Monday, December 17, 2012

Back-up Plans

*So we had guests over for dinner last night. 5:00 sharp.

And unfortunately they had to run at 5:45, so it was critical we be ready on time. And yes, you can probably see where this is going.

At 4:55 we pulled the (whole) chicken out of the crockpot. I whipped up the gravy while Darling Husband cut the thing.

The door-bell rang. Our guests came in. We smiled and ushered them to the table when my husband uttered those dreaded words.


Yep. Bad news.

Chicken NOT cooked.

My face turned red, but I smiled graciously at our guests and apologized (which they waved away very graciously as well).

"But no worries!" I said. "We'll just move on to our back-up plan. Which is . . . ummm . . . . which is . . ."

Uh yeah, I had nothing.

And then I remembered the frozen homemade soup. Not enough for everyone, but enough for them since they couldn't wait.

"Soup! Our backup is soup!"

Of course everything was fine. We still had the rolls which went perfectly with the soup, and they didn't utter a single protest as we sat there and watched them eat (in truth, we had pleasant conversation about Christmas traditions -- and I didn't have to worry about talking with my mouth full!).

So the point of all this? This is the second time a meal has gone wrong on me, and both times soup came to the rescue. So the point?

Always keep a container of frozen soup in your freezer, and everything will end well. :)

And maybe keep a notebook handy to record the fodder for a scene in a future book. Who knows, It just might save you one day!

P.S. I will be taking a blogging break over the Christmas holiday and will see you all back here in January. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

*Yeah, the picture has nothing to do with this post, but I liked it and wanted to use it. Isn't it pretty? :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quinn's Cookie Exchange

Today I'm participating in Quinn's Cookie Exchange. Quinn is the MC of Angela Felsted's recently released YA novel, CHASTE.

I am sharing my famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. And yeah, you may have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but this one is better. (IMHO) ;)

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

2 ¼ C. flour
1 t.       baking soda
½ t.      salt
1 C.     butter softened (not melted)
¾ C.    packed brown sugar
½ C.    granulated white sugar
2 t.       vanilla extract
1          egg
1          (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I usually use a lot less).

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl; set aside.  Cream butter, brown and white sugar in a large mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg; beat well.  Gradually add in flour mixture; mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand.  Drop by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown (We like them just before they turn brown so they're super chewy). Drop the pan of cookies onto the floor (face-up obviously) to make the cookies dense and chewy.  It sometime takes a couple of tries to get them to drop all the way.  Be sure it's on a carpeted surface and if you use a baking stone, be sure to remove the wire holder before you drop it. Move cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield: approximately 3 dozen cookies.  

Okay, I'm sure you just skimmed the recipe, but I am making a note here that is VERY important. The trick to making these the best cookies ever is DROPPING THEM. Yep. Drop the whole pan on the ground (from about a foot up). If you fail to do this, the cookies will be Meh. So don't skip it!

And in case you haven't read the blurb for CHASTE yet, here you go:

When he steps into his physics class on the first day of senior year, Quinn Walker is too exhausted from staying up all night with his three-month-old nephew to deal with moral dilemmas. As a devout Mormon who has vowed to wait until marriage for sex, the last thing he needs is a very hot and very sexy Katarina Jackson as his physics partner. Regrettably, he has no choice.

Kat feels invisible in her mansion of a home six months after losing her older brother in a fatal car crash and will do anything to get her parents’ attention. Since her pastor father has no love for Quinn’s “fake” religion and her ex-boyfriend refuses to leave her alone, she makes an impulsive bet with her friends to seduce her holier-than-thou lab partner by Christmas.
Congratulations, Angela!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Day in the Life: Weekend Vacation

This past weekend, I took my family on a mini-vacation. Okay. I thought it would be a vacation, but that's not exactly how it turned out. Here's a summary of what took place:

8:00 AM

Pack, pack, pack.

Remember email I forgot to send.

Write email . . . Oh, look at the pretty Twitter . . .

11:00 AM

Drag myself away from the computer.

ME: "Shoes on everyone! Go to the bathroom! Move! Move! Move!"

CHILD: "But I don't have to go to the bathroom! I WON'T GO TO THE BATHROOM!"

ME: "Just do it! . . ." Blah, blah, blah, channeling my parents, etc.

Buckle all kids in the car.

ME: "Wait! I forgot the camera, let me just run in and grab it." Oh, dishes in the sink . . . can't leave dirty dishes . . .

12:00 PM

Drive off.

12:10 PM

CHILD: How long have we been driving now?

12:11 PM

CHILD: How long have we been driving now?

12:11:30 PM

CHILD: How long have we been driving now?


1:00 PM

CHILD: "I have to go to the bathroom, and I can't wait!"

Grumble, grumble, lecture.

1:05 PM

Stop at gas station. Make sure EVERYONE goes to the bathroom.

1:30 PM

3rd CHILD: "I have to go poopy!"


4:30 PM

Pull in to Hotel parking lot.

HUSBAND: "This is where we're staying?

4:45 PM

CHILDREN: "I'm bored! Can we turn on the TV?"


Game of tag begins over bed, through bathroom, under my feet.

 Uncontrolled laughter.

High-pitched screeching.

4:50 PM

Turn on the television.

9:30 PM

Climb into bed.

10:00 PM


Climb out of bed, put 2nd child back in bed.

Get back in bed.

10:15 PM


Climb out of bed, put 2 children back in bed.

10:30 PM


2nd child gets back in bed on his own. On the wrong side.

Lays back . . . THUMP . . .

2nd CHILD: "Owww!"

Climb out of bed, put child back in bed.

11:00 PM

3rd child climbs into our bed.

11:30 PM

Wake up to an elbow in the head.

12:00 AM

 Wake up to find child sleeping on husband's head.

3:31 AM

Stare at clock and wonder why I can't sleep!

3:32 AM

Feel springs poking me and remember why.

3:33 AM

Decide there is no way we are staying the second night.

6:30 AM





2:00 PM

Decide to try local amusement park before getting an early start home.

Purchase tickets online. Non-refundable.

Pull onto road for the 2 minute drive and discover that everyone else in the whole town made the same decision.

"I'm bored!"

"I'm bored!"

"This is no fun!" 

4:30 PM

Arrive at amusement park.

Fight through crowds.

Ride rides.

7:00 PM

Christmas parade

8:00 PM 

Get in line for bus back to parking lot

9:00 PM

Arrive in parking lot.

Drive home

10:30 PM

Stop for gas. Potty break.

11:00 PM

Pull over to side of road for potty break.

11:30 PM

"Help! Dad, help! My stomach hurts!"

Pass back a plastic bag.

12:30 AM

Arrive home, send kids up to bed.

12:31 AM

Go inside.

ME: "What is that awful smell?"

12:32 AM

Head upstairs. Discover trail of puke up stairs toward my room.

1:00 AM

Finish cleaning puke. Vow to buy a carpet cleaner.

Vow to reconsider next vacation.

Tuck children into bed.

2nd CHILD: "Mom, this was the best day ever."

Vow to reconsider reconsidering next vacation.

So how was your weekend?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Infiltrated by Gremlins*



A certain gremlin* kept me up last night, and I made the mistake of falling asleep on the couch today while my computer was still running. I know I should erase the message the gremlin* left on my blog (surely scolding me for sleeping when I should be paying attention to said gremlin*), but the post and the comments I woke up to made me laugh so hard, I couldn't do it.

Instead, take this as a warning. Gremlins are about!

 *3-year old

Monday, November 26, 2012

Feeling Lucky

To state the obvious, I didn't post last Monday. What with the Thanksgiving frenzy that starts at least a week before the actual day, it just didn't happen.

We had family coming to celebrate the holiday with us, so that meant it was finally time to shrug off my writer's mantra (being: Write first, clean later). Yeah, that was a good thing. My floor even got mopped. Laaaaa! (*read that: heavenly choir bursts into song*)

Anyway, they came and we talked, watched movies, played games, made a farce of going outside (with the freezing wind), and ate WAY too much---turkey, stuffing, cheese, gravy, potatoes, pies (and I know some of you are thinking that the cheese doesn't really fit on that list, but let's just say you don't know my husband and his brother!). In short it was wonderful.

And I was feeling all kinds of grateful for everything in my life. Just like the license plate I saw:


In fact, I've been thinking a lot about this, lately. I do feel lucky. Lucky to have a hard-working husband who loves me. Lucky to have 3 beautiful kids who are still happy to hold my hand and give me hugs. Lucky to have wonderful extended family including in-laws I love. Lucky to have a job I can do from home. Lucky to have writing in my life. Lucky to have an agent. Lucky to have so many friends scattered all over the world (many of whom I've never met . . . and uh, yeah, that would be all of you guys!). Lucky.

The thing is, my life is not perfect. In fact, far from it. I have struggles and hardships. Bad things happen to me and to people I love all too often (and uh, read that as understatement). I worry that I make wrong decisions (and I'm not talking the red-shirt/blue-shirt kind). I worry that I don't do enough for others. I worry that I don't keep in touch with my friends and family enough. And on and on.

But I still feel lucky.

Because I think "luck" (or perhaps a better word is "blessings") is there for the finding. Even in the hard stuff. It's just a matter of looking.

What do you guys think?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Where Does "Funny" Come From?

In October I went to a conference where I had a chance to participate in a critique group. After reading my piece, a member of the group asked where my humor came from.

When I looked askance (great 3-point word, no?) at her, she clarified her question. "For example, are your siblings funny? Your parents? Where does your ability to be funny come from?"

I'd never really thought about humor as something that could be transferred through DNA before. So I considered the question. And I mean, sure my parents and siblings have their moments of funny, but I doubt any of them could have a career as a comedian (Note: If any of you are reading this, I didn't mean that. You could totally have a career as a comedian. Just today I heard about a prototype for pig-wings. ; ) You still love me, right?)

I think I uttered something about getting punchy at night, but it does make one wonder. Where does a sense of humor come from? Is it innate? Learned behavior? What do you think?

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoReviMo 2012

I have known about NaNoWriMo for about 4 years now. And I have never done it.

My mini-writing challenge with Leigh Moore last March told me that I would pretty much stink at it. Like a lot.

Last year at this time, I was just gearing up for some major revisions on my book, and I was fortunate enough to discover a group working on revisions instead of writing. We called our November NaNoReviMo.

Ironically, many of us are in the same boat this year, so we have rebanded. Jessie Humphries is keeping us organized, so if you're interested in joining, go check out her blog and shoot her an email.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is that we are supposed to publicly announce our revision goals to keep us accountable and junk like that, so here are my revision goals for this month:
  • Finish revisions on PB&JF and send them to my agent.
  • Finish revisions on my WIP (currently in round 2 of revisions) and send to my beta readers.
  • Find a shiny new idea to begin outlining.
I know I should be more specific with daily goals, but since I'm super close on everything but the last one,  my daily goal is simply to work on one of these three things. Six days a week. Definitely do-able!

So what are your writing goals this month?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cover Reveal: Rouge by Leigh Moore

I know, I know. I'm here AGAIN this week. But when my uber-talented friend, Leigh T. Moore, invited me to be part of her cover reveal for Rouge, well, it was a no-brainer. So without further ado:

Ta daaa!!! Isn't it awesome?!! Congratulations Leigh! So very excited for you. :D

Set to be released Nov. 11, here's the blurb:
A New Orleans chanteuse must decide between saving herself (and her young charge) from the brothels by marrying her well-heeled suitor, or following her heart and marrying a poor stagehand

And if you haven't gotten to know Leigh yet, here's where you can learn more about her:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy Relief Kidlit Auction

Hey ya'll, I know I don't usually show up on a Thursday of all things, but just wanted to alert you to a Kidlit auction to benefit Red Cross in the wake of Sandy.

The amazingly organized Jen Malone has mobilized the kidlit community and all kinds of amazing writerly things are up for grabs. Here's a sampling:
  • Query and first 5 page-critique from Agent Kathleen Rushall
  • 1st chapter critique for MG work by NYT best-selling author Adam Gidwitz
  • Three chapter critique by Agent Julia Alexandra Weber
  • Thirty-minute "ask anything" phone call with Agent Holly Root
And I could go on and on and on, but I won't because that would waste precious time here when you could be bidding on a fabulous item over at Jen's blog. So for details about how it works, go HERE. You've got until Wednesday, November 5 at 5PM EST.

And please, spread the word so we can really help out those suffering after that Frankenstorm.

Okay, okay, and I should mention . . . I've joined with a group of agented up-and-coming authors to offer a critique of the first 20 pages. No pressure! But if you want to take a peek, go HERE.

But most importantly, go bid, and spread the word!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween!

From the annals of My Halloweens Past:
  • Longest my candy ever lasted: until February (unless you count the gross stuff)
  • Shortest my candy ever lasted: until December
  • Best costume in humor category: gum on the bottom of a shoe
  • Best costume in the cute category: cowgirl (yeah, I was a tom boy. No princesses here)
  • Worst costume: clown (I cried until my mom took it off)
  • Most Recent costume: Geisha
  • Best treat received: $1 bill
  • Worst treat received: toothbrush
  • Age I stopped trick-or-treating: 13
  • Age I was first questioned about being too old to trick-or-treat: 10
  • Most times I trick-or-treated in a year: 1
  • Most time my children have trick-or-treated in a year: 4
  • Parent tax demanded of me: all my Almond Joys and Mounds
  • Current "parent tax" I charge my children: 2 pieces of my choosing (but they usually give me more)
Happy Halloween ya'll!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Traditions

Growing up, one of my favorite October family traditions was making caramel apples. We'd buy a bag of caramel cubes and my siblings and I would race to see who could unwrap the most before they were gone.

We'd dump them in a pan and wait and wait and wait for the cream and caramels to go from this:

. . . to this.


I was the fourth child so I had to wait FOREVER for my turn, but then I'd get to drip (what was left of) that melty goodness over my apple on a stick.

The tradition is so ingrained in me, it's like it's not really Fall until we've made caramel apples.

I could go on about how important traditions are and ask you what your characters' traditions are, etc., but my mind can't focus that far when the gooey caramelly picture is staring me in the face. So instead, I'll keep it simple: What's your favorite Fall tradition?

P.S. The fabulous, wonderful, amazing Brenda Drake invited me for an interview on her blog. If you've got time, check it out! :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lenny's Birthday Bash

If you haven't noticed from all the blogosphere love, today is Lenny Lee's 13th birthday. Happy Birthday Lenny! So I wanted to share my Lenny Top Ten. You ready for this?

Top Ten Things I've Learned from Lenny
  1. Be yourself. If you've had contact with Lenny, you know that his bright soul shines through all his posts and comments. He's so purely him,
  2. Be positive. A corollary to #1. All the positivity not only makes others happier, but it makes you happier, too.
  3. If you want to improve your writing, study hard then share what you learned with others. If you haven't read Lenny's posts on writing, you are missing out. I learn a ton from him!
  4. Old-fashioned snail mail letters never go out of style. I have gotten a letter or two from him, and gosh they put a goofy grin on my face!
  5. Raccoons are cute. Well, not so cute when they tear open your garbage and throw it everywhere, but I can love them anyway because Lenny does. :)
  6. Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner is awesome. I read this book because Lenny so highly recommended it. A very fun read!
  7. You reap what you sow. Okay, this is a corollary to #1 and #2. Lenny gets so much love from the blogosphere because he gives so much love.
  8. It's always a good time to eat Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups. Okay, I knew this one before I met Lenny, but he really reinforced it for me. :)
  9. Southern charm is real! And Lenny has it. What with his "Miss" Janet (or whoever), and his "hugs" . . . Gosh it's all so charming it just melts my heart.
  10. You're never too small/young/insert-other-limiting-adjective-here to make a difference. Lenny has influenced so many people, it's amazing. I hope to be like him when I grow up. (Though, do children's writers ever really grow up?)
Happy Birthday Lenny! I hope it is a happy one. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

How I Got My Agent

First of all, thank you to everyone who stopped by to wish me congratulations last week! It's such a great feeling having so many supportive friends. :) I'm still working through the comments, but I might be slow. So in the mean time, know that every comment was VERY appreciated!

Anyhoo, last week you got the short version of my news, so today, for those who like this sort of thing (I always do), I give you the long version. I totally understand if you skim. Because it's long. Especially for me!

Many moons ago, when I was but a wee lass, I wrote a book. It was amazing. A best seller. Humorous. Touching. Emotional. Gripping from page one. (Okay, I'm lying. It was TERRIBLE. But that's how I felt about it.)

I queried precisely one agent. And I got precisely one partial request . . . and then an exceedingly kind rejection. And I KNEW. I put that book on a shelf and moved on to the next book.

The next book took me . . . um, A LOT of years to write. Because by golly, I was going to get it right this time! I entered one pitch contest, and got one full request (I know! Crazy, right?). And then I got the rejection. And I KNEW. This book was not ready. I tried to fix this one, but just never felt ready to let it go. So I moved on to the next book.

Except, really, I moved back to the previous book. I re-read it. Groaned at how awful it was. But I saw the spark in my characters. I replotted. Made my darling husband talk plot points on date night. Carried a notebook with me everywhere so I could write in every spare minute. But before I was done, I sent the first ten pages to be critiqued by an agent at a conference.

And people, you are going to laugh, but I got a full request! So I worked even harder and finished the first draft (I use the term loosely). I edited it, polished it, and finally sent it off (Jan. 2011). And then . . .? Nothing. So I took a deep breath and began querying in March. Slowly. V-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y. And I got some requests, but one by one, they all came back as rejections.

Something had to be done. Come October 2011, I battled in an online auction for an editor critique. I paid my money, and got some fabulous advice. But alas, it meant major revisions. So I dug in, and by February 2012, I was raring to go again. So I sent off ten more queries, and got a couple of requests. I even e-mailed some agents who had rejected the full, and they all agreed to look at it again. I was feeling good!

But when those rejections came, I was crushed. CRUSHED. I came to the only conclusion I could. My book was not ready. Irrational, I know, but there we have it. I stopped querying last April.

So I threw my heart into my next book which I am absolutely in love with. And this time I was feeling it. This was going to be THE book. My breakthrough.

Halfway through draft two of THE book, I got an email from a former CP telling me how she had given her novel one last shot and actually gotten an agent. I was so happy for her, and so humbled. Deep down, I knew I hadn't really given my previous book a chance. So I told myself: "One last hurrah. And then I can't say I didn't try."

Right about this same time Brenda Drake was starting Pitch Madness. 300 entries. 60 finalists. 9 agents.

I entered, and was lucky enough to be pulled from the slush by Dee and chosen as a finalist by Erica Chapman.

Now see, I had read all the agent bios. One had already rejected this ms, and 3 or so didn't do Middle Grade. Of the remaining 5, based on interests, I thought I'd probably get one request. Two if I were particularly lucky.

That week I bit my nails (which I DON'T do), followed the #pitchmadness twitter conversation religiously, and tried my best to sleep at night. And of course I told myself, "It's not like anything's going to come of this. Even if I do get a request."

Yeah. Pessimist, much?

The day arrived. With shaking hands I went to twitter for the announcement of which agent won each entry. But my entry didn't come up. They skipped right past my number. I felt sick. But wasn't it just the inevitable? No interest. More of the same.

Dejected, I went to my entry just to make it real, and my jaw dropped to the floor to find that SIX of the nine agents had expressed interest! SIX!!! Including the one who had previously rejected it. And including an agent I KNEW didn't rep middle grade. There had been a tie, which is why my entry hadn't been announced.

I was agog. I must have stared at that screen for a full minute with my mouth still hanging open.

Anyway, to bring this epically long post to an end, I ended up with three requests in addition to the winner. One of those being the agent who had previously rejected this book.

So when I received an e-mail from the said agent a mere six days later, I assumed she had finally realized her mistake.

I could not have been more wrong. She wanted to talk representation!

I know!

We had a wonderful telephone conversation in which she told me what she loved about my ms (among other things), and though I tried to keep an open mind for the other agents still reading, I knew I wanted to work with her. And if you haven't guessed by now, yes, this was Victoria Marini. SHE WAS THE AGENT WHO HAD REJECTED THIS VERY SAME BOOK! Form rejection of the query, no less.

I tell you this because I had written her off. She hadn't like it. So even though I'd done a major revision, I had no plans to re-query her.


Writing a book is a bold endeavor. It takes hard work, patience, and lots of courage. And querying is no different. Be bold! Be brave! BE BRAVER THAN ME. Don't be afraid of a 'no' . . . or even a second 'no'.

And there I shall end, but for those who like stats, here are mine. I've combined contest requests with queries, just to make it less convoluted:

Time spent querying: 9 months actively (over span of 1.5 years)
Total queries sent: 63 (fyi, I only sent 55 queries, the rest were requests from contests)
Query Rejections: 28
Non-responders: 20
Partial requests:  8
Full requests: 9
Offers of Representation: 1

It just takes one, right? Don't give up. And BE BOLD!

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Big News!!

Yes!!! This is THAT big news: I. Have. An. Agent! *insert cheesy grin and maybe a squee or two*

I know! Cool, right?

And do you know how hard it was not to say anything last week?!! Well I assure you, it was hard.

So who is this agent you ask? The wonderfully fabulous Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc.

She read my manuscript in one sitting guys. And when she e-mailed me, she used words like "wonderful," "marketable," and "fabulous." I've read others' experiences so many times, and wondered if an agent could ever really love my little book enough to offer representation. Seriously, I am all agog at the fantastickness of it.

I have a whole long "How I Got My Agent" post written out in my head with all kinds of thanks involved which I'm sure will be coming shortly, not to mention a celebration of some sort, but for now I give you the mandatory 'I'm-signing-my-contract' picture. (And yes, my desk is always that clean. Why do you ask?) 

So what is your good news, today?

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Last week I was tagged by both Amy Sonnichsen (my Hacky Sack Club Partner-in-crime) and Stina Lindenblatt (one of my favorite bloggers) for the latest tag game going around: The Next Big Thing! Like Stina, I'm going to hold off on my WIP, but I will share about one of my labors of love: 

What is your working title of your book?

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Friendship

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Forever ago I wrote a terrible book about a girl whose best friend had to move. Terrible. It may or may not have come from personal experience. ;) So when I pulled it out and reexamined the plot, foreclosures were ravaging the US, and a new story was born.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Middle Grade.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't watch TV and I'm horribly behind on watching movies, so all the kid actors I once knew of are now grown up, so I don't know. Yeah, yeah, cop out answer, but honest!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When selling her appendix on e-bay doesn’t work, ten-year-old Annie Jenkins seeks other ways to save her best friend’s house from foreclosure.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully represented by an agency. ;)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?

If you count that horrible, awful version I mentioned above, I wrote the bulk of it in a month, though the first chapter had been written about 7 years prior to that.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think it has similar themes to WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET, but Annie is very much like RAMONA.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Egad. I'm a little embarrassed to admit (which I think you'd understand if you read the book), but much of what happens was inspired by my own childhood. However, the larger themes are very much influenced by the rocky economic situation the world is going through. I really wanted to explore how foreclosures were affecting the kids who are touched by them.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Well after that last answer, I better come up with something good before ya'll fall asleep on me. So let's just say that this book involves pirates and lost treasure, not to mention prune juice and turkey poop. What's not to love?! ;)

And I am tagging (no pressure tags here):

Melissa Sarno
Old Kitty
Theresa Milstein
Vicki Rocho
Lenny Lee


Rules of The Next Big Thing:

*Use this format for your post
*Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged. Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Monday, September 24, 2012

This vs. That: Stay-up-late vs. Get-up-early

First, I want to thank everyone for their great reading suggestions from last week. In fact, I think you are inspiring me to add another page to my blog. Something along the lines of "Book Suggestions." The idea is definitely swirling in my brain.

Now on to the subject at hand as a This vs. That post is LONG overdue. So, without further ado, I will jump to the numbers. As you recall, we were debating the finer points of staying up late vs. getting up early:

Total votes: 21

Stay up late: 10 votes; 47%
Get up early: 7 votes; 33%
Neither: 2 votes; 10%
Both: 2 votes; 10%

Clearly we have a couple of crazies with us. Both? Egad you two are gluttons for punishment. At the very least, I hope you sneak in a nap somewhere. OR, I guess if you have superpowers, that would work, too.

Ooh! Random thought: Next time someone asks, "If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?" I am totally choosing the superpower of not needing sleep. Wouldn't that be awesome??? Think about how much you could accomplish!

Okay, okay, back to the subject . . . Other than those two bizarre votes, these results are as they should be (so hopefully you can guess where I voted). As one commenter said (and I'm paraphrasing), the glory of staying up late is that you have this huge supply of extra time you can take advantage of! And don't we all need extra time? (*wink,wink*)

On the other hand, if you get up early, the day starts at the same time, just like every other morning and you get no extra time. Why not? Because you had to get up early to make up for the lost time of going to bed early. Seriously. Think about that.

But not for too long, because you have to make some decisions on the next debate:




Picture courtesy of Reb Sumner

Monday, September 17, 2012

Winner and a Question

Today I have winners for my giveaway of Leigh Moore's The Truth about Faking.

And drumroll please . . . . .

Beth who blogs at Of Muses and Meringues


Amy Sonnichsen who blogs at The Green Bathtub

Hurray and congratulations! Just let me know what format you would like (see that "Contact Me" page up top?) and I'll have it off to you.

Now, next item on the agenda. So I have this 8-year-old who has recently turned into a voracious reader, and I mean VORACIOUS! I'm talking zombie-piranha here. He has ripped through pretty much every book in my personal library, and a good number from the library as well.

He's gone through The Lightning Thief series (and its spin-offs), The Magic Tree House series, The Secrets of Droon series, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Prydain series, the Molly Moon series, gosh just more than I can name.

So I need suggestions. What books would you recommend for an 8-year-old boy?

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Truth about Faking (and a Giveaway!)

Many moons ago I wrote this post which led to a series of emails, a couple of nicknames, and a blogging bestie who is now my writing buddy/critique partner/cheerleader/generally fabulous friend. And if you don't recognize the picture, I present you Leigh T. Moore!

So when she released The Truth about Faking last week (you can read the whole story >>here<<), I begged her to let me interview her and happily she agreed. 

But since she's told her publishing story elsewhere, I wanted to show you the heart and other sticky stuff that make Leigh and her writing just so loveable. *Warning: Silliness May Ensue*

Me: If you were a character in THE WIZARD OF OZ, who would you be?

OMG! I am a character on TWOO. I'm Glenda the Good Witch. Seriously. First, because I can sing that whole song starting with "Come out, come out whereeeever you are..." But also because when we were in college, my husband and I never dated--we were just friends. But we both really loved Wild at Heart (David Lynch). It's a really awful movie, but we would laugh at all the silly dialogue, including the part where Nicholas Cage is visited by the dead girl from Twin Peaks as Glenda. "The good witch...!" That became me for whatever reason.  

Me: I shall see you differently forever after, Glenda! And I shall get you a wand for your birthday. :)

Me: Jolly Green Giant vs. Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man. Go.

JGG, of course. Reasons: #1-Stay Puffed is haunted. Didn't you see Ghostbusters? (heehee! love that movie!) #2-That Giant is hot. I'm just sayin. Have you checked him out? And finally, #3-JGG kinda looks like "jiggy" to me.  

Me: How do you take your banana splits?

You know, I don't really care for banana splits. Now if you made that a Bananas Foster... 

*madly Googles Bananas Foster . . .*

Me: What is your best party trick?

I can dance like Coco the Bird Lady from Freaks.  

*face burns red as I turn to Google again . . . who *gasp* fails me!!!*

Me: Ahem. If you were planning the next Hacky Sack Club challenge, what would it be and why?

Dance like Coco the Bird Lady from Freaks. Because I would win. 

Me: Oh yes, I think you would. But now it's like an expectation. Do it! Do it! Do it! ;)

Me: During your Fairy Relocation Housing Project, how many fairies did you provide housing for and how did you discover the need? 

Well, I'm glad you asked about this, and I know it was prompted because you are the Clean Up Fairy (eek! You outed me!). I have to credit my youngest daughter for this outreach. She often walks around seeming to ignore me and the world in general. I'll say, "Laura, where are your pants?" And she'll walk into a wall. Then last spring, we discovered it was in fact the fairies distracting her. They were telling her they needed new homes. As for numbers, well, they don't like us to share that information. It was between a trifle and a bonanza. 

Me: Please thank said daughter. The house is fabulous, darling, simply fabulous. Tell her I'll leave a pot of fairy grease in the hollow log in the magic forest for those head bumps. Works wonders!

Me: Tell us one thing about you we probably don't know (we promise not to tell anyone, bwahahah!). 

I tell so much, is it possible to answer this question? Umm... I uhh... well, let me see. I took classical piano lessons for 12 years. That's why I think I type so fast. (That's not very exciting is it? I also have a tattoo of Glenda the Good Witch on my... just kidding! That's a joke.) 

Me: Sensing another Hacky Sack video in your future!

Me: Okay, you knew I had to ask this one . . . if your Main Characters had personalized plates, what would they be? What would yours be?

Oh, wow. Jason would totally have personalized plates because he's a car geek. It would be something classic like muscle cars are great or something--except it would be cool b/c he's much cooler than me. Maybe it would be something with Harley's name, because he loves to tease her about it. As for me... Uhh... Writrgrl? Is that dumb? Or 1 Moore? (That IS dumb! How many letters are in a personalized plate again?)

Haahahah! . . . *cough, cough* . . . I mean, not dumb at all! Really. I think I've even seen WRTRGRL before. :) (Oh, and 7 to 8 letters depending on what state you're in. I think I even saw 9 once. #I'malicenseplategeek)

THANKS so much for having me, Janet! I really hope everyone gets a kick out of my book. My characters are funnier than me. [And she put a cute little heart here that my blog is rejecting. That doesn't say anything about me, does it? ;)]
---Leigh, thanks so much for answering my crazy questions and for just being you. In congratulations, I will be giving two lucky commenters a copy of her book (format of their choice). Hurray! *throws confetti in air* Giveaway closes at midnight EDT on Saturday, September 15 and I'll announce the winners next Monday. No requirement to tweet/sidebar/blog about this, but we would love it if you did!

The Truth about Faking: 

Jason just wants a date with Harley.
Harley just wants a date with Trent.
Trent's still getting over Stephanie.

When Harley and Jason decide to fake date, they uncover a school of deceptions. Trent's got a secret, but so does Jason. And the more time Harley spends secretly kissing her fake boyfriend, the further she gets from her dreams with Trent.

Worst of all, Harley's mom is getting cozy with her hot massage therapy student, and even Harley's Reverend Dad can't fake not being bothered by it. But when the masks finally come off, can everyone handle the real truth?

You can visit Leigh on her blog, That's Write, or purchase her book at any of the following links:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Your Fortune is Changing

Since it's Labor Day here in the USA, I'll be brief.

We had Chinese take-out on Saturday and my fortune was so good I wanted to share it with you all:

So what book do you go to for rest and escape?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hacky Sack Club: Ethnic Musical Challenge

Back in May (when I was busy posting my hacky sack videos (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) as penance for my writing failures), my Hacky Sack Club partner, the amazing Amy Sonnichsen, wrote to me suggesting that we start hosting Hacky Sack Club challenges.

She told me she was thinking that Chinese opera could be fun. So I might have gone pale, and maybe trembled in my knees a little. (I love you Amy!)

Fortunately we came to a nice little compromise and settled on an Ethnic Music Challenge.*

Once that was decided, and she kindly agreed to wait till I returned from my blogging hiatus, the problem became this: How in the world do you compete with Chinese Opera?

After sitting in thoughtful silence on the matter with my husband, we humbly concluded that you don't.

But then the word "Bollywood" came up. We giggled.**

Then the idea of SOLO Bollywood came up. We giggled a little harder.

And then we started scouring the internet for the perfect song. :)

Just a couple of notes: 1) Yes, that is me singing. 2) No, I have not yet signed that million dollar recording contract (too many to choose from, heehee). 3) No, I haven't accepted any movie offers recently, either (my acting is just that good).

So without further ado and for your viewing pleasure:

Speechless, aren't you?

And you absolutely cannot miss Amy's video. She is just . . . wow! SO talented!! This just in!!: Catherine Denton doing Broadway featuring her twin sister. And if you decide to join the fun, let either of us know and we'll link to you! (Hacky Sacks are still available for new members! I know you want one.)

*Because ethnic music is awesome! (Definitely NOT intended as a put-down. Just to be clear.)
**At the idea of ME doing Bollywood. Not at Bollywood itself. Because Bollywood rocks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

License Plate Revealed & Hacky Sack News

 So it has come to my attention that very few people got last week's license plate.


My heart is saddened.

Dun, dun, dun, dun . . . dun, dun . . . dun, dun. CAN'T TOUCH THIS. Dun, dun, dun, dun . . . dun, dun . . . dun, dun. HAMMER TIME!

If you are not now singing in your head, then I'm afraid you must have missed the epicness that was MC Hammer. All my sympathy. ;)

And just because I love license plates, here's another challenge for you: SHKITOF

Now, the announcement you would have all been waiting for had you known about it:

The Hacky Sack Club is back with a new (optional) challenge! And this one is even more embarrassing. Like, I'm already blushing, and the thing isn't even MADE yet.

Amy Sonnichsen (gosh I love her) and I have committed ourselves to the Hacky Sack Club's

Ethnic Musical Challenge!

Yes, you read that right. We're taking this thing to new heights of embarrassment. We'll be posting videos of ourselves doing something ethnically musical on Monday, August 27th. And no, you really don't want to miss this.

If you'd like to join us, let one of us know. Then when you post your video, also let us know so we can let all our followers know (so everyone can visit your blog and join in the mirth). I know you're all dying to take part!

Just remember, we're not laughing AT you, we're laughing WITH you!

For the record, I'm an NOT doing this because I lost a bet (this time). We at the Hacky Sack Club simply believe that life is too short to waste being normal all the time.

We also believe that part of a fun community is breaking down barriers and being silly every once and awhile.

If you have already joined the Hacky Sack Club, you do not need to take part in this activity, but we'd love it if you did. And anyone else who is not already a member, we will still send you a hacky sack in the mail when you join. Yay!

That is all. No stress. No hacky sacking required. Visit our Hacky Sack Walls of Fame Shame (Amy's and mine) for more details. 

So if you were going to join us, what ethnic music would you feature? 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Life has a funny way of interfering with our best laid plans. I was all prepped to come back with gusto until Change showed up on my doorstep and took a sucker punch at my gut. Rather than give up blogging, I'll only be posting Mondays for the next indefinite time frame or so.

I know. You are all HUGELY disappointed. But to make amends I offer a nostalgic license plate for you.


Do you get it? Isn't that just awesome? Gosh I loved the 90's (*subtle hint*).

And by the way, what are you doing here??? You should be at WriteOnCon!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Hello, all my long lost bloggy friends! After nearly two months of absence, I'm back, though it may take me some time to regain my sea legs. So for today, I give you my list of what I accomplished while I was gone:
  1. Moved halfway across the country with a husband and 3 small children.
  2. No one killed each other in said move.
  3. Finished the first draft of my WIP (hurray!)
  4. Did not rip said draft into pieces. Yet.
  5. Bought a couch. In two hours. (I know! Perhaps my biggest accomplishment all summer.)
  6. Beat my sister in Words With Friends by nearly 200 points. (Heehee. Sorry Reb . . . I had to tell someone.)

Anywho, I won't bore you with the rest of my minutiae. What did you accomplish this summer?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yay for Leigh!

I'm not here yet (really), but I had to poke my head in to give a shout-out to my awesome friend Leigh Moore.

Here's the blurb from PM:
Leigh Moore's ROUGE, in which a New Orleans chanteuse must decide between saving herself (and her young charge) from the brothels by marrying her well-heeled suitor, or following her heart and marrying a poor stagehand, to Abby Zidle at Pocket Star, by Kate McKean at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency
 Go Leigh! Congratulations!!! :D And yes, there will be celebration and giveaways here on release day. Now I'm off to do some more happy dance before I plunge back in to the mess that is unpacking.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Your Platform

Before I started a writing blog, my biggest hesitation was that I felt I had nothing to add. What would my platform be?

Because the word platform? It's a really scary word. Right up there with Lord Voldemort and Blood-sucking. And if you've ever faced a mosquito, you KNOW that blood-sucking is one frightening word.

Obviously, I took the plunge, but easing into a platform that will really keep people coming back is another story.
  • First I tried doling out writing advice using real life examples. I like that okay and I still do it sometimes. But it can get boring fast.
  • Next I tried being the Grammar Nazi. Because I actually am one. But I just couldn't make grammar interesting enough. Not like Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares (who has a grammar book coming out soon!). And I didn't really want to delve as deep as I needed to to make it useful like Grammar Girl. Besides, they were already doing it. So I stopped.
  • Then I moved to talking about license plates, which I still love doing. That one stuck. I've even had some commenters tell me that they think of me whenever they see a personalized plate. Yay! Of course, if I ONLY did license plates, well, that might get old, too.
Finally, I had an epiphane about my platform. As much as I wish these were me, I will never be the Janice Hardy who doles out AMAZING writing advice on pretty much a daily basis. (Wow, I love that girl.) I will never be the Miss Snark's First Victim, or even the recently-launched Cupid's Literary Connection where I connect writers and agents in contests. I will never be the Literary Rambles which is a must-visit for all agent-seeking authors.

The problem? I don't think it's that there isn't room for more blogs like those (just look at Cupid who is doing very well and has already had some success stories). The problem is that none of these types of blogs fit my personality.

If I tried to keep up a blog like that, I would lose interest fast. Not because I don't love those blogs (in fact, you should all be following all of them!), but because I am simply not serious enough. At least, not when it comes to writing.

I love to laugh, joke around, get a little silly. Because I am serious enough in every other aspect of my life, I need the outlet. I remember agreeing to write an article in college about which grocery store to go to. My research started out serious enough, but it quickly turned into a series of limericks about the pros and cons of the various stores. Yeah, I have no idea if they printed it.

So while this isn't exactly the platform I originally imagined for myself. Humor and inspiration have become my thing.


Because it's what I need. It's what will keep me coming back and writing posts. It's what will keep me sane.

(But isn't it ironic that this post doesn't exactly fall into either of those? Please ignore my inconsistency and just go with it.)
So how about you? Have you figured out your platform? How did you find it?

P.S. This will be my last post for a while as the move is sneaking up quickly. I hope to be back by August or even sooner. Have a great summer!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Final Talent: Video #5

This post will be brief since I was up so late last night watching the USA get thrashed by Brazil (4-1). Sigh.

But I couldn't miss posting my final video. My duty is now fulfilled. Hope you enjoy!

(For those who don't know, Leigh Moore and I were doing a 30K in 30 days challenge, and the pennance for missing a day was posting a Hacky Sack Club video. I missed 5 times!!!)

So what talent have you been cultivating?

P.S. All the winners in my giveaway have been contacted, and the books are on the way. Thanks for entering, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

You Are Beautiful!

So last night I stayed up late watching Pride and Prejudice with my husband (the long version), and I completely spaced on scheduling a post. But this song has been stuck in my head all week.

I just love it. I love the music. I love the video. I love the message.

Take this with you today. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy News and High Heels

Before I cut you a slice of my humble pie humiliation, I wanted to share some great news:

Angela Cervantes, one of the amazing writers in my critique group just had her book announced in Publisher Weekly!
"Anna Bloom at Scholastic has bought a debut middle-grade novel by Latino Writers Collective founder Angela Cervantes. The story centers on a Latina sixth-grader who, while volunteering at an animal shelter, discovers that she has a lot in common with the abandoned cats and unwanted dogs there: they want a loving family, and she wants her mother—who was deported to Honduras—back. Publication is set for 2013. Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary brokered the deal."
So very excited for her! You can check out Angela's website, or congratulate her on Twitter: @AngelaCervantes. Yay Angela! Doing the happy dance for you. :D

Now, on to that other thing. Video #4.

(For those who don't know, Leigh Moore and I  were doing a 30K in 30 days challenge, and the pennance for missing a day was posting a Hacky Sack Club video. I missed 5 times!!!)

For the record, I sustained an injury in the making of this video. Darned high heels gouged me! I guess this'll teach me not to skip out on writing.

And if you haven't entered, and want a chance to win one of those books, you still have time! Just CLICK HERE. (Wow. Writing it in all caps like that makes it look kindof spammy. But it's not. I promise.)

So can you walk with a book on your head?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Humiliation With a Side of Awesome

As promised, video #3. Here I reveal some of my lesser-known talents. What are they? You'll have to watch to find out! *cue evil laughter*

(For those who don't know, Leigh Moore and I were doing a 30K in 30 days challenge, and the pennance for missing a day was posting a Hacky Sack Club video.)

Oh! The subterfuge of it all!! Sneaky little beggar.

Despite appearances, the side of awesome I mentioned is not my son (though even I have to admit it was pretty funny). The side of awesome is that I am giving away a boatload of books!

Since we are moving, I'm trying to clear off my shelves. Rather than give my precious books to just anyone, I thought I would offer them up to my lovely followers. Unfortunately, and I hate to do it, but since there are so many, I just don't think I can afford the international postage on that many items, I'm going to have to limit it to US/Canada.

Okay, but now I feel too bad, soooo, I will draw the name of one international commenter and send them a book. So here are the rules:
  1. You must be a follower.
  2. Leave a comment with your e-mail and please mention if you are international or US/Canada.
  3. For international participants, you have until May 29th to enter, and hopefully I'll have the winners posted by Thursday.
  4. For the rest of you, the contest is on-going until the books are gone and I announce the end. I'll start picking winners at random very soon. Tomorrow maybe? Don't you just love the randomness of it all?
No extra entries for tweeting or passing on the word, but I would love it if you did!

There will be as many winners as I have books to give away (which is a lot), and as a thanks to pay it forward (NTM, you're the best!), one lucky random person will also win a $10 Starbucks card (I don't drink coffee, so when my husband won it at work, I knew just what to do with it!).

Please note, the books are used (read at least once), but they are all in very good shape, and most are pretty recent. Most.

And since it will be a media mailer, there won't be a warm, fuzzy note with it, but know it's there in spirit.

Love you guys! Thanks for reading my posts, and laughing at my crazy videos (you DID laugh, didn't you?!!!). Thanks for your support and for generally keeping me sane in this Wonderland World we call Publishing.

Monday, May 14, 2012

License Plate Characterizations

I don't want to overload you on the videos all at once, so today I'm giving you a break, but my third video of humiliation will be up Thursday. For those who don't know, Leigh Moore and I were doing a 30K in 30 days challenge, and if you missed a day, the penance was posting a Hacky Sack Club video. So that's what that's all about.

Anyway, on the other things. In my extended absence, I saw a plethora of great license plates that I've been dying to share with you. I'll just mention a couple with today.

The first is one I saw on a black BMW:


The second is from a black sedan with tinted windows (seriously):


On this last one, my first question is "Who would advertise that on their license plate?" and next "How did it get through the DMV?"

Anyhoo, that said, I've been thinking a lot about characterization as I've been working on my latest manuscript, and I'm finding that little details like these can really make your characters pop. With these license plates, I get an immediate image of these people. Granted, they may or may not be correct, BUT it's a start for making them real.

I know I've asked the question before, but do you know your character's personalized plates? And what about the car they would be on?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blowdryers and Characterization

Day 2 of my Hackey Sack Club humiliation. Today I'll cut right to the video, with a brief footnote to mention how impressed I am with the video program for capturing such a . . . shall we say expressive  moment as the stand-by picture. Yoinks.

My husband informed me that they just did a poll or something on the number of blowdryer users in the world. So here's my deep question: Do you use a blowdryer? Does your main character? (I had to tie this in to writing somehow!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Silliness Ensues

I'm back!

April was a weird month for me in that it seemed to last forever (a la my husband's job), yet at the same time went by in a flash (a la my goals). I wasn't a total stranger to the blogosphere (thanks Ruth!), but I wasn't exactly a close friend either. I think acquaintance is the word. ;)

As for my writing challenge with the fabulous Leigh Moore (1K of writing a day), I missed 5 times. Five!!! So that means I will be embarrassing myself a la video for the Hacky Sack Club pretty much most of this month. Hopefully a la your viewing pleasure. ("A la" is my pet phrase of the day.)

Like Leigh, I can't decide if I'm more embarrassed by that expression on my face at the first, or by my horrible accent. Anyway, enough chatter. First installment, here:

So now that I'm back, did I miss anyone's happy news? I'd love to hear your shoutouts for yourself or your friends. :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not 'Goodbye' . . . Just 'See You Soon'

Some of you may have noticed, but I have been a bad bloggy friend the past little bit. I haven't replied to comments like usual (for those who have their e-mail address available in their user settings), and I haven't visited others blogs.

And I know, I know, it happens to the best of us, but I really do feel terrible about it, because I love all you people who visit and comment on my blog. I can't tell you how happy a little comment makes me. Ridiculously happy. :) 

But alas, despite the less sleep I've been trying to get by on, I'm just not getting everything done. Because some things simply must come first. *cough* kids *cough*

So where I am going with this? I'm going to take a blogging break for the month of April. Hopefully in that time I can catch up on replies and visiting some of your blogs, too, but I must do a few other things first:
  1. Spend every possible second enjoying my parents when they come out to visit.
  2. Continue potty training little miss dirt monkey (no accidents yesterday!).
  3. Finish the big translation job hanging over me.
  4. Write 1000 words of my wip [work in progress] every day (or you just might see a post in April after all). For an explanation, check out this post by the fabulous Leigh Moore.
  5. Spend time with my hubs every spare second he has.
  6. Exercise. Time to find a new race to work towards . . . preferably a shorter one.
  7. Relax. Excuse me while I go look up the definition of this word . . .
  8. Begin the clearing out process for our move in June. My but junk builds up fast.
Well, I could go on . . . I didn't even mention spending QT with kids, because I hope that's a given . . . though it hasn't been lately. *sigh*

So have a great April everyone! I will miss you, but look forward to hearing all your wonderful news come May. :)

This picture just makes me happy, so I'm sharing it again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

La la la la la! I Can't Hear You.

I feel like I'm one of the few people who did not get to go see The Hunger Games this weekend. Even my brother went to the Midnight Opening . . . my brother!

So today, knowing that there will be a wash of blog posts and tweets exclaiming how much they loved it, I am simply going to plug my ears and pretend I can't hear you.

Because even though I may have read the books, I don't want to hear too much about the movie before I've seen it. I like to be surprised.

It's an -ism. I totally admit that.

I'm the same way with books. I don't want to hear anything beyond the blurb before I read. Unlike my mom who actually skips to the end to read that first. Crazy.

So how about you? Do you read the ending first? Or do you  prefer the blank slate method?