Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two For Tuesday: Interview and Blogging

Today's Two for Tuesday is going to be a little me-centric! *shrug* It's my blog; I can talk about myself occasionally, right?

1) In case you didn't hear, Simon Royle, an indie book blogger and author, interviewed me on his blog on Saturday! I'm talking about books, book reviews and the publishing industry. Also, check out the Sift review (written by Kevin) of his novel, Tag.

2) I know I've been neglecting this blog lately and I really want to fix that. Since I always do best with a fixed schedule, I've come up with a weekly schedule. BUT the one I'm most excited about is the Monday/Saturday combo!

On Monday, I will post a writing prompt that can be answered in 500 words or less. On Saturday, I will post my result of said writing prompt AND I want you to post yours too! I'll either do a linky on the Saturday post, or just let y'all leave your links in the comments. I hope all of you will participate!

What will the prompts be about, you ask? Well, I guess we'll see! They could be to write about yourself, your writing or even some flash fiction!

As for the rest of the week, here is my "schedule." While I don't plan to post every day, I'm trying for 4-5 days per week.

  • Monday: Writing prompt reveal

  • Tuesday: Two for Tuesday

  • Wednesday: YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday

  • Thursday: Interviews! (Let me know if you're interested in being interviewed)

  • Friday: Follow Friday/Friday Reads

  • Saturday: Writing prompt response

  • Sunday: Six Sentence Sunday

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Loving the Language Blogfest

Remember a week and a half ago I talked about the Loving the Language Blogfest? Well it's a good thing I (a) subscribed to comments on her post and (b) picked out my sentences last week because I would have totally forgot to post this today!

I'm going to cheat a little because my WIP is pretty new and... well, it's a super-duper first draft, if you get what I'm saying. (ROUGH) So I'm going to do five from that one and five from The Demons You Know, which is the work I'm querying.

The Demons You Know

  • A tangible trembling of magic hung in the air like the sound of a muted television.

  • Miranda couldn’t identify the feeling in her chest then. It was so abstract and intangible that she knew it shouldn’t be capable of causing such profound pain. She had known this pain only once before – when her father died – and she finally recognized it; her heart was breaking.

  • Gaping mouths of concrete and steel soundlessly cried out in horror.

  • The crinkling of the ancient pages whispered in the quiet night, calling her name with a wordless voice.

  • She wanted to stay like this, lingering in his light for a while.


Dragons Are People Too (For this one, I gravitated toward the lines that represents Kitty's voice more than anything else)

  • I suddenly feel like I'm lost in a forest I've walked through many times. I stare at a point in front of me that I'm not entirely sure exists. But it must, because I can't seem to tear my gaze away.

  • Not for the first time, I wonder if the Secret Service teach their agents a class in how to frown with purpose.

  • Sani is calling my name but he sounds like he's above the waves of this ocean that's drowning me in nothing.

  • "Technically," I hedge, "I didn't do anything wrong." It probably would sound more convincing if I believed it.

  • Sometimes, I need my mom to be just my mom. And being semi-responsible for both an international event and the exposure of an entire species that thrives on secrecy? This would be one of those times.


Well, there they are. Five of my favorite lines from both The Demons You Know and Dragons Are People Too. I hope you like them. And if you participated in this blogfest, leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RTW: The Roof is on Fire!

 

 

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

Today's topic?

The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?

1) Laptop. Hands down. If I only had one thing, this would be it.

2) My pearl necklace. Next to my laptop, it's probably the most expensive thing I own and it was given to me by my parents for my college graduation.

3) Medical records. I've moved around a lot and have been to over a dozen doctors, which means my medical records aren't all stored in one location (except for my filing cabinet) and it would take a LONG time to gather them again.

4) My signed books. Does this count? I have a large tote bag from RWA 2010 sitting right below my bookshelf that they would all fit in nicely :-) I'm not unreasonable: I realize I couldn't possibly get all my books out, but all my signed ones would definitely fit in that tote.

5) I would say my cell phone here, but it's already in my pocket because I'm addicted. So I'd say my purse because it has my wallet and my keys in it! All that stuff would be hard to replace.

Also, I'm assuming my dog would follow me outside (because he follows me EVERYWHERE) so I don't have to count him in the five things.

What about you? What five things would you save? If you participated in RTW, feel free to leave a link in the comments!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Elevator Pitch



Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic? You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!

 

"In this world, some people can heal by pulling pain from an injured or sick person and then putting it in a special kind of metal, right? The main character can heal, but can only put the pain in other people (and not the metal), which is unheard-of - and possibly desired by the tyrannical ruler - so she keeps it hidden from everyone but her sister until her sister (who is a proper healer) disappears and a greedy man learns about her ability and she has to kick some butt to save her sister and her city. It's awesome."

 

That's right; for some unknown reason, when I verbally describe books, sentence structure bolts out the window without even bothering to open it. Run-on sentences, fragments, and parenthetical asides abound. I often worry that I'm not doing the story justice, but people generally tend to understand my ramblings. And (when describing my favorites) I often add "It's awesome" to the end of my description just to make sure they get it.

So do you know what the book I described is? Here's a link to the Amazon page if you give up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two For Tuesday

So I'm aware that Tuesday actually ended an hour ago, but I haven't gone to sleep yet so this still counts!

What is Two for Tuesday? Post two of anything - they don't even have to be related!

1) I don't normally do blogfests but I saw this one on my YAtopian blog-mate Kelly's blog and I thought, hey why not? Reader's Digest version: Pick any five lines from one of your WIPs and share them on your blog!



Now I'm kinda nervous because I don't know if I have anything to post! yikes! If you sign up for this one, let me know!

2) Over on the YAtopia blog today, I used the last few months of experience reading submissions for Sift to talk about why agents and editors complain about some of the things you see so often. And if that's not enough to make you read the post? Every point is punctuated by lolcats. :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DAUNTLESS!

In the final week of the Divergent Faction-of-the-week Challenge, we were supposed to embody the spirit of The Brave faction. What is Dauntless?
DAUNTLESS: fearless, undaunted.

Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged.




In the book, they are the policemen, soldiers, etc. They ride the trains around town, jumping on and off of them while they're still moving. They also wear all black and have many tattoos and piercings.


What did I do for Dauntless week?


To start with, I worked out every day this week, which seems rather Dauntless-esque. I wore black shirts three days.


And I faced one of my fears... (look in the top right of the photo for a hint)




needles. While doing something very Dauntless...




It's a tiny tiger. Isn't he cute?!


And I faced my biggest fear! This one would dominate my fear landscape. (Thanks to my sister who put together the video!)





Here's proof of my open-eyed-status from the ride photo:




OH. And I was totally kidding about the tattoo. That's a stick-on one my roommate had hanging around. :-P I'd be a horrible Candor.


But the rest of it is true.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

And the rest will follow...

I don't generally do these kinds of things, but I'm feeling rather reflective today and I remember reading a "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind" on my friend Matt's blog recently. So I'll take a crack at it.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

24. Yeah, I'm sticking with that. Don't ask me why; it just feels right.

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Never trying! Definitely worse. I truly believe people are capable of so much more than they think they are - and if they never try? Wasted potential is a terrible, terrible thing. People let fear of failure imprison them in a box that, albeit comfortable, never even comes close to the realm of possibilities.

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

This is an easy one for me to answer. Because I've been trying to do the exact opposite recently and it's hard. Even if you're lucky enough to support yourself with a career that you actually love (I'm not... yet), the world will make it difficult for you. People will criticize you because you're not doing what's expected of you. They'll tear you down because they hate to see someone who makes all the "wrong" decisions and ends up happier than they are. And on top of all of that? Remember the fear of failure I just talked about?

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

Does writing qualify as "saying" or "doing?"

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

I'd destroy apathy. While more people will probably be doing bad things, I think a heck of a lot more people would do good things.

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Reading, throwing parties & cuddling with puppies.

Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I'm trying for the first one. Really trying. Unfortunately, for my dream, it's not as simple as just doing it.

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

I wouldn't worry about saving for retirement. Which means I'd probably travel more, take low-paying jobs that I enjoy more than the higher-paying ones.

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

Oh gosh, I could write a book about this, but I'm going to try to keep it short. In some ways I have, but there are times when I've lost control. And getting laid off three times in two years doesn't help. Control is a fickle mistress.

Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

I don't see any reason why I can't fully worry about both.

You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?

This is a tough one and I hope you don't think it's a cop out, but I really do think it matters what they're saying. If it's something factual, provable then I would probably try to correct it. Gently, of course. If it's opinion or subjective, would my defending her really make a difference in their eyes? However, it would definitely make a difference in mine: especially my respect and admiration of them.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Figure out what you love most in the world, and center your life around it.

Would you break the law to save a loved one?

From death, injury, dismemberment? Yes, no question, no hesitation.

Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

I don't think so. But I've often seen them in the same place at the same time. They're not mutually exclusive.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

Relax. If I'm truly stressed out I turn to activities that are logical and return a semblance of order & control to my world. (It's probably related to my OCPD.) For example, I play Sudoku or - in extreme situations - I count and roll coins.

How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

My standing theory? I'm a weirdo. If you don't believe me, see my answer to the above question.

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

(Traditionally) publish a book - I keep telling myself it's only a matter of time (and a little luck).

Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

I skipped this question at first and came back to it because I couldn't think of anything. And I still can't. I learned pretty early on that survival often means letting go.

If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

New York? Illinois? Colorado? Australia? Arizona? UK? California? I'd pretty much move to any stable place that isn't Nebraska. I like moving.

Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

The floor button? No. The door close button? Yes. I don't know if it makes it faster, but it gives me something to do for a few seconds. :-)

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

genius.

Why are you, you?

Heavy question! I'm going to go with a brief, all-encompassing answer: passion.

Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Mostly yes, but every now and then no. I think this is true for most people.

Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

Definitely the latter. It's worse because the failed friendship didn't have to happen; it's the result of apathy.

What are you most grateful for?

People with good hearts & good intentions. All of them.

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Um. I can't... Crap. I don't even... uh. What?

Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

I think this question is what they call "leading." But no, I don't think it's possible to know the truth without ruling out other possibilities.

Has your greatest fear ever come true?

I honestly don't know what my greatest fear is.

Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now?

The one time that I remember from 5 years ago? Yes, it definitely still matters.

What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?

I actually have a really bad memory for my childhood. I do have this one memory of my grandma taking me to the local library in the closest city so I could check out books once a week when I stayed with her for the summer. She actually had to limit me to six books per week! I remember climbing trees in our backyard in Key West and making "perfume" with my sister using puddle water and weeds. I remember my parents patiently suffering through endless hours of barbie fashion shows and singing performances.

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

I feel that way mostly when I help people. It can be something as simple as helping my friends have fun by putting together a great dinner party. Or raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that can be used to fund cancer research. Or proofreading a newsletter for a local non-profit. It's actually pretty convenient: if I need to feel alive, I just find some way to help somebody.

If not now, then when?

This isn't really a question so much as a life philosophy.

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

There's always a chance you'll lose everything. But sometimes, the risk is worth the reward.

Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

I think everybody has. It's called cuddling. ;-)

Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Oh, my. I could right a bible-length thesis on this. Reader's Digest version: Religions are run by humans. There are humans who will seek power any way they can - and being the spiritual leader of a large group of devotees is one of the best ways to win power. But once you have power, you want more. Well... that's one reason anyway. There are many others.

Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

Nope.

If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

haha, what job? If I had one, probably.

Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

more work. always more work. If I have empty time, I am compelled to fill it.

Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

Nope.

When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

When I created Sift.

If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My grandma.

Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

No. There might be other things you could offer me that would make this decision harder, but not those.

What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Passion.

When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

When you're sure it won't destroy anybody's world, including your own.

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Because they suck. Nobody wants to be wrong.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

I gave up on this about a year ago. Unless we're talking about people who are willing to pay me to do something. Then, I'd wear tshirts and jeans every day.

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

Yesterday, when I walked up the stairs after walking the dogs. (It was heavy)

What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

This may weird considering everything else I've answered here, but this is a little too private for me to post on a blog.

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

Definitely yesterday - I went to Star Wars weekend at Disney!

Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

I always make my own decisions, much to my mother's dismay.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Erudite!

This past week was Erudite week for the Divergent faction-of-the-week challenge!



I know this may not go over well with most of you who have read the book, but Erudite would definitely be my faction of choice. Before I talk about how my Erudite week went, I wanted to defend my faction a little. (The next paragraph might be a tiny bit spoiler-y, but it's so ambiguous  so probably not)

First of all, saying an entire group of people is evil because a few of them do evil things? Yeah, not cool. (and part of why our society is kinda effed up, IMO) Y'all read the book. Compare Eric to Tori. Same faction. That's all I have to say about that.

Secondly, there's a theme I've been seeing going around saying the Erudite just learn for learning's sake and do so randomly and without a purpose. Not so! Here's one example, though it should be all you need: Though the process is not discussed directly in the book, the author does say that Erudite developed the serums used in the simulations. You know what that requires? Focused study in one or two specific subjects (brain chemistry, specifically) for many many years - and then applying what was learned to create a solution.

Now look at me, getting all riled up defending an imaginary organization. I kinda view the Erudite faction as one big university campus. You may spend the first few years gathering general knowledge, but then you find your chosen fields of study and go on to learn more, but also to discover and develop new technologies.



So how did I celebrate Erudite week? By gathering a whole bunch of extra knowledge! You know what I learned?

  • To cool a 20,000 gallon pool of 90-degree water by 10 degrees using ice cubes you would need a whopping 8750 pounds of ice. So don't try that this summer. Not worth it.

  • You know the bright lights people see in near-death experiences? There are three scientifically valid things that cause this: (1) oxygen deprivation, which can affect the optic nerves; (2) trauma to the right temporal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for perception; and (3) the release of massive amounts of endorphins, which can override the optic nerves.

  • When the news reports a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, they're not using the Richter scale anymore, but a new universal measurement called the moment magnitude scale. The Richter scale is a relative measurement, whereas the moment magnitude is an absolute scale.

  • Rosa Parks was NOT the first black person to be arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person. Not even that year. But the first two to receive national attention for the same act? They were poor and had questionable family backgrounds so they didn't make as good a champion for the NAACP.

  • The phrase "Pie in the sky" comes from a song written by labor activist Joe Hill. The song was a satiric attack on the Salvation Army, whose preachers Hill criticized for lulling workers into complacency. "You will eat, bye and bye, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." (Which makes it exceedingly hilarious when this phrase is used by a North Korean diplomat criticizing the US)

  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Stored in subterranean salt caverns, not tanks.

  • I learned the definition of the word ersatz, a word I'm almost certain I've never heard before.

  • The difference between a pardon and a commutation? The former is a forgiveness of crimes after the sentence is served. The latter is when the people are released from prison.

  • Members of Congress are given an absolute privilege to lie with impunity in the House or Senate. (That deserves a big ole WTF?)


So next week is DAUNTLESS!
DAUNTLESS: fearless, undaunted.

Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged.


I have no idea what I'm going to do for it, but I'm game for almost anything that won't cost me a lot of money. (I wanted to do this, but it's expensive and I'm still ridiculously underemployed.) Leave suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

YA Highway: Research!



I haven't participated in a Road Trip Wednesday in a while! This week's topic: What is the strangest/weirdest thing you've ever researched?

While I can't think of a single thing that's weirder than all the others, I'm pretty sure my Google search history has me on some kind of government watch-list. I tend to write high-action urban fantasy, so I'm always researching strange weapons and injuries. Things like how long would it take for a deep burn to heal on its own? Or fighting styles that employ medium-length blades.

Or where is the Syrian embassy in Washington DC, how many floors does it have and does it have a fence around it?

Yeah, that's probably the worst one.

I search to find out how it feels to get shot in the leg, to find haunted historical sites, to learn about the speed and efficacy of plant-based poisons, to find the most isolated place in Ireland, and more.

Though I haven't done too much research in the way of going places or strange activities, anyone paying attention to my google search history might become worried about my mental health.

What's the strangest thing you've ever researched?