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!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Comp Titles

I usually devote my Wednesday blog posts to answering YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday questions, but this week I don’t really know what to say to the topic:

What/who are your comp titles/authors?

For people not down with industry lingo, comp titles are other books that your book is similar too – in theme, subject matter, atmosphere, or feel. For example: Hush, Hush is like Twilight, but with fallen angels instead of vampires. (Don’t argue with me on this one; I could write a 20 page dissertation about this.)

I’ve thought about comp titles often, but not for very long because I’m not really sure what The Demons You Know is similar to. Trust me, it’s not that I think my book is some singularly unique piece of fiction that’s never been done before.

I guess part of it is because it feels a little pretentious. I’m only going to compare my work to work that I like, I like it because it’s awesome, so is saying my work is similar saying that it is awesome? And is that OK? There’s kind of a sub-culture among writers where we doubt the quality of our work. Even multi-published authors struggle with it. To say that my work is like Kristin Cashore’s or Tamora Pierce’s or Janice Hardy’s (three authors that I would love to be compared to, though I’ve only written Urban Fantasy so far) isn’t something I’m prepared to do.

Another part of it is: I don’t really think that way – about any book. I don’t often read books and think, “Hey, this is a lot like that other book.” Unless it’s a bad thing; as in, “Hey, this is the exact same plot as that really popular book except with worse dialogue, a wimpier MC and she changed the mermaids in to water nymphs.” (Don’t try to figure out which books I’m talking about here, I made that up.)

As for the book I’m about to start writing, I can tell you what I’m aiming for it to be comparable to: TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, stewed in a pot of TYPEE with a handful of BEASTMASTER and a splash of WATERWORLD. Want to know more? Yeah, me too ;-)

So, what about you? What are the comp titles for what you’re working on right now? And if you’ve read THE DEMONS YOU KNOW (formerly MIRANDA’S FIRE), what do you think it’s comparable to?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chilean Miners

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no internet service, you’ve heard about the Chilean miners. Our entire country has been watching, gobbling up any news coming from that copper mine. I’ve heard people theorize that we’re so interested in this story because we are so desperate for any kind of good news – but that doesn’t really explain the obsession with that one miner with a wife, mistress and (now) girlfriend.

Either way, I heard a question that’s been bouncing around my head for a few days: If you were one of the miners, what would be the first thing you would do when you got out?

Unplug the phones & lock my door. I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone, and my rescue was just broadcast on international television, so everybody knows I’m safe.

Then I would take a really long shower, using every Lavender-scented bath product I own. Possibly order a pizza with extra cheese.

Then I would crank up the AC, lay on my bed with my puppy and sleep until I couldn’t sleep any more. My bed is VERY comfortable – far better than any cot they had down in that mine. And add a cuddly puppy: it’s heavenly.

After all that, I’d probably write a book about the whole thing. Why? Because that’s what people who have survived an event that attracted that much attention do and because that’s what writers do. Whether or not I’d publish it… well, that’s a whole ‘nother question.

What about you? What would you do?

Friday, October 15, 2010

So Many New Questions

I’m about to start writing my first other-world fantasy (not High Fantasy) and I’m realizing that it’s going to be more work than I thought before I start writing the story. This is my third book, but the first two are urban fantasies. I’m a pantser, so I don’t really plan my stories, but I always have a good idea of how the magic system (or whatever) works before I start. But when it’s not an urban fantasy, there’s so much more I need to know.

Like the animals. It’s a planet covered with mostly water, so I’m going to have fewer land animals and more ocean animals. So I can’t say things about how something is as big as an elephant, or looks like a rat – unless I decide those animals live there.

And speaking of, should I use Earth animals at all? Is a fish still a fish? A snake still a snake?

How do I go about creating new animals? How in the world will I pick names for them and explain what they look like?

Technology is going to be an issue too. I’m thinking maybe Iron Age-era levels of technology, but I have to determine what kind of advancements they’ve made. I’d think, on a water-dominated planet, their shipbuilding and ocean navigation would advance faster than land-based technologies, right?

The big one (for me) is Mythology. I can borrow from other mythologies, but it still has to be something new and fitting for this planet. Do they have many gods, just one God or believe in the general ‘spirit’ of certain things. Do they pray to their gods, have idols? Do they think their deities walk/swim with them or watch from on high?

And what are all the things I haven’t thought of yet?

Have any of you ever written an other-world story? How did you decide on all the details like what I mentioned above?

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Weekend: A Photo Essay

You know those weekends that are so awesome they make you glad to just be alive? The weekends you wish would never end, but you know it’s even more sweet because it is going to end? Then, on Monday morning, you’re so loathe to return to your normal schedule that you actually groan when you claim your parking space at work.

This was one of those weekends.

One of my and my sister’s favorite authors, Janice Hardy, held her book launch party this weekend in Cumming, GA – which just so happens to be the same town where my sister’s best friend lives. That happy coincidence, combined with the fact that we love road trips, resulted in us taking the eight hour (one way, with stops) drive this weekend.

After we got off work on Friday, we drove to Warner Robbins (south of Atlanta) and crashed at our friend Paool’s house. We woke up early, ditched our diets for a fast-food breakfast (a sort-of road trip tradition for us), and drove the rest of the way to Cumming (north-ish of Atlanta) for the book signing/launch.



Janice was celebrating the release of her second book, Blue Fire. I had won an ARC on her blog, so I had already read it, but we got a signed hardcover to add to our collection. We also got a signed set for my friend Matt, who was kind enough to watch our dogs for the weekend.

Just a little plug for her books: if you like YA or MG fantasy (or if you just like a good story), you should definitely check out The Shifter and Blue Fire (and the third one when it comes out). Though they’re classified as MG, they definitely appeal to the YA audience. I can’t wait for the next one!

After chatting with Janice, her husband, and a few others for a couple of hours, we headed to K’s BFF’s house and played with her baby. Then, we did what BFFs who haven’t seen each other for a while are supposed to do: we left the daddy at home with the baby and went shopping!

[caption id="attachment_155" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="K prepared for winter with this ensemble"][/caption]

I found a hat that matched the shoes I was wearing. K doesn’t like it but I think she’s just jealous because I saw it first!

[caption id="attachment_156" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="My new hat that K is totally jealous of"][/caption]

Then, we watched Iron Man 2 (yay RDJ!) and drank wine.



On Sunday, we lounged around for a little while, then went to lunch before driving South.

People who have been reading my blog for a while know I’ve been looking for a place to set a book I have in mind. I wanted a historical-type place that tourists visit and a high school student could work at – with bonus points if it was rumored to be haunted. While chatting at the bookstore on Saturday, I had asked the locals if there was any such place in the vicinity and, after telling me about the Georgia Stonehenge (which you should go read about because it’s totally insane), they told me about Stone Mountain. After seeing a picture of a covered bridge on the website, I wanted to check it out.



At first, I thought it wasn’t going to work out because it was too small. Then I realized how big it was and thought it was too big. But after K, my friend Erin and I walked around for two hours I think it’s perfect!

[caption id="attachment_160" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="The top of Stone Mountain has pools that fill up with water. They were all dry when we were there, but there was plenty of evidence everywhere."][/caption]

If you’ve never been there, it’s gorgeous! In addition to the Stone Mountain itself (which you can go on top of and has a “Confederate Mount Rushmore” carved into it), it has the aforementioned covered bridge, lots of walking trails, a ‘plantation,’ an inn, a hotel, a golf course, a mill, a quarry, a campground, restaurants, a laser show and lots of festivals. While I didn't hear any rumors of hauntings, the place has a lot of history, which will work just as well.

I admit, I’m really going to enjoy the research for this book! K and I discussed trying to get our parents to do a family vacation here, because it was just SO beautiful! We rushed through as much as we could, but really wished we could stay longer. K says she wants to live there  :-)

[caption id="attachment_161" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Atlanta in the distance, from the top of Stone Mountain"][/caption]

On the drive back, we stopped in Warner Robbins again to have dinner with Paool at a charming Japanese steakhouse. We got home around 2 am, but even the drive was fun because K and I alternated between listening to an audio book and discussing book ideas for me.

It was such an awesome weekend; I only wish it could have been longer!

You know those weekends that are so awesome they make you glad to just be alive? The weekends you wish would never end, but you know it’s even more sweet because it is going to end? Then, on Monday morning, you’re so loathe to return to your normal schedule that you actually groan when you claim your parking space at work.



This was one of those weekends.



One of my and my sister’s favorite authors, Janice Hardy, held her book launch party this weekend in Cumming, GA – which just so happens to be the same town where my sister’s best friend lives. That happy coincidence, combined with the fact that we love road trips, resulted in us taking the eight hour (one way, with stops) drive this weekend.



After we got off work on Friday, we drove to Warner Robbins (south of Atlanta) and crashed at our friend Paool’s house. We woke up early, ditched our diets for a fast-food breakfast (a sort-of road trip tradition for us), and drove the rest of the way to Cumming (north-ish of Atlanta) for the book signing/launch.



PIC: Blue Fire



Janice was celebrating the release of her second book, Blue Fire. I had won an ARC on her blog, so I had already read it, but we got a signed hardcover to add to our collection. We also got a signed set for my friend Matt, who was kind enough to watch our dogs for the weekend.



Just a little plug for her books: if you like YA or MG fantasy (or if you just like a good story), you should definitely check out The Shifter and Blue Fire (and the third one when it comes out). Though they’re classified as MG, they definitely appeal to the YA audience. I can’t wait for the next one!



After chatting with Janice, her husband, and a few others for a couple of hours, we headed to K’s BFF’s house and played with her baby. Then, we did what BFFs who haven’t seen each other for a while are supposed to do: we left the daddy at home with the baby and went shopping!



K prepared for winter with this ensemble:



PIC: K



I found a hat that matched the shoes I was wearing. K doesn’t like it but I think she’s just jealous because I saw it first!



PIC: my hat



Then, we watched Iron Man 2 (yay RDJ!) and drank wine.



PIC: RDJ



On Sunday, we lounged around for a little while, then went to lunch before driving South.



People who have been reading my blog for a while know I’ve been looking for a place to set a book I have in mind. I wanted a historical-type place that tourists visit and a high school student could work at – with bonus points if it was rumored to be haunted. While chatting at the bookstore on Saturday, I had asked the locals if there was any such place in the vicinity and, after telling me about the Georgia Stonehenge (which you should go read about because it’s totally insane), they told me about Stone Mountain. After seeing a picture of a covered bridge on the website, I wanted to check it out.



PIC: Covered Bridge



At first, I thought it wasn’t going to work out because it was too small. Then I realized how big it was and thought it was too big. But after K, my friend Erin and I walked around for two hours I think it’s perfect!



PIC: stepping stones



If you’ve never been there, it’s gorgeous! In addition to the Stone Mountain itself (which you can go on top of and has a “Confederate Mount Rushmore” carved into it), it has the aforementioned covered bridge, lots of walking trails, a ‘plantation,’ an inn, a hotel, a golf course, a mill, a quarry, a campground, restaurants, a laser show and lots of festivals.



I admit, I’m really going to enjoy the research for this book! K and I discussed trying to get our parents to do a family vacation here, because it was just SO beautiful! We rushed


You know those weekends that are so awesome they make you glad to just be alive? The weekends you wish would never end, but you know it’s even more sweet because it is going to end? Then, on Monday morning, you’re so loathe to return to your normal schedule that you actually groan when you claim your parking space at work.

This was one of those weekends.

One of my and my sister’s favorite authors, Janice Hardy, held her book launch party this weekend in Cumming, GA – which just so happens to be the same town where my sister’s best friend lives. That happy coincidence, combined with the fact that we love road trips, resulted in us taking the eight hour (one way, with stops) drive this weekend.

After we got off work on Friday, we drove to Warner Robbins (south of Atlanta) and crashed at our friend Paool’s house. We woke up early, ditched our diets for a fast-food breakfast (a sort-of road trip tradition for us), and drove the rest of the way to Cumming (north-ish of Atlanta) for the book signing/launch.

PIC: Blue Fire

Janice was celebrating the release of her second book, Blue Fire. I had won an ARC on her blog, so I had already read it, but we got a signed hardcover to add to our collection. We also got a signed set for my friend Matt, who was kind enough to watch our dogs for the weekend.

Just a little plug for her books: if you like YA or MG fantasy (or if you just like a good story), you should definitely check out The Shifter and Blue Fire (and the third one when it comes out). Though they’re classified as MG, they definitely appeal to the YA audience. I can’t wait for the next one!

After chatting with Janice, her husband, and a few others for a couple of hours, we headed to K’s BFF’s house and played with her baby. Then, we did what BFFs who haven’t seen each other for a while are supposed to do: we left the daddy at home with the baby and went shopping!

K prepared for winter with this ensemble:

PIC: K

I found a hat that matched the shoes I was wearing. K doesn’t like it but I think she’s just jealous because I saw it first!

PIC: my hat

Then, we watched Iron Man 2 (yay RDJ!) and drank wine.

PIC: RDJ

On Sunday, we lounged around for a little while, then went to lunch before driving South.

People who have been reading my blog for a while know I’ve been looking for a place to set a book I have in mind. I wanted a historical-type place that tourists visit and a high school student could work at – with bonus points if it was rumored to be haunted. While chatting at the bookstore on Saturday, I had asked the locals if there was any such place in the vicinity and, after telling me about the Georgia Stonehenge (which you should go read about because it’s totally insane), they told me about Stone Mountain. After seeing a picture of a covered bridge on the website, I wanted to check it out.

PIC: Covered Bridge

At first, I thought it wasn’t going to work out because it was too small. Then I realized how big it was and thought it was too big. But after K, my friend Erin and I walked around for two hours I think it’s perfect!

PIC: stepping stones

If you’ve never been there, it’s gorgeous! In addition to the Stone Mountain itself (which you can go on top of and has a “Confederate Mount Rushmore” carved into it), it has the aforementioned covered bridge, lots of walking trails, a ‘plantation,’ an inn, a hotel, a golf course, a mill, a quarry, a campground, restaurants, a laser show and lots of festivals.

I admit, I’m really going to enjoy the research for this book! K and I discussed trying to get our parents to do a family vacation here, because it was just SO beautiful! We rushed through as much as we could, but really wished we could stay longer. K says she wants to live there J

PIC: top of SM

On the drive back, we stopped in Warner Robbins again to have dinner with Paool at a charming Japanese steakhouse. We got home around 2 am, but even the drive was fun because K and I alternated between listening to an audio book and discussing book ideas for me.

It was such an awesome weekend; I only wish it could have been longer!

through as much as we could, but really wished we could stay longer. K says she wants to live there J



PIC: top of SM



On the drive back, we stopped in Warner Robbins again to have dinner with Paool at a charming Japanese steakhouse. We got home around 2 am, but even the drive was fun because K and I alternated between listening to an audio book and discussing book ideas for me.



It was such an awesome weekend; I only wish it could have been longer!



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Deserted Island

Today’s topic for Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway is: You’re packing for a month on a deserted island. What, as a reader and writer, must be in your backpack?

This topic is kind of funny, because I just found out that you can eat most parts of a palm tree and make soap out of the bark last night!

The first things that come to mind are all very practical; I do too many road trips/camping trips to not be prepared. So I’m going to do two backpacks: One full of things I’d need “as a writer” and one for things I need “as a human.”

As a human (well, not just any human – one that’s white as copy paper and scared of the dark), I’d want:

  • Lots of sunscreen. Do they sell it by the gallon?

  • Eight pairs of sunglasses – because, even on a very small island, I’d still manage to lose them

  • A cup – I’m so uncoordinated that trying to drink from anything else wouldn’t turn out well

  • Matches – For all I write about fire, I’m pretty horrible at building one – much less starting one without a source of flame!

  • A bucket – do you know how useful a bucket is? The answer is: very. In fact, I’ll just carry all this stuff in a bucket; forget the backpack

  • A solar-charged lantern – Did I mention I was scared of the dark?

  • Pocket-knife – One with every possible tool on it.

  • Hatchet – In my down time, I’d learn to throw it like a lumberjack.

  • A blanket – I’m probably the only person who would get cold on a tropical (I’m assuming) deserted island. If it’s not tropical, I’m not going.

  • Maybe a hammock - sleeping on the ground kinda sucks.

  • Whatever room is left in the pack – fill it up with rum. Probably 151, because it’s the most efficient by volume/weight. (See! practical. Even when talking about alcohol)


As a writer, I’d want:

  • My very pretty new Myths & Legends book (seriously, it’s GORGEOUS. and chock-full of both well-known and little-known myths)

  • Notebooks – ones with very thin paper. I prefer to write on a computer, but I don’t think that’s practical on a deserted island.

  • A space pen with plenty of refills – I imagine you don’t always have perfect conditions for writing with a plain ole Bic all the time.

  • A waterproof (maybe fireproof?) bag/box to keep all this in – With my luck, I’d have three novels written and then ruined in the rain on my last day there.

  • One or two of the “classics” that I can’t get through because they’re so incredibly boring – Maybe I’d be bored enough to make it through and finally get what all the hoopla is about.

  • Whatever room is left in the pack – fill it with wine. For me, wine goes better with writing


What about you? What would you pack? (try to keep it to things that would fit in a backpack – otherwise, I’d just bring a house with super generators and AC and comfy beds and a personal chef…)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Banned Books Week Wrap-Up

I didn’t think I’d have the time, but I managed to read two books last week for Banned Books Week.

The first, as you know, was Go Ask Alice. It’s about a girl in the 70s whose life took several turns for the worst after she was unknowingly slipped LSD at a party. It’s supposed to be an Anonymous diary (as in non-fiction), but there’s much speculation that it was actually written by the “editor,” who edited several such books in a short period of time.

This book has been banned for drug and sex activity, but anyone who thinks it promotes drug use may be on something themselves. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

While I don’t think this book should be banned, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone – but not because of the themes. Because it’s poorly written – which makes sense if it’s supposed to be from a drug-addicted teen. But still, it was kind of annoying. In fact, for writers, it serves best as an example of how weak adjectives/adverbs can cripple your writing.

The second was Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I thought was fantastic. I honestly couldn’t figure out why this was on the list, so I had to look it up: The protagonist discusses masturbation.

OK, I guess. Once. But – if we’re being honest with each other – what teenage boy doesn’t? It makes him real, helps the reader (especially if he’s a teenage boy, which aren’t huge readers to begin with) connect with the character.

This book is about a kid who makes great sacrifices for one thing: to get a better education. He loses his best friend, occasionally walks 22 miles to school, suffers the hatred of (almost) his entire reservation, soldiers on through a string of deaths in the family – all because he doesn’t want to end up an alcoholic and far below the poverty line like everyone else around him.

People want to silence this brave message because of a few lines discussing something that every high-school freshman already knows about?



Banned Books Week is over now, but I hope that doesn’t end the discussion.

My message to book banners:

  • Preventing everyone else in a community from reading a fantastic book because you’re uncomfortable with some subject matter is a crime against humanity.

  • Taking lines out of context to support your claim is deceitful and reprehensible. Sometimes, it’s absolutely horrifying. (Looking at you, WS of Republic Missouri)

  • I understand (most of the time) why you don’t like the book and why you don’t want your children to read it. Isn’t it nice you got to make that decision for yourself and your kid? Let other parents make the decision too.

  • If you’re really into banned books, move to China. I hear they love censorship over there.


What did you read in honor of Banned Books Week?

Friday, October 1, 2010

A clarification: I Love Meat

After some of the responses to my announcement, I feel like I need to clarify. I don't really have honorable intentions in becoming a vegetarian - it's just an experiment for me.

For those who haven't been around for the past 11 months, I'm near the end of a personal experience I call the Year of Months. Every month, I try a different challenge:

  • November 2009: National Novel Writing Month. I wrote 50,000 words on a novel in a month

  • December 2009: National Blog Posting Month. I wrote a blog post every day for a month

  • January 2010: Non-Fiction Reading Month. I read an hour of non-fiction every day

  • February 2010: Walk Month. I took a 30+ minute walk every day

  • March 2010: Bike Month. I rode my bike to any place within 7 miles instead of driving. (well, kinda...)

  • April 2010: Photo Month. I took at least one picture every day

  • May 2010: Post Card Month. I wrote one post card to someone every day

  • June 2010: Recipe Month. I tried a new recipe every day.

  • July 2010: Work Out Before Work Month

  • August 2010: Revision Month. I spent an hour every day working on my novel.

  • September 2010: Craft Month. I (tried to) work on a craft every day.


So, as you can see, Vegetarian Month is just another challenge for me. Some of y'all think too highly of me, I think. Have no doubt, I will be eating a cheeseburger on November 1st. :-)

I'm just trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and expand my horizons - but only for a month.

I love meat.

October = No Meat

Please don’t ask me how Craft Month went. I don’t want to talk about it.

It started off OK. Then I got injured and couldn’t do anything but lay around for a few weeks. Then I couldn’t get back in the swing of things and…

I failed miserably.

Moving on…

October is the long-awaited Vegetarian Month!

For the entire month of October, I will not eat anything that was alive and has eyes – except for potatoes. I’m not going vegan, so eggs, milk & cheese are still on the table (ha! see what I did there?) because, honestly, what’s life without bread and cheese?

This will be fun (read: not fun) because I’m also trying to lose weight, so I’ll have to cut back on carbs and cheese and other yummy things.



And I’m revising a novel, which is usually an activity accompanied by unnecessary carbs and sugary coffee drinks.



Oh, and I don’t really like too many vegetables.



Good thing I like a challenge!

Wish me luck; I need it.

This is the last month in the Year of Months, so I have to make it a good one!