Monday, December 31, 2007

A Good Night

I have no idea if I met my word count goal. LOL. I'm sure I ran a little short, though. I started adding on to a new scene and then ended up salvaging some stuff from the original MS. My word count was 5K by time I finished, but it does need to be cut down quite a bit. I basically wrote until I couldn't stay awake another minute and then just ended up cutting and pasting the salvaged bits straight into the scene. I fiddled for about a half minute and then called it good for the night. Hopefully I can straighten the whole thing out this afternoon and then move on to something new.

I figured I got close enough to finish up SPECIALS. Okay, maybe I gave myself a little leeway, it being a holiday and all. (g) Finished it a little bit ago -- LOVED it. I'll get to a review in the next day or so. (On to THE SWEET FAR THING!! *yay*)

I decided NOT to go out tonight. So I'll be typing away when the ball drops (theoretically). I'll probably ring in the New Year with a glass of wine, but I really want to stay sharp and focused on my book right now. So no late night parties for this girl. She's on a mission. (g) It'll be good cuz I'll have the house to myself...and I can calm the dogs when everyone shoots off their guns. LOL.

Ohh! And I'm headed over to B&N shortly. Want to see if the fabulous Joanna Bourne's book is out yet. THE SPYMASTER'S LADY is getting some STELLAR reviews and I can barely wait to have it in my greedy little paws. After all, I don't want to be the last person on the forum to have read it. LOL. I (she says sheepishly) don't usually venture over into the romance section, but I'm hoping to snag a few people so I can talk up the book. It's not often I can say, "I know her!" Well, I CAN actually say that quite a bit lately. The community of writers I belong to kicks some MAJOR ASS. I swear, it seems like every other day someone is making a big announcement about finding an agent or selling a manuscript. Very exciting group to interact with, and I hope I can make such big announcements soon. :)

Okay...I'm off.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Load Of Excuses

So, yeah...didn't make my word count goal last night. In fact, I didn't even open up my WIP pages to work on it. I think the consecutive nights of 5am writing sessions finally caught up with me. I lazed around all day, and when I was finally willing and able to write, a friend rang me up to come hang out. It's one of those dilemmas -- I haven't seen a lot of my friends for quite some time because of finals, etc. But man, I really need to finish this damned book. LOL. Of course, my thoughts didn't work nearly that fast and I agreed before really giving it enough consideration.

At any rate, I had a lovely evening -- laughing my ass off and getting caught up on all the gossip (and spreading my own, of course).

So, I've added half of last night's words to tonight's goal and the rest to tomorrow's. EEE. 3750 words. Just starting now--weekends are NOT good for me. Way too many distractions. But it may have turned out for the best in the end -- major breakthroughs the past couple of days and I'm super excited to get started. It's really the first time--in quite a while--that I can "see" the events that I need to write. And the things I'm seeing are in that oh-so-tough middle. (YAY) PLUS -- and this is a huge bonus that practically had me jumping up and down in the aisle at Tarjay -- I figured out a way to reconcile those two scenes I wrote a while back. I wrote them, loved them both IMMENSELY, and then realized they wouldn't work together. But NOW they will. (eee) I'm super relieved and so happy I can include both.

Another realization I've had is that this book is going to be quite a bit longer than my original MS. How long? Hmmm, not sure. I'm usually pretty good at estimating these things, but I hesitate to say out loud that I think it will land somewhere between 115-120K. I. Hope. (oops) I could be way off, but man... that's a scary number to look at. Not that I'm afraid to write that much, just that it will take me longer than I anticipated. BUT...as people keep telling me, it's important to get my first book right. So if it takes that many words to finish, that's what I'll have to write. Personally, I prefer 100K. :)

In other news, I finally decided to start SPECIALS. I wasn't feeling well earlier so decided I would read until my meds kicked in. I got started and next thing I knew, I had used up my pages!!! Waaaaaa. Now I HAVE to write in order to find out what happens next. And hey, I was a GOOD girl -- I stopped when I hit the magic number (well, I went to the end of that chapter). TOUGH. Don't believe me? Try it some time. LOL. This book is SOOOOO good so far. Can't wait to get back, which means I better get to work. (g)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Oh Yeah, Baby

I made it again. Yes, it's late...but I'm happy I pulled this one out. Tomorrow I _must_ start writing before midnight. (VBG)

I had hoped to finish the big scene tonight, but I got a bit burned out -- physically and emotionally. So, I skipped forward, still staying in the same general area of the book. Hopefully I can tie it all up tomorrow. There isn't much left to write. Then I'll likely have to cut some stuff to tighten it up. Oh well -- that is for another stage in this process. (g)

But the good news is that I just banked me another hundred pages. :)

Page Creds: 178 Actually Read: NADA -- got me some reading to do. (g)

Oh..and no line of the day again.. Try again tomorrow. Dang spoilers. lol

Friday, December 28, 2007

Change In Plans!!

The ultimate bit of distraction landed on my doorstep today. Libba Bray's THE SWEET FAR THING (which reminds me that I still need to review REBEL ANGELS). So, because the wait for this book has been longer and much more excruciating, I'm hereby reserving the right to switch my page credits to it instead. I haven't decided which book (TSFT or SPECIALS) will call my name when I actually sit down to read...but it's going to be a serious smackdown. (g)

Anyway, I haven't even started writing tonight. Don't ask. I got distracted talking to some forumites and the night really got away from me. I'm still hoping to bring those 2500 words home, though... *deep breath* Another long night is ahead of me, fo sho.

Oh...and get this... TSFT is over _800_ pages. I'll have to complete FI to have enough creds to read the whole thing. LOL. I may have to up my page allowance...maybe 100 instead. (g) That still equals over 20K. Okay, that won't complete the book...but it will be a huge step. Ack...must get to writing. Must see what Gemma or Tally is up to!!

Did It!

Well, it's extremely late...I'm swaying in my chair, but dang it... I made my 2500 words. Got 2502, actually. (Big Cheesy Grin)

However, I will say that I deleted quite a few words throughout, so I definitely got more than that. But it's the running word count that I'm keeping track of. WHEW.. What a relief. Funny thing is that I probably couldn't hold up a book if I had the energy to read right now. Oh well, I guess that gives me that 78 page credit to build on. Tomorrow I'll find a new goal to shoot for. Same word count, of course. (g) Perhaps I'll ease into my day with a little reading -- you know, when I roll out of bed at noon. LOL.

The great thing is that I'm making extremely good progess on the BIG scene at the end. And I'm actually quite pleased with what I'm coming up with. Not only am I building on the original ideas I envisioned for this ending, but the process of writing is helping to spark new thoughts about other sections of the book. Stuff that is expanding upon my outline and making it stronger. I guess that says something about the kind of writer I am. LOL. That damn outline took me HOW long to nail down? Okay, two revisions...probably about 3-4 weeks spent working on it each time... add a few weeks to hear back from D.A. and I'd say it was close to three months when all was said and done. And not until today do I feel I can actually complete this book. Well, I always _thought_ I could...just never FELT I could when working on it with said outline and in that nasty chronological order. *shivers*

Anyway -- thanks to both Claire and Jenna for listening to me ramble and "testing" various snips out. LOL. You know I'm feeling better about things when I start sharing. (g) Calling it a night...catch ya on the morrow.

P.S. Wish I could post a Line of the Day, but major spoilers involved in this section. Maybe tomorrow. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How's This For Torture?

I've made another deal with myself. I will be allowed to read the first 78 pages of SPECIALS....AFTER I write another 2500 words. LOL. Am I rude, or what? It's just that the last deadline worked so well.

I'm getting a bit of a late start today. Here's hoping I can make it tonight. (g)

Ohhh... I went to see P.S. I Love You... really sweet movie. My friend Erin cried _the entire movie_. I kid you not. I've never seen such a splotchy, red face. But all the tears were definitely worth seeing Gabe...erm, I mean Gerry...(VBG)...do his sexy dance. You'll see what I mean. ;)

And those eyes....that smile....*swoon*

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I Did It!

Dang it, I won me a book today. (g) I completed my 2500 words -- a little more even, and did it before B&N closed for the evening. About thirty minutes before, to be exact. So I ran on over and picked up SPECIALS -- the third book in the UGLIES trilogy.

And though the scene needs work, it's not bad. LOL. It's definitely a good set of bones I can work on later. It will need some fleshing out in some parts, some tightening up in others... but man, I wrote today. Feels great. Long overdue and missed.

I won't talk about how long it took me. I'm like an old car in winter these days. Hopefully this will be a good warm-up so I can keep the pace. I'd _like_ to have a SFD before school begins. Not sure how many words that is...but it's a lot. LOL. We'll see how it goes. Right now any forward progress is gold in my eyes.

Anyway... I think I'm gonna post a line of the day. Just for S&G's. :)

PRETTIES by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, I attempted to edit my HTML especially for this post...so man, you should feel reallllly special right now. (g) Kidding. But seriously, for some lame reason the "read more" option is appearing on EVERY post when I thought it would be on just the ones I designated that way. So...that's a problem I'm incapable of handling. Hopefully I can figure it out...but for now, ignore them all unless I say specifically to READ MORE. :)

THIS is one of those cases -- but only read more if you want to. It contains major spoilers from Book 1 of this series, reviewed here: UGLIES, and I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's enjoyment of that book, nor the beginning of book 2. So, onward.

PRETTIES by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Fantasy



Brief Synopsis: When we last left her, Tally Youngblood had surrendered herself to the Specials in order to be the test subject of an experimental drug that will hopefully cure the brain lesions that make people "think Pretty." We pick up a month later. Tally has become Pretty at last and is leading her life in New Pretty Town--where life is a whirlwind of parties and drinking, and happy acceptance of the world around them.

Although Tally has fleeting "feelings" that she's forgetting something, she doesn't remember her time back at The Smoke, nor does she remember David. That is until one night a Smokie sneaks into a party she's attending and leaves behind a special note--the letter she wrote to herself, along with the cure she had set out to test. With the assistance of a fellow Pretty, Zane, she fights to come out of the Pretty haze long enough to figure things out. When she does, they both take the cure meant for one person--not knowing whether it will work or kill them. It doesn't kill them, but doesn't cure them outright either.

Afterward, Zane and Tally set out to recruit other Pretties, including Shay and Perris--embarking on numerous tricks in order to be "bubbly." It seems huge rushes of adrenaline help clear Pretties' thoughts. Their main objective is to escape New Pretty Town and get back to the Rusty Ruins, where hopefully David and the rest of the Smokies will be headquartered. The only problem is that the Specials have become suspicious and are watching Tally and Zane very closely, doing everything they can to contain and control the pair. And, it's questionable whether or not they can trust everyone within their group. After all, the Specials have planted spies before...

**Evil Cackle**

This book, I have to admit right up front, got on my nerves in the opening chapters -- everything was either "bubbly" "bogus" or "SOMETHING-making" -- dizzy-making, headache-making, etc. Their lingo alone was like nails on a chalkboard. But, on a lot of levels this is a good thing. Tally is completely surrounded by the "Pretty haze" as I'm calling it...and well, she thinks and acts like a Pretty. Which of course is sort of innately annoying. (g) But she can't help it and I have to commend Westerfeld for doing a good job of maintaining her Prettiness -- even if I wanted to smack Tally around and throw the book at the wall. I just really wanted her to snap out of it, which is also another point in Westerfeld's favor. If I didn't already care about Tally, I wouldn't want her to become normal again. And I guess it was my hope/belief that her fog would eventually lift that kept me reading.

Once again, the world sucked me right in. He revealed a lot more of it in this book, and it was interesting to see other facets of the world that the Specials created. Being inside a Pretty's head really gave light to what the Smokies were fighting for.

Tally and Zane do develop a nice little relationship -- very sweet and endearing. The only problem is that I kept wondering why Tally didn't give more thought to David. Even after she started to pull away from her Pretty haze, she didn't really give him more than a fleeting thought here and there... and well, yeah, I didn't get that. I thought her motivations for getting out of New Pretty Town would really be more about getting back to him, when in actuality, he wasn't much of a factor at all. To be honest, that bothered me quite a bit.

Shay -- wow, Westerfeld took her in an interesting direction. I won't say more as not to spoil it. Perris, too, took an interesting route.

One thing I want to say about Westerfeld--it makes me laugh everytime.
That's his ability to plant little seeds in your head that get you thinking about how Tally can get herself out of a fix. I won't give away specifics, but when she runs up against an obstacle, my brain starts churning, and I start thinking, "Use the XXXX!! That'll work!!" The funny thing being that the characters always DO try to follow my directions and they never work. ROFL. That's happened at least three times now over the course of the two books. I suppose it's his way of letting the reader feel like they're actively participating. (g) Very amusing.

All in all, I have to say I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. I think that's because of the lingo and general air-headed comments made throughout. Plus there were times I just didn't like Tally's choices. However, true to the first book, Westerfeld left this one on a serious cliffhanger that makes me want to run out and buy the third. And oh, I will. (g)

Buy or Rent? BUY.

P.S. I've vowed I will NOT buy the third book until I've written 2500 words. I guess I better get started. (g)


Sunday, December 23, 2007

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld

I'm WAY behind on book reviews. So, I'm vowing to post a review as soon as I finish each book. Hopefully this will at least prevent me from falling further behind. (g) Somehow I'm doubtful. But I'm pretty excited to discuss this book and wanted to get right to it.

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Fantasy

Brief Synopsis: In the future (not sure how far), those in power have decided that all of the world's problems stem from a basic inequality of physical attractiveness. After all, there are those who are pretty, those who are ugly...fat/thin...short/tall... and if we all looked the same, this would alleviate a lot of the everyday arguments and attempts to one up each other. In essence, life would be bliss.

This is the world Tally Youngblood is born into. Her entire life, she's been taught to hate her looks and status as an Ugly. Her soul focus rests on her sixteenth birthday when at last she will undergo the surgery that will make her Pretty. Her best friend, Peris, has become Pretty, and now she must wait three months for her turn. Only then will she be able to escape her life in Uglyville and go to live in New Pretty Town, where life is full of fun, laughter, and constant parties.

As she waits impatiently for her birthday to arrive, she meets Shay, a fellow Ugly who, horror upon horrors, doesn't want to become Pretty. Shay tries to convince Tally to give up the life and come live with her out in the "wilderness" where Uglies are happy to be who they are, away from the overreaching hands of the Specials (those in charge).

Now Tally must decide. Does she go with Shay into an unknown future or does she stay to become Pretty? In the end, the choice may not be hers to make.

MUHAHAHA. (g)

Okay...

I think this book is fantastic. I know the idea isn't the most original in the world, but this is simply a case of an author taking it and making it his own in a fresh and exciting way. The thing I loved most about it is that I bought into this world right from the get-go, without having to hash through a bunch of backstory. It's a great example of an author just letting you go on the ride without holding your hand every step of the way, or feeling the need to explain every little thing in great detail in order to make sure you "get it?"

The pacing was wonderful--kept me turning the pages. Even kept me THINKING about the book while I was away from it... There were actually times I became annoyed by interruptions. Don't they KNOW Tally's in trouble and I MUST see how she gets out of it?? LOL.

Tally is a wonderful character. What I really liked about her is that she REALLY buys into the rules of her world. You're born...you're ugly...and your one goal in life is to become Pretty. That is the only thing that matters. That is the only thing she wants. To see that first wellspring of doubt appear in her mind was exciting for me as a reader...YES... You're okay as you are... you don't have to be Pretty!

Not to get too deep, but this book had a lot of social commentary about our society today. It was totally intriguing to have the characters reference things that we take for granted today... The funniest/saddest being when they looked at a fashion magazine (an ancient document that the Rusties (us) left behind when their world was destroyed.) It was horrifying for Tally because everyone was UGLY...and that includes the supermodels who were much too skinny to be Pretty. Plus, why would Uglies celebrate their...ugliness??

Anyway, this book is a great example of how, if you're raised to look at things a certain way, it will take a lot to change your perception--if it can be, that is.

Finally, I want to issue a warning: If you start this book and find you _really_ like it in the first hundred pages or so, go out and get the second. Trust me. You'll want it when you finish. (g) Thankfully, I did just that...and now can start PRETTIES. Yay. :)

Rent or Buy? BUY.

Friday, December 21, 2007

That Special Something

This morning I was feeling a bit lazy -- mostly because today is cleaning day and the longer I lingered in bed, the longer I could put off that particularly gruesome chore. Anyway, I decided to read a couple chapters of a new book. On the block is UGLIES by Scott Westerfield.

I started out saying I would read a chapter or two. Just enough to wake up my brain. Next thing I knew, I was a hundred pages in and lovin' it. I only stopped because my uncle wanted to get some lunch. While at the restaurant, my mind kept drifting back to the story...wondering what would happen next. Then I found myself telling my uncle all about it. To be quite frank, that doesn't happen too often. The talking about it part, I mean. Reading is such a personal experience and no matter how well you frame your thoughts and feelings, an outside person is never going to quite get it the way you do. (g) Anyway, I found myself going on and on about the rules of this society...the psychological impact it has on the characters...etc. etc. We had a nice little discussion about it.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how great it is when a book you're reading has that kind of impact on you. The kind of impact that makes you want to rush back to the pages to find out what happens next...the kind of impact that makes you sad to see it all come to an end...that makes you want to turn around and start the book over again, just so you can relive it.

Isn't that the greatest feeling? And isn't that what we as writers should be aiming for?

More Christmas Cheer

This song always reminds me of Home Alone -- the scene where the little dude is singing in front of the mirror and puts on a good dose of aftershave. (G) Too funny...

Here

...thinking I need to watch that movie now.

P.S. Thanks to Marissa for sending this!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Little Holiday Cheer

Courtesy of Sara and Helene...

Phew!

Been a crazy couple of days -- whirlwind of dealing with family issues, recovering from a hellish semester, trying to write, and trying to finish that dang book I was reading. LOL.

I'm happy to report I finally finished the book, which shall remain nameless. I simply have nothing good to say about it...and well, even I'm not that mean. (g) I wish the author great success, but man, don't know if he/she will be getting anymore of my duckets.

Other than that--nothing much. I realized today that I have a big Christmas dinner with my fam on Saturday and I haven't done any shopping... Nor have I purchased my gifts for the big family gathering on Christmas Eve. I'm way behind, IOW. :) It's been nice relaxing at home, tho... I definitely needed a break for a day or two. Now back to the regularly scheduled program of hardcore revisions (I hope).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Book Review Coming...

...for the Avon Reading Group.

This months book is THE WARRIOR by Kinley MacGregor (aka Sherrilyn Kenyon).

My sister is a huge fan of her books, so I'm interested to read it. I tried one of her paranormal books once, but couldn't get into it because the book was well into the series and I was too confuzzled.

I think this is actually mid-series, so I guess I'll have to suck it up and push forward. LOL.

Anyway -- a review to follow as soon as I finish... Just got the book today, so now I need to decide whether I want to finish the (nightmarish) book I'm reading or start this new one. (g)

It's A Start

Boy did exhaustion kick in last night... then procrastination as I chatted with some friends on IM. I pretty much gave up on that word count goal around 2 when I dragged my butt to bed, shocked I had managed to stay up that long. Just goes to show how IM can do that to you. (g) It's the vaccuum of time suckage.

But true to my word, I pulled out pen and paper and wrote before falling to sleep. I haven't typed the words in for an official word count, but it has to be around 500-600 words. So yay, I made it after all. I even managed to read a few chapters before nodding off. It's probably one of the worst books I've read in quite some time, but I'm sort of fascinated by it in a "car wreck" sort of way. It's a book people have gone ga-ga over, so I'm just a little more than befuddled. Sometimes I wonder -- if the publishing world goes nuts about THIS kind of book, is it a world I want to be in? (g) Then I remember it takes all types... thank God. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Whew

Well, I've read through everything -- well, all of the new stuff. Man, I actually laughed out loud in a couple of spots. Crazy considering how many times I've read through this MS. I guess that's a good sign. (g) At any rate, I noticed something very interesting -- I actually liked the newer stuff better than the first 100 pages. Not that those pages are bad, but for some reason I get a greater sense of visuals and setting in the later stuff. It reads much smoother, even though it's a bit darker. So maybe I'll be okay after all. (g) I just need to make sure everything is even throughout, which means I may have to go back and fluff out the first 100. No biggie and definitely not something I'm going to worry about at this point.

Anyway, I'm feeling reaquainted with the book now... now on to those words...

And So Begins My Real Final

Unlike with school, I'm not giving myself the night off on writing. It's been too long since I've written anything, and I know myself too well. First, I'll say I need tonight off to recuperate...then that will turn in to, I deserve to take it easy and watch a movie or read a book tomorrow... and then it will be Christmas preparations calling my name and I'll need to do my shopping... then to visit with family...etc.

Nuh-uh! I'm cutting that crap off right now....stopping it before it starts. (g) As I type, I'm printing out everything I have of FI -- gonna do a read through and then with any luck, get some writing in tonight. I'm shooting for 500-1000 words before I allow myself to collapse. Nothing major, but something that will hopefully get me started in the right direction.

Hey, I allowed myself a good meal and an hour nap before pulling myself out of bed again. (g) I can do this... *she says through droopy eyes* LOL. Nah, I'll be fine. I can at least _read_ through everything tonight. I'm definitely going to pipe in some Christmas music. That's an absolute must. :)

ETA that my IM is officially back on again. (g)

Whoot Whoot Whoot!!

I'm finished -- end game -- all done. OMG, that last final was killer, but it's O.V.E.R.

Now I must sleep. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ending In Sight!

All righty, the official tally is now four finals down, only _one_ to go! WHOOT! I'm so excited to finish and, more importantly, finally manage to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night. (g) This stuff is hard on a person.

It's _beautiful_ outside. We got a few inches of snow last night -- it's light and poofy and the kind of weather that makes a person want to go frolic and play in the drifts until your toes and fingers go numb--and then for 5 more minutes. (g) Unfortunately, I have a feeling if I were to fall down, I wouldn't be able to get back up at this point. The only place I'm headed is to bed for a quick nap before I start in on studying again. lol. Oh man, what a life.

_Two_ more days. *closes eyes and holds on to that thought*

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh Man, Put Me Out Of My Misery

The good news is that another final is over. The bad is that I still have three left. Blah. :)

Today was especially trying. Our dean sent out this "emergency weather" notice last night, making my study group think the weather would deliver us an early Christmas present: i.e. a canceled final. And boy did Mother Nature deliver. I walked outside this morning and found an icicle that sorta resembled my car. Cue PANIC.ATTACK.FROM.HELL...cuz despite the weather, the jer..I mean those in charge, decided to hold our final anyway. Schools statewide were shut down...but not us. Only doomsday conditions will make the University of Nebraska close. Trust me.

It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get a door open. LOL. And that's only because I crawled through my hatch in the back and rammed my shoulder into one from the inside for about 5 minutes. Dude, I'm so sore. I worked my way forward, eventually getting the driver's side open. By this time, I'm full on freakin' out because my final is in 45 minutes. There's at least 20 minutes of ice (if not more) on my windows and with the roads.... *EEEE*

Thankfully it turned out okay. My uncle--who gets to park in the garage (hrm), was out and about already and willing to swing back around to take me to school. WHEW. Yeah. Would've been great if it had been canceled. (g)

Anywho -- next final is on Thursday. I'm off for a catnap and then it's time to hit the books again. Oh...and only 6 days left. (VBG)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

8 Days

That's how long I have until this semester is over. And yes, I'm counting down. Here's Chloe's outfit. You can't tell, but she has a nice red/white stole around her neck. She's sooo happy. (heh)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

One Down, Four To Go

It's not much of a milestone, but hey... it's something. (g) To help me remember what season it is, I figured I could post some holiday pics. My sister bought this doozy of an outfit and Bailey just LOVED it. (heh, right)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Oy!

I'm tired. I've been on the go all day -- just got home from a six hour study session and man, my brain feels numb.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pics I took this morning. We got our first real snow of the year, and it was so pretty. :)

Notice there aren't any dog tracks coming out of that dog door? When I was snapping these pics, both dogs were curled up on opposite ends of our sofa -- they wanted nothing to do with the cold. (g)
Backyard
Backyard
Out the front door.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yo!

I'm still here -- counting down the days until this hellish season of finals is over...but here. (g)

True to form, I'm totally getting psyched up to write. LOL. I'm trying to hold back -- journaling about my thoughts for this or that scene, throwing out some questions on the forum... When I finish finals, a week from Monday, I hope to take off at a sprint. I have to say that the snippet thread on the forum went a LONG way with helping me along this road. The comments I received were so encouraging, and I've vowed to read through that thread every time I start in with the self-doubts. So thanks to everyone for that!

Anyway, I think I've figured out how to handle the last complaint D.A. had about my outline. WOOHOO. :) I'm actually really excited about it -- it's mostly regarding the ending. It will definitely have an impact on book 2, but I'm pleased about the ripples it will create. AND...*drum roll* it's nothing that major. LOL. Just a few minor tweaks to the chapter I have at the end already...and it will be good to go. Whoot! That's definitely the best part of it all. (g)

So yeah... I know I should be concentrating fully on finals, but let's be realistic here. (g)

ETA: I have the last line for book 2. (VBG)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Still Kickin'

I just realized that my last post was on Tuesday. I didn't really intentionally set out not to blog this past week, but life and school and such just seemed to be drowning me a bit. Finals for me start one week from today. Yep, you read that right. I have a final on a _Saturday_. Two actually, as I have one the next Saturday, too. How wrong is that?

Anyway, right now I'm concentrating on trying to prep for finals. I'm doing _okay_. It seems like there's never enough time in the day and my study partner and I have the _craziest_ study schedule set-up. It's not a lot of fun. I don't know what I was thinking when I took on this course load -- way too many difficult classes lumped together, let me tell you. All in addition to the pressure of revisions. Well, obviously something has to give, so writing is on the back burner until the 17th. Then FOUR weeks of uninterrupted writing time. Ahhhh.. I can't wait. :)

Other than that, I've been dealing with some personal issues that have left me a bit down. Right now, it's really all about trying to keep my chin up and soldiering on. So any good thoughts or prayers are more than welcome at this point--for both me and my family.

ANYWHO -- not to make this post all kinds o' depressing. Here's a pick me up, courtesy of Helene B. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ARCHANGEL by Sharon Shinn

Well, I made the mistake of starting this book this past weekend. And well, I had to finish it. Simple as that. So, rather than working on my family law outline that I vowed to have finished by Friday, I read and read until I finished the dang thing. Wow. Loved it. :) Guess it's time to work on homework after this. LOL.

Brief Synopsis: Gabriel is six months away from taking his place as the Archangel, the highest amongst the angels and the one who serves as an intermediary between the people of Samaria and Jovah, their God. In order to secure his position, he must sing with his angelica at the Gloria. Should he fail in this task, Jovah will smite the world with his wrath. Only problem is that Rachel, the one chosen to marry Gabriel, his angelica, isn't what you would call cooperative. In addition, the current Archangel, Raphael, isn't ready to step down and is attempting to thwart Gabriel's ascension.

Gah...as always...that sucked. LOL. However, I did manage to work in the word "smite" which has always been a personal goal of mine. ;)

Okay, where to begin. First of all, I LOVED this book. Wait, I said that already -- but heck, it bears repeating. I've never read a book about angels (well, other than a couple of Frank Peretti's books) and I really didn't know what to expect. I want to preface this review by saying I know nothing about angels and whatever mythology/etc. surrounds them. Therefore, I'm completely unable to judge whether anything in this book would be offensive to certain religions, etc. However, as one friend pointed out, the angels in this book do get married and engage in *cough*sex*cough* and aren't exactly champions of monogamy or marital vows. So, be forewarned.

One of the things I loved most about this book is the world Shinn created. It was just so...vivid. I had no problem imagining myself walking through the stone buildings atop Eyrie or the crowded marketplaces of Velora... I could almost feel cool wind through my hair as I flew high above Samaria with Gabriel. If I closed my eyes, I could hear angelic voices raised in harmony... Man, it gave me goosebumps. If anything can be said about Shinn, it's that she knows how to turn a phrase--knows how to make you feel things in the marrow of your bones.

Rachel was a great character and her flaws made her real. The tragedies in her life made me empathize and care for her. Even so, at various times throughout the book, I found I wanted to shake, hug, comfort, throttle, or just plain murder the girl...All at once. (g) But man, she was definitely someone I could get behind. Shinn, I've found, often takes a long time to reveal her characters' true motivations. Rachel was no exception, and in the end I really felt like I understood her. Not that this made me want to hurt her any less during certain parts of the book. (g)

Gabriel... oh man. First of all, y'all know I'm partial to that name. And yes, my mind sing-songed "Gabe the babe" many a times during the book. (g) I can't help it. I thought he was wonderful -- and I'm not just saying that because of the fetching leather briefs he ran about in. He had his surly moments--moments when I would think, "What a jerk!" But by the end, he had blossomed like a flower. (VBG) Nah, really -- he was tough, but fair. Stubborn, but flexible when it mattered... There was never a moment I doubted his character.

The two of them together -- Le sigh. At times I wanted to send them to their corners to think about what they'd done or said to the other -- at other times, I wanted to smack them upside their heads and say, "Don't you know you love one another!!" Yeah, true to Shinn form -- their relationship started out a bit rocky and grew throughout the book... man, it was GOOD.

Now, I must admit that the whole "we must sing together on the Gloria" or Jovah will smite the world was a bit...well....sketchy to me. It seemed so...well, silly. (g) But once I allowed myself to sink into and accept the rules of this world, it was a wonderful ride.

I'm not sure I really understood Raphael's agenda in trying to stop Gabriel. Overall, his character was a little weak -- a bad guy who's being bad...for the sake of being bad. He was a bit undefined and my biggest complaint about this book is that she didn't take more time to flesh out why he chose the path he took. But obviously it wasn't a deal breaker for me.

Overall, man....a great book.

Buy or Rent? BUY. NOW.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blog List

I tried to update my Fellow Writer's blog/livejournal list tonight. Blah. If I'm missing you, please let me know. I was practically going cross-eyed trying to compare my two lists. LOL. So, if I left you off -- totally unintentional. And if you'd prefer NOT to be listed, that would be good to know, too. :)

Thanks!

I'm Alive

And when I say that, I mean just barely. (g) It's been a CRAZY week, topped off with a 4am ride to the airport this morning. I am so beat, even my toes ache.

Too many details to go into, but it was a good time. Had lots of fun with the fam--we shopped, hung-out, played cards...slept very little. :) They kept me busy carting them around--so much so that I got nothing accomplished. No writing, no studying. You know I'm just heartbroken over the latter. (big wink)

At any rate, I'm sort of in recovery mode today -- BUT, it seems my "creative mojo" has been somewhat replenished. I had a really cool, vivid dream this morning. A lot of it was disjointed, but there were some real gems throughout that could turn into a nifty story. I'll need to work on it a bit to flesh it out, but hopefully this means I'll be revved up to continue work on revisions. Of course, I may need a nap first. LOL.

Anyway, just thought I'd pop on quick to give a feeble lil' wave atcha all. I should be back more regularly--at least until finals kick in.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!!

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday filled with turkey, family, and football. (g) I'm out until at least Friday--off to the g'parents house to mingle with the crazy relatives. I may or may not return sane--if I ever was to begin with. :)

See you soon!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Halloooooo

As expected, my family is keeping me fairly busy. So much so, that I haven't finished my project that's due tomorrow. (g) Oh well, I can get it done in about four hours -- I hope. LOL.

Anyway, nothing too much going on right now -- just chauffeuring the fam around and doing a lot of shopping. My mom took me to church yesterday...i.e. Barnes & Noble, and I picked up a few more books. Man, love it when she comes to visit. She suffers from the "I only see you once every year or so, so I must buy you things" syndrome. (VBG) To be fair, I had every intention of paying for an outfit yesterday -- until she snatched it out of my Kung-fu grip and scampered over to the check-out line. Hehe.

Anywho -- I may not be too active on the blog this week, but I had to mention a comment I received on one of my book reviews. Some kid said (and I know where you're from!) that he thought MYSTIC & RIDER was a stupid book, but that I really helped him with his book report. ROFL. Dude, I'm the blogNotes of the internet -- well, at least for this guy. (g) Maybe that should be Jen's Notes...hmm. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

WHOOOOOOOOT!!!

I'm super excited by some news I just received from a writer friend... You go, girl!!! :)

(Not saying what or who -- she will in her own good time -- just couldn't contain myself though!!) (VBG)

*VICARIOUS SNOOPY DANCE*

Immediacy

Things in my life are pretty nuts right now. I've been rather stressed out and it's all having a negative effect on my motivation to keep going on my wip's. Unfortunately, it's a bit more than visiting family, but alas, too upsetting to really blog about at this time. At any rate, let's just say that Jen is stressin'.

New words haven't really been an option, so instead I decided to take a look at the final confrontation scene in BTPM. I haven't really looked at it in a while -- as I've been concentrating on the front end of the book. It was an eye-opening experience. LOL. I realized that the way it is now is very telling. There's no immediacy to it... it's all so...so...distant. Blah.

I would post snips of it for comment, but man, talk about spoiling the ending. LOL. At any rate, here's the thing....

I KNOW the rules of how to pump up the tension in a fight/scary scene. Short sentences...quick pace...blah blah blah. But, to be frank, I feel very few people really pull it off well. LOL. I find, 9 times out of 10, that they sound choppy to my inner ear. That said, my scene is falling in the majority. Le sigh. Because I take such issue with most of these kinds of scenes, I gotta wonder if it's just ME. LOL. Maybe my scene is fine as is...doubt it. (g)

So...my family arrives tomorrow. I have a huge project due on Tuesday...big Thanksgiving plans beginning on Wednesday, including my grandparents 60th anniversary party...and well, I don't forsee much time to work on anything new. My concentration will simply be too split with all this and much much more going on. So...my goal for the coming week is to tear this scene apart and rewrite it. The bones are there...they're good bones... but it needs more...oomph. My second goal is to tear apart the outline of FI and figure out what remaining scenes need to be written, and start tackling them one by one. Systematic as I can get. (g)

I'm way behind on my word count goal, but if I can get some things accomplished while my family is here, I'll be very happy. My first final is on the eighth, so progress in December is going to be slow until after my last--on the 17th, I think. Blah. I hate this time of year, but I'm hoping that my inspiration will kick up a notch with studying/finals looming. It always does. (g)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Four Things You May Or May Not Know About Me

Got this from a friend this morning, and thought I'd start another round of blog tag. Woohoo. (g)

Four Things You May or May Not Know About Me


A) Four jobs I have had in my lifetime:
1. Investigator (UC and surveillance)
2. Waitress
3. Answering Service
4. Senior Resident Assistant (yes, I was that girl telling you to turn down your music)

B) Four movies I would watch over & over:
1. Pride & Prejudice (A&E, Colin Firth version)
2. The Notebook
3. Erin Brockovich (I literally can't turn it off when I see it playing on TV.)
4. Tie between That Thing You Do!, The Sound of Music, and Center Stage (Love music and dancing)

C) 4 places I have lived:
1. Chicago
2. Nashville
3. Kansas City
4. Los Angeles

D) Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. Lost
2. Pushing Daisies
3. Project Runway (All of the Bravo shows of this variety, actually)
4. American Idol (Gah, I'm trying to break my addiction and failing miserably.)

E) Four places I have been:
1. Niagra Falls
2. The Corn Palace in South Dakota
3. Disneyland
4. The Sears Tower
(Okay, technically this is _supposed_ to be exotic locales, but I've never been outside the U.S. (g))

F) Four people who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Carol
2. Erin
3. Claire
4. Sister

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Mexican
2. Potatos -- all varieties.
3. Seafood
4. Pizza

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Europe
2. An exotic beach...ocean, sun...sand...mmm.
3. NYC
4. Mom's house

I) Things I am looking forward to this and next year:
1. Finishing revisions of FI and BTPM, and starting a new book.
2. Publication
3. Graduation from Law School
4. Sleep

Okay... I tag Carol, Claire (whenever you see this), and Susan B.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Back-up PSA

OMG...computer scare from HELL!!

Earlier, my computer started freezing up. I decided I needed to reboot, shut everything down, and turned the thing off. It froze on the "windows is shutting down" window...FOREVER. I sat here for about 10-15 minutes, waiting for it to shut off the rest of the way, and it never did. Left with no other option, I cut the power. LOL. Okay, I hate doing that...but sometimes you have no other choice. You've done it...I've done it...we've all done it. (g)

Anyway, when I restart it, a little box comes up, saying something about how there's an error with my personal settings...something like that. So, it opens up to what looks like a computer that hasn't been used before--the plain Compaq background...the trash can in the wrong place... but strangely enough, most of my icons are still there. Okay... hmmm.

I immediately go into Word to make sure my files are okay. Ummm, wtf...the "preparing to install word" box pops up. *blink blink blink* When it finally gets going, I open my file box to find NOTHING THERE. *thumpthumpthumpthump* (That's the sound of my RACING heartbeat) I immediately freak out...when's the last time you backed up your MS's, Jen??? I _can't remember_. NOT a good sign. I snatch up my USB key and RUN to my uncle's computer... it won't recognize my key... *THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP*

Okay, by this time I'm also freaking out about my class notes and outlines...HOLY F*CK. Finals are in 4 weeks!! Maybe it just needs to be restarted... I try...same screen comes back...still no files.

So, I scour my brain for every little bit of computer knowledge I have. Took about three seconds. LOL. But then I thought about that neat little system restore option... Won't hurt to give that a try. I restored to yesterday and bam...everything came back. *wipes brow and heart slows to small letters again*

Oh yeah, Jen did some backing up--PRONTO.

WTF...I have no clue how this all happened, but man... SCARY. I'm wearing my USB key everywhere I go now. LOL.

Can you see my new grey hairs??

Barnes & Noble = My Mecca

On the advice of a friend, I decided to stop at B&N tonight to read through a specific chapter in this book she recommended. Thought I'd drop in for a gander, put the thing back on the shelf, and walk away. HA! I will say that I _didn't_ buy THAT book...so I guess it's a partial success. (vbg)

However, I picked up three others. LOL. I got the fourth book in Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey series...HOLY SMOKES, although I haven't read books 2 & 3 yet... the anthology HOLIDAYS ARE HELL, with the forum's very own Vicki Pettersson as one of the contributing authors (I haven't read any of the other authors, so I'm curious), and HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost.

Ahhhh, I feel at peace.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Is There A Secret?

I've noticed a trend on this blog. I seem to be pulling in a lot of hits from people looking at the book reviews I do. I'd say maybe a quarter of my visits come from that. Of those visits, I'd say 90% are for Stephenie Meyer's books. The most recent was a google search for "Stephenie Meyer's writing secrets." Hmm, seemed interesting.

Now, I don't know how many of you have actually read these books, but if you're not in the know, apparently people are touting Meyer's books as the next big thing--destined to be a phenomenon of Harry Potter proportions. I don't know the stats, but I DO know that the first run of her latest book, TWILIGHT, was for a million books. I couldn't say if there has been a second or third...etc. run, but that number alone is very impressive. Obviously. (g)

And on a personal note, I love these books. I think Bella is a great character and both Jacob and Edward are yummy in their own ways. I first discovered them earlier this year. I had already written a good chunk of BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT, but hadn't picked up a young adult book in goodness...a long time. I thought I would do a little market research...read some books in the genre I hoped to break into. Let me tell you, there are some high quality books in YA these days. Not only did I discover Meyers, but I also stumbled across Libba Bray, Stolarz, Ally Carter, and many others I can't wait to read. A high point was when a couple of readers compared my style to some of these women... I mean, wow. (g)

At any rate, it seems everyone is out to discover that certain IT factor that makes a book breakout. I know agents blog about this all the time -- often saying that they just KNOW it when they see it. LOL. Well, that's not exactly a scientific or or even a stylistic delineation. But this latest google hit has me thinking about what attracts me to a book.

1. First and most importantly: Characters. I think the best way to drive a story is to have memorable characters that leave an impression. Characters you can care about, cheer for...empathize with. When they suffer through some hardship, and I'm not crying with them, you probably haven't snared me as a reader. That goes the same for their triumphs, losses, the first time they fall in love...

2. An offshoot of characters is their relationships with one another. Be it friendship, love, father/son, mother/daughter, I want to feel the emotions they have for each other. It doesn't necessarily have to be love -- however their relationship is defined, it needs to progress in a natural fashion and without those pesky about faces that come out of nowhere. Nothing bothers me more than when the foundation for a relationship isn't properly laid out. Now, that doesn't mean you need to give me a ton of backstory nor that I need to understand every intricacy... but when something is done for story purposes alone, trust me, it shows.

3. Story. Story. Story. Now, I'm not a believer in the necessity of coming up with some great new concept that will blow peoples' minds. Granted, it would be nice...but let's face it... it's hard to do. Therefore, I believe you can take a classic tale and tell it in a unique and fresh way that makes it your own. I think sometimes people try TOO hard to come up with something that has never been done before and end up muddling things in the process. This reminds me of Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest. The ones he chose were simple, straightforward beginnings that didn't go over-the-top in order to snare his attention. (Granted, I wasn't a big fan of most of them. LOL. Go figure.) But seriously, if you're going to tell _another_ vampire story, come up with a unique concept. It worked for Meyers. (g) (It's what I'm _trying_ to do with BTPM...but heh, that's neither here nor there. LOL)

4. A unique voice. I think the biggest thing I've learned in the past three years is that you CAN NOT (or at least I'd argue you shouldn't) try to emulate your favorite author's story concepts and characters. Seriously, you're only asking for a heap o' trouble and endless comparisons if you don't tell a story In. Your. Own. Unique. Way. Plus, it's really doing yourself a disservice because you could be BETTER, only you'll never know. Study them...learn from them...but find your own path. Think how excited you get when you find a voice you really dig. YOU can do that for someone else.

5. Conflict and good storytelling. Nothing kills a book for me faster than when an author doesn't know how to self-edit. When they don't know what scenes should or shouldn't be in the book -- refuses to cut when cuts need to be made... when a story isn't told in an interesting way that propels me forward...that makes me want to turn the pages because I _just have to know_ what's going to happen next. This doesn't have to be in the form of your MC finding a dead body or something exploding at the end of every chapter. But however you choose to tell your story, it has to be interesting, relevant to the story, and something I want and can't help but become emotionally invested in. And it doesn't always have to be in a nice, safe way... shock me, that works just as well. You're talking to the girl who loves cliffhangers -- use 'em, cuz you bet I'll be in line to pick up the next book. LOL. Maybe I'm an anomaly, but whatever. (g)

So, these are all pretty obvious. I'm sure nothing has knocked you upside the head and made you say, "Of course!! Jen is a genius!!" LOL. So I guess it really does boil down to that IT factor...

How would you define IT?

First The Good News...

I finished that beta read!! Woohoo!! Now I don't feel like such a slacker. Feels good to finally send it off. As of right now, my time is my own--completely. No obligations hanging over me. Don't get me wrong -- not an obligation of the ball and chain variety. Just a constant guilt when I couldn't get to it. (g) I've also done my book review for facebook -- ah, a very productive day.

The bad news is that I haven't accomplished much on my writing front. Ah well, hopefully this little break will get me all revved up to work on it tomorrow. My goal is to write 22500 words this month. Heh, I'm nowhere near the halfway point, so I better put it into gear. My family is coming on Saturday, and well, I never get anything accompished when they're here. I'll have to try and be extra diligent about pulling out my laptop and writing. It'll be hard--I won't lie. I swear, my fam can eat up my time like no others.

Okay...class tomorrow...blah. (g)

SOME NERVE by Jane Heller

Brief Synopsis: Ann Roth is a celebrity reporter for FAMOUS, an L.A. based gossip magazine. Much to her boss's disappointment, she's got a good reputation for not using sleazy tactics to secure an interview. Pressured by him to get the "big get," Malcolm Goddard, an actor with one serious grudge against the paparazzi, she caves and tries to woo him in to talking to her. In the end, she fails and it costs her the job she loves. Left with no other option, Ann returns home to the midwest, hoping things will eventually blow over. When Goddard checks in to the local hospital for extended treatment, she seizes the opportunity and goes undercover as a volunteer, determined to get her story--and by default, her life back.

I really enjoyed a lot of elements in this book. The beginning was just hilarious and it was fun having little tidbits about famous celebrities thrown in. It all felt very believable to me, and I found myself laughing out loud many times. I immediately liked Ann -- she seemed very level-headed in her approach towards people and yet had this vulnerability that was truly endearing. Plus she had some of the best comic moments I've read in a long time.

Malcolm, well....he was a bit of a jerk in the beginning. In fact, so much so that I had a hard time being sympathetic toward him later in the book. And when I was expected to see him as a potential love interest, I sort of had a hard time really overlooking that initial impression I had of him. I can't say I ever really got over it, in fact. Kind of a detriment to buying into a romance. LOL.

While I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, I found the ending to be a little weak. Maybe a little too happily-ever-after. I was actually expecting someone to declare world peace at some point--it was that tied up. (g) I think it's because there was a really good buildup to the romance itself, that the ending, out of necessity, had to be rushed. Ah, those word restraints!

But, like I said, I really enjoyed Ann -- thought she had a great voice -- and well, her hospital antics were priceless. (vbg)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

MYSTIC AND RIDER by Sharon Shinn

I want to admit right upfront that I haven't read much fantasy in my time. (g) I think the last (other than Urban fantasy) was probably Lord of the Rings, and that was a LONG time ago. When I was in junior high, actually. So, my point is that I don't know a lot about the genre. At any rate, I've heard good things about Shinn and decided to give one of her YA's a try. But oops...this book turned out NOT to be YA. Oh well. LOL.

Brief Synopsis: Fearing unrest, the King of Gillengaria sends a party of scouts to access the threat throughout the country. Most importantly, he wants them to discover where each of the twelve houses would fall should a power struggle for the throne ensue.

They're a very unlikely group of people:

-- Senneth, possibly the strongest of all mystics, who has the ability to control fire.
-- Kirra, a noble woman of one of the twelve houses of Gillengaria, and also a mystic with the ability to change appearance.
-- Tayse, first among the King's riders.
-- Justin, another King's rider, whose true loyalty lies with Tayse.
-- Donnal, a mystic able to shapeshift who is, above all else, loyal to Kirra.
-- Cammon, a wayward mystic they pick up along the way. He has the ability to read emotions.

Reluctantly banded together, the group must learn to trust one another. Easier said than done when the riders are both extremely skeptical and suspicious of mystics in general. When they uncover a rising fanatacism that would have all mystics purged from the country, they must all learn to trust and depend on each other.

Blah blah blah, yada yada yada. Yep, still suck at these summaries. (g)

At any rate, I don't know what it was about this book. It took a while for me to get into it... actually, during the first 40-50 pages, I didn't know whether I wanted to continue. But then I just _really_ got into it. Not sure what factors changed for me, but I have a feeling it might have been just a matter of growing accustomed to the world and characters. The whole thing just grew on me to the point I didn't want to put it down.

There are a number of things that bothered me about it. LOL. There seemed to be quite a few point of view slips in the beginning--they either lessened later in the book or I must've grown accustomed...not sure which. Also, at times it had a slightly omni feel to it... hmm, but for some reason I really liked it.

The whole book centered around the group traveling to various regions of the country, trying to assess where that particular house's allegiance lies. So, it was a lot of 'how should we appear before them' or 'is it safe enough to go' sort of thing. Very repetitive, yet not annoying. lol. I think it's because the growth of the relationships was really the driving force of the story. I wanted to turn the page to see whether Justin would _ever_ trust Senneth... if Tayse would give in to his inclination to believe mystics have their uses...etc. etc. It was exciting to watch the subtle changes happen amongst the group. Of course, there's one character about-face that bugged me to no end. I just didn't buy it when it happened. Won't spoil it here, but it involved very unlikely tears. (g)

The fanatics (Daughters of the Pale Mother) were FREAKY. They wear moonstones, which mystics are unable to touch without being harmed. There was this really great scene where all of this acolytes of the Pale Mother surrounded the party, basically insisting everyone touch their hands (covered with moonstones), in order to ensure none of them were mystics. Given four of the six were, you can only imagine the tension, etc. Eee. (g)

Anyway, the whole thing had a very familiar feel to it. Will this country go to war in order to met out the future of this one particular group of people (mystics)? Harkens back to the civil war....the world wars... great theme with lots of tension.

The underlying love story -- beautiful. :) I liked the slow progress it took -- the subtle changes pulling them together. Hah..notice I didn't say WHO. (VBG)

Anyway, I really liked it and I woke up thinking about the ending... great sign that I need to get the next book. Well, if there IS a next book out right now. Need to look into that. (Oh YAY...there are two paperbacks and one hardback available in the series.) Hmm, it looks like they shift MC POV... not a BIG fan of that, but perhaps I'll give the second a shot to see how it goes. I really prefer when they stay in the head of the same characters throughout a series... Drat. LOL. Oh well, I'll check out the next to see what I think....and probably try out her other series--both adult and YA.

Buy or Rent? Buy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Oh Where...Oh Where...

...has my internet gone??

Okay, the official black out began late last night. It's weird... lol. I will admit that I already broke it. (g) I woke up this morning with three messages from the forum...two from goals...and I felt bad not answering them until mid-month. So, I hopped on, but allowed myself to read _only_ those messages. It was hard not to look at others -- interesting thread titles this morning. Or perhaps they only looked interesting because I couldn't read them. (g) Either way, I was on for no more than five minutes, so I figure that isn't too bad. Of course, I've only been awake for about a half hour....sooooooo...

I think the _real_ test will be my reader. I simply love it. (g) And I tell ya, when there are posts from certain blogs, it's like Christmas/Easter/my birthday/Halloween/etc. etc. all wrapped up into one. I get that excited to see them. LOL. I just keep reminding myself it will be the mega holiday of all time when I do get to look at it again. (VBG)

WIP news -- already behind this month (heh) due to the group novel, which I put off due to the houseparty... Vicious cycle. And I still haven't finished that betaread. Blah. Another (or maybe the same) headache yesterday. Could be sinuses...could be eye strain.. not sure which, but it sucked.

And a new week begins! (g)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

One Thing Down, One To Go

I've finished my chapter in the group novel over at the forum. At close to three thousand words, it's the most I've written in a day for a LONG time. LOL. I don't know why that is, but it's true. I also seemed to really churn out the words for the houseparty... Go figure.

At any rate, it's a huge load off. Now all I have to do is finish my last betaread -- I'm about a third of the way through it now...maybe a little less. At any rate, I would love to finish it today, but I'm not sure it will happen. Cleaning day. (le sigh) Technically, _yesterday_ was cleaning day, but I wasn't feeling well..so now I'm stuck doing it today.

This is also my last official day on the net (other than email and this blog). I've been itching to turn it off, to be perfectly frank. Now I don't know whether I can do it. LOL. But I will -- I have to. My family is coming in two weeks, which means I won't get _anything_ accomplished while they're here. Now is the time to buckle down and get caught up on everything--make sure I'm on top of things. (HEH)

At any rate, I'm feeling a little lighter with both the houseparty and group novel behind me. Wow, talk about a lot of work and time. :) So fun though.

Friday, November 2, 2007

BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I've made some decisions about my internet usage. I will be maintaining my blog, so feel free to contact me through this or email. While I'll be turning off IM and limiting my forum/google reading/facebook time, I can't cut out my daily doses of snarking off on this blog. (g) It's my outlet to rant about this or that, and I simply can't give it up. At any rate, I owe six book reviews, so that will keep me busy for a while. :)

On we go...

Brief Synopsis: Stacey Brown isn't your typical high school student. She's a practicing witch and an occasional psychic. She's started having nightmares that involve something bad happening to her best friend, Drea. They're similar to the ones she had three years ago about the little girl she babysat. She ignored them then and the little girl died. When elements of her current dreams start coming true, she fears Drea's life might also be in danger. Only, how can she confide in her friends when they'll think she's crazy?

Blah, another sucky synopsis. (VBG)

Okay, I've read two books in this series now. They're entertaining, quick reads. They're told in present tense, if that's something you steer away from, but I find them pretty easy to get into (style-wise).

What I really like about these books is that they have everything--the crush on your best friend's boyfriend (ex in this case, but still), the whole escapism thing with them being in boarding school (giving them greater freedom over their activities), the weird friends with crazy hair-dos and language, etc. I mentioned that she's a practicing witch, but I want to make it clear this isn't freaky, scary magic she practices. I admittedly know next to nothing about the religion, but it seems that if anything, she practices white magic -- a lot of her spells focus on trying to find peace and clarity in her dreams, etc. A lot of herbal rubbing and candle burning...nothing satanic or scary, which I think is often the misconception labeled on such things.

In fact, nothing in this book is that scary...it's all kept at a PG level. However, there's always a good level of tension that keeps you turning the pages.

The interesting thing about her dreams is that she has bodily responses to them, and that's the way her mind tries to give her clues about the dream's meaning/outcome, etc. In this book, she always ends up wetting the bed. With the ick factor aside, I think this added a wonderful element to the book. I mean, imagine how horrific it would be to hide such a thing from your roommates... how embarrassed you'd be if the boy you liked showed up in the morning before you've had a chance to change... yeah, ICK, but great tension. (g)

A lot of clues are dropped along the way, and the ending didn't come as a _great_ surprise. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the ride. I think teenagers would love these books.

Buy or Rent? Oh, I'd buy. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Halloween! Yay yay yay!!

In honor of the holiday, I thought I would follow Libba Bray's example and blog about some of my all-time favorite scary movies. I'm in charge of candy tonight. I plan on pulling on some sweats, plopping down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, and having one serious horror fest. I have no idea what movies will be in the queue, but these are some of the possibilities.

Halloween: How can you do a scary movie list without this classic flick? I'll tell you what. My mom took my sister and me to see this movie when we were extremely young. I figure it was probably free to take us to the movies (yes, we were THAT young) and a lot cheaper than hiring a babysitter. At any rate, I don't remember that much about the experience other than when the friend bought it in the car, my sister and I started screaming and didn't stop screaming until our mom took us home. (g) It's been near and dear to my heart ever since. I love the use of music and camera work to create tension... man, it's a goodie. I enjoy the sequels, but nothing tops the first.

Friday the 13th: Once again, the original is best. I also saw this when I was quite young, and nothing freaked me out more than Mrs. Voorhies speaking in that little kid voice, begging for help at the end. *shivers* I guess you could say it was my first glimpse at madness, and it's stuck with me to this day. I've never been so glad to not have gone to summer camp.

The Blair Witch Project: If Friday the 13th didn't spoil the woods for me, this movie definitely ruined me for all things out of doors. I know a lot of people criticized this movie for the lack of showing, etc... but man, my imagination was more than capable of filling in the blanks. The laughter and noises in the woods -- the creepy house with the little handprints... the bundle of sticks and piles of rocks. Egads. *shiver* I remember going to bed that night and hearing a loud crunch in the dark. I freaked out, but lay there frozen...too scared to look. Turns out a throw blanket had fallen off the edge of my bed and landed on a shopping bag. LOL. We had great fun after this movie. On a trip out to a friend's farm, we all went four-wheeling in the middle of the night. My friend Shawn and I came across one of the four-wheelers just sitting in the open field... when our headlights hit it and we realized the drivers were missing, we made TAIL back to the house, screaming the whole way that the Blair Witch was coming to get us. I watched this movie the other day...and it STILL freaks me out.

The Exorcist: Oh man, where to begin. I don't care how good special effects are, how much gore there is in a movie...nothing tops the scare factor better than this movie. I don't know. There's just something really scary about the idea of demonic forces taking over an innocent girl's life and terrorizing her and her family. The idea of a supernatural force laughing in the face of a priest and using a cross to... eee, you've seen the movie. You know what I'm talking about. It's just all kinds of wrong and SUPER freaky. The music made this movie truly terrifying for me. And I swear, the image of the priest getting out of his taxi to stand before those glowing windows, the thick fog surrounding him...then cut away to the demon's glowing eyes, waiting. EEE. It's one of the most powerful images I've ever seen.

Nightmare on Elm Street: I'm not talking about the campy sequels here. I'm talking about the first one--when Freddy didn't spout off a one-liner every other minute. I'm talking about not being able to sleep. I'm talking about freaking out every time one of my friends started singing that silly nursery rhyme... One...two...Freddy's coming for you... Yeah, shivers. The scene where Tina is killed is still seriously frightening for me. The image of those cuts slashing across her stomach, their source invisible... her climbing up the wall to scoot across the ceiling, all the while begging her boyfriend for help. YIKES. The scratchy voice calling to her..."Tina!" Still a great movie.

The Omen: The music is SCARY, and the image of the nanny standing on that ledge, screaming, "Damian! Damian! This is all for you!" and then stepping off to hang herself. The scene in the car when the baboons attack... that freaky little boy just....well, heck, he didn't need to do anything. He was freaky just standing still. The beautiful mother falling from the second story, and the fear in her eyes at seeing HER little boy... oh man. Good stuff here.

Poltergeist: Dude, they're here. I've never been so scared of static in my life! It's a bit tame compared to these other movies, but it still has some of the best scary moments ever. Little things -- the time the mother is cleaning the kitchen and pushes all the chairs in (again), and then turns away for a split second only to find them stacked in that intricate design. EEE. Oh, and don't let me think about the clown doll attacking the son. I've always been afraid of (a) clowns (b) dolls (c) worst case scenario--a clown doll. *shiver* Heh, anyone remember what was on the jacket he kept using to cover that doll up? One hint...can we say wookie? Yeah, it was chewbacca on one of those lovely satin jackets.

The Entity: I've never been so taken aback as when Barbara Hershey is innocently readying herself for bed, looks up, and is slapped *wham*. Then the brutality of the attack that followed...all the while, with nothing there. This one is supposed to be based on a true story, which makes it doubly freaky in my book. Imagine being brutally attacked by a spirit/demonic being and never being able to get away from it. This is a huge influence on The Presence, though TP will be MUCH tamer and won't include sexual attacks.

Okay, that's a good start for now. I have to quit because class is about to begin. I may be back if more come to mind. What movie/s scare you?

Tentative Decision

Okay, I'm going to start out by dipping my big toe into the water, but nevertheless, it's going to be tough.

I've made a BIG decision tonight. Taking a cue from Claire, I'm going to be cutting myself off from the internet--google reader, the forum, etc. for a while. She was talking about how she planned to do it, and I really started getting all glassy-eyed and envious. I said to myself, man, that sounds lovely.

So, I'm starting small. Once the houseparty is over, and I've posted my chapter for the group novel, I'm gonna flip off the little wireless button on my computer. I'll see how it goes until mid-month. (I don't want to let anyone down in goals on the forum, so I'll be back to do those.)

As of late, I've been so involved with internet related things -- the forum with it's houseparties and group novels...the wonderfully interesting threads about this and that. Don't even get me started on google reader -- I spend too much time following blog posts. I think I'm up to something like 40 blogs now. Very time consuming, even when only a third post regularly.

To be honest, I don't know how I'm going to manage this, but I need to. Not only do I need to get crackin' on the final push on both of my MS's, but law finals are coming. Before I know it, they'll be here and I'll be freaking out again. Yes, this is a good idea in theory...practice is another thing. (g)

But there it is. (g) And finally, and this one is hard to do -- I'm gonna have to decline any further betareads until after finals are over. That's approx. Dec 15th. I hate to do this, but time is tight right now. I need to concentrate on my books first, and time is limited the way it is.

Yeah...*taking deep breaths* I'm still trying to decide whether or not to maintain my own blog during this period. Cold turkey...an occasional hit...cold turkey...hmmm. Tough call. I'll think on it -- see how I feel about all of this tomorrow. (g)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yep, It's Halloween.

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my stereo disc thingie turning. You know how they make that loud shuffling noise when it's jumping to the next disc? Anyway, if that didn't bring me to full alert, the sound of my printer (on the OTHER side of the room) doing it's thing, did.

So I sit up, head pounding...looking between the two. They're still going at this point, but quickly settle down.

"Huh, that's weird." Must be a power surge, right? I glance at the clock on my nightstand...not blinking...time is the same as the clock across the room, which also isn't blinking. (And BTW, the stereo and the clock on my nightstand are plugged into the same power source.) Now that's weird.

Booooooooooo!! (g) I'm sure it was just some weird electrical glitch, but I honestly can't explain why, if the stereo and printer were reset, my clocks weren't blinking. I've owned both for a long time, and trust me, even the slightest hiccup in electrical power restarts them both. Eeeeeeee.

Blah, I Had To Do It

I've activated the letter verification thingamajig in comments. I didn't want to do that because I personally find it very annnoying--but, I've been getting a string of comments from these random companies, etc...and well, I'd like it to end. LOL. I'm told this is the only way to make them stop... so alas, word scramble it is. Sorry!

Still trying to recover from last night. (g)

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Alive

That's about all I can say after one seriously wild wine tasting last night. Whoa. But man...we had fun. (g)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Puppy Pics!

I don't know if it's a dog thing in general or just these two, but I just gotta ask. Do YOUR dogs go comatose if you put something on them? I mean to the point they stay in the same position you left them in for several minutes...only moving to collapse on the floor to sulk? (g) You'd think their oxygen levels were being cut off or something, but seriously...I checked. Air flow OKAY. WTF? (g) Anyway, a brief fashion show. First Chloe crying, "Aaaaarr!!" Then Bailey, slowly getting into it. I swear, she could pose for Playdog. (g)






Saturday, October 27, 2007

PHEW!

The houseparty has officially begun. I just finished posting the kick-off scenes, etc. YAY. I also know what Ben and Darcy look like now.

Darcy Maguire, age 16, 5’6”, shoulder-length brown hair, dark blue eyes with thick lashes, slender—bordering on too thin. She’s somewhat standoffish, but loves to laugh. She’s warming up to people in general, but needs you to take it slow at first.

Ben Holburn, age 17, 5’10”, reddish-brown hair cut short, blue eyes, but not nearly as dark as Darcy’s – athletic build, light freckles. Whereas Darcy is a bit shy, Ben loves to meet and talk to people. He’s a little protective of her, so don’t be surprised if he hovers around, jumping into any conversations to help put her at ease.

I'm beginning to get a feel for them...can't wait to work on this book.

Next on the to-do-list is wine!! Need to go raid my favorite wine shop. Then to the grocery store for cheese and grapes, etc. I need to make the desserts tonight and set up the table. Trust me, it takes forever. Then I want to continue with my beta-read. I only got 60 pages in yesterday, so I'm hoping to get a little further tonight.

Of course, I'll be keeping a close eye on the houseparty, too. I hope people join in tonight. :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Random Thoughts

Today, a friend and I realized what true internet junkies we are. We have all but one class together this semester and decided to grab some lunch between our 1030 and 1pm classes... The first gets out at 1145... so for us non-math people, that's exactly one hour and fifteen minutes.

Jen: So, what sounds good today?

Friend: Hmmm...somewhere with internet.

Jen: (throws out a bunch of ideas, but most are sit down places and we're afraid we won't get back in time)

Friend: Burger King has internet, but I hate BK.

Jen: Yeah...

Jen & Friend: Hmmm.

Jen: Well, it _is_ only an hour... surely we'll be okay without our email.

Friend: *deep sigh* Yeah.

Jen: We're pathetic.

Friend: Yeah.

LOL. Okay, it wasn't nearly that pathetic...but dang close!

**

Nathan Bransford posted his short-list on opening paragraphs. Whatever the reason, I feel completely inadequate after seeing his choices. (1) Because none of them really jumped out at me -- at all. (2) None of my openings are even close in scope to the ones he chose (3) He actually took a swipe at the authors (there's five of them -- he did a search) who used some form of "the last thing I expected to be doing" in their opening lines. As FI opens with a version of that, it stung a bit. Made me want to scream through my computer, "Well, DA LIKES IT!!! NYUH!" (g) (4) I really thought my short stood a good chance...now I'm thinking maybe it's far from being as good as I thought... insecurities...insecurities...insecurities. Yeah, it was supposed to be fun, but I feel blah about the whole thing now.

Whatever. *sulks* (g)

**

I'm up next for the group novel on the forum. I have to say this -- I'm totally overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to add on to this particular story. It began as a sci-fi...turned into some contemp about a guy who kills people/birds with his mind...and now it has a detective/thriller/sci-fi feel to it (Oh!! And they're supposed to go to Costa Rica!) It's not what I consider paranormal. At all -- on any level. Frankly, I haven't a clue where to take it next. I had hoped to write about ghosts and the like...something light and fun...but am now faced with trying to follow up chapters heavy on exposition and description, not to mention scenes that are very dark... not my kind of writing. If you hadn't noticed by now. (g) My chapter is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

Yes, I will be pounding my head on the wall over this one. Many times.

**

The houseparty starts tomorrow! YAY. I can't wait. Dude, give me a simple tale of ghosts and ghoulies anyday. It's a relief, but I still need to write my opening scene, etc... AND figure out what both Darcy and Ben REALLY look like. Right now they're sort of these shadowy figures with blurred features... a few things are sticking out. For instance, I think Ben is a red head. Nothing fiery and all crazy... but subtle, dark... hmmm, we'll see. He isn't totally in focus yet. Darcy is a brunette, thin, stunning dark blue eyes with thick lashes.. Yeah, she's getting there.

Anyway, I'm excited to get the ball rolling on this one.

**

I finished SOME NERVE last night. I'm letting it sit for a while before I do my review. I'm hoping to squeeze in that second beta read I have in the queue. We'll see how it goes. I have to prepare for my winetasting -- go shopping, make dessert, set up the table... it's a lot of work. LOL. Plus I need to find Chloe a costume so she and Bailey can be cute little co-hostesses. In the true nature of little sisters the world round, Bailey is getting a hand-me-down from Chloe. (g) I'll post pics some time in the next few days.

I need to write double my daily word goal tonight. I didn't finish reading last night until way late, and my eyes had started hurting by then. Headache galore.

Anyway, LOTS to do.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Official Review -- Sorta

On Facebook, I joined the Avon Reading Group. They're an imprint of HarperCollins. Anyway, the woman running the group has decided to start a review circle of sorts. Basically, if you're first to sign up, you'll get one of about, I think it was 15 copies. Then, you post a review on your blog or whatever, and link it to the group site. Then we discuss. From what I understand, the author will get involved at some point for a little Q&A. Anyway, I got my copy in the mail today. Free books! Heck, sign me up. :)

First in the queue is SOME NERVE by Jane Heller. It's contemp. women's fiction, about a celeb reporter of some sort. Anyway, looks like a light, fun read. But I will let you know what I think later. :)

Shazam!

I met my word count goal AND finished THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE tonight. Woohoo. I'll do a review when I get an opportunity.

Getting back into FI is a little strange. I'm trying to capture the feel of it again. Right now the scenes I'm working on seem to have a more serious tone -- it's so weird. I'm dying to lob a one-liner somewhere, but I can't really work them in. Tomorrow I'll have to work on something lighter. (g) I need Maddy's snark to come out again.

At any rate, I got my words in! Whoot!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Off To The Races

Okay, I've made a schedule for myself. My hope is to finish all revisions of FI by the end of the year. It's going to be a lot of work -- and it'll be hard to juggle writing with all of my school demands, but I think I can do it. True I've said this before (BTPM ringing any bells? The revisions on that MS still aren't finished. LOL), but I'm gonna give it a go. If I can at least vow to catch up on the weekends, or during any downtime (ROFL -- yeah, right), I think it will be a nice little Christmas present to myself. My daily word count seems manageable, but I'll definitely have to stay focused. I used to brainstorm ideas every night before I went to bed... I didn't necessarily know what the scenes would be, and lord knows they rarely turned out the way I first "envisioned" (if that's what you'd call it), but I always had a _starting point_ to begin with.

It's time to get down to business. (g)

Jen ain't playin' anymore. ;) LOL.

Anywho, I read back through the most recent scenes of FI. You know, I can't tell you how pleased I am. That stuff ain't bad, dude. Several of the scenes have been left hanging, so there's always those to work on. But the thing I'm not going to hold myself to is writing in order. I will write whatever is speaking and go from there. With my outline, I should be able to figure it all out along the way. So, I'm off to see if I can squeeze out some words -- I didn't count today, so it'll all be a bonus chance to get back in a groove.

Oh, I'm not sure I'll be continuing the lines of the day. Maybe a line of the week would be more doable. Right now I have to concentrate less on blogging and more on getting my job done. Though if I squeeze in any reading, I'll be sure to write up some reviews...still owe those four. Okay, I'm off. Wish me luck!

ETA: I managed a quick 750 on a new scene--had to stop due to (1) the late hour and my EARLY morning class and (2) a need for medical advice. I sent a note off to my friend who's a nurse. With any luck, she'll get back to me before I begin writing tomorrow. Not much, but decent.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

*Pheeeewww*

I finished a beta-read this weekend -- sent off my comments/suggestions today. To be honest, I'm a little gun-shy when it comes to crits lately. I've had such mixed responses to the ones I've done -- from anger, to outright rebuff, to hurt feelings... all over the place. I'm beginning to feel like the crit-devil. LOL. Oh well, I'm still taking the stance that mine is just one opinion. But it's always nice to be appreciated. I'm a SLOW reader, I know I've said this before, so it takes me a lot of time and effort to get one of these things out. I hope that people understand the good intention and painstaking thought I put into them. So, I'm blunt... can't help it. (g) Why waste time, right? lol

Anyway, I've had this terrible headache today. Have a feeling it's eye strain. I tend to get it every now and then -- especially when I spend a lot of time glued to the computer screen. Which, quite honestly, is what happens most days of my life. (g) No forward progress on anything this weekend, but I'm happy to have finally gotten comments out on this one MS. One more to go...maybe next weekend. At least it's a little shorter. (g) A little.

Oh...and if you haven't noticed, my pleasure reading has come to a stand still. However, I still owe four book reviews. EGADS. lol. I'll get to them someday. The lovely thing about this week is that my classes are really cut back...one prof has canceled our class twice, and another class is canceled because we're doing interviews outside of our class time. So yay, it's a good week to get things accomplished. Big week ahead, tho. Houseparty starts on Saturday and I'm hosting a winetasting at my house on Sunday. On top of that, I'm expecting to be passed the baton in the group novel we're writing on the forum. Goodness. So many things... plus HALLOWEEN. (g) I must find costumes for my puppies. YES, I'm one of _those_ kinds of people. I'll post pics. (VBG)

Anywho, calling it a night. Hoping my eyes feel better on the morn so I can move forward on _something_.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

*Feeble Wave*

I'm exhausted! LOL. I spent a good portion of last night beta-reading for a friend. I'm about half way through her book, and I hope to finish it up tonight or early tomorrow. Then I have just one more to read. Not sure I'll get to it this weekend, as I really want to get a good chunk of BTPM cleaned up and ready to go. Bless her heart, I have a reader bribing me with goodies and recipes to help get my creative/inspiration juices flowing. I hate to keep her waiting, so I'm hurrying as best I can. This friend has waited a number of weeks for me to get to her MS, though... so I really need to work on that.

I have Monday off for Fall Break. (woohoo!) So, there's a lot of time available as long as I kick my butt into gear. I'm a little sad that this weekend is Surrey... but I'm trying to keep it happy, though I couldn't attend. The weather is beautiful here.. the leaves are changing colors... oranges, yellows, and reds...and all shades in between. *Takes a deep lungful of the crisp air* Lovely.

I've sent out the official Halloween Party Invite on the forum... Darcy and Ben are excited to get the ball rolling next weekend... I'll admit it's been a lot of fun preparing. I've decided to set the book here in Lincoln. SCARY. It's much easier to place a book in a city you're not familiar with. Not in the details, but in the responsibility to get things JUST right. lol. At any rate, I've found Darcy's house and figured out where she lives in the city... fun stuff. I hope lots o' people show up for the party... always fun.

Oh, and Thursday was HELL. I got up around 530, went to school at 1030, and didn't come home until 9 that night. BLAH. But as my fam was out for the evening, I stopped at a drive-thru to get dinner. The girl working the window completely reminded me of Darcy and sparked a few ideas to flesh her out as a character. Really exciting when things like that hit you when you're least expecting them. If I'm lucky, I'll have FI finished by the end of December and be able to begin working in earnest on The Presence. I'm psyched like you wouldn't believe. I even have plans to talk to one of my aunt's friends who knows a lot about the high schools here in Lincoln. So, even though I'm busy with other things, I'm still thinking about all the projects I have in the works. Gah, I love writing.

Okay, off to clean the house. (joy)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Forgotten Scene

Tonight my fam and I decided to watch Rebecca -- old Hitchcock film. Anyway, I pulled out a notebook, figuring I could doodle and maybe get some bits down on the current scene. Lo and behold, I find notes for a scene that I completely forgot about. I even BLOGGED about it and how excited I was to add it. LOL. Now I'm wondering where I can put it. It's too good to just discard... so, I'll be thinking on that. The great thing is that I was basically free writing -- jotting down images and lines of dialogue. It won't take much to knock out the rest of it. The hard part is figuring out where to place it.

It was kinda like finding a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of a jacket I haven't worn in a while. WHOOT!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Basic Shape

I didn't get a lot of words in tonight -- only about 500, in fact. But the great thing is that I've finally figured out the basic shape of chapter 15. I knew what I wanted, but executing "the vision" is always a challenge. I tried a new technique. Nothing flashy or anything, but I tend to be a pretty straight-forward storyteller and it was something I've never tried before. At least not that I can recall.

I basically went from the present moment...back into a little flashback from after the end of the last chapter...and back to the present moment. I hope I've done it smoothly. When I've had flashbacks before, they've always been pretty far back in time...certainy not a matter of minutes the way this one is. I saw a similar technique used in one the books I've read recently, though I couldn't tell you which one for the life of me. LOL. If I could remember, I could study it again to see if I've pulled off the technique. Oh well...onward.

I guess that goes to show that reading is a VERY useful tool in our bag of tricks. I tend to get too busy to squeeze much in. But lately, as y'all know, my schedule has done LITTLE to stop my devouring book after book. It's been great, tho -- helps me to pinpoint what I like/dislike. Right now I'm in the middle of The Time Traveler's Wife, which is a very entertaining book. However, as I told Claire, the dialogue is atrocious. I'm reminded time and again how important it is in a book. Despite really enjoying TTTW, I'm constantly being jerked out of the story by some really lame bit of dialogue that makes me roll my eyes and say, "No one talks like that! What planet did the author grow-up on??" LOL. She can tell a story, but jeez... lol.

Anywho, maybe tomorrow I can pound out the rest of this chapter... that would be good. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Status

Well, I'm still plugging away at BTPM. AAARGH. The only good thing, is that I really like the stuff I'm writing. The bad is that it's going slowly and not really working with the "time frame" I had in mind. LOL. OH well, what can you do? I'd much rather have the end book be GOOD than written quickly at this point.

You know, I keep wondering... what happened to me?? I used to churn out words like there was no tomorrow. These days I'm lucky if I write every day... and when I do write, to churn out 500 words. It's weird and I don't like it. lol. I want to go back to my days of abandon when I'd churn out 25K in a week... when I threw caution to the wind and believed in myself... gah.

Frustration.

At any rate, that original scene that I cut took up chapters 13-15. I've finished 13 & 14, and have a pretty good idea about what I'll do with 15. After that, I'm back on track and hopefully I can gut my way to the end. We shall see.

I'm also letting FI simmer as it's slowly moving from the back of my mind to the forefront. I'm so geared up to work on it. Perhaps I'll get some of the old Jen back while writing completely new scenes...random...willy-nilly...saying f*ck what people think of this, cuz I love it. LOL. Yeah, if you know me, you know the last part isn't true... but SOME confidence would be nice.

Oh, and I need to work on the prep for the haunted house party I'm throwing. Must do that soon.

Busy. Gah.

Friday, October 12, 2007

STRAY by Rachel Vincent

It's been a while since I read this book, so I hope I can keep everything straight. (g)

Brief Synopsis: Faythe Sanders isn't your normal coed. She's a werecat desperately trying to distance herself from what she really is. But when someone begins targeting Tabbies (unwed females, of which there are only 8 in all of the U.S.), she is rushed home and back into the protection of her family. There, she must face the life she's tried so hard to leave behind -- the adopted stray, Marc, to whom she was once engaged... Jace, one of her father's pack protectors for which she shares a mutual attraction... but most importantly, the responsibility of living up to who and what she is within the ranks of her pack. But these problems pale in comparison to the danger of her being kidnapped by the Stray on the loose...

Dunt dun dun.

Okay, I think this book was pretty dang entertaining. I liked the concept a great deal. I think Vincent has a very fresh voice--not to mention some serious chops when it comes to turning a phrase and coming up with snappy dialogue and descriptions.

I've thought long and hard about this review, and whether or not I liked the book in the end. I'm not sure I have an answer.

There are some things I really liked. The concept, the dialogue, her use of descriptions...it's all great. But then, there are some things that I just didn't like.

Without giving too much away, this book has what I call the "Bad Girls" syndrome. Ever see that movie? I can't remember all of the stars... I know Drew Barrymore was in it... Anyway, it's a western focusing on four women. As it's an OLD movie, I'll tell you the basic plot -- at least what I can remember. There's a bad guy, and he kidnaps one of the girls. The rest of the group rescues her. Two seconds later, they take one of the other girls... they rescue her... Then the hero in the movie is in trouble and they save HIM... then another girl is taken and they need to come up with another escape plan... Did I mention one of my friends actually threw his shoe at the movie screen?

Okay, I know it sounds MEGA harsh to compare this book to this obviously crap movie. I don't mean to make it sound like that. But one particular plot line -- dealing with Faythe's various love interests reminded me SO much of this...i.e. I'll make out with this guy for a while...oops, we're caught... then I'll go mack on this other guy... drat, someone walked in... rinse and repeat, several times in like a 36 hour period. (A period, I must mention, during which one of her dear friends and one of her _cousins_ has been kidnapped -- and during which she herself is being hunted.) Not only did it make me question WHY I should like this character, but made me fear for my sanity. Talk about a revolving door love life. Okay, okay...she's young, I get that. But honestly, I didn't like her so much during this part of the book, and it was at the beginning. THAT said, the sexual tension was good...and it MADE me want to turn the pages... but only because I wanted her to end up with one of the guys, and I was waiting for her to snap out of it.

That brings me to my second issue with this book. I love strong female characters. I like it when women stand up for themselves and know how to fight back and not always play the victim. But saying they're strong and actually being strong are two very different things. I can't tell you how many times characters told Faythe how strong she is...how special...how she's meant to lead the pack...and yet, nothing she did convinced me of this -- at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. I thought she created more problems than she solved--her decisions most times made in order to avoid taking help from men or admitting she was weak. This of course resulted in predicaments that could've been avoided.

That's not to say she didn't earn my respect during certain parts of the book. There were times she really stood her ground when most would probably freak out and wallow in self-pity. It's just that I didn't think she quite lived up to reputation before it was thrust upon her. Had it just been herself making these claims, I think I would've believed it -- but it was everyone around her... With her behavior most of the time, I was actually quite surprised her father didn't throw her into the cage he kept threatening her with.

And finally, one last gripe. Over-explanation. Every time a member of Faythe's pack would do something, Vincent would launch into a bunch of backstory about werecat history/laws/behavior patterns, etc. Okay, that makes sense... but this lasted throughout the entire book. It got to the point where she started repeating herself in certain spots... and well, I'm not convinced most of it was even necessary. Most of it could be inferred from what was happening at the time...or summed up more succinctly. She even did this with other things -- slowly revealing backstory about relationships, etc. I don't necessarily have a problem with that, but when you're not finding out a pertinent bit of history until late in the book, it seems weird. Could be me.

Anyway, I'm sure it's probably unclear why I'm so torn on this book. It sounds like all I'm doing is complaining about the things I didn't like. But the truth of the matter is that I _really_ wanted to like it -- thought it had so much potential, but it JUST missed the mark for me. It's one of those books that had so much going for it, that these things stood out like big red banners. Sigh.

Will I read the next book? Absolutely.

Buy or Rent? I just don't know.