Thursday, January 31, 2008


I was reading Kat's blog tonight, and she thanked someone for adding her to I'd never heard of that site so I went to check it out. Dude, she's listed as #1 out of 2,690 creative writing blogs. Way to go, Kat! (g)

Want to know what's really strange? I'm _#7_. Too cool. :)

No idea how you become linked to such things...but hey, I'm flattered.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson

by Maureen Johnson

Young Adult Contemporary

I meant to read a chapter or two just to see what this Maureen woman was all about. I mean, you saw the video...the woman's _funny_. I CANNOT get the line, "We hate it, AND YOU!" out of my head. Needless to say, I couldn't put it down... loved, loved, loved it. Will be scouring the net for the rest of her books.

Brief Synopsis: Virginia (Ginny) Blackstone receives a mysterious letter from her Aunt Peg--her dead Aunt Peg, stating she must follow the instructions inside. She's given a thousand dollars and told to buy a plane ticket to London. Once she's there, she can open the next envelope. A series of instructions will follow in each letter. Rinse and repeat until the last letter is opened. No clues are given, and there are rules.

1. She can only bring what she can hold in a single backpack.
2. No guide, phrase, or foreign language aids allowed. No journals either.
3. No extra money allowed.
4. No electronic crutches: laptop, cell phone, music, or camera. Plus, she cannot call home or communicate via the internet or phone. Postcards and letters are OK.

And so Ginny's journey begins.


I don't know where to start.

First, Ginny is a fantastic character. She isn't one of these over-the-top teens with a flip comment for every situation. She's shy, she's insecure about herself...she's inexperienced...and most importantly, she's scared to death to begin this journey. But one thing is clear. She loves her aunt and she WANTS to be the kind of person who flies off on a whim and into destination unknown. And yeah, that's enough to get her butt on that plane. A very brave thing to do, imho.

Reading this book is like reliving my teen years. Johnson captures those teen moments with SUCH skill. I found myself embarrassed...uncomfortable...breathing a deep sigh of content and nostalgia...getting that little twinge in my belly at the prospect of that ultimate crush. She did a superb job.

I've never traveled outside of the U.S...I know next to nothing about writing dialects. But she did a great job. I could _hear_ the voices of the characters, even the English ones and they were spot on as far as I'm concerned. Ditto for her the way she set the scene for the various locations Ginny visits. Felt like I was there.

The letters were genius. If anyone has seen P.S. I LOVE YOU, you're probably seeing a similar theme with this book. And yes, they are similar, but this is how I imagine one of those trips would actually turn out. LOL. Not everything is perfect, and there are many mishaps along the way. Plus, the poor girl is experiencing all of this in a foreign country -- alone. I can't even imagine. Through these letters, I FELT Peg...learned to know her...learned how special their relationship was. And let me tell you, I shed more than a few tears along the way.

It is by far the coolest "road trip" I've ever been on.

Yes, I had a couple of issues. There was a big chunk of backstory up front. Not sure if it could have been avoided...maybe, but it didn't do much to diminish the book for me. The second thing is one of the ending events. It seemed a bit too...well, fantastic to me. It stood out from the rest of the book because of it. Again, not enough to ruin the book for me. One minute I was almost rolling my eyes, and the next I was crying... So there you go. (g)

I've read a few reviews that took issue with the ending (this event excluded) and I absolutely DO NOT agree. I thought it was perfect. I had that warm, contented feeling in my belly when I finished. Sad to see it end.

Yeah, it was damn good, people. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Buy or Rent? BUY BUY BUY! :)

Cleaning House

I'm sitting in what might be the most irrelevant class in my entire law school career. Professor is super nice, but he's spent most of the class period trying to figure out why his jaw is clicking and how he can go about curing himself. He's pretty stoked about the whole library system, which is great...good for him. But I must say, my mind went awanderin'.

So, decided to clean up my LOTD's and Excerpts... took out most of the FI bits. Will try to keep on top of that from now on. Man, some of 'em were OLD. I put them all in the draft section, so I hope they don't automatically drop off after a certain period of time. Anyone? LOL -- I'm a sentimental schmuck. The idea of deleting them forever (even though I have them saved in numerous places) is too much for me. Gah, I'm gonna end up one of those crazy women with every back issue of TV guide or something. Erm, do they still print that? But yeah, I like to have the record of when/what I put up at any given time. VIVA LA BLOGGER!! :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Is It My Birthday???

It's not, but hell if it doesn't feel like it this morning. (VBG)

Glutton For Punishment

Nathan Bransford is holding The Suprisingly Essential First Page Challenge over at his blog -- HERE, if you're interested. I've spent altogether too much time trying to decide whether to enter, and if so, WHAT to enter. He's seen parts of FI and BTPM -- heck, he read a partial of FI and rejected it. (G) Only so many times you can beat that horse--plus,'s sorta taken. (vbg)

So, that leaves me with my various other wip's. As I'm a chunk writer, I only have the opening to one -- NARC 2. I also have the opening paragraph to WALKING IN SHADOW, though it's still a major work in progress and a WEE (iow, BIG) spoiler for BTPM. I _could_ pound something out, but I just dunno. I've also begun the opening scene to THE PRESENCE, but as with WIS, it's still a work in progress. What to do?? What to do?? Yeah, think I'll probably end up sitting this one out. Or sending NARC 2. We'll see.

Which brings me to my next topic. Josephine Damian had a great blog post about a little Q&A with the one and only Donald Maass. HERE. In it, he discusses whether or not blogs/an internet presence are helpful in promoting a writer's career.

The part I found particularly interesting is...well, the entire thing...(especially when he flipped her argument the bird. (VBG)) but mostly, the part where he says blogs are okay as long as you don't use them to "scratch the itch" to write. Hmmm, interesting. I've never really found that my blog takes over my writing time...nor that it diminishes my desire to write. But then, I spend far too much time reading _other_ blogs, so perhaps there's something to it being one big ole' distraction to your writing goals. Regardless, I find it very therapeutic and a great way to connect with other writers. After all, we've been through it all at one point or another. It's nice to have people jump in and say, "Hey, I've been can get through this!"

But I do think he has a point that it may not have _that much_ of an impact on your ability to sell a book. It is after all--repeat his mantra with me--what's between the covers that sells the book. Tell a good story and the rest will work itself out. I'd argue it isn't going to hurt you, though. Well, unless you make an arse of yourself on a daily basis. NO COMMENT. :)'s almost 3... off to bed, I go. Seven comes way too early...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's Oh So Quiet

Dude, did everyone go on vacation this weekend? Blogger has been exceptionally quiet. (g) Me? HEH. I spent yesterday reading...all. day. long. Yes, I'm horrible. I finished THE SWEET FAR THING, tho. :) I'm gonna give it a day or two to settle before I write a was good, tho...very good. Now I've begun the Midnighters series by Westerfeld. It's quick, so at least I know I'll have time to write today. (g)

One great thing about my little vacation is that I've had a couple of little kernels bubble up for WALKING IN SHADOW and THE PRESENCE. Notice neither is FI, which of course, is a bit of a problem. (g) But what can you do? I'm reading about high school students and well, naturally my thoughts would go to those particular books. LOL. One kernel, for WIS, gives me goosebumps -- had to write that one down. It was less than 200 words and obviously part of a much longer scene, but write it or lose it.. yanno how that goes.

It all serves to remind me how invigorating the creative process is... gah, love it. Miss it. Hope to recapture it with FI. Perhaps this will all help jump start me back into that book. Actually, one of my writer friends suggested I work on something else for a bit... finding the love being the ultimate goal. I'll admit I've been a bit hesitant to test that particular theory. Mostly I'm worried that once I get going on another wip, I won't want to switch back to FI. But I suppose these little bits won't really hurt anything (I hope).

But seriously, folks...where are you guys? (g)

Friday, January 25, 2008

And The Winner Is!!


Congratulations, Josephine. You are now the proud owner of one copy of THE SPYMASTER'S LADY by Joanna Bourne...John Hancock included.


Email your address to my hotmail account (listed in my sidebar) and I'll wing it out to you ASAP!

Thank you everyone for entering, and for spreading the word around the net. I received over 30 entries, which was far more than I expected. :)

YAY -- keep it going wherever you're at. Tell 'em her next book will be out in July. I, for one, cannot wait for MY LORD AND SPYMASTER. :)

I'm Addicted To Books

I admit it. I shouldn't be set loose in B&N. EVER.

I received one of those lovely 25% off one item coupons in the mail and said, hey..better use that before it expires. Went in with the notion of buying one...maybe two books. Yeah, I walked out with _eight_ books. So, here are today's purchases:

The Midnighters Series by Scott Westerfeld
- Touching Darkness
- Blue Noon
- The Secret Hour

(BTW, I went in thinking I would buy the first book to see if I liked this series as much as UGLIES. Either I'm a doof, or their exact order is nowhere to be found. I had to buy all three lest I guess the wrong one. Yeah...excuses. (G) I _could've_ looked at the copyright dates.)

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

(I loved UGLIES...what can I say?)

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

(Saw that this one was a National Book Award Finalist -- looked interesting.)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfeld

(Been curious about this one.)

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

(Hey, I told you she was going on my TBR list after her appearance with Libba Bray in "Girls on Film." (g))

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

(Another Libba Bray referral of sorts. And it's a hey...sounds great.)

Yeah, so there you have 'em. Sad thing (depending on how you look at it)? I didn't get the Maureen Johnson book I wanted because they didn't have it. AND, I have another coupon for an online order. *VERY BIG GRIN*

Oh...and did you notice only one was an adult novel?? Hmm.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My Tools In Siberia

I've decided to change up my work environment. Planted myself in the dining room to avoid all distractions. Worked for a while, but then my aunt and uncle decided to watch a movie ten feet from where I'm sitting. LOL. They're...well, let's just say the volume is a bit overwhelming, even with my iPod blaring in my ears. Anyway, thought I'd take a pic...cuz, I'm bored and my ears are ringing from the original Bourne Identity. LOL. I think it's almost over. (YAY)

But no, seriously...I'm getting some good writing in tonight. The word count isn't tremendous, but I'm making progress on a scene that's been giving me a lot of trouble. I consider that a HUGE step forward.'s my new space. Whatcha think?

Ah, the essential tools. My computer, of course. Other than that...pen and paper does the trick for jotting down random thoughts. My outline is there, too, though it's hidden underneath. Wouldn't want to spoil too much. (Very big wink) And yes, the wine is a necessity. (g) Dude, is my computer falling apart or what? I guess I would be too if I were lugged around everywhere my owner went. :)

Notice the nice brick wall that I get to stare at should my mind wander off. (g) Of course, that doesn't quite hide the floor to ceiling windows to my right. But it's all good...much better than staring at my bookshelves. (g)

Two Complaints And A Reminder

I walked outside my door this morning to -4 degree weather. That's NEGATIVE FOUR. OMG. You know it's bad when your nose (inside) freezes. (g) And I've heard that February is going to be a really bad month in the Husker state--as in REALLY cold. Oh, yippee.

My second gripe of the day is that I hate my 815 class. LOL. Okay, the professor is great -- he's funny, he's a practicing lawyer who doesn't buy into the usual, I-must-grill-these-law-students-until-they-cry-or-have-a-nervous-breakdown BS that most of the university professors do. He's actually really good. So, sitting in class is okay. It's just getting here--especially with the aforementioned temperatures tempting me back into bed. :) Doesn't help that I have two very furry space heaters who like to snuggle in with me. But I'm here.. So that says something.

And reminder.

The contest I'm running ends tomorrow night, 9PM CST. If you'd like to win a FREE copy of Joanna Bourne's THE SPYMASTER'S LADY, then you need to put some pep in your step, people. Time is running low. Don't forget it's an AUTOGRAPHED copy. What have you got to lose by signing up? :) See the link at the top right hand corner of my blog -- click HERE and you're on your way to Nirvana, baby.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still Here

I know I've been quiet. If I owe you an email or thoughts on a snip you've sent...or an answer to a post, I promise I'll get to you as soon as I can. Yeah, I'm a slacker. And I have no excuse other than I've been on a mental vacation. Oh and the headaches...yes, the headaches have played a big part.

Nothing much to report on the writing front. I've been a very bad girl. 'Nuff said. (g)

I've been reading some. Yeah, I cheated and read about 250 pages of I'm trying to gut my way through Plato's GORGIAS. This book may be partly to blame for my headaches. I get through about 20 pages and have to rest my eyes for a bit. Not to mention recover from the brain-numb I'm experiencing. You know, there IS a reason I never liked literature classes--for the most part. Reading this stuff should be banned. (g) And here I thought 138 pages would be a piece of cake. HEH. Okay,'s Plato... I get that. But heyzeus.

Anyway, I've got a clean and clear evening ahead of me -- I've downed a few Advil. I'm firing up the computer to write. Woohoo.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Taking A Cue From My Dogs

My aunt bought a squirt gun for my dogs. The whole idea being that she'd give them a little zap every time they start barking incessantly at our visitors. Sure, it works, but man...they're scared of that thing. And once it's gone, they're right back to their bad behavior. I watched in silence for a long time. I mean, it's their house, they have the right to try whatever they think will work...and it wasn't _hurting_ the dogs.

Anyway, I got a little fed up about the complaints when it didn't work out well and suggested a solution. Instead of zapping them with water...why not make them sit down for a treat? After all, if they're sitting, they can't jump or bark at our incoming guests...and if they sit for long enough, they calm down and won't go all nutso. Guess what? Yup, it worked. It was a bit rocky at first, but now when they hear the doorbell ring, they both run to the kitchen (treat jar) and those butts hit the marble. Yeah, where there is food, there are good lil' doggies. Positive reinforcement is ten times better than negative.

So how does this relate to me?

I've gotten really wrapped up in the idea that I MUST finish FI...and I must do it _right now_. The result? Very little progress because of the overwhelming (and self-imposed) pressure... I've had non-stop headaches...and just a lot of nervous anxiety and worries that I do not need. In addition, I won't let myself be rewarded for what little I do accomplish. Now that's nuts.

Therefore, I'm taking a cue from what works for my dogs...and what got me 13K the week after Christmas. (g) Rather than enforcing negative reinforcement, I'm going back to positive.

Yes, that means I'm cracking THE SWEET FAR THING--allowing a certain number of pages when I hit my goals. In fact, I'm giving myself a hundred page credit to get me started tonight--my official night off from stressing about FI. Then I think I'll go back to my 2500 words for 100 pages thing. That will get me a lot closer to the end. And in the mean time, hopefully a good book will give me the incentive and inspiration to get back in the groove. Sounds like a plan, man.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Messing With My Template

Erm, I'm a little tiffed that I seem to have lost my links, etc...most of my sidebar stuff, actually. But I do like the look of this template. Now if only I can figure out how to use it. (g)

ETA: Okay, I was forced to put it back. *big sigh* I swear, I need to take a class about computer design or something. (g) Oh well...perhaps I'll figure it out eventually.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Little House Has A Lesson For All

OMG...I'm such a sap. One of my all time favorite shows is Little House on the Prairie. I LOVE it. And I cry each and every episode. Seriously. I've tested it.

Netflix delivered the pilot movie and the first two discs to my doorstep today. I've had a mini-marathon. A marathon of lessons learned and tears shed. But seriously, who can hold back the tears when lil' Laura writes about how hard Ma works? Only her real essay consisted of four really sad sentences. Yes, she made it up. *sniff* But it was so sweet.

Anyway...where was I?

Oh, so I'm not sure what the deal is, but the first 2-3 episodes have _really bad_ sound. Whenever the characters are outside, in fact, there's next to no ambient noise at all. You SEE the teacher ringing the school SEE the horse carts going by... but nope, no sounds whatsoever.

It got me thinking about how a real void occurs in a book when no ambience is inserted in the text. I've read a few scenes that are just BARREN. Narry a sound or smell...not a description of what a character looks like...nada. Sure, there are times when a character is in a highly charged emotional state where they wouldn't notice such things around them...but most of the time you need _something_ for the five senses to pick up on. It's probably one of the things I'm most likely to forget in my first draft stage. I'm always having to go back to put in MORE, but I'm learning...getting better. (g) I heard a rule of thumb that you should try to have at least three senses used in every scene. Smell of course is probably the one most overlooked...but I'd bet touch is as well.

What's my point? Not sure I have one. Just something that occurred to me. (g) This show teaches me so much. *sniff*

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Slacker Alert!

After the semester from HELL, it looks like I'm going to have a kick-back term this spring. I can't say how truly relieved I am about the whole thing. YAY.

First of all, I have that law and literature class. Not sure what that will entail exactly, but I know we're reading five novels. And that there isn't a final listed on the schedule. Either that means we're not having anything in the end, or we're doing some type of paper. Rock on.

Secondly, my three hour class on Monday nights has little, if any prep for class. We will be engaging in various exercises that we'll be told about that evening. It's A LOT of fun. We had this great X this last class and I've never had such a good time during law school. My professor could most likely be committed, he's that crazy. But I mean that in the very best possible way. Assignments? Read two short books and keep a journal. Dude.

Research class -- we're scheduled for twice a week, but he's only holding us to one of those. Textbook is recommended, not required. Which of course means mine is going back. (g) That's 65.00 to put toward other book buying excursions. YAY. And here's the kicker.. he's going on vacation next week. Our next class is two weeks from today. Hello.

I have an 8:15 AM class, which is probably the worst bit of news so far. But the great thing is that he doesn't believe in the Socratic method. Most of my friends didn't even crack their textbook and still did well by following along and taking great notes. Woohoo. I'd take this textbook back, too...but we'll see what happens. That would be an extra 150.00.

And the last class will probably be tough. But one class out of five ain't bad. Especially because 4 out of my 5 last year were HELL. Yay.

Anyway, I'll get out every day by noon -- except for Mondays where I'll have a 7 hour break before my night class...and Wednesdays where I'll have a three hour break between classes. How great is that?? I might even get a job once I finish FI. We'll see. (g) Perhaps I won't be completely broke this year. LOL.

Okay, enough rambling on about my was just exciting for me. (g)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh man, Oh man, Oh man

The ratings juggernaut that is American Idol hit the airwaves tonight.

*Jen kisses her nightlife goodbye*

I See The Light!

The past few days I've been feeling...well, both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by FI's prospects. On one hand, I've been super worried that this new version won't have the same OOMPH of the first one--on many levels. On the other, I've been worried that there is NO WAY IN HELL that I'll be able to tie up every thread in this new book. I've been pondering ways to cut, way before I'm at that stage in the process. Folks, I needed some direction. I needed to know that I'm going to be able to put this sucker in some coherent order that will make a good story in the end.

I don't know if I've actually hit that point yet, but this afternoon I decided to forego writing in favor of jotting down a basic "timeline" to the scenes I've got going. My timelines are pretty "seat of the pants" type things. A basic blurb, arrowed to the next blurb... with very few notes between.


Lockerroom scene --> Club Scene (Such and such happens) --> X gives M info (try to sneak in THIS (a scene I do not want to cut)) --> M talks to Y, Q confesses, etc.**

**Pertinent characters changed to letters to protect the not so innocent.

Anyway, it's really helped to give me a clear picture of the basic shape of the story. And it also means I have A LOT of work ahead of me. (g) But I feel good about the mini-breakthroughs this has brought about... It's not following the original outline THAT closely, but then, I left myself plenty of wiggle room to stir things up a bit to see what would come out.

Now that I'm feeling all inspired-like, perhaps I can pound out some pages. *crosses fingers*

10 Things About Me As A Writer

Okay, I glimpsed Susan A's blog, and yanno I couldn't resist. And following her cue...tag..YOU'RE IT!! I mean YOU!

1. Your genre(s)?

Heh. Umm, primarily adult mystery/suspense and young adult. But I'm a dabbler.

2. How many books have you completed?

Two, though I'm about 1/3rd of the way finished with a third, and have good chunks of a couple of others (Meaning anywhere from 25-100K). Oh, and since I'm practically rewriting my first book, you could say I'm at about 3 books. (g)

3. How many books are you working on now?

One, full-time, though I have revisions for another stewing at all times.

4. Are you a linear or chunk writer?

Chunk. I've tried the outline/linear thing. Yuck.

5. The POV you're most partial to?

First, definitely. Though I'm expanding my repertoire into 3rd.

6. The theme that keeps cropping up in your books?

Stripping my characters of their perceived strengths so that they're forced to find new ones.

7. How many days a week do you write?

I try for seven.

8. What time of day do you get your best writing done?

Anytime I'm able to write. (g) Okay..umm, probably late at night. I started really kicking into gear after midnight when I was working on BTPM. Considering it's about werewolves, it was rather fitting.

9. Who are your mentors?

Anyone I've ever read. Whether I enjoyed or disliked a particular book, I always take something away from the experience. In fact, I probably learn more from the books I can't stand. (g)

10. Who are your favorite authors to read? (different from mentors)

I don't know what it is about YA these days, but I almost prefer them to adult books. Stephenie Meyers, Libba Bray, J.K. Rowling, Scott Westerfeld, etc. Adult -- I always enjoy King, Evanovich, Roberson, Gabaldon...and classics...I love me some classics.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back To The Grind

Well, it has begun. I don't know what it is about having to spend _one_ hour in class that is so exhausting, but I'm wiped. I do have a three hour class tonight, though... so I guess you could say I'm reserving my strength for later by taking my lil' nap just now. And if you didn't know, we law students are an extremely lucky lot--yes, we REALLY have homework for the first day of class. I had over 50 pages of dry text to read for that one hour class. My brain feels out of shape and not at all happy about having to get back in gear. Especially when all I want to do is work on FI! Don't they know I have better things to do? (g)

Anyway, I'm taking a real fluff, third year course this semester. Law & Literature. (VBG) I've never read any of his books, but it's taught by Richard Dooling. Anyone heard of him? He's an Omaha native, and the cover of his book BRAIN STORM is touted as:

"Brilliant...A Superior tale, a thinking man's John Grisham thriller."
--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

Hmmm, sounds impressive. How's come I've never heard of him? (g) Oh wait, I've never read a John Grisham either... though I bought several a year or so ago. Anyway, should be interesting. I'm a tad nervous that it'll come out that I'm a writer. I have a lot of friends who like to point that out to professors...and well, what a prime opportunity. I wouldn't want him to draw me into some intellectual convo about symbolism and underlying themes in today's fiction. *WIDE TERRIFIED EYES* Dude, I just want to tell stories... that stuff does a complete fly-by on me.

We're reading five novels...some by Dooling...eee. LOL. Never read any of them, so it could get either really interesting, or extremely dry and boring. Time will tell.

I didn't quite reach my goals over break, (i.e. a finished draft of FI) but I'm working on it.

I'm very proud to say that although I didn't get much work accomplished yesterday, I did manage to personally sell a copy of THE SPYMASTER'S LADY to one of my aunt's friends. She had me write down the title and Jo's complete name and said she'd drop by and pick it up today. WOOHOO. And the contest is going strong! I have over a dozen entries already and see I have links coming in from all over the place -- The Smart Bitches, several smaller review blogs, another writer's forum which I can't recall right now. It's so much fun to see the word spread. Thank you for everyone who's participating. Jo is super busy with her next book, so it's nice so many are coming out in her support. Let's keep it going. If you have interested friends, tell them to stop by and jump into the contest.

Okay, I have about 3 hours before my class begins. I'm going to try and get in at least _some_ writing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Much Needed Motivation

So, I've been slacking a bit (a lot) on my word count. I think it's a combination of being burnt out from all of the late nights and the imminent stress of school beginning. At any rate, it's time to give myself a big kick in the arse to keep going.

I fought long and hard about this... half of me saying it just wasn't fair, the other half saying it's what I deserve for being lazy. My hardass self won out. (g)

Until I finish the SFD of FI, there will be no reading THE SWEET FAR THING. None. Not a page. Not the acks, not the back cover blurb. *mutters to herself and kicks the ground*

It had to be done.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Ritual

As the beginning of each new semester draws near, a knot forms in my grows, cutting off my breath, making me slightly nauseous every time the mail comes or I see an email in my box.

That's right, folks. Grades are coming.

Every time, without fail, my friend Jennifer pops up on IM to tell me "Grades are up." That's all she says, and then she's gone... No, how'd you do?

It's happened every time...but I still start shaking.

I sign on to my account that very minute, breath held...did I pass?? Did I pass??


Then I scroll down, hands shaking.... okay...okay....


*Deep sigh of relief, followed by a touch of disappointment* And then...then...I go buy my books for the upcoming semester. Yeah, that's the next thing on my agenda. Ah, tradition.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Win A Signed Copy of THE SPYMASTER'S LADY!!


That's right. Here is a chance to win an autographed copy of THE SPYMASTER'S LADY. The wonderful Joanna Bourne has agreed to lay down her John Hancock, and heck...who wouldn't want this???

The rules are simple:

Simply respond to this post with a short message (in the comments) about how you learned of her book, and if possible, link this contest somewhere -- your blog, a writer's forum... OR write in to your favorite writer's blog and let them know. Anyone willing to approach the Smart Bitches will have my eternal gratitude. (VBG) The idea is to spread the don't be shy with the links. (You do NOT have to link in order to be eligible to win... it's just a bonus.(g))

And if you don't have a blogger account, you can sign in using the "nickname" option in the comments thread...OR, email me at jnhendren @ hotmail dot com.

Deadline: January 25th, 9PM (and that's CENTRAL time -- not that I'd cut you off. It's always 9 o'clock somewhere.) I'll announce the winner the following morning.

Include your name, please. If I can't reach you, I'll be forced to draw again.

Good luck! And go, JO! (g)

1/16 -- ETA -- I got the book in the mail today and it is in my hot little hands. :) It could be YOURS soon.

1/19 -- ETA, yes, I will ship _anywhere_ in the world, provided it's an address that doesn't entail backpacking it into the Himalayas or something. (g)


I've been dragging my feet with this one. Part of the reason is that any review I do will inevitably fail to do this book justice. To put it simply: I am in awe...and I'm so green with envy that I can barely stand myself. (g)

Quick FYI: I'm putting together a contest to help promote Jo's book. I haven't figured out all of the details yet, but I'm working on them. More when I know more. :)

Okay...Read more. (g)

I shudder...SHUDDER to try a synopsis. *deep breath*

Brief Synopsis: Annique Villers grew up mastering the art of The Game. Known as the Fox Cub, she is one of the most elusive and capable French spies in the field. Able to play whatever role is required of her, her small physique and innocent appearance allow her to slip through her enemies' fingers time and time again. That is, until she comes up against one Robert Grey, British spymaster.

Thrown into captivity together, they reluctantly team up to make their escape. Once free, Grey is determined to uncover the secrets Annique holds--secrets that could spell doom for England. But does she have them? And can he resist the charms that have bewitched so many others before him? Chased by forces on both sides, Grey must both protect and betray her... But is he good enough to do both without giving in to temp... erm...

Yeah, Okay...I'll stop there... it's getting really bad. LOL.

Okay...IGNORE my really clumsy synopsis. This is a FANTASTIC book. I honestly felt this empty space in my chest when I finished. No WAY did I want it to end, and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to turn right back to page one and begin it all over again. Le sigh. It makes me so damn proud to know Jo...and oh so happy to think maybe an inkling of her talent has ingrained itself _somewhere_ in my brain.

Annique... WOW. She's a character. LOL. Her sense of humor is spot-on and she made me laugh out loud many times. She's such a contradiction. She's this young girl who's been thrown into a very harsh world, and without really compromising herself, she's able to survive and do extremely well. Her voice, her general outlook and calm acceptance of things around her were just really endearing. I want MORE. *cries*

Grey...Again, a great character. He's definitely a take charge kind of guy, and yeah... I thought he was great. He always seemed to be a step ahead of Annique. I found it both wildly amusing and slightly annoying (for her sake). But he was always her protector, and man, what more could you want from a hero?

One of the best things about this book -- the secondary characters! Anyone who's having trouble fleshing theirs out should use this book as a study aid. They were all SO real. No puddle characters here, people... they all had unique and very strong presences in each scene. I never felt that they were mere dressing, but living beings who jumped off the pages just as much as the H/H. O' funny and charming. Adrian (fans herself) was simply wonderful. And the antags...great.

The plotting was extremely well done. It had lots of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages in nervous anticipation of what would happen next. The writing is simply beautiful. The dialects...SUPERB. The *cough*sex*cough* scenes...WHOO!! And the ending just lovely. *big sigh*

Folks, I know there's a rather beefy pic on the cover. I KNOW. But let me tell you, do not let it fool you. Go...RUN...right now and get this book. I promise you won't regret it.

Buy or Rent? BUY -- In fact, while you're at it, buy copies for all of your friends.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Double HELL

Janet Evanovich's latest between the numbers books is out: PLUM LUCKY. To top it off, B&N just sent their weekly coupon sheet and it's on there for less than ten bucks. And I have this handy dandy 25% off coupon (not sure I can use it). Grr.. what to do.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Well, I don't know how I'm going to top 2007. A book on the shelf would definitely do it, though. (g) Anyway, thank you all for your kind words after my year in review... means the world and I still get all misty when I think about it. :)

Yanno, I hate making New Year's resolutions. I'm not sure why, but I think it has to do with the negative connotations that go hand in hand with such a list. I mean, let's be honest...everyone expects you to fail at one if not all of them before the the end of January. No matter how many times I say I'll save my money and be less never happens. (g) A-book buyin' I will go...and then blam, I'm scraping my pennies together to get through the end of the semester. However many times I say I'll read all of my class assignments on time and outline early...yeah, not a once have I actually done it.

So resolutions for me. Promises, perhaps? Yeah...promises. Here's a list of things I'm going to do this year.

1. Finish FAKING IT. Whether or not it will be good enough to please DA, it's going to be finished. I'm shooting for the end of January for the SFD, but if not then...soon after. I'll keep working until it's complete and then I'll shine it up and send it. No second guessing, no constant worrying over whether I'm good enough. Cuz it IS good enough, dangit. (g) (Positive thinking.)

2. Finish BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT. I'm frustrated that I haven't completed its revisions yet. It seems every time I go in to look at this book, I'm too overly critical and start ripping scenes apart...never quite "getting it right" in my eyes. I need to realize it's GOOD and just bite the bullet and send it. It shouldn't take long to finish this one up. Not once I really get going. But however long it takes, it will be done in the next 2-3 months -- DEFINITELY before school is out.

3. I will graduate law school. (Yipee and WOOHOO!) I have no idea what I'm going to do after I walk across that stage, but dangit...I have an entire semester to work that out. And I'll know what the best course is when I see it.

4. Start and complete a third novel. Not sure what it will be. There are several vying for attention, but I think I'll leave it open for now. Discuss it with DA when he sells one of the others. (Heh, more positive thinking.)

5. Start a fourth novel. Yeah, I'm shooting for big things this year. (g) But I can see working on both NARC 2 and WALKING IN SHADOW. If not, there are others waiting on the sidelines. I'm optimistic, but that's how I roll. And FWIW, NARC 2 is almost a third completed already.

There are lots of personal goals...the usual suspects, but I won't bother to list them here. One is that I would REALLY like to attend SIWC this year. I don't know if it's possible, but if I can, you know I'll be there. :) I want to meet my forumite buds...and well, yeah... I just really want to. (g) But as I said above, I'm rather frivolous with my money. (w)

The Spymaster's Lady!

In keeping with spreading the word about this fabulous book, I've decided to join the contest Susan Adrian is holding on her blog: here. If you want to join for a free giveaway of _four_...count 'em, _four_ books...snap a pic of Jo's book on the shelf at your local bookstore...or on your own. Either way. Anyway, here are mine... I do plan on reviewing this book, but wanted to hold off just a little while. Hopefully I'll have it up today or tomorrow.

Oh, and if you weren't thinking of or haven't yet purchased this book...


My dusty ole' shelf above my bed. Notice there are _several_ forumites pictured. Who can find 'em??? (g)

And now...for your close-up, dahling...


I didn't get many words tonight, but I think I've at last cleared up the missing piece I've been stumbling against the past couple of weeks. I knew "generally" what was supposed to happen in the story, but couldn't come up with any solid ideas that would work. Then I came up with this completely nutty slant to the whole thing and kinda got creeped out that my mind went there. (g) But I figured out a way to inject some humor, despite the dark tone of the overall scene. I _think_ this is seriously the last piece of the story I was unclear about. Hmmm. I'm sure other issues will come up as I try to piece everything together later, but I'm feeling good about where I'm at.

I'm still shooting for a SFD by the end of January. I think I can make it. Heh.

So, I finished at about 1200 for the night. I'm exhausted, but happy I managed that much. I'm _determined_ to get started earlier tomorrow. Oh, and I think I have a new LOTD.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And It's A Wrap

Erm, sorta. LOL.

I've got a new ending...a new last's all kinds o' new. (g) The previous chapter topped about 2100...this one about 1500. So yeah, guess I managed to cut a few words.

And the best part: I LURVE IT. :)

Now I have to set it aside so I can see if I still lurve it when I come back to it later. I'm not _positive_ about the last line...but the scene is written. The rest will work itself out eventually.

Up next: the pesky middle of the book... LOL. I do things so ass-backwards...but man, I love it. :)

So Cheesy, But I Love It!

You know you're losing your mind when you're up late writing and find this kind of thing really amusing.

When my sister was here for Thanksgiving, she downloaded a bunch of songs onto my iPod. Some of them have been real treats -- old favorites I haven't heard in years.

Tonight...the creme de la creme came up.

And it must be said--it's frightening when realize you still know every damn word to Cool Rider from Grease 2. LMAO.

Monday, January 7, 2008

SPECIALS by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, I'm back to give this thing another shot. Gah. That sucked losing my entire post. Especially because I had managed to slog my way through a synopsis (you know how much I struggle to write them, no matter the low quality of the results (g)). Anyway, I just couldn't muster the energy to write it all over again... so let's see what I can come up with this time, shall we? (g)

Once again, this contains major spoilers for UGLIES and PRETTIES. "Read more" at your own risk. (Oh, btw. I recently discovered that the hidden part of this message is showing up on google reader. Sorry about that! I wanted to make sure people had to hit an extra button to get to the actual review...sigh. Technology. (g))


by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Fantasy

Brief Synopsis: Last we left Tally Youngblood, she had finally escaped her Pretty world. Fulfilling his pledge to her, David managed to sneak the Pretty cure into New Pretty Town. However, too scared to take the drug alone, she split the pills between herself and Zane. A big mistake. She didn't know that both pills were meant to be taken together: the first would unleash nano's into her system to eat the lesions on her brain causing her Pretty-mindedness. The second would signal those nano's to stop. Without the second pill, the nano's will keep right on eating your brain, essentially destroying it without pause. Without the first, NOTHING will happen. So, who got which pill?

Well, if you read PRETTIES, you know that Tally took the second, leaving Zane to the much more dangerous first pill. They do manage to escape together, but Zane was left in serious trouble, his brain likely having suffered a great deal of damage during the time it took them to plan and make their escape. Tally, however, managed to somehow break out of her Pretty world all on her own.

They get to the Smokies...Tally was reunited with David (a bit of a disappointing reunion, IMHO) and all is well, right? NOT SO. The Specials managed to track them. But more disturbing is the fact that Shay is now a Special...and well, when they capture Tally, she thinks Tally will be really Special, too.


SPECIALS picks up a couple of months later. Tally has been made Special, part of a special unit called the Cutters. This is a group of former Uglies who proved themselves to be extra tricky, apparently a key attribute the Specials seek in new recruits. Shay is the leader, and in order to get an extra boost of "icy" thoughts, they cut themselves. The group operates outside the usual rules--built to the live in the wild...superhuman and adrenaline junkies.

When Tally's thoughts keep returning to Zane, who disappeared after their capture, Shay vows to help make him Special. Maybe then Tally will be happy with her new life. Shay's plan is to help Zane escape to the New Smoke, proving he is tricky enough to be Special. Of course, they'll capture him themselves. However, he's weak from the Pretty cure and it's doubtful whether he can do it on his own. And, capturing Zane means bringing down the New Smoke--and David.


This book was fantastic. Right from the get go, it was chilling to watch Tally with her new way of thinking. She's a Cutter, through and through. And man, she wants to take down the Smokies like no other. But the great thing is that there were still _hints_ of the true Tally beneath it all. She never really gave up on Zane and it was good to see her cling to his memory, despite her programming to think like a Cutter.

Once again, I fell right into this world. And once again Westerfeld showed us more of it--this time through a Special's eyes. So rich and wonderful...scary and disturbing...all at once. When I finished chapter one, I knew there would be no putting this sucker down... and there wasn't. And boy did it deliver.

I won't go into too much detail because I do NOT want to spoil anyone's experience. But it took some great turns throughout...some really marvelous, some heartbreaking. To see the change in relationships, their viewpoints and thoughts... man, it just really packed a wallop.

The ending was a little so-so. I don't know if it was because it lacked something or if I simply wasn't ready for this series to end. I do think it was _a little_ rushed....almost too abrupt to leave me with a satisfied sigh at the end. (Though, I LOVED one big aspect of where he left it. (VBG)) That said, I walked away from this series with this sort of ache in my chest. Dude, DON'T END!!!! *cries* LOL. Okay, technically it didn't end...but you know what I mean. A series that takes up with another character is never quite the same.

At any rate...bravo, Mr. Westerfeld.

Buy or Rent? BUY. RUN!

P.S. I've decided to hold off on EXTRAS for now. I just want to let this series marinate for a while.

For The Love Of Pete--Is Nothing Sacred??

Heh, that's a saying I gave my sister all kinds of smack about every time she used it over Thanksgiving. Here I am using it. (g)

But it's definitely called for right now. After much hemming and hawing this evening, with the help of Jenna (thanks, girl!), I think I've made a big decision about the ending of FI. *drum roll* The original final chapter is hitting the cutting room floor.

*Holds up her hands* Now now... I know some of you are gonna throw a fit over that one. Trust me, I had the same reaction. What I have is going to be SO much better, tho. I think. Erm, in theory. I have to write it still. But I have the beginning of the scene in question, and I know exactly what I need to add to get it whipped into shape. The little film playing out in my mind works really well. Now I just have to translate it to the page. (g) That's my goal for tonight.

But seriously, I don't know what it is, but ever since I let go of the senior dance, I have NO SHAME when it comes to hacking out SACRED bits of this MS. That last know the one...was near and dear. You remember why. (VBG) But yeah, gone...gone...gone... Unfortunately, that also means that Beth is only going to have a minor role in this book. But we'll see her again in book 2, so not a major issue. But seriously, with Hedrick and some of the other characters playing bigger roles, I really needed to streamline some... this is the first step.

It does affect a couple of other spots in the book, but fortunately I haven't written those particular scenes yet. All is well.

Wow...feel like I'm growing here. (wink)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Libba Bray Is My Hero

And here's why...

For some reason, this is what I imagine it would be like to sit down with Pam Patchet. (g)

ETA: Maureen Johnson is going on my TBR list. (g)


Last night was a sound bite kinda night. I couldn't work on a full scene to save my life, but I got little glimpses at several different points in the book. I said to heck with it and started writing down whatever images bubbled to the surface. I didn't get much, unfortunately. One of those nights.

(Quick aside: I'm adding the Line of the Day thingie to the sidebar right after this. Don't know how often it will read it while the readings good. (g))

Anyway, during my marathon of ho-humming and naval gazing, I started surfing the net -- looking here and there for anything that would keep me awake and working. Heh, yeah. Catch-22 there.

I stumbled upon a person dishing out some writing tips to a new writer and had to sit on my hands to keep from firing off a snarky response to her "absolute no-no's"

First of all--and forgive my bluntness--any writer who is espousing absolutes is a writer I _absolutely_ do not want to read. Nor is it someone who should be offering any kind of advice to fledgling writers. There, said it. (g)

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there are NO absolutes in this business. A technique that fails 99 times out of a 100, still works in that 1%. Something that fits perfectly in one work, will stick out like a sore thumb in another. (And yes, even cliches are appropriate at certain times--back off cliche police!)

I "listened" to this woman systematically rip apart every technique this particular writer used. And I realized that a lot of the things she shot down are things _I_ do in my books. And yeah, it pissed me off. Who the heck is she to tell another writer that they _can't_ write their book the way they want to? There is a distinct difference between "offering suggestions" and becoming a friggin' asshole who will likely scare new writers back into seclusion. I know I was met with both types of critiques, and believe you me, I took much more away from people who offered suggestions (however strongly worded) than I did from those who told me to make changes that would destroy my particular style and voice.

Anyway, I just had to rant for a moment. (g) Another reason you need to choose your crit partners very carefully. You don't want someone who will be too easy, but you also don't want anyone who will lay down "absolutes" that could ruin your unique style.

There ain't a rule out there that wasn't made to be broken. And you can quote me on that. (g)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Aargh. (But Yippee!!)

My windows explorer has been acting up lately. Whenever I open a pop-up (intentionally or not) and try to close it, it shuts the whole she-bang down. I was in the middle of a long review for SPECIALS when I opened up a window to respond to someone's blog. In my excitement, I didn't even think about what I was doing. Blam...all gone. *sigh*


YAY for Susan Adrian!!! She just signed with Janet Reid!! I'm so super excited for her... You go, girl!

And what's wonderful is she's gonna send out THE WEIRDEST THING ABOUT JENNA, sans revisions. Oh you lucky lucky girls... first Julianne, now Susan.

Jen (back to rewrites. (G))

Thursday, January 3, 2008

THE WARRIOR by Kinley MacGregor

I'm back, just in the nick of time to do this review. A live discussion is beginning in two hours, lol, so yeah... talk about the last minute girl.

by Kinley MacGregor
Historical Romance

Hey, "read more." (g)

THE WARRIOR is several books into the Brotherhood of the Sword series by Kinley MacGregor. I haven't read any of the others, so I can't really judge the series as a whole, but there was probably enough in this book that most people could follow along without any major problems.

Brief Synopsis: Lochlan MacAllister is the Laird of his clan and has taken it upon himself to discover the truth about his younger brother, Kiernan. Kiernan disappeared a couple of years previous and was believed dead up until a late night delivery hinted that he may indeed still be alive. Lochlan leaves Scotland and travels through France (I think) to find him and meets Catarina, the bastard daughter of the King of France. She has escaped her father in order to avoid a bethrothal to a man she doesn't love. Lochlan inadvertently becomes involved with her escape and then pledges to escort her to safety. Only problem is that they can't stand one another.

Okay, you'll notice my little "I think" up there in my synopsis. That statement unfortunately goes a long way in explaining the main problem I had with this book. There was really no sense of setting. I couldn't tell you what year this story took place, or for sure what country they were in at the time. Rather unfortunate, that. I do know the men after her were trying to take Catarina to Paris, and Lochlan spoke in guttural French. But had I not picked up on those little bits, I don't think I would've had any idea. And to tell you the honest truth, I'm still not 100%.

Then there was a bit of a problem with the characters staying "in time" with the period. There were a lot of what I'd consider modern phrases used -- both in dialogue and their internals. When I heard someone say they had to go see "What was up?" I blinked hard for a few seconds. There were a few others, though they elude me right now. The point being that there were enough of these slips to pull me right out of the story.

The story itself was okay. It's a romance, so of course the love story is front and center. I'm okay with that, but I didn't quite get or understand the sudden turnaround between these two. There was never a moment where I thought...Oh, that was so sweet of him/her...I can see why the other would love them. As a reader, I was quite often told their feelings, but I never saw the _foundation_ for them.

All in all, I would say it skimmed the surface on all levels--sensory, emotional, story. Unfortunate because I think it had the makings for a fine book. The ending was unexpected. It introduced a paranormal element that came out of nowhere. Not sure it worked for me either.

I'm sure a lot of people enjoy this series, but unfortunately, it wasn't quite right for me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Year In Review

It's the first and of course everyone is running about asking what my New Year's resolutions will be. Heck, I'm doing it on the forum, demanding everyone make some goals for the upcoming year. LOL. But I also think it's important to take a moment of reflection to revisit 2007. So, here goes...

This year has been amazing on so many levels. It's also been unbelievably difficult on others. Sometimes both combined. I’ll start with the difficult things so I can end this thing on a high note. (g)

This is an EXTREMELY long post, so only "read more" if you have a good bit of time. (g)

First, school has been a big ole’ ball of constant stress for me. Not only because it’s hard as all heck, but because my heart hasn’t been in it. At all. Couple that with a lot of parental/familial expectations and you have a very awkward and difficult position to be placed in. I wanted to quit after my first year, but held off…then with each successive semester my motto became, JUST FINISH…you’re almost there. And I pushed through with that mindset—just finish, get the degree and then you have options if this nutty writing thing goes awry.

But now that I’m nearing the end and resolutely DO NOT want to take the bar, my family is pressuring me once again. Just take the bar, Jen… then you’ve “finished” – then you’ve “succeeded.” I guess hanging in there and securing a law degree I didn’t even want isn’t enough anymore. Doesn’t seem to matter that I can USE that law degree for other purposes and don’t need to take the bar to have a successful career. Yes, I’ve heard the terms “overqualified paralegal” thrown out in conversation. As if. I’m not working for a law firm in any capacity. Hate lawyers. (g) Okay, I didn’t feel this way when I started law school, but now I do – I’ve met way too many law students to think a future that involves them in any way will make me happy and content. No thanks. Not to make a sweeping generalization, of course. Some of my best friends are law students. (bg)

I thought their fears about me turning into a tortured writer had been assuaged when they saw that a top literary agent wanted to rep me. And I think it did for a while. They were all super excited—talking about who would do what in this imaginary entourage they created for me. But for whatever reason, they didn’t realize the amount of work that would need to be logged in order to implement the revisions he requested. Neither did I, probably, but I digress. (g) The thing is that as the process has worn on, their excitement and belief in me has waned. Conversations went from “Jen is going to be famous!” to “Jen is ruining her life chasing a pipe dream.” I don’t want to blame them. Like most other non-writers, they think my book can and should spring from my forehead fully formed. Explaining the number of head-pounding hours/days/weeks/months it takes to rewrite a book is pointless. Until I can wave a copy of my book under their noses, or more likely, a big fat check they can adoringly gaze upon, I don’t think they’ll ever accept “writer” as a viable career option. So I strove on in law school, unable to give my book the full attention I wanted to…and all the while, unable to please anyone. What fun.

And it has been a year of self-doubt. With the good, always comes the bad, right? As this revision process has worn on, my confidence has been nearly destroyed. And some of you know it wasn’t exactly like the Rock of Gibraltar to begin with. I guess every writer dreams that one day some fabulous agent will read their work and say YES, I want to rep you! That when they at last get that phone call, it will be this glorious meeting of the minds where the agent gushes over their work and pledges that nobody would be a better champion to bring their book to the populace. He/she loves it THAT much. (cough) Yeah, wouldn’t that be glorious?

It’s quite another thing to have an agent say they love everything about your character, but that he thinks the book itself needs some work. A lot of work as it turns out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to have this opportunity, and I KNOW how lucky I am. Some days I can’t understand what it was he saw in me to begin with. I look back at my outright cheek in submitting my book so quickly and GAK. It isn’t done that way! You don’t write a book (YOUR FIRST!) in two months and then start querying it a few weeks later!! But I did, and it DID get my foot in the door. Wow – that’s pretty amazing when you think about it. LOL. But am I talented enough? Can I revise this blasted thing to his satisfaction? I’ll be honest, until about a week ago, I seriously doubted it. Now that I’m away from school and all the stress it creates, I KNOW I can do it. He may ultimately decide I’m not right for him, but come hell or high water, this book will be finished. And if not D.A., then someone else WILL rep me. I can’t even begin to describe how relieved I am to have at last escaped that funk that was surrounding me for the past couple of months.

And finally, a family member is having extreme health problems. It’s been ongoing for about two years now, and I’m afraid her struggle may at last be nearing its end. I don’t need to explain how difficult all of it is. I know I’m not the first person to lose a loved one. But it is hard—and it makes me feel guilty when I allow myself to become self-involved with my books and other life problems.

I’m beginning to think I should have limited this post to the good. (g) But this year is an important one in my life, so it wouldn’t be fair to ignore half of the emotions/thoughts I’ve had.

That said…let’s move on to the good, shall we?

Where to begin?

First of all, despite a lot of flashing warning signs and numerous people telling me NOT to do it, I queried my first book. (Okay, technically I began late 2006.) And BY GOD, a wonderfully successful agent decided to take a chance on me. No, he didn’t sign me outright, but he got so damn excited about my book, he read it OVERNIGHT. And even though it wasn’t perfect, he said he wanted to rep me and that he loved my character—MY voice. Dang it, who can ask for more? (Okay, a contract WOULD be nice, but it’s only a matter of time until I wear him down. (big wink)) The amount of excitement I felt at the time… wow… it still gives me a little rush.

And despite all of the head-pounding moments, I’m getting a crash course on how this crazy industry works. I’m learning completely on the fly, but I’m managing to somehow keep my head above the water. No, things haven’t gone smoothly at times, but I’m still in the game. And I’m moving forward. With a lot of hard work and sweat, this book will be finished in the next few weeks. A couple of years ago, I would’ve laughed had someone suggested even a fraction of what would become my present. Despite all the self-doubt and worries, I wouldn’t change a thing that got me here. I’ve done my best and that’s all anyone can expect from themselves. Wow, that sounds stupidly optimistic…but it’s where I’m at right now. (g)

I began my second book in November, 2006 and finished it in May, 2007. Total working time about 4 weeks. LOL. Yeah, that’s just sick. But BY THE PALE MOONLIGHT is a wonderful book – I love it so much and I miss my characters terribly when I’m away from them even just a day or two. I didn’t finish revisions as hoped, but I will. 2008 is my year. (g) I can’t wait to see them again—to continue their story into book 2…oh man, the ideas I have swirling around. It’s going to be SO good.

I started a couple of other projects, too. The Braeden – goodness, I love that book. LOL. It’s quite possible that it will be “the book” of my career. Oh man, now that’s something I’ll probably regret saying in retrospect. But one thing is for sure, it’s a book that will take time to write and I’m going to enjoy every minute of the process.

The Presence. Just today I made plans regarding some bit of research I need to do for it. This project is exciting in so many ways. One, I love ghost stories and have always wanted to try on my ghoulie hat… two, I’m setting it here in Lincoln. I can’t wait to bring this city to the world. No, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s been my home for a long time.

And the numerous other ideas/projects I’ve made note of over the past year. It’s been a very exciting time for me. Inspiration is better than any drug (I think). LOL.

Despite hating it, I’ve survived two and a half years of law school! That’s nothing to shake a tail feather at. No matter what happens with my degree in the end, I WILL finish in May. That’s success in my eyes, even if I never wear my lawyer hat. (What’s with the hats?)

And even if I get so green you could glean oxygen from my skin, I’m extremely proud of the success my friends have had over this past year. Just to name a few:

Carol Spradling—Her first book, COST OF FREEDOM, will be published through The Wild Rose Press some time this year. In addition, she finished her second book, FOR MERCY’S SAKE, and any agent would be lucky to have her. Get off your duffs, people.

Joanne Bourne—Her book, THE SPYMASTER’S LADY, was published just a couple of days ago. It’s wonderful, btw. I’m nearly finished with it, and I expect HUGE things from this woman.

Diana Gabaldon—She’s already mega-successful, but she had TWO books come out this year. LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE and LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS.

Vicki Pettersson—Her first two books, THE SCENT OF SHADOWS and THE TASTE OF NIGHT, were both extremely successful this past spring. Her third will be out some time this year, and she has signed a contract for an additional 3 books (that’s 6, folks!). OH…and she was also part of the anthology HOLIDAYS ARE HELL. Big things are coming her way.

Eve Ackerman (writing as Darlene Marshall)—Already successful with her lovely pirates, she has signed with a fantastic agent. Can’t wait to see what happens with her.

Julianne Wright—She signed with an agent who is so impressed with her writing that she’s submitting her book in January, sans revisions. WHOOT!

Claire, Deniz, Christy, Lori, Helene, Kat, and Susan (who has big news she’s holding out on *glare*) for finishing MS’s this year. Congrats, ladies. If I’ve left anyone off, forgive me. I wish you well throughout the revision process (if you’re still there, that is).

BETH and Jenny C. who will finish their damn books THIS year. (g)

And for the rest of my writing friends who come to play every day. Jenna, girl… you rock and NEED to put your work out there. Carrie…I want me some Fowler’s… hurry! Precie…Precie…Precie… (g) Girl, you crack me up with your contests, and I can’t wait to read your books. Rachel, Nina, Cindy, Lorraine, Tara, and all the other men and women from the forum—keep on truckin’.

I just know I’m forgetting someone.

Oh, I had to edit in order to thank all of the wonderful writers who have shared their worlds...Stephenie Meyers, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Sharon Shinn, and many many others... you ROCK my world. :)

And finally, I’m blessed to have such a wonderful family and loyal friends. I know I’m a neurotic mess, and that you probably spend more time holding my hand and talking me down from the cliff than I deserve, but I’d be lost without you. Thank you.

Like I said, it’s been a wonderful and extremely pivotal year in my life. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2008. (g)