Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back . . . looking forward

This year has been one of both endings and new beginnings.

Looking Back

At the beginning of the year, I ended my job. This was bitter sweet. I loved my job (archivist), but I missed having time to write.

After I quit my job, I had plenty of time to write, but felt like I should be doing something more. After much thought and discussion with hubby and kids, it was decided I should go back to school and work toward Elementary Education. This was a new beginning for the entire family. It has gone well so far and 2010 will see me back in school.

While this has taken up some of my writing time (homework), I'm happy with how it is going. Also, my mind seems to work better. LOL

In 2009, I attended the SCBWI AZ Welcome to Our House conference. I learned so much from the critique I received (thank you, Bradford Hees from Blooming Tree Press!) and also from the workshops and talks from the faculty. What a wonderful experience!

I became the ANWA newsletter editor and what a fun experience that is!

I volunteered in my kids' school on a regular basis (Fridays).

2009 also saw the release of some fabulous books, and I enjoyed reading many of them. Unfortunately, I didn't get to all of them and I still have a huge pile waiting for me.

Many other wonderful things happened in 2009. I made new friends and got to know old friends a bit better. I embarked on a journey into Twitterland (it's almost as strange and bizarre as Wonderland).

Looking Forward

And now it's time to look forward. What will 2010 bring? I suppose it depends on what I want it to bring. I must seek what I wish to find. No treasure was ever found without first searching for it. I mean to find me some darn good treasure in 2010, and 2009 helped get me started along the path.

Every year is an adventure and I'm completely looking forward to the experiences I'll enjoy as I follow the paths of 2010. Hopefully I won't make a wrong turn. =D

I look forward to some awesome releases in 2010 (you can see my list over on the right and I'm sure it will grow).

Dreaming Big

As inevitably happens, a new year is a time for new goals. These are some of mine (because if I don't share them, I won't be accountable).

Some Writing Goals:

Write at least one new novel

Send out queries on my other works

Attend at least one writing conference

Write at least one day a week (giving myself some leeway with school and all that)

Get a Macbook Pro (I won't be getting it in January as I hoped) and learn to use it

Enter at least one writing contest

Update my blog at least once a month (yeah, I was bad with that in 2009)

Keep up with my critique groups

Do at least one full MS exchange with someone new (meaning someone outside my critique groups)

Some Personal Goals:

Read all the 2010 books on my list (on the right)

Add at least one more book to my list

Pass my classes with a C or better (which requires a few smaller goals to reach . . . like do my homework on time, not miss class, etc.)

Reach level 44 on Farmtown (stupid Facebook games)

Not spend so much time on Facebook games (I know this seems to contradict the previous goal, but really it doesn't. I'll just have to cut down on all the other games I play and concentrate on Farmtown hee hee hee)

Go on a date with hubby at least once a month (2009 was light on the date front)

Learn to use my new camera

What are some of your 2010 goals?

Write on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas to me

Okay, I know it's a bit early, but I've already received my Christmas present . . . Sort of. A link on Twitter led me to Jennifer Cruise's blog to read the structure  post. While I was there, I read more of her blog and was thrilled with the post about revision and discovery in the new year. Within that post was a link to where I could sign up for a revision class taught by Lani Diane Rich.

It sounded fabulous and I thought it would be perfect for me. I begged hubby to let me have the class as a Christmas present. I didn't really think he'd let me, but he said, "Okay. If that's what you really want, but you won't have anything to open on Christmas morning." I said I didn't care about having something to open (but the kids might so we decided to make up a coupon or something to put in a box). Anyway, I've signed up for the class (it starts in January) and I'm looking forward to seeing what wonderful things I'll learn about revision.


My only concern is that I also go to school full time next semester so I'm wondering how insane I am to have added one more thing to my already overflowing plate. I really hope I can eat everything on the plate without getting an upset stomach. ;-)

Now I'm off to finish up some submissions and get them in the mail today (Merry Christmas to the editors hee hee hee).

And in case I don't get back here before Friday, I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! (sorry I didn't get cards sent out this year . . . bad Joan, bad!)

May your day be fabulous, and may your children (if you have them) not fight/argue/whine/complain/annoy each other/etc. for an entire day (now THAT would be the best Christmas present ever)!

Write on.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hooray!! A celebration.

No, I didn't get an agent or a book deal, but I DID finish my semester of school yesterday. That's definitely cause for celebration!

I even managed to pass all my classes . . . I think I may have even passed all of them with an "A."

I now have two weeks of break before I go back for the spring semester. Unfortunately, I'm taking four classes (full time) next semester and I'm worried about how I'll manage to do it with everything else I have going on. *sigh*

I even managed to get some Christmas shopping done today . . . yeah, nothing like waiting until the last minute. We still haven't decorated, but that will happen on Saturday.

Seriously, this Christmas really snuck up on me! Now I'm scrambling to get everything done in time. CRAZY!

One more thing before I go. There is still time to enter the contest for a chance to read an ARC of THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON by Joni Sensel (the sequel to THE FARWALKER'S QUEST).

Celebrate on!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sharing TIME . . . a contest

It's here, the moment you've all been waiting for (you have been waiting, right?)!


In my last post, I reviewed this sequel to THE FARWALKER's QUEST. If you missed the review, go ahead and check it out. When you're done, come on back.

Doesn't that sound like an awesome book? My mere words don't do justice to the world and characters Joni has created. I'm in awe.

Because I love these books so much, I'm honored Joni allowed me to run this contest to help promote THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON.

Go here to my LJ blog to read about the contest and enter.

Write on.

Novel Novel Review

It's that time again!

Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

I will give reasons for my rating in my review, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market. =D

I was thrilled when Joni Sensel asked if I'd review the sequel to THE FARWALKER'S QUEST for I love the characters and world Sensel has created and couldn't wait to dive into THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON.

Here is my review:

The Timekeeper's Moon by Joni Sensel

Rating: A + (and more)

Category:  Fantasy

The moon calls to Ariel Farwalker and urges her to embark on a quest. Leaving her best friend Zeke behind, Ariel and her guardian journey to new friends and distant lands. Ariel hopes to find the sender of the telling darts, if she lives long enough.

I fell in love with this world and characters in THE FARWALKER'S QUEST. I thrilled at the prospect of reading the sequel, but I did have some nagging concerns. Because the first one blew me away, I feared nothing could compare.

THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON not only compared, but managed to thrill me even more than FARWALKER. Adventure, excitement, and wonderful new characters greeted me with each page turn.

THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON pulled me in and kept me moonstruck through the entire novel. When I had to put the book down, I felt the story tugging at my mind and urging me to return. I couldn't get back to it fast enough!

Like THE FARWALKER'S QUEST before it, Sensel has a way of bringing her characters and world to brilliant life, making me wish I could stay immersed in Ariel's story forever. The only disappointment I had was the ending, but only because the book was over.

Whenever I look at the moon, I'll think of Ariel Farwalker and wonder where her feet will lead her next.

Write on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

School days, school daze and sharing TIME

Whew! One more week and I'm finished . . . well, until January.

Sorry I've been absent. But I'm back now. Unfortunately, I'm too exhausted to do a post of any relevance what-so-ever. My brain is so full of information I'll need for final exams next week that I can't think of much else.

However, I do have some good news . . . ready?

THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON contest will be launching on or before Sunday!

It's true. I had a few minutes between classes to check the mail yesterday and was thrilled to see a package from Joni Sensel among the bills (wasn't so thrilled to see the bills though). Inside this wonderful package was an ARC of THE TIME KEEPER'S MOON as well as some other fun items (to be revealed later).

I'll launch the contest before Sunday if possible, but I have one more project for school that needs finishing . . . and I'll be at the kids' school for the Holiday Store all day today, tomorrow, and Saturday. If I get time in the evening, I'll do it.

Joni tells me the other two ARCs are on their way, so we'll have three copies going out. I'm thrilled to death to be able to do this contest for her, and I really hope it goes well. That means I'll need lots of help to spread the word. You guys will help me spread the word, right?

Now I must dash to get the kids to school and get my stuff together so I can go back to the kids' school and set up my little store. I hope a lot of the online store stuff sells so I'll have room in my shed for other things. I also hope the jewelry and bookmarks I made sell . . . I'd hate to think I spent so much time making them for nothing.


Sell on. ;-)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It's time . . .

for a contest. But I'm not quite ready to launch THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON contest so here's a link to another great contest for you to check out in the meantime.

Cheryl Herbsman is having a contest with some truly cool prizes for the winning. Be sure to check it out and also check out her Q&A video session to learn more about what inspired her to write BREATHING as well as some insight to the characters.

Go on, check it out and then head on back if you want to keep reading. Or maybe you want to read on now and then go to the contest later. That's okay too.

Another thing it may be time for is reconsidering my educational goals. I spent today in my daughter's second grade classroom. I wasn't volunteering, but observing the classroom management for my Intro to Education course. My eyes have been opened and I have a newfound respect for all the teachers out there.

D2's teacher did tell me that this class is much more rambunctious than any class she's ever had and not all of them are like this.

THANK GOODNESS! Because I was seriously considering changing my field of study.

D2 had informed me that it was often hard for her to concentrate on her work in class, but I thought she was only making excuses. I apologized to her after school today.

Tomorrow I'm observing a kindergarten classroom so we'll see how it goes.

Study on.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

I've decided to participate in the Debut Author Challenge. I'm sure I'll be adding more to the list as I go, but you can see the ones I've got in the sidebar. Did you find it? Over there on the right. Go on, take a look, I'll wait for you.

Ah, you're back now. Great! Aren't those some awesome books? If you'd like to participate, click on over to The Story Siren and sign yourself up!


Go on.

Read on!

Write on.

Book Trailer

Have you seen the awesome book trailer for Magic Under Glass?

You've got to see it!

Want to win a hardcover of MAGIC UNDER GLASS by Jaclyn Dolamore plus more prizes? See for details!


Write on!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where HAVE you been?

Say it like Molly Weasley and I'll be properly chastised. ;-)

You all know I have a crazy busy life, and it keeps getting busier and crazier. I tried to do Nano but didn't even reach the 10,000 word mark. Am I ashamed?


And I'll tell you why. Every year my kids' school has a Holiday Store in December. This is a safe environment where the kids can come purchase inexpensive (though there are some more expensive things as well) gifts for their families and friends. I had a booth last year and will again this year. Only this year, I decided to sell some handmade things as well as things from our online store.

As a result of this decision, I've been spending my time using this stuff:

Jewelry fixings

To make this jewelry:


And these bookmarks:


bookmarks in book 

Now while this endeavor may not be more fun than posting on LJ, it was certainly more fun than my Nano novel.

Over the next several days, I will continue to make bookmarks and jewelry, but I'll also be revising WAM. So don't be offended if I'm not updating much.

Oh, and if you like the bookmarks, take a close look at the first picture. See that bookmark on the far right? Yep, the one with the watch. It's special.

Why is it special?

When I wasn't making jewelry or bookmarks, I was reading. One of the books I read was this:

The Timekeeper's Moon

It's the sequel to THE FARWALKER'S QUEST, and the gold bookmark is one of the prizes in an upcoming contest featuring ARC copies (yep, plural) of THE TIMEKEEPER'S MOON.

But that's all I'm saying right now because suspense is good, right?

Be sure to check back soon for more information about the contest and prizes.


Write on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Want to win a Kindle?

Lisa and Laura are having a contest to celebrate the sale of their book, THE HAUNTING OF PEMBERLY BROWN, and are giving away a Kindle as a prize! Be sure to go check it out and read all the comments that have already been posted.

Congrats on the sale, ladies!

Now I must get back to my Nano novel and see if I can catch up!

Write on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Are you a Mac or a PC?

I might be splurging on a MacBook Pro!

All my life I've been a PC, but I think I'm ready for a change. Hubby's been telling me for years that Mac is a better computer for the money. He says there are less crashing instances and no viruses. He owned a Mac desktop when we first got married, but I couldn't figure it out (it was an OLD Mac) and didn't find it very user friendly.

When I mentioned I wanted a Mac, hubby stared at me and said, "After all these years and all these computers, you finally want a Mac?"

"Yep," I said. "I've heard good things about the Scrivener program and now that Mac has Word, I'm ready to make the change."

He immediately jumped on the Internet and started showing me all the wonderful shiny MacBooks. What a guy! He wanted to get me one right now, but it would take all our savings. If work doesn't go well, we might need our savings for Christmas. So, we are waiting until January to see if we have enough money. =)

Yeah my laptop still works (in fact, I have two working laptops) and I don't "NEED" a Mac, but I really WANT one so we'll see. =D

This got me wondering what all my friends use and how they feel about their computers. Are you a Mac or a PC? Is your computer a desktop or a laptop?


Write on.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Contest and Contemplation

Since it's listed first, I'll start with the contest. I learned about this fantastic contest from Lisa's blog. Thanks Lisa!

Artistq is having a contest to win a piece of her handmade jewelry.

I went to her store ( and couldn't resist purchasing this:

write bracelet

If you can't read it, it says Write.

When it arrives, I can wear it as a constant reminder to get off the Internet and get busy writing! Apparently I need this constant reminder. So, that's the contest! Go check it out.

And now the contemplation . . .

I have realized there is a reason for the naming of the Internet a.k.a. the World Wide Web.

First of all, you have to realize they've warned us by the very naming of the beast. InterNET. Yeah, nets catch things.

None of us would be crazy enough to walk into a net. I mean, you can see them pretty clearly. So they've added bait to draw us in. Facebook (one of the best baits for me), Twitter, email, online gaming, Myspace, Goodreads, Blogging (yeah, I'm wasting writing time right now to bring you this important message), and even Google (or other search engines). Yeah, there are way too many baits to list here, but you get the idea.

You could rationalize if you're using the search engine for research (or blogging/tweeting/facebooking for making connections), and I suppose you could even count it as time well spent if you're researching for your novel/article/story. But the truth is, you're not writing so it's sucking writing time.

This isn't to say we can't EVER stop writing. Of course we can. But taking a break for an hour or so turns in to three or for when I'm drawn in to the Net/Web. Maybe it's just me and the rest of you have learned to better resist the bait.

They tried to warn us further by calling it the Web, but did we listen? No!

What do webs do? They catch unsuspecting prey. That's us, my friends (if you're reading this, you've already been caught). The baited Net draws us in and holds us in the sticky web.

And just like a regular spider web, there's a spider waiting for you. In this case it doesn't suck your blood, but it most certainly sucks your time.

Oh, you can struggle and maybe you'll get free from the web, but not before the spider has fed on some of your time (even if it's just a few minutes).

I do manage to break free (we all do, I hope) now and then, but precious writing time has already been sucked away.

Anyway, now you know what I've been contemplating. Beware of the Net/Web, my friends. Don't let it trap you for hours and suck your time like it has mine.

Write on (really, stop reading this and go write . . . well, after you enter the contest)! =D

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nano progress

Yes, there has been some. ;-) This is all I've managed for today.

I was hoping I'd get more done, and I still might have time for more later.


Write on.

Novel Novel Review

It's that time again. Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market.

Okay, here we go.


Rating: A+++ (I'll pass this one on to my daughter, my mother, my sisters, my teachers, and anyone else I can corner long enough)

If Gianna Zales doesn’t finish her seventh-grade leaf collection project in time, her spot in the cross country sectionals will be filled by her nemesis. Though she had plenty of time to do the project, Gianna left it until the last minute. It doesn't help her state of mind that her father drives her to school in a hearse, her grandmother keeps forgetting things, and her mother pretends like nothing is wrong.

This fall will be a disaster if Gianna can't pull it together and take her project all the way to the finish line.

The warm up stretched just the right muscles so I was ready to take on the smooth cross country pacing of the novel. I trotted happily along through Gianna's story and enjoyed the scenery along the way. The emotional hills and valleys gave me a satisfying workout, and the cool down in the end made for a perfect run.

Messner not only reached the finish line with THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z., she won the gold and the crowd went wild.


Write on, Kate Messner!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Counting . . .

50 (or so) pages of research printed and highlighted

1 Site Counsel meeting attended

3 children picked up from school

1 dinner eaten (hubby cooked, bless him)

3 children's homework checked

11 dogs brought in for the night

1 son picked up from dress rehearsal

1,435 words written on my Nano novel

15 tweets read

1 tweet written

3 (or was it more?) tweets replied to

3 hours past bedtime

1 end of day blog post

1 tired woman


And all this adds up to

1 busy day


Yeah, so my math is slightly off, but work with me here. ;-)  My pillow is calling to me so I must go--it's never a good idea to keep a pillow waiting too long.


Write on.

Nano Time

Yeah, it's kind of like Hammer Time, but without all the cool dance moves 'cause I'm too lazy to get up. ;-)

If you read yesterday's post, you know I spent most of my day fleshing out the idea for the Nano novel and amassing huge piles of printed pages for research purposes. I didn't get any writing on the novel done, but I did write out (by hand so I could refer to it more easily) a synopsis of the story.

And today? Ah, this is the day I begin writing. I'm not going to worry about finding that perfect beginning. Instead, I'm going to dive in and start typing whatever comes to mind (as the character, of course . . . otherwise it'd be a list of things I should be doing instead of Nano).

Scary? Yes. Exciting? Yes. So why am I blogging right now instead of writing? I'm warming up, of course. ;-)

May your word count be tremendous (even if you aren't doing Nano), and may those words be worth keeping during revisions.

Write on.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Have idea, will Nano

Whew! After days of agonizing about what to write for Nano, I've made a final decision. I decided not to use any of my previous ideas and go in a new direction. My sister and I had recently been discussing the option of co-authoring a novel. She had this great idea so the original plan was for her to write it and then I'd work off her initial writing and we'd go from there. Unfortunately, she's not really into the whole writing aspect of things and has been unable for the last month or so to get much more than a basic outline for the main idea.

After speaking with her today, we decided I'd write the first draft for Nano and then we'll consult and conspire from there. She sent me her basic outline which she freely admitted was lacking in anything other than that main idea. From there I started researching and came up with some amazing plotlines that would connect well with the main idea. I'm extremely excited about this.

I kept telling sis that her main idea was great and would make an amazing book, but she didn't see how . . . until I called her with my plot suggestions. The book is going in a different direction than she originally planned, but we both love it and spent a couple of hours phoning back and forth to bounce ideas and add to the thing.

So I've got my research printed out, I've got most of the character names, and now I'm ready to write up a chapter outline. I should be able to dive in to the actual writing of the novel tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm starting the actual writing a couple of days late, but I have faith that I'll still make it to the end in time.


Write on!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat?

It's a quarter to nine and we are back from a rigorous night of trick or treating with the little ghouls. WHEW

We forgot to take pictures before we left (hey, we were in a hurry) so we got some after we got home . . . and I almost forgot to take any. Oldest son is still doing the haunted house with the Drama department so he's not home yet and isn't in any of the pictures. If he comes home in costume, I'll snap some of him in his zombie costume.

Anyway, here we are in our bedraggled state of after trick or treating.

Me and my main Vamp:

Halloween 09 

My hair used to be all curled and pretty, but after a night of wind, it sort of fell flat. Oh well.

Here are the little ghouls:

Halloween 09 2

It's hard to tell from these pictures, but the girls and I have the same dresses (they took off their neck pieces) and Hubby's costume matches ours.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great night!

Scare on . . . or sleep on if you're tired like me.

Halloween insanity

Tonight the little monsters will be getting bags full of sugary candy to appease the less angelic side in the hopes no pranks will be carried out. Ah, the joys of Halloween. =D

Each year our church holds a little fall carnival in the parking lot along with a chili contest/dinner, pumpkin carving contest, and costume contest (though no masks are allowed). After the carnival fun and contests, there is a trunk or treat (the kids go around to the cars in the parking lot).

In the past, I have entered (and placed) in the chili and pumpkin contests, but I have never dressed up in a costume. I've just never been that into it. However, this year I shall join the ranks of the costumed adults.

I'm not sure what has gotten into me. Sure, I wear a costume for my sister's annual Halloween bash (last weekend), but only my sisters and mother attend so it's not a huge deal. This time I shall don a costume and venture out into public places. I get chills just thinking about it.

My husband has never dressed up either, but this year, I bought him a costume. He's going as a vampire and I'm his matching vampress. Yee-aah, that's what I said . . . we match . . .  I swore I'd never be part of one of those couples who dress up in coordinating costumes. Something is definitely wrong with me . . . a midlife crisis perhaps?

But I have more proof of my insanity. My daughters decided they wanted to be vampire/witch/princesses so their dresses actually match mine. I even tried to convince my sons to switch from their chosen costumes to matching daddy/vampire costumes . . . luckily they refused so my shame is slightly more bearable.

I'm not sure what I was thinking! I'm half tempted NOT to dress up, but I know hubby won't let me get away with spending all the money on the costuming for it to not be used.

Oh well, I still have several hours of carving pumpkins, chili cooking (maybe . . . I haven't decided if I'm going there this year), and a birthday costume party (K's friend) to prepare for before I must fret more about my moment of insanity.

Hmmm . . . now that I think about it, I've been reaching back into my childhood as I write. Perhaps I've gained access to the child part of me who LOVED to dress up . . . yeah, that must be it! See, it's not insanity or midlife crisis . . . it's a side effect of the job. WHEW!

May you all have a great day and night full of hauntingly good fun.

Spook on.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fraction

It's Friday and you know what that means?! Time for another excerpt from one of my novels in progress.  Today I chose to go with a portion of the newly revised first chapter from WOLFSBANE AT MIDNIGHT.  Scarlet is in the herb garden in the heart of the forest . . .


"One arnica flower, one white poppy flower, one small garlic bulb, and one bloodroot rhizome," she read. And then she noticed a scrawl at the bottom, "Please return with these potion ingredients before sunset."

Why hadn't Grandmother Aradia said something before she left? She knew Scarlet loved to wander in the forest. Especially now when the trees gifted her with a canopy of vibrant color and a carpet of crunchy leaves to enjoy. Aradia had scolded her many times for her slowness, but had never given her a deadline before. Scarlet pushed the list back into her pocket. She had set out late in the afternoon, so she knew she needed to hurry if she hoped to return in time.

Shoving her hands into her brown leather gloves, she used the herb knife to cut a yellow-orange bloom from the stem of an arnica plant. After wrapping the daisy-like flower in a piece of cheesecloth, she placed it in her basket. She hurried on to collect one of the delicate white flowers from the stem of a poppy plant.

Icy fingers of fear trailed down her spine.

Someone or something watched her. She tightened her hand around the herb knife. The blade might be small, but it was sharp. Scarlet walked to the herb basket and dropped the poppy flower into it.

She wanted nothing more than to run from the clearing, but she'd returned once before without the herbs and couldn't face Aradia's disappointment again. Despite the pounding of her heart and her brain telling her to flee, she reached for the garden trowel. Her hand shook as she stabbed it into the soft ground and hurriedly dug up the garlic. Normally she'd push the rich black soil back in place, but she left it with the promise of fixing it tomorrow.

She tossed the garlic into the basket and hurried down the row to the bloodroot. A web pulled at her hair as she bent down. She brushed it aside and hoped the spider hadn't found its way onto her head. Digging even more quickly, and damaging a few roots in the process, she managed to expose a suitable rhizome and harvested it.

Somewhere close by, a branch snapped.

She swung her head to the left.

Yellow eyes gleamed from behind a nearby tree.

Scarlet's eyes locked with the glittering ones of a wolf as it stepped from the shadows.


And that's all for today. Happy weekend to everyone.

Write on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One project down . . .

The fence is finished. I put up the gate, got the porch blocked off and the dogs are once again running free in the back yard. =D They're happy, I'm happy, and my kids are happy.

finished fence

Yeah, I had to put those plastic pieces along the bottom because I raised the gate up too high and the little puppies could slip through. It opens the other way so it'll do for now  . . . until hubby can fix it because I've had enough of it. LOL The kids are happy to have their trampoline area be a dog free zone.

finished fence other side 

"Ha ha," I said to them. "You can't get through!" And it felt so good to say it to them. ;-)

finished fence happy pups

They're so happy to play in the leaves.

The next step is to give them baths (all 11 of them) so they'll be nice and clean again . . . but that will have to wait for another day because it's too cold here right now.

Now I have to build the laundry hampers (yeah, didn't get that finished before class last night) and get the laundry sorted. But that will also have to wait for another day because I'm going to do some revising!! I think I've earned a writing break, don't you?

Write on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Building fences . . . an explanation

Okay, I said I was building a fence and I think it needs some clarification. Yes, I'm really building a fence, and I'm doing it completely on my own without any help from anyone else (because I'm stubborn) . . . but I'm cheating so I'm not sure it counts.

First of all, why am I building a fence?

My neighbors have big Boxer dogs and I have little Toy Fox Terrier Dogs. We already have a chain link fence around our entire back yard, but since it's on the property line, the neighbors share our west side of the fence. Their dogs and my dogs don't get along. So for the last several months, my poor little doggies who used to run free in the grass of my back yard have been confined to the dusty what-used-to-be-a-garden area, shown here:

dusty garden area

While they are small dogs and the garden area is quite large, it is dusty. This isn't a problem until I bring them into the kennels in the laundry room at night (because I can't let them be out barking at the neighbor's dogs all night). Because they are dogs, they like to shake their fur (you know what I mean, right?) and my laundry room ends up looking like this (note, I dusted this on Friday and this is what it looks like already):

dusty laundry room

I'm SICK of dusting!! When doggies ran free on the grass, we didn't have all the dust. Sure, we had grass clippings on the floor, but all I had to do was sweep them back out the door. They never got all over my walls and washer and dryer. *sigh*

Besides, do these puppies look happy to be fenced up in the dust to you?

dusty puppies

So, I took apart my huge dog kennel and have been putting it along the sidewalk and shed on the west side of our yard. I'm not having to stretch the chain link or anything since it was already put together on the kennel.

fence 2

I'm simply pounding these

fencing posts

into the ground to help stabilize the heavy kennel panels and binding them together:

fencing post closeup

I have also been building this

fence for porch 1

to block access to the other side from the porch (which extends beyond the sidewalk into the west side of the yard). I still have to finish the gate

gate needing fixed

and attach it to complete the blockade. I have also had to do this

fence to block access from porch

along the bottom of the porch (same mesh and wood as the blockade on the porch with the addition of pretty plastic to try to make it look nicer). I still have to make a similar contraption to block these parts on the sides of the cement steps

fencing needed

fencing needed1 .

So my projects are not quite done, but I'm getting there (and yes, I know the porch needs painted, that's on hubby's list of things to do . . . I already bought the paint for the outside of the house and the porch . . . I may end up doing THAT project on my own too). Oh, and on an annoying note, the kennel pieces didn't quite stretch all the way from the porch to the back fence. Luckily there is a shed to help make up the difference (yes those pieces of firewood are blocking access to under the shed).

fencing lacking 1

Hey, a girl can only do so much! ;-)

And there you have it. And to think all this started because I was sick of dusting . . . after all the struggling to lift the heavy kennel pieces and maneuver them into place (not to mention the pounding, pounding, pounding with the hammer to build the porch blockade), the dusting doesn't seem so bad. =)

Build on!

Monday Mania

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Yeah, that's why I'm in this predicament in the first place!

I have not quite finished up the newsletter (need to do a final read through) so I've got to do that this morning.

I didn't get the fence in the back yard finished so that needs to be done.

I have homework (reading) for class tonight.

I have laundry all over the floor. This must be remedied right after the newsletter (which will be taken care of after I post this). Why is the laundry all over the floor instead of in the laundry hampers? Because the poor old laundry hampers had had enough and broke! Yeah, it's a sad, sad thing. They served us well for many years, but the hampers finally keeled over. It might have had something to do with the fact that I've not kept up on the laundry over the last several months. This made the hampers full to overflowing, and the kids resorted to shoving the clothing down into the hampers in an effort to keep the floor clean. Yeah, poor hampers can't take that kind of abuse month after month. I'm surprised the clothing hamper police didn't come arrest me and throw me away, such was the abuse occurring in my home.

Alas, this morning found me purchasing new hampers (for the one hubby and I share also suffered so much abuse that it is beyond saving). I spent the weekend washing clothes, but I still didn't get ALL the laundry finished. So there will still be clothes to fill the new hampers . . . which is kind of depressing.

Anyway, it will be an adventure to sort through all the laundry this morning and continue the washing/drying process so when my kids get home, they can start folding/hanging their laundry and putting it away. No more will clean laundry have a place on my couch (where it has comfortably watched television with the family for the past few months)! No, my friends, the laundry will once again be banished to the drawers/closets where it belongs. No more will hampers be filled to overflowing and abused until they finally collapse.

Yeah, it's going to be a rough week. BUT, I have decided I will only devote a few hours to chores so I will still have writing time before the kids come home. I mean, I can still do laundry once they are home, but I can't get any writing done once the little monkeys return from school.

Oh . . . I still have three reviews I need to write for also. Yeah, I've got to get to those today too. Hope you all have a great day! Wish me luck with mine. =D

Write on.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fraction . . . and birds

Okay, before I get to the Friday Fraction, let's deal with the birds issue. I joined Twitter a while back and have had no luck in figuring it out. I fly to my nest now and then to "tweet" (that's what it's called right?) but I have NO IDEA what it's supposed to do for me other than make me feel silly and confused. Silly because I feel like I'm talking to myself (though I have a few followers) and confused because I have no idea what the purpose of twitter is.

Birds travel in flocks and I'm assuming twittering is supposed to help you connect with people like blogging and Facebook, but I just don't get it. I have a few people that I've found and I hear their tweets on my page, but I'm not sure how to "communicate" with other people. Is there no such thing as communicating on twitter? Do you just tweet and let it float out there with no one to answer?

If you'd like to add me to your flock, I'm justJoanS. Also if you'd like to explain the whole twitter thing to me, I'd be eternally in your debt. I'd offer to name a child after you, but I'm done having children so you'll have to accept my undying gratitude instead.

Okay, now that the bird issue has flown south, let's get to the Friday Fraction.

Today's excerpt comes from my WIP (as in still being written) young adult novel,  BEAUTY: A MYSTERY SOLVED (lame title, but it's a WIP people!!). Here we go:

Dad says Mom picked my name. Maybe she thought naming me Beauty would make it so. She was wrong. Or maybe she really thought I was beautiful. I've seen my baby pictures, and if she thought my wrinkly pink face with too large eyes and mess of frizzy black hair was beautiful, she needed an eye exam.

Perhaps I could be beautiful. I don't know. I've never tried. Why should I? I was condemned to sub-zero status on the first day of kindergarten and haven't moved even a millimeter up the hotness chart since.

I've often wondered if things would be different if Mom had lived past my fourth birthday. From the photographs I've seen, she was beautiful and maybe I could have learned a thing or two from her.

Dad insists my stepmother, Candy, could give me a few beauty tips. Maybe he's right, since she certainly taught my stepsister, Melody, how to spritz, spray, powder, and gloss her way up the hotness chart. But I can't bring myself to ask for advice from a grown woman who dresses like a high school girl and has invested enough money in cosmetics to pay for my first year of college.

As for my stepsister? She's too busy idolizing miss popularity, Charity Davis, to pay any attention to me. No one ever paid attention to me. I liked it. But my days of invisibility ended when Charity went and got herself murdered and I became the prime suspect.


And that's all for today.

Write on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday thoughts

Hello out there . . .

After a crazy weekend of the huge family yard sale at my sister's house (didn't sell as much as I'd hoped) and a crazy week of sick kids (I don't think it's over as it hasn't been through all of them yet) and building a fence in the back yard (I'm doing it all by myself), I'm back to blogging.

I've not had time for much writing other than the ANWA newsletter . . . I don't remember if I told you about that new adventure . . . . if I didn't, I'm the new editor of the ANWA Newsletter . . . there, I've told you. I have only caught up on a few blogs, but I spent today volunteering at my kids' school. I'll be back there tomorrow morning to volunteer again and tomorrow afternoon will be devoted to making a costume for Saturday's party and getting my house in order before I run off to said party on Saturday. And then there's the homework I'm behind on, and the reading/reviewing I'm behind on . . . Alas, I'm resigned to the fact that my revisions will have to wait until next week.

However, I've been thinking about writing and pondering more about my MG idea for Nano. I've been torn about whether to do the MG or the YA idea, but I'm leaning more toward the MG. Since it has been so recently in my thoughts as I plot and plan it out in my mind, I'm beginning to think my decision has been made for me.

But there are ten more days until Nano officially starts and that's plenty of time for a brand new idea to take over.

Though I'm running behind and feeling the pressure to get things done, I'm not overly stressed about it which is a huge thing for me. Maybe I'm coming down with something as this is so out of character for me, or maybe I'm getting used to being inside the pressure cooker and have learned to keep my calm. Either way, it's nice not to be having panic attacks . . . now I just have to avoid catching the flu from my kids . . .


Write on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Monday . . . AGAIN

Yeah, it's going to be one of those days. *sigh*

Yesterday I worked on revisions in my first chapter only to discover later that evening that I was working from an outdated version of the MS and basically wasted the entire day making revisions I had already done and saved in the updated version. I have so got to label my files better!

Still, I suppose it wasn't a complete waste of time since I did manage a couple of new things I could transfer to the updated file.

As for today, I won't have much time for writing. No, my friends, I get to spend the day cleaning out the shed. This is the shed that contains baby clothes and toys from the past ten years.

I am not even kidding . . . but how I wish I were.

This will likely take the remainder of the day and possibly even some time tomorrow . . . and the next day . . . and the next day . . . and . . . yeah.

Why? Why am I doing this? Because I'm getting ready for a yard sale this weekend. I know shouldn't have waited this long to get to it, but I tend to put off things I don't want to do. It's an illness I've dealt with all my life. There's a word for it Procrastinationitis. Don't laugh, it's a real disease . . . right?

Anywho . . . I'm hoping it will be worth all the effort and I'll make a few $$ at the sale. If nothing else, we'll have room in our shed. Hey, I might even be able to find our Halloween decorations in there (the kids have been bugging to decorate)!

Write on.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nagging Novels and Pretty Pictures

I've had an idea nagging at me for some time. It started out as a "What if" scenario and has slowly developed from there. I finally had enough concrete ideas to write a summary last night, so I did.

Now I'm hoping it will leave me alone and allow me to continue working on my current WIP. However, I'm thinking I may go ahead and ditch my YA Nano idea and go for this new MG adventure in November.

You all remembered Nano is next month, right? How many of you are participating this year?

When I'm not distracted by stupid games (CURSE you Facebook!), I'm plugging away at my revisions. Still a ways to go, but I'm getting there.

I've been enjoying Robin's fall pictures on her blog these past few weeks and longing for a fall forest scene of my own. Alas, I have no forests in fall color around here (lots of evergreens though) and have been lamenting this. Today I took a REAL look around me and discovered I don't have a forest, but I DO have some beautiful fall colors right in my own yard (DUH)!

So here are some pictures.

These are my hedges out front

hedges changing

And my peach tree in the back is starting to change

peach tree changing

peach tree changing1

I still wish I had a forest of fall colors to walk through, but this little bit of color will have to do for now.


Write on.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Novel Novel Review

It's that time again!

Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

I will give reasons for my rating in my review, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market. =D


I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but the book I'm reviewing today isn't a children's book. It isn't even a young adult novel. No, my friends, this book is an adult novel.

It's okay, take a moment to come to terms with the fact that I read adult novels. Hey, I'm allowed. After all, I'm technically an adult. ;-)

Ready? Okay, here we go:

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen

Rating: A

Category:  Romance

Dr. Andy McBride finds the love of his life when he meets Louisa Martin. Unfortunately, her lifestyle is in direct conflict with all he believes. He cannot accept it and she can't escape it. Andy leaves to practice medicine in Kentucky where he hopes to forget Louisa and get on with his life.

The distance from Louisa doesn't keep her from Andy's thoughts. Though he tries to get on with his life, he can't forget her. He immerses himself fully in his new life and new friends, but one of them becomes a bitter enemy who will later bring him heartache much worse than what he felt when he left Louisa behind.

DON'T YOU MARRY THE MORMON BOYS is told through both Andy and Louisa's points of view. We get to know them both; Andy's Mormon beliefs as well as Louisa's polygamist community.

Though they are so different, I couldn't help yearning for them to find some way to be together. And just when it seemed like they'd live happily ever after, Jensen throws in a curve ball that took me by surprise.

I loved DON'T YOU MARRY THE MORMON BOYS with its sweet romance and heartache it kept me turning the pages well into the night. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters. I even learned a little about their differing beliefs along the way.

I'm not a particular fan of flashbacks and Jensen used this technique often, but it seemed to work for this novel, and once I got used to it, I hardly noticed it anymore. All in all, it was an enjoyable read. Though I didn't pass it on to my teen, I still gave it a high rating because I will definitely pass it on to my siblings and friends.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, if you like your romance with a bit of a twist, I think you'll enjoy DON'T YOU MARRY THE MORMON BOYS.


Write on.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Fraction and conference report

Okay, so it's been a while since I posted. Things have been busy this week as I filled in for the secretary at my kids' elementary school.

Anyway, here is my Friday Fraction. Once again, it's from WOLFSBANE AT MIDNIGHT.

Scarlet rounded the corner. The air was still, as though waiting with baited breath. The closed door and lightless windows of the cottage begged her to leave.

Gooseflesh prickled along her arms and down her neck.

Her reluctant steps carried her to the front door. "Aradia? I'm here. I hurried as fast as I could."

She turned the door handle and pushed.

The door opened a crack but caught on something.

"Aradia?" Scarlet called through the small opening. "Oren?"

No one answered.

Her pulse quickened. She shoved hard against the door. It opened a bit more. After several more heaves, she managed a large enough opening to squeeze inside. Weak moonlight created shadows and illuminated nothing beyond the threshold.

"Grandmother? Oren?" Scarlet's voice sounded shrill and loud.


She bumped into out of place furniture as she felt her way through the blackness."If I were a Wicche, I could conjure light," Scarlet raged.

She pushed past an overturned table, slipping in something wet and nearly falling before she made it into the kitchen. Once there, she slid on what she assumed to be food and banged into a chair. She cursed as pain shot up her leg then settled to a throb in her shin. Limping to the stove, relief flooded through her when she found the kitchen lantern and matches in their place. Moving quickly, she lit the lantern and headed back to the living room. Foot by foot, the light illuminated the destruction.

Smashed furniture and shredded spell books littered the floor.

It was all she could do to hold on to the lantern as her eyes took in the horrendous sight before her.

A scream caught in her throat.


There you have it! And now, on to the conference report.

On September 26th I was pleased to be able to attend the SCBWI Arizona "Welcome to Our House" conference. This was my first conference experience, and it was a blast! Now I know why you people go to these things. ;-)

Here is my ultra condensed version:

My day began with a manuscript critique (first 10 pages) with Bradford Heeys from Blooming Tree Press. I was terrified, but it turned out to be a fantastic experience. He graciously gave me some pointers on how to improve things and told me he liked my writing. What author doesn't like to hear that?!

The first speaker at the conference was Jennifer Rees, Senior Editor from Scholastic Press. She talked about the various imprints of Scholastic and what they publish. She mentioned a few of their authors. She told us what she is looking for. One stand out thing she said:

If your book isn't something she'll want to pass on to others, she's not interested.

Second speaker was Miriam Hees, Publisher from Blooming Tree Press. She spoke about the differences between her small publishing house and the larger publishing houses. She told us what she is looking for. One stand out thing she said:

Don't write what's hot unless you like it a lot.

Our third speaker was Kate Jacobs, Associate Editor from Roaring Brook Press. She compared writing to hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park. Gave us a list of things we'd need for our hike. One stand out thing she said:

Don't be down about the economy. Keep going and follow where the hike takes you.

Our fourth speaker was Laura Rennert, Agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She spoke about what she is looking for and held up examples of books she loves (including SHIVER by the fabulous Maggie Steifvater). She told us how to find an agent and mentioned an online presence (again she mentioned Maggie and her incredible online presence). One stand out thing she said:

The books we love as children shape us and make us who we are as we grow.

Our last speaker was Loraine Joyner, Art Director from Peachtree Publishers. She did a breakdown of what happens from the time they get a picture book until it is finished. She had a very interesting slide show depicting the process an illustrator goes through from first concepts to finished illustrations. One stand out thing she said:

Be patient.

And then it was lunch! It was delicious!

After eating, we went to our breakout sessions. I attended "Getting Your Manuscript Submission Ready" with Miriam Hees (Blooming Tree Press) and "It's Just Bunny Eat Bunny Out There: How to Succeed in the Competitive Picture Book Market with Laura Rennert. They were both fabulous and I learned a great deal.

Finally, it was time for the first pages and first look panel where the faculty gave their opinions on first pages and illustrations. Fun and informative! A brief Q & A session followed and then it was time to head for home.

Yeah, a brief run down that ended up not being very brief, but considering the pages and pages and pages of notes I took, this was only a sampling of the day.

Write on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Time sensitive post . . . check it out right away!

I know I already did a post today, but I wanted to let you all know about a super fun contest Lisa Schroeder is having over on her blogger blog. She'll be chasing her ARC of CHASING BROOKLYN around the USA.


Check out the contest here. But you have to hurry or you might miss out!


Write on!

A look back . . .

Robin's post of yesterday took me on a walk down memory lane and instead of posting this in reply to her post, I decided to create a post of my own.

Robin mentioned her love of singing in high school and college and some of her crushes. She asked what we experience now that takes us back to our teenage years . . . this post is in answer to her question.

I also sang in the choirs in hs. I never made it into the top show choir because I was too terrified to sing solo (despite encouragement from the director).

The funny thing is, I sing more now than I did in hs. I'm more confident in my voice and even occasionally sing solo (though it still terrifies me).  So when I attend choir performances, I'm taken back to my teenage years.

But my most vivid memories and reminiscences come when I watch a play.

My true hs love was the theatre. Our hs did two major plays a year and from freshman to senior year, I was in all but one of them (I didn't get a part in the first play of my freshman year, "Arsenic and Old Lace").

To this day, when I watch a play, I remember my hs days . . . and yearn to perform again. I even assistant directed and starred in a full length play and a one act. I was an active member of the speech and debate  team (that's what they used to call it . . . I think the hs here calls it Drama club or something now). The coach often asked me to help others with their competition pieces (from cutting to directing).

We attended competitions at different schools throughout the year, and at the end of my junior year, I placed fourth at the State competition with my Serious Prose entry ("On The Sidewalk Bleeding" by Evan Hunter).

Those competitions prepared me for writing because in order to fit the performance time frame, the selections had to be cut and an introduction had to be written (kind of like a hook). I performed in Duo acting, Dramatic Interpretation, Serious Prose, and occasionally Poetry Interpretation. After graduating, I became a judge of these competitions.

Oh there were many crushes on other actors/singers and one to this day that still tugs at my heart. We've both moved on but have remained friends. I will never forget him since he was my first HUGE crush. I won't even put his initials here in case he comes and reads this (because I'm not sure he realizes how deeply I felt).

I still think about him and wonder what life would have been like had he felt for me what I felt for him. I swear, everyone I dated I compared to him . . . and they never measured up. Yeah, he was the downfall of many relationships. LOL

Anyway, back to the actress in me . . .

I continued performing in college and in the community theatre right up until just before I got married.  It's only fitting that the last play I starred in was the community theatre production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." There's nothing like coming full circle.

Today I don't have access to acting avenues except through my writing. Getting into the mind of my main character is relatively easy for me, but actually transferring it to the paper sometimes isn't.

Write on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings

Yes, I know wonderings isn't technically a real word, but I wanted to try something new and couldn't think of a better word that began with W.

Anyway, I wonder about things all the time and decided to start using my wonderings (write it in your dictionaries, people) as writing prompts. Most of them will be in question form. In answering the questions, new worlds are invented, characters are built, and general fun is had.

I thought I'd share the fun and post my wonderings (have you written it in your dictionary yet?) in case other people wanted to try their hand (or keyboard) at answering the question in their own way.

So, our first Wednesday Wondering is this:


What would a village look like in a world with no land?


Write on.

Back from the ledge

Thanks to Robin and Allison (who talked me back from the ledge), I'm feeling much more confident about attending my first  conference. Hopefully this confidence will last all the way up to and through the actual event next Saturday.

If anyone else has any advice/suggestions/comments about attending a conference, feel free to share.

In other news . . .

Yeah, I've got nothing. Hope everyone has a great day!


Write on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Topic Tuesday

Let's discuss . . .

. . . Conferences.

I will be attending the SCBWIAZ Welcome to Our House conference on September 26th (In Scottsdale, Arizona). I realize this isn't a huge conference like the Summer or Winter SCBWI events, but dang it, it's the first conference I've ever been to (because it is the first conference I could afford) and I'm nervous.

Okay, technically I'm terrified!

What's there to be afraid of? Let's see . . .

People will be there

People I don't know

People who might talk to me

People who will expect me to talk back

When I'm nervous I babble

When I'm nervous I babble

When I'm nervous I babble

Seriously, It's like some horrible magic spell comes over me and my mouth won't close and my voice goes on and on and on and I see people looking around to escape and and though in my mind I'm screaming, "Shut up! Just shut up!" . . . I can't stop.

Now, there is a solution to this little problem, and I've employed this defense mechanism often. I don't talk to people and if I'm asked a question, I answer with one word comments. However, this makes people think I'm stuck up . . . which I'm not. I'm just nervous and shy and don't want the magic mouth to get me in trouble. ;-)

When I attended the ANWA retreat back in July, I was pretty quiet for the first little while until I felt comfortable enough with those around me to speak . . . and it helped that I knew one of the people in attendance (she introduced me to people and drew me out of defense mode). Still, the retreat was three days long and I wasn't really comfortable until the final day . . . even then, there were only a couple of people I talked to (and some of them I babbled to who probably thought I was an idiot). *sigh*

That was a retreat with only fellow authors in attendance. This is a conference type setting where agent/editor people will attend and it's only a one day event.

Yeah . . . I'm on the verge of a panic attack and the conference is over a week away . . . not a good sign.

I feel like I'm going to a brand new school in a new town. What if people don't like me? What if I wear the wrong thing? What if . . .?

I'm sure you're wondering what you can do to help . . . and if you're not, what kind of friend are you anyway? Can't you see I'm distressed here? ;-)

One thing has helped me in the past. The more I know, the more prepared I am, the calmer I am. When I'm calm, I'm better I am able to control my magic mouth.

Soooooo . . . I want you to tell me about your first conference experiences. Were you terrified? Nervous? What was your conference experience like?

What should I expect? Do people take laptops or paper and pencil/pen for note taking? What advice or items did you find helpful?


Write on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fraction

It's Friday and that means it's time to give you a taste of my work. Last week's came from DESTROYER'S HOPE so it's only fair I give you a bit from WOLFSBANE AT MIDNIGHT this time.

A bit of clarification before you dive in. Wicche is what they call those with magical powers (it's pronounced WIK-chee so bewicched below would be be-WIK-cheed). Also, this is their first meeting, but Oren has just kissed Scarlet.

It still needs work, but here it is:

Oren stumbled back. "I think you've bewicched me, Scarlet Dimity." His eyes flashed as he glared at her.

"I can't, I don't have any powers." Scarlet's blood pounded through her veins. She wanted nothing but to feel his arms and taste his lips again. Her body trembled with longing. She turned from the anger in his eyes and bent to fumble with the spilled contents of her basket. "I don't understand what just happened. I've never . . . I mean, I'm sorry if you . . ."

"You didn't cast some sort of spell on me?"

"What? No, of course I didn't. You're the one who's been buying potions from my grandmother." Scarlet's hand flew over her mouth and she shot to her feet.

"She told you about my potions?" Oren reached her before she even saw him move. He gripped her arm so tightly her fingers went numb. His eyes bore into hers, daring her to lie.

"No," Scarlet said quickly. "No, she wouldn't do that."

"Then how do you know I've been buying potions?"

"I only know what I saw through the curtain," Scarlet blurted. She burned with embarrassment.

"You spied on me?"

"Not you in particular. I spy on other people too." Scarlet clamped her mouth shut. Why hadn't she been born mute? Life would be so much simpler.

Silence hung in the air between them.

Scarlet tore her arm from his grasp, snatched up her herb basket, and hurried away toward the garden. She was seriously considering eating some belladonna berries to end her misery.


I hope you enjoyed today's fraction.

Write on.

Novel Novel Review

Yeah, I'm way behind on my reviews so I'm interrupting the regularly scheduled blog post to do this first.

It's that time again. Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market.

Okay, here we go.


Paris Pan Takes The Dare by Cynthea Liu

Rating: A+++ (and a few more too) Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Not only did I pass it on to my teen, but I passed it on to my younger daughter, my mother, my sister, my nieces, and my cousin!

Age Recommendation: 9+

Twelve-year-old Paris Pan has just moved to a new town. With a crazy home life, friends who make better enemies, and the boy Paris has a crush on being considered a dork, this move isn't going well.

When, Paris learns a girl mysteriously died near her new house while taking the Dare (a seventh grade rite of passage), she's completely freaked out. And now strange noises are coming from the shed. Could the missing girl be trying to make contact?

Paris and her friends dig into the past in search of answers. The answers lead them down a path they may not want to go, and Paris becomes a reluctant participant in the Dare. This is the night that will forever change her life, uncover the truth of the missing girl, and reveal who her true friends are.

PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE draws you in and won't let you go until the end. I couldn't get enough of this story! Liu does such a great job of creating believable characters and realistic scenes that I had no trouble completely immersing myself in Paris's world. I have to admit, some of it even freaked me out a little bit.

Don't let this one pass you by. I DARE you to read it.

Write on!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Stirring up some Wednesday goodness

I ditched school (shhh) because I'm tired and not feeling my best (that monthly thing). Since I'm being naughty, I figured I may as well ruin my waistline while I'm at it.

And besides, kimberleylittle finished her proofreading on her book so I HAD to make brownies to celebrate on her behalf.

Yeah, I'm trying to make up excuses, but the fact is, I WANTED brownies!

Unfortunately, I didn't have any brownie mix and didn't feel like going all the way back into town to go to the store (a super long five miles away). So, I rummaged through my cupboards and found the necessary ingredients to make brownies from scratch.

I used a recipe I've never tried before so we'll see how it turns out . . . I doubled it (I like thick, chewy, evil brownies), so I'm kind of worried.

The oven is on, the brownies are baking, and I'm going to go back to whipping my manuscript into shape.

Hope everyone has a good day.

Write on.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Novel Novel Review Blog Tour version

It's that time again, but this time I'm taking part in a blog tour as well as telling you about a great book. I feel honored and I'm happy to be doing this for Joyce. So, let's get to it. =)

Here's a quick reminder of my rating system

A+--I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book. In most cases, I passed it on to my child/teen.

A--I enjoyed this book and I might pass it on to my child/teen.

B--I liked this book, but probably won't pass it on to my child/teen.

C--I thought it was okay, but I won't pass it on to my child/teen.

D--I didn't like this book, and won't allow my child/teen to read it.

F--I hope I never have to go here. =D

I will give reasons for my rating in my review, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you find your book here, don't panic if I rate it below an A. These are my personal preferences and I'm only one small person in a large market. =D

If you'll remember, I also did a review of another book by Joyce, LOYALTY'S WEB, so I was thrilled with the opportunity to read this one as well.

Okay, now here we go.


Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

Rating: A+ I didn't pass it on to my teen (he wasn't interested), but I did pass it on to my mother and sisters who also loved it.

Category: Historical

After the deaths of her husband and brother, Siriol de Calendri is directed by her brother's will to travel to France and live under the guardianship of her brother's friend, Sir Triston de Brielle. Unfortunately, Siri is nearly identical to Triston's late wife, Clothilde, and to make matters worse, her brother's will requested that Triston find a husband for Siri.

Siri wants to put her training in illumination to good use and earn her living in an illuminator's shop, and besides, she has no desire to marry anyone else; she's in love with Triston. But can he get past her resemblance to his first wife and learn to love her for herself?

Using some of the characters introduced in LOYALTY'S WEB, DiPastena paints a tale of sweet romance in twelfth century France. In the classic romance format, the characters lives are entwined and twisted together with difficulties at every turn until the reader isn't sure they'll be unraveled in the end.

It was my pleasure to be drawn in by ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART and once I started Siri's journey, I couldn't put it down until I reached the last page . . . and then I still wanted more. While this is an adult title, I believe it's appropriate for teens as well.

As part of the blog tour, if you leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART. You can comment on more than one review (on other blogs) and be entered multiple times.

Here are some blog links you can check out for further information on the contest and the book:

Walnut Springs Press's blog

Joyce's blog

Buy the book at

Write on!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Searching . . .

I put out a call on Verla's message board. I've had some response and may have found a crit partner, but I'm still open to at least one more crit buddy.

Here's the low down:

I'm taking a leaf out of Maggie's book (or off her tree or whatever) and searching for crit partners her way. Maggie's the Queen and one can't go wrong following her, right?

Anyone looking for a crit partner?  If so, let's exchange some critiquing and if we like what we see, we'll keep going, if not, we say thanks for the critique and move on.

I will read and critique the first chapter of anyone's novel if they will do the same for me.

This means, you send me a chapter, I send you a chapter, we critique and if we like what we see, we take it to the next level. If we don't like each other's style, writing, critiquing, etc. we say thanks but no thanks and move on NO QUESTIONS asked.

I write MG and YA (though mostly YA right now) fantasy (though not high fantasy) and the occasional PB. I don't have an agent and I'm unpublished, but I won't hold it against you have an agent or are published.  =)

I'm looking for someone who can give and take an honest critique. While my writing leans more toward fantasy, I have experience in reading and critiquing other genres as well.

I like hearing what works in my MS, but I'm mostly interested in knowing what I need to change to make things better. I'm blunt but not mean and can give a thorough critique.

If you think we might be a good crit match, send an email with your info to justjoan @ (without the spaces).


Write on.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Fun with art

Today I decided to flex my artistic muscles. Some of you know I do a bit of sketching and those who didn't know .  . . now you do.

Many moons ago I used to oil paint, water color, acrylic paint, but once I had kids, I set these art mediums aside (no time). The one medium I kept was my pencil sketching.

Lately, I've felt the desire to get back into that side of my life, but I didn't know what medium to try. Oil paints are expensive, watercolor and acrylic can also be on the expensive side (brushes, paint, canvas/watercolor paper, etc.).

Last Saturday, I went to a local art gallery to get a piece of glass for a picture frame. I didn't get a piece of glass, but I did buy this:

Rose box

It's a little wooden box with a rose. Carole Snyder is the artist. The picture doesn't do it justice. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I love roses, but there was something more to it. I couldn't figure out what medium had been used so I asked one of the people in the gallery. It happened to be the artist, herself!

Carole told me she had done it on scratchboard then colored it with ink used for coloring scratch art.

I asked her what the heck scratchboard was and she explained it's a piece of either cardboard or, in the case of the box, claybord covered with black india ink. The image is created by scratching away the black ink. In the case of the rose, Carole then went back with ink and colored the image.

I did some research and discovered it's a relatively inexpensive medium (I found I can get a good start with tools and three 5x7 scratchboards for around $20). I ordered a kit from It's a picture of a squid attacking a boat. The picture is pre-inked onto the cardboard and a tool is included to scratch away the colored ink, thus revealing the image.

Anyway, the kit included a small square of scratchboard to use for practice (to get the hang of using the tool). I opted not to practice but dove right into the squid picture. After doing it for a bit, I decided it was fairly simple and figured I could use the small "practice" square to do my own art.

I decided to do a unicorn . . . well, a unicorn head. As I started scratching, I discovered the board underneath the ink wasn't white, but silver. It still turned out okay, though I won't be able to color it. Anyway, here it is:

Scratch art unicorn

The picture doesn't show all the detail. It's really kind of cool looking. Anyway, it took me about 20 minutes to do and isn't bad for a first attempt, in my opinion. And most of all, it was fun!

So, I think I've found a new medium.


Scratch on!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Fraction

I've decided to quit hiding behind my computer screen and really put myself out there . . . well, put my work out there anyway.

So, every Friday (if I remember). I will be posting a fraction of one of my WIPs. Today's fraction comes from my YA fantasy, DESTROYER'S HOPE.


The Wisen disappeared into the tangle of black trunks. Tim stood frozen in place until the rope tugged him forward, forcing him to follow. As he lurched into the blackness of the forest, an icy chill spread through his veins.

It took a while for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. As the trees came into focus, their gnarled, black trunks seemed to contort into sinister shapes. It was difficult to discern where one tree's branches ended and another's began. Coiling together, they slithered toward the sky like snakes.

The thick air of Forgietan wrapped around Tim, squeezing the fresh air out of his lungs. His next breath drew in the musty odor of the forest. He coughed it out, but it was no use. His lungs tightened with each breath of stale air.

Was that a footfall?

He glanced over his shoulder. A never-ending coil of trees twisted in every direction. The hairs rose on the back of his neck. He shuddered. His heart thudded against his ribcage as though it could beat itself out of his chest and escape the forest on its own.

The feeling of being pursued continued to haunt him. He shuffled through the blood red needles that had fallen from the trees and scattered across the earth. The spines beneath his feet appeared to scurry over each other like bloody insects searching for a meal.

Was that a growl?


And there you have it folks. Your first Fraction. I hope you enjoyed it.


Write on.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

School day

I will not have time for much revising today since I have classes from 11-1:30 and then from 6-8:30.

While this makes me kind of sad, I did a lot of great revising yesterday so I still feel a sense of accomplishment. Knowing I'll have time for more writing tomorrow and Friday afternoons also helps. *grin*

I say afternoon because mornings will be spent at the kids' school. Thursday I will be observing a couple of classrooms (homework for my Education course) and Friday is my volunteer morning.

Early this morning I woke up to read the required textbook chapters for my Children's Literature course. The book is CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BRIEFLY by Michael O. Tunnell and James S. Jacobs (4th Edition). Though it's for a course that focuses on reading books and learning to adapt them to classroom lessons in many different ways, I found the chapters to be extremely informative as a writer.

The first chapter focuses on "Why read?" and discusses unengaged and engaged reading. This was interesting, but as a writer the next two chapters interested me more.

Chapter two is entitled, "What Is A Good Book?" and discusses thirteen elements used to judge literary quality as opposed to personal taste. These thirteen elements are quality, style and language, character, plot, illustrations, pacing, setting, design and layout, mood, accuracy, tone, point of view, and theme. The book says three of the thirteen provide most of the information used to judge quality of fiction.

Those three elements are style and language, character, and plot. "When a book reveals its story in powerful language, contains memorable characters, and follows a compelling plot, the fiction generally can be said to have quality."

And then there is the question of "Taste." An author can pay attention to the elements of writing fiction and create an "accurate" book but still not win the reader's heart because taste varies.

I believe the reverse is also true. An author can not pay attention to all of the elements that define a "good book", but readers can be drawn to it. I've read some books and wondered how they ever got published (as I'm sure most of you have), but now I know why. The agent/editor liked them despite their faults.

Within these flawed pages, something intrigued and connected on a deep level with those in the publishing world. We may not know what it is, in fact, those who read it may not know what it is, but it is there for them.

I suppose this is why we are instructed to write what we want to write; write the story we want to read. The hard part comes in finding an agent/editor who connects with your book on the same level you do.

Difficult? Maybe. Impossible? Not always.

Write on.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Revision is yummy!

Okay, I spent the brownie cooking and cooling times revising the first chapter of my YA . Not WOLFSBANE AT MIDNIGHT, but DESTROYER'S HOPE. Some of you know I set DH aside to work on WAM and haven't gone back to it.

"Why now?" you ask.

I'm currently re-writing WAM into first person (and then back to third) and was curious what would happen if I re-wrote DH in first person. The result? A much better book (so far). I think I will leave DH in first person except the part where Raychel reads Tim's story from the book; that will remain in third person.

Yeah, now I'm all excited and want to work on them both. I think I'll have to set up a schedule for re-writing WAM and DH and doing homework and housework. But, hey, I have more hours in my day than the rest of you, so it won't be a problem, right? =p

Really, I'm going to make this work!

And because I did so good on my revision, I treated myself to this:


Here is the lovely pan of brownies  before I cut into it. I used two packages of mix for the deep dish recipe because I like me some thick, chocolaty brownies.


Here's the lovely pan of brownies after I cut into it and took a piece. Yes, I ate the little chunks from the other pieces that stuck to the knife. You have to, it's a rule! And yes, I took a piece from the middle . . . it's a thing I have . . . I can't eat an edge piece first. I'm sick, I know. And yes, in the upper left corner is a glimpse of the pink cup of milk I had to go with the brownies. You can't eat brownies without having milk too . . . at least, I can't. =D


And here's me taking my first bite (ignore the bad hair day and lack of make-up . . . it's revision day so I don't have to look nice and that's a rule too).



Oh, that brownie tastes SOOO good!



I know, I'm a horrible person for posting brownie porn. If it makes you feel any better, as I was trying to maneuver the camera with my right hand and eat the brownie with my left hand, a corner of the brownie broke off and fell down my shirt.

And NO, I won't be posting a picture of that. I didn't even take a picture of that, thank you very much. =p I said brownie porn, nothing else!

Now, everyone get busy and bake up some brownies in honor of Karen's birthday . . . and anyone else who has a birthday today (and if you know of anyone, let me know so I can have an excuse to eat more brownies).

Back to revising!


Write on.

Ten o'clock and all is . . . well . . .

Okay, by the time I get this posted, it will no longer be ten o'clock, but I promise I started this at precisely ten.

First of all, I'm supposed to be working on revisions. I promised myself I'd start revising at ten o'clock to give myself time to read and comment on my friends' blogs as well as do a post on my own blog. However, things didn't go according to plan. Yes, I read some friends' blogs and commented on them (even replied to comments after they commented on my comment), but I'm not finished yet.

I have a good excuse though. I decided to take a few minutes (about 15 .  . . at least that's the amount of time I'm counting) to make some brownies in honor of Karen's birthday. I know she won't be able to eat any of them since she lives a million miles (give or take some) away from me, but I'll be sure to eat her share for her.


In all honesty, I may have made brownies anyway, but this way is better for me. Everyone knows if you make brownies in honor of someone's birthday and then have to eat the birthday person's share, the brownies have ZERO calories. It's true! And even if it's not, I must believe it's true so I won't gain any weight when I devour the entire pan of brownies later today.

So, help me out by clapping your hands and saying three times, "I believe in zero calorie brownies. I believe in zero calorie brownies. I believer in zero calorie brownies."

Hey, if it can bring Tinker Bell back to life, it can take calories from brownies! *grin*

And with that, my fifteen minutes are nearly up. I better get this posted and get busy revising.


Write on.