I *Heart* School. And An Easy Chance To Win An ARC.

My Tiny Human started school in September this year. She and I went from being together 24/7 for all four years of her life, to being apart for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Now. This is where I could tell you that I cried the day I dropped her off and I've missed her and she had terrible separation anxiety. But I'd be lying.

It is GREAT! She loves school, her teacher is fantastic, and I have 6 hours to exercise, write, read, whatever I need to do. I told myself that my revisions would be done so fast and my house would never be cleaner, but yeah, that hasn't really happened. Still, this extra quiet time has done wonders for my mental health (and physical health, since I've had time to exercise).

But the downside to having school aged children, is remembering all the special dates. Good golly. And I volunteer for things, so I need to remember those dates, times and places as well. Oy!

I've been asked to come in and do a school visit next week with her class and talk about writing, so I will definitely let you know how that goes!

Anybody else with Tiny Humans that started school this year? how are you spending that time? Writing, I hope!

And we have a new tangle started by me at Tangled Fiction if you're in the mood for some short fiction and crossroads demons. I might just do an impromptu ARC giveaway (I may or may not have in my possession,  an ARC of THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwabb and it is fantastic) or something to some random person who reads and comments on the Tangled Fiction Blog. Either at Livejournal, or Blogger, either one is fine. Happy reading/writing!

Second Draft = First Draft - 10%

This is a formula learned by Stephen King back in his early years of multiple (multiple!) rejection slips. Like Mr. King, I find my writing style to be the opposite. I write a fast paced, skimpy first draft, and then add the meat later. But I'm just now figuring out what that really means.

I'd worry about themes, and character arcs and motivations, all of the things a good writer should be worried about. But I'm realizing now that I think I worried about them at the wrong time. I don't outline. I don't plot my first draft. I can't. I've tried, and it kills my creativity. Just...*bang*. Dead. I start with something--a situation, a character, a first line--and I go with the flow from there. Granted, I would probably save myself some revision time if I thought ahead, but that's just not how I work. I'm noticing now as I'm on draft # (I care not to mention the number) that I DO have themes! Or at least, snipits of things that I can make resonate, things I can flesh out and bring to the foreground and make thematic! OMG! And I have symbolism! What!? For real. It's all there. And I didn't even try.

I wish I'd come to this revelation sooner, and had I finished this amazing book called On Writing a little sooner, I probably would have. But I'm not one to dwell on shoulda, coulda, woulda.

I'm not saying every story needs themes or symbolism nestled in there. I don't think they all do, but if you find it, go with it. Why not, right?

Another question we tend to stress over is the "what's it all about?". What was my book all about? What was I trying to say with it? Why did I spend so many hours hunched over my keyboard, forgetting to eat, or shower, or wear suitable clothing? This is another question best saved for draft #2, not the first draft. At least, in my case. I can't speak for the rest of you.

During the first draft stage, you might keep this one tucked away in the back of your mind, I try to. But I personally can't decide what I want to say until it's done. You don't want to sit down before you write and think to yourself, "Well, I'm just going to teach these kids that doing drugs is a bad idea." Because then your manuscript of going to reek of morality. And if you want to write an honest work of fiction, you don't want to do that. I mean, unless that the sort of book you want to write. I don't want to step on any toes or anything.

So that's basically it. Often bringing these things to light in what you've already written takes a great deal of cutting (killing those pretty little darlings) and moving, shaping, rewriting. But when you sit back and read what you've written, and it actually resembles a real story, it's so worth it.

Does anyone here follow this formula? Start of with a whopper and file it down to the good stuff? Please share!

Win A 30 Page Crit From Sisters In Scribe!

Once again, the writing community has come together to raise funds for the American Red Cross, this time to provide relief for Hurricane Irene victims. And Kristi, Valerie, and myself are happy to be a part of it!

Read for Relief opened the bidding  for a 30 page crit from EACH of us! That's three 30 page crits on your YA or MG manuscript! Come check out the auction website and browse the other items up for grabs, along with ours! Happy bidding and good luck!

Bidding closes at 10:00PM EST, Saturday.

Gettin' Back In the Groove!

Summer is winding down. My big kid is back in school (2nd grade!!!) and my Tiny Human starts pre-k next week, so I am back in writing mode! Of course, writing mode never truly stops, but my blog hiatus has been long enough. I've missed you all.

You'd think after taking about a month off that I'd have something awesome to blog about, but alas, I do not. I could ramble on about my mandatory evacuation, thanks to Hurricane Irene, that turned into a party with my folks out in the sticks, but you don't want to hear about that.

*whispers* Husband is no longer a tattoo virgin.

But I want to hear about you! How was your summer? Did you get a lot of writing done, or are you a total summer slacker? What have I missed in the blogosphere! Did you attend Write On Con? My super awesome agent, Sara Megibow, was a guest during one or more of the chats!

Starting Monday, our Spring/Summer hiatus at Tangled Fiction ends! We're coming back with a brand new tangle, started by me on September 5th, so be ready!

Updates! And Apologies.

Have you checked out Sisters in Scribe lately? We have another fab giveaway happening! Up for grabs is an autographed copy of BAD TASTE IN BOYS by our zombie-loving friend, Carrie Harris! We're only selecting one top entry for the book, but I MIGHT have something special for our second and third faves. *wink*

In other news, you remember back in April when Natalie Parker, Valerie Kemp and I (Tangled Fiction) said we were taking a spring hiatus, and we'd be back in May? And then May came and went. And then so did the rest of the summer? Yeah. About that. We feel TERRIBLE for abandoning the blog for so long, but we've had good reason! You already know my news, but Valerie and Natalie have had their own share of excitement this summer! We have an update up on the TF blog, so be sure to check that out! We are STOKED to be back in the saddle. We've missed you guys! Also on blogger.

My agent, Sara Megibow, now has a monthly blog spot at Romance University!  Even if you don't write romance, I still recommend giving Sara a read. I'm a little bias, yes, but she is awesome!

As for this blog and all it's patheticness, I'm afraid that'll continue at least until September. I'm super busy with edits (Sara cracks a mighty whip) and summer vacation! And I hope you are too. ;)

Oh, Monday. And Frogs.

It is Monday again already. How did this happen?! So you may have noticed I haven't blogged much, and I swear I have a good reason! You know, besides being up to my eyeballs in edits and trying to balance that with summer vacation with my kids.

We've had a major heat wave here in NYC and because of this extreme heat, our power was down for nearly three days. No Internet. No TV. No lights or air conditioning. It was brutal. But I survived! And so did my family and my pets. There were no casualties, save for one fish that is unaccounted for. But I am blaming his disappearance on the monster belly of my growing catfish. 

Today is my dad's 60th birthday!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD! I LOVE YOU! And he's stuck in a hospital two states away. I tell ya, moving away from home is not all it's cracked up to be. But not to worry, he's a tough old biker. He'll be fine. 

Back to that heat wave. We were all a little loony in my house those days when the temps were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Loonier than usual. My daughter (7 years old) was crouching on the couch with her knees bent up by her ears, making *ribbit* noises and pretending to catch flies with her tongue, (this is really a totally normal thing for her, not at all heat induced) and my husband walked by and she said, "Daddy, I'm a frog."

Really? A Frog? Not a chicken? I was totally leaning toward chicken.

This got me thinking about writing, as most things do. Especially when my whole body feels like melty goo and I CAN'T work on my book because I have no electricity and my laptop is a tiny dinosaur who has the battery life of... something that only has a 30 minute charge. I can't even think of anything that sucks battery life that bad.  

So. Writing. It was obvious she was pretending she was a frog, right? You got that too? And yet she still felt that she had to tell my husband. We do this in our writing. We all do this. Don't fib. I can see your soul.

We tell. Even when we think we're showing. 

We can describe something, a feeling or emotion, so perfectly, and then we still end up tagging it with the emotion we're trying to describe. (ex. My heart raced with fear.) 

This is where amazing crit partners, and lots of hours spent in the revision cave come in handy. Turning yesterday's crap into a little less crap. 

I had a point here. I know I did. I think it was something like "trust your reader." Readers are a highly intelligent breed. They'll pick it up. 

If it walks like a duck...or hops like a frog.


Guys, thank you all SO much for the well-wishes and congratulations. You made celebrating my good news completely awesome, and I could never thank you enough.  But you don't want to read all my gushy thoughts, so on to the winners!!!!

Thanks to the Truly Random Number Generator, the winner of an ARC of Marie Lu's LEGEND is

Mary B!!!!!!

And the winner of the signed pre-order of Miranda Kenneally's CATCHING JORDAN is


I will be emailing both of the winners today! Thanks again for helping me celebrate and an extra big thanks to those of you who helped spread the word via twitter, facebook, and blogs. You rock!
Hopefully we'll be celebrating lots more good news in the future!

News! And The First Post Where I Use The Words “My” and “Agent!”

Sooo my title probably ruins the surprise a little bit, huh? This is the news I have been promising you on twitter and facebook! I’ve signed with an agent!


A real, live agent! Not to be confused with a not-live one. Like a plastic one. Or rubber.

My story is a short, fast-paced, crazy-lucky one. The condensed version: I received offers! And I accepted one!

Miranda Kenneally (author of CATCHING JORDAN, Dec. 2011) had already read my manuscript. And she kinda loved it, even though she’s a contemp writer, and my manuscript is...not contemp. And Miranda knows I’ve always fancied her agent, Sara Megibow.

***You all probably remember when Sara Megibow was a guest judge on the Sisters in Scribe blog, yes? If not, that post is here. Sara is fantastic! She’s professional, assertive, super nice, and about a zillion other gushy things.***

My situation was a little different than most, so Miranda emailed Sara and gave me a referral! Sara read my query letter, and requested the full. There were phone calls, and thoughtful consideration of all of my agent options (options!), and in the end, it was Sara Megibow who won my heart.The perfect match for me and my fledgling career.

I have signed with Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency!!!!

(I am also REALLY bad at photoshop)


And to celebrate, I’m giving away books from Nelson Agency authors!

First up, an advanced reader copy of Marie Lu’s YA dystopian, LEGEND (Putnam Children's, Nov. 2011), courtesy of Sara Megibow! Thanks, Sara!

ANNNND I’ve also got a SIGNED pre-order of CATCHING JORDAN (Sourcebook, Dec. 2011) by Miranda Kenneally up for grabs! This will be a final copy, but you won’t get it until Nov-Dec. Thanks, Miranda! *squishy hug*

To enter, fill out the form below. Contest ends Wednesday, July 20th at 11:59pm EST. TWO winners will be randomly chosen and announced on Thursday, July 21st. I’m not requiring you to be a follower of any blogs, or to spread the word via social networking sites, but I’d sure appreciate it if you did. Giveaway IS international. Yay!

Thanks, y’all!

And if for some odd reason that form didn't load for you, you can find it here.

And, and if you want to double your chances of winning a copy of CATCHING JORDAN, Miranda is having a contest at her blog. You can win an ARC of her book, or a crit from our agent, Sara Megibow, or a crit from YA authors, Sarah Skilton or Jennifer Shaw Wolf, and a number of other awesome prizes. Ends July 10th at 11pm EST.

Under Construction.

Just ignore my mess. Pretty please.

Elvis Lives!

It is summer! Finally! The warm weather is here, the kids are home until September, and I am in full mom mode. Which, unfortunately, leaves very little time for blogging, reading, and writing. If I post infrequently, please forgive me. I've got the summer fun bug.

As you may know, and if you didn't you do now, I am a big Elvis Presley fan. I think he's the most beautiful man that ever lived, and his voice belongs to some supernatural being of awesomeness. Sooo naturally, when I hear that an Elvis impersonator is doing a free concert at the beach fair, I HAD to go. Even though it was Father's Day and I'm pretty sure my husband was a teensy bit jealous. Seriously, babe, the real thing is long gone and nobody compares to you. Mwah. So we took the kids to the beach for the day and then parked on the grass for the concert. I saw "Elvis" when they were setting up the stage and had to run up there and say hello. He was super nice and took a picture with me. I warn you, he looks nothing like The King, but still, he was awesome. 

I give you Elvis, the Italian version from Jersey.

He told me if I came back up after his concert, he'd take another photo wearing his costume, but we left an hour into the show. Kids needed to go to bed, although my oldest did not want to leave. She stood by the stage the whole time we were there. "Elvis", by day known as Anthony Liguori Jr., waved at me from the stage while he was singing and then brought me a scarf, which my girl confiscated and wore all night.

This is the very short (battery died) video I took where he waved at me. :) It's a small wave, and then my camera got all shaky because...well because he waved at me.

As you can hear from that short clip, he was awesome! Sounded VERY much like Elvis, and he was a great performer. If he's ever in your area, check him out!

I hope you're all enjoying your summer!

Announcement of Awesome!

For a friend. This particular announcement is not my own.

Remember when we (Valerie, Natalie and I) decided that we were going to write one story a week at Tangled Fiction? And everyone said we were crazy?

Natalie has proved to be the craziest of our bunch. Stop by her blog and congratulate her on her big announcement, and to partake in her blind joy!! You don't want to miss it.


I know my blog posts here are sporadic at best, but it is summer and I am outdoorsy. I won't be doing a whole heck of a lot of blogging over the next few months--very busy schedule!

But for great posts about books and writing you can check out Sisters in Scribe. My scribe sister, Valerie, is out of the country for a while so she might not be posting much, but Kristi is an admitted over-achiever. You can always count on her Tuesday posts! And my Thursday posts will be there as well as a Contest Monday and a Friday Book Recommendation.

Hope you're having a fantastic summer!

*back to baking my strawberry pies*

Summertime Hideaway!

I've been slacking a little lately. Or distancing myself from my WIP, rather. Yes. That.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Weekend! Mine was a success. With my grilling skills, yes, but I mean with my summer-spot hunting. New York is a very crowded place. I don't think a spot exists within the city limits that is not cluttered with people.

Except this one.

And I like you, I really do. But I'm not telling you where this is because it is MINE! Precious.

It is a part of the beach near my house. (I live on an island. Sounds exotic. It's not.) Apparently, not a lot of folks like to hang out on the beach that has more shells than sand and smells like dead sea creatures because the tide comes in and drops them off in shallow pools for the birds to eat. But I like it just fine. Because it is EMPTY! Seriously, I felt like I spent the afternoon in a Dystopian novel. Or like I'd turn a corner and see Mary chopping the head off of a water-logged Mudo.

There were a few inhabitants.

But they're really very quiet. I do believe I've found my new writing spot. Have you a favorite hideaway?

Self-Editing Tips!

While I’m waiting for notes on my WIP from my Scribe Sisters, I’ve been doing some research on things, including agents, revisions, candle making, how to properly skin an animal (don’t ask), and I’ve come across some gems. 
Mostly on the revision thing.

Cheryl Klein, an editor at Scholastic, has this fantastic recap of a talk she did for an SCBWI conference on revising and self-editing. The full speech is also there for your reading pleasure.
Literary agent Natalie Fischer (Bradford Lit) recently posted a great recap of her talk at an SCBWI event on the revision process.
YA author Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret) has compiled a huge list of posts from various authors, illustrators and industry pros on revision!

Hopefully you find these links as useful as I have. Happy revising!

In other news, if you haven't seen the amazing book trailer for Carrie Harris's debut BAD TASTE IN BOYS, go do that immediately! My critique partner Valerie Kemp created it!

It's Friday, Friday

Into each life some rain must fall.

And fall it has. Literally. We've had rain showers for three days straight, but it lightened up some today. Long enough for me to get six lavender plants in the ground, sweep up a giant pile of maple seed helicopters (I don't know what they're supposed to be called, but they spin like helicopter blades when you drop them), and take M for a bike ride.

I should probably be working on something while my crit partners are reading GREYSKIN, but I'm taking the time to enjoy the warm weather and the outdoors. Nature puts me back in touch with Charlie, my MC. She's quite the nature girl herself. Which makes me wonder, writers, do you find yourself doing things your MC would normally do, or does your MC enjoy some of the things that you enjoy? I think Charlie is a bit of both for me. I put a lot of myself in to her, and she's put a lot of herself in to me.

But she's still way cooler than me.

All Good Things...

The contest at Sisters in Scribe was a huge success! And tons of fun! Sara Megibow is fantastic. We closed entries at 11:59pm on Saturday, and by Tuesday she had picked her top three winners. Stop by the blog to see who won!

This week NYC has seen some fantastic weather! Sunny and 70 degrees. FINALLY! I got my climbing rose bush and my clematis transplanted, I planted a bunch of herbs, including one of my favorite smells--lavender, my lilac trees are in full bloom, and I got a few hours out in the sun with a book. And now it's cold and rainy for the next four days. *sigh*

I've read two awesome books this week: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready. Both are fantastic! I'm trying to get into a contemporary right now and I'm finding I have to force myself on this one. But I've heard so many great reviews, I am willing to give it a chance. You read anything good lately?

So why all this free time, you ask? Shouldn't she be revising?

I should! But I think an important part of revising is distancing yourself from your manuscript. I've busted my hump over rewriting the entire last half of my WIP (again) and now it's time for some space. I've sent him home with Krist and Valerie for the time being. I trust he is in good hands. This is not the first time my crit partners have read this manuscript, but this is the first time I've actually missed it when I'm not working on it. I'm taking this as a very good sign.

Agent Pitch Contest at Sisters in Scribe!

Today is the big day! At Sisters in Scribe, we have opened the entry window for our140 character pitch contest! Entries will be judged by the fabulous Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary. Sara has offered a 30 page manuscript review to the winner!

Stop on by and please read the full contest details before entering!

Charlaine Harris in NYC

Tuesday night I hopped on the Harley (on the back--I'm not that cool) and rode into Manhattan with my husband for the release and book signing of DEAD RECKONING, book 11 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) by Charlaine Harris. I will admit, I was a little bit starstruck. Most of the pictures that my husband took, I'm making crazy faces, or squealing like the fangirl that I am. So I'll just share these ones with you.

I took my smaller camera, which takes kind of crappy pictures, because I went on the bike and my big camera is...big.

That is me on the right in the tan sweater.

Charlaine Harris was the author who got me back in to reading. The minute I picked up DEAD UNTIL DARK, I was hooked in the world she'd created, and totally in love with her characters. Because of this, I started writing. I even named my protagonist in my current WIP after Charlaine. Her books are for adults, and I write YA, but I didn't chose YA. It chose me, I suppose (in fact this is the ONLY adult series I read, ha!). There are so many great YA authors who have inspired me, but when I look back, Charlaine and Sookie were what made me realize I was a writer. My favorite quote from this signing was from Harris: "Writer's are born, not made." She didn't mean that you're born a great writer, you do have to write and learn how to write well. 

Charlaine answered questions for about thirty minutes and then for the next two hours or so she signed books. She is a signing machine. By the time she got to me, about an hour into signing, her signature was still perfect. During the Q & A fans asked the general questions about her writing process, which now consists of a lot of the business side and not as much writing as she'd like to do, how much coffee she drinks (three cups in the morning), and how she feels about the differences Alan Ball made between the books and the show (she thinks he's fantastic, and she wishes she had thought of Jessica).

The thing I found most interesting was that, despite the fact she'd written mysteries for years before she wrote the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, it took two years for her agent to sell it. Mainly because nobody knew where to put it on a shelf. When she wrote the book, she thought it would be fun to have a mystery series that involved the supernatural, melding mystery and urban fantasy together. Then she thought if she threw in a juicy sex scene for Sookie, she could get the romance readers too. And when the question "Where do we shelve this?" came up, Harris said "everywhere". A logical answer, for sure!

It was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to meet her. Her Sookie novels have inspired me in so many ways. I do believe it is important for writers to read and gather inspiration from "the masters" of literature, especially in your chosen genre, and not only the current super hits (Sookie, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc), but the thing that inspires me most about Charlaine Harris's Sookie novels, is just how much I love them. How immersed in that world I become when I sit down to read. That is what I want to do to readers. That is what is so inspiring. And that is how I knew I was a writer.

 Have you had the chance to meet some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

Tomorrow is the big day at www.sistersinscribe.com! We open up for entries into our first ever agent participant contest! So perfect those twitter pitches, and we'll see you there tomorrow!

Get Those Pitches Ready!

To say thanks to all 500+ awesome followers at sistersinscribe.com we've decided to have a contest! This one is for writers! Stop by the blog to get the details. Contest officially opens FRIDAY MAY 6th! so perfect those pitches! We've got a special guest judge who has offered up quite an amazing prize to her favorite entry.

In other news, I'm sure we've all heard about the devastation in the south due to wildfires and tornadoes. The writing community is at it again, taking donations for yet another fabulous benefit auction. If you've got something to donate (books, swag, critiques, etc) stop on by http://helpwritenow.blogspot.com and sign up! And be sure to keep checking back for the auctions.

She Swallowed the Cat to Catch the Bird

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter Sunday or a lovely regular Sunday, which ever you prefer.

Today the sun is shining! OMG! I KNOW! (See this post.) And I am, of course, outside enjoying every minute of it. I bought myself some pink hyacinth the other day and finally had a nice enough day to plant it outside in my flowerbed.

I haven't worked in those beds for a full year and they needed some dirt. Dirt is in the garden shed. Garden shed is always full of spiders in the spring. I braced myself for this as I unlocked the door. Snakes, rodents, I can handle any of them. But spiders? My brain completely cuts off and I go in to freak-out mode. I have been known to slap myself pink if there is a spider on me.

*Pulled open the door*

Spiders scattered everywhere! Well, okay, like three of them crawled away. And I bent over to grab a big bag of dirt and I see the mess. Rats have moved in to my garden shed.

If you've followed my blog (or twitter of facebook even) you know I have these in my house.

And they are completely spoiled and I love them very much. But you can see even from this photo that they like to make messes. They love to dig and rip things apart, like newspaper and fabrics and wood. The unwelcome rats in the garden shed dug into two 50lbs bags of garden soil, and shredded countless unused trash bags, pulling the pieces inside my bags of dirt. And they also ate holes in the back wall and the floor.

I had a "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" moment, wondering if I could rent a snake to chase the rats away. Somehow I doubt a pet store would let me rent a snake. I can't kill them (see above picture) but how do I get rid of them? I'm going to try some "Critter Ridder" which is basically black pepper. Squirrels cant stand the smell of it, so maybe it'll work on these guys too. If not, I'll try peppermint oil.

And now I'm rambling.

In other news! My Scribe Sisters and I will be hosting a fabulous contest over at our blog, www.sistersinscribe.com to celebrate hitting 500 fabulous followers! We'll have something awesome for writers, but also some great YA reads for you readers that follow us. Details to come at the SIS blog. You will have to be a followers there to enter. :)

It's Not Procrastination!

I swear it's not!

When I get stumped in a project, or just need to get back in touch with my characters, I turn to music and www.weheartit.com

If you haven't wasted spent some time browsing the collection of images there, you totally should! I've found so many that are PERFECT representation for my wip. Like this one, for example:

That is so completely Jack and Charlie! Really, this post was an excuse for me to share that picture with you. The downside is that I have no idea who the owner is. Is it yours? :D

What's your favorite procrastination inspiration exercise?

Sweet Summertime

Summer seriously needs to move its arse over to NYC. It's cold. It's wet. And squirrels are claiming the nuts they buried in my flowerbed. Thankfully, I have not yet planted my petunias.

I've been listening to a lot of summery songs lately on my music player--mainly country music because I'm cool like that--to help me get into the spirit. Maybe I can coax Summer my way by thinking about her. She's a vain one, that Summer.

Last year my family and I went camping with my folks over in Pennsylvania, my home state. We spent the day at a nearby amusement park--ferris wheels are WAY less fun than I remember--our evenings sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows, and somewhere in between we caught crawfish in the river. We are proud country folk. It was heavenly. And I want to do it again, but it feels like that warm weather is never coming back! Melodramatic, I know. We had a nice day last week, sunny and close to 80 degrees, but it was just a tease. Summer, you tease.

Has summer weather graced your state with her golden, glowing, t-shirt-wearing presence? So jealous.

Sisters in Scribe

We've changed our web address over at Sisters in Scribe, and can now be found at www.sistersinscribe.com! If you're following us at our old address, don't worry. You don't need to do anything. ;)

And if your not following us, well get to it! We're planning a 500 followers celebration and we're only TWO away from our goal!

Buy A Shirt, Help Japan!

I posted a while back about Writer's For The Red Cross where you could donate $25 to the Red Cross and pick out a book, or bid on fabulous writing/book related prizes. Now I want to share these awesome t-shirts!

A high-school friend of mine (who is a nurse and a fabulous model and you should check her out) just showed me the t-shirts her fiance Raj Belani (photographer, graphic designer) designed. All donations go directly to The Red Cross.

About the design:

The red circle obviously represents Japan's flag.  The gridded nation is supposed to represent the "building block" of Japan.  The crack represents just that, a minor crack.  Regardless of the magnitude of the earthquake, it's just a minor crack, and Japan being one of the strongest nations, will overcome it.  The flourishing flowers represent regrowth...and the person donating to receive one of these items represents hope for someone who was affected by these events.

Awesome, yes? For more info, visit Raj's blog.

It's March 23rd And My Yard Is Covered In Snow

And I would be very sad right now, except that Simon Hay is hosting me at his blog today! I talk about writing, but also some personal stuff too. And there are pictures from my youth! Who doesn't love those?

Stop by and check it out! Simon is quite an interesting guy. He's a medium, a healer, and a writer! Definitely a one-of-a-kind guy, and one of the nicest people I've come across. Come check it out!

Teen Author Festival 2011

Another amazing Teen Author Festival came to a close today with a mega book signing at Books of Wonder in NYC. 45 authors showed up to sign their books and take pictures with fans. Among them were authors Lisa McMann, pictured below, Elizabeth Eulberg, Maggie Stiefvater, Ellen Hopkins, David Levithan, and many more.

 This was the only event I was able to attend this year (the reading in my borough unfortunately had to be cancelled and I was unable to attend the other four) but it was a great one! TAF is organized by author/editor David Levithan and is hosted in NYC every March. If you're planning a trip to NYC, I suggest coming for TAF. You'll meet an amazing group of authors and other like-minded individuals. Definitely worth the trip.

Writers For The Red Cross

Before you go out and purchase a new book, check out Writers for the Red Cross. If you donate $25 to the Red Cross via WFTRC, you'll be sent a book of your choosing from what they have on their donated shelves. 

Debbie from inkyelbows, is also donating a hand-illustrated custom poem to the highest bidder. Her package will be up for auction until March 20th. Details on that here.

They have a lot of great books on hand, but only a limited supply available, so if you can, donate today, and please spread the word!


And in other news, my critique partner Valerie Kemp is featured at Dear Teen Me today with a letter to her 13 year-old self. You truly don't want to miss what she has to say. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Deadlines Don't Have to be Damning

Writing for Tangled Fiction has taught me a lot in terms of character and plot structure, but also self-discipline. The only time I'd ever written under a deadline was when I'd gotten my editor's notes for Parallel, my short story that was published in the Rebel Moon anthology, and that was a piece of cake compared to TF deadlines. 

Twenty-four to forty-eight hours is not a lot of time to come up with something out of the blue, especially when it has to match what's already written. And if you aren't in a writing mood, it's that much worse. I'm all for stepping away from the manuscript, distancing yourself until you're in a more relaxed state of mind and you can let the creativity flow, but sometimes that isn't an option. Sometimes you're faced with a deadline. And if you aren't burdened by deadlines now, someday you will be!

I've written things that have come off as harried, and I've written things I've been much more proud of. I wish that I had some magical piece of advice that would give you exactly what you need to prevail in the face of evil thought-crushing deadlines, but I don't. All I can say is that deadlines don't have to be damning. Do not fear the deadline! But I think it's a great idea to condition yourself now so that when that five or however-many-page editorial letter comes, you're ready for it. You can do this. You can write something great even when your brain says you can't. 

And if YOU have that magical piece of advice, I am so ready to hear it. 

Rivers and Railroads

As I mentioned before, this week is individual shorts week at Tangled Fiction . I posted my short UNTOUCHABLE this morning.

These are some pictures of the river and railroad near my home town, one of which was used as the visual for UNTOUCHABLE.






Thanks for looking!

The Fatty Ratties

Back in January I had a birthday, and my gift (that I practically begged for for four years) were two little boy rats. This is them then, at about 5 weeks old:

And this is now at about 9 weeks old:

Aren't they adorable?

This week is individual shorts week at Tangled Fiction. I'll be posting my short UNTOUCHABLE a little bit later today. I grew up near the Susquehanna River and spent a lot of time on the railroad tracks and swimming in the river. I was feeling quite nostalgic when I wrote this short. Hope you'll come by and give it a read.

Match Made in Zombieland.

I just got this text from Husband and it's too funny not to share with you.

"I was just in the bowels of a building in Manhattan. I had to climb two flights of stairs and then walk around with a flashlight. It was AWESOME. I kept thinking it would be a perfect place to hide from zombies."

This is the man that I love. <3

Also, this week is individual short week at Tangled Fiction. Natalie posted her short titled BUTTERFLY GIRL on Monday. Valerie will post hers on Wednesday, and I post mine on Friday. I suppose I need to go write it. >_<

A Cockroach Can Live 9 Days Without Its Head.

True facts.

You will be happy to know that there have been no evil baby bug sightings since the garage rag incident. Or maybe you aren't happy to know that. Maybe you wanted me to find evil baby bugs. What kind of person are you?!

So. In case you've missed it, my critique partner, Valerie Kemp, is hosting part 2 of her Back from Branson giveaway. Up for grabs--your choice of one of 17 books by some of the authors who attended the Branson Retreat.

Sometimes Your Characters Outsmart You

You've all seen those cheap horror films with the busty blonde babysitter, right? You know the one where she hears strange noises in the attic that can only be an evil killer-zombie-ghost with fangs? And she grabs a flashlight, because the electricity suddenly went out, and she climbs the stairs to investigate, armed with nothing but her um...wit.

***I tried to draw a cartoon here, but the girl looked like she had two watermelons stuck in her throat and a spaghetti noodle where an arm might be. I am not an artist.***

It might "work" in those movies, but it doesn't work in your book. Unless that's the kind of story you're writing. In that case, just turn away now.

Your character needs to have brains to make your story interesting and believable. When revising one of my manuscripts, I kept bumping up against this wall, trying to make my MC do something that she really didn't want to do. Something she would never do, because she's witty and clever, and what I was trying to force her into was stupid.

If you're trying to force your MC to put out a fire with a garden hose, instead of calling the fire department, she better have a darn good reason for it. If she doesn't, you might need to try a different approach.

Happy revising!

Evil bug sack! And a TF Short

Ok, so I cleaned my garage yesterday, because the weather is FINALLY looking spring-ish, and I found this bag full of micro-fiber cloths that Husband uses to clean his motorcycle, the car, etc. I brought them in and threw them in the wash. Today I take them out of the washer--I know I should've done it yesterday, thanks, Mom--and guess what I found in the washer?

One of those roach egg-sac things!!!!! So I am completely skeeved-out now. I cleaned out the washer and flushed the evil baby bugs down the toilet, washed my hands a few times and ran the washer with nothing in it, just to be sure. Ugh. How gross is that?

Anyway, spring is in the air! But before you leave February in the garden soil, go check out the final tangled installment of HART'S RIDGE over at the Tangled Fiction blog! http://community.livejournal.com/tangledfiction/14468.html

Fiction and furry things

I know I've been MIA from here for a while, but things should start to settle down soon. Dec/Jan are always crazy months for me.

This past week was individual short week at Tangled Fiction. Each of us posted an un-tangled  full short. Stop on over to check those out! :D

Also, I got this for my birthday:

 For this:
 And this:

And their serious cuteness has taken a lot of my attention. :-)

They're names are Poe (after Edgar Allan) and Dowell (after Alexander Beliaev's sci-fi novel, Professor Dowell's head--one of Husband's favorite novels.) they're brothers from a litter born on Christmas and they are cute, and furry, and they are mine. :D

Must Have Books of 2011

Like my Sisters in Scribe, Kristi and Valerie, I've set a reading plan/goal for 2011. My goal, is to read the books I already have before purchasing new ones. Except those must-have books that are coming out this year.

There are still a lot I must have from last year, like SLICE OF CHERRY! How I missed that release date is beyond me. But I plan on hitting up the bookstore on Friday night so that's covered. Yeah, outside of the plan BUT that book came out in 2010 and I had planned to buy it before I made the new year plan, so it's okay. Hush.

I honestly haven't paid much attention to a whole lot of the 2011 new releases, not because I don't want to, I've just been that busy. Some that I am aware of and must have are:


FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

*Secret Novel* by Maggie Stiefvater
*no cover image*

BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton

BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris (and you guys should be ready for that one too--we *might* have something special over at SIS when it comes out.)

POSSESSION by Elana Johnson

THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab

HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire
*no cover image*

CORSETS AND CLOCKWORK by Various (includes a short by Dia Reeves)

And I'm just going to stop there because this list is really long.
What are some of your must-have books for 2011? Share so I can make said list even longer. Mwauahahahaha! (That's an evil laugh.)
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