Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Presents

What did all you avid writers and readers get for Christmas this year?

An iPad?
A new Kindle Fire?
The book you have been longing to own?

Well, I didn't get any of that stuff! I got something I never wanted. I got a carpet wetting, poop dropping, little ball of fur named Max. And the best part about it is that even though he is not my present, I will be the one taking care of him. Like I need any more children!
But isn't he cute? He's a toy Morkie: Maltese/Yorkie Mix. He will only be 5 pounds. My heart is softening. As I see the way he plays fetch with my little boy, and cuddles up to my little girl, I fall in love.

What did you get?

Monday, December 19, 2011

HOLY SH....ATTER ME

I'm obsessed with this book. I love this book.
I am in lust with the writing. I am blown away by the most unique voice ever.
I am depressed it's over. I can't wait for Shatter Me #2 in 2012.

If you haven't read SHATTER ME, you might be confused right now. If you have, you might be annoyed I didn't pull off that strike-through nearly as well as the author Miss Mafi.

I am not going to review this book. I am not going to bullet point this one out. I am not going to dive into the deep waters of over-analyzation with this one.

I am going to say that this is my #1 pick of 2011.
I am going to say that this book held me captivated for the two days it took me to read it.
I am going to say that it changed me as a writer. I have never read anything so free. So rich. So beautiful. So deep.

Have you read it? What's your #1 pick of 2011?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Kind Of Blogger Are You?

I don't know what it is right now, but it seems like there is a lot of self reflection going on in the blogosphere. People are re-assessing what they want their goals to be in regards to blogging. What they want to accomplish. Things change. The things that made you start blogging are probably different for you now-a month, a year, a couple years later.

I am no different. So I ask myself, "Self. What kind of Blogger do you want to be when you grow up?"

And honestly, I haven't been able to answer back just yet.

I look around at all the awesome bloggers I know, and analyze why I love about each: (bring out the bullet points)

  • Peggy Eddleman-Peggy is so good at practical stuff. She posts about queries, and agents, and revising, and all sorts of helpful writing helps. She has her finger on the pulse of the writing world. She does surveys, enlightening us all on how others do things. She knows the publishing industry is and generous enough to share her knowledge with all of us. Plus she has awesome hand drawn illustrations. 
  • Erin Summerill- Erin is probably the most hilarious person I know. I look forward to every single one of her posts because she has so much voice. Not only does she entertain, but the girl reads a book a day and is basically an encyclopedia on what is hot and what is not. And because she is the official photographer at a bunch of conferences, she has the hookups when it comes to hanging with agents and editors. 
  • Elana Johnson- Okay, we all know how rad Elana's blog is. I mean, I have been flat out studying her blog for over a year like I was getting credit for Creative Writing 101. She has a library sized volume of posts on writing, querying, and pretty much everything else associated with the publishing industry. And she is honest, and I love that.
  • Chantele Sedgwick-Otherwise known under the blog title, "My Writing Bug," is one of the sweetest people I have met in the blogosphere. She reviews books, gives writing advice, does a bunch of interviews, and shares all sorts of interesting things. I think one of the reasons why I keep going back to her blog is because she is loyal. If you comment on her blog, she is going to comment on yours. Not only that, but she is going to help you any other way she can. Honestly, she asks questions like, "What can I do for you?" I've taken her up on that, and she totally helped me.
  • David Powers King- I think I have a blog crush on David. Now before you go thinking all your scandalous blogging thoughts--I don't mean it in a weird, cheat on my husband kind of way. I have never even met David. What I mean, is that he cracks me up. He has the funniest tag lines, stories, and way of approaching writing. He is an InkPageant moderator, an excellent flash fiction writer for blog contests and hops, and he gives stuff away. He gives away books, critiques, and amazon gifts cards and such. So basically he puts himself out there in a million kind of ways that make you want to be friends with him. He is a pimp in the blogging world...in a good way.
There are so many other bloggers that I adore, but I have no more time to spend on this post. So basically, everyone has a niche, a theme, a strength. Whether its being helpful, entertaining, educational, sweet, or awesome. (Respectively). So what's my schtick? Being a B-Word? I'll let you know when I figure it out.

So, given the opportunity to self-reflect, what kind of Blogger are you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

LEGEND by Marie Lu

For me, how quickly I read a book has a direct correlation on how much I enjoyed it. Some books lay on my nightstand begging for more attention. Some have been touched. Some have been caressed. Some have even had some serious alone time. (Why do I sound like a polygamist husband?)
LEGEND didn't have that problem. LEGEND had me at hello. I read it in a day.

Here's what I loved about this book:

    • Point of view: It was told from two perspectives. First person, present tense. Each chapter switched between the girl protag (June) and the boy protag (Day). Oh man, did this make for some juicy juxtaposition of thoughts.
    • Setting: the story takes place in dystopic California. There is no United States of America. Just The Republic and the Colonies. It was so fascinating to see an alternate version of our society.
    • Romance: Although the protags are only 15 years old, they sure do have some steamy sexual tension going on. Okay, maybe not "sexual" tension because they are never going to do it. But I mean their kisses, and their touches had me tingling. So good.
    • Attention to detail: I love how Ms. Lu created such dynamic characters with so many dimensions. They are skilled and adept in ways that blew me away. Tiny details spread out here and there really drew me to the overarching story. 
    • I also love the story behind the story. Ms. Lu and her amazing agent Kristin Nelson couldn't sell her first book. So she started over and wrote this. Perseverance dear friends, perseverance!
I could actually go on and on about how much I loved this read. Believe me, I have taken notes on all the other things Ms. Lu did so well to apply to my own writing. But I will spare you.

Have you read it? Are you going to now?

Friday, December 9, 2011

B is for Beautiful Boys

Over Thanksgiving, while staying at my in-laws, I decided to pick up a copy of People's Sexiest Men Alive Edition. Did I feel like the creepy cougar in the corner, practically drooling over muscles, smiles, and smolder? Yes. Yes, I did. Did it stop me? No. No it did not. I think it can be healthy, creatively stimulating even, to maintain an active appreciation for the beautiful things around us. If it so happens that one of the beautiful things around me at the check out stand was People, so be it! So... I decided to compile a small list of my own. Do any of these guys remind you of your protag? Your male love interest? Your devilishly good looking foe? Or do you just need a Friday pick me up?

Non-Broke Back Jake

Un-Mohawked Puck

 All-Grown Up Zach

My Man JT

May your creative juices flow, and may your weekend be full of beautiful things! Cheers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter

Look who won out! Out of the five books I was reading, the one I couldn't pull away from was this one. Why you ask? I think this calls for bullet points:
  • Style- Miss Carters voice is impeccable. Not only that, but since she chose third person omniscient, she could use her own voice without worrying if it came across as well as one of the characters. And boy oh boy is she clever. I found myself smiling almost the entire way through the book. Which must be why my cheeks are sore this morning:)
  • Action- this book is full of high stakes action and movement. They go from New York, to Paris, to Italy, to London...and a few other sexy places. There is never a dull moment.
  • Intelligence- this book is smart. Like caviar and Monet smart. I feel like a got a mini-education on art appreciation in the two days it took me to sprint through this one. And history too. Something about those Nazi's always makes me perk up--their range of their evil is widespread.
  • Character- I always "got" Kat the protag. She was clever and real, sweet and lost, beautiful and bad-A, all at the same time. She was fully dimensional and I loved spending time with her. She never made any decisions that I couldn't forgive her for. Even when I didn't understand what she was doing, I trusted her, and she never let me down. She was genius. And I realized that's how I like my protags: vulnerable but fully capable of amazing. 
  • Supporting Characters- she has this best friend who I am totally going to miss being around. I felt like he was my young, billionaire friend that could do whatever he wanted for me. The sexual tension between them didn't hurt the book at all either. Then there was this cousin Gabrielle that she didn't really get along with--I loved their banter. And a whole crew of other cast members that all gave life to the story. 
  • Random stuff- she had short chapters, which I love because I feel like I can breath. Also, the book felt like a really quick read. I dont know how many words it was, or even how many pages since my e-version was different that a book, but two sittings was all it took. I love that. I get annoyed when things seem to unnaturally stretch out. And last, I loved her cover art. It's so beautiful and mischievous...just like the book. Why did it take me this long to read it?
Now, I want to take all I learned from this and apply it to my manuscript.

Have you read this one--and if so, what did you like? Any other book that you read recently that you adored?

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Have Reading "ADHD"

Now that NaNoReviMo is over, and I am done with my first round of revisions,  and my critique partners have my manuscript in their trusty hands (or inboxes)...I finally have some time on my hands to catch up on the TBR pile mounting next to my bed. But, I have a little ADHD going on when it comes to what I am reading:

LEGEND, by Marie Lu


VARIANT, by Robison Wells


HEIST SOCIETY, by Ally Carter


MR. MONSTER, by Dan Wells

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, by Sara Gruen


I didn't intentionally start five books at once. I had a strategy. I wanted to the read beginnings of a few books and study what made them great, or what stood out to me. It was very enlightening. Here's some of what I learned:
  • Each one has grabbed my attention in different ways. But there is one constant in each: mystery. They all presented a mystery or a problem that I wanted to find the answer to. I'm totally hooked in each one.
  • No matter what tense or perspective the author chose, they all made the action present and dynamic. I didn't feel like I was reading something that already happened. It was happening for me, right now.
  • They all had a tone that foreshadowed the conflict of the book. So for Heist Society she starts out witty and snarky voice, which tells me that I can expect a fun ride. Whereas, with Variant, the tone is somber and creepy, which tells me that something is wrong here. Which made me think, "What is the tone of my manuscript?"
  • There are so many clever ways to draw the reader in: switches in point of view (like LEGEND), or switches in time period (like WATER FOR ELEPHANTS), or dramatic switches of setting (like HEIST SOCIETY when she sweeps the reader off to Paris), or life-altering switches of circumstances (like VARIANT). 
And now I have five books that I wish I were reading right this second! They are all calling my name!

Do you love these books as much as I do?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Titles Schmitles!

Were you blessed with the poetic ability to assign few words to a thing of such significance? I was not. I not only struggled naming my children, but I am now struggling to name my youngest baby: my manuscript. Hey, it's okay. I know I'm not the only one with naming/titling deficiency ("TD"). I actually know a guy named Dick Hofacker...someone is responsible for that!

Some titles seem to jump right off the shelf at me, and I marvel at how succint, or lovely, or witty they are. Like last night, I went to buy LEGEND by Marie Lu. Not only is the title awesome, but the cover is too. The title "Legend" seems to inspire an epic, grand feel to it. Another title that I love is HUSH HUSH. Along with the black and white cover art of an angel falling, it makes me feel like I want to know that secret.

Yet, for all the amazing titles out there, there are some that haven't done it for me. I put off reading HUNGER GAMES for a long time, because the title somehow turned me off. I really enjoyed I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, and yet I was always embarrassed to be seen with it in public. Shoot, when I first heard about Harry Potter, all I could think was, "Why are the British so fascinated with such an unattractive name? Seriously, a name that makes me think of hair, and hairy things?" I know I really can't talk since my last name has the word "hump" in it...but you get what I am saying, right?

So I am desperately, obsessively searching for a title that will inspire greatness. I know, I know, you say authors don't really end up choosing their own title. Well, while that's true, it's also true that an awesome eye-catching title won't hurt you either in getting published in the first place.

I was going to have a title contest or ask for feedback on titles here on the bloggy, but decided that could be disastrous. Last night I emailed a good friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) with a list of ideas for titles. She shot every single one of them down with gusto. Which is good...I want the truth! But really, I don't need the world to know just how bad my titling deficiency ("TD") really is.

So how about you? Do you have TD or are you do you have a black belt in titling (in which case, tell me so that I can beg you to help)???