Monday, January 31, 2011

New Milk

I love milk. Did you know? Well, I do. And yesterday when husband went out to buy milk he came back with a new brand. Now, I'm kinda funny about milk. I don't like just ANY milk. It has to be yum milk.
But here on the East Coast we've been getting a bit of cold weather and by cold weather I mean SNOW. And when it snows here people go to the grocery store and they stockpile cause snow apparently means the end of the world.
So. New milk for me.
Oh. And more snow for me too.

And since we're talking about winter this is week three that ice skating has been canceled. WEEK THREE. And all three of those weeks took place in JANUARY which we all know is a winter month. Hmm. winter + snow = no ice skating
Make sense? Yeah. That's what I thought.
So guess what we're doing? Yep. Watching Strawberry Shortcake movies and making cupcakes cause that's what you do when you can't leave your house in the winter.
Perhaps in the spring we'll be able to ice skate again. Or maybe when summer hits. You never know.
Meanwhile, I have some fun photos for you.

<----- This is the pretty one

<----This is to show you what we do when we have too much snow

<-----This is how freakin' freezing it is

And in case we don't make it out to the grocery store again, here are two pictures of my cats.



If you don't hear from me in a few days, they've eaten us.

Where My Book May Take Me

It's been a week now. A week of war on book one. And I have to say, most days I'm not winning.
But yesterday things felt better. I finished writing around dinnertime and felt a glimmer of happiness. It didn't last long, but it was something.
Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE that I'm attacking this book. It needs it. But it's dragging me down into this world I like to call character empathy.
What is character empathy?
When you become your character or feel what your character is feeling or dress like your character or cry like your character.
You get the point.
I'm telling you this in case you see me walking around dressed in black and looking a bit low. Just ignore it. It will go away.
Eventually this books gets happy again.
Until then...
I'll be the one sitting in the corner glaring at the world while I eat chocolate.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What To Bring On Your Trip To Revisionland

This weekend I decided the time had come. So I grabbed book one, slapped it in its face and told it what was up. Yes. Sometimes I'm a bit violent with books.

I have to say I feel much better now.

Thirty pages in and everything is working! (Perhaps I should have whispered that)

Now revisions are fun and all but sometimes they feel like someone (who hates you) has stolen every aspect of your life, ripped each thing into tiny pieces and then when you're standing there with your head all stupid and confused they inform you that for the next few days you will have to reassemble each thing into one gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

And that's what I willingly decided to do this weekend.

Me <--- Crazy And just in case there are others out there who, like me, enjoy complicating their life here are my Top Five Tips on how to keep from hitting the delete button once and for all and instead arriving at the part where you type, The End. Oh, yes. The two most alluring words in a writer's vocabulary.

So. Here we go.

1. Good music
You knew that was coming, didn't you? Finding the perfect writing music is always a challenge but once you find it you will know. Right now I can't stop listening to Jonsi Go Live. I listen to it so often my husband may have to delete it right off my iPod. But wait. Why would he do that? That's mean.

2. Candy

It's not just me, people! Candy helps you write! Everyone knows that. And the best part is you get to choose your candy! Some people swear by chocolate, while others enjoy chewy candy like gummy peaches or apples. Personally, as long as it's not black licorice I'm down with any candy.


3. Long Show
It's important to be clean and all but mostly I find I do some of my best brainstorming while taking a shower.

4. Take A Walk
I love long walks on the beach but right now it's like -200 degrees outside. So I walk on my treadmill. Music + Walking = Mucho Brainstorming
And it helps you be healthy! See! Writing makes you healthy!

5. Sleep Or No Sleep

You would think that getting enough sleep would be essential to a revision. But you would think wrong. You see, sleep is important and all but when you're in the middle of a scene and you can't get the MC to do what you want them to do without banging your head against a wall and cursing your supportive husband for thinking you're actually a good writer and encouraging you to keep writing, you may have to choose to not sleep when true inspiration strikes, like in the middle of the night or just as you're about to crawl into bed after not sleeping for three straight days. So, yeah. Sleep when you can.

I find the voices in my head don't like it much when I sleep.


Did I miss anything??

What works for you?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some Music On A Thursday

I'm getting a bit sporadic with the music posts. Truth is, I'm not very organized. And I'm easily distracted.

Today we feature The Decemberists.

I know I've never mentioned them before. I can't listen to them while I write. Their lyrics are far too distracting. It's kinda like trying to tell someone a story while they're watching a movie. Impossible. And slightly annoying.
So I listen to The Decemberists while driving or hanging out, pretty much when I'm doing anything other than trying to put words together on a page.

<--- New Album (The King Is Dead) <--- My Favorite Album (The Crane Wife)

And they're good. Don't believe me? Check out my music thingy. I've put some of my favorite songs up for your listening pleasure. Oh! And they have a shiny new album out now. The King Is Dead. It's pretty amazing. Just like every other album they've made.

My all time favorite song will always be the Crane Wife 3. And even though it always triggers sad memories, I love the song completely.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Kinda Feels Real Now

My PM is up!!
Last night on Publishers Marketplace they announced this:

Shari Arnold's DUST, in which a seventeen-year-old girl witnesses the resurrection of the most popular boy in her school in the middle of his funeral, to Julie Romeis at Chronicle, for publication in Spring 2012, by Stephen Fraser at Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

Crazy! I KNOW!
I can't tell you how long I've waited to see that. Seriously. I stared at those words for, um, an embarrassingly long time last night. I still don't believe it. Perhaps when the book is in my hands it will feel real.

So now that the announcement is officially out there I thought I'd tell you all the fun story of how I came to be published. It's a long one. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Reading is pretty important to a writer, no? Well this writer didn't read for about 6-7 years. Yes. I know. Insanity. But I was a little busy. I graduated photography school in June of 2000 and while I was in school I pretty much stopped reading. I mean I was barely sleeping or eating at the time (they kept us crazy busy) so giving up reading didn't seem all that dramatic. And then once school was done my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I decided it would be fun to start our own photography studio. 5 years later (and not much reading) we were still shooting weddings and portraits and then we decided to get married and then kid #1 came along...
Wow. This story is getting a bit long.
Anywho. It was around the time Kid #1 was 6 months old (2006) and we were visiting family in Utah for Christmas that my BFF Michelle (Hi Michelle!) told me about this rather unknown YA novel called Twilight.
Have you heard of it? Yeah. Didn't think so.
She placed it in my hands and said, "I thought you might like this book since you're, um, a Buffy fan and all. It's about vampires but it's really not about vampires, it's more a love story than anything else and I really think you should read it cause it's really good and I love it."
Okay. She didn't say it exactly like that, but it was four years ago. I can't remember every little detail.
So I looked at the book, flipped it over and then shrugged.
"Huh," I said.
And that was the end of that.
Or was it...?
A few days later while we were waiting for our plane to arrive in Baltimore I wandered into a bookstore and there it was, that Twilight novel with the white hands and the red apple and the happy stay-at-home mom smiling at me from the back of the book. She looked so nice, not like someone who would write a vampire novel. I smiled back at her and said, "My friend just loves your book. And it must be really good cause she doesn't read vampire books."
Then I went to put it back up on the shelf.

But I was bored.

Kid #1 was sleeping in her stroller. Husband was looking at gadgety things at one of those gadgety stores.

So I bought the book.

The silly part of this story is that once I finished the book I was suddenly convinced that it was time to start writing. I'd always imagined the day I would start writing my novel (doesn't everybody?) but in my mind I was like fifty and my kids were in college and I was living out in the country somewhere growing cats while my friends grew tomatoes and watermelon.
I didn't imagine I'd start writing while I was the mother of a small child that rarely slept. Nope. Didn't see that one coming.
So I started writing. And it sucked. Then I wrote some more. And it still sucked. Then one day it sucked a little bit less.
The day I finished my book I was ecstatic. I couldn't believe I'd written a novel! An entire novel with a beginning, middle and end. 70,000 plus words! Look at me!! WAHOO!
I was convinced it would sell immediately and that Stephenie Meyer and I would be swapping playlists by the end of the month. Her book had really taken off by then and every place I looked, Oh! There she was! And I knew all about her, her dream of the sparkly people in the forest and how she wrote the book in like 6 days and then sold it in 4 hours. For millions and millions of dollars!

Yep. We were just meant to be friends. (We even share the same birthday, y'all!)

Okay. Now I sound like a stalker.

Well. It didn't exactly happen that way.
I sent out queries and, holy cow, did I get a lot of interest! I was convinced by next year I'd be published.
And then next year came.
And then the following year. Soon I was pregnant with Kid #2 and even though I'd had a few close calls I was still without an agent.

And then December '08 hit. I got an email that went something like this:

I'd love to chat with you about your book even though it's a pass for me.


She wants to chat with me, like on the phone? But she doesn't want to represent me?
Perhaps there was some truth to that whole "when you are pregnant your child eats your brain" thing. Because her email sounded like crazy talk to me.
And then she called and it was great and she liked my book and even though she wanted to do a pretty intense revision she was willing to sign me!! ME!!
For days I danced around the house (in between bouts of nausea) and I waited and waited for my revision notes to arrive!
But they never did.
That should have been my first sign.
So I tackled the revisions on my own. I collected all of the rejections I'd received, every last word of criticism, and I sat down at my computer and got to work.
In the end I had a much better book.

And then about a month before Kid #2 was due to make his grand entrance into the world she emailed me and told me we were done. Over. The end.
She'd had a look at my revision and she'd decided it wasn't going to work for her.

And, no, I didn't cry. Nope. Not one tear. Even though I was ginormously pregnant and my hormones were telling me I could totally get away with it, I did not. Truthfully I was relieved. Things just weren't working between us.
So instead I sat down at my computer and sent out about 20 queries. And then I waited. Within an hour I had three requests.
I was back in business.
One month later I'm sitting in my hospital bed, I have a beautiful baby boy sleeping next to me, and I get an email from an agent. After reading 50 pages she wants more. So I send it. Yay for laptops and free Wi-Fi! (Writers are crazy people. We take our laptops everywhere.)
And then I go to sleep.
6/2009-The day I get home from the hospital my husband surprises me with a beautiful corner of the world I like to call my writing desk. It overlooks the most inspiring view and occasionally the cats will share it with me. Occasionally.
I'm crying/smiling/laughing, pretty much happy to be home from the hospital when the phone rings.
Agent #1 wants to represent me. She's lovely and excited about my book. She doesn't think I need to do any revisions at all.
So I write to the other agents who are reading my book and let them know I have interest.
Agent #2 emails me. He wants to chat tomorrow morning.
Agent #3 wants me to send her the full (she only had the first 50 pages)
I speak with agent #2 and he's super excited! He wants to sign me!
Agent #3 wants to chat too but by then I'd already made a decision.

I choose Agent #2!

Yay!! And he doesn't think my book needs any work either!! Super Yay!!

July 2009- Agentman subs book. I walk around in a state of constant anxiety for about three months. And then add a few more months.

November 2009-I can no longer ignore the new voices in my head. I start writing book 2

April 2010-I finish book 2

May 2010-After a month of reworking book 2 I send it to Agentman

June 2010-Agentman subs book 2 out to big scary editors

October 2010-Agentman calls me. I have a nervous breakdown before answering the phone. Just seeing his name on caller ID prompts me to turn to my children and promise them each a pony if they stay quiet. He tells me we have some interest. Editor in California wants to chat about book 2. But first, I have to get through the weekend. He hangs up. (Agentman can be a bit cruel sometimes)
Following Tuesday I chat with editor. She's awesome. I want to bake her cookies. She tells me she's going to talk about my book in the meeting tomorrow. I don't understand what this means but I pretend to.
The next day I don't hear anything by:
12pm (9am CA time)
or 5pm (my time)
or 6pm (my time)

When 7pm rolls along I'm resolved to the fact that I will never hear anything. Ever. I go upstairs to put kids to bed.
A little after 9:00pm I come downstairs and check caller ID because I'm crazy like that.
Agentman's name is right there. Right there! He called a few minutes after 9pm!!
He called!!
Why did he call?!? It's so late.
And he didn't leave a message! I call him back.
"The meeting went well," he tells me. "We should receive an offer after the weekend." (I really hate weekends)
11-11-10- Offer is in. We accept. Celebration of celebrations!!
That night husband takes me out for a yum dinner and...

I can't stop smiling.

Road to Publication recipe:
Started writing in Feb/07
11 months of querying to get 1st agent
1 month of querying to get second agent
17 months of being agented and 2 books to get book deal
5 months of subbing for book 2 to get an offer
(I still have hope for book 1)
10 months to write book 1 (not counting revisions)
5 months to write book 2

So. Don't give up. Ever.

I am now on Goodreads.com. Come visit me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sometimes I think I'm Crazy

My nineteen-month-old son has learned a new word. And of course he learned it from me. You see we play this game where I yell, "Help me! Help me!" (because all true princesses often find themselves in distress) Then my four-year-old daughter rushes in and saves me. And we all live happily ever after. The end.
So now when I'm changing my son's diaper or carrying him (kicking and screaming) from the store he yells, "Help!"

Instead of people staring at us because he has this unusually loud shriek they are wondering if I'm a kidnapper. And whether or not they should get involved.
Good thing we have the same hair color.

I've been avoiding writing lately. I'm not sure why, I mean I have thousands of reasons but you know they're all excuses when they begin with, because. Because because because.
So the voices are getting louder. I know some people take medication for that but I simply write down what the voices tell me to. And when I don't they get really loud and they start to make me feel like I'm going crazy.
Ice cream helps. And chocolate.
Yesterday I made cookies.
Today I might just have to sit down and do what they tell me to do.

And I may have to start exercising.

I read the most important blog post yesterday. It's about pirating. Yes. It sounds like fun. Like an adventure on the high seas but alas, it is not.
It's very very bad. So don't do it. And in case you don't believe me read this: DON'T STEAL

Now off to dance with my four-year-old. We recently picked up Just Dance 2 for the Wii. She can't get enough of that Britney song.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Music Friday!

It's been a while since I threw some music at you. And today's choice is a good one.

Has anyone out there heard of Muse?

No? Really??

Yeah, I know. It's like asking if you've heard of Coldplay.
The first time I heard Muse I was like wow! Play that again! And again. I've been a fan ever since. I have to admit my favorite scene in Twilight (the movie) was when those sparkly vampires got it into their pretty little heads to play baseball. And that was also about the time my poor husband, who was dragged to the movie theater, sat up and focused his eyes upon the screen. Baseball, flying vampires and Muse. Well done, Catherine Hardwicke. You got my husband's attention.

Or was it Matthew Bellamy's swoony voice and that crazy lead guitar?

I love Muse. I was lucky enough to see them play a local university here in CT. But they didn't play very long. For me it was a teaser. And a teaser of Muse is better than nothing, right? I guess.
But I really would have loved to see this last tour. I love Absolution. I love Black Holes and Revelations. But I LOVE The Resistance. Some serious brainstorming/writing music to be had in those eleven songs.
Oh. And for all of you out there who like to exercise Muse should be on your workout playlist. And if you are by chance writing a romantic scene and need some musical inspiration check out Starlight off of Black Holes and Revelations. That song makes my heart flutter. Every single time I hear it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tools of the Trade

I've been reading a lot lately. It's what I do when I get that itch to start a new book. I seek out new characters or sometimes I revisit old ones.
When I was in photography school they told me to flip through magazines or art books for
But now that I'm writing I read books. If I'm in need of mystery or suspense ideas I look to Harlan Coben. His book Tell No One was my first taste of mystery. Other than my collection of Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown books I never really got into reading mystery. And even now I rarely find myself wandering over to that specific aisle in the bookstore. But Harlan has it down. He knows just when to throw you off and how to keep you turning the pages.

And when I need some lessons in love I go to Judith McNaught. No one writes romance like Judith. It's the chemistry between her characters that keeps me reading. By the end of the book these characters are so real to me they've become my friends. Sad but true. And then she'll go and write another book and throw some old friends in just for fun and there I am back at the bookstore buying them up. Good writing + good characters + crazy chemistry + friends that keep turning up = YAY!
My favorite book of Judith's (and I can't tell you how many times I have read it) is Perfect.
I don't know what it is about this book. I just keep coming back to it. (And BTW don't click on the photo. I couldn't find a single cover that didn't have that Amazon Look Inside thingy)

It is very important when you're writing a YA book that has a hint of mystery and some romance to know how to write a hint of mystery and some romance. Yeah. I know. Makes sense. And writing is kinda hard so I find that now and then (or every other day) I have to look to the masters to get some ideas.

In the last few weeks I've been reading new books. Books that have been recommended to me or books I've heard so much about I just had to check them out. I love new books. I love when I discover a new author and add him/her to my toolbox.

And since we are talking books and since this is the time of year when people start talking "Best of ..." I have to say that the best book I read this year (and I really hate saying the best because I love so many but this book really had an impact on me) is...

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

This book is good. If you haven't read it, please do.
I love when a book is so good I stop reading just to think. Think about the character and what she's doing, think about the plot and where it's going but mostly I think about the author and how she knew to put a few words together to create a sentence that would stop me in my tracks. And make me think. But mostly feel. Something.

So. Books help you write. And they're fun.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Well hello 2011!

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and set some realistic goals for 2011. I know I have. At least they feel realistic today, the third day of January.

Wanna know my resolutions? Do ya? Huh?

To start the year off I plan to revise book 2 until it's absolutely perfect. Then just for fun I'm going to attack book one until it's everything it could have been when I first started writing it.


I'm going to write book three. Or perhaps book three will come before book one. You never know.

So. That should get me through the first half of the year...
Other side goals:
Readreadreadreadread and then read some more cause books are fun!
Exercise! Cause writing involves a lot of sitting and I'm not so good at sitting.

Oh! Remember all those books that were on my wish list? I guess I was a good girl this year cause most of them were wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree! And, yes, I've already read most of them. Book reviews coming soon!

Happy first day back to work everyone!! Yeah 2011! You smell great and look great! Sigh. I just want to wrap you up and carry you around like a new doll baby.