Friday, June 29, 2012

Winner! and what happens when you don't shower

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post about the things I learned at WIFYR and for sharing your own writing advice. According to the handy online random number generator, the winner of a signed copy of Ann Dee Ellis' novel, EVERYTHING IS FINE, is...

Nick Wilford!!!

Hey Nick, I noticed you live in Scotland. Super cool, but now I'm totally intimidated about mailing something overseas. Be on the lookout for an email from me so you can send me your address and any idiot-proofing instructions on how to get this to you.

Speaking of intimidation and feeling like an idiot, I don't know who (Carol Lynch Williams) at WIFYR thought it a good idea to get every class of introverted writers to plan, practice, and perform a song and dance in front of everyone at the conference, but it happened. Today I'll leave you with the lyrics our class came up with (special props to Andrew, Celesta, and Rebecca) to sing and dance to the tune of Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger'. As you listen and read, imagine our glorious nerdy writer selves posing, fist pumping, and finger front of the editors and agents, no less. 

Have a great weekend, all!

You know the plot gets deeper
Typing here alone.
You know I write in color,
Characters do what I want.

Now I’m on draft twenty-three.
Last one made my mom laugh.
But it feels like everything good is gone.
I can just write through this.
Get my book back on track.
I don’t need to eat or sleep--it’s game on!

When I don’t shower I get stronger!
Write a little longer!
No one else can smell me when I’m alone.
It’s how it is when you’re a writer!
Pull an over-nighter,
Never look at Facebook, ignore the phone.

With every word my book gets longer, longer!
My friends and family sigh.
My sentence structure’s gettin’ stronger,
Push that deadline longer,
Doesn’t matter how much the book has grown.

With every word my book gets longer, longer!
(I let my houseplants die.)
With every twist my book gets stronger,
Make them suffer longer!
Gotta get my editor on the phone.

On the phone…

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WIFYR report

I attended the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference last week and it was all kinds of wonderful. Not only did I get to spend quality time with my crit group (restaurants, pedicures, and sleepovers, oh my), I got to rub shoulders with agents and editors and learn from an amazing group of authors. I'll leave you with random tidbits that stuck with me from the conference. These are NOT direct quotes, but are just a sampling of the wisdom I learned last week.

Me and my plum critters with the amazing Carol Lynch Williams

Regarding first have to stand out by being good and being yourself. -John Cusick, agent

Write the first line of the next chapter when you're done writing so you don't see a blank page the next day. -Mette Ivie Harrison, author

Write something that can only come from you. Your characters should have such depth that they appear to have lives on their own beyond what is needed for the plot. -Ruth Katcher, editor

Avoid coincidences, make rules and stick to them, and be consistent. -Greg Leitich Smith, author

Take risks. Pursue unexpected opportunities. Publishing doesn't do all the things you think it might. Learn how to put success and failure in it's proper place. -Ann Cannon, author

Writing is about hard work. Setbacks to your writing might not be setbacks at all. You can't know how much someone might need your novel. Keep writing to follow your dream, yes...but somebody, somewhere, someday will need your book to be able to hold on to their dream. -Trent Reedy, author

Reading counts as writing time. Consistency is the key to credibility. -Cynthia Leitich Smith, author

Just don't be jealous, it's as simple as that. Someone's success story has nothing to do with your own. The book and the book deal are two separate things. -Emily Wing Smith, author

The ear is a better editor than the eye. Never use dialogue for back story. -Tim Wynn Jones, author

It's all about the characters! -Alexandra Penfold, editor

Dialogue: puts things in focus, forwards the plot, provides characterization, should be seamless with deliberate word choice. -Ann Dee Ellis, author

I had the chance to spend several hours each morning in a class full of amazing writers critiquing each other's work and getting whipped into writing shape by the wonderful Ann Dee Ellis at the helm. She exuded brilliance in everything she taught, I love her. To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy of one of her books, "Everything Is Fine." Just leave a comment to enter. Following my blog or spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, or rooftop will earn you an extra entry. Just let me know in your comment.

What is some of the best writing advice you've ever received?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Blog hop

Welcome to another fun blog hop hosted by Victoria and Jaycee.

Meet my MC, Kami: smart, introverted, and dealing with a major family tragedy in her past that left her unable to trust anyone, especially the hot quarterback she's forced to tutor with an unstable past himself.

Enter Meg (short for Megumi): Kami's BFF who thinks a string bikini is perfectly acceptable beach attire for a school field trip, might possibly be the sole reason Sanrio is still in business, and thinks Kami is a fool for not caving into the aforementioned hot quarterback.

In lieu of an interview, here's a clip from the novel they are in, UNFOLD ME (currently shelved):

            “Lucas has been asking about you,” Meg told me one day at lunch. “He’s worried about you.”
            I sighed and continued to nibble at my bologna sandwich.
            “I’m worried about you too, Kami.” Meg sipped her Diet Coke through a straw that kept bouncing up and down in her soda can. “Why the sudden Lucas avoidance and teen depression syndrome?”
            I sighed again. “He likes me.”
            “No, I mean really likes me.” I looked up to see Meg waiting for me to continue. “Too much.”
            “And that’s a problem because…?” When I didn’t answer, Meg continued. “Because he’s too good looking. And too kind. Too hot. Too popular. Too athletic. Too caring. Too hot. Did I say that one already?”
            I raised the side of my mouth in half a smile.
            “Kami.” Meg slammed her soda can down on the cafeteria table and her straw bounced out. “You’re an idiot.”
            “Yeah, I already saw the memo.” My half smile vanished.
            “Seriously, girl. You have got to take a chance on something. Or someone. And I can’t think of a more perfect subject. It will be good for you to fall. Just a little. To risk a little bit of yourself.”
            “You sound like the school counselor.”
            “Well then she must be a genius. This is so what you need right now, Kami. Stop thinking about it so much, analyzing every possible negative outcome and just do it.”
            I looked at her with longing, wishing I had her confidence, her carefree outlook.
            “Isn’t it what you want?” she asked, serious.
            I nodded, ever so slightly. “You would think when what I want and what I need are the same thing, it would be easy to take it,” I said. “I mean, what else is it competing with?”
            “Fear. Doubt.” Meg grabbed my hand across the table and squeezed it in reassurance.
            “I wish I had another valid choice,” I said.
            Meg sighed and dropped my hand. “Of course you do. You are such a masochist, Kami.” She winked and stuck her tongue out at me. “But I still love you. So maybe I am sometimes too.”

This song has been Kami's theme song for me, even as I was writing the story. One of my favs.

Click here to see who else is participating in the blog hop. And in the comments, tell me, are you more like Kami or Meg? (Or Lucas...I've no gender or hot quarterback biases here :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winner and WIFYR

So I'm at WIFYR all this week. What is WIFYR you ask? It's the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference in Utah and it rocks. It is where I met my entire critique group last year and I'm back...workshopping my novel, hanging with my CP's, and rubbing shoulders with agents, editors, and authors. Next week I'll share all my newfound knowledge. Until then, let's announce the winner of Elana Johnson's Surrender...

Congratulations Robin! You've won!

And I promise I didn't cheat. Even though she's my crit partner, she really did win from the random generator. A new book is coming your way, Robin. But no worries, because I'll be giving away another book next week from one of the WIFYR conference writers. See you then.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First Fight/First Kiss Blogfest-Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the First Fight/First Kiss Blogfest hosted by Danielle and Jackie.

Today I am posting a scene from my YA contemporary novel UNFOLD ME which is currently pushed aside awaiting major revisions. Scroll down to see my last post if you missed the first fight, because this first kiss is a nice wrap up to that fight. Hope you enjoy, and go here to see who else is participating.

*note: I'm off camping this entire week so I won't be able to respond to comments or visit other participants' blogs until the weekend*

Onto the kiss scene (they are dancing in her living room, first time she's danced since a child):

           I placed his left hand on my waist and slid both of my arms behind his neck. His voice cracked a little, and became much softer, but he kept singing. We continued to sway. His shoulder was only inches away. I narrowed the distance and kissed him lightly there. He smelled so good. I traced the swooping line of his collarbone just visible from the edge of his shirt collar. I kissed him there, against his bare skin. I slid my lips up his neck and across his jaw line, lingering at his chin for a moment before I pulled my head back to look up at him.
            We had stopped swaying. He had stopped singing. I touched his lips with my fingers. He gulped, and his hands braced my face. His eyes searched mine with such intensity I thought I would melt, right here in his arms. And that’s all it took.  I kissed him without any hesitation, without any fear. With everything I had, I kissed him.
            Lucas’ hands still held my face, and he pulled my head back abruptly, leaving both of us gasping for breath. He pushed me away from him but didn’t let go. He looked me over, as though for a hidden injury. Like something was wrong, and he needed to fix it—needed to know I was okay. My lips turned down in a frown.
            Lucas. This boy in front of me. Who had always been so careful with me. So patient, so concerned—all this time. My heart broke for him in that moment, a tiny fissure of pity for the boy who thought something had to be wrong for me to kiss him. It only made me ache for him more.
            “Kami,” he said. Or did he? He may have just mouthed the word. His lips turned up slightly, his barely there dimples driving me insane. I threw my arms around him and kissed him again. I didn’t ever want to stop kissing him.
            After a while, with my mouth against his neck, I said, “Lucas.”
            “Mmm,” he murmured, running his lips across my forehead—something I never would have expected to feel so good. But it made my breath catch and my next words came out in a strangled desperation.
            “I love you.”
            He pulled back, just far enough to focus on me, and gave me a wide grin. “I know,” he said. He looked me over as though memorizing my face, and how I looked, just in that very moment. “I know you do,” he said.
            Lucas kissed me once, hard on the mouth. He lifted me off my feet and spun me around with a joyful whelp. He held me close as we danced some more. He sang so loud I was sure the neighbors could hear his bellowing. I belted right along with him, not caring if anyone heard us. And not caring how out of tune I must have sounded. It was just the two of us—me in Lucas’ sure and confident arms.
            And it was exactly where I wanted to be.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Fight/First Kiss Blogfest-Day One

Welcome to Day One of the First Fight/First Kiss Blogfest hosted by Danielle and Jackie.

Today I am posting a scene from my YA contemporary novel UNFOLD ME which is currently pushed aside awaiting major revisions. It is the first fight my characters Kami and Lucas have and though it is a little long (apologies) it is one of my favs. Hope you enjoy, and go here to see who else is participating. Tune in on Thursday to read about their first kiss, ooh la la. :)

*note: I'm off camping this entire week so I won't be able to respond to comments or visit other participants' blogs until the weekend*

Onto the fight scene:

            I woke with a start, still curled up on the green plastic chair of the school bus. I felt disoriented for a minute, noticing the bus was empty of students. I wondered how long we had been back on campus.
            “Sorry,” Lucas said. He still sat next to me. “I didn’t want to wake you. You looked so peaceful.”
            Somehow I knew my falling asleep next to Lucas would get me in trouble, again. I cursed to myself for my stupidity and sat up to leave.
            “Your arm,” Lucas said, oblivious to my motion of trying to exit. He grabbed my arm and I sat back into the chair. “Does it hurt?”
            I shook my head.
            Lucas ran his fingers along the unharmed parts of my arm. It sent a cool chill inside me that felt great after the long hike. I watched his face as he touched me. He was looking at his fingers. His eyes narrowed with conflicted emotion. Concern? Fear? Love?
            I felt a rock settle in the pit of my stomach. It felt horrible—letting him fall for me like this. Hadn’t I always known there was no way I could be with him? And yet I let him think there was a chance.
            His fingers intertwined with mine. I pulled my hand away slowly, but it did nothing to lessen the impact. Lucas’ brows came together in frustration. I couldn’t bear to see him so hurt and I turned my face to the window. I tried to focus on something outside, but everything was a blur. And it didn’t help when my eyes brimmed with tears that sent themselves launching over the edge. I brought my hand to my mouth, biting my fingers to stop them from trembling.
            “Kami?” Lucas brushed the hair away from my face. His voice quivered. “Kami.” His hand shook as he carefully turned my face to look at him. “I love you.”
            “Don’t,” I blurted. I shook my head and squeezed my eyes shut. I didn’t want to hear this.
            “I love you,” he said again.
            So sure. How could he be so sure of something this significant?
            “And I want you.” His hand came to my waist and twisted me to face him. Despite looking at him through my tears, he was as clear to me as my own reflection. Yet at the same time he was everything I’m not, but everything I needed. He was a light. A beacon. Warm and sure and beautiful.
            His hands braced the sides of my face. He closed his eyes as he said it again, “I love you, and I want you.” He opened his eyes and searched mine. “What do you want, Kami?”
            “I can’t,” I muttered.
            “Yes, you can!” His eyes bore deep into mine, willing me to answer. “Don’t think about what your uncle or Miss Luann said you need. Don’t think about what I want. And please,” he begged me. “Don’t think about what your stubborn brain tells you you don’t need.” He placed his hand over the center of my chest. “What do you want, Kami? Just you.”
            My heart raced, and the tears continued to fall. I searched his eyes for an answer that wasn’t his to give. It was mine. What did I want? I wanted to curl up here in his arms and let him hold me. I wanted to break down my barrier and let him fix me, let him take care of me. I wanted to stop worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong. I wanted…
            “I want to be safe,” I said softly.
            Lucas’ hand dropped from my chest and fell in his lap. “And I’m not safe?” He thought about that a minute, then added, “What happened to you?” His words were so slight, I wondered if he meant for me to hear them at all.
            All of the things I wanted from him weren’t his to give. The security and comfort and safety I longed for…it was something I wanted from him, but it would only be a surface solution to a deeper problem. I needed to find those things for myself. It had to come from me before I could trust anyone else.
            “I want…” I started to say, and then paused. Lucas’ eyes were hopeful. He was so patient with me. And forgiving. Things I didn’t deserve. He waited for me to tell him what he wanted to hear—that I wanted him. It was the truth, and he was so ready to receive it, had been ready for a long time. But I wasn’t ready to give it. Not yet.
            “I want you to go,” I said. I looked away from his hurt face. “I want you to leave. That’s what I want.”
            His fingers curled tightly into fists and he stood with a vengeance. “You’re lying,” he spat at me. I didn’t deny it. He turned and stormed down the aisle of the bus, punching his fist into the back of one of the seats as he did. The sound of it shook me and sent me into another round of sobs as I watched him slam through the front door of the bus.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Surrender Blogfest

Don't forget to leave a comment here to enter to win a free copy of Surrender.

I am thrilled to be participating this week in the Never Surrender Blogfest, hosted by Elana Johnson.

Surrender has been out for less than a week and it is all kinds of awesome.

For this blogfest, we are supposed to blog about a time we didn't give up. When we didn't surrender. I've blogged before about hard things I've accomplished in my life. But today I'm gonna focus on one that I've been thinking about lately...and is really more a story of how my husband didn't surrender.

I admit that today, my family and I are pretty well off. I don't have to work outside of the home, my husband runs his own very successful business and we live in a large gorgeous home on a nice chunk of land with all the fancy trimmings of a comfortable lifestyle. I have everything I could ever want, but it hasn't always been that way.

At one point in our marriage (ten-ish years ago), we had two toddlers (and I was pregnant with #3) and were scraping by. After doing whatever he had to to support his family (the man is a stud-we are talking working waist deep all day long harvesting prawns, catching frogs to sell to local restaurants, even running an ice-cream truck...yeah), my husband landed a decent job working the night shift as a security guard at the local resort (his watch alarm would go off at 10:15 every night to remind him to head out the door). Of course, he was also going to school full time at the local college, taught several classes of martial arts, and had two very demanding responsibilities in our church. Basically, we'd watch him sleep.

One day, he came to me and said he wanted to start his own business. He quit the steady job, dropped out of school, and we took one giant leap of faith into entrepreneurism. And it was not an overnight success. We lived on nothing. In fact, I remember one entire week in which all we had to eat was rice. One night I tried mixing rice with tuna water. Another night, soy sauce. One of the biggest blessings I received that year was learning how to make bread in my church group. Now we could have rice pizzas. :)

It was rough, but we kept going. And so did the business. Slowly, it grew, and after months and months of sacrifice on our part, we had enough to buy a home. And then, a better one. And then, a bigger one, and cars for cash. Until, suddenly, we were pretty dang comfortable. Even though most people we know now think we are lucky to be 'rich,' I will never forget everything we went through to get here, and I'll never ever take what we have now for granted. Never.

I'm not a fool. I know the hand of providence played a vital role in our story, but I also know that we didn't give up. We didn't surrender. 'Til this day, my husband's watch alarm rings at 10:15 pm as a reminder of where we came from, and as gratitude for where we are now. And that's enough to keep me going through whatever life decides to throw at me today.

*the good old days*

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Surrender Launch Party

I had a blast last night at Elana Johnson's Surrender Launch Party up at The King's English Bookshop in SLC.

*me, Kathryn Purdie, Michelle Davidson Argyle*

We started with a delicious Italian dinner with Elana and other writer friends then listened to her speak about her experiences this past year since Possession first came out.

She was hilarious as always, and I even won a door prize (Uglies by Scott Westerfield, a Surrender bracelet, and a purple hair match Elana's blue one).

*Can you see out matching hair strips?*

Then of course I had my book signed and can't wait to read it!

To celebrate even more, I am giving away a copy of Surrender to one lucky blog reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post between now and June 15th. Extra points for following my blog and spreading the word via FB, twitter, or blogpost. Just let me know in your comment.

I'm going camping all next week and won't even have cell phone reception, let alone internet access. But fear not, I have a few blog posts scheduled. Tune in Monday to read about a time I didn't surrender (as part of Elana's Never Surrender Blogfest) and Tuesday and Thursday for the First Fight/First Kiss Blogfest. Though I'll be unresponsive to comments all week, I'll be back next weekend to catch up.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Another Award!

It must be award season 'cause I'm seeing these babies all around the blogosphere. What fun it's been to learn more about my online friends. A special thanks to Tracey for giving me the Kreativ Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Answer the ten questions below
3. Share ten random facts/thoughts about yourself
4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award

So, here goes:

What is your favorite song/singer?

It changes daily, I'm not kidding. Today it's Too Late by M83. It usually depends on what I'm writing that day.

What's your favorite dessert?

Ice cream. And anything with peanut butter and chocolate. If you give me peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, you will be my BFF forever and ever.

What ticks you off?

When I am blamed for something I didn't do. This is a weakness of mine. I have no problem being blamed when I actually did something wrong, but if it wasn't me, I'm pretty stubborn and get ticked about it.

When you're upset what do you do?

Eat peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. Or blog/tweet about it.

Which is/was your favorite pet?

To avoid a long rant about why I do not allow anything that poops in my house (besides my family...barely), I'll just say I love horses and riding them. (I took several semesters in college, Western and English style)

Which do you prefer, black or white?

White. In fact for my wedding, I just wanted my colors to be white and white. White everywhere. I finally caved and added a forest green (it was the 90's after all. It was either forest green or burgundy, am I right?)

What is your biggest fear?

That one of my kids will go missing. I get the chills just typing that.

What is your attitude mostly?

Honest but polite meshed with a little bit of snark when I think others can take it. Sometimes when they can't.

What is perfection?

Have you seen my profile picture? :)

What is your guilty pleasure?


Okay, here are ten random facts about myself:

1-Favorite book: Speaker for the Dead
2-Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice...wait for it...the Keira Knightly version
3-Favorite color: turquoise
4-Favorite jewelry: turquoise
5-I may have had Nutella for breakfast (and lunch)
6-My middle name means "the star called from heaven"
7-I can speak Hawaiian
8-I love raw fish, raw crab, and raw octopus
9-I hate wearing make-up
10-I got a hold-it-in-my-hands copy of Remake in the mail today (just a personal copy as query inspiration):

And now, I pass the Kreativ Blogger award along to:


Have a great weekend all!