Friday, December 24, 2010

A Wish for You

Whatever you believe in, whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate, whatever fortune or demons you face,

I wish you

HOPE…

PEACE…

AND A DREAM TO HOLD ONTO.

 

Thank you for being a part of my life.

 

                     See you next year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Withholding the Goods

Sometimes I’ll start to write a blog post I find particularly amusing—an anecdote, a dialogue, my thoughts, etc., and then I don’t publish it. I’ll even do something similar when I go to leave comments on your blogs—I get about fifteen sentences into my comment when I decide to scrap what I’ve just written and leave something a little smaller and less...lively. There’s a number of reasons for this. But more often than not, it’s because my comments/posts were too passionate. I figure if I’m that passionate about a topic, it’s worth blogging instead of commenting, but sometimes, my passionate thoughts don’t even make it to the blog.

There are a number of reasons for this. My opinion may be  too controversial for the kind of blog I’ve set up or require more time than I have to do justice to the way I feel about it. But just as likely, I decide not to publish a blog post (or comment or tweet, etc.) because I’d rather sell the idea.

writingformoney

Okay, let me explain.

If I want to sell my writing, I must think about what it takes to sell my writing.

So.

Sometimes I start to write (an anecdote, emotion, thought, etc.) about something I experienced, and then I think WTF am I doing? That little story is a gem worth saving for a tweet Facebook status blog post book.

All writers who want to publish should be able to recognize the potential marketability of their words, right? Unfortunately, this has made me a bit skittish—not in leaving comments, but in leaving lengthy ones with substance (same goes for tweets and Facebook). There have been times where I thought, man that comment I left on Jane Smith’s blog was way clever—it would’ve been an awesome line for one of my characters. Is that vain? I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s just…business thinking. As for blog posts, can’t tell you how many I’ve written up and not published. Sometimes it’s for the initial reasons I mentioned (or lame reasons, like it’s boring or too long), but other times…my writerly instincts kick in.

It’s kind of the sucky thing about being a writer. I mean, an actor can have a blog or Facebook without feeling like he’s giving away his acting for free when he could be using it in a movie. While it makes sense to give away some writing for free, if you want to make a career of writing, it’s in your interest to reserve your best ideas to sell, no?

So, yeah, sometimes I know I’m holding back on you guys. I like to think that someday you’ll read my stories and see a greater part of what’s in my head, but until then, what to do? I guess I’ll be as thoughtful and amusing and informative as possible without being, I don’t know, overly clever or marketable.

How do you draw the line between a blog post that will appeal to as many as possible and an idea/thought/anecdote/line you reserve to use in your writing? Do you draw a line?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Bookanista Look Ahead

So it’s no secret…things are insane right now for pretty much everyone. I know it’s been nuts for me as I try to finish up some projects while also trying to shop for the holidays and prepare for a party. On top of all that, I’ve been reading five books. Yeah, at the same time. Hopefully, I’ll have a pile of books to review soon. But this week, I thought I’d highlight a few books coming soon.

Make sure you stop and check out what some of the other Bookanistas are recommending today:

Bookanistas_logo

Kirsten Hubbard celebrates JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD and THE MOCKINBIRDS

Elana Johnson gives a little love to JOEY FLY 2: PRIVATE EYE

Beth Revis chimes in on CHIME

Lisa and Laura Roecker rave about BOOKS THEY’RE DYING TO READ

Carolina Valdez Miller looks ahead to JANUARY RELEASES

Bethany Wiggins fawns over FIRELIGHT

 

And now, here are some of the January releases that I’m REALLY hoping to get my hands on soon. Click on the titles or book covers to go to their Goodreads pages. (None of the quick summaries were written by me—all were found either on the books’ Goodreads profiles or on the publisher’s website.)

 

XVI

XVI_CVR by Julia Karr

Release date: January 6, 2011

Publisher: Puffin/Speak

Quick summary: Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world -- even the most predatory of men -- that she is ready for sex.

 

A BOY AND HIS BOT

A boy and his bot by Daniel H. Wilson

Release date: January 4, 2011

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

(Middle Grade)

Quick Summary: From the popular author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising comes a novel bursting with robotic twists and turn.

 

UNEARTHLY

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Release date: January 4, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Quick summary: Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn't easy.

 

TAKING OFF

Taking Offjpg by Jenny Moss

Release date: January 4, 2011

Publisher: Walker Books

Quick Summary: A compelling novel woven around the 1986 Challenger tragedy, in time for the 25th anniversary

 

 

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Release date: January 11, 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Quick summary: Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

 

TIMELESS

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Release date: January 11, 2011

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Quick summary: When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist.

 

WARPED

warped by Maurissa Guibord

Release date: January 11, 2011

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Quick summary: Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books.

 

 

THE FALSE PRINCESS

TheFalsePrincess by Ellis O’Neal

Release date: January 25, 2011

Publisher: Egmont USA

Quick summary: Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

 

This next one isn’t out for a while, but I’ve been dying to read it and IT JUST ARRIVED!!!

 

LIKE MANDARIN

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Release date: March 8, 2011

Publisher: Delacorte Press

 

 

 

 

I’m so excited to read this one too—and not just because Kirsten is a Bookanista. But also because it sounds amazing, and I’ve heard such great things about it. It doesn’t come out until March, though. But all the others? January!

Ya got any books you’re absolutely loving right now? Anything you’re really looking forward to?


********************************************

Contest ALERT:

Just to let you know, Sara B. Larson  is giving away two query critiques. She knows her stuff, guys. So if your query needs some polishing, get in there and ENTER HERE.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pieces


Yesterday, I emptied out a handbag for my daughter to use, and I came across things like baby hair bows, lipstick with the indent from my lips, and a spare contact lens—all of these things, relics of a life. But I didn’t tear up until I started looking at the papers…the Sainsbury’s vouchers, ASDA receipts, even a handwritten note from my old neighbor. It hit me like a fist between my ribs: you will never live there again, in that place, in that house, surrounded by those people. England. I could hardly bear it, those reminders of complete and utter loss, the end of something meaningful and real and beautiful.

When I first moved to England, I was so scared. I refused to drive until I finally hated myself too much for being such a chickenshit—two months! I didn’t know where to go to buy wrapping paper or thread or yarn. I didn’t know what anything was—what the hell is a queue? And the endless roundabouts—are you kidding me? Plus I didn’t always understand the accents and all the words they used—my movers had been from Birmingham, and I just sat there bobbing my head pretending like I had a clue what they were saying. But they didn’t understand me either—why I didn’t have a tea kettle, to start with. Then along comes the neighbor (who would become my dear friend) to the rescue, letting me borrow a spare kettle. Meanwhile I’m fuming because I HAD TO HAVE AN EFFING TEA KETTLE! Like it’s some sort of law.

I was miserable. I missed my family. My friends. My neighbors. I missed knowing how to ring call people, how to find what I needed, how to say what I wanted to say and have it understood. I missed Monterey jack cheese and ranch dressing and Mrs. Butterworth and freaking Velveeta. I wanted to go home.

But before I knew it, England was home. I learned to love our new tea kettle, new friends, the travels, the pubs, Bounty bars, Yorkshire tea, digestives, and custard slices. Our first visit back to the U.S., a year after we’d left, was nice but…strange. Though our family and friends missed us (and likewise), we weren’t missed. Because life moves on without you when you’re not there. So when the time came, we were  ready to go home. To England.



But eventually, it was time to move back to the U.S. I’ll tell you, it took me a good six months to come out of depression after that move. Because something happened to me while I was in Britain. I was Changed. And in that change, I began to understand who I was, and in some sense, where I belonged. I was HOME. But our families weren’t there, so we knew we couldn’t stay forever. But, damn it, it was home. Until Britain, I’d been a half-Ecuadorian too-young mom who struggled to find her place in suburban America. I never realized how hard that identity was for me until I’d left it behind.

But in all things, we eventually adjust. Right? Right?

This is what I wrote when we first began preparations to move back to the U.S:

I'm scared now. I'm rather frightened to go home. I feel the kind of melancholy that only permanence can cause. And this, this return, is oh so permanent. So final. And we have friends here. We have created a place for ourselves here. In some ways, I am more American here than I ever was in the US. Here, I have felt free. Our only obligations, for the first time ever, have been to ourselves. Selfish? Ignoble? I prefer to think of it rather as a generosity to our own souls. And it feels good. Inside, I am screaming: Finders Keepers!!! Once again, I see change before me, only this time, a return to status quo. I love and miss my family and friends, my church. But I am afraid.

And yet

"I have accepted fear as a part of life—especially the fear of change...I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back..." --Erica Jong

There is a pounding in my heart.

ba-bump. ba-bump. ba-bump.

I fear for what I will leave behind.



I wouldn’t give up my experiences elsewhere—not in Ecuador or Britain or any of the states I’ve lived in, but sometimes, I wish I’d lived in the same town my whole life, never knowing what I was missing. Sometimes, I feel fractured, like I’ve left parts of me in different places. I love our home now—it’s home. But I don’t belong only here. And some parts of me don’t belong here at all. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never fully belong anywhere.

Maybe the only real home I have is my family and my writing—the only things I can take with me wherever I go, my personal little turtle shells.

You know, now that I think about it, turtles are pretty cute with those little shells.



I wish I could somehow relate this to writing, but it’s not really analogous. Sorry. 

Pieces


Yesterday, I emptied out a handbag for my daughter to use, and I came across things like baby hair bows, lipstick with the indent from my lips, and a spare contact lens—all of these things, relics of a life. But I didn’t tear up until I started looking at the papers…the Sainsbury’s vouchers, ASDA receipts, even a handwritten note from my old neighbor. It hit me like a fist between my ribs: you will never live there again, in that place, in that house, surrounded by those people. England. I could hardly bear it, those reminders of complete and utter loss, the end of something meaningful and real and beautiful.

When I first moved to England, I was so scared. I refused to drive until I finally hated myself too much for being such a chickenshit—two months! I didn’t know where to go to buy wrapping paper or thread or yarn. I didn’t know what anything was—what the hell is a queue? And the endless roundabouts—are you kidding me? Plus I didn’t always understand the accents and all the words they used—my movers had been from Birmingham, and I just sat there bobbing my head pretending like I had a clue what they were saying. But they didn’t understand me either—why I didn’t have a tea kettle, to start with. Then along comes the neighbor (who would become my dear friend) to the rescue, letting me borrow a spare kettle. Meanwhile I’m fuming because I HAD TO HAVE AN EFFING TEA KETTLE! Like it’s some sort of law.

I was miserable. I missed my family. My friends. My neighbors. I missed knowing how to ring call people, how to find what I needed, how to say what I wanted to say and have it understood. I missed Monterey jack cheese and ranch dressing and Mrs. Butterworth and freaking Velveeta. I wanted to go home.

But before I knew it, England was home. I learned to love our new tea kettle, new friends, the travels, the pubs, Bounty bars, Yorkshire tea, digestives, and custard slices. Our first visit back to the U.S., a year after we’d left, was nice but…strange. Though our family and friends missed us (and likewise), we weren’t missed. Because life moves on without you when you’re not there. So when the time came, we were  ready to go home. To England.



But eventually, it was time to move back to the U.S. I’ll tell you, it took me a good six months to come out of depression after that move. Because something happened to me while I was in Britain. I was Changed. And in that change, I began to understand who I was, and in some sense, where I belonged. I was HOME. But our families weren’t there, so we knew we couldn’t stay forever. But, damn it, it was home. Until Britain, I’d been a half-Ecuadorian too-young mom who struggled to find her place in suburban America. I never realized how hard that identity was for me until I’d left it behind.

But in all things, we eventually adjust. Right? Right?

This is what I wrote when we first began preparations to move back to the U.S:

I'm scared now. I'm rather frightened to go home. I feel the kind of melancholy that only permanence can cause. And this, this return, is oh so permanent. So final. And we have friends here. We have created a place for ourselves here. In some ways, I am more American here than I ever was in the US. Here, I have felt free. Our only obligations, for the first time ever, have been to ourselves. Selfish? Ignoble? I prefer to think of it rather as a generosity to our own souls. And it feels good. Inside, I am screaming: Finders Keepers!!! Once again, I see change before me, only this time, a return to status quo. I love and miss my family and friends, my church. But I am afraid.

And yet

"I have accepted fear as a part of life—especially the fear of change...I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back..." --Erica Jong

There is a pounding in my heart.

ba-bump. ba-bump. ba-bump.

I fear for what I will leave behind.



I wouldn’t give up my experiences elsewhere—not in Ecuador or Britain or any of the states I’ve lived in, but sometimes, I wish I’d lived in the same town my whole life, never knowing what I was missing. Sometimes, I feel fractured, like I’ve left parts of me in different places. I love our home now—it’s home. But I don’t belong only here. And some parts of me don’t belong here at all. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never fully belong anywhere.

Maybe the only real home I have is my family and my writing—the only things I can take with me wherever I go, my personal little turtle shells.

You know, now that I think about it, turtles are pretty cute with those little shells.



I wish I could somehow relate this to writing, but it’s not really analogous. Sorry. 

Pieces


Yesterday, I emptied out a handbag for my daughter to use, and I came across things like baby hair bows, lipstick with the indent from my lips, and a spare contact lens—all of these things, relics of a life. But I didn’t tear up until I started looking at the papers…the Sainsbury’s vouchers, ASDA receipts, even a handwritten note from my old neighbor. It hit me like a fist between my ribs: you will never live there again, in that place, in that house, surrounded by those people. England. I could hardly bear it, those reminders of complete and utter loss, the end of something meaningful and real and beautiful.

When I first moved to England, I was so scared. I refused to drive until I finally hated myself too much for being such a chickenshit—two months! I didn’t know where to go to buy wrapping paper or thread or yarn. I didn’t know what anything was—what the hell is a queue? And the endless roundabouts—are you kidding me? Plus I didn’t always understand the accents and all the words they used—my movers had been from Birmingham, and I just sat there bobbing my head pretending like I had a clue what they were saying. But they didn’t understand me either—why I didn’t have a tea kettle, to start with. Then along comes the neighbor (who would become my dear friend) to the rescue, letting me borrow a spare kettle. Meanwhile I’m fuming because I HAD TO HAVE AN EFFING TEA KETTLE! Like it’s some sort of law.

I was miserable. I missed my family. My friends. My neighbors. I missed knowing how to ring call people, how to find what I needed, how to say what I wanted to say and have it understood. I missed Monterey jack cheese and ranch dressing and Mrs. Butterworth and freaking Velveeta. I wanted to go home.

But before I knew it, England was home. I learned to love our new tea kettle, new friends, the travels, the pubs, Bounty bars, Yorkshire tea, digestives, and custard slices. Our first visit back to the U.S., a year after we’d left, was nice but…strange. Though our family and friends missed us (and likewise), we weren’t missed. Because life moves on without you when you’re not there. So when the time came, we were  ready to go home. To England.



But eventually, it was time to move back to the U.S. I’ll tell you, it took me a good six months to come out of depression after that move. Because something happened to me while I was in Britain. I was Changed. And in that change, I began to understand who I was, and in some sense, where I belonged. I was HOME. But our families weren’t there, so we knew we couldn’t stay forever. But, damn it, it was home. Until Britain, I’d been a half-Ecuadorian too-young mom who struggled to find her place in suburban America. I never realized how hard that identity was for me until I’d left it behind.

But in all things, we eventually adjust. Right? Right?

This is what I wrote when we first began preparations to move back to the U.S:

I'm scared now. I'm rather frightened to go home. I feel the kind of melancholy that only permanence can cause. And this, this return, is oh so permanent. So final. And we have friends here. We have created a place for ourselves here. In some ways, I am more American here than I ever was in the US. Here, I have felt free. Our only obligations, for the first time ever, have been to ourselves. Selfish? Ignoble? I prefer to think of it rather as a generosity to our own souls. And it feels good. Inside, I am screaming: Finders Keepers!!! Once again, I see change before me, only this time, a return to status quo. I love and miss my family and friends, my church. But I am afraid.

And yet

"I have accepted fear as a part of life—especially the fear of change...I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back..." --Erica Jong

There is a pounding in my heart.

ba-bump. ba-bump. ba-bump.

I fear for what I will leave behind.



I wouldn’t give up my experiences elsewhere—not in Ecuador or Britain or any of the states I’ve lived in, but sometimes, I wish I’d lived in the same town my whole life, never knowing what I was missing. Sometimes, I feel fractured, like I’ve left parts of me in different places. I love our home now—it’s home. But I don’t belong only here. And some parts of me don’t belong here at all. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never fully belong anywhere. Maybe the only real home I have is my family and my writing—the only things I can take with me wherever I go, my personal little turtle shells.

You know, now that I think about it, turtles are pretty cute with those little shells.



I wish I could somehow relate this to writing, but it’s not really analogous. Sorry. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

J'adore Anna and the French Kiss

I had a blog post half written for you when the battery on my laptop died. But I couldn’t plug in the charger because the charger exploded a few minutes ago. I was sitting on my bed, working, when I heard a little pop and smelled something burning. I didn’t want it to be anything, so I assumed it was just the heater. Stuff like that can be kind of wonky, right? Then I shifted the pillow beneath my leg and discovered the charger lying beneath it now looks like a melty block of black cheese in a heat wave. WHICH. is why my laptop battery ran out. Because it wasn’t being charged, see.

So, if my Bookanista review sucks bananas, I blame it on the almost fire that totally could have burned up my house (I will say nothing about the new BURN spot on my bedding). And the fact that my blog writing program does not work on my husband’s laptop for some shitrocious reason, and I CAN’T WRITE ON BLOGGER TO SAVE MY LIFE ROTTEN BLOGGER WHY CAN’T YOU LET LINKS OPEN IN ANOTHER WINDOW YOU MEATHEAD WEASELLY PIECE OF TOADYWART.

I’m just kidding I love you Blogger don’t close my account muah muah muah here’s a cookie.

Before I forget, be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending today:

 Christine Fonseca and Elana Johnson recommend THE WRITERS GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGY
Shannon Messenger raves about DESIRES OF THE DEAD and gives away the ARC
Megan Miranda gushes about REVOLUTION
Lisa and Laura Roecker present a special Guestanista review of PERSONAL DEMONS
Bethany Wiggins also praises ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads summary: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. 

The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

My Review

As cute as I think the cover of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is, I don't think it does the book justice.  For one thing, this cover implies that the book is just some sweet, cute little romance about a girl and a boy in Paris. And while it is at times cute--and romantic--and even sweet...it's so much more than that. For one thing, I laughed like a freak reading this. ANNA has a razor sharp sense of humor that appeals to one's intelligence while still maintaining a youthful world-view. Any book that can make me that smiley must be something special. But it's more than just quick-witted humor, you know? Anna's voice is so strong, so incredibly real. All of her actions and dialogue are consistent with who she is. I would have LOVED to have a friend like Anna--no, check that. I would LOVE to be Anna, just like her, down to the bleached stripe and all. Anna is just so genuinely, so beautifully seventeen. 

Everything about her is spot on, down to the way she views her dad. I mean, at first I thought to myself, okay, the dad is kind of a weaselly dork, but, whatever, people like him are nothing to get upset about. But to a seventeen year old girl like Anna, a dad like hers would feel like a nightmare, and through her eyes, I actually found myself detesting him just as much--talk about brilliant characterization.

What's more, Perkins captures the trials and tribulations of an expat's life so remarkably. I've been an expat, and I can't tell you how many times in reading this I thought, "Yes YES YES! That's what it's like!" I have to believe that Perkins must have actually studied abroad. Anna's Paris was the same Paris I've experienced, down to the nutella-filled crepes and the sticky sweetness of mille-feuille. She even goes to Shakespeare and Co, my favorite book store ever! EXCEPT. Anna's experience was colored by her age, her love of films, and (at first) her fear and resentment (also a sign of excellent characterization). I'll just be upfront with you, if you read this, the first thing you will want to do is plan a trip to Paris. And then you will fantasize what it would be to like to go to school there...and fall in love with a hot English boy. It's just so dang bittersweet because I CANT BE SEVENTEEN AGAIN. And now I want to SO BAD. 

Okay, I'll be honest, the way that √Čtienne St. Claire is described doesn't exactly appeal to my tastes. Which is okay. Cuz I'm an old person. And he's, you know, a teenager. But seeing him through Anna's eyes, it's pretty much impossible not to fall in love with him. He's just so...dreamy. And then Perkins fills every scene with so much live-wire tension (which, honestly, might make you want to shout, OMG, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE THEM A HINT AND CHUCK A CONDOM AT THESE TWO ALREADY!) The romance in AATFK is naturally progressed, but the desire feels so alive, so palpable that it may just make you squirm. But like I said, it's more than just a romance. It's a representation of what it is to be on the cusp of adulthood...the fears and dreams and hopes and embarrassment and sweetness of discovery--all of it reflected in Anna's experience living in a foreign country, which is essentially a perfect analogy for adolescence's evolution ( a journey to a place where you haven't yet learned the customs and may not even speak the language). ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is a smooth read--funny, poignant, full of heart and sexy as all get out.

For the record, mille-feuille

It's freaking unbelievable. I could eat these ALL. DAY. LONG.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One last note: Kimberly Franklin is giving away Sarah Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FIXING DELILAH! Check it out! Ends January 1!



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It’s No Sacrifice Mostly

Around noon yesterday, I was in the middle of reading a book to hopefully be able to review when I got a phone call from my dear friend, B. He tells me he’s in town on business and that he’ll have a few hours in the afternoon and can we get together for a bit. So I tell him of course of course I’d love to see you and I’ve got to pick up the Bigger Bean soon and then take her to piano later this evening how about we meet the few hours in between? So he says, sure sure give me a call when you’re ready. So I hang up the phone and my eyes do something that look sort of like this:

eyes_pop_2 

Because I was still in pajamas, wrapped snuggly in a bathrobe and torn up red slippers. And my house looked post-apocalyptic and four-year-old-terrorized and smelled a bit like boiling cabbages. I tossed a juice box and a bag of mini muffins at the Little Bean and raced into the shower. I was done in five minutes, which, okay, if you know me at ALL, you know that’s impressive. I brushed my teeth and did my hair and makeup, all at the same time, and then ran as fast as I could to do the dishes, and then ran back up the stairs immediately because I’d forgotten to put on a shirt. I threw on the shirt B had given me not long ago, and then got halfway through the dishes, on the verge of just throwing the rest away, when B called to say he was done with his task. Like, way before I expected him to be done.

Cue screeching tires, squealing brakes, and this face:

straitjacket

So, okay, here’s what happens when you surprise me with an unexpected visit: You have to spend an hour and a half at the mall waiting for me to clean my house.

You know, it’s not that I’m lazy. I actually get really anxious in messy, smelly spaces. It’s just that between my family and all of their various activities and needs, as well as volunteering and shopping and sometimes blogging and reading/reviewing and sometimes sleep and other obligations, the hours in a day get the life squeezed out of them. And somehow, the battle always falls between two options: writing or cleaning.

It’s a no-brainer. Cleaning is for unobsessive writer people.

But this means that unexpected visits are…unexpected. It’s not that they’re unwelcome. I loves me some people. It just means please give me at least a few hours notice so that I can bribe my husband to clean the house.*

I don’t know, I guess it could just be me. But as much as I hate clutter, my distaste for plates with caked-on fried egg is not as significant as my desire to keep writing. Call it a sacrifice. I can endure terrible things to keep writing. Sadly, poor B sort of had to sacrifice, too. Maybe that just comes with the territory of being friends with a writer.

Sorry, B. I hope the cookies make up for it.

*Bribery is legal and totally moral in marriage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hating Game

So, I realized that I probably left you with the impression yesterday that I am involved in some sort of illicit monkey smuggling ring.

Well.

That’s neither here nor there. Though it is exhausting.

The odd thing is that after telling you my posts would be scattered, here I am posting two days in a row. But for a good cause. Many of you know the super fab Talli Rolland, a writer-bloggie-friend who makes people smile on a daily basis. But just in case you don’t, let me tell you about her.

1. She’s a super fab writer-bloggie-friend. You should check out her super-writer-blog by going here.

2. She is preparing to release a book which promises to be a rockin read called THE HATING GAME. Love that title.


THE HATING GAME by Talli Roland

The Hatign Game - Cover About: When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Such a fun book. Clever twist, yeah? Comedy. Romance. Talli. What’s not to love?

 

3. Talli has a brilliant plan for promoting her exciting debut novel, which I’m thrilled to be a part of today—and not just because I adore Talli. Now, I haven’t read THE HATING GAME, but most of you might know I only promote books I love or am excited about, and I’m stoked about THE HATING GAME . I’m hoping you’ll be excited about it, too. Here’s how you can get in on the fun:

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers. Be sure to order a copy for yourself as well!


THE HATING GAME on Amazon.co.uk

THE HATING GAME on Amazon.com

 

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback.

Keep up with the latest at www.talliroland.com

Reviews & Tags
If you do buy The Hating Game and you like it, a review on Amazon would be greatly appreciated! If you don't have an Amazon account, you can also post reviews on Goodreads.

If you are on Amazon and in a clicking sort of mood, it would be fantastic if you could click on a few tags ('Tags Customers Associate with this Product' - located underneath the Product Description).

While you’re at it, feel free to post on Facebook or Twitter:

With the Amazon.com link (depending on your location):
Help debut author Talli Roland Take On Amazon today! http://amzn.to/hX2ieD #TheHatingGame

With the Amazon.co.uk link:
Help debut author Talli Roland Take On Amazon today! http://amzn.to/hNBkJk #TheHatingGame

Any RTs appreciated!

Finally, a word from Talli: Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to help me out! I couldn't have done it without you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me at talliroland@gmail.com. Roll on, December 1. Fingers Crossed!

********************

 

Thanks for stopping by, lovelies!

*Ducks back out*

*Slips on a banana peel*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winners, Whiners, Wieners, and Crypticosis

I’ve had to take an unexpected hiatus (or a continuation of the one I had sort of been trying to come out of), but I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten about my Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway. So I’ve got winners for you today. Huge thank you to all who entered and promoted the giveaway. I’m grateful for all of you.

  DarkandTwistybooks

And the winners of the above books (plus ADDICTED TO HER, which is not pictured) from the Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway are:

1. Emilie of Emilie’s Book World

2. Autumn of From the TBR Pile

3. Janet Johnson

4. Caroline Starr Rose

5. Penelope Rose

6. Lisa Potts

7. Nicole Zoltack

8. Heather Kegler

(Listed in the order in which they were drawn)

Congratulations! Please email me a list with your prize preferences (with the book you want most at #1) and an address where I can ship your book! Go to the Official Giveaway Post to see the prizes. Big thank you to all who entered!! I appreciate every one of you. I will have another giveaway soon!

And now, for a little word from our sponsor.

Namely, me…

Right now I’m in the midst of something incredibly exhausting. It’s not something I canshouldwant to talk about, so I won’t. But it’s not because I’m trying to be all stupid cryptic. I’m just a super private person, especially about things like this.

I know…cryptic.

The thing is, until I know how this is going to turn out, I’d just as soon keep mum. I don’t like to feel vulnerable, you know? And talking about things like this, well…I don’t like to tell stories until they have endings either (one of the reasons I don’t have alphas).

Yeah, feeling vulnerable already. But I said it in size 8 font so it doesn’t seem like whining.

Unfortunately, this whole crypticosis requires a lot of time from me, which means less time to hang online. And while I miss it, I’m also fully invested in my crypticosis. So, I’m asking you to be patient with me.

I know you’re not hanging on my every word, dying for me to post/tweet/update, but I don’t want you to think I’m a total blog wiener, treating my bloggie/online friends like they don’t matter either. I treasure every one of you who stops by, whether it’s as followers or just to check things out. It still amazes me that anyone is interested in anything I have to say. My StatCounter blows me away nearly every time I check it. I’m always like, whoa…that person is returning for their ___th visit??? (Special shoutout to my friends in India and Australia—I seem to have a number of you.) And, okay, I’ll just be honest…when I see visitors from NYC, it makes me double back to make sure I didn’t come off sounding like a complete moron in my last few posts.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I do care about you. I will be back to blogging and visiting blogs and making a general nuisance of myself online in no time at all. But until then, please understand that my crypticosis is necessary and good, but a bit all-consuming. If all goes well, it will be amazing. If not, well, it is what it is. But until I’m through with it, my posts might be a bit scattered. I’m planning some cool posts/vlogs/giveaways for the near future, so don’t give up on me, k?

Man, I sound like a turkey. I’m totally begging, aren’t I?

Possibly.

I heart you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Every Girl Deserves to Carry a Big Stick

©CarolinaValdezMiller Not long ago, we had 71°F weather here in Indianapolis. It was an anomaly in November. So, of course, several of us decided that the world must surely be coming to an end. But before it did, we figured we should at least make the best of it.

So I took my four year old daughter for a bike ride. This is how it all went down.

Little Bean:  [Jumping off bike] Mommy, look at this big stick! It’s HUGE!

Me:  Darling, that’s not a stick. It’s a branch. It must have been knocked down in that storm a few days ago.

Little Bean:  Oh. Well. Can I have it?

Me:  What, the stick?

Little Bean: No, silly. It’s not a stick. It’s a branch.

Me:  Yes yes. It’s a branch. But no, you can’t have it.

Little Bean:  But it’s so HUGE! Please, Mommy, please. I will take good care of it.

Me:  I’m sure you would. But it won’t take good care of you.  A stick this big is just too dangerous.

Little Bean:  It’s not a stick. It’s a branch.

Me:  That’s what I meant.

Little Bean:  How do you know?

Me:  How do I know what?

Little Bean:  That it won’t take good care of me? It’s HUGE!

Me:  [blink blink blink]

Little Bean:  So can I have it?

Me:  No, dear. Move along now.

Little Bean:  But it’s HUGE!

Me:  Go.

Little Bean:  I bet Aunt Bean would let Boy Cousin Bean have it. [pouts]

Me:  [blink blink blink] Fine. Get your stick.

Little Bean:  Um.

Me:  What? You don’t want it now?

Little Bean:  Oh, I do! But…

Me:  What?

Little Bean:  [picks up one end of stick branch with two hands and makes a face] It’s very heavy.

Me:  Is that so?

Little Bean:  Yes. I think you will have to carry it home.

Me:  [blink blink blink]

Little Bean:  It’s not that heavy, Mommy. But I’m little.

Me:  Fine. Here. Take my phone.

Little Bean:  Be careful with it. That stick is dangerous.

IMG_0453

Because every girl deserves to carry own a big stick…

Friday, November 19, 2010

What?! A Real Post About Writing?!

Larson 2010 016small You guys, I’m so lucky because today I get to have my friend Sara B. Larson guest post. Not only is she a freaking awesome human being, but she’s a talented writer with serious know-how and experience. AND I know it won’t be long before she sells her book, so. yeah. I’ll be one of the super ones who can say she was on my blog before she’s too busy on her world book tour to guest post any more.

 

Plus, this means I don’t have to write up a post for today. Score!

Check out what she has to say about writing to trends.

Writing to Trends

by Sara B. larson

You hear it all the time, what the next “BIG” trend is going to be. What you should be writing RIGHT NOW if you want to get a publishing deal. I see aspiring authors scrambling to drop their WIP about fallen angels to work on something about mermaids (because ‘you-know-who’ mentioned that’s what she was thinking about working on next), then drops the mermaid WIP, to go back to a dystopian they had shelved a year ago. Why? Because dystopian got hot again! Oh man, it’s enough to give anyone a massive migraine.

So, should you pay attention to the trends—should you tailor your writing to what’s “hot?” Or should you write what speaks to you, focus on the story that you truly love?

I can’t tell you for sure, but here’s my opinion (for what it’s worth, which may be nothing). You have to write the story you love or you may never land an agent and sell your book.

Harsh? Maybe. True? Usually. When you aren’t writing what you love, it shows. Or to put it the other way: when you are writing about characters you adore, and a plot that makes you breathless with anticipation of the words yet to come, that’s when you will do your best work. And it will show.

Besides, unless you have an “in” with editors and agents who can tell you what the publishing houses are looking for right now, you will most likely be behind the trends anyway. What’s on the shelves was the ‘hot ticket’ well over a year ago in the agenting/submissions world. And even if something is considered “done,” no sub-genre in YA is ever truly full. There is always room for something else if it is unique in some way and well-written.

Case in point: I have a friend who wrote a story because she had an amazing idea that reached out and grabbed her. Many people were saying dystopian was over, that the market was saturated, that no one would want it. When I read it though, I knew she had something special on her hands. When she started querying her book, a few agents even told her that dystopian was over. Not many though – most of them were fighting to represent her. She wrote something she loved, it showed, and she landed an agent and a deal very quickly. Wanna know who I’m talking about? Have you heard of a book called… MATCHED?

Write what you love and others will love it, too. Unless you want to write about a six-eyed octopus who transforms into a man on the new moon and falls in love with a half-faerie, half-cyclops who has some real self-esteem issues. In that case, you may want to take a look at the trends.

***********************************

Now meet Sara, aka Sweetness (that’s my name for her, but feel free to borrow it).

SaraBLarson

Sara B. Larson

I have been writing since I was in second grade, and have the notebooks full of misspelled stories to prove it. Over the intervening years, my love of writing has grown even stronger, and luckily my spelling has improved as well. I almost got a “marketable degree” as a nurse at BYU, but turned back to writing when that didn’t work out. I live in Utah with my husband, two young sons, and a Maltese named Charlie. I've learned to write during naptime and the hours when most people are sleeping. When I'm not writing, getting shot with nerf guns, or tripping over soccer balls, I can be found wakeboarding at the lake, hiking in the mountains, cooking, or working out at the gym. If all else fails, you can probably find me hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish. I am represented by the fabulous Hannah Brown Gordon at Foundry Literary + Media.

Be sure to check out Sara’s blog!

Thanks so much for guest posting, Sara!

*runs off to go hide moon-man faerie-clops romantic comedy*

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Butt!

So excited to talk about CHICKEN BUTT! But, I swear, it’s not all about poultry arses. It’s actually hilarious and totally vegan friendly. I had to get it when I saw it because it looked so cute. It also made me think of a song that my friend Rachel and I made up in our Government class in high school—you know, a few years ago. It went like this:

Hey Boogerbutt

Hey Boogerbut

na na na na na Na Na Na. NA-NA-NA.

Hey Boogerbutt

Hey Boogerbutt

na na na na na Na Na Na. NA-NA-NA.

I know. Creative genius.

We also used to do the whole guess-what-what?-guess-what-what?-guess-what-what?-CHICKEN-BUTT! game, but…duh. Cool people do that. Right?

Anyway, I saw CHICKEN BUTT! and immediately flashed back to happy feelings.

 

CHICKEN BUTT! by Erica S. Perl

Illustr. by Henry Cole

Chicken Butt

Goodreads description:

You know what?
What?
Chicken butt!

The classic schoolyard joke has been recast as an irreverent picture book, with call-and-response parts for parent and child. The word repetition in Erica S. Perl’s text, and wonderfully comic illustrations by beloved artist Henry Cole, make this a particularly inviting book for new readers, as does the opportunity to “trick” a parent or other adult into participating in a very silly joke. The humor builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Warning: Kids will want to read this one over and over and over again!

My Review

First of all, this book is not for lame-os.* If all you ever want at story time is for your kids to sit quietly while you listen to yourself speak, hoping they’ll fall asleep so you can go enjoy your Puccini and sardine puffs, then CHICKEN BUTT! is probably not for you. Go read them a dictionary or something. Your kids will fall asleep and have plenty of material for their therapist later.

BUT

If you love the sound of your child laughing until you think he just might pee his pants

If you love the feel of your little four year old’s pudgy fingers on your cheeks, while she shouts, “You know what!” into your face

If you love to see your kid running around the room, flailing his arms in the air, singing “monkey butt, duckie butt, elephant butt, any-animal-I-can-think-of butt”

Then, CHICKEN BUTT! is for you.

Clearly, this book can be exhausting. It’s a bit like giving kids noisy toys—you give them lots of material to make you crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy, because every giggle and wiggle lights you up inside and makes you feel like you have fulfilled your purpose in life.

I have no idea what teachers would make of this book, though—maybe this is one to read at the end of the day right before Mom and Dad come to collect the rugrats, but I’d say it’s one to have in the library for sure. Your kids will LOVE you and think you’re the coolest teacher in the world. Because you don’t just teach them their letters and colors and numbers—you teach them laughter.

I’ve never had so much fun reading a book with my four year old. She has memorized every word in this book. And yeah, it’s simple. No major lessons to be learned in this. Wait. I take that back. Here’s what your child will learn:

It is OKAY for adults to romp and play and laugh and be silly so-yeah-that-means-that-someday-when-you’re-all-grown-up-you-can-too-kid. You enjoy the sound of their laughter sokeepitupkiddo. And you have the best, most bounciest reading lap in the whole world because no one can read this book sitting still. Oh, and one more: laughter makes every bump, bruise, and stolen toy seem far, far away.

So. Yeah. CHICKEN BUTT! is a keeper. You’ll get a lot of mileage with it, because they’ll ask you to read it over and over. And it’s crazy fun. I recommend reading it when you need a boost of energy.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Caveat: If you read the book like a dry stick in the mud because the joke is completely lost on you and you can’t for even three minutes  pretend like you totally get four year old humor, then the joke will likely be lost on your kid, too, and you will sap all the fun out of CHICKEN BUTT! and possibly life.

*Not trying to imply that if you don’t like the book you’re a lame-o. I’m merely saying it’s not for lame-os. But if you like reading the dictionary to your kid so you can get them to sleep so you can listen to Puccini and eat sardine puffs, I will worry about you.

***************************************

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending today!

Bookanistas_logo

Christine Fonseca is amazed by DESIRES OF THE DEAD

Elana Johnson is in love with PERILOUS

Myra McEntire is wowed by A VISITOR'S GUIDE TO MYSTIC FALLS

Shannon Messenger is awestruck by THE MARBURY LENS and giving away a signed hardcover

Megan Miranda is captivated by MATCHED

Beth Revis is blown away by DEMONGLASS

Lisa and Laura Roecker share a YA review from an actual YA: a "Guestanista Review" on THE REPLACEMENT

Bethany Wiggins is stunned by STRANGE ANGELS

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway

I know. I’ve hardly been posting. But I’ve been obsessing over my revisions, see. I’ve been desperate to finish them so I could get back to my WIP. And now I’ve finished them. Well, the major revisions anyway. Now I’m just adding a little bling, making it shine. But in celebration of mostly finishing, I’d like to do another giveaway which I had meant to do a month ago, but was forced to set aside by the aforementioned obsession and fatigue and contest overload. Some of these ARCs, I’ve been hanging onto for a long while…

Anyway, here are the prizes!

Signed ARC of THE MARBURY LENS

mARBURY lENS 




Signed Hard Cover of
SHIP BREAKER

Ship Breaker



Be sure to check out Karen Hooper’s Signed SHIP BREAKER giveaway as well! I’m offering extra entries for my contest for people that follow Karen and enter hers!


SIGNED Hard Cover
IDENTICAL

Identical


ARC of THE GIFT
(WITCH & WIZARD)

TheGift


ARC of ADDICTED TO HER

Addicted to her


ARC of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM

Tale Dark and Grimm



ARC of THE DAUGHTERS BREAK ALL THE RULES

daughters


ARC of THE WOLVES OF ANDOVER

Wolves of Andover

Click on the book covers to go to their Goodreads pages.

Rules

Just fill out the form by clicking on the link below. All you need to enter is your name and email so I can contact you if you win. That’s it. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY.


DARK AND TWISTY AND RULE BREAKY GIVEAWAY FORM



Follows for extra entries

Karen Hooper is hosting her own giveaway of a signed SHIP BREAKER. Go follow her and enter her giveaway  for additional entries in my giveaway and a chance to win hers!

Sara B. Larson will be guest posting for me soon. She’s a sweetheart and I’d love for you to get to know her.
So go follow her and I’ll give you (+2) extra entries in my giveaway!

Both of these bloggers are clever and funny and definitely worth a follow!

Email me or leave a comment if you have any questions! Giveaway ends November 23, 2010!

Good luck!

I should probably note that the dark and twisty and rule breaky nature of this giveaway isn’t really a reflection of my revisions, my new WIP, or me or my my parent company or any of my affiliations, et cetera et cetera. It is merely a title because Rule 538 clearly states that blog posts, giveaways, deeds, and royalty should always be titled. It is not, however, a very clever title. A clever title might have incorporated sex, Thanksgiving, turkey, Christmas, Jared Leto, and Justin Bieber—all things guaranteed to get extra hits on the blog.