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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Accomplishments?

What's in a New Year's resolution? The desire to make ourselves into something we're not? The subconscious will to see ourselves fail again and again? I remember as a teenager, seeing a little note on the refrigerator door that said, "Remember your New Year's resolution" written in my mother's neat cursive. Well, you can guess what that was all about, and twenty years later, she's still overweight. I wonder how many people actually make New Year's Resolutions and go on to succeed. If you're like me, you do well for the first few months of the year and then somewhere around the middle of May, June or July, you say screw it!, and go on with life much happier and perhaps a bit heavier around the waist.

Perhaps rather than make these resolutions that never amount to anything and seem to just get us down, we should finish every year with a list of all the things we did succeed at, or made progress with. Then we can look at all of the good things we've done and not feel this heavy burden of having to make the same resolution year after year. So, here's a list I came up with of things (some writing related, some not), that I did accomplish this year, in no particular order.

1. Finished a first draft of a novel. The second draft is a major overhaul, but I did get that first draft done.

2. Read close to 50 books - listed here on my blog. Actually it was over 50, but I just made the list about a month ago and couldn't remember them all.

3. Posted 450 times on AW website - ok this may sound weird, especially since you can rack up posts in no time if you're just talking to people, but most of my posts were actually critiques of other's writing or posts of my own writing. So, I take this to be an accomplishment. I gained a little back bone by posting some of my stuff and I learned a lot about writing and editing in general. Hopefully I helped others out in the process.

4. Made 85% return on my Roth IRA - obviously not writing related, but a major accomplishment nonetheless. I think I got lucky though, I just happened to start investing again at the March low.

5. Taught my daughter the basics of reading. She's doing really great with her phonics and small words, and I think that by the time she starts Kindergarten next fall she'll be on to more complex words.

6. Actually drove to my sister's house! Yes, this is embarrassing, but I have this huge fear of driving on the freeway. I have a horrible stigmatism and the idea of merging frightens me to death. But I was getting sick of relying on my husband when I want to visit family, so I sucked up the courage and actually drove.

7. Work - I wish that I had more to list here, but science is so unpredictable. I spent most of the year trying to do transient transfections in plant protoplasts with very little success. But, the good thing is that I beefed up my cloning efforts so I'm now much more proficient with that, and I'll be trying some new experiments in tobacco leaves that look promising so far. My boss is having my gene patented and we will probably be working hard to get some papers out in the next year, so there's a lot to look forward to.

So do I have things that I want to accomplish in the coming year? You bet I do! But I'm not going to make any actual resolutions - I'm just going to keep on doing what I have been doing. Seeing areas where I can make progress, learning a little self discipline (like not spending all day surfing the web - hint, hint) and patting myself on the back when I make progress. That to me is a much better plan than posting a little sticky on the fridge.

Happy 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Teaser -December 29, 2009

This is the conclusion to the first chapter of NIKKI'S WISH. The beginning is still posted in the Tuesday teaser section to the right if you want to review what's been going on. I feel like it needs a lot of work now, especially after reading everyone's great kissing scenes last week. But, enjoy!

Sorry, this teaser has been removed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas blurb

Well, Christmas is over and although there was a mini-blizzard outside (12 inches), I feel like I have a mini hurricane inside my house. Toys - all over the floor. Dishes- all over the counter. The clean up crew went on vacation (were they ever not on vacation?) and now it's time to get back to work. Yes, my kids will be cleaning, cleaning today. They got lots of cool stuff, but it still amazes me how its the little, cheap things that hold their interest. For my daughter, it was her 1$ white erase board with the Disney Princesses on it. For my toddler, it was his 8$ Brown Bear book. He's so cute - he walks around the house holding the book up so everyone can see and recites the whole story. Did I mention he's only two? Well, I knew there had to be one avid reader in the family. My older son actually got really involved with one of his more expensive gifts. We got him a Snap Circuits set where he gets to make cool things by setting up different circuits to a battery. There's a fan, a light, music that plays when you clap. It's probably one of the best educational toys I've bought. The only problem is that now I feel like I have to dig out my old physics book to explain to him what current and resistance are. I was never very good with that kind of stuff. Sometime today I'll probably head over to Target and see what cheap things I can scramble up in their after the holidays sale. I did manage to read a book yesterday, The House of the Scorpion, which was very good. I think I'll have to go on a book shopping spree in January. I have lots of books on my list and the library just doesn't keep what I want on hand.

Well, that's my after the holidays blurb. Hope everyone had a jolly good time with their friends and family and that you're thinking about your New Year's resolutions. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Teaser December 22, 2009

This is a continuation of last's week's teaser. Everyone was so nice with their comments last week, but really I can take some harsh criticism if you want to give it to me. Even though it is Christmas.... just kidding. To get you up to speed, Nikki has encountered Sam on the top of Minneapolis's Foshay Tower, where he is prepared to jump. 

Sorry, this teaser has been removed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A weekend of procrastination

So I've been trying for some time now to get back into editing the second draft of NIKKI'S WISH, and this weekend was once again a failure. I'm just stuck, stuck, stuck, and thinking about other books that I want to work on is just so much more fun. Whoever said that the first draft is the hardest probably never got around to a second draft. This time I got distracted thinking about a new beginning for THE LAST CASTRATO. Around 2:30 Friday night I got up and re-read what I had written back in September, then I spent all of Saturday and Sunday redoing the beginning from a different character's POV. I think that it reads a little better, but now I have to come up with some way to mesh what I had done previously into this newer version. As I think about that I'll probably try to motivate myself to do those revisions. In the meantime, I offer up part of the first section that I wrote this weekend. This still needs a lot of tweaking, but any comments, good or bad are welcome. At some point I'll put it up on the SYW section of the AW website, when it's gone through some more revisions. Til then...

Chapter 1: The Last Castrato

After sixteen years of avoiding the shadows, Alex Marron felt that she should have known better. Of course they would be here. Just because this was a ballet theater and not a dark alley in the ghetto didn’t mean that she was safe. The rich were no more immune to evil than the poor. They just hid it better.
A burly man in a heavy wool coat, cashmere scarf and polished shoes stood in the row in front of her, conversing with a person whom most would assume was his wife. Alex knew better. She could see the dark shadows that peeled off his skin like snake scales. Cheater. To the left and three rows down, a woman in a white dress and mink stole was so enshrouded by the dark shapes that her strawberry blond hair looked like a pile of ash. Thief. Across the room, in what she assumed to be the orchestra pit, a man in a tuxedo plucked the strings of a violin, his eyes leaking smoky tears as he looked at one of his fellow, female musicians. Philanderer.
These were just a few of the marked souls that she could see in the packed theater – and she doubted they were the worst. Alex swallowed hard and wished that she could bury her face in her father’s coat like she had as a little girl, when the shadows had been so frightening, the world so big. The shadows were still frightening, but now she was big.
So just deal with it, she told herself. Don’t be such a wuss.
A slight pressure against her hand told her that her father was conscious of her discomfort. When she turned to look at him, his eyes said more than he could ever say with words. Was she alright?
Alex nodded and tried to smile for him. “Jus noorves,” she said, swallowing the syllables like they were wads of gum stuck in her throat. She knew her pronunciation had been off, though she couldn’t hear it. She could only feel it.
He patted her knee before picking up his hands to sign. It wasn’t so dark in the theater that she couldn’t read his lips, but she was grateful for the added interpretation. “First ballet in New York City. But don’t worry. It won’t be your last.”
Alex took a deep breath. No, it wouldn’t be her last, not if she could help it. And if that were the case then she had to get used to being around crowds like this. She couldn’t expect to be a performer and not encounter a few bad souls now and then.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who is my inspiration?

This post is in response to the Tell Us Your Inspiration contest going on at OPWFT blogsite, who ask that we tell about the author who inspires us to write. So this is going to sound VERY cliche and VERY much like a newbie talking, but it's the truth. My inspiration is Stephenie Meyer. Eeek! you say. But wait! There's a good reason for this and it has nothing to do with characters, plot, or sparkling vampires. I am not a die-hard Twilight fan. I didn't wait in a six block line to go see the movie, and I didn't pre-order any of the books. In fact, I didn't even know about Twilight until just about two years ago. Unbelievable, but true.

A little background: I used to read a lot in high school and college, but then things sort of tapered off what with grad school, getting married and having kids. I actually didn't read a whole lot for many years. My favorite author has always been Anne Rice, and she was about the only author for who I would actually buy a hardcover book. Even when I started to write my own stuff about six years ago, I still didn't take to reading a whole lot. Then, one day I was surfing the web looking to see if there was anything new out from Anne Rice and I happened to trip over this series of books about vampires that everyone was raving about. Me, with my love affair for Lestat, read a little summary and decided to pick up Twilight.  Can't tell you how embarrassed I was to actually walk through the young adult section of Barnes and Noble for the first time, but I was curious enough that I did it. I read Twilight, liked it, but I wasn't really sure if I wanted to read the second book. Edward had a different opinion. He kept gnawing at me, saying 'come on, you know you want to. I sparkle. Can Lestat do that?'. Finally I gave in and read the second book. Like so many others, I got hooked and read the rest of the series. Now I'm not actually going to say that I think S. Meyer is a great writer. I know she's not, but what she did do was inspire me to pursue writing more diligently. I read her story and saw some similarities between us. She has three kids - I have three. She had never written anything before - neither had I. She was middle age - I am, ahem. Now I know that Stephenie got lucky. I know that it's not that easy to get published, but I started to think if she can do it, then why can't I? It might take a while, but I know that I'll get there. So, yeah. Stephenie Meyer is my inspiration for why I got into this. Now if you want to talk about voice, that's a whole other topic.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off on a tangent - or in my world, procrastination

I know that this blog is supposed to be about writing YA, but about two months ago, I had an idea to write a middle grade novel. I wanted to somehow incorporate my real career, science, into my creative writing hobby. Looking through the Scholastic flyers that my son gets, I didn't see any science series that are really geared toward a slightly older age group. There is of course the Magic Treehouse series, a series about horses, and another one about dinosaurs. There's even one about puppies, but most of these seem like they're geared towards a younger, 1st-2nd grade audience. I want mine to be on a slightly higher level, maybe 3rd-5th grade and I want it to be entertaining as well as informative. I wrote out a first chapter and had my sister, who's a third grade teacher, read it. Her response was good. Then I came up with a plot to set around that first chapter, but the next day dismissed it because it sounded too much like Harry Potter goes to zoology class. I have since rethought it, keeping all magic out of it and focusing instead on real life. What I've come up with is a main character who is intensely interested in science and stuff, but as she makes the transition from grade school into middle school and junior high, she's pressured to drop her interests and conform to the status quo. It's kind of gone a little askew since then and I fear that I may be making it too focused on girly things. It is supposed to be directed more towards girls than boys, but I fear that I may be alienating my boy readers altogether. At any rate, if interested, the first chapter is posted here on the AW website. I direct you there so that you can see what others have said about it. Harsh criticism is appreciated.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Teaser December 15, 2009

Hi All. This is my first tuesday teaser and it's the first chapter of my most complete WIP, called Nikki's Wish. I'm working on my second draft of this and getting a bit stuck. Any feedback is appreciated!

Sorry, this teaser has been removed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First official blog entry!!

Ok, so I suppose that this is my first official blog entry, and to kick things off, I'll give you a rundown of what I propose to do with this blog. First and foremost I want this blog to be educational both for myself and anyone who takes it upon themselves to read it. Therefore, one of the big things that I plan to do is a monthly entry about a particular area of writing, whether that be a post about POV, voice, how to edit, etc. Second, I plan to do a weekly Tuesday teaser - a short snippet of my current WIP or something else I've written. Hoping to get some feedback there and some loyal followers. Lastly, I'll use this blog to comment on books that I've read and enjoy or on the genre of Young Adult as a whole. Don't know how informative I'll be there, but I'll give it my best.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reading List for 2009

Below is a list of all the books I have read during 2009 (that I can remember). At some point I will figure out how to link them to reviews.

1. City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare 
2. City of Ashes  by Cassandra Clare
3. The Host by Stephenie Meyers
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by JK Rowling
9. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
11. Carrie by Stephen King
12. No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark
13. He Sees You When You're Sleeping by Mary Higgins Clark
14. All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark
15. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
16. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
17. Dewey by Vicki Myron
18. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger
19. Schindler's List by Thomas Kineally
20. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
21. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
22. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
23. Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak
24. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
25. Evernight by Claudia Gray
26. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
27. Wake by Lisa McMann
28. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
29. Looking for Alaska by John Green
30. On Writing by Stephen King
31. Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King
31. The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
32. The Shifter by Janice Hardy
33. Break by Hannah Moskowitz
34. The Pearl by Scott O'Dell
35. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
36. John Dillinger Slept Here by Paul Maccabbee
37. The Tree Shepherd's Daughter by Gillian Summers
38. Christ the Lord - The Road to Canna by Anne Rice
39. Blind Fall by Christopher Rice
40. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
41. I'd tell you I love you but then I'd have to kill you by Ally Carter
42. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
43. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
44. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
45. Grafitti Girl by Kelly Para
46. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
47. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer



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