Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nano Wrap-O

Well, I did not win Nanawrimo. But *I'm* still a winner in my book.

My WIP is hovering right around 34,000 words and I know exactly what I need to write to tell the rest of the story. I'm very, very (yes that's two adverbs in a row, count them, two!) pleased with my progress.

So thank you Nanowrimo for giving me the kick to write faster and more often. I may not have won you, but *you won me.*


I did donate 25 bucks, as evidence of my gratefulness. And seriously, those websites and servers don't pay for themselves.

My critique partner is wonderful as always, and has excellent editorial advice, but I don't really think she likes edgy YA all that much, which is what this WIP is. Hannah Moskowitz, would you like to beta read for me? ha ha ha ha...wouldn't that be nice? But seriously, I know my CP likes the main character, and the overall book...I truly believe her when she says she enjoys reading it, but I think that a lot of it gives her the creepy crawlies. She didn't like Hunger Games because Katniss was too mean to Peeta. My characters are WAY meaner than Katniss. (Though she kicks more ass, by far. No one dies in my book....yet.)

So if anyone out there has any desire or knows anyone who likes/would like to read an edgy YA WIP, let me know. I'd love to get a second opinion from someone who likes that subset of the genre.

But anyway. Nano-Wrap-O. It was great. I hope to be feelin it next year. Hopefully next year my daughter will not choose November to have pneumonia followed by an ear infection followed by an allergic reaction to the medicine used to treat the ear infection. Oh, and those days off preschool, because of the snow? Not cool, God. Not cool. Having to cook Thanksgiving dinner twice because everyone got snowed in the first time? Also not a big fan of that. Maybe if we try not to do that again next year, I WILL hit that 50K.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nanowrimo Update

So, yes, I joined Nanawrimo, and yes it has given me the kick I needed to write more.

But I've still ground to a near stop. I only added a little over 200 words last night. I was just exhausted. This whole "fall back" think supposedly gives you an extra hour of sleep. Not so. My kids still get up at the same time, but now it's 7-ish instead of 8 something. I still have to work until midnight. But now it feels like it's 1 in the morning.

But I am writing daily, and that's a good thing. I'm planning a "power day" today. I'm going to drop the girls off at preschool, come home & put something in the crock pot, send out some annoying emails that I need to work on, and then write write write.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reflecting on September 11th

Today is September 12th. Yesterday, my husband (who is on a business trip in Boston) was awoken in his hotel by ear piercing sirens. It was an emergency evacuation. He and hundreds of other people in leopard print hotel robes bumbled around at 6:30 AM, trying to remain calm and orderly while evacuating the hotel. Afterwards, they were treated to coffee and cookies, because you see, it was an unannounced emergency drill. ON SEPTEMBER 11TH. Who possibly thought that was a good idea? Bunch of freakin idiots. There are some things you just shouldn't do.

This reminds me to tell you about Meg Cabot's heartwrenching and amazing post about her experience on September 11th, 2001.

I don't think about September 11th too often. I'm practicing the unofficial American sport of pretending bad stuff never happens.

Sometimes, when I'm unexpectedly broad-sided by September 11th reminders, I cry. One day last year when I picked my daughter up at preschool I was helping her put the dollhouse toys away, and there were the little plastic people all gathered around a tiny plastic TV with a sticker on it (you know, to supposedly show what they were watching). It was a picture of the New York City skyline circa late 1990s. The Twin Towers were there. Some little kid had at some point tried to peel the sticker off, and while one of the towers in the photo was unaffected, the other was ripped in half. I walked out of the preschool that day gulping back tears.

My uncle and his boyfriend are the only people I know who live in New York. They're pretty much the only people I know in New England, anymore. I would refer to Steve as my uncle too, they've been together that long, but he prefers to be known as my uncle's boyfriend, so whatever.

Anyway, my uncle was 100% safe on September 11th. He was at his home in Chelsea when the planes hit. But his boyfriend Steve was sitting on a plane. His was on the tarmac, 2 planes away from taking off, when the announcement came that they were grounded. According to Steve, a group of five men jumped up and had a hurried, furious conversation in a foreign language at the front of the plane before coming to some sort of an agreement and retaking their seats. Steve is absolutely certain his plane was destined to be hijacked that day too. Hours later, everyone on his plane was released. No one was detained or questioned.

Steve's company was headquartered in one of the Twin Towers. Every single one of his coworkers died that day.

Ms. Cabot's post moved me to tears. I've never read any of her books, but I think I'll pick one up. From her post, I now know that she's an excellent writer.

On a lighter note, today at the hospital, on my way back from getting a coffee, a woman approached me and told me in a very serious - and slightly urgent - tone of voice that "The code word is: pussy."

Um...okey dokey. She wasn't a patient, either. So there you go. In case you needed to know the code word too, I didn't want to leave you all in the dark.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review - The DUFF by Kody Keplinger


I'm not usually one for contemporary YA, I lean more paranormal. Here's why: contemporary YA never gets it right. I can really enjoy paranormal YA because it doesn't matter if it's totally right, because dude, vampires aren't real anyway. When you're trying to reflect REALITY, it has to ring true, and I hadn't found a contemporary YA that did.

Note the word hadn't.

The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger, is incredible. Here's the thing. I'm a grown up. I went to high school kind of a long time ago. But when I read The DUFF, it was like I was Right. Back. There. When Bianca runs out to her car after school, I don't picture her running out to her Saturn. I picture myself and my friends piling into my '77 Dodge Dart Supersport. I am *transported* back to my own 17 year old self, and it's an amazing feeling.

I know Wesley. I swear to god. When Bianca hooks up with him, as I eagerly devour the words on the page my mind is filled with memories of myself bumping into him in an elevator at the Best Western of all freaking places, and, well...if you'd like to know more, Aerosmith wrote a whole song about it.

In The DUFF, 17 year old Bianca Piper is going through a lot of turmoil. Family, boys, everything. To silence the deafening roar, she turns to the person she hates most, Wesley Rush, total male slut. You know the type, don't you? Certainly you do. There's one at every school. But it turns out, Wesley isn't everything Bianca supposes him to be. Is he really just good for a 'no care, no strings' mental escape, or will she get in too deep?

Ahhhh. I absolutely love this book.

It's not officially supposed to be out until September 7th, but there are apparently copies "in the wild" which is how I came across mine. I'd had some very brief interaction with Kody on Absolute Write, and she was so super sweet and encouraging that I wanted to get her book, to be supportive, even though I didn't really like contemporary YA.

If I can find more contemporary YA like this, consider my opinion changed.

Buy this book. Really. And let me know what you think!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hundred Word Exercises

Yes, I have entered another flash fiction writing contest. I. Love. Prompts.

I know it takes a good 30 minutes or so that I really don't have to do these things, but their purpose is two-fold.

One: It's fun. I love crafting something that uses specific words within a limited constraint. In this case, five distinct words had to be worked into a story of 100 words or less. It's challenging, and I really like to do it.

Two: It reminds me, that in my longer format novels, every word matters. Once I've revised for the fourth or fifth time, what I'd really like to do is burrow into the book in 100 word chunks. Have I done each chunk justice? Are there extra words I don't need? Is there a better way to say something? If I have a 25 word description, would it be clearer and more vibrant written another way, using 20 words?

I don't want to rip the heart of the book out or anything, but honestly, when I'm at 103 words in one of these writing contests and I have to trim it to 100 or less, it's not about finding 3 words I can delete. It's about looking at those 103 words as a whole and figuring out how to say what I want to say just as well or better using 3 fewer words.

And truthfully, it usually improves the passage to find a way to be more brief.

I don't really want my word count to change much in my 45,000 word middle grade novel, but if I was at 40,000 words and it was way better, then I'm not going to complain.

I recently reworked the opening to eliminate a confusing description of a bridge and I found a couple of tense inconsistencies (Egads! They're still hiding in there? I think I finally got them all.) I've got a full and a 50 page partial out there. Oh, and a partial from, like, April. I don't even consider that one active anymore, but maybe it is?

Both the agent with the full and the one with the partial are agents I would LOVE to have, so we'll see. My book doesn't make anyone cry. When I wrote it, I was specifically going for "something fun to read." It doesn't seem like "something fun" is really big right now. There is some thought provoking middle grade out there that I absolutely adore, but when it comes to my MG, mostly I just like to laugh and be amused. Think early Gordon Korman. That's what I was going for. Is there a market for that right now? I hope so!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congratulations, Both Belated and Current

Hello there!

Several of my bloggy/twitter friends have won great things, accomplished something huge, or made great leaps forward. I'd like to take a moment to recognize them!

Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets: Entered the query wars!! I'm so excited for her and proud that she's reaching this thrilling (and hugely nerve-wracking) point in her writing career!

Melissa at Chasing the Dream: Finished her manuscript! It's a great story, and I can't wait to see it in print someday!

Julie Cross at Diary of an Unpublished Wanna Be Writer: Received representation from Suzie Townsend at FinePrint Lit and sold a three book deal (Tempest series) to Brendan Deneen at St. Martin's Press. Great job!!

Roni Griffin at Fiction Groupie: Won first place in NTRWA's Great Expectations contest AND first place in Passionate Ink's Stroke of Midnight contest. I see great things for you now, and in the future!

Sierra Godfrey at Sierra Godfrey on blogspot: Won second place in Roni and Julie's epic summer contest. She gets to choose from fabulous prizes like critiques from assistants and agents at a great literary agency or a critique by an editor, or BOOKS!! Decisions, decisions. What a nice win for her!

I've had a hard time staying current on all the news, there's just so much to do, especially during the summer when there's no preschool! If I've missed something great that's occurred in your life, let me know!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Family History

I was chatting with my dad the other day. I love doing that. Even though we lived in the same house my entire life growing up, I never really felt like I knew him. He worked a lot. But I knew he was a cool, interesting, guy; we just never really talked all that much.

Sometimes when we did talk, I would find out some odd random thing about him. Example of a conversation with dad:

Me: "Blah, blah, blah, talk about school, blah blah blah, did you hear James Brown died?"

Dad: "Oh yeah? I met him once."

Me: "Sure you did."

Dad: "I did."

Me: "Where?"

Dad: "In the bathroom at Richard Nixon's inaugeration."

Me: "Ha ha. Whatever, Dad."

Dad: "I'll show you." [Goes to his room, rummages around a bit, returns, hands me something.] "Here's the program. Look, there's where he signed it."

Me, reading: "Stay cool. James Brown."

Dad: "And here's where Tony Bennett signed."

So the other day he told me a story about my great-great grandfather Herman, who was shanghied while picking up a kitchen stove in Tacoma, Washington. He returned 2 years later. I'll have to post more on that later, I must give up my computer at this time.

But I will quickly say that researching stories of west coast shanghai-ing, I came across a really interesting blog called bldgblog. It's here on blogspot, and the stories are faskinating. You should check it out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No Wonder

Wow. I just literally spent all freakin day reading and critiquing the 60-some entries in the Secret Agent contest on Miss Snark's First Victim.

I didn't post comments on all of them. Just the ones that particularly grabbed me for one reason or another. (Either in a "you totally hooked me" type way or a "you didn't hook me and here's why" type way.) If I wasn't hooked and it was just a matter of personal taste and/or I really couldn't put my finger on why, I refrained from commenting.

And. It. Took. Me. All. Day.

No wonder agents don't provide feedback on queries, let alone rejected partials. Seriously. I never expected query feedback and I have come to accept that I will receive no partial feedback unless the agent is really really really nice or is having some sort of a wildly slow day, but I didn't truly get why. Until today.

That took for-frakking-ever. I sure did enjoy it though. Here's hoping for me!!! There's an awful lot of good stuff out there though, so I could see how mine could get overlooked. You never know. Maybe it will speak to the agent in just the right way. There were certainly entries that got raves from all the commenters that got a "meh" (and therefore a no comment at all) from me. I guess there were one or two that I liked that I would have commented on, but everyone else had already hit the salient points, so rethinking it, if I didn't comment it didn't necessarily mean "meh" but most of the time it did.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Surefire Trick to Beating Procrastination

Yes ladies and gentlemen, sirs and sirettes. I do have a trick for beating procrastination and other forms of laziness and it works every time, and I plan to share it with you. But first, let me tell you about today's moment of random ickyness.

I'm in my 4:30 staffing meeting, and I've just come from the coffee shop. I've got a grande whole milk mocha with a little bit of extra chocolate, just the way I like it. It's sitting right in front of me, just to the north of my big staffing binder. The stat nurse sits to my left, the patient flow supervisor stands to my right. None of the charge nurses have shown up yet, so stat and PFS are talking about a transfer. Everything's on the up and up until the PFS leans over to point to the transfer paperwork sitting in front of the stat nurse. I dive for my coffee, but it's too late. The baggy, shapeless sleeve of the PFS nurse's filthy white lab coat is rubbing all over the lid of my coffee cup. I'd like to insert some sort of metaphor involving a groupie backstage at a Whitesnake concert, but I've decided to refrain.

So I hate to break it to you, people, but at many hospitals there is no centralized laundry service for doctors and nurses (they'll wash patient bedding and stuff, but they don't wash scrubs, or lab coats, or what have you. That's up to the staff to do on their own time.) And many of the docs and nurses NEVER wash theirs. And when they do, it's almost always on a regular cycle in the home washing machine, which just does not do the trick. (I have a sanitize cycle on my washer, which runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes, and that's what I do my work clothes on, but my washer is brand new. I don't trust that every doctor and nurse in the world has the same brand of washer as I do.) So anyway, those lab coats are often just *crawling* with C-diff, MRSA, other forms of staph, and god knows what else. Needless to say, my coffee hit the circular file after that. Thanks bunches.

Now, on to the main attraction! Ending procrastination. It works for me every single time, and it only involves just a little bit of lying. I'm an honesty is the best (and only) policy type of girl, but the only person you have to lie to is yourself, so in this case it's OK.

Here's what I tell myself: "I can do anything for 15 minutes. That's all it will take."

So let me provide you with an example.

Brain to self: "You need to unload the dishwasher."
Me: "I don't want to."
Brain: "You can do anything for 15 minutes. That's all it will take."
Me, sighing: "Fine."

Fifteen minutes later, the dishwasher is *almost* all the way unloaded. I've got a glass or two still in there, but I go ahead and finish up, even though it takes me 17 minutes, cause really. Am I going to leave 2 glasses in there just because my 15 minutes is up? No.

You can do the same thing with writing. And the cool thing about writing is, once you get started, it's so much fun that you often end up typing away for a few hours. Sleep, schmeep. Unless your dreams are really really good. Then you do need to sleep but you have to write the dreams down afterwards, so it's kind of a double-edged sword. But in a good way.

You're welcome.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How Soon is too Soon?

I just finished my middle grade novel, and I'm itching to start another project. I have an idea in mind, and I've been tossing it around in my head for a few days, thinking I really should start writing some of this down before I lose the muse. (I normally never talk about the muse, because I think it is a silly cliche, but I really liked the way "lose" and "muse" rhymed, so I went for it. Get over it.)

I've edited TTFA three times, and about the only thing I wish I could do at this point is come up with a better title. Damn you, Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson! I'm thrilled for your crossover success from wrestling to movies, but dude. You made my title way less fun than it was back in November when I first came up with the idea.

So anyway. I have an idea for a very dark contemporary YA, and another idea for a dystopian somewhat sci-fi-y YA. Of course, I have a sequel for my first novel (which I probably won't write until I fix the first one) and sequel ideas for TTFA, which I probably shouldn't write until I see how the agent quest goes. TTFA stands alone nicely on its own, but I already have two other adventure ideas for my characters. I've got them jotted down so I won't forget anything, but it's probably a good idea to start something completely fresh.

I really liked the idea of a historical YA, and thought about setting something during the early days of Hollywood, or during the California gold rush, but I don't know. While I like the *idea* I don't have a character in mind, like I do for my dark YA or my dystopian YA. I see those girls in my head already and can hear them talk. (But they're not telling me to do things. They're telling me about things they've done and they want me to write them down. Gah!)

Is it too soon to start a new project? I just finished edit number 3 on TTFA and feel it's about as good as it can get. Should I take a break?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Inspired Me

There were two things that inspired me to become a writer, way back when I was a pre-grown up. Today I will tell you about one of them.

In eighth grade, I made a friend named Shelley. We're still friends, at least on Facebook, although she spells her name Schiele now. Whatever. Anyway...

I was invited to her 13th birthday party along with 8 or 9 other people from my junior high school. Everybody brought gifts, of course. I don't remember what I got for Shelley, but I do remember what Ted brought. It was five or six of his mom's books, signed.

I had no idea Ted's mom was a writer. I thought of writers as magical people who didn't really exist in real life, and certainly didn't have kids or families or anything that normal people have. The books were all Silhouette romances, about half an inch thick. I quizzed Ted about his mom. How could she have written so many books? He said that was nothing, she wrote all the time. If he got up in the middle of the night, he'd wander downstairs and find her pounding away on her typewriter at the kitchen table. He had 3 siblings, so I guess she took care of the kids all day and did her writing at night. (Sounds very familiar, now that I'm a mommy.)

And I got the idea that, hey, if she could do it, why couldn't I? "Writer" must be an achievable profession if one of my friend's mothers could do it, right?

So Ted and I drifted apart as friends, as many people do when they move from junior high to high school. But his name has always lingered in my mind, because that party in junior high was when that mystical being known as "author" became a real person for me, and in turn, became an attainable goal.

I certainly haven't forgotten his mother's name. She continued to write like crazy, and now I can't shop in Walmart without tripping over 3 or 4 of her books. Ted's mom's name is Debbie Macomber.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Read an Amazing Book

Yes, folks, the book finally lived up to the hype. I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins over the weekend, and if you know me, you know I have 2 kids and 2 jobs and a huge house to clean and a husband to communicate with and friends to be friendly with and yadda yadda yadda, so as much as I love to read, I hardly ever get to do it so to finish a book in one weekend is in a word: amazing. [Takes big breath.]

I didn't sleep much.

The book is incredible. The type of book that makes me want to just slam my laptop shut because I will clearly never be that good, but that I'm still glad the book was written, because I do appreciate being so thoroughly entertained.

The book is kind of a combination of The Running Man and The Long Walk (both by Stephen King, who compliments Collins himself, saying "I couldn't put it down.") Neither could I Mr. King. Neither could I.

She doesn't in any way copy either of those two works, but the theme and the setup are similar. The characters are wonderful, and there is absolutely NO telling in the book at all. None. Collins is a showing master. By the end of the first paragraph, I knew that our MC is very poor, and that today is a desperate day. By the end of the first page, I knew so much more about her, and her family, but the author never TOLD me. I figured it all out myself.

I don't normally like books in first person present tense, but it totally worked with this novel. She sets up an awesome love triangle, even though one of the characters isn't around for much of it. I could go on and on.

I'm so excited that I ordered Catching Fire already. I ordered it before reading The Hunger Games because I was able to get a really good price on it through my daughter's Scholastic order form, and I hoped it wasn't going to bite me, the way it did when I bought the first two books from a very popular series at the same time. I managed to drag myself through the first one, and I tried to read #2, but finally gave up about 20 pages in. They're just terrible.

But back to The Hunger Games. No. No, I'm done. I can't say enough good things about it, so I just need to stop now before I embarrass myself. Perhaps by misspelling the word embarrass. Did I? I'm not in the mood to spell check right now.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Editorial Ass: half a million and counting!

Editorial Ass: half a million and counting!

This is probably the best blog on publishing I have ever come across. If you haven't checked it out, you really should. Her posts are really informative, and often hysterical.

And the prize if you retweet, link, or FB is fan-freakin-tastic.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Always Have Time For Contests

I may not have tons of time these days to blog, but I always have time for a good contest, so check this out my friends:

These ladies seem like really interesting people, and they sure do sponsor some fun contests with excellent prizes, so by gum, go sign up.

Zai jian!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No New Posts Means Absolutely Nothing Has Happened

I have had virtually nothing to report in my writing saga, and not much of anything interesting to say.

My daughters have been sick and life around the home has been trying and tiresome. My hours at job #1 were increased to 25 per week, my hours at job #2 were increased to 32 per week. At least the increase in job #2 is for a fixed duration, to cover some maternity leaves that are coming up. I'm still really exhausted just thinking about it.

I have squozen in some time to write, and am up to 35,000+ words in my middle grade WIP. I really like the book and can't wait to finish it. I think I will have it wrapped up by the end of the month.

I'm reading On Writing by Stephen King and I'm loving it. Dude has some seriously good advice. And he would want me dead for the adverb I just used, but oh well.

In my personal life, I'm very happy because I'm coming in way under budget with my monthly bills. This is because I have no time to go spend any money. I shoehorn in a trip to the grocery store during my oldest daughter's preschool (she goes twice a week). It's so much easier to go to the store with ONE toddler instead of two.

I am hoping to begin more critiquing for my crit group. I think I have met my monthly requirement by critting 2 chapters, but still, I would like to do way more than that, it seems like nothing. Everything's a balance right now though.

The only thing I'm not looking forward to once the new WIP is done is restarting the agent hunt. Hate that process. Nothing like a little agent flagellation to make you feel like a used tissue.

P.S. Did you like the word squozen? I made it up myself.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How I Became Offended, For Once

I don't get angry easily. I also don't get offended too frequently. I'm pretty even tempered. It's really hard to upset me.

But I got pissed the other day, and I was so surprised by the depth of my irritation that I had to ponder on it for a while and figure out just what it was that had gotten under my skin so completely, because it was really very minor, on the surface.

Recently my Facebook connections have gone a bit crazy. I friended one old friend, and that person was like, the key log. That's an old fashioned term. Back in the days of MASSIVE logging, when practically every white pine tree in Wisconsin was chopped down and floated down the river, sometimes you'd get these ridiculous log jams that would stop all traffic. People specialized in unjamming those rivers, men and boys scampering around on the jammed material, trying to slip that one key log that would loosen the entire mess and send everything on its way again. It was extremely dangerous work, as you can imagine, and the people were well paid, right up until they died on the job, I suppose. Anyway, this key log of mine opened the floodgates to people I used to know, old friends from high school, former coworkers, people I used to party with, you name it, and now I have a bunch more facebook friends, and that's all well and good, whatever.

One of my "new" friends on Facebook is a guy I used to work with, oh, about 14 years ago. I worked with a team of five guys, with another guy as my boss, so twelve testicles total, on weekend nights at a factory a long time ago. We had a blast, running around that factory all by ourselves, doing whatever work had been leftover during the week. We cut an awful lot of fiberglass. It was like having a bunch of brothers, and one dad that none of us liked very much. Oh, and I forgot the security guard. He was a friend too. So let's just make that me and twelve to sixteen testicles, depending upon whether one more guy, Bubba, was working overtime that weekend or not.

Anyway! The guy in question was always really crass, with a very sophomoric sense of humor, and while I didn't find him hilarious, he never pissed me off. So now we're reconnected and time has not mellowed or changed him a bit. He peppers my status reports with all sorts of "humorous" comments, and I just kind of ignore them. But sometimes I post status reports with updates to my word count, or something about writing, or what have you. Facebook is not my main tool for updating others about my writing, that's what this blog is for, but I do sometimes put a little something up there.

On one of my status posts, this guy writes something along the lines of "Oh, did I tell you I finally got one of my poems published?" I was very surprised. Him? A poet? Maybe he does have a sensitive side that I never gave him credit for. I congratulated him via return comment. He replied with "Yes, it was for Hustler Humor and it was called Diddle-her On the Roof." That lame remark stayed put for a couple of days, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I finally went in and deleted it.

He commented me again, kind of berating me for deleting his comment, and I told him that I would continue to delete any crass remarks he made on any of my writing related posts, and we continue to go back and forth, and I don't even know why I bother.

And why was I so mad anyway? I know who he is. I know he's that sort of person. It has never bothered me that much before, because I don't offend easily, as I stated at the beginning of what is now this very long story. You know why I got so mad? I figured it out. He hadn't offended *me*. He had offended writing. And publishing. And that is what really got me. I'm not OK with that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And the Winner Is....


You, my friend, have a keen eye. Yes, it was factual up until the discovery of the Pringles can. I was writing it with the intention of having it be a fact entry, but then when I got to the end of the story it was too much of a payoff at all, so I came up with a fun ending.

I would much rather it had ended that way. In real life, Otto and I were never really able to have a friendship. I'm not sure if I ever convinced him that we didn't actually have sex, that he was drunk dreaming and incorporating the sounds from Jonny's room. And I was pretty disappointed in him as a friend, to say the least. So that was it for our relationship.

It seemed like a more fun way to end it with the discovery of a violated Pringles can.

So excellent job Travener, spotting the exact moment where we veered into unreality. I do feel as though you deserve a prize. How about I tuck a book somewhere on the Fremont Troll, and if you care to go looking for it - and someone else hasn't found it already - then it's yours to keep!

I think I may have broken my own rules. I said my post would be either factual, or totally made up, and it was neither. But I like it better that way, and I thought of a game that might be even *more* fun. I'm calling it A Million Little Pieces, and the game is to write a memoir that begins as fact but at some point spirals out of control and into the fictional world. Then other people try to guess at which point your story diverges from reality.

Anyone? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fact or Fiction Finally

Hello there! Sorry it has taken me so long to post my first Fact or Fiction. My internet connection crapped out and I was only able to get on the computer sporadically. That and I had about a billion other things going on, but when in doubt, blame the internet! It's all your fault nameless, faceless bundle of wires and cables!

Here is your first Fact or Fiction game. To refresh your memory: the following story is either a true life event from my own past, or it is completely made up. If it is a true event, the dialog is as accurate as I remember, but these things may be up to 30 years old, so I'll do the best I can. One thing I might do is change names. Only a couple of my "in real life" friends read this blog, but you never know. Might as well protect the innocent. Vote on whether you think the entry is fact or fiction. I still haven't decided about prizes. Maybe just the pride of knowing you are right will be enough. Thinking about it. Without further ado......

FACT? OR FICTION? (some adult content)

I can tell you exactly what day it was that I spent the night at Otto's, because I remember he gave Jonny his first mohawk. It was also the day that Jonny committed what was almost certainly a felony, probably not his first, certainly not his last.

I don't know how old those girls were, the ones who came wandering by and ended up staying all night, but my guess is they had an awful lot to talk about the next day at school. I imagine them, pausing to smoke a cigarette while running cross country; passing it around, taking drags and giggling about how they were Very Bad Girls.

I wasn't a part of that, though I do believe it played a role in my evening's events. My plumbing was busted at my house and I hadn't taken a shower in days. Peeing outdoors was nothing new to me, but I was getting tired of watching the curtains twitch every time I stepped into the backyard. My boy next door was a creepy voyeur. It made sense, then, to stay at Otto's for a while. We worked at the same place, so we could drive in together, and even though I knew he was a dirty bastard, I also knew how to handle him.

Otto, Jonny, and the random girls drank all day. I held back, knowing that I'd need my sobriety to keep things in check later on. I brought my most puritanical sleepwear with me, a long black number that stretched from my neck to my ankles. It was still no surprise that despite my Amish getup, Otto's hand crept over to my side of the bed that night.

"I'm sorry. Do you know who I am?" I snapped, and his hand slunk away, leaving a trail of guilt as slimy as a slug's.

All night, I heard the grunting and squealing coming through the wall that separated Jonny's room from mine. I had pegged the first girl as a real whore, but I had figured her friend would be all talk and no action. Apparently I was wrong. They were both all in. Otto had to have heard them too.

The next morning we went to work. Otto didn't speak to me all day. I was somewhat surprised. Surely he'd been shot down before? He hadn't honestly thought I would sleep with him did he? For god's sake, he was married! Sure, she was never around, but I had never made any secret of the fact that I didn't screw married men. Period.

At the end of the day, Otto dropped me off at my house. "I don't think you should stay with me anymore."

"Are you serious? Because I wouldn't sleep with you? Fine. Asshole." I grabbed my bag and threw open the car door. I had one foot on the pavement before he stopped me, his hand catching my arm.

"Wait. What are you talking about? We did fuck. We're obviously not compatible, and I don't think you should stay at my house."

"Excuse me? No we fucking did not fuck. Not even close. What the hell are you talking about?"

Otto was under the impression that we had had a pretty lame tumble in the sack. I quickly disabused him of that notion.

"Okay, number one, I do not sleep with married men, so we did not have sex last night. And number two, it would not have been lame. I'm fucking awesome. Ask around. So what the hell?"

We went back to his house to investigate. It took a while, but we solved the mystery. In the kitchen, we found an empty can of Pringles. Well, empty except for the glob of white stuff in the bottom. Apparently when Otto drinks, not only does he have very vivid dreams, he also sleepwalks.

I stayed there for a few more days, but I slept on the floor. I also never ate Pringles again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can We Ever Just Let the Past Lie?

Last night I was rumbling around on Facebook and I saw that a friend of mine had joined a new group, one set up specifically to support a planned documentary on the punk scene in my old stomping grounds from the late 80s and early 90s (the heyday of my involvement). I had to go look.

For a few minutes, I was kind of nostalgic, looking through the pictures and remembering all the craziness of that time, but as I lingered there longer a new thought worked its way into my mind and it got louder and louder and louder until I couldn't ignore it anymore and it was shouting at me "MY GOD! MOVE THE FUCK ON!"

The thing is, nobody cares about that scene. Nobody but us, the people who lived it. So that's what? A couple hundred? And if you're me, *you* don't even care that much. IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO. Maybe a documentary about it would be interesting to other people who weren't there. But I doubt it. It's not like it was New York, or London, or anywhere that produced anything of any lasting value or notoriety. The biggest thing to come out of our neck of the woods was MxPx. Um. I'm not that impressed, are you? Who wants to watch an exhaustive chronicle of the lives of a bunch of screwed up kids, too poor to feel like they were living the American Dream, but too well-off to be impoverished?

Yes, we had a lot of fun. Yes, way too many people died, much more than your average teenage cohort. But Bremerton's nothing but murderers, drug addicts, and the clinically depressed, so throw in punk rock and some schitzophrenia, and you've got a recipe for disaster. I am just insanely irritated by these people who are so in love with their twenty years ago selves that they're still trying to wave that black flag. Move on people. It wasn't *that* cool.

But oh my. The memories. And it gave me a good idea for a new type of blog post. I'm going to call it "Fact or Fiction." And I'll either write something that's totally made up, or a real autobiographical experience from my own life. Then you can vote on whether its true or not. I'm not sure if there will be prizes. We'll see if there's even any interest in playing. Look for a post later tonight!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Contest for you to Enter

Hello blog folk. Would you like the chance at a query critique or a first five pages critique or some other stuff? Hop on over to Shooting Stars and enter!

There's a great contest over at too, and if I can get my freakin manuscript finished by January 31st, I'm all over it. If you have a finished YA or MG manuscript, then by all means, check it out.

My husband will be out of town soon, and I have this crazy idea that I'm going to finish the manuscript while he's gone. I'll bring the laptop into my bedroom and there will be no one there to tell me to go to bed already, the girls are getting up in three hours. Sure, I will be sleep deprived, but I will have the book done (not edited or anything, but since I'm running it past the critique group as I'm going, it will certainly need less work than my first effort did (and still does).

I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Query Hiatus

I heard today that Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint Literary has reopened to queries, so if you're feelin' it, you should send her an email.

You would think I would be all excited, since she's a really good agent (so they say) but I realized today that I need to go on a query hiatus. I thought I was done revising Blink, but I'm not. The feedback I got from that agent about showing versus telling is still rattling around in my head. Yes, it totally did sound like a form response, but I think there is truth in it, whether it is form or not. YES, I thought I had revised the manuscript to within an inch of its life, but when I step back and look at my character's relationships and the way they meet and everything, there's a better way to do it, and I can get it done in fewer pages with far less backstory. I can also add more tension in my MC's relationship with her aunt (who has custody) and I know how to do it.

And I'm going to. It has been somewhat difficult to come to grips with the fact that I am not done with this yet even after the third revision. That it's not just a "taste" thing with the agents who are rejecting, but rather it's the fault of the manuscript. I haven't even had a request for a full. That's saying something right there. (I envy all you people who have had full requests. That must feel amazing.)

So anyway! I know what I need to do to fix it, and I will. I want to work on my MG WIP more right now though, so revision #4 to the YA will have to take a backseat. The story is going to undergo such a major operation that I'm sure there will be a revision #5 just to fix problems with numero quatro. I'm planning it in my head so that the words will explode onto the page whenever I decide to pull the trigger.

So I'm not querying Blink right now, and it feels weird, especially when a big name agent reopens herself to queries. But it's not the right time. I would just be rejected, and let's face it, rejection hurts. If I'm lucky, she'll still be open to new queries in six months or so when my middle grade novel is complete AND Blink is up to snuff and then BAM! BAM! The one-two query punch!

My middle grade is at 16,000+ words and I have moved my character just where I want him. I'm not quite halfway there...I probably have about 25K more words to go to really do this justice. [cue Ride of the Valkryies, picture me charging into battle, armed only with my pen. I've written the word Love on my pen, to make it mightier than the sword, so I'll be OK.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

YA Diary Entry Contest

Hello Blog Readers!

If you have not already done so and you have any urge at all to write in the YA genre, please get your bad selfs on over to Nathan Bransford's blog so that you can enter the YA diary entry contest.

All you have to do is write a fictional diary entry in a YA voice. 500 words or less. Post it to the comments section of the contest thread, and there you go. Contest closes at 4:00 PM Pacific time tomorrow (Wednesday the 6th). It's 500 words max people, so it doesn't take long. I wrote mine this morning while the kids were eating breakfast, AND they were screaming at me at the same time. MORE NANAS! MORE NANAS!!! So you can definitely do it.

Go. GO!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Like Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

I became aware of two things today, and in a quirky way, they are kind of related.

1. On Janet Reid's blog, there is a link to a story about a woman who wore the same little brown dress every day for a year. Because I am a serial blog skimmer, I failed to notice the part where Janet clearly states that the story is three years old. The part that did sink in had me interested enough to click on the story, so I did, and lo and behold, there is Alex Martin, my friend Freya's girlfriend. (Freya and I used to work together and our kids went to the same school.)

Anyway! I'm watching the whole story, and I see pictures of Alex with a baby, and I'm like, OMG! Did they have another kid? How did I not know about this? (Freya is incredibly tiny, and a pregnancy on her is like taping a basketball to a toothpick.) Then I see Freya walk out onstage to give Alex a cake with a baby on her back and I'm like, what the hell? Who is that kid? And wait a minute...why have I never seen Alex wear that dress. Um...duh. Read the first sentence of the blog dumbass!


2. One of my oldest, dearest friends (we even share the same birthday) is the newest Snuggie model. She just got the job.

There is a story in here somewhere, just begging to be written. But I am not the one to tell it. I write YA and middle grade. Someone please run with this.

I can't wait to tell Alex that I heard about this story, and where I heard about it! :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feeling Discouraged

Hello. Perhaps this is not the way to start a new year, but I'm feeling really discouraged about writing.

Maybe this is not the right time for me. I keep finding that my stories don't have enough action. I'm great at dialogue, but books can't be 100% dialogue. (Unless you're Isaac Asimov, but I'm not him. And I'm exaggerating on that one..but not much.)

Anyway, I'll write something that I think is great, but then when I go back and read through it, not so much. I'll think of a way to fix it, but that opens up 100 more problems. Also, whenever I think of a "fix" I'm driving down the road, or fixing the girls lunch, or changing a diaper, etc. It's never at a time when I can even quickly jot down the epiphany I just had.

I'm taking care of the girls all day and working at night. There's just not much time. Maybe I should just wait until the girls are in school. But that holds its own pitfalls, because when the girls are in school full time I will probably go back to work full time, and I will run into the same difficulties I have right now...maybe my evenings will be more free, because I will work while the girls are in school, but when will the house get cleaned? When will the groceries be purchased? In the evenings of course.

Perhaps its just the end of winter break talking. The girls have been out of their classes for almost 2 weeks. Maybe when the big one goes back to preschool I'll start feeling the whole writing thing again.

I still love writing, I just hate the feeling I have when I read my work afterwards.