Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Day

It’s my


One year ago today* I started my blog.  It was a huge step for me as I had been reading blogs for a long time but never had the courage to comment on any of them so nobody knew who I was. Now I was going to be talking about writing, and me, and life.  I couldn’t decide if I actually wanted people to find me or if I wanted to stay safe in the shadow.  

Now I’m so happy I took that step.  I have learned so much from all of you and I love the friendships I’ve formed. It’s still a mystery why you keep coming back, but thanks! 

To celebrate I’m giving away a $20 gift card to amazon.  To enter all you have to do is leave a comment below.  Enter any time before nap time Friday which is when I’ll randomly draw the winner.

Thanks to everyone who has made the blogging experience so much fun. 

Here is a link to my first posts if anyone wants to look back and laugh with me.  Good times.  

* Ok, I have a terrible confession.  Actually it was on the 27th but for some reason I thought it was today, so today we celebrate!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Only A Day Away

I'm not doing a real post today because I have a special one planned tomorrow.  You'll definitely want to drop by and check it out!  Doesn't that exclamation point prove that it will be exciting and make you want to come back tomorrow? 

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Outside The Box

A few months ago we realized Truck Boy had a dairy allergy and we had to pull him off all dairy.  Did you know bullion cubes have dairy?  I didn't.  Oddly enough Oreos are dairy free.

Since he came off the dairy we have noticed a secondary allergy that was masked before.  We finally tracked it down to eggs.  Now I'm going through all the recipes and menu items I've found that are dairy free and altering them to be egg free too.  It's a bit of work and there are some foods I just won't be able to make until he grows out of it. (Please let him grow out of it)  But I have also found some recipes and ideas I never would have had if I hadn't had to look around. 

Sometimes in our writing we get so comfortable with a plot line or a basic character that we don't challenge ourselves to look for something different. If we cut out a word or situation that we often rely on we might be surprised with what we come up with.

Just for fun since it's Friday I'm going to post my favorite cake recipe here.  I'm not a cake person so I don't make cake much.  Not even for birthdays.  This cake however is too delicious to pass up.  No it's not dairy free so when I make it we have to hide it from the kids.  I do, however, have a gluten free version if anyone wants. 


Honey Bun Cake- Original Version
 1 box yellow Cake Mix
¾ cup Wesson oil
4 eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
1 8oz sour cream
1 cup coconut

1 cup brown sugar
3 or 4 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix cake mix, oil and white sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add sour cream.  Blend well with electric mixer.  Stir in coconut.  Pour half of batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 dish.
 Mix brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle ½ cup of mixture over batter.  Pour remaining batter over sugar mixture and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.  Swirl with knife if desired.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until done in center.
 ½ to ¾ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons melted margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or 3 teaspoons milk
Use an electric mixer to blend ingredients.  Pour over hot cake.

Best. Cake. Ever.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Open our Minds

I loved this post by Janet Reid.  I've been there so often.  In her post she mentions a sort of query she received asking for advice.  She responded and pointed them towards Query Shark.  He wrote back, a little snarkily, and said he didn't want query help, he wanted advice on how to find an agent.  He missed it.  She sent the answer to him but because he was looking for something different he didn't see it. 

I have done this so many times.  Asked for advice or a solution only to spurn it all because I wanted a different answer or it didn't come in the form I was looking for.  Then, after a long and bruising road trying to do it on my own, found that it had been the solution I was looking for all along.  It was a great reminder to me to keep my eyes, ears, and mind open, to look at what's in front of me and see what I can find. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


So I was looking around at my blog settings and I realized I had the word verification on for posting comments.  I never see it and thought I had turned it off.  I hope I haven't annoyed any of you too much. Thanks for commenting anyway! I turned it off, for reals this time.  I hope.  If anyone sees it again let me know. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


We've all been told not to judge a book by it's cover. Personally I think that's a sound philosophy though most of us can't help it, and in fact, we tend to judge a lot of things by our first experience. If we go to a restaurant and the food is bad we usually don't go back.  If we buy flowers somewhere and they don't last, we go to a different florist. If we meet someone and they're not too friendly we often don't give them a second chance. 

As writers we often speak of the many hoops we have to jump through.  I think we should be glad of those hoops.  They give us lots of chances to get it right. We have the opportunity to have our work critiqued, beta read, we have people who don't judge our first attempt and tell us how to get it better.  Same with our queries.  Then we get to send it out to an agent.  If they don't like it we adjust the query and try again with the next agent on our list.  I know we all bemoan the fact that we only get one shot with each agent but that's not exactly true. There are revise and resubmits and conferences where we can visit with agents personally.  I know we feel there's only one chance but the system has several steps to it.  Steps that help us not be judged by our first efforts. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Libraries--good for so many things.

Copy edits: 1 billion
Author: 2

These edits are killing me.  I'm back to work because I've sworn to get more than 10 pages done today.  So, for your weekend enjoyment I'm going to leave you with this hilarious conversation I overheard in the library.  No, I did not make this up. 

Girl in her late teens, early twenties talking to boyfriend. "Stephen King is the best writer ever.  More people should recognize his genius.  Of course, I've never read one of his books." 

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I have a couple links today.  The first on is to an article you may have heard about.  Alexander Nazaryan believes that "The purpose of literature is to elevate.  Not to entertain"  I'm a big fan of trying to improve myself.  Why else would I be putting this much time and effort into blogging and writing.  But what in the world is wrong with trying to do both?  The author talks a lot of his experience teaching and how the classics were much better suited to the inner city child because why would they want books they could identify with?  He also reminisces about reading "Martial's epigrams".  I graduated in Comparative Literature and have never heard of them.  Pardon my ignorance. But in the article he said he was reading about, "fellatio and anal sex"  from Martial and that the kids were rolling around laughing and talking about it.  How in the world is that enlightening them as opposed to entertaining them?  Snort.  I'm a huge fan of classics but not everyone can identify with classics.  And, come on, weren't most classics written the same way we write our books?  Someone who wanted to tell a story.  Homer just wrote down the stories that were told by traveling  storytellers to entertain. 

Anyway.  That's all I want to say about that.  On a happier note, here is a fun post about beginnings complete with examples.  I got an idea for a story just by reading them.  Enjoy!

Have you found any great links lately?

Monday, January 16, 2012

None Shall Pass

I want to know what you think of the term 'Gatekeepers' for agents.  Personally, I don't like it.  It sounds elitist and condescending and as if they are bouncers that are supposed to keep people out.  In reality agents want to find good stories, they want people to be ready to publish.  For what it's worth I don't hear many agents using it, mostly writers who are maybe having a hard time. 

What do you think?  Is Gatekeeper appropriate or not?  How do you view it? 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

I'm having someone help me with a final check through my MS before sending it to betas.  I'm shocked at how many things I've missed.  I know grammar isn't my strong point so I expected all the missed commas, but oh how many times I've misspelled a word.  Waive for wave.  Solder for soldier.  Thing for think. Sometimes I have words repeat repeat themselves. When it's a real word spell check doesn't get it and I, having read it all so many times before, see what I think is there rather than what is. Next time I'll print it out and read it out loud.    Or I can just give it to my mom and have her fix it again.  Thanks Mom!

What do you do to help find all those nitty gritty problems? And can we ever find them all?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The other day The Engineer told me that when I become published he'll take me to Scotland, AND that we would leave the kids with Grandma (surprise mom!).  I can't think of better motivation. 

Is there anything you did or plan to do upon being published?  How will you/did you celebrate?

Monday, January 9, 2012

You need to be more....flexible.

My grandmother often said “it is the artful duty of a woman to adapt gracefully”.  I think that is true of a writer too.  Well, not the gracefully part.  Most writers I know are loathe to give up their stories, characters, or words if something isn’t working and have no problems with vocalizing their frustrations.  But, the best writers are those that are flexible. 

There are so many things that change when writing a story, even if you have an outline.  I assume anyway.  I’ve never tried writing with an outline.  An author needs the flexibility to know when a story or scene isn’t working and change it, even if it means giving up your favorite lines or scenes.  Also, the flexibility to adjust a writing schedule that isn’t quite working. Or maybe not being able to have a regular writing schedule and being flexible enough to be aware of your time and snatch what you can of it. 

Each author has a unique way of writing and so their needs will be different. We often hear the most important part of writing is getting yourself in that chair and doing it, and that’s true.  But we also need to be aware of how we can improve what we are doing, either making ourselves more time efficient, leaving ourselves room for real life, or changing with the flow of the story.  So, writers, get out there and be flexible and see if it helps at all.  

Bonus points to anyone who knows the quote I used for the title.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Book Review:  Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Warning: This book contains mild language and intense adult situations. Really intense.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews but I really wanted to talk about this book.  It doesn’t actually come out until the end of this month but I was lucky enough to win an arc with an embarrassing, fan girl, teenage stalker email.  OK, I’m not embarrassed, I got the arc after all and it was well worth it. 

I fell in love with this book the first time I read a snip of it over at the Compuserve Literary website.  Funny enough that scene didn’t make it into the final book.  Here is the back cover

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented.  Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities.  Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family’s fortune decimated and forced her to wed London’s most nefarious nobleman. 
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man.  Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it’s selfish to take Miranda as his bride.  Yet he can’t help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn’t felt in a lifetime.  When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world.  But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied.  Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue.  For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask. 

At its essence this is a beauty and the beast story, but taking place in London in 1881 it’s not a traditional fairy tale.  The core of the story is a romance and the author handles that with great attention and detail. Yet woven into that is the story of gifts and curses, betrayal and trust and the possibility of immortality.  I know the book was much longer originally and that she had to cut it to meet her publishers requirements and the only thing I wish different about this book was that she could have left it a little longer, given us more time for Archer and Miranda to build their relationship. 

Kristen is an amazingly talented writer.  If you don’t want to take my word for it here is a post from her agent the amazing Kristin Nelson.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to Normal

I didn't think I'd ever say this sentence and I don't want you to take it the wrong way but, I LOVE NORMAL. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays.  I love having The Engineer around all the time and the fun things we can do. I even like the work projects.  At least once they're done.  Can I say our new wood floor is amazing and I'm loving the new storage cabinets.  But I am soooooo excited to get back to a normal schedule. I'm slowly catching up on everything that was left behind last week and my kids are starting to nap again (yay naps!) 

The thing with normal is that it doesn't work in a book.  Nobody wants a book solely about a housewife vacuuming and doing dishes.  Novels center around conflict and change, turmoil and tension.  That's what makes them interesting. I'm just happy that I can keep that in my novel and, for the moment, my life can be normal. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Back

Hello everyone!  I hope there's still someone here anyway.  Everyone have a fabulous New Years?  I'm excited for this year.  I think there will be some very good opportunities and fun times ahead.  At the very least it isn't last year and for that we are eternally grateful. 

Last year was pretty overwhelming.  If I didn't have all the emotional scars I would be able to tell just from the number of books read.  I didn't even reach 100.  I know, I know, it's horrible.  I hope to do better next year.  I also realized I read a lot less literary classics.  I was trying to get into one over christmas break and couldn't. I finally figured out it's because most of my reading time is for five minutes here, fifteen there, and that doesn't work so well on a lot of books.  So I have been going for things that are a little lighter and a little easier to read.  It's just the stage of life I'm in right now.  Someday I'll be able to get back to more classics. 

So just for fun, here's a list of the books I read this year.  There's a couple I didn't quite finish for various reasons such as I was listening to Angela's Ashes on audio book.  My CD player broke just as I started the last disc so I ended up having to return it to the library.  I did go online and get a synopsis of the ending so I know what happened though.  If I didn't get at least half way through a book I didn't put it on the list.  This list does not include scriptures or picture books I've read (or recited because I now have several of them memorized).

The Color Purple
The Wake of the Loralie Lee
Jellicoe Road (2)
A Christmas Story
Seal-Folk and Ocean Paddlers:  Sliochd Nan Ron
Heist Society
Three Cups of Tea
Finniken of the Rock
True Colors
Open Adoption Experience
Wicked Lovely
Great Expectations
The Theif
The Secret Year
Intersting Times
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Water for Elephants
Letter From Peking
Pillars of the Earth
An Echo in the Bone
Curse Dark as Gold
Alias Grace
Keturah and Lord Death  (2)
Second Eden
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Dear Daddy Longlegs
Farmer Boy
Time Enough for Drums
Second Duchess
I Am Number Four (2)
Divergent (2)
The Family Nobody Wanted
Bog Child
Return of Tarzan
Writing the Breakout Novel
Perfect Chemistry
Tarzan and His Beasts
Drums of Autumn
Making Money
The Host
Elliot and the Goblin King
Fairy Thorn
The Help
Still Life with Murder
Murder in a Mill Town
Death on Beacon Hill
Murder on Black Friday
Murder in the North End
A Bucket of Ashes
The Queen of Atollia
King of ATollia
Conspiracy of Kings
Not My Type
Closed Circuit
Dancing in the Shadows of Love
Fiery Cross
Memories of My Future Life part 1
Taken by Storm
Out of the Water
Girl Parts
HMS Surprise
Angela's Ashes
The Distant Hours
The Maze Runner
Game of Kings
Next Door Boys (2)
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (short story/novella)
The Lady's Fate
The Power of Six
By the Pale Moonlight
Grounding Quinn
Black Horses for the King
The Comrades
True Colors