Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for ZZZ's

I'm tired. Exhausted. Completely wiped out. Has this A to Z thing wiped anyone else out?

A little insight into my current state of being:

Something smells at my desk, and I don't think it's the giant pile of empty pistachio shells in front of me. Or the empty bottles of Diet Coke and Perrier. To my right is a Five Guys empty paper cup, a cardboard Amazon box on the ground, and three uncapped and dried up glue sticks. To my left is my daughter's pink princess blanket, stacks of multiplication and division fact cards, and a slew of empty plastic Walmart bags. Behind me is a stack of bills, some kind of Nerf gun, and four bottles of newly purchased sunscreen.

But you know what else surrounds me? A 5" inch hula girl statue that wiggles when I walk by, a stack of novel bookmarks I've collected from author signings, and a plastic button that reads "Save Peeta." Everywhere I turn there are stacks and stacks of books, and half of them are young adult novels just for me. Also: pictures of my family, a NaNo winner certificate, and a small stack of books written by yours truly.

My life may be chaos...but it IS a life. One that I wouldn't trade for any other, filled with my dreams, goals, and what's most important--my family.

The next month-and-a-half is going to be crazy busy, but I plan on popping in on the blogosphere when I can--just not everyday. Sheesh. Let's all just take a nap or something, yes?

Are you tired? Is your house immaculate or does it hold evidence of life?

Also, I will be at LDStorymakers conference later this week. Who else will be there?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yearning

A couple of years ago I went to a small local writers conference where Ally Condie was one of the instructors (pre-Matched). I attended a class from her about writing for young adults. She said one of the things that distinguishes YA from other genres is yearning. No, not like that. Get your head out of the gutter. It's that teens feel things so passionately, so intensely. So whatever your MC's goal is, have them long for it. I think that's why books like Twilight do so well...that yearning is evident on every single page.

What else do you think distinguishes YA from other genres?

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for XOXOX--Oh My Hero! Blog Hop

I've been so excited for this blog hop, and I even managed to tie it into my A to Z post for the day. X is for Kisses and Hugs and who better to do that with than our leading men, oh yeah.

So the rules are, I am to post a picture of my male hero and interview him. That's it. I decided to go with Lucas Wiley, the arrogant football quarterback with a shady past. He likes to surf, play guitar and sing, and does nothing to hide his affinity for Kami, my introverted MC who is required to tutor him their senior year. They are from my YA Contemporary UNFOLD ME (takes place in Hawaii) which is shoved to the side at the moment, but since Lucas is probably my favoritest male character I've ever written, I couldn't resist using him for this blog hop. And btw, Kami will be conducting this interview.

*A football player who surfs too? Can you imagine my excitement when I found this picture? I'm pretty sure he's holding a rugby ball, not a football, but still. Add some orangey bleached tips to his black hair, and this is my perfect Lucas.

On to the interview:

Kami: How would you describe yourself in one word?

Lucas: Smokin'

Kami: As in a cigarette?

Lucas: No babe, as in feast in the eye-candy, smokin' hot. But you said I only had one word. (slides hand through his hair)

Kami: (Sighs) How would you describe me?

Lucas: Hot. Mysterious. Stubborn. Smart. And totally in love with me, though you'd never admit it.

Kami: (squirming in her seat) Do you believe in love at first sight?

Lucas: Only from the moment I first saw you. I'm sure the feeling is mutual. (wink)

Kami: (rolls eyes) What's your idea of the perfect date?

Lucas: You and me, winter formal. Agree to go with me and you won't regret it.

Kami: I don't dance.

Lucas: We don't have to dance.

Kami: I don't think so.

Lucas: You know I won't stop bugging you until you say yes.

Kami: (tenses as she realizes this is probably true)

Lucas: That's right, you know you can't resist.

Kami: (Sighs) Fine.

Lucas: (Grins) Here's the thing, it's a girls choice dance, so I'm gonna have to hear the words. So go ahead, beg me, I mean ask me, to go with you to the dance.

Kami: (Gawks) In your dreams.

Lucas: That's how I like it.

Kami: You're such a pig!

Lucas: (Oinks)

Kami: Back to this stupid interview. How would your friends describe you in one word?

Lucas: Awesomesauce.

Kami: What's your favorite pastime?

Lucas: Football.

Kami: I thought it was cutting hair. (Fingers her recently cropped hair)

Lucas: You promised you wouldn't tell anyone about that.

Kami: What's the matter, worried what your football buddies would think about your hairdressing skills?

Lucas: Next question?

Kami: What are you making for dinner?

Lucas: Mac and Cheese.

Kami: Poor Brandy.

Lucas: My little sister loves my cooking. I've never heard any complaints from you, either.

Kami: Last question--If you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?

Lucas: I wouldn't stop kissing you.

Aww. See how I brought it back to the whole X is for kisses thing. I hope you liked Lucas as much as I do. I can't wait to read about everyone else's hunky heroes!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Website

I have a website. My husband made it for me. You can find it here

I think it's beautiful. He just updated it this week with my Remake cover. Go and check out the Projects page to see it. Then come back and tell me which cover (or premise) is your favorite.

Sometimes I wonder why I'd need both a blog AND website, but it is a professional looking landing spot for readers who want to find out more about me and my books--when I'm published, rich, and famous. Of course.

Do you have a website or blog or both? (I know a blog is a website, but you know what I mean :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Verdict

I read this post on author Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog the other day, and it got me thinking a lot about book awards. Remember the Shine/Chime fiasco late last year? Or this unabashed slam on anything not a classic...YA being the main target?

As a homeschooling mom, we read a lot of classics at home. From Shakespeare and Dickens to practically every Newbery Award winning novel ever written. But guess what? My kids don't love ALL of them. Awards are nice. You get a shiny sticker on the cover, a fancy tag added to your name. But it's an award from adults to adults for a book they think people should read. 

As a writer for children, I can't help but wonder--shouldn't a child's opinion be the most important? From toddlers to teens? They are the ones reading it, after all? (Okay, I know parents are reading them to the kids a lot of the time, but just go with me :)

That's one reason why I love the Beehive Book Awards. It's a local award given here in my home state of Utah that is voted upon by children. They read the books. They cast the votes. Brilliant, no? 

One of my dear friends hosts a girls writing group which my daughter attends. A couple of years ago, my friend challenged each of the girls to read every book on the Beehive list and cast their votes. As a reward, she took them to the Beehive Awards Banquet for a fancy dress-up dinner to hear the results. It has been a tradition ever since, and this last weekend I got to go with the group.

*Me at the banquet with child #1...soon to be 13 y.o. Yikes*

How fun to be in a room full of librarians and children's literature enthusiasts with a table of kids who cheered and hollered when their favorites won. Talk about making them feel their opinion matters when it comes to what they should be reading. I loved it.

How do you feel about book awards? Do you know of other child-voted awards out there?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for U-Turn

Join me in pretending this post is NOT a result of having no idea what to write about for the letter U and wanting to share some really beautiful pictures. Shall we?

I've admitted several times to friends and family in this writing journey that I wish I never started. If I hadn't picked up that pen two-and-a-half years ago to write the great American novel as a new year's resolution, I wouldn't have discovered how addicting writing can be, the sheer joy of creating something out of my imagination, the thrill of having others read my work and like it, and the amazing writing community that I come in contact with on a daily basis. In other words, my life would be so much simpler.

I can't go back, though. And now I'm an obsessed crazy writer trying to break into publishing. If I knew, back then, what this road would be like, would I have started? Honestly, I don't know. But since I'm in the thick of it now, let's think about how roads relate to this crazy writing journey:

1) The road that heads straight uphill. It's gonna be hard. It's gonna make me sweat. But oh, imagine that view at the top.

2) The paths of many, but equally promising options. Do I write MG, YA, adult, picture book? Fantasy, contemporary, memoir? I might need to walk down a few before finding the right one.

3) The road might SEEM smooth, but I am teetering on the edge. The threat of failure taunts and teases and never seems to go away. Sigh. 

4) I can see the end, that bright and shiny book deal (preferable six-figures, of course). Why are there so many twists and bends on the way? I can almost touch it...

5) Who the crap was in charge of paving this road? Isn't there a simple formula for getting there, not a riotous ride that will leave bumps and bruises in its wake?

6) So inviting. One shot. Piece of cake. A long tunnel, yes. But pleasant every step of the way. Hmm.

7) Why does it feel like I'm the only to have come this way in a long, long time? Does this path even lead anywhere?

8) Walking the road well-trodden and sure. It worked for them, why not me? haha :)

8) I'm gonna get there if I have to dig my own path to do it.

9) Um. Are you sure this is the way I'm supposed to go?

10) Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing.

11) If this is what your path looks like, I hate you.

12) I can do anything. I can be anything. The possibilities are endless. Look out, world.

13) Keep chugging along. BUT, don't forget to enjoy the journey!

What does your writing road look like at the moment? Do you wish you could go back?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Taryn

What? Another CP spotlight? Yes. But feel free to stop reading and skip my post today. Because you probably don't want to learn about Taryn anyway.

Yeah. You don't want to hear that she's only nineteen years-old, right? Or that in addition to being a full time college student majoring in Creative Writing with high academic standing (whatever), she swims competitively and recently placed at nationals (5 races) and broke her team's record in the 100 butterfly. In fact, when she was ten years-old, she was ranked fourth in the nation in swimming. She also lifeguards and teaches swim lessons. But who cares about all that?

I'm sure you don't want to know she is a literary intern for a *big name* agent from a *big name* agency. Or that she contributes to the Write On! blog of Authoress fame. Taryn also has her own business with fellow teen writer Kate editing service called Teen Eyes. With an ever growing list of now agented clients, they're probably not that great at what they do. Not really.

As you can imagine, with the perspective of a teen, lit intern, writer, editor, and incredible knowledge base of all things in the publishing world, her critiques and advice are invaluable. At least that's what I've heard...

And oh, I almost forgot. Taryn's YA mystery, Begging to Breathe, took her two weeks to write with virtually no revisions. She queried it for a week, resulting in a handful of offers in her lap. She decided to sign with agent Vickie Motter in February of this year and her book is already out on submissions. A little disappointing, I know.

Yep. I warned you...I knew you didn't want to know all this. And if for some miraculous reason you are still reading this post, head over to her blog and follow her if you aren't already. Or not. Doesn't really matter. :)

Love you, Taryn!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Swearing

Swearing. More specifically, swearing in YA, or even MG. Do you do it?

I don't curse in real life, as in, AT ALL. Never. But in my books and short stories, it has become this evolving thing where at first I avoided writing characters or situations that would warrant swear words. Then I'd write characters who'd say cleaned up versions of curse words, and my CP's would say, um, I don't think that character would say that. I'd sigh and say, you're right, and put in the proper curse.

But now, I don't seem to have a problem putting curse words in my stuff where I think it's needed. What's up with that? Have I slowly been spiraling down to a sublevel of evil? Have I run out of more creative ways for my character's to express themselves?

I've yet to use the harshest of swearing in my stuff, and I know I will never use the Lord's name in vain. How do you feel about swearing in YA novels? There are times when it feels so shocking I am jolted out of the story. BUT, there are also times where a replacement word is used, and I KNOW that character would have said something else, and it makes me stop in the story as well. So...I don't know. What do you think?

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Robin

I want you all to meet Robin, another one of my CP's. If you've been reading my other posts about my critique partners (letters E and K), you're probably starting to wonder how I can stand to be around such amazing and talented people without feeling like a total loser. Well, no one makes me feel more like a loser than Robin...and I mean this in the nicest, complimentary way.

To give you a little perspective: On October 27th, 2011, Robin gave birth to her fourth child. Natural birth. At home. Yep. AND THEN she decides to join the rest of us for NaNoWriMo. Five days later. And she kicked butt doing it AND winning. Yeah. She is a freakin' rock star.

Robin is the mom I want to be. In addition to balancing kids and writing, she is an incredible athlete. She cooks and bakes from scratch, and hosts the most creative parties on every holiday for family and friends. She sews and crafts like it's nobody's business. She'll even send us things like handmade ornaments and homemade chapstick. Who does that?

She also reads a ton and has the best insights about what's on the YA market today. I love getting critiques from her because she usually finds valid problems no one else does. Robin is so supportive of the rest of us and I am honored to have her as a friend.

This is me reading Robin's books:

"Wow. Tension. Conflict. Haha. LOVE THIS. Aww. Oh no! Adorable. Sigh. This is so good. What!? Yes, yes, yes. Ooooh. Wait. Crap. I'm supposed to be critiquing."

Then I have to turn back several pages and think of something to say. Not kidding. I get so lost in her stories, they literally transport me somewhere else. This has happened while reading a fantasy / fairytale retelling of hers, as well as her NaNo--a YA contemp / magical realism titled LOVESENSE. I decided after reading Lovesense that I could read Robin's voice-rich dialogue scenes all day long and not tire of them. And now she's writing an MG that I have no doubt will captivate me again.

Thanks, Robin, for being such an inspiration and making me feel like such a loser--in a good way. Head over to her blog and give her some love!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questions

Why did we get a dog?

When will I be able to sleep a full eight hours?

Why does Word keep telling me my MC's name is spelled wrong?

Who is responsible for taking Arrested Development off the air?

When do I use an em-dash?

To be, or not to be?

What is the source of that sour smell in my car?

Where's the chocolate?

When will I get an agent?

How am I going to get my character from point A to point B?

Did you read my manuscript yet?

Why are you talking so loud?

What's wrong with a prologue?

Why am I crying?

Where did my writing muse go?

Who ate all the chocolate?

What's my word count?

Do I use a semi-colon here?

What's for dinner?

Why so serious?

That rule doesn't apply to me, does it?

How do you spell mischievous?

Why am I so tired?

Where's my Diet Coke?

What's another word for smile?

Can you pick up some chocolate on the way home?

Where'd I put that note?

How many rejections does that make?

Why is this so hard?

Are you still reading my blog post?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Poetry

I cannot stand writing poetry. It's like bleeding a long and painful death. But I admire people who can and appreciate the beautiful play of words of a meaningful poem. Last November, my NaNo was an MG novel where one of the characters was a talking owl. And I decided he would only speak in rhyming iambic pentameter. Yeah.

It wouldn't have been so bad if he were a minor character, but he wasn't. And of course I had this brilliant idea that every once in a while, this owl would tell a story comprising the length of an entire chapter in said rhyming iambic pentameter. (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon style).

Seeing as how NaNo is a competition of speed and high word count, this may not have been the best decision I ever made. I did, however, grow as a writer doing something that stretched my definition of a joyful hobby. I don't think it turned out so bad in the end, but still.

Although we don't see much poetry on the publishing market today, I believe lyrics to music are a big part of today's offering of poetry-so it's just as viable as ever.

Do you like to read/write poetry?

I'll leave you with the only form of poetry I've written this year, a paranormal haiku I had to write for a writing challenge:

*that moment when your
in-laws grow fangs and drink blood*
Yep. I told you so.

(this is in no way a reflection of my personal experience with my own in-laws and any similarities found are merely coincidence :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Online Writing Contests

I LOVE participating in online contests because I learn what agents like, whether it be in the form of pitches, first lines, or queries. I have an opportunity to get my stuff in front of an agent who often isn't accepting unsolicited material. I can see what else is out there, fix my stuff based on comments, get my writing out there and noticed.

I HATE participating in online contests because my writing is out there being read by the whole world, naked and bare for all to see. Critiques/comments can hurt, and there are some pretty fearless people out there who aren't afraid to tell you what they really think. If I (when I) lose or fail, everyone knows's like they have a clear view into the rejection folder in my query inbox.

I have received a number of requests from online contests, so I do think they are worth my while. Even one of my CP's landed her agent through an online contest, so I know it works. It's still hard to put yourself out there, though.

A few sites that have contests regularly:

What other contests do you know about or participate in? Do you love or hate them?

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Name

I think the only people in this world who might use baby name websites more than expecting parents are writers. You can search for names with significant meanings, which can play a huge part in your story. You can also find names from a certain country or ethnicity, alternate spellings, and find out what's popular or not.

Honestly, I can peruse baby name websites for hours, I think names are fascinating things. I have unique first and middle names with strong meanings, both in what they translate to and why/how they were given to me.

For my latest WIP, I had to find a number of names that could be androgynous, a simple task given "unisex" categories online. This was a ton of fun. And when I decided to change the gender of a character in my first chapter, I didn't have to pick a new name.

I also had to find a handful of Maori names and couldn't have done it without online help. And my MC has to choose her own name by the end of the book. What a stressful task that was for me.

Do you use baby name websites or come up with character names on your own? Are there reasons you choose a character name beyond what it sounds like?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Music

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who commented on my logline yesterday. I knew I could count on the writing community for help. You are THE BEST!

Now for the letter "M." Music is a HUGE part of my writing. I cannot outline, draft, revise, do anything without music. Yes, I have playlists for my books, but mostly it's the mood a song creates that seems to summon the writing muse. I'd go crazy without music. I have specific tastes, veering mostly toward alternative, though if it inspires, I don't care about genre. Much.

Do you listen to music when you write? Are you inspired by certain songs?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Logline

Logline. Or pitch, hook, short blurb, whatever you want to call it. I dread them. As much as I dread writing a query or synopsis. Alas, it's almost inevitable to avoid en route to publishing and I admit is a great exercise in getting to the meat of your story.

A logline needs to mention your unique main character, inciting incident, conflict, goal, stakes. And don't forget to include a sense of the story, genre, and voice. Usually in one sentence. Yep.

Here is "Take 1" at a logline for my YA dystopian REMAKE:

Nine chooses to become male just three days before her Batch is Remade, hoping it will make her brave. But when her shuttle crashes on the way to the Remake facility, Nine must learn to become brave, as a girl, if she hopes to survive and return in time to be Remade, if that’s what she still wants.

It feels a little vague to me. And wordy. And redundant. Do the words Batch, Remade, Remake just make it confusing? HELP! I am open to any kind of critique in the comments.

Do you enjoy/abhor writing loglines? Feel free to share yours in the comments also. I'd love to read what your current book is about.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kathryn

Meet Kathryn, another one of my amazing and talented critique partners. Like the others in my group, I met her at a writers conference but didn't get to chat much with her until the last day. She is incredibly smart and beautiful, even in sweats the first thing in the morning :) :

Unlike my other CP's who live all over the country, Kathryn is literally 8 minutes away from me. I have gotten to know her better on a personal level because of it, getting together once in a while for play-dates, double-dates, birthdays, or just having a chatty lunch together. She's become one of my dearest friends, even though my husband has banned us from watching any more movie recommendations from her. :)

Kathryn is currently hacking away (classic overwriter, she is) at her Arthurian legend retelling which is AMAZING. The unique story line and deep characters are enough to blow you away, but her lyrical way with words and absolutely beautiful writing takes it to a whole new level. I still get the chills whenever I think about her book.

As an actress, writer, musician, designer...Kathryn is a true artist. Not convinced? Here is a song she wrote about her novel's Guinevere:

I know, right? I told you she was amazing. Considering what I know about all she's been through in her life to get her to this point, Katie is definitely one of my heroes. She also posts the most informative and helpful tips for writers and for that reason alone you should head over to her blog and follow her right now. Love you, Katie!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Juggling

I am a writer.

I am also a wife, mother, daughter, homeschool teacher, tutor, church leader, lifeguard, seamstress, cook, chauffeur, maid, gardener, friend, volunteer, accountant, critique partner, reader, shopper, and blogger :). You get the idea.

I'm sure this is pretty typical for most people. So how do we juggle it all? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure it out. I tend to focus on one or two areas with a vengeance and move on to the next with equal fervor as opposed to finding a nice balance among everything. This makes for too many late nights and an exhausted mom. I'll let you know when I've got it down. :)

Until then, let me know how you manage to juggle everything in your life and still stay sane. I could use some good pointers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for I'm Reading a Book

Just watch and enjoy. You can thank me later! :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Heartbreak

Writers are cruel, cruel beasts. We take our characters, drag them through the mud, give them a glimpse of hope, only to tear them apart, limb by limb. And the cycle continues, until they resemble someone so different from when we first met them. Why do we do it? Hopefully, because our character learns something, grows, improves...has become a better person for it in the end.

One way to cause suffering for our character is in matters of the heart.

I've got some serious heartbreak going on all over the place in my current WIP. And though many dislike love triangles and doubt their prevalence in real life, I beg to differ. I've been on the crappy end of a triangle, the one left alone and forgotten after all the drama. I've also been torn between two guys more often than I'd like to admit-most times they knew each other or were in our same circle of friends. And at least one person gets hurt every single time.

In fact, I pursued this amazing guy once and we ended up dating and getting serious. I LOVED him, he was perfect in every way. Things were progressing perfectly. And then.


This new guy shows up in my life: suave, arrogant, dangerous, confident, handsome, spontaneous...completely swept me off my feet. Is this not stereotypical YA novel or what? Both relationships got too serious and I had to choose. After a terrible talk with perfect boy, I chose arrogant boy. And then married him. We're celebrating our fifteenth anniversary this fall (yeah, I'm old), so I guess I chose the right guy. But still, heartbreak sucks.

But after experiencing the ache, dread, suffering of it all, doesn't it make that "happy" at the end just that much sweeter? I think it's worth it in the end, even for the one left in the dust. Eventually. Maybe.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gasp

We all have 'em. Those words or phrases we use over and over again in our writing. "Gasp" seems to be a big one for me. Why do my characters always find themselves out of oxygen, gasping for air, intaking a sharp breath? Are their lives just that exciting and dangerous they forget how to breathe all the time?

And why do my characters always fall asleep? Like, half my chapters either end with someone falling asleep in a strange place or start with someone waking up. It's like my fast forward through time-anator.

Other favorite overused words for me: that, have, look, so, just, well, really. And don't even get me started on the smiling. My characters smile, a lot, like every three lines. And I have this impulse to mention it, like every three lines.

This site has been helpful for me to come up with creative ways to express things I fall into a repetitive rut about. Scroll down and check out the lists on the right side of the blog.

As far as specific words go, though, I just learn what they are and do a "find" through the document or pray that my CP's catch them.

How about you? What are some of your overused words or phrases?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fairytale

So, fairytale retellings.

I don't mind reading them, but I've never, ever had a desire to write one. BUT, I've been participating in a 12 week writing competition and a couple of weeks ago they had us write a scene for a fairytale retelling. And it was kind of fun. Especially since I could twist it however I wanted.

So, fairytale retellings. I may possibly write one. Someday.

Are fairytales your thing? Every written one? Plan to?

Until then, if you have time, enjoy my 600 word submission below. And after reading it, let me know in the comments if you figured out WHICH fairy tale I retold. :)


The first thing I feel is a pair of lips on my mouth. Warm. No—hot. Burning. A part of me thinks they burn because my own lips are cold as ice.
The fire lips on mine are soft. Gentle. Then harder. Firmer. So forceful they cover all of my mouth and I think my breath is being stolen out of me. But then I feel air flow into me, not out. And I realize these hot and firm lips are trying to give me life, not take it.
My lungs fight against the forced air. This isn’t right, they scream. Not right at all. But the rest of my body fights. Take the air, they beg. We need it. Desperate, my body shakes and my heart pounds against my chest. Inhale, damn it.
I sit up and gasp, winning the battle against my lungs. Panting, I look around. I’m in a room with metal walls and marble floors. I sit in a hard plastic bed with sides and a hinged cover that reminds me of a coffin. My eyes adjust to the dim light of glowing computer monitors along one side of the wall and I see more plastic beds scattered throughout the room.
A man in front of me covers his mouth and shakes his head. He lowers his hand slowly and I know, just by the shape of his lips, he is the one with the burning kiss. “You’re alive,” he says in a whisper, as if saying it any louder would make it untrue.
“Where am I?” I ask. My voice is dry, cracked. I wonder when the last time water has flowed down my throat.
“Moab,” he says, rifling through a bag on his shoulder for something. “Utah.”
The words mean nothing to me. My head is fuzzy and I struggle to remember how I got here. To this room. Into this plastic coffin.
“I’m Phil,” he says, handing over a clear bottle filled with water.
I drink greedily, letting too much of it spill down my chin and onto my clothes. I look down at my black jumpsuit and it triggers a memory—my mother zipping me into the one-piece suit. I look around the room again and narrow my eyes at the other beds.
“I was hiking through the canyon just east,” Phil says, pointing with his left hand. “I heard a buzzing sound. I guess it was the hum of the computers.” He steps toward me, then back again, unsure. “I found this room hidden in the rock.”
I press my hands to my temples, trying to remember something. My family. Danger. A curse.
“I saw you lying there,” he continues. “Through the plastic. And you were breathing and peaceful and…” Phil rubs the back of his neck. “But when I opened the cover you stopped breathing and I didn’t know what to do, so I—“
I touch my mouth and remember his burning lips on mine.
“I’m so glad you’re alive.” Phil gestures to the other beds. “Do you know who all these people are?”
Suddenly, I know within each of those plastic coffins will be someone I know. A brother, sister, mother, father. It is my family.
I pull my foot up to read a digital clock strapped to my ankle. It reads 100:00:00:05:36. I’ve been asleep in this cryogenic chamber for a hundred years.
“What’s your name?” Phil asks, finally daring to step close to me.
“Aurora,” I say. “But my friends—and those who decide to save my life—call me Rory.”
Phil smiles. "Nice to meet you, Rory."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Emily

So I'm totally putting her on the spot (she has no idea I'm doing this and is on vacation, so she can shoot me later), but I want to spotlight one of my CP's, miss Emily.

I met Emily at WIFYR 2011. We were in the same class and on the first day, since neither of us knew anyone at the conference, ended up having lunch together. She became my buddy the rest of the week. Talk about luck, Emily is AMAZING, and I'm glad to call her a critique partner and a friend.

She is the mother of 4 and has the energy and snark of a teenager. Her house is like the gathering place of the neighborhood, you know, the one everyone just congregates to because she's the "cool" mom and makes the most delicious and amazing homemade everything in her gorgeous Napa Valley vineyard home. I know, right?

I love that Emily always has a smile on her face, constantly makes me laugh with her sarcasm, and has a substitute swear word for everything out there...and she's not afraid to use them :).

Emily is one of the most generous and selfless people I know. She is known to say "I want to go to there" at least once a day. (She's a regular Liz Lemon...who wouldn't want to hang around her all day, right?)

And her writing. Omigosh, her books are the can't put down type, and I have literally stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading them. She has a masters degree in literature, and is the queen of YA voice. I'm so in love with the boys in her books, you have no idea. I may be just a little jealous of the depth and ease of her stories (beautiful stuff), but I'm glad to have her as a CP.

So go and follow her blog if you haven't already. You're in for a treat. Love you, Emily!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dystopia

My latest novel is YA dystopian, I think. Wikipedia defines dystopia as the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian.

Question: Are all dystopia's science fiction? At first glance, I would say no, since you certainly don't need to have sci-fi elements to create a repressive society. BUT, an instructor at a class I attended at a recent writers conference says he thinks all dystopia's ARE science fiction, since they are an experiment on SOCIAL science (not necessarily natural science). Hmm. What do you think?

My WIP is definitely dystopian, but it also has elements of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, and romance. I hate labeling. I just write the story I want to tell with no thought to how it will be shelved, and my books are usually a blend of many genres. Don't you wish there was a section in B&N labeled "really awesome books"? Sigh.

Hunger Games is in the limelight at the moment as a classic dystopian story. What other dystopian stories do you like? Do you think the YA market is drowning in dystopias right now?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Cover

As in Cover Reveal.

Some of you may know that when I finish a first draft, I reward myself with a book cover design (I nag my husband until he finally caves and designs it for me). Since I finished drafting my current WIP last week, lookie what I have to share with you all today:

What do you think? I love it, of course. And now I can't wait to get it into querying shape, because then I'll reward myself with an actual hold it in my hands and feel the wind on my face coming off the flipped pages tangible copy.

How do you reward yourself when you hit certain writing goals?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Brave

The wonderful author Carol Lynch Williams shared last week that her agent told her to Be Brave Every Day. I loved that.

REMAKE, my current WIP (finished drafting, in revisions...who-hoo!) is all about being brave, so I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

As writers, we need to be brave almost every step of the way:

-decide to write
-begin to write
-finish a book
-share it with others
-be willing to accept criticism
-make needed changes
-plow through rejections
-keep on writing

This is as far as I've gotten, but even after landing an agent, there's still revisions, editor rejections, more revisions, and after the book is published...reader responses-yikes!

This industry is not for the faint of heart, and I know my skin has grown much thicker through the years. So here's to all you writers out there in whatever stage you might be in. I know it's hard, but I'll be right there along with you being brave.


What have you been brave about in your life? Inspire me. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Amazon

And the winner of my 100 follower giveaway is....Tobi Summers!

Congrats Tobi. You've won an Amazon $25 gift card. Spend it on books, chocolate, music, diapers...whatever. It's all yours. Please email me at ilimatodd AT gmail DOT com with either your email address (so I can send the gift card via email to you) or your street address (if you prefer it to come in the mail).

Thanks to everyone following my blog. You all rock!
Also, you may have noticed I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z challenge this April, 2012. It's my first time, so we'll see how it goes. Come back every day this month to see what I've got to say about each letter of the alphabet...writing style.

And can we all just give Amazon a cheer for making Kindles, cheap books, and groceries delivered to my door step in two days? Woot! Woot!