Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Interview with an Assassin: Not Your Average Cinderella (feat. Sarah J. Maas)

Totally Sane Interviews

I don't think I could say it enough: I love to see authors interact with their characters. There's just something so beautifully surreal about it, and it seems to touch upon the fantasy that I know so many of us writers share--that desire to dive into the world that you've created and meet your own characters. Even horror writers might entertain the notion from time to time (although...hmm...I've got an interview coming up by Robert Crull, and I can't help but assume he might not be all that thrilled to meet his main character....)

At any rate, today I bring to you the delightful Sarah Maas and her interview with Celaena, the main character of her young adult fantasy QUEEN OF GLASS--and a most delicious character at that. I fell in love with her just from this interview. I can't even begin to imagine how rockin this book will be. And I must say, I just adore Sarah, who has been a delight to work with. She's one of the most pleasant people I've encountered...not to mention clever, talented, and remarkably encouraging. So, of course, I wish her tremendous success, and look forward to seeing her name splashed across the covers of books on my bookshelves.

About the author, in her own words:
Sarah J. Maas grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where her parents indulged her somewhat extreme passion for fairy-tales. At the age of sixteen, she began writing QUEEN OF GLASS –a YA fantasy trilogy centered on a Cinderella retelling. Three books and five years later, she completed the series. An hour after that, she opened up the first book, and spent a year revising everything. Now twenty-three, Sarah currently resides in Los Angeles, and is represented by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Agency. The first book of QUEEN OF GLASS is on submissions to editors.

In my words: Sarah rocks. Follow her blog. Follow her on Twitter. Follow her with a camera and an autograph book. She's a star, folks, and her series will blow you away. So get on that bandwagon. Now check out her interview with Celaena, the mc of her YA fantasy QUEEN OF GLASS, and see what I'm talking about.

An Interview with an Assassin: Not Your Average Cinderella

Sarah: Name?
Celaena: Celaena Sardothien
Sarah: …Is that your real name?
Celaena: [picks at nails] Perhaps.
Sarah: [sighs] Age?
Celaena: What a vulgar question.
Sarah: Occupation?
Celaena: World’s Greatest Assassin.
Sarah: Modest, much?
Celaena: No.
Sarah: …That wasn’t a question. [sighs again] Okay. So: tell me why you, the World’s Greatest Assassin, are currently residing in the glass castle of Adarlan’s capital.
Celaena: Well, it’s a long story—filled with intrigue and romance and adventure. Starring myself, of course.
Sarah: Of course.
Celaena: A year ago, my life was perfect: I was the most notorious assassin in the empire of Adarlan, and getting paid mountains of gold for my services. People would scream at the very mention of my name. It was delightful. That is, until I was captured.
Sarah: You, Adarlan’s Assassin, were captured? By whom?
Celaena: If I knew, they’d be dead.
Sarah: Pleasant.
Celaena: Indeed. Anyway, after I was caught, the King of Adarlan shipped me off to the Salt Mines of Endovier, where I spent the past year working off a sentence of nine lives’ worth of hard labor. Of course, I terrorized all the overseers and had my run of the place—
Sarah: Did you really?
Celaena: [stares pointedly] Yes, I did. That is, until the Crown Prince Dorian DeHavilliard and Chaol Wydrael, Captain of the Royal Guard, arrived to offer my freedom in exchange for the lives of Wendlyn’s royal family.
Sarah: Wendlyn?
Celaena: The kingdom across the sea? Adarlan’s greatest enemy, and the sole country that has withstood Adarlan’s growing shadow? Don’t you know anything?
Sarah: …Just keep talking.
Celaena: [huffs] Naturally, I said yes. And so they brought me to the glass castle to revive my strength and to train. Train! Like I need any training! If anything, it’s that recalcitrant and bellicose Chaol who needs training!
Sarah: Chaol, hmm?
Celaena: Yes, Chaol. The Captain of the Guard? I already told you this. He’s close friends with Dorian.
Sarah: The Crown Prince of Adarlan?
Celaena: Yes. [snorts] Though it’s more like the Crown Prince of Womanizing.
Sarah: What, exactly, is your relationship with Dorian DeHavilliard?
Celaena: That bumbling moron? He’s the greatest fool ever to have walked in the miserable halls of this pretentious glass castle.
Sarah: I heard through the grapevine that you two were spotted together at the last ball—and that there were serious sparks flying between—
Celaena: Well, you heard wrong. [crosses arms]
Sarah: Are you blushing?
Celaena: Absolutely not. I’m just flushed from my training.
Sarah: Oh? For what, exactly, were you training? Did the Crown Prince of Womanizing oversee it?”
Celaena: [glares] I’m not blushing. There’s nothing between Dorian and I.
Sarah: Very well…
Celaena: [leans forward] I can kill you with a hairpin, you know.
Sarah: Point taken. I think this interview’s over.
Celaena: Thanks ever so much for wasting my time. [tosses her hair] I’ll be in the library if you need me. For your sake, I hope you don’t. [stalks off]
Sarah: [rubs temples] You’re truly delightful, Celaena.

So what is it about Celaena that makes you love her so much? One, she takes you by surprise at every turn...that's always pleasant in literature. And two, she says things like, "I can kill you with a hairpin, you know." So...of course, what is there not to love? Well done, Ms. Maas. I applaude you for your brilliance and thank you most heartily for sharing Celaena with us. I'm honored to play a small part in presenting this interview. I wish you the very best, and look forward to being able to say, "I knew her when she was subbing this book."

If you are interested in participating in the Character Interviews series, please drop me a line at cvaldezmiller AT gmail DOT com. Would love to see what you can do. Also, please be sure to check out the how and why behind the interviews series.

Until next time, happy blogging/writing/editing/breathing...though, if all you're doing is breathing, I recommend you take up a hobby. Like hatmaking. Or cherry stem weaving. Or Tortilla Sculpting. I bet you could have some crazy fun with tortillas.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Meet the Rellims

I swear, folks, I'm not ignoring you. I've just been enjoying my holiday. I've been visiting with family and friends and will continue to do so over the next week, topping off festivities with my daughter's birthday before school starts again. I'm attempting to sneak in some editing of one of my manuscripts as well (which is going brilliantly, I must say). But as we stretch through January, I will likely only be blogging sporadically as I attempt to prepare two manuscripts for CP's and beta readers, as well as the eventual query madness, not to mention reading for CP's and all the books unwrapped at Christmas (including The Hunger Games and Hush, Hush)! So, yeah, lots to do, and having a thrill while I do it. But I thought I'd bring to you a piece of all the fun we're having at our house.

Here we are...meet the Rellim family:

Please don't stare overly long at my split ends...it will give you a blistering headache. But I'm loathe to have them cut off before I'm due for my semi-annual haircut, which for some reason, also coincides with the Victoria's Secret semi-annual bra sale--January is a very big month for me. Yes, I am the world's biggest cheapskate. I even attempted once to have my husband give me my semi-annual haircut, but never again. I am, I guess, just a tad too vain and not quite cheap enough to go through that experience again.

However, I will continue with my Character Interviews Series for as long as authors are willing to interview their characters...and, well, share the interviews with me. There should, in fact, be a new one tomorrow. Barring any natural catastrophes or unexpected 90% off sales at Victoria's Secret, you can look forward to the latest installment by the lovely Sarah Mass, author of the YA fantasy Queen of Glass.

So until then, have a good day, a good night, and piquant living.

Smooches all around (distant air kisses to those of you with piggy flu)....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Me and My Drum

I had a beautiful little post written up. It was quite hilarious, actually, and yet somehow also heartwarming, and a bit poignant. But the universe apparently was not pleased with it and swallowed it whole before I had a chance to save it. And now it's nearly Christmas, and I haven't the time or (*sigh*) the heart to write it up again.


I realize not everyone celebrates Christmas, but I think we can all find the songs of Christmas to be inspirational. The Little Drummer Boy always made me cry as a kid. I was quite poor for a long time, and I was able to relate rather easily to this little boy who had nothing to give to the infant child except his music.

So, in lieu of a hilarious, heartwarming, poignant post about a little girl and her dog and a butterfly with a limp, here is my gift to you this season:

Merry Christmas...Happy Hannukah...Happy Kwanzaa....

May your days be merry and bright, and may the sorrows fade from your life....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have Blog, Will Follow....

Finally, the lovely blog mentions I promised! So many good ones out there. Feel free to click click click. They are all awesome and worth a position on your blog roll. So chech them out!!

To the blogs listed below, I pass on the Writing Blogger Award
1. Beth Revis at Writing It Out
2. Marybeth at Desperately Searching for my Inner Mary Poppins
3. Lisa and Laura Roecker at Lisa and Laura Write
4. Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
5. Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder (yes, I'm giving it back to you!)
6. Frankie Diane Mallis at Frankie Writes
7. Jemi Fraser at Just Jemi
8. Angie Kate at Always Write
9. Courtney Reese
10. Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton at Shooting Stars
11. Karen Hooper
12. Andrew Rosenberg at The WriteRunner
13. Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
14. Simon Larter at Constant Revision (yeah, yeah, I know you have this already, but you're worth mentioning!)
15. Valerie at I should be Writing
16. Heather at See. Heather. Write
17. Sara McClung at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler
18. Alexandra Shostak at The publication follies of Miss Alexandra Shostak
19. Courtney at Southern Princess
20. Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries
21. Rhiannon Hart
22. Don P. at warm fuzzy freudian slippers
23. Calista Taylor at Steampunk Reverie
24. W.M. Morrell
25. Eisely Jacobs at Eisely's Ellipses
26. LK Gardner-Griffie at Griffie World Happenings
27. Sara Fraser at Misadventures of a Modern Mommy
28. Rhonda Cowsert at Snarktastic Ramblings
29. Anne Riley
30. Harley May

To the blogs listed below, I pass on the One Lovely Blog Award
1. Anissa at Anissa Off the Record
2. RKCharron at Books
3. C.L. Moyer
4. Melissa at Chasing the Dream
5. Lynnette Labelle at Chatterbox Chit Chat
6. Courtney Reese
7. Brittany Landgrebe of The Words of a Writer
8. Carie Kei Heim Binas at Heim Binas Fiction
9. Robin Mellom
10. Tamara Heiner at Chasing Dreams
11. Mireyah Wolfe at Crimson Ink
12. Julie at The Climb
13. Elle Strauss
14. Laurel Garver at Laurel's Leaves
15. Medeia Sharif
16. Kimberly Franklin at Confessions: The Secret Life of a Writer

And the Writers Know Award goes to... (drum roll) ....

Sara McClung at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler for finishing the second draft of her manuscript Shattered (which I'm heavily engaged in reading now!! Soooo good, my friends. So good.) Congratulations on finishing your manuscript, my dear! You've earned yourself this shiny new award.

Holy mother of catfish, that took for freaking ever. But it was worth it. I'm really hoping I didn't miss anyone!! But there are so many good blogs out there. These are just a few who I follow rather fervently. I apologize if I awarded you with an award you already have...just know that your that doubly awesome. Feel free to pass on the awards as you see fit. I think they've been passed around enough now that any original rules have surely been lost in limbo.

But before I go, I would like to give one last round of thanks to the beautiful people who passed these awards on to me:

Thank you Angie Kate of Always Write and Princess Courtney at Southern Princess for the One Lovely Blog Award. You are both so kind. I've very much enjoyed your blogs as well!

Thank you Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder for creating and passing on the Writing Blogger Award! You are so generous and thoughtful. And your blog is rockin.

Finally, thank you Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries for bestowing upon me the Writers Know Award for finishing my manuscript. I LOVE an award that honors this accomplishment. So often, I think we tend to think only in terms of publication, but truly, just writing the dang thing is a righteous feat.

Phew! Now that you've made it to the bottom, I would like to reward you with a couple of truly amazng songs, both of which are on my playlist for my latest manuscript.

Thanks for making it to the end, folks. You're awesome.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Giving and Re...giving

Tis the season to give, or in my case, to receive, apparently. Once again, I've been showered with blog awards, and I can't tell you how flattered and honored it makes me feel. Well, maybe I can:

Now, for the awards, which I accept most graciously:
Thank you to the lovely Angie Kate of Always Write and the sweetheart Princess Courtney at Southern Princess Both of their blogs are remarkable, not to mention super fun, so check them out!
Thank you to the remarkable Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder for this beautiful award, which she herself created (isn't that super cool?). I always come away feeling renergized as a writer after reading her blog (full of great tips and advice for writers). So it's a must: go see what her blog's all about.
Last but most certainly not least, thank you to Michele Emrath at Southern City Mysteries for this amazing award. Michele was kind enough to create this award and pass it on to me (as the first recipient) for completing a manuscript! Now, that's awesome! Just finishing my manuscript had felt like such a remarkable accomplishment, but what an honor to have someone acknowledge your efforts in such a way. Please stop by her brilliant blog.

As always, there are rules that come attached to the awards, namely to identify the givers and to pass the awards on, if I desire. And I will definitely be passing them on...later. But first, I've had something kind of big on my mind this past week, and all this talk of giving and receiving has really sort of driven it home; so I'd like to share it with you. If you'll bear with me, I promise I'll get back to the blog mentions and big huge thank yous tomorrow.

But today, well...you see, last week, I made a promise to someone that I would donate blood plasma to help Hannah, a sixteen year old girl who has to undergo plasmapheresis, a procedure that replaces nearly half of her blood plasma with that of donors. You can read all about her story here, written by Tricia Fields. I don't know Hannah, but I know she is a girl in need, and I have what she needs: Type A+ blood. But guess what? It turns out I don't qualify as a donor because I don't meet all the criteria as required by the plasma bank.

And I can't even begin to tell you how much this has bothered me. But, it shouldn't right? I don't even know this poor girl. But this whole week, here's what's been running through my mind: Her name is Hannah. She's sixteen. And she's sick. And I have what she needs. But they won't let me give it to her.

You know, A+ is a fairly common blood type. This means that there will likely be other donors. But there are also alot of people who require that same kind as well.

But none of that matters. None of it. Because I have a name. Her name is Hannah.

It's beyond my ability to help her, but maybe you can. If you have type A+ blood, please consider making a donation at your local blood plasma bank. Check out the PlasmaCare website to see where you can donate. You will need to meet this criteria:

1. Be between the ages of 18 and 65
2. Weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health
3. Provide a valid picture ID and a document with your Social Security number
4. Prove that you reside within our center’s marketing radius. Contact your local center if you're unsure.

And once you're there, tell them you want to donate to Hannah Blair at LeBonheur [in Memphis, TN]. Call LeBonheur at 901 287 – KIDS and ask for 6th floor nursing station. Ask them to fax the release to the blood bank where you give.*

That's it. You have a name. Will you help her?**

*These are the instructions as outlined by Tricia Fields.
**Even if you don't have A+ blood type, you can still donate to help many other patients. They'll even pay you for it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Intriguing Interview with Natalie, feat. Anne Riley

Totally Sane Interviews with Vampires, Hobbits, and Talking Toads

One of my fave things to do? Grocery shopping on sample days. Oh yeah, baby. Num Num. Who needs lunch when you can have mini bites of scones, pop tarts, blueberry juice, and hot pockets?

On that note...sort of....
Time for the latest installment in my Character Interviews Series. Man, I love these. Today's treat? THE CLEARING by Anne Riley (err...just a sample, folks...)

A little background on the author:
Anne riley was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, where she currently resides with her furry hubby and sexy cat*. Now, she did venture out of Birmingham to go to college...um, well, fifty miles away in Tuscaloosa, AL...but her six month stint as an exchange student in Madrid, Spain should give you an idea of her AWESOMENESS. I mean, come on...Spain? Olé! Love Spain.

On writing: according to Anne, she's been a writer since she was "old enough to hold a pencil," and now has four complete manuscripts under her belt, though she's only tried to publish the most recent one. Anne has been represented by the Trident Media Group in New York since January. Though she's currently "licking her wounds" from editors' rejections, I have a strong hunch she'll be getting an acceptance shortly after she finishes her revisions (Yeah, I'm not psychic--she's had encouraging feedback). So, remember Anne Riley folks. Not only will you love her books, you'll adore her (just like I do). So, be sure to check out her fabulous blog and find her on Twitter!

Now, on to Anne's interview with Natalie Watson, the main character of her YA novel, THE CLEARING

An Intriguing Interview with Natalie
by Anne Riley

I am meeting Natalie Watson in the courtyard that sits between the girls’ and boys’ dormitories at her school. The front door of the girls’ dorm opens and Natalie saunters out, making her way over to me. She looks like she isn’t totally sure she wants to do this.
Me: Hi, Natalie. Come on in and have a seat. [I pat the space on the bench next to me]
Natalie: Thanks. [sits as far away from me as she can, crosses legs, crosses arms, uncrosses arms, switches crossed legs]
Me: Are you nervous?
Natalie: A bit, yes. But not really.
Me: Okay. Uh…didn’t you have school today?
Natalie: [cuts her eyes to the right, down, and back to my face] Yeah. Why?
Me: Oh, no reason, I just notice that you’re wearing…what? What are you wearing?
Natalie: [huffs] It’s cold outside.
Me: So your only option was flannel pajama pants and a University of Georgia sweatshirt?
Natalie: [shrugs] I guess I just got caught up in dealing with my parents’ deaths, moving to Maine, and starting at a new school where everyone hates me. I don’t really think about my wardrobe much these days.
Me: Did you ever?
Natalie: [furrows eyebrows] Sorry, is this part of the interview, or…?
Me: No. Let’s begin. Oh, wait – is that a book I see in your bag? What are you reading right now?
Natalie: Uh, Little Women. I like to read. After school is over, I usually either read, or…read.
Me: Is that all you do? Don’t you have friends to hang out with?
Natalie: [laughs once, without humor] Um, no. You gave me a peroxide-blonde ice queen for a roommate who could seriously have a shot at becoming a cast member of The Hills. We don’t really get along.
Me: What about Liam Abernathy? Aren’t the two of you hanging out a little?
Natalie: [gives withering look]
Me: What? You went to the woods with him last night. Alone. Those woods, right over there. [points in the direction of scary looking forest] Care to explain what went on out there?
Natalie: You know what we did. Don’t pretend like it was something scandalous.
Me: You don’t think time traveling would be considered scandalous?
Natalie: [leaps up from her seat and claps her hand across my mouth] Don’t say it out loud! Are you crazy? What if someone hears you?
Me: Mmmph! [she removes her hand from my lips] I’m sorry! Geez! What was that? I thought you were shy and insecure?
Natalie: I am. [looks confused] Or at least, I used to be. But something seems to be changing… [looks at her hands, as if hoping to find the answer written across her palms]
Me: Mm-hmm. So you don’t want to talk about the time travel.
Natalie: No. It’s…too weird. In fact, I think maybe –
[Natalie is interrupted when a commotion breaks out across the courtyard. There are several other students standing around the flagpole, laughing and glancing in Natalie’s direction. Finally, someone starts to raise what looks like a pair of underwear up to the very top of the pole.]
Natalie: [closes her eyes in resignation] Not again.
Me: This has happened before?
Natalie: Um, I think you remember the incident in math class last month. [sighs] I have to go now.
Me: Yes…yes, I think you do.

OMG...she totally hooked me. Teenagers. Dark, creepy forest. Underwear on the flag pole. And, um, TIME TRAVEL!!! Uh, yeah...I'm so in. Anne!!!!!!! FINISH SO WE CAN PREORDER THIS BOOK ALREADY. Oh my word. I'm so psyched. How can this be? It's not even published. *Sits on hands* I will wait patiently. Yes. I think I can.

Anne, thanks so much for this delicious interview. You are amazing! And Natalie? She's a beautiful character. LOVE her.

And now, my remarkable followers who I adore, if you're interested in participating in my Character Interviews series, give me a shout. You can e-mail me at cvaldezmiller AT gmail DOT com or find me on Twitter. And I would urge you to check out why you should chat with your characters. It's fun, it's helpful, and I'm such an almost-not-nerdy person to work with (who totally doesn't mind ending sentences with prepositions.)

*It's quite possible I have mixed my adjectives.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sometimes, Being a Writer Rocks

In the event that you noticed I've been absent from the blogosphere for the last week (oh please, please, say you've noticed), allow me to say, I'm back, baby. And guess what? I'm bettah than evah! Why, you ask? Because I have finished the first draft of my second manuscript!!!!! Yahooooo!!!! *sparkly spaghetti and edible streamers flying everywhere* ("Roar!" says the crowd).

Exciting, no? To finish that first draft? It's my second completed manuscript, and yet, writing that final word this time around felt just as good as the first--better actually, as the writing feels much stronger. Dang, you learn a lot writing that first manuscript. I wrote that one in nearly the same amount of time as my latest one, but it was double the size and filled with painful adverbs, cliches, and info dump that required a heavy-duty sledgehammer and chainsaw to remove. And still, it will require some overhauling to make that sucker roadworthy. But my second manuscript? It took me exactly six weeks and three days to complete, coming in at roughly 90,000 words, and baby... it's
Finger-licking sweetness!!! I LOVE THIS NOVEL!!!!!

That adrenaline rush only lasts until the editing begins, so...let me revel a bit. On that note, in honor of my latest accomplishment, I thought I'd sit down and have a little chat with Anthony, one of the two main characters in this manuscript. Some of you might remember my first chat with Anthony, which occurred even before he appeared in the book. He was not all that thrilled with me then, but I've given him Scarlett since then, so, well...you'll see.

Anthony: So, what? No "I told you so"?

Me: No.

Anthony: Seriously?

Me: Yep.

Anthony: But what about all that "you'll thank me for every last one of her breaths" BS?

Me: [shrugs] I'm not petty like that.

Anthony: You're such a li--

Me: I told you so!

Anthony: I knew it. [smug grin]

Me: Whatever. I was right.

Anthony: And she only has two breasts, FYI.

Me: [arches brow] I'm waiting.

Anthony: For what?

Me: Your eternal gratitude. And for an explanation--gads man, what have you done to yourself? [flicks a finger over the ring on his lip]

Anthony: [smiles a wicked half-grin] Scarlett likes it.

Scarlett: [pops her head in through window] Don't be such a douche, Ace, and tell her why you got it.

Anthony: [strokes thumb over Scarlett's lower lip; smug expression softens] Letti, you're supposed to be waiting in the car with the others.

Scarlett: Yeah. Right.

Me: When did you guys come up with nicknames?

Anthony: You don't have to know everything, you know.

Me: Uh, yes I do.

Scarlett: No. You don't. [winks at Anthony; face flushes pink; lowers gaze to the floor]

Me: Scarlett. [frowns] You didn't. [gaze alternates between Scarlett and Anthony] Anthony?

Anthony: [averts his gaze to the floor] ....

Me: Anthony! What about all that "not until I have something more to offer you" BS? Huh? Huh? Look at you--you look like a frigging degenerate with that thing on your lip. And that shag...gads...what's wrong with you?

Anthony: [sighs; shakes head] Back up, Letti.

Me: Anthony, don't you dare. I'm not kidding. This was not part of the plan! You do not TOUCH her. I'm not kidd--where are you going? Don't friggin--what the hell?

Anthony: [Climbs out the window; straightens himself; pats Scarlett on the behind]

Me: [leans out the window] Anthony, this is not in the plan! Do you understand! It's frigging YA! You hear me?

Anthony: [Takes Scarlett by the hand and leads her towards car; without turning back, gives a one finger salute above his head with his free hand] ....

Me: Mother-effing randy teenagers. Seriously.

Gads, I love being a writer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flash Fiction=Fiction in a Flash (and then some) feat. Simon Larter

So the other day--like, you know, a few weeks ago--I had a brief conversation with Simon Larter (known to some of you as *@WritingAgain) that went something like:

Me: What is Flash fiction?
Simon: Fiction in a flash. [Eyeballs roll]
Me: Okay, Mr. Longwinded, will you post something cool about it on my blog?
(Note: The above conversation is based on a true story)

Anyway...I asked Simon to enlighten us about flash fiction because he's a frigging pro. Okay, he didn't get his MFA (though I'm convinced he will in ten years time), but he's published several pieces of flash fiction, won several contests, and writes like an effing god of flash fiction. I'm serious. If you don't believe me, just check out a few of his stories: Uncle George, Alcoholic Cat, and All in the Timing. If you're still not impressed, go check out his published pieces in Flashquake or Per Contra. He's got another one forthcoming in LitNImage, but they're keeping it secret until April. **Bastards!

But first, a brief bio on Simon, just because:
Simon is rediscovering writing after a 15 year hiatus, and wondering why he waited so long. He is a husband and father of three whose day job in lightning protection may someday provide a wealth of anecdotes for the next great American novel (although he’s Scottish by birth). Between work, home renovations, and child duty, he still manages to find time to write short stories. He graduated from Drexel University with a degree in Civil Engineering, and is currently wondering how to work an MFA into the ***10-year plan.

Now, Learn a little something useful from Simon:

She was the one that suggested we hike up into the mountains to get our heads clear, then picked another stupid fight just as we came to that steep spot where the ledge gets narrow and the handrail’s broken, so if you ask me, it really wasn’t my fault at all.

* * * * *

Flash fiction. It can be just about anything you want it to be. Even one sentence.

* * * * *

"Are you sure?" she gasped. "Do you think it’s too soon?"

He kissed her neck and breathed in her ear. "It’s not too soon," he said. "I really care about you."

His fingers were moving, moving, and she arched her back and stopped thinking for a while. It wasn’t until later, as they drove home in silence with the steam fading from the windows, that she realized his answer hadn’t been the one she was looking for.

* * * * *

It can be two characters in three paragraphs and 77 words.

I certainly can’t offer any kind of comprehensive description of flash fiction here—as a literary form, it’s as varied and multifaceted as any other (and hence defies definition). What I can do, though, is give a sense of the possibilities when it comes to writing flash (or sudden fiction, or microfiction). And these are, of course, simply my own thoughts on the form and aren’t intended to be anything more than a rough guide.

One way of thinking about flash fiction is as a way to tell a story or capture a moment in as few words as possible—no backstory but what’s hinted at, no future story but what’s implied. I often think of flash this way: moments of realization, trauma, humor, memory, anything that holds importance. The two pieces I’ve published thus far have been moment-flash, descriptions of one brief period of time in which everything changes.

Another way of thinking about flash is as a method of exploring small yet significant ideas. If we look at my two brief examples above, we can see that either of them could be expanded into a full short story, or even a novel. In the first, I’ve set up a possible murder and cover up. In the second, the story could go any number of ways—unexpected pregnancy being the most obvious. Each offers a small sense of completion, but hints at a great deal more. There’s much left out of the stories—a before, an after, details of the during that aren’t mentioned—but I can let the reader fill in the blanks; I don’t have to do it.

The last type of flash I’ll mention is the story in brief. These offer a complete story arc, but in a very small space. I think my Uncle George story is like that. I said absolutely everything I wanted to say in about 750 words. Was there more that could have been done? Yes. Could it have been a short story? Yes. Could it even be a novel? Yes, probably. I could have drawn extended parallels between the shabby yet charming natures of both Uncle George and Funland, and explored how the narrator’s perceptions of both changed over time as he grew older—loss of innocence, coming of age, and all that jazz. But I didn’t, and the story stands as is; the emotion’s there, just condensed.

So flash fiction can be many things. I think, though, that even novelists could benefit from trying their hand at microfiction. The discipline it teaches is extremely helpful when it comes to editing—padding and filler have no place in flash. Also, it can help us to think in terms of small story arcs, and what are the chapters of your novel but small story arcs? Even within a chapter, a multiple-POV novel will have 1000 – 2000 word sections written from a particular character’s viewpoint. Could flash help make those sections pop? I think it could.

Why not give flash a try? See what the best flash writers do with the form on sites like Flash Fiction Online, Flashquake, LitNImage, and others like them. See if you can’t write one of the significant moments from your novel in flash format. The time investment’s small, the potential benefits great.

I’ll open the floor to questions and comments now. Has anyone else experimented with flash fiction? Interested in trying? Questions about how I write it? Where to publish it? Ask away, writer-friends. I’ll do my best to answer.

Wasn't that awesome? Feel free to bow down and chant, "I love Simon!" But first, be sure to make some comments, ask him questions, and beg him for his autograph. Seriously. He's like the Zeus of the Writer's Realm. He's even got lightning bolts. Next year, he starts on THE novel. It's gonna be brilliant, folks. Just wait. You'll see.

*This is not just an unusual nickname bestowed upon him by kindergarten bullies. This is his Twitter name. Follow Simon if you want to be cool.
**In the event that I ever try to publish with this magazine, I'm just kidding. They're not really bastards. I think it has something to do with freakishly tight publishing schedules or something weird like that.
***Told you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Honey that Drives Us In Spite of the Bee Stings

***Warning: this post uses made-up words.***

Oh man, I've done it again. I won another blog award! This time, I've won the Scribbler Award! Yeesh, I do believe my head has just about swollen to Attack of the Killer Bees proportions. On that note, have you seen that episode of Bear Grylls where he has an allergic reaction to bee stings? Check out the video:
Bear Grylls is almost unrecognisable after bee sting

Yeah, that's my head right now. A big thank you to the three amazing people who gave me this award: Shannon Messenger of Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, Eisley Jacobs of Eisley's Ellipses, and Laurel Garver of Laurel's Leaves. Please please be sure to check out their spectacular blogs. I feel so honored, like Queen Elizabeth has just handed me her crown. But now I shall pass on the crown to some other blogs that I've started following recently and have enjoyed *immensely (the crown was a little tight for my swollen head anyway). You'll find those super blog links down below. But first, I'd like to focus on something that Bear's video has inspired me to consider.

In the video (linked above), Bear Grylls, a Born Survivor, tries to explain why he braved the bees to collect honey by stating, "If you risk nothing, you gain nothing." How remarkably quotatious of him. Indeed, Bear did get a big fat honeycomb out of it...but he also got a face full of bloat. Let's get real: Bear wants us to believe he's surviving in the wilderness, but we all know he's got a shiny helicopter waiting around the corner. So why would he risk his well-being for a bit of honey?

Well, he has an audience, for one thing. And doing stupid things like that will gain him more. Swelling up like a blowfish makes for great tv, folks. But this whole episode has me wondering about why I do what I do. I mean, come on--how many blog posts have I written about my writing obsession thus far--me, an unpublished writer? And why do I continue to blog day after day for what is, in the grand scheme of things, a handful of followers (read the next part where I explain how awesome you are)?

I suppose, in a way, writers are driven in much the same way that Bear is compelled to perform amazing feats of stupidosity. And the fact is, I love and treasure every one of my followers--you rock (like, bigger than Bono) with the time and energy you've devoted to reading my lit'l old blog (seriously, overwhelming generosity people--I so ♥ you). It's a bit of an addiction, really, to put out words and have others absorb them, maybe even comment on them. This blog is like a taste of what it might be to actually get paid to publish. I don't know--maybe I'm the only one who checks back day after day, hoping for a posted comment. I can't even imagine what I'll be like when I actually publish novels. I'll be a wreck waiting on reviews and sales numbers.

Is it a vanity thing? Maybe. But I think there's more to it than that. I wrote silently for years, never showing my work, never discussing it. And yet now that I begin to put myself out there, I long for a sense of validation, as if it might actually give value to the years I've committed to my quiet words. Just like Bear, perhaps, I'm trying to legitimize what might otherwise be a pointless obsession. I don't want my writing to fall silently in the forest. Of course writing has value all on it's own--it's what I taught my students who would ask, "who cares about audience? No one will read this except you."

Who cares, indeed?

So...why do you blog? Why do you write? What drives you to keep going? For my part, I'm insanely grateful for other bloggers like Shannon, and Eisely, and Laurel, and for all of my followers who offer me that bit of honey to offset the face full of bloat.

Now, check out these super blogs who are more than deserving of the Scribbler Award and their own bit of honey:

1. Karen Hooper (she has one already, but she's totally worth mentioning anyway)
2. Don of warm fuzzy freudian slippers
3. Alexandra Shostak
4. Sara Fraser
5. Harley May
6. Tamara Heiner

These are all blogs worthy of a position on your blog roll. So please be sure to stop by and check out their brilliance. Just beware you don't get blinded by the glare of awesomeness glinting off their shiny words. Support them and give 'em some sugar.

*My apologies to Ninjadillo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Say Your Preyers: The Latest Installment in the Totally Sane Character Interviews Series

Working, working, working. Finishing up a novel. No time, no time! Hurry hurry, get that blog post done! Here you go:

Totally Sane Interviews with Vampires, Hobbits, and Talking Toads
Monica Enderle Pierce
I can't tell you how pleased I am to host an interview by Monica Enderle Pierce. You might know her better as @ThePreyers on Twitter, although Preyers is obviously not her name; rather, it is the title of her adult dark fantasy novel. If you haven't come across Monica yet, I urge you to find her on Twitter and *follow follow follow. Monica has been such an encouraging and supportive person to get to know, and the few bits I've read of her work have already made me very excited to read her book.

A little background on Monica Enderle Pierce, in her own words
Writing is in Monica Enderle Pierce’s blood and background. Her mother is Judith Ross Enderle, an award-winning children’s author, and Monica worked for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators for six years. So, what, you may ask, is she doing writing adult dark fantasy and paranormal fiction? She can’t say, but her mother is really, really happy to see her writing anything! Monica has an English Literature degree from UCLA and blames her years spent disemboweling Shakespeare, Milton, Brontë, and the gang for her complete inability to write fiction after she left college. She credits her new-found writing mania to the birth of her daughter and some strange genetic anomaly that prompts the women in her family to become creatively driven in their thirties. (Fear not, all that literary analysis proved handy when she began writing in earnest.) PREYERS is Monica’s first novel and, she knows, not her last. Now, if only she can land an agent and a contract and ....

Folks, I have a sneaking suspicion that not only will Monica find an agent quite soon, I'm certain PREYERS will rock the charts. Now, allow me to present to you Monica's interview with the remarkable (yet sometimes ornery) main characters of PREYERS: Matilde Royce, Thomas Rector, and Bartholomew Pelletier--all of whom seem to do an excellent job of ignoring their creator. Let's see how Monica copes:
*Say Your Preyers
MEP: Alright, my friends, now’s your chance. Hit me with your questions. As Matilde once said, “No subject is off limits. But, not all questions may be answered.”
[Matilde and Thomas laugh.]
Bartholomew: Bon. Explain the ending of this book, Auteur. What is he still doing here?
Matilde: Bartholomew, please. Thomas helps me be what you want me to be -- humane. And, he keeps me safe, from you and myself.
[Thomas is muttering in Latin]
Bartholomew: [to Thomas] If you have something to say, Priest, say it. Otherwise, la ferme.
Thomas: I can think of worse things than being alive, and with Matilde. Obviously, she needs both of us. I’m certainly not thrilled to share her attention with you.
Bartholomew: You and me, sooner or later, Priest. We will finish this.
Thomas: Any time you want a personal escort to Hell-.
Matilde: [interrupting] Stop it! The end was my doing, Bartholomew.
Bartholomew: You are just a tool, ma chérie.
Thomas: Careful ....
MEP: Matilde is right and wrong, Bartholomew. It was her doing, but my idea. I don’t expect you to be happy about it. I didn’t write this to make any of you happy. Now, someone ask me another question. Please.
Matilde: [to Bartholomew] I can never trust you, remember? No matter how much I want to; you said it yourself.
Thomas: [to Bartholomew] You’re not God.
MEP: Hellooo? Question? Thomas, ask me something.
Thomas: [to MEP] Oh, sorry. Ahhh. Are we fallen angels or escapees from Hell?
MEP: Interesting question. What do you think you are?
Matilde: [looks at Bartholomew, who is smoking and ignoring Thomas] Bartholomew and I escaped from Hell; Thomas fell to Earth.
Bartholomew: We have not escaped anything. We are dragging everyone down to us. Hence, your fallen priest. He didn’t put up much fight, if I remember correctly.
Thomas: [to Bartholomew] I see why God ignores you.
Bartholomew: [slowly exhales smoke] Enculé. I don’t think I’ll wait-
Matilde: Goddamn it! Can’t we have any peace? Honestly! If I wasn’t stuck with the two of you, I’d send you both straight to Hell and take a vacation! God knows I could use one, after this book. You’re both on your worst behavior tonight.
Bartholomew: [chuckles] Forgive me. I was simply amusing myself. Right, Auteur?
Thomas: I’m sorry, Matilde.
Matilde: Don’t apologize to me!
Bartholomew: [he looks at MEP] To her? [he exhales a cloud of smoke]
Thomas: [to MEP] Please excuse Bartholomew; he can’t help being a bastard, he’s old and French.
Matilde: Thomas!
Bartholomew: [laughing] Bon, Priest, bon. I will give you that one. But, I still plan to kill you.
Matilde: [quietly, to MEP] Please tell me something. Why is my existence punctuated with loss and struggle? Why didn’t you let me die when I should have?
Bartholomew: Chérie. [he pulls Matilde to him]
MEP: Matilde, bad things have to happen or it’s a boring, pointless story. If you had died, there would be no book, no Thomas, no Bartholomew. Would you prefer that?
Matilde [whispers] Bitch.
Thomas: [stands] I think we’d better leave. I’m sorry we ruined your interview.
MEP: You all gave a lot more than you think. And, I’m sorry, too. For a lot of things.
[Bartholomew keeps his arm around Matilde as the three vampires leave.]
MEP: [sighs] It’s hard to be a monster.

Excellent, no? I love the interaction between all of them...such strong, distinct voices. Honestly, I had to read the interview out loud--what beautiful dialogue! And yes, I did affect a French accent when reading Bartholomew's lines. Lie all you want, we still know you did, too.

A big thanks to Monica for her participation in my character interviews series! What a fantastic interview and a brilliant writer/Tweetie to work with (no, I will not apologize for ending with a preposition at). I can't wait to read Preyers! Intriguing premise and delicious characters...oh yeah, I'm in.

If you would like to participate in the character interviews series, be sure to check out Why You Should Interview Your Characters and drop me a line (leave a comment or find me on Twitter)...would love it if you would do that anyway. Thanks for stopping by, and please remember to spay and neuter your pets.

I always wanted to end a really cool blog post this way. Man, I miss Bob Barker. In honor of his memory, I will post a picture of my dog, who I also miss.

I love a good non sequitur.

*Though I realize you can't copyright titles, I wanted to give proper credit, so you should know, this title was attached to Monica's interview when she sent it to me. All hers. Yep yep.

**Monica (as @ThePreyers) is also often found at #amwritingparty on Twitter, which I urge you to check out--a great, supportive bunch. It's how I first came across Monica!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book-Baby on the Brain: When Your Writing Becomes All-Consuming

It's been a strange few days filled with sickness, and thus misery, which persists still. And yet, I continue to write because obsessions have a way of taking priority--especially now as I'm on the verge of finishing the first draft of my second novel. I'm at that point where the writing project becomes all consuming, invading all my thoughts, dreams, and just about every conversation. For example, here's a snippet from a recent conversation:

My mom: Carol, honey, pardon the interruption; I know you're working, but--

Carol: Not a problem, Mom. You'll never believe what just happened!

My mom: Oh? Well, let me just tell you first that--

Carol: It was hilarious, Mom. I had Anthony in the bathroom, right? And he's looking around, making sure no one's watching, and then--

My mom: Carol, who's Anthony?

Carol: Oh, Mom...you know. Anthony! From my book?

My mom: Oh, I--

Carol: Anyway, he waves Scarlett into the men's bathroom, and....

It's terrible, isn't it? Fact is, if you're not calling to discuss my book, well, we'll be discussing it anyway. Not because I don't value what you have to say, but I have book-baby on the brain. I don't mean it to be this way. It just...is what it is. Indeed, I just picked up my daughter from school, and the entire ride home, I explained to her this really cool plot twist that just sort of appeared out of nowhere.

Me: "I'm telling you, hon, I never would have come up with it had I outlined the story. Isn't that great?" [glancing into rearview mirror]

My daughter: [Looks up from her Teen Vogue magazine] "Yeah, yeah. Really, mom. Great."

Oh, we writers...so hungry to have someone else love our work as much as we do. It's very much like having a baby, no? When my oldest was born--before the digital camera--I used to get doubles on every photograph I took of my little one to send copies to everyone I knew. I envisioned them plastering their refrigerators and walls and maybe even their ceilings with photos of my baby.

And yet, I wonder...am I the only one who responds to a question of, "How are you?" with "My book is fabulous!"? I'm fairly certain that every other conversation I have usually transforms into a monologue about my latest chapter. Oddly though, while I'll talk your ear off about my book, my palms go into sweat overload when it comes time to let anyone actually read it. Bizzare.

But it's more than just about sharing your work, isn't it? It's about sharing your enthusiasm, your passion for something that you believe in. And until that first rejection comes, you truly do believe in your work. You laugh at your own wit and cry at the misery of your characters--in essence, you marvel at your own skills. But that's not such a bad thing, is it? To feel blessed by a gift? To enjoy it enough that you want to share?

Anyway, I'd love to hear your comments on this. Drop me a line...or better yet, give me a call. I know you want to now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Win a Signed Copy of Twilight! (And Discover Ten Reasons Why Edward Should Love Me)

So, was that blog post title enough to draw you in or what? I'm not even lying, folks. It's true. You can win a signed copy of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, and all you have to do is fill out an entry form at Shannon Messenger's blog. If you win, you'll get this:

Now, you must be asking youself: why would she blog about a contest when it could potentially lessen her chance of winning?

My answer: 1. I get two extra entries into the contest because of this blog post, so there. 2. It's a great prize and a really cool contest worth blogging about 3. It saves me from having to find something else to blog about today 4. It's another way for me to advertise Shannon's blog which is pretty frigging awesome. So be sure to check it out. Here's a link to the main blog page: AWESOME BLOG

On that note, I thought I would highlight for you TEN THINGS I HAVE IN COMMON WITH TWILIGHT just to show you how cool (nerdy) I am.

(****Spoilers ALERT. If you have not read the Twilight series and intend to, you probably don't want to read the list below. Just saying.)

1. Bella is 5'4". Guess who else is 5'4"? Uh-huh. Moi.

2. Bella's birthday is September 13. Guess who else has a birthday on September 13? That would be me, suckas.

3. Bella has a creepy stalker guy watching her all the time. Guess who else had a...oh crap...not a cool thing. Skip this one.

4. Bella likes things that sparkle in the daylight. Yep, me too.

5. Bella had a difficult pregnancy and delivery and became a teen mom...yeah...not advisable, but...well...we're like twins, Bella and me. We do everything the same. Thankfully, my labor only lasted five days. Hers ended with her heart stopping. That kind of sucks.

6. Bella had a dog who loved her first and then fell in love with her child. I swear, this happened to me, too. Check out my dog.

7. Bella had a beefy brother-like person (Emmett) who looked out for her. Mine plays Rugby. I know he looks nice here, but mess with me and my brother won't bat an eye at beating the ever-loving tar out of you. Still, he's the nicest guy I know.

8. Bella had no sense of fashion whatsoever. This one, I don't like to admit to so much, but it is what it is. I'm a fashion dunce.

9. Bella clearly has to deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), struggling at first to live in a sunless environment. Oh, man...me too!! The first six months in England were tragic for me. Actually, I blogged about that. You can check it out, if you want.

10. Last but certainly not least, Bella and I both love this guy (sort of):

I always love ending on a happy note. Although, maybe not so happy for you now that you realize Edward is destined to be with me. Sorry, people. It is what it is.

Anyway, happy Reading. Happy dreaming. Now go check out Shannon's blog to enter an epic contest! Better Hurry; contest ends December 10th!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ten Facts Worth Noting: Honest Scrapper Part II

I left yesterday's post rather unfinished--understandable, though, as I was suffering the effects of Ebola and all. I did at least manage to get through the first part of the Honest Scrap Award requirements...sort of...be sure to check out what those were here. But now I will comply with the final requirement of highlighting ten (embarrassing) facts about myself. Feel free to skip number eight.

1. I have a terrible memory. For example, I could never remember the name of a friend I saw ALL the time. Every time I would see her, I would just nod my head and pretend like I was under no obligation to call her by name, even though she clearly remembered mine. It turns out her name is...huh...ah yes--no. Ah! Carol.

1. I learned English when I was seven years old--in like four months. But before then, I used to pretend I knew how to speak English by muttering gibberish that usually sounded something like "lurdy gurdy gurdle."

2. I was born in Guayaquil, a coastal city in Ecuador, but I first lived in a town called Milagro. Translated, Milagro means "miracle," but having visited the place, I'm not sure there is anything so miraculous about it. In fact, I believe that is where my Dad acquired Typhoid. But it probably was not a smart idea to eat raw oysters from a street vendor, although my dad did survive the episode-therein lies the miracle, perhaps.

3. When I was very small, my favorite color was pink, but only in secret. My sister had informed me since pink was her favorite color, I had to choose another one. So to this day, as far as my sister knows, my favorite color is yellow.

4. My hair is naturally very curly. But I straighten it to look like normal people.

5. There are words I use in writing all the time that I don't know how to pronounce out loud. In the event that I meet you in person, I'd rather you didn't prompt me to have to say out loud any of those words, so for now, I won't tell you what they are. But if your name is Siobhan, I will always refer to you as, "Hey there...lady." I know that seems like a non sequitur, but it's not. And yes, I know how to pronounce non sequitur.

6. At one time in my life, I was a virgin. Do not laugh; it's totally possible one of the wise men looked like Santa.

7. When I was in nursery school, I was elected to be Princesita de Navidad (Little Princess of Christmas). I'm pretty sure it was rigged.
Note the "I" after my name. Talk about delusions of grandeur.

8. I have braces. Yes, the hideous metal brackets that make me look like a freakishly old fourteen year old. I got them this past September and will have to wear them for nine months. So until June, you will only see new photos of me that look like this:

Yes, it's humiliating. But it builds character. Or so I'm told. By the way, that is not my baby, but my beautiful little niece.

9. When I was in high school, I was in show choir. I'd love to post a photo for you to see. But I'm not that insane. Funny thing is, I can't really sing. Oh, the irony. Strangely enough, I won a Best Performer award at one of our competitions. Yeahhh....

If you have no idea what show choir is, here's a YouTube clip. And no, this was not my choir. We were not this cool.

10. I do have some strange OCD tendencies, but probably the weirdest is the brushing of my tongue. I could, in all seriousness, sit and brush my tongue for hours. I don't know why, but it's very satisfying, like scratching an itch. I've debated the merits of getting a tongue ring...indeed, I think the only thing that stops me is the thought that my twelve year old would probably drop dead of mortification. And I really prefer her alive.

There you have it: ten facts that will have me quaking and curling into a fetal position if you are ever to meet me in real life. Oh wait. Make that eleven. Looks like I forgot I already had a number 1. Go figure.

P.S. I'm pretty sure I don't have Ebola now. It turns out your eyes are supposed to bleed. Who knew?

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm an Honest Scrapper

Even though I received two blog awards, in order to keep my blog post yesterday from being as long as a health care reform bill, I decided to focus my efforts on just the award I received from Courtney Reese, the BEST BLOG AWARD. And in case you didn't get the memo yesterday, be sure to check out Courtney's blog because it's a Super Blog.

Today, however, I'm complying with the requirements of the second blog award I received from both Sara McClung and Anne Riley, the HONEST SCRAP AWARD, which looks like this:

It's a dreamy award, no? But I can't help but wonder if I'm not too honest sometimes. Ah well, we'll reserve that lament for another blog post. Please be sure to stop by Sara's blog and Anne's blog, both of which are Super Blogs.

By the way, when I say Super, I'm talking shiny red capes and glossy knee-high boots Super.

The rules of the the Honest Scrap Award dictate that I have to 1. Mention the award giver and link to his/her blog (Check) 2. Compile a list of 10 blogs I think deserve the award and let their bloggers know (see below) 3. Make a list of ten random facts about myself (While I'm generally not opposed to talking about myself, I am actually in fact opposed to embarrassing myself, and that's pretty much what you have to do to make these things interesting. *Sigh*)

But first, the blogs I choose to award with the Honest Scrap Award:

1. Rhonda Cowsert, "Snarktastic Ramblings." I know I awarded her the Best Blog award, but truly, she deserves this one as well. You've never seen a more honest blogger in your life--that's what I love about Rhonda. She doesn't sugar coat things. She doesn't try and make you believe she's something she isn't. She merely tells you her view of the world in about the most hilarious, snarkiest way possible. And folks, that's frigging awesome. Talk about refreshing. So grab some popcorn and a drink and maybe some jujubees and go check out her blog.

2. Shannon Messenger, "Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe." Yes, she already has this award, but I thought her blog was worth the mention, primarily because there are few more honest blogs out there. I mean, come on...the lady has fessed up to some seriously humiliating things, including but not limited to a most humiliating game show appearance which has been featured on YouTube. Now, she was clever indeed to withhold the actual video, but it's out there folks...oh yes, and she's hosting a contest in which she's giving away a signed copy of Twilight, which is about the coolest award ever. So be sure to check out her blog. You'll laugh, and you'll likely learn something amazing because Shannon also offers regular writing lessons which are truly invaluable. (And just for the record, this doesn't count as an extra entry in the Twilight contest. I really did just want to mention her blog. I'll be blogging about that separately).

3. Kerry Collins, "On the Write Foot." I've been very impressed with K.C.'s blog as he shares his writing experiences in an upfront manner. He spent seventeen years as a sports reporter before deciding to make his dream of writing novels a reality--talk about guts and glory and an amazing leap of faith. K.C. shows a remarkable willingness to learn and to share his trumphs and successes. So be sure to stop by and see what he's up to on his blog.

Okay, so I totally could go on and on, and should given the nature of the rules, but it so happens I'm crazy sick. In fact, I'm pretty sure my sore throat is actually Ebola. I so do not look forward to my guts melting. On that note, I'm going to save my ten oh-so-fabulous facts about myself for tomorrow's post. Yes, I realize that drags on the whole theme of awards a bit, but what can I say? You really are not going to want me around when my guts melt.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holy Cow, Someone Thinks I'm AWESOME

Holy cow. My jaw has dropped. *Giddy with excitement. Guess who received two blog awards on the same day?

Yeah, I know, not a hard question. Anyway, here they are:

From the talented, sweetheart writer Courtney Reese:

Be sure to check out Courtney's blog, as well. She's currently working on a Paranormal Romance series which holds great promise. Just the other day, I featured Courtney's interview with Caleb, one of the main characters of her series, on my blog. Check it out here. Her drop-dead gorgeous vampire is to die for. Drool drool.

And the HONEST SCRAP AWARD! Wooo-hooo!!!!
From the ever supportive, brilliant writer Sara McClung and the always thoughtful, amazing writer Anne Riley:

Sarah's blog is fantastic, so make sure you stop by. Sara is currently editing her new YA urban fantasy manuscript Shattered, which I'm very excited to get my hands on (she even let me sample a couple of chapters, and OH. My. Word. Love it!) I hosted Sara's interview with her main character, Jane, very early on for my Totally Sane Interviews Series. You can check out her interview here. And by that, I mean, go see it. Like now (after you finish this post).

Anne was so thoughtful to give me this award, and did so after I'd already drafted my blog post (which includes having awarded her the Best Blog Award!). Be sure to check out her blog (more details below). But I also want to add that Anne is currently working on editing her novel to her editors satisfaction, and I can't tell you how grateful I am that she shares her experiences in this process. We can all learn from her.

In order to accept the above awards, I must follow a certain set of instructions. But today I will focus on only one award in particular, the Best Blog Award (simply because it has the easiest instructions to follow and I received it earlier in the day). But a big thanks all around to Courtney and Sara and Anne for being so frigging awesome.

But for today, here's what I have to do to receive my Best Blog Award.

1. To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2. Pass the award to other bloggers that you recently discovered and think are great! Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Now, this is a tricky proposition. I could never be a judge for any competition. I handed out A's like candy (if you got anything less in my classes, well...um...huh.) Anyway, here are my choices for BEST BLOG AWARD:

1. Anne Riley, "Updates on My Attempts to Get Published, Book Reviews, and More." Anne shares her experiences as she progresses through the path of publication and offers great advice and information to writers. I only recently came across her blog, but I'm already loving it! I can relate to so much of what she's going through and have learned a lot from her about the process and the joys and sorrows ahead.

2. Elizabeth Spann Craig, "Mystery Writing is Murder." Elizabeth does a brilliant job of tying her everyday experiences to the art of writing and offers us an insider's view into the world of publishing. Author of several cozy mysteries, her new novel Delicious and Suspicious comes out May 2010. Stop by her blog and learn something!

3. Rhonda Cowsert, "Snarktastic Ramblings." Rhonda has this uncanny ability to describe the most mundane aspects of her very relatable reality in a remarkably humorous way. I'm always amazed to discover myself laughing at her explanation of an experience she had that had felt pathetically miserable when it happened to me. Yeah. That's how good she is. Check out her hilarious, often heartwarming blog.

4. Calista Taylor, "A Steampunk Reverie." Calista is an agented writer working on a steampunk series that features herbal elixirs. Her blog offers terrific information and advice on steampunk and romance and gives us insight into the world of writing and publishing. And the images on her blog and website are astounding and worth a glance as well.

5. Simon C. Larter, "Constant Revision." Now, I'm fairly certain that Simon has already won this blog award, but I can't seem to get enough of his blog, and thought perhaps you might feel the same. On "Constant Revision," Simon shares his writing experiences (sometimes with revision) as well as his stories. It's worth it just to go to his blog for those. I tell ya, the guy's a rising star, so be sure to check it out!

6. Wendy M. Morrell, aka Quillfeather, has a brilliant blog that is very much worth the Best Blog award. Her photographs of New Zealand alone are worth a click over. But you can learn alot from her, too. Wendy offers us a peek into her journey to publication, and in the process of sharing her experience, gives useful information to writers (and really anyone who's pursuing a goal), sympathy, and a "There There, you can do this!" which I find to be beautifully encouraging. And Wendy is one of the kindest people around. But who can be surprised at that? She's a New Zealander.

Please be sure to check out all of these Best Blogs! And thank you again Sara and Courtney and Anne. Be sure to check out tomorrow's blog post of my top picks for the Honest Scrap award!

*Is it possible to be giddy with anything else? Here's a little pic for you to brighten your day: Click Me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The other day, I was tagged by the amazing Alexandra Shostak. Who knew you could play tag with blogs? And that when you get tagged you have to spit out a bunch of personal information? If I were less self-absorbed, I probably wouldn't like it. Well, okay, admittedly at first I was rather hesitant because some of these questions can only be answered by me in ways that make me seem moronic. But what can I say? I can't resist a challenge, and it's not often I turn down the opportunity to discuss my writing, just as I can't stop talking about my children.

So, I'll play. And while I'm running around like a lunatic chasing down the next victims, you can read my answers....

Shakespeare and Company Bookshop (Paris),
former stomp of Super Writers like Hemingway
and Stein

What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Last thing: A short story called "On a Tuesday," for a contest hosted by Shannon Messenger First thing: The first real complete "story" was a book called How the Elephant Came to Be, which I wrote at age eleven, about an insecure, self-hating elephant-like creature with a long tail and a short snout that travels around Pangea believing himself to be the only of his kind. Through the course of his travels, his tail gets chopped, his nose becomes stretched, and he meets an elephant who looks like the old him. And they live happily ever after, the Adam and Eve of the elephant world. I also wrote a pretty crappy play that same year about a teenager who falls in love with her teacher, but I won't go into WHY I wrote that story--nor will it ever see the light of day.

Write poetry?

I used to, but I haven't in a long time--for good reason: I'm rubbish at writing poetry. I prefer to write poetic fiction (if there is such a thing...if not, pretend like I know what I'm talking about).

Angsty poetry?

Hm, not the adolescent variety, but I confess that most of the poetry I've written has an angsty edge to it. One of my favorites was "Beans," which I wrote in honor of my oldest daughter when she was two. We used to play at this park that had pebbles covering the ground instead of mulch--pebbles that Precious used to call beans. I think the last line was something like, "and the beans will just be pebbles now," or some such. It made me sad to see her get older--still does. (angsty, no?)

Favorite genre of writing?

I love writing YA with elements of fantasy in a realistic setting. I like working with magic....so, my writing leans towards magical realism or urban fantasy. Have not yet ventured into steampunk, but I might try my hand at it next year.

Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

Probably a character I created for a short story called "Oxygen Thief." You can figure that one out. It has long since been a private nickname I use for all morons. I also have a minor character in Aeternus named Peter who is a bit of a pompous jackass.

Best plot you’ve ever created?

I don't know. I really, really love the plot of Aeternus, but I'm also digging the plot of my current WIP, which is very different. It's like trying to choose between all of your children. I refuse to pick a favorite.

Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

Hmm, until it's published, I'm pleading the fifth on this one. (Paranoid? Ya. For good reason? Ya.)

How often do you get writer’s block?

I haven't had it in a long time, and to be honest, I don't think it was really writer's block as much as it was a case of children-will-you-stop-needing-me-all-the-time syndrome. They still need me, but I've been honing my skills in selfishness.

Write fan fiction?

I hadn't known you could do this until recently. I think I always wanted to, but figured that would be tantamount to plagiarism. Now that I know better, I may give it a whirl just for fun. I've got my eye on a certain sparkly vampire that needs to fall in love with another man's wife. Yes, that just came to me, and my OCD forces me to write it, so you're not allowed to laugh.

Do you type or write by hand?

I've written by hand, but only when my laptop battery ran out, such as on the plane moving from the UK to the US. I ended up with 28 double-sided pages I had to transcribe onto the computer. Not fun. Mostly, I type, but I have a scattering of post-its all over my desk filled with random notes (yes, it's my very clever non-organized organizational system) as well as a series of spiral notebooks and one leather-bound notebook, all of which are filled to the brim with notes.

Do you save everything you write?

After losing an entire manuscript and the heart to write again for nearly two years, yes. I save EVERYTHING. Back up, back up, back up. By the way, I should amend this by saying: I should back up, back up, back up. I often forget to (as evidenced by my loss of a second manuscript). Ye gads, I'm a glutton for misery.

Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

I don't abandon ideas. I'm obsessive, and if it doesn't work at first, I generally will tax my brain trying to make it work. Sometimes, it actually works. And when it doesn't, I change the idea and pretend it's still the same by giving the characters the same names.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve written?

Aye, must I choose? Curses! Okay, Aeternus--but I love it by one less degree because I have to fix the pacing in the beginning (which *sob* means I may have to cut out a beautiful subplot). Because of that, by one half of a degree more, my fave has to be my current WIP.

What’s everyone else’s favourite story that you’ve written?

I don't let many people read my work because I'm insanely insecure and stupid like that. My mom really loved Aeternus, but she also was partial to How the Elephant Came to Be. And she's pretty dang smart (and a former English major), so I HAVE to believe her when she tells me I'm the most talented, most brilliant writer on the planet. I really ought to put that tidbit into my queries, don't you think?

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Yes, I write romance because I love Love and romantic crap. And since I write YA, I tend to have angsty teens who exist in dramatic worlds (um, I write magical stuff, so it's inevitable--you can't have a fallen angel and NOT have drama), but I do strive to keep my angsty teens from being all whiny because that's just pure annoying. I still love you, Twilight.

What’s your favorite setting for your characters?

Ashbourne, UK. It was also my favorite place to live.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I have one completed YA paranormal romance ms (Aeternus) that I'm tweaking before querying a second round; I have a YA magical realism romance that is over halfway finished; and I'm just starting a third novel still in the plot development stage (looks like it's going to be a YA paranormal romance that leans a little more towards fantasy than Aeternus). I also work on my blog regularly, which, let me tell you, takes a lot more work than one might think.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

I won a Young Author's Award in sixth grade for How the Elephant Came to Be. Apparently, they overlooked the pathetic illustrations. I also won the award for Outstanding Senior in Creative Writing for 2003 at Purdue University. That's kind of a funny story, too, as I didn't even know about it until the day after the big banquet. My fave professor and mentor, Bob Lamb, made me stand up in the middle of class to congratulate me; I was still reeling when he asked me why I didn't go to the banquet.

What are your five favorite words?
1. Jackass. 2. Chuta. It's a very bad word in Ecuador, often used in conjunction with "madre." Otherwise it means "he shoots" (but when I use it, I don't mean the boring definition)
The rest are far too tasteless and lewd to actually write on a pg-13 blog. And yes, I'm hereby labeling this blog pg-13 for sexual content and nudity.

What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Definitely Scarlett, the MC of my current WIP. She's a bit tougher than I am, and curses more often, but she's sarcastic and laughs at inappropriate times just like me (and as is true for me, it's hard to make her sarcastic lines sound witty and not cruel without hearing the tone of her voice). Also like me, she's a master of sticking her foot in it (mouth, dog crap, etc.)

Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Often, I see something random that will trigger an idea, but I've had dreams inspire me, conversations, music...I've gotten a lot of ideas in the shower or just as I'm falling asleep (yeah, not the most convenient times to have to go digging for a notebook and pen).

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Sure. I have strange dreams though, so it can be a bit of a challenge to sift through the random weirdo-ness to find the story.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings or cliff-hangers?

Cliff-hangers bite. Sad endings are just...ugh, sad. My novels all have happy endings, though not of the seal-with-a-big-bow and deliver-with-confetti variety.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

There are times when my degree in English trumps my degree in creative writing, yes.

Does music help you write?

I tend to sing at the top of my lungs along with the music, and this has a tendency to distract me a little bit.

Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

"Cliff-hangers bite." Just kidding....

"Watch the sass, smartass. It's not too late to make you ugly." (from my interview with Anthony, one of the main characters of my current WIP. You can find that interview here, titled "Meet Anthony (Who's Killing my NaNoWriMo Word Count)."

Alrighty then, Anne, Courtney, Harley, and Sara F....You're IT! (Is that illegal? I think I tagged too many people....)