Friday, December 21, 2012

How I won NaNoWriMo in Five Days

Okay, I didn't actually win in five days. Not five total days. But, that was basically where it was won and nearly lost for me. Let me tell you how I did it.

First, the backstory

See, this was my seventh year competing in NaNoWriMo. Only one other year had I ever not finished, and that year has always weighed heavily on me. I've always regretted giving up. So, when I headed into this year, I knew that I was in it to win it.

I got off to a good start with nearly 7,000 words the first day. This tapered off the next six days as I had to work a TON, leaving me with only 16,000 words – just above where I was supposed to be.

The problem

After the first week, I went on vacation to visit the boyfriend, whom I hadn't seen in three-plus months. Where I had full intentions of writing. As you can imagine, they totally went awry. I enjoyed my time off from writing. I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed it so much that the 200 words I wrote that week turned into another piddly 4,000 the next week.

You realize that left me with about 20,000 words total heading into week four. WEEK FOUR, PEOPLE!

Well after that, I knew I had to get my butt into gear. In it to win it, remember? So I hunkered down and got my little butt to work.

The final week

It started with an all-night write-in. I thank my lovely Phoenix ML for swooping down in the nick of time with that one. 

Sunday (six days left): After work on Saturday, I headed to a Denny's half-way through the write-in. At 1 a.m. I started writing, and I didn't stop until 7 a.m. I managed 7,000 words. After a few hours of sleep, I managed another 2,000 before work and another 1,000 at work bringing my total to 10,200 that day. That took my total to 30,200.

Monday (five days left): Managed another 3,000 before and slightly after work. Total=33,200.

Tuesday (four days left): Had a great day with another 5,000 words between writing after midnight before I went to sleep and before work that day. It was fantastic. Total=38,200.

Wednesday (three days left): Another 3,200 this day. I really wanted more that, but it was all I managed. Total: 41,400. It felt really fantastic to have broken the 10k-left line however.

Thursday (two days left): My day off. I had Friday off too, but at this point I had this idea in my mind that I could finish. If only I could finish today, then I could take off Friday and not have to do any writing whatsoever. So I pushed. I wrote and I wrote all day long. And then I went to a write-in where I wrote and I wrote some more. By the end of the write-in (when the place we were at was shutting down) I was only 200 words away from winning. I went home, plugged in my computer and got to typing. Less than an hour later, I'd finished. A total of 8,900 words. Finishing total=50,309

How I did it

So that's my story. But how did I do it, you ask? Easy. I just did. I didn't let myself make any excuses. I didn't let myself slack off. And because of that, I wrote just more than 30,000 in five days. While yes, I did have the luxury of an all-night write-in, I did have that extra day too. 

But anyway... I'll talk about that Friday that I had off soon. In the meantime, tell me about your November! Did you do NaNo? If so, how did you do? Or if you've done it before, have you ever come from this far behind to win it? Please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Looking at 2013

Man, I can't believe that it was September the last time I posted here.

Mind you, I've been a bit busy lately. Between work (I was pulling 6-day work weeks with little time off in between) and some vacations (traveling vacations... you know where you mean to get all this work done while you're there and you don't because your just too busy with everything else?) and NaNoWriMo... I've been busy.

This is just going to be a short post today letting you know what's coming down the line.

You may see some changes on the blog. I'm going to be messing around with stuff as I prepare for 2013.

Why, you ask? Well, I'm looking to start fresh. I've got all these ideas and aspirations clamoring around in my head. I want to be better at blogging regularly. I want to be more productive. I want to start getting in more conversations with you guys.

So, I'll be posting sporadically over the next month letting you know about how I did at NaNoWriMo and some other holiday madness.

Come 2013 though? That's when it's going to get fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I have an obsession

I don't know if it's just me, but I have an obsession with office supplies.

For a long time, I honestly thought it was just me. As as kid, I used to get really excited about going school shopping. And once I had everything, I would derive sick pleasure out of busting everything out of its packaging and packing it in pencil cases and storing it in my backpack. Then, unsatisfied with just that, I'd have to break out my most exciting pen and the brand new notebook and start making lists or describe what I wanted to happen during that year.

(Off topic sidebar: Once I did write one of those letters where I predicted all sorts of awesome things like "You'll get a boyfriend" and "You'll make tons of friends" and other such things, which all pretty much happened that year. I'd completely forgotten about it until I found the note in my backpack at the end of the year and was so pleasantly surprised! Needless to say I wrote another note the next year, but it didn't work, and I didn't forget about it like the first one. Funny how those things happen, right?)

I am lucky enough to have friends with whom to share my addiction. Friends who walked the aisles of Staples or Office Max and got excited by the little things, like liquid mechanical pencils (not kidding) and then split the purchase so we each have one.

I don't get to go school shopping anymore. But I do have a desk at work that I've begun populating with amazing office supplies. This is what it looks like:
Mmm... pens, highlighters, sharpies, color-coded
paperclips – what else does a girl need?

Yes, that is an entire of jar of M&Ms in the colors of my university. Don't judge me!

So I want to ask, do you feel about office supplies like I do? Is there anything really awesome you can think of that I need to add to my desk? What other guilty pleasures do you guys have? Let me know in the comments!

As always, happy writing!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WIP Wednesday 5 (#writemotivation check-in)

This isn't really my fifth WIP Wednesday post. And, it's not really Wednesday. But, you guys don't really care about the particulars, do you?

Oh you do? Too bad. I can only do so much.

So this week I get to tell you guys how I'm doing on my writing! I am really high and really low. It's going very well and horrible at the same time.

I'm a bag of contradictions today, aren't I?

First the highs

I have written every day since my last post. Every. Single. Day. And I can tell you, that makes me feel great. Awesome, even. I've not let laziness or my weird sleep schedule keep me from it. Every day (well, mostly night) I've sat down and written.

This is HUGE for me, since I haven't been writing at all, let alone sticking to a ridged schedule like writing every day. It makes me feel like I'm on the way to rewriting my habits again (see Monday's post).

Now for the lows

I'm not really doing all that much. I put my goal at 200 words a day, which was a low bar to hit, I know. I did it on purpose because I knew that it was going to be hard for me to get back into a schedule of writing. And I'll admit it, some days, even getting those 200 words was really hard for me mentally.

And while I've written 200 words, sometimes more, every day, that doesn't really equate to a lot of words. So I feel like I haven't gotten much done.

And besides that, I've been running into way too many roadblocks. Times when I'm feeling uninspired or stuck in the scene I'm writing. I've been complaining a lot to my CP, who has graciously not told me how lame I'm being - at least not yet.

And I realized that I'm not going to be anywhere close to what I need to be writing come November, which scares me. NaNoWriMo looms over my head like a big, scary thing.

So what am I going to do about it?

I'm making a new plan. First, I'm going to spend tomorrow (my day off) to sit down and plot out my next few scenes, maybe even my full novel. This should (hopefully) allow me to not hit the wall  of I-have-no-idea-what's-coming-next-despite-the-fact-that-I-know-what-happens-after-that when I'm writing.

Then, starting on Sunday, I'm going to up my daily word goals by 200 words every Sunday. That will allow me to reach 1600 words a day by the time November hits. That should put me in perfect shape for NaNoWriMo.

Lastly, I'm going to spend five minutes a day plotting out and researching for my next novel - the one I'm tackling in November. I'm doing that because I'm terrible at plotting a book ahead of time. And that means that I have SO MUCH WORK to do after I finish a draft. I'm currently on the fourth draft of my WIP. FOURTH!!! That's way too much drafting.

So those are my plans. How are your writing projects going? What goals do you have? Are you doing anything to gear up for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!

Happy writing!

Monday, September 10, 2012


This is the first of four blog posts coming this week to make up for my missing one last week. And darn it, if I didn't blog three times a week like I said I was going to, I will at least have blogged an average of three times a week for the month. And that's just fine with me.

So, I'd like to talk about habits today. Funny little thing, habits. They can be the best thing in the world or your worst enemies.

For instance, it's generally habit to brush your teeth and comb your hair in the morning. Awesome habit so that you don't look and smell like a hobo. That's a good thing. But when you're trying to break a bad habit like biting your fingernails or picking your nose, oh lord can they suck!

This means for me, a person with an addictive personality, I'm constantly picking up bad habits. They're easy to form. Instant gratification always outweighs the long-term happiness of something.

For instance, I haven't been writing for months. Lots of months. Probably not really hard since last year's NaNoWriMo. And that's a sad thing to admit, but true. So after months of not sitting down and grappling with my writing, it's my habit to just ignore it.

But I'm trying to change that. This month, as I've told you, I've pledged to write every day. And so far I have. Some days it's really hard. Some days I'm tired and I want to go to bed, but I've been doing it anyway. Getting my words in whether or not I feel like writing.

Research says it takes 66 days to make something a habit to a point where it's just automatic for you to do whatever it is you're trying to do. Cool huh? The payoff of forcing yourself through all this pain is it becomes easier! Hurray!

The downside of this is, just like you can break bad habits, you can break good ones too.

For almost an entire year, all I did was work and write. When I was done with work, I'd go write for three or four hours. On the weekends, I'd spend both days at my favorite coffee shops, writing. Hours upon hours of writing. It was so easy.

But I (obviously) broke that habit. And other good habits can also be broken the same way bad habits can be broken (but with surprisingly less work).

So, whatever it is you have in your hearts to do, do it. Do it every day. Don't make excuses. Just do it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

WIP ... Wednesday?

I realize this isn't Wednesday. I overslept yesterday and I had cooking to do before I went to work and I know these are lame excuses and I'm sorry, okay?

Besides, this is the first time in MONTHS I've had anything to report on my project. That HAS to count for something, right? (Please?)

Anyway, I know I haven't been writing. Sometimes, you just have to live. Don't get me wrong – I thought about writing. Literally every day (and yes, I mean the actual definition of literal there). Just because I wasn't writing didn't mean I wasn't thinking about writing. Of course it would have been better to have been thinking about where my story should be going, but that's beside the point. I was thinking about writing, darn it, and that's a good thing.

So, for the past several days, I have actually been writing. The first two days were not that great. In fact, they were terrible and near tear-filled. But I muscled through, and I actually had a pleasant time writing last night before I went to bed. It was so nice and refreshing to be enjoying myself again.

Also on the radar: I think I've come up with the very shaky start of a story idea for NaNoWriMo this year. Yeah, I'm already thinking about that. Which is a good thing, because if it was suddenly halfway through October I think I'd have to have a panic attack. I work best on NaNo when I can let a story idea marinate. I don't necessarily plot or do anything of that sort. But just having it on the back burner somehow makes it so much nicer for me come November.

Anyway, that's all I have to talk about today. I'll be back tomorrow when I get back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Happy writing, folks!

(Also, how are your WIPs going this "Wednesday"? Are you doing NaNo this year? Do you have a story idea? Let me know in the comments!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's worth it

I read several blogs last week that focused on writing a sequel under contract. About how hard it is to be writing under expectations. People have believed in your first book enough to publish it, others have read it, and both want more out of you. People have expectations that it be good.


Here are my thoughts on the issue, as posted on The Intern's blog:

I'm an unpublished author and have thought of these things. I've been told before about deadlines, about the need to get things done on a strict time schedule. I have read countless blogs and tweets from other writers doing the same things. 

And yet, I don't think it's a pressure that one can truly understand until one is in those shoes, staring down the deadline. I used to be a reporter for a newspaper, so I know all about deadlines. Maybe better than novelists. I have had an hour to get something done that needs to be coherent, intriguing, grammatically correct, factual and have no inconsistencies - all knowing that people will be READING it in just a few hours. So I know about deadlines. 

However, being under contract to write something that people enjoy, that they will hopefully fall in love with. Something that will take a lot of time and effort. That is something of which I still don't know the full extent.

But as an unpublished writer, I would say just about anything is worth getting published - getting that first offer of someone wanting to print your book. It's the goal of every unpublished offer. And yes, there will be consequences after that. Things like deadlines and working under contract and have immensely more pressure than before. But I think writers need to remember they were once unpublished, as I am. That they once would have given an arm and a leg (Well, maybe just a leg? Arms are useful for writing.) to get published. Remember that it's totally worth it. 

So, I'm curious: What do you guys think about the pressures of writing under a deadline and a contract? Is this something you've considered before? Have you experienced something like this? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writers paying for reviews?

I was going through my reader this morning, and I came across this post on Nathan Bransford's blog about a service where writers can pay someone to give good reviews about their work. And, it's expensive, but obviously people are doing it (the guy was getting 28,000 a month!).

Now I'm sure you've all heard about this by now, since it's been pretty loud this week.

Here are my personal thoughts, which I left in comment form on Nathan's post:

Generating attention is one thing. Getting your book out to as many people as possible to help spread the word about it is fine, in my opinion. Sharing good reviews in blurbs is also okay. Showing how other people liked it is fine - but I feel it must be genuine. 

I do read reviews. I'm a watcher of them. I like to research things before I do them so I'm prepared. I like reading reviews because they are what I thought were honest opinions of other people. While I've never passed on a book because of a less-than-enthusiastic review, I feel there's a sort of covenant there that reviews should be the honest feelings of a review. As a person who has reviewed, I'm appalled that people would lie, as I wouldn't. 

On the other hand, as a writer, I'm a little disgusted that people would pay for this service. Getting the word out is one thing. Paying for false praise is a little sad. I understand the temptation of wanting to have people say good things about your work. We work on hard on our stories, and it hurts when people don't enjoy them as much as we do. And it hurts when people don't know about them because there isn't a lot of news out there about it. 

However, I think a person's art should stand on it's own. If a story isn't good enough to deserve 50 stellar reviews on its own, then go back to the drawing board and write something new and better. Having fictions about your fiction is kind of tacky. If it's good enough, just getting the word out that it exists should be enough.

So, I'm curious, though. Do you guys agree with me? What are your thoughts on the whole issue? Please let me know!

Also, happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Big news!

So, I realize that right after I told you all I was going to be blogging more often, I didn't blog again that week.

Well, ironic. And that's life.

But I also promised you I was going to have big news. And here it is!

I'm now living in Phoenix!

This may not be exciting for some people. But I'm just a small-town Montana girl. This is a huge city with endless possibilities. And I'm planning on making the most of them.

I ended up here because my job in Great Falls, Montana was transfered. (Well, technically it wasn't transfered. I was transfered because I applied for the job. If not, my job may have disappeared. Not really. They love me there. And I will probably head back eventually.)

So, now I'm working in downtown Phoenix, living in a huge apartment complex with a POOL and AIR CONDITIONING (Only places I can't afford in Montana have central air) and so much more. I may even get a pet while I'm out here.

Anywho. I'm going to get back to work. No, not work work. Writing. That's right! Me and S.M. Robertson are hanging out on Google+ doing word sprints and such. Want to join in? Please do. Contact info is above (in contact info, no less!).

Hope some of you can make it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Umm. . . Hi guys! (#Writemotivation?)

Yeah, so . . . May. It's been since May. You know, since I've written a blog post.

Sorry for the long absence. I'm going to be picking this up again and blogging more regularly. I may have said that before, but I promise the distractions in my life are much less than before. So, it's actually likely that I'll bee keeping that promise.

One of the ways I'm motivating myself to do so is by participating in K.T. Hanna's #Writemotivation September 2012. My goals are pretty simple this time around, and I'm hoping all of you out there will get involved!

Here are my goals:
  • Write every day, at least 200 words. While I'm really hoping to get more than that, I really needed to set the bar low for myself on this one. Being that in addition to not blogging, I haven't been writing, I decided to keep things simple.

  • Write a blog post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. See? See how motivated I am to keep up with my blogging? It's one of the goals. And there you have it. A promise. 

  • Make one vlog. This, I'm hoping, shouldn't be too hard. Just one little video. I'm going to try to work on getting them to be a little shorter. I hate having to cut down everything to make it a managible length.

  • Comment on at least one blog post a day. I knew you all were wondering what my little goals were going to do for you (besides the obvious of having tons new things from me to read, of course). Well, here you all go! In fact, I want to make sure I'm getting to my readers! Let me know you're listening in the comments. Make sure I can find my way easily to your blog, unless your confident I can find it easily on my own (blogs I already read are a good bet). I'm not going to spend a lot of time looking, unfortunately. But, I promise to read and comment on the blogs of those who read and comment on mine. I may even make a list of them later. Who knows!
So there you have it! My list of goals for the month of September. I'm kind of excited. Do you guys think I can manage them? Go a head and let me know! And, if you want to participate with me, here is the link to sign up again.

Oh, and for some exciting news, stay tuned on Friday!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So long been has it

So today, for the first time in a couple months, I actually opened up Net News Wire – my blog reader.

I have exactly 3634 blog posts to read.

I will not be reading all of them. I probably will only be reading 100 blog posts. Maybe fewer. But, I will be getting back on a blogging schedule and a reading blog schedule.

So hello, my readers, if any of you are still out there.

Tell me: What have you been doing in my absence?

I have been vastly enjoying no doing anything of importance. And I seriously mean that. I have done no writing, no real cleaning of my house, or anything. I did, however, get some lawn care finished, and I've been going to work every day. Is that much of an accomplishment? No.

Anyway, it's nice to (kind of) see you guys again. You'll be seeing me around more. I promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Week 4 (and 5 Things I Did Instead of Writing)

So, it's Wednesday again, where I'm supposed to tell you all the amazing work I did on my WIP. But to tell the truth, I haven't been writing. Like, for the last two weeks. I know - such a slacker, right?

So, instead I'm going to give you a list of five things I've done instead of writing (or blogging, for that matter!):

  1. Slept. Lord, do I love sleeping. I'm a big proponent of sleeping. I very much want the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. So yeah. But also, I think I was getting sick over the weekend, and so I slept a lot. And I mean, a LOT. But I feel better now. I call that a win.

  2. Read. I finished two and a half books in the last couple of weeks. And I think that's fantastic. I like to read. And my reading had been vastly suffering. So it's good that I'm getting back to that, right?

  3. Worked out. That's right, folks. I've been going to the gym instead of writing. And the fact that I used to use writing as a way to ignore my health means this is actually a very large step forward for me. Now I just need to find the balance.

  4. Commented and read blogs. Oh yeah, that's right. You people are part of my problem. Between the Writer's Campaign and my friends who blog, I've vastly fallen behind on reading and commenting. And so every time I sat down to write, instead my time was taken up by countless blog posts. *sigh* I need more hours in the day.

  5. Pinterest. Oh, how bad that site is for me. Yeah, I spent a good portion of my time online scrolling through endless pages of pretty hair styles and gorgeously decorated rooms and inspirational phrases and hilarious images and more. The plus side is I now know how to do a french and a fishtail braid. The downside is now I'm planning for things that I don't even want to think about including engagement photos, wedding ideas and baby shower things. I don't want to spend time on thinking about these. *headdesk*
So, that's what I've been doing instead of writing. But I'm here at my coffee shop now. I'm fed (with a delicious and healthy lunch) and I have my latté. I'm reading to get started and I'm not going to stop until I have at least 500 words. (Or I have to go to work. Because, you know, that's something I can't really neglect.)

And what about you? What have you been doing instead of writing?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

E-reader love

So, as I was typing in the title for this blogpost, another one tried to come in E(vil)-Books and their readers.

That reminded me that I was vehemently against e-readers at one point. I didn't get them. I thought them a clunky way to read books. (You mean I have to click through an entire menu to look back at the cover?!?!) I worried they might be the end of traditional print books. It made me sad.

And now I am the very proud owner of a Kindle Touch.
Me and my Kindle, displaying a library book

Here are five reasons I am in love with my new e-reader:

  • I have a very portable way to read books. 
    • Yes, I was the girl carrying around hardbacks in her purse for the moment that she a free moment and can pull it out. I was a reporter for a year, so I had a lot of down time when I was waiting for an interview or for court to start. I needed that or I may have gone insane with the waiting. Now, my purse is quite a bit lighter and my shoulder thanks me for it. Plus, I don't have to worry about finishing one book and not having another one to start.
  • I read books on it that I wouldn't read otherwise.
    • The first book I bought was one recommended to me by a friend. It was a self-published book that I wouldn't have enjoyed reading on my computer. The second book was the Amazon deal of the day: Lament by Maggie Steifvater. Something I probably wouldn't have picked up, although I really like her writing and own four other books by her. Also, I put on a .pdf of a book I'm supposed to be reviewing that has been very slow going before now. It allows me to read some things that I wouldn't have normally.
  • I read books on it that I REALLY wouldn't have read otherwise.
    • (Yeah, I know.) Two words: Library books. I must admit, although I love books, I don't really like reading books I get from the library. I love the crisp pages of a new book, not the yellow stained things that I generally get at the library. Don't get me wrong, I love libraries and everything they are. And I hope they stick around for a long time. I just feel weird not knowing who else has held the book I'm holding. But with my Kindle, I can check out e-books in a snap, and I don't have the same problems I normally have with library books. And, I only check out library books that I kind of want to read, but wouldn't spend money on first. 
  • It's a TOUCH.
    • One of the things that really annoyed me with the original and keyboard Kindles (and the original Nook) is that you have to continually click through menus. I watched someone reading, experienced it for myself. I'm just too impatient of a person to wait. So having a Kindle Touch has allowed me that versatility of a screen while keeping the paper-like e-ink that I knew I wanted. (I would argue that if you get an e-reader, you get one with e-ink.) So, it's a best of both worlds moment for me.
  • It won't replace books.
    • I know that doesn't seem like a plus, but it is for me. I really hate thinking that traditional books with paper are going out of style. And I don't think they will. Not for me. And not for anyone. I've noticed that traditionally published books end up with e-book prices between the hardback and the paperback price. This makes me think that publishers and therefore authors are still making some decent money on e-books, and thus, people are still going to buying hardbacks. Because really, readers are going to want to show off their libraries in person, not digitally. Right?
So there you go. What do you think of my list? Would you add anything? Do you have an e-reader? What do you love about it? Let me know!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The end of February (WIP Wednesday Week 4)

Wow. I can't believe it's the end of February. The end of another month.

I basically met all of my February goals, minus one. I didn't vlog like I was going to (I thought maybe I would do it today, but turned out I had some personal stuff to take care of instead).

However, I did finish my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel, TCN. I did re-write the first three chapters of my current WIP, STAR RUBY. And, I blogged three times a week all but once. How freaking awesome is that?

Now that it's going to be March, I feel like I'm getting a fresh start. And also, I'm starting to think about a whole new (but familiar) set of goals. And, I'll be participating in K.T. Hanna's #writemotivation to keep me all sorts of motivated to get them done.

My goals are:
  1. Blog three times a week
  2. Vlog once
  3. Re-write my WIP to the mid-story climax
  4. Comment on blogs at least once a day.
I really wanted to give that last one a little oomph, so that I don't get behind on stuff.

And hey! If you too want to get in on the fun, you only have today to do it! Go here to sign up!

As for my WIP, I haven't made any progress. Well, maybe 200 words. Yeah - it's pretty sad. But, new month, new set of goals and a fresh start might be enough to kick myself into gear.

What are your goals for March? Did you have any goals for February?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tagged (again)

Well, I was tagged again by Siv Maria so while I don't usually post on Saturday, I didn't want to take up a normal slot for another tagging. Therefore - Special fun-time extra blog! (If only I were an awesome cartoon superhero and that would do something cool. . .)

Do you use Word Verification and why? (Better check first)
No. I use Intense Debate which allows nested comments and the availability to subscribe to replies. It's nice because if a commenter wants a response, they don't have to come back to my site, they can get an email response. I'm not a big fan of Word Verification. Why would you want to make it harder for people to comment?

When visiting a Blog what bothers you most about the format?
I hate it when the font/colors of the writing make it unreadable. Make it easy on me. Also, I prefer it when things are broken down into smaller paragraphs. Large, wordy paragraphs make me want to stop reading.

Do you have your email address listed on your profile, if not, why?
Of course! I want people to be able to contact me, if they want. And, on occasion, they have.

How often do you post?
I try to keep it to three times a week. I can't really keep up with more, and I don't want to spam people with blog posts anyway.

Are you on Facebook or Google plus?
Both. I like them for different things. I also have a Facebook fan page for my author self.

How often do you check your stats?
Not too often. I've been checking a bit more lately since there's more action going on with the campaign. But, I try not to get too worked up about it. Maybe once a month?

What influences what you write about?
That's a tough question. Things I've been through. Things I overhear. Things people tell me. Things I see in movies. I write about whatever inspires me to write!

What is the most important thing that happened to you last year?
I got a job that I love and a boyfriend whom I love. (I met him at the job, so I think it counts as one thing.)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
I'd really like to go to Ireland. Or France again. Or to Italy with my half-Italian friend. I would love to travel more.

If you could talk to a dead person about writing, who would that be?
Oh man, that's a toughie. I think it would be Ernest Hemmingway. I know he was a jerk of a man in real life, but I'd love to pick his brain anyway.

What one thing in the grocery store do you always want to buy? I cannot help but collect new spices.
Hmmm. . . I have a problem buying milk. I'll buy milk, then come home to find my milk is neither gone nor expired. My boyfriend, however, has a problem buying me peanut butter and bread.

So that's all for me this fine Saturday. I'm not going to post new questions because I think most people have done this by now. BUT! If you are reading this and you HAVEN'T done this, you ARE hereby tagged and must answer the questions I did. Go now. Have fun!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shoe shopping

So, I went shoe shopping on the Internet. I just paid for some super cute boots that will be here next week. I'm very excited.

But something I wasn't expecting: looking at the "next big thing" for spring.

Uh. . . what?
Look at that beast. I mean, does that look comfortable or stylish to you? I think it looks a bit painful and I don't know how I would ever walk in them. If, you know, I were to try.

Fads. I just don't get most of them. I've never been all that into fads, to be honest. A few I do remember.

But the funny thing about fads is, when they're over, don't you feel silly for your desire for them after they're done and gone? I do.

And that's why you shouldn't try to conform to a fad. Shouldn't do something just because it's popular. If you don't love it completely for yourself, then what's the point?

The same goes with writing. (What? It's a writing blog. You knew I would link it back to that somehow, right?) You shouldn't try to conform to a certain fad just because it's popular and it's what's selling. The best advice is to write what you want to read, write what you enjoy. Because in the end, don't you want people to read your stuff who are as passionate about it as you are?

So tell me! What's the most ridiculous fad you've tried? Have you considered writing what's "in" just because it was popular? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Week 3 (And Tag! You're it!)

Hey there everyone!

I'm sad to report that nothing at all has changed on my writing. I didn't write last week. I was busy. Doing other things. But that didn't stop me from thinking about stuff. So, I've still been thinking. Trying to figure out how I'm going to become a plotter when I don't have any clue how to plot.

I've discovered something about myself. I don't know how I write. Weird, right? I was visiting my Mom a couple days ago having dinner and trying to explain my problems with plotting. She asked, "So, do you picture what's going to happen in your head?" I couldn't answer.

Damn non-writers confusing me so.

So I had to sit there and think. Did I see it in my head? And yeah, I think I do. I see the scene like a movie, that I then describe and follow. And I think therein lies my problem. I can't "see" what's going to happen unless I've come up with what happens before it. One thing leads to another in my mind, which I think is why I have problems with coming up with a plot before I write it. So, that's something I'm dealing with.

Also! I was tagged by Alyssa and Carrie Anne Brownian in a game that many of the 4th Campaign Challengers have participated in where you have to answer the tagger's 11 question, then come up with your own 11 questions and tag 11 more people. So, here we go (in order)!

1. What is your favorite holiday?
I have to say that I love Christmas, but only because it's the one time of year I get to see my family together. And, you know, the presents help.

2. Who is your idol?
I don't know if I have just one.

3. If you could visit any place in the world where would you go?
Ireland. Or Italy.

4. What's your favorite genre?
Young adult speculative fiction.

5. What or who has inspired your writing the most?
This one writer that I read when I was about 12. She published her first book at 14, and I really wanted to be her. But, to be honest, it's continually my friend Sarah.

6. If you could choose any superpower what would you have?
TELEPORTATION! Think about it: No traffic, no taking forever to travel places, never needing to pay for transportation. IT WOULD BE THE BEST THING EVER!!

7. If you had to be a villain, who would it be? Why?
Dracula. Wouldn't that be cool to be him for a while? He has a sexy life for a living corpse.

8. What is your favorite animal?
I have always been a lover of wolves. Their grace, their loyalty, their sheer power. But I also like tigers. They are beautiful creatures.

9.What is your favorite food?
Beef stroganoff. It's the thing that I would eat every day for the rest of my life.

10.Who is your favorite author?
I don't know if I have one. I like J.K.R., Neil Gaimen, John Green, Maggie Stiefvater, Jackson Pearce and more.

11. What is your biggest fear?
Spiders. I have extreme arachnophobia. Like reduce me to tears and sobs kind of fear.

1. What is your dream car? It could be either a current car or a classic or antique car.
For a long time, it was a 1999 Lamborghini Diablo. But now, it's a '69 Mustang. So pretty.

2. Are you interested in illustrating your own books? Have you ever drawn pictures of your characters?
I'm not all that interested in illustrating my own books, although I doodle a lot in my free time. I do draw my own characters, my friends' characters, characters from books and TV shows and movies. I draw a lot. :D

3. What is your favorite flavor of jelly?
I'm actually more of a jam lover, but I think peach. I pretty much love anything peach.

4. What animal would you most like to be?
I would be a panda bear. They're big, and round and cute and a little lazy. I'm not black and white, but it's not a perfect analogy.

5. What foreign country would you like to live in?
France. Or Ireland. I visited France when I was in high school and I loved it. But, I really want to visit Ireland. I am Irish and have an Irish name (Brenna), so I'm pretty attached to my heritage.

6. Do you prefer the countryside or the city?
I like them both. I grew up in a city (not big, but a city) but I vacation in the countryside. But, for living, I'd have to say city.

7. What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
CHOCOLATE!! Actually, if we were getting fancy, I'd have to say Ben and Jerry's Dublin Mudslide. (See a theme there?) It's sooo good!!

8. What character from mythology (any mythology) would you most like to meet?
Athena. I think she'd be an awesome friend. Although, does Thor from the comic books count? Because him.

9. Do you have a favorite or well-liked name you haven’t used on a character yet?
Edward. I like the name, I just don't think I could use the name for a love interest because I don't want my character to be like the Edward from Twilight.

10. What is your favorite amusement park ride?
The biggest, baddest roller coaster. It's so much fun!

11. Would you prefer to live on the beach, in the forest, in the mountains, or in the desert?
Well. I live in the mountains. And I know that I would NEVER want to live in the desert. But, I have never experienced living on a beach. That would be interesting, I think.

As for my 11 questions:
1. Coffee or tea?
2. What was the first story you can remember writing?
3. What TV show, video game, movie would you recommend to other writers?
4. What time of day are you most productive?
5. Green or black olives?
6. What was your first car?
7. What is your guilty pleasure?
8. Are you a fan of footie pajamas?
9. What's something you didn't think you'd like that you did/do?
10. Favorite salad dressing?
11. What is your most embarrassing nickname? (Or, just any nickname. You don't have to give an embarrassing one.)

Now, those I tag!
1. Sarah Robertson
2. K.T. Hanna
3. Rebekah Loper
4. Daniel Todd Noyes
5. T.D. McFrost
6. Michael Haynes
7. Margo Kelly
8. K.S. Collier
9. Megan
10. Fairview
11. Lori M. Lee

FYI: If you've already done this tag thing, and I'm sure you all have by now, don't worry about tagging more people. Just answer the questions, I think. That way, we don't have to keep this going into perpetuity. I would just like to see your answers. Have fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't give it all away

This post goes almost hand-in-hand with that of last Monday about overwriting.

I have a problem. I've realized this recently. I was reading a friend's story on Inkpop (Daniel Todd Noyes, I'm looking at you) and in the first third of the book, there's this nice moment of not knowing what's going on. Now, having talked with Daniel, I knew what the story was about. I even knew a little about the sequel to the book. And then I realized how good and smart his writing is BECAUSE HE DIDN'T JUST GIVEAWAY EVERYTHING AT THE BEGINNING!!!

I am terrible at this. No, I suck at it. Completely suck at it. When I write, I just become a fountain of information spewing forth and giving my readers pretty much everything. Yeah, even when I'm rewriting and editing.

Now, doing this in a first draft isn't bad. Actually, I'd argue it's a good thing. It's things you should know as a writer. But then, you have to separate yourself from those and remind yourself that you shouldn't be giving away all those details in one giant block, and almost never at the beginning of the story. You need to dole them out in little bits. And sometimes, without your readers even knowing that you've done it.

It's hard. And it's something that I struggle with a lot (if you hadn't gotten that yet). I seriously have to work on not explaining everything in the beginning of my WIPs. But, I think it's truly worth working on and nailing.

So tell me: Is this something you noticed in others' writing? Do you notice it in your own work? Do you struggle with it like I do? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Week 2

Okay, I realize this is coming a little late. sorry. I didn't have access to a computer until now, and I didn't manage to get a post up before now.

So, here goes.

I didn't do too much work this week on my WIP, sadly. I'm still working on Chapter 4, which is only about 2,500 words in right now.

What I did do, however, is a lot of thinking. I've been thinking about this chapter, and the chapters that will come after it. I'm trying - unlike I've ever really done before now - to actually think and plan out what I'm doing farther than the next couple of pages. I'm hoping that by doing this - like all you plotters out there - I'll have a cleaner, more usible draft when I'm finished. Because, you know, I can't sit here on my fourth draft thinking about doing another rough one again. I want to really get into a place of meaty edits. Not just rewrites.

So that's what I've been up to. What are you working on? How's it going for you? When you're rewriting, do you think a lot about what's coming next, or do you just go for it?

Note: Dear fellow Campaigners, I'm very sorry that I haven't been getting to you guys as much as I should. I'm really working on that, but as I mentioned above, I didnt' have access to a computer. I'm coming, I promise!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Resist the urge

Today I want to discuss something that I've seen in some unpublished/self-published writing recently.

Resist the urge to overwrite.

Writing is a delicate balance. If your writing is too plain, with nothing descriptive, original or intriguing, readers may dump it for being boring (depending, some readers are willing to forgive plain writing if the plot is good.) Overwriting, however, it just as bad if not worse.

I think we've all been there. When we read something that uses flowery description and you wonder if the author looked up something in the thesaurus and went with the most exotic synonym he or she could find. That overwriting is easy to find.

But overwriting also applies to simpler things. Phrases that are written that are unneeded. For instance – if something is implied, but a writer writes it anyway. Readers can read between the lines. You don't have to spell everything out of them.

So, that's the bit of wisdom I have for you today. Is this something you guys struggle with? I know that I myself am guilty of it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

PURITY by Jackson Pearce

As I mentioned on Monday, Jackson Pearce is one of the biggest reasons I re-fell in love with Young Adult books. I had been focusing my book-purchasing choices on adult sci-fi/fantasy books for the last couple of years when one of my NaNoWriMo people (I was an ML) retweeted something she'd written. It made me laugh, so I started following her, watched all her YouTube videos, became a fan.

Anyway, I'd always been a fan of teen literature when I was a teen. And to be honest, I thought that I should be headed away from that. I was an adult. I should read adult-ish things. But her humor and honesty – not to mention her writing – made me realize that it didn't matter what age I was, I enjoyed reading YA.

So, thank you, Jackson. I hope to one day be able to call you a colleague.

Okay. On to the actual review.

PURITY by Jackson Pearce 

Reviewer's note: I received an ARC of PURITY from the publisher. (Thank you so much!) That, and my love of the author have not influenced my review. And, as always, it is spoiler-free as much as possible.

From Goodreads: A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

Plot: I love the premise of PURITY, even if it's a little far-fetched. I have never met a teen that was so set on not breaking promises before, but then again, I have never met a teen who made promises to her dying mother before. So, I'm willing to let it slide. Passed that, and with a little willing suspension of disbelief, the story is one that's instantly grabbing. Here is a girl who has only five weeks to lose her virginity. She has to tackle a variety of obstacles such as a disapproving best friend (who is also male, I might point out), the ability to convince a boy to HAVE sex with her in a manor that she's willing (ie - condoms) and wether she can get the deed done by the dreaded Princess Ball. The story was fast-paced and dappled with dramatic, hilarious and well-crafted scenes.

Characters: There are about four main characters: Shelby, her best friend Jonas, her other friend Ruby, and her dad. Despite the fact that Shelby lost her mother, I think she is instantly relatable. Here was a girl who is trying to do right by both her parents, and herself, and trying to find any loophole she can. I mean, what teen do you know that hasn't tried to find loopholes around their parents? Jonas is the quarky best friend character who has a penchant for making lists. He immediately fell into the guys-I-want-to-be-around list. Ruby is such a fun character with her sassy attitude that made her a great balance to Shelby, who's a bit more reserved. And Shelby's Dad was a bit watery at first – but that's to be expected. The story is told from Shelby's pint of view, and Shelby doesn't have a good handle on her dad. They aren't close. But even in the watery beginning, I could tell there was so much more to him than Shelby was seeing – a true testament of Jackson's craft.

Themes: This book (shockingly) deals with sex. So deal with it. It's just a fact of life that teens are pressured into these types of decisions and they have to consider it, so it's not like this stuff doesn't happen. I think Jackson handled it tastefully, and it isn't at all pornographic, so please don't rate it on that. But that being said, if you're going to hate it for sexual content, maybe it's best if you consider something else. Surprisingly though, there was a bit of a religious aspect to this novel that I wasn't expecting. But it's not in that holier-than-thou slap Christianity in your face type of thing. It's about a girl who's still dealing with the death of her mother and struggling with her faith because of it. It's something that I think a lot of people go through in the darkest times of their lives. And it isn't the main theme, so keep that in mind.

Writing: Jackson has this habit of writing the way I think. Her characters don't use overly-flowery language that makes me instantly think "pretentious," and yet has such a beautiful way of crafting these drop-dead gorgeous moments. The construction of the book is not in chapters but in countdowns: ie, 30 days before; 15 days before; 3 hours before, etc. It drives home the idea of this impending deadline and really pushes the book forward. I loved it.

Overall: I'm giving PURITY 4.5 STARS OUT OF 5. I really liked the book, so I just couldn't give it a four. It wouldn't have been fair. And I don't give out that many fives. Overall, this was a quick, easy book that I enjoyed reading. It took me about four days (between writing and work, which was surprisingly good for me).

PURITY goes on sale April 24, so you can pre-order at Barnes and Nobel, Amazon or at your local indie book stores. Please consider doing so, or picking it up the first week it comes out. Because it will be a fun read.

Jackson Pearce Online:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Week 1

So, I'm starting in the meme begun by my lovely CP and best friend Sarah over at Squidink, to talk about my WIP on Wednesdays. She's currently on Week 7, so go check her out.

The first thing I want to say is I FINISHED A FREAKING MANUSCRIPT THIS WEEK!!!

Yeah, that's right. I finally finished the first draft of my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel, which I'm calling The Contemporary Novel (I'm so creative). And, to share my love of finishing, I wanted to share the stats. And a wordle.
I'm a little worried by how often I use "like" and "just"

  • The Contemporary Novel
    • Chapters: 17, plus an epilogue
    • Words: 53,431
    • Characters: 281,281 (How awesome is that?)
    • Point of view: First person
    • Main characters: About seven, including the narrator
    • Total time: Three months (but I barely worked on it two of those months)
    • Total freakouts: I'm going with about three. It was fun.
Isn't that exciting! Because I'm excited by it.

Anyway, with that done and crossed off my goal list for February (oh my gosh, it's already the 8th?!) I went back to working on my previous manuscript, STAR RUBY, which I was working on before NaNoWriMo started. I opened the program and prepared to work on my fourth draft.

And. . . I promptly had a panic attack. 

I'd been so focused on drafting, and I mean first drafting here, that it really freaked me out to start again on this one. I suddenly was in the middle of not knowing where to start and really over-thinking everything. I finally came down a bit after a phone call with Sarah when she told me to quite literally stop over-thinking. 

(I love a good friend and writing partner. They somehow always know what it is you need.)

Anyway. So, I re-wrote chapter one. I edited chapter two. I wrote a new chapter three. I'm working on chapter four. That's where I stand. I need to learn how to plot better. 


Also! Last fall I joined into this challenge where a bunch of writers got together to meet new people and extend their reaches. 

Now, I'm involved in Rachael Harrie's 4th Platform-Building Campaign (the other was the 3rd, FYI). 

Last fall I was able to connect to several other writers that are quickly becoming really good online friends. So, I don't at all mind expanding my base of friends on the Web. 

So, if you're new, hello! Welcome! I respond to all my comments, so if you hit choose subscribe to replies in the dropdown menu, we'll be able to communicate farther!

If you're an old friend, maybe you'll consider joining in? There's challenges and tons of people to meet and is a good wave of support. Seriously! Click here to sign up on Rachael's blog.

Well that's all for me folks. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Printz Award Reading Challenge (+awards)

Okay, I'm going to get to the most interesting thing first.

My lovely CP and friend Sarah is holding a reading contest centered around Prinz awards.

From her blog: "In the simplest terms, the Michael L. Printz award is an award for young adult books sponsored by Booklist, which is a publication of the American Library Association. The award was named for a librarian who was super active in the Young Adult Library Services Association and is pretty much THE young adult book award."

Currently there are 13 actual winners and 49 honor books (including this year's). The idea is that although I'm a young adult writer, I haven't actually read that many of those books. So, I'm going to rectify that by reading more this year.

There are different levels of challenges so every person no matter how crazy his or her schedule can participate. Honestly, it sounds like it's going to be a barrel of fun! And, you know that SOMEONE must really like these books to give them awards, right?

I think I've only read four, two winners and two honorees: LOOKING FOR ALASKA, SHIPBREAKER, AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, and THE BOOK THIEF.

I'm going to go for reading 12 books myself. I think I'm going to count THE BOOK THIEF too (don't throw things at me!) because I technically read it in the month of January.

Anyway, if you want to see the winners click here, and if you want to see the honor books click here.

I really hope you join me and Sarah! It's going to be a lot of fun!

Click here to go sign up and read more about the challenge.

Now for the less exciting part, unless I'm sharing with you. The same Sarah has nominated me for a couple blog awards.

And, I just found out, Rebekah Loper also nominated me for the Kreativ Bloger award! Wow, I feel so intensely loved.

As per the requirements, I have to do three things. As before on the blog, I'm going to combine them.

  1. Thank and link to the peep that nominated me.
  2. Share ten (kreative)/seven (versatile) random facts about myself.
  3. Award some other nifty bloggers.
So on with the randomness!
  1. My boyfriend has recently gotten me addicted to DragonVale. If you want to be friends, send me an email.
  2. I have a rather addictive personality, so fact number 1 isn't all that surprising.
  3. I am a snob when it comes to coffee, sadly. I like my lattés, thank you very much. 
  4. It was my discovery of Jackson Pearce that reminded me of my love of teen literature. Without her and her amazing attitude, I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to get back to it. Thanks, Jackson. (Small plug: Her next book comes out in April, and is really good. I'll have a review up this week.)
  5. I absolutely abhor breaking laws and rules. Except speeding. I do that one quite regularly.
  6. I very rarely tell anyone my true thoughts. Not my parents, not my best friends, not my boyfriend. It's something that leads me to getting hurt a lot because I can't express myself.
  7. I can be pretty loud and obnoxious, but I am pretty shy when meeting new people. That fact made being a reporter quite hard on me. However, I can rock your socks off if I'm ever your waitress.
  8. I have no less than 50 tabs opened on my computer at one time. My boyfriend, who's a network administrator, is constantly berating me about it. But hey, it works. 
  9. I like buying gifts for random people at random times. Once the lovely Sarah finds a place to live, I already have her housewarming gift. :D 'Cause I rock like that.
  10. I hate showering until I'm in the shower. I will put off showering until the very last minute, and then I always feel better afterward, like "Why was I fighting that again?" It's pretty sad, I'll admit. 
So, that's about it! Now on to my lovely nominees!
  1. Ashelynn at A Gypsy Writer. Not only is she a kick-butt writer, but she was the first blog I ever started paying attention to. So, yeah, she deserves some awesome to match her own.
  2. Jenn at A Single Bell. Jenn is a great person, who's been pretty quiet lately, so I need to wake her up a bit. Also, she's going to be an awesome Best Seller, I just know it. Her ideas are far too creative not to be.
  3. K.T. at The Scribble Muse. This girl is hands-down the nicest, most motivating person I've ever met on the Internet. If anyone deserves an award, it's her. She is constantly lifting other writers up on Twitter. Plus, she's insane at finishing stuff, which makes me so jealous. But, she's too nice to hate, so I just root her on.
  4. Rebekah at her website. She rivals K.T. for the second nicest slot. She's an awesome person to have around to give encouragement and she working on so many projects! I can't wait to see them come to fruit!  (Now, she's already won the Kreativ award, since she nominated me, but I'm going to pass on to her the Versatile anyway.)
  5. Last, but not least, is Bonnie Rae at her website. She is an amazing person, who I'm still getting to know. But I'm looking forward to it! And, I'm hoping that since she's writing full-time, I will be getting to know her writing too!
So that's all, folks! I hope you enjoy. Ladies, you don't have to feel obligated to do anything with these awards if you don't want to. I just wanted to share the people I'm enjoying most on the Internet. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

A very sad day

I was originally going to talk about a reading challenge my lovely CP is hosting and some awards, but I needed to hijack my own blog post to talk about a couple other things. I will talk about those things on Monday, so look forward to them. *Insert apologetic look here*

I had a really rough night last night. First off, I read this article in the Rolling Stones.

A candlelight vigil in Minneapolis for the victims of gay bullying.
© Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/
This is an amazing article written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely is about a town in Minnesota that has created a war zone in their school district over homosexuality politics. After what an expert called a "suicide cluser" of several children committing suicide, many who were wrapped up in anti-gay bullying, the whole place is a mess. The school board, trying to appease the major Christian advocates that dominate the area, created a policy that left openly gay kids at a complete risk for torture. Teachers did nothing, and the suicides started.

Seriously. If you haven't already read this article, you need to. But be prepared to cry.

After I finished that article, I finished reading THE BOOK THEIF. If you haven't read that either, you need to. It's a fantastic book. I don't understand how it didn't take the Prinz Award, because it was seriously one of the best things I've read. And I was balling. I was a mess when I got done with it.

Anyway, many of you can probably see why I couldn't sleep after reading those two things.

On a positive note, I finished the first draft of my 2011 NaNoWriMo manuscript, so I can cross that off my February goals. That's right.

So tell me – what have you read recently that made you want to cry? Have you read either the article or THE BOOK THEIF? If so, what did you think about them? Thanks for sharing!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coffee shops and love

Guys! Guys! Guess what?

I'm at a coffee shop! I have my computer and coffee and I'm all set to write! How awesome is that.

After a half-hearted attempt at writing last night (boyfriend came over and wasn't feeling well, so we ended up playing a lot of video games). But, I did write a little, and now I'm here, feeling fresh and ready to get started. (You know – once I finish this blog post.)

One of two coffee shops I'm known to frequent
I may not have mentioned this before on this blog, (I know I did as a guest post on Squidink) but I do the bulk of my writing at coffee shops. I don't do it for the aesthetic and dramatic value of being a writer in a coffee shop. I go because it works for me.

See, when I'm in a coffee shop, I only have the distractions I bring. I only have the tables they have to sit at, the limited bandwidth of Internet and no TV. Okay, that last one is a major one.

I am easily distracted. And while I did the bulk of my writing for NaNoWriMo at home at my desk, I like working in coffee shops because I can really stay focused.

That's not to say that coffee shops work for everyone. I know a lot of people who are too distracted in an area that isn't theirs to get anything done. That works for you, great. I think the place that I will ultimately be most productive is in a home office. That's not in the basement. Once I get that, I think I'll be set. For now, I have my coffee shop, and I'm going to go writing.

By the way, for fairness, I'm going to list out my goals of February. Unfortunately, they are the same goals as January. But, I'm already closer now to finishing them than I was.

  • Finish 2011's NaNoWriMo TCN
  • Work on the first three chapters of STAR RUBY
  • Blog three times a week, preferably Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Do one Vlog
I only managed to complete the final one in January. But with my life getting back in order, I feel good about February. 

So tell me, how's this month shaping up for you? And where are you most productive?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Habits and procrastination

Uhg. I have something to admit to you all. I didn't blog yesterday. There is a reason why.

What other tips and tricks do you guys have for creating good habits? Let me know!

Friday, January 27, 2012

On the up and up

Things in my life seem to be getting a little better.

First of all, check out the sexy new blog design! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and I'm hoping that will help with my failing ability to blog regularly.

Second, things in my life are coming back to order. I've started making lists every day of things to get done, and I'm actually working on them. I'm eating better again, getting chores finished and feeling good.

The only thing I haven't gotten back into is writing. But I'm still working on it. Because I want to get back into a routine where I'm moving forward on my work every day. It's a process, but it's what I'm compelled to do.

So tell me, what are you guys working on? What goals are you working towards? How do you work towards making those goals?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Give up. . . fail. . .

Happy Wednesday.

So, I've been failing. Like, hardcore failing here.

Remember a couple weeks ago when I was like, I have goals for January and I'm going to blog three times a week and I'm going to write a whole bunch and I'm participating in this thing with other writers (#writemotivation) and I'm so awesome?

Well, yeah, that totally failed.

But here's the reason it failed. I figured the easiest thing on this list (besides blogging three times a week, because, let's face it, I really suck at that no matter how good and pure my intentions. Go visit Sarah at Squidink if you want consistency) was to finish my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel which I haven't even got a working title for so I'm calling it The Contemporary Novel.

So here's the thing about TCN. I was really excited about the story when I started. I was excited about the plot and my character had voice and I hadn't written a contemporary novel in years (when I sucked more than I do now) and I could make references to things from this time (Dr. Pepper! Cheerios! Scrubs!)

But then everything went downhill. All the parts I was really excited to write weren't exciting when I got there. I was annoyed at my character who reacted much differently than I had wanted her to. It wasn't as much fun as it was at the start.

So, here I am, still writing the climax of the story, wanting to be doing anything else but writing it. That's sad, right? How can I hate this as much as I do?

I've never personally run into this problem with my writing before. I've been frustrated and known what I was writing ins't good, but this is new for me. My complete and utter hatred of everything that it is and the loathing of finishing it.

So I'm reaching out to you people. Has this ever happened to you? What do you do when it does? Do you know that it may be time to quit, or do you suffer through it and finish your work? I'm really curious to see what advice all you people have.

So, help?

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Goals

Happy Monday.

Man. Does it seem weird that it's 2012 already? It seems weird to me. Very weird. But, that means it's a new year and a chance for new things.

I have several goals for myself this year.

First, starting off with K.T. Hanna's #writemotivation campaign, several writers have made for January that we are all keeping each other motivated to make.

My goals for the month are:

  1. Finish my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel (I'm currently just past the climax).
  2. Finish the first three chapters of THE STAR RUBY.
  3. Blog three times a week for the month.
  4. Create one video. 
Doesn't sound too hard, until you think that it's already the 9th, and I just started on the first one last night. Oh well! I can do it. I think. Maybe. Well, we'll see.

For the year, my main goal is to finish my book. That's right. I want it done. Revised. To the point where I'm working on my query letter and beginning the query process. That's where I want to be by next January.

Along the way I may set other goals for myself, maybe on a monthly basis like #writemotivation.

So, tell me! Do you think this is an achievable goal? Do you guys have any goals this year, personal- writing- or reading-wise? I would love to hear about them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Top 5 books of 2011

Happy Friday, everyone! :D

So, I am pleased to announce that I completed my goal for the Goodreads 2011 challenge! I originally started the year with a goal of 30 books, which I bumped up to 50 when the first few months of the year went so well. Then, in the later months, I floundered a bit. I scaled back, but It's still more than the original goal, so I think that's okay.

So, for some fun, I though I'd list for you guys my Top 5 books of 2011. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The. . . well, you guys get the idea.

DAUGHT OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor – You know how there's a book that you didn't really know anything about going in and then it all of a sudden blew your mind? Yeah, that was this book. My friend and CP Sarah (Squidink) read it in a day and swore up and down that I needed to read it. I dropped everything and did. And I was not disappointed.

This book is about Angels and Demons, but before you write it off as just another angel book, this one is so different that I almost don't want to call it an angel book, but that's what fist most closely. Laini Taylor not only created a world outside genres, but her writing is so good it's almost painful. It totally deserves the top spot.

SHIPBREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi – This truly deserves the Prinz Award in my mind. Dark and gritty, SHIPBREAKER is about two kids from very different worlds: One who is forced to break down huge oil ships in terrible conditions and who will probably die young in poverty and one who grew up rich but is being chased by those who would use her as political leverage.

It's a story about friendship and hope. It's about trust beyond its limits. And, it's about luck. A lot of luck, actually. The writing and world building in SHIPBREAKER are to die for. It's a great read.

GRACELING by Kristen Cashore – You know that book that isn't in the main stream but every time you hear about it, it's always good things? That's this book. It's one that doesn't get a lot of hype outside of the YA community, nor does everyone like fantasy as this book is. This book was recommended to me because, at the time, I was working on my own fantasy novel and needed some inspiration.

It was so good it nearly made me cry. It's the kind of book that you'll be reading, thinking it's similar to other books you've read, until you forget to bring it when you leave for out of town. And then you go crazy wanting to know what happened. Yeah, that's this book.

THE VESPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell – From the moment that I picked this book up, it grabbed me and didn't let go. An unusual genre in YA, THE VESPERTINE is a historical fiction. Set in old-time Boston, this book had everything I wanted in a historical fiction and none of the things that make me put them aside.

But Saundra is more clever than just that. Not only are there fancy dresses and parties and (gasp) boys who get paid to make up an even amount of people at dinner, there is also a hint of fantasy, a whiff of intrigue, and a bit of mystery. Oh, and to top it off, Nate is a completely swoon-worthy character. I loved him since the first scandalous moment. And to find out what that may be, you'll have to find out by reading. Oh, and also - it inspired fanart.

INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz – This was a book that surprised me when I picked it up. Of course it sounded like a good book, but I seriously underestimated the power this book would have on me. Once I got into it, I couldn't stop myself from reading. I found myself thinking about it at work and staying up until three in the morning to finish it.

Among the credits to Ms. Moskowitz are brilliant and poetic prose, the fantastic idea of telling a story only during summers at one beach house, making characters painfully relatable, and some plot twists that I'm sure you won't see coming. This book made my heart ache – in beauty and sadness.

So that's my list! What do you guys think? Have you read any of these, and, if so, what did you think? Did you guys set and meet your own reading goals? Also, tell me what the best books you read in 2011 were.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Giveaway winners, Dear Future Me

Wow. You guys really like books, don't you?

I had an amazing response to this giveaway - 158 people for a total of 510 entries - so you guys are all book nerds. And I love you all for it.

So, to get to the point now, I'm sure you want to know who won, right? Of course you do.

So, congratulations to Mimz, who won the $15 book, and Juana Esparza who won the $10 book!

I have emailed both, and they will have 48 hours to respond before I choose a new winner. Thanks everyone for playing, and I really hope you stick around. I think this is a pretty nice blog, and I want to get to know all you folks out there.

So, for those who are interested: I participated in this interesting thing online called "Dear Future Me." Way back in July I was quitting my job with no plans for the future. All I knew was that I was very unhappy with my life and I needed a change. I had no clue what I was going to do. So, I wrote myself this email, and Future Me held it and sent it to me on the first of the year.

This is what I wrote:

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 5 months and 24 days ago, on July 07, 2011. It is being delivered from the past through

Dear FutureMe,

Right now it is July 7. You are one day away from your last day at the Enterprise. You are going home to Billings where you will be living with your parents.

Yeah, you're scared. You have no idea where you're going to be, if any of those publishing jobs will ever work out, if you'll be living with your parents for a while or only a few weeks. It's a scary road. You like things to be planned out, and this is one big question mark.

Can I just say, I'm proud of you. You may remember writing this and giggling a little at how weird it is to be so scared and yet saying this, but it's true. It took a lot of guts to just give up this job, and it took even more to stick with that decision. I'm hoping you do.

I hope things went well. I don't know where you ended up. Did you get a publishing job? Did you move in with Crystal? Did you go to Korea? I don't know that yet. Even if you're still at home, waiting for another shot at something great, that's fine. You have to let yourself screw up sometimes, girl. You don't ever let yourself fail. Give yourself permission. If you succeeded, I'm not surprised. You can land on your feet. You go girl.

So there. A letter to remind you that life is scary, but you can choose so many different things.

Happy new year, 24-year-old me.

How fun is that? Would any of you consider writing a letter to your future selves? I say go for it!