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.

Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)

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.): 

Then it morphed into something like this:

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!!
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!"

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.

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!

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?"

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.


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

Thursday, September 1, 2011


My Novel Writing Month

That's right.  Today marks the beginning of my very personal Novel Writing Month.  Because I'm too impatient to wait for November.  It happens every year, folks.  Last year it was October, this year September, next year...who knows?  August I guess.  ;)  November just takes too long to get here.

I've got a killer story idea, a solid outline, character outlines, a string of pre-planned clues to lay, and a final decision on POV.  (A huge thanks to my amazing writer buddies for helping me riddle out the pros and cons of POV for this story, by the way.  I don't know what I'd do without you guys!!)

Thanks to Savannah Foley's amazing post on Let the Words Flow, I even have an awesome spreadsheet to track my daily wordcount and goals.


I'm going to see if I can find a widget of some sort to put my status on the blog...we'll see what I come up with.

Do you guys like setting goals for yourself this way?  I find it incredibly motivating.