writing Nut
Chris Phillips @ Slushpile Savant
Meredith @ Fairy Tales and Cappuccino

Tag! You're it! No pressure to play but if you'd like to, see rules at top of post.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What I Love...A Valentine's Day Post


 A long overdue thank you to Annalisa Crawford for the Liebster Award and a special thank you to Rachel Mary Bean for the Kreative Blogger Award and theVersatile Blogger Award. I appreciate the nod, ladies. Please go visit their blogs and say “Hi.” 




Instead of listing more facts about myself, I’ve decided on this Valentine’s Day to share some of the  things I love.

*My husband and my 4 kids.

*An early Saturday morning while everyone is still sleeping with a cup of coffee and the computer.

*That I have one child that will still greet me in the morning with a hug and sit on my lap in my arms for a couple of minutes before scampering off to watch Arthur or play with her stuffed animals.

*Reading. Anywhere, anytime.

*Sitting on my front steps after dinner with a glass of Chardonnay.

*Gazing at a starry sky.

*When the moon is full outside my front window at 5:30AM while I stumble downstairs to begin my day.

*Walking the beach searching for treasures: scalloped shells, sea glass, and smooth finger rubbing stones.

*The call from the library that informs me that one of my requested books has come in.

*Anything chocolate. Anything.

*My blogging buddies J

Thank you Annalisa!


Thank you Rachel Mary Bean!






Please share in the comments something you love! Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins


Today I'm participating in the Origins Blogfest created by DL Hammons and co-sponsored by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Matt at the QQQE, Katie at Creepy Query Girl.


The topic: Tell us where your writing dreams began.

I’m not sure dreams had anything to do with it. That is to say, I didn’t dream of becoming an author as a child or even a teen. However, I’ve always had an active imagination and have always loved to write.

As a kid I could easily lose myself in my imagination, whether it was with a friend or by myself. Playing “house” (which took on various forms: family, famous rock star, animal hospital), creating scenarios with stuffed animals or dolls, creating comic strips and stories revolving around my favorite toys were my favorite forms of childhood play. I remember tap-tap-tapping on my mom’s manual typewriter, erasable typing paper, and the correcting pencil – rubber eraser on one end, brush on the other - to fix pesky typos. The adventures of Ellie and Marie were the first writings I received praise for at the ripe old age of 8 or 9. 

After that my 4th grade teacher, whom I adored, asked if she could submit my poem to Jack and Jill, a children’s publication. Of course I said, “Okay,” but soon got my first taste of rejection – a “thank you for submitting but we can’t accept your poem at this time” type of letter. I was heartbroken for about 5 minutes. What stuck was that someone looked past the quiet, shy girl and believed that something I wrote was good enough to send in to a magazine. I still have the pleasure of seeing that teacher occasionally when I visit the library. In 5th grade my essay on some forgotten topic (how awful that I can’t remember) won a citywide writing contest. I was embarrassed as all heck and couldn’t quite believe I won, but it made an impression. This was something I was good at.

Still, I never considered writing as a career. Writing a novel seemed beyond anything that I could ever accomplish. As a teen I wrote in diaries and journals, but I kept those to myself and honestly, they were reflective, not creative, except for the occasional poem. During my college years, it was common for my friends and I to exchange letters. These were the days before cell phones (our floor shared 1 pay phone in the hallway) and email, so we kept in touch by writing to each other. We’d share news, stories about college life, with a mix of heart and wit – great training ground for developing our own unique writing voice.

As an elementary teacher my love of children's literature grew in leaps and bounds. I loved reading and sharing Francis Hodgson Burnett, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, among others with my classes. My biggest hope was that the kids would learn to love reading as much as I did.

Writing and reading of any kind took a back seat to raising a young family. It wasn’t until I discovered Harry Potter, read J.K. Rowling’s inspirational story, and joined a site devoted to discussing all things HP that I began to consider writing for children myself. With the encouragement of a close knit group of dear online friends I began testing my writing skills and researching the publishing world on the net.

Interest quickly turned to passion, an absolute love of expressing myself through the written word. I don’t know if I’ll ever be published, but the journey has been fantastic so far.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading, Writing, and Basketball (a.k.a. a perfect Saturday)


I can often tell when waking whether it’s going to be a good day, a stressful day, or simply ordinary. This morning I woke to the alarm; my husband had to work. Drifting in and out sleep while he got ready, I had a somewhat strange dream which made for a restless slumber...not to mention, I needed to use the bathroom. The dream lingered while I left my warm bed at 6:40AM, took care of business, and went downstairs. At first the dream threatened to disrupt the promise of a relaxing Saturday. However, the uneasiness soon dissolved as I bid goodbye to my husband, resolved to stay up. After all, I had some quiet time alone with a cup a coffee before the kids woke - a simple, rare pleasure.

This morning I took my coffee to my room where I read in bed for about an hour. Last night I started reading Erin Morgenstern’s, The Night Circus, a departure from what I usually read. As many of you may already know, this is an adult novel which involves magic and an intriguing cast of characters. I love everything about it so far, which makes reading more pleasurable, for sure, but hard to put down. I love when a book begs to be read and has my mind wandering back to it while I’m occupied with something else. My youngest eventually joined me, watching Pokemon while I read, then we went downstairs.

Reluctantly, I put my book aside so I could take advantage of my free morning and write. Granted, I only worked on blog posts – this one, my Origins post, and another for Valentine’s Day – but I’m writing. And the best part, it doesn’t feel like work. A good sign for this struggling writer.

Though I would have liked nothing more than to read and write my Saturday away, my youngest had a basketball game early this afternoon. We traveled with friends, as the game was a couple towns over, enjoying their company. The team is a mix of one first grader, and several 2nd and 3rd graders. We had about 10-12 players today. My daughter definitely has a competitive streak and loves to play. Today she scored her first 2 baskets in a game. Very exciting! The kids played their hearts out and it was so fun to watch.

The rest of my Saturday has involved alternating between reading, dozing, and writing. 
Perfect.

How did you spend your Saturday? Has anyone else read The Night Circus?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Phantom Cursor, A Blogfest, and Some Great Posts

A phantom curser! Whoa! That was weird. As I was typing, my cursor started floating to the top of the box by itself. Has that happened to anyone else before? My mug is filled with straight coffee, I swear. I'm not sure if I'm up to writing a ghost story. Anyway, back to the post at hand...

Today I want to direct you away from my blog for a couple of excellent and interesting blog posts. Do come back though because I'm going to break my "No Blogfests" rule next week and I'll tell you why below.


1. Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy, Supernaturally (which I'm in the middle of reading), and to be released later this year, Endlessly, displayed her critique process with the first chapter of Paranormlcy. In this post she displays the first draft of a section of Paranormalcy and what she cut or changed to tighten her writing. I'm always fascinated with this process.

2. Kidlit agent, Mary Kole, wrote a wonderful craft post titled, The Promise of the Novel. THIS is the post that I've been waiting for. A flood of realization soaked through me as I realized that I can't move forward with this novel because I started it in the wrong place.

Origins Blogfest - February 13, 2012

I've decided to break my, "I don't participate in blogfests" rule. I'm not against them or anything. On the contrary, I love to read the responses when my blogging friends participate in them. For me it's all about time and committment. I don't have a regular blogging schedule and don't like to commit to too much on the web because it takes me from my own writing. I blog when I can and usually don't know ahead of time when that will be.

So why did I decided to break my no blogfests rule? Because I love the Origins topic: Tell us where your writing dreams began. I've always wanted to share where it all began for me and I love reading about other writers' journeys, whether they're published or unpublished. When did that urge to write begin and why? For many it was during childhood and for some it was a hidden desire just waiting for the right time to sprout.

The Origins Blogfest, the brainchild of DL Hammons from Cruising Altitude, takes place on February 13, 2012. If you'd like to participate, click the image on the right which will take you to DL's blog.

Have a great day, everyone!