Friday, December 24, 2010

YAtopia!

I've been waiting for a while to make this announcement and I'm so excited to share this with y'all! Starting the first week of 2011, I will be one of eight contributors to a new YA blog: YAtopia.



What is YAtopia? We're eight writers passionate about Young Adult literature in all shapes and sizes. We'll be blogging about books, writing and anything related to YA literature.

We'll start posting the first week of 2011, but I'd be honored if you would check out our beautiful blog and read a little about the contributors.

What would you like to see from this new blog? Any questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I only get FIVE minutes?

5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

We all know 2010 wasn't my best year ever, but that doesn't mean I want to forget all of it. *sets the timer for five minutes* *pauses TV* Here goes...

  • your heart pounding as you press send on that first e-query for THE DEMONS YOU KNOW

  • Jasper trying to cuddle with you on the love seat when your back is so messed up you can't even go to the bathroom

  • Chelsea singing "Think of Me" over and over again because she knows it makes you smile

  • Looking through Jarrod's sketchbook at writer's group meetings

  • Getting that first full request … even though it didn't turn out so great

  • Feeling so loved and welcomed by the lovely ladies at the RWA conference. Except for that one chick... but whatevs.

  • Getting to hang out (Lunch, dinner, she even saved you a seat at a session!) with one of your favorite writers at RWA.

  • Being able to pick up with Erin T like you hadn't just spent years apart.

  • The Foundation giving a record number of Scholarships thanks to your fundraising efforts. And making the heartbreaking decision to step down from your position because you knew it was best for everyone.

  • Phi Rho Parents and Alumni weekend where that girl went totally fan girl on you. "You're Sarah, the founder!"

  • Dressing up as Dorothy for work, making all the OZ props out of $4 worth of construction paper

  • Getting a text message from Alli with a pic of her and Steph's babies

  • Playing "you know what today is?" with (coworker) Melissa every day

  • Dragon*Con!!

  • Year of Months

  • Being retweeted by Maureen Johnson and Laurie Halse Anderson!

  • Dan, Chelsea, James, Stephanie, John-Michael, Matt W, Matt B, Phi Rho NC and Foundation, Melody, Scott, Jen, Melissa, Bridget, Bradley, Adam, Erin, Colleen, Brittany, Paool, Josie, K, Chris, Todd, Lisa, Amy, Beth, Alina, Jan, Cookie, Joe, Charlie, Janet, Dyer, Mike, Matt H, RKJ, and OH GOD I'M OUT OF TIME SO PLEASE DON'T HATE ME IF YOU'RE NOT HERE BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE!!!


Hm, yeah. It's a good thing I type fast!

This post is party of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More #reverb10 Catch-up

December 12: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

In the spirit of being honest with y'all, I'm going to tell you: I've never felt more at war with my body than in this past year. With a back injury, weight-gained, and persistent other issues, my body has become an antagonist in my story.

I noticed in the past month that a lot of these issues are probably a result of having my most sedentary job ever. Sitting in a crappy computer chair for forty hours a week without any kind of physical activity AT ALL has been hard on my body in ways that all my years of playing sports and pushing myself to the limit could never touch. So I guess my mind fired the first shot in this war, but I'm calling a truce.

Maybe losing my job is a blessing in disguise? Time will tell.

December 13: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

To get back in shape:

  1. Go to the gym.

  2. Take Jasper on long walks

  3. Find good places to hike

  4. Try yoga

  5. OK, maybe not


To find a job:

  1. I've already spruced up my resume

  2. Continue networking

  3. Get shifts at Gaylord to pay the bills until I...

  4. Find a job I really want


For my writing:

  1. Continue to query THE DEMONS YOU KNOW

  2. Re-start writing my next book...

  3. My MC needs to be revamped so I need to do....

  4. Character sketches.


December 14: Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

This is an easy one: my friends. It's funny; I've never had fewer friends that I regularly spend time with, but that's only made me appreciate them more. And I hope they know it. I hope they notice when I can't help but smile when I see them. I hope they notice that when I hug them hello, it's more than just going through the motions. I hope they know that every time I ask them to hang out, I truly do want to spend time with them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb10 - Playing Catch Up

For anyone who hasn't heard, I was laid off last Thursday. That's kinda why I haven't been posting here the last few days, but apparently I've run that excuse dry – or I think that's what Adam has trying to tell me. :-) So here's some catch-up...

December 10: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

I can't say there's a single decision that sticks out to me from this year – at least not one I haven't mentioned in the past two weeks. If I'm being completely honest, 'wisdom' doesn't hold that much weight in my decision-making process lately. The process is kinda more like this:

  1. What do I want to do?

  2. Do that.


Most of my life, I've been doing what I 'should' do. I've weighed the pros and cons, evaluated the situation, always taken the safe path.

And it just wasn't working for me. So I'm trying something new. And I guess there is some wisdom in that, even if it is unconventional.

December 11: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Cutting back on things is actually something I've been working toward. I know a lot of people took this in the non-literal sense, but I think it's important to literally un-clutter your life also.

  1. Dishes. Not all of them, just a lot of them. Our kitchen has quadruples of pretty much everything. It drives me nuts.

  2. Clothes. I have a huge closet, half-filled with clothes I haven't worn in over six months.

  3. Stuff. Anything I use less than twice a year. I don't even like to keep trinkets or seasonal decorations. It's apparently weird, but I don't imbue emotions on material possessions – so why bother keeping them around?

  4. Weight. Some extra pounds. I won't say how many, but they're as good as gone. Just give me a few months.

  5. Toiletries. I don't know why, but I collect lotion, shampoo, body wash, etc faster than I can use it.

  6. Dust. Though I'm totally anti-clutter, I'm not a fan of dusting. I know I should, but I just can't seem to bring myself to do it. I'll try.

  7. Lame Duck Friends. You know the ones. You think they're a good friend, until you need them. Or maybe you keep inviting them to things and they always have an excuse and never return the invites. Not worth it.

  8. Rejection Letters. I hate them. I know they're inevitable, but I'll do everything I can to keep them to a minimum – short of not submitting, of course.

  9. Traffic. Sounds awesome, right? I can only think of one way to do this: move somewhere where I can walk to just about anything I need.

  10. Uncomfortable Shoes. Life is way too short for me to spend any amount of time thinking about my feet hurting – especially when I've done it to myself. If I can't dance in them for hours, they're gone.

  11. Junk food. I'm not saying I want to get rid of it completely (I'm not one of those people), but cut down significantly. I guess this will help with number four too.


So I was planning on doing at least one more post, but I'm tired and it's time to go to bed. Expect more tomorrow!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

People Make the Party

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Let me just say: what a relief this prompt is! I was really worried I was going to have to be all serious and mushy-gushy for the rest of the month. And not only that, this is a topic I love. J

In my opinion, people make the party so the rest of it? Doesn’t matter so much.



The first awesome party of the year was really only halfway in this year. (Wow. That sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Oh well, it’s staying.) Chels hosted a fantastic New Year’s party that a lot of people came into town for – we even had one guest from California!



And then there was the entire summer. The pool setup at our apartment complex is pretty awesome so we had people over for barbecues and swimming almost every weekend during the summer. Oh man, is there anything better than burgers on the grill, the radio cranked up, beer in the cooler and a blue floatie with two cup holders?



All the Area O meetups. For those who don’t know, I belong to a group here that’s based on our common love of Sci-Fi. These are the people who always get my Firefly references and don’t look at me weird when I make Star Trek jokes. <3 Them!

I could go on, but… well, everyone knows my roommates and I host awesome parties. I can plan an event like nobody’s business and the weird thing is I love planning them as much as I love going to them!

This post is party of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Six Words, Beautifully Different

It’s been a while since I participated in YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday so today’s post is going to be doing double duty. Today’s prompt results in my shortest RTW answer ever, though it was also one of the hardest to answer. Basically, they want you to write your memoir. In six words. Here’s what I came up with:

Standing on the shoulders of Giants

What about you? What’s your six-word memoir look like?

Now on to today's #reverb10 prompt: December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

I know I’m a weirdo and contrary and I just blogged about how being different is awesome, but this prompt makes me feel uncomfortable.

It's not because I don't think there's anything differently beautiful about me. I know there is. (Most days) But y'all don't come to this blog to read me bragging about myself. And it's also not because the prompt sounds like something a "personal life coach" would say at a "life actualization" seminar. (Thought it does. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing. Me? Not so much.)

Also, I think pretty much everyone has trouble identifying the good things that make them different, even when they really dig deep and try. Very few people ever see themselves clearly. So instead of really answering this prompt, I'm going to ask something of you:

Take a look at the people around you. What is different about them that you love?

Tell them.

Go ahead.

I'll start:

  • Chels: I love how you randomly break out into song or verse at the hint of a lyric. And you say things like, "I love you even if you're a snake. But if you start slithering on the floor, I'm going to step on you. Cuz that's what you do to snakes."

  • Nina: You say the sweetest things without any provocation and you always make me smile.

  • Jen: My mind goes in really unique directions. Often, yours goes in the same direction as mine. As awesome as it is weird.

  • JM: I'm pretty sure you know the words to every song ever written. Except for the country ones, but don't worry; I have those covered.

  • Dan: You're the most thoughtful (in the true sense of the word) person I know. You're constantly sending us articles, taking pictures for us, introducing us to people that you just "think we should get to know."

  • Adam: You quote both Terry Pratchet AND Taylor Swift on your Facebook profile. And you so are "as cute as my facebook pic makes me out to be."

  • Erin T: You think that me making analogies like "Commonwealth is to Andromeda as the Federation is to Star Trek" is awesome.

  • Pretty much every writer friend I have: It takes dedication to finish a whole novel. It takes courage to put it out there for others to critique. It takes resilience to bounce back after a rough rejection. Not many people have one of those, not to mention all three. Rock on!

  • I really could go on for a long time, but I think that's enough sap from me for a week or two and it's getting close to midnight.


This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Communit(ies)

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Oh man! I could write 20 pages on this, but I’ll try to spare y’all and keep it as succinct as possible.

The one that’s had the biggest impact on me is the online writers community. There are some websites that we frequent, but it’s a kind of organic, awesome thing centered around Twitter and a few blogs. This past year I’ve been completely blown away by the support and camaraderie I’ve found online. I’ve met people that make me laugh every day (even when I want to cry after getting a rejection), people who celebrate and mourn with me, who cheer me on when I feel like setting fire to my manuscript. It’s been indispensible.

If you’re not quite yet involved with this community (and would like to be), here are some tips:

  • If you don’t have it, get Twitter. Seriously. If you’re scared or hesitant, I’d be glad to discuss it with you one-on-one and help you get started. I’ve run social media campaigns for several small non-profits and websites and have helped dozens of writers get started. I love doing it. Send me an email.

  • Once you have twitter, check out hashtags like #amwriting, #askagent, #kidlit, #yalit, #kidlitchat, #yalitchat, #pubtip, #writegoal. Follow people, read their blogs, click on links, comment

  • Check out some (or all) of the links in my sidebar over there ß


Another, similar community I’ve been becoming more ensconced in is my local writers community. Trust me, I’m one of the biggest proponents of online interaction, but sometimes there’s nothing like sitting down to a cup of coffee with other writers, getting face to face critiques, discussing the business when you can see the plentiful smiles and feel the hugs.

For 2011 I have two exciting new communities I’ll be taking by storm ;-) One is a small YA writing community that I’ll be able to make official announcements about soon! (Keep an eye out for those announcements cuz it’s going to be AWESOME!)

The second (which I will also be talking about soon) will find me more involved with local artists of all kinds. I’m talking sculptors, musicians, graphic designers, poets, singers, actors, artists, photographers. And writers of course. Gosh, I’m getting so excited now just thinking about it!

What about you? What communities have you become more involved in in 2010 and which do you hope to join in 2011?

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.



PS: Since y’all asked so nicely, here’s the recipe for that beautiful Chicken Bistro Twist pictured on yesterday’s blog.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken

  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper

  • ¼ cup snipped fresh basil leaves

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided

  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 1 garlic clove, pressed

  • 2 packages (11 oz each) refrigerated French bread dough

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon Pantry Italian Seasoning Mix


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Chop chicken. Dice bell pepper. Snip basil using kitchen shears. In bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, basil, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise and garlic; mix well.

2) Place bread dough, seam sides up, on smooth side of a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice each loaf lengthwise, end to end, cutting halfway through to center of loaf; spread open flat. Lightly sprinkle flour evenly over dough (I didn’t do this). Flatten dough crosswise to about 4-inch width, creating a well down center of each loaf.

3) Spoon half of the chicken mixture down center of each loaf. Gather up edges over filling, pinching firmly to seal. Place loaves, seam sides down, in an “X” pattern on a baking pan. Crisscross ends of dough to form a large figure-8, keeping ends of dough 1 inch from edge of the pan and leaving two 1 ½ inch openings in center of twist.

4) Combine egg white and seasoning mix; lightly brush over dough. Cut a 3-inch slit in each of the top sections of the twist to reveal filling. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over loaf. Bake 30-32 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes.

8 servings at 300 calories each.  You can also experiment with the filling if you’d like!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm So Writing a Cookbook

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I’m not sure if this was the true intent of this post, but the last thing I ‘made’ was these:



Normally, I wouldn’t be so proud, but I made these without a recipe, not even sure if the ingredients would taste good together – and they were delicious! On top of that, it’s the second thing I’ve EVER fried.

I had some leftover pre-cooked chicken, wontons and cheese and I was hungry.

If you want to recreate them, here are my sort-of directions:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup – ish pre-cooked chicken

  • a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of small-curd cottage cheese

  • Small wonton wrappers

  • oil – I used canola but just about anything will do

  • a few sprinkles of Provencal Herbs (or you can try something else)

  • bowl of water


Instructions:

  1. Mix the chicken, mozzarella, cottage cheese and Provencal herbs in a bowl. Adjust ingredients as you see fit.

  2. heat oil approximately 1 inch deep in a large skillet or wok to around 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, I used the setting a few clicks past “medium” heat. You may actually want to do this once you are almost done with the next step, depending on how quickly your stove heats up.

  3. Place a little spoonful of the mixture on a wonton wrapper. Stick your finger in the water and lightly wet all four edges of the wrapper.

  4. Fold one corner of the wrapper over to form a triangle and press the edges together to seal all the filling inside.

  5. Stop when you’ve run out of filling or wontons. *shrug* this isn’t exactly a scientific process

  6. Once the oil is heated, place four to five wontons in the skillet with tongs. After approximately 30 seconds, or when the underside is brown to your liking, flip them over.

  7. Remove the wontons from the oil with the tongs (Tip: turn them sideways to drain out any oil that may have gotten inside the wrapper) and place them on a plate with a paper towel.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you run out of wontons.

  9. Enjoy. Open your windows, turn on your fans, and use lots of air freshener. 'Cause grease STINKS.

  10. Send me a thank-you email.


See, that wasn’t so hard. I could so write a cookbook. It’d be called: Sarah’s Kitchen: No Measuring Things Required

The day before, I also made this:



It’s stuffed with chicken, red peppers and cheese and it’s as delicious as it is pretty. I have an actual recipe for this and if you ask nicely, I may give it to you.

For those of you who came here looking for some sort of crafty thing? I tried that once, for a month. It didn’t end well. I have the hand-eye coordination of a walrus that’s never had to catch his own food.

One thing I’d like to do is take all my sorority tshirts and make a quilt-blanket thing out of it. Or maybe I can trick my roommate into doing it for me! :)

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?



I’m not sure if this was the true intent of this post, but the last thing I ‘made’ was these:



Normally, I wouldn’t be so proud, but I made these without a recipe, not even sure if the ingredients would taste good together – and they were delicious! On top of that, it’s the second thing I’ve EVER fried.



I had some leftover pre-cooked chicken, wontons and cheese and I was hungry.



If you want to recreate them, here are my sort-of directions:



Ingredients:




  • 3/4 cup – ish pre-cooked chicken

  • a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of small-curd cottage cheese

  • Small wonton wrappers

  • oil – I used canola but just about anything will do

  • a few sprinkles of Provencal Herbs (or you can try something else)

  • bowl of water



Instructions:




  1. Mix the chicken, mozzarella, cottage cheese and Provencal herbs in a bowl. Adjust ingredients as you see fit.

  2. heat oil approximately 1 inch deep in a large skillet or wok to around 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, I used the setting a few clicks past “medium” heat. You may actually want to do this once you are almost done with the next step, depending on how quickly your stove heats up.

  3. Place a little spoonful of the mixture on a wonton wrapper. Stick your finger in the water and lightly wet all four edges of the wrapper.

  4. Fold one corner of the wrapper over to form a triangle and press the edges together to seal all the filling inside.

  5. Stop when you’ve run out of filling or wontons. *shrug* this isn’t exactly a scientific process

  6. Once the oil is heated, place four to five wontons in the skillet with tongs. After approximately 30 seconds, or when the underside is brown to your liking, flip them over.

  7. Remove the wontons from the oil with the tongs (Tip: turn them sideways to drain out any oil that may have gotten inside the wrapper) and place them on a plate with a paper towel.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you run out of wontons.

  9. Enjoy.

  10. Send me a thank-you email.



See, that wasn’t so hard. I could so write a cookbook. It’d be called: Sarah’s Kitchen: No Measuring Things Required



The day before, I also made this:



It’s stuffed with chicken, red peppers and cheese. It’s as delicious as it is pretty. I have an actual recipe for this and if you ask nicely, I may give it to you.



For those of you who came here looking for some so


Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I’m not sure if this was the true intent of this post, but the last thing I ‘made’ was these:

Normally, I wouldn’t be so proud, but I made these without a recipe, not even sure if the ingredients would taste good together – and they were delicious! On top of that, it’s the second thing I’ve EVER fried.

I had some leftover pre-cooked chicken, wontons and cheese and I was hungry.

If you want to recreate them, here are my sort-of directions:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup – ish pre-cooked chicken

  • a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of small-curd cottage cheese

  • Small wonton wrappers

  • oil – I used canola but just about anything will do

  • a few sprinkles of Provencal Herbs (or you can try something else)

  • bowl of water


Instructions:

  1. Mix the chicken, mozzarella, cottage cheese and Provencal herbs in a bowl. Adjust ingredients as you see fit.

  2. heat oil approximately 1 inch deep in a large skillet or wok to around 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, I used the setting a few clicks past “medium” heat. You may actually want to do this once you are almost done with the next step, depending on how quickly your stove heats up.

  3. Place a little spoonful of the mixture on a wonton wrapper. Stick your finger in the water and lightly wet all four edges of the wrapper.

  4. Fold one corner of the wrapper over to form a triangle and press the edges together to seal all the filling inside.

  5. Stop when you’ve run out of filling or wontons. *shrug* this isn’t exactly a scientific process

  6. Once the oil is heated, place four to five wontons in the skillet with tongs. After approximately 30 seconds, or when the underside is brown to your liking, flip them over.

  7. Remove the wontons from the oil with the tongs (Tip: turn them sideways to drain out any oil that may have gotten inside the wrapper) and place them on a plate with a paper towel.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you run out of wontons.

  9. Enjoy.

  10. Send me a thank-you email.


See, that wasn’t so hard. I could so write a cookbook. It’d be called: Sarah’s Kitchen: No Measuring Things Required

The day before, I also made this:

It’s stuffed with chicken, red peppers and cheese. It’s as delicious as it is pretty. I have an actual recipe for this and if you ask nicely, I may give it to you.

For those of you who came here looking for some sort of crafty thing? I tried that once http://sarahnicolas.com/year-of-months/, for a month. It didn’t end well. I have the hand-eye coordination of a walrus that’s never had to catch his own food.

One thing I’d like to do is take all my sorority tshirts and make a quilt-blanket thing out of it. Or maybe I can trick my roommate into doing it for me! J

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

rt of crafty


Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I’m not sure if this was the true intent of this post, but the last thing I ‘made’ was these:

Normally, I wouldn’t be so proud, but I made these without a recipe, not even sure if the ingredients would taste good together – and they were delicious! On top of that, it’s the second thing I’ve EVER fried.

I had some leftover pre-cooked chicken, wontons and cheese and I was hungry.

If you want to recreate them, here are my sort-of directions:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup – ish pre-cooked chicken

  • a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of small-curd cottage cheese

  • Small wonton wrappers

  • oil – I used canola but just about anything will do

  • a few sprinkles of Provencal Herbs (or you can try something else)

  • bowl of water


Instructions:

  1. Mix the chicken, mozzarella, cottage cheese and Provencal herbs in a bowl. Adjust ingredients as you see fit.

  2. heat oil approximately 1 inch deep in a large skillet or wok to around 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, I used the setting a few clicks past “medium” heat. You may actually want to do this once you are almost done with the next step, depending on how quickly your stove heats up.

  3. Place a little spoonful of the mixture on a wonton wrapper. Stick your finger in the water and lightly wet all four edges of the wrapper.

  4. Fold one corner of the wrapper over to form a triangle and press the edges together to seal all the filling inside.

  5. Stop when you’ve run out of filling or wontons. *shrug* this isn’t exactly a scientific process

  6. Once the oil is heated, place four to five wontons in the skillet with tongs. After approximately 30 seconds, or when the underside is brown to your liking, flip them over.

  7. Remove the wontons from the oil with the tongs (Tip: turn them sideways to drain out any oil that may have gotten inside the wrapper) and place them on a plate with a paper towel.

  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until you run out of wontons.

  9. Enjoy.

  10. Send me a thank-you email.


See, that wasn’t so hard. I could so write a cookbook. It’d be called: Sarah’s Kitchen: No Measuring Things Required

The day before, I also made this:

It’s stuffed with chicken, red peppers and cheese. It’s as delicious as it is pretty. I have an actual recipe for this and if you ask nicely, I may give it to you.

For those of you who came here looking for some sort of crafty thing? I tried that once http://sarahnicolas.com/year-of-months/, for a month. It didn’t end well. I have the hand-eye coordination of a walrus that’s never had to catch his own food.

One thing I’d like to do is take all my sorority tshirts and make a quilt-blanket thing out of it. Or maybe I can trick my roommate into doing it for me! J

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

thing? I tried that once http://sarahnicolas.com/year-of-months/, for a month. It didn’t end well. I have the hand-eye coordination of a walrus that’s never had to catch his own food.



One thing I’d like to do is take all my sorority tshirts and make a quilt-blanket thing out of it. Or maybe I can trick my roommate into doing it for me! J



This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let Go

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I actually blogged about this not too long ago, shortly before I switched my blog here when I announced my resignation of my VP of Development position for a small non-profit. This past year I've given myself permission to take a step back and drop some things that weren't a top priority. I really enjoy volunteering, but it took me a while to realize I can't say 'yes' to everything AND give every project my best effort. I'm fortunate that I'm able to choose the projects that are important to me, but I know I have to limit my involvement or things start to slip.

And it's worked out pretty well for me. I'm working on some projects that are really exciting. This year I was able to finish The Demons You Know and have begun the querying process. That's a major milestone and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't learned to say no.

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wonder

Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Wonder

–verb (used without object)


  1. to think or speculate curiously: to wonder about the origin of the solar system.

  2. to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel (often fol. by at )

  3. to doubt



I started the Year of Months with the goal of expanding my horizons, but it wasn't until reading this question that I realized that project regularly instills a sense of wonder in me. There are months that have made me feel like I have a completely new set of eyes with which to see the world. I'm often seeing things that don't make sense to me and, instead of dismissing them, I find myself trying to understand them. And maybe experiencing them a little bit later.

The other thing I regularly do that cultivates wonder in my life is: reading. When you read, you get to see the world through the author's eyes who is trying to understand it through their character's eyes. They notice things I would never notice and find importance in the smallest of details.

What about you? Do you do anything that cultivates a sense of wonder for you? If you don't, I'd recommend it :-)

This post is part of my #reverb10. Check out their website for more information.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Moment(s)

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

I must be feeling ornery or something the past few days because I keep wanting to defy the prompt.  Every time I tried to whittle it down to a single moment, hundreds of memories flash through my mind.

I may be picking at semantics here, but I don’t think there are times when I feel “more alive” than others, but there are certainly times when I feel “less alive.” Because, for me, “alive” – and I mean really being and feeling alive – is my natural state. Maybe this isn’t so for others? I don’t know.

So, blog rebel that I am, I give you some moments:

  • That moment in a conversation with a good friend when I realize five hours has passed even though I could swear he/she only arrived fifteen minutes ago.

  • That moment just after I wake up when my dog is cuddled up next to me and I can feel his warmth and breathe in that puppy smell while lying in that quality of light that only occurs as the sun is crossing the horizon.

  • That moment when I realize I’m dancing for joy with people ebbing all around me and I don’t care what they think because it really doesn’t matter.

  • That moment when I just know I’m where I should be and working toward my true heart’s desire.

  • That moment when my friend and I make the same exact joke at the same exact time and laugh at each other and time seems to slow down so that we can laugh a little bit longer.


What about you? What makes you feel alive?

This post is part of my #reverb10. Visit their website to learn more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Everything Contributes

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?



First, I’m not a big fan of this prompt. I know most of us doing #reverb10 are writers, but there are many who aren’t. So for those who aren’t, I hope you’ll replace the word “writing” with whatever else is a top priority for you and do this post anyway.

I don’t believe there’s much I do in a day that doesn’t contribute to my writing. Mainly because “contribute to my writing” is such a broad statement. My books may be about Fire Mages fighting demons and Irish goddesses reborn and steampunk submarines, but they’re also about people. And everything I read, see, watch, hear or experience contributes to my understanding of people.

As writers, we bring the sum of our experiences to the table every time we write, whether we know it or not. Every moment we have lived through contributes in some way to our writing.

So, unless you spend a large portion of your day simply picking your own nose, I don’t think there is a single activity that “doesn’t contribute.” However, there’s balance to consider. For example, I watch teen TV shows to keep up with teen culture. But if I spend five hours a day watching these shows, claiming to be doing research, and have no or very little time writing, that’s a problem.

What about you? Is there anything you need to be doing less of so you can focus on your writing/business/relationship/whatever-is-important to you?

This post is part of my #reverb10. Please visit their website to learn more.


Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?



First, I’m not a big fan of this prompt. I know most of us doing #reverb10 are writers, but there are many who aren’t. So for those who aren’t, I hope you’ll replace the word “writing” with whatever else is a top priority for you and do this post anyway.



I don’t believe there’s much I do in a day that doesn’t contribute to my writing. Mainly because “contribute to my writing” is such a broad statement. My books may be about Fire Mages fighting demons and Irish goddesses reborn and steampunk submarines, but they’re also about people. And everything I read, see, watch, hear or experience contributes to my understanding of people.



So, unless you spend a large portion of your day simply picking your own nose, I don’t think there is a sing


Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?



First, I’m not a big fan of this prompt. I know most of us doing #reverb10 are writers, but there are many who aren’t. So for those who aren’t, I hope you’ll replace the word “writing” with whatever else is a top priority for you and do this post anyway.



I don’t believe there’s much I do in a day that doesn’t contribute to my writing. Mainly because “contribute to my writing” is such a broad statement. My books may be about Fire Mages fighting demons and Irish goddesses reborn and steampunk submarines, but they’re also about people. And everything I read, see, watch, hear or experience contributes to my understanding of people.



So, unless you spend a large portion of your day simply picking your own nose, I don’t think there is a single activity that “doesn’t contribute.” However, there’s balance to consider. For example, I watch teen TV shows to keep up with teen culture. But if I spend five hours a day watching these shows, claiming to be doing research, and have no or very little time writing, that’s a problem.



What about you? Is there anything you need to be doing less of so you can focus on your writing/business/relationship/whatever-is-important to you?

le activity that “doesn’t contribute.” However, there’s balance to consider. For example, I watch teen TV shows to keep up with teen culture. But if I spend five hours a day watching these shows, claiming to be doing research, and have no or very little time writing, that’s a problem.



What about you? Is there anything you need to be doing less of so you can focus on your writing/business/relationship/whatever-is-important to you?



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Word

December is here and #reverb10 has begun. Just as a fair warning to my usual readers: my posts this month are going to be a little more me-centric than usual, due to the nature of reverb10, which is about reflecting on the past year and manifesting what’s next. I hope you’ll join me J Even if you don’t make your own posts, feel free to leave your responses in my comments. Without further ado, today’s prompt:

One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?



Meandering.

This past year I’ve felt like I’ve been wandering, trying to find my place in the world. I know what place I want: On bookshelves in libraries, teen bedrooms, and bookstores. But that’s not a place I can get to quickly even though I’m working toward it every day. So the question becomes: what else?

I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but discovered that I’m not interested in that as a career. So what should I do? Should I try to get a job in another industry that I’m passionate about? Should I suck it up and work in engineering? Should I pursue more education so that I can switch fields? (Just to be clear, I’m not actually asking for advice. Just thinking out loud)

And it’s not just professionally either. I’m starting to discover more and more things about myself that have nothing to do with a career. I’m realizing I don’t want all the things I’m expected to, the same things everyone else wants. And people try to tell me I’m “wrong,” that I’ll change my mind because I can’t possibly be right. I think I spent so much time lost because it took me a long while to realize exactly how big a load of BS that is.

Different isn’t wrong.

And that’s something I know everyone struggles with. No matter what your difference is, people try to bulldoze it, try to assimilate you. And that is a terrible shame. Because “different” is awesome. It’s what makes the world beautiful and what makes life interesting.

I see this all around me: people who have allowed others to suppress their difference. And they’re miserable. I’m talking the find-joy-in-knocking-others-down, groping-through-life-with-no-passion, substituting-material-possessions-for-true-happiness kind of miserable.

And I don’t want to be one of those people. So the one word I hope will describe 2011 for me is:

Different.

Different experiences. Different emotions. Different locations. Different people.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the experiences, emotions, places and people that have been a part of my life so far. But there’s no reason why I can’t expand my horizons and seek out new challenges.

So there you have it. What about you? What is the one word that describes your 2010? And the word that you hope will describe your 2011.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Year or Two of Months

The Year of Months is going to become the “Year or Two of Months.” Many of y’all know what the Year of Months is, but some don’t so here’s a little refresher:

The Year of Months was a personal experience I took part in from November 2009 through October 2010. Every month, I would commit to a different personal challenge designed to broaden my horizons. For example: One month I tried a different recipe every day. Another month I walked/biked everywhere within six miles.

Since November is always NaNoWriMo for me, it automatically extended to 13 months. Now, I want to participate in #reverb10 and I still have a few other month ideas I wasn’t able to cover over the past year.

So I’m going to continue on with the months. I don’t know when I’ll stop; probably when I run out of ideas. I may even repeat some of the months that didn’t work so well. Leave a comment below if you have an idea for a month.

I’m going to create a page on this website dedicated to my Year of Months project so keep an eye out for that.



Now, I wanted to tell y’all a little bit about #reverb10 and invite you to join me. This is from their website:

“Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next… Starting December 1, check in here for daily creative prompts (some of which will be from published authors). … Respond to the prompt. In a post on your blog, through a tweet, with photography, or however else you desire. … Participate and share your reverberations using the #reverb10 hashtag (on Twitter, Delicious or Flickr).”

I hope you’ll visit their website to learn more and think about joining me. If you will be participating in #reverb10, drop me a link to your blog in the comments and I’ll link to it in my sidebar.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Indulgent Gifts for the Writer In Your Life

On Black Friday, shopping for Christmas gifts is on everybody's mind, even those who are desperately avoiding the crowds. Writers are sometimes hard to buy for; I know I am. So I'm creating this list for those poor folks shopping for a gift for the writer in their life. (And if you're a writer, you can drop this link in your Facebook stream as a hint ;) Perhaps with a number. )

Keep in mind, not all these gifts are going to be right for every writer. So make sure you think about whether or not your writer will enjoy that specific gift before you spend the $$.

1. Writer's Conferences. For most unpublished or up-and-coming writers, this is the biggest expense related to writing. Not only are the conferences themselves expensive, there's hotel and transportation to consider. So this gift can come in the form of hotel gift certificates, airline miles, or conference tuition. Or you know, cold hard cash. FYI, here are some conferences your writer might be interested in:

2. A writing retreat. By this, I don't mean the ones that are planned by a group. If the writer in your life is working on a first draft or is doing some heavy revising, they may enjoy a few days at a hotel or cabin, away from kids, pets, housecleaning, or any other kind of responsibility.  Or, you know, just the moolah. A few things to consider:

  • Does your writer like to have internet access when they're working (I do, many don't)? If so, make sure the location has wi-fi.

  • If they want to focus on their writing, they probably don't want to have to hunt down food for every meal. Either make sure there is food available there or make some kind of other arrangements.

  • Even the most dedicated writer can't write for sixteen hours a day. Make sure there is something around for them to enjoy during breaks.

  • Good examples: a bed and breakfast in a small-town historical type setting with restaurants and shops within walking distance, a larger resort with restaurants and on-site activities, a cabin stocked with food and everything they need to make dinner.


3. Writing Yummies. Many of us have our succulent writerly *ahem* crutches. Mine is wine. Many like chocolate. There are others like: gummy sharks, coffee, cashews, bacon. Why not give them a yummy-of-the month club? Or, you know, just the $dough$.

4. Computer. If the writer in your life has to tape the battery of their laptop in, use a tin foil dish to make the wireless work, and hold up the screen while typing with one hand... I'm sure they'd appreciate a new computer to help them in their authorly journey. Or, you know, a stack of benjamins.

5. Books. Any writer worth their weight loves books. If you're lucky enough to know a writer who keeps a public list of the books they want, this is going to be easier for you. (Unless, of course, they just buy the book before Christmas) However, this one you can kinda cheat: give them gift cards to their favorite book store. As fun as buying books is, it's even MORE FUN if it's not our money we're spending. Or, you know, some dead presidents.

  • Also, if your writer is the type, they might like an e-reader. The big guys: Kindle, nook, Sony, Kobo.


6. A Research Trip. If the writer in your life is writing a book where the location is of special importance, they might appreciate a trip to scope the place out. Sure, Google Maps and websites are awesome, but there's nothing like actually going there. Or, you know, just the loot.

7. Pens, notebooks. If your writer likes to write the old-fashioned way (I'd be happy if I never had to write anything by hand ever again), they may enjoy a really nice pen or some nice notebooks. I (obviously) don't know anything about this area, so I don't have any recommendations. Or, you know, just the dinero.

8. Literary Jewelry. Just make sure she's not one of those writers who hates Shakespeare or something :-) Or, you know, some type of currency.

9. Website Design. Many up-and-coming writers are in desperate need of a professional-looking website. If your writer isn't too tech/graphic savvy (or is and just doesn't have the time), they may appreciate a professionally designed website. As with everything, make sure you do your research on the vendor. If they won't show you examples of sites they've done before, run the other way! Or, you know, some greenbacks.

10. Randoms. Here's a list of random cutesy things your writer may or may not like:

Hope that helps! If you have anything to add, leave it in the comments :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

(Two For Tuesday)^2

I’m approximately 20,000 words behind on NaNoWriMo and it’s the week of Thanksgiving. One of these is why I’m phoning it in with a short (but GOOD!) post for Two For Tuesday.

What is Two For Tuesday? You post two of anything. Doesn’t matter what it is, they don’t have to be related. And since I’m apparently incapable of sharing only two things with you, I’m going to call this one (Two for Tuesday)^2.

Good News. Times Two.

These days, spending about 45 seconds on any news site is enough to send you reaching for the Prozac. Sometimes, you may need reminding that there is good stuff happening too. I know I do. I recommend these sites:

  1. Happy News - This site has posts in all areas of news, including columns. I suggest the Reasons to Be Hopeful column. Thanks to my Phi Rho sister Becky for pointing me toward this site.

  2. Tonic - This website has good news as well, but is more along the lines of encouraging others to be a positive force in the world. Right now they have a widget running at the top of the page where you can answer the question, “Who is your hero?”


Cool Project. Times Two

  1. #reverb10 This one is for all my creative types out there. It’s an annual online event designed to “reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.” In summary, they’ll post a prompt every day in December and they want YOU to respond to it with a blog post, a photo, a poem, a tweet, or any other medium you want. If you sign up for this one, let me know and I’ll link to you in the sidebar (under the #reverb10 badge over there <--) when it gets closer to December.

  2. how i knew you were the one - People post short messages about how they knew their significant other was “the one.” A little corny, yes, but fun when you’re in the mood for something sappy that will make you believe in love again. :-)


So there you have it. It seemed I was getting nothing but bad news and everybody was in a bad mood, so I wanted to do a 100% happy post.

What are some of your favorite websites when you need to be cheered up and/or have your faith in humanity restored?

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's All Subjective. Really.

I’m querying right now, so I’m sorry, but it’s all I can think about. Last night I had my SFF crit group look over my first ten pages again.

One guy didn’t like the way I introduced the characters. He wanted more info about why they treat each other the way they do in the opening scene. He didn’t like the main character because she continuously failed at a very difficult task and soldiered on, not letting the failures get to her because she knew she would be able to do it eventually.

Another guy liked the introduction of the characters. He wanted to read on so that he could figure out why they treat each other the way they do. He liked the main character because she continuously failed at a very difficult task and soldiered on, not letting the failures get to her because she knew she would be able to do it eventually.

Both of these gentlemen’s opinions are valid and I respect what both of them have to say. They read the same 10 pages, even had the same exact reasons, but had differing opinions.

Can you say “frustrating”?  (No seriously, a lot of people say “fustrating” and it makes me want to kick them in the shins.) I try to take comfort in the fact that they both at least saw Miranda’s tireless commitment to the task and were affected by how the characters interacted, even if they had different reactions to it.

The writing business is subjective. We’re all told that; it’s hammered into our heads – especially by form rejection letters. No one’s opinion is “wrong,” by the very definition of the word.

I even hear rumors of people who don’t like THE HUNGER GAMES (‘tis true! though I’m not sure what kinds of people these are). I seem to be the only person in the world who didn’t care for THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE and I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to see a movie if Johnny Depp is in it.

So when we get that rejection that really stings and only says “Not right for us,” we must remember that the phrase “it’s subjective” is not simply lip-service. It’s not just something people say to make us feel better.

It’s a Truth.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's As Bad As You Think It Will Be...

I started querying THE DEMONS YOU KNOW... on November 2nd. That's exactly two weeks ago. I know it doesn't seem like a long time, especially in the glacially slow publishing world, but in waiting-to-hear-back-on-my-query time, it's like a gazillion years. Seriously, it took me about an hour to press that "send" button for the first time.

Dear Readers, I'm going to be entirely frank with you. I'm not an emotional person. It takes A LOT for me to get upset or happy or worried or ... anything. So when I saw/heard other writers talking about how emotional the submission process is, I didn't entirely believe them. "Oh, that won't happen to me," I thought.

But...... it did. And it kinda scares the crap out of me. I don't know how to handle the butterflies in the stomach or the heart-wrenching agony of a rejection.

I heard about writers who read anything into an agent's innocuous tweet after sending in a query letter, and laughed at them. But then a favorite agent I just queried will tweet something like "Having sushi and martinis with my BFF" and I'll be like, "Is that a metaphor? Do they love my book so much it's their BFF now? Or did they hate it so much that it drove them to drinking?" Seriously, guys: it's that bad.  And that's coming from me: the person who ONLY cries when the ASPCA commercials with that Sarah McLachlan song comes on TV. Of course, it didn't help when Nathan Bransford, his literariness, left agenting the VERY DAY I queried him! Seriously, Nathan, was it really that bad?

And the worse part? You know you're being crazy but you can't seem to make the thoughts stop but, luckily, you have the self control to not make the thoughts public (until you write a blog post about exactly how crazy you are) and to not act on them.

And the form rejections! I used to scoff at the authors who tried to "read between the lines" of these things, which I'm sure agents take extreme pains to make as vague and uninterpretable as possible. But now I'm, like, trying to use a UV scanner to read the hidden text or something.

And then the JOY. Oh, the wondrous, beautiful joy of a partial request. AND THEN! And then. You receive a full request from an agent you just adore and you think your heart might explode in that very second. OH GOD, OH GOD, but what if they don't like it? Will I ever recover?

But you know you will because you have the most amazing (Matt) writer (Lisa) friends (Adam) ever, whom you only know on Twitter (Erica) (and maybe met, for like a minute, at a conference (Tiffany)), but are awesome (Nina) and brilliant and loving and all the positive adjectives you could ever come up with. :-)

So... that's the first two weeks of a first-time-querier who actually isn't that emotional, so, dear Godiva, I really pray for those of you who actually HAVE emotions. Oh, and thank GOD for all those in my life who don't completely understand, but celebrate and mourn with me anyway (Hi Jen, Melissa, Chels, K, and mama!).

And for those interested? Stats!!

  • Queries sent: 17

  • Rejections: 6

  • "No Longer an Agent": 1 (Great excuse, Nate B.)

  • Partial Request: 3

  • Full Requests: 1

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Came a Little Early This Year

You know it’s a crazy week for me when I don’t even participate in YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday! It felt like I was strapped into an emotional rollercoaster with a few ups and plenty of downs (which I like on an ACTUAL rollercoaster, btw).

Oddly, despite the setbacks, I’ve been practically singing all week, my head held high and a smile on my face. See, I signed up to send a Thanksgiving package to a platoon in Afghanistan through Adopt A Platoon. AAP had a list of suggested things to include in the package, including a list of things you’re thankful for.

There were 30 men in the platoon, so I decided to come up with 30 things. It was hard at first. Y’all know I’m not the most sentimental person in the world. Except for the really big things, I don’t tend to see life in shades of what-I’m-grateful-for and what-I-wish-was-better, but rather this-is-what-it-is and this-is-what-it-isn’t. But the more things I put on the list, the more I wanted to put on it. I didn’t want to stop at 30. (but I did! Hey, it’s NaNoWriMo, I don’t have time for everything.) Nothing was too small to put on the list. I stayed away from the clichéd “my health and my family,” not because I’m not thankful for those things, but because they’re general and everybody says them – I wanted to be specific.

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”  ~Robert Caspar Lintner



  1. electricity

  2. running water that’s safe to drink

  3. that I was able to go to college and choose my degree

  4. the freedom to write and read anything I like

  5. puppies

  6. I can walk, run, skip and dance

  7. friends who will come over with a bottle of wine and/or chocolate ice cream at any time of night if I’m feeling down

  8. fingerless gloves

  9. air-conditioning

  10. chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven

  11. Irish folk-rock music

  12. my sister & best friend

  13. my family supports my dreams

  14. a steady paycheck that covers all my needs

  15. air flight

  16. a complete lack of allergies

  17. I can sleep safely in my bed at night

  18. people who love me

  19. the internet

  20. people who honestly try to make the world even a little bit better

  21. artistic expression, both mine and others’

  22. engineers, who design everything we use but never get the thanks

  23. access to basic medicine and healthcare

  24. my eyes can see and my ears can hear

  25. lavender-scented anything

  26. policemen, firefighters, soldiers and everyone else who risk their lives and don’t get paid enough

  27. stores entirely dedicated to office supplies

  28. the invention of the printing press

  29. washing machines & dishwashers

  30. bubble gum


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy


This is when it hit me: I have a really great life. Then I began to wonder, does everyone else realize this? In general, most of the people I know also have it pretty good. I only ever hear people complain (I’m not judging, I do it too. We all do it, it’s part of who we are as humans), but I wanted to know what others were grateful for.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~Thornton Wilder


And thanks to the internet (#19), I was able to ask. I put this message out on Twitter and Facebook:

“Working on a little project. Tell me please, what are you thankful for??”

The responses? (with my comments)

  • “I’m thankful 4 Friends like…” He goes on to list 14 people (including me!) and then says he doesn’t have enough room to list them all (on Twitter).

  • “Aside from the usuals like family & health, I’m thankful for video games & the world they let me escape into on bad days.” I don’t do video games, but I know a lot of people who have found solace in them

  • “My family, people who love me, knowing who I am and the ability to be that person, the privilege of education, and Batman.” A LOT of these were also on my list! I forgot Batman though…

  • “I’m thankful for my family and that I have a job.” There’s family again. Also, in this economic situation, I think the people with steady jobs are realizing their good fortune.

  • “Thankful for 2 healthy children… I’ve seen one too many sick kids this year, and I’m just happy & thankful that mine aren’t in the hospital battling an illness. (Sorry, kind of a downer, but it’s true… People take their health for granted.)” It’s not a downer, and I agree: people do take their health for granted.

  • “My amazing roomies who can always cheer me up, and make me feel loved, no matter what.” (Hey Chels! Love you, too)

  • “Breath” She’s a poet, can’t you tell? Perfect answer.

  • “Heidi (her dog), a stable career and good books!” See writers, someone’s even thankful for us! ;-)

  • “I feel extremely lucky and thankful for a very caring husband, dear friends and family (all healthy thankfully). I’m also thankful for being able to enjoy life and experience so much.” Yeah, I’m ditto on that last part.

  • “I am thankful for every lungful of air I take in… honestly… because without it I couldn’t be thankful for anything else thereafter!” She’s got a point.

  • “I’m thankful for having great loving friends and family all around me.” So simple, but something that so many people take for granted.

  • “I’m thankful for a wife that keeps me happy and sane, and I’m thankful that I’ve got a pretty good life altogether. I’m also thankful for science, cause science is awesome.” Oh SCIENCE! I’m so sorry, didn’t mean to exclude you. I <3 science. Especially the kind that let me do this entire ‘experiment’ via my mobile phone.

  • “I’m thankful for the vlog brothers. I think it’s time for some positive pranks!!”  DFTBA (links are mine)


“And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks.”  ~John Taylor


So this is what’s put me in such a great mood this week, despite receiving four (!) query rejections. I know it sounds cheesy and sappy, but next time you’re feeling down – maybe write down some of the things you’re thankful for. (I know I wouldn’t have done it if it had been suggested in this way, but the world managed to trick me into it.) We all do this at Thanksgiving in some way, but one day a year isn’t enough.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~Edward Sandford Martin

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm not a leper

My skin, especially on my head, constantly itches. Every time you see me, every time I tweet, every time I blog, know that my head is itching and I’m barely containing the urge to scratch it.

That may not sound too bad to you – and it’s not for a little while – but it’s a constant companion, every day, every hour, for four years now. It’s like Chinese Water Torture.

And that itching? Not only does it leave little white flakes everywhere I go, it portends of a far worse future. A future where my immune system will start attacking my cartilage in addition to my skin. Where I’m far more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes. Where any children I have will probably suffer the same fate.

What’s even worse? Despite the 7 MILLION AMERICANS who suffer from the same disease, nobody else seems to know about Psoriasis. Pay attention, I didn’t say cirrhosis. It’s not a skin disease, it’s an immune disease. You can’t catch it by swimming in the same water, breathing the same air, or touching us. In fact, if you weren’t born with it, it doesn’t affect you at all; which is part of the problem.

We’re tired of being treated like lepers. We’re tired of wearing pants and long sleeves in 97 degree weather to keep you from staring. We’re tired of paying too much money to try treatments that don’t work anyway and might give us cancer. We’re tired of our kids being bullied. We’re tired of being misdiagnosed by doctors who should know better. We’re tired of being kicked out of public pools, daycares, sports teams and even jobs. We’re tired of having to have a doctor’s note to prove we’re safe to be around.

The National Psoriasis Foundation not only funds research that will one day find a cure, they have fantastic educational and advocacy programs that make life easier for psoriasis sufferers. They are, quite frankly, the sole reason I have the courage to write this post, the guts to discuss my red scaly lesions with complete strangers.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the Tampa Walk to Cure Psoriasis to raise both funds and awareness. Please, check out my personal walk page to read more. And if you can spare a few bucks, I’d appreciate your support.

I’d also like to thank the following people who have already donated in support of our team on the walk:

  • Donal

  • Jacob S

  • Aunt Susie

  • The Rands family

  • Jeff and Kim

  • The Trews

  • Tyler

  • The Humor Mill Orlando

  • Mike B

  • And several others I don’t know personally

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: If I were the supreme ruler..

Today’s question over at YA Highway’s  Road Trip Wednesday is:

If you were made supreme ruler of the publishing world, what would be your first ruling?

For me, this is going to be a two-step process.

Step 1: First, I would declare that we are no longer going to publish YA books about girls where the only thing interesting about them is that some super-hot, mysterious, abusive jerk is in love with them. This goes double if the only reason the jerk is in love with her is because of what she is, not who.

I mean, really, authors? Can’t we move past this? What kind of message are we sending to girls when our books are the supernatural novel version of that Rihanna/Eminem song?

We can write teen romances where the girl (who is the POV character, need I remind you) is allowed to make her own decisions and has her own personality, and they still end up in each other’s arms. Can’t we?

In my opinion, we need more heroines like Katsa, Nya, and even Hermione.

I remember seeing Maureen Johnson tweet about how a lot of the time people say a book has “a strong female character” when what they really mean is it has “a female character.”

Ok, whew. Rant over. Now it’s time for…

Step 2: Run and hide.

Seriously. I don’t want to mess with that crap. Sure, I want to publish, but I have no answers for all the troubles facing the publishing industry. I settle for following them, understanding the changes that take place… but I don’t know how to fix anything.

I can’t see any better way of (for lack of a better word) validating novels than the current system. I know for a fact that people who don’t follow the publishing world have no idea exactly how much crap is out there. They think if everyone could publish, it would all sort itself out. Personally, I think it would be a mess.

So, after step 1, I would hand the reins over to one of these ladies:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two For Tuesday

Two for Tuesday is something a few of my blogging friends do where you pretty much can post two things - whatever you want, they don't have to be related. Unfortunately, I can't follow rules, so you're going to get four things :-)

1) In honor of my ocean-based NaNoWriMo novel, you should check out this AWESOME octopus. I want one!



2) The Gutters is a web comic done by the same guys as Least I Could Do (my favorite!) and Looking For Group. They basically make fun of the comic book industry in a fun, loving way. Issue #54 deals with a topic I've often wondered about myself: How does Professor X never draw the attention of cyber cops?

3) Here's an great quote from Elizabeth Aston, for all my fellow WriMos out there:

"It is all very well, when the pen flows, but then there are the dark days when imagination deserts one, and it is an effort to put anything down on paper. That little you have achieved stares at you at the end of the day, and you know the next morning you will have to scrape it down and start again."
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4) I started rebuilding my blog roll when I changed websites, but it kinda fell to the back burner. If you want to be on the blog roll, please leave a note in the comments and I'll link to you!

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Month of Living Meatlessly

Whew! You guys have no idea how hard Vegetarian Month was for me! In the scope of Year of Months themes, it was easy in that I didn’t really have to do anything extra, but was hard in that I really wanted bacon.

I know some people were taking bets against me, but I did, in fact, make it the entire month without eating a single bite of meat or meat juices! *pause to pat myself on the back* I had a few almost-slip-ups, but managed to stop myself just in time:

  • On the 31st, the last day of the month, I was feeding Jasper the burnt parts of Chelsea’s grilled chicken sandwich at the farmer’s market, and almost licked the juices off my fingers! I stopped a few inches away from my mouth.

  • When I was home with my family, we had pizza. K always picks her pepperoni off (we also had cheese, which is what I ate) and I always eat it. I reached over, grabbed a piece of pepperoni, then immediately caught myself and dropped it like it was hot.

  • We did a soup, salad and breadsticks thing at work for a coworker’s birthday and my coworker Jen was kind enough to make the soup without chicken broth so that I could eat it (and it was delicious!).

  • When I was throwing a mock temper tantrum, trying to get K to make me some pancakes for dinner (I had a craving, ok? and she makes them better than me), I picked up a piece of Chelsea’s popcorn chicken and opened my mouth. Chelsea, not thinking, said, “You can eat it, I’m done.” K opened her eyes wide and said, “No! I’m making you pancakes!”


Around the middle of the month, it really started getting difficult. I am constantly surrounded my meat! My coworker was eating a tuna fish sandwich and I had to leave the area. When I went home to visit my parents, they made bacon for Saturday morning breakfast and the smell filled the house. We also had about a 40 minute discussion on Sunday, trying to figure out where to eat dinner that would have something I could eat besides salad (I really don’t care for salad. like, at all). After I got over that hump, I was pretty OK until K brought home Sweet & Sour Chicken and Pork Fried Rice at the end of last week for dinner. I was *thisclose* to cheating that night.

I did not eat any form of fake meat. Truthfully, I’ve always kind of objected to the idea. I like tofu and eat it from time to time – but not the kind that’s trying to take the place of meat. And I don’t have a problem with black-bean burgers, but a veggie burger? Not my thing.

In the true spirit of The Year of Months, this month opened my eyes to a lot of things. Most of my friends and family were pretty supportive; though my dad was seriously afraid that it would become a long-term thing (he doesn’t eat any meal without meat). I started seeing things a little differently:

  • I began to think of restaurants in terms of how many choices I had. Most of the time, they could be counted on one hand, if at all (looking at you, Applebee’s!).

  • I ate at Moe’s a lot, because it was one of the few places where I could get something low-calorie and meat-free quickly. One day I was there and had to wait in line for 13 minutes (no lie, I checked) because the guy in front of me ordered chicken and they had to cook it. So I sat there, watching my beans get cold. THEN, in their hurry, they dropped chicken in my burrito. I asked the girl to remove it and she gave me serious attitude – like I should be thankful for the piece of free chicken or something. I was a fake vegetarian and I was offended.

  • On the other hand, I was at the café at the Orlando library (which has about a gazillion vegetarian/vegan options, BTW) and ordered an egg and cheese sandwich. When the guy brought it to me, it had ham on it because he thought I had said “ham,” and I told him I was a vegetarian and he re-made the whole sandwich. Usually, especially in customer-service-deficient Orlando, they’ll try to pull the meat off and give it right back to you, but this guy even used a different croissant. I was impressed and touched by his thoughtfulness. Can you say “big tip”?

  • I also think that in restaurants where there are exactly zero vegetarian entrees (*cough* Applebees *cough*), you shouldn’t have to pay full price for an entrée sans meat. I know a big portion of the cost of the dish is the meat and they didn’t even increase the portion of the other stuff to make up for it.

  • Seriously, girl at that Mexican restaurant in Key Largo, how difficult is “I want this entrée, except with beans instead of steak” to understand?

  • When I worked third shift at Gaylord, I had to bring my lunch because there are some days where they’ll have nothing but three different kinds of meat entrees and French fries in the cafeteria. (The other shifts have many more options)

  • At many restaurants, they make the meals on the same grill (*cough* Pita Pit *cough*) and you are pretty much guaranteed to get meat juices on whatever you order.


I saw my vegetarian friend Todd on Saturday and he asked me how I was feeling. My response? “I feel like I want a burger.” But seriously, there were some days when I know I didn’t feel quite right and it was probably due to a lack of protein. I ate a lot of beans and eggs, but it’s still a challenge to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet. I lost 10 pounds in October, but that’s more as a result of my limiting of calories (actually harder to do as a vegetarian when you eat out as much as I do. All the low-cal dishes at restaurants are chicken or fish) than not eating meat.

I know I’ve been whining/complaining a lot in this post, so I’ll end on a positive note. Here’s a list of some of my favorite dishes this past month:

  • The lasagna at Olive Garden (not sure what it’s called) with like 6 different kinds of cheeses on it. Plus the breadsticks! YUUMMMM! Olive Garden is probably one of the most vegetarian-friendly major chains – not vegan though!

  • The Veggie Stir-Fry bento box at Bento. You get broccoli, carrots, bamboo shoots, snap peas and sprouts stir-fried in a garlic sauce, plus green beans, steamed rice, stir-fried noodles, a ginger salad and a little desert!

  • When I ate at home (I eat out a lot due to my super-busy lifestyle) I favored scrambled eggs, cheese and a spoonful of salsa all mixed up and stuffed in a pita.

  • The Art Vandalay at Moe’s was my stand-by for when I needed something quick.


In summary, I’m glad to have done it and to know that I did, but I don’t want to do it again :-)

For those keeping track, October marks the END OF THE YEAR OF MONTHS!! However, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. I’ll probably do a year wrap-up later in the week

Friday, October 29, 2010

Walk to Cure Psoriasis

Hey everyone! I talked about this a few months ago, but the Walk to Cure Psoriasis is just a week away!

Please go to my personal Walk site to read more about my experience with psoriasis.

Over SEVEN MILLION Americans are affected by this disease, which has no cure – yet.

If you can spare the time, I’d love if you would join me at the walk in Tampa next Saturday. And if you can spare a few bucks, please donate using the link above.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

100% Absolutely True Advice You Should Occasionally Ignore

There are some shining gems of writerly advice put forth so often we’ve begun to think of them as “rules.” Whether you’ve been stalking book industry blogs since before Miss Snark began offering her gin-fueled snarkery or this is your first week reading about writing, you’ve heard these all before. But before you follow one of these “rules” off a cliff, remember another repeated (frustrating) phrase this industry loves: There’s always an exception.

1. Show Don’t Tell

This is a piece of advice so prevalent it has its own Wikipedia entry and it’s generally valid. Nate B did a post on showing here.

However, there are times when showing is just plain boring. Many writers take it too far. For example: At the beginning of a scene, your MC is sitting in coach on a regular old commercial plane. Just tell us that. We all generally know what a plane looks like and we care more about the conversation he’s about to have with the beautiful (show she’s beautiful) woman who is about to sit next to him. Don’t spend a page or more trying to show us the plane to avoid the telling – unless, of course, you have a good reason for describing the plane in detail.

(See! Always an exception, even to the exception)

In general, telling is useful when you’re just trying to get from one setting to another or you’re relaying an event when the details aren’t important. Not everything deserves to be described.

If you bore a reader, your book will suffer the worst possible fate: The reader will close the book, walk away and forget about it.

2. Write What You Know

This is actually always good writing advice, but not when it’s taken literally. It doesn’t mean that, if you’re a white male accountant from Nebraska, all your MCs have to be white male accountants from Nebraska.

We all know what it means to be human. We know drama, heartbreak, elation, betrayal, success, love, hate, guilt, prejudice, fear. That’s the core of your story, no matter the setting or type of character.

3. Butt In Chair

99.9% of the time, this is probably what you need to do. In fact, if you can follow only one piece of advice at a time, it would be this.

BUT. Don’t underestimate the creative power of taking a 30 minute leisurely walk through your neighborhood. Sometimes when you’re completely stuck, you may be getting in your own way by insisting on staring at that blinking cursor. Your brain is smarter than you give it credit for and a quick physical activity break may warm you up so you can jump over those road blocks.

Not to mention sitting for long periods of time compresses your spine and makes you prone to back injuries. With so many of writers working a desk job all day before coming home to write all night, we need all the non-sitting time we can get.

4. Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

OK, so this isn’t really writing advice, but it’s advice related to our industry. I love this phrase when it’s used as a metaphor, but hate when it refers to actual books.

Why should you judge a book (especially yours) by its cover?

Because everyone else is going to. No reader is going to pick up a book that looks unprofessional or boring – or misleading. If your reader hates dragons, and there’s a dragon on your cover but not in your book, you just lost a reader.

When you go to the bookstore, how many books do you glance at and immediately forget? How many times have you picked up a book to read the summary because it had an awesome cover? Disregard what your 2nd grade teacher and mommy told you; Covers matter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

In Defense of NaNoWriMo or "Don't Playa-hate*, participate"

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is one week away and I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and tweets about it. Most of them are full of excitement, but many from publishing industry folks seem intent on casting a dark cloud over the event. They all sound something like this:

“Well, I guess, maybe, possibly, perhaps it’s good to get in the habit of writing – if you’re too weak to do that on your own –  BUT it’s all crap and throw it away at midnight on December 1st and never ever let it see the light of day” (I may be paraphrasing here)



Maybe it’s just me, but they all seem to start with some sort of grudging statement of support (“Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate NaNoWriMo or anything”) and end with a two-page-long snark-filled “BUT.”

Many “serious” writers (i.e. those of us seriously seeking publication) are often embarrassed or shamed into explaining away our participation in the event. As if there is no possible way we could get anything worthwhile out of it. As if writing 1600 words a day is just SO out of the norm for writers. As if working quickly automatically equals poor quality. As if no publishable novels have ever come out of NaNoWriMo.

And I just want to say one thing: BACK OFF.

Trust me, I get that there are a lot of badly-written novels at the end of November. And many of these would-be writers query too quickly. But there are plenty of novels written over the span of ten years that aren’t ready either.

It’s the law of averages. A lot of novels are bad. Since a lot of novels are written during NaNoWriMo, a lot of them are going to bad. But some are going to be good (with revision and editing).

So this “NaNoWriMo = bad writing” mentality has got to stop. I refuse to feel guilty for participating in the event because (and this may be why I feel so strongly about this)…

That’s how I write anyway.



Even without a website on which to log my progress and awesome writer friends cheering me on, I write my first draft in 30-45 days. I know I’ve never talked about my writing process on the blog, but it goes something like this:

  • Get an idea for a situation (whether it’s the world, the inciting incident, family situation, etc)

  • Soon after, start developing a character(s) for the situation

  • Read similar works, do casual research, flesh things out with my sister or other writing buddies, have imaginary conversations with the characters, etc for 4-8 months

  • WRITE LIKE AN OLYMPIC SPRINTER ON SPEED. Don’t worry about the details, scenery or too much internal thoughts/emotions. Just get it out before the story makes my head explode!

    • If I know I need to come back to this part, type “ZZZ Find out what the real name is for the zizzerzazzle thingy” or “ZZZ I think I may have already used this name for that guy with the plates spinning on his head in Chapter 3”

    • This is the part that takes a little over a month. I end up with a 45-55k word ‘outline’ that is heavy on story and character development, light on description



  • For 6-8 months, I revise and edit. I do a CTRL+F for “ZZZ.” I add setting, flesh out characters, mend plot holes. Apparently, readers also like to know how your characters feel about certain things – so I throw that in there too.

  • Submit parts that are giving me trouble to a critique group.

  • Give to my unsuspecting Beta Readers/Critique partners. Once I receive comments back, those edits can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 months.

  • Make the decision: To Submit or To Trunk?


So, as you can see, NaNoWriMo fits like a masterfully-crafted puzzle piece into my writing process.

And I don’t appreciate being told it shouldn’t.

So if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo – even if it doesn’t fit well in to your writing process – good for you! Add me as a buddy and know you’ll get nothing but support (and perhaps random incoherent blathering some days) from me. For the rest of you, step away from the Haterade*  ;-)

* I'm way to white to use the terms "hater," "playa," or any derivative thereof in any way, except ironically. Peace out!