Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Recommendation -- The Day Before

The Day Before
By Lisa Schroeder

  The Day Before

 Blurb from Goodreads: "Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself. 

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets. 

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last."

First of all, I got this as an ARC thanks to Simon and Schuster's egalley program.  (Yay!)  This book will debut on June 28th from Simon Pulse.

Now, when I downloaded this galley, I didn't realize it was a novel in verse.  To be honest, I've never been a big fan of poetry (Feel free to slaughter me for saying that.)  So when I realized this was a story told in a poetic form, well, I was nervous.

But I have good news.  It. Was. Wonderful.

The words flowed along at a rhythmic pace, deepening and lifting the story in ways that wouldn't have been possible had it been told any other way.

Amber and Cade are both such rich characters.  Through the whole story one of the main driving forces is finding out who these people are.  What is it that drives them to be all alone at the beach? 

I don't know if I can really say much else without giving the story away.  Thing is, this is a fast read with an emotional intensity I didn't expect.  It is worth every minute you spend reading it.

Even if you don't have a love of poetry, I recommend you give it a try.  I'll be seeking out the other books Ms. Schroeder has written now for sure.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Fives -- Wait, what was I doing?

It's time for another Friday Five with my buddies over at Paper Hangover!

This week's topic:

1) EMAIL - Dude, I'm in my email all. the. time.  I swear a minute must not go by that I don't think, "I need to check my email."  Waaaay too much wasted time there.  lol

2) BLOGS - Writing blogs, reading blogs, commenting on blogs -- I think the hours spent doing this could probably write my next novel.  lol  But I LOVE reading everyone's blogs!  It's not a bad thing, just distracting.  :P

3) TWITTER - I really try not to be on twitter too much, but man, one trip to browse everyone's updates can last a freaking hour if I don't check myself.  And if it's a busy day I can get sucked in for waaaay longer than that.  

4) EMAIL - Yes, I spend so much time in email it needs to count twice.  I mean, I do have two accounts anyway -- one for writing and a personal one.  

5) FACEBOOK - I'm not a big Facebook user (and only use it for personal stuff), but when I do go to browse status updates and see what my friends are up to, I'll spend forever looking through all their pictures of their kids and everything else.  HUGE time suck.

What about you?  What are your five internet distractions?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Day, Another Twist

I was going to give you another book recommendation today (because I read a really good one this week), but that will have to wait.

Sad news from a friend came this morning, and it has me in a thoughtful mood.  Life is strange, isn't it?  One instant you're planning your future, full of hope and joy and trust, and in the blink of an eye, everything changes.

The whole world shifts to conspire against you, one act of awful right after another.

Sometimes life feels like this, huh?  (credit)

Things like this always bring me back around to thinking about karma and religion and the finer principles of luck.  Don't worry, I'm not going to start spouting them off -- I know it'd bore you to tears.  ;)  But it does make me stop and ponder why bad things always seem to happen to genuinely good people.  I know it's not true for everyone, but I've seen a lot of it in my life.

It's actually something I've considered writing about -- The Karma Effect so to speak.  Would life really be better if good things only happened to good people, and bad things to bad people? 

I don't know.  But it's strange how life can lead you away from a thought and circle you right back around to it.  Maybe I should revisit that premise.  :)

Anyway, I'm not sad or anything, just full of philosophical thoughts.  Do you have days like that?  Days where you can't help but try and riddle through the secrets of the universe in your head?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Road Trip Wendnesday -- You Inspire Me

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:
Who in your life has most inspired your writing? 

 1)  My son - he inspires me to be everything I can and more.  He reminds me of all the good in life, and keeps me guessing at what may come next.  He also helps me remember to slow down and enjoy the small things in life.  And all of that translates to my writing.

2)  My sister - she kicks my butt and makes me keep going even when I feel defeated.  She reminds me how much I love writing, and how important it is that I keep going.

3) My brother - though he isn't here to inspire me directly, Robby's death reminds me every day that life is short.  My brother inspires me to go for my dreams now because there is no promise of tomorrow.

What about you?  Who inspires your writing?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sometimes it Doesn't

There's a lot of disappointment in writing.  You put your heart and soul into your words.  Pour every drop of blood, sweat, and tears you can muster into your plot and characters -- only to have someone come back and say it's not good enough.

Critique and feedback is important for writers.  It helps you grow as a person, as a writer, and as a storyteller overall.  But not everyone is going to envision your story the way you are.  Not everyone gets you.  That's news, huh?  ;) 

It's so, so important to only do revisions that resonate with you -- things that you really believe will make your story better and more encompassing of your original vision.  I'm sure I've given my share of not-taken feedback on MSs, and I've certainly had some advice that I decided against implementing.

And sometimes you'll question those decisions.  The most important thing though is that even as you question them,  you know you made the right choice.  Because if you had carried forward, and it hadn't gone the way you'd imagined, well, then you'd really be screwed.  I've always heard this, and tried to follow the advice, but having had the opportunity to actually experience it -- well, I'm really glad I heard it in the first place.  So I want to make sure you guys all hear it too.

Follow your hearts, lovelies.  You may be disappointed by the outcome, but there'll be no regret.

You guys are going to get sick of all of my self-realizations, aren't you?  ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sometimes it Works

Never be afraid to try something new.

So as I mentioned last week, I've been pretty much forcing myself into a cold-writing habit.  When I sit down to the WIP I don't read any more than the last sentence or two before I pick up and run with the story.

And it's working.

The flow of the story feels more natural, the characters are very in control of what's happening.  That's a good thing.  I like my characters to drive the story...I just steer them back on track if they wander off.  lol

I'm not spending a whole lot of time writing right now, I've just got too much going on, but when I do sit down -- even if for only twenty minutes -- I can plow through a few hundred words.  I did write a short little synopsis of this new take on the story and I think that helped too.  Now I can see where I'm heading without feeling constricted by an outline.  I like that.

We'll see how it goes.  I'm going to keep it up for sure.

Have you tried anything new in your writing routine lately?  Have any secrets you'd like to share?  ;)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Fives -- Revise Me!

Every Friday, the Paper Hangover crew gives a prompt for Friday Fives.  Join in and link up on their post to see what everyone says!

This week's topic:

I'm going with revising, because they definitely do not require the same things.  :D

1.)  My printed manuscript -- I cannot do serious revisions without a hard copy of my MS.

2.)  Colored pens -- I use a different color pen for different types of comments.

3.)  Colored post-it flags -- They coordinate with my colored pens.  ;)  It's a system.

4.)  Sweet tarts -- Just because they're delicious.

5.)  Quiet -- When I write, I do better around noise.  I like to write in restaurants particularly because of the snatches of conversation, gestures, and general atmosphere seem to seep into my writing, making it richer.  But when I revise I need my full attention focused on the task at hand.

What about you?  What do you need when revising?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Recommendation -- The Goddess Test

Okay, so I wasn't going to do a book rec this week.  You know, change and all.  But GUYS I READ THE MOST AWESOME BOOK AND I JUST HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT!! 

Ehm.  Sorry about that.  ;)  I finished it at about two this morning, so I'm a little over the edge today.  lol

The Goddess Test
By Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1)

Blurb on Goodreads: "It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess."


I wasn't sure about the book when I started it, but it didn't take long to fall in love with the story.  Kate is a great main character, and for most of the story I was right on the same page as her.  Sometimes I did want to smack her, but it wasn't for any bad reason.  Just because I could see what was going on and she couldn't.  :)

And Henry is The Most Awesome EVER.  OMG I HEART HENRY.

At first he's kinda scary, but guys!  *swoon*  Let me tell ya, Carter has got the whole romantic tension bit in the bag.

You definitely want to pick this one up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - Goals and Rewards

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:
How do you reward yourself when you meet your writing goals?

 Most of you probably know how much I like setting goals for myself.  I'm a firm believer in defining clear, obtainable objectives and then blasting the deadline to smithereens.  
goal setting activities

I like explosions, okay?

Half of my reward of reaching a goal is that satisfaction.  The, "Ha.  I did it.  And I did it even better than I planned."

But I do have certain other rewards planned.  Usually for finishing a first draft I have a girls night out with my sister.  Mexican food, margaritas, and mayhem.  First drafts are hard, so they get big rewards.

I give myself mini rewards of candy and chocolate when I finish rounds of revisions.  When I finish, finish a novel, I reward myself with a bottle of my favorite wine.  :)  Yum.

The one really huge promise I've made myself is that when I get published, I get a trip to New York.  And I'm taking Super Spawn and my sister with me because they've been my unending support through this whole journey.  I've never been to NYC, but always wanted to go, so this is a really huge reward for me.

What about you guys?  How do you reward yourselves?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That Darn Internal Editor!

Was it just me, or did yesterday fly by at the speed of light?  As I've mentioned, I'm planning big birthday surprises for Super Spawn's big F-O-U-R.  Naturally, I have lists everywhere (A whole Excel workbook, actually.  Yes, I'm serious.) and we're fast approaching the one-month-until-party-and-vacation point.

Happy 4th Birthday To XcitefunNet Forum

Which means I'm stressing over things like baking cupcakes and finding the perfect Scooby-Doo toppers for them.  :D  Along with emergency kits of benedryl spoons and travel sized shampoo.

Then last night I was sitting with Super Spawn watching Blues Clues, and I realized that stressing over cupcake toppers should probably not happen.  ;)  But I do that -- in regular life, and in my writing -- to the point that I freeze and throw my hands up in frustration.  I'm burying myself in minutia. 

And I do it with my writing a lot.  I get so focused on trying to make sure the voice is perfect, the tense is perfect, the grammar is right on, my sentence structure is sound -- that I can't see the story as a whole any more.

Whoa!  There's a forest out there!

So for the second time in as many weeks, I'm reminded that maybe I need to relax and let go a little.  Not of my lists though.  You'll have to pry my lists from my cold, dead fingers.  They're mine.

Solving this problem is a little harder for me, but I'm going to work on it.  I can't buy cupcakes from a bakery, but I can pass the task of making them on to my sister.  And I did.  And it will be fine.  And they'll taste good and be beautiful, even if they aren't made by ME.  ;)

As for my writing, well, I'm going to give a go at writing cold every day.  Meaning, I'm not going to go back and re-read what I wrote the day before when I sit down.  I'm just going to write.  It will probably cause a few consistency issues, but maybe it'll solve that internal editor problem.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I think maybe it's All About Holly week this week.  lol  Oh well, inspiration ahoy!  Do you re-read what you write, or do you write cold?

Monday, May 16, 2011


A whole week without blogging.  Guys, that's the first time in over a year I've gone a whole week without posting.  But I'll be honest, I feel so refreshed now!  Coming up with something clever to say every day on the blog is, well, hard.  So it was nice to be able to shut that portion of my brain off for a while.

Hope you didn't mind too much.  Although, I noticed blogger failed for a couple days last week anyway, so in reality, it was a perfect week for me to NOT be stressing about getting a post up.  Haha.

Anyway, in my week sans blog, I might have noticed something.  Okay, I did notice something: without the pressure and structure I try to force into my writing life, the words flow a heck of a lot easier.

By nature I'm a very organized, list-making, OCD type person.  But with my newest WIP (along with my break from blogging) I've realized that the more I plan, the more I plot and shape and chart and schedule, the harder it is to put words to page.

My creativity does not fit in a box.  It can't be contained by outlines and schedules.  That's just not how I work.  And that's okay.  (Not that it's a bad thing.  It just doesn't work for me.)

So, I'm gonna give it a shot.  I'm not going to try and blog certain things on certain days unless it sparks my creativity to do so.  ;)  And that outline I had for the WIP?  (Granted, it was a rather generic outline.  I just can't do them, yo. lol)  It's in the trash.

Let the words fly!

Have you had any personal discoveries lately?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog Break

I'm on a blog break, lovelies.  I'll be back the 16th!

Until then, picture me somewhere like this, tapping away on my new WIP...


In reality, I'll be here...


But the beach sounds much more fun.  ;)  If you get too lonely, come visit me over at Paper Hangover tomorrow.  Have a great week!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fives -- The Wise Ones

Every Friday, the Paper Hangover crew gives a prompt for friday Fives.  Join in and link up on their post to see what everyone says!

This week's topic: FIVE pieces of useful advice you have received as an aspiring writer. Either in quotes, blog posts, websites or communities.

1.  Just Write. -  Simple as it sounds, this actually is the hardest part sometimes.  Don't think too hard, don't worry too much, just write.

2.  Tell that internal editor to Shut It!  -  Easier said than done, I know.  But when I can finally escape my harsh internal editor, my words flow, the emotions gain more depth, and my writing actually gets better.  Who'd a thunk it?  ;)

3.  Follow your gut.  -  This can apply to any stage of writing.  If your gut is saying the scene you're writing isn't working, well, it probably isn't.

4.  Get another set of eyes.  -  Critique partners, beta readers, alpha readers -- whatever you want to call them, get one (or a few).  Someone to read your words and help you make them better.  That's absolutely invaluable.  

5.  Write another book.  -  It speaks for itself.  Don't give up, write another book.  Stressing over waiting?  Write another book.  You get the picture.

What about you guys?  What are the five best bits of advice you've gotten?

On another note, I wanted to let you know I'm taking next week off from the blog.  I'll still have my Tuesday post over on Paper Hangover, but I'm in need of a break.  We'll just consider it my Happy Mother's Day present to myself.  ;)  

I'll be back the 16th bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, promise! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Recommendation -- Where She Went

Where She Went
By Gayle Forman

Blurb from Goodreads: "It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.  Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance."

Phew.  Okay, so, I loved If I Stay.  Let there be no question about that.  But I was terrified that Where She Went would disappoint me. 

I'm so happy to say:  It didn't.  Not even a tiny bit.

Adam's character is incredible.  The emotional intensity is incredible.  Everything about this book is incredible.

I keep typing up big comments about the book and then realize that no matter how I try to veil them, I'm spoiling the ending.  So, I'm not going to say anything direct about the story, because getting there is the most important part.

This is the kind of book that changes you.  I highly, and with most sincerity, recommend you read it.

Have any of you read it yet?  What'd you think?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help Write Now

Tomorrow marks the opening of the bidding for items to benefit storm victims who have been devastated over the last two weeks.  Kate Hart is heading up the auction at Help Write Now, which is featuring everything from signed books to manuscript critiques to swag and web design.


All proceeds from the auction are being donated to the Red Cross, so make sure you go check it out when bidding goes live!

A few friends and I have joined up to donate a pretty awesome critique package, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Most importantly, this is going to help people who really need it right now.  A big thanks to Kate and the other organizers for putting this together.  I'm constantly surprised by the offerings of help and outpouring of love from the YA community when people are in need.  It's great to be a part of such a caring group of people.  <3

Monday, May 2, 2011

Breadcrumb Trails and Birthday Surprises

So, I'm planning a huge birthday surprise for Super Spawn.  (OMG He's turning FOUR!!!)  A trip to Disney World, complete with a stay in a Disney Resort, 3 days in the parks, a character lunch, etc.  And he has no idea.  :D  (I'm just a tiny bit excited.  If you've managed to miss all my tweets full of these !!!!, I'm surprised. lol)

Super Spawn's first trip to Disney, at two.
Anyway, through all the planning I've been doing for the last week or so, I started to relate it to writing.  (Of course I did, I always do, don't I?) 

What I mean is, I've been asking Super Spawn subtle questions, dropping tiny little hints, and otherwise stringing along the surprise...just like I'd do in a book.  Building the anticipation for the big reveal of his present (the big plot twist), by whispering suggestions in his ear.

Example:  A question I asked him when considering the Animal Kingdom Resort (which is so cool, they have a Savannah view room where you can see giraffes, zebras, and all kinds of African wildlife from your hotel balcony!!):  Me: "Hey, Super Spawn, what do you think about giraffes?  They're neat, right?  Would you like to go see one some day?"  Super Spawn:  "I don't like giraffes, they're scary.  I like alligators."  *headdesk*  (Yeah, that resort got nixed.)

Second event:   Super Spawn after seeing Disney commercial:  "I wanna go to Disney World!"  Me:  "Oh, yeah?  Well, if you'll sit down and do what I told you, I'll put a dollar in your piggy bank so maybe you can go soon."  (That totally worked too.  Excellent mom trick.)

Third event:  My sister:  "Super Spawn, what would be the BEST birthday present ever?"  (This was shortly after the "I wanna go to Disney" outburst.)  Him:  "Harry Potter Legos."  *sigh* 

LOL  So, dropping hints to a three-year-old may not work, but that's not the point.  The point is that you've got to drop little clues throughout a story, so that when you shine the light on them at the end of the book (ie Super Spawn's birthday party where he'll find out where we're going), that light bulb appears over their heads.  "So THAT'S what she meant by best birthday present ever!"

Okay.  So, it makes sense in my head even if it doesn't when I write it all out.  ;)

Do you make sure to leave breadcrumb trails for your readers as you write?  Is it something you have to revise in, or is it a natural inclination to have it in the first draft?