Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Check it out ya'll, I won a spooky romance contest.

Have a spooktacular day!


The Grave-Digger, Emma Swan (from Once Upon A Time), the Wizard, and the Bumblebee! 

Otherwise known as Mommy's candy collectors. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Goals

You see that little Goodreads book counter on the right side of my blog? Scroll down a little bit. There, that's it. The one titled, "2012 Reading Challenge." It says I have read 42 out of my goal of 50 for the year. I am one book ahead. Yay!

Except in a few days it will be November. And here in my house, November means fast food, laundry mountains, cold cereal, late nights, pajamas, showers few and far between, and barrels worth of Diet Coke. Yes, NaNoWriMo, my people. And fo sho no reading for fun, I can assure you.

Which also means for the first time this year, and much to the chagrin of anal, OCD me, I will be FALLING BEHIND on a goal.

Never fear, I still plan on meeting it, even if I have to lock myself in a closet come New Years Eve. Because that's how I roll. I'm careful not to set goals for things I can't control, and ponder really hard before setting goals, but I usually reach the one's I do set.

As I wave adieu to my staying ahead of the curve all year, you tell me...what goals have you been able to keep this year?

Now when the sun come up, I'll be there to say what up.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meeting Authors

A couple of weeks ago I had the fabulous opportunity to listen to Tess Hilmo (award winning author of With A Name Like Love) speak to my daughter's writing club.

My daughter with Tess 
and the fancy signing pen her son made her. :)

She was amazing, of course, and got the girls excited about writing, plotting, reading, words, names, and almost everything else about writing you can think of. I know the girls had a blast, but even I thought it was soooo helpful for me as a writer. In fact, here's a method of plotting a novel she shared that I'd never heard of before.

What authors have you met? Have you learned valuable writing tips from them?

P.S. It is snowing outside....what???

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inspired by Keturah

I love to read.

Shocker, I know. As with everything else I love to do, I wish I had more time to do it. My time is valuable, so it is very rare that I read a book more than once--there's just too many good ones out there. But I thought I'd spotlight one today that I revisit over and over again. I read it again earlier this month for a book club, and am still amazed with how good it is.

Here's the description of Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt:

Keturah, renowned for her storytelling, follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near—and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. She is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve, but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love. A mesmerizing love story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance.

Ooh...a dark tale of fantasy and romance--delicious! It was a National Book Award Finalist in 2006 (along with earning a slew of other awards) and was rereleased at the first of this month as a paperback. 

The story is original, engaging, and unforgettable. The themes of life, death, sacrifice, friendship, love, destiny, and choice join together with the most lyrical of language and a voice that would make any writer envious. 

And if that's not enough to convince you, this book inspired the third book I ever wrote (Koa's Passage), the NaNoWriMo novel I'm planning to write next month, and another story in my "to be written" pile. 

Yeah. Kind of changed my life. I can't recommend Keturah and Lord Death enough.

I'll leave you with a picture of the most delicious key lime pie I've ever tasted in my life. Isn't it pretty? It literally melted my face off. Or would have, if my face could literally melt. It was our dessert for the book discussion, and I think it changed my life as well. Book club peeps, am I right? :) (Thanks, Nicole!) If you've read Keturah, this virtual pie is yours if you can tell me how it relates to the book.

What books have changed your life?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day in the Life

No time for a real post today, so thought I'd leave you with a taste of my other life...that of a homeschooling mama. What else do you do besides write?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Complex Villains

*I may or may not have a serious crush on Loki*

I have this problem. I LOVE bad guys. More often than not, they end up being my favorite character in a movie or book. Way more than the hero or the love interest. And the more complex, the better. I'm a total sucker for an evil character that isn't completely evil. One with a glimmer of hope that day...he could be good. Maybe?

*Darth Vader, the ultimate complex villain*

My favorite "bad guy" is Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica. Talk about complex--he's the guy we just LOVE to hate. Any character that can make me want to shoot him dead one day and cry for him the next is amazing indeed.

*Why settle for one Gaius when you can have two?*

It's even more fun to WRITE a complex villain. I'm planning one right now for my Nano book who I think will be the most three-dimensional character I've ever written, period, and I'm SO excited! Tell me, who is your favorite bad guy?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

This is my official declaration that unless some major unforeseen circumstances occur, I'll be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I'm super excited about a YA science fiction story I'm ready to tackle. Last year (2011) was my first time, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I definitely wouldn't have finished without the support of my CP's, who all won too!

So this year, I want to add more people into my "writing buddies" circle. The more support the better. I'm nano-ing under the name ilimaktodd. If you are participating, let me know your username and once I figure out how to do it, I'll add you to my list of buddies. :)

What's on your I Really Want To Write This Story list?

Monday, October 8, 2012

What I learned from GUTGAA

I got to participate as a judge for the first time in an online contest, and it was an epic one. As the sun sets on GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) here in its final week of competition, I've been reflecting on what I've learned through it all:

1. I never ever EVER want to be an agent. Like, never.

2. There are a lot of great writers out there.

3. Queries are hard.

4. Deana Barnhart is one super-amazing kick*ss chica.

5. The writing community (for the most part) is extremely positive and supportive to other writers.

So, honestly, I already knew all these things. This experience just reaffirmed them. But here are two things that surprised me:

6. No matter how amazing a writer you are, you HAVE to have an original/intriguing concept to get an agent's attention. It shocked me how many entries felt like the same idea over and over again. Show the agent what makes YOUR story stand out, what makes it special.

7. I realized I'm a total chicken. Remember when I asked you all to guess my super secret undercover judge name from the list. Yeah, I decided not to reveal who I was after all. I tried to say something nice on every entry in addition to constructive criticism, but in the end (after some insight from other judges and a couple of twitter trolls) I decided to remain anonymous for fear of backlash. If any of you REALLY want to know who I was, I can email you, but I'm not going public with it. Neurotic? Maybe. But hey, I'm a writer. I'm supposed to get emotional and blow things out of proportion, right? :)

What about you? Did you participate in GUTGAA? How was your experience? How do you feel about online writing contests?

Friday, October 5, 2012

My CP has an agent!

I finally get to announce that my critique partner Robin Hall has an agent! 

She signed with agent Julia A. Weber (@jawlitagent) for her amazing magical realism YA novel, LOVESENSE. Yay, Robin! Head on over to her blog to hear her story and congratulate her! Yipee.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This quote from one of my church's leaders has been resonating with me as of late. I love to create. It could be sewing a dress for my daughter, cooking up a new Thai dish, or writing a short story with a surprise ending. In every case it's: here, look, I made this. There's just something about creating something from nothing that brings out my happy gene.

My children have it too. One would draw and color all night long if we let her and another spends hours building with legos and raiding our recycling bin for robot-building materials. One child films the most amazing stop-motion videos and plans to be an inventor when he grows up. My oldest is a piano virtuoso who composes music so beautiful I literally cry listening to her play--she plans on writing film scores for a living. If you can't tell, I'm pretty proud of my little creative lot, which makes me realize parents feel this yearning too. Being proud of our kids is like saying: here, look, I made this.

Which brings me to writing. I think it may be the most ideal medium for creation. We create characters, conflict, entire worlds...there are no limits to what we can make. And a good writer leaves enough room for readers to fill in gaps with their own ideas and imaginings, letting them become creators in their own right. And when we finish that story, we can't help but want others to share in our joy: here, look, I made this. It just feels so good.

So my challenge for you today is to create something and find joy in the process of creating it. :)

Do you have that yearning to create? What's your favorite "creation"?