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The Everyday Thoughts and Tidbits that catch my fancy - Look! A squirrel!

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Random Things About Me

How much do you really want to know? Anyhow, here are some more useless tidbits for you:


1) I’m vertically challenged. Pushing on 5’ 1 ¾”, Thank you very much. I was always the second shortest in my class.

2) My nickname from junior high, earned on the football field during intermurals, was ‘Bricks**thouse’.

3) I self-medicate with wine. (It helps with my high anxiety and the facial tic;-)

4) I’m not a fan of chic-flicks. I’m into martial-arts movies and action flicks.

5) Just give me coffee and no one gets hurt. Don’t even try to get between me and the coffee pot in the morning. You Will. Not. Survive.

Your turn! Tell me something about YOU. Let me into your psyches…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tidy Up Tuesday

Sorry, no Teasers today. It's mid-afternoon, I just got in (from chores, harvest work, rounding up three piglets and finding a lost kitten) and I'll be running back out again, but I wanted to touch base with you all.
First, I was so glad to see Trish Doller get back in the game and have her touch base with me. Good luck with THE NEW NORMAL, Trish! I've been following you for ages, and I'm glad to see things work out for you!
I also want to thank DL Curran at words n' whimsy for giving me a blog award.  Ya, me! Go figure. But not just me. She chose a list of totally awesome blogsters, which makes it that much harder for me to put together another totally awesome list of my own. Just click on her link to check out her list. I'll try to have mine together soon!
You might have notice my bookshelf changed. I read six of the eight books I had on it, and then I joined Fall into Reading 2010 challenge. It's pretty relaxed, but sometimes I just need to be accountable;-) It runs from Sept. 22/10 until December 20/10 - you know -  FALL.
I'm still trying to catch up on all the blogs that joined the THREE blogfests I joined last week. I WILL get to each of you, I promise.
Remember I joined the Contemps Challenge? And did you notice FREEFALL by Mindi Scott on my new bookshelf? And did you know FREEFALL is released on October 5th? And did you know Mindi Scott will be ON MY BLOG October 5th? We are gonna CELEBRATE her debut release here on Musings. Okay, I'm kind of excited! And for those of you who know my maiden name, no unfortunately, Mindi and I are not related. Nor am I related to her husband.
You may have noticed I also added a pup to my profile picture. He's so much more photogenic then I am, was or ever will be.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

YA Author Interview: Trish Doller


Trish Doller

Link to Awesomeness: Trish's Blog

CS: Welcome to Musings of a writer-in-progress. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me.Tell us about The New Normal. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?


TrishDoller: I was a staff writer for a newspaper when I was assigned to interview a young Marine who had just come home from Iraq after the first invasion wave back in 2003. When I met him, it struck me that he was only nineteen years old and had experienced things his hometown friends could only imagine. The impression stayed with me, but I never did anything with it until about a year ago when I started thinking about a girl character who'd branded a slut back in middle school by a boy who lied. Travis--the main character of THE NEW NORMAL--was meant to be that boy, but as I started writing I realized the story belonged to him and that perhaps she was an island of "normal" in his struggle with death, post-traumatic stress disorder, outgrown friendships, and a disintegrating family.


CS:What do you hope for your readers to take away from The New Normal?


Trish Doller: I guess I'd like readers to understand that war affects the warrior in a lot of different ways. It changes him--for better or worse--as well as the way he relates to his family and friends. From so far away, it's easy to forget about the fact that it's being fought by individuals who deserve our support while they're serving, our respect when they return, and whatever care they need to heal the damage they've suffered, be it physical or emotional or both. (This also applies to those who serve, but never deploy. It doesn't mean their jobs are less valuable. They're all doing something the rest of us don't want to do.)


CS: Looking back over your writing career, is there anything you would have done differently? What lessons have you learned on your journey?


Trish Doller: I'm not sure I'd have done anything differently. I've made some mistakes along the way and suffered a major setback when my first book was cancelled by the publisher, but if that book had been published, I might not have written THE NEW NORMAL, and I can't imagine that! If anything, I might wish I'd started writing seriously a little earlier in my life because I have so many ideas I want to get down on paper.


CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?


Trish Doller: Dialogue is very easy for me because I can hear my characters talking to each other in my head. I wish I could just write a novel in nothing but dialogue! The hardest is plotting. A lot of times I start with a character and I have a general idea of what happens, but I don't always know exactly how it all plays out. And I'm so bad at outlining!


CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Trish Doller: I wish I had something more profound to say, but my best advice is to never give up. After my first book, it would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I persisted and it paid off. So don't quit!


CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?


Trish Doller: Actually I have two wisest things. First, when I'd polished and revised my first book to what I thought was its glossiest shine, I emailed YA author Maureen Johnson (who didn't know me from Adam) and asked her how you know when your manuscript is ready to be sent out into the world. She told me that you have to trust your internal meter and "you just have to jump off the end of the diving board at some point". I jumped and you know what? I landed her agent with that first manuscript.
The other was after that first book died in the publishing pipeline. I was really down about it and mystery writer Randy Wayne White (who shops at the bookstore where I work) told me that if my writing was good enough to sell once, it was good enough to sell again. I tried not to forget that... and he was right.


CS: What is your next project? Can you tell us anything about it?


Trish Doller: Well, first I need to finish THE NEW NORMAL (we sold it on a partial submission) and I suspect I'll spend a good part of next year revising. But the next thing I've got floating around in my head is the story of three boys, friends since kindergarten, who want to have one last epic weekend before they step out into the "real world". Except their last weekend doesn't go quite as planned and puts their friendship to the test. It's tentatively (and oh, so imaginatively) titled THE LAST WEEKEND.




CS: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Good luck with The New Normal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Top Ten Novels Blogfest

Madeleine over at Scribble and Edit is hosting the Top Ten Novels Blogfest this weekend.What are your favourite top ten novels, and how did they affect you? Go on over and sign up; it’s not too late!


This was tougher than I thought; how to narrow down my favourite novels to ten titles and approximately when I read them. (I cheated on some of them and looked up when they were published ;-) )

10. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. I love Jeff Lindsay’s dark humour. I laugh out loud while reading his stuff. (We won’t discuss what that says about me…) I read this one just over a year ago; it’s my favourite of the series so far.

9. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I don’t usually read Dean’s stuff, but Odd is definitely a compelling character. He’s absolutely adorable. Compelling, if you will. I’ve been following this series since it started, about five years or so, maybe more.

8. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Again, the start of another series, but this one was my favourite. I think it was the fresh (and some quirky) characters and their relationships that caught me.I couldn't put it down. I read this one about ten years ago.

7. the five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. I remember sitting alongside the pool while my daughters took lessons, and I was bawling my eyes out. I don’t do public displays. Ever.

6. Prophesy of Days: the Daykeeper’s Grimoire by Christy Raedeke. A new favourite of mine; waiting impatiently for the second book in the series. New-agey stuff blended seamlessly with ancient philosophies. My head was swimming with the possibilities. Cool stuff.

5. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. When did I read it? Which time? Doesn’t everyone wonder what it would be like to live forever? Who ever thought it might not be so great?

4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This one was out for over ten years before I found it. I was in the same shoes Margaret was wearing; an awkward tween. I’m not saying how many years ago THAT was.

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. When I heard there was controversy over a book titled Speak, I couldn’t believe it was this one. As soon as I finished reading it a few months ago, I immediately passed it on to my daughters and demanded they read it. Girls NEED this book!

2. The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger. Who didn’t read (and love) this story? We all had our own prescriptions for teen angst, of one thing or another, right? Mmmmm, chocolate.

1. Oranges and U.F.O.’s by Muriel Leeson. This was the hottest thing in fantasy for me. Aliens in the cupboard. Now, the internet tells me it was published in 1999, but that’s horsepucky! I read this book over 20 times. (Check the card in the back of the book at the library; my name is written on it at least that many times.) The cover is the same as I remember it from my grade school days, but in ’99 I already had kids that age. (Don’t do the math… DON’T DO IT!)

So, are any of these on your top ten list? What’s your numero uno?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

This morning Elana Johnson, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Jennifer Daiker are hosting The Great Blogging Experiment. I'm tagging along in addressing "Writing Compelling Characters".
The first thing that came to mind when I signed up for this blogfest was one of my characters that has the ability to compel others to do her will.

Every student in the school was crowded into the gym for the mandatory pep rally. “Come on everybody! Up on your feet! Do it with me people! Give me an R! Gimme an A! Now an M and an S! Who are we? The Rams!” The Compulsion Cassie was throwing out into the packed gym was even reaching me at the back of the bleachers. She really had a thing for school spirit. Of course, I had learned how to fend off her Compulsions years ago.


“Are you positive that you and Cassie are truly siblings? I know your facial characteristics are strikingly similar, but personality-wise…”

“Ryan, believe me, some days I wish it weren’t true. Like today, with her jumping around and screaming at the top of her lungs in front of the whole school.”

“Why?” Kayla, like so many other girls in my class, idolized my older sister. “She’s an incredible motivator. It’s as if you believe you can do anything just because she says you can. Her energy and drive are contagious. She’s just so…”

“Compelling?”

Kayla tilted her curly blond head, almost bonking me with her halo. “I don’t know if that’s the word I would use.”

Ryan screwed up his face in thought, and then nodded. “Yes, I agree, that word fits her. She has an attractive and compelling personality.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” I mumbled under my breath.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. At least I can be hopeful she’ll be hoarse after this and won’t be able to nag me for a couple of days.”

A roar of the crowd that rivaled the rumblings of my gut brought my attention back to the middle of the gym, where the Rams football team came trotting in, one by one. Last, but not least –at least in his mind – came the swaggering Bobby Gentry, star quarterback. I often wondered what kind of a loser he would be in real life – I mean without the influences of his girlfriend, head cheerleader and class president, my peppy and overzealous sister.

Some people are more easily influenced than others. Bobby was a lump of clay and Cassie was the sculptor. If she ever entered politics, that girl would rule the world. And Mom thought she had her hands full with me.

My attention was snagged once again as the next player came wondering into the gym from the change rooms. He was in uniform, but it was different. It was the same white with red and black trim as the Rams’ away game uniforms, but the style was slightly different. The other players in the gym were wearing the solid red home game uniforms with black trim. This guy carried his helmet in his hand. He looked at the crowd, bewildered. Behind him, more players, just as bewildered, filed in. Some of these players were covered in soot, others in blood with their uniforms tattered.

The rest of the gym’s occupants carried on with their fanatic football worship service, oblivious to the second team entering the room. All at the same moment, the team stopped and stared at me. I recognized some of them from the photo hung outside the change room doors. This gym had been built as a monument to the 1982 Rams football team that had all been killed in a bus crash.

Crap. Halloween was officially in full swing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogfeast Entry




Angela over at Jaded Love Junkie is hosting her first blogfest, and I inadvertently signed up for it - this morning! So here is my lame entry.


Taking the back stairs, or what Mom said were the servants’ stairs, I passed through the butler pantry, then dragged myself into the kitchen. Mom was rinsing her coffee cup in the sink. “You’re running late; your sisters have already left.” She looked me up and down as I poured myself a cup of coffee. “What are you supposed to be?”


“Doesn’t anyone in this household say ‘Good morning,’ anymore?”

I don’t know why it even mattered to me, since I couldn’t manage good manners myself before lunch, let alone proper etiquette.

“Good morning, Alex,” cooed my mother snidely. “What are you supposed to be dressed as this morning?”

“A fairy princess. Where’s the sugar?”

“Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have to tell you that stuff stunts your growth?” She turned her back to the sink and leaned against the counter as she crossed her arms.

“The lipstick or the sugar?”

“The coffee. You can’t afford to lose out in that department.”

“I believe it’s referred to as a ‘failure to thrive’, or so I’m told.” After opening three cupboards, I found the sugar bowl and tipped it over my coffee cup.

“That’s a load of crap. You’re petite. That doctor was trying to find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse – that hasn’t changed –you just didn’t sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it’s hard for a growing body to…well, grow.”

“Don’t worry, I still blame you.”

Mom playfully smacked my shoulder with the back of her hand.

“Hey! Hot stuff coming through. I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there any bread left? I smell burned toast.”

“That’s it there on the table.” Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey was a stack of almost black toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn’t. Even though she was home all day, she spent most of her time transcribing medical records for doctors in her home office.

“How does the cereal situation look?” I asked as I placed my coffee cup on the table.

“We’re out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today.”

“Can you pick up some more frozen mice for Charlie?” I rubbed the bite on my arm. “And I suppose eggs and hash browns with a side of pancakes are out of the question?” I opened the refrigerator door and basked in the wave of cool air.

“Hello? Will you look at the clock? Time to get rolling, birthday girl.”

I cringed. “I don’t do birthdays.”

“You’re too young to be trying to dodge them already. You’ll regret skipping them, mark my words.”

“I only regret skipping meals. Birthdays – not so much.” Time to change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”

Truth Thursday

Five Random Things About Me


How much do you really want to know? Anyhow, here are some more useless tidbits for you:

1) I’m vertically challenged. Pushing on 5’ 1 ¾”, Thank you very much. I was always the second shortest in my class.

2) My nickname from junior high, earned on the football field during intermurals, was ‘Bricks**thouse’.

3) I self-medicate with wine. (It helps with my high anxiety and the facial tic;-)

4) I’m not a fan of chic-flicks. I’m into martial-arts movies and action flicks.

5) Just give me coffee and no one gets hurt. Don’t even try to get between me and the coffee pot in the morning. You Will. Not. Survive.



Your turn! Tell me something about YOU. Let me into your psyches…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Here's a scene from my work in progress, Witches Don't Wear Socks.



Stepping out onto the porch, I almost ran into Cassie coming into the house.


“Watch it, Legs; cranky witch coming through.” I once gave her a hard time about having long legs, and for some reason she took it to be something unattractive. I never corrected her.

Cassie’s eyes widened. “Stella’s up already?”

I snorted. “I meant me, but yeah, Stella’s up. What are you doing here? Aren’t you late, by Cassie standards?”

“Would you believe I forgot my day planner? My whole life’s in there. I’m lost without it.” She wasn’t being melodramatic. Besides being class president, head cheerleader, and a member of the glee club, she had not one, but two after school jobs, not to mention her singing gigs. I got an instant headache just thinking about it. “Do you want a ride? Bobby’s waiting in the driveway for me.” Not waiting for an answer, or probably knowing what my response would be, she barreled through the door and ran up the stairs, not bothering to closer the door behind her.

I shook my head and trudged down the front steps. The chances of me asking Bobby Gentry for a ride to school were a gazillion to one.

“Hey pipsqueak!” Bobby yelled over the booming speakers in his rattletrap of a car. “What do you think of my new CD?”

I grabbed my throat with both hands and started gagging.

“What?” He put a hand to his football jersey-clad chest, feigning insult. “The Death’s Reapers aren’t your bag? I figured a Goth like you would revel in this stuff.”

“How many times do you need to have something repeated for it to take hold in that teeny tiny brain of yours? I’m not a Goth or a thespian. I just like black, okay?”

“A thes…what?” he asked as he turned down the stereo.

I rolled my eyes. “Sorry, I forgot to use small words and speak slowly. Does. Drama. Student. Mean. Anything. To. You?” So what if he was good looking and quarterback of the football team? I couldn’t figure out why Cassie was so gaga over this guy.

Bobby snorted. “Oh trust me. I know you’re one of a kind.”

What was that supposed to mean? Had Cassie told him about our family’s…quirks? Or just mine? She couldn’t tell him about hers without giving power to him to fight it, but she could tell him mine.

Cassie came bounding out of the house and into the front seat next to Bobby.

After kissing her on the nose, (how revolting), he turned back to me. “By the way, Happy Birthday, pipsqueak. If you came a little closer, I could pinch you to make you grow an inch. Lord knows you could use it, but I might get carried away.”

“Just keep those meat hooks away from me, pigskin breath.”

“Knock it off, you two.” Cassie sent out a wave of impatience. “Tell her to get in the back seat, she’s going to be late.” For him, it was a request he could not refuse; for me, a dirty look followed that told me it was an order, whether her will affected me or not.

I don’t take orders from anyone. But I was starting to feel a bit of a chill off the wind that was picking up. Must be something nasty coming; I never get cold. “I guess you owe me that much, football monkey. Mush!” I ordered as I climbed into the back seat.

Drumroll Please!

The three titles from Teaser Tuesday are:

1) Dream Spinner by Bonnie Dobkin

2) Holdup by Terri Fields

3) Majix: Notes From  a Serious Teen Witch by Douglas Rees

Check them out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Teasers

It’s that time again! Here are the “teasers” found on the back of three YA books. You need to choose which one you would read FIRST (because we know you want to read ALL of them) without knowing the title or who wrote it. If you recognize them, please don’t give it away!


1) “Remember, girl, that dark things crouch in the corners of your mind, things you aren’t aware exist. And so even the gentlest dream can mask a nightmare.”
Jori used to be one of the popular girls in school. Now she keeps to herself. It’s easier to hide the scars that way – the ones from the accident that killed her father. Bitter, betrayed by her best friend, and with her sister Lisa missing, Jori’s beginning to wonder if life will ever get any better.
Then Jori meets an eccentric old man who offers her the chance to enter a mysterious tapestry – the gateway to a magical world where dreams become reality. She’s tempted. After all, who wouldn’t want the chance to live out a fantasy, especially when real life can be so hard? But as Jori comes closer to trading away her real life for a dream, she finds out that the deal comes at a terrible price. Will she be strong enough to leave this fantastic world where anything – even reuniting with her father – is possible?

2) It’s an ordinary Saturday night for the teens working at Burger Haven – until guns are drawn and threats are made. Jordan’s just working here part-time after school, but she’s suddenly responsible for half-a-dozen lives when the manager has to leave. Joe has never even gotten so much as an after-school detention. So, how is it that this Saturday night, he’s at Burger Haven, waving a loaded gun, yelling at the employees to get down on the floor NOW! Dylan has always succeeded at his twisted plans – until this Saturday, this robbery, where everything has gone wrong. And now, surrounded by police outside, Dylan’s life will never be the same – and neither will the lives of his hostages.

3) My name is Kestrel. Kestrel Murphy. NEVER call me Susan. Who ever heard of a witch named Susan?
A year ago, I was on the white-magic side. Lately, I’ve been leaning toward the black. I blame the universe. What’s the point in being a nice little white witch in the universe I’ve got? If I could choose my own universe, I’d be a white witch in it. But black makes a lot more sense in this universe.
Not that I’m complaining. A witch never complains. But if I did, I’d have a lot to complain about. For instance: Richard Milhous Nixon High.
What’s a teen witch to do when she’s stuck in the most unmagical high school in the universe? Create her own “majix.” Take notes. And above all, avoid nasty classmates, heartless grown-ups and boys who may prove a little too distracting for a serious teen witch to handle…


Which one catches your eye first?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christy Raedeke, YA Author Interview












Christy Raedeke





Christy Raedeke lives with her husband and two children in Ashland, Oregon. She is the recipient of the 2008 Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature from Oregon Literary Arts.


CS:I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you would do this interview with me, Christy (http://raedeke.blogspot.com). I LOVED you book, Prophesy of Days Book 1: The Daykeeper's Grimoire (www.prophesyofdays.com). It's packed full of amazing information in an entertaining story.
 Tell us about The Prophesy of Days. How was your story birthed? What was Your motivation?

Christy Raedeke: I really wanted to write the kind of story I would have loved as a kid. I was always into the odd books about the stuff like unsolved mysteries, The Bermuda Triangle, and bottomless sinkholes in the Yucatan. Once I read about the Mayan calendar I was hooked and knew that had to be the central focus of the book.

CS:What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Prophesy of Days?

Christy Raedeke:I'm not sure I really have any life lessons to impart, but I do want kids to know that life is full of mystery and beauty. I hope they know how important they are - and how powerful. They have a hand in shaping the world they want to live in. I don't want my kids to inherit the world; I want them to create a better one.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Prophesy of Days, is there anything you would have done differently?

Christy Raedeke: Of course! I think my whole life is made up of things I look back on and wish I'd done differently. But living life looking in the rear view mirror makes you lose site of what's ahead. This is a first novel and it's full of flaws - but dwelling on them is useless. I can only impact my future, and work harder on my next books.

CS: Full of flaws? I never noticed any! What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Christy Raedeke: The easiest part of writing is the first draft, about a third of the way in. By then I usually know the general direction I'm going, but I'm right in the middle of the discovery phase. At that point it seems like my fingers are writing, not my brain. The words just flow.
The hardest part is revising. That feels like straight-up work. Especially when you have to change a plot thread and scour the book for all instances that are touched by that thread. I know people who absolutely love the revision process, but I'm not one of them!

CS: What advice would you give aspiring writers about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Christy Raedeke: My biggest piece of advice would be to go to writer's conferences when you're ready to query agents. They are so much more receptive when they've met you in person at a conference. Plus, hearing them speak on panels or roundtables gives you good insight into who they are and what they like. I really don't know how people query blindly! A little-known fact: once you've been to a conference and met an agent or editor, you can write the name of the conference on your submission envelope and it will rise above the slush pile. So in addition to getting a great education at conferences, you are also paying for preferential treatment for your submission.

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Christy Raedeke: It's the old Hemmingway saying, "kill your darlings". In both of my books, I've had to chop off the first several chapters. Don't be afraid to cut work that you love if it makes the story better.

CS: And here you can do a loud and shameless plug for book #2! Would you like to tell us about it? (Sure you do!)

Christy Raedeke: Well, I'm deep in revisions of it right now, so it's on my mind! The title of it is Prophesy of Days, Book 2: The Serpent's Coil. I can't tell you too much without giving away spoilers, but I will say Caity gets deeper into the conspiracy, Justine accompanies her on most of the adventure, someone we love dies, and Mr. Papers discovers some scary new talents...

CS: Now I can't wait to get my hands on Book #2!
Thanks so much for this interview, Christy. Good luck with revisions, and let us know how it's coming along!

Does anyone have any questions they would like to ask Christy?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Five Random Things About Me

Another recommendation I picked up from Jen at Unedited was Truth Thursday. My version of it will be a list of 5 random things about me. So here we go!

1) I absolutely hate getting my picture taken. It used to be about the freckles and pimples, now it's about the wrinkles and rolls. I'm not vain, or anything...

2) I'm the opposite of a clothes horse. My husband forced me to go buy some nice clothes or he was going to go shopping for me. I learned years ago NOT to let him buy clothes for gifts for me. Lousy taste.)

3) I'm a forced quasi-vegetarian. I can't eat red meat or my joints swell. I think I'm going to have to give up fowl soon too. This early fall weather has me all stiff and achy. But I LOVE meat! And I'm a livestock producer.

4) Don't make me choose between books and hanky-panky, dear hubby. I could be quite content as a reading monk.

5) My jewelery collection can fit in a ring box. I like jewelry, but I forget to wear it. It doesn't go with my pullover hoodies and rubber boots anyway.


Now it's your turn! Give me one random thing about you so I can get to know you better:0)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Growth As a Writer, or As a Person?

As a kid growing up watching Star Trek, I have to admit that Mr. Spock was the character I could most relate to. Captain Kirk and Bones, the doctor? Nah, way too excitable. I understood Spock's way of thinking; That response doesn't adhere to logic or reason. You must analyze the situation further. Add cynicism to that mix, and you have - me. (And, yes, I DID grow up in Vulcan, Alberta.)

Emotionally stunted? Me? Probably. Growing up, I preferred to hang with the guys; girls got too worked up over every little thing. Half the time, I couldn't figure out what I had done to tick off one or the other of my girlfriends; no one spelled it out for me. I was just 'supposed to knoNeedless to say, I'm not an emotionally demonstrative person. It's not that I don't care; I just don't show it. Even my characters that I've created spend a lot of time and energy avoiding emotional situations. But of course, in writing about their growth, I need to get into that mindset. Emotional issues are what make us care about characters; how they affect the characters and the reader.
Now, imagine Mrs. Spock, sitting at the computer, tears streaming down her face as she writes the post-climactic scene to her YA novel. (At least THAT was in the privacy of my office.)
Again, imagine same Mrs. Spock on the family holiday, and at seeing all four of her daughters (and one of their boyfriends) pile into a vehicle to head home a few days early, suddenly out of the blue, burst into tears, sobbing. More than just the jaws of the five passengers dropped. I scared everyone, including my husband. And myself. I had allowed myself to feel fear and uncertainty.
One good thing came out of it; my heavy-footed daughter took extra time driving the usually three hour trip, and her sisters texted me every half-hour to let me know they were still alive.
So, I'm thinking, this writing journey might actually help me to become human, eventually:0)

How has your writing journey affected your life?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday and Contest Announcement!

Sorry, just a little tease. The contest isn't mine, but if you go to Christine's Journey you could sign up to win a copy of Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon! Tell her I said hi!
Contest deadline is September 17/10.

Jen over at Unedited posted last week about some fun things to blog about. One of her ideas that caught my fancy was Twisty Tuesday. But I think Teaser Tuesday fits better, for me, anyway. That's what jacket flaps do, right? Tease?


The idea of T- Tuesday is that I post the book jacket flaps of three YA books, and you decide which book you would choose to read first, without my telling you the title or who wrote it. Let's give it a whirl!


1) Prentisstown isn't like other towns.
Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee - whose thoughts Todd can hear, too, whether he wants to or not - stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden - a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

2) When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered in strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

3) It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding it's breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it's her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.


What is your first pick?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Links For David and Angela

Let's see if I can get THESE links to work!

Website:Angela 1, Starting Over

Blog: All about Angela

David A. Bedford: Author of Angela 1, Starting Over

David A. Bedford



David A. Bedford has lived an anomalous, colorful, and demanding life, involving birth in the US, childhood in Argentina, college in Texas and professional language teaching work in Georgia, Illinois, and Brazil. This has given him tolerance for difference, change, and challenge. It may also explain his unflagging search for healthy normality wherever he can find it. As if that were not enough, after Brazil he spent a couple of years living off translation and then was fortunate to receive his current position as Instructor of Spanish at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, where he has been for 14 years and will stay put if he can help it. At some point in July 1997 the urge to write fiction could no longer be denied and the result was Liliana y el espejo (a book of 13 fantastic short stories in Spanish) and Angela 1: Starting Over, the first of three short YA novels, uncompromisingly realist (just to be different), in English.


website:Angela 1, Starting Over

Blog:All About Angela


David's agents are WB Agency. They are part of the AEG-Strategic Publishing Group. His publisher is AEG’s Eloquent Books imprint.






CS: Tell us about Angela 1: Starting Over. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?


David A. Bedford: In April 2005 I attended an all-day workshop on getting published, sponsored by my university’s extended education program. I was wanting to get ideas for finding an agent and publisher for a bilingual version of my book of Spanish short stories (Liliana y el espejo, 2002), but I came out of it with something much better, something I never expected. The instructor spent the morning of the workshop talking about how to develop a project that agents will at least look at before throwing it onto the rejection pile. When we went to lunch, the whole Angela project just came to me (oh yeah, in English!): main character, locale, overarching theme for three books, and a plot idea for each one. I opened my composition book and sketched out a draft outline for each book, making a bunch of notes on characters. As soon as I had time just to stop and think, I made a fuller outline for Angela 1, and started writing. The rest, as they say, is history and since “they” say it, it must be true. Right?


My motivation for writing is having a story in me that’s bursting to be told. In the case of Angela, I wanted to do something very different from anything else out there. That’s why I put at the center of the story an unusually mature, coherent and loving teenager who sets off all kinds of potentially dangerous reactions, never meaning to.




CS: What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Angela?


David A. Bedford: I always write to engage the readers with a story. Too much message bores them, me included. For me, writing is mostly intuitive and then later I see what I have been up to. The major theme of each of the three books in the Angela series is responsible citizenship and what it may cost us. At the time I sketched out the books, I only knew I was excited because I had a story I wanted to tell.


For many years, the US movie, TV, and radio industry was governed by a self-imposed code that prohibited “bad” words and references to sex, among other matters. Screenwriters retaliated by making any good, rule-respecting character hypocritical or hopelessly clueless, in the case of adults, and scared, social climbing, or a snitch, in the case of children. We were all conditioned to love the antisocial characters and view good people with scorn or disbelief. As a result, to this day readers and viewers react to good characters as basically unreal, uninteresting, or both and to expect the dysfunctional, greedy and self-indulging characters as the norm in literature and in life. I decided to take the challenge and write a good character who people can’t ignore and show that it takes a great deal of courage not to conform to what most people consider normal or to how they act. Another important point is that, when the story opens, Angela’s parents have just divorced. Of course it’s a major blow to Angela, her brother and her little sister, but doesn’t make them crazy or uncontrollable.


If you want to be a responsible citizen, you have to have courage. It means going against what everyone else does pretty much all through life. It can also involve confronting powers that could really hurt you. That’s what Angela is forced to learn.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Angela, is there anything you would have done differently?



David A. Bedford: The funny thing is that I discovered what I just told you about the book only by looking back on what I had done. I suppose many writers share that experience: we know in part what we’re doing but there’s a lot more going into the book than we are aware of as we write.

Now, as to what I would do differently, I probably would have developed the back story more. Given my experience writing the next installment in the series, I would have had the confidence to write a somewhat longer book. But I figure I’ll take all this experience into my next project. Always learning and growing: that’s what keeps me happy.



CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?




David A. Bedford: The hard part is coming up with a plan after the initial idea has come to me. I need characters, the plot in broad strokes, a locale, and an underlying philosophical or aesthetic concept as a subtext before I start writing. Finding the time to write can also be a challenge. I’m a college professor with a full load of work. But once I have all my elements and some free time, I’m off and running. The writing, that’s the easy part.


Of course, getting up the nerve to show the first draft to someone for feedback can be tough.




CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?



David A. Bedford: First, have another job and don’t plan to live off royalties. Very few people have been able to do that. Even some of the very best classical authors had another source of income.


Plan what you want to do with each writing project. Plot: how will the story end and how do we get there? Characters: what makes them tick, what are their motivations and inborn personality traits? Know their back story. Subtext: what are the values and/or symbolism and/or philosophy and/or any other matters that are important to you?–don’t address it directly, just let it bubble up. Locale: have it vivid in your mind but just allude to it as if your readers already knew the place.


Allow for the serendipities: you never know just what may happen.


Allow yourself to be intuitive.

Let the characters be who they are. They may hijack your plans. So, see where it leads to. The idea of plot that you start with should be something that occurs because your characters act and think the way they do. Sometimes you start a scene with characters interacting and when you’re done you say: “I didn’t know it was going to turn out like that.” I call it being in the zone. When you’re in the zone, good things happen.


Have several people read your drafts. Think about what they tell you.


Finally, finish your book and start submitting it to agents. Know what the agents accept and don’t accept before you send it and make sure it is in the format they ask for. Expect many rejections and never give up.


I wish I’d known to keep submitting the book more purposefully and frequently.






CS: What was the wisest thing about writing ever said to you?




David A. Bedford: Literature should have room for everything.






CS: Tell us about your next book. Is it young adult fiction as well?




David A. Bedford: My next book will be Angela 2: The Guardian of the Bay. It’s already written. I want Angela 1 to get some good traction before I submit the next one for publication. Before that I need to go over Guardian and edit it very carefully. The third and last installment (Angela 3: Silver Path of the Moon) is planned out. I suspect it may need a more detailed outline. I plan to start on it when the second book is published.


Thank you so much for interviewing me!


“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” – Terry Pratchett






No David, Thank you for sharing this interview with us.
Cinette















Friday, September 10, 2010

Let Me Explain...

You might have noticed the added features/gadgets along side the posts. The bookshelf is to show what books I plan to read this month. I know, I haven't read eight books in a month in how long? But that is the goal, nonetheless. (I've already read one, so I'm further ahead than you think!) By the way, Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe - great read, people!


Then there's the Contemps Challenge widget under the bookshelf. The challenge is, if I recall, to read at least 14 out of around 20 listed titles at the site before the end of August 2011, and do a review of them.

All the titles are contemporary young adult titles to be released within the one year span. Two of the titles,  The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend  by Kody Keplinger, and Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, have already been released.

Are there any other new YA titles out this month that I should get my hands on?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Serendipity

I've only recently started improving my blog, and have been all over the place, trying to figure out how to make it work. In my surfing travels, I conveniently came across a number of blogs addressing issues that were very relevant to me.

Roland at Writing In the Crosshairs has an entertaining post on how to grow your followers list
So You Want Followers? Will Rogers fans will love this post.

Elana Johnson has an informative post on Leaving Your Mark Behind. (I've been poaching religiously, Elana. You'd be so proud of me!)

Michael Hyatt has an enlightening article on 10 Ways to Create a Better "About Page" for Your Blog. I never thought about my 'about page'!

Are there any other relevant posts amateurs like myself should look into?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guest Post: Debbie Curran

Today's premiere guest post is by Debbie Curran, another writer-in-progress and fellow blogger. Find out more about Debbie at her blogs:


http://www.dlcurran.blogspot.com/


http://www.theparentpapers.blogspot.com/


http://www.theparentpapers.com/


Writing With Kidlets At Home


At 16 - I announced to my family that I wanted to write books. Novels. And I began rewriting books I’d already read for ‘practice’ – I thought I was brilliant.


It was, quite frankly, terrible writing... but my family kindly told me it was wonderful. Dad just wanted me to be sure to have a day job. Yeah, an early phenom I most definitely was not.


By 25 - BA in hand - I thought I had the world by the tail. But I still needed to pay the bills; I found work and squeezed in a little writing around work, travel, dating, nights out, reading, tv, movies... yeah, hadn’t really worked out the best priority list.


By 35 - married with one on the way. It was time. I brushed off the ‘big idea’ I’d flirted with for years and tossed it out to my hubby. He punched holes in the story, I changed the main character’s sex and species (YA fantasy), and created a new world and mythology.


Now, 4 years and 2 kiddies later I’ve got a huge fictional family tree on the wall, a mythology, backstory, outlines and notes that fill a couple flexible folders, but not much actually written. Trying to get it in while the boys are chasing each other, tearing apart the basement, and destroying the small amount of order I manage to keep in the house is a challenge I’ve yet to overcome.


I’m still working on it – in fact, I’ve started writing in 15 minute chunks and I’m finally seeing progress. I’m also splitting the time between two major writing projects, two blogs, and reading whatever books I can get my grubby little hands on. Yeah, I guess until the boys are both in school, I’m looking at small-chunk-writing... and maybe I’m more productive that way... because I’ve gotten more accomplished over the past few weeks than the preceding months.


Or maybe it’s the writing-with-kidlets that’s doing it... juggling the yells, screams, fights, slips, falls, stubbed toes, wants, meals, snacks, drinks, games, walks, bike rides, and the always-behind-laundry makes for less time-wasting. And I still get plenty of that in.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Author Interview: David A. Bedford

For some weird reason, David A. Bedford's interview is posted under September 3, 2010, rather than today's date. You have to scroll down to find it. I tried re-posting it 3 times; it won't move up. Sorry about the mess-up, David!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Launching Tomorrow: Losing Faith

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden is released tomorrow! Check it out at:

http://www.baskinex.blogspot.com/

RE: Readergirlz: Promoting Teen Literacy

The Readergirlz website has a posted mission statement, one that I have to give two thumbs up. (http://readergirlz.blogspot.com)
"The readergirlz mission is to promote teen literacy and corresponding social service.

readergirlz is the cutting-edge literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. It is a nonprofit volunteer organization."

There's more. Go to the site and click on the 'Our Mission' tab. Better yet, check out the new post on the Scarlett series by Maureen Johnson.
This link will take you directly to Maureen's site.(http://maureen@maureenjohnsonbooks.com/).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Traditional Books vs. eReaders

First lesson of the day; don't push the 'enter' button to move from your title bar :0)

I have to say, I've been a die-hard paperback fan for decades; they fit well in any purse I own, not to mention the console of my SUV, they're light-weight, they are definitely cheaper than hardcovers, and they don't take up a lot of shelf space.
This last reason is important. I can fit them three-deep in my bookcases. My largest bookcase has 'cubbies', and I can fit 45+ paperbacks in each one. There are 20 cubbies. You do the math, because I don't wanna know the answer. Over the last year or two, I've begun to donate books to the local library as I finish reading them. But I still have more books than shelf space.
Enter Kobo! It's a cheaper ereader, and you have to order books from the kobo site, but the young adult selection has over 8000 titles. It works for me. Except,(sigh) I've already downloaded 19 titles this month. Since they aren't piled on my desk, I don't see them 'piling up', and in turn, watch my spending. Same habit, different corner? (You all know the actual saying I'm referring to;-)
What is your take on books? Paper or ereader?

Friday, September 3, 2010

YA Author Interview: David A. Bedford







David A. Bedford

David A. Bedford has lived an anomalous, colorful, and demanding life, involving birth in the US, childhood in Argentina, college in Texas and professional language teaching work in Georgia, Illinois, and Brazil. This has given him tolerance for difference, change, and challenge. It may also explain his unflagging search for healthy normality wherever he can find it. As if that were not enough, after Brazil he spent a couple of years living off translation and then was fortunate to receive his current position as Instructor of Spanish at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, where he has been for 14 years and will stay put if he can help it. At some point in July 1997 the urge to write fiction could no longer be denied and the result was Liliana y el espejo (a book of 13 fantastic short stories in Spanish) and Angela 1: Starting Over, the first of three short YA novels, uncompromisingly realist (just to be different), in English.


Blog: http://angelafournier.blogspot.com/


Website: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

David's agents are WB Agency. They are part of the AEG-Strategic Publishing Group. His publisher is AEG’s Eloquent Books imprint.



CS: Tell us about Angela 1: Starting Over. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?

David A. Bedford: In April 2005 I attended an all-day workshop on getting published, sponsored by my university’s extended education program. I was wanting to get ideas for finding an agent and publisher for a bilingual version of my book of Spanish short stories (Liliana y el espejo, 2002), but I came out of it with something much better, something I never expected. The instructor spent the morning of the workshop talking about how to develop a project that agents will at least look at before throwing it onto the rejection pile. When we went to lunch, the whole Angela project just came to me (oh yeah, in English!): main character, locale, overarching theme for three books, and a plot idea for each one. I opened my composition book and sketched out a draft outline for each book, making a bunch of notes on characters. As soon as I had time just to stop and think, I made a fuller outline for Angela 1, and started writing. The rest, as they say, is history and since “they” say it, it must be true. Right?

My motivation for writing is having a story in me that’s bursting to be told. In the case of Angela, I wanted to do something very different from anything else out there. That’s why I put at the center of the story an unusually mature, coherent and loving teenager who sets off all kinds of potentially dangerous reactions, never meaning to.

CS: What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Angela?

David A. Bedford: I always write to engage the readers with a story. Too much message bores them, me included. For me, writing is mostly intuitive and then later I see what I have been up to. The major theme of each of the three books in the Angela series is responsible citizenship and what it may cost us. At the time I sketched out the books, I only knew I was excited because I had a story I wanted to tell.

For many years, the US movie, TV, and radio industry was governed by a self-imposed code that prohibited “bad” words and references to sex, among other matters. Screenwriters retaliated by making any good, rule-respecting character hypocritical or hopelessly clueless, in the case of adults, and scared, social climbing, or a snitch, in the case of children. We were all conditioned to love the antisocial characters and view good people with scorn or disbelief. As a result, to this day readers and viewers react to good characters as basically unreal, uninteresting, or both and to expect the dysfunctional, greedy and self-indulging characters as the norm in literature and in life. I decided to take the challenge and write a good character who people can’t ignore and show that it takes a great deal of courage not to conform to what most people consider normal or to how they act. Another important point is that, when the story opens, Angela’s parents have just divorced. Of course it’s a major blow to Angela, her brother and her little sister, but doesn’t make them crazy or uncontrollable.

If you want to be a responsible citizen, you have to have courage. It means going against what everyone else does pretty much all through life. It can also involve confronting powers that could really hurt you. That’s what Angela is forced to learn.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Angela, is there anything you would have done differently?

David A. Bedford: The funny thing is that I discovered what I just told you about the book only by looking back on what I had done. I suppose many writers share that experience: we know in part what we’re doing but there’s a lot more going into the book than we are aware of as we write.

Now, as to what I would do differently, I probably would have developed the back story more. Given my experience writing the next installment in the series, I would have had the confidence to write a somewhat longer book. But I figure I’ll take all this experience into my next project. Always learning and growing: that’s what keeps me happy.

CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

David A. Bedford: The hard part is coming up with a plan after the initial idea has come to me. I need characters, the plot in broad strokes, a locale, and an underlying philosophical or aesthetic concept as a subtext before I start writing. Finding the time to write can also be a challenge. I’m a college professor with a full load of work. But once I have all my elements and some free time, I’m off and running. The writing, that’s the easy part.

Of course, getting up the nerve to show the first draft to someone for feedback can be tough.

CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

David A. Bedford: First, have another job and don’t plan to live off royalties. Very few people have been able to do that. Even some of the very best classical authors had another source of income.

Plan what you want to do with each writing project. Plot: how will the story end and how do we get there? Characters: what makes them tick, what are their motivations and inborn personality traits? Know their back story. Subtext: what are the values and/or symbolism and/or philosophy and/or any other matters that are important to you?–don’t address it directly, just let it bubble up. Locale: have it vivid in your mind but just allude to it as if your readers already knew the place.

Allow for the serendipities: you never know just what may happen.

Allow yourself to be intuitive.

Let the characters be who they are. They may hijack your plans. So, see where it leads to. The idea of plot that you start with should be something that occurs because your characters act and think the way they do. Sometimes you start a scene with characters interacting and when you’re done you say: “I didn’t know it was going to turn out like that.” I call it being in the zone. When you’re in the zone, good things happen.

Have several people read your drafts. Think about what they tell you.

Finally, finish your book and start submitting it to agents. Know what the agents accept and don’t accept before you send it and make sure it is in the format they ask for. Expect many rejections and never give up.

I wish I’d known to keep submitting the book more purposefully and frequently.

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing ever said to you?

David A. Bedford: Literature should have room for everything.

CS: Tell us about your next book. Is it young adult fiction as well?

David A. Bedford: My next book will be Angela 2: The Guardian of the Bay. It’s already written. I want Angela 1 to get some good traction before I submit the next one for publication. Before that I need to go over Guardian and edit it very carefully. The third and last installment (Angela 3: Silver Path of the Moon) is planned out. I suspect it may need a more detailed outline. I plan to start on it when the second book is published.


Thank you so much for interviewing me!

“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” – Terry Pratchett



No David, Thank you for sharing this interview with us.






Reading Goals

Is there anyone out there that remembers the reading goals I had set for myself at the beginning of the year? I decided to check if I kept up in any of the areas I said I would. Here are the expectations per month:

2 Writing books
2 YA books
1 BIO
2 fantasy books
1 research book
and 5 writing magazines

Here are the results as of Sept. 1st:

6/16 Writing books
14/16 YA
4/8 BIOs
13/16 fantasy books
0/8 research books
13/40 writing magazines

In my defense, this past winter/spring seasons were the worst in memorable history for our workload on the farm. So much snow slowed us up and caused us to use up ALL the feed we had, when in past years we always had a years' worth in storage. The crops were late getting in, and we had flooding issues in the spring, and we were so busy with it all that I couldn't get around to planting a garden until July, so I said to heck with it. Maybe that's why I've had time for my blog these past couple of weeks, because I'd be elbow-deep in harvesting and freezing everything this time of year:0)