Friday, December 23, 2011

New Website

Notice anything new in the top right corner of my blog? That's right, it's a link to an actual website my husband designed for me at Go check it out right now. You can read about my books and learn how to stalk me via other routes besides my blog. I know you want to. :) After you do, come back and tell me what you think.

Mele Kalikimaka a hau'oli makahiki hou!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blog Tour: Fractured Light by Rachel McClellan

I follow Rachel’s blog and have been eagerly anticipating the release of her debut novel, Fractured Light. I am thrilled to have been able to read it before its release date of February 7, 2012 and to participate in her blog tour. Here’s the scoop on the book:

I’m dying, I thought. This was unexpected and not at all how I envisioned my death. I was supposed to die gardening in a flowerbed as a hundred-year-old woman, not as a seventeen-year-old trapped in a lake beneath inches of ice.

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

In this breathtaking and romantic adventure, Rachel McClellan delivers a truly mesmerizing story that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Pretty cover, huh?
Believe it or not, I have a physics degree, and my life before writing consisted of math tutoring, solving equations that took up 5 pages of notebook paper, and being the only girl in a classroom of 300.

*Adding that to my list of things I thought I’d never admit to the writing world.*

BUT, through it all, I became obsessed with light. From the study of optics and bending light to how it factored into space travel, I was intrigued by its extraordinary and often mysterious properties.

So—I was a sucker for this paranormal YA novel from the start. It portrays a world of light vs. dark, good vs. evil, which I believe is the most fundamental conflict of our existence and NEVER gets old. (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, um…the Bible, to name a few).

In this book, however, we are talking literal light and dark. The story line was familiar and at times predictable, but with the fresh concept of light manipulation, I didn’t mind. Again, if it ain’t broke…

I was hooked from the start and would’ve read it in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way. Many of my friends know I have to LOVE a book to want to continue in a series (Chamber of Secrets what???) and let’s just say I have already penciled in the release of a sequel in 2013.

This story felt reminiscent of Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Need by Carrie Jones. No, there are no fallen angels or fairies, but there are male Guardians for the female Auras. And if you are a sucker for the cute, protective boy trying to shove away his feelings for the girl he is called to defend type of story like I am, then this book is for you. (And don’t worry, Llona holds her own and kicks major bootie in this book; we can save the Twilight bashing for another site, thank you very much.)

Here are some useful links if you feel so inclined...

Blog Tour Calendar

Author's Website

Book Page

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Okay, so my birthday isn't until tomorrow, but I couldn't wait to share an early birthday present from my amazing husband. SO EXCITED about this cover he designed for me. Isn't it awesome?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nano Love

Even though my posts of late reveal a roller-coaster ride of giddiness and angst, I must admit that in the end NaNoWriMo was worth it. Will I do it again? Probably, just don't tell my husband. He needs some time to adjust after a month's worth of no laundry getting done and eating cereal for dinner. I couldn't have done it without his support, and to add to my well of thankfulness for him, look what he made me for my nano book:Jealous much? You should be because it's gorgeous! It's funny how I can get so excited about a fake book cover.

I also couldn't have done it without my critique partners. We suffered and celebrated together. We even emailed each other our word count and last line every single day in November to keep up spirits. I kept a record of my word counts and lines. Click on the picture to get a closer read:
Considering the language in day 3 and the attitude in day 6, I may not want to attempt any more middle grade novels for awhile...back to young adult books for me.

On day 7, some of my CP's thought I might be writing a steamy romance.

On day 12, my main character had to pee...hehe.

On day 15, I taught a unit on botany to my kids during homeschool. Art imitates life?

On day 26, I managed to get Twilight into my novel.

And on day 30 I cried more than I ever have reading or writing a book--out loud sobs. I suppose that is part of being a writer, having imaginary friends that are so hard to say goodbye least for a few weeks before revisions begin. Oh boy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh yeah, baby!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I can do hard things

When I was 14 years old I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and had to have surgery right away. After being implanted with two metal rods running the entire length of my realigned back, I learned how to swallow handfuls of pills in one shot and was bedridden to a hospital bed for three months in my home, unable to walk, sit up, shower, use the bathroom, etc. without assistance. From that experience, I learned I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

When I was 16 years old, having fully recovered from my surgery, I got this crazy notion that I wanted to run a marathon. I trained for months with a very strict (and boring/lonely) regimen, including one dreadful 18-miler on a treadmill because it was pouring outside (not recommended :). I went on to finish the Honolulu Marathon in 1993 the day before I turned 17 and learned that I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Due to spinal complications from my back surgery, I am unable to get an epidural when giving birth (believe me, I tried...a 23 hour labor will make you try anything). With diabetic complications, three of my four children were induced. Despite the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth of four very hard deliveries, I learned I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

I have had several surgeries in my life (including removal of a breast tumor), completed triathlons, earned a BA in Physics, learned what it means to live off of the local food bank, survived a tornado, moved 11 times in the same amount of years, homeschool four amazing children and have even written 2 books. I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

When I read my post last week about how wonderful and amazing nanowrimo was going for me, I nearly peed my pants. I once thought, hey, I've written 2 books, nano will be a breeze. A walk in the park. A piece of cake. But today, I would like to mirror the words of one of my critique partners:


No, you are not the only one. And yes people--this is really hard. I'm plowing through, but I think I'm shaving years off my life in the process. My type A personality is having a hard time not editing as I go (I just don't have time for it right now). I hear chanting in my head all day, "Your writing sucks, your writing sucks." I know the story will be great, but right now it is not so great. It will definitely be a rewrite as opposed to a revise.

BUT, if there is anything I can take away from this post, it is that I CAN DO HARD THINGS. And guess what, I am and will continue to do it! Boo-yah!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Stephenie Meyer Moment

So last night while plugging away at my nano I got really really excited. Because as much as I might plan and outline and THINK I have the whole story mapped out in my mind, my characters or setting or even plot surprise me with new twists. This happens all the time in writing and is one of the reasons writing is so enjoyable. But last night I was clobbered with an idea that took a very traditional concept (in Hawaiian mythology) and turned it on its head. Guys, its so cool!

It's like how Stephenie Meyer decided vampires didn't have to have fangs, or sizzle from crosses or holy water. And how they can come out into the sun...sparkling. I know Hawaiian mythology isn't as well known as vampire folklore, but STILL--it makes me so excited to feel like I'm inventing something no one had even considered before, and it's absolutely thrilling.

After finishing my word count and some, I talked my husbands ears off in the garage while he worked on his hummer. (Payback for silently listening to all his search and rescue stories)

Him-You're going to have to...
Me-I know.
Him-And what about...
Me-I did this and this...
Him-Wow. That is cool.

So yeah, you could say I'm excited to get going on my nano today. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.

One of my CP's just wrote about finding joy in writing here.
So what keeps you motivated?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Writing Victories

Every once in a while I need a small writing victory to keep me motivated. It's usually just positive feedback on something I have written, or the completion of a step in a project I'm working on.

This week my victory came in the form of a writing contest win. I won 1st place in the American Fork City's Scary Story Contest in the adult age group for my short story "Dine With Lady Death." I won some cash...oh yeah. Along with my picture taken by the newspaper (check out my beauteous pose on the top row, far left). And my name in shining lights is listed on the AF Library's web page.

It's no publishing contract, but it sure feels good to know someone liked what I wrote. But you know what's even better? I found out the 2nd and 4th place winners are both published authors, one of them with an MFA in creative writing. That made me feel pretty good.

And now I'm ready to take on NaNoWriMo. Bring it on !

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo approaches...

Anyone else doing nanowrimo this year? Are you ready?

**asks the girl who will be doing nano for the first time and is uber excited-slash-nervous**

Thoughts? Advice? Tylenol?

Friday, October 14, 2011

I heart book signings

Oh yeah! This is how I spent my Tuesday night:

Q&A panel at Provo library with four YA authors.
Crit partner Katie talking with BLOOD RED ROAD author Moira Young:
Her novel has been optioned by Ridley Scott...super cool. And she writes for 7 hours a day in a dark room with ear plugs. And oh yeah, the room is down the street from her home in the back of a salon. Too funny.

Here I am with hilarious Elana Johnson, author of POSSESSION:
Elana writes behind her piano in a spot hidden from the front door (so no one can see the chaos). She blasts music on her headphones to drown out the kids when she's working. I love hearing about how other moms write.

And here is Becca Fitzpatrick, author of the HUSH HUSH saga.
She announced that there would be a fourth book in the series. I even came home with a signed poster of SILENCE complete with a sexy shirtless picture of Patch. Ooh la la. (Husband LOVED it, by the way :)

Michelle Hodkin, author of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER:
There's been a lot of hype about this one in the YA world and I am excited to read it. Of course, its the first piece of fiction she's ever written, period. Jealous...

Fun fun girls night out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Write What You Know

I had a unique childhood having grown up in Hawaii. I didn't realize how different and special it was until I left for college away from home. Not only did people make fun of my 'accent' (and my frequent use of the word 'yeah'), they would ask 'what are you?' when trying to determine my ethnicity, or spontaneously start speaking to me in Spanish in which I just stared, dumbfounded.

Having lived on the mainland now for many years, I realize how blessed I was to have such an upbringing. Ordinary, every day things like camping on the beach, going to school barefoot, eating raw crab and sugar cane, or flagging down the manapua man (think of it as a chinese ice cream truck that delivers noodles and steamed buns instead of ice cream) became extraordinary.

When writing stories, suddenly my MC's go spear fish diving, play tag on the elevators at Turtle Bay Hilton, get stung by a portuguese man-o-war (jellyfish) and meet a cute boy at a hidden waterfall. (Okay that last one didn't really happen to me, but I FANTASIZED about it through my teen years, so yes, it made it into one of my stories.)

As a writer, I realized I had a wealth of information and experience that was unique, interesting, and best of all REAL. Most of what I've written so far has been Hawaii-related because this is what I love, and hopefully others will find it just as fun to experience along with my characters as I did writing it and living it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

reading: The Demon King

THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams Chima is a high fantasy YA novel that was such a fun read. Han is a reformed streetlord struggling to support his mother and sister, and Raisa is a strong-willed princess longing for freedom. Their paths cross amidst fantastic scenes of adventure and suspense. And of course lots of magic.

Although this first novel in a series of four (#3 was just released) is chock full of unforgettable characters whom I love, it's true strength lies in the plot-driven story. Or should I say plots-driven...there are so many interweaving plots. It's fun to see when and where they come together.

I am anxious to read the next, it's sitting on my bedstand now, taunting me. Thanks to my dad for mailing me this one! Highly recommended.
I had a chance to meet Cinda Chima on Tuesday along with Jenilyn and Kathryn. We had so much fun at the Provo Library gossiping about books, authors, and writing conference rumors.

Cinda was a wonderful speaker, sharing her experience in writing her many books for young adults and providing encouragement to aspiring writers.
Sweet lady, you can find out more about her books here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Organized Chaos

I consider my life organized chaos. If I don't write it down, I will not remember it. And between homeschool, real school, church responsibilities, writing, my husband's schedule (he has his own business, teaches Tae Kwon Do, is on search and rescue, etc.) and the plethora of kids activities--of which I must volunteer my time for as well, I am a pretty busy mom. And if I ever lost my ipad planner, I think I might literally die. Not kidding. So yes, it's chaotic, but I like to think I have it under control.

So when I have writing inspiration, it doesn't necessarily come at the most convenient of times. I have post-its and scraps of paper all over my house-by my bed, my computer, in my purse, (the toilet), everywhere. A book or character idea is scribbled here, a scene or neat quote written there. I have literally woken up at 3 in the morning and scribbled my dream (nightmare) on paper, and jumped out of the shower dripping water everywhere as I jotted a story idea down. I try to bring the random pieces of inspiration together in a writing "notebook", but of course I have several of those all over the place too.

When I sit down to do the actual writing, I feel like I'm literally throwing up words on the page (or word document). There is that fear that if I don't get it written down, I will forget it. The words come out far from perfect and I just go go go when the inspiration hits. So revisions for me involve a lot of cut cut cutting of the crappy, followed by adding the pretty words and details that make it flow much better. You know, chaos, but organized. It works for me, each step of the process its own beast, but unique and enjoyable still.

How do you write? Are you organized? Do you take your time and revise as you go, or just throw it out there? Where and when do you get writing inspiration? Do you have a pen and paper by the toilet?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

music to inspire

This is me back in 1996 with Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies.

I'm kind of a music snob.

I tend to like most books I read. It's the same with movies, it's hard for me to come out of a movie not having enjoyed myself.

But when it comes to music, I'm hard to please. I would consider myself a fan of alternative, probably adult alternative since I'm an old lady and all. But even within that realm I am picky. And it doesn't matter to me if something is popular or not, as long as it's good.

I am defensive of my music. As in the Killers are the greatest band ever, so no need to argue. Cause I'm right. And if it's not played on my favorite radio station, you know, the one run by the local high school, it probably sucks.

As a result, music is a big inspiration for my writing. One of the fads of late are for authors to post a 'soundtrack' to their novel. Seems kinda cheesy, but I totally get it. There are certain songs that have implanted a seed in me for a story, or that I hear in my head while I write.

I can't tell you how many story ideas I've gotten from Tori Amos' 90's music or Sarah Maclachlan 80's music. Yes, I was very much alive in the 80's. I am inspired as much by the lyrics as I am by the music itself. And though poetry seems to be a lost art (no one buys the stuff anymore), music is the poetry of today and influences just as much, in my opinion.

The playlist below includes a trifling of music that has inspired me, the first ten off the top of my head.

What kind of music do you like?
What inspires your writing?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

reading: Life As We Knew It

When the moon is knocked off kilter by a huge asteroid, tsunamis, flooding, earthquakes and volcanoes ensue, bringing life on Earth to a whole new realm of survival-mode. As a bit of a preparedness junkie myself, I thought it was interesting to see the effects of this natural disaster on the world.

It is hard to say LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer was an enjoyable read. Wonderful teen voice: yes. Diary format working well: yes. Characters to care about, page-turning plot, clean and wonderful writing: yes, yes, yes.

BUT, it is one of those books that when you put it down for the night (ready to continue the next day as soon as possible), you feel like you are living in the world of the book. So I bounced around from being cold, uneasy, hungry, paranoid, sad, nervous, weak, depressed, etc. for a few days. Engaging, eye-opening and entertaining to read--definitely. Enjoyable--not so much. But still recommended. (Just don't expect to laugh very much)

I'm wondering if anyone else has read the other two books in the series? Is it worth the read? I am interested but may need to space it out because of the reasons above.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I need a critique group

Joining a critique group is one of the best things to happen to me.

First and foremost is the invaluable help from the critiques themselves. Having fresh eyes on my manuscript is such a blessing. They see things I can't because I am so close to the project, both technical and big-picture.

And I think I have become a better writer from reading my partners' MS's. I'm relatively new to critiquing, and even though so much of it is just opinion, I find myself anticipating what so-and-so would say about this word choice, description, etc. as I write.

Surprisingly, there is another HUGE benefit to sharing this writing adventure with others: motivation. Because so many are in my same situation in life, mother with children at home, I can ask for advise on when to write, how to write with kids, what are your writing goals, and most of all HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?

And ultimately realize, if you can do it, I can too. My emails are filled with positive encouragement to keep on writing and it seriously helps me to keep going when sometimes all I want to do is pretend I never discovered the awesomeness of writing in the first place.

I even got a postcard in the mail this week from one of my CP's with a wonderful note of encouragement on back and this in the front:

So true. So true.

Check out my wonderful writing partners in crime on the links to the right.

Happy Writing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Fox Inheritance giveaway

My lovely friend Taryn is giving away an audiobook of THE FOX INHERITANCE. I have blogged about Mary E. Pearson's THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX before. Love, love loved that book. Can't wait to read this one. Or listen to it. So go and sign up for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Liebster Award

Many thanks to the wonderful and talented Kathryn Purdie of Purdie Writing for awarding me the Liebster Award. Kathryn is one of my amazing critique partners and writes some of the most beautiful language I have ever read. Thanks Kathryn!

This award is meant for blogs with less than 200 followers. Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all-have bloggity-blog fun! is my list of five bloggers to whom I present the Liebster Award:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

reading: Back When You Were Easier to Love

BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE by Emily Wing Smith was a light, romantic , clean and easy read. It is about a girl, Joy, obsessed with an ex-boyfriend. She ends up going on a road trip to track him down and find some closure. Joy is LDS (Mormon) but instead of being a highly religious-influenced book, I think it just added to the small-town, naiveness of a teenage girl, which I very much could connect with--who's never had a major crush on a boy in high school? Be honest.It was light, yet introspective with beautiful language. And although I've read some complaints from other reviewers that thought it was too clean, I thought it totally worked. I appreciate an author who can build the romance and make my stomach flutter a little without having to go there...
The writing itself was spectacular. I recommend this one for a fun and entertaining summer read. And look, my copy is signed by the author...jealous?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

book club: The Samurai's Garden

Once a month I host a book club at my home with a select group of awesome ladies. We each take turns choosing the book and leading the discussions. This has been good for me because I have a chance to read books I normally wouldn't pick up for myself, and since I usually just read YA, it takes me out of the teenage zone for a change of pace once in awhile.

Tonight we talked about THE SAMURAI'S GARDEN by Gail Tsukiyama led by Pam. I haven't read any of the author's other books, and since it is adult historical fiction-ish I kinda was dreading reading it. I do, however, like reading books about other cultures, so I dove in reluctant but hopeful. After diving for about a third of the book, I finally quit yawning and felt like I could paddle around and enjoy myself a bit.

The narrator of the story is a rich and sickly 20 year old man that I could care less about, really. But it is through his eyes that the real characters of the book unfold, and how we discover their mysterious story. Without giving too much away, they are absolutely wonderful characters. I liked the glimpse into Japanese culture.

I am left a little wanting at the end for a little progress, update, action, something. And I very much wish the story moved along faster. But I think that is just the YA writer/reader coming out in me. I'm sure many of you are a lot more patient than I am.
And of course book club is not complete without treats. Pam brought a molten-chocolate-warm-gooey-creamy-dessert-thingy. It wasn't anything close to Japanese food, but it was to die for. Speaking of Japanese food, since I grew up in Hawaii, I ate a lot of it. Japanese is my favorite kind of food. And this book mentions specific foods quite a bit. And I was hungry drooling over the foods as I read. Just warning you.
One of these days I will remember to take a picture of these lovely ladies. I'll try for next month.

Speaking of next month, we will be discussing LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I am SO excited about reading this one, I've heard so many amazing things. DO NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS. I don't want to know. Seriously. Death stares here. Feel free to read it and tell me what you think. But not until next month. I'm not kidding. Threats and stuff. :{

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

reading: Forever

I finally had some time to read FOREVER, the third and final installment of the SHIVER series by Maggie Stiefvater. The series is a YA fantasy romance about werewolves. Yes, I said werewolves. I know. But they are very likable and not corny werewolves. And I know we all said that about a certain clan of vampires back in the day, but still. I really liked this series of books.

SHIVER was my favorite of the three, and could definitely be read as a stand alone novel if you didn't want to venture into the rest of the series. LINGER leaves you hanging, and FOREVER is definitely the end of the series (the author says so in the back). SHIVER does have some mature content though, so a warning to moms that this one is for older teens only. But her writing itself is absolutely beautiful.

Aren't these covers gorgeous? To be honest, my favorite Maggie Stiefvater finds are the book trailers she made herself for each book:

With my family's recent obsession with stop-motion animation, we have been drooling over these videos.

If you are in to fairies, she also wrote a duo of books called LAMENT and BALLAD which I also enjoyed. Again, mature content. She is an author that I will be following closely, I really like the way she writes. Her website has info. on some other books in the works.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First Post

So I've decided to dedicate a blog entirely to my reading and writing habit (obsession). Welcome all and feel free to comment anytime!