Monday, April 29, 2013

eXamine Your Zipper and other embarrassing moments

It was in middle school. PE. Gym class.  Uh....let's just end it there shall we?

The point is, we're all human. *pinches arm, takes blood test...yup, definitely human* We all make mistakes. And of course some of them aren't really our fault. The ones that are? Own them and move on.

Life's a learning curve.

As writers we face an ever bigger curve than most. Why? Because we're living so many lives simultaneously. There's this character, and this one, and then oh! this poor misunderstood villain over here!!  With all those lives to figure out, it's bound to happen that we forget who we are. And embarrass ourselves.

Like maybe by sending a query letter addressed to the wrong person. Or attaching the wrong manuscript to a requested full.  Not that I've had these things happen to me. I'm still gearing myself up for querying, remember?  But I've known other writers who have faced these...trials. :)

And because of their honesty I might avoid them myself. A quick check on a name. A double check on the MS.  Writers are so good to each other. We're not in competition with each other for the number of sit ups we can do in PE class. I mean...uh...writers care about helping one another out. We give each other tips, reviews, and blurbs on books. We WANT readers to explore other authors' books.

It's not middle school. We can handle a little competition.

So what is the most embarrassing thing a writer can do? Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you? Any words of wisdom to impart to us?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Underestimating our Value and Worth

We are our worst critics.

You've no doubt heard this phrase before. Along with:

  • There's nothing to fear but fear itself.
  • You've only failed once you've stopped trying.
  • Doubt has killed more dreams than actual rejection.
There are so many out there. Proof that we can be our worst enemies when it comes to fulfilling our dreams. It isn't the agent who rejected us, but the fact that we only sent out 1000 queries. What about the 1001th?!  That could have been the one!

I've already talked about the fear of rejection here this month. Underestimating ourselves goes much deeper though. Not valuing what our story is worth, the lives it can change, or simply the good laugh it can be. Underestimating ourselves will cut us off from our dreams more effectively than any agent, publisher or well-meaning friend.

I let someone scare me into studying something else right out of high school. I didn't think my writing was worth enough to support myself with. Money is such an evil word. As though that's the only reason that people write. As though only things of value have a price tag on them. As if.

Write your story. Share it with others. Don't let anyone tell you that your time is misspent.  Don't believe me? Here's a little motivation. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Think Tank


No, not that kind of tank. A "think" tank. Where all the ideas of many are all pooled together to create mass awesomeness and wonder!!!

And did you know that  the think tank has an actual presence online?  It's true. I swear. I'm part of the Facebook group, Authors' Think Tank. The website is And recently they started a podcast series.  People!  THE THINK TANK IS REAL!! And they have a theme song, so you know...they pretty much rock.

Facebook: Click here
Website: Click here
Podcasts: Click here

You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Social Media and Sushi

Not long ago my husband took me to a sushi grill.  It's one of the many ways he says, "I love you!" Honestly, any dinner I don't have to cook is an "I love you," but sushi has an exclamation mark attached to it.  Just sayin'.

So this one night we're seated at the grill next to a man and two children. They're busying themselves on their phones and iPads. A standard thing when you're killing time.

And then the chef came out. And the electronics...stayed on. While this fellow flipped and sizzled and entertained all of us, the three to our left were entertaining themselves.  I was a little aghast. Who goes to a sushi grill and ignores the show?  Apparently these three.

What the chef did next had my husband and I laughing the rest of the night. He slapped his spatula down to get their attention and then said, "You like your toys more than my show?" Mortified, the girls turned off their devices. The man resisted a little longer, probably out of spite.

I nudged my husband under the table and we shared a smile, proud of the chef for calling them out.  They were being rude, in our opinion. Sushi grills are for socializing. And these guys were missing out on the very best kind.  Life has so much to offer than just what people tweet or blog. Experiencing things for yourself will IMPACT you differently.

With all the wonderful things we can share with one another, don't live vicariously through someone else. That will leave you little satisfaction in the end. Live...and then live to tweet another day.

Do you have trouble putting your electronics down? What's the number one reason you check social media?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I'm a day late (and very late at that) in posting because I was at the TeenBookCon yesterday. It was fabulous. I took my daughter. We fan-girled all day. And took pictures. Totally awesome.

We listened to authors tell us their publishing stories; all the times they've failed and succeeded, even after publishing multiple books.  Each one is hard, they said. There's no guarantee, just because you've been published before.

Rejection, or the fear thereof, is one of the hardest things a writer will face. Well, after writing the actual book that is. WHY WON'T THIS THING JUST WRITE ITSELF. :) The fear that someone won't like our work sometimes keeps us from ever sending it out. But you'll never know if someone will like it or not, unless you TRY.

To date I've sent out one query. One. I got a rejection the following day.

I had to laugh. Mostly out of relief because the torture had been quickly. No drawn out agony for weeks and weeks.  One day. One look. Nope, not for her. No problem, I said. In fact, I had only sent it out because my husband asked me to. Practically insisted.  He could see that I was being held back by fear, and he wanted me to get past that hurdle as quickly as possible.  I didn't feel ready. And that the work wasn't ready.  But he knew me well enough to know that that feeling would never change.  I would always fear that it wasn't ready. I wanted it to be perfect before sending it out. As if. Pfst!

I've learned a few things since that first and only query and soon I'll be ready to do battle again. The book is stronger. I'm stronger. And I know that what I want is to find it the right home. I'm not going to worry about whether or not someone doesn't like it or why. I'm willing to find the right person who will love it as much as I do. It deserves nothing less.  I deserve nothing less.

How do you view rejections in the publishing world? What are your worst fears when it comes to publishing?

Friday, April 19, 2013


You know what they are: Art Quirk, American Major League Baseball player. Billy Quirk, American silent film actor. Daniel Quick, American professional wrestler---WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. That's not the kind of Quirks I'm talking about, although I have no doubt they lead interesting lives.

I'm talking about quirks: odd mannerisms, peculiarities, something that makes you, YOU. Quirks let you know who you're dealing with, throwing out clues as to their character and demeanor. Or it may cause you to wonder about them even more. You either Love 'em or hate 'em. The quirks, not the people. Unless the quirk is really annoying and then yeah, Hasta la vista, friend.

For writers, quirks are what make people interesting. It's what separates one character from one another. They give you clues as to the perpetrators. Give bullies a purpose in life. They're...quirks.

What are some of your favorite character quirks? Who writes quirkiness really well?

Thursday, April 18, 2013


According to


the quality of being patientas the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, withoutcomplaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to havepatience with a slow learner.
quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.
Cards chiefly British  ) solitaire  def 1 .
Also called patience dock. a European dock, Rumex patientia,  of the buckwheat family, whose leavesare often used as a vegetable.

I did not know some of these definitions.  A card game? Really? *googles up the game* I guess I've always had a more "life-experience" kind of definition. It goes like this: 

According to Karen; aka, Mom, Wife, Writer:

Patience is: a virtue, HARD, not always quiet (especially when the mama bear claws come out). It's a VERB, it takes works. It's actively controlling your emotions and actions. It is not passive. Yes, it is kindness, friendship, and showing love for others.  But it's watching those friends get published, happily, while you...still try. 

It's repeating yourself for the third time to the child who's not listening, because they're not doing it out of spite--the TV's just too loud.  Patience is turning down the TV without yelling at them.  It's something that we seem to expect of others, but want to be forgiven of for our lack thereof. "What, I lack patience? Come say that to my face."  lol  Sorry...couldn't help myself.

Patience is a part of life's great struggle, the part that says, "Don't just do what's right. Do it with the right attitude. You'll be a much better person for it. And bring others with you."

What do writers seem to be the most impatient about? Are we more impatient with ourselves? Or with others?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Opposing Fans

You want to love them. Honestly you do. They bought your book, movie, or ticket to the baseball game. But they can also be our very worst critics. As though buying stock in our lives gives them a right to berate us. Sure, they may have some valid points to make, but I've sadly seen some be down right rude. It worries me.

Um...authors have feelings, too, you guys. Just because you may not like our work, can you be, um...a little kind? Please?

Poor Kim Kardashian lost a few fan over some automated tweets, mistimed amidst the unfolding tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Yes, we need to be careful about our online presence, but it's true that even our best won't always be enough for some people.

Take this heckler at the ball game for example.  He's got a few opinions that he feels entitled to share.  And so does Tony Gwynn, Jr.  Ohhhhhhh, yes.  :)

Reviews and hecklers are difficult things to experience. They've been known to make or break someone's day. I'm on Facebook, I know what I'm talking about.  Even the toughest skin is still skin. It's going to affect us in some way or another.  Most fans are ecstatic, exuberant, waiting in line all night to be one of the first. :) Some are...not so enthusiastic.

I've seen some really wonderful things lately about writers thanking authors, writing letters of gratitude to those who have made a difference in the reader's life.  It's called #ThankAWriter Project headed up by Nathan Bransford and Maggie Mason. You can find out more about it here and how to join the crusade. :) I'm going to do that this week.  They deserve it.

Our thanks shouldn't be just merely buying their book, watching their movie, yelling at players who are just doing their job. When a waiter gives you good service don't you give him a tip? And not the advice kind of tip. I know, some people seem to be full of that. I'm talking about an extra thank you for a job well done.

Do you ever thank authors for the books they've written?  Which books have changed your life the most?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nook, Kindle, Kobo...SPOCK

Reading apps sometimes feels like Rock, Paper, Scissors to me.

Thankfully I have a spock--I mean, iPad.  For those who don't subscribe to Apple products I hope you'll indulge me for just a minute. :)

I am sooo grateful for my iPad. Why?  The reasons are too numerous and it actually fought for a position on the letter "I" day, but Ben Wolverton's needs won out.  Sorry, Apple....

But honestly, it makes my head spin a little to see all the different reading options and hear people complain about how they want this book or this book available in this version or this version because their device doesn't support the others. I get it. I do. Nook is Barnes and Noble, Kindle is Amazon, Kobo is....*excuse me while I go look it up.*  Uh....looks like it's an independent looking to make its place in the market.  I have no idea how it's doing, but the fact it's still around says something I guess.  :)
And yes, I'm aware that the computer can handle them all, but people aren't tied to their computers these days. They're on the move. They want their books to-go! I'll take a Jane Austen with a side of Sarah M. Eden if you please. Thanks!

I love my iPad because it handles them all.  It's the Spock of rock, paper, scissors. Yes, it's a little more pricey than a Nook or Kindle but it also handles ALL my various email one spot. And I can watch videos. And I can chat with people. And Skype. And, and, and...yeah, the list goes on.

Of course I can see why each major book supplier is going to offer and tout their own reading media, but in doing so they run the risk of excluding others. I hear the complaints so I know the problem exists.  As a reader I'm lucky enough not to have to worry about it...yet. But as an aspiring writer my works will need to conform. The reader will have needs. Will I be able to meet them?

What is your opinion on the different reading devices? Too many options? Not enough? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looming Monsters

They’re everywhere: books, deadlines, year-end taxes, poised to make your life miserable. Unless they kill you first.

In writing, there are many monsters you face, holding you back from your goals and killing your dreams. They can have six heads, wings and breathe fire and death. Or they can be small enemies covered in blue: we’ll call them Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. They’re ever present, ever threatening, to steal my your time and make you doubt yourselves. You got an agent and a book deal and movie rights? Excuse me while I go back to bed.

But wait! Monsters aren’t inherently evil, it’s just how people have treated them. It’s not their fault that we forgot our armor, or that someone came along before us and soundly abused them: infusing their walls with mean, nasty thoughts. And yet with the proper strength we can use the monsters for good.  Get them on our side.

Yes, I prefer to take care of my monsters. Nice words, a pat on the back, never overextending my stay, lest they blow fire on me. (I’m sort of flammable.) Sometimes you approach the monster and find other heroes, sharing the same quest and willing to team up. Those are the ones who will have your back, save your life, help you identify the monster and better prepare yourself.

You see, the first few moments that a hero meets the monster isn’t when the attack begins. Nope. You two (or more, if you open multiple browsers like me) are too busy sizing each other up, getting the low-down, and formulating a plan of attack. The outcome? It depends on how strong you are. Can you wish someone well who just fulfilled your dream? I dare you to. Today. J

Because a true hero will formulate their plan before the monster appears. They prepare, have a goal, and then carry it out. It’s a good thing too, because some monsters are well-prepared. They know right where to hit, making or breaking your day dream.

So what are your "favorite" monsters and how do you tackle them? What’s your strategy for teaming up with others? 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kelley Blue Book and the World of Publishing

"This story will knock your socks off."
"Move over Jane Austen, there's a new girl in town."
"I know you will enjoy this new coming of age...yadda, yadda, yadda."

You see it all the time over Facebook, Twitter, and in query letters.  *ahhhh query letters*  Writers touting their wares like they are the best out there. Nothing better.  And they'd be right of course. We should be the biggest cheerleaders of our own work. Having friends on board is even better. Convincing agents and publishers is....rockin'.

But ultimately it's the readers who pick up our work that decide their fate. Whether or not it continues to flourish, be purchased, or even picked up through a free download (a totally legal one of course).

The value of a story is so suggestive, that as we're writing it we may find ourselves questioning its worth. As it fails to entice agents, we question it more. But that doesn't make it worthless. It's like buying or selling a car (or getting reimbursed when a school bus crashes into your vehicle on the first day of school--but we don't have time to go into that here).

Books...they have value. Value that is going to differ depending on who is buying. We go online and see what the bottom line is.  Reviews are great, but can they be trusted? We weigh the facts, find people we trust, and ultimately make our decision and hope we were right.  Industry standard for cars uses Kelly Blue Book. They give you the bottom line facts for what the car is worth. In the publishing world  it's a little more subjective. But still, we have a few trusted sources. There's the New York Times list, Goodreads and Amazon ( in the same?). Not exactly a perfect means by which to measure a book, but you can get a pretty good idea what you're getting. Even some spoilers if you're lucky unlucky.

So what are the best options for book shopping? Let's start by looking at the various options out there.
  • Dealerships promise the buyer a perfect ride. No hiccups, bad editing or missing plot lines. They have that cool "NYT Bestseller" logo on the front that gives us all confidence that we've made the right choice and for writers makes fellow authors drool with envy. Of course that popular car will still fail to entice some. Too flashy. Too expensive. Not their style. 
  • Private sellers offer a more mixed variety, offering their wares for less because they've left out the middle man, but they'll still get you to where you want to go. Some are a little wary without the dealership gaurantee, but after driving it around a while you're confident that you made the right choice. They may even ask someone else's opinion first or check the reviews via the automechanic. Yeah the new paint job may seem sort of amateur, inherently dropping its value, but inside everything works just fine. You're totally happy. 
  • Even in the junkyard, where you dodge painful metaphors and may question the wisdom of your visit, some other shopper is going to leave there and tweet all about his awesome find. "I found the answers to life, the universe and the most awesome hubcap!!! Everyone needs this hubcap. Go buy this hubcap now!" (FYI: if all you do is tout your book everyday on Twitter I won't be following you. Just sayin' :))

Essentially I believe that many books have more value than people give them credit for, and that some well-touted books will never be read by me for various reasons.  But what matters most is the beauty each of us sees in the created work. Finding the joy in the journey and in the stories we read. And you know what?  That's good enough for me. That's what books are for.  Getting paid for our work?  Eh, it's a bonus.

So what frustrates you most about the publishing process? What do you love most about it? Do you ascribe to books based on public opinion alone?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Juggling Life as a Writer

I don't know how people do it. Juggling, that is.  I've spent a lifetime messing with balls, bean bags, and pieces of fruit, but usually give up after getting hit on the head. By the way, that apple should have knocked Newton out. Just sayin'.

Life as a writer is just as hard. Mostly because I'm also a Mom. And a Wife. And a Friend. And up until last year...a student. Yes, after years and years of online, summertime, and full semester classes I finally earned my degree in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. I wrote a Senior Honors Thesis in place of a minor degree. It was hard.  Dang hard.

People asked me how I do it.

I have help of course.

It's like watching the jugglers who involve other people on stage. Sure they can do some cool tricks alone, but they can do SO many more with an extra pair of hands. Such is the case with the rest of us as well. Here how it works:

  • Set a goal. I was six years old when I decided to become a writer. I never lost sight of that dream. Even when our family continued to grow. I figured I was gaining life experience to write about.
  • Do a little everyday.  I didn't get my Bachelor's degree all at once. Beginning to end was about 20 years. The finished product is worth the time you put in. Work hard. Be patient.
  • Give birth to really great kids. :) But seriously. Along with their chores, hugs, and complicated lives, my children also provide me a wealth of ideas, fodder, and beta readings. They rock. Totally and completely. But I also give them their due time. I'm a Mom first, a writer second. Of course the kids LOVE the candy jar I have on my desk. They get to sample some when I'm busy working. It's a reward for THEIR love and support. :)
  • Friends. Get them. Online, real life, whatever. They're invaluable. Invest the time in them.
  • Set a schedule.  I was never a big fan of planning out each hour of my day. Until I tried it one week.  I got SO much work done.  Giving things their due time, and then giving yourself permission to move onto something else, throws all the guilt out the window. 
  • Get out of the house. Even if just for a moment.  Sometimes I'll step foot out the door and instantly be hit with an idea or a scene. A song on the radio will spark some dialogue. I've solved book plots in a ten minute drive. Warning: it was kind of hard to drive through all my tears of joy.  :)
  • Have fun.  If you're not enjoying it, then ask yourself why you're doing it.  Yes, some writing is work and not very fun, *editing-cough cough* but take a look at the story and what you're trying to do.  Even serious articles are driven by this basest emotion. If the article doesn't bring us some measure of joy (making a valid point, entertaining a group, inspiring others to be better), then it will reflect in our writing. And we'll be miserable. 
How do you keep a balance in life with a writing career? Any secrets you're willing to share?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for...YOU!

Today is not about me. Or you. Or those who woke up this morning and whose biggest complaint is that they didn't get enough sleep.

Today is about someone else's child who is still asleep and whose family is hopeful that he'll wake up.

On Wednesday April 3, two boys were long boarding on a path alongside State Route 18, in St. George, one of which subsequently suffered life-threatening injuries from a terrible fall.

From his father, David Farland/Wolverton, Bestselling author, writer mentor, and friend:
About Ben's accident: Ben went long-boarding with a friend up near Snow Canyon, a scenic place with lots of rolling hills. They had never been there before, and Ben's friend, Tyler, went down a steep hill and thought that it was too difficult for Ben's board. He turned around to warn Ben, but by then Ben had already been thrown from his board. 
Apparently, Ben was thrown forward and rolled head-over-heels several times. That's why he crushed his skull (down near the hind brain), and then hit his back hard enough to bruise his lungs, then broke his pelvis/crushed his vertebrae, and so on. Beyond that, he has bad "road burn" on his knees, shoulder, back, hips, and so on, and a split lip. With the concussion, his ear drum broke, and he lost a lot of blood through his left ear and again through his nose.

An ambulance reached him quickly, and stayed with him until a helicopter got there to evacuate him at about 45 minutes. It flew him to the hospital in Saint George, but they don't have the equipment/staff to handle severe head trauma cases, so they administered meds and flew him to Las Vegas.

Ben is still in a coma, but his vitals are stable. They tried feeding him some solids through a tube yesterday, and he held it down well, so they're now starting him on more food. However, he hasn't moved since about 4 hours after the accident. We'll just have to hang on and see if he wakes up.
And on top of their pain they have been uninsurable. So now his family needs our help.

Aside of the joy David's books have brought to others, his Daily Kick in the Pants has been an inspiration to writers everywhere, his pay it forward mentality in much need of some payback. Today. :)  A book bomb is making it's way around through the social-sphere today. Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines are the two main books being focused on. Nightingale is an award winning YA Fantasy and Million Dollar Outlines is for writers everywhere who want to improve their craft.

Consider donating. Consider purchasing a copy (or two). Consider how fortunate you are to have rolled out of bed this morning. :) David is well-deserving of your caring today, as is his son Ben.

You can follow Ben's story and find all the donation links on the website here or on just about any writer's Facebook page that has a connection to Ben or his Dad, David Farland/Wolverton.

Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hootsuite vs Tweetdeck


Seriously. I have to use both to keep up with the twittering world. On occasion, I even need the Twitter site itself.  Why?

I have a Mac.

I love my Mac, don't get me wrong. But the difference in programming can cause the user some mild frustrations. Like with Twitter. It goes something like this:

  • Twitter? How fun!!! Look at all the cool people I've found!! Now how can I follow everyone easily without always logging on? Hmmmm...
  • Hurray for Tweetdeck! And it works on my iPad!
  • Uh...what's with the changes to the functions guys, and what happened to the app on my iPad?!
  • Forget it, I'm going with Hootsuite. It works on both.
  • Or not. Gah! So confusing! Hello Twitter site...uh...why can't I edit my retweets? *sigh*
  • Oh, look! Tweetdeck fixed its mistakes. Let's give it another try. What, still no app for the iPad?
  • Hurray! Hootsuite works on the iPad!  But...uh...not on my new Mac.  PEOPLE!!!!
  • So I guess it's Tweetdeck for my Mac laptop. Hootsuite for my iPad. Hurray?? And oh, I need the Twitter site when I have to borrow hubby's computer. Or add the twitter feed to my blog. (Yup, it's down there on the right a little ways.)

This is what it boils down to for me. I need multiple apps and duplicative networking sites in order to stay in touch. But hey, I guess that's life. :) It's like having multiple children, where there's a different approach I have to take depending on which one I'm interacting with. The message is the same no matter where I go. But getting it across? Well, it's just going to take a little extra patience on my part. :)

How about you? Do you tweet?  Which program suits you best and why? Are you on Twitter? Can I stalk--I mean, can we be friends?

Monday, April 8, 2013


Science Fiction Fantasy
Women's Fiction
Non Fiction
Young Adult


My goodness there are a lot of genres out there.  And I didn't even name them all. But I did have to think about them a lot when I started writing seriously. Asking myself, "What kind of writing was I interested in?"

As a reader, it's pretty much all of the above. Except for horror. Sorry, Mr. King. Just not interested.  Monsters under the bed and all that...

I found my preferred genre by the stories I wrote. I didn't know what or who I was writing for at first.  I merely got an idea and ran with it.  Literally.  I think A LOT when I'm running. My legs already know what to do, so it frees my mind up for brainstorming. :)

After a few stories I realized that I loved my years of being a teenager.  *gasp*  I know...I know...I'm weird.  But it wasn't all the awkwardness of being a teen that I love to remember.  It was the victories.  Coming into your own. Making decisions. Finding the courage and strength and experience to stand on your own two feet.  Because some day every teen will have to do it.

As parents, educators and concerned adults, we long to have the teens act like adults.  Only I think we often forget something important. We were like them once...maybe twice.  :)  We learn the most as teens when we made mistakes, tried to do as we were told, and mucked our way through the conflicting signals and messages we got from adults.  "Be outgoing. Stop interrupting. Speak up! Be quiet. Be more responsible. Do what I say."

It's a wonder anyone ever makes it out of the teen years alive. By all accounts my body did...but according to my writing my head's still in the game.  Maybe because I have a house full of teens right now.  Maybe because I can personally sympathize with them and the pains of growing up. Maybe because deep down inside I think we all still resemble teenagers but don't want to admit it.

Well, I'm here to admit it.  Rock on, teens!  It's a beautiful time for you right now. A fantastic life ahead of you.  The entire world is at your doorstep!!!  Make the most of it! Learn! Have fun! And yeah...try and be a little responsible so you'll live to enjoy many more years of the same.  Even if it means being called an adult. :)

Do you have a favorite genre to read or write in? Are they the same genre?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Friends, Followers, and Fans

I took a break one day and came back to this. Pure joy.
I'm a Mom. A writer. A friend. A follower. A fan.

In the vast world of social media we wear all sorts of hats.  We're bloggers. We're friends. We connect with other writers; offer valuable insights, critiques, and support for their writing. We friend writers we've never met in hopes of meeting, greeting, and networking with them. Then we squeal or fist bump someone when we score their signature or meet them in person. Or when they comment on our status. Right? Uh...maybe that's just me. :)

Or maybe your fan club is related to you.  I am so blessed to have such darling children that are not only my best friends, but followers of my writing career. They cheer me on. Give me a reason to write (or fodder, whether they realize it or not). And they proofread my chapters and squeal in delight.  *sigh* They leave messages on my computer (like the one up above) so that despite my working a lot I know that they're thinking of me. *double sigh*

In the vast world of social media we wear all sorts of hats.  We're friends. We connect with other writers. Offer valuable insights, critiques, and support for their writing. We friend writers we've never met in hopes of meeting, greeting, and networking with them. Then we squeal or fist bump someone when we score their signature or meet them in person. Or when they comment on our status. Right? Uh...maybe that's just me again. :)

I'm wondering what will become of the followers section on blogs, now that the Reader feed is going away. Will we still see/need the visual support? I think it's cool. I like seeing who I'm talking to. Like the little icons by people's comments. *waves at everyone*

I've been so blessed to meet other writers through social media, watch their imaginations take shape, then query, then publish.  It's exciting to watch. Makes me happy for them.  And I feel sort of proud that I was their friend. Before they were famous. Of course I'm still going to get their signature, cause you know. They're FAMOUS. :)

In all, I'm grateful for those who follow my writing journey. The love and support is invaluable.

Thank you. Thank you all!

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Entertainment and Ebert

Roger Joseph Ebert (1942-2013)
  • Journalist, film critic and screenwriter.
  • Co-hosted Sneak Preview (PBS) with Gene Siskel. 
  • Entertaining viewers while critiquing entertainment.
I was still pretty young when I came across "Siskel and Ebert" (as they were fondly referred to in our house). I remember a lot of arguing. They never seemed to agree on anything. It was like watching a political debate over an issue I didn't even know I needed to worry about. I was transfixed, trying to find out how their words affected me.

I can only remember being concerned with shows like E.T., Star Wars, and Goonies (to name a few). I don't remember if they argued over those or not. Or how my parents condoned the time I spent watching two grown men argue on television. Maybe they thought it was educational. Maybe they didn't know I was watching it. :) Of course this was back before the internet, so Siskel and Ebert were one of the few sources for entertainment reviews. And it was PBS, so you was legit. :)

I remember liking Ebert's face. He seemed kind, even when he was debating an issue. I felt bad that I hadn't kept up with his life or the challenges he'd faced. I went in search here, and here to see what else I had missed. It was a lot, I'm sad to say.  I even heard on the radio this morning that he had suffered the loss of his voice some years back. How tragic not to be able to speak for yourself. And yet, with all the new mediums today I know that his voice was still being heard. Still is.

You will be missed Mr. Ebert. You're an icon. A leader in the world of reasoning and talking things out. Educating viewers through your movies and reviews. Opening our eyes to what we might not have otherwise seen.

Thank you, Roger Ebert.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Love them. Don't know why.

I mean, why on earth would I use my "escape time" for reading about the end of the world, government take overs, and the destruction of the Earth itself? Maybe there's something about the fight against all odds (Hunger Games). Surviving in a literally collapsing world (Life as we Knew it).  Cheering for the underdog against the unseen (or very visible) enemy, especially when that person is one's self (Shatter Me and Divergent).

Maybe it's because the dystopian world is looking an awful lot like our own these days. Issues with our health, economy, environmental challenges, and the political unrest that continues to fuel writers' imagination. 1984 anyone? The Giver?

Or is it the other way around? Are books giving people the ideas about how to take over the world? :) Are we in fact fueling the inspiration for the many challenges we now face? It's been said that the power of writers is often underestimated. Makes one it possible? Do we really have that much influence? In some cases, I would hope. It's what drives change. And the dystopian genre. The fight for good against evil. The will to survive.


What do you think?  Do writers have the power to change the world through our words? Or are we merely borrowing from  the age-old cycle of "life" itself. Or is it both?  And what are your favorite dystopians and why?

PS. Congratulations to Leah for winning the bookmark!  Thank you ALL for your helpful and inspiring comments!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crochet, Contests, and Cutting up plot lines

My hands are always busy.

And despite being able to type 120 words per minute, I can only edit a document so fast.  Rearranging words takes A LOT more time.

Unlike crocheting, where you follow a specific pattern and at the end you're done. No rewrite. No change this or tweak that. In fact, you can't just pull a stitch out of an afghan and make it work. Trust me, I've tried. :) Yes, I've made some mistakes along the way and have had to stop to pull out stitches to fix it. And then moved on.

With books, that is harder to do. And it's not always wise to edit as you go. So much beauty comes from letting the story unfold and discovering some things you might not have otherwise. It's fantastic. But it can also be kind of messy when you're done and have to work even harder to make it look pretty.

So currently, I find myself editing the first book of a series I've been working on. It's tough. It's loooooong. It needs large sections cut out to help with the flow.

It is not an afghan.

BUT, I'm tackling the process of editing it in the same way I finished my daughter's afghan in a month. The finished afghan was almost queen size by the time I was done. I didn't plan it that way. Just got kind of carried away. Unlike my book though, the size totally worked. My daughter loved it.  The needs to be smaller.

I finished the afghan in a month because I worked on it in little chunks. Ten rows while the son was at Karate. *Hi, Son...yarn over, pull through, pull through again.* I worked on it while "listening" to a movie with the family.

Essentially, I worked on it in small pieces.

You know the old adage, how do you eat an Elephant?  The answer is: one bite at a time.  And as such, I will finish this edit. One. Chapter. At. A. Time.  It's a looooong and tedious process, but eventually, like the afghan, I will be finished and I'll look at my pretty book and go, "Huh, yeah, that was worth it."

To motivate myself and thank all my friends, I've involved the fans of my Facebook page in my endeavor.  For every chapter I edit I've been picking a winner from the list and sending them a crocheted bookmark, made by yours truly.  Because sometimes it's nice to have a little support. If you want to get in on the fun, by all means. Come join in! Here!

Meanwhile, I'll pick one lucky winner from the commenters here and send you a bookmark. Just to say thanks for dropping by and making it to the end of this post.  :)  And don't forget to include your email so I can contact you! Thanks for visiting!!!!

So how do you edit?  Do you edit as you go, or after a finished draft? How long does it take you on average?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blogger vs WordPress

The debate seems endless. And at times a little pointless.  I mean, it should be the content that matters not how the reader views it, right?

Let's take a look and see why it matters so much.

Blogger Pros:

  • Widespread users
  • Integration with Google apps
  • Easy gadget, posting, template manipulation
  • Reader feed into one place
  • Email list capabilities
  • Custom Domain name routing option
Blogger Cons:
  • Amateurish look
  • Third party templates not always compatible with Blogger
  • Reader feed disappearing in May
  • Same look for each page (unlike a website)
There are probably more for each category. Now for the other guy...

WordPress Pros:
  • Professional looking templates
  • Widgets
  • Email list capabilities
  • Custom Domain naming abilities
WordPress Cons:
  • Template manipulation requires knowledge of coding
  • Limited widgets and sometimes difficult to manipulate
  • May lock up on you and force you to copy and paste everything into Blogger  :)
Yeah...I used to be a WordPress blogger, had it routed to a custom domain and everything. I was sitting pretty...until it locked up on me and I couldn't get it to respond to ANYTHING.  I know this is probably rare, but it was frustrating. So I switched back to blogger and I've been much happier since.

A lot of the pros and cons that I weighed for the two main blogging options seem very similar in pros and cons. Even contradicting themselves on occasion. And yet if you talk to individuals who have used both, they will usually favor one over the other for various reasons.   "I like the templates better." "I don't like Google. Period." "I want to have it integrated with my website."

The list seems to go on and on.  And in cases like this I'm always grateful to other authors and professionals who seem to have a leg up on some of the finer points of why some might be better than others, though ultimately it comes down to user preference (in my opinion).  Kristin Lamb wrote a great blog article, just today, on the difference between and  It's definitely worth taking a look at if you're looking at a professional website and want to know your options.  

But when it all comes down to it, I'm not swayed very much by where the link I follow takes me. I'm looking for content and contests and the fun little nuggets that bring a smile to my face. And with that...

Happy Blogging!!  

And in answer to yesterday's question? I dislike the color yellow very much. It's okay for the sun and all, but if you ask me to wear it, decorate my house with it, or any other such absurdity...well, just be prepared for a dirty look.  :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for...ME!

Happy A to Z Challenge month! Today's letter is brought to you by yours truly. Really.  My last name starts with an A, so introducing myself seemed like a good way to start this month off with a bang. :)

BUT there's a catch. One of these things is not true. I mean, after IS April Fool's day. Can you guess which one it is?   :) And here we go...

  • I have 9 brothers and 1 sister. And LOVE it. :)
  • I have 7 children of my own. And LOVE them.
  • I have a very very very patient husband. 
  • I graduated last May (2012) with my Bachelor's Degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. It was tough. It was worth it. My family rocks for helping to make it happen.
  • I love reading and writing. A LOT.
  • I can type 120 words per minute.
  • I write for the Young Adult crowd because, well... they rock. There's no end to the fodder my children bring home, and of course I still daydream about what my childhood COULD have been like...if I'd been, you know, braver. :)
  • I'm pretty brave, actually, and spent a lot of time in my youth getting bandaged up.
  • In High School I ran Track and Cross Country, but scared away most boys by my ability to jump hurdles and throw 15 pound hunks of metal across the field. Yeah...did I mention I grew up in a family of boys?
  • My husband was apparently attracted to girls who could throw hunks of metal across the field.
  • I love chocolate, but not as much as I did when I was younger. 
  • I love to crochet.
  • I never wear the same hairstyle for more than a year. That would be BOOOOOOOOORING. 
  • I love the color yellow. (cough...gag...cough...gag)
  • I loooooooove the color blue.
  • I love trying new things. As in...Every. Day.
  • I'm so glad you've made it to the end of this list. YOU ROCK!!  (hint: this is not the untrue one. I really am glad you made it this far)