Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Favor?

BEGINNING OF THE ARCHIVE POSTS:

Guys, I've officially begun the Big Blog Overhaul of 2011!  Which means, the new blog is live at www.hddodson.com!  YAY!  It's so shiny!

But I need to check and see if you guys are seeing the feed in your Google Readers/Blogger Dashboards/etc to know if everything is working like it should be.

So, check out the shiny new look and let me know if the post from today showed up for you, please!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Technical Issues on the Blog

So that you all know, I'm having some issues with Blogger.  I keep commenting on blogs, and they keep disappearing into the ether.  I have no idea what is wrong with this, but please know I'm not ignoring you all -- I'm just having technical issues.  That's also why my posts are showing up so late in the day in your feeds...stupid Blogger.  They're all posted first thing in the morning, yet they aren't showing up until hours and hours later.

I keep thinking about switching to a different host for my blog, but I haven't done it yet because I don't want to go through the crazyness of figuring out how to change my feed sources and everything (I have no idea how that stuff works).  That may be where we're headed though unless Blogger can get it's stuff straight.

But I love reading all of your blogs, and love that you take the time to visit mine.  And if you have any knowledge of how to fix this issue, I'd be happy to hear it!

Thanks guys!  <3


Road Trip Wednesday - Kick Me Into Shape!

This week on the YAHighway, the topic is:

What kind of writing coach do you need? What kind are you?(This is in relation to Sarah's post on Mentors)

http://www.inkity.com/shirtdesigner/prints/clipArt1/N9786570.png


As for me, I think I fit right into the gentle honesty category (and I happen to think Tim Gun is pretty fabulous).  When I critique I'm very honest.  I'm not going to let anything slide, but I'm also going to make my comments and suggestions in the nicest possible way.  I use lots of smiley faces when I crit, just ask my buddies.  ;)  They say it softens the blow, and I have to agree.

As for what kind of coach I need, I think it depends on the day.  Some days I need that gentle honesty -- some days I just need someone to say, "Hmm, I really like the idea of super space raccoons invading the supermarket, but I don't think I quite understand where they came from.  I thought we were in contemporary Kansas?"  lol

Other times, I need some Brutal Honesty.  And I'll ask for it when I'm ready.  I want to know point blank what is weak, and don't worry about my feelings, I can handle it.

Probably most people will agree that having more than one type of coach/feedback on your writing is necessary and preferred even.  Not only does it help improve your writing on multiple levels, but it also thickens your skin and readies you for what's to come down the road.

What kind of coach do you prefer?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's NaNo Time!


http://files.content.lettersandlight.org/nano-2011/files/2011/10/Participant_180_180_white.png 


Today is the official kickoff of NaNoWriMo!  Woohoo!  I have no idea how you add writing buddies on the NaNo website, but if you do feel free to add me (or clue me in lol) I'm hddodson.

I was thinking that even though I haven't done NaNo before, I have written a couple of novels in a month, so maybe I could share a few tips with you guys.  Things I've learned the hard way so you don't have to.  ;)

1.  First of all, when you're writing a novel at such a fast pace, you've got to trust yourself.  This may be the hardest part for me, but I feel like it's also the most important one.  I don't know about you guys, but when I get about 1/3 of the way into any story I start getting clammy.  My fingers freeze up and my mind grinds to a halt because OMG this SUCKS.  This will never be a good story, why am I even bothering?  THAT, my friends, is where you've got to put the breaks on.  Everyone has their own way of working through this feeling, but all in all it's about trusting yourself as a storyteller to work out the problems.  Trust that you can fix anything that's wrong with it later and press on.

2.  Know where you're going.  Writing fast is all about passion for me.  You've got this story in you and it NEEDS to come out rightthissecond or you may explode from the force of it!  Again, this is from my perspective, but if I don't have a clear goal for where the story is going, I'll meander my way right out of it.  It can be as simple as a log line or as detailed as a stack of worksheets.  Whatever works for you, but know your path.  For Happily Never After, I started with a log line -- a girl gets trapped in a fairy tale, and has to escape before she loses her memories -- that's it.  For Tate's Hell I used an outline (Boy was that a lot easier too!).  Whatever works.  I'll be using an outline again this time.

3.  Don't find time, make time.  This is true all the time for any kind of writing I think, but especially for NaNo.  You can't just hope you'll find the time to write 2k words a day, because it won't happen.  You've got to search it out, squeeze it in wherever it will fit, even if it's only in ten minute increments.

And because I know you're all just dying for more pics of Super Spawn...here he is as Captain Jack Sparrow last night.  ;)




Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The day Super Spawn has been anxiously awaiting for about two months now is FINALLY here!  lol  My cute little kiddo is dressing up as Jack Sparrow tonight (complete with authentic dreads and pirate medallion lol).  He has been planning this costume since the beginning of September...seriously.

Oh, and this post is a 100% rambly about me kind of post, so fair warning.  :)

We spent the day yesterday baking (I had to make 2 dozen cupcakes AND 2 dozen sugar cookies for school!  Not to mention all the cupcakes and brownies for us to decorate. Gah! lol) and making fun concoctions for our annual Halloween get together.



Pinterest totally gets the credit for these. :)

Tonight we'll be having chili and hotdogs and trick-or-treating with some great friends.  I can't wait.

Do you guys have any Halloween traditions?  What will you be doing tonight?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fives -- A World Away



1.  Of course this would have to be Harry Potter, because -- it's Harry Potter.  I mean, you guys know me well enough to know OF COURSE I want to live in the magical world.  :D

2.  Perhaps the world of Once Upon A Marigold would be fun -- I mean, as long as I wasn't the one on the evil witch's bad side.  


3.  For the most part, I would not want to live in the worlds Juliette Marillier creates (even though they rank among my all-time favorites).  Let's face it, they're kinda evil.  Except maybe Wildwood Dancing...which that's really all about the choices you make.  Sorta.  No?  Well...still...I can't have a list without one of her books at least.  


4.  I'm realizing most of the books I read are either set in the real world or in REALLY SCARY other worlds.  Hmm...


5.  Dr. Seuss.  Maybe I could live in Oh the Places You'll Go...




Can you guys name five book worlds you'd like to live in?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WIP Reveal

I know I've been kinda secretive about my WIP, and...well...I'm not sure why.  Maybe because I love it so much.  :)  One of those times where you're scared to show someone a photo of your baby because OMG what if they think it's ugly?!  (Plus, secrets are kinda fun.)

But, I'm bucking up.  Mostly because it's getting too hard to be secretive with another project in the works that I'm bursting with excitement about.  Ha.

Therefore, I'd like you to meet TATE'S HELL, my YA thriller.

What's it about?  Well...

A legendary waterfall in the swamps of Florida isn't supposed to exist, but Delia Ray and her friends find it.  People aren't supposed to become possessed, but Delia watches in horror as her friends lose control of their own minds and bodies.  Riddles that mean the difference between life and death aren't meant to be solved, but that's the challenge Delia faces if she wants to escape. 

This isn't a query or anything, just a little blurb I came up with that I think is a fun way to describe the story.  What do you think?

Source: None via Holly on Pinterest


I lovelovelove this story, and I'm excited to share it with you.  Remember that post about the Legendary Forest?  Yeah.  This is my own personal twisty tale woven around that legend.  :)  Maybe one day I'll get to share it with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Building a World

So, something that has happened in my new project is leading me down a path of a whole bunch of world building.  Now, I've written my share of fantasy, but usually my stories have a firm basis in the real world even if there are crazy fantastical things happening to them.

With this new story, which I'm calling OLEA (Oh-lee), the world building is going a little further.  It's set in a sort-of alternative future, where an event in our history going very differently changed the shape of the world they live in.  (And not in a little way, like in HUGE ways.)

Since I was home with a sick kiddo yesterday, and got zero time to write, I pulled out my box of drawing supplies and decided to try my hand at creating the images in my head on paper.

Well, I kinda suck at drawing.  I mean, I took some classes back in the day, but...yeah.  An artist I am not.  (No matter how much I'd like to be. lol)  Proof:



The dress is *supposed* to look like a flower -- the top being the stem.  See?  Yeah, not very good, but now I have at least got a good visual for writing.  :)  I've also started drawing out the layout of their city, and as plants play a really big roll in this story, I've started sketching some of those too.

Now, I think you all know by now I'm a big fan of pinterest and photo inspiration, but this is the first time I've set out to create my own images of what my world is like.  Have any of you done this before?  Do you find it helpful?  I'd love to hear what you think.

By the way, this is the NaNo project, not the WIP I keep mentioning.  :)  In case you're curious.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Paper Hangover Today...

Sometimes I Fail, so You get a Recommendation!

So, obviously I fail today.  Because it's 1pm and I'm just now realizing I was in charge of the Teen Scene post today.  Sorry, guys!  I'll blame it on the sick kid I'm home with.  ;)

In spite of my obvious lack of teen topic, I thought I'd share a book I read with you guys.  It's an ARC from Simon Pulse, the novel will be released January 3, 2012.
By Lucas Klauss
 

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Successful Weekend

So...I finished another round of revisions Saturday on my WIP.  What did I learn?  That with five hours of uninterrupted time a day I could rule the world.  For real.

http://www.cheatengine.org/forum/files/1214223632803_319.jpg

It was lovely, Super Spawn went to the movies with grandpa and the house was so deliciously quiet.  I sat at the dining room table and worked and worked and worked.  It was the most focused I've been in a long time, and it was so nice.

In fact, as backward as it seems, it's exactly what I needed to recharge my writing batteries. 

Now I'm kinda in this weird limbo place where the WIP is waiting for more feedback and I really, really want to write something.  But I was going to do NaNo so I should wait.  But I really, really want to write.  ;)

So maybe I'll just write and not count the words toward my NaNo goal.  lol  I mean, if the muse is there, why tell her to hold on, right?  Write!

I'd love to hear how all of your projects are coming.  Who all is doing NaNo this year?  I personally feel a little insane for attempting it since I just did this a month ago, but hey, whatever.  Nobody ever accused me of being normal.  ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Little Inspiration

I'm not quite sure why this week has seemed particularly dreary (maybe it's the gray skies that won't let go around here), but I'm feeling the need for a pick-me-up.  So I give you, quotes of inspiration thanks to Pinterest.  I hope you find them as uplifting and encouraging as I do.


Always-Believe-That-Something-Wonderful-Is-About-To-Happen





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Why do You do it?

This week's topic over at the YAHighway is:


What's your numero-uno reason for writing?


Honestly?  I write because I have to.  

I'm sitting here trying to pinpoint just when in my life I haven't been writing *something* (even if not a novel), and I guess the only time I wasn't was...when I couldn't write.

I've always had these words swirling around in my head.  Before I wrote novels, I wrote a lot of really bad poetry, and I journaled like it was nobody's business.  Nothing felt better than ending the day by spilling all of my thoughts and emotions out on the page, and I guess that's just it.

I write because I need to, because I want to, and because I love it. 

If I didn't write, I'd be missing a piece of my heart...

http://rlv.zcache.com/bullet_hole_heart_postcard-p239467580860186731qibm_400.jpg

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confession Time

I have a confession to make:  I'm scared.

Yep.  Scared.  I said it.

I'm scared that my WIP isn't good enough.  I'm scared that no book I write will ever be good enough. (For me, that is. I am my own toughest critic.)  I'm scared that even if it is, I'll screw it up somehow.  I'm scared that I won't ever reach my dreams.  I'm scared that I'll get discouraged.  Scared I'll give up.  And scared that if I do, Super Spawn will never reach for his dreams.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_NsAWHiUn4FM/TBuVZEYUyiI/AAAAAAAAAQs/4O7yyuHEmXw/s1600/FearOfFailure.jpg

But you know what else?  I'm not going to let fear stop me or define me.

I've been struggling with my WIP because of the fear, but I also realized something yesterday.  Maybe it's okay to be scared, as long as you don't let it take over, don't let it dampen your love for the craft.  The fear is only as strong as I allow it to be.  All it takes to put it back in its little box is me deciding to shove it away and not allowing it to sink its claws in.

Easier said than done, I know.  I just feel like I need to be honest with you guys.  I always try to put on a positive face and think positive thoughts and SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS FOR EVERYONE!!!

But the truth is, we all struggle with fear, and so I wanted to let any of you out there feeling the same way know I'm right there with you.  I know talking to my writer friends and hearing them express the same feelings always puts things in perspective. 

This whole blogging thing is about sharing a journey I'm on, and I feel sure plenty of you experience the same things, the same fears I do.  Blogs are a great source of inspiration for me, and when I get stuck in a rut, you all are the first ones I turn to for those inspiring words you post every day.  That's all I want to be for you all, and I hope you know that.

Do any of you deal with this kind of fear?  What do you do when it tries to get the best of you?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Links Galore

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So today I'm going to join in on the fun of the 7x7 award that is circling which is supposed to highlight some of my past blog posts. I hope you'll enjoy the links I've included! :)

 
Most Beautiful: I think I have to choose Behind the Mask

Most Helpful: I'd say my Using Analytics - An Overview was a pretty helpful post.  Lots of diagrams and general awesomesauce.

Most Popular: Well, the post with the most pageviews (according to my Google Stats) is Frazzled Mom Brain.  That kinda makes me giggle.  The next most popular, aside from contest posts, is from the Query Letter Blogfest that Alicia, Erinn, Pam, Quita, and I hosted together.  You can read the query I used for Happily Never After there.  :)

Most Controversial: Have I ever written a controversial post?  Maybe Adverbs count.

Most Successful: Define successful.  lol  This is HARD!  Maybe my Outlining Your Novel Part 1 and Part 2 series of posts.

Most Underrated: Blerg, I don't know.  I really like this post, Sometimes it Doesn't, which was very sincere and has an important message.

Most Prideworthy:  I'm really proud of my post, This is for YOU.  It stands true to this day, and I hope you all know that writing this blog is about so much more than splattering my randomness on the internet.

Whew!  That was tough, but that's a pretty cool compilation of blog posts (many of which I had forgotten about).  Thank you, Miss Cole for sharing the meme with me!

Now I expect you all to go complete this meme as well, because I want to know what kind of awesome posts I've missed on your blogs!  ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fives -- I had strange taste



Admittedly, I had wide-ranging (and somewhat strange) reading tastes as a kid.  (We're gonna go with stuff I read in elementary school here.)  Want proof?  Here you go:

1.  One Last Wish (series) by Lurlene McDaniel -- I read every one of these books, plus anything else she published.  I think I was eight when her first book landed in my hands (about a year after we lost my sister) and seeing as her books are about dealing with death, I was hooked.  For total honesty -- I still have them all tucked neatly in a trunk in storage. 

2.  The Boxcar Children by







Thursday, October 13, 2011

Character Development

So, number one on my revision list for my WIP is character development.  Not necessarily for the main character either, though she'll get her share of attention.

Right now, I'm focusing on my supporting characters and how to bring their personalities to life without bogging the story down.

That's a tall order to fill, and probably one of the most important.

What did I do?  Well, I made a spreadsheet of course.  ;)


I'm not sure if you can see that very well, but it's a quick-reference sheet of sorts. I have physical traits, age, interests, and the GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for each character listed for easy reference. So when I'm revising, I have my bullet list of what I'm looking to add/change, and my one-page spreadsheet on characters. That way if I hit a spot and go, hmm, would Blair really say this here? I can glance at the list and know my Yale-bound mathlete probably would not.

And it's funny how the smallest changes can have such a large impact on the sound and overall presentation of a character.  It's not even necessarily about what they say so much as how they say it sometimes.  :)

What do you do to help define characters?  Any tips you'd like to share with me? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - A Winding Road

This week's topic over at the YAHighway is:



 
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?


Well I'd say my road trip has been fairly twisty, with lots of hills and valleys, but a very fun ride.




I started writing my first novel (well, not the first, first, but the first one I took seriously) in August of 2009.  The next year was full of excitement and learning.  This was the first novel I ever *finished* writing, and I even started dipping my toes into the blogging world in early 2010.

Along with meeting some fantastic writer friends, I learned about the industry, and even got to meet a real live agent at a conference.  In October 2010 I wrote yet another book (much faster and cleaner than the first) and polished it until it shined.

Then I took a dive into the querying world, which I know I haven't said much at all about.  I started querying Happily Never After on February 28th, and with success!  But that's where my first real traffic jam hit.  I got a lot of requests, and had some dream-worthy agents reading my material, but none of them loved it enough.  Which is fine, and I totally respect that.

But that's where my journey detoured from what I expected.  The detour I wound up on though?  Not so bad!  I've written another book that I love, I've learned even more about my craft and the industry.

And just around the corner?  Who knows.  Could be another hill to climb, could be another detour, but whatever it is I'll just keep trucking on.  I mean, what's more fun than road tripping with the music blaring and great friends beside you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Teen Brain

My post on The Teen Brain is over on Paper Hangover today!  Go check it out!

On another note, I did a blog update this morning and redirected everything to my domain name -- if you find something isn't working, please let me know!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Beta Returns

Just for fun, I thought I'd share with you the range of emotion I experienced last night as I checked my email to find my crit notes from my Super Awesome Beta.

Now, I opened my email unsuspecting, thinking maybe there'd be some spam, but that's about it.  Then my eyes sorta bugged out:

http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/24600000/Scared-Face-web-comics-24646706-300-419.jpg 


Holy spamoley that was fast!  And suddenly my brain morphs into OMGSHEHATEDIT mode, and I looked more like this:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Jk5WIWzLmAs/TKYXvqShd2I/AAAAAAAAASA/wHZWDxE5TLQ/s1600/0511-1001-2200-5358_Nervous_Girl_Biting_Her_Fingernails_clipart_image.jpg 

Once I got my wits about me enough to open the email, things started to look up. AKA the time where my brain goes ohthankGODshemightstilltalktome.  (My brain is very dramatic, but you all know this by now. lol)   So that looked more like this:

http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/funny-pictures-cat-likes-your-point.jpg 

Then I got really brave and opened the file to see the in-line comments.  That's when I got a little...um...this...

http://www.jmarkafghans.com/images/snoopy_happy_dance.jpg


Lots of work still to do, my friends, but I know I'm headed in the right direction now!  EEEEE!!

Tell me, do you go through the same sorts of thoughts and emotions when you get feedback? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fives -- It's the little things



http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5ArIeesCII4/To7mT9sklhI/AAAAAAAAAjk/u3U5PPLHCJM/s1600/ff25.png 


1. Pinterest - Pictures are my first go-to when I need a bit of inspiration, and there's no better way to find, categorize, or store them than Pinterest.  One intriguing image and my mind starts whirling, slinging questions, spinning plots, and I'm off on a new adventure.

2.  Get Out - Getting out of the house for a while, even if I just move my computer to the nearest coffee shop, can open my brainwaves up like nothing else.  New scenery, chattering people, and strong coffee are just the ticket.

3.  Super Spawn - I know I'm sorta biased, but I think my kiddo is just about the smartest kid out there.  He is incredibly perceptive, and I find a lot of my inspiration comes from questions he asks, or things he says.  If I'm stuck at a plot point, usually it's his sweet little face that utters something that smashes everything into place, and helps me realize what I'm doing wrong. 

4.  Friends - Seriously, my writer friends/beta readers/Goddesses of Brainstorming are irreplaceable.  I can fire off an email with a question, and in quick syncopation my inbox bings with answers and ideas.  Or if I'm having trouble thinking through (yet another) plot point, a chat with one of them will bring everything into focus.  (I love you guys!)

5.  Books - I think this one is kinda DUH, but reading a really great book gets my blood roaring and my heart pumping, ready to take on the challenge of becoming even a tenth as good as whoever the author is at writing.  ;)

What about you all?  What five things inspire your writing?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Newton's Third Law of...Writing?

My brain goes in some of the weirdest directions sometimes.  I've been thinking this week about all the lovely and shiny ideas I've had for stories over the last year, and how many of them tanked within the first 1,000 words on the page.

I've come to a conclusion:  For every good idea, there is an equal and opposite bad idea.

Looks familiar, doesn't it?  It should.  It's Newton's Third Law of Motion, which I've thoroughly corrupted for my own purposes.

I'm a nerd, I know.  I embrace that side of myself fully.

But it's true, not every idea can be a good one.  Not every idea can have a stellar concept, a breathtaking plot, and three-dimensional characters.  Can you imagine if they did?  I'd never leave my computer again!

Letting ideas or characters or whatever shiny bit of story it was that sprung to mind go can be sad-making.  I've still got one idea from a while back I'm clinging desperately to, hoping I'll be able to find a plot to fit it at some point.  But at some point you have to allow yourself to step back and say, "This idea isn't as great as I first thought, and that's okay.  It's time to move on."

Because some ideas turn out to be a brassy copper instead of that shiny gold color we were looking for.  Newton said that's how it had to be.  Blame him.  ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Poem By Me

Today is the second anniversary of my younger brother's death.  I've written a poem I'd like to share with you all in memory of him:

Scars of Our Hearts


Silence surrounds in place of your laughter
A hint of longing forever after
Where tears will fall and fall again
This life with you we once began

Though you're with us nevermore
Days exist just like before
But different where the shadow bends
Around our heads and lifts our chins

We must go on through all the strife
And truth be told it's what you'd like
All we do, we do for you
For this life you never knew

Let's laugh, let's cry, let's say again
That too soon you met your end
Then once more the dust we'll gather
And mesh and press our hearts together.

-Holly Dodson 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Open Forum

Today I thought we'd have a little fun.  My brain is groggy thanks to allergies and cooler weather, so let's do a Q&A session!  You ask, I'll answer.  Whatever you want to know -- it can be about writing, about my processes, general stuff, whatever suits your fancy.

http://cancergrace.org/lung/files/2011/04/qa_01.jpg

I'll answer in the comments, or if it's a long answer question, I'll make a blog post out of it.

 So, let's hear it, what questions are running through your mind this morning?


Disclaimer:  If you ask me things like, "What's Super Spawn's real name," I won't answer.  :)  Not that I don't want to but, you know, privacy issues and all. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dueling Projects

Over the weekend, after finishing a round of revisions, I sent my WIP off for its very first beta read.   *cue scary music*  Just kidding.  Nothing scary about a good critique.  ;)

I have, however, been struck by the Shiny New Idea fairy.  Fun times.  This is where the inspiration struck (thanks to Pinterest, my new favorite source)



Isn't she lovely?

Anyway, I've always been a one story at a time kind of girl.  Finish a project, then pick up another.  But this girl, this story, is refusing to wait.

So here's my question:  Is it wise to revise one story and write another at the same time?  Granted, it wouldn't be at the same very time, I'd write while WIP is out with betas and revise when it returned.  Do any of you work on multiple projects at once?

It seems wise to go ahead and learn now, because one day if I'm under deadline the reality is that I'll probably have a couple projects going at once.  Right?  I mean, that is the end goal.

What do you guys think?  Too risky, or a smart move?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fives -- Banned Favorites


As it turns out, I love quite a few banned books.  (And guys, my High School obviously didn't have a copy of this list, because every book we read in four years worth of Lit Honors is on it. lol) Do any of mine make your top five list?

1.  Harry Potter -- all of them. Of course.  You didn't expect anything else in this spot did you?  ;)

2.  1984 by George Orwell -- one of those books I was forced to read in High School and wound up LOVING.  Who knew that was possible?

3. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

4.  Farenheight 451 by Ray Bradbury -- Another school book I *gasp* enjoyed.

5.  Goosebumps by R.L. Stine -- I can't believe this series makes the list.  My sister and I used to devour these books like nobody's business!


There you have it, my list of astonishment as I realized pretty much all of my favorite books growing up were on the banned list.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Recommendation -- Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
By John Green and David Levithan


Blurb from Goodreads: "One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical."

I freaking loved this book.  LOVED.  In fact, I think you can officially consider me a John Green/David Levithan fangirl.

On the serious side though, let's talk about why I love this book so much.  First of all, the characters are so full of depth and voice it's as if you're standing right there in the halls of their high school with them.  (Tiny, OMG how I love Tiny, is probably the best of all of them with his super-spectacular sparkly self.)

Second, I love that this book completely encapsulates gay characters without making it anything out of the ordinary.  They're gay.  So what?  That's just who they are.  I LOVE that. 

Third, I am an utter and complete sucker for musicals.  Ah, what I would pay to see Tiny's performance up on stage.  I'm sure the show would reach epic beyond epic levels.

Fourth, we'll go back to Tiny because I love him so much.  He's not afraid to put himself or his feelings out there, and all he wants is to see people happy and be appreciated.  And the arc of the characters is so wide and so well done with Tiny being the driving force behind it all -- I just can't quite put it all to words.

Fifth, it's funny!  So funny I laughed out loud sporadically through the whole book.

In fact, I loved it so much that mere hours after finishing it, I passed it to a friend and demanded that she read it immediately. 

What about you all, have you read Will Grayson, Will Grayson yet?  What'd you think? 

Also, go check out my post over on Paper Hangover today in celebration of banned book week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Book Week

Super Spawn made a video for you guys for the kickoff of banned book week.  Enjoy!



Big words from a little guy, "Please don't ban my books."

As a mother, I feel it's important to point out that I fully support parents being involved in, and knowing what, their kids are reading.  What is fine for one child or teen to read may not be suitable for the next for a variety of reasons.  However, just because one child is lactose intollerant doesn't mean every child should go without cheese.

Hope you all have a great Monday.  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pulling on the Reigns

So, as you guys know, Super Spawn is taking Suzuki Violin lessons.  We've been at it for a little over a month now, and the other day I sat marveling at yet another lesson my sweet four-year-old has taught me.

You see, the basis behind the Suzuki method of teaching violin is parent involvement.  I'm in all his lessons with him, and we practice together every single night.  Now, I had my share of music lessons growing up (though not as young as he is) so I was prepared for the daily repetition of skills, the stand this way, fingers curved, keep that wrist straight diatribe.

What I didn't expect was a lesson in perspective.

Super Spawn is four.  The violin is a hard instrument to learn.  There are tons of little technical movements kids have to master before they ever put the bow to the string to make any kind of noise.  And when your mom is a Supremo Perfectionist?  Well, the fun gets sapped out of that practice faster than you can say quit.

The good news is, this Supremo Perfectionist Mom saw the light before it was too late.  Turns out, you don't have to get it perfectly right from square one.  It's okay to mess up, play around, and have a silly fun time while you do it.  And surprisingly enough, when Super Spawn is having fun in practice sessions, he's learning it faster.


And I'm not lowering my expectations of him, don't get me wrong.  We go into practice with a plan.  Tonight, we're focusing on our Mississippi River rhythm, but we're not just going to stand there and repeat it 30 times, we're going to turn it into a game!  I think it's worth mentioning that since I've structured our practices this way, he comes home and asks to practice every night.  How's that for proof it works?  ;)


What does this have to do with anything?  Well, I put this into practice over the last few weeks with my new WIP's first draft.  I went into my draft with a plan (a loose outline) and a daily wordcount goal to meet.  But instead of sitting down and attempting to write The Perfect Draft, I focused on enjoying the story.  I had fun with my characters and my plot, and as I go back and read it, I'm kinda impressed.  It's actually way better than I expected. 

On a normal occasion I'd be so worried about every word I wrote, every single bit of plot being just right, that pushing the words out would be a chore.  But thanks to my silly little violinist, I've learned how to pull the reigns and step back to have a little more fun with my own "practice".   

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Cover that up!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.


This week's topic:
What are your all-time favorite book covers?


All time?!  I don't know how I would ever even begin to choose.

How about this, I'll share my recent favorites that I've pinned on Pinterest?  Call it even?  Good.


Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #1)
Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)The Mephisto Covenant (The Mephisto Covenant, #1)Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
VirtuosityDearly, Departed
 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Recommendation -- The Liar Society

The Liar Society
By Lisa and Laura Roecker

The Liar Society (The Liar Society, #1)


Blurb from Goodreads: "Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.

To: KateLowry@pemberlybrown.edu
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
From: GraceLee@pemberlybrown.edu
Subject: (no subject)

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder..."



This book is so much fun!  I blew through the three hundred some odd pages at lightning speed trying to figure out all the clues and solve the mystery of Grace's email.  Talk about a page turner!  The mystery of a dead best friend is one that had me glued to the pages.  I just. couldn't. put. it. down.


Kate, the MC, was an awesome character.  One minute I'd be laughing at her offhanded snark, and the next I'd have fat alligator tears rolling down my cheeks.  There were moments I squirmed through an embarrassing scene right along with Kate, and you can bet when she felt slighted, so did I.  The Roecker sisters did an amazing job delivering an emotional punch.  It wasn't just Kate either, all of the characters had voices that pop off the page at you.  Seth was one of my favorite with his need to ask five million questions a minute, and his determination to find a conspiracy in everything.  He was such a cute character I wanted to ask him to be MY best friend!  lol


If you enjoy a good mystery with characters that are engaging and well-rounded (not to mention the killer plot!), this is the book for you.  

I highly recommend.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MyNoWriMo Update

Yesterday, exactly 18 days into my MyNoWriMo, I completed the first draft of my WIP.

My face looked something like this when I typed the last line (Which I've known exactly what I wanted it to say from the beginning, and that's crazy weird for me.):

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_tsmvL06P3KQ/ST76S6GrhVI/AAAAAAAAAfM/p-Ulp1Pp880/s400/Shocked+Face.bmp 


Then it morphed into something like this:


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uat2pQVx0ZE/SOaYhPU1YFI/AAAAAAAAAME/vjQXd0yP0V0/s320/excited+face.JPG


The WIP still needs loads of work, obviously.  The first draft came in quite slim on the word count, but mine always do.  I'm not worried.  Quite the opposite, I'm crazy excited.


Guys!  I get to revise now!!



http://www.realbollywood.com/up_images/11116119.gif
Happy Dance!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Legendary Forest

Okay, so I decided after all the interest in the legend I mentioned in yesterday's post, I think I will share it with you.  Don't you feel lucky?  You should.

This legend has haunted me my whole life.  My dad probably told me the story the first time as a toddler, and I'm sure I've made him repeat it four hundred thousand times since then.  So it should be no surprise that the idea of the legend inspires me.  It has actually inspired the premise behind my WIP! 

Well, the legend and my step mom's facebook status one day, which said, "We're going camping in Tate's Hell, if you don't hear from us in a week, send a search party!"

http://www.russcolegrove.com/images/Tates_Hell_small.jpg

Tate's Hell is a real place, and this is Tate's story:

Everyone tells the legend differently, but this is how my dad always told it.

Back in those days, panthers roamed the forests of Florida.  Cebe Tate, a farmer, kept losing livestock to a panther, so he set out into the forest with nothing but a shotgun and his hunting dogs in search of the beast.  The forests around here are easy to get turned around in.  They're full of swamps and poisonous snakes, and any number of other predators. 

Old Cebe got lost out in the swamp.  He wandered out in the forest for seven days and seven nights.  His dogs killed off one by one, Cebe was all alone.  They say he was bitten by a rattle snake, and sure to die out there, nobody ever knowing what happened to him.  But Cebe found a source of fresh water in those woods -- a waterfall out in the swampy flat lands of Florida. 

Dad says somehow the waterfall kept him alive despite the venom racing through his system.  But determined to escape the forest, Cebe left the fall to find his way out.  On that seventh day, Cebe stumbled out of the forest into a small community and lived only long enough to mutter the words, "My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell."

There are a lot of local stories of people going into the forest and never coming out again.  And as you can imagine, nobody has ever found this legendary waterfall, yet locals still insist it exists.

So there you have it, a local legend, and the inspiration for my WIP.

Do you guys have any local legends you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Really, again?

It has been a while since I've joined in on the Road Trip, but this weeks topic sucked me in.  :)


This Week's Topic:
What themes, setting, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find reoccurring in your work?

Something that always seems to crop up in my stories is a forest.  Like, trees, bushes, animals...yeah.  Why?  Well, I guess it's because I've lived around the forest my whole life.  I've always had this sense of wonder when venturing into the great unknown depths of the woods.  My dad used to teach my sister and I ways to find safe food and water if we ever got lost.

http://wikitravel.org/upload/shared//thumb/9/97/ANF_landscape01.jpg/280px-ANF_landscape01.jpg

Which, I suppose was a real possibility looking back.  We were always out there running and playing, hiding behind the giant palmettos so we could jump out and surprise one another.  Heck, my best friend lived out in the middle of the forest, and we'd venture off for hours trying to discover new things.  So, yeah.

I also happen to live next to a forest that has a bit of legend surrounding it.  That's a story for another time though.

What about you?  Do you find reoccurring things in your writing?

Also, don't forget to go visit the Read for Relief auction!  Our YA Super Critique Pack is up!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Read for Relief



Hopefully you've heard about Read for Relief, which is an auction to fund Hurricane Irene relief brought about by the wonderful Sarah Enni, Tracey Neithercott, Erin Bowman, and Caroline Richmond.

The auctions have already begun, so head on over and see what kind of awesome you can snag.  There are manuscript critiques, books, and all sorts of goodness over there.

Tomorrow an auction will go live for a Super Critique Package from me, Alicia, Erinn, Pam, Quita, and Katharine!  We've teamed up to bring you a kick-butt critique package that includes:

1 query critique: Pam Harris
1 synopsis critique (1-2 page limit): Holly Dodson
1 first pages critique (10-15 page limit): Marquita Hockaday
1 first 50 pages critique: Alicia Gregoire
1 full manuscript critique: Katharine Owens (Detailed Crit.)
1 full manuscript critique: Erinn Manack (Big Picture Issues)


SO, make sure you head over and check out everything that's being offered every day this week!  After all, it's for a good cause. 

A huge thanks to all the ladies who have worked so hard to set this up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Amusing, but pointless

Okay, so I was going to write this whole long thoughtful post this morning.  Then I was running late, and traffic was doing weird stuff, and Super Spawn decided he didn't want to go to school.  Then I got to work (finally) and have been having computer issues all morning.

*Is not amused with this Monday*

Guess that'll teach me to pre-schedule my posts from now on, huh?

Probably not. 

Anyway, since it's already late and I have really got to do some *cough* real work *cough*, let's chalk this one up to experience, and I'll leave you with a funny picture.  Hope your Monday is great!


http://random-pix.webs.com/lolz%20catz/LolCat7.jpg

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Things About Me

I've been tagged by the lovely Miss Cole to share with you all ten things about myself!  Aren't you excited?  I know you are.  She also gave me an award, which I am going to share with the people I tag.  So, thank you very much and enjoy!


I really like this award, it matches my blog! ;)  Thanks, Miss Cole!

On with the show...


10 Things You Didn't Already Know About Me:  (How's that for a title?  Ha.)

  1. I can't stand peanut butter.
  2. My favorite thing to do when I get stressed out is to get my hair cut.  Short.
  3. I frame Super Spawn's "art" and hang it in my office.  
  4. I found a book from when I was seven years old the other day -- Boxcar Children.  I had written all sorts of notes in the blank pages in the back.
  5. When I was in elementary school, my best friend and I would have sleepovers so we could read together.
  6. I'm scared of tall bridges.
  7. I have a texture issue -- and Super Spawn loves to use it against me to make me gag.  He thinks it's funny.
  8. I really like lists, and although you may already know that, I just feel the need to share the fact that I'm loving this list.  Super fun listmakeage.
  9. My new WIP is now a good bit over the 10k words mark.
  10. I only need glasses for reading.

There you have it!

Now, I think I'll tag...

Meredith, Lindy, Ghenet, and Kirsten!

Have a great weekend, guys!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making the Most of Your Time

I know I've talked about this before on the blog, but it has been a long time, and a lot has changed in my life since then.  As a writer, there is always someone around me talking about time -- whether there isn't enough of it, they don't know how I find it, or the dreaded question, "Is it being wasted?"

http://technabob.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dali-clock.jpg

Let me break it down for you, and I want you to understand that this is something I struggle with a lot.  I think everyone does.

I work a full time job.  I commute 1.25 hours each way every day.  Every Monday night, Super Spawn has violin lessons.  Once or twice a month he has an extra lesson on Saturday morning.  We do violin practice every night for 10-20 minutes.  I have to feed, bathe, play with, and read to Super Spawn.

If I waited until he went to sleep every night to start thinking about my writing, I'd never get anything done.  So, here are some tricks I've learned to making the most of the few spare moments I can grab throughout the day.

1.  Time in the car -  I have about 15-20 minutes in the car between Super Spawn's school and my office.  This is when I work through plot issues, or maybe work through the scene I'm going to write next.  This morning on the way in, Super Spawn was plugged into his DVD player in the car, and I was able to plan not only some things to add to previous chapters I've written, but I've also laid out the next two scenes to be written.  That will save me a lot of time when I sit down to write.

2.  Lunch - I've used my lunch hour to write since I first put pen to paper on my first novel back in 2009.  It's probably my most productive writing time of the day.

3.  When kiddo is otherwise engaged - Super Spawn likes to play games/put puzzles together/otherwise entertain himself from time to time.  So I take my laptop into whatever room he's in and type away while he plays at my feet.

4.  Bed time - Super Spawn loves to read at bed time, but his taste in books is somewhat different from most 4 year olds.  Ask him what his favorite book is and he'll tell you Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Seriously, that's what he told his teacher.  So at bedtime we read some really great stories that not only challenge his imagination and keep him entranced, but also that keep me abreast of the industry.

5.  Night - Usually once Super Spawn finally drifts off, I'm exhausted too.  Still, it's finally some uninterrupted peace to just sit and write.  If I could only hold my eyes open a little longer.  ;)

What do you all do to make the most out of your days?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

WIP Mashup

I'm totally snatching this idea from Pam, Quita, and Alicia.

Since I'm MyNoWriMo-ing it up this month, I thought maybe I should share a little glimpse into what's consuming my brain.

Pictures!



http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/116647909_84S2pmK5_c.jpg

http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/116684614_lz2nCbPe_c.jpg


http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/119519749_J4whIs1e_c.jpg


Total word count so far:  7,741
Excitement level: Through the roof.