Monday, December 31, 2012

My One Year Goal Plan - 2013 Edition

Every year I make New Year's resolutions and post them on my blog. Every year so far I've gone about keeping up with them in a different way. In 2011, I posted "report cards" a couple of times. In 2012, I posted updates on the first day of each month for most of the year (last update at the bottom of this post).

In 2013, starting tomorrow, I have an entirely different plan.

I have eight goals to accomplish by December 31, 2013.

  1. Finish THINKING OF YOU revisions.
  2. Draft all CITY IN THE SKY stories.
  3. Finish THE TRUE PRINCESS revisions and edits.
  4. Finish drafting and rewrite OBJECTION.
  5. Replan and start rewriting THE LULLABY.
  6. Draft untitled lucky genes story.
  7. Finish 26 short works.
  8. Reduce percentage of unread books to 10%.

To make sure I actually work toward all of these goals throughout the year, I have developed a plan with the help of Microsoft Excel: The One Year Goal Plan - 2013 Edition.

When I look at those big goals and think about trying to finish them, my heart sinks a little bit. They're not goals that can be completed quickly or easily. Hence, they're hard to keep my sights on. These feelings are what my whole plan revolves around.

Each "Year Goal" will be broken done into twelve "Month Goals." Looking at that smaller goal is better, but a month still leaves plenty of time to get distracted. So each month is split in half and each half is given its own goal. Both "Half-Month Goals" are then split into various amounts of "Mini-Goals" that are easy and far less stressful to reach.

I feel this method will keep me focused on and excited about accomplishing my goals. I've completed January's breakdowns, but will be waiting to do the other months until they roll around. This way I will be most up-to-date on each goal's progress and know for certain what might decrease or increase my writing time each month.

And, in case you were wondering how Excel helped me:

January Goals for THINKING OF YOU (drag to URL bar to embiggen)

I will be updating all of you on my progress in the style of my usual posts and with occasional snapshots of my spreadsheet.

2013 is going to be a great year!

2012 NYR Last Update - 1 Year

  1. I will have complete THINKING OF YOU's ready for query first round of revisions. I finished small revisions on the first six chapters and conquered my fear of revising.
  2. I will have two new first drafts. I finished one first draft of THE TRUE PRINCESS and got to 32,393 words on OBJECTION.
  3. I will win National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).
  4. I will submit at least two short stories to two anthologies, journals, ezines, and/or contests.
  5. I will read at least one hundred books. I read 57 books and made it over half-way with two others.
  6. I will post at least one vlog a month. I posted one vlog in January, March, April, July, September, October, and December. I posted five in November.
  7. I will exercise in some way once a week. Since the beginning of September, according to the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, I did a round of jumping jacks on six different days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Michael Offut's Blog Tour Post!

Today I am very excited to be hosting Michael Offutt on his blog tour for his newest book, OCULUS. Michael has always been a wonderful supporter of mine and I am happy to return the favor. Make sure to read the whole post because at the end there is information concerning two OCULUS themed giveaways!

There are days when I doubt myself but not today.

There are days when I write a sentence, and I imagine that if Stephen King or Neil Gaiman wrote it, it would sound better. Take for example the sentence “I bought a car today.” King might say “I bought a hearse” whereas Gaiman might write, “Odin bought a Chevy from a used car salesman.” The whole “Odin” thing makes it different. God-like. But by name dropping Chevy it’s also instantly American. And maybe that’s all you need to write the great American novel. That and cheeseburgers. Americans love cheeseburgers.

I think OCULUS represents my best work. And by best, I mean that I’ve reached a point in my writing where I no longer thought it might sound better if written by someone else. I’m not sure why we even think those things. But I think all writers do. But if it were written by someone else, then it would be theirs and not yours. I think the one thing that many writers need to embrace is that no one can write what you know better than you. That’s just the way it is.

If you wanted to see how I write, I have a short story for you. It would take 15 minutes of your time to read. That’s it. Fifteen minutes. It’s called “The Insanity of Zero,” and it tells you all that you might need to know about my books SLIPSTREAM and OCULUS. There are days when I doubt myself. But it’s not this day. Today, I think I could win you over, if you gave me fifteen minutes. The choice is yours. :)

Go here for “The Insanity of Zero” if you dare. It’s completely free!

OCULUS by Michael Offutt

Genre: Sci-fi

Book Description:

Autumn has arrived in New York, and Jordan Pendragon attends his first classes as a freshman at Cornell. Born with a brilliant mathematical mind, he balances life as a research assistant with that of a student athlete.

But Jordan also has a quest. He must find the Black Tower, a monolithic edifice housing a thing that defines the very structure of the universe. Jordan believes it is buried somewhere in Antarctica under miles of prehistoric ice.

October finds Jordan earning a starting position with the Cornell hockey team. But a dark cloud gathers over his rookie season. Unexplained deaths, whispers of a cannibal cult, a prophecy, and a stone known only as the Oculus, cast a shadow over his athletic ambitions. It is the start of a terrifying journey down a path of mystery, murder, and to a confrontation with an Evil more ancient than the stars.

About the Author:

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Book Art

Michael Offutt writes speculative fiction books that have science fiction, LGBT, and paranormal elements. His first book, SLIPSTREAM, has received some critical acclaim and was published by Double Dragon in the spring. The sequel, OCULUS, came out in November 2012. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered. By day, he works for the State of Utah as a Technical Specialist. By night, he watches lots of t.v., writes, draws, and sometimes dreams of chocolate.

Michael Offutt graduated from the University of Idaho in 1994 with a Bachelor's degree in English.

He keeps a blog and would appreciate a visit or two even if all you want to do is say hi.

If you think Michael's book is something you would like to read, he's put up six signed print copies of OCULUS for an international giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, I have been given permission to giveaway one OCULUS bookmark. This is available internationally as well. Just leave a blog post comment telling me what you thought of Michael's first book, SLIPSTREAM, or why you think Michael's books sound interesting.

Thanks go to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours for organizing this blog tour!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Until Monday...

I've been pretty absent for the past week and a half. I would like to say it's been because of holiday stuff, but it hasn't. The reason I've been gone on all fronts is because I just haven't felt like doing anything.

My brain feels overworked and fried. When I try to think, it's almost as if I don't even have a brain. It's like my head is solid bone or packed very tightly with cotton. I can't even read let alone write.

However, I think all I need is a little break. I'm already starting to feel more motivated and... thoughtful today. I just need a few more days to destress and goof off.

So, since I've caught up on the last week and a half's worth of blog posts I missed, I'm taking this week off. No Internet, except perhaps the occasional email check. Of course, I'm hosting Michael Offutt on his blog tour this Friday, but that post is already set and scheduled so that won't require much more effort from me.

I'll be back next Monday to lay down my new goal system for 2013.

Until then, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - Objection Completion #4

I fail. Well, depending on your definition of "fail." I didn't complete any of my set goals this week. However, that's not to say that I didn't do anything. In fact, I feel like I did quite a lot.

I put my "shelving" binders together for ROYALLY BURNED; FOREVER, FROG; and AFTER AUSTIN. I even made a whole video about it (seen at the bottom of this post).

I finished labeling all of my posts so my blog is "perfect." Everything is in order and my brain is completely at ease.

School is in order and I feel as if I'm ready for my semester tests. I'll be getting my PSAT results any day now!

Even though I did all of these things and I'm proud to have accomplished them, I still feel kind of guilty about not completing my goals. The whole time I was working on all of these other things, the worry about not doing what I said I would niggled at me. And I didn't like it.

So. I've reached a decision.

I already planned on stopping Birth of a Novel at the beginning of the new year since I have a new goal setting system I want to try. Now though, I think this is a better stopping point.

The rest of December is for friends and family and fun. I have my best friends' birthday party to go to this weekend. Then Christmas. Then laziness because I won't be in school. ;) I don't want to be worrying about specific goals, especially since I have a habit of setting them too high. I want to enjoy the season.

I leave you with this, my last Birth of a Novel wrap-up.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 37k on OBJECTION before I go to bed on Sunday. Didn't get to at all.
  2. Reach 40k on OBJECTION by next week's BoaN post. I did actually make some progress on OBJECTION. Yesterday I managed to get to 32,393 words.
  3. I will do jumping jacks for the duration of three minutes every day. I am proud to report that I completed my three minutes on Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Wednesday.

This is the song I do my jumping jacks to.

This is my shelving vlog.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - Objection Completion #3

Most of my goals I work on steadily throughout the week, but some how I never seem to quite reach the end in time. I usually scurry around to finish things up on the last day. It's one of the reasons these posts go up so late.

However, today I did not do that. Today I went to my best friend's choir concert instead. And I do not regret it. Lizzie is always supportive of my writing and it's good of me to return the favor.

It's also good of me to live. The writing can wait. My youth will not.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 35k on OBJECTION. My total word count for OBJECTION is 31,661. I wrote 1,637 words this week and fell 3,339 words short. I'm disappointed that I didn't meet my goal, but at the same time, 1,637 words in a week is good for any month besides November.
  2. Finish CALL OF THE WILD by the time I go to bed on December 1st. I finished reading the novel on the fifth, four days late, but hey, I still finished. It was a pretty good read.
  3. Continue planning THE SMILE FIXER. Didn't get to at all.
  4. Write first draft summaries for THE TRUE PRINCESS and OBJECTION. I wrote half of one for THE TRUE PRINCESS, and I'm not sure if I like it.
  5. Catch up on 34/43 blogs. I've managed to completely catch up on 32/43 blogs. I didn't finish one regular posting blog and have nine posts left on the big blog.
  6. Attach labels to posts from January to March of 2011. Check. I also went ahead and did August of this year since it was only three posts. I've now relabeled 113 posts, putting me a little over a third of the way through.

This week I'm paring down. I want to focus on just one or two things. The reason I never get anything completely finished even though I work toward it, is because I'm working toward about a hundred other things. Even though I may still work on those other things, this week my sights are set squarely.

    This week's goals:
  1. Reach 37k on OBJECTION before I go to bed on Sunday. One of the problems with my non-NaNo writing goals is the whole week I have to fulfill them. This gives me the opportunity to tell myself I have plenty of time, until I don't anymore. I'm hoping this midpoint deadline will push me to write without stressing me out.
  2. Reach 40k on OBJECTION by next week's BoaN post. This will put me back on track and make up for this week's indiscretion.
  3. I will do jumping jacks for the duration of three minutes every day. As you may remember, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to exercise every week. For the past few months, I've been failing miserably. But I'm trying again. In fact, after I finish up this post, I will be doing my three minutes for the second day in a row!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Letting Your Brain Babies Go

I started writing my first "real novel" when I was in third grade. My mother had put one of my birthday presents in her closet and forgotten about it. It was a journal. Upon discovering it two months later, she gave it to me.

Thus, it began.

This must have been around the time I was into ERAGON because I determined to write about a dragon. Her name was Diamond and she was black, hence the title BLACK DIAMOND. I dove into it without any real thought, being eight years old. I worked on it periodically now and then and slowly a bit of a plot and other dragon characters started to appear.

Years went by and I started it over about four or five times, never finishing a full draft. The "novel" evolved. Eventually, my story gained human characters.

In seventh grade, I started writing poetry and spending time on the Neopets writer forum. There I learned about NaNoWriMo.

Thus, other things began.

I finished my first draft of THE LULLABY, reveled in this first time accomplishment, then went back to my old story, now entitled RUBIES AND SILVER. I had begun to put at least some thought into my stories by then and the idea occurred to me that I could somehow connect the two novels. Later I, luckily, vetoed this idea.

More time passed and I started rewriting THE LULLABY and contemplating THINKING OF YOU. My friend of old had fallen to the wayside and this worried me. I went to great lengths to revive it, reworking major parts of the story, though keeping the same characters and main conflict. It became ROYALLY BURNED. You may remember me mentioning it.

You may also remember that I've never really, really done anything with it. Sure, I planned out a whole continent and attempted to start drafting, but that's not much, not enough. ROYALLY BURNED doesn't grasp me like my newer stories, doesn't hold the same appeal. I'm essentially beating a dead horse.

But... I'm scared to let go of my very first characters. In a way, I still love them, still smile when I occasionally think about those long-ago-written scenes.

However, it's time to let it go.

And not just ROYALLY BURNED. There are two other ideas I'm shelving, at least for the near future: FOREVER, FROG and AFTER AUSTIN.

You may remember when I started the first draft for FOREVER, FROG and failed miserably. I don't know if I've ever mentioned AFTER AUSTIN in a post, but it's been up on my Projects page. They're intended to be verse companion novels.

There are a few reasons I'm dropping them.

First, as with ROYALLY BURNED, they're just not speaking to me. They haven't in a long time. I never fleshed them out, especially AUSTIN, and that might be the source of it. However, I have too many other stories to focus on at the moment to try.

Second, I don't know if I can write a verse novel. I can write poetry, and I can write novels so I don't see why I couldn't write a combination of them. Something just feels off about it. I normally wouldn't let the challenge stop me, it's always an adventure to step out of your comfort zone, but that's a project I would need to focus all of my attention on, and I just can't do that right now.

Most importantly, I'm not ready to write about these subject matters, mainly child kidnapping/molestation and rape. I don't know why I ever thought I could tackle them. They're too big for me, especially at this stage in my life. I've been thinking perhaps I could work these stories in a different angle, away from these topics, but again, that would take time I don't have right now. Maybe in a year or two.

To make a clean break with these stories, I'm going to go through all of my writing files and find the bits and pieces that relate to them. Then I'm going to buy some grey binders, just as these novels are now displayed in grey on my Projects page, and fill them with those odds and ends. Then I'll put them away, up in my closet, though I may never completely forget about them.

Have you ever had to shelve a project, temporarily or otherwise?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Handing Out Awards With a Little Character "Help"

Usually I do something special for my award posts. Some little story that portrays the awards and passes them on in an entertaining way. This time I'm not doing that. I really want to get this post done, but I don't have any especially creative ideas for doing so-

"I wish that had been the case when she sent us into an orchard of possessed trees," Zoie says.

"Yes. Or perhaps when she almost killed me by nearly dropping me into a horde of soldiers," Lico agrees mildly.


Ahem. Now as I was saying, I'm jumping straight to the awards. Firstly, Ella generously gave me two awards. For them I have to share seven things about myself-

"I for one think she owes us," Zoie interrupts again.

Lico makes a faint noise of agreement.

"I would like to share seven facts about myself with the blogosphere. I think I deserve that." Zoie's hands are on her hips, her fingers drumming against her sword hilt. "Don't you think she should give us that, Lico?"

"If that's what you would like," he mutters.

"Lico! Quit looking around. There's nothing here for you to steal. Unless..." Zoie looks my way.

Fine. Just tell them your facts.

"Thank you very much, ymmis." She redoes her bun then addresses the masses.

  1. I never wear baggy clothes. They're impractical and tend to hold water when you are thrown into a river.
  2. Food is one of my most favorite things. In fact, that Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award is looking very good right now. Lico, would you please remind me to ask the drafu for a strawberry tart?
  3. Speaking of, I have a drafu seed as a pet. I've been meaning to plant it, but I haven't found the right spot yet.
  4. I have banned white flowers from being planted around the castle. I do not wish to see them when I gaze out my bedroom window.
  5. I am not merely Zoie. I am Zoie the Fourteenth. It is a name of great expectations. All the previous Zoies have been memorable in their own right.
  6. Lico and I are always together. Of course, that's because we are bonded. It's a land dryad thing.
  7. You are not impressed, I see. Well, here's something that is certain to catch your interest. When I was four years old I started a war by refusing to kiss the air before saying a certain member of the Nouran royal family's name.

You've shared your facts now, Zoie. Please let me finish my post.

"We shall see," she says.

-sigh- I'm passing each of these awards on to one person. For the Versatile Blogger Award, my critique partner Steph Sinkhorn. For the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award, Angela Brown.

The next award was presented to me by Trisha. Really though it should have been the other way around as she has been a much better commenter than I have been of late. However, I am working to fix that.

"Notice how she is more focused on that than editing our story," Lico interjects. "My dialogue really should be more eloquent."


I am supposed to pass this on to other great commenters. Of course, Michael Offutt is the best. He comments on almost every single one of my posts which is why I'm giving him this award even though he has already received it. I am also giving this award to Laura W., a fellow teen writer.

"Oh! Didn't she think my story sounded interesting?" Zoie asks.

Yes, she did. Now if I may?

"Do you remember the days when she used to be happy to talk to us, Zoie?" Lico asks.

"Like it was a mere ten days ago."


Lastly, Michael Offutt gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award. To accept this award, I must:

  • Thank and link back to the person who presented me with the award.
  • Answer the ten questions below.
  • Share ten random facts/thoughts about myself.
  • Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

So, Michael, thank you kindly for this award.

Lico snorts. "Of course you're grateful. That's why it took you six months to get around to telling him."


And here are the questions:

  1. What is your favourite song? I don't have one. I have many. On YouTube I have a whole playlist of videos that I listen to while I write. It contains over a hundred songs.
  2. What is your favourite dessert? Again, don't really have one. But chocolate almond is my favorite ice cream.
  3. What ticks you off? When people interrupt me while I'm reading a good book to tell me that the book is good. Also, when people talk to me like I'm an idiot.
  4. When you're upset what do you do? It depends what I'm upset about and the degree of my upsetedness. Sometimes I squeeze something, like a pillow, sometimes I have to scream or hit something, sometimes I just have to sit somewhere until I calm myself down.
  5. Which is/was your favourite pet? Well, cats are my favorite type of pet.
  6. Which do you prefer black or white? It depends on what we're talking about. Cats? Black, definitely.
  7. What is your biggest fear? Spiders in the shower with me. ;) Actually, it's the thought of what people can do.
  8. What is your attitude mostly? I'm generally upbeat or kind of indifferent in a thoughtful sort of way.
  9. What is perfection? Something that is undefinable because everyone views it differently.
  10. What is your guilty pleasure? I don't have one. If I take pleasure it in, I don't feel guilty about watching or reading or eating or whatevering it.

"Now I know why you write," Zoie says.

And why is that?

"Your characters are quite a bit more interesting than you are."

Is that so? Then perhaps you would like to provide three more facts to give us a total of ten in this post.

"I would, but for your audience's sake, I think Lico should try."

Lico frowns. "And why would I want to share things about myself with a potentially quite large group of people?"

Because I can do it for you.

His lips move in an almost curl. "Very well."

  1. Though I can walk and live on land, I must be close to running water at all times.
  2. My previous profession and now part time hobby is the, ah, finding and trading or selling of valuable goods.
  3. Most of the profit from those valuable goods goes toward tailored suits.

I have already mentioned four worthy blogs in this post. For a total of seven, I am giving this award to Kate Coursey at Weaving Colors, Trisha at W O R D + S T U F F, and Teralyn Pilgrim at A Writer's Journey.

This concludes my award post which means I'm finally caught up. There are no more obligations tucked into my draft folder. My blog will once again be in complete order as soon as I finish updating my labels!

"Does this mean you'll have more time for us? You know you're itching to return to our book. It's part of the reason we're bothering you so much," Zoie says.

I told you, next year! (Just between me and you, I think Zoie has gotten a little uppity since she- Damn. I've said too much.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - Objection Completion #2

I was too ambitious. I worried about this before I posted my goals on Monday, but I told myself that I would be able to handle it. None of them were that big. Turns out my concerns were founded.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 30k on OBJECTION. I'm at 30,024 words. I'm starting to feel a bit better about this story. The next few scenes that I need to move my plot forward have started to formulate in my mind and, even though I know I'm going to have to rewrite this novel next year, that gives me a bit more confidence in it.
  2. Plan out THE SMILE FIXER. I now know basically how my most important plot points are going to be carried out. This was my major concern and my biggest decision. I've also started narrowing in on a particular setting. However, I still have quite a few things I want to know and kinks to iron out.
  3. Read through The Chrysalis Experiment stories and pick one to rewrite for the PERFECT FLAW anthology or come up with a new idea. Didn't get to at all. Don't think I'm ever going to either. While I do want to reread my stories, I don't think the anthology entry is a good idea right now. I'd rather focus my smaller project time on the projects I have started and enjoy already. There's always literary magazines and e-zines that take submissions for any kind of fiction all or most of the time. Forcing myself to come up with an idea that falls into a very specific category is not worth it.
  4. Write a summary for THE TRUE PRINCESS. Didn't get to at all.
  5. Read CALL OF THE WILD. I've read the first two chapters and am four pages into the third. I have 43 pages left.
  6. Catch up on 30/43 blogs. I've managed to catch up on 27/43 blogs. Obviously this means I didn't complete three of my intended blogs, two of which were, again, the high maintenance blogs. However, I'm still making steady progress so I'm not too worried or upset and I only have nine posts left on one of the big blogs so I should be able to knock that one off later tonight or tomorrow.
  7. Attach labels to 2010 posts. Again, it didn't take that long. While it's a bit of a monotonous task, it was also nice to see how my blogging style has evolved since then.

I didn't do completely horrible. I worked steadily on most of my goals throughout the four days. I just bit off more than I could chew. This week, I'm making sure that doesn't happen again.

    This week's goals:
  1. Reach 35k on OBJECTION. If I'm aiming for 50k with this story, which is how it's set up since it was supposed to be finished during Camp NaNo, and I want to finish before New Year's, I have to write 625 words a day. This keeps right on track with that.
  2. Finish CALL OF THE WILD by the time I go to bed on December 1st. I can do this, especially since those couple days are during the weekend. I would have added the next story in this anthology, but I'm reading another book I would also like to finish this week.
  3. Continue planning THE SMILE FIXER. I don't want to rush planning. Things always turn out badly for me when I do. As long as I'm working on it, I'm happy.
  4. Write first draft summaries for THE TRUE PRINCESS and OBJECTION. I added OBJECTION to the goal because I have an idea for the beginning of its summary. However, I just want to finish the rough drafts of these summaries. Perfecting them is usually what takes me so long.
  5. Catch up on 34/43 blogs. The only reason it's 34/43 instead of 32/43 is because the last two blogs haven't posted in the time I've been absent from the blogosphere. So technically, it's like I already finished them. ;) This leaves me with a count of two high post blogs to finish, two regular posters, and one semi-regular.
  6. Attach labels to posts from January to March of 2011. This isn't too much, 43 posts to be exact, and stops before the mass of posts published in April.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - NaNo #3 & Objection Completion #1

Today is not a Thursday, the day I usually post for Birth of a Novel. However, I didn't post last Thursday due to Thanksgiving and my being out of town. I'm back now though and ready to update you.

I didn't do as well with my goals as I did last time, but I still got a lot accomplished and am quite proud of these victories.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Write 3k for today. I wrote 3,019 words for a total of 53,448 words.
  2. Write 1k on Friday. I wrote 1,023 words for a total of 54,471 words.
  3. Write 6k on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I wrote 4,420 words, falling 1,580 words below my goal. However, on Sunday I wrote 6,112 words so I still partially met my goal. This gave me a total of 65,003 words.
  4. Write 2k on Monday. I wrote 2,149 words for a total of 67,152 words.
  5. Write at least 4k on Tuesday, continuing if close to the end. I wrote 6,014 words for a total of 73,166 words and completed the first draft of THE TRUE PRINCESS! The NaNoWriMo site's word count validator differs slightly with a count of 73,151 words. This disagreement has never happened to me before, but I still finished my story and still beat 50k so I'm not too worried about it. Word counters aren't all the same.
  6. Make at least one vlog. Go here.
  7. Catch up on 26/43 blogs. I managed to finish 24/43, only catching up on two of the four blogs I was aiming for. Neither of the two I finished were the "post everyday" blogs I talked about. However, I have made good progress with both of the remaining two.
  8. Attach labels to posts from the past two months. This did not take as long as I expected. I finished up through September in probably twenty minutes. Just two years worth of blog posts to go. Also, I changed the widget appearance from a list to a cloud as well as retitled the widget to fit in with my sidebar's "mountain" theme.

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, it's time for me to move on to other things. My biggest concern right now is finishing my first draft of OBJECTION before New Year's. I also have a few other, smaller projects I want to work on.

    This week's goals:
  1. Reach 30k on OBJECTION. Right now, I'm at 27,334 words. This means I have to write 2,666 words in four days. I can do that. Hell, I could do that in one day. My only concern is that OBJECTION hasn't been as easy to write as most of my other projects and I might not have planned out this middle part as well as I should have, but I will not let that stop me!
  2. Plan out THE SMILE FIXER. Essentially this is a rewrite of last year's The Chrysalis Experiment Prompt #2 story. At first I was playing around with this concept for the PERFECT FLAW anthology but ended up deciding it wasn't the one. I liked my ideas though so I'm still going to write it. I usually don't plan for short stories. However, this one is going to be a little longer and more detailed than my short stories generally are.
  3. Read through The Chrysalis Experiment stories and pick one to rewrite for the PERFECT FLAW anthology or come up with a new idea. As I mentioned above, I scrapped my original idea for my submission to this anthology. So I need a new one and soon. The deadline is January 8th.
  4. Write a summary for THE TRUE PRINCESS. These are always good to have and, even if it isn't perfect, it will help me with my pitch later. Summaries also usually drive home what my novels' main focuses are. Plus, it'll add to my Projects page. I already have a first line.
  5. Read CALL OF THE WILD. If you're friends with me on Goodreads, you may know that I've been reading a book called MORE STORIES TO REMEMBER since February. It's an anthology that was published in 1958. I'm about halfway through it and I would like to finish reading it by New Year's. Right now I'm on THE CALL OF THE WILD. It has a total of 59 pages.
  6. Catch up on 30/43 blogs. This means I will have a total of six blogs to read in four days. Three of them are pretty low key and, as I already said, I have made progress on the two higher maintenance blogs. I'm pretty sure I can do it.
  7. Attach labels to 2010 posts. I published 46 posts in 2010. It shouldn't be so bad. I'm going to get started on them as soon as I get this post up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I Read Books Even When I Know the Ending

It's happened to you before.

You're checking out a book you're thinking about reading by looking at reviews, interviews with its author, and random fangirling posts on Tumblr. Then, just when you're starting to get really excited, you read it. That remark someone made without the SPOILER ALERT before it. That single sentence that ruins the whole book for you.

Or, you're out in public reading a book, a book you're completely enraptured with, and that one jackass walks up to you, their sentence starting with something like "By the way" or "Just so you know" and ending with crushed dreams.

In high school, books get spoiled for you all the time, especially the books assigned in English class. It happens as a result of everyone reading the same book at the same time and different people being at different parts of the book.

Often times it is accidental. Someone starts discussing a part of the book with you, not knowing that you have yet to get that far.

Sometimes it is not. Some such jackass of the kind previously mentioned comes up and straight tells you the end of the book. They carry that special twinkle in their eye, anticipating your outburst of anger.

Myself, I just shrug and turn back to my book. Why? Because I really don't care.

Perhaps this is because I read so many books where I can predict the ending very early on. However, there is something else that keeps me reading, both when I am told the ending and when I guess it.

The ending is just one part of the whole gloriousness of the story.

Think about it. How many books do you absolutely love solely for their ending? Can you even name one? You probably have many reasons for loving the books you really, really love. Consider them. I'm willing to bet they're things along the lines of elements carried throughout the story or the characters themselves or a scene in the middle of the book. The ending may be tacked on that list, but it is not the only thing.

Plus, knowing the ending and experiencing it are not the same thing. It's like spark noting Harry Potter and saying it was as wonderful as actually reading it.

Still not convinced? Here's another way of putting it.

We all know our lives are going to end in death. It's inevitable. It's set. We are born. We die. But you still want to experience the stuff in the middle, right? I thought so.

How do you feel about spoilers?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - NaNo #2

Today marks the beginning of my second week of Birth of a Novel in its new format. I'm happy to report that posting my goals here in a clear fashion definitely helped me achieve them. All of them!

Also, before we dive into the official progress report, I would like to thank Lizzie for letting me spend the night at her house, even if I wrote the whole time, and for making sure I did write the whole time.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 26k before I go to bed on Friday. I finished Friday off with 26,036 words.
  2. Write 7k on both Saturday and Sunday. I wrote 7,044 words on Saturday and 7,110 words on Sunday for a total of 40,190 words.
  3. Write 5k on Monday. I wrote 5,027 words for a total of 45,217 words.
  4. Write 2.5k on both Tuesday and Wednesday. I wrote 2,665 on Tuesday and 2,547 words on Wednesday for a total of 50,429 words!
  5. Make at least one vlog. I actually made two! Well, more like one and a half. Go here and here.
  6. Catch up on 20/43 blogs. I managed to completely catch up on 22/43 blogs, putting me halfway there.
  7. Decide on new labels for blog. I wrote a whole post about the process of doing this yesterday.

I reached 50,000 words! However, THE TRUE PRINCESS is far from finished. As I mentioned last week, this means this week's goals will also be mostly made up of word counts. I'm thinking I probably have 20k left to write and I want to finish before I leave for my grandparents' on the 21st to celebrate Thanksgiving. As such, my goals are aimed toward that.

    This week's goals:
  1. Write 3k for today. I already have a little over 1k with four hours left until midnight. It should only take me about an hour and a half to get the rest.
  2. Write 1k on Friday. My parents are going out of town for the night and I will probably not be anywhere near my computer after I leave for school in the morning. 1k isn't much, but I'll probably be lucky to reach even that.
  3. Write 6k on both Saturday and Sunday. These are going to be the days that really decide whether or not I finish in time. This is the really essential goal.
  4. Write 2k on Monday. This is a school night. However, it's also the first day of a two day week so I might not get a lot of homework. If that's the case, I may be able to write more.
  5. Write at least 4k on Tuesday, continuing if close to the end. This is the last day before we leave, but I can stay up later because I don't have to get up as early as usual the next day.
  6. Make at least one vlog. This continues my goal to make a vlog once a week during NaNoWriMo.
  7. Catch up on 26/43 blogs. I know four blogs doesn't seem like a lot, but two of those blogs are "post every day" blogs which means I have about sixty posts to read for each. Plus, I have words to write!
  8. Attach labels to posts from the past two months. After this, I'll start from the beginning of my blog posts, but this week I don't have a lot of time for labeling and these posts are freshest in my memory thus deeming them easiest to label.

I'm not going to be posting a Birth of the Novel post next Thursday since it's Thanksgiving. However, when I return home, I will write one for the days remaining in that week and update you on my (hopeful!) success with this week's goals.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How I Decided on My Labels

One of my Birth of a Novel goals this week was to decide on my new blog labels. Labels can be used by readers to more easily find the thing they are looking for so keeping them organized is important. Laura Barnes states this often in her blog critiques. From reading these critiques, I have learned that some bloggers struggle with this so I decided to write a post describing my process in the hopes that it would help. :)
  1. Labels describe what your posts are about. Take the time to consider what you blog about, starting with the broadest categories then dividing those up into smaller and smaller topics. This will be the basis for your labels.

    If you want, you can create a diagram like the one below.
  2. On your Blogger dashboard, there is an icon with an arrow next to it at the top. If you click on the arrow and go down to "Layout" you can change the features of your Labels widget by clicking "edit" in the box that represents that widget. In the edit dialog box, there is an area marked "Show." This feature allows you to decide whether or not all your labels should be displayed on your Label widget and, if not all, which ones.

    Decide which of your prospective labels is important enough to be displayed and which ones, while you will still use them and have them show up on your posts, are not. Note that you do not have to use every subject matter you wrote down if you decide against it.

    If you are using the diagram, I suggest using different colored highlighters to help you with this.
  3. Once you have done step two, make sure all of your labels are named in a way that you like and that makes it clear to the reader what kind of posts the labels will lead them to.
  4. If you're just starting your blog, get to writing posts you can attach your labels to!

    If you've already got an established blog, you have a bit more work ahead of you. You can't just start using your labels for every post you write from now on. You must go back and rewrite the labels for the posts you have already written as well. I assure you, however, that the work will be worth it to have a more efficient blog.
I will be working on doing that last step myself in the next month or so.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Michael Offutt's OCULUS

Over the summer, I read Michael Offutt's SLIPSTREAM (go here for my review and here for the Goodreads page). I thoroughly enjoyed it and, since Michael is a wonderful follower and blogger, I am happy to spread the news about his newest book!

OCULUS by Michael Offutt (Goodreads)

"What is the oculus?"

Autumn has arrived in New York, and Jordan Pendragon is a freshman at Cornell University. Gifted in mathematics, he balances life as a research assistant with that of a student athlete.

But Jordan also has a quest. He must find the Black Tower, a monolithic edifice housing a thing that defines the very structure of the universe. Jordan believes it is buried somewhere in Antarctica under miles of prehistoric ice.

October finds Jordan earning a starting position with the Cornell hockey team. But a dark cloud gathers over his rookie season. Unexplained deaths, whispers of a cannibal cult, a prophecy, and a stone known only as the Oculus, cast a shadow over his athletic ambitions. It is the start of a terrifying journey down a path of mystery, murder, and to a confrontation with an Evil more ancient than the stars.

If you think this book sounds interesting, I suggest you check out Michael's announcement post in which he has included the short excerpt his cover revolves around. Also take the time to look through his blog while you're there if you've never stopped by before. It's worth doing.

As one last treat, Michael has put up one copy of OCULUS for giveaway on Goodreads! Enter before December 10th for a chance to win.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - NaNo #1

Last year during NaNoWriMo, I participated in the Birth of a Novel Blog Chain hosted by Charity Bradford (here, here, here, here, and here). This year I'm doing it again, but in a slightly different format.

Birth of a Novel isn't just solely focused on NaNo anymore. It has widened its spectrum to include any kind of writerly project. Due to this, not only will I be updating you on my weekly hopes and goals for THE TRUE PRINCESS, but on all of my ambitions for that week.

I feel like this will be extremely beneficial to me as I have quite a few things I would like to accomplish by the end of the year and this system will keep me on track to complete them in time.

Last year, I told you what my goals were in narrative form, but as I said already, I'm mixing it up a bit. I'm laying everything out in a list as I've seen others do.
  1. Reach 26k before I go to bed on Friday. That's a little under four thousand words from where I am now which is entirely plausible. I'm also hoping to catch the end of a virtual write-in which may help boost my word count.
  2. Write 7k on both Saturday and Sunday. I can do it as long as I stay focused. This will leave me with 40k.
  3. Write 5k on Monday. No school that day so again entirely plausible if I stay focused. This will put me at 45k.
  4. Write 2.5k on both Tuesday and Wednesday. If I make this goal, I will win NaNo on Wednesday!
  5. Make at least one vlog. One vlog a week is my goal for NaNo. So far I haven't failed. In fact, I've overachieved with two vlogs last week.
  6. Catch up on 20/43 blogs. As you may have noticed, I haven't been visiting blogs a lot lately. I just haven't been motivated to. However, I'm working to get back on track now, one blog at a time. I have to read posts for the end of August, the end of September, and then all of October, as well as any new posts for November. So far I'm at 11/43.
  7. Decide on new labels for blog. In an earlier post, I talked about the things I needed to do to clean up my blog. I've completed all of those things except for one award post and reorganizing my labels. I don't necessarily have to implement the labels, I just want to have them ready for when I can sit down and fix them.
As you can see, if everything goes according to plan, I should finish NaNo on Wednesday. If that happens, my goals for next week's Birth of a Novel will be of a much different nature. However, I have a feeling that THE TRUE PRINCESS might have more story in her than 50k. If that's the case, you'll be seeing more word count goals next week. We'll just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Don't Reward Yourself for Doing NaNo, Make NaNo a Reward

You hear a lot of advice on how to motivate yourself to write, especially during NaNo season. It is often recommended that you punish yourself if you don't meet your goals or reward yourself if you do. However, have you ever tried making the writing the reward?

Before I continue, it would probably be beneficial to you to know that this method probably works best when you're ahead or more toward the end of the month when there are certain things you can't put off any longer.

It's really a pretty simple idea.

Say you've got some giant assignment that's worth thirty percent of your grade or you need to clean your whole house before the fam comes over for Thanksgiving or you need to do something for work (sorry for no specifics, teenager who's never had a job here). Basically, you have something that has to be done, but you'd rather be working on NaNo instead.

You break up that thing into smaller parts. At the completion of each part, you get to write so many words. Get is the key word here. Not have to write so many words. Get to.  This makes your NaNo something desirable as well as helping you complete tasks you may not necessarily want to complete. It's a win-win.

What are your NaNoing tips?

Monday, November 05, 2012

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 16,204 Words

I love my novel.

That statement deserves its own line. It is a thought to be savored. I love my novel.

I don't know if it's a feeling I have ever felt so thoroughly. Of course, I adore all of my novels. Each of them brings me great joy and excitement, but I don't think any of them has ever brought me this much of those two things.

I have no idea what makes this story different. Maybe it's how the plot line formed so perfectly or how my characters developed into people so quickly, but I don't think either of those were lacking from my other stories. It's not even that I'm getting more words down. I'm not rushing to write anymore than I usually do though I do seem to always know what I'm going to put on the page when I sit my butt in this chair.

Still, I'm getting an itching feeling that this just might maybe possibly be the one.

To see if you agree with me, I'm going to leave you with a short excerpt of exactly 266 words. Keep in mind that it is a rough draft. Note also that the words "agts," "ymsir," and "geya" are gEyarian words, which means the second letter is pronounced first.

I have also included my latest NaNoWriMo vlog at the bottom of this post in case you were curious about the technicalities of my journey.
So Zoie looked over the banister down at the tree. She saw a most peculiar thing.

A man was rapidly growing from one of the lowest branches. Squeezing through the tiny stems could not have been comfortable because he was squirming terribly, thrashing about and hitting the trunk, which had caused the groaning noise Zoie had heard.

Deciding he was no immediate threat, Zoie leaned one of her elbows across the railing, her sword hanging down at her side and watched. It took quite some time before he was completely out, but he was still attached to the tree. He was grasping at the top of his head madly, his face swelling with the pressure of not making any noise.

Zoie decided it was time for her to move. Making sure she could not be seen from below, she moved to the stairs that curved along the outside of the building. She passed through the middle two floors while the man was still trying to detach himself from the tree. Her foot had just touched the tile floor of the bottom level when the man finally fell to the ground.

He jumped straight back up again, straightening the very expensive suit he was wearing. His back was to her and he did not even bother to look over his shoulder.

“aGts,” he breathed.

She touched the very tip of her sword lightly to his back, right between the shoulder blades. “Watch your language in my house, ymsir.”

“aGts,” he said again, much louder this time. He glanced over his shoulder at her and smiled. “Sorry, geya.”
(If you would like to see more, shorter excerpts, please remember to check out my Tumblr:

Saturday, November 03, 2012

11 x 4 Questions Finally Answered

Current NaNo Word Count: 8,509 words (full post on Monday)

Something we all know is that I always take forever at getting around to accepting awards and answering tags, that sort of thing. An example? I got two awards at the end of 2011. I got around to posting about them in May 2012. This procrastination is the reason I'm just now getting around to answering the questions I got tagged with during the Fourth Writers' Platform Building Campaign. And boy, are there a lot of them.

Carrie-Anne was the first to tag me. She left me with these eleven questions:
  1. What is your dream car? It could be either a current car or a classic or antique car. I don't exactly have a specific dream car, but I would like a rather large vehicle with a bench seat.
  2. Are you interested in illustrating your own books? Have you ever drawn pictures of your characters? I wish I could illustrate my own books, if just the chapter headers. While I can draw, I unfortunately lack the ability to visualize things. This makes it hard to draw things like my characters and settings.
  3. What is your favorite flavor of jelly? Grape.
  4. What animal would you most like to be? A brightly-colored poisonous butterfly.
  5. What foreign country would you like to live in? Ireland. It's where the leprechauns live.
  6. Do you prefer the countryside or the city? It depends. What am I doing there and who am I doing it with?
  7. What is your favorite ice-cream flavor? Chocolate almond.
  8. What character from mythology (any mythology) would you most like to meet? Pandora. Imagine her face when a 5'2" blonde girl comes up and slaps her.
  9. Do you have a favorite or well-liked name you haven’t used on a character yet? Rhine. Mostly because it's the name of the main character in the Chemical Garden Trilogy. Also because I think it would be a nice name if I ever have a daughter.
  10. What is your favorite amusement park ride? Any rollercoaster!
  11. Would you prefer to live on the beach, in the forest, in the mountains, or in the desert? On the beach.
Susan then gave me the next eleven questions.
  1. What is the name of the book you are currently reading? CLOCKWORK ANGEL.
  2. What type of music do you prefer? Favourite song? Country is my top choice, though I've been getting into more indie YouTube artists lately. No favourite song. I'm usually pretty bad at having favourites.
  3. If you could go anywhere in this world or a fictitious one, where would you go? I know it's clique, but who never wanted to go to Hogwarts?
  4. Do you currently have any pets? Yes. One dog and one cat that is missing. :(
  5. When do you usually set aside time to write? I'm definitely an evening/night writer though, if I have to, I will write anytime.
  6. What is the most interesting way in which you (or some other author) has killed off a character? Crushed by an elevator.
  7. Have you ever written a piece of fan fiction? If so, for which show/movie? No.
  8. Do you have a specific place in which you do most of your writing? At my desk. I know, exciting, huh?
  9. What is your favourite meal? What am I in the mood for?
  10. Do you have any non-writing hobbies? Does reading count even though it's considered very important for a writer?
  11. If you had a time machine, when would you go? To the library of Alexandria before it burned.
Ella made it a total of thirty-three questions.
  1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? The power to copy other people's superpowers. I can't be the only one who has one right?
  2. You are walking in a forest and you come across two different paths. As the poem by Robert Frost goes, the first path is one that appears to be worn and familiar. The other path appears new and unused. Which path do you take? It depends. Where am I headed? And am I in the mood for people, no people, new discovery, or calming routine?
  3. What is your opinion on love triangles? They don't bug me in stories like they do some people, but I dislike it when it's too predictable and you know who the person is going to pick. Love squares are more fun.
  4. What is your opinion on vampires, faeries, and werewolves being used in YA fiction? Love faeries. And I don't dislike vampires and werewolves. But maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if we all cut back a little bit on them.
  5. What are some amazing books you have read this year (so far)? -pulls up Goodreads- THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, ENTWINED, THE HATING GAME, FEVER, CINDER, and KING OF THE SCREWUPS.
  6. Which is more important in a novel: the plot or the characters? The plot with just a dash of character because while the plot entraps you and keeps you reading, those motions don't mean anything without the character's reactions to them.
  7. If you went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which of the four houses do you think you would be sorted into? Probably Ravenclaw. Though I would hope Hufflepuff. Pottermore tells me I'm a Slytherin. -.-
  8. What is one book and one movie you are looking forward to reading/seeing in 2012? Book: THE LAST GUARDIAN Movie: Gone.
  9. One book you would most definitely read again, and one book you would never read again? Would: PRINCESS ACADEMY Wouldn't: LEFT BEHIND
  10. What is your favorite comfort food? Cheddar pretzels. Maybe. Refer to set two's number two.
  11. If you'd been on the Titanic, would you have been: a) one of the first people to jump into the ocean, b) a person who waited and ended up in a small lifeboat, or c) someone who sunk nobly along with the ship? B.
Finally, Kadie was kind enough to leave me with a total of forty-four questions.
  1. What’s your favorite childhood memory? From the ages of about three to five, I lived in a trailer park in Alabama. My best friend lived one down from me. When we moved I had no way to keep in contact with her. We took a trip to Disneyworld when I was about eight or so. In order to get there, we had to pass through that Alabama town. We even stopped and ate dinner in it. And she was at that restaurant! That has always been so mind-blowing to me.
  2. If you could teleport from any Wal-Mart in the country to another Wal-Mart in the country, where would you go and why? (My husband and I have a great idea to place teleporters in every Wal-Mart in America and then charge people to transfer to another one… Now we just have to invent a teleporter. One day…) To the Wal-Mart in Buffalo, Missouri because it's so small it probably will never install the teleporter and then I would be stuck in limbo where I would have eternity to write all the books I'm scared I'll never have time to write.
  3. How many times do you brush your teeth in a day? One or two. Depending on how tired I am at night.
  4. What’s your biggest fear? The horrible possibilities of what people can do.
  5. How many times have you dyed your hair? Zero.
  6. What’s the absolute WORST book you’ve ever read? I don't think I have one. I have books I really liked, books I just normal liked, and books I didn't really care for at all. But I don't have a worst book.
  7. Where do you find inspiration? Various things. Usually, by chain reaction, thinking about one thing will lead me to an idea.
  8. Have you ever broken a bone? Which one and how? No.
  9. Chocolate or Caramel? I only like certain varieties of both. With caramel, it usually has to be hard. And with chocolate, it usually has to be paired with something else (like caramel). So I'll pretend this is a syrup question. Chocolate.
  10. Guyliner? Hot or not? (Besides on Johnny Depp, that’s a given.) Neither.
  11. What’s your birthstone? Amethyst.
Since this tag was created to get to know people during the Fourth Writer's Platform Building Campaign, I'm not going to be coming up with eleven more questions or tagging eleven more people. However, if you want to answer any of these questions in the comments, I would love to hear your answers!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It all starts tomorrow. The great noveling adventure. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.

This will be my fourth year participating and I will again be implementing the strategy of going to bed early then waking up in time to start writing at midnight. After about an hour, I'll go back to sleep. I plan to wake up a little bit earlier than normal and get some words in before school. Then I will be carrying my writing notebook from class to class, writing as much as I can. After I get home, I've calculated that I will have about four free hours to write.

I hope to end tomorrow with 7k on THE TRUE PRINCESS, my newly entitled princess clone story.

I'm about to head off to bed, but I've prepared this vlog with a little more information about this year's NaNo experience.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Overcoming Fear

Do you ever get scared? Scared that you'll never write about that big shiny idea of yours? Scared that you'll never finish the writing? Scared that you won't know how to revise it or make it good enough?

It's okay if you do. Everyone does.

And don't think you're an exception if it hasn't happened yet. It will.

Those aren't the only fears either. There's a whole universe of them and everyone has different ones at different times. My current one? Losing NaNoWriMo.

I tell myself that it's unfounded. I felt it last year too and look how that turned out. Over 100k written and two finished first drafts. I've never even come close to losing.

But that doesn't keep me from being scared.

Mostly I think it's because I kind of bombed Camp NaNoWriMo. Didn't even get halfway done though I did do better than last year. And I haven't worked on OBJECTION much since, however much I said I was going to.

That changed today. I sat my butt in my chair, put my head phones in, and typed away for about an hour and a half. Even tried Write or Die. I ended up adding about 2300 words for a total of 26,025. And it feels good.

The fear has subsided a bit.

What is your most recent fear?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saying Something

I don't know what to say, but I know I need to say something.

I've been kind of detached from the Internet lately and, I have to admit, it's been quite lovely. My stress-inducing obsession with reading all the posts is gone. Reading, once again, takes up a large part of my time. Something I am quite happy about. I'm caught up with the few TV shows I watch.

But most importantly, in the words of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, I have been "participating" in my life.

Yesterday I had a Quizbowl meet. There's another one on the 27th. Tomorrow I take the PSAT for the second practice run before I take the real thing next year. Thursday through Monday is Fall Break and I'm taking Driver's Ed on Thursday and Friday in order to get my permit. I've been preparing for a Halloween party with my friends as well as the homecoming dance on November 2nd.

I know it seems like I'm neglecting all of you and I worry about that. However, I'm still young and high school only happens once. I should enjoy it while I can. I have the rest of my life to blog and write. At least, that's what I constantly tell myself.

What have you "participated" in lately?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blogiversary Giveaway Winners

Yesterday was the last day to enter my blogiversary giveaway so today I'm announcing the winners. I've never gotten to do this before and I'm kind of excited. Are you ready?
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congratulations, Helen and Michael! I will be contacting you tomorrow about your prizes. I think we'll let Helen pick a book and then Michael. The book not chosen will automatically go to Helen.

Thank you all for entering!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating the Good Things with a Giveaway

I love New Year's because it feels like you get to start over again. All the mistakes you've made in the last year are packed in a little box and placed on a shelf labeled "Occasional Shameful Nostalgic Thoughts." There are only things to look forward to, the potential productiveness of the upcoming days not yet marred by procrastination and failure.

Blogiversaries sort of have the same implications.

These dates bring forth the possibilities of all the posts you have yet to write and all the things you'll do to have even more to write about. It makes you speculate about all the blogs you'll read, the blogs you'll discover, the people you'll meet through those blogs.

However, with this post I wanted to let speculations of what will happen rest and focus on what has already happened. It's been two years since I first posted on this blog. I've done a lot of things in that time.

I finished my first rewrite of THE LULLABY which was my main goal when I began on this Internet journey. I've completed the first drafts of THINKING OF YOU, SHADOWMAN, and GHOST SISTER plus gotten ideas for plenty of other projects. I've become a two-time winner of NaPoWriMo and wrote a short story almost every week for a year with the Chrysalis Experiment. Three pieces of my flash fiction were published in an anthology called CAMPAIGNER CHALLENGES 2011. I've experienced my first few rejections and started working on my first round of revisions.

What have you accomplished in the past year?

In celebration of these things, I'm hosting a giveaway. I went through my bookshelves and picked out three books for the occasion. They're all been read, but are still in great shape.

Girl Meets Boy edited by Kelly Milner Halls

What do guys and girls really think?

Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of he said/she said stories - he tells if from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. Stories of love and heartbreak, like the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl and the flipside of the toxic girl who never learns to be loved; a basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; and a gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen, teach that us that relationships become complicated because there are two sides to every story.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh's family gets an America Online CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto Facebook...but Facebook hasn't been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at their profiles fifteen years in the future. Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates - it's all there. But it's not what they expected. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

The List by Siobhan Vivian

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction - and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Paper Mountain Awards (Behind the Scenes)

You come home from work and, flopping down on the couch, flip on your TV. A talk show pops up. It's already about half over. The two interviewees look familiar. You wrack your brain, trying to remember. And then it comes to you. That program you went to see! The Paper Mountain Awards.

The two girls sit on a couch facing the show's host. One is in an all purple shirt and skirt getup. The second is in a grey pantsuit. They're sitting as far apart from each other as they can.

"I've got some questions from your fans in my hand here." The host waves a paper in the air. "How about we answer them?"

Brooklynn sits up straighter and Brooke leans forward eagerly.

"Okay. Michael Offutt asks, 'Who are three of your favorite followers and why? Who do you feel deserves more followers?'"

Both of the girls open their mouths to answer, but the host quickly cuts them off. You can see he's learned from experience how they fight. "Brooke, why don't you answer the first question. And, Brooklynn, you can answer the second."

Brooke's smile nearly splits her face. You can't tell if it's because she's excited about the question, or if she's just happy to get to answer first.

"While we love and appreciate all of our fans, there are a few who stand out. The first that comes to mind is Michael Offutt, who asked this very question. He watches all of our shows, reads all of our interviews, and is always lending us encouragement. Trisha is another great supporter. She's been with us almost since the beginning. And last, but not least, Angelina C. Hansen. She doesn't always send us mail, but she's there when it counts."

Brooklynn jumps in almost before Brooke finishes her sentence. "The following people are just three out of many who I feel deserve more followers. Teralyn Pilgrim's articles are always informative and her writing style is refreshing. Angela Scott is hilarious, but supplies good information at the same time. And you can always trust her to be up-to-date on the latest zombie craze. Lastly, I feel the folks over at NA Alley deserve more followers. They support a great cause and the more people that know about the New Adult genre the better."

The host nods, smiling. Looking toward you, he says, "We'll post information about all of these people on our website after the show." Then he looks down at the paper in his hand again. "We have one more question from Michael. Are you ready?"

Both girls give the affirmative.

"Tell us four little known facts about anything. What other 'smart cookies' do you think would have four facts to share?' Okay, Brooklynn, give us two facts and one person. Then, Brooke, you do the same." The host looks up expectantly.

Brooklynn pushes a strand of hair behind her ear and looks straight ahead as if reciting. "One: Male seahorses carry eggs in a pouch until they hatch. Two: Swear words are stored in the same part of the brain as laughter. The person I choose is Carrie Butler."

There is a smattering of clapping from the audience and Brooklynn beams.

Brooke rolls her eyes. "Anyway. One," she holds up a finger, "I'm scared of waiters. And two," she holds up a second finger, "I love pajama pants. As for my person, I nominate Madeline Bartos." Then she lowers her voice, "And hopefully she'll have more interesting facts than Brooklynn's."

Brooklynn glares and opens her mouth, but the host quickly interrupts. Smart man, you think.

"We have one more question. Anna Waggner and Laura both ask, 'What are ten things about you that you'd like to share and who are six people you'd like to know more about?' Brooke, why don't you do the sharing? Give us eight things since you gave us two already.  And, Brooklynn, you can name the people."

Brooke appears pleased at being given the longer assignment. She sets her elbow on her knee and touches her index finger to her chin. Then she starts talking and it's as if someone hit fast forward, she talks so fast.

"Well, the walls of my room are two different shades of purple, two dark, two light. My closet is color-coordinated according to the order of the rainbow. Cheddar-flavored pretzels are currently my favorite snack. Three most anticipated shows right now are Glee, The Walking Dead, and NCIS. I collect porcelain dolls, of which currently there are thirteen. Thanks to my best friend, I sing my phone number anytime I need to remember it. I still haven't read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE even though I've been watching The Lizzie Bennett Diaries since the beginning. And, my drink of choice is Coke."

She's done in less than a minute and you can tell the host is amazed, his eyes wide and his lips slightly parted. Brooklynn doesn't look the least bit fazed. Instead, she begins naming people.

"Tania Walsh, Tizzy Potts, Kate Coursey, Rachel Morgan, Chantele Sedgwick, and Kaylie Austen. These are all people we've crossed paths with a few times or are fans of ourselves. It would be great to learn more about them."

This has given the host time to recover, to let his eyes shrink back to normal size. He rubs his hands against his knees, looks into the camera again, and says, "That's all we have time for today. Be sure to check out our website after the show to see those facts and to learn more about the people Brooklynn listed. Let's give a round of applause for our two guests!"

There's a shot of the studio audience clapping with the show's theme song playing over it. Then, Brooke and Brooklynn stand on the stage, waving. The credits start on the side of the screen.

You pick up your remote and start searching for another show.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Reason I Haven't Been Blogging Much Lately

I haven't been blogging much lately.

It's for a variety of reasons. I've just started tenth grade and, while I don't have a lot of homework, I tend to spend more time on it than I have previously. This year's classes feel more important to me due to the possibility of college credit. I've also been writing another novel, though I've barely even looked at it since August. I've been watching NCIS nonstop. I can't think of anything to write about. I've been reading blogs instead of writing them (though I've fallen behind on that too). There's probably a few others I can't think of right now. But I could get past all that.

No. There's really only one reason. And that's my blog itself.

To get what I've trying to say, you must first understand how my brain works. There's a place for everything and everything should be in its place. Everything must be in its place. Because if it's not, anxiety fills that space instead. That anxiety can reach such a degree that it's almost impossible to bear. So I fix the problem or, if the problem is too big for me to fix quickly, I avoid it. Like the plague.

Another thing you must understand, is that I have to be sure, absolutely certain, that "the thing" is in its place. I cannot assume. With some things, it is easy to check. For example, if my shoes are in the right place in my closet. Other things are harder, such as the labels on my blog. I have almost 300 posts over a nearly two year period. It would take forever for me to go back through all of them. However, this is part of the reason I'm avoiding my blog so it needs to be done.

Something else that greatly distresses me is when I cannot figure out where something goes, where it fits in with everything else or where there's space to put it by itself. This is currently the problem with my Projects page. I'm already making plans for what I want to do with my WIPs next year and I'm worrying over whether I should put those changes in place now since it's organized by current importance. And then there's those two award posts and that tag post I've been working on for months because I don't really like doing them, but feel obligated to.

But a week from today is my second blogiversary. I plan to get my shit together by then.

First, I'm going to tackle that Projects page. I want to update it. Who cares if it's a little ahead of time? It'll be like a teaser of what's to come. And who doesn't love a good teaser? Second, I'm going to finish those three damn posts already just so I can say I did it. Then I will never let an award or tag wait that long ever again. Third, I am going to sit down and make a list of acceptable labels that I will then apply. And while I'm doing all this I might just go ahead and create another page that will link to all of my writing samples that can be found on this blog. Work is good for the soul and my peace of mind.

So I'll see all of you again next week. Be sure to come back. I'm doing a giveaway for my blogiversary.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

NYR Update - 8 Months

  1. I will have complete THINKING OF YOU's ready for query first round of revisions. NA
  2. I will have two new first drafts. I reached 23,090 words on OBJECTION. I also came up with a first line for the untitled princess close fantasy/sci fi.
  3. I will win National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).
  4. I will submit at least two short stories to two anthologies, journals, ezines, and/or contests.
  5. I will read at least one hundred books. I read one book this month and am currently reading three others. Goodreads says that I am nineteen books behind.
  6. I will post at least one vlog a month. NA
  7. I will exercise in some way once a week. In the second week (August 5-11), I played tag for about thirty minutes.