Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Grown-UP Christmas List, Part 2

1.      Plot that is not predictable – I don’t want my readers to see it coming before I want them to. I also don’t want them to say, “this sounds exactly like (plug any movie or book similar to your MS here).” –that comment is not a complement (well not for me).

2.      A Thrilling Middle – I don’t want my readers to put down the book and I know middles can sag if I don’t add drama/tension to that section. I want the middle to be as exciting as the beginning and the end. I want to add subplots to fill this area. And I want details the readers care about. I won’t add a new character in the middle of the book only for the purposes of filling space.

3.      A Great Ending – I don’t want a forced ending. One the readers scratch their heads at and say “what the ?!@! was that.” I don’t want the readers to know exactly what is going to happen but I want them to say, “Oh, I see how that all connects. That makes perfect sense. Why didn’t I see that?” Then I want them to reread the book to find out if there were clues leading to the ending (there should be, subtle ones) – no dues ex machine here. There should be a clear path to the ending.

4.      No Plot Holes – I don’t want my readers to get to the end and say, “What happened with the ___ she never told us what happened. Now the story doesn’t make sense." I don’t want to leave loose ends – frayed and almost falling a part. I want some ominous moments, some moments the readers will have to keep reading to understand, and some questionable actions on behalf of my protagonist and antagonist but my the end of the story, I want to have answered all of the questions. Or (if I'm writing a series – which I happen to be doing) I want to answer the major plot questions (and tie all loose ends) and answer most sub-plot questions. It will be good to leave the readers questioning some things but not major plot questions. I want to ensure it all adds up in the end and the readers don't feel cheated for their time invested. 

My son came home and song this for me. I loved it. Too Funny!!! Enjoy!

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Grown-UP Christmas List #1

As promised, I’m sharing my Christmas list. My writing Christmas list. These are the things I want for my manuscript. They should also be the things every writers wants and the things that make readers love a book.

v     Characters – I want three-dimensional characters that jump off the page. I want characters that are not clichéd or boring. I want characters that my audience can relate to and like or love to hate.

v     Tortured Characters - I want to torture my characters to the point that the reader can hardly recognize them at the end of the book. I want the readers to feel sorry for them and question my (the author) sanity.

v     Realistic dialogue – I want my young adult (teenage) characters to sound like teenagers when they talk (and their inner dialogue when they think). I want their exchanges to be honest and not full of adult like mannerisms and thoughts. I don’t want people to think about the “old lady” who wrote the piece while they’re reading the characters words.

v     A Clear Goal for my Protagonist – I want my character’s goal(s) and motivations to be clear to the audience. I want them to have goals that are attainable for the length of the book I’ve written. I want my young adult and middle grade characters to have goals that are realistic for their age.

I decided to pick a song with a lot of character for this post. So fittingly, I chose Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. Enjoy!

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Grown-UP Christmas List

Yes, I have one. Don’t you? A Christmas list I mean. I have a few lists to be perfectly honest. Last year I shared my list (and got most of the things on my it). So, this year I’d like to share it, in the hopes I’ll get everything again. I would also like the things on my list for you, too. Well, if you like to write that is. Or read… I won’t be sharing my list now. No. It’s much too long for one post. I’ll be posting parts of it from Thursday, 12/8 till Christmas Eve, 12/24. I’ll also provide a little Christmas spirit with my fav Christmas songs.

My first musical selection is, “My Grown-Up Christmas List” ***of course*** but I couldn’t decide between my fav version by Amy Grant or the updated version by Michael Buble. So here they both are for your musical pleasure.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm Back!!!!

OMG, I found my way back to the blog. LOL Sorry I took a much-needed sabbatical. But I have still been busy writing, getting educated, and living. So what have I been up to:

 1.   Getting the house ready for the holidays. My youngest daughter has been harassing me everyday about hanging the lights outside since we already decorated the inside of the house. She greets me at the door when I come from work and gives me the evil eye…come on if you have a daughter you know the look.

2.   I was supposed to start querying on Nov. 20th but I didn’t. I chickened out…sort of. I just felt the MS needed something else. It’s been critiqued to death and beta read a few times, but I feel I’m missing something. Do you ever get that feeling? Anyway, until I feel differently I’m not sending it out.

3.   I threw away the last of the Pecan Pie from Thanksgiving that was not eaten. Thank God Thanksgiving is over with. I had been doing so well – eating healthy and all. My co-workers actually think I’m a really healthy eater. I have them fooled. I ate so much on Thanksgiving that I might as well have ate all the donuts and breakfast taco’s they offered – I ate as many calories in one day to equal about 2 months of donuts and tacos! So sad.

4.   Umm…starting to think about what I want for Christmas. I think I’ll do a separate post on this. LOL, yeah, it’s that much.

What have you been up to?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Do Women Want????

I’m taking a Literary Masterpieces class in school right now. One of the assigned readings was, The Wife of Bath’s Tale. Do you know it? Probably not. It’s really old. LOL Don’t I sound educated already.

The story is part of the famous Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. In one of the tales, told by a woman, Alisoun, a rapist is asked to answer the question, “What is it that women most desire?” If he can’t find the answer he’ll be killed for his crime. Whew!!! Glad they changed the law on that one.

Itchin’ to know what his answer was? Yeah, so was I. I thought he’d be hanged for his crime in the end because who can say what women want. Most of us don’t know what we want. Right?

Well, that was my initial reaction. Then I started thinking. Hey, I do know what I want. I have it all in my head. I know exactly what I want. What is that you ask?

To be Enough.

I want to be woke enough to write this post because I’m really tired right now.

I want to be loving and nurturing enough that my kids don’t hate or resent me when they are older.

I want to be spiritual enough that when my time comes to meet God I won’t be too frightened.

I want to be brave enough to query agents.

I want to be strong enough to take the rejection letters that will come when I query.

I want to be courageous enough to take risks when necessary.

I want to be pretty enough to still turn my husbands head when I walk in the room.

I want to be smart enough to know when enough is enough.

What was the rapists answer? Women most desired sovereignty over their husbands and for them to love them also. Yeah, I like that answer too. LOL What do you think women want?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Random Tidbits...

Okay, my new schedule is kicking my...

So I thought I'd share what I've been up to the past few weeks. Life has been pretty hectic. Not that it's not always so but it has been even more.

1. I'm getting acclimated to my new job. It has been difficult. I haven't worked in some time now so I am adjusting horribly. LOL Well, I'm trying but going to sleep at 1 in the am is probably not a good thing when you wake at 5 am.

2. I found a TV show that seems promising: Terra Nova. I can't wait to see how this story progresses. I'm not a huge TV watcher so I'm kinda of excited. My last fav TV show was Lost. The only problem: I've been so busy I haven't had time to watch it at its regular time slot. Thank God for DVR and my secretive family. They won't spill the beans.

3. I've been writing a lot in a writing journal. I've never really did it before but when I take lunch at work the last thing I want to do is look at another computer. So I've been writing long hand. I like it. Didn't think I would though. Wish my fingers luck.

4. I'm working on the end of my high fantasy story. And I might be a little biased but it is coming along nicely. I'm super excited about this story. LOL, I'm excited about every story I write.

What are you up to? Let us know in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quick side note...

Hey everyone. I know that I've been posting once a week but I had to interrupt the silence and post. I'll be posting on Monday as usual. However, I just checked my email and found a request from another blogger, fellow Shewriter, and fellow member - oh and she's an author, Kelly Hashway. Kelly is the author of May the Best Dog Win, a children's picture book. She has been chosen as a finalist in the "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading Contest." Please follow the link, embedded in the title of the contest, to cast your vote.

So I'm asking that all my followers please take a minute to vote. It is super quick and easy and Kelly deserves it. As writers we should all try and support one another. I'm trying to do my part. Are you doing your part?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

You Have Homework....

How do you unwind your writer’s mind? I listen to music and watch movies. Movies though, I must admit feel like homework for me. I’m always trying to find the inciting incident, looking to see if the hook grabbed me, watching the character arc…you get the picture.

I’m a little nuts.

But there's a lesson in this obsessive-compulsive practice of mine: it makes me a better writer. I can immediately spot the inciting incident in most books I read and in my own MS. Well, I’d better be able to do that with my own work. Right!

Do you know your inciting incident? Do you have a killer hook or opening chapter? Will it grab your reader and make them keep turning the page even though their eyes are on fire from sleep deprivation? Let’s hope so. Not the sleep deprivation but the continued page turning. What about your character arch? Does your character grow/change as the story progresses? They should.

So, the next time you watch a movie: Stop. Put your writerly cap on. Invite the muses. Pop some popcorn. You can even grab a voice recorder to make notes. Then plop down into a comfy chair and do your writing homework. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kids in movies

I write YA and MG stories. And I adore movies with kids. So, I thought I’d do a fun post on movies with kids doing bad stuff- or just plain stuff. Sometimes the kids are good but sometimes the kids are terrible - I love them all. Some of my favorite movies are those with kid leads. Here are a few of my favs, categorized:

The Little Kids

The Fire Starter: Drew Berry was setting everything on fire…including our hearts. She was adorable.

The Champ: Little Ricky Schroder has (in my opinion) made the saddest scene ever in movie history. Period.

Creepy Kids

The Little Girl who Lived Down the Lane – A young Jodie Foster was extremely creepy in the role of abandoned little girl. But don’t fret, she could definitely handle her own.

The Bad Seed – Rhoda wanted what she wanted. And if someone stopped her from getting what she wanted, she could deal with them. In her own special way.

Orphan - The creepiest of all little creepers. She had me fooled, you too I’m sure. The best part about it – after she’d done all her dirt – you cold beat her senseless and it not be child abuse.

Kids Kicking Butt

Percy Jackson and the Olympians – Percy, the son of Posideion, along with his satyr and protector, Grover, and the daughter of Athena, Annabeth go on an adventure to return Zeus’s stolen lightening rod. Oh, yeah they kick some butt on the way.

The Last Airbender – This kid is awesome. He literally bends air. There’s another kid that bends/manipulates water…this is one of the best kids-with-powers movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Holiday Movies

A Christmas Story – “You’ll shoot your eyes out” – one of the greatest kid-movie lines ever. My family and I have to watch this movie during the holidays or it just ain’t Christmas.

Home Alone - "KEVIN" - What's Christmas without big family vacations to Paris and leaving the youngest one at home to fend for himself. And boy does he have to fend.

Honorable Mentions:
The City of Ember: Dystopian society where the entire population on earth live underground. Of course, it took two kids to discover that it was okay to go top side. Great movie.

The Ring – the creepy kid killer is not on screen much but when she is she makes her presence known and leaves you unable to sleep with the TV on for months – yeah, I said months. Don’t judge me.

E.T. – Okay, I love this movie. My kids love this movie so it had to be on this list. It’s a great family movie about the ugliest cutest drinking alien ever to stow away in a little boys closet. 

The Hunger Games – Okay, I know the movie has not come out yet but I loved the books so much there’s no way they can mess this up. Right? Oh gosh. I hope not. Katniss Everdeen kicks major booty and Peeta Mellark is the smartest sweetest teen ever. Yeah, I’m Team Peeta.

Hope you've enjoyed my gallery of awesome kid movies. What's your favorite?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And the Winners are....

And the winners are:

Alison - The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

Danah - The $10 Amazon Gift card

Congrats to the winners! Alison has already been notified. Danah, I tried to email you with the address you left in the comments, but it returned undeliverable. Please email me within three days or I will have to choose another winner.

This was my very first giveaway and it was a huge success. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

The winners were chosen using

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop!

This hop was organized by Kathy at I Am a Reader Not a Writer Blog and Heather at Buried in Books.

Over 300 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we are all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. The hop runs from Thursday, September 1st through, Wednesday, September 7th.

I have 2 great giveaways for you. There will be 2 winners.

My first giveaway is a $10 Amazon gift card.

 My second giveaway is a copy of two great YA reads:

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman


 The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

Giveaway Details:

To enter the giveaway: Please follow this blog. Leave a comment below with your email address, for contact if you should win. If you were to win the books, please specify which you would like. The last day to enter the giveaway is Sept. 7, 2011 at midnight. The winners will be announced on Sept. 8. The contest is open to US residents only, please.

Please click the next blog in the linky below. Happy Hopping and Good luck!!!

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What I like about you...

I'm a sucker for a good story. It's true! Give me a good book and you'll not hear a peep from me until it's finished. And I love reading young adult fiction the most. The characters are awesome and writers (in their infinite wisdom) keep coming up with new ways to say old things.

So instead of list all the reasons or things I love about YA fiction, I'm listing what I don't like. That's a much shorter list. Believe me you'd thank me if you'd seen the other list.

Things I hate to see in my YA fiction:
  1. Perfect characters – nobody’s perfect, not even your hot guy lead who always knows what to say to make your MC drool all over herself. He’s not perfect and neither is she. Before you submit that story to an agent, you’d better find out more about your character. Make them believable because nobody’s perfect and everybody’ll be able to tell you didn’t flesh out your character(s) enough.
  2. Unrealistic dialogue. Um, kids don’t always talk in complete sentences. Well, sometimes. But not always. You’ve got to mix it up. Give the reader a taste of intelligent characters, but unless there is a specific reason for them sounding like Harvard Professors (something like an experiment gone wrong- sci-fi story) then stop trying to woo us and let the kids be kids. Oh and keep the slang to a minimum. I have a sixth grader (all his friends are older) and a 10th grader with dozens of friends and nieces and nephews - they don't talk slang 24/7. So your MC shouldn't answer their parents with, "Yo, what up, yo." I'm not even sure I wrote that right. A little goes a long way, but too much just starts to show your age- not your MC's. Plus it's distracting. Maybe give one character the habit of talking slang a lot- not every single one.
  3. An MC with no choice. Everyone has a choice, if they didn’t where would the tension be. If your MC learns of something he/she has to do don’t make it so that they must do it. Let them decide that they don’t want to do what everyone is expecting of them- it gives the reader something to look forward to - Are they going to change their mind? And of course, this adds tension. This is what the reader wants. It propels the story forward.

Now there are a few other things I don’t like to see in my YA. I have had my mind changed once or twice about what I like and don’t like. Are there any that I missed that you hate? I’m sure there are. Leave a few of your own YA pet peeves in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I’m tired. I’m hungry. And I’ve been up all night. So today’s post are random tidbits about what’s been going on with me:

1.  The kids went back to school yesterday. I have three – a 10th grader, sixth grader, and a third grader. The hubby’s conveniently gone away on business. Yeah, I was up all night signing papers. I can’t remember any more why I was excited about them going back.

2.  I’m adding extra villainous traits to my villain/antagonist in my current WIP at the suggestion of my CP. You can never have a villain that is evil enough. Right now, this pen and paper to my right with my children’s names on them are the most evil, loathsome, inhumane things I’ve seen in a while.

3.  I’m so ready to stop editing I want to smack someone. Of course, I’m practicing patience. But the hubby better watch out around the 18th of every month. That’s all I’ve got to say about that…

4.  Pleasantly surprised about a new movie I’ve heard about, Magic Mike. Yeah, I know that title is something else, huh. It stares Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, and Matt Bomer. I could probably watch with the volume turned down. I’m wondering though, I usually see movies with the hubby, but I’m thinking he might not like this one too much.

5.  I’m thinking of writing a MG story. I haven’t decided yet, but I have a short story I never completed – I fell in love with the characters. A female protagonist who kicks some major butt and a nerd on a special mission- umm I’m thinking. Not sure right now all I can think about with any real clarity is snuggly up in my bed.

What are you up to? Let everyone know in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Award

I received this Appreciated Follower Award from Fi at Fi's Magical Writing Haven. Thank you so much Fi. It's nice to be recognized. I follow quite a bit of blogs and most days I simply don't have enough time to comment. But there are times when I just have to. Maybe it's something in the post that resonates with me on a personal level or I have a couple extra minutes (yeah, it does happen) or sometimes I can't explain it I just have to leave a comment.

This post is dedicated to the followers who comment on my blog the most. Those that grace the comment section with their wit, suggestions and sometimes rants. I appreciate you all, of course, but the rules were that I could only pick five followers.

Here are the rules handed down from Fi:

1. Reveal the top 5 followers
2. Copy and paste the award here
3. Cross fingers followers will spread the love to other deserving bloggers
4. Do what I do best....Have bloggity FUN!!!!!!

So my top 5 appreciated followers are:

1. Kelly Hashway
2. Catherine Stine
3. Brenda
4. Bella
5. Totsymae

I'd like to extend a hearty thank you to all my followers. Thank you for your comments, always.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Part 2: Who's a good CP???

As promised, I’m continuing my discussion on critique partners. The focus of this post is showing proper etiquette. And no, it’s not just about saying thank you.

How can you have good CP etiquette?

·         Never show your CP’s work to someone else without their approval first

·         If your CP asks a specific question about their MS, please do answer. Even if the answer is, “I have no idea.”

·         Your comments can’t all be criticisms. Come on. I’m sure you can find something positive to say about the piece or you wouldn’t be working on it (see previous post here).

·         Don’t take a month to get back to your CP on ten pages of their MS. Unless you both decided to work at a snails pace.

·         Do respond to emails or phone calls from your CP in a reasonable amount of time. Even if you’re only responding to say, I’ll respond later. Don’t writers have to wait enough on others – don’t make your CP have to wait on you too.

·         Be humble. Do not assume that your suggestions are money in the bank. If they were you’d already have a book published. So what if your CP chooses to not take your advice/suggestion – get over yourself.

·         Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Remember your CP is trying to help you improve your piece. Don’t fight them. If you disagree on a particular suggestion and it means a lot to you, talk about it. If you can’t agree, agree to disagree. If it’s something you feel is a deal breaker – be honest. Being stuck with an unwanted CP is like being in a bad marriage (not that I’d know – I’m just saying).

·         If your CP reaches publication before you, you should be dancing with them – not frowned up in a corner with your thumb in your mouth. Their success is your success. After all, it was your excellent suggestions that helped to strengthen their MS.

I’m sure there are tons of other CP etiquette rules, but I’m tired and don’t feel like working the muscle in my head anymore. So, please, if you can think of others list them in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who's a good CP???

I’ve been going through detailed edits with my CP for the last couple weeks. It’s been brutal. No, really…it has. Critiquing someone’s work can be tough, not everyone can do it. Well, not without some training. No, you don’t have to go to school or take a class. But there are some things that you can learn before you start the process to make the experience less painful for you and your CP.

What are those things?

  • You need to know the characteristics of a good CP
  • You need to have good CP etiquette
  • You must be knowledgeable
  • You must be thorough
Okay, if you looked at this list and said, “Where the !@&!!@ she get that?” you’re not alone. I just made it up. But wait, before you click unlike or the little “x” at the top of the page, hear me out. If you or your CP don’t have all/some part of the elements above then you’ll be in for a bumpy ride.

I’ll break down each of the elements that make a great CP. But not all today. In this post, I’ll discuss the characteristics of a good CP.

There are certain traits a CP must have that set that person apart from others – for you and your writing. What are they?

  • Loyalty – a good CP will not toss your story to the side because someone else comes along and asks if they’ll look at their stuff. Not saying your CP couldn’t have another CP- they can. But they shouldn’t dump you in the middle of edits for weeks to work on someone else’s work. Unless, there’s extenuating circumstances and it’s agreed by the both of you.
  • Likability – if you can’t stand your CP your not gonna do a good job at edits. It’s like having a job you hate. Somewhere down the line your gonna skip something, thinking – oh, well, they’ll figure it out later. It’s all a matter of time. So do you have to be in love with your CP? Of course not. But there should be some kind of camaraderie. Finally, they must like your story. If they hate every detail of your piece, why are they trying to improve it for you? It’s like burning a cake but going through and putting the frosting on it and decorating it all pretty. Why would anyone do that? So if your CP, for instance, hates science fiction, and you write science fiction, I don’t think you’ll mesh well. My advice, if you wouldn’t read it – why critique it.
  • Thoughtfulness – a good CP points out the good in their CP’s piece and the bad. If you and your CP have been working together for some time and you feel you’ve grown – your CP’s work should reflect that too. What am I saying? Share. Play fare. Don’t hold onto new knowledge. Share that info with your CP to help better their work too. If you hear about a contest that your CP could enter, tell them. Let them enter and root for each other. If you found an article/blog post… that you absolutely love and has helped you tremendously, fork over the info.
  • Commonality – you should have something in common with your CP. Okay, you say, why do I have to have something in common with that person? Good question. It has been my experience that people who have zero in common don’t work as well together. True Life Example: My last CP (note: she’s not my CP anymore), and I had zero in common. I thought, that’s fine. She wrote Christian fiction, I write YA. Her children were grown; my children are school age. I could go on but I think you get the picture. We worked on one project together, after that I never heard from her again. No, we didn’t have a fight. We never argued over edits, we got along…well, well. We exchanged our work at a nice pace and kept our edits and emails strictly to the point. I don’t know anything about her except she is a talented Christian author and when her book is published, I’ll definitely get a copy (I’ll have to go out and buy it myself, though). I harbor no ill will toward her but our time together was some of the most boring I’ve ever had. Once the last email was sent, I never heard from her again. I emailed later to ponder about her progress – she didn’t reply. That was okay, I’m a tough cookie. My current CP and are have tons in common. We are both super goofy moms who write YA and our emails sometimes have one line – usually something super silly. And when she’s published, I’ll probably cry. Tears of happiness, of course. I’m sure she’ll do the same for me.
There are more traits I could’ve listed but this get’s us going. You get it. Right? You don’t have to be in love with your CP but you must be able to work with them. And preferably not on one project. If you work together on multiple projects just think of how much more that person can add to your revisions. They’ll have an inside track already to how you work and write. It’s crazy to stop at one project. Of course, this is all my experience – thus, my opinion.

What do you think? Can you list other qualities/traits a CP must have? Do you not agree with a trait I listed?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Musical Inspiration

I'm busy with edits, school, kids, drafts, ....

So I thought I'd share some of my fav songs. I love John Mayer and both of these two are my fav by him. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Stop this Train

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Best ending ever...

Most people will discuss the opening of a novel and never mention the ending. But it has been my experience that I can like a book all the way through but the ending can kill it for me. Not always. Not as important but it still has a vital impact on the overall feel of the story and how readers respond to it.

So today, I take my cue from movies - not books. I love movies just as much as books. Well, almost as much. Some of the more memorable ending movies have been my favorite. I love a story line that I cannot guess. One of the things I do upon watching a movie is try to determine “who done it and why.” If after 15 minutes of the movie, I can guess the ending, I don’t typically like it. I want to be surprised.

There are spoilers for some of the movies I listed. So, two things: shame on you for not seeing the movie sooner, and where do you live that you haven’t seen or heard this?

What are my favorite movies with killer endings?

The Skeleton Key – You never knew what was going on until it was too late..too late for you and too late for her. This movie made older southern women creepy. Yeah I would say it made New Orleans creepy but it has always had its own mystery. Hasn’t it.

The Sixth Sense – Yeah, dead guy walking through the entire movie…What else is there to say about this M. Night Shyalaman’s masterpiece. As a side note: I haven’t liked any of his other movies. I tried but just didn’t like any of them. The Village was promising but just didn’t do it for me.

Wild Things – This movie had so many tiny twists that they caught me off guard. Not a kiddy flick but it was a really good movie. And it wasn’t just Matt Dillon – but it didn’t hurt to have him in it either.

The Usual Suspect – Okay, the cripple guy’s (Verbal, don’t you love that name) the crazy killing loon. Love the entire cast of this movie, too. It has some of the best movie lines ever! This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Love it.

The Blair Witch Project – Yeah, this low budget movie broke new ground and scared the crap out of me. The final scene where the girl is hit from behind and the camera falls… Be honest you went and looked up the Blair Witch Project on your computer, too. You had to know if it was real. Right. My hubby and I ran from the theater to the computer when we got home. The freaky part – at first they kept saying it was real. Couldn’t find anything to refute this for a while… Yeah I slept with the lights on for a while.

Primal Fear – Who would have thunk the babbling, stuttering country boy was the murderer – not the lawyer who defended him that’s for sure. Plus, Edward Norton is a genius in front of the camera – love him.

Stephen Kings The Mist – I want give this one away- it’s not that old. But the ending will leave you wanting to fight or break down in tears. Or scream “Why” repeatedly at the TV screen…Gotta love the mind of Stephen King

The Ring – Come on Samara Morgan, you’ve killed my Estranged Baby Daddy, my precocious niece, and now you’re still gunning for me and my strange silently creepy son too… What do you want? You’ll be surprised. What would you have done? Made that copy???

What do you think of my choices? Did I leave your favorite movie off the list? Let us know in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lost in revisions...

Okay, I’m knee deep in revisions now. And kids.

I have a ton of kids at the house (nieces and nephews) coupled with my three kids, their driving me crazy. Everyone will be gone in two weeks. Yeah, two. I’m counting the days. But it also means that my editing keeps being interrupted.

I pulled an all-nighter a couple days ago. Yeah, right! My daughter (15) and niece (13) came pounded down the steps. It seems at 2 am she had an allergic reaction to something. Her lips swelled up and her face had blotchy spots over them. Well, about 4:30 I sent her and the niece back to bed. About 5:00, I finished my shower then the hubby was getting up for work. So I stayed up with him. Oh, and I forgot, and apparently the hubby and son did too, that it was trash day. I took the trash out then thought I’d check my email before going to bed. Somehow, it was 8:00 before I crawled, defeated into the bed. My all-nighter had produced nothing. Frustrated isn’t even the word.

So to cheer me up, I thought of something that makes me happy. Other than writing, fam and books. It’s my fav TV show: Lost. So in honor of my fav show - that airs no more, I give you *drum roll, please* the cast of Lost.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Random Musings of a YA Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer/mother/cook/pasta lover...

I have three WIPs that I need to work on. It's a tough job with all my other responsibilities but I'm getting it done. Well not without a little hair lost and insomnia. I've been thinking about my WIPs - here are my thoughts:

  1. I’m editing my WIP, on Chapter 15 of 27. I think these are the final edits. I’ve had 2 beta readers – early on before I started editing. I’ve went through one complete critique with one partner and now I’m working on another session with another partner. Now the only thing I need is two new beta readers and I’m done. Yay, baby!!!!

  1. My other WIP is at 56,000 – I’m almost finished. Yayjdfdf  *sorry, I was doing my happy dance and I accidently hit the keys. I’m so uncoordinated.* Once I finish the draft of this WIP, I’m going back to my first book and edit it. I can’t wait my first story is by far my fav.
  1. I’m having trouble with one scene – one of the last scenes in my current edit. It is where my protag is supposed to kick the stuffing out of the antagonist. She’s female and he’s male, and they both have extraordinary power. It’s an important scene and I don’t want to goof it up.

  1. I was really inventive with the WIP I’m currently editing. I’ve created another world and made up names for all kinds of stuff. Like, a special chemical toxin in the air, a cooking apparatus, the unlawful people of that world, the type of clothes they wear… And science plays a part in the overall story…actually without the science part the story wouldn’t sound right. Well early on, someone classified my story as paranormal – I had no problem with this, as I love the genre. But it never sat well with me. But out of all my stories, I would classify this one as more paranormal than the others. Anyone else have a similar problem? I’ve decided to query it as paranormal –whenever that happens- and let the agent/publisher decide the final genre.
  1.  My current draft is getting down to the last couple of scenes but I’m having trouble. My protag has been in another dimension for a while. But now she has returned home – to her surprise – but there is something she must do in the other dimension. She is desperately trying to get back to that place. I’m having a hard time getting her back. Grrrr…I can’t explain it. I have an outline but I deviated from it at one pivotal scene. Why? Oh, because I lost 100 pages (in the middle of the story- not the beginning) and had to start over and when I did, that scene came out different and changed the ending of the story. I still can’t figure out why she can’t go back…she has to. I’m kicking her scrawny behind out the door today. I will not go to sleep tonight until I have her back where she needs to be.
  1. How many keyboards do writers go through? I never thought about that much until I started seriously writing. My keyboard (merely a tot at two years) is worn out. Many of the keys are rubbed off so you don’t know what letter you’re typing. Well since I can type, it’s not a problem for me. And the hubby has a lap-top.  But the kids- who are using my computer until theirs is repaired – complain about it. Funny problem to have, huh? I never hear any other people with this complaint. I never even noticed the letters were rubbed off until the Telephone man came and was looking at the computer and said, “Wow, someone has been doing a lot of typing. The keys are rubbed off.”

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Best Book Ever...

I’m back. Yes, I’m really back and I feel awful about not posting. I thought I had it all figured out. I didn’t. I didn’t have the correct hard drive with me with the post on it. And my attempt to recreate the post, while my hubby and kids glared at me was null. So my apologies. I have been playing catch up (with the laundry, with the cleaning, with my schoolwork…) since I’ve been back and I’ve neglected the blog.

Since I’ve been away, I’ve been thinking of what makes a story great. What makes me want to turn the page and not stop until I get to the end? What makes me daydream about it long after I’ve put it down? And what makes me want to run out and purchase other books from the author? Well, those are tough to answer. There aren’t any right or wrong answers. What I like is my personal preference. It may differ greatly from what someone else likes. Nevertheless, there are certain elements of a book that cannot be compromised.

What are they?
Character Development – This is the most important element of the book - in my opinion. Great characters can make up for some of the other things that may be lacking in the story. Some…not all. The characters must be three-dimensional. Think: Stephanie Meyers character “Wanda” from The Host. Larry Brooks provides a great article about character development at his blog, Story Fix.

Setting – The setting (where your story takes place) can be like another character in your book. If done correctly. The setting should be rich and make the reader feel that they are there with the characters. Think: James Cameron's, Avatar (I know its not a book but it was great). A great article on settings can be found at The Storytellers Unplugged.

Villains – Now this is where I think some writers goof. They don’t spend enough time developing the villain. Now the villain does not have to be a live person. It can be nature, societal pressures, friends, relatives, or even the protagonist can be his/her own villain. Get creative, treat the villain like a real character, and make them three-dimensional too. Think: James Patterson’s character, The One who is the One, Witch and Wizard. I thought I’d direct you to an earlier post by me for the villain – here.

Pacing- This is another area (for me) that makes or breaks a novel. Don’t give away too much or you’ll lose your audience. But don’t make me wait until the last line of the book to start getting answers to questions. Think: Edward and Bella’s romance in Twilight. Janice Hardy over at The Other Side of the Story has a great article up about pacing.  

If any of these things are off in the story, I can’t continue to read. It throws me off. What do you like most in a story? What do you barely pay attention to in the story? What do you think? Do these things make you want to continue reading also if done properly? Or are there other things that you look for?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What does your MC want???

Every novel has one thing in common. The main character, the protagonist, has a goal. They want something and that desire is what propels the story forward. I’ll use the novel, Twilight by Stephanie Meyers to illustrate my point.


In Twilight, Bella didn’t want to come live with Charlie in Forks. But she sacrificed her happiness for her mother. She had low expectations for Forks from past visits, all she wanted was to blend-in, graduate, and move on.

What does your character want?

Your character’s goal does not have to be tangible. Their desires can be to become a better person- this is an intangible goal. Or they could want acceptance, or peace… The goal could be to gain something tangible: a new car (maybe a first car for a new driver), a coveted award they have been vying for, the heart of a love interest… The possibilities are endless and are only narrowed by your imagination. 

The thing about goals, however, they change. Your character may begin the story with a specific goal but usually a quarter into the story something changes. This change makes it impossible for the protagonist to continue in the same manner. The change that takes place is called the inciting incident.


In Twilight, the inciting incident is when Edward rescues Bella from being crushed by the van. She was already highly aware of him because of his aloof attitude with her. After he rescues her from being crushed – and with supernatural strength to boot – she is awestruck.

Once the inciting incident occurs, usually the protagonist has a change of heart regarding their goal. It is no longer what they want or it is unachievable and therefore a new goal is found. Why?


After the nearly fatal almost-accident, Edward saved her from, her goal changes from blending. She is drawn to him and wants to know him. Wants to be with him despite her growing suspension (then confirmation) that he is very different from any boy she has ever met. This is her new goal.

Okay, so you got it right? I thought I’d list one more example to ensure you understand.

The Hunger Games

Initial Goal – Katniss’s initial goal was to survive her current circumstances: The harsh life in District 12.

Inciting Incident - The Hunger Games are taking place and Prim, Katniss’s sister is called as a tribute for District 12.

New Goal – Katniss rushes to take Prim’s place in The Hunger Games. Her new goal is to survive the games.

Do you see that after the inciting incident Katniss’s goal changes? It must. She does not have a choice in the matter. It is either win (survive) or lose (die). Not all stories, of course, will have such compelling inciting incidents. Some will give the protagonist a choice. You can do this or you can do that…but some, like in the example, only leave one possible choice. Win or die.  

Can you point out the inciting incident in your own work? What is your characters goal before this? How does that goal change after the inciting incident?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.   

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't ever give up!!!

I know sometimes you get discouraged. I know because I do. But I love what I'm doing. Writing isn't a hobby for me. It's the real thing! So don't stop chasing your dream. Every time I hear this song that's what I'm reminded. Don't give up. Keep on chasing my dream. I won't give up. Don't you. When you need someone to lean on - come lean on me. I may have to come looking for your shoulder one day, too.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thankful for Thursdays..Vacations

Oops. My post today is really late. My apologies.

I'm posting in connection with Oasis for YA Thankful for Thursday weekly meme.
I'm preparing for a big event: Vacation. Yes!!! Can't wait. Soooo excited ***ahem*** I've been looking forward to a small break. I'm running myself racket all day between three kids, school, blog, writing, maintaining the house, looking for a new job...

But if I can be honest with you a moment, I love the fast pace of my life. However, sometimes I do have to take a break. Yes, we can't always be Supermom or Wonderwoman (I would love to be Wonderwoman. No seriously. I would). Sometimes we have to just be - human.

Funny thing about my vacation is were going to Disney World, again. We've been a couple times before - but you never can see all of Disney. Right? The funny part is that I'll be up at the crack of dawn and in the bed when the sun starts to crest the horizon. No. Seriously, It'll be like that. My two best friends and their families are coming too. You know what that means. We'll be up all night gossiping discussing current events the first couple days. So I'll need a mini vacay from my big one...I won't get it though. That's okay. That's my life. I freaking LOVE it!!!

I'll be gone a little over a week but I'll still update the blog. I've already started the post for Wednesday of next week. I'll be talking about your character's goals.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Opening Line

On my last post, I discussed the troubles that plagued the first chapter. Well, I thought I’d explore a facet of the first chapter that I know many of us obsess over: The Opening Line.

What a great opening line does for your story:
  • It engages the reader
  • It sets up the voice of the story
The first line is essentially the receptionist for your novel. Have you ever gone to an office and the receptionist was…well, terrible. She smacked gum and talked fast. She threw her hands up to silence you because she was taking a personal call. She gave you the “how dare you interrupt me” look. Well, that’s kinda how some of our opening lines are.

We pull them from somewhere obtuse and smack them on our book. I’ve seen opening lines that have absolutely nothing to do with the book. A line floating from somewhere ominous and you wonder while reading the first page: What does that mean? What does that have to do with the story? You’re readers shouldn’t have to guess about things like that. If they do, they may not continue reading.

What’s a “good” opening line? Honestly, I can’t tell you that either. For every book, it’s different. What it must have, however, is:
  • Some relevance to the story – even if it’s a random thought, make it relatable to the story in some way
  • Something that will draw the reader in and hold their attention

However, I caution you. Don’t try to perfect the opening line while you write the first draft. It’s nearly impossible. Stories change into something wholly different at the end. You’re wasting your time trying to perfect a line at the draft stage that will invariably be different in the end. I changed my opening lines about 10 times. So wait until you’ve completed the first draft, stored the novel away for a while (getting your fresh eyes ready), then and only then will you be able to write an effective opening line.

I found an awesome article on opening lines here that has awesome examples of opening lines and why they are effective.

Some of my favorite opening lines:

“LISTEN TO ME” --- James Patterson, Witch and Wizard: The Gift -- YA

Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. ---Gayle Forman, If I Stay – YA (contemporary fiction)

I knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes.—Stephanie Meyer, The Host, Science fiction (Adult)

Maybe if I had loved her less there would have been no murder – Andrew Klavan, Man and Wife, Thriller (Adult)

Streeter only saw the sign because he had to pull over and puke. – Stephen King, Full Dark No Stars; Fair Extension (story # 3) Horror, Suspense (Adult)

My opening line from my current WIP:

If the twilight zone was a place, I was there – The Chloe Chronicles and the Rebirth – YA, paranormal

What is your opening line? Are you satisfied with it? Do you have any tips on how to improve your opening lines?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Chapter Woes

Today I’m going to talk about something that eludes many writers. Something that makes us scratch our collective heads and sigh,“Will I ever get this right?”

The elusive first chapter.

My CP and I have gone many rounds trying to perfect the first chapter. But what’s the problem? Why are we having such a hard time? Just write the story. Tell it. It’s that simple. Right? But it’s not. Not at all.

What is a first chapter supposed to do?

  1. It hooks the reader
  2. It sets the story up.
  3. It tells the reader where the story is taking place
  4. Who the main character is
  5. It sets in motion our attitude toward the MC – do we like them –

What usually holds the first chapter back?

No hook. The readers need something to make them turn past the first page. I’ve read many agent blogs and most say it takes them until the second or third page of a story to tell if they’ll request to read more. But some don’t even make it off the first.

What do they want to see? Maybe this isn’t the best question. What don’t they want? Yeah. That’s a better question. Back-story – they don’t want to hear about what happened before the story actually takes place. They want what’s happening now. Don’t info-dump the reader in the first chapter. A good writer weaves back-story into the plot in small doses.

They don’t want action for no apparent reason. What do I mean: action with no dialogue, no insight into the MC, no introduction to the setting to ground the reader? Action is okay to start the story if it moves the story in a forward motion. It provides vital info about the MC so that the reader can empathize with them, and it’s clear who’s doing what and why.

Another culprit in the first chapter woes: The setting is not clear and neither is the genre of the book/piece. The readers have no way to ground themselves if they don’t know where the story takes place. Or what kind of story it is. This is a simple fix. Tell the reader where the story takes place. In addition, tell them what kind of story it will be. Caution: it should be revealed organically to the reader the setting and genre of the story.

I thought I’d share part of a short story here as an example of each element of the opening chapter I’m talking about.

Hook:  “Um…uh, hey…Rachel.” This is the very first line of the story. It does a number of things.  It tells us someone is reluctant to speak to someone else. Why? This should propel the reader forward. They want to know why this person is nervous about speaking to Rachel. And who is Rachel anyway?

Setting:  Someone says as I sit perched beneath a massive oak and wait for my sister, Melissa. I look up to see Sharon Potts standing in front of me. She blocks my view of the one-story school. I lower my head and take a deep breath. These are the next sentences in the same story. They establish a) that the story is in first POV b) the main character is Rachel because we’re in her head c) the story is taking place outside of a school d) which might mean that the story is YA (might). This also shows a little about the character, Rachel. She’s waiting for her sister to exit the school and is concerned that Sharon is blocking her view of it. Does that read as anxious? Her reaction in the last sentence says she doesn’t really want to be bothered. Great. There’s conflict immediately.

Setting the story up (more) and character development: I turn my attention back to her. Her throat goes up then down as she swallows hard. “Hi, Sharon,” I say. My stomach does a flip. Go away. I don’t feel like talking. I cup my hands over my brow to shield them from the glaring sun and Sharon’s searching espresso colored eyes. I glance around her to ensure Melissa hadn’t come out of the building with the small cluster of kids trickling down the front steps. Okay we have conflict – for sure. We’re in her head and she does not want to be bothered with Sharon. She is the one who actually seems nervous now. Why? We also have more information on the setting.

And more set-up and conflict: “Um, Rachel, I’m really sorry to hear about your mom. She was great.” She paused. The side of her mouth turns up into a small grin, well, half smile. I wanted to smack her. “You know…um…you can always come and talk to me…if you need someone to talk to…I mean. How are you holding up?” Her glance falls sideways, as if she does not want to hear the answer.

I’m not confident I’ll see Melissa exit despite my attempt to peer around Sharon. So I stand.  I wipe the back of my jeans to remove the dirt. And I reach behind and pull the band on my long ponytail to loosen it. My head aches. I inhale a deep breathe and exhale it slowly. Sharon is two inches shorter than I am so I don’t initially notice her standing there still. She is looking at me with wide eyes. Is she waiting for a reply to her question? I groan internally. Not again.  

All this sets the story up. It’s a short story so you have a limited amount of time to grab your audience. But the same goes for longer pieces. I set up conflict early and tried to incorporate tidbits about the MC’s character right away. I also included info about the setting: a school, the glaring sun (midday), a massive oak tree. There is also info about how Rachel looks,  a) long hair b) in a ponytail c) she sounds like she might be tall c) she has on jeans

The part of the story posted here gives the reader a lot to think about already and it’s only the first few paragraphs. I haven’t given away the entire story (good pacing) but I have given the readers enough to want to keep reading.

All the elements above should be in your first chapter to ensure your audience wants to keep reading your piece. Do you have any tips for starting the first chapter? Leave it in the comments.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.