Monday, November 4, 2013

The Best YA Book of All Time

I have to admit that I read more YA books now than I did when I was a YA, so when I saw this advertised I found my interest peaked.

Entertainment Weekly is running a bracket game that asks the question: “What is the best young adult novel of all time."

They've lumped series of books together, so Harry Potter would be one entry and Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird are included even though they were written before YA was considered a category.

It should be an interesting contest: The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, A Wrinkle in Time, Holes, so many to choose from both classics and more current.

The most interesting thing for me will be to see how many I've read.

The bracket starts today and runs until November 22, so take some time to vote.

How about you? Do you have an opinion about the best YA book of all time?

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Blank Page

We've all been there, staring at a blank page and drawing a complete blank. But sometimes opening up a blank page is exactly what I need, especially when I'm knee deep in revisions. I get all blurry eyed and can't find my way out of a scene that's just not working.

So, lots of times I open up a new document try to put those other words out of my mind and start from scratch. I figure if the words are important then they'll come back to me.

It really helps to have a fresh look.

How about you? What do you do when you're having problems fixing a a scene?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If you haven't already heard - Writers Helping Writers

I wanted to have this up yesterday, but was struck with a terrible head cold. Better late than never and since this goes all week, I'm not too late.

To celebrate their release of their books, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers (formerly The Bookshelf Muse) are hosting a race. An amazing race to see how many writers we can get helping writers.

From October 21st until October 27th, Writers Helping Writers is having an OPEN CALL for all writers who need help. You can fill out a form, requesting help with anything they need. From critiques of queries, first 250 words to helping promote their books, and blogs. There's something for everyone.

A large group of Writers are waiting to help you with your submissions to see how many people they can help in a week. 

There's also giveaways every day. So go to Angela and Becca's new Writers Helping Writers website for all the details and take part this amazing opportunity.

Monday, October 14, 2013


This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Yes, it's a whole month and a half before the American one. This just means that we get Christmas decorations in the stores a lot sooner.

So, today I'll be eating turkey and will be around tomorrow to visit blogs. In the meantime here is a small list of what I'm grateful for:

Yes, I know it's a cliche, but really it should be everyone's number one thing they're grateful for. I'm especially grateful for my son who has left the nest this year to find his wings. Thankfully he lands at home once in a while.

It might not be my number two, but it's right up there. I didn't play all summer (knee injury), and I missed it tremendously. Not just the game, but the ladies I play with. I'm glad to be back.

Audible Books
This September I started working 4 days a week and audible books are the only thing that seem to cure my, at times, road rageness.

Critique People
I'm grateful for anyone who is willing to read my words and give me feedback. And I'm also grateful for those willing for me to read their words so I can learn more.

Speaking of people who have helped my writing. Angela Ackerman has been a big help to me over the past couple of years and this month, along with her writing partner Becca Puglisi, are launching two new Thesaurus books. I love my Emotion Thesaurus and use it all the time.

So go visit their new website
to learn more about how they are helping writers.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The One Thing I Wish Agents Would Do

Okay there are probably many things that I don't know about since I don't have an agent, but there is one thing I wish agents would do during the query process.

Ready. . .

When you send a query by email, I wish they would send an automatic email back saying they received the query.

Not so hard.

There's actually a few that already do. But for those who don't this would save a lot of wondering. Lots of times you read on an agent's website. "If you don't hear from us within three months, you can safely assume we are not interested in your project."

If they sent an email back, this thought would never cross my mind. I haven't heard back yet, how do I know if the agent even got the email or if they just weren't interested.

Note: Some agents do say if you don't hear from us, then resend, but see insecure writer feeling above.

But wouldn't all of these problems be solved with an automatic reply that says: "Thank you for your interested in PN Literary, we take every query seriously and will get back to you as soon as we can."

Maybe I'm just being crazy and there's a reason most agents don't do this. If you know, please share.

How about you? Is there any one thing you wish agents would do?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letting it Soak

I am the queen of letting pots, pans, and sticky bowls soak. I get most of the dishes done, but then I reach the dirtiest pot I decide it will be easier to clean later. Lots of times it is, the hot water pulls the caked on grease off the sides, but sometimes it would have been easy just to wipe it clean right away and more often than not letting it soak makes it harder, especially if you don't cover all of it in hot water.

I feel this way with writing sometimes. I reach a hard part and instead of just writing it, I leave it soak thinking it will be easier when I go back to it. Sometimes it is, but lots of times I've lost momentum and it's a lot harder to get it back.

Tonight I washed all of the dishes, even the caked on pots and it was nice to have a clean kitchen when I went to bed. I think I need to apply this to my writing. Just keep going and don't put it off until tomorrow.

How about you? Do you leave your writing to soak?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Age of the PVR

First of all I have to admit I'm not a huge football fan but last November my family went over to my a friend's house to watch the Canadian version of the Super Bowl. It's called the Grey Cup. Don't laugh, we did have Justin Beiber and Carly Rae Jepsen perform the half time show.

Anyway we got there expecting the game to be on, but instead our friend was PVRing it, so we could fast forward through the commercials. We don't have great commercials for the Grey Cup, so I thought okay, that's not a bad idea, but then we started watching the game. He'd fast forward the commercials, all the commentary, then eventually everything except the actually plays. So if you think about it, we watched the game in about twenty minutes. We went home and decided we didn't really like watching the game that way.

I don't like the commercials, but I like the commentary, I like the set up, the anticipation of the play. That's part of the game.

I have to admit I have skimmed a few books in my day. It's usually badly written books where I'm in a hurry to reach the end. But I've also skimmed popular books, because I'm so anxious to get to the end. I did this with the last Harry Potter book. Big mistake. I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.  I've learned my lesson. If the book is good, I read every word, enjoy the build up, the anticipation. I've stopped reading my books, like I'm watching a show I've PVR'd.

How about you? Are you guilty of being a skimmer? Did you ever regret it?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gone Gone Gone - I've been gone so long

Love that Chilliwack song. Although if you're not Canadian you might not know what I'm talking about.

Hey there fellow bloggers, it's been a long time. I've been away living in a Tiebetan hut with no access to the internet for four months.

I've learned a lot in that time. The locals here are crazy friendly.  Their momos are to die for and although tasty, the yak is a bit dry.

Actually, I've had no such adventure and have been sitting at home cooking, cleaning, working, dealing with kids, but that's not the reason I stopped blogging.

I wasn't writing. I wasn't reading. My whole literary life had stalled. I felt like I had nothing to say. So I took the break and decided to find my authentic self. (More on that in a different post.) It's an ongoing process, but I do feel like I made some progress.

First, I hate high heels. I've tried to like them, but they hurt my ankles every time I put them on. I can deal once in a while with a kitten heel or a wedge, but I will never be the girl who wears the three inch heels with the leopard print. I'm a flats girl and I've accepted that. (There are a few other things I've accepted but more on that later.)

Also I took the last four months and edited my first book one more time after reading a great editing book. (I'll save that for another post as well - can't give away everything at once). I am also close to putting the finishing touches on my second book and have been reading a great book to help me prepare for my third.

Starting this month I'm going to be working my actual paying job four days a week, so I'm only going to blog once a week - Mondays, because I'm also trying to learn that I can only do what I can do.

So that's part of what I did this summer, I'm sure I'll share more later. What did you do this summer.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Another POV

I was a boy crazy fiend as a teenager and I have many journals to prove it. I won’t embarrass myself by revealing any of the content here, although I shudder just thinking about what a total psycho I was when it came to boys. I constantly tried to figure out what they were thinking. Does he like me or not? I over analyzed the way a boy looked at me or his tone of voice when he said hi. As I look back at my relationships over my teenage and young adult years, clearly, I did not have a handle on how boys think. 

Now that my son is fifteen it’s been quite interesting to watch the other side of the gender. Last week he caught a girl writing his name in hearts. He told me it totally creeped him out. All I could think of was, I wrote guys names in hearts, did I creep guys out?

After reading through my journals, I probably did.

Most YA books are told from the girl’s perspective. What I wonder is do I have an accurate account of how the guy would act in a relationship. I just read through my journal when I started dating my husband and there were many ups and downs. The whole time I kept wondering what he was thinking. Sometimes I still wonder that. I’m hoping that by having a son whose entering those teenage years, I can get a glimpse that will give me a heads up on my male characters, which will come in handy as my next book is told from a male’s POV.

Is your MC male or female and if male what are you doing to make sure you create an accurate depiction of the male psyche? 

Monday, April 22, 2013


Hey there, remember me.

I know it's been a while, but I've been doing kind of an experiment. I've been on a diet of sorts. A diet from social media. I haven't done any blogs or very many facebook updates to see if I can be a more productive person.

And the results of my experiment. Utter failure.

I may not have blogged or facebooked, but I found other things to occupy my time. TV shows, sports, entertainment websites, netflix. It seems to me that I did everything and anything except social media and write.

So I've come to the conclusion that my problem is not social media like I had originally thought, but procrastination. That dastardly foe. The thorn in my side. My complete undoing.

I know it's procrastination, because as soon as I had a deadline, I finished editing my chapter.

So, I'm back to posting twice a week.

How about you? Do you suffer from procrastination and how do you defeat it?

While I was gone a few exciting things happened:
Kasie West's book came out.
Christina Lee got a book deal.
Jessie Humphries got a book deal.
Melissa Hurst got an agent

Any other news I missed??

Monday, March 11, 2013

I am not a size 8

Sorry I've been MIA lately, we are in the grips of basketball playoffs and with two boys in the mix, it's kind of crazy. Things should slow down in April

Anyway, back to the title of my post....

Here's my confession. I am not a size 8. A few years I was, but that was only for a day when I didn't eat very much.

The thing is I've gained weight back since then, but in some stores I'm still a size 8. Although this makes me feel good, it does nothing to motivate me to exercise and eat less, because on the tag of my jeans it says I'm a size 8.

I feel this way with critiques. I remember my first real critique. It was a writer in residence at our local library. I went for our appointed time and before I saw him, I could see him looking at my pages through the window. They were loaded with red ink. I had to take a deep breath and prepare myself, but I did it. I learned to take the constructive feedback and i think I've become a better writer because of it. Sometimes, it's not easy receiving a critique, especially if you have a lot to learn like I did and still do, but they are necessary.

So I'm grateful to all the people who have offered feedback on my writing and not making me feel like I can fit into a size 8.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brain Time

There's not enough time in the day. I don't have any time. Time goes by so fast.

These are all sayings that most of us say everyday, but I'd like to offer a new one: I don't have any brain time left.

What does that mean?

Well, I have to say that I'm not as busy as I might like to think I am. Yes, I have the usual dishes, laundry, three kids to feed and clean up after. I work three days a week, and I am now in the throes of basketball playoffs. Even though I'm busy, there is still time to sit down at the computer and do a bit of editing. There's time to take a notebook with me to practice and jot a few notes while I try to remember which kid I'm watching play. I could sneak in a half hour here or there to write something new.

The thing is, by the time I get to these moments, my brain is done. I can't think anymore. I can't decide where the proper place to put a comma is. I miss spelling mistakes, and character development gets the shaft. Thus my new saying: I don't have any brain time left.

Am I crazy or does anyone else feel this way? Do you try to push through or give up for the day?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Realistic Goals

It's been beautiful up here in the Great White North. 5-10 ºC or 40-50 ºF, so I decided to take advantage and go for a walk. I've always loved going for walks because that's when I think, plan, and set goals then hope that I remember it all for when I get home and can write it down.

What I need to do is follow my friend Stina's advice and take a pen and piece of paper with me.

In the past I've made very ambitious goals. I'm going to edit a chapter every three days then do a major revision in a week and have it ready to be sent out in a month. Totally unrealistic, at least for me. I like my sleep too much.

On Friday, I went to get some Vitamin D and the whole time I thought about my book and what would be a realistic goal to get it query ready.

And here's what I came up with.

I've got ten chapters left to revise (some are small edits, lots are total rewrites).

So if my math is correct, and lots of times its not. If I do two chapters a month (including this month), I should finish by June. I'll spend the summer editing, revising, making everything as good as it can be before I send it to betas in September. Hopefully I get it back in a month, make final edits, and have it ready to query in November.

Sorry, you probably weren't interested in all that, but I'm hoping by making it public, I might have a better shot at completing it. At the end of every month, I'll update my progress.

So how about you? Made any realistic goals lately?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Rules of Seven

For some reason when I think of sevens, it reminds of me of how many times we are suppose to forgive someone, so please forgive me for the words that I'm about to show you (sorry self-deprecating moment).

I was tagged by Struggling Writer to go to either page 7 or 77 of my manuscript, count down 7 lines, then copy the next 7 lines into your blog.

So here it goes.

Lind leaned his cane against the railing and lowered himself down beside his brother. “Oliver you take everything so literal. Of course you can tell your family. We’re all Defenders.” Unlike his brothers and father, Oliver refrained from reminding Lind that he was only an Honorary Defender, since there had been extenuating circumstances regarding his last task, circumstances that had resulted in a lost limb and a burnt face. Oliver had never been privy to the details and knew better than to ask.

“Then why didn’t anyone tell me about their tasks?”

“You weren’t a Defender yet. When you complete your task, we can tell you what we had to do.Come 

on Ollie, everyone’s waiting.” He grabbed onto the railing and pulled himself up. 

Sorry, you got an extra line, but I didn't want to leave you hanging.

Actually this exercise got me thinking. So many times, I've flipped a book open and read an excerpt as though reading one paragraph will entice me to buy the book. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

How about you? Do you read a part of the book before deciding to purchase it?

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's back and ready to do some training

It's back and I'm not talking about me, although I have been gone for a while due to illness, but I'm better now. Thanks for asking.

No, I'm talking about Ali Cross and her dojo.

The Writer's Dojo is returning to its roots and invites you to join in on the fun!

To quote Ali:

When I first started the writer's dojo in 2008, I did it as a way to keep the glory of National Novel Writing Month alive all year long. I loved the camaraderie and support I received during the month of November and desired that same feeling of community every month of the year, in every aspect of writing--not just the drafting.

Beginning February 1st, 2013, the writer's dojo returns to its roots and ushers in a new age of ninjawesomeness.

Each month there will be three training rooms at the writer's dojo website. A room for drafters (Writing Month, aka WriMo), a room for revisers (Revising Month, aka ReMo) and a room for those querying (Querying Month, aka QuMo).

Set your own goals, whether it's to write a thousand words a day, revise ten pages a week, or submit twenty queries in a month, and register your goal in the appropriate training room.

Every Monday a leader will be posted for the previous week, and at the end of each month those who met their goal will be able to post the coveted Writing Ninja Warrior badge on their blog or website. And you know accomplish their writing goals.

There will be chats, twitter encouragement, google+, and a newsletter. All in an attempt to help those who are struggling to meet their goals.

I absolutely love this idea. Right now my lack of motivation is at an all time high. The only time I've been writing is to try and meet my once a month in person critique group, which means I'm writing or revising at a snail's pace. This might be just the thing I need to help me cross some stuff off my list.

So if you need a little push, check out Ali's blog for more info. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Be Careful What You Google For...

Today I was writing a scene where my MC gets drunk for the first time, but I don't drink so I don't know how much he would have to consume in order for him to act a certain way, so to google I went and typed in:

How many beers does it take to get drunk?

I found out the information I was looking for and went back to writing. An hour later (okay really it was 20 minutes), I took a break and my husband went on my computer.

A few minutes later he comes into our bedroom and says, "Please tell me you were the one googling about how to get drunk."

We have two teenage boys, so you can imagine the relief on his face when I told him it was me.

So be careful what you google.

How about you? Not that getting drunk is weird, but what is the weirdest thing you've googled?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Deep POV

I have to admit that I don't devour writing craft books. But once in a while one comes a long that really hits home for me.

My friend Stina tuned me into this one (click on the link for her review):

Rivet your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

There are four reasons why I like it.

1.  It gets straight to the point.
2.  It gives you great examples on how to develop a deeper POV.
3.  It gives you worksheets at the end of each chapter.
4.  It's short. So you learn a lot in a short period of time.

I highly recommend this book. I have it on kindle right now, but I'm thinking I might buy a paperback version, because I like flipping through.

Which begs the question.

For craft books do you like a digital copy or a paper copy?

And for another plug don't forget The Emotion Thesaurus by the Bookshelf Muse (Angela and Becca). Always have this one by my computer

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Character Arc

Like I mentioned in my last post, I've been downloading home movies, so I'm catching glimpses of myself from 10 years ago and its been an interesting feeling.

I know its hard from watching yourself, but I don't think I've really changed that much (plus or minus a few pounds). So I started thinking, what has been my character arc for the last ten years. 

Ten years ago...
1. I just had a baby
2. Trying to lose weight
3. Stay at home mom
4. Started writing a book (has it really been that long - ugh)

1. No babies in sight
2. Still trying to lose weight from 10 year old baby
3. Work a part time job
4. Still writing books

Not that different. 

Emotionally I feel the same, at times insecure, at times confident, but always seem to be trying to figure out what to do with my life.

All I can say is that I better not base any of my characters on my life, because that would be a pretty boring book.

And that is why I write fiction. 

What would your character arc be?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year

It was an eventful Christmas holiday for us, full of sickness, cold weather, and a little bit of celebrating. Needless to say, I'm kind of glad its all over and everyone can go back to our normal routine.

Through all of the down time I've been downloading home movies from the last ten years onto my computer. It's been fun watching my now grown teenage sons and wannabe teenage daughter as little babies and kids. They go from learning to walk, to kicking their first ball, to making their first basket. (Yes, my life revolves around sports).

Sometimes we call our manuscripts our kids and get upset when someone asks us to choose our favorite one. Well just like I have three kids, I have three books.

My oldest son is like my first book. Both are almost ready to make their own way in this world.
My second son is like my second book. It's all grown up, but still has a lot of learning to do.
My third book is like my daughter. The ideas are still percolating, many pages still have to be written until we get to the end.

Its funny how protective we get of our books (just like our kids). I'm having a hard time letting both my son and my first book go.

Any advice on how to do either or both?