Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!


I'm currently trying to plow through the second half of my WIP, have two kids home from school, a closet of unwrapped presents, and a house full of relatives...

So, I'm going to take the rest of the year off.

Man do I feel like a slacker typing that. Luckily, it's only about 10 days or so, I'm sure you'll all forgive me. Assuming there are any of you that are still reading and not already celebrating your own holiday...is anyone there?

*echo, echo*

Okay, well just know that I'm grateful for each of you and your friendship. Thanks for hanging with me through all the ups and downs of 2011. I'm looking forward to all of us having even more to celebrate in 2012!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Jenn

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reasons 2012 Will Rock - Part 3

And now, more embracing 2012 fun. Here are a few more reasons to get excited about the upcoming year.

1 - There are some FREAKTASTICALLY-AWESOME new books coming out. So many that I'm bound to miss a ton, so I'll just name the first three that pop up in my head: Everneath by Brodi Ashton, The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle, Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. -- and so, SO many more. Dude. Good books in 2012!!

2 - My good friend, Renee Collins, posted this week about the dreaded scary scenario of what happens if you get an agent, it doesn't work out, and you have to start over. It technically happened at the end of 2011...but I'm sure her happy ending will carry right through next year, so we'll count it. Stop by and congratulate Renee on her new agent! I couldn't be more ecstatic for you, girl! :-D

3 - Very early in 2012, I'll be finishing my current WIP. It's deliciously dark and totally fitting for a year in which the end of the world has been predicted. I'll post an excerpt at some point. This book keeps me awake at night. For real.

So, any new reasons this week to be excited for next year? Add to my fun, will  you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Link the Blogs

I just came across a couple of posts this week that meant a lot to me and I wanted to share them with you guys.

First the Shooting Stars blog by Bethany Wiggins. She posted about the time demands of being an Author and a Mom/Parent.

Second, a post by the fantastic Elana Johnson about Defining Success.

Last, but certainly not least, a post by my dear friend L.T. Elliot that I think truly demonstrates the power of the human spirit. If you don't watch anything else this Christmas season, read this and remember why love for our fellow-man is so important. And watch the video, for you, for your kids, for all of our future.

Monday, December 12, 2011

And I Love Once Upon A Time...

I have a secret...I'm not really a fairy-tale kind of girl. Or let me rephrase that, I'm not really a Disney fairy-tale kind of girl. So, to be honest, I was completely prepared to be bored out of my mind with the new tv series Once Upon A Time.

And I am so not bored.

Is anyone else watching this? What do you think about it? I'm loving all the dark and twisty turns these familiar stories are taking. I love the way Snow White and Prince Charming fell in love, for that matter, I love why his name is Charming. I'm having so much fun with the show and seriously can't wait for the next episode. The storylines are so masterfully interwoven. The actors are fantasic. Just love...love, love, love.

Anyway, if you can't tell...this new show has my hearty recommendation. Check it out. Did you find any good new shows this fall? Do tell!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reasons 2012 Will Rock - Part 2

Today I'm continuing my fun new tradition of embracing 2012 a little early on Fridays. I came up with a few more reasons to love 2012.

~ It begins and ends with the same number. I'm a fan of this in words, like: mom, dad, lol, etc. It makes me feel all rounded out.

~ In May, I'll be teaching two classes at the Storymakers Conference with my writing buddies, Kasie West and Natalie Whipple. This is the first time I've ever taught a conference and we're teaching TWO classes. So excited and nervous.

That's plenty of 2012 excitement for me this week. Any new 2012 excitement for you guys this week? What's up?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And Sometimes My Head Explodes

So, my entire family has come down with strep. We've had four doctors visits and one E.R. visit in the last week--and I'm tired. So, my post today will be short, sweet and about you.

How long have you been writing? What made you decide to do it? What is your biggest struggle with the publishing industry so far? Your biggest joy? Please, do tell. My fatigued brain wants to know more about you wonderful people.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Every once in a while, I like to pretend that I'm one of those women with the gorgeous Christmas trees and beautifully lit yards, but I'm not. The reality is sadly more like a haphazard mishmash of Christmas ornaments and decorations that my kids turn into piles of Christmas debris. It looks somewhat like a Christmas volcano exploded...and not everyone got out alive.

But, there's still a certain beauty in the madness of it, and I wouldn't change that beauty for anything.

Sometimes I notice the same thing in my writing. The nice, organized plan I start with can become messy and muddied--even cluttered somewhere in the middle. That box of ornaments you forgot about is very much like the character you never planned on. But if you refuse to give it a chance, you'll never see how beautiful it can look on the tree.

I love the messy madness of my writing process. It may take a little clean-up afterward, but I wouldn't have it any other way. How about you? Is your writing process as neat & tidy as your Christmas decorating?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reasons 2012 Will Rock - Part 1

It's December, already freakin' December. Can you believe it? I can't either. And it appears we can't do anything about it.

So, I thought it might be fun to try embracing 2012 a little early. On Fridays in December, I'm going to list one reason that I fully expect next year to rock. So, to get started...

~ How many years have movies named after them before they even arrive? Answer: Not many. Now granted, the movie is about the end of the world, but still. Years that are already movie-worthy = not too shabby.

What do you think? Does the whole predicted-end-of-the-world-thing ruin the sparkly-ness of the New Year for you? What's one thing you're looking forward to in 2012?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Which I Embrace Technology

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about technology and how it effects our lives. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm kind of a techno-freak. In my house we have three computers, four laptops, four tablets, a kindle, a PS3, Wii, a GameCube, Nintendo 64, PSP, & two Nintendo DS...there are four of us.

Part of this is because I'm married to a computer networker who has a tendency to bring his work/toys home with him, but part of it is because we love technology. None of these items are new, we've acquired them over several years, but when we spend money on things, they tend to be technology oriented. This is what we value. The other thing we value is spending time as a family. We play together...so we have gaming systems and a closet full of board games.

Here is the funny thing. In spite of all this, I've been a bit of a holdout on the e-book front. I love book covers. I love the smell of paper. There is something awesome about getting a new book and pushing against the binding to open it fully for the first time. But...they're heavy, carrying more than one can be cumbersome, and hardback prices add up quickly.

So, I have a Kindle. It's fantastic. I love having so many books in one light-weight format that I can take with me. The prices for e-books are very budget friendly and if you keep your eyes open, there are frequently specials on e-book prices that are practically giving them away. It's also really handy for beta-reading my friends' wonderful books. Does this make up for all the things I miss about having printed books? No. Do I still buy many of my books in an e-book format? Yes.

The answer is, I do both. I love books and bookstores. I support my fellow authors at local signings. I enjoy having their books to hold in my hands. AND I buy e-books--a lot of them. The truth is, I buy more books (in both formats) than I did before. I love this side-effect.

All of this has brought me to a couple of conclusions:

E-books aren't going anywhere, get used to it.
Print books aren't going anywhere, get used to it.
I still love technology.

After all, would you want to write all your books with a quill by candlelight? Nope, not me. What do you think about e-books/technology/etc?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Being Thankful

It's Thanksgiving! I'll be busy running around like a...well I'll spare our fowl friends from referring to any of them losing their heads, at least until later this week. So, I'll be taking a break until next week. I hope you all have a fantastic holiday and get to spend so much time with those you love that you decide to hibernate until Christmas.

In the meantime, I wanted to start a little chain. I love the tradition of people talking about what they're grateful for this time of year. If you feel so inclined, consider yourself tagged. Do a post this week listing 10 things your grateful for. If you let me know that you did it in the comments, I'll link to your post. I'm focusing on things I sometimes take for granted.

10 Things I'm Grateful For:

1 ~ My family (I'm downplaying this, but it's at the top of my list for a reason)
2 ~ The most amazing beta readers in the world
3 ~ New friends I've made in recent years, both in and out of the publishing community
4 ~ Ahem...the publishing community
5 ~ In this economy, a steady and reliable source of income
6 ~ My agent, a better advocate for my work than I could've ever imagined.
7 ~ My health
8 ~ My creativity
9 ~ Both hope and despair, because I've learned first hand: you can't appreciate having one without experiencing the other
10 ~ You. Thank you for coming to my blog regularly and reading my sometimes useless drivel. I appreciate you more than you know.

There. Now I have a list to refer back to when publishing throws me a curve ball and I feel like hiding under my covers for a week. Something to remind me that no matter what happens in this roller-coaster industry, I am one lucky girl.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thankful Peeps Who Did Their Own Lists:

Chantele Sedgwick
Ruth Josse

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 Things I've Learned About Perseverance--Revisited


Lately, I've needed a reminder of something I posted a year ago. I thought maybe some of you might need a refresher course on this one as well. So, here we go:




As writers & authors, there are so many things beyond our control. I dedicate this post to everyone who keeps trying anyway.


10 Things I've Learned About Perseverance

1. Nothing about this job is easy.

2. The rejections always come before the requests.

3. Each book will be better than the last.

4. Dreams are worth reaching for, even if you pull a few muscles along the way.

5. Sometimes the perfect agent/editor is the 7th query/pitch, the 20th query/pitch, or the 80th query/pitch... but it is almost never the 1st.

6. It's always too early to quit.

7. Taking a break is not the same as quitting.

8. Everyone has a different timeline for their success. Judging your timeline against that of others helps no one.

9. Ability to learn is worth more than natural talent every day of the week.

10. It only takes one yes.

Have a wonderful weekend, and keep trying.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shiny New Projects

Don't you just love shiny new ideas? They're so pretty from a distance, kind of like a star. You think, "Wow, I'd love to play with that bright shiny thing." But also like a star, sometimes you get too close too fast, and then you start on fire or die from all the poisonous gases.

...No? Just me? Alrighty then.

Anyway, I'm just thinking about the adjustment phase that goes into switching from one character/book to another and how to really get myself into the new character's head. It usually takes me several chapters and most of the times I end up trashing the first part of any new book. This works, but isn't the most time-effective way to do it. So, I'm open to trying some new methods.

How about you? Any recommendations? Do you have any tricks you use?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

I was lucky enough to be part of an ARC tour of Everneath by the very awesome Brodi Ashton. It's not coming out until January 24th, 2012, so you guys will have to wait until then to check it out. But right now I'm going to tell you all the reasons you should. 


First, let's start with the cover...because DUDE, it's gorgeous! From the dark, twistyness of the smoke to the way the beautiful red dress flows out from her in smoky trails...it's just perfect. The cover is genius. 


And trust me, what you find inside the cover? Just as brilliant.


Here's the blurb:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

~~~

This book has such a great concept. I love that Brodi has taken Greek mythology and really mixed it up. I love dark and twisty, and it has some great surprises hidden in the storyline that are masterful. She has taken a cast of realistically flawed characters and pulled them together into a beautifully tortured story that stuck with me long after I finished reading. If you like paranormal elements and are longing for some darker twists, you have to read Everneath. I can't wait for the sequel! Great job, Brodi!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yay! My Publishing Contracts!

Last week, I got not one, but TWO publishing contracts from Italy (Newton Compton) & Germany (Heyne - Fliegt). Not only are these very awesome countries, and very awesome contracts, but they are my first ever publishing contracts!

This is surreal folks, SUR-REAL.

I was informed by another cool writerly buddy *cough* Renee Collins *cough* that I was supposed to take pictures of me signing. And so, here begins the picture taking journey.

This is me being surprised when I realized I was getting 6 copies in each of these two beautiful languages. I don't know what I will do with these copies. Maybe get a pedestal with bullet-proof glass and an alarm that triggers if anyone breathes around it too heavily?

Yeah...I'm still throwing around ideas.


This is me displaying my contract proudly. Isn't it so pretty?! I tried really hard not to drool on it. And look! Most of my facial paralysis (the infamous Bell's Palsy) is gone. I still look slightly more relaxed on the right side, but more like that side of my face is on vacation than on strike. I'm pleased to be able to smile with teeth on both sides again.

HUZZAH!

Like I said. November = great. October was sucky beyond all measurable means of suckitude. But November and I get along just fine.

My thumb, complete with celebratory glitter-pink fingernail polish, approves of the contract signage as well as the month of November. There was much happiness throughout the land.





And now to be serious for a moment. This is incredible. I've imagined holding a publishing contract in my hands a million times and it never even came close to the real thing. This road has not been easy, but dude--does this make it all worth it? Yes. Yes, it does. It makes it feel real and I can't even explain how grateful I am. I'm lucky. Beyond lucky.

Share my happiness today? Anything totally fabulous going on with you? Are you and November getting along? Let's start this week off with even more good news.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Marketing 101

I've had a couple of recent requests for some marketing tips and so today I'm revisiting a post from a couple years back.

My B.S. is in Public Relations with a minor in Psych (watch out or I may analyze you). After graduation I worked as a P.R. Analyst and later a Marketing Coordinator.

With this kind of background, I've developed some pet peeves when it comes to the publishing world. There are so many aspiring authors and debut authors that seem to think the world ends with a happily ever after upon publication. Understandably, they have a hard time looking past that momentous event to the reality of what happens after. This leaves them in a world of hurt.

I've heard it said that it's hard to get published and even harder to stay published. I'm absolutely certain that is the truth. In light of that, I thought I'd do a post with nine quick basic marketing tips.

Many of you may already know most of these. Let's face it, I'm preaching to the choir here. Nonetheless, I hope you might find something new or interesting that can benefit you or another author-friend of yours.

1 - Be accessible - Establish a web presence, have a website, let people find you.

2 - Network, network, network - This one takes hard work, time, and maintenance. Get out to writers conferences, develop a blog following, connect with people who might in turn connect with you.

3 - Have Giveaways/Contests - Universal truth = people love to win things, and it doesn't matter what. Contests and giveaways always raise the excitement level. Help spread the buzz about you and your work, get people involved in new creative ways and they will want to help you succeed.

4 - Start at Home - Get involved on a local level. Become familiar with writers groups, schools, libraries and bookstores in your area, and allow them to be familiar with you.

5 - Contact Bookstores/Libraries/Schools when traveling - Let's be honest, few debut authors get sent on massive, nation wide book tours. Whether or not you have a book tour, if you happen to be traveling, you should take advantage of it. Contacting bookstores/libraries/schools on your travels will help spread the word to other regions.

6 - Learn how to write a good press release & get a list of contacts - This is huge. Monumentally huge. Even if you spent 24 hours a day out there, spreading the word, you won't reach as many people as if you learn to properly utilize the media. And I mean every form of media. Arrange a blog tour, know the contacts of local newspaper, radio, tv, podcasts, vlogs... everything you can think of. Just do it.

7 - Know what is newsworthy - It doesn't take a lot to turn a note in the newspaper calendar into a local interest story, and many more people read those than check out the calendar listings. Service to your community is never a bad thing. Use your meetings and signings to coordinate support to give back to the community.

8 - Gather support - Recognize that your supporters want you to succeed and let them get involved. Form street teams, give them bookmarks to pass out, whatever. Just be creative and help them spread the word on your behalf.

9 - Be yourself - The most interesting and dynamic authors out there are the ones who aren't afraid to have a little fun with it. Enjoy yourself. You are living your dream. Have fun with your marketing and those who are around you will have fun too.

Anyway, there are some basics. If you have any questions, go ahead and leave them in the comments. And have a GREAT WEEKEND! :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And Now...to NaNo

So, I've decided to support all that is NaNo... but not by writing. I'll be doing NaNoReMo and focusing on my reading this month. I currently have  eight books to beta for my crit partners and then I get to move on to some wonderful published books that I need to catch up on. While I'll still be writing, my focus this month will be on reading.

AND I'm so excited about it!!

How many of you are doing NaNoWriMo/NaNoReMo? How is it treating you so far? Any progress? Do tell!

Monday, October 31, 2011

In Honor of Halloween--A Creepy Excerpt!

I'm a big fan of all things Creep-tastic. Thus, I love Halloween. So far this year, I've attended three Halloween parties--one as a pirate, one as a beverage, and one as a football player...like I said, I love Halloween. Also, I love today. It's a big day for me. Momentous even. Why? Because my lower right side of my lip is starting to move again!

HUZZAH!

For those of you who don't know, I've spent the last two weeks with the right half of my face paralyzed. It's a temporary thing called Bell's Palsy, but still pretty freaky. So, I'm VERY happy to see a little of my movement starting to return.

In honor of all this, I've decided to post the first page of a project that has been on my mind lately. It's extremely rough, but I love it in all it's creepiness. So, enjoy! And--

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The city surrounds me. Shiny rectangles so tall I can barely make out where they end and the sky begins. They wrap me in shadow. Hiding me. Holding me. I feel safe here, and I don’t remember the last time I felt safe anywhere. The sun sets against an unseen horizon, but I don’t head home. Why should I sleep in a city that doesn’t?
            The sounds and smells of this place are like a different world. It smells like people. The park around me fills the air, green and vibrant. I’m surrounded by millions of breaths taken at once—by life. The best thing the parents ever did for me was to die without giving me much trouble. Everything I’ve ever known is death and pain, being drenched in life feels good.
            Closing my eyes, I extend my arms and feel the warmth of the city flow around me, flow through me. No more pain. No more clawing fingers dying to break another bone, to raise another bruise on my pale skin. No more cruel eyes and words twisting my world. Now they are just dying—just dead.
And I don’t regret what I’ve done.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To Russia With Love OR Hooray for Kasie West!!

Alright, a person who is totally and absolutely uneducated on Russia...is about to educate you on Russia. Take copious notes:

~ Royal families get cursed.
~ It is very cold and you get many chances to wear extremely fashionable scarves.
~ Princesses tend to wander off, but don't worry, they are soon saved by dashing rogues who sound surprisingly like John Cusack.
~ Little talking bats may seem bad at first, but they are really good.
~ Never trust a guy who lives at the bottom of the ocean/river, especially if his head occasionally falls off.
~ Russian people LOVE to dance, but mostly only in ballrooms at palaces, or at the Moulin Rouge...which seems like a long way to travel to dance. Their options appear limited.

This is all that I learned from Anastasia, but by looking at the above map, I can also tell that:
~ they like yellow
~ they like their space.
~ Also, any book printed in that language = uber cool.

Go ahead. You can say it--I am a virtual Sherlock Holmes.

Which leads me to my absolute new favorite fact about Russia...

They are the first foreign country to pick up rights to Kasie West's PIVOT POINT.

From this, I deduce they are considerably above average intelligence. Well done, Russia.

Oh, and also, *~*~*~CONGRATULATIONS KASIE!!~*~*~* I'm SO excited for you!!

See?! Don't you feel all educated now? Go check out Kasie's post on this very subject and congratulate her!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes It Is Written On Your Face

This industry can be amazing when the roller coaster is in full swing. The highs are so high, the lows so low. In the past year, I've experienced both. My life outside of writing has been quite theme-park-ride-esque as well. While I certainly do my best to handle it all with patience and grace, sometimes I fail.

Sometimes, I'm just not that strong.

A week ago Sunday, I woke up with dry lips and tried to rub them together. I couldn't. It was a nearly impossible task. I'm prone to occasional random allergies, and assumed I had a fat lip because of it. When I looked in the mirror to check it out though, I realized that my lip was normal size, but the right side of my face was paralyzed.

Total panic ensued. It may or may not have involved weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth--I admit nothing. The only thing I knew that caused paralysis like this was a stroke, so I rushed to the E.R. and learned about something called Bell's Palsy. It is (thankfully) a temporary paralysis of one side of the face brought on by a special cocktail of illness (just getting over strep) and stress (Dad is home from the hospital now).

So while life has improved on both counts, my face somehow missed the memo. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced. It's like the Universe has decided I cannot be trusted to recognize relaxation when I see it, so it has stamped it across one side of my head to make sure I have a good example for my reference.

Thanks, Universe...appreciate you.

So, as I've asked around, it appears many people are more educated about Bell's Palsy than I am. Do you know someone who had it? How long did it last? etc. Don't mind me. I'll just be chillin' in this hammock and trying my best to regain some symmetry in my life--and my countenance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not to be a downer...

But I just wanted to give a quick explanation of why I didn't post when I got back on Monday and probably won't be posting for the next week or so. I came back from my (amazing, incredible & wonderful) vacation with a horrible case of strep throat. I've been sick in bed for the last three days.

Then yesterday, my dad had surgery and when he came out, his body was septic, his kidney's shut down and his lungs weren't working right. They kept him on a ventilator and put him in a drug-induced coma while they hope that his body sorts through the toxins in his blood. With my sickness, they won't let me come see him.

It's kind of been a rough week so far. If any of you don't mind throwing a prayer or two my dad's way or just crossing your fingers for him. I would really appreciate it. And please have patience with my absence. I promise to be back to regular blogging soon.

~*~*~*UPDATE*~*~*~

Thank you all SO much for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. I'm happy to say that my Dad is improving. His kidneys are functioning much  better and they were able to take him off the ventilator last night. Today they moved him out of the ICU and into a regular recovery room. I can't express how much I appreciate all of your support. You guys are the best. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And I'm Off

So, I'm unplugging for the rest of this week and all of next week. My reasons are threefold.

1 - I'm running around like mad and am starting to forget what my laptop looks like.
2 - My birthday is on Sunday. *huzzah! Confetti and all that*
3 - We're taking the fam to Orlando for 8 days.

While I'm gone, you, my wonderful friends, have two assignments to choose from.
1 - build me a stasis pod. (I'd give you instructions, but there aren't any online. I checked. Just wing it.)
2 - leave me a comment saying what kind of Giveaway, Q&A, Contest, Writing Tips, whatever you'd like me to do when I get back.

Have a great week! I miss you already. ;-)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Are You Here Or Were You There?

Every book I've written so far has been in past tense. However, my shiny new project really screams to be written in present.

I'm going with it so far, but it's really been an interesting change. On one hand, it is very immersing. Everything is so, well...present. (Oh dear, I'm so so sorry for that.) I'm kind of loving it at the moment.

However, I've read books in present that I just couldn't get into. In some ways, it pulled me out of the story and actually had the opposite effect. I think it's hard to do it well, and I'm still working to figure out what went wrong with those stories.

So, here is my question for you, my brilliant friendlies: Which tense have you written in? Do you prefer one over the other? What strengths do you think each brings to the table? Do you prefer homestyle or curly fries? Chocolate Chip or Sugar Cookies? Do tell!

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Which I May Or May Not Rant

Lately I've noticed so many people telling everyone else what to do. I try to remain separate. Take my own path. And most of the time I do. But when I notice a growing trend with people in positions of authority or influence continually trying to convince newer writers that they don't have options, it drives me crazy. 

Now, of all times, writers have options. Yet all that I hear lately is:

~ Traditional publishing is the only way.
~ Traditional publishing is dead.
~ Self-publishing is the right path for everyone.
~ Self-publishing is always a mistake.

Here is the truth: No one should be able to tell you how to run your career. The only person who can make the right decision for you--is you. Take all the advice, then filter it out to the truth that makes sense for you. 

This is the only one that matters.

[end soapbox] 

Ahem...how about you? Any soapboxes you'd like to take a stand on today?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting My Groove Back

I know some of you are miraculous master-minds of the multi-task. I am in some ways, but writing method isn't really one of them. It can switch back and forth from day to day as necessary, but my focus remains buried in whichever one I'm working on at the time. When I'm writing, I'm pretty focused on that. I'm very fast and thorough at revisions, but I need to eat, sleep and dream it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but what it does mean is that after doing several months of revisions and editing, I'm adjusting back into writing again...and it takes a little time.

For the moment, I'm working a bit on a new project that is deliciously dark and twisty. I'm a big fan of that, by the way.

The dark and the twisty = totally my thing.


How do you immerse yourself in a new project? Are you a multi-tasker or more divided, like me?

***edit*** Stop by the Ladies Who Critique blog and see my guest post on my fave revision tips!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Still My Hero

It's September, and every September I remember that I'm so lucky to have a hero in my home.

This is Kid A. He's adorable, awesome and brave. At 9 years old, he reads so fast and much that I can't keep up with him, he speaks Spanish fluently, can do a wicked Mexican Hat Dance, includes everyone in the neighborhood/city when he goes outside to play...

And he's had type 1 Diabetes for 3 1/2 years.

From the day we pulled him out of kindergarten, took him to the doctor, and then the hospital--to the day when we tried out a new needle for shots or a new insulin pump--he has been brave and tough. Tougher than a kindergartener should ever have to be. Tougher than I was, most of the time. Even through the tears, he's always had hope, faith and courage.

He is everything a hero should be.

Every fall he participates in a walk to raise money so the "smart men can find a cure". Every year he is in the list of the top 10 fundraisers in our state

He's incredible and he reminds me of everything I should strive to be. He is my hero this fall.

Every fall.

Every day.

Who is your hero today?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Unhealthy Addictions

Lately I've rediscovered an old, unhealthy addiction. It's called Slickdeals and it makes me want to buy things that I never missed and yet, at that price, I can't imagine living another day without it.

For example, I found a "Silk Capelet--in Black" listed on there for a great price the other day. Do I know what a capelet is? No. No, I do not. Am I fairly certain I need one, nonetheless? Yes. Yes, I am.

I mean, hello...it's in black. I'm quite certain I don't already own a capelet in black. Do you?

Another listing had a "22-Pack of Clif Mojo Bars--Variety Pack". I mean, the mystery is half of the fun. What exactly is a Mojo bar? What kind of Mojo does it give me? Am I lacking in Mojo? What, exactly, comes in this so-called "Variety Pack"?

So many unanswered questions! And the Candle Tumbler, the Fujitso Lifebook, the Logitech M260 Wireless Keyboard... ahem.

So, you know about my weakness...so spill. Do you have any unhealthy addictions you try to stay away from?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Day My Arms Died


When we first bought our house, I spent all my time painting and trying to fix it up. In the first couple of months, we painted the entire house, by ourselves (including cabinets), installed new hardwood flooring, carpeted the stairs and replaced the light fixtures. Last summer, we trenched our yard, installed a sprinkler system, painted our siding, moved in 32 cubic yards of topsoil, seeded, poured a 10x10 concrete pad, & built a deck.

We worked hard and I was buff. I flexed my bicep and people two blocks away oooh'd, and aaahh'd -- okay, it was my 6-year-old and he does that on command, but still. I was tough.

Now, after taking only one year off from all the DIY amazingness, I did a weekend project. I decided to take a closet that was formerly used for storing tools and store food there. Now, my cleanliness standard for storing food is significantly higher than my husband's tool-cleanliness-standard. So, I emptied the closet, scrubbed it clean, primed and painted it...

and then my arms fell off. Or at least I'm wishing they did. Someone took my strong, buff arms and replaced them with gelatinous masses of goo. I'm pretty sure there aren't even bones in them anymore. They just hang there, limply, by my side. They are no longer good for anything but shooting pains up to my brain and out the top of my head.

As you can imagine, just propping them up enough to type this post took a feat of engineering. And that is how much I love you guys. That I hired a mini-crane, a.k.a. 9-year-old boy, to come lift, prop-up, and arrange pillows to make this post possible.

So, what did you guys do this weekend? Also, can someone lift up my Diet Coke?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Highway Patrol Teaches Me to Break the Law

So, today I'm going to rant a little because, let's be honest, I'm powerless and frustrated and you are a semi-captive audience.




What? Yes. You are. Don't argu... Am I going to have to put you all under hypnosis again?!

Ahem...now that you've settled down. I'll tell you my very irritating & true police story that happened this week--a.k.a. "How to alienate people in under 2 minutes flat."

**Disclaimer** I have the utmost respect for the police, and this guy would've been a pain in the a** in any uniform.

On Tuesday, I was driving home from a city almost two hours away. I was in the farthest left lane on the freeway and the traffic was pretty bad when I noticed a sign that said my lane was turning into a carpool lane. I wasn't familiar with this city and didn't realize they had a carpool lane there, so I promptly tried to move over, and out of the lane.

The traffic was pretty tight and I slowed down a bit, but there was nowhere to get over before the lane ended. Ahead of me a bit was the only break in traffic big enough for me to move over into, so I sped up a bit, and moved over as soon as I could. I made it less than 10 feet after the lane had just turned into carpool with a solid white line.

Immediately, a highway patrolman showed up behind me with his lights flashing. When I pulled over, rolled down my window and he walked up, our conversation went like this:

Him - "Do you realize I can put you in jail for that stunt you just pulled?"

Me - stunned silence, followed by, "Stunt?"

Him - "Yes. You were in the carpool lane without having two or more people in the car, you crossed the solid white line, and you were speeding. That's a trifecta which equals reckless driving and I can legally take away your license and put you in jail."

Me - *blinks* "But, I was trying not to break the law. I'm not from this area. I didn't realize it was a carpool lane there and as soon as I saw the sign, I tried to get out, but the traffic was too heavy, so I sped up a bit to get into the only open slot and out of the lane.

Him - "You're going to kill someone. Or you're going to kill yourself. Which do you think would be worse?"

Me - *is speechless*

Him - *sighs* " Do you even have a license?"

Me - "Of course I have a license!"

Him - "Well, I'm giving you a ticket for speeding and a warning for being in the carpool lane because I'd rather give you a ticket than have to go to your house and tell your husband and kids that you're dead."

Me - *hands over license and resists the urge to add 'rolling window up on head of an officer' to my list of offenses*

Keep in mind: I was in no way unsafe. I have a completely clean driving record. I was actually trying to obey the law, and the only time I sped up was to get out of the lane (and even then I was only going 6 mph over the limit).

Here is what I learned from this experience:
1 - He couldn't see in the back of my van. I'd have been better off to stay in the lane until I could get out without speeding up because he had no idea if I was alone or not.

2 - I've gained a new appreciation for the old Judas Priest song, "Breaking the Law."

3 - I hate people who let the power of their positions/situations go to their heads.

/End Rant -- Anyone else need to get something sucky off their chests? Let's get it out of our systems so we can have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meme Quiz--In Which I May or May Not Sneeze

Am I totally crazy, or is that just like, the prettiest virus ever?

Okay...maybe I'm crazy...

So, the very entertaining Randy Lindsay tagged me in a Meme Quiz last week (which he compared to a virus and ever since then I've had an intense urge to sneeze...I blame Randy, but it could just be allergies). Now I shall go forth and answer the Meme questions.

Achoo.

#1 - What is your quest?

I would tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, run you over with my car, and then kill you again...because I'm thorough like that.

#2 - What is your favorite question?

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (If you don't recognize this reference, you should go watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail immediately so I won't be required by law to have you flogged.)

#3 - Who is going to win the fast food wars in the future?

The one who starts giving away free e-books with purchase will get my business...so my guess? Starbucks.

#4 - What rock song should be your anthem?

Just one??!! Alright then, the first one to pop into my head is : Whip It, by Devo -- no, you really, really don't want to know why.

#5 - What published book, possibly a classic, would you like to rewrite?

Easy - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I mean, come on. Love, loss, betrayal, revenge, sword fights, twists, crazy old men, secret treasures...talk about a book that has it all!

Okay, so here is the deal. If any of you would like to answer these very entertaining questions, consider yourself tagged. The virus has spread to you! Now go forth and...post? And don't even start to pretend you don't secretly love Devo and Monty Python.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cleo, the Secret Ninja Assassin


 This is my kitten, Cleo. She looks sweet and innocent. Who wouldn't love her? She's adorable, all cuddled up with every piece of electronic equipment in the house.


But she has strange habits, that I think can only mean one thing... 

Cleo, is a secret ninja assassin.


 She can find a hiding place anywhere...literally. Every time I think she's sleeping on the couch, I turn around and find her in a new hiding place.


Silently, she creeps around our house, waiting for an enemy to approach so she can jump out of a new spot and attack. Who she is waiting for, I don't know.


I can only say, I'm glad to have her on my side...
Plus, she's super cute when she purrs. ;-)

Happy Labor Day, my friends! And may you be safe from all kitty ninja assassins!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How to WorldCon in Style - Part III a.k.a. The End

So, do you feel educated about WorldCon yet? This will be my last posting, but I would be remiss to post all about WorldCon and not mention the amazing Brotherhood Without Banners. These were by far the most friendly and welcoming people we met at the conference, so today my post will be mostly about them and their sheer awesomeness.

For those of you who don't know, the Brotherhood Without Banners is a George R. R. Martin fan group. They have a forum that is 20,000 strong and an active and robust attendance at every WorldCon.

Also, they're SO MUCH FUN. So, back to our tips:

Tip # 11 - Read George R. R. Martin's (hereafter referred to as GRRM) A Song of Ice and Fire Series, starting with book 1: Game of Thrones (yes, the HBO series is based on this. Yes, these books are made of awesome). Really, this is a recommendation whether you go to WorldCon or not. And no, it is not a YA book and not really kid-friendly. Also, once you become a fan join their very cool forum and introduce yourself.

Tip #12 - Meet awesome people, introduce yourself, get pictures taken with them.

Cool Chair, Cool Girls, Cool GRRM...Just Cool
The very cool Lev Grossman, winner of the
Campbell Award with his Campbell Tiara...definitely the coolest part of winning.
The awesome Claire Brialey and her Hugo. Isn't it pretty? *pets*


Tip # 13 - Go to WorldCon and drool over the Game of Thrones' Throne of Swords.
Dude.

Tip #14 - Go to every party the BWB throw because there is a very good chance these will be the funnest parties of the week. (Again, may I recommend wearing corsets? As I said, always a good choice.)
Have someone else take your pic though, I'm not so good at it...

Tip #15 - GRRM attends all the WorldCon BWB parties. He is beyond cool. At the public party, GRRM holds a vigil and quest for any who want to participate. Vigil = stay up until 2am or so. Quest = go and get some specific local food that GRRM requests for the Lords and Ladies of the BWB and bring it back. If you succeed, he knights you. I can't say this strongly enough...DO this quest. It includes ridiculous amounts of fun.

Tip #16 - Go with very cool people, and play very loud music the whole way there. Yes, this is necessary. No, you shouldn't question me.
We were sent to find the "Awful, Awful Burger"
at the Golden Nugget in downtown Reno.

Tip #17 - Driving across Reno at 3am with a van full of people singing "Tonight, Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae at the top of their lungs on a quest to find the Awful, Awful Burger in a strange city, and then standing in line with 30 other people at a tiny dive diner and hoping against hope that none of the local patrons grope you or anyone in your group = priceless.

Tip #18 - Now, I'm officially an "Awful, Awful Knight". Or, you may call me Ser Curlz, Unseen Knight of the Shade. Or just Ser Jenn.... or Hey You!...Let's be honest, I respond to anything, really.

Last and Final WorldCon Tip: GO! It is in Chicago at the end of August, 2012. See you there!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to WorldCon in Style - Part II

And today we continue with more WorldCon tips! If you missed the first set, it is a tragedy and you must be chased by rabid dogs through the street--or you can just read up on it here. Now, we'll continue with our program.

Tip #7 - If a publisher has a party...you GO. We met James Frenkel, Senior Editor at Tor, within seconds of walking into the party and we spent the next two hours chatting with him. We also met the very awesome and entertaining, Eddie Schneider, a literary agent at Jabberwocky. If you are looking for an agent and you haven't queried him...do it! He's fantastic.
Hanging out with agent Eddie Schneider and a
fun new friend with a PhD in Physics is definitely picture worthy.

Tip #8 - Although, it is very cool to attend the Masquerade. It's also okay to be fashionably late...especially if you wear some unbelievably awesome corsets. Also...if you ever need a corset, you should buy it from the freaktastic ladies of Damsel In This Dress. Michelle (the owner) is amazing and SO fun. Everyone should have a corset...this may even apply to men. I haven't seen one in a corset yet, so I'm reserving judgment.
Dude, need I say more?

Tip #9 - If you have done the work to get yourself into a corset(not an easy task, but totally worth it), wear it to as many balls, parties, local gas stations, etc. as possible. Because who doesn't like to feel this fancy?
Also, making the "Blue Steel" face from Zoolander = never a bad idea.

Tip #10 - Stop by Friday to learn of the amazing coolness that is the BWB (Brothers Without Banners) and why you REALLY need to know them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to WorldCon in Style

My amazing time at WorldCon took a week of recovery, and it will also require a week of blogging to really show how incredible it was. So, that's what I shall do.

Brace yourselves.

Tip #1 - the first thing you need at WorldCon is some uber cool roommates to share it with. I nailed that one, as you can see here.

Cool Roommates - CHECK!
Tip #2 - Packing appropriately...this I didn't do. And it was a sad day for all. How do I know I messed this up? A few clues: If you pack 5 pairs of shoes and only use the absolutely most comfortable ones -- Fail. If you show up at the hotel and the bell hop asks if you have a dead body in your bag -- Fail. If you start searching through your bag and all you can find are workout clothes and maternity pants (you know, in case you find a pants-less, pregnant woman) --EPIC Fail.

Tip #3 - Remember there are parties EVERY night, even the night before it starts and the night it ends. Do not miss these. If you miss things like your new friends dancing in the hotel fountain, you will regret it. Just trust me on this one.

Parties - where you hang out and talk books with cool new friends like these.

Tip #4 - If you have George R.R. Martin AND the throne from the HBO set of Game of Thrones in one room, the stars have aligned. Don't waste the opportunity.
The suspenders and the hat make the man, do they not? 

Tip #5 - The panels are interesting and roaming the halls and networking is very awesome, but the parties are nothing short of incredible. Whether you are partying it up with the Klingon's (watch out for the outline of the headless body on the floor), dancing to "Apple Bottom Jeans" with a room full of strangers, or chatting it up with the fantastic editors at Tor or Pyr. The parties are where it's at. There is no doubt about it.

Tip #6 - Stop by Wednesday for more tips and pictures, two words - Harry Potter & Corset. Don't miss it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interesting Characters

I've been thinking a lot lately about building believable characters. It's really interesting. It goes into a lot of detail about how you should know your characters as well as you know yourself.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to name some weird facts about ourselves that others might not know. Just to make the point of exactly how well we know ourselves.

In the comments--put in at least one thing that isn't commonly known about you. Here are a few of mine.

~ I was fifteen when I got my first kiss--and then I got 12 in one night. A wacky friend lined up every guy at my birthday party and he pinned my arms and walked me down the line. I was too shocked to respond at the time-- but he got an earful the next day.

~ I was pulled over 8 times before I ever got a ticket--this all happened before I turned 17. Did I mention that I'm kind of a speed demon?

~ I never had to study in school, everything came easy to me--but I often planned study parties with my friends, because I knew they needed to study and I wanted to feel normal.

~ I once received an invitation to a high school dance via a toilet seat that was left on the floor of my room.

~ I was very shy when I was younger and by the time I went to high school I felt pinned in by that stereotype. So, I convinced my mom to let me change schools so I could get a fresh start. When I graduated I was known as one of the most outgoing girls in school.

~ My sister is one of those people whose lives should be made into a book or movie--but I'm pretty sure she'd kill me if I did.

~ My mom is a ridiculously strong woman--but also one of the funniest people I've ever met. When I was a teenager she used to tell all my friends stories about how she had a magical gorilla toe that made all the men want her.... no, I'm not kidding.

Enough about me, what about you? What are your strange facts? Do you think you could fill out a similar sheet about your protagonist?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

After RENOvation comes Recuperation...

Today, I plan to catch up on a little sleep and a few errands that have been waiting while I was at WorldCon. I'll be doing a big post on Monday to show you all the fantasticness that is WorldCon, but until then...you'll just have to wait.


I thought I'd do a quick recommend for a new critique partner matching site called Ladies Who Critique. I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without my crit partners, so if you are in need of one, go check it out! Here are some main points about it you should know:


- LadiesWhoCritique.com is a completely free, critique partner match-making service, where writers can find the perfect partner/ beta reader.
- Think match.com but for female writers! Writers can search others profiles, create their own, try as many times as they like to find 'the one'.
- Writers can search for other writers in their genre, and find someone with the right kind of experience.
- We will start with 5-10 genres, and expand to cover each and every genre possible.
- It's completely free for everyone!



It is up and running now and I like their layout and genre divisions. If you find someone on there, let me know! I'm not currently looking for a new crit partner, but I'd love to know about your experiences with it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Book Sold in Italy! Sono così felice!

Yay! I finally get to tell you that INSOMNIA sold in Italy!! I'm so excited! Did I mention that I love Europe? Like so so much! I'm a big fan. Here is my official Publisher's Marketplace announcement:

Italian rights to J.R. Johansson's INSOMNIA, to Newton Compton, by Luigi Bernabo Associates on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.


Did I mention that Taryn and Kathleen are amazing? Because they really are! So, yay! Newton Compton is very cool and their covers are gorgeous. 


Can you tell that I'm excited!? Let me say it in one of my new favorite languages!


Sono eccitataOggi, festeggiamo!


Or -- I'm excited! Today, we celebrate! And if Google translate is getting this all wrong, then to my new Italian friends, I say - Perdonami :) 


Hooray!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

McDonald's Giveth & McDonald's Taketh Away

Good ole' MickeyD's taught me a very good lesson about writing this week. I know what you're thinking...if we're learning writing lessons from a fast food restaurant, what's the world coming to?

Touche' my friends, touche'. Just let me tell my story, and then decide whether or not the lesson is worthwhile.

The other morning, I stopped by my local McDonald's for a fruit parfait. As Backpack from Dora would say, "Mmm mmm mmm Delicioso!" Or something multi-cultural like that.

As I pulled into the drive-thru. They did the customary greeting where they try to convince you to buy more food than you really need in an effort to make all of America more spherical. Usually, I can resist these pretty well. But on this day, it was snowy and cold...and they played to my weakness. The conversation went a little something like this.

MD's - "Welcome to McDonalds! Would you like to try a steaming cup of our gourmet hot chocolate today?"

me - *long pause while I dream of hot chocolate*

MD's - Um...can I help you?

me - Yes, actually, I would love a gourmet hot chocolate.

MD's - A hot chocolate?

me - Yes, and a fruit parfait. (I know, I'm a health nut...what can I say? ^ insert sarcasm here^)

MD's - What kind of hot chocolate did you say?

me - *long pause of utter confusion* Um... gourmet?

MD's - *long pause while they look up the definition of gourmet* I'm afraid we don't have any hot chocolate.

me - *whimpers* You don't? Why not?

MD's - I guess we're cleaning it or something.

me - *cries*


Yes, folks, that's how it went down. What can we learn from this excursion? We can learn that we shouldn't lead our readers to believe they will receive something and then never give it to them. We must meet the expectations we set for the reader. Otherwise we leave them crying and questioning the meaning of life in the McDonald's drive-thru... or, um... disappointed at the end of the book (assuming they finish it at all).

So? Was it a good lesson? Or am I just desperate to give meaning to my disheartening drive-thru experience.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recycling is Good + Yay! WorldCon!


So, I'm getting ready to leave for WorldCon tomorrow morning and I'm PUMPED! So, in honor of cool things that I like...and also because I'm busy. I'll be recycling some posts from way back on my blog that I find entertaining in retrospect. Most of them were not fun at the time, but I can look back and find them fun now. Look at me! I'm growing!

Ahem, so without further ado...

(For the purposes of this post, please be aware, cellulose = insulation. NO, I didn't know that before this weekend. YES, I am going green, I don't care if you think it's trendy.Now, back to our program.)

In case you were wondering, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth, or go fishing. I am currently in my attic--buried in cellulose.

This is not my favorite place to be.

There is no cause for alarm. I have several reasons to be certain I will make it through this.

1 - Cellulose must be edible, because I haven't died yet.

2 - I was able to chew through a stray internet wire and by rigging it to the fillings in my teeth I am able to get rudimentary versions of my e-mails printed on my brain. Convenient? yes. Comfortable? no.

3 - My next door neighbor kindly plays music in his jeep loud enough that it rattles my windows and I can, as they say, "Get jiggy wid' it." (Don't knock it. Until you've seen a woman covered in cellulose dancing--you haven't lived.)

4 - One corner of my roof is leaking, by carefully placing my head against the wall--in between two rusty nails, of course--I am able to get a little water. It tastes like tar, but it's wet.

5 - I am confident this time alone will give me plenty of time to brainstorm and outline my next 12 novels. When I get out of here (after MANY showers) I'm going to burn that keyboard up!

6 - I'm reasonably sure that this will get me an agent. Why? Who doesn't want to represent a writer who is handy, charismatic (HEY! No laughing! I am totally enjoying my own company!) and could go on Survivor? (Self-fulfilling Prophecy? ... Possibly. ;-P )

Until I make it out, feel free to comment.

Oh, and pray for rain.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So, I'm In Love...


This week I was introduced to The Guild. As you can see from this picture, I do not know what I was doing without them in my life. Seriously. Love.

First, I stumbled across a link to this Bollywood music video they made about online gaming...No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it's hilarious.


Which had me laughing so hard I snorted diet coke out my nose, and it was worth it. I particularly like when he beats up 'Real Life' with his ninja moves and wizard skillz.

Then I found this one entitled, "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar." Need I say more? It's even better.

Seriously? I know some of you must have seen these before. How could you let me down so by not bringing them into my life sooner? Tsk, tsk. So, by the time I watched the second one, I was hooked and started watching their actual episodes. Which are short, sweet and ROFLOL funny.

Check these out and start your weekend with a laugh. :)