Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sweet Savannah

Savannah is my Southern hometown. Okay, I'm not from Savannah, but we have close friends that live down here (and Dom went to high school nearby), so it always feels like home when we visit.

Plus, the really super cool thing is that Beauty Secrets' setting takes place in Beaufort, South Carolina, which is about 30 minutes from Savannah. It's been three years since I've been down here, but even I'm amazed at how accurate I remembered everything for my novel. I love it. The inspiration is so strong.
Today, while Dom and his friend Carey golf, I'm tacking advantage of the silence to read/edit Beauty Secrets for a couple hours. There's something magical about editing a novel while being surrounded by your setting. You can't beat it.
What about you, my friends? Do you live/or have you lived in your novels' settings? (If you write fantasy, that might be kinda hard...just sayin') OR have you taken a special vacation just to get a feel for the locale? If so, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

(P.S. These pics are a few that I took this morning while walking around downtown.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What A Whirlwind

The last few days have been the epitome of busy for me and my hubby--what with driving to and from Pennsylvania, having 7 different stops between Christmas Eve and Day, and now this morning driving down to Savannah, I have to stop and say, "What were we thinking?!"

But that hasn't been the major cause of the whirlwind. You see, the college Dom interviewed at called us on Christmas Eve and offered him a spot in the grad program. This is huge news. It's like sending out one query letter and having the agent calling you the next day extending representation. Wow. We were blown away.

Now comes the fun part, packing up and moving to Pennsylvania. Have I mentioned that I've lived in Michigan my whole life? Or how about the fact that my ENTIRE family (talking aunts, grandparents, and siblings), all live within a ten mile radius of one another? Crazy, I know.

AND then again, I just can't help but stop and think how long this has been a dream for Dom, and how I can't believe it's starting to really happen. He's been talking about getting into CRNA school for five years. He went and got his BSN/RN with the intention of becoming a nurse anesthetist, and now he's in.

Of course I can relate this to writing and my career goals. Sometimes it feels like I've been working forever at getting representation and becoming published, but I've really only been pursuing it for 10 months (seriously, since last February)--that's not long at all! Now, I've been "seriously" writing since 2003, but those stories/semi-novels back then were horrible. As in I won't even read them because I'm embarrassed at how awful they are.

Now, I'm feeling good about my writing ability and career goals. I'm sure I can get there if I keep at it. That's the secret my friends--keep writing, and don't forget your dreams because some day yours will start to come true, just like my hubby's.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Road Trip!

The holidays bring a fresh wave of road trips for millions of Americans each year, and this year I too am riding that wave. Of course, none of it is to visit family, but rather a mixture of business and pleasure. Today, I'm heading to Pennsylvania (and back tomorrow) for the hubby's grad school interview. Then the day after Christmas, we're heading down south to hang with friends. Should be lots of good times.

So, what does that mean exactly?

Well, besides blogging from my phone, it means that I'm spending A LOT of time in the car. Fourteen hours today and tomorrow. Another 14 on Saturday. Add another six on Wednesday, and just for fun, let's add 22 on the way home. Did I mention that I hate riding in the car? Blech.

With that being said, what do you guys do to entertain yourself on long road trips? Do you write? What about reading? Or, my favorite, debating politics, life and religion with your companion? I brought my laptop to get some editing done, but not sure how much I'll accomplish with Three Days Grace jamming on the speakers. Apparently Dom's need to drive to music trumps my desire to write in silence.

Anyway, what do you do to keep from going crazy in the car? I'd really LOVE to know.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Could Use A Party

After spending Thursday night in the hospital, sleeping through Friday and Saturday, and attempting to eat solid food on Sunday, I'm ready for a party.

How about you guys?

Hopefully your weekend was much better than mine (watching snails race would've been awesome compared to my ordeal). I can't wait to see you all tonight at the party. I could use a little Christmas, right this very minute (or any other holiday for that matter). For more info, see the post below.

Happy Monday everyone! (It's Monday, right?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You're Invited! Holiday Party

Hey guys,

Guess what? I'm hosting a holiday party, and you're all invited. Turn on the tunes, bust out the hors d'oeuvres, and pull out your holiday sweater because this party's gonna rock.

The Details
When: Monday, Dec 21st
Time: 9 p.m. eastern
Where: I've created a chat room at: http://bit.ly/5ddydi

Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to pass on the invite to your fellow bloggers. Can't wait to see you all there!!!

The Most Wonderful Store In The WORLD!

The lights! The ornaments! The kids! The crowds!

Welcome to Bronner's, The World's Largest Christmas Store!!!! In a world that is just too ironic, Laura Martone blogged about my beloved Bronner's yesterday. I couldn't believe it when I saw her blog's accompanying photo. Yes, I didn't even need to click on the blog title to know what her post was about, the photo was a festive giveaway.

So, as originally planned, here is my blog post about Bronner's. And also as originally planned, I'm dedicating it to Laura--her blog always features her fun travels, and today, I'd like to do the same.

I love Bronner's. To the point where my sister says I have an addiction to the Christmas spirit. (But somehow she doesn't complain when I drag her there every other weekend.) The ginormous Christmas store is located 15 minutes from my house and is open 361 days a year. How can I resist the place?

So, what's there to do at this crazy Christmas store?

Well, here's my top 5 list:

5. Stare at the ceiling. There's just as many decorations on the ceiling as there is throughout the rest of the store.

4. Check out the miniatures. Bronner's has a huge selection of Department 56 village pieces (several of which are animated). My sis's favorites are actually the Halloween ones. Personally, I like the skating rink and old mill stores.

3. Visit Santa! He lives here after all (well, it's his second home), and you can stop in for a visit year-round.

2. Get a personalized ornament. My ENTIRE family has their name on my parent's tree. You knew you were part of the family when you were presented with your very own ornament. Dom and I have continued the tradition at our house.

1. SPINNING IN THE CHRISTMAS TREE EXHIBIT! I love this exhibit. Just staring at the festival forest can make you dizzy, but spinning in it is guaranteed to make you go cuckoo. Good times.

There's seriously a lot more to do there than just my top 5 list, like visiting the Silent Night Chapel, checking out the toy store, and driving through lighted parking lot show. If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by! I'd love to be your tour guide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mwa-ha-ha

Oh, the end of the semester, how I hate you so.

Let me take that back.

I love that it's the end of the semester and I have the entire month off (no teaching until Jan 6th--sweet!), but I hate grading and the hundreds of emails students send me. You think you wouldn't want to annoy your instructor when they're calculating your final grade, right? Who and the heck waits until after the semester ends to ask about a missing assignment from three months ago? Or who emails their instructor three times in 24 hours to ask about their final grade. LEAVE ME ALONE PEOPLE!

Gesh.

Would you ever do these things? Please tell me no.

Just more motivation to publish my novels. If I'm going to be harassed by anyone, I'd rather have it be my agent or editor, or adoring fans. (Hey, I'm just saying, it would be better.)

With that being said, on to editing! I would say querying, but I'm saving that for after the holidays. I guess I have plenty of time to write, too. Oh, the possibilities.

Happy writing my fair penned friends!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Live Long & Prosper

Spock would never be a writer in today's economy--it would be too illogical.

I like to think of myself as a logical person, but not when it comes to my chosen career. Admittedly, I could make a heck of a lot more money then I do now. The fact that I don't bathe in financial bliss, periodically drives me crazy (I'd say once every 3 months I question my values, goals, and sanity.)

But it's a trade off.

I hate, with a deep-rooted passion, working 8-5. I hate even more when 5 becomes 7:30, 9, or well after midnight. HATE.

I also hate making rich people richer--i.e. company executives who take you for granted. (I don't have any issues here, now do I :)

HOWEVER, the crazy is part is that I really like to work. The act of having deadlines and stress is really an unhealthy character trait of mine. (Thanks Dad!) I don't care if I'm up past midnight working on a story, finishing some freelance gig, or whatever I have going on. Which is why, being a career writer really suits me.

So, I guess the point of my rambling is that I'm really happy with I do for a living--most of the time. The Spock in me wouldn't agree, but I've always been a bigger fan of Captain Kirk anyway.

What about you? Are you happy with what you do for a living?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Editor

Do you have a favorite editor? Maybe you're like me and didn't realize you did, until one day you're reading the acknowledgment page of one of your favorite reads, and you realized you've seen the editor's name before. In fact, you look through seven books on your shelf, and they all have the same editor.

Fantastic.

For me, this editor was Anne Sowards, senior editor at Roc and Ace (an imprint of Penguin). A sci-fi and fantasy editor, she's responsible for some super awesome novels and authors that I love (Tate Hallaway, Anne Bishop and Karen Chance to give you a taste).

I've heard that some readers follow editor's books like they would a regular author. I don't do that (yet), but I can see the appeal. Especially because you'd never have to wait long for the author's next book to come out--an editor is always publishing something. Definitely sounds nice if you're impatient like me for a good book.

So what about you? Do you follow a favorite editor, or do you even have one? Take a look at your shelves, I bet you do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Isn't This Fun?

Who-hoo! I've been tagged and won two blog awards all in one day. Thanks Bane for tagging me (I really do love filling these questions out!), thank you Shannon for the honest scrap award (I've received it before, but I'm still very thankful. Here's a link from that post) and thanks to Diana for the One Lovely Blog Award.

I'm feeling the love. Now, for the questions...

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Last thing: Just finished a scene for my new YA novel--Infinity = Me.
First thing: A short story from my high school creative writing class. The teacher loved it so much that he asked me to autograph a copy. He was (and still is) convinced some day it'll be worth something. Now that's being optimistic.

2. Write poetry?
I wrote a Christmas song for Miss Snark's First Victim contest. (Does that count?) It went like this.

Joy to the world, writer style:

Joy to the world, my first draft’s done!
Let the real work commence;
Let every character, scene and dialogue,
Be edited to it’s core,
Be edited to its core,
Be edited, and edited, to its core!

3. Angsty poetry?
Nope. No angst here.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
YA, cozy mystery, and women's fiction

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Jerry from Infinity = Me. He's a cop, aka authorative figure on steriods, who thinks his title comes with a right to be rude. He's also my protagonist's stepdad.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
Beauty Secrets. No one has yet to discover the killer until the end. I love that.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
See above.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Not a lot. I usually just have to force myself to write. Lately (as in today) I haven't been writing in my usual linear fashion. I've outlined my scenes, so now I'm just picking the ones that I want to write.

9. Write fan fiction?
No, but I did my MA thesis on fan fiction and the development of identity. Sounds fun, huh? AND, I just found out yesterday that it's been accepted for presentation at a Central States Communication conference in April, oh fun!

10. Do you type or write by hand?
I outline by hand, but write on the computer. I'm faster at typing versus writing, and hate having my penmenship slow me down.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Lately, yes.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I have a notebook with story ideas that I turn to for inspiration. Before working on my current YA, I had about three others I was thinking of tackling.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
My first YA novel, Wicked Reality. I wrote it for myself. It has magical realism and some parts are so cheesy, but I LOVE it.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
Beauty Secrets is the only novel thus far I've let family and friends read, so for now, that's it.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Yes. Yes. Yes.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Not sure. I can say that I like reality versus world building though.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Two. Querying Beauty Secrets and writing Infinity = Me. I also have a MG novel I'm outlining in my mind.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Blogger awards don't count, right? No, not really. But I haven't entered many contests either.

19. What are your five favorite words?
satiate, matriculate, macabre, uakari and sleep :)

What character have you created that is most like yourself?
My novel's are all set from a female perspective, but none of my characters are like me, not exactly.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
While driving, or like Bane said, in the shower.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Nope. I don't usually remember my dreams.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Yes, but it has to be realistic. I'm big on believability.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Of course. I was an editor before a writer.

25. Does music help you write?
No, make it stop!

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
Okay, this was from Wicked Reality. It was fun to write...

Sensing death, the chthonic Goddess Hel joined us to the south. The twisted grimace-like smile that her half-skeletal face projected was fitting. I stared at the centerline of her body, the blurred division between beauty and horror. To the left she represented life with a tempting figure and seductress-like smile. The right was death. Macabre flesh hung from blackened bones, decaying in thick bands. I smiled. Her appearance was a blessing, for her darkness would aid in our deception.


*Okay*
Now, I'd like to pass the Q&A on to Wendy, Diana and Jennifer. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I've Got A Feeling

Have you heard the Black Eyed Peas song "I've Gotta Feeling?" Well, if you have, then you know the song that was jamming in my head at 5 a.m.

I woke up giddy I tell you!

Why? Because I've got a feeling (woo-hoo)
that my writing is going to make it,
that my writing is going to make it,
that my writing is going to, to, to make it!

*dance* *dance* *dance*

Here we go, here we go, here, here, here we go!

I swear I'm not crazy, just happy and optimistic. Hmmm... is it too early to go clubbing?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Time Saving Tips For Writers

We're all looking for ways to save time. As far as I know, there's still only 24 hours in a day, so that's not going to change. BUT what can change is how you spend those hours--it's the saying "work smarter, not harder." With those thoughts in mind, I give you my five time saving tips for writers:

1. Use paper plates.
Environmentalists, don't freak out--you're not going to be writing feverishly forever. As soon as the editing phase starts, you can pull back out all the fine China and dinnerware you want. But for now, stick with paper. One less dish to wash is one more minute devoted to writing.

2. Do household chores around your writing schedule. Sitting on the dryer and writing is actually very practical. While the clothes dry, I write. When the buzzer sounds, I finish my scene, switch loads and go back to writing. The same goes for when I'm stumped. Instead of staring at the screen, I'll do the dishes, vacuum, make the bed, etc. You're the boss. Do the cleaning and writing when you want to! Not when the sink is overflowing and no one has any clean underwear.

3. Find a schedule that works for you. Just like working out, you have to make time to write. Are you a morning person? Night owl? Middle of the day kinda gal? Figure out what works for you, and then stick with it! If you devote even one hour a day to writing, you can write a novel in 4 months! (That's 60,000 words averaging only 500 words a day. And you can write 500 words in an hour, easy peasy).

4. Take notes. Lots and lots of notes. Whenever a piece of dialogue, or a scene comes to you, write it down! Sometimes it just takes a spark to get the story going. I love my little notes. I've actually started using the voice record feature on my cell phone. It's a lot easier (and safer) to talk into my phone while driving (as opposed to scribbling down thoughts frantically at red lights).

5. Unplug the Internet.
Yes, I said it. Unplug the Internet and get writing (after you've finished reading this post, of course). How much writing time do you waste every day online? Unplug your router for an hour and see how much writing you can really get done. Trust me, you'll be amazed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Is A Good Query Letter Really All You Need?

With all this technology zipping around (especially in the world of publishing), lately I've been wondering, is a good query letter really all you need?

Agents are constantly discussing/blogging/tweeting about the sheer volume of queries they receive. Tuesday alone Nathan Bransford received 233 queries! (And I seriously doubt it was from all those Nanoers.)

And then, I'm reminded of Debra Schubert's agent-landing story, where her agent passed her up twice (TWICE!!!) because "We get anywhere between 150-300 queries a week and sometimes it is just downright difficult to pull out what we are looking for."

That's right, they couldn't pick her query out from the masses.

I've always been under the assumption that if I wrote an excellent query letter, I'd garner some interest, but I'm not sure that's true anymore. What do you guys think? I mean, I know it's the process and there's not much I can do to change it, but do you think a good query letter is really all you need?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 5 Reasons You Know You're Ready To Be Published

Number #5 - Money isn't your main motivation.
Sure, you could become famous à la James Patterson, but that's not what sends your creative sparks flying. You're a writer. You have passion. And by golly, you're going to tell your stories no matter what!

Number #4 - The thought of an editor letter excites you.

This isn't a beta reader's or a critique partner's feedback, this is an editor's, as in the person who will publish your book! Of course you might not agree with everything they suggest, but at this point, you're not worried about that. You just can't wait to have an editor critique your writing.

Number #3 - You've written the best darn book you can.

Your personal resources have run out. You've edited your book a gazillion times, your writing friends have offered their critiques, and numerous drafts sit saved on your laptop, each one being updated by the next. You've done everything in your power to make your book sparkle! Now, it's time to offer it up to the professionals.

Number #2 - You've followed Writer's Digest rules to avoid publishing disappointment, which for the unpublished include:


* Establishing an online presence
* Identifying groups and individuals who'd be interested in your book
* Dreaming up ancillary materials for your book

And the Number #1 Reason? - You feel like you've already been published.

Your publishing contract may rock your world temporarily (and throw cause for celebration), but you're still going to be writing your butt off, researching industry news, blogging, tweeting, networking, marketing, editing, and everything else that you do right now! Only of course, you'll have someone else's imposed deadline to contest with. But what's another deadline, right?

So there you have it, my top 5. Did I forget anything? Let me know if you have another number to add. We can always make it the top 6 reasons :)

Oh, and P.S.
I'm so THERE!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Twitter Etiquette

It's been a week now since I've joined Twitter and so far and all I can say is WOW!!!! So much information!!!!! And it's all moving so FAST.

Twitter is very crazy and VERY addictive. It's more then a social network--it's an information network.

So, here's my question: What is Twitter Etiquette?

I've read a few articles online, but the guidelines given aren't really what I'm looking for. I mean, we all know about the 140 character rule and to be polite, isn't that obvious? But what I'm talking about are the nitty-gritty details that us writer folks want to know about.

For example, you can follow ANYONE on Twitter (well, unless they block you). You don't need to wait for a friend request like you have to on Facebook. This means that every editor, agent and writer on Twitter is free game. Totally cool, but do they really want to hear from me? Seriously.

I'm mean, Monday night Anne Rice was tweeting about the New Orleans Saints and I was watching the game. I so felt like jumping in the conversation, but OMG it's Anne Rice!!! The Vampire Chronicles start racing through my head and I have tweet fright.
Do I tweet? Do I lurk? What to do?

I logged off.

Now what about editors and agents? They're tweeting all sorts of fabulous information. But they're busy, people!

Part of me thinks that you'll never network if you don't jump in. BUT you don't want to be annoying either. Where's the line? I feel like shouting "Hey Editor X and Agent Y, I heard about that too. Did you see the article by Author Z?"

But, yeah, I don't. Fear of ridicule still applies to Twitter...

So, what do all you fabulous writers have to say? Your advice would be awesome.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Movie Previews?!?

Have you been to the movies lately? Well, if you have, maybe you've noticed an extended amount of movie previews... unless it's just my local theaters, but I don't think so. The last three movies I've been to have shown an average of 7 trailers lasting a total of 18 minutes! This totally drives me crazy. It's like you sit in the theater a half an hour before the movie starts (because you get there 15 minutes early anyway).

And don't even get me started on commercials. The last two years have seen an increase in showing commercials before the previews (I'm talking about the national one's like JCPenny, Sprint, ect. Not the local "Your Ad Here!" ones). What is up with that? It makes the experience seem not so special to me, like I'm at home watching the movie on a really big flat screen, only I can't change the channel.

Hmph.

Is this just me? I know some of you movie buffs out there might love this, if so, I wanna hear from you! Seriously, please explain this to me. Am I just not cool enough to get all excited over these previews? My time's precious folks. I get antsy sitting for 2 hours, add an additional 30 minutes and, eh... I go a little crazy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm Quirky

Being a writer comes with certain personality traits. I think quirkiness is one of them.

Like I said before, I have to write to silence. But not dead silence. I guess a better word would be white noise -- preferably the washing machine or dryer. I also like to be warm. A Snuggie would be perfect, but alas, I don't own one.

Which is why I guess it should come as no surprise that I usually write while sitting on top of my dryer. Yeppers, the dryer. It provides the noise that I need and the warmth that I desire. Ahhhh... isn't that nice. Granted, it's not the most comfortable, but I seem to focus well up there. I have some more quirks, but I guess I'll stick with that for now...

So, what about you? What are your writing quirks?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't Forget, You're The One Doing The Hiring

As the publishing industry shifts, roles are rewritten and adjusted, and platforms undoubtedly change. As a result, it's not surprising the the future role of the agent has come into question.

Rachelle Gardner
blogged about this Monday in her post titled Change or Die, where she optimistically wrote:

If you want to know the truth, I think it's exciting. The future is wide open for people who are adaptable, creative, and forward-thinking. I can envision many different ways for agents' roles to evolve, and I know most of my agent friends have been thinking about this, too.

But what does everyone else think?

Writer's Digest wrote an article back in September titled The Future Role of Agents, which concluded that the needs of authors will shape the future role of agents. The article addressed three critical issues:

1.KEEPING PACE WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND BUILDING NEW CONTRACTS AND RIGHTS STRUCTURES

2.ESTABLISHING AND GROWING EMPOWERING PARTNERSHIPS AND ONLINE PRESENCES FAR BEYOND BOOK PUBLICATION

3.DEVELOPING NEW BUSINESS MODELS FOR HOW AUTHORS PAY AGENTS FOR THEIR EXPERTISE AND PARTNERSHIP

I'm not going to paraphrase everything here, but I encourage you to check the article out. To me, what this all means is that the industry is shifting, but as authors, we still need someone to navigate it for us, manage our careers and sell our work.

Above all, the one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that you're the one doing the hiring. Sure, it's a partnership, but agents are working for you - they represent you! We get so obsessed in NEEDING an agent that we forget that they need us too. So if you're unagented like moi, keep writing and querying until you find the RIGHT agent, not just an agent. Because regardless of what happens in the publishing world, you're still going to want one - an inside professional on your side.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tweet, Tweet

I did it my friends. Yep, I've officially signed up for a Twitter account. What does that mean?

I have no idea.

So far I have one follower (Thanks Debra!) and I'm trying to figure out how the whole thing works. I've started following a few agents and fellow writers and I'm already amazed at the articles and thoughts they've passed on my way. How cool is that? I seem to have found another way to receive and share my random thoughts with the world. Yay technology!

Now, what about you? Do you tweet? If so, how do you use, or get the most out of, your Twitter account? Do share. I love hearing the inside scoop.

Happy tweeting everyone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poll Time!

I'm working on a new novel. Yes, another new novel and no, this one is not a sequel. Every time I start a new work I get all giddy with excitement and I figured I wasn't the only one. So, you tell me - what do you love most about writing a new novel?


Don't Forget, You're The One Doing The Hiring

As the publishing industry shifts, roles are rewritten and adjusted, and platforms undoubtedly change. As a result, it's not surprising the the future role of the agent has come into question.

Rachelle Gardner
blogged about this Monday in her post titled Change or Die, where she optimistically wrote:

If you want to know the truth, I think it's exciting. The future is wide open for people who are adaptable, creative, and forward-thinking. I can envision many different ways for agents' roles to evolve, and I know most of my agent friends have been thinking about this, too.

But what does everyone else think?

Writer's Digest wrote an article back in September titled The Future Role of Agents, which concluded that the needs of authors will shape the future role of agents. The article addresses three critical issues:

1.KEEPING PACE WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND BUILDING NEW CONTRACTS AND RIGHTS STRUCTURES

2.ESTABLISHING AND GROWING EMPOWERING PARTNERSHIPS AND ONLINE PRESENCES FAR BEYOND BOOK PUBLICATION

3.DEVELOPING NEW BUSINESS MODELS FOR HOW AUTHORS PAY AGENTS FOR THEIR EXPERTISE AND PARTNERSHIP

I'm not going to paraphrase everything here, but I encourage you to check the article out. To me, what this all means is that the industry is shifting, but as authors, we still need someone to navigate it for us, manage our careers and sell our work.

Above all, the one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that you're the one doing the hiring. Sure, it's a partnership, but agents are working for you - they represent you! We get so obsessed in NEEDING an agent that we forget that they need us too. So if you're unagented like moi, keep writing and querying until you find the RIGHT agent, not just an agent. Because regardless of what happens in the publishing world, you're still going to want one - an inside professional on your side.

I'm Super Geeked

No, my friends I'm not a super geek, but I am super geeked. You see, I went and saw New Moon last night (which BTW totally loved) and I left the theater smiling like a fool? Why? Was it Edward's sparkliness? Jacob's ripped bod?

NO.

It was the fact that all this media greatness started with a book, an idea, a dream. TWILIGHT, LOTR, HARRY POTTER - heck, LOVELY BONES has been made into a movie too.

I really get excited when books have a mass impact on culture and thus society. It makes my academic and creative brains go into a tizzy. I get so excited I'm not sure if I want to write a new novel or work on my dissertation. I just can't decide!!!!!

Either way, I'm happy. Life is good. Books are awesome. And it's Friday.

(Oh, and these photos are from my trip to Forks, WA this past May. See, told you I wasn't a super geek. Oh, wait...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Your Secret?

We all know writing well is not easy, being published is even harder, which is why I thought I'd ask what your secret was for staying motivated.

Mine? Well, it's pretty simple - I read and blog. Seriously, that's about it. When I don't feel like writing, I check out what other writers have to say. Generally I'll find motivation in something they've said. Same goes for reading or even walking into a book store. I see all those books and think if they did it, then so can I. With that being said, a big thank you to all of you who write and blog everyday. Keep the inspiration and motivation coming!

Now tell me, what's your secret?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Musing Music

This isn't the first time I've blogged about my Muse or inspiration, and as many of you know I write to Golden Silence, but that doesn't mean I don't love music or find it inspiring.

Jordin Sparks, One Step At A Time, is one such song. The lyrics apply so much to writing as any other form of art. The opening line for example, "Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away" makes me think Ms. Sparks is waiting on a submission too.

So, for your viewing pleasure and inspiration-induced happiness, I've embedded the music video here for you to watch.

Now what about you? Do you have a song that you just love or find inspiring? Do share!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Santa's Going To B&N

I'd like to thank Jen over at Jennifer J. Bennett for inspiring today's post. You see, yesterday Jen blogged about getting ready for the holidays and thus Christmas shopping. Now, every year I say I'm not going to spend a lot of money and that I'll be DONE by Dec. 15th. And every year I fail at these goals miserably.

BUT NOT THIS YEAR.

Because this year everyone on my list is getting books. Wait, make that a book. Because you know what? I love bookstores and if I'm going to spend the money it should go to an industry that deserves it. No books from Walmart either. Nope, they're going to be purchased from genuine bookstores. Heck, indie ones if I can find 'em.

So, spread the love. While you're making out your holiday gift giving list this year, don't forget about books! They're the perfect gift: completely customizable (write a little note on the inside flap) and personal (everyone loves something.Find out what that something is and you'll find a book to match).

This year, the spirit of giving really will make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm becoming less Grinch by the minute!
Wait, what was that? Yep, my heart just grew three times its size today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Any Takers?

I've spent the entire day today and most of last night revising the beginning of BEAUTY SECRETS. So now comes the fun part, sending it out into the world and asking for a critique.

Would any of you fine folks be interested in reading the first 20 pages of my MS? I'm not looking for a line edit, but more of an overall opinion. Basically I'm wondering if I've set the story up enough to hook you, and if I've given you enough time to know my protagonist before diving into the mystery aspect of the novel.

My mantra for the last twelve hours has been, "Set up the story. You need to set up the story. Set up the story. You need to set up the story."

So...Let me know if you're down to help me out!

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Need Chocolate

Today has been a busy day and I've officially reached my full mental capacity.

NANO, what's that? The last two days I've kinda let LG&L die off at 13,000 words to shift my attention back to BEAUTY SECRETS. You see, I received some feedback from a super fantastic agent a couple months ago and at the time I wasn't sure how to take their advice. Not that I didn't want to take it, but that I wasn't sure exactly how to do what they were asking for.

I mean, at first their comments didn't make any sense because they were supposed to love my novel as is, right? And then their comments made sense, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to change my story that way. And then suddenly in the calming moment that is my nightly bubble bath It. Just. Made. Sense.

EREKA! I get it!!!!!

However, my happy moment of elation was quickly replaced by "Oh Crap!" now what?!

I understand the concept and what I have to do. Now I just have to do it. I think I better go put my Nike gear on before I tackle this one. Oh, and eat chocolate. Lot's and lot's of chocolate!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

e-Readers - Do You Own One?


I've been thinking about e-books lately and their fellow counterparts. Now, while I will NEVER totally give up my books, I can't ignore my love for technology and thus interest in the e-readers.

Price wars and the "WHAT! You're destroying the industry" fears aside. I was wondering if you owned an e-reader and if so, which one. Or, how about, if you were going to buy one, which one would you buy?

Personally, I've been giving some thought to the B&N Nook. While the features are great and all, I can honestly say the biggest selling point to me is that purchasing the reader supports the bookstore that I love. I think it's really smart for B&N to get in the game and I'm proud to see they're stepping up. So that's my thoughts, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Switching gears here...

A big thank you to Tara over at The Bloodcrossed Writer for the awesome new award. The Honest Scrap awards "those who aren't afraid to tell it like it is and are honest about their thoughts and feeling." Okay, I made that up. But that's what I think it should mean, and seeing it doesn't already have a description, well then, there you go.

The rules on this one are basic, honor five other bloggers and then open your blog to personal questions from the audience. Okay, here are my nominees:

Wendy Sparrow - Where Ladybugs Roar. And I thought I wrote a lot. This woman in inspiring! Oh, and an insomniac.

Laura Martone, Mira & Co. - Come In Character Cool site. So I hang out on the sidelines, but still, way cool. I love how it's such an awesome character building tool.

Rick Daley - The Public Query Slushpile. Not sure if he honors awards over there, but c'mon, you can't get more honest then openly accepting public feedback on your queries.

Stephanie Thornton - Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel. Stephanie's absolutely the model child for this award. Listen to part of her blog post today, "I hate it, absolutely hate it when historical fiction writers get sloppy. I also hate it in Hollywood, but I take that with a grain of salt because it's, well, Hollywood." See? You can't get more honest than that. :)

Lynnette Labelle - Chatterbox Chit Chat. Lynnette has always been honest with her comments and feedback, and you have no idea how much I appreciate that!

Now that that's done, I've got some Nano writing to get to!

Oh, and do you have any questions? Feel free to post them or send them to me at steph.damore@gmail.com.

Thanks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Why Do You Write?

Who hasn't heard or asked themselves this question from time to time. Surely I know I have and will continue to do so. For me, it's a reminder of the big picture.

Of course I want to be published, but as I continue to plug away with little positivity on that front, I have to remind myself why I continue to write every day. Because I want to. The creativity and stories I have written continue to amaze and inspire me. I'm fully aware of this industry and what I'm getting into, and I embrace it every day (well, most days...today's a little rough).

Writing makes me happy - blogging, talking with you guys, outlining scene after scene. It completes me (you complete me Mini Me. Sorry Austin Powers moment). And I get really cranky, my brain gets all out of whack and I need a V8 to restore my balance when I can't get that prose pondering time in.

Then this whole thought process reminds me of the Movie He's Just Not That Into You, when Alex (Justin Long) tells Gigi (Ginnifer Godwin) that she's "the rule and not the exception." I totally get that. Those authors who query 15 agents and get 12 requests for partials are the exception. These are the same ones who get multiple requests for representation and the publishing houses go into bidding wars over. They're the exception and I'm not.

That's cool. I'm good at playing by the rules. LIP GLOSS & LIES is my third novel (which statistically shows that I'm dedicated and am improving my craft). I read publishing articles, agent blogs and editorial publications. I'm educated, which can only be a positive thing. I network. I haven't yet made it to a conference like I want to, but that's next on my list. And of course, I'm going to keep perfecting my craft. It's not always easy sharing your work with others, but it's key to becoming a better writer. Right now two people offer me feedback, but maybe I should open that circle up...

Okay, I think that's about it. Have I missed anything? Let me know. Oh, and why do you write?

Ode To My Query Letter

Oh query letter, sweet query letter
why must you pain me so?
I send you out into the world with love
and yet rejection is all you bestow

Query letter, precious query letter
how my depression grows
Without you, I’m lost!
and my dreams just can not flow

Letter of hope, letter of love
we will triumph I know!
I will revise you once again
and celebrate with a glass of Bordeaux...

Who-ha!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bad Blurb

In my quest for inspiration in writing my own blurb, I've come across some real doozies. I thought I would take a second to share with you in my opinion, the best and worst.

First up, the worst - TRANSFORMERS REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. Granted, movies aren't known for having great blurbs, but I think this one is awful.

The battle for Earth continues in this action-packed blockbuster from director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg. When college-bound Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers, he must accept his destiny and join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in their epic battle against the Decepticons, who have returned stronger than ever with a plan to destroy our world.

Tell me something I don't already know. The only detail I really got out of this was that Sam's going off to college. The rest was same o same o. It's a Transformer's movie - of course the fate of the world is in their hands. But why? Because Sam learned their origins? And how? What specifically are they fighting for on Earth. Why do they want the planet? I want more details!

Now for my favorite. Tops honors goes to Victoria Laurie - DEMONS ARE A GHOUL'S BEST FRIEND.

Every school has its bullies, but Northern Boarding School near Lake Placid, New York, houses a real whopper: a lean, mean, and deadly demonic ghost named Hatchet Jack. M.J.'s good friend Karen has asked her--along with partners Gilley and handsome Dr. Steven Sable--to send Hatchet Jack back to the portal he came from.

With renovations at the school starting in a week, there isn't much time for ghost hunting. Plus M.J. has to deal with an uncooperative dean, Gilley being paranormally prayed upon, and the tempting Dr. Delicious distracting her. But Hatchet Jack is M.J's biggest threat, and with a demonic disturbance of this magnitude she must show no mercy and see to it that Hatchet Jack gets detention for eternity--in hell.


Fabulous, right? Not only does it cover all the blurb basics, but it also has a great voice and I love the alliteration (i.e., deadly demonic ghost, Dr. Delicious distracting & paranormally preyed upon). It's all good stuff.

So what about you? Any blurbs that you love? Or better yet, can't stand? Do tell.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Query Letter - Take 5 (or was it 25?)


As promised, I've revised my query letter and have decided to post it here again for your lovely comments. Thanks again for everyone who commented last time - let me know if you think I've got it yet.

I'll skip out the boring parts and get right to the good stuff:

Dear Super Agent,

Every Beauty Secret representative knows two things: never come between a woman and her lipstick, and always keep your client’s secrets. Unfortunately Keira Diaz didn’t get that memo.

When her client’s playboy husband, Roger, goes missing, Keira finds herself quickly wrapped up in the mystery. Keeping track of her Southern socialite clientele wasn’t in this girl’s job description, but their clues are the key to solving this case.

And their secrets? Boy do they tell. If it weren’t for them, Keira would have never learned of Roger’s infidelity while his wife battled breast cancer, or set up her best friend with Savannah’s most corrupt businessman.

As the evidence builds, Keira vows to find Roger. What she wasn’t planning on was finding him dead—or befriending the murderer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Multitasking Diva Here

My writing career is in full swing - Well, I mean minus the agent and whole publishing contract thing - but still, I'm busy!

First up, NaNo. It's the start of day two and I've currently got 2,727 words written. Awesome, go me. I'm loving LIP GLOSS & LIES and confession, it's already better than BEAUTY SECRETS - ahhhhhhhh!!! So, remember last week how I said I was done with BS, well, not anymore. I've thought of a couple slight tweaks that I hope will make my debut even more stellar (because it will be my debut I tell you!).

So that brings me to number two - make additional changes to BS, revise my query, and then begin submitting to agents worldwide!!!!

Let's see then: NaNo, BS changes, Query... Oh, I know, and blog. See I'm accomplishing stuff already.


Hi ho hi ho it's off to writing I go...

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Finished... Oh, Wait.

Yesterday I finished my third (or was it fourth?) complete read/edit of Beauty Secrets, which you all know is very time consuming. But now I can confidently say that "it's done!"... for now. Some of you might remember that my goal four weeks ago was to finish my edits and send BS off to the St. Martin/Minotaur First Crime Novel Competition, well today my friend I'm doing just that. After paying $58.04 to have my manuscript printed, I'm packing it up and shipping it off. It feels so good to have that goal checked off my list. And the time couldn't be more perfect with NaNo starting in two days (boy, do I have A LOT of work to do between now and Sunday).

Also, with wrapping up BS, I'll have some more time to work on revising my query again. Thank you all for your comments this week. I'll put the advice to work and revamp my query over the weekend and repost it next week. Hopefully I'll be able to add the voice that I know is missing.
This Just In

I'd like to give a big thank you to Debra Schubert over at Write On Target for the awesome blog bling and such kind words. Okay folks, you know how it goes. Here are the rules:


1) Copy the pretty picture and post it on your blog.
2) Thank the person that gave it to you and link to their blog.
(Did I mention how awesome Debra is?)
3) Write 7 things about yourself we don't know.
4) Choose 7 other bloggers to pass the award to.
5) Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6) Notify your 7 bloggers.

Seven things you've always wanted to know about yours truly:
1. Cherry yogurt is my favorite flavor. Key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, Boston cream pie, and Pineapple upside down cake are just wrong.

2. Just like my protagonist, Keira, I have an obsessive personality, which makes for excellent determination, but can also make me a little batty. If I want to write, I do, and if you make me do anything else, I'll be very grumpy.

3. In keeping with number 2, I'm also stubborn and you'll have a helluva time trying to get me to do something that I don't want to do :)

4. Wine and dark chocolate make the perfect gift, in case you were wondering. My birthday is April 27th...

5. And speaking of that, 27 is my all-time favorite number. Not only is it lucky, but it also makes me smile and it happens to be how old I am.

6. Writing also makes me smile, and I'm VERY excited to be starting LIP GLOSS & LIES! I just have such an awesome feeling about this series. Good things are about to happen.

7. And there's nothing better than having Halloween on a Saturday. Sleeping in, eating candy all day and watching scary movies (well, Scooby Doo anyway). Tomorrow is going to be so much fun!

And now I must now nominate seven other worthy blogs...

1. Bane's Blogging Blues - in addition to being an awesome fantasy writer, Bane posts funny youtube videos and cute puppy pictures for our entertainment. What's not to love?

2. Jennifer Bennett - Jen's just so nice and her blog is always too cute. And I love her blog topics, like yesterday's post titled "What Sells" where she ask's the question that if something sells then does that make it great? Good question!

3. A Misinterpreted Wave - Chris writes beautiful poetry and I must admit that her vocabulary is impressive (read: I'm jealous). Stop by and see what I'm talking about.

4. Penny Lane - The girl loves cupcakes and skittles, has an adorable kitty cat names Jasmine, and she's brave enough to video blog. Yeah, video blog. Even I'm not brave enough for that.

5. VR Barkowski - Fellow NaNo participant, VR's blog is full of the type of fantastic information and links that writers like us want to know. Awesome job.

6. The Bloodcrossed Writer - Tara's a fabulous writer and reviewer extraordinaire. Videos and links will keep you entertained for hours.

7. Regina Rhythm - Regina's blog says she a writer, artist and adventuress - you got that right. Regina's blog is fresh, informative and most of all, creative.

So there you have it, my choices for the Kreative Blogger award. Happy Halloween everyone!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - You in?

I've been seeing this - NaNoWriMo - out on the blogosphere lately and until tonight I had no idea what it stood for. But alas, I have become educated and now know that it stands for the National Novel Writing Month, which takes place Nov 1-30. According to the website:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Wowzers! If I recall, I remember a few folks talking about this last year, but they were already way to into it and I was way too lazy to get involved. But this year? Now that could be cool, as you all know I'm thinking about starting a new novel anyway. AND the more I think about it, I actually wrote the first draft of BS in two months (65k) and that was with a lot of days of doing nuttin'.

Reading through the website, the 10 steps to success are pretty amusing. Take #4 for example:
4) Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.

But most of all, it's #10 that's my favorite:
10) Win or lose, you rock for even trying.

The rules of NaNo seem pretty basic too. I especially like this one, "Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times." See, basic. I can handle that.

So, what's my game plan you ask? Well, according to the guidelines you have to start from scratch, BUT you can have your outline and character sketches already developed, which is a very, very good thing. Without these steps done, my confidence in completing even 25,000 would be bleak. So that's where I'm starting. Over the next few days I'll finish outlining LIP GLOSS & LIES and get ready to write. Wait, first I need to sign up...

Now, what about you? You in? C'mon, it'll be fun...

Oh, I'll also add that I just saw they have a "word war" widget where you can compete with up to 5 authors and it'll keep track of everyone's word count on your blog. How cool is that?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Can I Get An Opinion Here?

Series - have you ever written one? They tend to be my favorite to read and write because once I meet a character, I hang on and don't let go until the. very. last. page.

Sounds all poetic, doesn't it? But is that really practical from a writing standpoint? Especially for an un-agented writer like moi?

I think I remember reading somewhere that Janet Evanovich doesn't recommend it - not until the first book sells. Which technically makes sense. Why would you write a sequel if the the first book hasn't sold yet? Duh. Who cares if you love the characters and the plot?!

But...But...

But what do you guys think?

In case you can't tell, I'm itching to start a new WIP. I've done just about all I can with BEAUTY SECRETS and I'm looking to spark my creativity again with a new novel. I've tentatively titled BS's (nice acronym) sequel LIP GLOSS & LIES - and I already have it outlined, but I haven't written a single scene yet.

So, before I dash off to write a the next greatest novel, I'd thought I'd get your opinion. You tell me, write a sequel or start something new?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Whatcha Think? New Query

Once again I've revised my query letter and I'd love to hear your feedback/suggestions/opinions. I find the hardest part in writing this lovely letter is trying to fit EVERYTHING into a couple of paragraphs. Have I included the key plot points? Have I hooked you? Is it well written? Are interested to read more?

So, the following is my most recent attempt at my query for BEAUTY SECRETS. Enjoy!

Dear Mr. Agent,

Beauty Secret Representative Keira Diaz was out to sell lipstick, not solve a mystery. An early morning house call to client Marion Siebold changes that. Marion’s playboy husband, Roger, is missing and unknowingly Keira is the first to arrive at the scene of the crime. The Beaufort Police Department quickly dismisses the case; their resources are already stretched investigating a kidnapped little girl. What the police don’t realize is that one man is the key to solving both crimes.

Keira’s Southern socialite clientele hold the clues to propel the investigation forward. If it weren’t for them, Keira would have never learned of Roger’s infidelity while his wife battled breast cancer, or set up her best friend with Savannah’s most corrupt businessman. As the evidence builds, Keira vows to find Roger. What she wasn’t planning on was finding him dead—or befriending the murderer.

BEAUTY SECRETS is complete at 65,000 words. If interested, the full manuscript is available upon request. In terms of writing experience, I’ve worked as an editor for five years and I teach advanced writing courses at a local university. For more information about me or my writing, please visit my blog at http://www.stephdamore.blogspot.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Confession

I got my New Moon tickets today! Yes, I know, it's not hitting theaters for another month, but the show sells out fast and I didn't want to be left out in the cold (seriously, I live in Michigan. It's freezing here already). Yay! I'm so flippin' excited even though the book lacks literal merit (all those adverbs!) and Rob Pattinson can't act (but he looks hot!) and Kristen Stewart is just so socially awkward (she really, really, is!) - I still will be there on midnight with my fellow Twi-hards wearing my New Moon gear and screaming with delight.

In other news, I've been busy editing these last few days. It's more like adding as opposed to editing seeing I'm taking an agent's advice and bringing more of the beauty selling aspect into Beauty Secrets. I'm also adding to my query letter, which I'm planning on posting here and over at the PQS soon. All of your feedback will be mucho appreciated.

Thanks and Happy Friday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Oprah Effect


We all know that it's all about the O, but have you ever realized just how strong Oprah's influence is? Your product appears on her show or in O Magazine and suddenly you're a millionaire. It doesn't matter if five minutes ago your business was in the tank and no one had heard of your book.

One of the courses I'm teaching this semester is argumentative writing, which includes the analysis of advertising strategies, and there is no greater product endorsement than Ms. Oprah Winfrey. It is seriously amazing just how quickly Oprah's touch turns everything into gold - or make that platinum, multimillion-dollar metal.

If you have 42 minutes to spare, or even just five, check out this CNBC Original documentary (season 1, episode 26) titled, "The Oprah Effect" (the link takes you to hulu.com).

I guarantee you'll be blown away (or maybe just slightly amazed) by one woman's influence. And if you're like me, you too will quickly be thinking about how you can get the Oprah Effect to work for you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Love It!

Okay, so you know when you've read your MS over and over and over again, and you feel like you're not getting anywhere and you wonder why and heck you even bother?
Well, that was me the last couple weeks. But then, I opened BEAUTY SECRETS and started reading and it all came back to me. I wrote a damn good story. It's clever, and witty, and funny, and my grandmother likes it. My grandmother I tell you! She said that it was a quick, fun mystery read. The kind that she'll spend an entire day reading just so she can find out who did it. How awesome is that.

That's all I wanted -- a fun cozy mystery. And I got it. So now I'll keep that in mind as I edit (again) and prepare to send out query letters (again). Because I have a damn good story and some agent and publisher and reader out there is going to love it. Who-hoo!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to Basics

Sometimes I think you need to take a step backwards before you can move forward, especially when it comes to writing. (Heck, isn't that the definition of editing?) Which is why the last couple weeks I've taken a step back and allowed a healthy distance to grow between me and my work; time to chillax and reflect.

But today? Today I'm focusing on getting back to the basics of my writing. I love words; the way they sound, their rhythm. Writing is just cool.

So cheers to all you writers out there for being cool and keepin' it real. It's time to go to work.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Obsessed!

Just like Keira Diaz, my protagonist in BEAUTY SECRETS, I obsess over things all the time. I use the word things, because there really isn't any rhyme or reason to my obsessions.

Take this week for example. My Mom and I have spent every spare moment finishing a quilt for moi. Why do I need a quilt? Well, because they're cool. And I like 'em. So, we finally finished the quilt last night at 9 p.m. and where was I this afternoon? At Joann's buying more material to make another one. Why? Because the first one was so much fun silly.

So now instead of blogging, reading or writing, I am spending my time quilting - and watching Mad Men because apparently I'm obsessed with that show too (and you can't forget NCIS).

Of course, it's not like I have any free time. I really need to be grading right now and editing. I was on a roll writing daily the last 8 months (seriously, it's been eight months, wow!) and right now I feel like being creative in some other way. I'm still writing though too. Just last night I was making mental notes for more things to add to BEAUTY SECRETS. It's just I'd rather be quilting.

So, what about you? What are YOUR other creative endeavors?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Have No Fear - I Haven't Disappeared!

Phew! What a busy couple of weeks it has been. With the semester officially well underway, I feel that I can FINALLY get back to my writing, which I plan on diving back into on Wednesday.

So what about you? Do you ever HAVE to take a break from your writing--family life's calling, you're busy with school, remodeling your house, or like me, all of the above? Or do you ever just WANT to take a break--walk away for awhile and take a vacation?

I guess I have a tendency to do both. And honestly, sometimes it can be hard to jump back in. Must. Find. Motivation.

So again, what about you? Do you have to take a break? Want to take a break? Need a little motivation? Or maybe you're so motivated you need a chill pill?

I'd love to hear about it. Please share!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Book Week

September 26th - October 3rd celebrates Banned Book Week! The ABFFE has some excellent ideas to help support this year's festivities including readouts, discussion forums and ideas for fighting censorship.

I often forget the freedom we have to read what we want when we want to. Banning a book sounds so harsh and I can't believe it still happens year after year. This past years most challenged books include:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence


3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group


10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

I say let's here it for the rebels out there! The only book I've read on this past year's list was TTYL - which I admit I was surprised by the content, but I NEVER wanted the book to be banned. It seems anytime a book (especially a YA) comes too close to the truth, people freak out. Why is this?

For more information and statistics on Banned Books, visit the American Library Association's website Frequently challenged books of the 21st century.

It looks like I've got a lot of reading to do if I want to support all of the banned book author's out there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bragging Rights

I got an iPhone!!!! Yipee.

What, you saw the title of the post and thought I got an agent, or some other fabulous publishing news? Well, you're wrong. We can't all be as lucky as Mr. Rick Daley. BUT an iphone is pretty fan-flippin'-tastic. My darling hubby surprised me with it yesterday. Wednesday is our three year wedding anniversary and he thought I'd like a new phone. So sweet. He gets lots of brownie points.

AND then, we were at Best Buy looking at phone cases and I saw the kindle. Would you believe it, my hubby said to me, "I suppose that's what you want for Christmas?" My little heart just fluttered at the possibility. Although, I didn't answer right away. I'm torn over this one. To own a Kindle or to, that is my question. Any Kindle owners out there> I have to confess, the only Kindle owner I technically "know" is Nathan Bransford and we all know that he's a fanatic. So what do the rest of you guys think?

I think I'd have to test drive one before I could come to any solid conclusion, but I'm curious to know what ya'll think. I've also heard I can read books on my iPhone (what can't I do with this marvelous technology), but I haven't tried it yet. Maybe I'll start there...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inspiration


USA Network is home to some of my favorite shows including: Monk, Psych and NCIS (past seasons). I'm often times awed by the writers on these shows, especially NCIS. To me, those guys and gals are my inspiration. Every episode is a mini mystery novel similar to the type I write (you know, not too violent, thematic with a humorous undertone).

I think it would be way cool to have a writing job like that, but to be honest, I'm not sure if I could be that creative EVERY single day.

Anyway, with that being said, these shows are often a source of inspiration for me. They make me reexamine characters and understand plot arcs and sequences in greater detail. Granted, a 40-minute television show isn't anywhere as complex as a 70k manuscript, but the general ideas remain the same - hook, story building, evidence, twist, ending. To me watching these shows sets the mood and puts my head in the game. Sure, there's other things that inspire me - reading a great book, dreams, the news, family - but nothing is as much fun and entertaining as USA Network.

So what about you? Who or what is the source of your inspiration?

P.S.
YAY it's FRIDAY. Do the happy dance!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Already?

Well that seems to be how my new schedule goes. Monday's nice, Tuesday and Wednesday are a blur, and then Thursday is nice and slow again, which I am VERY excited about. Today I am a writer! (As a opposed to a teacher or student...)

With that being said, how's everyone's writing goals coming along? I'll give you my update first. Ready? I haven't worked on them. BUT that is my goal for the next two days. I have about 70 pages left editing of BEAUTY SECRETS and then I'm shipping it off to MWA.

And seeing it's Thursday, I thought I'd add the Weekly Mrs. Roosevelt quote, and there are so many good ones to choose. But, I stumbled across this one and thought it could apply to many of us out there, so here it is:

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.

My first reflection on this is quote of course relates to writing and the courage it takes to become published. We face fear with every step, but become better individuals because of it. And how awesome is it when we accomplish something we didn't think possible? I think it's an amazing feeling.

But of course this quote could really apply to any goal. Nothing worth wanting in life comes easy. The trifecta of strength, courage and confidence is the winning equation to success. I should get that tattooed somewhere. Or maybe I'll just write in on a post-it note...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Morning! Good Mooorning!

Happy Monday everyone!

If your schedule is at all like mine, then you have too much to do and not enough time, which is why GOALS are so important. So this week, aside from my academic readings and writings, my goal is to finish revising BEAUTY SECRETS - thank you to the lovely Ms. Jessica Faust for her suggested revisions - and to send the MS out to MWA's writing contest. Yes, yes, you're right. The whole MWA writing submission thingy has been my goal for the last two weeks (or was it three?) BUT this week I will send it out!

Okay, so what about you? What are your writing goals this week?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back To Work

Okay, enough with my professional conundrum. Life's an adventurous game and I'm ready to play.

What drew me to this conclusion? Well, I started to think about what defines me. It's more than being a writer. And then I thought, heck, if Nathan Bransford can be an agent extraordinaire and still find time to write a worthy for publication novel, then there's no reason why I can't make my schedule work.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to stick with the whole PhD thing for good, just for now. As in this minute.

What I can guarantee is that I will stick with my writing. And planning on attending a conference or two. Oh, and starting another novel (more to come on this soon!).

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of the dreams."

And I believe baby, and yes, it is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sending Out An SOS


Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Well, I’m pretty sure I accomplished that task for the whole week yesterday. You see, yesterday was my first day at Wayne State – an urban university in downtown Detroit – where I’m pursuing my PhD. Not only is it a 90-mile commute one way, it’s also way out of my comfort zone. But even though I successfully navigated the traffic, crazy parking structures, and that maze that they call campus, I can’t help but feel sad. Sad because as my seminar homework piles up, and my teaching responsibilities add on, I feel like my writing career is slipping away, that I won’t have time to pursue the one career that I love.

Confession: I don’t really want my PhD. Not at all. I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I’ve been living my dream since January. It’s not a glamorous life (the deadlines, the stress!), but I LOVE it. The writing, the editing, the community of writers (YOU all!). I close my eyes and picture my future, and it’s not of text books and lectures, but of book signings and conferences. I love public speaking! Sign me up as a panelist any day.

So the question is, why am I getting my PhD? Well, security for one. Or make that the thought of security. If this whole writing thing doesn’t work out I still need a career and I HATE working 9-5. I refuse to do it. And unfortunately I’m not a trust fund baby or a trophy wife. I have to work for my money. I’m good at teaching, well entertaining at least, and like I said, public speaking is fun! But teaching isn’t what defines me.

What to do, what to do.

It would be so much easier to walk away from academia if I knew I had more of a chance in this industry. If I had an agent, networked, made connections with the industry. If my writing had more buzz, a larger following. If I won a few contests, earned some recognition. There’s so many ifs.

This time, like other times, when I’m mentally stressed, I send out an SOS. Generally it’s to my Guardian Angel (and yes, the POLICE lyrics play in my head every time). It’s worked out for me so far… I’m just looking for a little guidance. I know, I know – aren’t we all?