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.

A word or two on rejections...

because, really, do we need to spend more time talking about something so evil it keeps you up at night? I think not.
A couple years ago when I first got the idea in my head that I should sit myself down and start writing — not wait the twenty-some years I always imagined I would wait, but start now — I didn't really give a whole lot of thought to rejections. Criticism? Yes. I knew it was part of the process. I did my time in photography school getting critiqued by students and teachers who gave the act of being critical a new name. Masochism. So yes. I know all about it. But through every creative channel criticism and rejection must grow. Lovely, right?
Now there are a few things you have to go through when you decide to write a novel.
First: You have to write (silly, huh?)
Second: You have to decide whether or not you want that novel to be read by someone other than your mom
Third: You have to get an agent
Now getting an agent is fun. No, seriously it is. You see this is where criticism and rejection rear their ugly heads for the first time. You're going to send out countless query letters and partials and full manuscripts only to wait and wait and wait for that "super agent" or any agent to get back to you and say: "This is great. BUT. Not for me. Good luck."
Good times.
Fourth: You have an agent!! YIPPEE YEAH! Now your agent says, "Let's get it out to some editors at the most prestigious publishing houses and see what they think."
Here's where you nod your head repeatedly with your eyes glazed over even though your agent can't see you. Odds are he's in NYC and you're still in your pajamas at your makeshift desk with a child or two attached to your leg. Crying.
Fifth: Your agent sends an update email. He's just heard back from one of the prestigious editors who's reading your book on submission and his response is: "I loved this book. I read it all the way through. It's the best thing I've ever read. She should probably tweak this thing here and add this thing there and it would change an already brilliant debut novel into a masterpiece! Oh. By the way. Not interested. But thanks for sending it my way. Good luck."

Sigh. Damn rejections. They get me every time.
Now in case you're wondering what the Sixth step is...?
I'll let you know once I get there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So my next book review is coming! I know. You're all just as excited as I am. But before I introduce the book and write a raving review I just thought I'd mention the amazing author. You see the thing about reading is that we don't usually know the author who wrote the book nor do we always want to. At least that's how it used to be. Nowadays authors are all over the place. They are in our bookstores hungrily awaiting their fans, they're on the internet blogging about things that are important to them or just ranting about things that only make sense to them. Ahem. They are even on our social networks so that we can now stalk them in public.
Isn't that cool?
So now that authors aren't just a tiny photograph and a short yet clever bio on the back of the book we can get to know them a little better.
Today I just so happened to read the latest blog post from a certain author whose book I'm planning on reviewing in the next few days. Not only do I love this particular writer's books but I now think she's pretty dang cool.
You see today she posted an amazing post on censorship. Please everyone go check it out: CLICK ME

Now I have very strong feelings about censorship. Of course I do. And they go something like this: I don't believe in censorship. You see I believe that everyone is given the right to make their own choices and when you start censoring books and music and TV and movies you are taking away our right to choose. I have two small children and every day I get to decide what they can and can't do or say or see or experience. And I will continue to do that until they are old enough to make those choices for themselves and hopefully they will teach their children the same thing. I may not like certain books or movies or music but the funny thing about that is I don't have to read, watch or listen to them. And everyone else in the world? They get to make that same choice and I'm almost 100% sure they will not make the same choices as I do.
Huh. Funny world we live in.

So. Stay tuned. Book review on it's way...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something new

I've started brainstorming a new book. It's time. I know it's time. My husband tells me it's time and my agent as well. And so does every single person out there who lives in this part of the submission process known as HELL. It's the only way to stay sane. And you know I'm all about staying sane.
So. New book. Yep. That's the plan.
Except...my head isn't exactly cooperating right now. You see I've written two books. And each book is the first of a series of three. So when I finished the first book it took me a while to move on to another world of characters and plot otherwise known as "the other book entity." And that book entity still keeps me up at night. Those ostentatious kids want me to continue their story. And who can blame them? We all know YA books come in three now, right?
Except they're loud, these kids. They wont let me sleep and I really like sleeping.
Oh, the audacity.
I just love that word, audacity.
And I do mean but. If the first book in a series doesn't get sold...and I know you know this one...the second book doesn't either.
Brainstorming. Yep. That's what I'm doing. Listening to music. Staring off into nothingness. And brainstorming.
I'll let you know how it goes...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary Jay! And Bella and Edward...

So tomorrow my husband and I celebrate our five-year anniversary. FIVE YEARS! Yippee!
If you've been reading my blog or know me at all you are aware that, yes, I've read the Twilight series and, yes, I am a fan. BUT NOT A FANATICAL ONE! So... No, I didn't plan my wedding around Bella and Edward's. I just so happened to have August 13 as my anniversary before Eclipse even came out. Thanks a lot, Stephenie.
A few months ago while I was sitting in the movie theater — with half the teenage population of my town — watching Eclipse I was reminded of this fact.
But as my four-year-old politely informs me each day, "You have to share, Mama."
So. You know. Whatever.
Happy Anniversary to Bella and Edward too. And anyone else out there who chose the 13th of August simply because in 2005 it just so happened to fall on a beautiful Saturday in Utah!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review!

So because I love books and I read them often it only makes sense that I should feature some of them here on my blog. Right?
Of course.
Today I'm going to write about The Chosen One.
I've had this on my TBR pile for about a year now. You see Carol Lynch Williams and I have something in common. We have the same agent. And just before I signed with him I had a wonderful phone conversation with Carol where she asked me question after question and I tried desperately to use my words and form sentences because I'd heard so much about her book and how brilliant it is and I'd been drawn to the cover in the bookstore (because it's so eye catching) and I was a bit starstruck... But Carol was so very nice and patient and I think I probably asked her the same question three times just because I was so nervous but she didn't seem to notice. Or did she??
She's great. I love Carol Lynch Williams. One day I will write half as well as she does...
And the book?
Yes. The book.
So it took me a while to get around to this one. Even though just after I hung up the phone I turned to my husband and said, "We need to go and buy this book. Right now!"
But, um, I didn't exactly read it right away. First my mother read it (who was visiting from Utah) and then my mother-in-law read it and once it was back in my hands I successfully kept from reading it until just last week. (Over a year from when I first bought the book)
Yes. I know. I'm really good at putting things off. You see I knew I was going to be so completely swept away by the book but I was much too much of a wuss to read it.
Books about Polygamy really get to me.
Or rather books about a victim, that is a child, really get to me.
But The Chosen One has been calling me. Staring me right in the eye day after day, month after month, whispering, "You're a wuss, Shari. Read me. Now."
So I picked it up and sat down and began to read.
Now I'm not going to spoil anything for you because I truly believe that everyone should read this book. And you shouldn't be afraid like I was.
I could go on and on about Kyra and what an amazingly strong character she is or write about how I don't understand why her parents would allow these things to happen to her, mainly her father, and do absolutely nothing to stop them. I realize how difficult it would be for them to leave the compound and exist in a world where a man doesn't marry more than one woman at a time. Kyra's father would be forced to choose one of his wives and then what would become of the others? Or the children of his other wives which are still his children?
Complicated. I know.
But I'm not going to write about that. Nope. You will have to read the book to find out more about Kyra and her family.
This book captured me from the very first standout line and made my heart race. It was a physical read for me. While my mind was caught up in the simple yet poetic descriptions and observations my chest grew tight from the tension building page by page. There were moments I was so terrified I had to stand up and walk around the room!
And just in case you were wondering how a great book should begin here's the opening line:

If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."

Enough said.
Now go read the book!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eat the Bananas!

I've been thinking a lot about procrastination lately. Mostly when I'm in the grocery store. The bananas usually get me.
They line up all bundled and yellow and I think, "Indiana really loves you so I'll buy some..."

But then a week or so later I discover they've turned black and smell bad and suddenly I'm reminded that I brought them home from the store.
Now peaches are another thing all together. Even nectarines. They always get eaten.
So why do I buy the bananas?
Because I should? They're healthy. They're part of a nutritious breakfast...at least they're always in the commercials. And they're very portable. They've got that nifty jacket that keeps them protected when you throw them into your purse or backpack. Unlike the peaches. They usually get squished.
So what does any of this have to do with procrastination?
Peaches are all of the things I have to do each day to keep the peace. And I do them willingly. I prefer my environment to be chaos-free. And bananas are the other things. The things that get ignored until they start to smell. Or rather they start knocking around inside my head saying things like, "You should really sit down and try to write today or you'll forget all of that great brainstorming you did while you were supposed to be sleeping last night."
I guess it's all about balance and dedication. Not to mention motivation, determination and focus. And inspiration and...well I could list about a hundred more words that should keep me from procrastinating.
Or I could just go and buy some more bananas.