Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three things that made my week

Before November (and NaNo) gets here I wanted to share three things that made my week, er, weekend.

1- Someone I betaed for said, "Oh my God Jenn, the feedback you sent me is amazing!... I just want to bang my head on the desk and scream 'you're right!' at the top of my lungs."

That's the kind of stuff that makes me feel really good. I'm helping someone.

2- Finding out a friend will be signing a contract with an agent. And it's for a story I absolutely loved. G-d only knows what I'll do when I actually get an agent, because I get so excited for my friends I squee very loudly (thus scaring the kids). And jump up and down. And squee. Did I mention I'm squeeing?

3- Reading agent tweets about my crit partner's upcoming book. I may be jealous. Then again, I'm so happy for her; I don't think jealously has any room.

And yes, I did just stroke my own ego. And no, I don't need anyone else to ;)

To end Halloween:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Controversial books and schools - can there be a solution?

I went away for the weekend and read blogs, something I seldom have time to do. I read blogs about book banning and censorship and then read the comments. My friends can tell you how heated it got. I sent some links to my husband and proceeded to talk for hours with him about his opinions. He tends to lean towards conservative and I tend to lean towards liberal, although we both sit squarely in the middle.

I've thought of a solution that might work and wonder if it's been considered in the school districts. (Let me say up front, I homeschool and am an assistant librarian in a public library. Just want to throw that out there so there's no confusion.)

What about a signed permission slip for middle school and/or high school? A list of books could be placed on it, sent home to the parents and filed with the library. Some middle schoolers have the kind of situations that take place in Ellen Hopkins' and Laurie Halse Anderson's books happening in their own life. Others don't, and it may be too much for the younger kids. Plus the really (I can't think of an appropriate, non-judgemental word here but am going to take a stab at it) conscientious parents can opt out if they don't want their child reading it.

If you know of sites where compromises have been suggested, please link in the comments. Also, let me know your opinion. I'm really curious. Do you think a solution can be reached?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book review: Firelight

I'm at the beach with two of my crit partners and one them brought a bunch of ARCs with her and Firelight was one of them. Don't worry though, it has been released so you can rush out and buy it.

First, the cover. I'm so shallow, I'll admit it. I do buy a book because of it's cover and this one is awesome. It's so puurty.

My first book has dragons in it so I've always had this fondness for them, and here is a book about a girl who is a dragon, strike that, a draki. It starts off in the very beginning with a nice action scene and she gets to meet the LI.

The voice is very nice. I did tire a little of the inner monologue about how her dragon is dying but if I were this girl, I would worry constantly about it too, therefore I understand. And that's just a thing about me, I get bored so easily. The supporting characters were developed nicely.

The love interest, Will, is so hot. He's got the whole thing about him where he hunts her kind and doesn't date the girls in school and then in comes Jacinda and he's drawn to her, which is familiar and I was about to be disappointed until it was all explained. Then I wiped the imaginary sweat off of my brow in relief. It was very believable and didn't go all emo.

The ending leaves a lot open for the next book. All in all I enjoyed this and devoured it in one sitting. I definitely recommend it. And let me add in a small note-I could tell with the love scenes that a writer of adult books wrote it and as an adult, I really liked that part of it. So thanks, Ms. Jordan for wanting to write a YA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Writing compliments

What is the best compliment you've ever received as a writer?

Mine came a few nights ago when I read my current WIP, Mountain Escape, to my husband. Now, he has been there for me through ALL of my books and ideas. He's listened not only to what I've written, but what I've read, plus some of the beta reads I really liked. He's listened to me rant about banned books and other stuff. He's heard the whole publishing spiel about how it all works. And he's still married to me, lol.

This has been going on for well over a year. Of course, throughout the course of our fifteen years together he's also had the reader's digest version of health, herbalism, horses, and everything in between. I think it takes a really good man to put up my ramblings, especially when I start talking about what my character's would like as if they were real. (This confuses some of my friends, they're like, "Who?")

So I read him parts of Addie's story. At one point he said, "Should I feel really bad and depressed? This is terrible." YES!! Then at another point he started laughing and said, "Wow, how can you insert humor into that terrible scene. That's amazing." Double Yes!! He laughed where he was supposed to, was horrified at the appropriate time and actually liked it!

When I got done he stood there for a few minutes and just looked at me. Then he said, "I'm impressed. Your writing continues to get better and this one is great. You'll definitely sell it."

Now, that is high praise from my husband. He only says what he means. I learned a looong time ago not to ask a question that I didn't want an honest answer to.

What is your best writing compliment?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book review: The Haunted

I was in the big library, one town over from me, and picked up The Haunted by Jessica Verday. This is the second in a series of three. The first book was The Hollow. I seldom do book reviews because I want to be completely honest when I review something, and I see so much written about being careful what is included in a review because one never knows who may be asked to write a blurb for her in the future.

I love the premise of this series which is based on Washington Irving's stories of the Headless Horseman. In all honesty, the Headless Horseman scared the bejeezus outta me growing up. I was intrigued by The Haunted but had things that I didn't like about it. I picked up The Hollow in hope that I would like it better; and I did.

I'm in love with love and this story has a very nice love story in it. The two main characters are so well suited for each other, well, if one ignores the fact that they can't touch. The plot, though simple, is very well done and there is a surprise. I couldn't put the book down and stayed up almost all night reading it, that says a lot to me about a book. The ending left several questions to be answered in the last book and at the same time ended on a good note, unlike the first book, and that was perhaps my main problem with the first book.

If you didn't like the first one, it's worth it to give it another chance and pick up The Haunted. And if you liked the first one; I think you'll love the second.

Let me know your thoughts and don't forget to check out the contest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A cause worth speaking out about

I must've had my head stuck in a hole yesterday. This morning I see that an interesting man is speaking out about books, again. I say interesting because it's the only nice word I can use. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but they should not have the right to push their opinion on others. Most certainly they should not have the right to ban something because of their beliefs.

This man has chosen Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak, to me, was a horrifyingly amazing experience. I worked with rape victims for a very short time and it saddened me how many women did not speak out. How many bury it deep inside and blame themselves. Anderson's book shed a light into those dark places. It handles it very well, not sugar-coating the issue or backing off for fear of offending.

I work in a library and it never ceases to amaze me what patrons find to complain about. The "body books" for boys and girls seem to disappear. Just last week I found one stuffed in the massive civil war section. Someone decided that children don't need to know what their body looks like or what sex is. Or where a baby comes from. I have a friend who thought storks brought them; until she was fifteen!

I don't believe in censoring books from my children. I do believe that there is a time when a child is able to handle tougher subject matter. I will not let my eleven-year-old read Speak. She is not ready to handle something like that. Once she matures, I will gladly hand over the book so we can discuss it. That's my choice. I would never tell another parent she should be the same as me, just like I don't want to be told I should be someone I'm not.

And that is what banning does. It tells someone she is wrong. It assumes the person with the problem is the right one and his beliefs are more important and valid than anyone else's.

Banning Speak sends a message to our young ladies that they do not matter. That they have no voice. That rape is a taboo subject. That one cannot move on past something terrible in their lives. That adults won't stand up for them. That we do not care. That a boy can do what he wants because he has power and no one cares. It is not an intelligent decision but an emotional one. He who cannot control his emotions has no control over his life.

I appreciate someone voicing her opinion. I appreciate knowing which YAs have sex in them, just as I appreciate knowing the content of movies before my children see them. And I look forward to the day when I no longer have to watch what my children read, when they are mature enough to read and have discussions with me.

Anderson handled her subject extremely well in Speak. Soft porn? Hell, no! I am impressed and hope my writing can be that powerful one day. I am adding a copy of Speak with the rest of my giveaway. In fact, by the time Oct 1st gets here there may be a few more books in there too.

In conclusion, we need to speak out and take up for our industry. There is no subject that should be taboo. We live in a country and a time when we have freedoms. I hope we all appreciate them while we have them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One year anniversary giveaway

It has been one year since I started a blog and I'm having a celebratory giveaway!

I'm adding Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson in honor of her amazing writing and the crap that is stirred up.

Something old: Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Something new:
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Something borrowed: Torment by Lauren Kate (this is pre-ordered so the package will not ship until I receive it.)

Something blue:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

All you have to do is follow my blog and leave me a comment. For those of you who are already followers, I will give you three extra entries. One additional entry for each retweet. Please keep up with your points in your comments. Winner selected by random generator. This contest will not close until October 1st at 12:00p.m. est.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Mountain Escape

This is a teaser from my SNI (shiny new idea). Currently I have an entire chapter written :) This is at the end of the first chapter.

I stood and walked to the edge of the small cliff we were on. It was quite a ways down to the river bed. The swift-flowing river rushed over boulders the size of a small car. There was something moving halfway down the slope but I couldn’t tell what it was. I inched closer to the edge, grabbed on to a tree and leaned over to get a better view.

“Be careful,” Samantha said. “It’s been raining, so it’s really wet.” Her tone was more nice than condescending, but it still bugged me.

I turned around quickly to say that I was fine and lost my footing. I grabbed for the tree but my fingers missed it. I was suspended in the air for a fraction of a second and I felt myself falling. It was if my stomach and brain stayed behind, on the edge of the cliff. My arm struck something sharp then a pain wrenched through my leg and finally I connected with the ground and started sliding down the slope.

I heard the water and felt the spray as I came to a halt at the river’s edge. My head struck one of those ginormous boulders and pain shot through my body. As I lay there staring up at the sky, blinking the stars floating in my vision away and fighting the wave of nausea, I heard something. I pulled my head up, a hammer started pounding inside, and I saw a black bear lumbering down.

Guess I figured out what the moving shape was. I really hoped the bear was going to be friendly and my mind, fuzzy from the pain, ran through the safety tips when facing a bear. At the very least I could curl into a ball and hope the claws wouldn’t connect.

If only my parents could see me now. They’d probably regret not sending me to Juvie.

The bear rambled over and sniffed me. Then it opened it’s mouth and bared it’s teeth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Family, friends and writing

I always find it interesting when the subject of my writing comes up. So many are impressed I get paid for freelance work. I don't find that impressive. But what really is interesting are the comments I get when someone finds out I write fiction.

I always get the question, "So, do you have an editor yet?" My reply, "Um, no. I need an agent first." *weird look like I'm crazy*


"How's the book going?" Me: "Which one?" Them: "You have more than one?" Me: "Uh, yeah."

At this point I have to decide if I will tell them about the newest book. Is it worth it? I'm thinking not.

I went to a baby shower yesterday and was around a lot of family. Found out my favorite cousin has written two books over the summer. So when I told her mom that I was writing too her first question was, "Are you published?" A common question, to which I always reply, "Not yet." I used to explain the steps to getting published but after watching eyes glaze over, I stopped.

My mother, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with my writing. Her only question is, "You aren't putting sex in those books, are you?" I figure one day she'll walk into a bookstore and see my book, buy it and find the sexual stuff. I hope to see her face when she does.

So many people are well-meaning. I've been told the sites I can go to that will publish my book for me. I've also been given the names of small publishing houses to send my book to. I've been told how many agents JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King and the dude who wrote, Zen and the Art of Motorcycles queried. And I appreciate all of it, dearly.

The fact is I'm taking my time. Researching agents, querying in small batches and writing more while I wait. I'm positive one of the books I write will snag an agent. And I know that it will happen when it's supposed to happen. I'm sure about that. Once that happens there will be deadlines to meet and I will no longer be able to be laissez-faire about my writing. It will become a job. I look forward to those days but am able to rest in the present and enjoy the journey. I also live vicariously through my friends. (I can't wait to go to the bookstores next year and place my friends' books in prominent places ;)

Through it all my husband has been very supportive. I don't know what I would do without him. I also have my group of writers that I can chat with. They have kept me going. This is important: having someone in your corner throughout it all, someone who understands. That is perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give. If you need someone I suggest looking at Absolute Write or one of the other writer's forums. It's the best thing I ever did as far as my writing is concerned.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What do you think when you see this cartoon? Someone jacked up on caffeine? A person in the midst of writer's block? A writer finishing a manuscript? Stress from a deadline not being met? The picture comes from here and it is supposed to be a contented writer.

I'm not going to blog about that article, I just loved the cartoon. What I want to blog about today are the emotions that go along with writing because this is a very emotional business. Here are some thoughts: if I could only finish this manuscript, if I could only finish these revisions, if I could only get requests, if I could only get an agent, if I could only go on sub, if I could only get a deal, if I could only finish these editor revisions, if I could only like my cover, if I could only get on the shelf, if I could only sell enough books to earn my advance, if I could only write another starts over, minus finding the agent, hopefully.

It never ends. Ever. Unless one decides to stop writing. Even if one becomes the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, he still has to come up with new ideas and write more books. Some pressures and "if onlys" go away or change into other "if onlys" and new pressures, but it is an ongoing cycle.

Writing suits me. Being an only child, I had to have an active imagination to keep myself company, plus I've always lived in a fantasy world of one type or another. The entire publishing industry fascinates me and I'm enjoying every step and each new thing I learn. There are times I just want to give up. Times I look at my wips and hate them, or am tired of the characters. There are times I'm discouraged, times I'm happy and times I'm just blah. But I continue on because writing is an outlet for my creativity and a way to stretch my mind. And I have a reason to consume massive amounts of chocolate.

What emotions do you feel during the writing process? Do you ever want to burn your manuscript? I wish you the best of luck in your own writing journey.

Side note: I totally swiped this from GotYA. Recycling is good and I wanted it on my own blog :) Plus I wrote it so it's not stealing. And I'm totally desperate to have a post for July. July is very, very lonely. My followers need to see I care enough to post.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beta reading part three - What I do as a beta

It all started here, as I was rambling about how it feels when changes I suggest make it into a manuscript.

Then I thought about the importance of beta readers and blogged about it in my last post: what beta readers have done for me, how their feedback improved my writing. I also asked the question: Why would someone want to spend at minimum four hours to beta read?

Today I decided to blog about what I do as a beta. All betas have different strengths and different pet peeves, and I think it's important to have varied opinions for a manuscript. My strengths can be found in plot and vocabulary usage.

There are so many times I read a book and am dissatisfied with the way the plot unfolds. A lot of those times, I rework the plot in my mind or extend some scenes. My mind isn't exactly wired in what would be considered normal and I think that helps me to catch small things in a book. For example, in the first chapter that floor was hardwood and now at the end it's carpet. That is so simple, could easily be missed, and overall is so unimportant to a book, but that is the kind of thing that sticks out to me.

There are several things I ask for up front, before I beta. What is expected of me is at the top of the list. I let the person know that I do not line crit, may or may not catch grammar and I'm a very positive beta. My notes that come back will probably be rambling as my mind works through what it wants to say. I don't mind, and in fact prefer first round, I'll even take it rough because I'm best at plot. Sometimes I read through something two or three times. I know my limits and don't ever want to sell something I don't have.

That is what I believe the key to successful betaing is: knowing up front what is expected and what the beta can do. Also, what will be reciprocated, since most betas will reciprocate. I have a list of people I've beta read for that have offered to do the same for me, one day I will probably ask that of them.

So why do I beta read? Is it to have someone read my stuff? Yes and no. I beta read because I love to read and feel I have something to offer. Having a reader available for me is just a major perk. So, what kind of beta are you?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beta reading part two - what betas have done for me.

Why would a person want to beta read? Seriously. I've been thinking about the amount of time it takes to not only read, but make comments in an entire manuscript, and I've only beta'ed YA so I can't imagine a book over 100K words. Not that I would mind that, just haven't beta'ed anything that long, ever.

Why would someone want to send their work to a complete stranger, or at most, someone met in a chat room?

What responsibilities does a beta reader have to the person who's work they're reading?

First let me sum up what a beta is for someone who isn't in the writing community and stumbles on this blog. A beta reader reads an unfinished manuscript (by unfinished I mean not published) and gives feedback.

I remember the first time I had someone beta something of mine, it was scary. I was afraid that my book sucked and was about to be told I suck. (You do realize that my self-worth is wrapped up in a book, right? Yeah, not.) And guess what. The reader told me how wonderful so many parts were, tore it up completely with line crits and then told me it really needed to be in first person. The other beta reader said I should drop it to MG. I realized that book was no where near ready to be unleashed on the world of publishing. It was technically the first book I'd written since the drivel from middle school and needed a major overhaul.

Since that first book, which is patiently waiting to reveal it's voice, I've gone on to complete another book that was so much better than the first. A beta pointed out a habit I had that was bad and gave me examples to fix it. I went through the entire mani and fixed it. And for the next mani I worked on - the problem was gone and I now write better because of it.

Another beta I have constantly replaces verbs with better verbs, plus she adds description to some characters. Her feedback makes my work stronger. I never think about what the character may be wearing and adding a simple, "tapped her pointy heel" tells a lot about a character.

Another beta lets me know when I switch to passive voice and leaves great comments about showing instead of telling.

If those betas wouldn't have pointed out those problems, I wouldn't have improved as a writer. With every manuscript I write, I get better and I will continue to get better. I am grateful to these betas for being honest. I am grateful to all of my betas for the feedback they give. And I've never had a beta that I would not ask to beta again, even though some of the feedback was hard to take. And some of the feedback needed to be ignored, but that is what betaing is about.

All of my betas have opinions and those opinions may differ from my vision of the book, but that is great. What would the world be like if everything was red? It would get old fast. The next few posts I do will be on betaing, because I believe it is an important part of writing and has been on my mind a lot. Tomorrow I blog at GotYA, don't know what about yet, but I'll pick up these thoughts on Wednesday and share with you what I do as a beta.

If you want to leave a comment about what your betas do for you, please do. have a Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A LITTLE TOO LATE

It's time for Teaser Tuesday and since I haven't written anything in weeks I decided to post a scene from A Little Too Late when Lil, the MC, meets Danger-boy, aka Elijah. Elijah becomes an integral part of Lil's life. I also noticed the LI always gives the MC a nickname in what I write, just a weird fact.

Don't forget to check out yesterday's post for my book giveaway. I shamelessly want more followers and I love, love, love all you new followers. :) Even if I had to bribe you to be my friend.

I remember the first time I met him, first day of Senior year. Elation filled me as I dressed in a preppy skirt and polo shirt, cornflower blue, to bring out my eyes. Grabbing a pop-tart, I raced to my boyfriend’s car. I'd never had a guy pick me up for school, seemed like a summer of firsts for me. Sitting beside me was Adam, my boyfriend of two months. Not only the hottest guy in school, he was also popular and included me in everything he and his friends did.

Unfortunately he wasn’t the brightest guy in the world so we would have no classes together, but we would share lunch. Butterflies fluttered behind my ribs as I thought of lunch. Never before had I sat with the popular crowd, instead I sat with my friends at our own table. Sometimes I looked at the popular table with all of the smiling, pretty faces and wondered what it would feel like to belong.

I knew I would have to choose: my friends or Adam and his friends. Although I’d been going to all of the parties with Adam, I managed to find time to see my other friends during the summer when I wasn’t working. They didn’t understand my relationship with Adam, and I was never able to voice it. I just knew that he was it for me.

When we arrived at school, Adam got out of the car and grabbed his bag leaving me behind as he went to his friends who occupied a picnic table in the quad. I wrestled with my satchel that was tangled up in the seat and stumbled out of the car, catching myself on the door before I fell. Lame way to start the year. I felt as graceful as a possum.

Waddling up the sidewalk, I made a decision. I would ignore Adam and get to my first class, AP Chemistry.

As I was about to pass their table, Adam called to me. “Hey Lil, where are you going?”

I stopped and changed direction until one of his friends opened her perfectly-lined-and-lip-glossed mouth. “Come on, Adam. You know Little Miss Brain has to get to class," she sneered. "Did you think she’d continue to be a party girl once classes started?”

Heat rushed to my face. Before I could convince my tongue to tell her where to get off, I noticed him. Standing back from the group, leaning against a tree he looked dangerous. Shaggy blond hair fell in layers around his chiseled face and lips a girl would kill for smirked at me as if to say, Are you gonna let her win?

Super-de-dooper book giveaway

I have 50 followers which means I have to do a book giveaway to celebrate. Obviously, this is a monumental achievement since I don't blog much! So here's what I'm offering:


The Reckoning - Kelley Armstrong
Gone - Lisa McMann
Burned - PC Cast
Kiss of Death - Rachel Caine (paperback)

Non sequels:

Fallen - Lauren Kate
Beautiful - Amy Reed (this is one I picked up used so the dust jacket has some wear on it.

All you have to do is be a follower and comment to be entered. There will be extra points available. The goal here is to get MORE followers, even though I don't blog a whole lot, I've followed a ton of blogs to win books. I love books!

+3 for being an old follower
+1 for being a new follower
+1 every time you tweet
+1 if you link in any way on your own blog.

Please tally your points in your comments and also link when you tweet and blog. I will choose two winners using a computer generated randomizer. The first winner gets their top three picks and the runner-up gets the three that are left. This contest will close Friday, June 18 at 12:00 est. It is open to Internationals. Good luck!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beta reading

It's Summer and I'm going to try and post more. The other day we were discussing beta reading over at Absolute Write on the OPWFT thread. I compared it to being an aunt. Why? Because these manuscripts feel like part of my family and I get so excited when they find agent and publishing house homes.

My crit partner, the lovely Veronica Roth, became my partner when we were both at the same point in our dystopian manuscripts. It was almost like fate put us together. Where I am weak, she is strong. Where she is weak, I am strong. When she got her agent I was so happy, jumping up and down happy. When she got her deal, I was over the moon and actually scared my kids.

The same thing has happened over at GotYA with my group blogging buddies. I have been privileged to watch many of them get agents and for some I have been there since the beginning of their babies. When I read a later version of these mss and see something in there that I suggested I think, oh look, it's got my eyes.

Maybe I'm nutty. Well, actually I know I am kinda nutty, not stalker nutty of course :) but I do get invested in what I read. And quite frankly, some of the things I have betaed have been just as good, if not better than pubbed books I've read. I love watching an idea grow into a full-fledged book. It makes my heart full, probably because the process still amazes me. I find it amazing that someone can take an idea or a dream and write an entire book about it. Yes, I have written two and am working on two more, but that to me still seems surreal. I still consider it an honor when someone lets me read their work, a high honor because they are trusting me with something important.

Do you get attached to your beta reads?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A LITTLE TOO LATE

So, I'm actually posting. My life is about to settle out (no weekly commitments) and I hope to blog more and especially write more. I want ALTL finished by the end of June. Wow, 40K in a month. Hmmm, maybe I should just say end of July, yeah, that's doable. Then I'll finish Judgement and finally query my beautiful dystopian. Okay, maybe I'll query my dystopian while I finish Judgement. That sounds better. Anyway, here is a scene from ALTL. I must say, I love this group of friends so much. They constantly amaze me.

By lunch time my pregnancy and break-up with Adam was all over the school. People stared at me in the halls, several guys made lewd comments and offered their bedroom skills and Elijah was being wonderful. I still couldn’t believe he protected me against Adam.

An audible hush fell over the lunchroom. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but the silence was audible, I could hear and feel it. I grabbed a tray and joined my friends at their table.

“How are you?” Sanjay asked, his face scrunched up.

Keisha plopped down across from him. “How do you think, Sanj? Haven’t you heard all the gossip in the halls? This is the biggest news at the school since Clayton got caught in the janitor’s closet with the vacuum,” she said turning to me. “Did you really stick the pregnancy test down his pants?”

My cheeks heated. “No, actually I threw it at his face.”

“What is this about a vacuum cleaner,” Elijah asked as he sat beside me.

Keisha looked at me and then him. “You can find out about the vacuum anytime, stop trying to change the subject, Elijah, and why are you still hanging around with us?” she asked with a snarky tone.

Leave it to Keisha to speak her mind. She’d been like that as long as I’d known her and I admired the ease in which she shared her mind, even if it was uncomfortable some of the time.

Elijah put his fork down and leaned back in his seat. “Cause you remind me of my African Safari,” he said with a straight face. Sanjay fist bumped him.

“You so did not just go there, white boy,” Keisha leaned forward and scowled, her beads clicking together.

Cassie rolled her eyes, “Down, Keisha, down. You went to Africa, Elijah? That’s so awesome!” she exclaimed.

Elijah looked around the table. I decided to help him out.

“She’s really gullible. Believes everything you tell her,” I said. Keisha looked like she was trying to figure out if she should be offended.

We always joked around with each other but Elijah hadn’t been around long enough for us to be comfortable with him making jokes, at least not when it came to something as serious as race.

Keisha picked up a fry and tossed in at Elijah. It hit him and bounced into my plate. “So Jew-boy, should I be offended by your comment? You’ve only been around us for four days.”

Elijah raised his eyebrows and said, “I guess a more apt question would be should I be offended with your Jew boy comment. So do you have a problem with Jews?”

“Apt? What kind of person actually uses apt in a sentence?” Keisha asked, avoiding the question.

“Someone with brains,” Elijah smiled. “I’ve no problem with you, in fact I think your braids are sexy.” He winked as he slung his arm around the back of my chair.

Keisha looked from Elijah to me and then back again to Elijah. “You can just go on thinking parts of me are sexy but I’m spoken for. And my boyfriend will kick your ass,” she said with a smile.

“I wouldn’t risk it, Keisha,” I said. “After what Elijah did to Adam this morning, I think I’d stay on his good side.”

Elijah reached up and put his hand in my hair. “Your boyfriend has nothing to worry about, Keisha,” he said and I felt his gaze on my face. Part of me was thrilled while another part of me was scared out of my mind.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flashback Friday - Styles of the 80's - 90's

Silly bandz. Very much in style. My children wear them, trade them, and give 'em away. My piano student got really excited when she saw me wearing four (given to me by my kids) I'm in style :)

When I was their age there were several things in style that I just had to have. A swatch watch, converses hightops - in yellow, jelly bracelets, bangle bracelets - I jingled like mad when I moved my arm and a bracelet like this charm bracelet:

I was allowed to start wearing make-up during the late 80's. I think I probably looked like a clown: Blue shadow on my lid with pink shadow above it, and colored mascara. I had pink, blue, green and my favorite: yellow. Oh my, and the metallic pink lipstick. And my hair. I had lots of bangs and I would curl them with the small curling iron and tease -yes, tease- then and spray the hell out of them with hairspray till the stood up about three inches and wouldn't move in a hurricane.

And the clothes. I had leggings, leg-warmers and lacy skirts from the 80's but the 90's were when wearing clothes for style became important. And what would I like? Grunge. T-shirts, no matter how ratty covered by men's flannel shirts paired with jeans - ripped, stained, didn't matter. I even had the black combat boots. My senior year in high school was my laziest year. I'd roll out of bed, throw on clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth, put on decent make-up and pull the hair back into a ponytail. Took me less than ten minutes to get up and out the door. OMG, and ball caps. I wore them ALL the time along with a black felt hat I talked a guy out of. And another guy stole my hemp ball cap, but that was college that I'd confiscated from another guy. This style followed me to college.

Wow, that all brings back many memories, good memories. What was your style like in the 80's and 90's? Old enough to have one? Let us know. Here is the mother post.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My eye surgery (lasik) experience

Okay, I've had so many people asking me about my surgery last Thursday that I thought it'd be a good blog topic, be warned - there will be bad language cause I'm going to be totally honest (plus I'm drinking wine).

Five years ago I began considering having my vision fixed. It all came about after reading the story of a man who was kidnapped with no glasses for an entire year. Dude. That.Is.Scary...poop in the pants scary for me. If I took my glasses off, I couldn't find them. I had to call the kids in so they could look for them.

Anyway, about a year ago I asked two Ophthalmologist friends about the surgery. After a lot of discussion, and being told who the best in the Southeast was, I thought about it. Three weeks ago I called my friend and she insisted she make an introduction to the surgeon. He called the next day and I really liked him. The next week I had an eval at the office and was considered an excellent candidate, plus they had an opening the following week for surgery.

Whoa, that was majorly fast (since I don't wear contacts, they could do the procedure fairly quickly) After thinking about it, finding the money (my grandmother's inheritance money) and making arrangements, I scheduled the surgery and didn't really think about it again.

Hubby picked up my meds: Vicodin (pain), Restoril (sleep) and antibiotic eye drops on Wednesday. Thursday I got up, showered as I was told (with baby shampoo for my eyes - totally reminded me of my babies), and went for the surgery. I was nervous. Hubby was talking at the office. I was nervous. He continued talking. All I could think was, "Shut the fuck up." They gave me a Valium.

Honestly, the one part of the surgery that worried me was the meds. I'm into natural stuff and with the exception of Motrin haven't taken a prescription in eight years. Believe me, from the time I was seventeen to the time my second child was born, I took more than my share.

I was feeling kinda light as I went into the surgery room. I laid on the table (the doc had already explained everything I would experience, from the lights to the possible smell) and was put under the laser. Now, I hadn't considered what was about to be done to me. Why? Because I trusted my friends who recommended this doctor. Both of them work with him and respect him. In fact, one of my friends is his boss, and in his own right is one of the best retina specialists in the country.

So, the numbing drops were put in and other things done, no I felt nothing but a slight pressure, then he said, "Now I will make the flap." All I could think was, "holy fucking shit this man is going to cut my eye." Reality set in. Hard. I freaked. Not outwardly, but inwardly. I called upon those meditation and yoga practices prettily heavily over the next few seconds, especially when he lifted the flap.

I'm a writer which means I have an active imagination. I could picture what was going on and I wanted about three more Valium. No longer was I worried about the effect the Valium would have, nope, I wanted the drugs! Needless to say it was over in a very few minutes and the flap was being smoothed back into place. It took less than ten minutes from start to finish.

Then it was time for the other eye. I seriously considered asking if we could skip that eye. I knew what was coming and the panic began rising again. When he said he was cutting the flap I dug my nail into my hand and focused on the pain in my hand. I would've bitten the side of my mouth but I was scared of moving my head. I was still freaking out. After the flap was cut and lifted the laser went to work for twelve seconds. Then the flap was smoothed back into place.

It was over.

We went out of the door to my husband, and I sat on the couch while they instructed him on the proper procedure of putting the eye drops in. The doc asked me how I was doing. I told him I was freaked out. We left, went to Chick-Fil-A where I got a soup, and after eating it, took a pain pill. Then we went home and I got a sleeping pill.

I slept for nineteen hours, waking twice for more meds, eye drops and food. Also a call from the doc - he wanted to make sure I was okay.

The next day I went for the follow-up. I now know what people mean by halos - wow, I even have to dim my lighted keyboard and can't wait for the eyes to completely heal. The good news - I have 20/15 vision.

Am I satisfied? Absolutely and I would do it again - with more Valium, and I mean a lot more ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

The making of a scene

I was reading through A Little Too Late, my current WIP when I came to a very physical scene and remembered how I worked out the details. I think I will always read this scene and remember the steps it took to write it, so just for you, dear reader, I will tell you all about it.

I've never been in a physical fight. Never. I would loose. Seriously, I'm a wimp. Verbal argument? I can hold my own very well, but physical? Nope. I'm a wuss and don't like pain.

There was only one time that my husband hit me, but it doesn't count. He was sleeping and in his dream was protecting himself. I just happened to be quite close to him in the bed as he slapped at the bad guy in his dream. It hurt, but didn't even leave a mark so there was nothing to give him shit over the next day. He still tells me I dreamed it. But I know the truth :) To be honest, I have wanted to hit him before but restrained myself. Just because I have an urge in anger to do something doesn't mean I actually follow through.

Which brings me to the scene I was working on. I wrote this scene and wondered if it worked, so after dinner one night I asked my husband to help me. I simply asked him to be still and I balled up my fist and swung. I wasn't going to hit him, I swear it, but he didn't know that. Geez Jenn,ever think of telling someone what you're about to do? Anyway, he grabbed my arm and kept me from hitting him. After explaining myself, we continued in the "research" and my arm was a little sore. But I figured out where a girl's punch would land and what part of the hand would hurt.

Moving on, I needed to know what would happen next. Let me back up and explain why I asked my husband for help - he was a bad boy in college and won bar fights so I knew he was almost an expert in this area. See the good things that can come from a checkered past?? Back to the scene...after we discussed what a guy who was punched by a girl might do (not that my husband ever hit a girl. Yes, I asked, I was curious, he might have been a bad boy and defended himself but never hurt a girl. Guess I need to ask if a girl ever hit him. Hmmm.) we discussed what another guy would do to stop that guy from hitting the girl back. And then practiced it..on me..big mistake...huge mistake!

My right arm was twisted behind my back and his left arm was wrapped around my throat. I yelped in pain, not bad pain but still pain. Told you I'm a wuss. And I tried to get away. If he would not have released me and would've been trying to hurt me, I wouldn't have gotten away. Time for self-defense classes. Seriously, I realized how I could be over-powered but that is beside the point I'm trying to make. Although, I must say I looked at my husband in a different light that day. I couldn't ever reconcile the man I knew to the man who got into fights. I just couldn't see it in him.

Needless to say, I have the scene and am very happy with it. I can't say the research aspect of that scene left me feeling happy, my arm hurt, for days, since it wasn't made to be twisted like that but knowing that the fictional character who not only got punched by the girl but had his arm twisted by the guy, that feeling is priceless.

Have you ever done anything not quite smart to research a scene?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

YA Parents

The topic of YA parents came up recently and it got me thinking so I contemplated the parents in my works-in-progress.

What is wrong with me? I had a normal childhood, nothing to send me to therapy for twenty years. My parents are still married and were quite good, as far as parents go. But my parents I write aren't worth anything, except my first manuscript, in there they are great parents, just not human.

The parents in the other manuscripts include an abusive father, absent father, drunk father, emotionally abusive religious freak mother, certifiably crazy father, dead mom, missing mom, and absent parents (but they really aren't parents, MC just thinks they are). Not one normal parent in the group. And I only have one with an actual mom, what is with that?

I didn't set out to write parents like these. In fact in the most current WIP, the mother was wonderful, until she found out her daughter was doing something she shouldn't, and then little by little she showed her true colors, and as I got to see the MC's home life I realized how warped and covertly cruel the mom actually is. That was quite scary.

I've been told I write characters that teens can identify with. I don't know about that but I do wonder about other's fictional parents. What kind of parents do you, dearest readers, write?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday

It's Friday and I'm participating in the very first, Flashback Friday with the brand-spankin'-new GotYA blog. Well, we're semi-new, you know the kinda new a fifty-year-old has after a face-lift, tummy tuck, liposuction, dye job and breast implants - looks like a whole new woman but underneath the shiny newness she's still the same. Welp, that's us...still the same. *cue Still The One by Orleans*

So for this week we are exploring the books that were memorable to us.

I must start at the beginning. My library had this teeny-tiny-itsy-bitsy-yellow-polka-dot, no, scratch that, wrong era and a song, oops, I got carried away. My library had a small space for YA books. I devoured the Fear Street Series by R.L Stine. There were also Christopher Pike books and other scary stories. In fact, the very first book I wrote was a cross between those books. It sucked, but hey, I was only eleven and didn't have the net or places like AW to teach me how to write well. I have a great excuse :)

Another series I absolutely loved was Sweet Valley High. Honestly, I can't remember much about these books but that I loved them lots. Unfortunately, my friend was going to give me Babysitter's Club books for Christmas but her house was broken into and the presents stolen, so I got gourmet biscuits instead, and never tried the books.

By the time I was in High School I was reading books from the adult fiction section and didn't pick up YA books until last year, when I started writing YA. All I can think now is how the books have drastically changed and gotten better in the past seventeen years. I look forward to seeing the changes the next seventeen years will bring.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog Awards

I have received two super-de-dooper blog awards from two awesome friends. To be honest I received these some time ago and couldn't begin to figure out how to put them on my blog. Epic.Fail. But I found out how today, Yay!!

First blog award from Jamie Blair. The Super Scribbler:

I have to pass it on to five deserving peeps!

FIRST (puts on serious face) THE RULES:

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends

*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

*Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Here they are :)

Myra McEntire - I love her blog so much :)

Leah Clement - She's fantastic and is now a part of GotYA (formerly known as OPWFT)

Kaitlin Ward - OMG, anyone who puts an awesome cow on their blog is fantabulous!

Chanelle Gray - she's super awesome.

Kate Hart - You do know about Two for Tuesday, right?

Yay, one award down, one to go. You , my dear readers, will not believe how many blogs I visited to see if they had these awards displayed. Yep, lots.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My big screw-up

Okay, I don't discuss agencies or who I query. Never! Ever!! Ever!!!

Well, until now.

There is this certain agency where a no from one equals a no from all. Which means I had to really think about who to query there. I thought for a looooong time. In fact for my first manuscript, I didn't even query with them because I couldn't make up my mind. They're all great.

Well, I read this awesome book and saw the agent. And then I read this other awesome book and saw the agent, and guess what...they had the same agent, at this agency where I couldn't make up my mind. And they were both on the edge of YA in a certain, um, relationship way. And since I have a certain, um, relationship thingy in mine (why yes, I am a prude) and that relationship went where it should (yes it embarrasses me and no I can't say the s-word) I decided that agent may not make me take that out - the, um, stuff, if I was chosen to be represented.

So, I sent my query to this agent. Umm, did I say that I was kinda sick at the time? That I was taking Ibuprofen? And maybe had a little-teensy-weensy drink too? No? I didn't say that? Well, it is la verdad (the truth).

I copied my query into a new mail thingy (yes, I love the word thingy) and had the Dear Ms. and then nothing. And guess what! I sent it. With no name. This is how I felt:

I literally wanted to cry because out of all that thinking and waiting, I screw up. To make matters worse, I began a small e-mail exchange with one of the other agents at that agency, and I realized how awesome this other agent is. Which just went to verify my thought that all the agents there are great.

So what to do, what to do...

I think I will bang my head against the wall and do nothing but get ready for OPWFTs move to our new home. Oops, was I not supposed to say that?!?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Deb is a bad influence - my rhyming query.

I so do not have time for this but am inspired by Houndrat, aka my friend Debra Driza. I do not have an agent and this is just the best, super-de-doopty idea evah. If I don't get an agent with this query, well, then, they just don't have the same amount of class that have :D cause I'm just the absolute coolest - I'm da bomb!

Yo Dude,

I wrote a book about clones
And their little brother Stone.
It has a really cool sat phone
If you ever need to call home.

Well Stone wants Larch.
Also a clone, that's not a farce
She doesn't know about her heart
If it belongs to Stone or the old fart.

So give me your cell
Cause my book you're gonna sell
And when it does we'll ring a bell
Or go out and raise some hell

And if you think I'm a little crazy
Have a drink till life becomes hazy
Go out and pick a daisy
Or don't if you're a little lazy.

Yep, that's sure to get me an agent real fast. You can also read some of my inspiration here

Disclaimer: the person who wrote this is under the influence of Hangar One Vodka. If you are an agent, please do not listen to anything she has to say. She actually does know how to write a query, she's just under the inspirational influence of two OPWFT bloggers. She's just a tad loopy - and has a husband who needs her in the car now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where Stories Come From: idea to pen on paper (or fingers on keyboard)

This is the last post in the month-long blog series: How Writer's Do It: A Writer's Process Series. The idea came from the lovely Corrine Jackson. Once you read my blog, go here and read Cory's and follow the links to my talented, fellow writers. I've had such a great time doing this series!

The book I chose to use is Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. This book gives practical solutions for all stages of writing, except for today's topic. I think today's topic is so diverse from writer to writer and quite simply - personal, so I will share where my stories come from before my fingers ever touch the keyboard.

Dreams. It's that simple. I've always had vivid dreams and upon waking, I would finish the dream while I got dressed, drove or went about my daily tasks. Sometimes a dream would continue for days. When I was a child, I would "write" in my mind, quite often the sequels to movies. I think it goes to being an only child, and a lonely one at that. My imagination was given free reign to roam and create, I was encouraged by my mother and told I could be and do anything I wanted. While my childhood had its problems, I was given the gift of a free mind.

One day, a year ago, I had such a vivid dream that I absolutely loved and just had to know how it would end, so instead of letting my mind follow, I sat at the laptop and let my fingers type what my mind saw. That's where my first project came from. Same with the second, I dreamed and wrote the scene. In both of these projects, once I got the scene written, the rest of the story flowed out.

The next two projects have been different. They both came from a dream but I didn't have the need to get up and write it down because it wasn't a fully formed dream. Both of these are Contemporary and edgy. The idea came from an aspect of a dream and then my mind worked through the idea. For days I thought about them and figured out where the story could go. I also listened to the characters talk to each other and then I had a desire to write the stories.

So, this is the place my stories come from. I love to listen to where others get their stories and the process they go through before writing. Everyone is so unique. Processes are like fingerprints, everyone has a different one. Where do your ideas come from?

Don't forget to go to Corrine's she has prizes for participation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

This is more of a lighthearted scene from A Little Too Late where Lillian finds out she is pregnant. It was written last night so it's first draft quality.

I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I realized I was probably pregnant so I did the only thing I could think of -- I got on the net.

I searched for signs of pregnancy and clicked them of in my mind, like a checklist. Nausea, check. Tiredness, check. Irritability, check. Mood swings, check. I can still hear the conversation when I called my friend.

“Cassie, I need your help,” I said over the phone.

“Whatcha need?” she asked.

Cassie became my friend in second grade at the same time Sanjay did.

“I need you to buy me a pregnancy test,” I whispered as tears began to fall.


More silence.

“Oh shit,” she said, “I’ll be there soon.”

Cassie was at my house in less than thirty minutes with a little brown bag.

“I bought three of them,” she said and I looked at her like she was crazy. “You know, in case you screw one up.”

I took the bag and took out one of the tests. My fingers shook as I carefully read the instructions, several times. Cassie snatched it from me.

“How hard can it be? You just pee on the thing.” She turned the stick, looking at it, then threw it at me.

I went into the bathroom and attempted to pee on it. Instead I peed all over it, including the little window. I put it on the side of the tub thinking how gross it was with my pee on it and watched as the lines appeared. I looked at the instructions. It indicated I was pregnant.

“Give me another one,” I yelled at the closed door.

Cassie poked her head in. “Something wrong with that one?”

“I peed all over it, maybe I messed it up.”

She came in with the test. “Come on, we’ll do it together.”

“What? Are you going to pee on it too, or hold my hand?”

“No, smart ass. I’ll watch and make sure it’s done right.”

I managed to squeeze out enough pee to wet the stick.

“Think it’s enough?” I asked.

“How should I know?” she asked taking the stick from me with a handful of toilet paper. “You’re supposed to hold it steady for two minutes.”

I almost laughed at the sight of Cassie holding the stick in her hand. She was very careful to make sure the toilet paper protected her from touching the stick.

“Are you timing?” she asked looking from the stick to me. “I’m not going to stand here all day and hold this stick.”

I looked at my watch and waited as the two minutes clicked by.

“You’re pregnant,” she said. “You failed two tests. Wanna try the third?”

I slid to the floor. “No,” I said.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Deepening Your Characters: What is at the heart of a complex character? Part 3 in the blog series.

What makes a character extraordinary? Personality? Disposition? Temperament? Individuality? Eccentricity? How much overlap is there?

These are questions Stein asks in his chapter: Competing With God: Making Fascinating People. I think they are a great start to getting to heart of a complex character. He goes on to caution against making a character all good or all bad. Those characters are simply one-sided and not very consistent with real life people. And that is a main key in creating a character - grounding them in reality.

I remember a girl from highschool that was perfect, or at least she acted like that and believed it about herself. I didn't like her, just like I don't like characters who are perfect, with no flaws. Flaw those characters, give us something to identify with.

Stein devotes part of that chapter to changing the character through the course of the work. We all change in life as we mature or react to circumstances. Sometimes those changes are good and other times bad. Here are some random quotes from Stein on changing characters:

Imagine you character in an armchair talking to you. Ask your character questions that are provocative. Let your character challenge you. Disagree with your character. Let him win the argument.

Have your character complain bitterly about something...Listen to the character in this state.

Unfetter your imagination. Can you see your character flapping arms, trying to fly? Or trying to kiss everyone at a party? Or walking in the snow without shoes? Readers are interested in the out-of-the-ordinary.

These are all good exercises to do with your characters. Some of it may even make it into your novel.

The next chapter in the book is: Markers: The Key to Swift Characterization. Stein begins by letting us know that the main character is important but cautioning us about using a stereotype for the minor characters. There is on quote I want to share from this chapter that conveys what conclusions a reader may draw from the detail of a character.

What does incessant chewing of gum suggest about a character? What would an ankle bracelet convey to a reader about a character? Even the transportation used by a character can be a marker.

These markers tell us something about a character and are easily inserted into the minor character's descriptions without being verbose or telling about them. It shows a side of the character and the reader can draw her own conclusion.

In conclusion, there is so much that goes into the heart of a character and in a simple blog post there is only enough room to skim the surface which is why you should go here and check out the other bloggers thoughts in this series. Also post on your own blog for a chance to win a book.

In conclusion I'm going to let you know a way I deepen my characters. I talk with them and imagine them talking back to me. I let them go and follow them, walking in my imagination. I dwell on them and think about them constantly when I'm in the middle of a manuscript. I'll even come to the point where I might say, "Wow, Jefferson would really like that." I get to know them and most of the time they take on their own life and surprise me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday, two weeks in a row :) Last week was a flashback but not this week. Lillian is in the hospital.

I stare at the ceiling thinking of Elijah and wonder what he’s telling Detective Sanchez. I haven’t spoken to him since yesterday, when it happened. I remember him finding me and telling me it would be okay, but didn’t realize he called for help.

“Knock knock,” says a female voice, “May I come in?” A beautiful woman with cinnamon colored hair comes in my room.

“I’m Dr. Carmichael. Do you feel like talking, Lillian?” she asks in a husky voice.

“No,” I say. “I don’t mind talking.”

She laughs. It’s a tinkling sound reminding me of a child, such a contrast from the voice. “I’m a psychologist. Your mother wanted me to stop by. Normally in this situation I’d be in anyway but she seems to think you really need to talk to me so I cleared some time.”

I like Dr Carmichael but I don’t really want to talk to her. What is there to say? I’m a horrible person. I killed my baby. I’m guilty. I fucked up. All of these things are true and nothing she can say will change that. I stay silent as she takes a seat and drift off again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting into the zone: What goes into the creative process of writing.

Today is part two of the blog series: How Writers Do It: A Writing Process Series. The book I'm using is Sol Stein's Stein On Writing. I didn't have the book in my hands last week, and this week I have it with two more on the way - I know you're wondering why. Well, I ordered it and found out it would be two weeks before it arrived so I ordered from a different place; it shipped but I haven't seen it, so finally the other bookstore got one in and I bought it. On the bright side, I'll be able to exchange one of them for Hourglass

Stein's book
is a book of usable solutions-how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.
My favorite chapter title is: Competing With God: Making fascinating people. But I'm digressing from today's topic, um, actually I haven't even started today's topic. Oops.

What goes into the creative writing process? Obviously thought and imagination would top that list because without ideas there is no need to write. Stein has an entire chapter devoted to using all six senses. But wait - we only have five senses, right? Stein goes on to tell us how to develop our sixth sense as a writer.

Close your eyes. Imagine who is in the room with you. Turn all the lights on. There's no one here. Good. You can relax. Is your watch ticking louder than usual, or are you imagining it? Why is today different from other days, what is supposed to happen? Why isn't the phone ringing? If it does ring, who will it be? Close your eyes again. Are you sure someone isn't in the room with you? What if you're wrong? What if it's...?
He goes on to say that it doesn't take much to develop that imagination.

There is a lot that goes into the creative process of writing. The place we write, the music we listen to, the way our stories come to us. It differs from writer to writer. What works for one may not work for another. What goes into your creative process? Go here to find links to the other writers blogging in this series, comment and do your own blog for a chance to win.

Happy blogging!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - A LITTLE TOO LATE

I'm back for a Teaser Tuesday from my newest idea. I have a new journal forIn this scene the main character meets the interesting, new guy. Joe is her boyfriend. It's kinda long.
This is rough, unedited, first-draft work so please don't judge my writing skills on it. :)

When we arrived at school, Joe got out of the car and grabbed his bag leaving me behind as he went to his friends who occupied a picnic table in the quad. I wrestled with my satchel that was tangled up in the seat and clumsily got out of the car, catching myself on the door before I fell. Lame way to start the year. I felt as graceful as a possum.

As I was about to pass their table, Joe called to me. “Hey Lil, where are you going?”

I stopped and looked at his table and was going over there until one of his friends opened her perfectly-lined-and-lip-glossed mouth, “Come on, Joe. You know Little Miss Brain has to get to class. Did you think she’d continue to be a party girl once classes started?”

My face flamed. Before I could use my tongue to tell her where to get off, I noticed him. Standing back from the group, leaning against a tree he looked dangerous. Shaggy blond hair fell in layers around his chiseled face and lips a girl would kill for smirked at me as if to say, Are you gonna let her win?

No. No, I wouldn’t let her win. I walked towards the table. Joe glared at perfect mouth and said, “Stuff it, Michelle.”

I dropped my books and sat in his lap. At first I felt warm and wanted but then became uncomfortable, knowing someone was watching me. When I gazed at the tree Mr. Danger was staring intently at me and I saw his clear, blue eyes sizing me up. I figured he was wondering why a simple girl like me would be around such a popular group. Boy, was I wrong.

The first bell rang and I hurried off to class remembering the plan of getting a good lab partner. Mr. Dangerous had moved on but not far enough for me. When I walked in the room right as the tardy bell rang, only one seat was available and it was with Howie, the nose-picker. Howie was my best friend, Dottie’s, neighbor. He was not socialized well as a child, being one of those homeschoolers whose parents wanted their children confined to their house in order to avoid the evilness of the world. It was obvious during my summers at Dottie’s pool that their brand of protection didn’t work, since he couldn’t keep his eyes off of my boobs.

“Take a seat Miss Chambers,” Mr. Henderson said.

Sighing, I walked to Howie’s table and watched as his eyes widened. Booger boy was getting excited and I wished his mom wouldn’t have chosen that year to put him in public school.

“Lillian, I’m so excited to see you,” Howie beamed.

“My eyes are up here, Howard,” I said as I pointed to my face, “not in my bra or didn’t your mother teach you good manners in your prison?”

Booger boy didn’t miss a beat. He stuck his finger in his nose and said, “Feisty, just the way I like my women.”

I groaned and put my face in my hands. Then I heard chuckling coming from the table beside me. “Looks to be an interesting year, Brain.”

The words from the deep, rumbly voice flowed through my body like lava, making me hot. I thought it was anger but looking back, I realize it was something else. My eyes shifted to the voice before my head came off the table. Seated beside me was Mr. Dangerous, amusement showing on his Greek-god features. Not only would I have to sit with booger-boy but also danger-man.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Querying faux pas

Oh my goodness. Hold on to your seats because I am posting two days in a row and the world might end! It is really sad that it takes a group blog thing to get me to post. But today I am posting in conjunction with Old People Writing For Teens, a totally awesome, amazing group blog - yes, I am a blogger there and a shameless pimp for my friends ;)

For those of you who have entered query land, think about the biggest screw-up you've made. Perhaps it was addressing the query to the wrong agent. Or maybe, like me, not following directions correctly. I can just hear that agent now, "Silly woman, if she can't follow directions, then how can I work with her?" Ugh, sounds like my grade-school report cards. Or perhaps you called the agency and demanded to know why they rejected you. Another possibility is not including word count or the title of your manuscript.

All of these things are very easy to do - well probably not the calling the agency and demanding anything - that might border on mashugahniss, not simply a faux pas, but I'll move on from those people. I would be willing to bet that I made one of the biggest mistakes out there with my first query attempt. Now, I have only queried two manuscripts. The first is where the mistake was made and the second I've only sent out a few queries and have decided to switch my first two chapters, since I netted only rejections.

So, now you're really wondering what I did that was so bad on that first manuscript. I won't tell you just yet, but I will say that my first query letter sucked. Majorly. Embarrassingly so. Once it got changed and really sounded good I sent it out with my first chapter. And that is where I made the biggest mistake of all. A mistake that just about anyone knows not to do. Most agents blog about it, some even tweet about it. What was it? My ENTIRE first chapter had my MC waking up from a loooong sleep. Yep. That's it. Something seemingly totally minor, but completely major. Finally, one agent let me know that she would not read on after the whole, "I awakened from a deep and dreamless sleep and looked into the soulful brown eyes of my father." Eeeek! Wouldn't read on. Wouldn't even give it a chance. Not that I blame her. Not at all. I wouldn't read on either.

After I hit myself upside the head a few times with a frying pan and then threw a few pots -- and after talking with two betas -- my first chapter got totally cut. Of course, I decided to take their advice and switch it from third to first also, so it is pleasantly trunked for the time being. But writing goes on because we are all artists (shameless plug from yesterday's blog post.)

So, here's the fun part. Go here and see the other posts on this topic. Put your own faux pas, or as I like to call it - screw-up (um, I actually use a different word there but need to appear a good role model, why, I don't know), in the comments or blog on your own and put your link in so we can all read it. But make sure if you link, you do it here because so many more people read that blog than my own. And hey, if you want follow me, I love followers, not that I blog much, and I am kinda random. Okay, really random and I ramble but I so love followers and will be doing some great book giveaways soon.

The biggest advice I want to leave you with is this: don't beat yourself up if you made a mistake here or there. We can only live for today and learn from our mistakes. When the right agent is there, it will all fall into place. Mistakes happen to all of us.

Writers as Artists - A blog series

The lovely Corrine Jackson, a very talented writer had this awesome idea for a blog series. There are nine of us participating and everyone who reads our blogs can join in the fun. Each Thursday in March we will be blogging on a different topic in the series: How Writers Do It: A Writing Process Series. All you, my totally cool readers, have to do is go to Cory's blog and follow the links to the other blogs and put your own link in the comments. Now you may wonder what you will get for doing this, well along with the sparkliness of participating and getting a blog post up, you also have the chance to WIN books. What could be better than winning books?!? Books are better than food, sleep and, well you get my meaning ;)

So off to today's topic - Writers as Artists.

The writing book I will be using is Sol Stein’s, Stein on Writing. Unfortunately, that book is not in my hands at this moment in time so I can't actually quote from the book, but I can definitely give my thoughts on this topic.

When I first saw this topic I had to think for a long while. My husband majored in Art in college and has some great work. My artistic talents went along the lines of throwing pots and oil painting. We are also both musicians, so the whole artist thing really runs in our blood. All of our kids have raw talent too. However, I had never considered my writing as a form of art. Of course there is a lot of art I look at and don't really consider it art, but that is beside the point.

Are writers artists? I consider artists creative. Are writer's creative? Yes. Artists also create something that evokes emotion. Do writer's evoke emotion? Yes. How many of us, as writers, take something completely abstract, from our imaginations, and create something concrete? We create worlds where no one has been, characters no one has met and we put that into a form others can lose themselves in. When I look at a painting or a sculpture or even listen to a beautiful piece of music, I lose myself. The stresses of every day seem to fade away and I can appreciate what I'm seeing or hearing. When I pick up a good book the same thing happens, I go into a world the writer created and can forget my problems and relax.

I believe writers are artists. We create imagery with our words and we evoke emotion with stories. We do everything a good artist does in a form that will last for a long time. In conclusion, next time you pick up a book and read beautiful prose, want to get up and start punching from the kick-ass action scene, or want to yell at the author for killing your favorite character, think of the art which that good book displays.

Now, go and read these awesome blogs below, post your own thoughts on your blog and don't forget to put your link on Cory's blog for a chance to win! I can't wait to read your thoughts :-)

Cory Jackson

Kate Hart

Jamie Blair

Laura McMeeking

Debra Driza

Stephanie Jenkins

Leila Austin

Sarah Harian

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog award

Here are the procedures connected with the Kreativ Blogger Award:
1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

So here goes:
1. Thank you Karla Calalang, ya romance writer extraordinaire.
2. Done
3. Find her here
4. Don't know what one would find interesting so I'll try.
- I have three kids
- I'm scattered
- I loooove accents.
- I'm a little crazy when it comes to my writing.
- I have a horse.
- Fav. ice cream is chocolate
- I speak Spanish.
5 & 6. The fun part. I'm choosing seven people who've helped me the most with my just finished ms. I would have Chanelle, Debra and Karla here but they've received the award.

Veronica - my writing partner, awesome with her ideas and edits. She makes my dialogue better.
Becca - read the rough draft, amazing woman to suffer through that and she caught several things.
Holen - The fastest person to read for me and awesome comments. She caught the extra spaces that drove me nuts.
Annie - made Larch snarkier and helped tighten.
Stephanie - Made the query awesome. I consider her the query queen.
Krista - Helped with commas. Awesome line editing skills.
Sarah - Is patiently awaiting the revised version. It's nice to know I have someone else willing to read for me.

So that's it. Thanks :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Craziness of Writers

I think writer's brains are a little different from the regular population. Well, actually I think all artists brains differ, but maybe that is just my hope since my brain is different.

For example, I live in my character's world. The other day I was driving home from the dentist and a minor character in JUDGEMENT became a major character and a total bitch. She and the MC got into it because she wanted him and he didn't want her. She went as far as attacking him in the hallway and he shoved her into the wall while his LI watched. Talk about a mess. I made notes to write that scene.

There are other times too that can be rather embarrassing. Two weeks ago, in a fancy grocery store, I saw a man who was at least a foot taller than me and built like my MC, Stone. I stalked him through the grocery store picturing him as Stone and me as Larch and tried to figure out exactly where Larch's head would be when she hugged Stone. The man caught me staring and smiled at me. I could have melted into the floor, I was so embarrassed - probably blushed too. Who knows what he thought.

Some days when my husband comes home, I meet him at the door jumping up and down. "You won't believe what Stone did today!" He looks at me, gives me a kiss and says, "What did Stone do this time?" His tone is a little exasperated, a little amused and a little patient.

I was watching a movie in the theater when I went searching in my purse for my notebook and pen. My husband looked at me in confusion. I realized from a scene in the movie that I never described the elevator in my WIP and needed to quickly make notes about what it looked like so I could add it in when I returned home.

And my friends? They've stopped asking me how the writing is going because I talk about my characters as if they are real. And you know what - they are. Maybe that makes me crazy, but I really don't care because I am part of a group that is just like me. Are you crazy?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

For my teaser, I am giving my pre-query for LARCH followed by a short teaser - I'm getting too close to the end and into spoiler territory.

In 2015 Nuclear Holocaust came to the world. America eventually fell into a Totalitarian Dictatorship. An active Underground group tries to usurp the beloved Dictator at every turn.

Larch is seventeen-years-old and carries a secret that even she doesn't know - she is the only successfully cloned human in the world. Her uncle, the Dictator, will keep her safe at all costs.

The Underground wants her. The failures of the cloning program live amoungst the Underground with the Scientist who created them - and Larch. Larch holds the key to the future of these clones deep in her DNA.

Stone, one of those sworn to protect her, is working for the Underground and his father - the Scientist. What began as a simple mission to help the Underground changes as Stone comes to realize the complications of Larch - she is as human as he.


I looked at Rodriguez, softly snoring and a feeling of devotion rose up in me. He was probably the only person as I was growing up who could be counted on, a surrogate father, and the only one who didn’t betray me, that is if he didn’t know I was cloned. If he did then he would have to enter the column of betrayers.

He opened his eyes and looked at me. “Morning, Larch. How are you?” he asked with concern.

“Better but I have to ask you something important.” I was scared he would not live up to my image of him.

“Okay, should I be nervous?” he asked.

“Did you know that I am not human?” I blurted.

He sat up so fast he lost his balance and had to catch himself with his arms before he fell out of the bed. “What the hell are you talking about? Of course you’re human!” he practically roared.
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