Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wishful Thinking

35,000 words. That's where I wanted to be by the end of my writing session today. I fell short.

Does it matter how short? Sometimes I don't think so. Sometimes it seems like hitting the goal is more important than how I got there. It's more important that the quality of the words, the flow of the thoughts, the beauty of the images. I know you're supposed to just keep writing, don't look back, get those words on the page (or the screen). But I struggle with the balance.

How do you keep the balance? Do you accept that there are going to be sections of your writing that you will hate, delete and make you question your sanity come December? Or do you go back, revise as you write, make it more like what you like to read?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tired Fingers

I enjoy typing. Really, I do. But after three hours, my fingers start to rebel. Does this happen to you? I try to type something simple, like Tuesday, but instead, I see tUedsday.

I try to fix it.

I end up with TrUesday.

I try again. It gets worse. Before I know it, I've spent five times the amount of time it usually takes for me to type one word. And then I realize that I really meant to type Wednesday.

Ah, the joys of NaNoWriMo. What's one of yours?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo Optimism

Life gets in the way of our best-laid NaNoWriMo plans sometimes. 

I started my NaNoWriMo project on time, and I have been working on it, but I cannot say that the outlook is good for me to finish on time. There is still hope - a teeny tiny bit of hope. I have more than half of the month left, I have inspiration, and I have fast fingers. Will that be enough? Only time will tell.

If you are on your own NaNoWriMo quest, stay strong. I will if you will...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo Just Around The Corner

It seems like just yesterday I was finishing my first draft of my first book in NaNoWriMo 2010, and now here I am, getting ready to start book three in NaNoWriMo 2011. I realize that I'm nowhere near the original timeline I had for the series, but I am still moving forward. And I plan to use NaNoWriMo again this year to jump-start my writing and keep me focused on an insane-but-achievable goal.

I look forward to it and dread it at the same time.

If none of this sounds remotely familiar, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is sponsored by the lovely folks at the Office of Letters and Light. Starting on November 1st, writers from all over the world start typing, scribbling, scratching and stressing. The goal is to finish a 50,000 word masterpiece (or first draft) by midnight on November 30th. The pressure is intense. The word meters tick along as the days pass, sometimes lurching forward by the thousands, sometimes crawling backwards for a day or two.


But it's all good.

Because in the end, you'll have more than you did when you started on November 1st. Even if all you have is the realization that your book idea will never work, it's OK.

All we can do is keep moving forward...

Join me, won't you? It's free, it's challenging, and it's worth it!

PS - For those of you wondering about the second book, it's in final edits now. I hesitate announcing the release date because I've missed the mark so many times, but it will be available this year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Time to Breathe

Sometimes it's tough to find time to breathe. There are so many activities, chores, jobs and meetings. But every once in a while, we need to rest. To recharge. To visit with our families and just be.


We spent one very active and full day away this weekend, and it was just what we needed. The leaves were beautiful, the lake was clear, and the kids had a wonderful time outside.



And as the sun set, I knew that it was worth missing the football game and the birthday party and squeezing this into an already full weekend. So thanks, Aunt Judy. You were right. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

HAVEN Giveaway

Yesterday I posted my review of The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier, but I forgot to mention the ebook giveaway! Anyone who comments on my original post or this one between now and October 6th will be entered in the contest to win a free electronic copy of the book!


And be sure to check out the other stops along the tour:

09/01/11 The Wormhole http://wormyhole.blogspot.com/
09/02/11 Me My Shelf and I http://www.memyshelfandi.com/
09/03/11 Writing Crazy Me http://writingcrazyme.blogspot.com/
09/04/11 Stuck In Books http://www.stuckinbooks.com/
09/05/11 Books Over Boys http://booksoverboys.blogspot.com/
09/06/11 Mocha Latte Reads http://www.mochalattereads.blogspot.com/  
09/07/11 Live To Read http://livetoread-krystal.blogspot.com/
09/08/11 Two Readers Review http://tworeadersreviews.blogspot.com/
09/09/11 Bookworm Lisa http://lisaisabookworm.blogspot.com/
09/10/11 We Fancy Books http://wefancybooks.blogspot.com/
09/11/11 A Tale of Many Reviews www.ataleofmanyreviews.com
09/12/11 A Casual Reader’s Blog http://ellsey.blogspot.com/
09/13/11 Songs and Stories http://liedermadchen.blogspot.com/
09/14/11 Fantasy Fairy http://1fantasyfairy.blogspot.com/
09/15/11 Booc Looks http://booclooks.blogspot.com/
09/16/11 The Light of Asteria http://www.thelightofasteria.blogspot.com/
09/17/11 Paper Cut Reviews http://papercut-reviews.blogspot.com/
09/18/11 Cicis Theories http://cicistheories.com/
09/19/11 Literature Monsters http://literaturemonsters.blogspot.com/
09/20/11 Letters Inside Out http://www.lettersinsideout.net/
09/21/11 A Written Rhapsody http://awrittenrhapsody.blogspot.com/
09/22/11 aoBibliosphere http://aobibliosphere.blogspot.com/
09/23/11 Book By Book Review http://bookbybookreview.blogspot.com/
09/24/11 Carole http://thelifeoffiction.blogspot.com/
09/25/11 YA Bound http://yabound.blogspot.com/
09/26/11 Young Readers http://youngreadersathome.blogspot.com/
09/27/11 The Ending Unplanned http://theendingunplanned.blogspot.com/
09/28/11 Meghann Daugherty http://absconditas.com/
09/29/11 Alison Hess http://www.alisononeillhess.com/
09/30/11 Megan Curd http://www.megancurd.com/
10/01/11 Cup of Tea Reviews http://cupofteareviews.blogspot.com/
10/02/11 Charissa Weaks http://www.charissaweaks.blogspot.com/
10/03/11 The Awesome Magic Attic http://theawesomemagicattic.blogspot.com/
10/04/11 Tori Scott http://www.toriscottya.com/
10/05/11 Jessie Harrell http://jessie-harrell.blogspot.com
10/06/11 A Tale of Many Reviews http://www.ataleofmanyreviews.com/

Thursday, September 29, 2011

HAVEN Blog Tour

Welcome, welcome! 
I am excited to be today's stop on The Willows: Haven Blog Tour!




From Goodreads:
When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finders herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality.

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?


 
Hope Collier has created an enchanting world, and I found myself floating along with Ashton and Gabe as they got to know each other. Our main character, Ashton, is struggling with the death of her father when she meets Gabe, a motorcycle-riding mystery man. I wondered about this handsome stranger from the moment he appeared, and his complicated history made him one of my favorite characters. The attraction between Ashton and Gabe is well-written and sweet, and it left me wanting more time for them to be together.

Alas, their time is cut short when Ashton is taken to The Valley. This is where Hope really hit her stride. Her descriptions of this world within our world were stunning:
The light of the full moon glistened off the water, casting shimmering reflections against the trees. A gentle wind carried the fragrance of water lilies across the bank as cattails swayed along the shoreline. [...] The effect the water possessed was more powerful than ever before. Familiar scents comforted me as I waded out into the deep. The caress felt like satin against my skin, reaching into my very essence. It was part of me, something that would never change, could never be taken away.
As Ashton becomes familiar with the family secrets that determine her fate, she turns to her friend, Kyle, for support and friendship. But Kyle has a history of his own, and his deep feelings for her overwhelm both of them:
The kiss deepened as Kyle's passion stirred. Hot hands wrapped around my waist, lifting me to his height. I threaded my fingers through his hair, allowing the months of loneliness and grief to fuel my reaction. He moaned softly as he held me tighter, and I reveled in the feeling of his love.
There's no doubt that Ashton is in a tight spot. Her feelings for the two most important people in her life, Gabe and Kyle, cannot coexist, and she feels the full weight of the decision she must make. But Hope guides us through the final twists and turns quickly and expertly. I breathed a sigh of relief for Ashton when I came to the last page, but I wasn't ready for the story to end. Luckily, this is just the beginning of Ashton's story - I can't wait!

Thanks so much to Julie of A Tale of Many Reviews for organizing this blog tour and allowing me to participate. And check out The Willows: Haven - it's available now at Amazon.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HAVEN Here Tomorrow

Thursday is going to be awesome. That's because it's my turn on The Willows: Haven Blog Tour, and you'll be able to read my review of this great new book by an awesome author, Hope Collier.

Here's the trailer - see you tomorrow!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Slow and Steady

I feel like a visitor to my own blog these days. The usual back-to-school germs hit us particularly hard this year, and when you add to that the busy schedules of two children and a new part-time job, finding time to blog has been difficult to say the least.

Finding time to polish and release my book - impossible.

I spent the past week feeling sad, disappointed, upset, angry and defeated. I wanted to have this book out months ago, and here it is, still waiting. Then I found some time to work on it yesterday, and I remembered how much I love it and how important it is to me for it to be great. Really great. And as we know, that takes time.

So as I search for those moments here and there to edit, to proofread, to revise and improve, I plan to keep saying the same thing to myself to avoid another pity party: slow and steady, slow and steady, slow and steady. I'll get there. And when I do, when I finally get to the point that I can share it with everyone, I will smile. And then I'll get started on Book Three revisions.

Slow and steady...

*Coming this Thursday (9/29) - my post on the HAVEN Blog Tour*

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ember Blog Tour Update

There are two more days in the tour - time is running out!



Thanks to everyone who has visited and commented on my Ember Blog Tour post. I know it may seem like I haven't been around much lately, but I have noticed all of my visitors, both friends and new followers. Thanks so much for participating!

If you haven't commented yet to enter the Ember giveaways, there's still time. You have until 5PM EDT on September 21st to enter. If you comment with your email on my blog and I'm chosen as one of the seven blogs to give away an ebook copy, you will be entered automatically. And if you comment on all of the blogs on the tour, you'll be entered in the GRAND PRIZE and RUNNER-UP PRIZE contests. Here is what you can win:

GRAND PRIZE: A silver butterfly necklace, an Ember canvas tote, and an ebook of Ember.


RUNNER UP PRIZE: An Ember canvas tote and print copy of Ember.

To see the full list of blog stops, check out the YA Bound blog. It's a great book and a fun contest - hope to see you in the comments!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remember

I remember where I was.
I remember what I saw.
I remember how I felt.

We will never forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ember Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the Ember Blog Tour!


From Goodreads: When Candra Ember wakes up in hospital after a dangerous encounter with a red-haired woman, she is shocked to discover that seeing a winged boy wasn’t her imagination. Candra is exposed to a world of rivalry and sacrifice she never knew existed, and the aftermath of a war to save humanity thousands of years ago. Soon she finds herself relentlessly stalked by Sebastian, a beautiful and arrogant Watcher Angel and romantically pursued by his darkly seductive rival, Draven. Ultimately, dubious about her own goodness, Candra’s very existence compromises a tentative peace in the city of Acheron.


Oh, Candra! I felt her confusion as she learned about her past and tried to navigate a future that seemed to flash between beauty and darkness, between peace and war. Luckily, she had a few good girlfriends to help her on her way - Ivy and Lofi. While I loved Ivy, I found myself wanting to spend time with Lofi so that I could get to know her better. 

But the tension between Candra and Sebastian pulled me deeper into the story. (Since this was one of the first books I read on my Kindle, I played with the Notes and Marks function. Of my 14 notes, 10 were about Sebastian!) He seemed so hard, so tough at first, but then he gave in to his feelings for Candra. And he beat himself up for it. And he gave in again. I enjoyed the push and pull relationship between Candra and Sebastian, and the tension between them kept me wondering who and what was truly best for her.


Draven had the best line by far in the whole book. Innocent flirting between Candra and "Daniel" (as he introduced himself to her) at a party turned into much more as he took her hand in his, lifted it to his face, and gently sniffed across her wrist. In an exchange that begs to be read more than once, Candra melted from his touch as he said, "I think I will call you 'my Candra' from now on." Stalker-esque perhaps, as Candra herself tells him, but in that one line I could sense that "Daniel" came from another time, another era when possession and love were one in the same. He hastily left the party, but I hoped he would be back for more. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed!

Overall, I found Ember to be a delightful story that blended angels and battles with modern life in a surprisingly realistic way. The only issue I had with the book was the opening. (Keep in mind, I was reading it on vacation at the beach, but I had to go back twice to re-read because I felt like I missed something.) But I quickly moved past that and into the heart of the book where I fell into Carol's easy rhythm of smooth writing. And the ending - well, I think I've read and re-read it three times now! So keep writing, Carol. I'd love to spend more time with Candra, Sebastian, and even Draven, someday soon.

********
Now for the good stuff...

GIVEAWAYS! In order to enter into the giveaways, you must comment on this blog post and any others you'd like to visit during the tour. Make sure you get your comments in before 5 PM EDT on September 21st, as the contests will be closed at that time.

GIVEAWAYS:

Six random blogs on the tour will be giving away an ebook copy of EMBER. Make sure you comment with your email to be entered into the giveaway.  Good luck!
RUNNER UP PRIZE: An EMBER canvas tote and print copy of EMBER.  
GRAND PRIZE: A silver butterfly necklace, an EMBER canvas tote, and an ebook of EMBER. To enter into the GRAND PRIZE and RUNNER UP PRIZE giveaways, you must comment on ALL blog posts with your email during the tour. (A list of all participating blogs can be found here at YA Bound.)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blog Tour Tomorrow

Thanks so much for visiting today, but you have to come back tomorrow for the good stuff...


Tomorrow I am the stop on the Ember Blog Tour hosted by the lovely ladies at YA Bound. I will post my review of Carol Oates' book, but that's not all. Six of the blogs on the tour will be randomly selected to give away an ebook copy of Ember - so comment anytime on my post tomorrow and include your email address. If my blog is chosen, one of my readers will be a lucky winner!

See you back here tomorrow -

Monday, August 29, 2011

School Time

Every summer ends with a nervous evening full of questions and possibilities, full of hopes for a new school year. I can remember how hard it was to fall asleep the night before the first day, wondering what would be different this time, wondering what would be the same.

Now that I'm the mom, I spend that night before school starts listening to my children as they restlessly settle into bed, chatting about what excites them and what worries them. I nod as I remember how little they were when they came home from the hospital for the first time. I smile as I remember how tiny my son looked going to his first day of preschool.

We love this picture. His hand on his head made us think he felt the weight of the world as he walked into his first preschool class. His lunch bag was heavy for him to carry. And he wanted to go in by himself - no hand-holding or hugging. He was a big boy, even back then.

Fast forward 8 years and here we are again.

First day of middle school this time, but the photo is the same - back of his head, no one standing with him, not even looking back. But the photo is taken from much further away. We weren't even allowed to stand in the driveway! Watching through the window, we saw him glare at us more than once, waving us away.

I laughed with other moms yesterday that I'd be doing the Happy Mommy Dance when my two were on their buses, headed to school. I'd have the house to myself, and I could do whatever I wanted. I could clean without anything getting messed up right away. I could write without any interruptions. I could finally get something accomplished.

But as the second bus pulled away, I didn't do the Happy Mommy Dance. The minutes ticked by and I thought about how much we all need this time apart. I wondered if my daughter was having fun with her friends, if my son would be able to find his locker, if either of them would think about me on this very busy first day. And I smiled as I thought of how much they both have grown since those early school days. I'd be lying if I said this day was like any other; this day is full of sweet memories and sad realizations that they truly are growing up right in front of our eyes. We were told it would happen - we just didn't believe it.

It's also full of questions for me. What will I do with my time? How will I make the most of it? As soon as I post this, I'll go back to my writing, back to my schedule, back to my list of things to do. But the whole time, I'll be checking my watch, wondering how long it will be before the buses will come back and I can hear all of the stories from the first day of school.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Home Again

Aren't vacations wonderful? Time away from home, away from the usual schedule. Except that there are still clothes to wash, and dishes to clean, and floors to sweep (how does the sand follow us everywhere?). But it is wonderful to spend time with extended family that we don't get to see often enough. And it is wonderful to jump in the waves with my brave son and daughter, sit on the beach and read book after book on my Kindle, and take photos like this one:

 

LBI sunset
And this one:


Ah - I can still smell the salty air. Oh wait - that's the basket of beach towels waiting to be washed in my laundry room...

Even though I was away, I kept up on my reading. I finished six books and started preparing my reviews for the two upcoming blog tours I'm joining in September (see the details by clicking the blog tour buttons at the top right of this page). Can I tell you how much I loved my Kindle? I made notes, highlighted passages, and breezed through my TBR. So awesome. I don't know why I waited so long to get one.

This week is dedicated to those last minute things that need to be done before school starts next week. And writing. And editing. I also hope to post my results from my Google calendar experiment that I wrote about last month. Some interesting results, but mostly it showed me that the time I spend thinking about writing doesn't count as actual writing time. Bummer.


Happy Monday - hope your week is off to a great start!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

SWOON #YABound Part Two

If you read my earlier post today, you're probably wondering why I'm SWOONING again. I decided it would be fun to include a swoon-worthy excerpt from my current project, Beyond the Prophecy. 

I published The Prophecy in February of this year, and I loved it, but as I wrote the second book in the series, I felt like I needed to explain a little more in part one. So I've been revising both books at the same time with the intention of publishing them together as Between Souls Volume One - Beyond the Prophecy and The Chapel in September. Whether you read the first book or not, you'll automatically get both in the new edition.

If you read The Prophecy (thank you!) you might remember this scene with Richard and Lucie. It was one of my favorite scenes to write.


 
"His electric whispers tickled my ear, and I didn’t know the sounds—I only knew warmth." From my book, BEYOND THE PROPHECY. SWOON #YABound
SWOON #YABound is the new MEME sponsored by the ladies at YA Bound, and every Thursday, they challenge us to come up with our most swoon-worthy tweets based on what we're reading. Did anything make you SWOON today? If you'd like to play along, tell us what made you SWOON from the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished by posting it in my comments, on their blog in the comments, tweet it with the hashtag #YABound, or all of the above.

Swoon #YABound

You know it when you've read it. Your heart races, you hold your breath, you SWOON.

 
SWOON #YABound is the new MEME sponsored by the ladies at YA Bound, and every Thursday, they challenge us to come up with our most swoon-worthy tweets based on what we're reading. So here's my first attempt with a section from my current read, The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier:
"His fingers slid down my arm, leaving a trail of heat along the way." ~ From HAVEN by @hopecollier  SWOON #YABound
So what made you SWOON today? If you'd like to play along, tell us what made you SWOON from the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering? Post it in my comments, on their blog in the comments, tweet it with the hashtag #YABound, or all of the above.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lazy Days

Everyone needs a break once in a while. I need a break from writing, my kids need a break from me, we all need a break from our fast-paced regular schedule. So this week, we took our break - the kids went to camp, my husband went to work, and I had the house to myself.

His cabin for the week*
The day we dropped them off, I spent all of my energy worrying about them while trying not to worry about them. I knew they were having fun, but nagging thoughts crept into my mind. Would they be able to fall asleep? Would they remember a flashlight if they needed to walk down the path in the dark to the bathroom? Would they miss home and feel alone and miserable?

Blurry pic of her bunk*
The second day I managed to stop most of those thoughts from disturbing my quiet time. I made a to-do list that was completely unrealistic, and I stuck to it for a couple of hours. I dusted. I cleaned the bathrooms. I did laundry. I edited my book. And then I hit the wall.

I realized that I needed to stop trying to do my usual schedule while they were away. I could have forced myself to continue, but I would have missed out on a chance to really recharge and refresh. So I stopped.

I had a lovely lunch while I read my new Kindle. I put a few loads of laundry away, but didn't worry about the remaining clothes. I walked slowly through the grocery store for the first time in years. And I went out to dinner with my husband three nights in a row - unbelievable!

I have to admit that some guilt crept into my days, and I certainly still thought about the kids, but something else happened. I started working on my projects again, this time because I wanted to, not because I had to. And I enjoyed it much more. I solved three problems in my latest book. I came up with a new cover design. I hid from Twitter and Facebook, knowing how easy it would be to spend the entire day there, and I read and read and read. I took notes on what styles of writing appeal to me. And I reviewed my recent writing to find what I liked and didn't like about my own style.

In the end, I had three lazy days of summer until it was time to pick up my daughter at camp on Wednesday, but I accomplished quite a lot. So I plan to add these breaks to my schedule as much as possible each month. I have a feeling I'll get more done that way. And by the way, the kids had an amazing time at camp. They came home dirty, exhausted, and begging to go for a longer time next summer.

*Photo note* - The pics are blurry because the kids didn't want me to take any pictures when we dropped them off at camp. These were my attempts at stealthy photos - blurry, but still memories to keep.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Busted

I laughed out loud when I read the most recent blog post by Joe Konrath - Are You Writing? He was absolutely talking to me:
Right now, you're reading one of the most relevant, controversial, popular, and opinionated blogs about the world of publishing, and it is an epic fail on your part.
He's right. I need to be writing, not reading. I need to be editing, not blogging.

I spent an abnormally large amount of time reading online this week. And not just reading about writing. I read news articles about recent events, old stories, dog training, and even the weather. I learned many things, but I was not writing.

So thanks again, Joe. Your advice is timely, and I plan to take it starting right now.

Happy weekend to everyone, especially my new followers. Thanks for visiting -

Friday, July 15, 2011

1K and Counting

I have 999 Twitter followers right now, and I truly can't believe it! I'm so excited -- I love the new friendships that have started because of our similar interests, whether it's writing or Pittsburgh or anything else. So thanks to everyone who has followed me! I hope we can have many more conversations together.

BREAKING NEWS - I hit 1,001 before I could publish this post! So thanks to Soren Olesen @AuthorOlesen from Denmark who became my 1,000th follower!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wall Calendar Translated

I've always been a calendar girl. Not in the pinup sense, but in the milestone tracking sense. Even mundane tracking appeals to me. I actually still have the calendars I used all four years in college listing daily homework assignments. Back then, I tracked which parties I went to on the weekends as well. There's a novel hiding in those date books, just waiting to be written someday...

If you've read some of my recent posts, you know I follow Austin Kleon, an artist from Austin, TX. He had a recent post about Jerry Seinfeld's plan for productivity that tied my calendar obsession to my writing, and I'm loving it, so I thought I'd share.

Briefly, Seinfeld used a wall calendar and tracked the days he wrote with a big red X. Then he saw his progress and hated to break the writing chain. It helped him reach his goals, and I knew right away that it would help me stay on track this summer.

I created a Google doc spreadsheet for the remaining months of the year. Using Conditional Formatting (under Format menu) I added color coding for word counts for new books on one sheet and hours of editing for revisions on another.



  • 0-500 words or 15 mins. = RED
  • 501-1000 words or 30 mins. = ORANGE
  • 1001-1500 words or 45 mins. = YELLOW
  • 1501-2000 words or 60 mins. = GREEN
  • 2001-2500 words or 75 mins. = BLUE
  • 2501-3000+ words or 76+ mins. = PURPLE



Now the document automatically shows me good days and bad days by color. I'm working towards all purple days because purple is Lucie's favorite color. My editing minutes are low, but I found that I needed more incentive to work on the edits than new writing. This way, even on a busy day I know I'll search harder for time to edit. Slow and steady wins the race.

Not much purple yet, but I'm hoping for a big day today. And once I start a purple chain, I'll work even harder not to break it. If you're interested, at the end of July I'll post my updated spreadsheet to show my progress.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

#YASaves

I should know better than to make writing plans in the summer. During the school year, my writing is often derailed because of a volunteer or child activity. But in the summer, it's much worse! Sunny days and blue skies are enough to throw me completely off track. So this morning I decided to schedule time to edit. I even put it on my calendar.

I woke up early and got my emails/Twitter/Facebook out of the way. Then I took my daughter to a birthday party. I planned one solid hour of edits and NOTHING ELSE while she played mini-golf. Ha.

I came home and tried to avoid Twitter. I really did. But my phone buzzed about a DM, so I checked. A quick peek. Nothing more.

Then I slipped into the #YASaves discussion. One hour and seventeen minutes later, I emerged. Number of edits - zero. But it was the best hour I spent not-editing because of the amazing discussion of darkness in YA books. (I mentioned the beginning of the debate in my latest newsletter, and the discussion is far from over.)

Today NPR dedicated an hour to the question Is Young Adult Fiction Too Dark? On the show, they had the author of the original WSJ article and a follow-up, Meghan Cox Gurdon. In the other corner, they had Maureen Johnson, YA author and amazing twitter presence. (Seriously, if you don't follow her on twitter @maureenjohnson, you should!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Review: Robopocalypse

RobopocalypseRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I made the mistake of reading reviews for this book while I was still in the first chapters. I was surprised by some of the very negative reviews because I was drawn to the story and wanted to keep reading, but I understood some of the comments as I continued.

Was I entertained? Yes. Would it be a cool movie? Sure. But I wasn't in love with the way the story was told. I wanted more time with each character instead of brief visits. I guess that's what it comes down to - I wanted more.



View all my reviews

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dusting and Learning

My laptop sighed with relief last week as I shifted my focus away from its shiny, worn keys and dusted. I know - crazy! I actually dusted my house! Well, most of it. I'm still working my way from room to room. But I had to take a break from the writing and the agonizing.

You see, I had been torturing myself over my non-release of The Chapel on the 21st. I was disappointed. And maybe a little sad. But I knew it was for the best. So I did something different for a few days, and when I wasn't dusting, I read some new books.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into PrintI started with Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. I enjoyed the many examples in the book, and I used my blue highlighter to mark helpful tips that I plan to use while editing this week. There are many blue pages in my book now, and it was hard to resist the urge to start editing immediately, but I stayed strong and kept reading.

Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction)Once I finished that book, I moved right into Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell. I'm currently in Chapter 2 about Characters, and I must say I am learning from this book as well. One thing in particular that I like is that Bell goes beyond simple editing and suggests life-long learning techniques. And above all, keep writing.

Starting tomorrow, I will compile my notes and write my plan for the month of July. It's going to be big. Epic. And hard work. I am ready.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plan B

After a long, agonizing week, I have decided not to publish The Chapel this weekend. There are too many problems with the story, and I need to make certain scenes much clearer before sending it out to the world. I know some of you will be disappointed, but don't despair - I'll be back to work editing tomorrow. I have no idea how long it will take to finish, but I will let you know.

I am still going to have Lucie post about her activities this weekend, though, so if you'd like a peek into her life around the Summer Solstice, check her out at her Tumblr blog or on Twitter.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Between Souls Webpage 2.0

In honor of the upcoming release of The Chapel, I have redesigned my book site,  www.betweensouls.com. I think the light purple background for Lucie's site matches her personality - for some reason, I picture this as her favorite color, besides black.

As soon as The Chapel is available for purchase, I will add links here and there to make it easy for you to read about Lucie's next adventures.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

@LucieSinclair

Wheel of Hecate
Lucie is now on Twitter and she is going to have a lot to say over the next few weeks, so start following her now to see it all! You can click her cool Wheel of Hecate symbol to the left or by clicking the Follow on Twitter button next to her name on the right. And while you're at it, if you don't follow me on Twitter, click my Follow button, too!

She also has a new Tumblr blog at http://luciesinclair.tumblr.com/, but all of her posts are sent to Twitter, too, so if you want one place to get Lucie's updates, Twitter is that place.

Some of the cool things in store for June @LucieSinclair - live tweets as she travels to Scotland, photos from her trip, and exclusive previews of The Chapel! You are going to love what Lucie does next...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Preview of The Chapel - Chapter 1

After a fun Saturday of softball and baseball, I decided to try something new this beautiful Sunday morning. I uploaded the first chapter of The Chapel to the CreateSpace.com preview site. You can go there now to read it, rate it and make comments. So check it out --

The Chapel - Chapter 1 PREVIEW

Update 5/30 - My apologies if the link did not work for you yesterday.
It works now...

Friday, May 27, 2011

World Finals Weekend

I would like to thank all of you for your encouragement as I work away on The Chapel. I have connected with some new friends to make it the best it can be, and that takes time. More time than I'd like, but I know it's going to be worth it. (I even brought my computer to the doctor's office yesterday!) So hang in there - I hope to have an updated release date soon!

Memorial Day festivities including pool openings and bar-b-ques promise to be lots of fun this weekend. But a group of families from our town will be driving to Maryland for another big event:

Odyssey of the Mind WORLD FINALS!

What is Odyssey of the Mind? I wrote two articles about the program here and here. Here are a couple of articles about our season and our teams:
So congrats to our World Finalists! We'll be thinking of you this weekend. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Giveaway at Community Day

Every May, the residents of Upper St. Clair gather for a day of games, prizes, food and fun - our Community Day. My earliest memories of Community Day are when I marched as a Pantherette back in high school. Now, my kids are marching and representing the organizations they love as they smile and wave to their friends in the crowd - and throw candy. Gently, of course...

Community Day booths are another tradition that my kids love. Local organizations have games, food, activities and raffles. Some are raising money for good causes (like our two World Finals Odyssey of the Mind teams at booth #45!), and some are raising awareness. But it's a great way for me to see neighbors and friends that I haven't seen for a while.

So if you're around USC tomorrow, please stop by. There is something for everyone, and we're not going to talk about the weather - we're just going to be optimistic! 

There's even a special treat for those of you interested in The Prophecy: please visit the Wise Women Booth (near the Girl Scouts) for chances to win one of two autographed copies or a Prophecy tote bag! I want to thank Kim for the opportunity to spread the word about my book tomorrow. (Her awesome article about me can be found in the April issue of her WiseWomen e-journal.)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Silence is Good

My lack of recent posts disturbs me. From the outside, it probably looks like I'm not working or not focused. The truth is that I'm spending every spare moment working on The Chapel. I have been revising and revising and revising. I'm still in the middle of it, but I haven't reached the point where I think I'm doing more harm than good. So my point is - don't worry. Silence, in this case, is a good thing. It means The Chapel will be ready sometime soon.

To keep you entertained as you patiently await the release of Book Two, I have decided to share a video that I showed my kids a few weeks ago. They love to draw, and last year they both checked out Ed Emberley's books from the library multiple times to practice his techniques. Something about his drawings attracted them, and me, and I had to click the video when I saw this post by Austin Kleon.



What I love the most about his story is that he had an entirely different vision of success when he started. But as he learned, sometimes those visions must change, and you won't know how they should change unless you keep moving forward. Keep working. Keep producing. Keep trying. On that note, back to work I go...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Socks for Japan

We finished our Socks for Japan project yesterday, and it was such a great feeling to take those huge boxes to the post office. Our elementary school collected socks to send to those hit by the disasters in Japan, and my kids and I repackaged and counted the socks.

We knew the families at our school were generous with their time and donations for causes in the past, but we had no idea how many of them would bring in socks. The school staff worked hard to come up with a letter the students could insert in the baggie with each pair that would be a personal message with a drawing. As you can see, the results are simply adorable.

After counting and recounting, we came to our grand total:

1008 pairs of socks
81 pounds of socks

To save shipping costs, we put as many as we could into two large boxes, then had one smaller box for the overflow. Thanks to the helpful folks at the post office, we were able to mail the three boxes yesterday.

But the best part of the project was the perspective it brought to my children. They knew about the disasters from lessons in school, but I think it truly affected them when they saw photos of other sock donations and of the children in Japan smiling as they received new socks. My daughter in particular took this to heart, and she was the one who asked me to approach the school about doing the sock drive. She may not be able to grasp the magnitude of the damage, but she can relate to the sight of another child in need.

My favorite part of this experience happened yesterday afternoon. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my daughter watch the post office go by as we drove away. With a very big smile on her face, she said, "Now the socks are on their way to making lots and lots of people happy." Simply wonderful.

The Socks for Japan project is winding down, but there is still time to send a shipment (the last day is 5/16/11). For more information, check out Jason Kelly's site at http://jasonkelly.com/helpjapan/. Here is an article from our local paper detailing our sock collection. And thanks to Makiko and Amy for telling us about the project.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Good Enough Is The New Perfect

I found some time last week to read a book that was on my list for months. I am so excited for Hollee and Becky now that Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood is finally available!

First I must admit one thing: I haven't read the entire book. It is so full of stories from mothers who describe their struggles to find balance, but it also includes helpful suggestions for moms who are struggling right now. And if we're honest, I'd have to say we're all struggling right now, today and everyday. Just like laundry, there is no end to the balancing act we must perform. Each morning will present new challenges to our best-laid plans, and it is our ability to find ways to weave those challenges into our lives without giving in to the chaos that make us "Good Enough" moms.

My second confession: I'm not rushing to finish the book anytime soon. Rather, I see it as a permanent fixture on my nightstand, something to read carefully and completely, not skim through to the end so that I can check it off my to do list. It is that book that I will pick up at night after a particularly hard day when I need encouragement, support or just a good laugh. It will be the one I use when my children or family or friends or co-workers come up with a completely new way to frustrate or confuse me. And it will be the one I will turn to when I am on the verge of tears, desperately trying to keep my life in balance and feeling like a complete failure.

What I like the most about The New Perfect is how Hollee and Becky have woven personal stories of their own along with stories from a variety of women to provide us with the "how we got here" history of modern motherhood.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Post: Why Opting Out Isn't The Whole Story

Long, long ago in a land far, far away, I had an office job. My kids find this hard to believe, but it's true. I was many things through the years from an administrative assistant to a graphic designer to a training consultant to a training developer. Oh, and did I mention that year I worked at a criminal justice agency in New Jersey? If you asked me to describe my career path, I would not use the word "typical."

But I do not consider myself to be unusual, either. In fact, I know a whole township full of women like me, searching for the best ways to find fulfillment in a sea of choices that go far beyond stay-at-home or go-to-work. And one of our biggest challenges is not to lose ourselves or our happiness as we search for a career/family balance that fits.

Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple have written a book entitled Good Enough Is The New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, and I was so excited to receive a review copy a few weeks ago. These authors have spent years speaking to women about work, home, families and expectations. I'll have a full review of their book later this week, but at this time, I'd like to present to you a guest post written by Becky and Hollee.

Authors Hollee and Becky

Guest Post: Why Opting Out Isn't The Whole Story

Becky never wanted to be a part of the Opt-Out Revolution.

Not because she didn’t want to stay home with her daughters — she did, and she has a gap on her resume to prove it — but because she didn’t want the label. Opting out felt so … permanent. And, in her mind, she’d left the door ajar; her years at home were more of a break while she prepared for her next act.

The Opt-Out Revolution (a phrase New York Times writer Lisa Belkin popularized in 2003 to describe a rise in stay-at-home moms) is a concept we encountered numerous times while reporting Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (Harlequin Nonfiction, April 2011). It’s a controversial idea; not everybody is convinced that such a revolution really exists. The thought of highly educated women abandoning their careers to stay home and raise children really seems to tick people off.