Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Happy Everyone!

With Christmas looming (and my birthday) I will be taking some time off from the blogthing until after the holidays. Which basically means more time with the kids, hubby, cats and coyotes. Yes, I said coyotes. They live outside my window and pretty much run amok every single day. I love seeing them, their winter coats are poofy and soft (at least I imagine they are) and they seem to enjoy winter more than I do.

But they also scare me. A lot. Don't they look scary?

Oh! And, yes. It does suck sharing your birthday with Christmas Eve, mostly because Christmas Eve doesn't share very well.

But after the holidays I will be back to blogging with a vengeance. I'll be working on edits and we all know what that means...I'll need some distractions.

So Merry Christmas to all (who celebrate) and a Happy New Year!

Here's a photo of our Christmas tree before Kid #2 decided to redecorate. He didn't think all those balls were necessary so he, um, got rid of them.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Just thought I'd stop in and share some fabulous news! My critique partner and fellow Apocalypsie, Susanne Winnacker, just sold her book! Again!

Here's the PM announcement:

Susanne Winnacker's THE OTHER LIFE, in which a girl leaves a sealed bunker after years in hiding, only to find Los Angeles devastated and haunted by humans infected with a mutated rabies virus; struggling to save her family, she falls for a boy-hunter who is both their saviour and greatest danger when his desire for vengeance threatens them all, to Robin Benjamin at Marshall Cavendish, for publication in Fall 2012, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

This book is sooo intense. No really. While I was reading it I had to get up and walk around the room, just to calm down! That's a true sign of a great book, people!

YAY SUSANNE!! Can't wait for book 2! So... get back to work! No celebrating for you!

2012 is going to be a great year for books! I just know it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Books I Can't Wait To Read Part 2

Today is my sister Lori's birthday! Happy Happy Lori!

AND!! Kid #2 turns 18 months!

18 MONTHS!! Wow. A lot can happen in 18 months. For instance Kid #2 learned to crawl, walk, talk, eat and scream in that short amount of time. And boy can he scream. In fact he practices every day. He enters each room with a scream and a smile.

It's a good thing he's cute.

So... with a bunch of holidays dotting the calendar this month I've decided to give the gift of book recommendations! Aren't you excited?!


1. Matched by Ally Condie
Now I know y'all have heard about this book. I mean, who hasn't? And, yes, it's definitely worth it. All that hype. All those days of waiting. It's finally out so go get it!

2. Jane
by April Lindner
A modern remake of Jane Eyre? For real? Yes, please!
Haven't read it yet but it's on my Christmas list. And I've been good. So...

3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Another one on the list. Can't wait to read it! Love the cover!

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Yes. It's totally on the list. And!! The author has blue hair!
Tangent alert: Once when I was at the mall with Kid #1 she turned to me and said, "Mom, that girl has blue hair." And I said, "yes, she does."
Then Kid #1 said, "but why does she have blue hair?" And I said, "because she likes blue hair." And Kid #1 said, "okay." And that was that. But secretly I wanted to say, "because blue hair is cool."
(It wasn't Stephanie Perkins BTW)

And now I must go and eat cake, because that's what you do when someone you know turns a new number.

OH! And go check out the new look over at the Apocalypsies blog!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Free Books!

Hey everyone!

Just stopping in to send you this fabulous link to my amazing critique partner's blog. Oh. And she's also a fellow Apocalypsie. She's giving away free books!!! Nothing better than that, right?

So hop on over!

Did I mention free books?


Oh good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What I Want For Christmas

When I was ten I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid. And I asked Santa for it. Over and over again. I sat on more than my share of Santa laps that year. I was determined to get that doll.

And thanks to my sister, I got it. *waves at Lori*

Or was it Santa? Hmm.

Since that magical Christmas I haven't asked for much, just some clothes here or there or a pair of super cool boots. (One can never have too many super cool boots)
And then a few years ago when friends and family asked, "What would you like for Christmas?" there was only one thing I wanted.

Well Christmas came a bit early for me this year.

I still have to remind myself that it's true, someone really does want to publish my book.
My husband also has to remind me. Whenever I find myself drooling over other author's success stories he patiently waits for me to finish and then he hits me over the head with something slightly heavy (he doesn't want me to get a headache or anything) and says, "You do realize you got a book deal, right?"

So what do I want this year?


Does anyone know of a store that carries that?

Cause now that my dream is no longer of the pipe variety I've lost a bit of faith. Faith in myself, faith in my writing. Faith faith faith. I am without it.

I've been avoiding my WIP like it's contagious. I find every other word I type is either ridiculously cliche or spelled wrong. My dictionary widget is so tired it takes a second or two to appear on my screen. I know it's also wondering how I got a book deal.

And my revisions haven't even arrived yet!!

Perhaps I need to visit Santa again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review!


I'm not sure if you've looked out your window lately but it's December! And with December comes snow (sometimes) and a few holidays, but most importantly...my birthday!! Yippee!!

So I just finished reading the most amazing book. Yep. You guessed it. The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams. And I'm still thinking about it.

I don't know anything at all about the author but she's pretty much got us all figured out. Her MC's observations are so sincere and real that I have to keep reminding myself that she is a character in a book. She doesn't exist. I can't run over to her house and give her a hug or invite her over for a slumber party.

In the beginning she kinda freaked me out. She's friendless and lonely and I was nervous she would break my heart. I worried her new friends would ruin her or change her. But she has this inner strength that made me realize she doesn't need anybody.
She just thinks she does.
And I can't get over the cover. I have to admit the cover alone would have called to me in the bookstore.
It's that cool.
So run on out and pick up this book, or order it, or download it. Just do whatever you do to get the words in front of you. NOW!
Seriously. I have to say I wish I wrote like Katie Williams. Or at the very least I wish I thought like her.

And stay tuned for the next book review! I've been waiting for this book to come out for like forever, although it feels like a lot longer than that.
So off I go to read Matched by Ally Condie.

It's gonna be good. I can feel it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Room With A View

Hello all. It is a rainy and blustery day here on the East Coast. So blustery in fact that it sounds like a dozen angry monsters are trying to get inside my house and when we pretend they aren't there they shake the windows and the doors.

But don't tell my daughter. She thinks it's the wind.

And the power keeps threatening to go out. Not so sure I'm cool with the whole power outage thing. I mean right now it's a mild 50ish degrees outside but come sundown that will be a changing.

no power + sundown + angry monster wind outside = no sleep for Shari

A good day to write? Yeah, probably.

Right after my daughter and I sit down and update the Santa letter. You see, some things have popped up on her radar lately while other things that were desirable a few weeks ago are no longer, well, desirable.

So...a new Santa letter must be written.

And in case you all were wondering, it will go something like this:

Rapunzel baby doll
Rapunzel barbie-sized doll (easier to hold when playing with the Rapunzel tower)
Rapunzel tower
Rapunzel guy (Flynn)
Rapunzel horse

Yep. You guessed it. We saw Tangled last week.

At this point if they advertised Rapunzel food we'd be adding that to the grocery list. And Kid One would be eating it at every meal.


So recently my husband, who has spent many many dollars on photography equipment, discovered a new iPhone app that turns your crappy iPhone photos into not so crappy retro looking photos. And he's hooked. No longer is he carrying around interchangeable lenses and heavy camera bodies. Nope. Just an iPhone.

I thought I would share a few.

This is the view from my writing desk:

<-Summer Fall ->

And yes. My view sure does help when I'm stuck inside my head and I really need to think a scene through before I attempt to type it.
Sometimes I turn some music on and while Kid One and Kid Two dance around I stare out the window and tell myself a story.

Take that writer's block.

But today when I look outside all I see are raindrops and, you guessed it, angry monster wind.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Treats From Chronicle!

On Saturday I got a package from Chronicle Books! I have to tell you it totally made my day!! Free books! And a nifty bag to carry them in!! I mean isn't it enough that they are publishing my book? Do they really need to do anything more??

YAY Chronicle!!

And that very night I started reading Katie Williams YA novel, The Space Between Trees. (book review coming soon)

Not only is the cover the coolest cover I've ever seen (it's laser cut!!) but the words inside...??
Well. You will all have to wait to hear more about that. Or you could go and purchase it right now. Why wait? You won't be disappointed.

And speaking of debut novels and cool things like that you should all check out this new group I'm so lucky to be a part of: The Apocalypsies
Watch out for us. We will be hitting your bookstores just in time for the world to end. Or not end. Here's hoping we have a few more years before the aliens arrive.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Music. At last!

Yes. It's back.
Did you miss it?? I know I did.

Today's Monday Music selection will be...


Yeah. I know. You all already know about them. But. Here's the thing...
I can't get enough of In Rainbows. In fact I'll share a little secret with you.
The song, All I Need, is a great writing song for the um, kissing/romantic scenes.

Yep. It is.

And Reckoner is one of those songs I put on repeat. Brainstorming music at its best.

They have a few other good songs. You know, just a few. Except Creep. I really don't like that song. Never have.


Friday, November 19, 2010

A Week of Silence

Wow. What a week. Two sick kids, hours and hours of Blue's Clues and many doses of Tylenol later I think I've managed to avoid the nasty virus that moved in last week and has yet to leave. I mean Temperature and her lovely friend, Sleepless Nights, took off — hopefully they aren't headed to any of your homes — but they left behind their most obnoxious friend Hacking Cough. Sheesh. Any ideas on how to get rid of her?? She is loud and she constantly interrupts and she's making my kids just miserable.

And since we're talking about infection and fun stuff like that, now is probably the best time to let you know that I've come down with what is commonly known as the Idon'tknowwhattodowithmyself virus.
I caught it right around the time my editor called. (Yes! I said editor!)
Julie Romeis, my lovely editor over at Chronicle Books, laid out the time line for book 2 and explained how I should be expecting her edits by mid December. MID DECEMBER!!!
What ever will I do until then?? I mean I have Thanksgiving and Christmas and don't forget how I have to finish up NaNo and...and.
Yes. I have a lot to do before December but I can't seem to get anything done. Not even a simple blog post. I just keep walking around in circles. And it's scaring the cats.

OH!! And guess what else?

My NaNo project just up and changed itself. Like completely!!
I was doing just fine — and by fine I mean about a hundred thousand words behind — when all of a sudden my husband shared the most intriguing idea for a book and I was all, wow, that sounds cool, and then my NaNo project literally began to twitch and shake, it made this strange noise and then POOF! It turned into something else. Entirely. Well, not entirely. I still have my main character's name. So. That's something.
What to do...what to do. Do I:
1. Ignore it completely
2. Tell husband to stop sharing terrific ideas
3.Crawl into a corner and cry (without scaring the two small children who live with me)

Yep. You guessed it.

I won't be winning NaNo this year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

News Of The Best Kind

So, as of 8:06 this morning, when my agent emailed to let me know that everything was "all done," I am an author. A published one. Or soon to be, that is.

*deep breath*

Book 2 is going to be published by Chronicle Books in the Spring of 2012. 2012! I tell you! Sounds far away, doesn't it? Well, I've got a lot to do in the meantime, like revise the book and write more. And. Write more. Because that's what I do now. I write. Like for reals.

My road to publication story is a long one. It began in 2007 and I promise there will be a blog post that explains it in detail. I just know y'all are curious. Mostly I've been wanting to fill in the blanks on this time line since I typed "The End" on the last page of book 1.

And don't think I've forgotten about book 1. Its time will come.

But today I celebrate book 2!! Hip Hip Hurray!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ch Ch Ch Changes

No. I'm really not a David Bowie fan. But I went to type Changes and that's what it turned into.


So if you will all direct your attention to the top of my blog...I HAVE A NEW HEADER!!
Isn't it fabulous!?!
My amazing husband designed this for me. I like to think he sees me as the girl/dancer in the image. Yes. I'm sure he does.
And the sky! With the birds flying...and how they match the other birds on my page...and the tree! Don't you just want to sit by that tree and daydream?!
I love it. Can you tell? Alright. Moving on...

And because Mother Nature is screwing with me, it snowed today. Yes. Snow! In NOVEMBER! How crazy is that!?
Pretty dang CRAZY, I tell you. I'd be just fine if it snowed on Christmas Eve and stuck around until all the presents were opened Christmas day, and then the sun came out and it was warm enough to play outside with all of your new toys, while wearing shorts. Just like my childhood. The shorts and playing outside part, that is. It never snowed in Sunny California on Christmas Eve. Even when I asked Santa for it. I guess Santa and Mother Nature don't talk.

In NaNo news:
I'm really excited about my new story. No, I haven't exactly kept up word count wise but I'm trying my best. I've had some distractions. And those distractions have been rather distracting.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.
For now.

So...feel free to stare at my new header and daydream for a while. You could even click on my little music thingy and hang out all day. I just might.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Tunes! Again.

Alright. I know it's supposed to be Monday Music but where does the time go? No. Really. Where does it go? Because last I checked it was August or something and then just like that I'm out trick or treating. Mmmmm candy...

Today is Andrew Bird day! And yes, I just made that up. Don't go checking your calendars.
I've seen Mr. Bird live and let me say, he's about the coolest performer ever!

He sings beautifully, he plays the violin, guitar, glockenspiel (yes I said glockenspiel) and he whistles! And when I say he whistles, well, you've just got to hear it to believe it. So go check him out! His latest CD is Noble Beast, which I love, but I also love Armchair Apocrypha and Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs.

First time I saw him he was opening for Wilco at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. Second time was at the Orpheum in Boston. He rocked both shows!
Wow! I can't believe this is the first time I'm mentioning him! He's sooo brainstorming worthy!

So yesterday was the first day of NaNo! WOOHOO!
And I have to say now that it is day two I'm really feeling this new idea. Just like that *snaps fingers* it moved in.
Soon you will find me wandering the streets in a stupor, muttering my new characters names while I stare off into the trees.

Good times.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gearing Up For Something

The colors! The golden light! The smell of candy in the air! Perhaps that's just at my house...
But you all know what I'm talking about, right? When chocolate and hard candy spend quality time together and create this intoxicating fragrance that can only be described as Halloween Candy!
It's enough to keep me in a good mood all month long.
And then there's this other thing that is keeping me up all night. And when it's time to share, you know I'll be sharing.
But right now I'm so excited about creativity. When I look outside I am overcome with ideas and inspiration. Add music to that equation and my head is spinning!

And in other good news Reader fan #1 is about to embark on an adventure of her own! Eighteen months of adventures! Go Reader fan GO! So excited for you!

So the other day when I was out riding around with the kids my daughter heard a song on the radio and when it ended she said, "Play it again, Momma!"
We don't listen to the radio that much. Does anyone anymore? And so I had to explain that I couldn't just play it again, we'd have to wait for it to come on again. (I don't have this song on my iPod)
This was not a concept she could grasp.
"No, Momma," she said. "Just put the song on again."
Huh. How nice this new world of technology must be for the young. To never have to wait for anything. If they want to watch their favorite show they find it on the DVR. If they want to listen to their favorite song over and over again, they simply press a button.

Honestly, I'm not the most patient person in the world, but I have a new appreciation for waiting.
You know that old expression, good things come to those who wait. I hate that expression. Can't tell you how many times I've heard it. Never has it helped.
But if we didn't have to wait would we truly appreciate anything?

Ahhh... So go take a deep breath of Halloween candy and be happy that we only have to wait three more days before it's Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Tunes

I've been a bit delinquent on the whole Monday Music thing.
Tuesday Tunes it is!
Today's musical selection is brought to you by Scotland! Welcome Frightened Rabbit!
And yes, in case you were wondering, there is nothing better than watching one of your favorite bands perform in the city and then in between songs listening to the band speak with an incredibly awesome Scottish accent!
Oh. And the music was great too!

This CD in particular was responsible for quite a few scenes in book 2.

Today is such a beautiful day! The sun is shining! Indian Summer is alive and well here in CT.
Have I mentioned how much I love Fall?!

Finger is better just in time for NaNo.
Anyone out there joining in the fun?? HUH? ANYONE?
Perhaps I'm the only one crazy enough to sign up for this madness.
But in case you're interested...click here

And just because I'm in serious brainstorming mode I've added a second CD for y'all to listen to.
I know I've mentioned it before but between my husband and I it has been playing nonstop in our house and car. Sufjan Stevens you rock!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Excuse Me While I Hobble Through This...

I'm injured. Just in time for NaNo.
I'm hoping the splinter that recently took up residence in my right ring finger will find a new home by November 1st. Or at the very least MOVE OUT! Who knew a tiny sliver could cause such a ruckus! I'm on antibiotics (which we all know I hate taking, especially when they are the size of a house) and I had to get a Tetanus shot!
A shot! The AGONY! This whole experience has got me thinking I should invest in a nice pair of gloves. The anti-splinter kind.


On to the book review.

Yes. I know. I'm a bit late on this fan-wagon. BUT!! I am here to say that John Green is awesome. Looking For Alaska is the kind of book that makes you stop and think, huh, should I really be a writer? Cuz if people like John Green are out there writing books the rest of us are just going to look bad. Yep. That's exactly what I was thinking the whole way through this book and after I finished it and also right now while I'm typing this with my handicapped finger.
And this was his first book!
To say this book was good is like saying the sun is bright. I mean, seriously! I had to read the first chapter out loud to my husband —who loves it when I do this btw — and even my 4-year-old daughter in the backseat was like, "what story is that, Momma?"
She recognizes beauty when she hears it.
And this book was beautiful in the way that honesty and sincerity and thought provoking, life affirming questions are beautiful. And real.
It's disturbing and heartbreaking and the MC is a teenage boy, which I usually don't get into, but I did! I loved him! He wasn't perfect or sparkly. He was real.
Real. Real. Real.
And just beautiful.
John Green, I am now going to read every single one of your books cause I think you're brilliant.
And I like the way you think.
Even though you discourage me on the writing front.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Four Years

Sunday is the four-year anniversary of the day my father passed away. Anniversary feels like the wrong word. An anniversary is something that should be celebrated. You should buy a cake, blow out some candles and follow that up with a song. Or presents.
All things I will not be doing on Sunday.

As the days move toward November 1st, and the big NaNoWriMo, I've been thinking a lot about moments. Moments make a story, just like moments make our lives memorable.

The day my father died was wet and dark. I woke up to thunder and "tink tink tink" as the rain hit the metal shed outside my window. I remember cleaning all morning — we had clients coming over — while my daughter, who was four-months-old at the time, complained from her bouncy seat. Every light was on in our house, some candles were even lit. It was the quintessential dark and stormy day.

For most of my life my father was sick. I remember being ten and watching my mom race down the long hallway in our one-story house.
"Shari! I need towels!"
Any other day my mom would not be yelling this. She would walk to the linen closet and fetch them herself.
So it wasn't the panic that hit me first, nor the speed at which she moved. She needed my help. And she needed it now.
My father lost a lot of blood that day. And many more days to come over the next twenty years.
So you would think I'd be prepared.
Prepared for the phone call. Prepared for the words that change everything.

But I never could have prepared for the way I found out.

The phone started ringing about fifteen minutes into our appointment. The bride, we'd photographed months before, and her mother stared down at their 4x6 proofs spread out on our dining room table like a wedding collage quilt.
I glanced at the caller ID and discovered it was my sister, Barbi. I didn't need to say, "I'll call her back."
We never took calls during appointments.

And when the phone immediately rang again, followed by my cell phone, I didn't really think anything of it. My family doesn't take voicemail for an answer.
But when my sister Judi started calling and then my third sister, Lori, joined the search, my hands began to shake.
I remember walking around my house, concentrating on breathing in and out, while I collected phones. And oh, don't forget to smile every time the bride's mom glances my way.
I hid the phones in my bedroom.
I'd already silenced them but as I rocked my daughter in my arms, desperate for her to fall asleep, I watched as one by one they lit up and flashed a family member's name.
When my mom called I almost picked up.
But I couldn't. I knew. How could I not? He'd been going downhill for days now. Downhill. Not up. Not straight on a flat surface or around the corner like he had been for years. But down.

I'm sure the bride's mom thought I was behaving strange. Or at the very least she was questioning my hostessing skills.
I know I could have rescheduled. I know I could have pulled my husband to the side and asked him to make them leave.
But as long as they were here I could pretend I didn't know. Even though my quick heartbeat and my short and hurried breaths were making it rather difficult, I could still pretend.
And when they finally left I didn't hurry to the phone.
I couldn't.
I waited. Through the anxiety and the fear I asked myself over and over again if I felt different. Did I feel him in my house? Would he stop here on his way to the great unknown? Would he drop in and visit my sleeping daughter who he'd only met once?
The rain was still tink tink tinking outside. The phones continued to light up and vibrate on my bed.
And then I made that phone call. The one where I heard my mom's voice, calm yet struggling, and the words were finally delivered.
"He's gone."
And I'll never forget it.
Some moments come with a burst of emotion. While others can make you feel nothing at all. Just writing this makes my hands shake.

RIP Dad.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Big Week!

This week is going to be crazy with a capitol K that rhymes with J and stands for Jubilation!
PINKBERRY is coming to me!! ME!! No longer will all the ungrateful folk in NYC or Cali eat all my yogurt.
It is only the beginning of delicious yogurtness. In fact the amount of yogurt consumption that's about to take place is probably illegal in some states. BUT NOT CONNECTICUT!!!
Yes. So. On Thursday the very first Pinkberry in CT is opening just minutes from my house. Well, not minutes exactly but way freakin' closer than having to drive into NYC to get my fix.
Yeah Thursday!
BUT. Before we get to Thursday I have to mention the other exciting events taking place this week.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) Sufjan Stevens releases his new CD. I've already heard most of it and let me say, interesting and exciting. Future writing music has been found.


Wednesday is also a big day!! My friend Emily Liebert is going to be on Rachel Ray! YES! You heard me correctly! RACHEL RAY! The woman who is responsible for all that Vegi-head chili I consume throughout the year! Emily will be talking about her fabulous book, Facebook Fairytales.
Yeah Emily!! Go set your DVR's and then buy her book!

And of course Friday is the day where Dragons will enter my house and be heard over and over again. And over and over and over...
And never leave.
But that's okay because I love this movie!! Go buy it too!
Yeah! How to Train Your Dragon!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hello There NaNoWriMo

Yes. I'm in.
It took me a year and a half to write my first book and four months to write the second.
Could I write book three in one month?
They say you should aim to finish the first draft. My biggest problem with that is I edit as I go so it usually takes me a bit longer to get that first draft done.
But I'm going to try.
Anyone with me??
As for brainstorming...it's coming along. I'm feeling it, visualizing it and I'm excited to write.
All good signs.

Come December I'll be ready for book four.
Yes. That's right. And now I'm going to laugh my way right out of this post.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Movies and Books and Music! Oh my!

Hello October! Welcome back! And a very Happy Birthday to my friend Anneliese! *waves and smiles* She turns a fabulous 29 today!! (you're welcome)

I can't tell you how excited I am about October. I love Fall. I love Halloween and I love new purchases!

On October 15th How to Train Your Dragon comes out on DVD! Yeah!! Oh, the excitement! I'm really not a fan of animated movies. I know. I'm odd that way. But I have to say this movie wasn't like the others. I kinda felt like I was watching an animated young adult movie. Strange concept, but it worked. I mean how can you go wrong when the movie ends with a Jonsi song? I highly recommend this one!

Crescendo comes out on October 19th! The second book by Becca Fitzpatrick. I loved her first book, Hush, Hush. Some have compared it to Twilight, in fact a whole lot of people have. But it's not the story that gripped me it's the tension between Nora and Patch. Sure, some of the plot lines were familiar but you can't argue great chemistry. Nope you can't. Out of all the sequels and prequels and quadraquels (yes I made that one up) coming out this Fall Crescendo is at the top of my "read me now" list.
Yeah! Can't wait to read it!

New Album from Sufjan Stevens!! Alright all you rock dwellers! Time to crawl out again. Listen up! New music is coming! You know what that means. New brainstorming music for me! Hurray!
Released on October 12th. Yes. That soon. So go give it a listen.

Oh. And in case you haven't heard of Sufjan and you want some recommendations. My fav album is Illinois. Go check it out.

Alright. Time to go and eat some cake because, even though Anneliese lives on the other side of the country and we can't scream happy bday at her, every day should be a cake eating day.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is It Thursday Already?

My computer tells me so. Not convinced.
I think I need more sleep to believe this one.

I had another coyote sighting early this morning. It was still dark outside when I saw him trotting down the sidewalk just outside my kitchen window. Creepy. Do you think coyotes are as afraid of me as I am of them? Based on their behavior I'd say the answer to that question is yes. But if I had sharp flesh-tearing teeth and an enhanced animal instinct I'm sure I wouldn't act nearly as skittish as they do.
I wish I saw them more often. Twice in one week isn't enough.
Coyotes! Why can't we be friends? Is it because the foxes are also afraid of me?

I'm being stalked by my next story idea and I have to keep telling it, "please come back and visit when I have time to write you." Which isn't good. So I think it's time to restructure my schedule.
Idea 1: wake up earlier, sleep less
Idea 2: stop time from moving forward
Idea 3: stop sleeping altogether
Idea 4: ??
Ideas anyone?

Not sure I can keep this one away much longer. It's rather stubborn.

Fall arrived much faster than I was expecting. I know I've been talking about Fall a lot lately and one would think I was prepared but yesterday while I was driving I noticed a whole heck of a lot of leaves on the ground. My heart did this little stop, shake, shimmy thing and suddenly I was surrounded by snow, cold, darkness. Sigh. Why does Winter always have to follow Fall? Why can't we just change things up a bit every once in a while. Wouldn't it be fun if we got Fall and then Spring and then Summer and then Fall again? Just once?
I mean. Can't we just skip Winter? Can we? Huh? Can we? Please?

There's a whole lot of talk about book banning all over the internet. Again. Not sure why banning books is ever an option. If we're going to start banning things in this supposed non-banning country could we start with horror movie previews that air while I'm watching TV? Or can they at least put up a warning that flashes two seconds before the preview begins. I need a warning, People! I choose not to watch horror movies for a reason. I'm a wuss. My mind and horrific images don't mix well.
And for all of you book banners out there, just don't read the book! I mean, come on. If something offends me I steer clear of it. Chances are I'm not the only one. But just because I have an opinion doesn't mean I get to decide for everyone else.
I read Speak. Why is this book causing such an uproar? Did the person who wants to ban it even read it?
I thought it was a beautiful book. It made me cry. Books rarely make me cry. I even went out and rented the movie, which was okay. Kristen Stewart did a great job.
But the book was better. Did I have to tell you that?
I remember finishing the book and thinking, if only I could write like this. Laurie Halse Anderson writes with sincerity. Her characters are real and beautiful and heartbreaking.
So what's my response to all this book banning nonsense?
I think they should stop forcing The Scarlet Letter on high school children and instead make them read Speak.
What did I learn from The Scarlet Letter? How to analyze a book to death, a book that has yet to slip back into my thoughts.
What did I learn from Speak? Writing is beautiful. And storytelling is therapeutic. Melinda's story still sneaks up on me. Take that Hester Prynne.
Soapbox + Me = Done

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review!!

Yes. It is that time again.
Now for all of you keeping score at home I'm about to shake things up a bit. Today's book isn't a Young Adult book. Hard to believe. I know.
So I have this friend, Michelle, (Hi Michelle *waves and smiles*) who loves to read. Don't know how she manages to. She has two young twins at home and two beautiful boys as well and...enough said. She's busy.
But she highly recommended The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Insisted actually. And WHEW! BOY! Was I unprepared for this one. When I checked it out at the library — because, honestly, I wasn't so sure I was going to like it — I almost had to ask the man at the reference desk to help me carry it out to my car. Yes. It's that heavy. In fact I'm pretty sure my wrist is in need of some physical therapy now that I've finished reading it. 832 pages. WOW. Michelle should have warned me to work out first.
The Bronze Horseman is the first in a trilogy. And if you plan on having a life in the near future don't, I repeat, DON'T read this book!
About 25 pages in I was hooked and only because I was rather distracted during the first 25 pages.
Her writing is simple and beautiful. Young and intuitive. And Tatiana, the MC, is as strong as they come. I've been searching for a young female protagonist that doesn't bore me, annoy me or ultimately end up as a complete and utter wimp.
The relationship between Alexander and Tatiana is quite intriguing. She's young and naive. And he's not.
Oh. And there's a war too. World War II in the Soviet Union. During winter.
I found myself hoarding food between chapter breaks. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading this book. After finishing the Hunger Games trilogy I didn't think it was possible to feel hungrier while immersed in a book. But I was wrong.
Now, I'm off to find book 2. Cause I'm crazy that way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Music!! And A Whole Bunch of Random


So I hope you all enjoyed last weeks music selection! I know I did!

Today we're going to feature a band I've never seen live. Crazy. I know!
However, they were truly inspirational while I was working on Book 2.
I listened to Local Natives over and over again while I was working out some important details such as plot, character development and oh yeah! romance. All very important elements when throwing together 77,000 words.

The best thing about "writing music" is that it adds to the story going on inside your head without intruding upon what's going on inside your head.
Yeah. That.

So now everyone go on out and give this band a listen. Cause I said so.

In other news I'm still out on submission. Both books are still out in that place I like to refer to as What If-land, a land where everything we want in life floats just out of reach. Some days I like this land, it gives me goosebumps and a jittery stomach, while other days I curse it and do my best to pretend it doesn't exist.

I've decided to be optimistic. For most of my life I've believed without a doubt that I was capable. Capable of anything.
Yeah. So I'm going with that.

The brainstorming is coming along. Every opportunity I have my mind is working working working.
Yesterday while driving home with the Adventures of Pooh playing in the backseat I didn't yell, "Tiggers are wonderful things!" at the appropriate time.
So. Progress.

I have a new TV obsession. (Which isn't exactly helping with the brainstorming.)
My husband and I have started watching Friday Night Lights. We've been streaming it on Netflix. 18 episodes in I'm hooked. And I don't even like football. Thank goodness there really isn't a whole lot of football in the show. Although, husband seems to have issue with that.

Oh! And right now it is raining and the trees are no longer Summer green.
Fall has arrived.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Easily Distracted

Every once in a while I answer a photography question. I don't mean to. Usually these questions are directed at my husband. If you want to know anything technical about cameras, camera gear or photography ask him. He knows the answer. I, on the other hand, don't talk shop. And there's a reason for that. I don't pay attention to the technical stuff. It's not that I don't know the information. I just don't think about it. I'm too caught up in the story.

Yesterday was a big day here in Shariland. You see the new Tinker Bell movie came out. Number three.
We were all very excited. I've always loved Tinker Bell. I'm a huge Peter Pan fan. Read the book and loved the movie when I was a kid. I even made sure to snap a photo of the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens when I took a trip to London a lifetime ago.
So after a very exciting jaunt to Target we unwrapped the movie and slipped it into the DVD player. We were not disappointed.
The movie was beautiful as always and as sweet as the rest of them. But I mostly enjoyed watching my daughter watch the movie.
If you could bottle innocence and awe I'd have a lifetime collection.
She doesn't just watch a movie she disappears into them. The scenes, the dialogue, the colors.
She is so much like me. She gets caught up in the story.
I wouldn't say I'm easily distracted. I can focus on a project like no other. But if there's a hint of a story brewing around me I'm lost forever.
Some people find it difficult to write with music or any other noise around them. They need silence. I find that certain music is very distracting. Music that is too story-telling, you know like country music or folk. Or Wilco, whatever category they fall into. I don't need other stories complicating my own.
But some music has a mood or feeling. And you all know my infatuation with feeling.
So finding the perfect mood music can be a bit of a struggle. Not only does it have to match what I'm working on but it has to inspire me. And sometimes it leads me somewhere I wasn't expecting. The story takes over, travels down a path I didn't even know existed. New characters pop up, the plot twists and suddenly I'm writing a completely different story.
This is why I don't outline.
Perhaps I am easily distracted.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NEW! Monday Music!

Yep. It's that time of year again where I find that a rather large pile of sweatshirts and light jackets are making their way into my car.
I love Fall.
I especially love when you slide into your car and it's that perfect sun-heated temperature that makes you want to close your eyes and take a nice little kitty nap. (Not recommended if you're driving at the time.)

So we're going to try something new here on Daily Distractions! Every other Monday or so will be Monday Music where I mention a band or song or CD that has inspired me to write. Perhaps these suggestion will either help with whatever creative venture you are on or at the very least add to your collection of music.
Sound fun??
Yeah music!
My husband introduced me to Sigur Ros quite a while ago. And I love them. I really do. The music is haunting. Some songs help with writing while others I love to listen to in my car. Really really loud. And I try not to think at all.
But I'm not going to write about Sigur Ros today. I'm going to write about Jonsi. You see Jonsi is the lead singer of Sigur Ros and Jonsi is his solo project. All I have to say about this new CD is that without it I never would have finished book 2. Nope. Never would have happened. I listened to this album on repeat hour after hour until I typed the very last words. Some songs more than others. In fact the song Grow Till Tall is responsible for a rather important scene, a crucial scene I was struggling with until I heard this song.
I'd love to make a book trailer and use this song.
Jonsi, if you're reading this, please call me.
Over on my little playlist thingy are some Jonsi songs but I really think you should all go out and listen to the entire album. Yes. Every last song.
And then go and buy tickets to one of their concerts.
I've been to many many concerts. So many I feel as if I could have bought land and built a house with the money I've spent on concerts. Sad to think about in retrospect.
If you have the opportunity to see this tour, the Go Tour, you should go. I mean seriously. It has to be the best concert I've ever seen. Better than seeing U2 in Vegas. Better than every sold out show that got rave reviews and left me smelling like other people's sweat. And hair products.
Visually it is stunning. And the music, well, just go.
Perhaps you'll come away inspired.
Now wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting Dressed In Front of Strangers

So today I had to go into a federal building of some sort. I won't bore you with the details. And thank goodness the signs posted in the lobby warned me to leave my guns and knives outside the security check. WOW! That would have been embarrassing! But I did have to remove my belt.
I don't usually wear a belt. Most days I walk around yanking my shorts or jeans up around my waist, occasionally flashing some innocent mom at the park or mall. (Cause that's where all moms hang out, right?)
But today I wore a belt.
The man at the security check very politely asked me to remove it. Well, he didn't exactly ask. It was more like, "remove your belt."
And of course I did. With a "swish" reminiscent of a sword fighter. (In case that didn't make sense to you I removed it rather quickly.)
So up up up I went in the elevator, desperately trying to slip my belt back into the tiny belt loops on my jeans while perfect strangers observed me.
Apparently they knew better than to wear a belt inside this building.
The reason I'm even telling y'all this story is that there are days when I feel like I'm naked and struggling to get dressed in front of a room full of strangers. Days like today for instance. When I go to check my email and find an incredibly, horribly evil and downright rude rejection just lurking there for me to read and I feel as if the child I carried for twenty-four months, birthed twice and then spent the next ten years primping into perfection has been bitch slapped. Yes. That is what it feels like. And then! And then their favorite toy is ripped from their grasp and thrown into a ditch.
Yes. Rejections. They can truly ruin your day.
And just in case you were wondering, the most painful rejections are not the ones that tell you how horribly bad you are. Nope. It's actually quite the opposite.
They're the ones that explain in detail how much they liked the manuscript and how it was "so close."
I know all about "so close."
Right now I'm "so close" to losing my mind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Something Is Brewing...

I know. I know. I said I was going to continue book 2 and now book 3 is pushing its way into the forefront of my mind. It began yesterday. The day was gloomy, slightly cold, even though the weathermen forecasted sunny and seventy degrees.
The trees are just beginning to change, mostly green with a subtle splash of color.
It felt like Fall.
And strangely enough my husband, kids and I were at a Fall Festival down on the Green. But it really wasn't so much a Fall festival, it was more like a Summer carnival. I mean, where was the apple cider? The smell of apple donuts?
Perhaps it was camouflaged by the overwhelming smell of pizza, fried dough and cotton candy.
We were hanging out by the rides — my four-year-old has carnival ride radar and can locate a carousel within a twenty-mile radius — and that's when I noticed that the backdrop to the wall of dingy carnival rides was our local cemetery.
Creepy, right?
While I was watching my daughter ride around in circles, her face lit up with a smile, I would occasionally notice a group of teenagers wander off into the graveyard.
And that's when it hit me.
The feeling.
Dark and foreboding. Chillingly exciting.
Yep. You guessed it.
Book three has arrived.
You see my books always start with a feeling. Rarely in the beginning do I meet the characters, never do I get to know the ending. It's as if I'm on a need-to-know basis.

So now I'm collecting music — my writing playlist is very important — and brainstorming ideas. I'm so drenched in this feeling it puddles at my feet.

I can't wait to find out what happens!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I Write

Lately I've been frustrated with this whole writer-thing. The process is mind numbing and I'm feeling broken. After reading around on the internet I find I'm not alone. Authors, no matter whether or not they are published, are struggling. We are in a creative field. A competitive, creative field where everyone fears that one day they will wake up and either discover they are no longer creative or realize they were never that creative to begin with. Trends have been set. And the world has moved on without them.

This industry is constantly changing. Are werewolves, vampires and faeries a flash in the pan or are they outstaying their welcome? I know I've never really been a fan of faeries and until recently vampires and werewolves were a bit too gruesome for me. So perhaps I'm not the best person to answer that question. But here's what I do know...I'm a storyteller.

And that's all I am, folks. I tell stories. Always have. When I enrolled in photography school I had one goal in mind. Become a photojournalist! Travel the world and use my camera to tell a story. But by the time I graduated I wasn't so sure I wanted to head on out to places unknown so I figured I'd tackle New York and Connecticut. There was this elusive enchantress I had to capture first, the bride. She dazzled me, flirted with me while I struggled to capture each provocative moment. It was a fun story to tell. Colorful, emotional and engaging. And it helped pay the bills.
Even though I still find myself drawn into that world it truly isn't the story I want to share anymore. I have new voices in my head. They moved in right around the time my father passed away and until their stories are told they won't be silenced. And that's okay. I like them. Behind their dynamic pleas to be heard is my father's softer voice. He tells me I should keep trying. He's always believed I should write.
I may not write for everyone but the stories I tell are those I would have read when I was a young adult. Forget that. I'd read them now. I guess I'll never grow up.

And this blog. It helps. While I'm writing or not writing I feel like I'm connecting with people. Getting thoughts down. Polishing my chops until I have more reasons to write like deadlines or readers or when more voices move in and replace the voices I hear now.
Yes. That's why I write. In the end it will all be worth it. I believe that. If not for the voices, for me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wandering Characters

Last night I sat down and watched a movie. Big night, I know! I'd collected a few movies on Netflix and figured since I'd finished my first successful read through of book 2 I deserved a break. I was also feeling a bit brain dead and I find sometimes you just can't force creativity. Not only is it virtually impossible but it's also quite ugly to look at!
So I turned on Jane Campion's Bright Star.
Now I love period movies. Especially if they are set in England or Scotland or, well, pretty much any country that ends in -land.
I also love movies that look like moving photographs. So many times during the movie I found I was distracted by the colors and scenery, like I was the one holding the camera and would occasionally change the vantage point the way I do when I'm on a shoot. And since the movie moved quite slowly I was able to enjoy each visually stimulating scene.
Now this movie wouldn't make my top ten list, even though I was very entertained, but it did bring to mind something I've been spending a lot of time thinking about. Character development.
You see the female MC in this movie had a very strong personality and from the very first scene she came off as overly confident and headstrong. But then every once in a while these crazy insecure moments would pop up and get me thinking...wait? what did I miss?
Now I'm not sure if this was just a quirk of her character or not. Nor will I ever know. But I do know that this occasionally happens when I'm reading. I often pause and think, I don't actually believe the character would say/do or think this.
It's very important that characters don't wander. I mean I get that people are strange and unpredictable but when I'm reading a book or watching a movie it's crucial that I figure them out. The characters, I mean. Even if I don't like them. I need to know them.
Characters should be nailed down, set in a coloring book where their colors are within the lines of reason.
Leave the surprises to the plot twists.

Old Friends

Even though there are a whole lot of books coming out over the next few months I find I'm in the mood to revisit old friends. You know the characters you fell in love with the first time you read the book and when you reread it the second time around you realize just how much you missed them.
Yes. This happens to me a lot. In fact there are certain books I go to when I need some quick instruction on how to:
a. create chemistry between the two lead characters
b. add insight or sincerity to a character
c. make that voice sing a whole lot louder
d. move the book along at a much quicker pace

This is one of the biggest reasons I've fought the whole ebook situation. As cool as it would be to carry my extensive collection of books around inside a hand held device I love to walk on over to my towering bookshelf and take in all the beautiful book covers and boldly printed author names.
There it is! My favorite Judith McNaught novel! This will help me get my male MC to grip the reader in just the right way! And Sara Zarr! If I have time I will read all three of your books! Nothing is more inspiring than the sincere heart behind an author. You can't learn that in school, friends. Nope. No, you can't.
So right now while I'm reworking book 2 I find I'm revisiting. Stopping in here and there just to say hi and remind myself how to not only sell a book but get a reader to come back and visit again and again.
So you tell me...
What books do you revisit??

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Reader Fan #1!!

Well, hello there! While everyone around here will be celebrating Labor Day I will be celebrating my mom's birthday! (HI MOM!) Today she turns, well, she turns a year older. Unfortunately, since she lives way out west in Utah, and I don't, we will not be eating cake together. Instead we will talk over the computer where she will watch my oldest child sing her heart out while the youngest one screams. That's pretty much how he shows his enthusiasm. And everything else he feels. You get used to it after a while. Kind of. So happy birthday, MOM! We'll be screaming at you soon!

In honor of my mom's birthday — seeing as she's my biggest reader fan — we're going to talk a little about readers. How important it is to have them when you are writing and what makes a good one.
I know you're all asking, "what's a reader?"
And I have to say, "Hey, thanks for asking!"
A reader is someone who:
1. wants to read your book
2. tells you how it is
3. still loves you 12 revisions later
I think my mom has read my books more than I have. *applauds mom*
As lovely as it is to have a mom that loves me and my work it is also important to have readers that will read with a critical eye. Luckily in my family I have three sisters who tell me straight, actually enjoy telling me straight and do it often. So there's that. Yeah me! And I'm also blessed to have some great friends who read A LOT!!!
I always seek their advice before I send it to my agent. In fact once I have compiled all their suggestions I sit down and work out that final edit. And then I leave it alone. And don't read it. But think about it a lot. And then go back after days and days have passed and the material is no longer fresh in my mind and then I tweak it some more.
And that's how I work.

Update: Almost done with my revision on book 2! Looks like I just might be writing book 3 soon!! HIP HIP!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hello Friends!!

So I'm revising book 2. No, I wasn't told to. Not yet at least. I just miss them! My characters that is.
They were inside my head for a solid 5 months and now they only pop up occasionally. Like when I'm eating lunch and dinner or when I'm driving in my car or trying to sleep. Okay. They pretty much harass me all the time. Except breakfast. The only thought that enters my mind first thing in the morning is, how can I get more sleep?
And since you asked the real reason I'm revisiting book 2 is I really really really want to continue the story. I know. Bad Shari! But too bad. I'm doing it. I'm not ready to move on yet. I want to keep writing about my friends. They have so much more to experience. There's a whole heck of a lot of story left to write. Can you tell I'm excited? Can you? HUH?
Normally I would discourage this kind of behavior — you know continue a series when the first book hasn't sold yet — but my mind won't move on.
Do you know the other really cool thing about revisiting a book?
I have a fresh perspective! Suddenly I'm seeing things I never saw before! I'm adding danger and more mystery! And LOVE!! Yes. It's like I'm a chef adding ingredients to a stew. Or. Um. A writer revising her book.
Holy cow! For a moment there I was all excited about cooking. Don't worry. It passed.
So stay tuned.
And. Um.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

With Fall just around the corner (yes I know it's like a 100 degrees outside right now) and kids throughout the neighborhood returning to school I am reminded of that time in my life when I first discovered my love for reading.

Now I'm going to skip right over the Encyclopedia Brown days and try not to mention how many Sweet Valley High books I owned (all of them) and focus on the books that got me thinking, one day I'm going to be a writer!
It was probably just after I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
And right around the time I read The Pinballs by Betsy Byars and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
For the first time I felt like what I was reading was significant. I was fascinated by the real people featured in these books. They were young, imperfect and faced with real life problems. Finally something I could relate to.
Now don't get me wrong...I really do love me a good escape novel. But you have to give an author a whole lot of credit if she can make you feel something you wouldn't normally feel. Or don't want to feel. In-your-face reality isn't something I usually race to the bookstore to buy but I can't help but be impressed by writers who can pull it off.

Now I definitely don't want to forget about Lois Duncan or Judy Blume.
Judy Blume had me convinced that every single odd characteristic or personality quirk I possessed was not only completely normal but strangely appealing. And Lois Duncan...well she got me all kinds of obsessed with ESP and telepathy. So much so that I occasionally freaked out my friends at slumber parties with my strange mind games.
Yes, I know. I was a weird kid.
But thanks to these authors my love of books and reading began. And now I can thank them when I grow up and become a writer. Yes. They will definitely make the acknowledgment page.

Monday, August 30, 2010

List Of Things Keeping Me From Writing...

3. ME
Well you get the point.
I actually do have a list of things that distract me from writing but at the top of the list it is always me.
Right now I'm struggling with my next story idea. I'm pretty sure that this whole submission process has a lot to do with it and my lack of focus isn't helping. In fact it's kinda getting in the way.
So I read a lot. I get excited over the success of other authors. (Or sometimes feel bitter) I'm blogging and posting on forums. All of these things are helping me feel proactive.

As well as distracting me from writing.

You see so far this is my least favorite part. When I was querying agents I approached it like a job. I was fearless. When one agent turned me down I would query four more. And I just so happened to land a fabulous agent. When he called me up to offer representation his enthusiasm mirrored mine. I got off the phone and thought, this is it. This could really happen.
But now I wait. He's in charge now. I'm supposed to sit back and let him do his thing. And. Um. Just so you know...I'm not so good at that. Perhaps it's a control thing. Or a patience thing. Either way it's kind of making me lose my mind.
And writing should help. Yes. It should. That's what everyone says and I really do believe it. But the thing is...I have these two books and I keep feeling like they aren't finished until somebody buys them. Some editor gives the okay for each one to be printed and marketed and shelved and then sold and then read by everyone in the whole wide world and...
That hasn't happened yet. They don't feel finished right now. And I like finishing things.
Starting another book...
is crazy hard.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Books I Can't Wait To Read!

For some reason Fall is the best time of year for books. Perhaps some editor somewhere figured out that we like to sit around under a cozy blanket with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and dive right into fiction. I know I do. So in anticipation for Fall I've made a list of books I can't wait to read. And in case you're like me and like to find out more about the author who wrote the book I've also included some websites too! HIP HIP!!

Matched by Allyson Condie
Don't you just want to snatch this book up and read it!! I KNOW!
But you'll have to wait a while. Doesn't release until November 30, 2010 =(

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
This is the second book in a series. The first one is Hush, Hush. Can't wait!
Release Date: October 19, 2010

Torment by Lauren Kate
Second book in a series. First book was Fallen. This will be released on September 28, 2010

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
This book comes out at the end of this month!! And if you were a fan of
the Mortal Instruments series you should pick this up!

And...two more books that also come out at the end of this month are:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White This book just looks like something I have to read!

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
This book is beautiful! And to think...the author is actually a teenager! Imagine that!

So go check out these books and please let me know what you think!!
Perhaps we could have a book discussion! RIGHT HERE ON MY BLOG!

And one day...I'll be announcing my book!
Yes. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

There Is No Fourth Book In A Trilogy...otherwise known as another Mockingjay post

I've been avoiding this post. Yes. Yes, I have. But we all knew it was coming...
So. For all of you out there reading Mockingjay, or for those of you planning on reading Mockingjay, run along now. I mean it! Look away! I'm about to post some spoilers.
And in case you don't believe me...
Bruce Willis was dead in The Sixth Sense.
Leonardo DiCaprio is really a patient in Shutter Island.
Veronica Mars goes on to become a...Oh wait! I don't know the answer to that question because the show was CANCELED!!!! I know. I need to get over it.


I've been very excited for the final book of the Hunger Games to come out. I'm sure you've noticed. And thanks to the air conditioning/heating guys, who got my whole family up bright and early Tuesday morning, I was at the mall before Borders was even open. Luckily Target was. And so the reading began. I tried my best to drag it out. Four hundred pages. Should take a few days, right? Not so much. And not a word did I skim. Believe me, I tried. I was so desperate to get answers to my questions, so excited to find out who Katniss ends up with. I didn't want to miss a thing.
And then the book was over.
I looked at the clock and it was far too late for me to be up. But my mind was much to...what? Distracted? Overwhelmed? Confused?
You see I did miss something. The ending. And perhaps some events leading up to it. And. A whole lot more.
Now here's where I have to give Suzanne Collins credit. Believe me. I'm a huge fan. I think she could write circles around most writers out there. If she wanted to, that is. Perhaps in some kind of fight to the death literary competition.
But. Seriously.
Two days later I'm still feeling a bit unsettled.
And from the amount of reviews piling up on Amazon so are a whole lot of other readers.
I bought into Katniss. I really did. I get that she was an unwilling participant. She went about her life only worrying about her family and Gale. And when she's swept up into the Games she is aware that she has no choice but to fight. No choices whatsoever. Or does she? As a reader I fought the games with her. And thanks to Suzanne Collins I felt everything she felt. But the most important thing I felt was Katniss's spirit. Her fight. She was never one to play by the rules.
When I finished reading Catching Fire I was convinced Katniss was going to go from a strong participant to a warrior. How could she not?
Now, I get war is hell. I mean how could we not? We've seen it so many times. From movies to the news. Who doesn't know someone who's fought in one? War breaks you. Understood.
Katniss is seventeen.
Did we forget that?
And being seventeen and having endured two hunger games and a war and the death of loved ones...yeah, I get it. She's broken.
But. I expected more. I expected her to fight back. I needed her to. I didn't need Suzanne Collins to wrap the ending up in a pretty pink bow and frost it with icing but I did need Katniss to kick some ass. Sorry. But I did. Or at the very least KILL PRESIDENT SNOW!
What I really needed above everything else was for Katniss to live up to her potential.
Oh. And as for the whole love triangle thing. I'm so over it. In the end when you finally pick someone to love...make me believe it. I've been with this book for three years now. It was never about Team Gale or Team Peeta for me. I loved them both. And so did Katniss.
But in the end. I wasn't sold. Nope. Not one bit.
Still. Great writing. Incredible story. One of the most amazing trilogies I've ever read and will probably ever read. The sentiment, the pride. It's everywhere in this story. I don't know how Suzanne does it. She manages to assimilate their world into my head. Effortlessly. Evoke feelings for people that don't actually exist. While I am reading I am Katniss. A character whose life is riddled with horror and tragedy but I willingly walk beside her. Because she inspires me. From the moment she took Prim's place in the games I'm locked in. I couldn't walk away if I tried.
But. Last thirty or so pages...SO INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING! I'm not the author so I don't get to pick the plot nor do I get to have any input on the ending. And I guess that's okay. It was a fun ride. Perhaps one day I'll have to take it again. But right now...right now I'm done.

Monday, August 23, 2010

School, New Music and MOCKINGJAY!!!

For some of you out there school is about to start! YEAH! BOO! *stomach flutters* (that should cover just about everyone)
And for some of us Fall no longer means new clothes, early morning alarm clocks and newly sharpened pencils.
Here in CT we've had a very long and hot summer. It began in early April and probably won't end until late September. Now I'm not complaining. BELIEVE ME! But I do love Fall. Even though when I was younger right around the fourth of July I would start feeling a bit anxious. School was looming. And I really didn't enjoy school. Especially high school. I'm not one for playing by the rules. Not that I break them...I just don't like anyone telling me how it is.
And I really wanted to like school. I remember sitting in class thinking, this is so interesting! I could sit here and learn about _____ all day! But ultimately I would end up talking myself out of going to class. I know. I was a slacker.
So. I know you're all wondering why I would want to write YA books if I hated high school so much. It's definitely not so I could still experience all of those late-for-school nightmares. I'm pretty sure I would get those even if my mind didn't pretend to be a seventeen-year-old girl's.
The answer to that question is a whole other post. But in case you can't wait here's a short answer: you write what you read. See. I told you it was short.

So for me part of my writing experience involves new music. GOOD new music. And the latest band to fall into my collection of brainstorming music is Arcade Fire. Now in case you've been living under a rock and don't know who they are go check out my mixpod playlist and take a listen! Their newest release, The Suburbs, has been playing nonstop in my house and car since it came out. I LOVE IT! Oh. And living under a rock is okay BTW. I'm not judging you or anything. Crawling under a rock sounds perfectly lovely most days.


Mockingjay comes out tomorrow! T O M O R R O W!!! For those of you still under that rock...you've got to read Hunger Games first. I promise you'll love it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review!!

I know. I'm also excited. Books are fun.

Now let's get to it.

I read Robin Benway's first book, Audrey Wait!, about two years ago. And I loved it! I ran out and told everyone to read it and some did and some were forced to listen to me read it to them while driving around town. Hi Jay!
Robin's characters make me feel very unfunny. That's a compliment by the way. I can't help it. There was a time where I had a steady diet of wit and sarcasm but now with two small children at home I see the colorful and idyllic world of Oswald all day and hear the singsong voices of the Wonder Pets and nothing but sunshine and rainbows are aloud to shoot from my mouth.
So, yes. I laugh when I read Robin's books. A lot.
Like I said it's been about two years since I read Audrey Wait! and I've been loitering in the YA section of my local bookstore just waiting for another Robin Benway book to magically appear.
And just the other day there it was!

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June

What a great title! Now I'd done my research so I already knew the premise and I have to say I was intrigued. Three teenage sisters whose parents are going through a divorce suddenly realize they have super powers! Holy cow! Sign me up.
Initially I have to admit I was slightly confused. Super powers are kinda a big deal right now but usually when you order such things off the menu you get a side of paranormal or at the very least a dark, brooding fantasy. Not to mention if you get yours to go they throw in a werewolf or two...
After reading Audrey Wait! I wasn't quite sure that was Robin's style.
And guess what. It's not. *big sigh of relief*

So. Anyway. This book started off just as I would expect.
~Dialogue that made me laugh out loud
~Characters that jumped off the page and hung out with me long after I'd finished the book
~And that surprise moment where I found myself tearing up
It takes a great writer to make me laugh out loud one moment and get all choked up the next.
Get this! She threw in some crazy tension that had me wondering, what's going to happen next??!!
So. Well done, Robin Benway. They say the second book is the most difficult one to write.
You sure did prove them wrong.