Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Apparently, I was sucking down too much Dr Pepper while I was doing some last minute Christmas present sewing and now my brain won't shut off. It's only 1:00 am. Who needs sleep, right? Anyway, I was going to do this earlier today and forgot, so since I'm up.... (Yes, I'm a little ellipsis-happy right now.)

Even though I haven't really been blogging regularly, I am officially signing off--no blogging, no Twitter, no Facebook--until the first of the year. Maybe by then I'll have my head screwed on straight and I can get back to a more regular schedule with my posts.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! I'll see you in a couple of weeks! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Duh Moment for the Day

I'm probably the last person to figure this out, but...

As I've been wrapping up my revisions, I've had a few minor changes that I didn't want to do a whole read through for, but they needed to sit for at least 24 hours so I could make sure the flow was okay. So I went digging around in Word to see if there was some way to bookmark my document. And low and behold, under the Insert tab there's an actual thing called Bookmark. Weird, right? More like, duh.

So I just thought I'd share my little discovery for those of you who don't know about it yet. For those of you who do, you can stop laughing now. ;)

Hope you're all having a fabulous Thursday! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog Chain: My Sad Attempt at Poetry

I'm a day late, but I'm here. Michelle McLean started this round. And hers is less a question and more like a really hard homework assignment... :)

In 100 words or less, write a story using the words ride, post, soulless, local, dehydrator, girdle. Your story may take on any form you wish. The only two rules are 1. you can't simply list the 6 words; you must actually craft them into something creative, and 2. you must use ALL six of them. 

I'm so bad at these kinds of things, so don't expect much. And somehow, this came out as a poem, which I am not a poet. I know the rhythm is off at some points and it may not make any sense, but, yeah, I don't care. ;) And I cheated a bit with the title, but if you really think about it, it would make a great name for a roller coaster, right? So it fits. Or it could be referring to Post. You never know. Anyway, enough delaying. Here it is, in all it's awfulness. Enjoy!

The Dehydrator

There once was a girdle named Post.
She held up my booty the most.
And with her I lost a whole size!

But when the local fair started,
My good sense departed
And, sadly, Post met her demise.

When we got on a ride,
Post split down the side.
Oh, you should’ve heard all the cries.

As her soulless remains
Got caught on the chains
And freed my burgeoning thighs.

(72 words)

Be sure to check out Shaun's awesome post from Sunday, and Cole's post tomorr... er, today. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Have You Seen This?

Hunger Games: Katniss & Rue

Just so you know, this made me cry, so be prepared. ;) Enjoy!

Happy Friday, everyone! :)

Monday, November 8, 2010


I just typed "The End" on my rewrite! And not just because I felt like typing it. I really am done. Granted, some of my final words were written while I had a temperature of 101.5, so maybe it won't all be coherent. And I know my ending is awful and will need extensive editing and maybe even more rewriting, but right now, I don't care, because the hard part is done. I'm so excited! If I didn't feel like I'd been run over by the flu truck, I'd be doing a happy dance. Since I can't, I'll let this baby dance for me. He's better at it, anyway. :)

And (this is just me gloating now) my goal was to end at 75,000 to 80,000 words and I'm at just over 79,000. :) Yea!

Hope you're all having a fabulous Monday!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blog Chain: My Imaginary Friends

It's blog chain time again, and I'm starting this round! Exciting and scary at the same time. Okay, here's what I want to know:

Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

Most of my characters are loosely based on people I've known throughout my life. Or, more accurately, different traits from multiple people crammed into each character. I've also stolen a trait or two from characters I've liked in movies or on TV. And, of course, all my characters have a little bit of me in them--some more than others. But that’s just the beginning. My characters have to feel like living, breathing people before I can really get to the heart of the story, which, to me, is the characters. :) So how do I get there?

I've tried all sorts of things to improve my understanding of my characters. Those dreadful character interviews. Ugh. I don't even like filling those out for myself. And journaling from the character's POV, but it never lasts very long. I always want to get back to writing, which usually happens after I'm distracted by a bit of dialogue that I just have to write down. That leads to a reaction from another character and, before you know it, I've completely forgotten about whatever lame interview/journal thing I was working on.

It's taken a lot of trial and error to figure this out, but the thing that works best for me is just writing--scenes that usually don't end up in the finished product but help me understand how a character would react in a situation. The key is to go in with no preconceived ideas about how the scene should go. I just present a conflict--story-related or otherwise--and let the characters take over. This has worked for most of my characters. Sure, in the end I have a lot of discarded scenes, but it's what works for me.

So what about you? How do you get to know your characters?
Be sure to check out Cole's post tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


And the winner of Blue Fire by Janice Hardy is...

Email me your mailing address and I'll get it out to you.

Thanks, everyone, for entering! I hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday! :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hurry! Last Day to Enter!

My giveway of Blue Fire by Janice Hardy ends today at midnight PST. Enter here!

Happy Halloween, everyone! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blog Chain: I am the Weakest Link...

I'm such a slacker. I was supposed to post on Wednesday, but I totally forgot it was my turn. I don't even have a good excuse. Not unless being brain dead counts. Feel free to throw things at me. :)

Michelle Hickman started this round. She asked:

If you could dine with any author, and I do mean any whether alive or dead (yes, we're going into the realms of time travel - but hey, we have science fiction writers on this chain so we can always ask for them to write up the time machine specs), who would you want to dine with? And if you can ask them for advice on one writing element you feel you might be struggling at, what would it be?

This question was hard for me. Honestly, the idea of meeting someone I've never had any interaction with and only admired from afar, terrifies me. When I get nervous, I turn into the babbling idiot, so I'm pretty sure whoever I dined with would feel like they'd been thrown into some bad sitcom. It wouldn't be pretty. Trust me.

So, pretending that I can be articulate and eloquent when I'm nervous, first, I'd love to meet all my crit buddies in person. I know that probably sounds like a cop out, but these are the people who have helped me improve my writing and I'd be nowhere near where I am today without their help.

As for published authors, there are a couple. Even though I wasn't totally happy with the ending of Mockingjay, I still think Suzanne Collins is an incredible writer, and I'd love to know her secret to awesome pacing. And Janice Hardy--not only is she a great writer, she seems like a really cool person. She gives out a lot of info on her blog, so I don't know that I'd have anything in particular to ask her, but I'd still like to meet her and have her sign my ARC of The Shifter. By the way, my contest to win a copy of her recently released book, Blue Fire, is still going on. You can check it out here.

Also, I have to say that even though I write science fiction, I have issues with time travel, so if you're needing a time machine, you probably shouldn't come to me. My heart just wouldn't be in the project. ;)

Be sure to check out who Shaun would like to dine with, and Cole's answer tomorrow, er, yesterday. :)

If you could dine with any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest Post: Fabulous Janice Hardy and a Giveaway!!

Exciting stuff today!!

Welcome special guest, Janice Hardy, MG author of THE SHIFTER (my review here) and its recently released sequel, BLUE FIRE! She has a great post for us today, and if you haven't checked out the awesomeness that is her blog, what are you waiting for? Her posts are always informative and entertaining. :) Also, I'm announcing a giveaway at the end, so stick around.

The End is Near

Some writers have troubles with beginnings, or more commonly, middles, but for me, it’s endings. I tend to rush them once I get close, summarizing instead of letting things build to the big bang. I always have to rewrite them, usually several times before I get them right. I’ve given up trying to figure out why I do this, and have just accepted it as part of my process. Maybe one day I’ll solve this riddle, but for now, I just follow the same revision plan each time. Which are really things I ought to do on the first draft, but it never seems to work out that way.

What makes a good ending?
Tastes will vary of course, but generally, readers want to see the problem the book has been exploring all along resolved in a satisfying way. They want to be surprised by something they didn’t see coming, but a surprise that still fits with the story – not something out of the blue they couldn’t have figured out on their own. They want to see the protag grow or change in some way that made everything they went through in the book matter in a personal and meaningful way.

Yeah, but how do you do that?
For me, endings start long before the actual climax, because that’s when you start laying the groundwork for them. You probably have some idea of how you want your story to end. There’s a good chance it’s part of your one-sentence “this is what my book is about” line. Everything in the story has been building to this moment. If it hasn’t? Then that might be why your ending is giving you trouble. Try looking back and asking:

What constitutes a win for your protag?
If you’re not sure, look at your beginning. What major thing happened that set your protag on their journey? What have they been trying to accomplish all along? That’s what you’ll need to resolve in some way in your ending.

What constitutes a win for your reader?
You’ve set up certain expectations throughout the book and your reader is going to want to see those expectations satisfied. What promises did you make? What problems did you dangle? What risks were taken that hinted at greater consequences?

Are you escalating the stakes?
The first draft of The Shifter had this problem. The ending was exciting, but it didn’t raise the stakes any from the major event at the end of the third act. Because of that, the ending was just kinda there. My agent had me revise it, and she gave me some advice that really changed my thinking. She said to go deeper, not wider, with the story, and to tie it in thematically to Nya’s struggle. At first, I didn’t understand what she meant, but then I figured out that it’s easy to add more stuff to make things harder on your protag, but the stakes aren’t really higher. More lives in jeopardy isn’t high stakes because readers don’t know those people. They care about the characters.

Look at what the protag has at stake on a personal level. Look at how that ties into the story from a thematic aspect, so the ending has more poignancy. For The Shifter, it was about being trapped, so feeling trapped factored into the climax. Same with the sequel, Blue Fire, but this time it was all about escape. Those ideas influenced what was done so it tied into the rest of the story.

What inner conflict has your protag been struggling with all along? How can you make that inner conflict butt heads with the outer problem in your climax? How might that inner conflict influence what the protag needs to do to solve the final problem? How might the theme be used to make the ending more powerful, and thus raise the stakes? What can you do to make the risk more personal for your protag?

You were saying something about a surprise?
Endings we can see coming a mile away bore us, but the fact is, we pretty much know the hero is going to win in any book we pick up. There is only so much mystery you can squeeze out of “will she win or not?” The tension and wonder will come from how they do it and what it might cost them. This is why personal stakes are so critical. But we also need to have our protag act in a way that is unexpected, so the way they solve their problem is a surprise.

One thing I like to do is look at the moral beliefs of my protag and have her do something she’d never consider doing otherwise. But the trick is, she still has to be true to herself. She can’t just throw out all she believes in. She has to make that choice, hard as it is, for reasons that fit who she is. Maybe it was a line she refused to cross before, or a risk she was never willing to take. Something that might even have been suggested earlier in the novel and rejected. But the stakes are higher now, and not doing it will result in something far worse than doing it. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make, even though it’s going to cost her a lot.

How do we get her to that point?
This is where the thrill building comes in. It takes time to heap enough horrible onto your protag so that she’s willing to throw it all away for the win. I like to start around the end of the third act, when your protag has just hit a wall or found a problem that seems insurmountable. She’s trying to solve it, really feels that she’s not going to be able to, but knowing she has no choice but to try.

Pacing is critical here, because speeding things up helps build that breathless on the edge of your seat feeling. Let your characters worry a bit more, think a bit less. Things start going wrong and cascade into more and more trouble. Everything tried fails or makes things worse. Put your protag on that slippery slope, and don’t give her a lot of time to catch her breath. Let her struggle, let things get worse and worse but she still manages to squeak by. Then hit her with the climax, and the start of the end.

Let her lose. Not “lose” lose, but force her into a position where she really has to think outside the box, find something unexpected and crazy that no one will see coming. For this to work, she has to be pushed beyond anything you’ve done to her so far. Feeling like it’s all of nothing, do or die, will put her right where she needs to be. And let you think up over the top, last ditch efforts for her to succeed.

Whatever your ending, remember that it’s only as good as what’s come before it. The entire story builds to this moment, and everything your protag has done will be put to the test in some way to solve this final problem. Look back and find things you can pull forward: stakes you can raise again, failures you can revisit, problems you can exacerbate. The ending is the climax of all of this, so it makes sense that all of this will provide the tools – and fodder – for your protag to save the day. Or not, if that’s the kind of ending you want.

Blue Fire
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

Janice's Bio
A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins.  She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.

And now... The Giveaway!!
Enter to win a copy of BLUE FIRE! Just leave a comment on this post (1+), following is not required but it'll get you extra points (2+). Extra points for tweeting (1+), facebooking (1+), blogging (5+), and sidebar link (1+). Please leave me links with your comment. Ends Oct 31st, midnight PST.

So, what about all of you? What do you think is important in a great ending? What do you struggle with?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blog Chain: Mistakes

Seems like I just did one of these... So, it's blog chain time again. Laura started this round. She asked:

Regarding your writing career, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made and why?

I think, at this point, my best mistake would have to be querying too early. That probably doesn't sound like a very good mistake, but if I hadn't queried when I did, I don't know if I ever would've realized that draft wasn't good enough. And if I hadn't realized that, I never would've started over, and I'd still be trying to perfect a draft that would never be good enough. It had way too many problems. So, yes, the few rejections I got were painful, but one personalized rejection (even though it was only one sentence) was all it took to put me on the path I'm on now and put me just a little closer to being the writer I want to be.

So, what about all of you? What's your best mistake?

Cole is up tomorrow and be sure to head over to Shaun's blog to check out his awesome mistake.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blog Chain: When I'm Gone

I totally forgot it was my day to do the blog chain, so I'm a little late. This round's topic was picked by Shannon. She asked:

Imagine this: when you're gone, readers will remember your writing most for just one of these things: your characters, your plots, your settings, or your style. Which one (only one!) would you prefer over the rest? Why?

Being a perfectionist, you'd think I'd want to be remembered for all four because that would make me perfect, right? A literary genius... Okay, you can stop laughing now. I'm not crazy enough to think that's a possibility. Not yet, anyway. ;)

And though I strive for perfection in all areas, this was actually an easy one for me. I love a good, character-driven story. You know the ones that leave you longing for more when you hit that last page, and you wish could stay with them a little bit longer? That's what I want my readers to remember. Great charactersloveable or notthat come to life on the page and stay with you long after you've finished reading.

What do you want to be remembered for when you're gone?

Be sure to check out what Shaun wants his readers to remember and head over to Cole's blog tomorrow for her answer. And CONGRATS! to fellow blog-chainer and all-around awesome person, Christina Fonseca, on the release of her book, Emotional Instensity in Gifted Students!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I’m a Huge Chicken—And Not the Delicious Kind

Though I guess I probably wouldn’t want to be too delicious. ;)

WARNING: This post is served up with a large dose of crazy…

So I was making chicken the other night and thinking about my WIP—always thinking about the WIP—and I started wondering why I can’t finish the dang thing. I’ve been within 5000 words of finishing for over a week (within 10,000 words for close to a month, and more than halfway done for, like, for-ev-er). It’s really pathetic, especially since I know exactly how it’s going to go. None of that pantser business holding me back.
The ending is all mapped out, and I’m excited about it, but every time I sit down to write, I read through the last few paragraphs, raring to go, and then I just sit there, staring. And then my mind wanders and I click over to my email and Facebook and my Google Reader… You can see where this is going, right? So I thought maybe it was just distractions holding me back—that pesky procrastination. But as I thought about it more, I realized it’s just that I’m a big chicken.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this, because it’s so stupid, but the real reason I can’t finish my story is because I’m scared. Scared it won’t be good enough. Scared the ending is going to suck. Scared the last two years—writing it, revising it, scrapping the whole thing, and rewriting it from scratch—have all been a waste of time. Scared I'm just deluding myself that I can write at all.
Yes, I realize this is just my neurotic writer self shining through and I’m over-thinking the whole situation, but that doesn’t change anything. I’m still a huge chicken.
What is wrong with me!? Wait. Don’t answer that. ;)
Seriously though, I’m hoping that by getting it out of my head and sending it out into the ether, I’ll be able to let the stupid-ness go and just finish the dumb thing.
That was all. Thanks for listening to me whine.
So, what about all of you? Do you find that fear holds you back sometimes?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad Blogger

Today is The Great Blogging Experiment, and I have no post. I know I signed up to participate, and I had every intention of doing so, but it's been a long week and a long day, and I just don't have the energy or the brain power to write something coherent today. Sorry!

Be sure to head over to Elana Johnson's blog to check out the other entries. :)

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fabulous News!

My super awesome friend and crit buddy, Tere Kirkland, just signed with Rosemary Stimola! Go give her a big congrats and follow her blog if you're not already.

Congrats again, Tere!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Win a Crit From an Agent

Elle Strauss is having an awesome first line contest with a chance to win a 25-page crit from literary agent Natalie Fischer. Runner up will win a 15-page crit. I'm not sure when it closes, but it'll be soon. Be sure to check it out! :)

This contest is now closed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blog Chain: How Did I Get Here?

Blog chain time again! This one was started by Margie. She asked:

How did you come to write your YA genre (e.g. contemp, fantasy, etc.)? AND (yep, it’s a 2 parter), if you weren’t writing that, what genre would you be interested in exploring?

My current project, Embrol, is YA SciFi, though I don't think is falls squarely under that genre. And it's kind of a superhero novel, but it doesn't fall squarely under that either. The idea behind it has been brewing for as long as I can remember--even before I started writing seriously two years ago.

Growing up, I liked to imagine what I'd put in a world if I could create my own. I always thought at least some of the people should have superpowers, and I would go over and over in my head all the problems that might arise from that. And though I don't have any other completed novels, everything else I've started has ended up with the MC or the main secondary character having some kind of extra ability, even if I didn't start with that intention. I guess I just like my characters to be something more than human. 

And of course, there's always romance in there, no matter what I'm working on. :)

If I were to change genres, I'd really love to try horror, though that one really scares me. And not because it's horror. ;) I just think it would be a real challenge to write something that would scare someone else. Be fun to try though.

What about you? What drew you to your preferred genre? Is there anything else you'd like to try?

Be sure to check out Shaun's awesome post from yesterday, and I'm sure Cole will have some great stuff to share with us tomorrow. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blog Chain: Challenges and Rewards

Blog chain time again already! This chain was started by Eric, who likes to ask hard questions. Just kidding. Eric's awesome! If you haven't checked out his blog yet, you should head over there now. He asked:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?

I've been thinking about this one a lot, trying to narrow it down (lots of challenges in this business), and I'd have to say the most challenging thing for me is sitting down and making myself write. I know that makes it sound like I don't enjoy writing. I love writing and making up stories. Regardless of what I'm doing, I'm constantly distracted with thoughts about plot points or characters or whatever I'm working on. But when I sit down with the intention of writing, I always seem to find a million other things to do besides work on my novel. And sometimes, I feel guilty for writing, at least when I first get started, because there are always fifty other things I need to take care of, like laundry, dishes, going to the grocery store, and... It's a long list.

When I do write, though, that's the reward. I love when I finish a scene and I can say I did it. Even better when I can look back at it after a few days later and still love it, or love it even more. The best is when I hate it after I first finish it, but let it sit for a week and go back to find that it's actually pretty good, even if it needs a little tweaking. And I guess, the ultimate reward is typing The End, and knowing that even though it's not technically finished, it's all out of my head and ready to get shiny.

So what about all of you? What do you find the most challenging about writing? What do you find the most rewarding?

Be sure to check out yesterday's post about Shaun's challenging Ch Ch Changes, and don't miss Cole's post tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010


My kidlets are gone this week, so I'm unplugging, and hopefully, I'll be able to resist my many technological distractions and get my last few scenes written. Then next week school starts, and I start my new job as lunch lady at the high school—awesome for novel research, right? It's only part time, but it's been a long time since I had a job that required my attendance five days a week, so I'm sure there will be some adjustment. Other than my blog chain posts, it might be a while before I get back to a regular schedule.

But I will be back. I'll find a way. I can never stay away for long. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spiders are Cool, But...

Many of you know from previous posts that I have a strange fascination with spiders and creepy crawlies in general. So, when my neighbors told me that the house we're living in had hobo spider issues in the basement, I wasn't too concerned. Until last night.

Everyone told me, Hobo's are a lot like brown recluses. They don't climb walls. They're floor spiders. Yeah, well, that's not true. They do climb walls. Even really smooth walls. Particularly the wall right above the head of my bed. But just the hugest hobos ever. So no big deal, right?

Maybe not, except that it was the third huge one I found before going to bed last night. And then this beauty crawled out from under my keyboard this morning. The one that decided to perch above my bed last night was even bigger than this. 'Tis the season, I suppose. Um, yea?

So now I think I have a permanent case of the heeby jeebies.

I wouldn't be so creeped out, except these things like to hide in your clothes and shoes, and give really nasty, festering bites. I won't post pics here, because they really are gross, but if you're curious, just google hobo spider bites, or you can go here. The pics on that site are NOT for those with weak stomachs. You have been warned.

So, how is summer treating all of you? Any exciting critter encounters? :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog Chain: What's Up? and a Snippet

It's blog chain time again! And I'm a slacker and almost forgot I was supposed to post today. :O My excuse? Um... I spent my life savings on school supplies today and was totally traumatized? Does that count? ;)

This chain was started by the fabulous Cole. She asked:

Are you querying? Gearing up to go on submission? Writing? Revising? I'd love to hear what's new with you. And if you'd like to share a snippet of your WIP, even better!
Technically, I'm drafting and revising, because the two are pretty much inseparable for me. And though I haven't written anything new in MSWord for several weeks, I do have a notebook I've been doing some scene mapping in. (I know! Me, outlining! Craziness! :)) I have the ending all mapped out, so once the kids go to Arizona on Saturday for a whole week, I think I can get the rest written. I'm so excited to be so close to finishing this draft. I'm dying to be querying this baby, and for me, revising is the easy part. Ask me about that in a few months and we'll see if my feelings about revising have changed. ;)
Now for my WIP snippet. I had a hard time finding something I hadn't posted yet that didn't give too much away and wasn't a million words long, but I think this scene is okay.
This is the end of chapter two of Embrol. If you're interested, you can read the first chapter here.
Just needs a little setup...
After a car accident, Olivia finds herself in a dream. Or maybe she's dead and now she's in Hell. Kole, demented bad guy, seems determined to convince her of the latter. She makes several failed attempts to wake up, but it isn’t until her mother's voice comes to her and tells her to focus on finding him that Olivia is finally able to escape. This is what happens next. (I hope that’s not too confusing. :))


There was a tangible shift, and a warm breeze stirred my hair. A sweet, floral scent wafted up around me as I fell to the ground, leaves rustling around me. I stretched, surprised to find the bindings gone and the ache in my shoulders and back all but a dull memory. My fingers curled around the soft foliage beneath me. I smiled at my success, opening my eyes to stare up at a deep purple sky, illuminated by two moons. One was large and blue, the color of the Arizona sky at noon. The other overlapped it, dark red and much smaller—maybe a third the size of the first, similar to Earth’s moon.

Tall, blue stalks topped with strange, seven-petal flowers surrounded me. The light from the moons filtered through the translucent petals, casting shadows in a myriad of shades. Careful to keep the pressure off my broken arm, though that pain had faded as well, I rose to my feet and brushed my dress down, surprised to find it clean and unwrinkled.

The field of flowers stretched in every direction, but from this angle they reflected the light, giving the illusion I stood, waist deep, in the middle of a glistening sea. At the edge of the field, I could just make out what looked like three identical dome-shaped hills surrounded by odd-shaped trees.

Between me and the hills, something moved—a tall figure slowly making his way through the field. My brain screamed at me to run, but something held me there, nudging me forward, toward him. I resisted, taking small steps, searching for some way to escape. He stood well over six feet with broad shoulders and thick arms. At a distance, his features were barely distinguishable in the dim light, but the unruly curls covering his head shone like spun gold in the moonlight. As he came closer, he smiled, and his eyes caught the light. Familiar blue eyes. My angel.

“You’re here,” I whispered when he was close enough to hear.

He stopped directly in front me and lifted his hand. All thoughts of Kole and the preceding nightmare faded as warmth trickled into me from his fingertips, slightly rough but gentle on my face. I laid my hand over his, pressing his palm to my cheek. Heat and an almost overwhelming sense of fullness radiated from his touch. The world seemed brighter, though it was still night. Absently, I realized my broken arm moved freely, all traces of pain gone.

He leaned down and rested his forehead on mine. “Of course I’m here,” he said. “Just as I promised.”

Promised? Before I could ask what he meant, he raised his other hand to hold my face and pressed his lips firmly to mine. The heat from his touch held nothing next to the fire from that kiss. It was brief, only a few seconds, but my heart fluttered and my knees threatened to give out as he released my lips and lowered his hands to my shoulders.

I opened my mouth to protest the kiss, to tell him he had no right, but there was something so perfect about that moment, I couldn’t form the words.

“Olivia? You okay?” He wore the tiniest hint of a smile on his full lips, his eyes warm and inviting.

I could lose myself in those… I forced my gaze back to the flowers. “What is this place?”

“Hielos.” He said the strange word slowly. Hee-lohs. “Our home. You know that.”

I do? I studied the world around me. It felt familiar, like I should know it, but I was sure I’d never been here before. When my gaze returned to his face, he was watching me so intently, I couldn’t think. I said the first thing that popped into my head. “Is this Heaven?”

He laughed. “You’re messing with me, right…? Okay. I’ll play. No, it’s not Heaven, but sometimes, it feels that way, especially when you’re here.” His arms wrapped around me, pulling me tight to his chest. He smelled of spearmint and soap, and something I couldn’t put a name to—something deliciously unique to him. I took a deep breath, wishing I could bottle that scent and carry it with me always. He kissed the top of my head. “I wish you could stay.”

I wanted to stay, more than anything else, though I didn’t understand why. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“You must go back.” He stepped away from me, his hands sliding down my arms to wrap his fingers around mine. “Time is running out.”

Memories of Kole and pain came rushing back. My fingers tightened on his, and I shook my head. “Please, I want to stay here with you.”

“You must go back.”

Tears sprang to my eyes. “I can’t.”

He smiled and leaned down, brushing my hair back to whisper in my ear. “It’s time, Olivia. Wake up.”

Thanks for reading! So, what's up with you? Where are you in your writing process?

Be sure to check out what's up with Shaun. And I'm the last link in the chain this round, but Eric starts the new chain tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have something awesome to ask us. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Pain of Being a Pantser

Writing to see what happens next can be very exciting. Some of my best work has come when I've really let go, not allowing myself to be tied down by outlines and other writerly restrictions. But there's a dark and painful side to that way of life. A tad melodramatic? Maybe. But it's still risky to write with no direction.

Nothing life threatening, mind you, but what if you run out of fuel before you reach your destination? Or maybe you didn't check road closures before you left and you ended up turning around and going back to the beginning more than once because the ways were blocked? It hurts when that happens.

Yesterday, I had to cut 3400 words from my ms because things were wandering off into boring territory. Not really my favorite scene, but it took time to write those words, and my time is very precious right now. And those were the words that pushed my word count over 60,000 and my page count over 200. I finally felt like I was in the home stretch. *sigh*

So far, I've cut over 11,000 words from this draft. And I'm sure I'll be cutting more before I'm done. These are the days I wish I was an outliner.

What about all of you? Pantser? Outliner? Do you find yourself cutting large chunks of text because things aren't headed in the right direction?

And since it's Friday, I leave you with this. Because it's awesome. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Contests! Contests! Contests!

Check out Roni and Julie's Totally Epic Summer Giveaway for a chance to win one of these incredible prizes:

•Hannah Moskowitz's Break
•Lisa Desrocher's Personal Demons (ARC)
•A query or first five pages critique from Fine Print Lit's intern, Gemma Cooper
•A query or first five pages critique from Janet Reid's assistant, Meredith Barnes
•A query or first five pages critique from agent Suzie Townsend
•A query or first five pages critique from editor Brendan Deneen

You have until August 8th to enter.

Sara McClung over at Babbling Flow has extended her ARC giveaway to August 11th and she's opened it up internationally, so anyone can enter. She's giving away these ARC's:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Torment by Lauren Kate

And Shannon Whitney Messenger is giving away an ARC of Torment by Lauren Kate! Contest ends Saturday, August 14th.

Good luck! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Winners!!

AKA The Post In Which I End Every Sentence With An Exclamation Point!!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered my 200 followers contest!
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

The winner of these awesome prizes... 

...is Jackee!

And the winners of one fabulous red glowy pen each are...


Emails are on their way!

Congrats, all! And thanks again to all my awesome followers! You all are the coolest! :) 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last Chance to Enter!

My 200 followers contest ENDS TONIGHT (7/31) AT MIDNIGHT! So make sure you get your entries in.

And I've had a fabulous week--I won an ARC of Halo on Wednesday! Thanks, Alexandra!--so I'm feeling generous and I decided to add two more pens to the mix. So there will be three winners.

One lucky person will win:
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
The Everafter by Amy Huntley
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
A fab new notebook
And these awesome glowy pens.

And two others will each win a red glowy pen (black ink)!

Go here to enter.

Good luck, everyone! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Contest Update

I just realized I've reached 200 posts in the last month and thought this deserved some recognition. I do have the 200 Followers Contest going on, after all. So I decided to add another prize in celebration. Another book! Shocking, I know. :)

So, in addition to
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
The Everafter by Amy Huntley
A fab new notebook
And these awesome glowy pens
(I LOVE these pens!)

The lucky winner will also receive Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl!

If you haven't entered yet, there's still time. :) Contest ends Saturday, July 31st at Midnight PST.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name

Okay, kids. We're all grown-ups here, so I'll say this as plainly as I can and hope I don't offend anyone. If I do, well, maybe you should consider why you're offended.

I'm holding a contest right now to show my appreciation for all my loyal followers. Yes, part of my motivation is to drive more traffic to my blog, but the main point is to say, "Hey, you all are super awesome, and I couldn't do this writing thing without you."

So to the person (or persons) adding extra entries under made up profiles to up your chances, please stop. It's not fair to all the others who are playing by the rules and it's only making you look bad. And yes, I'm positive this is happening. Don't ask me how I know. Maybe I'm psychic. My kids think I am. ;)

I have comment moderation on for that post, and the additional entries have not been posted, so, if it's not you, don't bother looking for them and trying to figure out who it is. You won't find anything to give them away.

So, that's all I wanted to say. One set of entries per person (not profile), according to the rules.

If you feel you're above the rules, you will be awarded this scarlet C to wear not so proudly on your blog. I'm kidding. But really, people, don't cheat. It's not cool.

And if you want the badge, feel free to take it and use it for your own nefarious purposes. >:)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blog Chain: Revision

It’s blog chain time again! This one was started by Sarah. She asked:

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you probably already know this, but I love revising. That’s when everything gets all shiny and pretty. I’ll take that over drafting any day. In fact, drafting is so far down on my list of priorities right now, I had to make a rule that I can’t buy any new books until this draft of my WIP is finished. Granted, I can still get books at the library, but they never have the ones I want, including a few that just came out. This restriction is helping. A little. :)

It’s impossible for me to write without revising. I wish it wasn’t, because it makes the writing slow at times, but what I end up with is usually pretty close to the final product. Well, until my crit partners get hold of it.

And I revise everything again, usually until I’m sick of it, before sending it to my crit partners. Because what if I miss something and then I’ll be mortified that I missed it and everyone will die or something else super dramatic? Seriously. This perfectionist thing is really a pain sometimes.

So, yeah. I revise constantly, regardless of what stage of the process I’m in. Just like I’ll read through this post at least fifteen times before I publish it.

What about all of you? When do you revise? Do you need time away from your words before you can revise?

Be sure to check out Shaun’s post from yesterday and Cole’s tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WIP Wednesday

So, I've whined a bit over the last couple months about being stuck. Like really stuck. First it was because I didn't know how my story was supposed to end, and when I figured that out, it still didn't feel quite right. There were actually four endings I came up with before finally settling on the one I have now. And this is the first one that hasn't felt like something was lacking. So I knew the ending about a month ago. So what's been my problem?

Action scenes.

Well, and perfectionism, but discussing that could make this post excruciatingly long.

Action scenes are the hardest for me to write, and it was that niggling fear of failure that kept me from even wanting to look at it. I kept trying to write it in my head before sitting down at the computer--which I can do with pretty much any other scene--but this one just wouldn't form.

So last week I decided that I would have to sit down at the computer and force my way through it, regardless of how awful it turned out. And then I procrastinated. My Google Reader and I have been very cozy this past week. And very unproductive. Apparently, I needed an intervention.

It came yesterday. In the form of a very long power outage. Now, I know that doesn't really seem like a good thing and (as my friend, Tere, put it so perfectly) my kids threw sticks and bones at me from the other side of the cave to stave off boredom while I huddled around the glow of my fully-charged laptop. Seriously. Power outages are so not kid friendly.

Anyway. Without the distraction of email, blogs, and all things internet, I finally wrote that dreaded scene. And it is indeed awful, but it's done! Yea! It's so nice to actually have some progress to report. :)

What about all of you? How are your projects coming? Anything exciting to report or share?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Light My (Blue) Fire Contest

Some of you may remember, last year I won an ARC of The Shifter by Janice Hardy. My review is here. The sequel, Blue Fire, is coming out October 5th. I'm so excited! And now Janice Hardy is giving away an ARC on her blog! Of course, I have to have it, because I'm sure it's going to be even more awesome than The Shifter, and so, you know, both my copies match. ;)

So I would appreciate it if all of you would please stay away, just to solidify my chances of winning. ;)

I'll be doing an interview with the author in September, so keep watching for that. :) And if you haven't checked out her blog yet, you're missing out. She's got lots of great writing advice over there. Well, and chances to win free ARC's, but I think we've already decided you all won't be going over there for that, right? Right?! Dang. I knew this post would work against me.

And if you're a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you should check out Panverse Publishing and contribute to their Kickstarter program if you can. You can check out one of their short story anthologies, Eight Against Reality, here. Janice Hardy is a contributor.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Writer and Her Inbox

I'm a little slow in my blog reading these days, so you all have probably read this already, but... it's made of awesome, so you have to check it out. Have. To.  

A Day in the Life of a Writer on T.H. Mafi's Querypolitan blog

My favorite:

19. RUN BACK TO YOUR INBOX because it's been a WHOLE 5 MINUTES YES YOU COUNTED and expect to find yourself completely overwhelmed by the full requests/agent offers/book deals/free money/etc. that have been waiting ALL THIS TIME for the exact moment you take a 5-minute bathroom break to appear in your inbox. TRICKSY INBOX!

You know you want to read it. Think of all you'll be missing out on if you don't! ;)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Time's Almost Up...

Cynde L. Hammond is giving away an autographed copy of ROSE: A True Lady by Diane L. Wood and

A $15 Amazon Gift Certificate!

Hurry over! Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, July 11th. Be sure to tell her I sent you.

And my contest is still going. Click on the link above to enter. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Last Chance to Enter...

*THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED* Today's the last day of Tere Kirkland's Witchy Woman Birthday Giveaway! Go now and enter before it's too late!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blog Chain: Where the Magic Happens

Two posts in one day? You’d think I’d pay a little closer attention to my schedule when I’m signing up for things. If you’re looking for my blogfest post, just scroll down.

So it’s blog chain time again already. Where the heck did June go? Bonny started this chain. She asked:

Is there a place you like to write that's extra special? Have you carved out a writing niche? Is there a certain time of day (or night) when the words fall into place, and your brain is focused on nothing but writing?

Well, I don’t have a place that’s extra special. And the time I write just depends on the day, especially with the kids out of school. Usually, if it’s quiet and I can focus without being interrupted every three minutes, I’m good.

Sometimes I write at my desk.

This is usually when the kids are at school or sleeping.

And sometimes, I grab my husband’s laptop and write at the kitchen table.

I have a nice view of the backyard, and I don’t have access to my email, which is always a good thing. ;) Plus, for some reason—maybe it’s the fact I’m right there in the middle of them—my kids interrupt me less when I work at the table than when I’m holed up in my bedroom, working at my desk.

So what about all of you? Where do you write? Do you have a special place? Special time?

Shaun posted yesterday about his happy place. Be sure to check it out. And his debut novel, The Deathday Letter, was released on June 15th. I wish I was done with my WIP so I could read it. It sounds awesome. I imagine his happy place is pretty happy right now. :) Congrats, Shaun! Cole's up tomorrow. Head on over to see where and when she makes it all happen.

Share Your Darlings Blogfest

Michelle Gregory is hosting the Share Your Darlings Blogfest today! :)

Finding a scene to post for this blogfest was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It's not like I don't have a whole manuscript of cut scenes from my current WIP, Embrol, but going through them, it was difficult to find one that (1) I loved, (2) didn't give too much away about the story, since I'm currently doing a full rewrite, (3) the writing wasn't awful, and (4) wasn't way too long. So, I finally settled on another discarded opening. This one I liked, but it just wasn't working as an opening.



My art teacher says the eyes are the window to the soul. Apparently, I don’t have one.

I studied the self-portrait lying on my desk. Dull, lifeless eyes stared back. Definitely soulless—next thing I knew, I’d be wandering the streets in search of brains. The stiff paper crumpled beneath my fingers. Why can I draw anyone, anything else, but I can’t draw myself?

I pulled a drawing of my mother from my portfolio. Maybe I could pass it off as me. Her straight, auburn hair was only slightly darker than mine, and her deep blue eyes had the same shape and color, but I knew Mr. Harper would see it for the fraud that it was.

Olivia, this isn’t the quality of work that earned you a full scholarship to Pratt, he would say and frown. In his mind, everything I drew had to be a masterpiece.

Whatever. I pushed my chair back. I don’t care anymore. One F shouldn’t affect my grade that much.

A faint shimmer lit up the air around me as I got to my feet. I blinked to clear my vision, thinking I stood up too fast. The shimmer thickened, coalescing into a gelatinous mass around my legs, then my arms and hands, slowing their ascent as I lifted them to my eyes. It felt like my mind was stuck on fast forward, as if time had slowed down, retarding my movements but not my brain—or my heart, hammering against my ribcage.

“Wake up, Livy,” I mumbled, trying to pull my arms free. It’s not real. Just a nightmare. A very realistic nightmare. “Mom!” It should’ve been a scream, but only a strangled whimper escaped. I twisted my body as the glistening mass moved upward, molding itself to my chest, my neck. Wake up. Tears rolled down my face, my breath coming in short, erratic bursts. Wake up! I fought to breathe, forcing a deep, shuddering breath. “MOM! Hel—”

In an instant, the mass solidified, expanding to cover my entire body. It filled my gaping mouth, tasteless and smooth like a glass marble on my tongue. My heart pounded in my ears as the mass pressed against me, halting the trembling waves coursing through me. My eyes rolled and burned as they rubbed against the iridescent surface, slick with my tears.

Seconds passed, maybe it was minutes. It could’ve been an eternity for all that it mattered. Escape was hopeless.

Not real. I fought the fog forcing its way into my mind. A heavy ache spread through my chest as shadows crept in around me. My heartbeat slowed. Just have to… A cloud passed over my eyes. Wake up.

I thought I heard my name, muffled, like hearing it through a wall. Mom. Help. One last beat of my heart and darkness overwhelmed everything.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out all the other entries here.

And registration is open for WriteOnCon, the fabulous online writing conference happening next month.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The 200 Followers Giveaway!

So, technically, I'm at 217 followers, but that's still over 200. I'm just a slacker.

Here's what's up for grabs. Books! I know you're surprised. ;) And I'm going with a ghostly theme. Both very moving stories with pretty unique concepts.

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman From the back cover: On a day that started like any other... Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left--the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley From the inside flap: Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this--she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can reexperience--and sometimes even change--moments from her life.

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister's wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life--and death.

This is a haunting and ultimately hopeful novel about the beauty of even the most insignificant moments--and the strength of love even beyond death.

And... My new favorite toy. :)

Aren't they the coolest pens ever?

Perfect for late night inspiration. :)

The winner will get one green pen and one red pen (black ink). I'm also throwing in a cool journal. What are pens without paper, right?

Added July 28th:

How to enter:

+1 for commenting (You have to comment, or I won't know you want to be entered.)
+2 for being a current follower
+1 for being a new follower
+5 for blogging, posting on your sidebar, tweeting (@abbyannis), or facebooking about the contest (total of 20)
+1 for telling me the best book you've read recently and why you loved it
+1 for calculating your total

Contest ends Saturday, July 31st at Midnight PST and the winner will be announced Monday, August 2nd.

And be sure to check out Tere's Witchy Woman Birthday Giveaway for more great prizes. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm Still Here...

I know I've been slacking lately in my posts. Life is crazy with my kids home all day. And I know many of you do this all the time and I should be able to handle everything, especially since my kids are older and pretty self sufficient, but I've decided to just accept the fact that you're all better than me. I'm totally fine with that. ;)

Just a few random things...

The most important first: Tomorrow, I will finally be announcing my 200 followers contest. So be sure to check back for that. I know I promised this over a month ago, but I was waiting for a cool little something to arrive in the mail. It should be here later today. Yea! And yes, I'm probably making it sound way more exciting than it actually is. :)

Don't forget about the Share Your Darlings Blogfest hosted by Michelle Gregory on Thursday, July 1st. This is your chance to share your most beloved scene that didn't make the final cut in your novel. Or any other favorite you thought had been killed for good. ;)

And congrats to crit buddy, Julie Cross, for getting an agent and an awesome book deal all in one week. You rock, Julie! Congrats!

I'm getting a lot done on my WIP, so that's finally made it's way back to the top of my priority list. Well, near the top, anyway. I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of July. So, I will probably be pretty sporadic in my postings for the next couple of months, but I'm not gone for good. Things should return to some version of kids-in-school-normal in September.

So, what's going on with all of you? Anything exciting happening? Any exciting news I might have missed?

Hope you're all having a fantabulous summer!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking the Rules Blogfest

Elizabeth Mueller is hosting the Breaking the Rules blogfest today. The idea is to post your rule breakingest stuff. Now, I'm not one to break the rules very often, but I did have one rebellious moment. ;)

This is one of the many discarded openings for my current WIP, Embrol. Some of you might remember it, since I posted it here about a year ago. I was pretty pleased with it then. Funny how much my perception has changed.

In this one short scene, I broke the don't begin with a dream rule, don't begin with waking up rule, and don't begin with dialogue rule. Plus the writing's pretty crappy and the dialogue's pretty lame, so you have been warned. And besides all the rule breaking, there are several reasons this opening didn't work, including at least one plot hole. So it was banished to the darkest corner of my hard drive, and I honestly thought it would never see the light of day again. Yet, here it is. :)

“Faster. You must move faster.” The deep voice echoed through the void, propelling me forward, giving strength to my weary legs.

Terror coursed through me. I had to keep moving. Protection of the medallion enclosed in my hand was crucial. Sharp points dug into my palm as my grip tightened. I raced toward the light ahead, the darkness close behind, devouring everything in its path. The medallion grew heavier as I neared my destination. I struggled to maintain my speed. Failure meant the end of everything. I was sure of that. Almost there.

“Livy.” The world around me wavered at the sound of my mother’s voice.

My eyes swung to the right, then the left, searching for her. A sheer drop-off, on either side, marked the edges of my narrow path. My breath caught, but I didn’t slow down. The urgency to reach the light intensified.

“Livy, wake up.”

The world wavered again and disappeared.

I opened my eyes and groaned at the video camera hovering inches from my face. “Ugh. Go away.” My hand closed around the lens, and I shoved it back, pulling my pillow over my head. The pounding in my chest slowed, her presence reducing my anxiety.

My mother laughed. “On this day, eighteen years ago, Olivia Noelle Ryan was born to Thomas and Lily Ryan in the great state of Arizona. And there was rejoicing throughout the land! Today she is officially an adult. Would you like to add anything, Livy?”

“Can’t I sleep in for once?” I lifted the corner of the pillow and opened one eye. “In fact, to celebrate the joyous occasion, I should probably stay home from school. Turn the light off on your way out.” I waved my hand toward the door, letting the pillow drop. Would I have succeeded if she hadn’t woken me? Why do I care? It was just a dream.

“Don’t be such a spoilsport.” She laughed as she pulled the blanket off me.

I reached for it too late, and it fell to the floor. “Hey, it’s freezing!”

“Come on, time to get up.” She gave me a quick swat on my backside. “You’re going to be late for school. Being an adult means being responsible.”

“Seriously, Mom. Are you starting on that already?” I pushed myself up to a seated position and rubbed my eyes. “Would you please turn that stupid thing off?”

“You used to love this part of your birthday.” Her lips pulled down as she turned the camera off, her smile reappearing a second later. “I made you some birthday French toast, if you’re interested.”

I covered a yawn. “Tell me again. What makes it birthday French toast?”

“Because I made it on your birthday, silly girl. Don’t be too long. It’s getting cold.”

“'Kay. I’ll be down in a few minutes.” I studied my palm as she left the room. Three tiny drops of red marked where the medallion had pierced my skin, forming the points of a perfect equilateral triangle. I wiped away the blood, and it seemed I wiped away the wounds as well. That’s not possible. I shook my head. Like wounds from a dream are possible. Figures I’d lose my mind on the day I finally turned eighteen. 


Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the other entries here. :)