Friday, February 26, 2010

100 Followers Contest Ends at Midnight

No real post today. Just a reminder to enter my 100 followers contest if you haven't already. Ends tonight. Winner will be announced Monday, March 1st.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Question Time—From Whence Do Your Ideas Flow?

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling rather brain dead and asked for your help. And of course, you guys are awesome and totally came through for me with some great suggestions. I'm feeling much less brain dead now. Though I don't think it will ever completely go away. ;) A few of you asked questions. I won't address them all in one post, but I'll get started on them today, at least.

Tere Kirkland asked:

Where do your ideas come from?

I'm pretty random when it comes to this. There are things in my stories that come from my own personal experience. Like, for some reason, every story I've started thus far has involved a parent dying. I know this stems from the death of my own mother and how much it changed who I am and my perception of the world, but usually, it's not intentional. That's just where the story always goes on its own. I'm working on that. There needs to be a little more variety in my storylines.

The idea for Embrol, which so far, is the only one I've followed through to the end, has been a combined effort between my husband and me. Especially the first draft. He's awesome for brainstorming when I'm stuck on something and very good at pointing out when I'm veering off in the wrong direction.

I grew up the oldest of four girls, which meant our house was girly central 24/7 and the land of hormones. Lots of drama in my house. It drove me crazy. I've never considered myself a tomboy, but I've always abhorred lace and ruffles and for the longest time I wanted nothing to do with anything pink. Now that I'm older, I'm finding that I like those things more in small amounts, especially having girls of my own. But when I was young, I preferred listening to rock music with my dad and reading JRR Tolkein or the Sunday comics—LOVED the Sunday comics. I never had any interest in Sweet Valley High or The Babysitters Club, though my sisters loved those books.

When I met my husband—the oldest of three boys—I was introduced to a whole new world of superheroes and action movies. I still enjoy a good tearjerker once in a while, but I love the evolution of a superhero, and the idea of discovering new powers and capabilities beyond what is considered normal. Of course, there has to be a romantic element, too. :)

So, I guess, in a roundabout way, that's how I came up with the idea for Embrol. It's all about Olivia's struggle to find herself after she loses her mother, while trying to accept her new role as protector of Earth and understand her connection to Jack, the boy responsible for her mother's death, and how that relationship affects almost every aspect of her life. It's definitely more complicated now than how it started out.

I have a few other ideas for stories jotted down in the little notebook I keep in my purse. Nothing developed, just little sparks from things I've seen or heard. My most recent idea came the other night when I was watching TV. No, not LOST, though that's one of the few things I watch these days. And I think I have the whole switching back and forth thing figured out, but I'll keep that to myself. :) The story idea actually came from a twenty second portion of a series premier we were watching. I can't even remember the name of the show. But it was incredible how that one little trigger inspired a whole storyline. It all just unfolded in my head as I sat there not really watching the rest of the show. So awesome when that happens.

Well, that got a little long-winded. :) Guess I'll save the rest for next Thursday.

What about all of you? Where do your ideas come from?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Contests, Contests, and More Contests!

There are tons of contests going on right now!

First off, don't forget about mine. Click here or on the button at the top of the blog. It ends Friday, Feb 26th at Midnight PST.

There's a great contest going on over at The Bookshelf Muse. Enter the first two sentences of your manuscript, and if yours is chosen for the gold medal, you win a 10 page in depth critique. Winners will be announced March 1st. If you haven't discovered this blog yet, do yourself a favor and have a look around. I've already spent hours over there reading all the awesome posts.

Michelle McLean is having a contest with some really cool prizes. Enter to win a query critique from her agent, Krista Goering; a copy of Elana Johnson's e-book, FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL; and a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble. If she gets a good response, she may throw in something else fabulous. Contest ends Monday, March 1st.

At Shooting Stars, they're spreading the love, and you can win a critique of your first five pages just by being a follower and getting one more person to follow their fabulous blog. If you decide to follow, please let them know I sent you, so I get credit for it. :) Ends Sunday, February 28th.

Anissa at Anissa Off the Record is having a blog party all month and an awesome contest to win an Amazon gift card with a value of at least $50. That value goes up depending on how many followers she gets. Hurry over. The contest ends soon.

And Lindsey at Dangerous with a Pen is holding a Show Me Your Dangerous contest to celebrate being close to 100 followers. Enter to win a copy of LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor (with gorgeous black and red illustrations throughout by her husband Jim DiBartolo), a preorder of MOCKINGJAY, the third in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, and her favorite frustrated writer movie, THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN. Contest ends March 15th.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Teaser

This is the beginning of the newest scene in my rewrite of EMBROL. I left it out of the original version for several reasons, but mainly because I was too chicken to write it. Now I can't see how that version ever worked without it. Crazy how that happens, huh?

Thanks for reading!


I sat in the loveseat farthest from the viewing area. The casket was shiny black will silver handles. Patty said it was elegant, like it mattered. It would be buried underground, never to be seen again after today, and that wasn’t my mother in there.

Patty settled down on the arm of the loveseat and laid her hand over mine. “It’s almost time. You sure you don’t want to see her? This is the last chance you’ll get.”

“I don’t want to remember her like that. She knows how I feel.” I bit my lip and stared at my hands. I will not cry here in front of everyone.

Patty had chosen one of the larger viewing rooms, knowing there would be a large turnout, but she couldn’t have expected this many people. The chapel would be overflowing with all the people my mother touched in her life. A great tribute to her, but I would’ve rather spent the day alone.

The loveseat shifted under the weight of someone sitting down beside me. Familiar fingers wrapped around mine.

“No worries, Patty,” Trevor said. “I got her.”

Patty ran her hand over my hair. “Think about it, dear. You still have a few minutes.”

I watched her feet walk away and laid my head on Trevor’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

“Aw, c’mon. Don’t cry, Strawberry. I’m here now.”

I couldn’t help but smile. He hadn’t called me that in years. That was the nickname he’d given me on the day we met—Strawberry Shortcake. That night I’d insisted my mom buy me strawberry-scented shampoo.

“See there,” he said. “I knew you needed me. Where’s Amber?”

“Her mom dragged her off to help set something up.”

“She should be in here with you.”

“It’s okay. She was getting all smothery like Patty. They just don’t get that I don’t want to talk about it. I’m glad you’re here. Are you alone? Where’s Brooke?”

“I broke up with her.”

“Broke up? Why? You guys were so cute together. You’ve got to stop sabotaging all your relationships.”

“You’re lecturing me about my relationships? Here?”

“And to think I was actually distracted for a second. Thanks for reminding me where I am.” I dabbed at the corners of my eyes. “You’d think the tears would run out, eventually.”

“I’m sorry, Liv. I never know when to keep my mouth shut. You don’t need to worry about me and my love life. I’ve got you. That’s all I need right now. Best girlfriend, remember?”

I snuggled closer. As aggravating as he could be, at least I could always count on him to stay the same. Even when everything else around me was falling apart.

“You want a distraction? I’ll see what I can do… Okay, you see that blonde over in the corner? The tall one? She was totally checking me out before I came over here.”

Leave it to Trevor to try to distract me by talking about girls. I stopped listening. My gaze was drawn back to the casket. A tall man stood next to it with his back to me. He had short, dark hair, and he wore a white dress shirt and black slacks like several of the men here. There was nothing distinct about him that I could see, but his stance was familiar. He glanced over his shoulder toward the door.

Add a streak of white hair over his ear and he could be… I shot to my feet and started toward him.

Trevor’s grip tightened on my hand, holding me back. “Livy? Where are you going? I thought you didn’t want to go over there.”

I mumbled something incoherent and wrenched my fingers from his grasp. He said something behind me, but my focus was on the dark man before me. I knew it was impossible. Daddy would’ve been at least twenty years older if he were still alive.

Before I’d taken three steps toward him, he kissed his fingertips and pressed them to my mother’s lips, then turned and hurried toward the door.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Motivational Monday—Doing My Part to Save Monday

On Friday I realized that all of my reposts last week had a positive theme to them (at least on some level). Apparently, my subconscious was trying to tell me something. It’s true that lately I’ve been feeling like everything I write is crap. That perfectionist bug has really been wearing on me, and I’m dying to get rid of it. So I’ve decided to start a new thing here on the blog and do a Motivational Monday post every week. Technically, it’s more of a Positivity Monday, but then we don’t get that cool alliteration thing. :)

Besides all that, Monday’s been feeling rather picked on with all the “I Hate Monday” hype out there. Monday didn’t get to choose its place in line. And we wouldn’t want Monday to get too down, because then it might decide to do something drastic, and Tuesday would be ill prepared to deal with all the pressure Monday’s been wearing away under for all these years. I’m sure Tuesday wouldn’t last near as long as Monday, and then Wednesday—well, I’m sure you get the idea. It’s a vicious cycle. Not that it would be bad to have all weekends all the time, but I’m pretty sure Saturday would be relegated to a work day at that point. People have to make money at some point. And without the work week, would we all really appreciate the weekend?

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Nyquil + Abby’s brain do not = coherent thought. And I took it well over twelve hours ago. Seriously, my brain is fried today.

Anyway. What I’m trying to say is I think we could all use a boost to get the week started. Something to make Mondays something to look forward to. Sort of. :) Now, due to my Nyquilled brain, I don’t have anything particularly thought provoking to say today, but starting next week, Motivational Monday will be a regular posting. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Little Miss Perfect Rears Her Snooty Head (Repost)

Since it's technically unplug week and I have a few things I need to get caught up on, I'm going to be unplugging this week, but I thought I'd repost some of my favorites so the blog doesn't feel too lonely this week. Have a great week, all!


Original post here.

I was going to do an evil post today about similes, but I decided Friday needs to be a positive day, so I’ll save the evil for Monday. :)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perfectionism. I know that a lot of us crazy writers suffer from this disease. I definitely haven’t been spared.

It can be a good thing, and it pushes us to want to learn how to make our writing better and always put out our best work.


Most of the time, I think it’s more a hindrance than a help. Often, it keeps the words from flowing, because for some reason, I think I can do it perfect the first time. We all know this is impossible, but Little Miss Perfect refuses to accept it. She knows everything. Everything. She thinks she’s so smart. She’s kind of stuck up, actually, and most of the time, I don’t like her very much.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. I see typos and misspelled words all over the place. What’s the difference between others’ mistakes and my mistakes? When other people do it, I can let it go. Oh, must be a typo. No biggie. Or, She was in a hurry, because she’s really nice and tries to visit all the blogs she follows and leave thoughtful comments. All is forgiven.

If I make a mistake, my throat feels like it’s going to close up, and my mouse wielding hand is just itching to delete and fix it. It makes me crazy I can’t edit my comments. That’s part of the reason I don’t comment much, because it takes me so long to leave a comment. Everything I do must be proofread to perfection.

The main thing that makes me so crazy is I can’t let it go. Some of you probably noticed and were too nice to say anything, but my post from Monday had a typo in the title and a misspelled word in the body of the post. Nothing serious, but it’s going to bother me for a while. Even though it’s all fixed now. Neurotic? Yes. Can it be helped? I don’t know. I’m guessing, unlikely.

So, now for the positive point of this post. In the midst of striving for perfection, we often forget our best qualities and focus on the things we’re doing wrong. And we ALL have good, no, excellent qualities. Each and every one of us.

I know this is hard, but all humility and insecurity are being thrown to the wind today. Say goodbye.

Goodbye, humility. Goodbye, insecurity. I’m sure you’ll both find your way back soon.

I want to know what makes you awesome. It doesn’t have to be about writing. Whatever you want to share. Anything to give yourself a little boost before the weekend. :D

Don’t slink away and try to hide in the bloggy shadows. No one will boo your awesomeness here. :) I’ll give you a starter phrase:

I am awesome because…


I am awesome, because I make all of my kids’ Halloween costumes, so they get to be whatever they want. (I have to make up for all the time I spend writing/crafting/being generally distracted somehow.) Oh, and I think they’re the best dressed kids, every Halloween. :D That’s mine.

Now it’s your turn. Aaaand go!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hello. My name is Abby. And I'm a Lurker. (Repost)

Since it's technically unplug week and I have a few things I need to get caught up on, I'm going to be unplugging this week, but I thought I'd repost some of my favorites so the blog doesn't feel too lonely this week. Have a great week, all!


Original post here.

Over on the QueryTracker blog, there's a really great post about commenting on agent blogs and leaving comments that will be intriguing enough to motivate readers and/or agents to check out your blog.

I personally like to lurk most of the time. I don't usually comment unless I feel like what I have to say is pertinent or funny, and the things I think are funny, don't always come across as funny to others, even in a face-to-face conversation. I find that my husband is laughing at me just as often as with me. So, I don't comment much. I know I should, and it will only help my platform (currently my least favorite word), but in the real world, I can't jump into a conversation of strangers, and say something witty and memorable. I like to really think about what I'm going to say and analyze it to death first. Unless I know you well, and then I've been told to 'just shut up already' pretty regularly.

Anyway. On some of these blogs, the regulars already seem to have a natural, flowing back and forth going, and I feel like I'm stepping into the middle of a conversation of old friends. Then I picture them all kind of looking at eachother, and with valley girl voices saying things like, "Who is that girl?" "She's wierd." "Did we ask her opinion?" "I don't think so." "Whatever." Lots of hair flipping and noses in the air.

Okay, so maybe the things that happen inside my head are a tad melodramatic, and the rational part of my brain knows that this is not happening. Well, maybe sometimes. See?! But I have an overactive imagination and I've had a lifetime to practice being a shy, withdrawn person and all the insecurities that come with that personality. So, maybe someday.

I know many of you are incredibly witty, and I'll read comment after comment of thoughtful, funny stuff. So, I'm wondering. Do you comment on every blog you read? Or are you like me, and just lurk until you find you have something incredibly insightful and hilarious to say? We're all incredibly insightful and hilarious, at least in our own minds, right?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They're Just Jealous of My Awesomeness (Repost)

Since it's technically unplug week and I have a few things I need to get caught up on, I'm going to be unplugging this week, but I thought I'd repost some of my favorites so the blog doesn't feel too lonely this week. Have a great week, all!


Original post here.

My participation in the Secret Agent contest over on Miss Snark’s First Victim last week was an educational experience to say the least. I think people are much more capable of giving truly honest feedback when they’re not emotionally invested in the person whose work they’re critiquing. I’m not saying we all don’t do our best to give honest critiques, but when the critiquee is a stranger, it’s much easier to say it without the sugar coating.

The comments on mine were generally not too bad, and they were very helpful in getting me a little closer to where I need to be on my opening. The Secret Agent’s comment, “I would not keep reading.” was like a punch in the gut, but I’m okay with it—it wasn’t quite there yet, and, obviously, not everyone is going to like my stuff. I’ve moved on. Really, I have. Totally over it. (This opening has actually been totally scrapped since I first wrote this post. Just wasn't working.)

The whole experience got me thinking about the rollercoaster of emotions involved in having other people critique your work. It reminded me of the seven stages of grief, and I thought this model was perfect for describing what a writer goes through. I might've taken a little creative license and changed things up a bit, but the basic idea is the same. And my examples might be just a tad more melodramatic than real life, but who doesn’t enjoy a little drama? If you don’t, you’re reading the wrong blog.

So, without further ado, I give you…


What?! But… but I’m AWESOME!!! How could they say such horrible things?

They’re wrong. It’s perfect the way it is. There’s nothing they can say that will make me believe it needs to be changed. I write beautiful words. Exquisite words!

How dare they?! How. Dare. They! Pssssh! They’re just jealous they can’t be as awesome as I am. Pathetic. *flips hair and rolls eyes* Just pathetic.

Wait. That comment kind of makes sense. And that one. Why didn’t I see that? It’s so obvious!! Oh, this is so humiliating. Now EVERYONE knows what a horrible writer I am. How will I ever show my face on the blogosphere again? I’m going to hide under my desk.

I suck! Big time. Nothing I write will ever be good enough. I should just give up now and save myself any more humiliation. Miss H.H. Writerlady is so much better than me, and she always leaves such encouraging comments about the contest entries. Why can’t I write like her? I’ll never get an agent. I’ll never get published. I’m just going to stay under my desk and listen to Evanescence’s My Immortal over and over on my iPod. Please just leave me alone and let me wallow in peace. Sniff. Don’t judge me. You have no idea how hard it is to be a writer! WAAAH!

Sniff. I really can’t live under here forever. I’m starting to get hungry. I need chocolate. And Dr. Pepper. I guess I can sit in the chair. It’s more comfortable than the floor. *wiggles the mouse* Hmm. Maybe this isn’t all crap. Maybe I don’t totally suck. Sniff.

I guess if I moved this section and tweaked that, it would all flow better. And that is kind of confusing, but I can fix that. No problem. Sorry, beloved scene. Looks like we’re all better without you. Don’t cry. I’ll miss you too. *wipes a tear* Huh. Wow. This is so much better than it was before. Thank you, critters! Without you, my work never could have been this great! I am a good writer. I will get an agent. I will get published. Because I’m AWESOME!! Of course. ;D

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

But... But... But... (Repost)

Since it's technically unplug week and I have a few things I need to get caught up on, I'm going to be unplugging this week, but I thought I'd repost some of my favorites so the blog doesn't feel too lonely this week. Have a great week, all!


Original post here.

A couple of years ago, I was shopping at Target, and I kept running into this woman whose son, maybe three or four years old, cried the whole time she was there. I remember smiling to myself, so happy to be alone in the store with no one pulling on me and begging for everything in sight. I love going to the store alone. It's like going to the spa for mothers of small children. I'm sure some of you can relate.

When I got in line, this woman and her wailing child got in line behind me. He was begging her for something, and I could tell, he really, really wanted it, but Mom remained steadfast and immovable, never giving in to his demands. Something that's very difficult to do when you just want your kid to shut up already. ;)

After another firm denial, the poor, picked on little guy looked to his mother with a beseeching expression and wailed, "But I'm AWESOME!!!"

Mom quietly reassured him that he was awesome, but he wasn't getting that toy he wanted.

Since then, this has been a bit of a joke between my husband and me. When we notice that someone is acting particularly picked on (usually one of our kids), one of us will whisper to the other, "But I'm awesome!" Then we'll have a little laugh, because we're so amused by ourselves.

Now, as much I enjoy using it to mock my children and all their preteen suffering, I think there's some wisdom in it. We're all pretty awesome in our own ways, even when we're feeling otherwise.

So, since I'm feeling pretty good this week, I think I'll aim to follow that little boy's example. When I'm feeling like everything I write is crap, and my life is just one giant rejection, I'll yell from the rooftops, "But I'm AWESOME!!!"

Okay, maybe not from the rooftops. I'm not good with heights. I'd probably get stuck up there. Maybe from my front door.

And since I should be revising my novel right now, I decided to make another badge. What can I say? I'm pretty awesome at procrastination. ;D Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Super Cool LINGER Contest

Not only is Maggie Stiefvater giving away NINE advanced review copies of LINGER, she's also giving away an ARC of Brenna Yovanoff's THE REPLACEMENT, a matched set of Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES, and an ARC of Jackson Pearce's SISTERS RED. Go now. You know you want to. Links at the end. :)

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Because You're All So Awesome...

I'm having a contest! Okay, so it's partly because I reached 100 followers, but I couldn't have done that without all of you. :)

So what will the lucky winner receive? Now don't get carried away. Let's go over the rules first.

1. To enter, you must be a follower. Just make sure your smiling face is among the happy group there on the right and leave me a comment on this post. +1

2. If you were a follower before this post +2, new followers +1.

3. Post about this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook +2 (total +6 if you do all three). Leave me links with your comment.

4. Add this contest to your sidebar. +2

5. And since everyone is dying for some flying monkeys (Thanks, Tere ;)), recieve an additional 10 entries for writing a poem or short story, of any length, incorporating flying monkeys somehow. You may post it as a comment, or on your own blog. Just be sure to leave me a link, so I can read it. :)

Contest ends Friday, February 26th at midnight PST. Did I forget anything? I always feel like I forgot something.

Okay, so here's what the winner gets:

Isn't this cover gorgeous?


a $10 gift card for Barnes and Noble

Thanks for playing everyone! Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Totally Stole That! I'm So Telling My Mom...

I don't read as much as I'd like, but I've been trying to read more—to get a feel for what's out there, and well, it's probably my favorite way to procrastinate. ;) The only bad thing about reading (besides getting nothing else done) is finding similarities to my story.

It makes me crazy when I'm reading along and find a scene that's like one in my story, or a character that's a little too familiar. In fact, there's one popular series out there where the description of the hero and the heroine are almost identical to the description of my hero and heroine, and my descriptions were set long before I read that series. I can't change it now. It would never feel right. But I hate feeling like it's not all mine.

I know it's been said many times that there are no new ideas. Even so, I think the overall concept of my story is unique, and I've worked very hard to weed out aspects that are glaringly similar to stuff that's already out there. Still, I find things are always popping up that make me think, "If I get published, is it going to look like I copied this idea?"

Does anyone else do this? Is this an early symptom of writer's dimentia?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Thanks for all the great suggestions yesterday! You guys are awesome. The wheels are turning now and I have a few posts brewing, but nothing that's ready today. So I figured, why not do a WIP post, as per Dawn's suggestion. Thanks, Dawn!

I was looking back over my posts and noticed I haven't done one of these since mid-November. And that post was all about finishing my revisions and sending out queries. After receiving a couple of rejections, I realized that even though I'd done countless revisions, there wasn't any way to get that version of the story into shape just by doing revisions. So I decided to start over from scratch—same concept with better writing (I hope), stronger voice, and major plot changes to improve the characterization and tension throughout. 

This decision was made around the middle of December. Since then I've managed to squeeze out a measly 8000 words. And it's not like the very first draft where I had no clue where I was headed. I have a basic idea for the whole story in my head, I just can't seem to get it down on paper. Granted, I did have the move to deal with, but I also had a whole month without internet. I should've gotten a lot of writing done, right? In theory, yes.


I'm finding that my process has a lot to do with stress and my need to use my writing to escape it. Since we've been here, my stress levels are much, much lower. Don't misunderstand—lack of stress is awesome—it's just another thing to adjust to since being here. You learn to live with something long enough, good or bad, it's going to take a while to adjust to living without it.

So I guess I'm figuring it out, and getting back into my regular blogging schedule will help, I think. It keeps the brainstorming going, which often leads to new ideas and solutions for plot issues that direct thinking can't always find. And reading all of your blogs sparks new ideas too.

What about all of you? Any progress to report? Any awesome news you want to share?

And if you'll kindly look to your right, you'll see that my followers have reached triple digits. I can't believe it! Be sure to check back Friday. I'm going to try and come up with something awesome to celebrate. Maybe even something involving flying monkeys. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What Do You Want?

Hey, all my awesome bloggy friends, I need your help. I don't know if it's the move, or being offline for a month, or maybe it's just the altitude, but I have no idea what to blog about. The creative juices just haven't been flowing for me lately.

So I'm asking you. Is there anything you'd like me to blog about, anything you'd like to see more of? Or anything you're dying to know about me? Maybe a few suggestions will help get my brain functioning again. I suppose it's possible it's out of commission for good, but I have to try. ;)

Thanks, all! You guys are the coolest!

Also, thanks for all the love yesterday. I'm feeling much better today. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Monday is usually my favorite day of the week. The kids are back in school and I can get a lot done--housework, writing, whatever. Not today.

Today I'm feeling pretty green. It only seems fair that a woman should automatically receive a superhuman immune system upon becoming a mother. Or maybe scientists just need to work a little harder to find a cure for the stomach flu. Is that asking too much? ;)

So, anyway. In my whiny state, I'll be taking a day or two off from blogging (and anything else that requires movement) to recuperate. Thanks for all the well wishes for my kids! I hope you all have a fabulous beginning of the week!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Do You Need a Little Mardi Gras?

Tere Kirkland at The Lesser Key is having a contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers (plus Mardi Gras and The Saints going to the Super Bowl). And since we can't all be there for the party, she's sending a bit of the party to one lucky winner. Head on over and check it out. If she reaches 110 followers by Monday, there'll be TWO lucky winners. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Funny

I have two three kids home with the stomach flu today, but I wanted to do a quick post since I was slacking yesterday.

First, I wanted to direct you to Nathan Hale's blog. His "Land of Doom" comic is hilarious, and even though it's based on picture book publishing, I think the concept can be applied to all areas of publishing. It starts with this post.

Also, this video had me rolling, so I had to share. Have a great weekend, all! :)


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hmm. Your Book’s Kind of Smelly…

I was on the interstate today when the unmistakable smell of skunk filtered through the vents into my truck, and it made me smile. Not because I’m weird (the jury’s still out on that subject), because it triggered a memory of a happy time in my life.

Moving to Idaho has been a bit surreal. It seems so strange that I could be in one state one day and in another, 1000 miles away, the next. Not that it isn’t different here. There are a lot of things that are different. Like snow, for example. Never had that in AZ, and Idaho Falls gets a lot. I just haven’t felt like we’re really living in Idaho. And I didn’t understand why, until today—all the smells are missing in the winter.

Growing up, I spent at least two weeks out of every summer in Idaho and Utah visiting family. My favorite part of the trip was always pulling off the interstate and driving on the country roads to get to my grandparents’ house. The air was always cool and rich with the smell of fresh cut hay—one of my favorite smells. And I don’t really know why—we had skunks in AZ—but the smell of skunk always reminds of those summers spent with my cousins.

My point?

Smells can be a very potent reminder of things we’ve forgotten, good or bad, and they’re a very important part of a person’s daily sensory experience. Therefore, I try to incorporate smells into the description in my writing. But I’ve found them to be the hardest thing to describe. Some smells are so unique that it’s difficult to put them into words. Like the way my grandpa smells when I hug him. There’s nothing in particular that stands out, he just smells like my grandpa. Or even the way fresh cut hay smells. If you’ve never smelled it, that description isn’t going to do much for you.

Maybe I’m over thinking this.

What do you all think? Do you put smelly descriptions in your writing? Do you think it’s important to include smelly descriptions?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fight Scene Blogfest!

I was really sad I missed out on the kiss and almost-kiss blogfests. All the good stuff always happens when I'm gone. Boohoo. I know. Poor me. ;)

So I'm excited that I get to participate in the Fight Scene Blogfest. Thanks for the linkage, Tere!

This is a scene from my old version of EMBROL, so I'm not totally happy with the writing. Though I don't seem to be happy with much of my writing lately, so yeah. We'll save that discussion for another day.

Just a little background: The heroine, Olivia, has gone to the hospital to visit her friend who was injured by the bad guy, even though Jack (the hero) is certain the bad guy, Kole, will be there waiting for her and says he won't allow her to go. Besides being furious with Jack for trying to control her, her loyalty to her friend supersedes any fear she might have of Kole, and she sneaks out of the house without Jack's knowledge. She is just discovering her powers and is not equipped to protect herself against someone with training. This scene starts as she reaches the parking lot after visiting her friend. Her best friend, Amber, is supposed to be waiting for her to drive her back to Jack's house.


At first, I didn’t see the man standing in front of Amber, hidden by the van next to her truck. She looked like she was talking to someone, but I thought she was on her cell phone.

I waved my arm, trying to get her attention. “Amber?”

She spun around, her eyes wide, terrified. That’s when I noticed him. Tall and dark, his black eyes full of cruelty and hatred. I took an involuntary step back. Kole.

Amber took a step toward me. “Run, Li—”

Kole slammed her head into the side of the truck without even touching her. Her limp body slumped to the ground.

Before I could react, an iridescent strand of air flew out from his hand, expanding to envelop a car twenty feet away in a thin, shimmering sheet of air. The car hurtled toward me. Abrupt movement to my right drew my attention. A second car flew up and collided with the first, pushing it away from me at the last possible second. I jumped out of the way, but not before it grazed my arm, knocking me flat on my back. The cars crashed down with a resounding crunch of metal and glass not far from where Kole stood near Amber’s truck. A sudden, steady pulse of blaring car alarms filled the air. My chest tightened at the thought of Amber being in the line of that. I had to get her away from there.

A warm stickiness slid down my right arm. A long, deep gash ran along the top of it. I glanced around as I pulled myself up on my hands and knees, my shoulder throbbing with every movement. He was nowhere in sight. I clambered to my feet and ducked behind a nearby van, falling to my knees again.

I crawled along the ground, struggling to catch my breath, and listened for his approach. I was exhausted, like I’d been running for miles with no rest. My heart pounded in my ears, and gasoline fumes burned my nose with each erratic breath. I fought to calm down, to get a better assessment of the situation.

The car alarms abruptly ceased, leaving complete silence. My throat constricted at the sound of quick footsteps.

A man in a security uniform stepped around the front of the van, holding a stun gun. “Are you okay? You need to get out of here. There was an explosion or something. It’s not safe.”

I shook my head and shooed him away. “You need to get out of here.” I nodded toward the stun gun. “That thing isn’t going to help you.”

“Come out, Olivia.” Kole’s deep voice had a singsong quality to it. It made my skin crawl. “Let’s finish this. Then I’ll leave your insignificant human friends alone. You’re only hurting them by remaining hidden.”

The security guard inched toward me.

“Go,” I whispered. “Please.” Tears of frustration poured down my face. What have I done coming here?
The security guard tugged on my arm, refusing to leave without me. I fell back as the van lifted into the air.

Kole’s lips curled up as he wound a shimmering strand of air around the man’s neck. A shiver went through me at the sound of bones cracking.

“Stop! Please!” I reached out, without thought, and struck Kole with a wall of air, knocking him back. The van crashed to the ground less than two feet from me. The realization came to me that I’d been the one to block the car he tried to kill me with. Every time I used my powers, I felt more drained, and my energy was fading quickly.

I ran to the man’s crumpled body and placed my fingers on his neck. The faintest pulse beat against my fingers. Relief flooded through me. I delved deeper, repairing the damage to his neck and his windpipe. His eyes didn’t open, but his pulse was stronger. I stood, hoping I’d done enough to save him. My head swam with exhaustion. I found a hiding place behind another car a little closer to Amber. The smell of gasoline was stronger there. I looked down to see it pooling around my feet.

Slipping around the front of the car, I made my way to Amber. I tried to be quiet, but my feet sloshed as I walked through the ever growing puddle. I kept my body low as I came around the front of her truck. Amber lay unconscious, her clothes drenched with gas. She had a long cut down the side of her face and her blood mixed with the fuel, making a swirling red halo around her head. I squatted and lifted her head, placing my fingers on her neck. Her pulse was weak but present, and her chest rose and fell with breath, much to my relief.

I put my hand to the wound on her face and felt for the damage. The bone wasn’t broken, but the wound extended high up into her hair, and I could feel the swelling on the inside of her skull. I closed my eyes, repeating what I’d done earlier with Jack. When I opened my eyes the wound was closed. Amber stared up at me.

I put my finger to my lips and motioned for her to get up. “We have to get out of here.”

“What is going on, Livy?” She stumbled getting to her feet.

“I’ll explain everything, but I can’t do it here. Just stay behind me.”

She looked so confused, but there was nothing to do about it. Our only hope now was escape. Everything else could wait. Sirens sounded in the distance. I have to stop him before he hurts anyone else. But how?

“You’re a lot stronger than I anticipated, you little twit.” Kole growled every word as he came around the back of the truck. “But I knew the stupid humans would be your weakness.”

“What do you want? Why are you here?” He must have some vulnerability. I need more time. The sirens grew steadily closer.

“I want you dead. I thought I’d made that clear.” His mouth turned up into a sinister smile, and excitement shone in his dark eyes as he stepped closer to me. “But first, let’s have a little fun.” He pointed his finger at the sky and a tiny green flame appeared above it.

Amber cowered behind me. “That’s not possible.”

“Please, don’t hurt her.” I put my arm out, as if that would somehow protect her. “You can have me. I’ll do whatever you want. Just let her go.”

“But don’t you see, Olivia?” The cold amusement in his voice swept over me in a wave of nausea, washing away any remaining hope to stop him. “The only thing I want from you is your life, and I can take that right now. So why would I give up a little bit of fun in exchange for something I already have?” He pointed his finger at the ground and fire shot out, igniting the gasoline.

In half a second, it seemed the whole parking lot was on fire. Amber screamed in agony as the flames moved up her gasoline soaked pants almost to her waist. Before my weary brain could process what was happening, the fire sucked away and pulled into a tight ball around Kole, engulfing him.

“Let’s go.” Jack’s furious voice never sounded so perfect. “We don’t have much time.” He grumbled something incoherent at the sight of my bloody arm but didn’t say anything else.

Amber whimpered and writhed in pain as Jack lifted her. Most of her pants had been burned away and severe burns coated her legs. I stayed close as I followed him to his truck, turning back only once to see Kole, still surrounded by flames. He’d formed some sort of shield to protect his body from the heat and watched us through the flames as we climbed into the truck.

Amber shivered and moaned next to me, her face twisting with pain. I placed my hand on her leg, and she screamed.

“Don’t touch it, Livy! It hurts! Please, don’t! Just take me into the hospital.” Her cries rang in my ears as Jack tore out of the hospital parking lot. Seconds later, three police cars and a fire truck came wailing around the corner ahead of us.

“I’m sorry, Amber.” Tears flowed down my face. I closed my eyes, trying to block out her shrieking and imagined the tissue repairing itself. It took much longer than any of the other healing I’d done, but when I forced my eyes open, her skin was smooth and unscarred.

Amber panted, watching me with a horrified expression. “What did you just do?”

“I fixed you.” My voice sounded exactly as I felt—drained, like I hadn’t slept in days.

“What do you mean, you fixed me?” She looked so confused.

I’d have to explain everything. She deserved that much after everything that happened, but I couldn’t think of where to begin.

“I’m sorry, Jack.” I leaned against his arm. I just needed to rest for a minute before I did anything else. The need for sleep overwhelmed me, and I quickly slipped into unconsciousness.


That's it! Thanks for reading. Be sure to check out the rest, linked here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Does it All Really Matter in the End?

This year is a new beginning for me in a lot of ways, so it makes sense that my first blog post on a writing subject would be about endings. No? Sure it does. ;)

I know I’ve blogged about endings before, but this post was inspired by a book I read recently. I’d been avoiding this book, because the premise didn’t really excite me. But I’d seen it recommended by so many bloggers, when I saw it on the shelf, I finally gave in and picked it up.

It was well-written, and I read it in less than two days, so the author was doing a lot of things right—good tension and pacing, beautiful descriptions, etc.—but I never really felt a connection to the characters. So when I got to the end and EVERYONE got a happy ending, including the bad guy who wasn’t really a bad guy, I was left with a feeling of disappointment, like there was something good there that I missed or maybe it was something the author missed. Either way, when I found out there was a sequel, I had no desire to read it—even after reading the teaser chapter at the end of the book.

I admit, I like my endings infused with a little pain, a little sacrifice on the part of the main character. Endings where everything is perfect, all tied up with pretty ribbons and bows, to me, are unrealistic and frustrating. Not to mention, once the bad guy’s scheme was revealed, I was able to guess the ending exactly. I like to be surprised at least a little at the end.

So what do you think? What makes a good ending? Do you like it when everyone gets a happy ending? Or is that too unrealistic to be enjoyable? And do you like to be able to guess the ending, or do you like to be surprised?