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


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!


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.


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.

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.


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!