Monday, December 27, 2010

Getting Close to Querying!!

This is where I am in my writing journey...

I have decided last minute to add a new chapter/scene into my novel. It's not a make it or break it scene, but I think it's an important one to have and is befitting to the MC's character and expected actions. I have also been editing/revising/slashing furiously, all unnecessary words, sentences, and scenes. As soon as I finish writing this new scene, I will go through the entire novel for one last round of edits, which will involve getting rid of "Melanie words." You know what I mean. Those special words that every writer has a tendency to overuse--just, really, look, well, etc... Of course, these words vary from writer to writer. I know which ones are mine. :-)

As for my query, I can honestly say I went to hell and back during that process. I even shed a few tears, but alas, I have survived and now have what I think to be a kick-ass query thanks to some amazing feedback from a lot of people over in QLH. I'm just putting the final revisions/edits on that. My goal is to begin querying by mid-January, which gives me about 3 weeks. I know it's not a lot of time to finish my novel revisions, query revisions, and do my intense research on gathering the agents that will be a good fit for me and my work, but I think giving myself a deadline is important. People say, why rush? I don't like to think that I'm rushing, but that I'm giving myself a deadline like an agent or editor might do. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It forces me to stay focused and do what I gotta do.

Where are you in your writing journey and what words to you tend to overuse in your writing???

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's On My Plate

I would like to apologize to my blogger buddies and visitors for not keeping up with my blog lately. As I'm sure it is for many, the approaching of the holidays can make life crazy. Shopping, cleaning, organizing,  gift wrapping, preparing for family, cooking, the crazy weather...

Okay, let me stop the crap...none of those are the reasons for my lack of new posts lately.

The truth is, I've been crazy busy trying to work on some final revision work on Breaking Out, my completed YA paranormal novel, which I'm HOPING to start querying in January. This means that I am also working on my very important query letter and the synopsis. In addition, I am trying to find time to work on my new WIP as well as my first love novel that I have recently pulled out of the old trunkeroo. I'm crazy I tell ya. In addition to that, I am currently beta reading for 3 different people (well, waiting on the next chapter from one, re-reading completed ms with finished revisions, and another ms  just waiting on my desktop to get to). On top of that, I have been dealing with my 4 year old twin daughters who I have discovered do have the ability to share and take turns after all. Who knew that it would be with a blasted cold :-) What do you get when you cross kids in Pre-K and freezing winter weather? SICK KIDS FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS!!!

Anyway, I hope after the holidays to get a bit more consistent in my blogging. I'm trying to still visit blogs when I can, so you may see me popping around.

In case I don't make it back here before Xmas, Happy holidays to you and your loved ones and to those who don't celebrate Xmas, wishing you happiness and health as we approach the new year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And It's Out of the Trunk!

Yep, I have FINALLY returned to my first love. No, I didn't leave my husband for an old boyfriend. :-)  I'm talking about the very first novel I ever wrote. I'm absolutely in love with my recently finished novel, but always sitting in the back of my mind and nestled in my heart was a little story I wrote called Twin Souls. Okay, so it wasn't all that little. It was more like 145K (originally finished at 160K, but I got it down...hahaha). I even have that story copyrighted. Yep, I have an official piece of paper that says I have a copyright on Twin Souls. (Oh how little I knew hehe).

Anyway, I am very excited to re-write this story. I'm hoping to get it down to 80-90K (Yes that's a lot of cutting and slashing), but I think I can do it because I have learned soooooooooooooo much since writing that book. I still believe strongly in the story (and I still envision it as a 5 book series). I'm still completely and totally in love with Bryce, the hot Latino LI (yes, I have a thing for Latino men/LI in my stories :-))  and I'm going to be working to make my MC, Melina, an even stronger character than she already is because I love a strong female lead. This story is full of hotness, msytery, suspense and life lessons in accepting yourself for who you are (no matter what you are) as well as love. It is a Paranormal Romance Thriller and I can't wait to be living again in this world.

How about you? Any trunked pieces or first loves that you are just dying to pull out? Or if you have, I'd love to hear experience in how you went about revisiting it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Conflict/Action--The essential element to a good story

I was over at a writing website reading/critiquing someone's posted first chapter. Though there were several issues with the writing itself, the main problem that several people mentioned was that nothing really happens. Nothing to propel the reader with that feeling that you need to read on and find out what happens. This writer was very appreciative of the suggestions/edits I (and others) gave and then they went on to post chapter 3 (notice that chapter 2 was skipped...hmmm). In chapter 3, something finally happens; There's a gorgeous hot new guy at the school and it's big news for the students/girls who live on this island where there is only one high school.  However, there was still one thing missing:  CONFLICT. Several people had made this comment to this person's work and the writer thanked everyone for our feedback and was anxious to get back to doing re-writes (YAY!!! Good sign. Not someone who gives up after some tough but honest feedback). The writer then made this comment: Conflict is tricky. To which I responded: Conflict is not just tricky, it is ESSENTIAL.  And then my brain started trying to figure out an analogy of how to help someone understand why conflict is the driving force to a story. Here's what my brain came up with:

Imagine you just moved to a new neighborhood. There's a girl next door who is your age, but you go to different school. She invites you over. You're hanging out in her room. On her bed. Her mother calls her downstairs to help her with something and she says, "I'll be back in a bit." She leaves the room and sitting right there on the nightstand, next to the bed, is what appears to be her journal. You know it's sooooo wrong to read someone's journal, but think, hey, if it was so private, she'd have put it away or hidden it, right? This is a good, quick way to get to know your new friend. So you pick it up and begin to read from the beginning. And it goes something like this:

Tuesday, September 7th

School started. My teachers already gave us homework. I went to the mall with the girls after school. I didn't buy anything.

Wednesday, September 8th

I ate bran cereal with banana for breakfast. I almost missed the bus for school, but I made it. School was okay. I think I might try out for the math team this year.

Friday, September 9th

Yay. Friday already. There should be a rule that teachers are not allowed to give homework on the weekend.  Me and the girls made plans to go see a movie. That will be fun. I wonder what movie we'll choose?

Sunday, September 12th

Had a good weekend. The movie was funny. Ate popcorn and candy and balanced it off with a diet soda.  Today I helped mom clean the house and then she and I went grocery shopping.


Okay, so at this point, aren't you ready to put this diary down (if you haven't already) and think to yourself that you don't feel bad for prying into her private book, but what you do feel bad about is that this girl has the most boring life ever? You see that there are a million more entries, but this crap is BORING. Most people will put the book down at this point because you assume there is just more of the same. Unfortunately, if they had kept reading on, they would have eventually gotten to this:

Monday, December 11th

Gina totally humiliated me in the gym today. When the teacher wasn't looking, she ran up behind me and lifted my shirt. Everyone saw that I stuff my bra. Everyone laughed at me, especially the guys. I wanted to fucking die. How could she be so evil? How could she get pleasure from someone else's pain? I don't want to go back to school. EVER.

(Does she have your interest now?)

Tuesday, December 12th

I faked being sick today. I just couldn't handle facing everyone after what Gina did to me. Callie says that everyone was talking about it today at school, but a lot of people felt really bad for me and think Gina is a bitch. That made me feel a little better.

(Don't you want to know what's going to happen when she goes back to school? Are you bored anymore?)

Wednesday, December 15th

I went back to school today. It was horrible. People were laughing in my face and making all sorts of jokes. Someone filled my locker with toilet paper. I suspect it was Gina and her stupid bitch cronies, but I can't prove it and no one is saying anything. She and her friends were huddled and whispering something at their table during lunch. They kept looking over at me with these stupid grins on their faces. I feel like they are up to something and it's freaking me out.

Thrusday, December 14th

Gina has humiliated me for the last time!!! I fucking HATE that bitch and she is so going to pay. I know where Dad hides the key to the gun cabinet and where he keeps the bullets. That bitch is soooooo dead!

(Whoa! Does she got your attention now? Aren't you dying to know what happens next?)

This was an example to show why there needs to be some sort of conflict/action early on. If you don't get something going soon enough, then chances are someone will put the book down before they can ever get to it. There might be some exciting things to come, but if you don't grab your reader in a timely fashion, they'll never know. So why make them wait? It doesn't necessarily have to be the first chapter, but if you wait too long, chances are you'll lose them before you can pull them in. And if it's not in the first chapter, you better make sure there is SOMETHING that pulls them in whether it be a strong interesting voice, or the creation of a world that makes your reader want to explore more of. Something magnetic to hold them until they get to the WHOA stuff.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ten Ways You Know You're No Longer Addicted to Twilight

10. You've stopped researching the internet to see if they have any 12 Step programs for Twilightaholics.
9. You no longer ask random people if they've read Twilight so you can engage them in a 2 hour discussion about the books even though you've discussed them a million times already.
8. The Twilight Saga Message board is no long a tab on your bookmarks bar (though it may still be in the bookmark menu ;))
7. The books have actually been put away in your bookcase and no longer sit on your nightstand just so you can stare at them every night before you go to sleep and feel closer to them.
6. You no longer question why your spouse can't be more like Edward and realize that you wouldn't actually want a guy who is as hard as marble, cold as ice, likes to eat raw animals, is 108 years old, likes to control you and who your friends are, likes to stare at you for hours while you sleep, and can't make love to you for fear he'll kill you.
5. You actually laugh when you see things like Twilight board games and Twilight dolls while hanging out with your kids in the toy section of a store.
4. You contemplate taking down your framed twilight posters because you realize how insane it is that you have them hanging in your bedroom even though your dear sweet husband bought them for you for Xmas one year because he's so sweet and so awesome and totally supported your crazy addiction (wait a minute, isn't that enabling? Hmmm...)
3. You've finally realized that being Team Edward or Team Jacob is totally inappropriate because these guys are almost young enough to be your sons and that's just eeeeewwwww gross. (what the hell was I thinking. Eeewwww).
2. When people ask you if you've ever read or heard about the book Twilight, you say, "Yes. They're great. You should read them" instead of "What??? Are you fucking kidding me??? You haven't read them yet?!?  They are like the best books EVER. I read all four books in a week!!! Oh my God!!! You HAVE to read them!!! Like now!!! I read the whole series and then read the entire series again right away, which I've never ever done before in my life!! Read them and then call me and tell me what you think! (So we can discuss the books for a good 2 hours because I can't get enough.)

And lastly,

1. You are heading to the register in Target and see a stand stocked with the Eclipse dvd and think, "Oh. When did that come out?" and then casually grab one and throw into your cart. (Yeah, back in the day, I would have known the exact day and time of release! Oops. Ha. Thus the realization that I'm over the Twilight craze. Though they will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.)

What about you? What can you add to this list? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Help, I'm getting nervous!!!!

Okay, so I just read a very powerful post on Natalie Whipple's blog. My heart ached as I read about the rough journey getting published has been for her so far. And we're talking a really intense up and down, slamming hard into walls that's full of mental and emotional injury type of journey.

And it scared the shit out of me.

Not to the point that I want to give up (and God knows if Natalie has not yet given up, I'd be a total loser fool to even consider it), but it has given me a major reality check of what's to come. I don't even have an agent yet, but I thought once I did, it would be smooth sailing from there. You know, something like this:

I get an Agent like this *snap of fingers*
Some minor edits/revision asked of me. No problem
I Go on Sub
Every pub vying for my novel, it goes to auction and I come out with a six figure deal close to a million $s

I mean, it happens, right? I know it does because I just read about it happening to some unknown first time author and so of course I'm all like, "Yeah, it can happen to me because my story is brilliant and different and so well written and...and...

"And then BAM. A fucking bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces"

Sorry if TMI with the Cousin Vinny quote, but I imagine that must be how it feels when your journey (or any dream for that matter) takes you on a totally different and unexpected path to the town of -sorry-you're-not-as-perfect-and-great-and-wonderful-as-you,-your-friends,-and-family-think-you-are-and-there-are-a-million-better-writers-with-better-ideas-than-you-out-in-the-world-so-get-a-damn-grip.

Yes, I need to stopping dreaming too big. Everyone wants to think they are brilliant (at least I know I don't want to walk around thinking I'm a loser), but the truth is, there are no guarantees in this business and it can take a loooooooooong time to really make it big in this business (if at all). So, I will continue to write my ass off, but I also need to stay real about my future and what I will do to make money and help provide for my family. My girls start Kindergarten next year, which means no more being a SAHM. Time to find a $$$ making job because even if I get one of my books agented and published, it doesn't mean I will be the next SM or JKR or SC. If it happens, it will be like hitting the lottery. I can't live my life as though the next time I play lotto I will win and life will be cake.

I'm about to enter the querying stage. I ask those of you who have already been through it (whether you got an agent or haven't as of yet, but are still trying) what advice can you give me about what to expect. Lay the reality on me. I seriously need a Marisa Tormei slap in the forehead.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I've Changed My Blog Name

Hey My Trust Worthy and Loyal  Subjects Stalkers Followers :-) (And to anyone new who may be interested in joining),

Just wanted to let you know that I changed my blog title. I used to be All About Art (most mostly writing!), but that was just a working title until something better came along. I realized that it was important for me to have something about young adult in my title and I played around with a few and came up with what I now have. I will still talk about all sorts of things, but this blog was created because of my love and passion for writing YA fiction, so it seemed appropriate to have a name that reflects that.

Just wanted to let you know so you can note it where you need to. I will now show up towards the bottom of your alphabetized blog list as opposed to the top area. So, don't think I disappeared :-) I'm still very much here and goin' nowhere anytime soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dexter-one of the best developed and written characters ever!!!!

Some blogger friends of mine *waves excitedly with a cheesy grin to the Killer Chicks * turned me on to this little show called Dexter. Here is a small blurb about the show:

Dexter is an American television drama series that centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensic bloodstain pattern analystfor the Miami Metro Police Department, who moonlights as a serial killer...Dexter structures his killing around "The Code of Harry", a body of ethics and procedures devised by his adoptive father Harry (who was a Miami cop) to make sure Dexter never gets caught and ensure that Dexter kills only other killers. Harry also trained Dexter in how to interact convincingly with other people despite being a psychopath...

Umm...hellloooo?? Can you say, Holy F'n Awesomeness? 

Dexter. Wow. Never, in all my years of television and movie watching (and I have watched A LOT) have I ever been so completely addicted and drawn to a character the way I am to Dexter. I've also gotten my husband completely HOOKED on this show and he doesn't hook onto a whole lot of shows. Besides the fact that this show is brilliantly entertaining, twisting, on the edge of your seat fantastic, the character of Dexter (or what dh and I have come to call The Dexterminator), based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay, is one of the best I've ever seen. The layers to his character are so unique and intricate that I find myself rooting for this psychopath serial killer. Actually rooting for a SERIAL KILLER. The acting in this show is EXCELLENT and the various plots and subplots tie in wonderfully to a perfect, neat 52 minute weekly package. Kuddos to Jeff Lindsay for creating one of the best, most unique, interesting, funny, honest and most loved characters ever and to all those who have brought this character and his stories to life on the television screen. If you have not yet seen this show, check it out. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, though. It's pretty graphic, boderline gory at times with some nudity, cursing and the works, but for me that's what makes it all the more fantastic. Thank goodness for cable networks! (Or in my case, thank goodness for Netflix!! I'm about half way through season 1 and I'm so excited they are on the fifth season now. That means a whole lot of Dexter is in my future!)

If you prefer to read over watching television, then by all means, run out and get the books because I hear they are SUPER DUPER INSANELY FANTASTIC. Seriously, I can only imagine how amazing an experience it must be to be in the head of Dexter through a book. I'm sure Jeff Lindsay's books will suck you in because he's created one of the truly most brilliantly created characters ever!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing: 10 Things I'm Thankful for

I probably won't be posting until after the Thanksgiving holiday, so here is my I am Thankful post (in no particular order). To those of you who celebrate this holiday HAVE A VERY HAPPY TURKEY DAY. And to those of you who don't...HAVE A VERY HAPPY REST OF THE WEEK! :-)

I Am Thankful For:

10. Beta Readers- Mine have been awesome. Brutally honest, but always with great respect and encouragement. I'd truly be lost without them and have learned soooooo much from them!

9. Absolute Write- Seriously, this site has changed my life in more ways than I can begin to name.

8. Blogging- Never even heard of it until this year. It's addicting and fun and I can easily spend hours a day reading them. 

7. Renni Browne and Dave King's book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers- This book was immensely helpful and improved my writing in so many ways.

6. SM- Yes that does stand for THEE Stephenie Meyer. I was inspired to write because of her. Not because I wanted to write about vampires and werewolves (I don't), but because I discovered that I want to write. Who knew?

5. My Father- My dad has always supported EVERYTHING I do and this fairly new venture into writing is no different. He is the wind beneath my wings and he never stops encouraging me to find whatever it is in life that makes me happy.

4. My Husband- My dear, sweet, patient husband who continues to be supportive and love me and encourage me even though I've been having an affair. (With my laptop people, not another man!!! Geesh.)

3. Other Writers- I can't tell you how many people I have come to know though writing. From people I've met on AW to those on blogs to those I've met through others, there is NOTHING in the world as amazing and supportive as those in the writing community.

3. My Late Grandma, Birdy- She was the one who helped me learn to accept constructive criticism. An essential to make it in this business.

2. My Laptop- I could not have done all the writing I have done without it. THANKS DADDY!

1. Angie and Naomi- God. Where do I even start? Amazing. Talented. Beautiful. Caring. Supportive. And most importantly, my friends. Their guidance and help (both inside and outside the world of writing)  has meant more to me than I can ever begin to express in words (which seems silly considering I'm a "writer" but when it comes to them, I'm verklempt). I heart them so much!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo to you both :-)

What about you all? What are you thankful for this year in the world of writing?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble! It's almost that time of year!!!l

We are only a week away from Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, the other one being Christmas. Kinda sucks that they are so close together as I have to wait a looooooong time for my favorite holiday season to arrive.

Thanksgiving for me is all about the delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal (and about giving thanks, of course :)).

Here is what my Thanksgiving feast includes:

Turkey (I only eat the white meat)
Stuffing (my absolute favorite!)
Cranberry sauce (every bite of turkey must be combined with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the fork)
Mashed Potatoes
Butternut squash
Gravy (for everyone else. I don't do gravy)
Apple Pie

Okay, I have a little confession to make. I don't actually cook or prepare one item on this list. Yes, ladies and gents, I buy the entire meal, pre-cooked from my local Stop&Shop supermarket. And here it is...

Complete Turkey Dinner

Our turkey dinner features a juicy, fully-cooked Butterball turkey complete with all the traditional side dishes and desserts. Simply heat and serve. Serves 6-8.

Butterball Fully Cooked Turkey (aprx 10-12 lbs),
2-24 oz Stop & Shop Homestyle Mashed Potatoes,
1-24 oz Stop & Shop Homestyle Stuffing,
2-24 oz Stop & Shop Butternut Squash,
1-24 oz Stop & Shop Turkey Gravy,
1-14 oz Stop & Shop Fresh Cranberry Relish,
12 Dinner Rolls,
8" Apple or Pumpkin Pie.

Allow 2 hours for reheating turkey.
Serves 6-8.
No substitutions please.

While supplies last, last day to order is 11/22.

For nutrition facts and ingredients, please click here

This item is only available for pickup from 11/13/2010 thru 11/24/2010Please allow 2 days notice for this item
Complete Turkey Dinner

Price:  $59.99

Isn't that sweet ass sweet??? A no stress, full out Thanksgiving meal for only 60 bucks. Tell me that isn't a deal??? There is one thing I do actually make because my husband would break down and have a sobbing fit if I didn't. It's a Puerto Rican dish I learned to make from my mother-in-law called piƱon. It's like lasagna, but instead of noodles you make it with layers of fried sweet plantains. It's insanely delicious.

So, tell me about your meal. What is usually on the table at your Thanksgiving feast? What is your favorite, must have item on the menu?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What do Query Letters and Tootsie Pops Have in Common?

(Lovin' the new version!)

As you all know, I'm in the process of writing my query letter. It has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop talking about it. I go up to random friends and start venting my frustrations about it while they look at me with that look. You know the one. The what-the-hell-is-a-query-letter look? But I don't care. I keep rambling on as though they understand me and ignore their confused expressions because it's not really about them now is it? It's about me and my need to vent, so shut up, be a friend and just let me get it off my chest :-)

I can't stop bitching about how hard it is, but at the same time, I friggin' love the challenge because I know in the end, I will have a kick ass letter that will make every agent in the industry say, "OH MY GOD. I'M HOOKED! THIS STORY IS BRILLIANT.!!! MUST. HAVE. FULL."

Okay, so I know not EVERY agent I query will be interested no matter how fantastic and perfect my query letter may be. But, it's something to strive for, no?

Anyway, I have come to realize that writing this query letter is like trying to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. How many damn licks will it take to get the center???? Each version I write is like another lick, but eventually I HAVE to get to the center, right? As long as I don't quit, I will get there. And there's no biting to get to the center. That's cheating. That would be like having an expert query letter writer, write the query for you (but damn if that wouldn't be a HUGE money making business, heh?) So, I'll keep on licking and licking until my tongue is raw and cavities form because getting to the center of that Tootsie Pop for the that delicious chewy, chocolaty, mouth watering tootsie roll in the center is soooooooooo worth it. And so is my determination to write the best query letter I can!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Query Letter Writing Process (warning: content may be hazardous to your eyes)

How's your query letter writing going, Melanie?

@#$%!#%@$%&*%^@$%!@#$!#$%#$%^, but thanks for asking.

Seriously, this is torture. Who would think that writing a 90Kword novel would be easier than a 300 word letter about the novel??? I only got two words to say to that:

Fuck. Me.

Excuse my language, but working on this letter makes me want to spew shit that only a potty mouth from the inside of a portable bathroom at a barbeque showdown would appreciate.

I have researched and read and researched and read anything and everything to do with query letter writing. I have even read the research about reading the research about researching the reading and writing of query letters! (did you actually get that, cause I think I lost myself there). I have also been lucky enough to receive some wonderful help and feedback from a very talented author and I still can't seem to get it right! But therein lies the problem: I refuse to give up. I will continue to torture myself until I have fried every last neuron in my brain in writing the perfect, eye catching, word hooking query letter I can. I mean, it's not like giving up is an option, right?

Okay, thanks for the vent. Time for my 1,856th attempt at this letter.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Things About Me Me Me :-)

I've been tagged "it" by my buddy Joann over at It's Dark, Dark In Here (hey this is the second post with Joann's blog mentioned :-) ) to tell 10 things about me. Since I just updated my "Me" page, I will try to add 10 things I have not mentioned. Okay, here goes.

10. I'm an "American Mutt". Yes, each one of my grandparents was from a different country-Hungary, Austria, Sweden and Germany.

9. I lived in foster homes between the ages of 3 and 5 and was going to be put up for adoption, but my Guardian Angel *waves excitedly to Daddy* saved me. He got official custody of me when I was six  and raised me as a single father my entire life.

8. My dad is the "Real" Kramer (shhhhhh)

7. I studied acting at HB studios in Tribeca for a while and thought I would go the acting route, but decided it wasn't the life I wanted.

6. I tried for 5 years to have kids and finally had success with the miracles of modern medicine. I am a very proud IVFer :-)

5. I almost dropped out of school when I was 16, but my father convinced me to stay in and I ended up going to college and getting a BA in psychology and a MA in Elementary Education.

4. I was a beauty advisor/make-up artist for Lancome for 3 years at Macy's Herald Square. (The money was great, but the retail hours...HATED IT!)

3. I'm not a night owl AND I'm not a morning person. Not sure what the hell that makes me? I like my sleep (too bad I don't get enough of it)

2. I have been with my husband for almost 15 years (married 7). He is from Puerto Rico and we plan on moving there with our girls in the next couple of years!!!!!! Tropical weather, banana and mango trees, beach weather year round, and lots and lots of family HERE WE COME!!!

1. Discovering my joy for writing has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me (well, other than my family). Writing has given me a mental release from life that I believe everyone needs. Whether it be from photography, drawing, sewing, knitting, scrap booking, reading, whatever it may be, having something to pull you away from everyday life is so important. And most importantly, writing has brought some amazing people to my life. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my writer friends (and you best know who you are :-))

Naomi, Hayley, and Shari...TAG, YOU'RE IT! :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

Okay, this one really cracked me up.

I had just picked up the girls from Pre-K and Lorien was in a bad mood. Apparently, she was angry that it was time for her to go because she wanted to play with some toys at the table. So, her mood carried into the car and she was a total crank pot. It didn't help that she was up 4 times last night and was scared that the ceiling in my bedroom (yes my girls were sleeping in my bed with Dh and I), was full of bees. She got stung for the first time this past summer and is now PETRIFIED of bees :(

Anyway, I degress. So, she's in a bad mood in the car and I'm trying to distract her and cheer her up. Nothing is working. Finally she says:

"That's it. I quit. I'm angry. I want to be out of this world. I want to go to Pennsylvania!"

Huh? I friggin' cracked up. And I mean I laughed hard. Pennsylvania?? Where did that come from (we live in NY).  I really need to get a special notebook and just jot down the things they say and when they said them. Will be cute to look at when they are older. Hmmm....I think I will run out and buy a notebook tomorrow.

So, any kids say the darndest thing stories from any of you? Doesn't have to be your own kids. I just love hearing the crazy things that come out of children.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Need Your Help Purty Peas :-)

Okay, so, I was on Joann's blog, It's Dark, Dark in Here (I visit it often) and I clicked on her MOI (FAQ) page and realized I don't have one of those and since Joann mentioned that it's the first thing she generally looks for when checking out a new blog, I figure there are probably others like her.

And I don't have one.


Since I don't have anything to blog about right now, I thought, let me put it up to my "followers" (God that sounds so cheesy! And I remember my Dad always reminding me as a teenager..."Don't be a follower. Be a leader."). Anywhoo, I was wondering if you could offer some good FAQs for me to answer as I feel silly asking and answering my own questions. The questions could be serious or totally ridiculous (or both if you ask more than one!) I will try to answer all of them as long as it's not TOO TOO personal--you know, don't ask my bra size or questions like bikini or thong? Unless it's regarding a hot celeb :-) Ask as many questions as you'd like and I will try to include them all. Of course you are all doing me a huge favor, so a GINORMOUS, GIGANTIC, GARGANTUAN THANK YOU in advance for your help. I think this could be fun. Or really, really embarrassing. But I'm totally okay with embarrassing.

Ask away Peeps :-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Post--Bookmarks

Last night I had the most random thought and said to myself, Why not blog about it? So, today's post is about bookmarks. Yes folks, the ever exciting, thrilling, can't contain one's exuberance, bookmarks.

So for the last couple of books I have read, I was using this stupid torn piece of paper from  Great Wolf Lodge. I mean, don't get me wrong, it served it's purpose, but it was a strange jagged-y triangular shaped piece of paper ripped from the corner of a Save 20% coupon. I seriously don't even remember how it got ripped or why. Did I tear it off because I needed it for a bookmark? Who knows. God only knows why I do the things I sometimes do, and I sure wish s/he'd let me in on the reasons.

Upon picking up the last book I read, I said to myself, Wait a minute...My husband has several bookmarks in the nightstand next to his side of the bed. I had used them in the past and couldn't for the life of me figure out why I demoted myself to a piece of torn paper. So, I'm back to using an "official" bookmark thing-y. It's a LOTR bookmark with a picture of Arwen and Aragorn (happy sigh) walking hand-in-hand during the Coronation of the King scene in The Return of the King. The picture is so beautiful and has a calming sage green tassel with the One Ring inscribed with Elvish writing around it. Yes ladies and gents, I have the one ring to rule them all...muahahahaa.

So what about you? What do you use as a bookmark? What does it look like. What's the story behind it?  Share the juicy details!

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNo or NoNaNo

It seems that NaNo has taken over the world in my writing community. For those of you who don't know, NaNo is a sort of contest in which you have to try to write a 50K word Novel in a months time. It's not about quality but about quantity. It's intense from what I hear and read, but has a lot of advantages to the writer by forcing them to just write and not think about editing or revision. Just get the story down. I've even read that several people have had their NaNo stories end up being published (w/edit and revisions afterward, I'm sure). Basically, NaNo is not so much of a competition between writers, but one with yourself. It must be an amazing feeling to write 50K in a month. Such an accomplishment.

Okay, so why am I not part of this crazy NaNo stuff? I don't know. Maybe because I'm too excited about the revision work I have going on in my completed novel right now. Maybe because I can't imagine having the time to do this as a SAHM who's husband is working towards an online Bachelor's degree and so I have been trying to keep the girl's entertained a little more while he studies. Or, maybe I'm just scared that I can't do it. Who knows. Perhaps I'll try some other time. But I have to admit I feel very lonely right now in my writer's world. I feel like 90% of the writers I communicate with are going crazy doing NaNo right now and they are bonding in a way I can't with them. Sigh. Oh well.

Maybe 90% is a steep guesstimate. So, question of the day: NaNo or NoNaNo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Wet, Sick Wednesday :-)

Yep, says it all. It's raining here and one of my girls is sick. Maybe that's what inspired me to change my blog appearance. I needed a change and though I hate rain, there is something about this particular background that I find tranquil.

Today's goal is to get my daughter to the ped and I'd really like to get some new writing done. I'm finding it very hard to work on my new wip while I'm in the revision process of my other novel. I know there are people who work on multiple projects at a time, but I'm finding it very difficult.

What about you? One project at a time or can you multi-task with your different works?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Manic Monday--Revisions

So far so good. I've gotten amazing feedback/suggestions from my first BETA reader (who has read and critiqued my chapters as I completed them and also did the entire ms when I was done). I'm not finding the revision process too hard. I've cut out a good 3-3.5k in scenes that were good, but didn't really do anything in terms of moving the plot along. It was hard to let some of them go, but in the end, it's a better story without it and the pace is better.

I'm now awaiting the critique of my final chapters from BETA #2 and then I will send the entire ms through to that one and strum my fingers while I wait for that critique. Then it will be sent off to BETA #3 and then to my final BETA reader #4 (I think I'll stop there. Who knows, maybe I'll get one more). I think it is so insane for anyone to not use a beta reader or for anyone to believe that their work is so exceptional that they simply don't need one. The advice and feedback and support I have received from BETA readers has been INVALUABLE. I know I've been very lucky in getting the BETA readers I did. I've heard of people having horrible experiences with theirs. I think the key is to research them and get to "know" them carefully.

So how did I get my BETA readers??? With major cojones. Yep, I cheated. Well, I don't know if it's cheating so much as frowned upon, but hey, what can I say? I'm a friggin' New Yorker raised in Hell's Kitchen. Having balls comes with the territory (even if you're a girl :-))

I belong to this amazing site that seriously changed my life in terms of my writing. Absolute Write is the name, Reality Check is the game. If you are serious about writing and improving in your craft (no matter the genre, there's something there for everyone) you must join this site or one like it. The support and available knowledge is unlike anything I've seen. AND IT'S FREE. It's almost ridiculous that it's free, but I'll shut my mouth now before anyone gets any ideas :-)

Anywhoo...I spent a good amount of time in the SYW forum (Share Your Work). Reading people's critiques. It's amazing how much you learn from reading someone's shared piece and then reading the critiques that people give. I got brave one day and tried my own critiquing and some people actually started to appreciate my advice (or my 1 cent as I like to say). After months of watching and reading people critique, and then needing someone to critique my ms, I pm'd a couple of different people and asked them if they'd be willing to BETA read for me. I thought to myself, what's the worse that could happen? They'll say no. Luckily, none of them did and I've actually become GREAT friends with a couple of them.

Back to revisions...I think the reason I'm not finding it too difficult is because I trust my BETA readers whole heartedly (and my own writer's instincts too, of course). I know they are really looking out for me and my work and so when they make a suggestion, I KNOW it's to improve my story whether it be pacing, character development, tension building or whatever.

So that's where I'm at in the revision process. Thought I would dread it, but I actually find it enjoyable.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Manic Monday--Poetry

Normally I do movie reviews on Mondays, but the hubby and I have been watching season one of Spartacus, so I thought I'd post about something else that I've been want to discuss on my blog, but have been putting off: Poetry (shudder, cringe, starting to feel nauseous).

Okay, so here's the deal with me and poetry.

I don't like it. I HATE it. I despise it. I...fear it.

Gasp. What?? Oh my God! What did she just say?  Gasp. Gasp. Can't. Breathe. WTF? Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Get the noose people! This girl is out of her fucking mind!

Yeah, I thought some of you might react that way. But now ask me why.

Okay. Why Melanie, why on this good God's Earth would you say such a thing?!?

Why? Because of my eleventh grade English Lit teacher.


Yep. Isn't that terribly sad??? I know. Here's what happened--

Many eons ago when I was in the eleventh grade, My English Lit teacher gave us an exam and one of the questions on this exam was a poem we had never seen before (I don't remember the author or the name of the poem, but I remember it had something to do with fish, I think, who friggin' knows. Anyway...). The question on the exam asked us to read a given poem and give our interpretation of the Poet's meaning behind a particular line in the poem. Okay. Easy enough right? Right.

A couple of days later I get my exam back and I have a C on the exam. I'm usually a B student so I didn't love seeing a C on my paper. I look it over to see where I lost so many points and low and behold, I lost a huge chunk of points on that poem question. The difference between a C and a B and that to me was a big deal. But the thing was, there was no explanation about why I lost so many points on that question, so I went to her to ask her about it. (The following is a very rough recollection of that conversation. It was a long time ago)

Me: Why did I lose so many points on this question?
Her: Because you didn't understand what the poem was saying.
Me: ?
Her: ?
Me: But you asked us to give you our interpretation of what that line meant, so how can you say I was wrong?
Her: You didn't understand what the poet was trying to say. That wasn't what the poem was about.
Me: But I gave you MY interpretation of that line. You asked us to give you our individual interpretation based on a poem we've never seen so how can you say I was wrong? That's totally unfair.
Her: I'm sorry, but if you read the poem carefully, you would have understood what the poet was trying to say in that line.  I can't give you any points on it.
Me: ?
Her: ?
Me: But, this was a poem we've never seen or discussed before. My iterpretation therefore is going to be based on my own background knowledge and experiences. How can you say the way I interpreted a poem I've never seen is wrong??? (Why, yes...I did end up majoring in psychology in college. Why do you ask?)
Her: Sorry. I'm not going to give you any points on it. You misinterpreted the poem.
Me: @#^^&*%^&*#% (not to her, in my head). I walk away...pissed and changed.

So, there you have it. Does it make sense that I would suddenly hate poetry? You see, this teacher made me believe that all poems are written with one specific meaning behind it. That there is only one interpretation to what a poem is saying and means. And that I should totally understand every poem and what that particular poet (whom I don't know squat about) is trying to say. After that experience, I thought to myself, Why bother? I don't understand what they're saying anyway. Why should I care. I don't get it and my interpretation will probably always be wrong. There's no room for individual interpretation in poetry, so unless I'm writing my own...who friggin cares.

I believe in my heart that this teacher was wrong, but I can't help but feel permanently tainted when it comes to poetry.

I know this may seems so sad to some of you because it is to me. This one teacher killed my possibility to love poetry. And to be honest, I think she kind of killed my love for reading as I can recall from that moment on, not enjoying reading. Reading to me was about text books for school and work and papers and homework. There was no joy to be had in reading, especially when it was subject to interpretation.

It is only in the last 7 years or so that I have slowly begun to find pleasure in reading, but I will admit, I still hide from poetry like it's the plague. I don't want to feel that way, but I don't know how to get over this feeling that if I read a poem, I won't be able to "get it." And I know I shouldn't have to and it really pisses me off that I think I should. That teacher has NO IDEA what she did to me. How she killed my love for the very subject she was teaching.

I hope one day to find joy in poetry because I know I'm missing so much beautiful literature out there. It's funny because when I see a small poem in the beginning of a novel, I groan and turn the page. I LOVED the book Paper Towns, but hated the parts that referred to the poem that the whole story was based around. I literally cringed and felt my heart race every time the MC started reading that damn poem.


And thanks for letting me vent about this. It's been pent up in me for a VERY LONG TIME.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday's Movie Review--Speak

Hey guys! So, I have been DYING to share this review. I saw this movie early last week, but have been waiting to post it for my Monday review which works out since the hubby and I will be spending the next couple of weekends watching the STARZ mini-series Sparticus (we saw the first 4 episodes this weekend and OH MAN IS IT GOOD!).

Anyway, we're speaking today about Speak, a movie based on the book by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was an independent made film directed by Jessica Sharzer and starring Kristen Stewart who was absoltuely AMAZING as Melinda Sordino. I mean, truly, truly amazing. She had this character down to a tee (IMO). The best thing about this movie was that it paralleled the book more than any book to movie translation I've ever seen, which was a huge relief as it did great justice to Anderson's book/story. It's kind of crazy, but I thought to myself that if that stupid Prof Scroggins who so obviously skimmed through the book, found a few key words and then made a total moronic assumption that the book was pornographic in nature, had watched the movie instead, perhaps he would have had a very different feel for what Anderson's story was actually telling. The acting in this movie was wonderful. I cried several times and the way they slipped the scenes of what happened to her were done smoothly. The actual scene of what happens frightened me. It made me cry and cover my eyes a bit. If Scroggins saw that scene and believed it pornographic then he's doomed for a life in hell. Seriously.

If you have not seen this movie and LOVED the book, you will absolutely love this movie. It brought everything to life. All the characters were spot on and they didn't change much at all from the book. Everything from the opening scene to the final scene were amazing and powerful and if you don't find yourself tearing up from this movie, I'll give you a refund (well, not really, but I'll apologize :-) )

My rating system:

1=hated it, just wasted an hour and half of my life and I want it back damn it!
2=meh, not the worst I've ever seen, but I don't ever need to see it again
3=entertaining, maybe I'll watch it again when it comes to Netflix or cable
4=pretty awesome, I'll probably buy the DVD when it goes on sale
5=OMG, this film was kick ass awesome, it is pre-order from Amazon worthy, add to my list of favorites

Based on the story, the acting, the screenplay, and everything that went into making this wonderful and amazing film, I give Speak a 5

Friday, October 8, 2010

Funny Friday (youtube videos of the week)

Okay, so here a couple of laughs to get your weekend started. Hope you enjoy!

Today I'm going with a spoof theme:

Shakira's Whenever Where ever video spoof from Mad TV (lyrics are hilarious)

Bobby Brown's Every Little Step I Take (not quite a spoof, but Wayne Brady is so damn talented. Mike Tyson is HILARIOUS in this. Watch how he has to keep watching Wayne to follow the dance steps. And he can't do the running man??? The boy has no rhythm which is surprising considering he's a boxer!)

My favorite Twilight Spoof (and tell me the guy playing Edward isn't hot??!!? Vavavoom! He should have played Edward in the movie!)

Okay this isn't exactly a spoof, but it's one of my all time favorite MTV Movie Awards moments (Gollum from LOTR receives an award)

Another funny parody from Mad TV, Marmalade

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Theater Thursday--Annie

My all time favorite musical, Annie will be making its way back to Broadway in 2012!! 

This was the first Broadway play that had a real impact on my childhood. I remember the larger than life theater we saw it in, the larger than life sets on the stage, the orchestra with all those shiny brass and stringed instruments with the top of the conductor's head just barely visible, his baton waving furiously. The singing, the dancing and of course the little red headed orphan that every girl my age at the time wanted to be. I remember being in elementary school and me and my friends would spend our play time in the yard to act out the play, fighting over who got to be Annie, or Duffy, or Pepper, or Molly etc. Somehow all of us knew the play inside and out. We knew the lines, the lyrics and the dance moves. I had a record of the soundtrack at home. (Yes, I did say a "record.") I used to play that album (Yes, I did say album), over and over and over again. I knew/know every song by heart. Then...THEN...the movie came out!!!! OMG. I was beside myself. I was eleven years old and Annie was now on the big screen and I sang all the songs with the movie (I think every single kid did. It was probably like the Little Shop of Horrors, which I never did get to see...I know, shame, shame. But I did see the movie! Does that count? No, I know. Not the same thing, huh? *sigh*). 

The movie Annie was/is amazing with an all star cast: Carol Burnette as Ms. Hannigan? Are you kidding me? No one does Ms. Hannigan better than her. She is absolutely BRILLIANT in this movie. Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Anne Reinking as Grace Farrell (and man did she ever grace the screen with her beautiful dancing!), Tim Curry as Rooster--Amazing!!!, Burnadette Peters as Lily St. Regis ("named for the hotel"..."room service"), hello??? Burnadette friggin' Peters--total awesomeness. And then, you had songs that were made especially for the movie version so I got to learn MORE awesome songs. To this day, I can probably recite every line of every character in that movie. And now my girls are starting to get into enjoying some of the songs from it. Ahhh...a dream come true :-)

Tell me that doesn't pump you up or leave you with total goosebumps???

Annie is not just a play or a movie, it's an experience. Once you've been Annieanized, there's no turning back (Yes, I did just make up that word. Do you think I can get in the dictionary?). However, I think it's really important for it's fans (or even if you are not, it's just fascinating) to see the movie/documentary called Life After Tomorrow. It is a real eye opener behind the harsh realities of being a kid who was cast in that play. All I can say is that I'm glad as hell, I never actually got to be in that play (even though as a kid it was my ultimate dream). The first Annie in the play grew up in my building where I grew up and I met the second actress who played Annie when she came to a summer event in our building. But, now, when I look back, I can't believe what was going on with these kids and some of them to this day are probably still in therapy. Yes, it was pretty damn bad for some of them and I recommend you see this movie.


So, I'm definitely excited about this reprisal and when it comes back to the big stage it is something I must see. I'm a little ambivalent about the idea that they are reworking the script (as noted in the article below) to modernize it. It will be interesting I guess. I just hope they don't change too much. But what I do hope is that it will create a whole new love among a new generation of children to fall in love with Annie and with the theater experience as it did for me when I was a kid. It still has a huge place in my heart to this day. It just never leaves you.

Annie Is Broadway Bound Once Again in 2012

Annie Is Broadway Bound Once Again in 2012
Start humming 'Tomorrow': 'Annie' will return to Broadway in 2012.
Everyone’s favorite red-headed orphan will return to Broadway to belt her heart out in the fall of 2012. The beloved musical Annie will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a full revival, producer Arielle Tepper Madover has announced, with an updated book by Thomas Meehan. No theater, dates or casting for the production, which features music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, has been announced at this time.

Inspired by the famous comic strip Little Orphan AnnieAnnie made its Broadway debut on April 21, 1977, transferring three times and playing 2,377 performances before closing on January 2, 1983. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score, among others, and earned Dorothy Loudon her own trophy for her performance as villainess Miss Hannigan. The subsequent film adaptation, released in 1982 and starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters and Aileen Quinn, was nominated for two Academy Awards. The show was also filmed for television in 1999 with a cast led by Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. Annie was revived in 1997 at the Martin Beck Theatre in a production that starred Nell Carter and closed after seven months.

“The script has never been touched since 1977, and our hope is to really make this revival for current audiences, so Tom is going to go to work on the book,” Madover told The New York Times. No details were given about possible changes, though Madover added, "A new creative team will look to modernize the show."

The family-friendly tale of an orphan whose hard knock life is forever changed when paired with a snappish billionaire, Annie features such showtune staples as “Maybe,” “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and “Tomorrow.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday #2 from The Willow Elves

Hey guys, this is a direct continuation from my first tease in this WIP and is the completion of chapter 1. Hope you enjoy and I look forward to your thoughts.

Tears traveled down Autumn’s cheeks as she imagined what her father might do to Becky now that she had run away. Would he seek revenge and take the life of her horse—torture an innocent and defenseless animal?

If she had just had time. If she had known that her father would attempt to cross such lines, she would have been better prepared.

But there was no time. She was too scared. She didn’t even have time to run up to her room and grab the emergency bag she had packed months ago and hidden under the lose floorboards behind her bed. Only now, when it was too late, did she realize that she should have hidden her runaway bag somewhere downstairs or in the shed, or under the bushels of hay outside. But she didn’t and so she leaves behind everything—everything except the torn clothes on her back, the bruises on her face and body, and the one thing more sacred to her than anything—her virginity.

It doesn’t belong to her father and damn him for trying to rape it from her. Autumn has always believed that her virginity belongs to only one person—her true love. Whomever that is when someday she finds him.

As she looked ahead, the vast woods that neared spread from as far east to as far west as she could see, serving as a divider between her world and a world beyond. A world completely unknown to her. One that she has heard rumors and stories about her whole life—tales of a magical and dangerous kind of folk that live deep within its borders. Most of the kids from her small town had always laughed and scoffed at the stories told by the older generations. It became the big joke. The I-dare-you-to-walk-a-mile-into-those-woods-alone kind of thing. No one ever ventured too far into them, and if they said they did, everyone knew they were lying.

But here Autumn stood, at the edge of the field, staring into the sea of thick, dark woods. It was eerily quiet. The silence filled her ears with the sound of her own pounding heart. Her hands shook. She clenched and unclenched them several times attempting to gain courage and control.

Whatever lies ahead couldn’t be any worse than what she was leaving behind, she decided and with that, Autumn closed her eyes, took a long deep breath, and then without looking back, she entered Trulien Forest.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Movie Review Monday: Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D)

Summary: While still out to destroy the evil Umbrella Corporation, Alice joins a group of survivors who want to relocate to the mysterious but supposedly unharmed safe haven known only as Arcadia.


Okay, got that out of my system. I guess from that, you can figure out that I kinda liked this movie :-) This film was total awesomeness on so many levels. Besides the fact that dh, my step son and I have been ginormous fans of the Capcom Resident Evil video games since the first one came out back in 1996 (damn, it was that long ago???), this movie more than met my expectations. The story line--excellent. The casting--wonderful. The special effects--unf'nbelievable.

Okay, let me back up a step and just say that I was very, VERY hesitant about seeing this movie. I have loved all the other movies in the R.E. series, but this was the first one I was seeing in 3D. In fact, this was the first 3D movie I've since way back in the day when 3D movies involved paper glasses with one side green and one red. hahaha...yes, I know. That's a long time ago. What the hell was I thinking in avoiding all these recent 3D movies? I'm seriously kicking myself in the ass for missing so many great films (ahem Avatar ahem) because I refused to go see them in 3D. Well, now I know. 3D movies FRIGGIN ROCK!

So on to the movie itself. Yet another kick ass movie with Milla Jovovich. This woman NEVER disappoints. Kuddos to her and her agent because she continues to choose films that totally kick ass, but more importantly, her performance in her films continue to kick ass. And once again, she kicks some serious ass in this film. Ali Larter (Claire Redfield) totally keeps up with Mila as her side kick, and Wentworth Miller...sigh...need I say more? This movie was full of action from the very get go with an amazingly choreographed fight scene that could easily compete with Neo and Trinity in the office building lobby in Matrix. ALL the fight scenes in this movie were nothing short of fantastic.

Besides the fact that this film was in 3D, the special effects, sets, blue screen technology, cinematography, producers, directors (can you go wrong with James Cameron?), editors, music composers, costumes designers, make-up department and on and on, were top of the line.

My rating system:

1=hated it, just wasted an hour and half of my life and I want it back damn it!
2=meh, not the worst I've ever seen, but I don't ever need to see it again
3=entertaining, maybe I'll watch it again when it comes to Netflix or cable
4=pretty awesome, I'll probably buy the DVD when it goes on sale
5=OMG, this film was kick ass awesome, it is pre-order from Amazon worthy, add to my list of favorites

I give Resident Evil Afterlife (3D) a 5

If you are a fan of science-fiction action-horror, this movie is TOTALLY for you. Not only will I buy this movie when it comes out, it makes me want to own the entire movie series. GO MILLA JOVOVICH!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Outline or Not to Outline? That is the Question.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I'm not going to try and force something that is not me. I'm just going to be me and isn't that the way it should always be? You see, I had this idea that for my next novel I would do all this research and figure out how to do a successful outline because God knows in school (way, way back in the day), I was NEVER any good at them. I don't know why I couldn't seem to do them. Perhaps I was trying to force my brain to organize information in a way that wasn't natural for me. Maybe it's because I'm left handed and therefore right brain dominated? No. That's not it because truth be told I'm ambidextrous (well, to an extent, I eat, write and throw with my left hand but do EVERYTHING else with my right. Strange, I know. Guess that's what happens when you're young and the foster family taking care of you tries to force you to be right handed when you're naturally left handed. Sigh).

Anyway, so about outlining. Yeah, not for me. It has never worked before and rather than spend weeks or months trying to prefect the art of outlining, I will stick to my method which is a combination of winging it mixed with bulleting type notes that help me remember the things I want to happen. I often do some chapter bulleting, but I don't do it for all chapters. I do it when I need to organize my thoughts or don't want to forget an idea I had. For the most part, I wing it. It comes to me as I write and I like that because sometimes I don't know what's going to happen until I get there and to be honest, that's why writing to me is so much fun. It's surprise after surprise after surprise. Even when I take notes on what I think I want to happen, it often changes because as I'm in the moment in a scene, something else comes to me and the scene happens differently than I originally envisioned. I guess in the acting world, it would be like someone who only follows a script vs. someone who does a lot of improvisation (Jim Carrey and Steve Carell are notorious for this).

For those who outline, kuddos to you. Seriously. I think good outlining is an art in itself and if you have perfected it and it works for you that's awesome. It's just not for me and I don't think that makes me less of a writer than someone who does. I'm just me. And I kinda like me the way I am. :-) If my method aint broke, why try to fix it?

What about you? Outline, wing it, or do you do your own thang? Just curious (in case I change my mind one day then I'll know who to go to for lessons haha).

Funny Friday (youtube video of the week)

How funny is this??

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me the things that come out of my 4 year old girls' mouths. Yesterday, I asked my daughter, Arwen, to put daddy's Pooka shell necklace away. She jumps off the bed and puts it back in daddy's drawer and says to me, "Mommy, daddy will be really impressed that I cleaned up!" Of course I'm thinking to myself, actually, daddy will be really impressed that you used the word impressed! 

Another day, the girls misplaced something and we were looking and looking for this toy and we couldn't find it. I said, "Sorry guys. I just don't know where it is," to which Lorien replied "It's a conundrum." hahaha...I love it.

I taught my girls the word famished and it's so cute to hear them say, "Mommy, I want something to eat. I'm famished."

Just goes to show, if you use these words with your kids and teach it to them, they will learn and use them. Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell wrote/illustrated a really cute book called, Big Words for Little People. I like knowing that my girls will grow up with a rich vocabulary. I think it's kinda cool.

BTW, if you haven't read any of Jamie Lee Curtis's children's books (and you love children's books), you must. They are so wonderful. Here's a link to her sight.
I own several of these and hope to be getting more of them as soon as the funds roll in :)

These are some other books of hers that I absolutely LOVE.

All of her stories have such beautiful messages and bring out the most precious of emotions. I swear I can't read Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born with out getting teary eyed. The illustrations are so sweet. Jamie and Laura make a great combo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

This is one of my stories on the back burner that I will be working on next. It has been SCREAMING at me to write, write, write. Now that my other ms is complete, I can finally start to do more work on this story. It is currently titled, The Willow Elves. NO ONE HAS SEEN THIS (not even my most trusted writer friends in the whole world--you know who you are :-)), so I'm extemely nervous about how this will be received. It's also my first attempt at a story that is not written in first person and not paranormal. It is a YA Fantasy/romance.  This is a rough draft, so it could possibly change (especially if it isn't hook-y enough for a beginning). I have an idea to possibly start the story a little before this, but as you will see, that would mean some horrific stuff happening. Let the fingernail biting begin.

Chapter 1

     Autumn ran as fast as she could. The rustling sound her feet made as they smacked through the dry blades of grass became louder and louder as the sounds of her shouting father trailed further and further behind.

     At the age of sixteen, Autumn was much faster than her half a century old, out of shape father. There was no way he could ever catch up to her. Especially with the bum knee he received only moments ago when she struck it with the fireplace poker.

     She knew there was no turning back. Not this time. Her father had gone too far. It wasn’t the drinking or constant screaming and berating she received night after night that forced her to leave. It wasn’t even the beatings he gave her that often followed those times. All of those things she had learned to tolerate—even ignore sometimes. But if there was one thing she would not allow, it was to have her innocence and virginity incestuously taken from her.

     With a mother too afraid to protect herself, let alone her only offspring, Autumn realized she had no choice. Leaving was her only option. And leaving meant she could never return. Having done what he tried to do to her, and knowing it was wrong, her father vowed to kill her if she ever said anything. Autumn knew that by remaining silent, she would ultimately be giving him permission to try again.

     She would never allow him to try again. Never.

     As she continued to run, her father’s screams and shouts soon became nothing more than harsh whispers floating on the wind. For all she knew, it could have been crows or some other animal that made the now distant sounds. She couldn’t bring herself to turn around and look. Not because she was afraid to see her abusive, pedophile father, but because she knew she was leaving behind her home and the farm she grew up on. She was leaving behind the animals she had spent her entire life caring for and loving. And she was leaving behind her best friend, Becky—her beloved mare.

     She knew that Becky would never receive the care and love she needed without her. Her father hated Becky and constantly threatened Autumn to “butcher the damn thing.” It was another reason she had tolerated her father’s abuse for as long as she had.
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