Monday, March 31, 2008

Unearthed Treasure

I managed to knock my phone off my headboard this afternoon -- and beside it, tucked between my headboard and nightstand, was writing journal! Good grief! I haven't seen it forever. Which means, by default, I haven't written in it for _a long time_. I must rectify that pronto.

I casually perused the pages...

There are some notes about where I would take COTM next... (Back in June of 2006) Progress on that was sidetracked--as shown by the notes on NARC (aka FI) that came next, and my decision to take that series of books in a more comedic direction. are my thoughts on the very first scene I wrote, which I might add is still going strong in the current version. YAY.

Notes on NARC 2...and COTM 2 (heh)... (tease tease)

The day I finished NARC...

Hmmm, nothing on when I began BTPM, but that's pretty well documented on my lj.

Oh...brief notes on future NARC books. Book 3, 4...5...

The day I started working on THE BRAEDEN (2/15/07) -- lots of notes on this one. Man, need to get back to it soon. When? Who knows.

More story ideas...hush hush.

Ohhh...notes on WALKING IN SHADOW (BTPM 2)...

So many ideas and thoughts. Time to add some new ones. :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Tough weekend -- a touch of insomnia on Friday night, which made Saturday a living hell, complete with a sleep-deprived headache that gives new meaning to misery. Alas, no progress on FI yesterday because I was worried I might set the thing on fire with the first stumbling block I ran into. So, I rested...popped a lot of Advil. When my headache finally subsided, reading was my only option. LOL. So, I chose this book...not sure it was the right one for my particular mood, but I honestly couldn't put it down.

Young Adult Contemporary

Brief Summary: Clay Jensen comes home from school one day to find a package on his doorstep. In it are cassette tapes from Hannah Baker. His instructions are simple. One of these tapes is addressed to him, but he'll have to listen to them all to discover which -- and afterwards, he will need to send the tapes on to the next person on the list. The thing is, Hannah had committed suicide...and these tapes are addressed to the people who comprise the Thirteen Reasons Why. can you turn away from a book with a premise like that?! Gives me chills, even now.

First, I want to talk about Asher's style. It was truly unique and pulled me right into the story. Simple...yet I'm sure infinitely complicated when it came to writing this book. What he did was give us the full text of each of these cassette tapes -- as heard by Clay, and alternated between Hannah's recorded voice and Clay's real time experiences. Wow. It was nuts and took me a bit to sink into...but honestly, it's probably the best possible way this story could've been told. It drew me in...created this sort of nervous anticipation to hear what would be coming next... kept me on edge the entire way through. Genius, I tell ya. I've never read anything like it.

The underlying tension in this book starts pretty high, but man, does it build even more as Clay makes his way through the tapes. By the end, I was literally coming out of my skin, almost wanting to scream at the girl not to do it. But I knew the ending before I began -- there is no changing what was to come. Still, I was rooting for her to go down another path.

Obviously, the subject of suicide is a hard one to deal with. No one wants to say anything negative about someone who decided to take their own life...least of all me. I've known a few people who decided to end it all -- none of them were close friends, but casual acquaintances. Someone I worked with or a friend of a friend, sort of thing. After seeing the wake such a decision leaves behind, I find more times than not that I react with anger. This book was no exception.

In the beginning, I was drawn forward with this need to know why she did it...why did she take her own life and choose to send these tapes? What was her motivation? Above all, I wanted to understand how a person gets to a point where death is the only way they see out.

By the end, I was SO angry with her. Not only because she cut off her own chance to live, but because she chose this particular method to explain her reasons. Through Clay, we are put into the shoes of someone on the receiving end of such a delivery. Just imagine if it were you. A girl sends these tapes, declaring YOU are one of the reasons she committed suicide. Whether it's founded or not, how do you recover and move past something like that? Imagine reliving certain encounters as seen through the eyes of this girl -- to learn what she needed from you in that moment and to hear you utterly failed her. Good gawd.

So yeah, that's why I didn't like her at the end of this book. Her 13th and final tape nearly made me sick. I didn't respect the way she left this world, and I didn't sympathize for her anymore. That may sound harsh and unfeeling, but don't confuse my caring about her and my respect (or lack thereof) for the way she chose to leave her mark on the world. I'm angry because I did start to care for her, and these tapes were nothing more than an accusing finger pointed at 13 people having varying degrees of awareness of their "guilt."

People aren't mindreaders. We all need to remember that. Talk to someone if you find yourself in this situation. From Mr. Asher's jacket cover:


I woke up thinking about this book today. So I won't deny it had a strong emotional impact on me. In fact, I'd be hardpressed to name a book in recent years that has impacted me this much. And for that, I applaud Asher. Because whether or not you are able to indentify with this girl, this book is amazing. That said, if you're looking for a light book to read...this ain't it. (g)

Buy or Rent? I'd buy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

High School Confidential

If you write YA, you NEED to watch this show. Anyone who constantly asks YA authors to dumb down their books -- who claim teenagers are unable to relate to mature themes -- ABSOLUTELY NEEDS to watch this show.

In case you don't know what it's all about, it's a reality show, following 12 girls through all four years of high school. You literally get to see them grow up on screen. (Didn't they do this where they followed several adults every five years or something?) Anyway -- I thought it was a brilliant concept.

I'm completely disappointed that I've missed the first two episodes -- only catching the third tonight by chance. I remember seeing the advertising and thinking I needed to watch it. But life got in the way and I completely forgot. SO glad I stumbled upon an episode tonight.

Tonight's episode dealt with a young girl who was diagnosed with ADD, suffered from depression, and was eventually forced to go to an alternative school that could better fit her needs. She became sexually active, had a pregnancy scare, an actual pregnancy followed by a miscarriage...the list goes on.

One thing that struck me about her was that she had to be one of the most articulate teens I've ever seen. I sat there listening to her, and wanted to shout to all the naysayers of "advanced vocabulary" in YA's that THIS GIRL...THIS GIRL would get it. THIS GIRL speaks like my characters do.

It totally reinforced why I love YA. Her passion for, it was just amazing. And despite everything she'd gone through--all of the mistakes she had made--all of the hurtles she'd had to get past--she just kept bouncing back. It all serves to remind me how little credit is given to the experiences teens face today.

Inspiring. Truly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Much Needed Fix

Something in my world seemed off today, and I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. Then *ping!* it hit me. I haven't been to church for a while.

I got right in my car and headed over to my local B&N. Let me tell you...there's nothing like a little worship session to make me feel better. (g)

My latest acquisitions:

ROGUE by Rachel Vincent



THE LAST DAYS by Scott Westerfeld

I reeeeeeally wanted another Maureen Johnson, but alas, the only two they had, I've read. I may have to put a mail order together soon.

45 Days!

I'm sitting here staring at that number, my eyes all bugged out. That's how long I have until Graduation. With that comes so many things. (1)An escape from the hell that is law school (2) Re-entry to the real world, where people will expect me to get a job (gak!) (3) Repayment of student loans (4) No more spring breaks, Christmas breaks, Fall breaks, but most importantly, summer breaks. Oh that sucks.

I have much to accomplish. Weird, but my priority is finishing FI. Second is finding a job. LOL. Okay, perhaps those two goals are things that can be accomplished at the same time -- that NEED to be worked on simultaneously. But I also must send out invitations, plan my party (nothing too crazy -- just a dinner with friends and family. I did the whole "kegger-dance party" when I left undergrad), and yanno, PASS my finals. (g)

Oh man...TICK TOCK. (g)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I hope all of you have a lovely Sunday. We're planning an easter egg hunt for the pups. I know, we're too silly for words. Chloe really got into the game last time, and once she got the hang of cracking the eggs apart, TORE through the yard for her treats. (g) It was so much fun. I think her biggest problem this year will be that age old trial of SHARING with the little sis. It could get violent. LOL.

Anyway -- have a great day!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Le Crud

I was estimating that I would need about another 15K to finish FI. After reading through everything tonight, I'm estimating that number to be more like 25K. SIGH. LOL. Oh well, I'm super excited by the way things are lining up in the story. Things are definitely coming together. If I'm unable to finish it before Monday, which let's face a TALL order ...I'll hopefully be able to get the SFD completed by the end of the month. I can SO do this. Yes. A little behind what I had planned (again), but that's life.

I've decided on a new tactic. I'm going to work forward, filling in the gaps as I go. Tonight as I did my read through, I wrote pretty detailed notes as to what additions and changes need to be made. I think that will go a long way in speeding up the process. I just finished my read through and already managed to make some significant changes to the first couple of scenes in the queue. Luckily, most of the stuff is written for a while and only needs minor tweaks.

So yeah, I'm afraid the hair-pulling and caffeine guzzling will, at the very least, last through a week from Monday. Oh, but I'm salvaging some more bits from the original MS! That will knock down that total number a bit -- probably by a couple of thousand at least... so yeah, not great, but not horrible either. AND, I have a hand-written scene that I've misplaced. That will knock it down another 1-2K. When/if I find it!! LOL. So maybe it's actually more like 20K, and some of that is allocated to basic fluffing. So, okay, I'm alright. I'm gonna stop freaking out. LOL.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Coming Up For Air

In regards to FI, I'm to the point where I can no longer make sense of my random chunks. I can't see what the book needs at this point. Know what that means? Yup -- I have to print everything out and do a read through. This is GOOD...VERY good. It means I'm getting close to the end.

Now don't get me wrong -- there's plenty of work to be done. It's just that the gaps are closing and the bits that need to be written are fewer and fewer. I need to take some time to figure out what's left and to make sure I don't get off track with random additions.

I'm excited to do a read through even with the gaps I already know are there. YAY. It's a good thing I'm almost finished. BTPM is BARKING...and I mean hardcore, in my ear, yaps. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh Computers -- My Nemesis, You.

Dude, I've had a kick-butt day of writing. All while using my little egg timer. (g)

My end word count for the day? 3579 words. (whoo whoo!) Time spent writing? 3 Hours. :D

Okay, wanna know what really sucks? LOL. That word count should be over 4K. I was happily about 75 words from hitting that when my computer went BLOTTO. Actually, BOTH mine and my uncle's corrupted at the same time. Weird, huh? Anyway, because of that little snafu, I lost about 350 words and well, I'm too tired to recreate them tonight. I'll scribble down some notes, trying to remember as much as I can...but man, I'm exhausted.

I wrote in 30 minute increments again. Highest word count: 767. Lowest: 149 (plus 350 or so) -- and that was with five minutes to go. :P I soooo would've made that 4K. Big bummer to end an otherwise WONDERFUL day.

Ah well, at least it wasn't more. You would've have heard my scream break the sound barrier had it been much more. (VBG)

Okay...YAY. :) 3600 words kicks some major butt!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Susan Adrian blogged on this subject a couple of weeks ago, but I thought it could bear repeating here. I've noticed a trend lately, and I'm beginning to find it slightly offensive. Why...why do people think writing Young Adult is easy? Almost as though it doesn't take any "real" skill because teenagers are the intended audience. That knocking out a YA is quick and simple and something you can manage by simply snapping your fingers. VOILA...and a novel will spring fully formed from your forehead. (Gah, I gotta figure out how to do that!)


I have to tell you, YA has a whole set of challenges that are just as complicated as writing an adult novel -- perhaps even more so because you're also limited in word count. Try taking your 120K story and condensing it into the 40-60K norm for YA. Trust me, it ain't easy. (G)

Not only that, but the topics and emotions covered in YA are so much more...raw and immediate. In addition to that, you have to balance the way you choose to tell your story lest you alienate any particular group -- parents, libraries, teens who aren't mature enough to read your work...teens who are too mature.... the list goes on! And don't get me started on KNOWING the market, but more importantly...TEENS.

I don't know a lot of teens. BUT, I do read a TON of YA these days. I watch teenage oriented television programs...I listen, I learn, and I try to apply that knowledge to my books. When I see someone who doesn't even attempt to observe these things before/during the process of writing a YA, I have to shake my head in confusion. That's like trying to write about the Middle Ages without ever reading a history book. Why would you do that? And why would you expect to be successful in conveying the period accurately?

Now, I have to fully admit that I thought writing YA might be easier than writing an adult novel. Boy did I have it wrong--and I VERY quickly realized that--especially when my anticipated 65K book turned into a story that would need at least twice, if not triple that amount of space to tell. (g) Yes, in some ways it's easier, but in others, so much more difficult.

In the same way, I find myself somewhat frustrated with people who refuse to read YA because it just doesn't interest them. NO offense to anyone who's told me this. LOL. It's just that to me it's like saying you're not interested in good stories. Let me tell you -- I've read about 40 books in the last 6 months or so and the YA's are kicking the adult novels' asses. Of the 17 top rated books I have on Facebook, 13-14 are YA's, and I _alternate_ one adult, one YA in my tbr pile (mostly). And of my poorly rated books, not one of 'em is a YA. No, I'm not saying there aren't any bad YA's out there. LOL. But perhaps this says something about where the bar is set if you want to make it in that genre.

Just something to think about. :)

That said, I discovered a new slang word (well, not sure it's all that new) while watching the Gauntlet on MTV. See, I really do watch these shows. Oh, I also heard it used on Making The Band. (VBG)

New word: Salty. Meaning, bitchy or grumpy...sarcastic perhaps. I've made use of it already in BTPM.


I rounded in my seat and flipped him off. “He’s my friend, a$$hole.”

Vince narrowed his dark eyes. “Who you talking to, b&tch?”

“I’m talking to—“

“Hey, don’t get salty, babe.” David draped his arm over my shoulders and turned me back around. “Chill.”


Heh, what a funny word. (g)

Uplifting Moment

I've mentioned before that I'm taking a law & literature class. The law professor who normally teaches it decided to hand it off to a novelist, Richard Dooling. Anyway, today Dooling decided to host an informal Q&A about the publishing biz. Naturally, everyone wanted to know how he got his agent, etc. Which lead him to asking who my quasi-agent is. When I said D.A.'s name, his eyes popped open a little wider, and he said, "WHAT are you doing in law school??"

Made my day. (g) Now to finish that damn book... LOL.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


This wasn't a personal choice in reading material. Rather, it was assigned for my Law&Lit class. Even so, wow...great book.

For those of you who don't know the story, it's written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a former editor of French ELLE. At the age of forty-three, he suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed--permanently. His one and only form of communication was the ability to blink his left eye. Using a system of eye blinks, he wrote this book--a memoir of his experiences, post stroke.

In one last twist of fate, he died just two days after it was published.


This is an extremely fast read. Yet within this short book, he was able to convey so much. The frustration of non-communication, the pain of not being able to move--not to hug your kids, nor to bat away a fly hellbent on using your nose for a perch. And this is only scraping the surface.

Yet, underneath it all, his sense of humor is always there.

He makes me feel like a complete schlump for not always remembering how good I've got it.

Buy or Rent? BUY. (Oh, and there's a movie, apparently. I think it might be worth the price of admission.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


After hearing several good things about GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson, I decided to give it another try. (Yeah, I know...I've been busy and didn't get around to acting on my impulse to return it.) (g)

Anyway, I'm about 50 pages in. It's not a super exciting read, but it does have a quiet subtlety to it that is invoking some really strong images and memories. I'm sure there's a much better term for what I mean, but you know when you read certain things and it stirs up a memory from your childhood? This book does a really great job of invoking the sensation of a really hot day...weeds...insects're uncomfortable, but...carefree in a way you rarely get to experience as an adult.

Makes me nostalgic for days spent at my grandparents' house. Those day-long explorations of the "great woods" beside their house, which in reality wasn't much more than a strip of weedy grass and a few trees giving much needed shade...

Awww, lazy days in Nebraska. (g)

Anyway, the I/you said crap from the first page ended there... Just so you know. (g)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Results

I got a bit sidetracked by life this weekend, and didn't get around to actually conducting my timed writing experiment until this afternoon. But here are the results (I started small):

30 minutes -- 505 words written.

WOOOHOO. Not bad!

To describe the experience, I set my little digital timer and put it right next to my computer so I could see the countdown. I have a natural tendency to want to toggle through other open windows when I'm writing. (I know, I know...I should just close all of them, right? BABY STEPS, people. Without my internet, I'd feel like I'm writing without my left arm attached. (g)) Anyway, when there was a lull, I automatically started clicking away...wondering if there was anything new going on over at the forum...*Jen glimpsed the clock* CRAP! Back to work...type type type...

Dogs begin to bark, and the aunt comes home. *Jen starts to get up* DOUBLE CRAP! Only five minutes to go. Aunt can go that long without my saying hello! Type type type!

In the end, although it was difficult in spots, that little clock sitting there helped keep me on task in a big way. I think the short interval worked perfectly and, I may stick with 30 rather than 60 minutes for now. I mean, hey, who can't squeeze _30_ minutes in at least a couple of times a day? If I can keep up the pace, that's 1000 words for an hour's worth of time. A decent amount for anyone...and well, if I can squeeze in a couple more sessions throughout the day, hopefully I'll be WELL on my way to finishing this damn book. (G)

So, yes...the experiment was a success. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak

This book is FANTASTIC! I read it in ONE day. Awesome story...seriously.

by Markus Zusak
Young Adult Historical/Literary? (Not sure how to categorize this one (g) According to Claire it isn't even marketed as YA down under... huh.)

Brief Synopsis: Liesel Mesinger is sent to live with a foster family when her mother is no longer able to support her and her younger brother. On the train ride there, her brother dies, bringing Death into Liesel's life for the first time. Over the coming years, He will return again and again, inexplicably drawn to her life story. It's 1939, Nazi Germany...and Liesel has found her one escape from the world at large. Books. Her first, The Grave Digger's Handbook, she finds at her brothers funeral, beginning her illustrious career as The Book Thief.

Okay, I'll stop there because I'm realizing I can't summarize this book properly. LOL. Obviously it deals with the beginning of WWII. It deals with the Holocaust and all of the other many issues--small and large--that go along with living in Germany at the time.

Where to begin...

OMG the characters in this book are lovely and so well-drawn. From Death (yes, Death is a character -- the narrator, in fact) to Liesel, to her best friend, Max, the Jew her foster family hides in their basement, to Hans and Rosa, her foster parents...and ALL of the secondary characters who leapt right off the pages of this book...I grew to love each and every one of them.

But what really stood out for me about this book was the world Zusak created. From the descriptions of air raids to the parades of Jewish prisoners on their way to Dachau... From the pressure to become a member of the Nazi party to the public scorn one received when they refused to join up... From the hunger pains experienced when rations were low, to the rush of victory over saving just one Jewish life... From the joy of first learning to read to the thrill of putting your own words down on paper...


By far one of the most unique things about this book is Death. He narrates the entire book, and I must say, I quite liked his sense of humor and vulnerability. He, by far, had the best lines in the book. Just one example:

Somewhere at the start of November, there were some progress tests at school. One of them was for reading. Every child was made to stand at the front of the room and read from a passage the teacher gave them. It was a frosty morning but bright with sun. Children scrunched their eyes. A halo surrounded the grim reaper nun, Sister Maria. (By the way--I like this human idea of the grim reaper. I like the scythe. It amuses me.)

LMAO!! Is that awesome or what? Erm, okay, maybe it's me...but I got a kick out of his little asides. (g)

Anyway, this book is just...fantastic. It hits on all of your emotions and was a wonderful ride. I can't think of a single thing to criticize. The historical details underpaint the entire thing without ever feeling overdone or like the author was hammering me over the head with his research notes.

Truly -- it's beautiful, touching...and it will haunt me for a long time.

Buy or Rent? BUY TWO COPIES -- at least. (g)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Experiment About To Commence

Not tonight, mind. I had way too much schoolwork...and well, American Idol and the season finale of Project Runway was on... (HEH) Gah, and next week Top Chef begins...

As you can see, I'm very easily distracted. TV family...shiny objects... I need to BUCKLE DOWN.

So, after reading about one forumite's methods for staying on task, I've decided to give it a try.

Here's the deal: She has an egg timer. (Yeah, I know...bear with me.) What she does is set that egg timer in one hour increments. While it's running, she writes...non-stop. No interruptions are allowed. No phone calls, no emails, no surfing the forum, etc. When it goes off, she sets it again and goes for another round, this time trying to best her word count from the previous hour. On and on and on. In between the hours, she'll do the essential things she needs to do around the house.

Hmmm, sounds good.. Almost like a game. And I love me some games. Perhaps this will see me through to the end of FI. We shall see. :) I've got my timer (eight bucks at Target--that was mid-price range), and I start tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Joys Of Research

You know, researching for paranormals is SO MUCH fun. :) I had a blast reading about werewolf lore for BTPM and now I'm about to embark on figuring out just how a person would go about cleansing her house of a ghost. The last time I went looking for ghost stuff, I freaked myself out with all of the youtube, "ghosts caught on film" videos. LOL.

I should know better than to start this stuff late at night -- things are ALWAYS scarier when I'm tired and's nighttime. (g) But alas, I'm trying to finish up my first five pages of TP for the workshop. Truthfully, I'm just beginning work on them, so I'm a little doubtful that I'll get them finished in time. Oh well. I really need to be concentrating on FI instead. I'm giving myself exactly one day to do what I can with these pages and then I'm back to work on finishing that puppy up.

Oh, I've finally recovered from that book -- you know the one. (g) I tell ya--I felt like I had a bad-book hangover. It was awful. I couldn't even think about picking up another, and reading my professor's book was very difficult. Now that's a lasting impression. LOL. to scour the net for some ideas.... wish me luck!