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The Everyday Thoughts and Tidbits that catch my fancy - Look! A squirrel!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

YA Author Interview: Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

Courtney Summers' new book, Fall For Anything, is to be released December 21/2010, by St. Martin's Press. Courtney is represented by Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.

CS: Welcome to Musings, Courtney. Tell us about Fall for Anything. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?

Courtney Summers
: Fall for Anything is a contemporary YA novel about a girl named Eddie, who is trying to find out the reason why her father killed himself. She meets a young man named Culler, who seems to hold the key to the mystery surrounding her father's death and an instant and dangerous attraction begins... [this is where the ominous music goes!]

I'm quite fascinated with grief and loss and that inescapable reality of losing people and how we cope with it when we do. I'm interested in the questions that kind of loss inspires. I like to write to make sense of it, but usually I just end up with more questions! In this case, all those questions became a book. But I think it's important to ask them out loud, so that was my motivation for writing Fall for Anything.

CS: What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Fall For Anything?

Courtney Summers: Honestly, when I write, my goal is to be as honest with myself and as true to my characters and their situations as possible. What messages people take away from my books, what they feel they've learned from them--if anything--is entirely up to them.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Fall for Anything, is there anything you would have done differently?

Courtney Summers: Fall for Anything was a tough book to write, and there are certainly times I wish it had been easier, but that's true for all of my books! If I was given the opportunity to change something, I don't think I could. As they stand, I can look at each one of my books and remember where I was at mentally when I wrote it, what was going on in my life at the time. It's a snapshot of where I was at as a writer as well. I want to preserve that.

CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Courtney Summers: Oooh! This is a hard question because that varies from book to book. More often than not (but occasionally not!), the beginning, starting a novel, is the easiest part of writing. You get all caught up with the idea. It's the honeymoon stage! Then you hit the middle. The middle, sorting everything out, is the hardest part of writing for me for me. That, and the last line. I always want to get the last line exactly right.

CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Courtney Summers
: I would tell them to be prepared to get rejected A LOT. That's pretty much a given, but some people really don't anticipate how hard it can be when you start submitting and getting turned down. Perseverance is REALLY key. It's also critical not to let anyone talk them out of writing. Some people think writing is a frivolous pursuit and actively discourage you from doing it. If you love it and it makes you happy, don't stop. One thing I wish I'd known before getting into this business was how it moves on its own time! Sometimes things move reaaaaaalllllly slowly and other times they move incredibly fast. It's a bit of a rollarcoaster. :)

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Courtney Summers: Family and friends told me to just go straight at it. And I try to do that every time I sit down to write.

CS: Tell us about your next book.

Courtney Summers: I'm a bit superstitious--it's in such early stages, all I can comfortably say is that a 4th book by me is in the works. :)

Thank you, Courtney, for doing this interview, and good luck with Fall For Anything. And have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeff Foxworthy's View on Canadians

This was an email I received that I'd like to share with you:

Forget Rednecks, here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about Canucks.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from

September through May,

You may live in Canada.

If someone in a Home Depot store

Offers you assistance and they don't work there,

You may live in Canada .

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time,

You may live in Canada .

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation

With someone who dialed a wrong number,

You may live in Canada .

If 'Vacation' means going anywhere

South of Detroit for the weekend,

You may live in Canada .

If you measure distance in hours,

You may live in Canada .

If you know several people

Who have hit a deer more than once,

You may live in Canada .

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C'

In the same day and back again,

You may live in Canada .

If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow

During a raging blizzard without flinching,

You may live in Canada .

If you install security lights on your house and garage,

But leave both unlocked,

You may live in Canada .

If you carry jumper cables in your car

And your wife knows how to use them,

You may live in Canada .

If you design your kid's Halloween costume

To fit over a snowsuit,

You may live in Canada .

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km --

You're going 90 and everybody is passing you,

You may live in Canada .

If driving is better in the winter

Because the potholes are filled with snow,

You may live in Canada .

If you know all 4 seasons:

Almost winter, winter, still winter,

And road construction,

You may live in Canada .

If you have more miles

On your snow blower than your car,

You may live in Canada .

If you find 2 degrees 'a little chilly',

You may live in Canada .

If you actually understand these jokes,

And forward them to all

Your Canadian friends and others,

You definitely live in Canada .

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Teasers - The Mushy Stuff

Harry Potter update:
I'm halfway through The Philosopher's Stone. Those Dursley's are a dastardly clan! Tell me Harry never has to go back to them! No, don't tell me. I won't have time to finish reading it for a couple of days.

I was surprised that no one guessed all the ZOMBIE novels in last week's teasers.
Yes, the first one is indeed -

1) The Reckonimg by Kelley Armstrong

2) You Are So Dead To Me by Stacey Jay

3) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

This week, we get into the hot and heavy stuff. At least as hot as they let it get in YA fiction.

1) Bryce: My Mom didn't understand why it was so awful that "that cute girl" had held my hand. She thought I should be friends with her. "You like soccer. Why don't you go out there and kick the ball around?"
Because I didn't want to be kicked around, that's why. And although I couldn't say it like that at the time, I still had enough sense at age seven and a half to know that Julianna Baker was dangerous.
Julianna: What did a kiss feel like anyway? Somehow I knew it wouldn't be like the one I got from Mom or Dad at bedtime. The same species, maybe, but a radically different beast. Like a wolf and a whippet. Only science would put them in the same tree. Looking back, I like to think it was at least partly scientific curiosity that made me chase after that kiss, but it was probably more those blue eyes.
(Steamy enough for you?) ;0)

2) What if love is stronger than time?
What if love is stronger than death?

It starts in prehistory. A young man and a young woman fight over a precious jewel. Their time together is short, but the reverberations are lasting.
Years pass. Generations pass. But fate keeps drawing them together. Whenever their paths cross, there is that strange attraction. That unexplainable affinity. That feeling that they have been together before.
Theirs is a love haunted by history. From Egyptian slavery to Greek society. From Massachusetts witch trials to Civil War battlefields. From Paris in the 1930's to the present day. Circumstances will fight them...but a greater force will reunite them. Because some people are meant for each other - no matter how long it takes.

3) I looked at Abra (Mom) standing near my door. A part of me wanted to tell her about Manny. How I was still crazy about him, how he hardly looked at me except to ask about Spanish homework. How I was still insane over him, and had she ever felt like that? Maybe she'd look at me like she did some of the women, grasping both of my hands in hers, looking in my eyes and saying exactly the right thing to make me know it would be all right.
But we didn't have conversations like that. And if I told her, she'd probably go into some big lecture on female-male attraction and how it would fade eventually and that it wasn't love, which was "far more complex and messy than infatuation," as she'd said to me once.
"Boyfriend," I said. "That's the word I believe you want. And no, I don't have one. Significant or otherwise."

Do any of these steamy teen romance reads ring a bell?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,

Yes it's me again. I swear I've been good this year, so there is no reason to ban me from the community festivities. I promise not to embarrass you in front of your wife and the elves at the mall this year. I apologize for my over-zealous behavior last Christmas season. I only wanted a snippet of your beard as a reminder of our experience together.
Don't let the letter I sent to the editor of the local paper dissuade you from putting me on the Nice List; that was simply an exercise in putting emotion into my writing. You may not agree with my choice of emotion, but that wasn't the point of the exercise. I felt it was necessary to point out the error of their thinking in the planning of a school so near to a residential area already clogged with brats and potential future hoodlums.
And the incident with the firecrackers tied to the tail of my neighbour's German Shepard was simply an experiment on the possible speed that such a breed is capable of. I might need to know such information for a future novel.
It could happen.
The fact that he's bitten me twice was irrelevant.
Please dismiss any notice that my previous employer may have sent your way about the ex lax in the cake served at his retirement party. Considering the constipated look he chronically wore, I figured I was doing him a favor.
As for the bomb scare I am accused of perpetrating at the neighborhood police station, I was conducting research into the response time of their bomb squad. Better that they not know it's a drill, in order for them to properly prepare themselves for an actual scare. I was just doing my duty as a concerned citizen.
All I ask from you for Christmas is a small favor; you simply need to convince Janet Reid that - regardless of the fact that she doesn't represent middle grade/young adult authors - my paranormal MG mystery is exactly what she is looking for in the New Year. It won't cost a dime; I sure you can convince/cajole/bride/blackmail her into such a simple request. And don't think you can squirm your way out of producing these results for me. I have a couple of incriminating photos of you and I on the beach in Belize earlier this year...

Sincerely Yours, Forever and Ever,
Your Sweet Snookums,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Outrageous Claims

 Do you see the outrageous claim I've made in the right hand side bar? Some nerve, eh?
I found Peggy Bechko's blog today, and she introduced me to I Write Like. It's a statistical analysis tool that compares your writing to that of famous authors. I choked on my rice cake (caramel, in case you're interested) when Stephen King's name popped up after I submitted the first few paragraphs of Witches Don't Wear Socks. At least it's a tool with some humor.  Like Stephen writes MG ghost stor... Forget I said anything.

Try it out; it's good for a laugh, at least.

Who do you write like?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE HATING GAME -Talli Roland's Debut Available Today!

The Hating Game - Cover

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Teasers - ZOMBIE Edition

Yes, Zombies. And yes, I have eclectic reading habits. So, without further ado,  here are the teasers of the week!

1) "You're telling me you can raise the dead simply by summoning?"
    "My God," she whispered, staring at me. "What have you done?"
    Hearing her words and seeing her expression, I knew I'd just done something worse than raising the dead - I'd confirmed her worst fears about us. In her eyes, I saw the same thing I saw when people looked at Derek. I saw fear. And I knew we were in trouble.

2) Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she's a part-time shrink to a whole bunch of semi-dead people with killer issues. All Megan really wants is to go to homecoming, but when you're trailed by a bunch of slobbering corpses whenever you leave the house, it's kind of hard to score a date. Let's just say that Megan's love life could use some major resuscitation.
Megan's convinced her life can't get any worse - until someone in school starts using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into scary, hardcore flesh-eating Zombies. Now it's up to Megan to stop the Zombie apocalypse. Her life - and more importantly, the homecoming dance - depends on it.

3) In Mary's world, there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fences that surrounds the village...
...But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and it's secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?

I had to really search my bookcase for zombie stories. Do you know of any other MG/YA zombie stories?

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Very Own Harry Potter Marathon

The titles of last Tuesdays Teasers about wizards and witches? I was surprised no one guessed them!

1) Deep Wizardry: Book Two in the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane

2) Charmed Life by Dianna Wynne Jones

3) Majix: Notes from a Serious Teen Witch by Douglas Rees

Go and check them out!

After mentioning in my last post about having never read a Harry Potter book, I received quite a bit of feedback on that comment. I have to admit, I'm tired of not knowing what it's all about, so I've started reading The Philosopher's Stone, and I've found a copy of the movie, as well. I'll post next Monday how my trek through the series is going.
Is there a series or book you feel you need to check out to see what the fuss is about?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Witches and Wizards - Tuesday Teasers

In honor of the release of the final movie in the Harry Potter series, this week's teasers are from books with either witches or wizards. My guess? Someone will list them off before I get a chance to stump anyone, just like with my vampire theme.
And in honor of the release of the final movie of the Harry Potter series, I will now sit down and actually read the series. That's right. I've never read a single one. But now I'm feeling left out:-( I want to see what all the hype is about. I liked the couple of movies I saw, but I want the whole experience. So off we go!

1) Coming to the aid of a wounded whale, Kit and Nita are plunged into deep wizardry. The whale is a wizard, and she enlists Kit and Nita in battle against the sinister Lone Power. Becoming whales themselves, Nita and Kit join in an ancient ritual preformed by whales, dolphins, and a single fearsome shark. But which poses more danger; the Lone Power, or ed"Rashtekaresket, the enormous shark as old as the sea?

2) Everyone says that Gwendolen Chant is a gifted witch with astonishing powers, so it suits her enormously when she is taken to live at Chrestomanci Castle. Her brother Eric (better known as Cat) is not so keen, for he has no talent for magic at all.
However, life with the Chrestomanci and his family isn't what either of them expects. Worst of all, magic is completely forbidden outside of lessons! Gwendolen is furious ans sets out to get herself noticed - with explosive results!

3) A year ago, I was on the white-magic side. Lately, I've been leaning toward the black. I blame the universe. What's the point in being a nice little white witch in the universe I've got? If I could choose my own universe' I'd be a white witch in it. But black makes a whole lot more sense in this universe.
Not that I'm complaining. A witch never complains. But if I did, I'd have a lot to complain about. For instance: Richard Milhous Nixon High.
What's a teen witch to do when she's stuck in the most unmagical high school in the universe? Create her own "majix." Take notes. And above all, avoid nasty classmates, heartless grown-ups and boys who may prove a little too distracting for a serious teen witch to handle...

What? You didn't actually think I would put Harry in the list, did you? That would be too easy.

Can you name any of the titles from this list?

Saturday, November 20, 2010



Sunday is one of my daughters' birthday. Her sixteenth, to be exact. But there is also another birthday that we can all celebrate Sunday. It's another biggy, too. Debbie Curran at  words 'n whimsy has hit the BIG four- o. Four-tee, The Big Enchilada...I think you get the point. Drop in and give her your condolences;-)
But don't tell her I told you; there's a rumour going around that she's ex-military, and my bet she was in special black ops, are something of that nature. She. Will. Hurt. Me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

Today's post is just a bunch of tidbits and afterthoughts, but all stuff I want to get out.

First, I want to thank all of you that sent your words of encouragement; they mean the world to me.

Second, after a VERY long day of labour, I want to welcome my new niece to the world - all 7 lbs 9oz, even if she wasn't overly eager to get here! Congrats, Leah and Calvin! Get some sleep today! Because of my danged chest cold turning into pneumonia, I won't be visiting you for a few days.

Third, even though I dropped out of NaNo, I've been picking away at my writing, and started TWO new Alex/Cassie stories for my projected series. I'm really good at starting things, still working on the finishing stuff.

Fourth, because of my poor health, I did not make the four hour drive to the funeral of our young friend, but my daughter tells me 800 other people were able to make it. The boy definitely made an impression. His Remembrance Day service will long be remembered.
And a nod and a prayer go out to all our fallen soldiers, and those that still fight that valiant battle.

And fifth, I want to congratulate all of you die-hard NaNoers who have been wracking up your incredible word counts. You rock! I envy you.

I'm more than certain I'm forgetting something, but that's just par for the course, these days. I blame the misalignment of the planets;-)
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I've been having a rough time the last few weeks. Disorientation, a head cold that became a chest cold, suffering from tachycardia, being diagnosed with anemia, and just plain feeling like crap. But it all fell into perspective yesterday when one of my daughter's came home from work early, with tears in her eyes. She had received a phone call while at work that would set our family on end; her boyfriend's cousin was killed in a tragic farm accident.
Now, he wasn't just some guy we had heard of; he had been a guest in our house on numerous occasions, and was well liked by our extended family as well. We are all in shock.
Such a shocking occurrence makes you think about a lot of things; what-might-have-been for such a hard-working and promising young man, for starters. But of course, introspection is another side-effect. Priorities suddenly change, perceptions are altered. What was important yesterday doesn't register on the scale today.
So what I'm trying to say is that I need to narrow my focuses in my life. I'm dropping NaNoWriMo, streamlining my blog, and of course placing my family first, and focusing on my health,and focusing my writing. Clutter has to go from my life in all it's multiple corners.
As of late, I haven't been posting very regularly. I will continue to post, just not as often as I have in the past. And I will continue to visit you all when I can. This blogging community is such a wonderful group, I could never just walk away! Don't feel sorry for me, my lovelies. I'm just following a new path from this day forward.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuesday Teasers

This is me with this nasty head cold. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, I turn into a whiny wuss. I'm allergic to the common decongestants, so I get to suffer through it. But enough whining! I reached today's NaNoWriMo  word count! But I didn't do anything else, today. I sense disappointment in my near future...

On to the Tuesday Teasers. This week's theme is vampires. Let's see if I can stump you guys with this genre! This could be tough. I have to tweak the teasers to eliminate titles being found in them.

1) Enter a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the school where she will train to become an adult vampyre. That is, if she she makes it through the Change - and not all of those who are marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to imprint her human ex-boyfriend. To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the school with special powers: When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny - with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

2) At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning  King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight. Her reckless and adoring guardian angel, meanwhile - fighting in human guise as the princess's personal assistant - has his work cut out for him with the Master's Death Day gala fast approaching. Can Zachary save his girl's soul and redeem himself before all hell arrives, quite literally, on their doorstep?

3) Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires - the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back  to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Happened? Where Am I?


Hello? Only one post this week, Cinette? Where have you been?

I could tell you I was abducted by aliens, and I'd almost believe it myself.
I have been in such a brain fog as of late, I don't even know what day it is, half the time. Worse, I even went to write November in my cheque book the other day. It is still October, right? And if so, where did this past week go? Obviously, I don't know if I'm coming or going.
I have been going non-stop for days now, (I think...) but I'm not sure what has been accomplished, if anything at all. I haven't even been home a single evening this week. At least I've been told I wasn't here to cook a meal all week. (Hubby gets cranky when he's hungry;0)
I need to take a deep breath. And try to get some sleep; not sure what that is anymore. And here I promised I was going to get my crap together for this past week, didn't I? So sorry, my peeps. I've discovered some of my physical limits this week. I hate getting old.

Have you ever been abducted by aliens?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Teasers- Halloween Edition

Here it is, almost Halloween and I haven't done a single Halloweenish post. I LOVE Halloween! My book is based on Halloween! But like every other holiday, it just sneaks up on me. So, today's teasers are all ghost stories. Do you recognise any of them?

1) Kendall Moorehead can't sleep. Not a wink.
Ever since her family moved from Chicago to the small town of Radison, Georgia, Kendall hasn't gotten a decent nights 's sleep. It's just too freaking quiet.
To remedy the situation, Kendall's father brings home a white-noise machine. The soothing sound of static should help Kendall drift off to la-la land.
But what Kendall hears is anything but relaxing: A voice comes through the machine. A voice? Has Kendall completely lost her mind? Or is she waking up to a world she never knew existed?

2) I don't believe in ghosts.
Unfortunately, they believe in me...
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I get roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston - and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends - and potential boyfriends - is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with the ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive...

3) Jack is used to danger. His asthma has nearly killed him more than once. But his new home has a danger he's never known before - the spirits of the dead.
They can't breathe. But in Jack's house, they can chase, hide, scream.
Only Jack can see them. Only he can hear them. And only he can learn their secrets in time to save his mother - and himself...

Do you recognise any of these? Care to take a guess?


Monday, October 25, 2010

'Witches' Chapter Critique Courtesy of Clarissa Draper

Awhile back I bit the bullet and signed up for a chapter critique from Clarissa Draper at Listen to the Voices (see right hand sidebar). I nervously handed over my first chapter of Witches Don't Wear Socks. This morning, I found her critique of my chapter. I don't know what I was so afraid of; I'm still blushing from the kind comments she made, as well as the comments from other bloggers. Go check it out at Listen to the Voices.
If you'll excuse me, I'm overflowing with new ideas for my story. Gotta go! ttfn!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Plot or Not To Plot...That Is My NaNo Question

This will be my third year doing The NaNowrimo challenge. My first year, I signed up at the very last minute and just grabbed a line one of my daughters had given me during the previous Halloween, when she waited until the last minute to put her costume together. 'Witches Don't Wear Socks' was born. I didn't win that year, but in my defense, I'm a bit faster at typing now;-) (Only a bit.)
Last year, I decided to come at it the 'proper' way, and plotted out a murder-mystery with all the red herrings and a long list of suspects. I lost interest in the story two days into November and dropped out. I already knew what was going to happen. Did I mention I'm a pantser by nature?
This year, I have a rough - very rough - idea of a paranormal murder mystery. The protag is a cop but she also sees ghosts. Original, isn't it?
 Don't ask me why murder mysteries. I love them and all, but I don't know that I have what it takes to write one. Such intricate plot work and all. BUT, I came up with a new title the other day, one that I'd want to put in my WITCHES series. The Gangster Who Loved Me. Again, I have only a very rough idea to start from. Which one should I try to flesh out over the next week? Or should I just pants it? Follow my character into trouble?

Monday, October 18, 2010

MEGAN CREWE - YA Author Interview

CS: The interview this morning is with MEGAN CREWE, author of the YA novel GIVE UP THE GHOST. Good Morning, Megan. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself.

MEGAN CREWE: I'm living in Toronto, now with my husband and two cats of my own. By mornings I write; by afternoons I tutor children and teens with special needs. When I'm not doing either, I'm reading everything I can get my hands on (about an equal mix of YA and adult fiction, with the occasional nonfiction title thrown in), learning Fut Gar kung fu, and planning my next overseas exploration.

CS:  Tell us about Give Up the Ghost. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?

MEGAN CREWE: The idea just popped into my head--the image of a girl hanging out with her ghostly sister like it was a totally normal thing. I wanted to figure out why she'd be so comfortable with ghosts, and what might have come out of her friendship with them, and the story developed from there.

CS: What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Give Up the Ghost?

MEGAN CREWE: Well, I don't write to teach. But I think the main theme of GHOST is that it's better to take the risk of getting hurt and try to connect with people than to totally shut yourself off--that you can't possibly be happy if you close yourself off from everyone else.

CS: Looking back on writing Give Up the Ghost, is there anything you would have done differently?

MEGAN CREWE: Probably lots of things! One of the odd things about being an author is that by the time one of your books comes out, you've already written others and grown as a writer, and the book that's published at that moment is not the book you'd write at that moment, if you had to do it over right then. I try not to think about what I might have done differently very much, because otherwise it'd drive me crazy!

CS: What part of writing is the easiest for you? And the hardest?

MEGAN CREWE: I'd say the easiest parts for me are outlining, which I really enjoy because I get to see the story coming together, and I'm usually pretty good at figuring out plot holes and that sort of thing, and revising, because I find it much easier to focus on making a story good once I have the whole thing down. The hardest is the rough draft, because I'm never sure everything's going to work out on the page until I get to the end, and I'm always aware that there are things that aren't quite right but that I can't fix until I can see the whole picture. Both of those factors can make it pretty stressful, so I usually write the first draft as quickly as possible.

CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you had known back when you started in the business?

MEGAN CREWE: I think the most important thing for any aspiring author is to be persistent and not give up. There is a certain amount of luck and timing to being successful in this industry, and not every good book gets published right away. Plus it often takes at least a few books before you're writing ones that are good enough to be published. If you want to make it, you have to be willing to put in a lot of time and a lot of work toward making your writing as good as it possibly can be, and then getting it out there to agents and editors.

One thing I wish I'd known when I was starting out is that getting the first book published doesn't mean you're set for an entire career. It was harder for me to sell a second book than to sell GHOST. I'd expected it to be easier, and I think if I'd known how many ups and downs there can be even after you're published, it wouldn't have worried me as much as it did.

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

MEGAN CREWE: That the most important thing you can do for your career is write the next book (and of course, write it as well as you can). It's easy to get caught up in promotional concerns but ultimately, if you write a book that readers connect with, it'll find its audience.

CS: Tell us about your next book.

MEGAN CREWE: My next book is called THE WAY WE FALL. It's about a teenaged girl living on a small island that's suddenly struck with a deadly illness, and then placed under quarantine, leaving her and her family and friends struggling to survive.

Thanks for the interview!

CS: Thank you, Megan, for taking the time to do the interview with me.
And just a little something I found on Megan's site, some news on her THREE-BOOK DEAL:

The Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

Megan Crewe’s THE WAY WE FALL, in which a 16-year-old challenges her fears, finds a second chance at love, and fights to keep her family and friends safe as a deadly new virus devastates her island community, to Catherine Onder at Disney-Hyperion, in a significant deal, at auction, in a three-book deal, for publication in Winter 2012, by Josh Adams at Adams Literary (NA).

Congrats on your new successes, Megan!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Gotta Get This Book!!!

I have come across the next classic instructional writing manual that you need to have right next to Elements and Style. I haven't even finished reading it, and I already know this, it's that amazing! It's The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine!


Isn't it beautiful?
It will make you an expert critiquer in no time!
I used to look at other people's stories and mine) and just 'know' something wasn't quite right. Becky taught me (okay, her book did) how to spot the weaknesses, and how to fix them in MY OWN WORK. That's the main reason that this book will be dog-eared and cherished by all. It will guide you to being a better writer.
In the fiction section, she, breaks it down into critiquing for plot, dialogue, character, etc. It blew me away with how easy critiquing can be!
The Survival Guide covers fiction, non-fiction, memoir, you name it. This is a definite 5 star rating, if I ever gave ratings to books. I talked everyone in my writer's group to buy it.You NEED this one. Go buy it. Now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Five (More) Random Things About Moi

It may look like I've been negligent this past week, but - okay, I have. But in my defence, I've been trying to catch up in other departments in my life that have been suffering. By Monday, I hope to have my crap together and be back at the helm (as if!).
Oh, and on Monday, I have an interview with MEGAN CREWE, author of GIVE UP THE GHOST!

Okay, here we go:
1) I love to knit and crochet. I have more the eight projects on the go at any given time though, because I get bored with them after a while (notice a pattern, anybody?). I'm trying to finish a baby afghan this month for my new niece (yes, I"M sure it will be my mother's 8th granddaughter) due in less than a month. My money's on Nov.2.

2) I clean house only when I should be doing something else. (or when I'm expecting 20 people over for Thanksgiving.) It's in The Master Procrastination Method how-to-guide I plan to write. Someday.

3) I found out that 40 is the new 70, in my case, anyway. Over the last two years, I've gained 20 lbs, developed rotator-cuff issues in both shoulders, feel like I have arthritis in my hands, hips and knees (the shoulders go without saying), have chronic heartburn and have taken up snoring (so I'm told). I picked the wrong time in life to crack a couple ribs, I guess. Just when I was supposed to up my fitness to stay abreast of old age, I had to quit my running and weight training. Maybe, once the ribs healed, I should have started up again...

4) My idea of the perfect holiday is NOT a hot beach somewhere tropic. I want a hotel room with a hot tub and room service and a masseuse on call, plus a stack of books. The DO NOT DISTURB sign will be on the doorknob.

5) I WANT to have a simple, sparse decor in my house, but too many people live here. To start with, I emptied out an entire room downstairs last spring, but within a week my husband bought furniture and a T.V. to fill it up. I haven't been in the room since. I'm not kidding. It used to be my fitness room.

Your turn! Tell me your deepest, dark secret. I promise, I won't tell anyone...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

At First Sight Blogfest

At First Sight Blogfest

Jacee Drake is holding a blogfest today. Click on her link to check out all the other entries!

Here's my attempt at the theme:

Greyish-white crests topped the countless waves that covered the lake, but I wasn't able to see more than slivers of it through the trees. But in my mind's eye, I was on the shore, back on that day, waiting for Tyler to show. The chilling autumn wind coming off the lake had made me curl up into myself, rocking to keep warm, as well as to comfort myself. "I'd still be waiting," I muttered to myself.
"Do you always talk to yourself, Warden?" A painfully familiar voice asked woodenly from behind me. Warden had sounded ironic on his tongue. Like he was disappointed. Worse, maybe feeling betrayed. But he couldn't possibly know - could he? I slowly raised my hands.
"That uniform might fool any number of backwoods rednecks, but it doesn't fool this one. Why are you here? Who sent you?"
I swallowed the lump that had formed in the back of my throat and took a deep breath. I could feel the rifle he always carried trained on my back. "I'm a true Warden, soldier. Just not from around here, from now."
I could almost hear the gears working in his head. He had always spoke in riddles; I felt a sudden quirk of pride at having possibly stumped him, if only momentarily. Then the lump returned in my throat. The last time I had seen him, his lifeless eyes stared up at the grey sky, with blood soaking into the ground around his body.
"What do you mean? Not from now? And why do you call me soldier?" Anger rose in his voice, an uncommon occurrence, no matter how much I had often earned it.
I began to slowly turn around to face him. He was exactly as I had remembered, no matter how many years had passed since I had seen him last; right down to the grey stubble on his chin, and the scratch next to his right eye he had on that day.
The anger in his eyes flared, then confusion replaced it. He slowly lowered his rifle, but he never took his eyes off my face.
I swallowed hard, but there was still a crack in my voice. I left my hands in the air."You were right, Grandad. They have a time machine. And I found it."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weepy Wednesday

I've been slacking off on my blogging this week, even though I still have a couple of blogfests to catch up on, but I WILL CATCH UP! Someday, I'm sure.

Yes, today feels like a whining day, even if it is beautiful outside, for a change. First, it looks like someone stole my mother-in-law's dog, and two, I'm in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for around twenty or so people this weekend. It's the housekeeping part I don't care for. But I'm always up for a party!

Oh, and I've been adding up what I've spent on books recently.

I went to town this week, hypothetically speaking. (I actually did all my shopping on line.) BUT GUESS WHAT I GOT!!!

I mossied into, and I picked up CassaStar by...who was that written by again? (Just kidding, Alex!)

At I picked up a copy of each The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman, and Breakthough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan by Stephen Tremp (who happens to be one of those little fellas pictured at the top of the page;-) Hi Steve!

Then I made a stop at Kobo for some ebooks, and grabbed Freefall by this week's debut author interviewee, Mindi Scott. While I was there, I snatched a copy of Liz Fichera's Captive Spirit, which I was introduced to via The Bad News Blogfest this past weekend, or at least an intriguing snippet of it!
I also picked up the last Rachel Vincent 'Shifters' title, Alpha, and the third of Jennifer Estep's 'Elemental Assassin' series Venom. Also, I grabbed me a non-fiction title as well (got to stay well rounded) called My Life Among The Serial Killers By Dr. Helen Morrison. (Don't ask if you don't want to know.)

I think I had better put my credit card away for awhile. Hubby's already planning a bonfire with my collection:>)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Debut Author: Mindi Scott

Today I introduce you to one of the new kids on the block, debut YA author Mindi Scott, creator of FREEFALL, due to release October 5th.
Mindi Scott lives near Seattle, Washington, with her drummer husband in a house with a non-sound-proof basement. She is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich and her publisher is Pulse (Simon and Schuster).

Links about Mindi:

CS: Thank you for doing this interview with me. Tell us about Freefall . What was your motivation for the story?

Mindi Scott: Freefall is about 16-year-old Seth McCoy who, after a night of partying two months ago, found his best friend dead. This is the story of what happens after the numbness starts to wear off and Seth has to decide how to move forward with his life.
I started writing this because I had an idea for a love story between a boy and a girl who had each faced tragedy. I went against my norm and chose to write the boy's point of view instead of the girl's. Everything just evolved from there. The romance angle is definitely an important part of the book, but Seth's emotional journey became the real focus for me.

CS: What do you hope for your readers to take away from Freefall?

Mindi Scott: Last year, I sat down and determined that my purpose in life is to use my writing to empower lives and broaden perspectives. So that is what I would love to accomplish.
Being less-crazy ambitious and more specific, though, I would love it if readers are drawn in by Seth and the people in his life, and that the words that I wrote make them think . . . and feel.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Freefall, is there anything that you would do differently?

Mindi Scott: You know, I don't think there is anything I could have done differently. I worked hard and revised my manuscript in the best ways that I was capable. Getting an agent took longer than I would have preferred, but that was out of my hands. I will say, though, that there are two lines in the book that recently started bothering me for being a tiny bit over-explainy. Since I didn't notice them in revisions, copyedits, line edits, etc., they are in there for good. Oh, well!

CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Mindi Scott: Creating characters and developing voice are definitely my strengths. The hardest part is learning how to use plot to showcase them. Well, that and just getting the job done. Finishing manuscripts has been really difficult for me lately.

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Mindi Scott: Wil Wheaton once wrote on his blog: "Writers write."
I can't remember the context and I don't know if he was quoting someone else. But I think of it often. It's my reminder to get back on task. Being a writer means writing, so that's what I need to do!

 Thank you, Mindi for joining us today, and good luck with your debut launch of FREEFALL!
For some reviews on Goodreads, go HERE.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bad News Blogfest

Francine over at Romancing The Blog has decided to host her own blogfest, The Bad News blogfest. This is my submission to the cause, but you may prefer to see the others; click on Francicine's blog link.

Summary: Alex is able to see ghosts, and in dodging an entire ghostly football team by diving into the girls' washroom, she comes face to face with another ghost. (Bad day at school.)
Talk about jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Standing in the middle of the washroom was Prom Girl with the noose around her neck.

“I’m not going to catch a break today, am I?” I mumbled.

She was gazing around the room as if she were in a museum. “Everything looks so strange. It’s the same, yet different.” She turned to me, her bulging eyes searching mine.

It was difficult to hold her gaze. But I’d faced worse. I think the screaming drowned toddler at the local pool was the hardest to endure, and impossible to reason with. Mind you, I was only five at the time. The swim instructor thought I was terrified of the water. But Mom never tried to force me to go back. Maybe because I kept screaming, “Stop it! Just stop it! Leave me alone!”

Prom Girl continued on, breathlessly. “I don’t recognize anyone in the halls, not even most of the teachers. I tried to talk to Mr. Yamashita, but he ignored me. It’s like he couldn’t even see me there, standing right in front of him. But you can see me, can’t you? I feel like I know you, somehow. Have we met before?” She rattled off her spiel without taking a breath, as if she was worried she needed to get it all in quickly, before I took off on her.

As for Mr. Yamashita, he was going deaf and blind and he often didn’t see his living students, let alone the dead ones. I wish I could be so oblivious. As for the football team, I could hear them outside the door, talking among themselves. This was one bullet I was not going to be able to dodge. “Uh, I don’t believe we’ve met, but I’ve seen you around.”

“Why is it no one else seems to see me? I’ve tried to talk to other students and they walk right past me. Are they really all that rude?”

I shrugged and turned toward the mirror. “Kids will be kids.” I pretended to fuss with my hair. Not much you can really do to heavily gelled spikes.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t introduce myself, did I? I was so excited about finding someone to listen to me I forgot my own manners.” She extended her hand toward me. “Pamela Saunders.”

I ignored her outstretched hand. I could see ghosts – even in the mirror, looking as real as life – but I couldn’t touch them. My hand passed right through them. I turned on the tap and started scrubbing the gel off my hands.

Her reflection showed a flicker of hurt on her face, but she set her jaw as she dropped her hand and busied herself with straightening her gown. “And what might your name be?”

I turned off the tap and turned my back to her as I pulled paper towels out of the dispenser on the wall. “Everyone just calls me Alex.” I was going to do the whole “My name might be…” but I didn’t need to be a total jerk to her. After all, she was dead, even if she didn’t know it yet.

“Alex? Would that be a nickname for Alexandria?”

I sighed as I tossed the paper towels in the garbage can. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Silly girl! Alexandria is a beautiful name. That’s nothing to be ashamed of!”

As I turned to face her, I saw her reaching for my shoulder. Her hand passed right through it before I could dodge out of her reach.

Her bulging eyes went even wider as she stared at her hand. “What on earth--? Are you a ghost?”

I snorted. “I’m not! You are.” Crap. When am I gonna learn to watch my mouth?

“No! This can’t be! That would mean I’m…no!” She grew quite agitated. “I am not dead!”

“Pamela, listen to me for just a minute…”

“No!” Then she disappeared. Now, whether she liked it or not, she knew was dead. That made for a whole new ballgame.

I sighed heavily as I glared at my reflection. “That went well.”

I now had a whole ghostly football team following me around the school and a full-fledged specter that could now pop in and out at will. And all before the lunch break. Man, was I on a roll.

I looked up at the window. Not a chance. This addition of the high school was built like a prison; they don’t want the inmates escaping. The window was too small and too high off the floor. I was going to have to face the football team. But hey, how many girls can honestly say they have the whole football team chasing after them?

I took a deep breath, then flung the door open. The players were lined up in two columns facing each other across the doorway, like they line up for their grand entrances on to the field. And they were all looking at me. Funny, none of them seemed to notice how out of sorts the other players looked. The team captain opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him short. “You’ll have to excuse me guys, I have a very busy schedule and I don’t have time to entertain you at the moment. If you wish to talk to me, we can meet after the game this afternoon.” As if I was sticking around for a stupid football game.

I stopped short once I got past the gauntlet. Two guys from my math class had been leaning up against the wall, chatting. Apparently, they thought I had been talking to them.

“After the game, then,” one of them said, smiling as he saluted me. The other just stood there, his eyes wide with surprise, his jaw nearly resting on his chest.

I closed my eyes and dropped my head in defeat. “Let it go,” I mumbled to myself. “ The way this day is going, I might not even live that long.”


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Random Things About Me

How much do you really want to know? Anyhow, here are some more useless tidbits for you:

1) I’m vertically challenged. Pushing on 5’ 1 ¾”, Thank you very much. I was always the second shortest in my class.

2) My nickname from junior high, earned on the football field during intermurals, was ‘Bricks**thouse’.

3) I self-medicate with wine. (It helps with my high anxiety and the facial tic;-)

4) I’m not a fan of chic-flicks. I’m into martial-arts movies and action flicks.

5) Just give me coffee and no one gets hurt. Don’t even try to get between me and the coffee pot in the morning. You Will. Not. Survive.

Your turn! Tell me something about YOU. Let me into your psyches…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tidy Up Tuesday

Sorry, no Teasers today. It's mid-afternoon, I just got in (from chores, harvest work, rounding up three piglets and finding a lost kitten) and I'll be running back out again, but I wanted to touch base with you all.
First, I was so glad to see Trish Doller get back in the game and have her touch base with me. Good luck with THE NEW NORMAL, Trish! I've been following you for ages, and I'm glad to see things work out for you!
I also want to thank DL Curran at words n' whimsy for giving me a blog award.  Ya, me! Go figure. But not just me. She chose a list of totally awesome blogsters, which makes it that much harder for me to put together another totally awesome list of my own. Just click on her link to check out her list. I'll try to have mine together soon!
You might have notice my bookshelf changed. I read six of the eight books I had on it, and then I joined Fall into Reading 2010 challenge. It's pretty relaxed, but sometimes I just need to be accountable;-) It runs from Sept. 22/10 until December 20/10 - you know -  FALL.
I'm still trying to catch up on all the blogs that joined the THREE blogfests I joined last week. I WILL get to each of you, I promise.
Remember I joined the Contemps Challenge? And did you notice FREEFALL by Mindi Scott on my new bookshelf? And did you know FREEFALL is released on October 5th? And did you know Mindi Scott will be ON MY BLOG October 5th? We are gonna CELEBRATE her debut release here on Musings. Okay, I'm kind of excited! And for those of you who know my maiden name, no unfortunately, Mindi and I are not related. Nor am I related to her husband.
You may have noticed I also added a pup to my profile picture. He's so much more photogenic then I am, was or ever will be.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

YA Author Interview: Trish Doller

Trish Doller

Link to Awesomeness: Trish's Blog

CS: Welcome to Musings of a writer-in-progress. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me.Tell us about The New Normal. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?

TrishDoller: I was a staff writer for a newspaper when I was assigned to interview a young Marine who had just come home from Iraq after the first invasion wave back in 2003. When I met him, it struck me that he was only nineteen years old and had experienced things his hometown friends could only imagine. The impression stayed with me, but I never did anything with it until about a year ago when I started thinking about a girl character who'd branded a slut back in middle school by a boy who lied. Travis--the main character of THE NEW NORMAL--was meant to be that boy, but as I started writing I realized the story belonged to him and that perhaps she was an island of "normal" in his struggle with death, post-traumatic stress disorder, outgrown friendships, and a disintegrating family.

CS:What do you hope for your readers to take away from The New Normal?

Trish Doller: I guess I'd like readers to understand that war affects the warrior in a lot of different ways. It changes him--for better or worse--as well as the way he relates to his family and friends. From so far away, it's easy to forget about the fact that it's being fought by individuals who deserve our support while they're serving, our respect when they return, and whatever care they need to heal the damage they've suffered, be it physical or emotional or both. (This also applies to those who serve, but never deploy. It doesn't mean their jobs are less valuable. They're all doing something the rest of us don't want to do.)

CS: Looking back over your writing career, is there anything you would have done differently? What lessons have you learned on your journey?

Trish Doller: I'm not sure I'd have done anything differently. I've made some mistakes along the way and suffered a major setback when my first book was cancelled by the publisher, but if that book had been published, I might not have written THE NEW NORMAL, and I can't imagine that! If anything, I might wish I'd started writing seriously a little earlier in my life because I have so many ideas I want to get down on paper.

CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Trish Doller: Dialogue is very easy for me because I can hear my characters talking to each other in my head. I wish I could just write a novel in nothing but dialogue! The hardest is plotting. A lot of times I start with a character and I have a general idea of what happens, but I don't always know exactly how it all plays out. And I'm so bad at outlining!

CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Trish Doller: I wish I had something more profound to say, but my best advice is to never give up. After my first book, it would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I persisted and it paid off. So don't quit!

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Trish Doller: Actually I have two wisest things. First, when I'd polished and revised my first book to what I thought was its glossiest shine, I emailed YA author Maureen Johnson (who didn't know me from Adam) and asked her how you know when your manuscript is ready to be sent out into the world. She told me that you have to trust your internal meter and "you just have to jump off the end of the diving board at some point". I jumped and you know what? I landed her agent with that first manuscript.
The other was after that first book died in the publishing pipeline. I was really down about it and mystery writer Randy Wayne White (who shops at the bookstore where I work) told me that if my writing was good enough to sell once, it was good enough to sell again. I tried not to forget that... and he was right.

CS: What is your next project? Can you tell us anything about it?

Trish Doller: Well, first I need to finish THE NEW NORMAL (we sold it on a partial submission) and I suspect I'll spend a good part of next year revising. But the next thing I've got floating around in my head is the story of three boys, friends since kindergarten, who want to have one last epic weekend before they step out into the "real world". Except their last weekend doesn't go quite as planned and puts their friendship to the test. It's tentatively (and oh, so imaginatively) titled THE LAST WEEKEND.

CS: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Good luck with The New Normal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Top Ten Novels Blogfest

Madeleine over at Scribble and Edit is hosting the Top Ten Novels Blogfest this weekend.What are your favourite top ten novels, and how did they affect you? Go on over and sign up; it’s not too late!

This was tougher than I thought; how to narrow down my favourite novels to ten titles and approximately when I read them. (I cheated on some of them and looked up when they were published ;-) )

10. Darkly Dreaming Dexter. I love Jeff Lindsay’s dark humour. I laugh out loud while reading his stuff. (We won’t discuss what that says about me…) I read this one just over a year ago; it’s my favourite of the series so far.

9. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I don’t usually read Dean’s stuff, but Odd is definitely a compelling character. He’s absolutely adorable. Compelling, if you will. I’ve been following this series since it started, about five years or so, maybe more.

8. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Again, the start of another series, but this one was my favourite. I think it was the fresh (and some quirky) characters and their relationships that caught me.I couldn't put it down. I read this one about ten years ago.

7. the five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. I remember sitting alongside the pool while my daughters took lessons, and I was bawling my eyes out. I don’t do public displays. Ever.

6. Prophesy of Days: the Daykeeper’s Grimoire by Christy Raedeke. A new favourite of mine; waiting impatiently for the second book in the series. New-agey stuff blended seamlessly with ancient philosophies. My head was swimming with the possibilities. Cool stuff.

5. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. When did I read it? Which time? Doesn’t everyone wonder what it would be like to live forever? Who ever thought it might not be so great?

4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This one was out for over ten years before I found it. I was in the same shoes Margaret was wearing; an awkward tween. I’m not saying how many years ago THAT was.

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. When I heard there was controversy over a book titled Speak, I couldn’t believe it was this one. As soon as I finished reading it a few months ago, I immediately passed it on to my daughters and demanded they read it. Girls NEED this book!

2. The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger. Who didn’t read (and love) this story? We all had our own prescriptions for teen angst, of one thing or another, right? Mmmmm, chocolate.

1. Oranges and U.F.O.’s by Muriel Leeson. This was the hottest thing in fantasy for me. Aliens in the cupboard. Now, the internet tells me it was published in 1999, but that’s horsepucky! I read this book over 20 times. (Check the card in the back of the book at the library; my name is written on it at least that many times.) The cover is the same as I remember it from my grade school days, but in ’99 I already had kids that age. (Don’t do the math… DON’T DO IT!)

So, are any of these on your top ten list? What’s your numero uno?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

This morning Elana Johnson, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Jennifer Daiker are hosting The Great Blogging Experiment. I'm tagging along in addressing "Writing Compelling Characters".
The first thing that came to mind when I signed up for this blogfest was one of my characters that has the ability to compel others to do her will.

Every student in the school was crowded into the gym for the mandatory pep rally. “Come on everybody! Up on your feet! Do it with me people! Give me an R! Gimme an A! Now an M and an S! Who are we? The Rams!” The Compulsion Cassie was throwing out into the packed gym was even reaching me at the back of the bleachers. She really had a thing for school spirit. Of course, I had learned how to fend off her Compulsions years ago.

“Are you positive that you and Cassie are truly siblings? I know your facial characteristics are strikingly similar, but personality-wise…”

“Ryan, believe me, some days I wish it weren’t true. Like today, with her jumping around and screaming at the top of her lungs in front of the whole school.”

“Why?” Kayla, like so many other girls in my class, idolized my older sister. “She’s an incredible motivator. It’s as if you believe you can do anything just because she says you can. Her energy and drive are contagious. She’s just so…”


Kayla tilted her curly blond head, almost bonking me with her halo. “I don’t know if that’s the word I would use.”

Ryan screwed up his face in thought, and then nodded. “Yes, I agree, that word fits her. She has an attractive and compelling personality.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” I mumbled under my breath.

“What was that?”

“Nothing. At least I can be hopeful she’ll be hoarse after this and won’t be able to nag me for a couple of days.”

A roar of the crowd that rivaled the rumblings of my gut brought my attention back to the middle of the gym, where the Rams football team came trotting in, one by one. Last, but not least –at least in his mind – came the swaggering Bobby Gentry, star quarterback. I often wondered what kind of a loser he would be in real life – I mean without the influences of his girlfriend, head cheerleader and class president, my peppy and overzealous sister.

Some people are more easily influenced than others. Bobby was a lump of clay and Cassie was the sculptor. If she ever entered politics, that girl would rule the world. And Mom thought she had her hands full with me.

My attention was snagged once again as the next player came wondering into the gym from the change rooms. He was in uniform, but it was different. It was the same white with red and black trim as the Rams’ away game uniforms, but the style was slightly different. The other players in the gym were wearing the solid red home game uniforms with black trim. This guy carried his helmet in his hand. He looked at the crowd, bewildered. Behind him, more players, just as bewildered, filed in. Some of these players were covered in soot, others in blood with their uniforms tattered.

The rest of the gym’s occupants carried on with their fanatic football worship service, oblivious to the second team entering the room. All at the same moment, the team stopped and stared at me. I recognized some of them from the photo hung outside the change room doors. This gym had been built as a monument to the 1982 Rams football team that had all been killed in a bus crash.

Crap. Halloween was officially in full swing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogfeast Entry

Angela over at Jaded Love Junkie is hosting her first blogfest, and I inadvertently signed up for it - this morning! So here is my lame entry.

Taking the back stairs, or what Mom said were the servants’ stairs, I passed through the butler pantry, then dragged myself into the kitchen. Mom was rinsing her coffee cup in the sink. “You’re running late; your sisters have already left.” She looked me up and down as I poured myself a cup of coffee. “What are you supposed to be?”

“Doesn’t anyone in this household say ‘Good morning,’ anymore?”

I don’t know why it even mattered to me, since I couldn’t manage good manners myself before lunch, let alone proper etiquette.

“Good morning, Alex,” cooed my mother snidely. “What are you supposed to be dressed as this morning?”

“A fairy princess. Where’s the sugar?”

“Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have to tell you that stuff stunts your growth?” She turned her back to the sink and leaned against the counter as she crossed her arms.

“The lipstick or the sugar?”

“The coffee. You can’t afford to lose out in that department.”

“I believe it’s referred to as a ‘failure to thrive’, or so I’m told.” After opening three cupboards, I found the sugar bowl and tipped it over my coffee cup.

“That’s a load of crap. You’re petite. That doctor was trying to find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse – that hasn’t changed –you just didn’t sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it’s hard for a growing body to…well, grow.”

“Don’t worry, I still blame you.”

Mom playfully smacked my shoulder with the back of her hand.

“Hey! Hot stuff coming through. I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there any bread left? I smell burned toast.”

“That’s it there on the table.” Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey was a stack of almost black toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn’t. Even though she was home all day, she spent most of her time transcribing medical records for doctors in her home office.

“How does the cereal situation look?” I asked as I placed my coffee cup on the table.

“We’re out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today.”

“Can you pick up some more frozen mice for Charlie?” I rubbed the bite on my arm. “And I suppose eggs and hash browns with a side of pancakes are out of the question?” I opened the refrigerator door and basked in the wave of cool air.

“Hello? Will you look at the clock? Time to get rolling, birthday girl.”

I cringed. “I don’t do birthdays.”

“You’re too young to be trying to dodge them already. You’ll regret skipping them, mark my words.”

“I only regret skipping meals. Birthdays – not so much.” Time to change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”

Truth Thursday

Five Random Things About Me

How much do you really want to know? Anyhow, here are some more useless tidbits for you:

1) I’m vertically challenged. Pushing on 5’ 1 ¾”, Thank you very much. I was always the second shortest in my class.

2) My nickname from junior high, earned on the football field during intermurals, was ‘Bricks**thouse’.

3) I self-medicate with wine. (It helps with my high anxiety and the facial tic;-)

4) I’m not a fan of chic-flicks. I’m into martial-arts movies and action flicks.

5) Just give me coffee and no one gets hurt. Don’t even try to get between me and the coffee pot in the morning. You Will. Not. Survive.

Your turn! Tell me something about YOU. Let me into your psyches…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Here's a scene from my work in progress, Witches Don't Wear Socks.

Stepping out onto the porch, I almost ran into Cassie coming into the house.

“Watch it, Legs; cranky witch coming through.” I once gave her a hard time about having long legs, and for some reason she took it to be something unattractive. I never corrected her.

Cassie’s eyes widened. “Stella’s up already?”

I snorted. “I meant me, but yeah, Stella’s up. What are you doing here? Aren’t you late, by Cassie standards?”

“Would you believe I forgot my day planner? My whole life’s in there. I’m lost without it.” She wasn’t being melodramatic. Besides being class president, head cheerleader, and a member of the glee club, she had not one, but two after school jobs, not to mention her singing gigs. I got an instant headache just thinking about it. “Do you want a ride? Bobby’s waiting in the driveway for me.” Not waiting for an answer, or probably knowing what my response would be, she barreled through the door and ran up the stairs, not bothering to closer the door behind her.

I shook my head and trudged down the front steps. The chances of me asking Bobby Gentry for a ride to school were a gazillion to one.

“Hey pipsqueak!” Bobby yelled over the booming speakers in his rattletrap of a car. “What do you think of my new CD?”

I grabbed my throat with both hands and started gagging.

“What?” He put a hand to his football jersey-clad chest, feigning insult. “The Death’s Reapers aren’t your bag? I figured a Goth like you would revel in this stuff.”

“How many times do you need to have something repeated for it to take hold in that teeny tiny brain of yours? I’m not a Goth or a thespian. I just like black, okay?”

“A thes…what?” he asked as he turned down the stereo.

I rolled my eyes. “Sorry, I forgot to use small words and speak slowly. Does. Drama. Student. Mean. Anything. To. You?” So what if he was good looking and quarterback of the football team? I couldn’t figure out why Cassie was so gaga over this guy.

Bobby snorted. “Oh trust me. I know you’re one of a kind.”

What was that supposed to mean? Had Cassie told him about our family’s…quirks? Or just mine? She couldn’t tell him about hers without giving power to him to fight it, but she could tell him mine.

Cassie came bounding out of the house and into the front seat next to Bobby.

After kissing her on the nose, (how revolting), he turned back to me. “By the way, Happy Birthday, pipsqueak. If you came a little closer, I could pinch you to make you grow an inch. Lord knows you could use it, but I might get carried away.”

“Just keep those meat hooks away from me, pigskin breath.”

“Knock it off, you two.” Cassie sent out a wave of impatience. “Tell her to get in the back seat, she’s going to be late.” For him, it was a request he could not refuse; for me, a dirty look followed that told me it was an order, whether her will affected me or not.

I don’t take orders from anyone. But I was starting to feel a bit of a chill off the wind that was picking up. Must be something nasty coming; I never get cold. “I guess you owe me that much, football monkey. Mush!” I ordered as I climbed into the back seat.

Drumroll Please!

The three titles from Teaser Tuesday are:

1) Dream Spinner by Bonnie Dobkin

2) Holdup by Terri Fields

3) Majix: Notes From  a Serious Teen Witch by Douglas Rees

Check them out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Teasers

It’s that time again! Here are the “teasers” found on the back of three YA books. You need to choose which one you would read FIRST (because we know you want to read ALL of them) without knowing the title or who wrote it. If you recognize them, please don’t give it away!

1) “Remember, girl, that dark things crouch in the corners of your mind, things you aren’t aware exist. And so even the gentlest dream can mask a nightmare.”
Jori used to be one of the popular girls in school. Now she keeps to herself. It’s easier to hide the scars that way – the ones from the accident that killed her father. Bitter, betrayed by her best friend, and with her sister Lisa missing, Jori’s beginning to wonder if life will ever get any better.
Then Jori meets an eccentric old man who offers her the chance to enter a mysterious tapestry – the gateway to a magical world where dreams become reality. She’s tempted. After all, who wouldn’t want the chance to live out a fantasy, especially when real life can be so hard? But as Jori comes closer to trading away her real life for a dream, she finds out that the deal comes at a terrible price. Will she be strong enough to leave this fantastic world where anything – even reuniting with her father – is possible?

2) It’s an ordinary Saturday night for the teens working at Burger Haven – until guns are drawn and threats are made. Jordan’s just working here part-time after school, but she’s suddenly responsible for half-a-dozen lives when the manager has to leave. Joe has never even gotten so much as an after-school detention. So, how is it that this Saturday night, he’s at Burger Haven, waving a loaded gun, yelling at the employees to get down on the floor NOW! Dylan has always succeeded at his twisted plans – until this Saturday, this robbery, where everything has gone wrong. And now, surrounded by police outside, Dylan’s life will never be the same – and neither will the lives of his hostages.

3) My name is Kestrel. Kestrel Murphy. NEVER call me Susan. Who ever heard of a witch named Susan?
A year ago, I was on the white-magic side. Lately, I’ve been leaning toward the black. I blame the universe. What’s the point in being a nice little white witch in the universe I’ve got? If I could choose my own universe, I’d be a white witch in it. But black makes a lot more sense in this universe.
Not that I’m complaining. A witch never complains. But if I did, I’d have a lot to complain about. For instance: Richard Milhous Nixon High.
What’s a teen witch to do when she’s stuck in the most unmagical high school in the universe? Create her own “majix.” Take notes. And above all, avoid nasty classmates, heartless grown-ups and boys who may prove a little too distracting for a serious teen witch to handle…

Which one catches your eye first?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christy Raedeke, YA Author Interview

Christy Raedeke

Christy Raedeke lives with her husband and two children in Ashland, Oregon. She is the recipient of the 2008 Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature from Oregon Literary Arts.

CS:I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you would do this interview with me, Christy ( I LOVED you book, Prophesy of Days Book 1: The Daykeeper's Grimoire ( It's packed full of amazing information in an entertaining story.
 Tell us about The Prophesy of Days. How was your story birthed? What was Your motivation?

Christy Raedeke: I really wanted to write the kind of story I would have loved as a kid. I was always into the odd books about the stuff like unsolved mysteries, The Bermuda Triangle, and bottomless sinkholes in the Yucatan. Once I read about the Mayan calendar I was hooked and knew that had to be the central focus of the book.

CS:What messages/life lessons did you wish to teach your readers in Prophesy of Days?

Christy Raedeke:I'm not sure I really have any life lessons to impart, but I do want kids to know that life is full of mystery and beauty. I hope they know how important they are - and how powerful. They have a hand in shaping the world they want to live in. I don't want my kids to inherit the world; I want them to create a better one.

CS: Looking back on the writing of Prophesy of Days, is there anything you would have done differently?

Christy Raedeke: Of course! I think my whole life is made up of things I look back on and wish I'd done differently. But living life looking in the rear view mirror makes you lose site of what's ahead. This is a first novel and it's full of flaws - but dwelling on them is useless. I can only impact my future, and work harder on my next books.

CS: Full of flaws? I never noticed any! What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Christy Raedeke: The easiest part of writing is the first draft, about a third of the way in. By then I usually know the general direction I'm going, but I'm right in the middle of the discovery phase. At that point it seems like my fingers are writing, not my brain. The words just flow.
The hardest part is revising. That feels like straight-up work. Especially when you have to change a plot thread and scour the book for all instances that are touched by that thread. I know people who absolutely love the revision process, but I'm not one of them!

CS: What advice would you give aspiring writers about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Christy Raedeke: My biggest piece of advice would be to go to writer's conferences when you're ready to query agents. They are so much more receptive when they've met you in person at a conference. Plus, hearing them speak on panels or roundtables gives you good insight into who they are and what they like. I really don't know how people query blindly! A little-known fact: once you've been to a conference and met an agent or editor, you can write the name of the conference on your submission envelope and it will rise above the slush pile. So in addition to getting a great education at conferences, you are also paying for preferential treatment for your submission.

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Christy Raedeke: It's the old Hemmingway saying, "kill your darlings". In both of my books, I've had to chop off the first several chapters. Don't be afraid to cut work that you love if it makes the story better.

CS: And here you can do a loud and shameless plug for book #2! Would you like to tell us about it? (Sure you do!)

Christy Raedeke: Well, I'm deep in revisions of it right now, so it's on my mind! The title of it is Prophesy of Days, Book 2: The Serpent's Coil. I can't tell you too much without giving away spoilers, but I will say Caity gets deeper into the conspiracy, Justine accompanies her on most of the adventure, someone we love dies, and Mr. Papers discovers some scary new talents...

CS: Now I can't wait to get my hands on Book #2!
Thanks so much for this interview, Christy. Good luck with revisions, and let us know how it's coming along!

Does anyone have any questions they would like to ask Christy?