Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Obsessions: A MILLION SUNS, "A Writer's Inbox, and Apples and Honey

Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. A MILLION SUNS.  Last week, a book-shaped package was waiting for me outside my door. I thought it was another sweet care package from CP extraordinaire, Gina, but when I looked closer, the return address said, "Penguin."  Uh, excuse me?

I thought maybe they were offering me a three-book deal and the contract was unusually small and fat.

(I know. I crack myself up.)

I opened it up and beheld this:

And promptly had a heart attack.

Then reality hit me and I remembered that I had applied to receive an ARC of A MILLION SUNS through Penguin's website, never ever ever expecting to get a copy.

Then I freaked out and emailed my CPs, screaming "WHAT DO I EVEN DO WITH THIS?!!?!"

And they were both like, " it?"

So I did that. And it ruled. And I'll post all about it once the High Holidays are over, and then I'm going to throw a giveaway of the first book in the series, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, because 1. I just love Beth Revis and Penguin that much and 2. As much as I love you all (and I do!) I don't love you enough to send you the ARC.

2. "An Agent's Inbox" over at Krista's blog, "Mother. Write. Repeat." 
Krista's one of the queens of secret agent contests in the writing blogosphere, and she's got one going on right now.  (She's also an amazingly talented writer, who I expect to snag an agent any day now.)

You send her your query and first page, and the secret agent responds just like she would if it were actually in her inbox.  (AMAZING.)

Submissions are closed for this round, but I got in by the skin of my teeth - entry #50. Entries are open for critiques from anyone through Tuesday, so run over and visit all the uber-talented writers who have their stuff posted over there! Other entries near and dear to my heart are #41, #47, and #33, so go give them some love too.

3. Apples and Honey.

So, it's the Jewish New Year, and like every Jewish holiday, it's all about the food. We make lots of excuses about eating sweets for three days straight because we're hoping for a "sweet new year" but really? Apples dipped in honey just totally rules in every way possible.

Never had the combo? Go try it. Now. You can thank me later.

4. The WiP - It's been abysmal for writing this week - busiest season at work, so I maybe got in a few hundred words max - but for the first time, the end is in sight. I'm calling it a couple weeks till this pile of bad grammar, repetitions, and run-ons  first draft is finished.  Here are some lines.

I run downstairs and Mom raises an eyebrow at me. “You look nice, sweetie.”

I’m not feeling that generous, so I kind of raise an eyebrow at her and make a lot of noise unwrapping my Twinkies so I don’t have to talk to her. I stand there, fidgeting while eating, impatient with the slowness of my own chewing.
“I made some eggs, honey,” Daddy calls from the kitchen.
I swallow hard and call, “Thanks, gotta go though.” I would rather die than eat the jiggly yellow-and white grossness that is scrambled eggs, and Dad knows that. But he doesn’t want to feed me. He wants to hear about me studying with my friends, like a normal kid.
As much as Dad loves me, even he wants me to be normal. Pick a side, already.
I slug back a glass of chocolate milk, rinse it and throw it in the dish sterilizer, and stride out, before I even get to hassle Max and Michael for the morning.
There’s a damp chill to the air made up of the first days of autumn and the dew from the grass. I slump into my car, and fumble through my bag for my keys. My fingers fidget, like I’ve had too much coffee, even though I haven’t had a drop since yesterday morning. I crank up the heat and briefly consider digging out Elias’s sweatshirt, then decide that wearing it would make me look like a tool, or at least like one of the girls crushing on him. No chance.
Then I look at the clock - 6:45. Half an hour before I have to leave for school.
What is wrong with me?

Your turn! What were you obsessed with this week?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Writer's Jew Year Resolutions

So, the Jewish New Year is here, y'all. Every year at the beginning of autumn, Jews get together and reflect on how they haven't behaved as well as they could have, or had the best outlook on things, and what changes they need to make.

It's not only about Jewish stuff, or religious stuff. In fact, that's not usually even the stuff that matters most. Thinking about that had me thinking about the past five weeks of my writing life, since I started querying.

While I think I have a pretty decent attitude most of the time, there have been moments when that I haven't been my best writer self. I won't go into details, because I'm sure those of you who have felt stuck or frustrated at any stage of your writing can imagine, or have been there yourself. (And my writing besties have seen some bad attitude-ing firsthand.)

Anyway. It's the New Year, and this one is going to be awesome. I'm hoping, by this time next year, I'll be one step closer to publication. Whatever that means. But I think the only way I'm going to get there is if I really focus to digging in for the long haul. So, here are the things I'm resolving to focus on as a writer at the beginning of this year:

Humility - No matter how good I think my stuff is, or how solid of a handle I think I have on things - I don't. There's always more to learn. Most of all, no one owes me anything. I have to learn to accept that, no matter how hard I work, I might never see my work in print. I am a goal-oriented person, so this is really tough for me. Daily I have to take time to remind myself that I'm doing this for love of writing, so so so much more than for anything else.

Perspective - This is a business, and rejection is nothing personal. And even though I have a better handle on things than lots of people, I'm still so far behind the pack of pros.

Patience -  I am a little fish in a huuuuge pond. Compared to so many thousands of other writers, I haven't been doing this for long at all. I need to be patient with myself, with my writing, with the agents I'm asking to consider it.

Determination - No matter how many glaring problems my CPs point out with my writing, or  how many rejections I get, or how much my wrists ache, or how many times I rewrite an opening, or how stubborn the writer's block, if I really, really want to see my work in print, I must accept that it will never happen if I give up.

Whew! Those are some big ones.

Anything you're hoping to improve about your writerly self in the near future? If you share, I will feel like less of a jerk. *bats eyes*

Monday, September 26, 2011

Famous Author - The Introvert's Ideal Celebrity Situation

You guys, I think I figured out why I want to be a famous author.

 I've been a little confused by this desire, because I've never wanted to be a famous ANYTHING. I hated all the attention on my wedding day. I dodge birthday parties being planned in my honor. I blush when people give me compliments, and I'm quick to credit others with my success (I note this because I'm sure you haven't noticed all my posts lauding my CPs...)

In fact, that's why I like blogging so much. No one can hear me or even see me. If people hate on me I can weep (no, no one's hated on me, just saying) or they can love on my WiP  and I can blush. And no one will know.

So here's why I want to become a famous author. It's because I'm a raging introvert, and "famous author" is a bit of an oxymoron.

When you're a famous author, people don't really care about your life, or what you do on a day to day basis - they just care about your characters, and their story. When you do interviews, all the questions are about them, or how you got your book published, or something. The biggest freaking shock of J.K. Rowling's interviews was that Dumbledore was gay. That I can handle. When you're a famous author, No one asks you about your love life, or your opinion on politics, or anything terrifying like that.

You almost never have to look nice. You just dress up to go on book tours and for interviews for your massive interactive website, and the rest of the time you can wear your jim-jams. You can even vlog wearing a nice top and your comfy bottoms. The best part? Everyone thinks you always look how you did at that book signing. Because the paparazzi never stalk you. BECAUSE THEY DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT YOU. They only care about your books.

Photo Credit: Ian at
Besides that, almost your entire platform is online. That means that you can interact with your fans on twitter and via blogs where - you guessed it - you can wear your jim jams and ignore your makeup and/or dye job, because you always, always, always look just like your avatar.

Basically? If you are an introvert and become a famous author, people only care about you in the only way you ever wanted them to care about you - they're obsessed with the world you've created - NOT with you yourself.  You get the admiration and applause without the intrusion and embarrassment.

Absolutely perfect.

Anyone have any other reasons that "famous author" is a perfect job for an introvert? Anyone reading who's an extrovert and still wants to be a "famous author?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Obsessions: Firefly, Dean Martin, and Orzo

Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. Firefly.  Here's the blurb from IMDB, because I am tired and they do it better than I would anyway:
Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small, spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.

Basically, you guys? This is like cowboys - IN SPACE.

 I actually didn't think I'd love it too much the first time I saw the DVDs, but I watched it anyway because my husband and I were spending the summer in Israel and the apartment we were subletting only had Firefly and weird art films. Choice = obvious.

I am so so glad I did. Because, hello - COWBOYS IN SPACE? Not to mention the adventure, romance, and badassed, super-handsome men?
Well, hel-lo, Doctor Tam.
We first watched it five years ago, and I'm finally rewatching now. Even better because it streams on Doctor Tam. Er, streams on Netflix. (Excuse me.)

2. Dean Martin singing "Blue Moon."

There's just....mmmm. Something about it. Sophistcated and romantic and intriguing... just drapes over you like a big warm slightly tingly blanket.  

3. This orzo salad I made today. It has orzo, red peppers, onions, artichokes, green olives, and feta cheese. Warm or cold, it kicks ass. It's probably all I'm going to eat this weekend. Nom nom.

This week in WiP land - I'm finally nailing down the very last plot points, and I'm SO excited. Unfortunately it's my busy season at work, and I'm moving through at a slog. Also, I'm running out of things to share with you that aren't spoilers. (I'm sure you're crushed.)

Here's a sweet scene : Elias talks to Merrin a little bit about his twin sisters, who just moved away from home.

Elias raises his eyebrows at me. “A little thing like you can put away that much pizza?”

I don’t like being referred to as a “little thing,” but he looks at me with admiration, so I let it slide.
We sit in silence for another minute. Then he says, “It’s mostly the quiet, you know? They used to freak me out by teleporting into my room. Scared the hell out of me, and reminded me that I couldn’t do the same thing too. I just threw things at them, usually.”
I grin. That’s what I do with the boys when they cruise across the water - use them as targets for pool darts. I never hit them, but sometimes I get close enough for them to catch one and bring it back, dripping water all over me and my Reader. Punks.
“It’s weird, but I’m still kind of…I don’t know…expecting them to show up one night, you know? One reason it’s nice to have you around.” He looks at me, then puts his napkin on his plate, running his finger along the edge of it over and over. “I mean, Leni and Daniel too.”
I look at his face and I understand him. He’s jealous of his sisters, but he loves them more than the jealousy. Just like me. We’re the same.
Suddenly, I’m afraid to look at him, afraid he’ll see something in my face that I’m not ready for him to see. Fondess. Sadness instead of anger. I don’t want him to see that we’re the same, even though I think he already knows.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spoiler Alert! (Being Awesome with In-Story Spoilers)

WARNING: This post actually does contain spoilers for HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire and DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. I'll put them between some lines of red stars like this: 


so you know where they are and don't have to read them.
 Okay? Okay.

I've always been kind of a closet spoiler lover. Always sheepishly ask if people have seen the end of a TV show, and could they tell me what happens? Most especially with books - always always ALWAYS flip to the end to see what happens, who dies, who's gotten together.

It doesn't matter that I don't know most of the characters that show up on the last page. In fact, I kind of love "meeting" them before the book even starts, because then when they show up on the page, I can say, "Oh, there you are. I know more about you than the main character does. Welcome to the story."

I'm a freak, right? Well, no. Actually, it turns out, I'm not. Science has proven it!!!

This blog over at Nail Your Novel beautifully breaks down the literary application of this study to be published in Psychological Science. (It's worth a read. Go ahead and click.)

"A story is more than a mere outcome. The story is what happens along the way."

Yes, but will the milk be delicious? Or, *ahem* SPOILED?

But the best spoilers aren't the ones that other people tell you after they've read the book. They're the ones that the author herself writes in as a super-obvious form of foreshadowing. As soon as you read that quasi-spoiler line or paragraph, you just know something's up. And you are completely rabid to read on to find out how the character figures it out too, and what happens when she gets there.

Examples? Obviously.

Here's one from HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire. The two main characters are about to go on a time-traveling mission together. Michael says to Emerson,

"Keeping you safe is as important to me as saving Liam. You know that, don't you?"
"I do. But I want us both kept safe. Listen," I said hesitantly, "I want you to promise me that you won't do anything stupid when we go back, like trying to find out who killed Liam. If we save him, it won't matter who did it."
"It will always matter who did it."
"I understand that, but we can deal with it when we're not in a life-or-death situation. Promise me."
"I won't try to find out who killed Liam."
"You didn't promise me you won't do anything stupid."

Okay, class, what did we learn from the bolded parts? Uh huh. That's right. Michael's going to bite it. Obviously, right?

And since you just know, don't you, that it's going to tear Emerson apart, and that she's going to do something to change it, you have to keep reading all about it. Awesome.


Now, here's one of my faves. The minute I read this scene from Divergent, I first completely freaked out at its awesomeness, then I had to read to the end to see how this whole thing played out.


This is a scene between Tris, who has recently moved away from her family and into the Divergent compound, whose people are known to behave rather severely, and her Mom, who lives with her father in the Abnegation section, whose people are known for their gentility.

"[Mom] sounds gentle, but her hand squeezes my arm so hard I almost cry out from the pain as she drags me away. She walks with me, fast, toward the dining hall. Just before she reaches it, though, she takes a sharp left turn and walks down one of the dark hallways I haven't explored yet.
"Mom," I say.  "Mom, how do you know where you're going?"
She stops next to a locked door and stands on her tiptoes, peering at the base of the blue lamp hanging from the ceiling. A few seconds later she nods and turns to me again.
"I said no questions about me. And I meant it."

Well, at that point we don't even need to ask questions, do we? Because now we know Mom used to be part of Dauntless, that she used to live here. She knows the lay of the land, and she's being pretty severe with Tris. And she's searching for bugs in the lamp before she talks, so she really knows what's up.

 Spoiler, right? But you still need to read on, because you're desperate to know what happened to her that she ended up somewhere else, and why it matters enough for her to be so secretive about it.

[End of all spoilers]

The point is - Awesome writing is, often, about cluing the reader in to story points or character traits before the characters themselves know them. It's not quite writing with spoilers, but it's way stronger than foreshadowing.

The story isn't in what happens at the end, it's in how the characters get there, what happens before and after, and how they react. And that's why I love spoilers - In-story and out.

So, do you love spoilers too? Or do you hate them? What are your favorite (or most hated) in-story spoilers?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Discovered: A Hidden Superpower of Critique Partners

I knew my critique partners had the power to call me out on stupid mistakes and character disasters in my writing.
I knew they could be the greatest writing cheerleaders on the planet.
I even knew they could make me into a better writer.

But one of the greatest things they can do? Truly a superpower?
I didn't even know about until last week.

CC Charles Van den Broek

They can obliterate writer's block.

Well, not exactly. But just the words, "Get to writing, because I've got to read your next book." gave me just the push I needed to stop whining about "Writer's Block" and freaking get to work.

So, please excuse the short post - I've got the last 15K of ONE to write.

(Thanks, ladies. <3 you.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Obsessions: New Coldplay, Outstanding CPs, and Tater Tots

Everything I was obsessed with this week. 
Because I know you want to know.

1. Oh, heavens to Betsy. It's NEW COLDPLAY.
Close the door, crank up your speakers, sit back, and bliss out. Simply incredible.
(It might be good for your writing too. If you listen to this song your book will be a bestseller. Promise.)

2. My CPs. You guys, I have the best CPs on the planet (I'm looking at you too, Heidi.)

 I'll just come right out and say it - I've been reading the mushy-gushy scenes from Gina's first novel when I feel, well, like I want to read something mushy gushy. And then last night, she sent me three chapters from a new one and *sigh* - incredible.

 I'm obsessed with Chessie's book, not only because I'm in the middle of critiquing it.  I became uber obsessed when she sent me a mushy-gushy-yet-super-intense scene of her own, which I somehow forced myself to stop reading after only two five twelve times.

I have favorite books just like anyone else. It says a ton that these are two of my go-tos, even over a bunch of  published, bestselling ones. So I'm pretty sure these ladies will be published and bestselling too.

3. Tater Tots
Tater tots are one of the most perfect foods in existence.  There's nothing like those tiny cubed potatoes, compounded into nuggets and encased in a crunchy, golden, greasy shell. You don't even have to chew them if you don't want to - those little pre-masticated bits are just as easily broken out of their tasty casings between tongue and roof of mouth. Best of all, they taste like they came out of the fast food fryer, but  - and this is important - you don't have to actually go to the fast food place to get them.

Oh, and since I know you're wondering - with barbecue sauce. Is there any other way?

4. Alllllrighty. I hestiated this week to share some of ONE, mostly because we are in a fight. I worked on this sucker at NaNo speed throughout August, only to hit the worst of blocks once September rolled in. In the last two weeks? I've written 4500 words. Compared to August's FIFTY THOUSAND.

Yes, I am now working at 1/5 the speed I was just a few weeks ago. So needless to say I'm not feeling so warm and fuzzy toward the ol' WiP. But I figure maybe your cheerleading will break the block. *fingers crossed*

Meet Leni (short for Helen.) She's been buds with Elias forever, and all her friends are bitchy, dieting cheerleaders. Here's a scene where Merrin (MC) sits down to have lunch with them.

“Is she crushing on Elias?” another brunette girl asks while unpacking her lowfat yogurt and carrot sticks. I have to keep from rolling my eyes, though I know that now I’m definitely not pulling out that candy bar I was going to call lunch.
“Save your energy, honey. Elias VanDyne has only dated one girl at this school, and that was back when we were little freshmen.”
I raise my eybrows at her, silently questioning - I can’t help it - and then she suppresses as grin and points at, her index finger making a circle in the air.
“Yep. Helen and Elias, sittin’ in a tree…”
Leni rolls her eyes, pushes the girl lightly on the shoulder, and says, “Quit it. You know I was too good for him.” She laughs, and all the other girls eye each other.
Oh. So Leni’s the ringleader of this group. That could be really good or really, really bad. Depending on how much she feels like sticking up for me.
“Yeah. Too good for all the boys at this school, apparently.”
“You know it.” Leni smiles, but it’s the same face I’ve seen on her once before, and on Elias. Faking it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Obsession Factor: Supporting Characters

There's only so much writing, waiting, and nail-biting those of us in the querying trenches can do to sustain our passion for the craft. Eventually, one has to turn to daydreaming.

Sometimes I like to daydream about When I've Arrived. What does that look like in my flighty head? For some people, it would be signing a book deal with a Big Six publishing house. Maybe it means having all five-star reviews on Amazon (miraculously.) Maybe hitting the NYT bestseller list.

Know how I'll know When I've Arrived? Fanfiction.

I mean, seriously. All those other factors mean that people want to buy your book. Hopefully the read the whole thing, and you pray they like it. But you really don't know those things, do you? No. Not unless some obsessed fan is writing fanfiction about your story and characters.

It all comes down to the Obsession Factor. Do people close your book and wish there was more? Do they wonder what your main character wore on his first day of school? Do they imagine themselves living in the world you've created?

 And, the sub-factor I want to talk about today - are your supporting characters so awesome and fascinating that your readers can't stop thinking about their stories?

Raise your hand if you loved TWILIGHT. Go ahead, this is a blog, no one can see you. Okay. Now put your hand down if you didn't give two figs about Alice and Jasper or Carlisle and Esme. That's what I thought. You're arm's starting to ache, isn't it?

How about Ron and Hermione? Don't tell me you've never thought about how Ron would propose to her. Or what about Ginny? Did she really go for that last year at Hogwarts? Neville and Luna? They totally got together, right?

I'll tell you, my phenom-of-a-CP Chessie does an awesome job with this. I mean, her main characters are great, blah blah, great story, etc., but know who I really love? Two of the supporting characters. I wish they were in the book more, which says a lot. The boy is so cute and the girl is so kickass and they are so sweetly in love that I just squee every time they show up on the page. (My other CP, Gina, does a bang-up job too.  Mmmm....Jeremy....)

When Chessie drew this picture of them DANCING! Geez. I almost wrote some fanfiction. (But I didn't. I swear.)

Maybe that's because I'm lucky. If I beg Chessie for scenes from future books enough, she gives them to me.  If only that worked for every other story that grabs us with the supporting characters just as much as the main ones (or sometimes more?)

Your turn! What is your favorite book that has the Supporting Characters Obsession Factor?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finding the Magic

So, ever since that sinus infection tried to kill me (but the Z-Pac won, so awesomely I'm about to write it a love song!) I've been blocked.

I know. You think "writer's block" is a load of you-know-what. So do I. But it's easier than my slacker explanation of "Well, you see, I'm a pantser, and it seems that I get blocked right around 40,000 to 50,000 words, because that's exactly what happened when I was writing THE TRAVELERS..."

*YAWN* You guys don't care about that. Heck, I barely care about that. Just write already, right?

Anyway. Saturday was a beautiful day. I had two options. I could sit hunched in front of my netbook while my husband tried to keep my kids from destroying the house, or I could go apple picking with them.

It took me about five seconds to realize I'd really regret it if I didn't go. Something told me it would be good for my writing, too, although I couldn't for the life of me see how. I had my fancy camera with me like the mamarazzi I am......


....and then I got this shot.

253/365 - "Wingardium Leviosa"

Yep. That's my oldest, levitating an apple. Clearly, he has magical powers.

Alright. I know he doesn't.

But I'll tell you what does: The power of a picture to add a whole new sweet-yet-devastating subplot and important conflict twist to my WiP, ONE.

I'm going to describe that picture in ONE, except it'll be of a little girl. And it's going to make you gasp (I hope.) And it's going to totally freaking rule.

I guess I always kind of nodded my head at all the writing advice posts about "Go out and live your life!" but didn't really give them any credence. Now I do.

When and how has real life - or products of it - inspired you? Now I'm dying to hear about your experiences.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Obsessions: UNEARTHLY, Zachary Levi singing, and Chicken Soup

Everything I was obsessed with this week. 
Because I know you want to know.

1. UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand.
Okay. I'll say it. I don't normally go so much for the Paranormal romance. I mean, I liked Twilight just as much as the next girl, but beyond that? It's not the first book I'll pick up.

Well, my incredible critique partner Gina was so extra sweet to hook me up with a copy of UNEARTHLY after she gushed about how much she looooved it.  And I read it. In one sitting. Because she was right.
 It. Is. Awesome.

I still don't actually understand what she's doing in this dress in the forest, to be honest.
Doesn't matter.
It has a sweet, sweet romance and lots of angsty coming-of-age stuff. And here's a quote I looooved:

"What do you see in a guy like Christian Prescott?" he asked me that night when he dropped me off from prom. And what he was really saying then, what would have come through loud and clear if I hadn't been so blind was, why don't you see me?

*Sigh.* Just...go read it.

2. Okay. So this is directly connected to my "Tangled" obsession from last week.
But you guys? I was not exaggerating about my crush on Chuck   Zachary Levi  no, CHUCK!
I did a little YouTube sleuthing and found this: Prepare yourselves for the awesome.
Mandy Moore. And Zachary Levi. Singing the romantic song from Tangled. Together! Live! In formalwear!

I LITERALLY COULD NOT CONTAIN MYSELF when I saw this video. Serious. I was, like, giddy. (Yeah. Still am.)

3. Chicken soup. Boring, I know, but since I am sick and possibly dying now in possession of a Z-PAC! Chicken soup has been my saving grace.

4. Poor, neglected WiP. I won't burden you with paragraphs this week: Just one sentence.

I lean in to kiss him, closing my eyes, lingering there for a moment. For the first time ever, it feels less like a promise and more like a goodbye.

So. What are you obsessed with this week?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Survival Mode

I should have seen this coming.

Last Thursday, I started back at work part-time. It's the perfect situation, or at least as close to it as I could ever possibly get. Working an average of 6 hours a day, leaving me enough time to write for a couple hours every morning after I drop the kids off from school, and still pick them up at a not-the-last-minute hour.

Awesome! Exciting! Except. The kids started at preschool a couple of weeks back. Any of you who have been through this are already nodding your heads, knowing what I'm going to say next.

See, when children start preschool at a new facility, they inevitably come home covered in germs from eyelash to toenail. Different germs for each of them, since they're all in different classrooms. And as soon as they walk in the doorway home, the germs scuttle off their disgusting, muddy, snotty little bodies, and invade your house.

Then they infect you. And make your life a living hell.  The germ that picked me on Friday, and still hasn't left me alone, is a disgusting sinus cold. My throat's throbbing, I have a persistent low-grade fever, I'm dizzy, and I am blowing my nose so much it's chapped. A stomach virus picked David. The kids are sick too, and at least one of them keeps us up at all hours of the night. It's all we can do to get everyone dressed and pack lunches in the morning, and do the dinner-bathtime-and-bedtime rush at the end of the day. We're going on day 5 of sickness now and there's no way of telling when the germs will burn themselves out.

Between trying to keep myself and my work stuff kept up, with all these disgusting symptoms, my house and my general person is a disaster. You can imagine what ONE (the WiP) looks like. I think I've maybe gotten 1000 words down in the last two days, and those are pretty weak and possibly incoherent.

I know this stage of adjustment, both mental and physical, will pass. But for now, we're in survival mode.

Sweet readers, please regale me with tales of survival times you've gone through, and how you - and, obviously, your writing - have survived.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Addicted to Critique

So, we can be honest with each other, right? I think we can, because you're spending your free time on reading this sentence, so there must be something special between us, yes? I thought so.

I have something to tell you, something to confess.

I am addicted  - addicted to critique. And I have no intention of seeking help.

This whole conversation came about with one of my writing buddies on Facebook. I posted that I'd entered Gennifer's Mega-Awesome Crit contest. Here's what happened:

Addicted to Crit

See what a great guy he is? See how sweet he's being? He says I'm a good writer already! I don't really need more crit.

That is really nice, and it may even be true.


1. If it is true at all, it's because of the intensive critique I've been lucky enough to get from my CPs (love you so much, ladies) AND

2. I don't want to be a good writer. I don't want my prose to be adequate. I don't want my characters and their conflicts to be convincing and believable.

That's nowhere near good enough. Not for me.

I want my sentences to cause readers to put their hands to their chests and take a deep breath because their hearts skipped a beat.
 I want my prose to sparkle and to stick in readers' heads long after the context of it is forgotten.
 I want my worlds to be so vivid that my readers can imagine themselves living there.
 I want my characters to be real enough to touch, to think about and obsess over after the story is done.
 And I want their conflicts to be heartbreaking, and their reconciliations to bring sighs of relief.

I'm not saying my stories are necessarily like that now that I've had three CPs check out my stuff, and a handful of others run a casual eye over it. But they're a whole heck of a lot closer. And the next person who is kind enough to critique my pages is going to help me make them even moreso.

So, yeah. Addicted to crit. And not accepting intervention. (But thanks for the thought.)

What about you? Are you addicted to crit?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Obsessions: TANGLED, Johnny Stimson, and Nutella Challah

Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. Tangled. I'm really embarrassed that I had never seen this movie before, especially what with my mission to find Disney princesses with actual functioning brains in their heads. Maybe I had become too complacent with Mulan and Tiana, fabulous examples. That makes sense. 
What doesn't make sense is that, despite starring the voices of Mandy Moore, who I've loved ever since her guest stint on Scrubs, and Zachary Levi, my NUMBER ONE TELEVISION CRUSH OF ALL TIME, I still hadn't seen this thing.
I pretended I was doing my kids a big favor by letting them watch every morning this week but really? I loved every minute. The story (heartbreaking!) The princess (Smart, determined and ballsy as all getout!) The hero (*drool*) The music! The romance! The near misses! The kissing! The sheer beauty of the thing!

Go watch it. Now. Go!

2. Johnny Stimson's newest album, "All I See." This guy's music is sunshine on a CD. I knew he had a new album coming out, and I've been getting my fix watching this video:

But now you can buy the whole thing on Amazon! Worth every penny, and two of the songs are on my WiP soundtrack to boot. Amazing.

3.  This nutella-stuffed challah (Thanks, Amanda!) I whipped up for my sister-in-law, who's recovering from surgery. Of course I baked a tester loaf and heavens to Betsy! I might not share with my kids on Shabbat morning.

4. As usual, the WiP (as always, feel free to skip this part. I won't be sad. Really.)
I know we all love Elias, but there's only so much gushing you I can do in consecutive weeks.

 Meet Merrin's twin brothers, Michael and Max. 

      We spread out on our huge brown leather sectional, each of us curving against a different part of it under throw blankets. Some stupid cartoon show where the characters knock each other over the heads with stuff and make farting jokes blares on the TV. Michael sits there, snorts, sniggers, and pops cheese balls into his mouth. Max is absorbed with something on his tablet, and knowing him, there’s an equal chance that it’s a stupid game or some classic literature he’s digesting at the speed of light. 

I reach over into Michael’s bowl, grab a cheese ball, and throw it at Max’s head.
“Whatcha doin’, nerdface?” I ask.
“Reading Harry Potter,” he says, and locates the cheeseball, which bounced down and wedged itself under his leg. He pops it in his mouth for a second, takes it out, and lobs it back at me. I raise up my blanket and deflect the saliva bomb onto the floor.
“You are gross, Max,” I say, brushing fingertips over my hair to remove any drool that may have stuck there.
He shrugs and flashes a grin. “You called me nerdface. Harry would not have stood for that,” he says, and goes back to his tablet.

That's it for me! What were you obsessed with this week?