Monday, January 18, 2010

ALA Awards announced this Morning

FYI: ALA Awards were announced this morning. Here's the link: ALA AWARDS

Congrats to all the winners!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Checking In...

Hey all, I haven't forgotten you! It's the end of the semester, so once again my attention has turned to grade cards, conferences, and written education plans. I'll be back in a week!

Keep Writing!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Bish over at Random Thoughts tagged me just before we left on vacation with a bunch of writerly questions. Bish, forgive me for taking so long to answer! Here goes:

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have? I was all about music and dance when I was younger, so I really only have writing samples from the last six years. The last thing I wrote was a revision of chapter 18.

2. Write poetry? Once. It’s a parody of the Night Before Christmas.

3. Angsty poetry? Nope.

4. Favorite genre of writing? MG and YA Fantasy!!!

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created? The main character in my first novel was ridiculously perfect. Never wrong. Never in trouble. Things always worked out for her. Not any more. Bring it on!!!

6. Best plot you’ve ever created? I’m rather pleased with my novel that I’m getting ready to submit.

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created? It’s on page 201.

8. How often do you get writer’s block? Not too often. When I do, I either work ahead or go back and revise until the muse returns.

9. Write fan fiction? No, too busy with my own ideas.

10. Do you type or write by hand? Type! I would never write if I had to do it long hand.

11. Do you save everything you write? Yes, because I have found that what looks brilliant one night might seem pretty dull the next. I save every draft on hard drive, flash drive, and internet.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it? Yes. I’ve got a YA novel that I’d like to get back to once I finish the synopsis for another book.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written? My current novel!

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve written? My critique partners also like my current novel.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? No, but it’s on the short list.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters? I like settings that are in some way unfamiliar to the character, or maybe something new about a familiar environment that causes major problems for the protagonist.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now? Three. One that’s ready to submit, one that I’m getting ready to fast-draft, and one that’s percolating. I’m keeping an idea file for that one.

18. Have you ever won award for your writing? No.

19. What are your five favorite words? Chocolate, iridescent, pumpernickel, calamitous, payday…

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself? I don’t know. I think they all have a few of my qualitites -good and bad.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters? I’m a people watcher!

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams? No, I never remember my dreams.

23. Do you favor happy endings? Not necessarily. I like a satisfying conclusion to a story, problem solved and all that, but I don’t require everything to work out perfectly for the protagonist.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Yes, and it really gets in my way. I actually put a towel over the monitor once so I couldn’t think about it.

25. Does music help you write? Absolutely not. Read this post.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head. I like this description from a chapter in my novel:

It was that bad. The first day was miserable. They traveled no farther than fifty feet into the swamp when the number of mosquitoes multiplied exponentially. Although the bloodsuckers never landed to take a bite, Felisa’s stinky repellent saw to that, they whizzed and whined in annoying masses around Charley’s face and ears. She longed to voice her opinion about the sanity of traveling through the swamp, but the fear of inhaling mosquitoes by the dozens helped her keep complaints to herself.

And now I tag Brenda - who's been M.I.A. We've missed you! And Chocolateer, who has been angsting about her writing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Jungle Adventure

My daughter and I decided to live dangerously today and shop in the Jungle.

A mere 15 minutes north of my home in Fairfield, Ohio is a place called Jungle Jim's International Market. It's an incredible grocery shopping experience, and yes, it's dangerous. If I don't walk in the door with a specific list of items, I can easily rack up a $300+ grocery bill. Why? Because everything you can think of is in that store. Everything. I try not to go unless I need something I know I can't get anywhere else.

Need a 10 pound prickly fruit from Thailand? They've got it. Got a hankering for sugar cane - still in the cane? It's there. Need dried sardines for that Asian dish you want to make? Yup. They've got that too. The sardines made my daughter laugh. They were in large plastic see-through bags. They still had their eyes, and the drying process made their ribs stick out.

The first thing we saw was fresh sushi from the onsite cooking school. Beautiful presentations, but I don't think I could eat it. The olive bar and salsa bar is located near the cheese shoppe. They have over 1200 kinds of hard to find cheeses from countries all over the world. They purchase huge wheels of cheese. It's quite a sight.

Right next to the cheese shoppe is the wine cellar with more than 12,000 wine labels from around the world. They have tasting events and an annual International Wine Festival too.

One of the things I like about their deli department is the huge selection of meats that are free of antibiotics, gluten, casein and growth hormones. My family and I have food allergies and preservative allergies. Cooking for everyone can sometimes be a challenge. There are things I'd rather not see in the deli too. Like the whole hog's head at the end of the meat counter, the purple cow's tongue, and the pig's intestines. Ew -to each their own.

The produce department is one full acre. Nuf said.

The absolute most dangerous part of the entire trip is the trek through the bakery. It's a full-line bakery. They make every kind of product you can imagine, and the SMELL is heavenly! The cakes and pastries are beautiful. They bake all kinds of old world breads. Daughter and I made it out of there with a fresh baguette for our spaghetti dinner tonight, and a bacon-cheddar pretzel roll that never made it home...

Daughter's favorite part of the trip is the 1000 gallon tank of live fish, lobsters, and crabs. Love seafood? Live, fresh, smoked, canned, frozen, dried... it's there.

My favorite part of the market is the back half of the store. It's divided into regions including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. They have over 50,000 imported grocery items from more than 75 countries and regions around the world. It reminded me somewhat of our recent trip to Disney World (a future blog topic), because in every isle you traveled a different language was spoken. The International Market is one of the reasons Daughter and I went to Jungle Jim's. She has a school project about Denmark, and she needed an item to share. I was a little worried when we got to the Scandinavian section. It was mostly full of Swedish products, but we did find something from Denmark. A fish sauce.

I love going to Jungle Jim's, and I almost always find whatever I need. If you come to the Cincinnati area, you should check it out. It's worth the visit!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolution Time and Book list

New Year's tradition requires reflection upon the good intentions of last year's resolutions and the making of new goals. I was a bit leery of revisiting last year's resolutions, especially since I couldn't remember what they were. I had to look them up (shame)... so, here goes:

1) I will write six days a week - no excuses. (No excuses! Hahahahahahahaha! I did manage to write 4-5 days a week.)

2) I will continually seek to improve my writing skills by writing, attending a monthly critique group, attending at least one writer's conference, reading lots of MG and YA literature, and reading books on the craft of writing. (Success! I did all of these, and I attended three writer's conferences - all well worth the cost)

3) I will actively seek agent representation (I did this at the beginning of the year and received some helpful feedback from several agents- no offers though. So I quit submitting and began rewriting. I'm ready to submit again)

4) I will write a synopsis for a sequel to the book I just finished writing. (Nope - but I started on it just before Christmas. It's first on the list this year)

5) I will finish writing the MG novel I began during NaNoWriMo. (No. I'm not even interested in it anymore!)


1) I will minimize writing distractions.
*I'm thinking about getting a netbook so I can go work in a library cubical or a coffee shop. They're pretty affordable these days. Trying to write at the house is difficult. There are too many interruptions, and I feel guilty writing when I "should" be cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, etc. Funny... I never feel guilty about spending time on facebook or Verlakay.

It does no good to write and leave it sit on the shelf...

3) I will actively seek agent representation (again).
I suppose this is goal number 2 restated.

4) I will become more organized in the way I approach writing a Novel.
I mean this! I wrote the last novel by the seat of my pants. I had the plot in my head, and I believe it came together the way it should, but I think the process would go so much faster if I made my right brain listen to my left brain and outline first. I'm going to let the left brain file first, and then the right brain can pile it on!

That's it. I'm keeping it simple this year. I wish all of you the best 2010 has to offer! Happy New Year!

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening, L.J. Smith
Blue Moon, Alyson Noel
The Demon King, Cinda Williams Chima
Sarah Bishop, Scott O'Dell
Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennon
Evermore, Alyson Noel
Bewitching Season, Marissa Doyle
The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud
The Lightening Thief, Rick Riorden
Shift, Charlotte Agell
Save the Cat!, Blake Snyder
Austenland, Shannon Hale
The Last Olympian, Rick Riodan
Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, Brandon Mull
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Demigod Files, Rick Riordan
Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr
What the Dickens, Gregory Maguire
The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deep Woods, Stewart/Riddell
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village, Laura Amy Schlitz
Catherine Called Birdy, Karen Cushman
The Midwife's Apprentice, Karen Cushman
The Book of Time, Guillaume Prevost
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
The People of Sparks, Jeanne DuPrau
The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau
Gregor and the Code of Claw, Suzanne Collins