Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday!

I feel like I haven't done a progress report like this in forever, because I've been revising for ages, and recently, querying :).

I feel like I've learned a ton writing my first novel, Legacy of the Empress, and now that I'm ready to dive back into my second (Hollow Land), I know what to change and what to avoid.

I'm about 5500 words into my novel right now, and I realized, I had a lot of backstory and needed to start with more action. However, to start with action, I needed to fill in some holes in the brief outline I'd created. My husband and I sat down last night and brainstormed like you wouldn't believe. I feel incredibly confident now that I know where the story is headed, and now that I have someone else who thinks my plot is solid, too.

Here are some tips I've picked up from this experience:

1) If you find a plot hole in your outline--PLUG IT. I've learned from experience that it's better to brainstorm various options now then put it off until later and get stuck and have to do a big re-write. Last night, when I came to a sticky spot, my husband and I threw out crazy ideas while I took notes until something stuck. Don't be afraid to experiment :).

2) Get a partner to help with your outline. Get someone you trust and show them your outline, then talk about it step by step. They'll be able to tell you up front if parts of your plot seem wonky, weak, or missing entirely. You can go into your first draft with a boost of confidence that you're at least working with a solid foundation.

3) Take notes! If you have an idea about what feelings you want a scene to evoke or how you want your characters to react to it, note it briefly in your outline. Trust me, this will help later on when you're writing it.

4) Remember that nothing's set in stone. You can change anything you'd like at any time :). An outline isn't a ball and chain, it's a key to freedom! Now, you don't have to be afraid of getting "blocked" because you don't know where you're going, but you're also free to let the story take on a mind of it's own. Use the outline as a tool--don't let it use you!

So, what about you guys? Are there any projects that you're working on? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tagged: A Special Tell the Truth Tuesday!

I was Tagged by my friend and fellow blogger Abby Annis! Per the rules, I have to complete the following sentences, and then tag three people in return:

I like comfortable clothing

I like eating corn and mushrooms straight from the can

I like collecting shot glasses from different countries

I like Indian sarees and wish I could rock one without getting strange looks

I like tiny oragami

I like 80s my little ponies. I had one w/ an innertube shaped like a frog! It floated in my bath tub and was completely awesome

I like shower crayons

I like unsweetened black tea

I like reading books on my phone

I like petting my cat and staring off into space (it's very relaxing)

I like climbing my stairs on all fours

I like combing my hair now that it's long. I feel like the little mermaid with her dinglehopper.

I love the cool people I've met from writing and blogging!

Today was a long day at work, but fairly relaxed. I'll take it.

I hate it when characters in books assume stupid things and act like morons based purely on assumptions. Communication, people!

I hate unrealistic dialogue in movies

I hate parachute pants, especially if they have neon designs on them

I hate rat tail hairstyles

I hate aspertame

I hate drinking out of glasses that are uncomfortably wide for my hand

I hate filing (so. much.), but I love being organized

I hate dusting and vacuuming

I (secretly) like *whispers* Enya... don't tell!!

I love rack of lamb. Sorry, lambs! Why must you be so delicious???

So, now it's your turn! I want to get to know some of the newer followers on my blog, so here are my picks:

Ampara Ortiz

Darlyn Herradura

Lydia Kang

Cool blogs, you guys! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blog Chain: Dialogue Rules!

It's blog chain day!
This time around, we're going to do some talking about... well... talking :).
The chatty Kate asked:
Do you enjoy writing dialogue? Do you use a lot of dialogue in your writing (for our purposes "a lot" will be defined as more than a smidge and yet not so much that the quotes key on your computer is completely worn out.)? Do you have example(s) of dialogue you especially enjoyed from something you've read? Do you have example(s) of dialogue from your own writing? What about these examples makes them special?
Great questions!
I'm going to follow the thought train of the kick-ass Cole and talk about my undying and passionate love for Joss Whedon. Have any of you guys seen the show Firefly? If you haven't, seriously, go get it! It's one of the best shows I've ever put into my eye holes. Two words: Space cowboys.
However, it's not just the space cowboy goodness that makes this show one of my favorites. What is it, you ask? The dialogue! Joss is the king of witty repartee.
Here are some of my favorite exchanges from the show:
Kaylee: "Well, we're headed for help... right?"

Zoe: "Captain will come up with a plan."

Kaylee: "That's good. Right?"

Zoe: "Possibly you're not recalling some of his previous plans."
Mal: "Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?"

Zoe: "Big damn heroes, sir."

Mal: "Ain't we just!"
Mal: "I would appreciate it if one person on this boat would not assume I'm an evil, lecherous hump."

Zoe: "No one's saying that, sir."

Wash: "Yeah, we're pretty much just giving each other significant glances and laughing incessantly."
What I love about this dialogue is that it is jam-packed with voice, and each little scenario gives us not only something to snicker at, but lets us get a glimpse at the character.
Great dialogue is the epitome of showing instead of telling.
Instead of describing someone as "sassy," you can have him/her sassing someone before our very eyes. Much more effective, don't you think?
I personally love dialogue, but I also don't overuse it. There is a place for everything. As a wise man once said, in all things moderation is key.
So, what do you guys think? Do you love dialogue? Why or why not?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Memory Lane: It Sucks to be Young!

For those of us who write YA stories, or even just have characters who are kids, I ask you...

Do you ever think about what you don't miss about being a kid?

I think a lot of the time as adults we remember the fun things like sleepovers, first kisses, and snap bracelets (those things were BOSS!), but are we really staying true to character in our writing if we don't round out the picture?

Let's indulge in some anti-nostalgia to get in touch with our inner child!

Top 10 Things that I DON'T Miss About Being a Kid:

10) Massive pimples before major events! Before prom when I was 16 years old, I got the biggest zit of my life on the end of my nose. Can you say, Rudolph the Reindeer? I covered it in about an inch of coverup, but yeah, my nose was officially misshapen for The Big Night. I do not miss zits.

9) Parental control of the TV! I'm not saying that I hate Jessica Parker or anything, but what kid really wants to be watching Murder She Wrote? 60 Minutes? Crossfire? Bonanza? (Sorry, Hoss, and Little Joe. You're boring.)

8) Bedtime/Curfew! When I was young, I had a 9 p.m. bedtime, which means that no matter how badly I wanted to stay up for The X Files, I wasn't allowed. Also, I live in the northwest, so during the summer it's light until about 11 p.m. I would lie in bed with the sunlight streaming in through my curtains, listening to the sounds of kids without bedtimes shrieking with laughter down the block. Not. Cool.

7) No money! Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted the new CoolNameBrandThingyMcStuff? Get a job. I once saved up months and months and months for a toy only to realize when I finally had enough money for it... that I'd outgrown it and no longer wanted it.

6) Homework! At least at my job I don't have to take anything home. Remember staying up late desperately trying to read the last of the book you'd been neglecting so you could finish that project that's due tomorrow? Yikes. Stress levels are on Defcon 1! I literally still have nightmares where I'll be in a panic over some research paper I forgot to write.

5) Stuff marketed for kids/teens is gross. I bought a shirt at the store 20 Below which was geared toward teens with no money--everything is $20 or less! The stitching came out in the first wash cycle and that was that. Also, anyone here remember Crystal Pepsi? I was reminded of that today, and thought "Why the hell would they make a pepsi that is only cool because it's clear... and then sell it in school vending machines INSIDE A CAN. The teens who buy it don't have glassware, people. They're at SCHOOL. We can't see the coolness. Also, now it tastes funny. Brilliant.

4) No one listens to you. "What's that, little Sally? You saw Old Man Jenkins shoplifting down at the store and then he blamed it on your friends? Well, that can't be possible! Old Man Jenkins is an adult. Stop making up stories--you're grounded!"

3) No car. Oh, you'd like to go on a date? You want to go to the mall? You forgot your coat at school? Well, I sure hope it's within walking distance, otherwise tough luck. Otherwise, you'll be taking the bus.

2) Other kids are jerks. Are you overweight? Too tall? Too short? Too skinny? Hair too curly? Have braces? Wear glasses? Walk funny? Too smart? Too average? Use big words? Use small words? Laugh too much? Act too quiet? Big boobs? No boobs? ...Well, you're pretty much screwed.

1) Feeling sorry for yourself. Everything seems worse when you have more hormones coursing through you at light speed and no control over the things that seem most important.

So, what about you guys? What do you not miss about being a kid? :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of queries, I shall fear no rejections..."


It's that time again, my lovely readers: Time to step into the confessional! That's right--it's Tell the Truth Tuesday!

Here are my truths for this week:

1) I straight up forgot to blog yesterday. And I feel bad for neglecting you! Seriously, I take one "unplugged" week, and it goes straight to my head. Unbelievable :P.

2) I spent at least an hour last night thinking of my "signature style" at the prompting of a YA book. I'm reading an ARC of Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy, and there is much talk about picking a style that is distinctly "you" to help you feel comfortable in your own skin. I decided my signature style is "Casual, fun, and romantic." Yes, I actually picked adjectives and then wished I was a part of The Cinderella Society :). I hope Kay Cassidy lets me join!

3) I kiss my cat on the lips. I totally know how wrong it is, and that it makes me a borderline Crazy Cat Lady, but look at this face!

It totally started when he was a kitten, because awww, and now I still do it. And am ashamed.

4) I had a wardrobe malfunction today. I am lucky enough to wear jeans to work. However, my beloved jeans started getting a hole in an area you don't want to have a hole showing (inner upper thigh), so I patched it until I could go shopping. Today, the patch decided to not only come unstuck (it was the iron-on kind), but to krinkle up and try to eject itself from the thigh-hole while I was walking. Through Human Resources. *facepalm*

So not only did I have a huge hole in my pants today, but I also had a patch making a break for it. Dress for success, anyone? Yeaaaah.

5) I love really bad sci fi cover art. Like this:
Hehehehe. Seriously, I could look at that all day.

What truths do you guys have to confess this week?

*Note: To those of you wonderful people who have recently given me blog awards or tagged me, I do love you, but have gotten woefully behind in... well... life, so I haven't posted these yet. I'll be trying to share the love this week :). Thank you all!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Facing Your Fears!

*First posted October 26, 2009

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens of gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

In my book, Legacy of the Empress, my characters have issues. Astrid, my heroine, spent the last ten years of her childhood locked away in a tower room. Her mother imprisoned her when she was eight after murdering her courtiers and usurping the throne using dark magic (what a bitch, right?). When Astrid escapes and finds the magic consuming the land and its people, she fears two things:

1) Being locked up again

2) Her mother killing more innocents before she can stop her.

Torin, the boy who joins her quest to find an ancient Empress and defeat the dark magic, has his own set of fears:

1) Living an unremarkable life

2) Letting Astrid down.

He longs to be something more, a hero, and sees himself as Astrid's protector on her journey. When he is weakened (no spoilers!), he struggles with feeling useless--a burden instead of a warrior.

I prefer writing about internal fears because those are the ones that haunt us the longest. We all have them: those tapes in our heads that tell us things we wish we didn't believe, but struggle with on a daily basis. We long to realize these fears and rise above them, to change the tapes to say what we want them to say. Instead of hearing "I'm not good enough," we want to hear "I'm good enough the way that I am!" It takes a journey to get there, though, and we're afraid of failing ourselves the most of all.

I read this quote the other day, and it really spoke to me:

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are."– Don Miguel Ruiz

We want to change, to better ourselves, but that requires a journey, and sometimes, a painful sacrifice. That conflict makes for some great storytelling, don't you think? :)

As for myself, some of my greatest fears include:

1) Losing loved ones before I'm ready to

2) Sliding down mountains (a weird phobia)

3) Living a fearful life and dying with regrets

The first one I can't control, the second is odd and means I don't like skiing, and the third is up to me. Regrets are for pussies! I can choose to follow my dreams, even if it means risking failure, and dammit all, I'm going to!

What about you? What fears do you characters face? What fears do you face in your everyday life?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Do You Know When You're Successful?

*Originally posted August 10, 2009.

The irony of this poster is that writers ONLY get paid when they believe in the power of their dreams. Heheheh.

I've been thinking today about goals.

Many writers (and normal people) find it difficult to be satisfied in life unless they know when they'll be able to say "I'm successful." Many of us also find it hard to get started if we don't have something to aim for, and become saddened if we're not sure if we've arrived.

We have to ask ourselves some questions to determine what we want, and how we'll know when we've got it. If we don't, we'll either be too overwhelmed to begin chasing our dreams, or too unrealistic about what will really make us happy. Unrealistic expectations, even ones you put on yourself, SUCK.

So, let me pose a few questions that every writer should probably ask themselves:

1) Why am I writing?

2) How long do I want to do this, even if I never get any credit or money from my work?

3) How much rejection can I take?

4) How much time do I want to spend on my goals, versus with my family, friends, and pillow?

5) What do I want to achieve Big Picture?

6) Will I be satisfied when I get there?

7) Am I satisfied if I never get there?

8) What steps do I have to take to achieve that Big Picture thing?

9) Which one needs to be achieved first?

10) What is my support system?

11) How will I feel if I never achieve this? Is it worth trying anyway?

Here are the answers I've given myself, and what keeps me going (in case it's helpful):

1) Why am I writing? It's my favorite thing to do, and I'm happy when I'm doing it. I'm unhappy when I stop.

2) How long do I want to do this, even if I never get any credit or money from my work? For as long as I possibly can.

3) How much rejection can I take? As much as I need to (be honest here, folks, or you're in for a world of hurt.)

4) How much time do I want to spend on my goals, versus with my family, friends, and pillow? I need to have a balance. I won't be happy meeting my writing goals at the expense of my husband, family, and sweet, sweet sleep. This means I have to make more realistic smaller goals to get to my big goals.

5) What do I want to achieve Big Picture? I want to make enough money to be able to write as a full time job and not starve. This means making about 20-30k. That will be great. Also, I want a Hugo Award.

6) Will I be satisfied when I get there? OH YAH. I don't want to be rich, I just want to have the freedom to write more. And have a rocket statue.

7) Am I satisfied if I never get there? Yes, because no matter what I'll achieve my goal of writing as long as possible. I just won't get to do as much of it per day. Also, maybe I'll get an award after I'm dead. Whatever works.

8) What steps do I have to take to achieve that Big Picture thing? I have to get an agent, have my manuscript sell, promote the crap out of my book, lather, rinse, repeat as many times as possible.

9) Which one needs to be achieved first? I need to find an agent.

10) What is my support system? The awesome people who read my blog (I heart you!), my crit buddies, and my wonderful husband.

11) How will I feel if I never achieve this? Is it worth trying anyway? It will be lame, but I'll still be okay. It is absolutely worth chasing for my entire life. I'll have a blast trying.

The key to getting started and keeping going without driving yourself nuts is creating reasonable goals, and then realizing you'll be satisfied if you meet them or not.

But you have to be willing to keep going as long as it takes. If you're not, then this isn't the business for you and you need to go do something sensible like run a petshop. If so, then chase it with all you've got, and above all enjoy the ride!

*My husband just said he wants me to win two Hugos so we can make bookends. Damn! The pressure! ;)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Write a Synopsis: Helpful Tips!

*First posted October 6, 2009.

Writers are crazy, but what makes us even *crazier* is the thought of writing a synopsis.

"It took me 95,000 words to tell my story, and now you want me to boil it down to 500??!"

Well, yeah. Basically. No pressure, right? :P Luckily for us, there are those wiser than we are to give us a helping hand!

Chuck over at the The Guide to Literary Agents blog posted some great tips on writing a good synopsis of your story. Search wikipedia for movies and read what the wikinerds had to say! How did they sum up the movie? How did they describe the main character and conflict? It's one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time for finding examples of tight story outlines. Hats off to you, Chuck!

Author Anne Mini also had a very detailed post about questions you should ask yourself while writing your synopsis. Go check it out! It's extremely thorough and will whip your synopsis' butt into shape!

I also read a neat trick somewhere (I forget where, so please clue me in if you know, and I'll give credit) that if you're stuck on how to begin, follow these simple steps:

1) Sum your book up in one sentence. That's all you get! Think about what you'd tell someone if they asked you what your book is about, but you only had ten seconds to spit it out.

2) Now that you've sweated some blood and have your sentence synopsis nailed down, summarize your book in a single paragraph! This should feel much easier now that you've boiled it down to a sentence. Focus on the barest most essential pieces of the main conflict. What's at stake? Who is the MC? Why do we care?

3) Expand your paragraph into a one-page description! Some agents prefer a single page synopsis to the garden variety 2 page synopsis. This should feel like a walk in the park compared to what you've already accomplished. Stop and have a glass of wine. You're almost there!

4) Expand to 2 pages! Ahhhhhh. It's like unbuttoning your pants after a big meal. Finally, some room to breathe! The daunting task suddenly doesn't seem so daunting any more. Hey, you've now got a 2 page synopsis :).

Go send some queries, and good luck! Does anyone else have any tips for writing a great synopsis? What works for you and what doesn't?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Deja vu... Again!

This week I'll be taking some "unplugged" time, which means I won't be blogging or commenting on others blogs :). I'll miss you guys, but sometimes it's good to take some time off and refresh.

To keep you occupied and off the streets this week, I'll be reposting the Best of Writer In Progress--those posts that you found helpful/cool/bizarre in the past. Enjoy!

I'll see you on the other side ;). Now, to kick things off...


*originally posted August 12, 2009

Kill Your Darlings!
The voices in my head yelled this phrase while I was editing last night.
Me: Hmm, this sentence has lots of adjectives and a simile that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure is pretty, though!
Voices: KILL! Kiiiiiiill!
Me: I love comparing things to hands and fingers, but I've already done it a couple of times. Maybe it's getting old?
Voices: Cut the fingers off!
Me: Wow, this description of the trees is beautifully written, but I think I said the same thing a paragraph back.
Voices: Burn the forest down! Fire is PRETTY!
Me: Oh, no. No, I love that dialogue. What does my crit buddy mean by "it doesn't make sense in context?" Noooo!
Voices: Do it! Duct tape his mouth, and throw him in the river!
Needless to say, although frightened and queasy, I acquiesced to the voices' demands and Killed My Darlings.
It was tough. Tougher than in a lot of my other edits because this time I'm down to the nitty gritty and am forced to make brutal decisions. It's down to the wire.
Garrote wire?
No! Shut up, Voices!
Aaaanyway, this week I've slashed and hacked through about 40 pages, and I have 56 more to go. Wish me luck!
Any progress to report this week? How's it going?Were you forced to commit murder most foul to any favorite words?
"Kill your darlings."--William Faulkner.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Things Writers Can Learn From Cats

This is my cat, Fawkes (named after the phoenix from Harry Potter (yes, I know I'm a huge geek)).
In this picture, he's on my lap indulging in what looks like an amazing back nap.

What does this have to do with writing you ask?

I'm so glad you asked! :)

Here are 5 Things Writers Can Learn From Their Cats:

1) Enjoy the journey. Fawkes will get incredibly excited when I wave one of his toys around, but when I actually toss it to him, he sniffs it for two seconds, and sits on it. Yeah. For him, it's all about the anticipation. Lesson: Don't get so focused on your end goals, that you forget to enjoy yourself along the way!
2) Don't get your back up over the small stuff. My cat will sit patiently on the couch as my husband and I blare heavy metal, play Rock Band, or sodder things in his near vacinity. He's relaxed about the small things that would spook many a lesser creature. Lesson: Chill out! Let go of the small annoyances and save your anxiety for when it really matters (Ex: lightning storms, or when someone turns the vacuum on.)
3) Waiting is an opportunity. When he's in between dinner time and when I turn on the sink for him to drink from (I'm cat whipped), he doesn't get restless or bitch and moan about how long everything takes. What does he do? Something awesome! He chases twist ties, bites things he shouldn't be biting, and, of course, naps. Sweet, sweet naps. Lesson: When the waiting seems endless, treat it as an opportunity and spend time on the things you enjoy!
4) Be an astute observer. Have you ever noticed how cats will often sit up at full attention and stare at something for minutes on end? And then eventually you realize it's a dust mite, or a single dot of paper on the floor? Lesson: As writers, we can't miss the opportunities to be observers of life. We are the ones who take the seemingly insignificant and make it beautiful.
5) Napping is mandatory. Enough said. Lesson: Seriously. We all need to take time for ourselves. Cut yourself some slack once in a while and take some time to relax :).
What do you think? Are there any lessons I missed?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

That's a lovely shade of blue you're wearing

There are so many things I wanted to blog about today, but my husband surprised me and is taking me on a date to see Avatar again in the theaters--YAY!

So, I'm shirking my duties and watching a 3D movie instead :D.

However, I do have a burning question for all of you: If you could trade in your crappy human body for an awesome, 15 foot tall, blue cat body.... would you?

Inquiring minds need to know!

(I totally would. I mean, come ON.)

Have a good night!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blog Chain: Kicking Ass By Choice!

It's that time again: Blog Chain time!

This round, Eric started us off by asking the question

Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?

Hmmm. Good question!

I'm sick of what I like to call, The Superman Problem.

Superman is as awesome as it gets--he doesn't even break a sweat fighting supervillains. Nothing can stop him except for a tiny green rock, and let's face it, kryptonite has been less than successful at taking him down. He can fly, has super speed, is impervious to bullets, can hurl a planet at you if you piss him off, and has even turned back time to save Lois Lane.

What's the problem then, you ask? Well, as I see it, why do I care if Superman's in trouble? He's just going to kick some ass and save the day. Like always. Because he's Superman. He's almost perfect.

He's not flawed enough to be interesting!

Spiderman on the other hand, is behind on the rent, flunking History class, and his girlfriend thinks he stood her up, all because of that damn Doc Oc! Now, this is a superhero I can care about! :)

When I'm creating my characters, I don't want them to be Superman, so I try to make them as real as possible... even if they have super human abilities. I want my characters to be flawed and relatable.

However, there is one more problem to avoid in the other direction. I call this, the Twilight Problem.

Here is an example:

Girl: "Oh, I am just a normal, average, run-of-the-mill boring, not very attractive person just bumbling through high school. OMG!!!! Who is that tall, dark, AMAZING stranger who has come into my life?!"

Stranger: "I am special, and for some reason am paying attention to you, normal person."

Girl: "SQUEE!! Now my normal, average, boring life has become interesting due to someone cool talking to me!"

Stranger: "Um... yeah. I guess. I'm now going to sparkle and brood. Also, have adventures that maybe you can be a part of. Maybe."

Girl: "I can't wait!!!!"

In this scenario, the main character is normal... but also doesn't choose to do anything special or have any cool adventures on her own. She waits for someone awesome to come and make choices for her. Hooray. Oh, wait. THAT SUCKS.

I want my chracters to be realistic, relatable, but also to CHOOSE awesomeness and adventure :). I want my heroines and heroes to say to themselves, "Self, let's take our talents and our courage to go save the world!"

I guess my answer is, I want normal characters to choose to become larger than life.

I want to be larger than life in real life. Doesn't everyone? We can choose to make the most of what we're given, or we can wait for some sparkly person to come along and do it for us. I, personally, chose action.

What do you guys think? Superman, Twilight, or a Happy Ass-Kicking Medium?

Please check out the Courageous Cole's answer before me, and the Karate-kicking Kate's answer tomorrow!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning is Fun!

Today, I came across a fascinating post on Pub Rants about the difficulties in negotiating e-rights. Check it out!

If you're anything like me, you've been wondering what the heck is going on as far as the author's concerned with the rise of e-books. How are royalties going to be paid? How do publishers decide what's fair in this Brave New World?

Everything is in a state of change, and I love learning all I can about the turning tides :). How will it all shake out??

Also, yesterday I loved the answers I got to the question "what was your favorite childhood book?" I love getting peaks at people's personalities with stuff like that.

But I have to ask... what happened to the Q&A, yo? I feel like the nerdy girl all alone at the dance, picking egg salad out of my braces and swaying sadly to Boyz II Men. Why you got to leave me hangin?

I mean, maybe it's just my dayquil/nyquil/tylenol cocktail talking here, but throw a girl a bone!

Don't worry about me, though. I'll just sit here, drinking the liquor of my own tears and asking myself questions, like "why does no one love me?" and "how much chocolate can I fit in my mouth?"

Have a great weekend, guys!

And if you'd like, please answer me this: What is the best thing you've recently read and why did you love it? :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Q&A Time!

I cought the plague that was going around the office this week (hooraaaay!! I WIN at LIFE!), so instead of blogging about wise and clever things tonight, I thought maybe we'd have a Q&A session instead.

So, step up, don't be shy!

What questions would you like me to answer? I'll answer anything and everything (at least with some kind of sarcasm if nothing else). New followers--please don't be afraid to chime in. Welcome!

Also, I have a question for YOU:

What was your favorite book growing up and why? :)

See you tomorrow for answers to your fabulous questions!

Oh, what was my favorite childhood book, you ask?

PETER PAN, of course!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

I'm now nearing the big 3-0 in age, and am beginning to see signs that I am, indeed, getting old.

Main signs I've noticed:

1) I broke my toe in a mosh pit when I was 14. Recently, I've noticed it aching. But not, just at any ol' time. Yes, it aches when it rains. I'm that person.

"A storm's a-brewin'! I can feel it mah old bones!"

2) I judge young people by their haircuts and fashion choices. I frequently roll my eyes at boys with emo hair and say "that kid looks like Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias. If only he knew."

"Cut your damn hair, you crazy kids!"

3) I no longer like any of the bands I liked in high school, and have progressed to heavy metal. I've started to say things like "bands were so much better in the '80s. That's when people had talent and didn't just lip synch!" Apparently, I've forgotten about Milly Vanilly.

4) I had to go buy reading glasses. Yes, no longer are contacts enough! I can no longer properly focus my eyes under my own steam. I have to admit, I'm not too broken up about it because my reading glasses are sexy and magenta. But, STILL.

5) I can no longer enjoy cheap booze, shoes, or clothing. I know the difference now. There is no going back. I'll miss you, Zima, Target, and $.99 flip flops!

My last confession?

I love being an adult! I feel like I'm entering the very best years of my life (i.e. everything after college.). WOOT!

What are your truths this Tuesday? ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Introducing THAW!

Today we have a special treat: the first excerpt of Fiona Robyn's free novel, THAW, which she's publishing on her blog.

As you know, there's nothing better than supporting authors, especially when it involves free stories! Please check it out below. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments :)!

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.


These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.

I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for', before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.

Continue reading tomorrow here...

Fiona Robyn

Thanks, Fiona, for sharing THAW with us!