Back to work!

After a week that consisted primarily of sleep and video games, I feel totally ready to get back out there and conquer the world.

Well, sort of.

Okay, so I'm still a little tired. And intimidated by the sequel and not sure that I can actually pull this off. But this isn't take-a-break kind of blahs. These are the kind of blahs that you have to work through.

So...back to work!

How's your Monday going?

Things that make you go "Whuh?"

Sometimes I take pictures of things I see that make no sense. I was leafing through my phone album and I found these.

 When I first saw this, I read it as "no smoking oxygen." This sign really needs some punctuation.

What is this...I don't even... *shudder*

I stared at this store in Boise for five solid minutes trying to make sense of it. It's a tween girl store. Full of pink and purple clothing and stuffed Angry Birds.

And it's called Justice. With a heart dotting the i. *stares*

I still don't get it.

Sweaters, yes.

Thigh-Highs, maybe

Wearing a sweater and thigh-highs and NOTHING ELSE?

Hell no.

My husband and I found this yesterday. I think it speaks for itself.

Have you seen anything lately that makes no sense?

Dealing with the emotional flu

Sometimes I get depressed.

Not full-scale, sleep-for-days, need-medication depressed. (Though given my family's history of chemical imbalance, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened someday.) This is more of a heavy sad feeling, usually accompanied by a lack of motivation and a tendency to get really discouraged. I'm more sensitive to criticism and my brain is fuzzier. I forget things.

It's REALLY annoying.

found at hyperbole and a half

Being annoyed by your own emotions is not uncommon. (The comic above is an excellent example of this.)  It's like being annoyed when you get sick. You don't want to be sick. You have things to do. But yelling at yourself and charging forward anyway is a strategy guaranteed to just make you sicker.  Especially when you're already tired and worn out.

See, last week was kind of rough.

We got our long awaited and much-needed snow, which was great...except it dumped about two feet in 48 hours, then turned to freezing rain, which stranded our van in the driveway for three days.

picture from a KLEW news story this week
(It's not my van, but you get the idea.)

I had to get to work, so I ended up standing in the parking lot of the business behind us at 4:30 in the morning because the person giving me a ride couldn't get up my street.

I turned in my edits on time, and at first it was all happy dances and relief. But then...I kind of had a reaction. Like eating a huge Thanksgiving meal and then never wanting to eat ever again. I didn't want to write. But I have a sequel to turn in, so I tried to work on it. And the more I tried to work on it, the more tired of the whole thing I got.

And I just got crankier.

When you're physically sick, you need rest. Same goes for the emotional flu. So this week I'm going easy on myself.  No writing, no being productive at home unless I feel like it or it's urgent, like my husband running out of socks. No yelling at myself.  I'm going to go to work and spend time with my husband and pet the cat.

I know this will pass, it always does. Until then, you'll find me on the couch watching Criminal Minds.

Because nothing give you perspective like a show full of serial killers.

How do you deal with the emotional flu?

Winner of autographed LOVE AND LEFTOVERS!!

We have a winner!

Congratulations Carina! Just email me your contact info and I'll get that book to you.

Happy weekend everyone!

Say no to SOPA/PIPPA

Find out more:

Go here:

Go here:  (and stay for the animation...)

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Go here: -------the day LOLCats died...

If you disagree with these bills, contact your representative.

Why I am a reader and why it matters: thoughts on jealousy and the reader/author paradigm.

Yesterday I asked this question over Facebook, Twitter and on the blog.

Do you identify yourself as a writer or a reader? If you had to choose one and leave the other, which would you pick?

The responses were varied. The majority of people who answered classified themselves as readers, some came down VERY definitely on the side of writing, and about a third of my online friends shrieked in horror at the question and refused to answer it at all.

Fair enough.

This is why I asked:

If you've been around the Internet for a while, you've no doubt seen at least one instance of an Author Behaving Badly. Generally this has to do with reviews, or opinions of books that people put up on Goodreads, Amazon and such.  Authors, provoked or not, respond and things explode.

This never ends well for the author. Never.

Yesterday I read a fascinating post by Jane at about the differences between the author's paradigm and the readers' paradigm.  She says a lot of well-thought out things much better than I could, so you should read her post as well.

It occurred to me while I was reading that a lot of my reactions to stories of Authors Behaving Badly comes from the fact that I consider myself a reader first and formost and so my sympathies are usually with the reader.

This might sound weird since I just finished telling you that I've been writing for fourteen years and that I would never give up on that. But it's true. I don't write for self-expression, honestly. I write because I'm in love with stories.

For as long as I can remember, I've told myself stories every night to fall asleep. And they're not set in my worlds, oh no. Over the summer, my bedtime imaginings were all set in the Sherlock universe. This month, it's been mostly Burn Notice. I spin weeks and weeks of Valdemar stories in my head ever time I go on a Mercedes Lackey binge. I love stories. I love to create stories. But more than that, I love to be a part of stories, and that is what makes me a reader first and foremost.

Which leads me to a part of the author/reader paradigm that Jane doesn't touch on, the idea of "it's just jealousy."

"They just want the success I have."
"It's the unpublished writers who are mad at me."
"People should stop being so bitter and envious."

Okay, if you identify as a writer first, I can see how that assumption might make sense. It's possible it comes from the same place as things like "I can't read certain authors because they are too good and make me want to quit." If what you want more than anything is to write and be read, then it stands to reason you would assume everyone wants the same thing.

But as someone who identifies as a reader first and a writer second, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Period.

I am certainly not denying the existence of bitter hateful people on the Internet. Of course not. The Internet is a buzzing, swirling HIVE OF CRAZY in many places, populated by people who you would never want to stand next to at a cocktail party.

But. BUT.

The idea that all people who share their bad opinions are just jealous? The assumption that all readers secretly want to be writers? That is plain and simply wrong.

Let's translate it to television. As mentioned above, I'm a huge Sherlock fangirl. I love that show, as do many others. Like many diehard Holmes fans, my favorite character has always been Irene Adler. In the book, she rules. And when the producer, Stephen Moffat chose to go in an unexpected direction with the character in this season, the Internet exploded.

I read a lot of opinons on the subject. A lot of them. Ranging from "Stephan writes horrible women and clearly hates the female race" to "Stephan did a lot of interesting things with the character and she still rules, but in a more subtle way." Lots of conversation, lots of disagreement.

Not once did I hear anyone respond to someone else's opinion by saying. "You're just jealous that this guy is a producer. You secretly wish you could be a producer and that's why you're so angry."

I did not hear that. Not once.

Do you know why? Because it's a ridiculous statement. I have no desire to produce and write a television show. I don't care how much success Stephan Moffat has. But I care very deeply about the story he's telling. I care about the product he produces and the impact that product has on me and the world around me. And unless I am very much mistaken, the vast majority of readers feel that way too.

I'm not going to pat you on the head and say I know how hard it is to take criticism. I don't know. My book's not even out of copyedits yet. And if you are someone who identifies as a writer, more power to you. But not everyone does.

Readers are not jealous wanna-be writers. Most of them are intelligent people who love stories and want to talk about them, dissect them and offer opinions on them. People who care passionately about how stories are told and how characters are treated. People who want to be a part of the story.

Near the end of her post, Jane says:
I know these are generalizations and do not apply to every author and reader. There are well-balanced, respectful authors who value the role of critical debate about their books. And there are poorly-behaved readers who make thoughtless comments about books and authors. But over the years, these generalizations continue to return in the author-reader dynamic, especially as the community grapples with the growth of reader-generated criticism. 
But one constant remains: book reviews are not the same as a workplace performance evaluation. They are not even meant for authors. Reviews are for readers. This needs to be our mantra.
Whether or not reviews are for readers only can be debated--though I agree with Jane here--but what needs to be remembered is that readers and writers are not the same kinds of people and they often approach stories in completely different ways. And in the end, readers and writers are both people who love books. That alone should make us allies, not enemies.

What do you think?

Monday Question: writer or reader?

So for some reason, I just plain forgot that I hadn't blogged yet today. I kept thinking "I need to blog. Wait. I already did that." 

Except I hadn't. 

So instead of a post you get a question, one I've become increasingly curious about. 

Do you identify yourself as a writer or a reader? If you had to choose one and leave the other, which would you pick?

Sunday Song

In honor of all the people I know who are editing, drafting, or trying to keep their New Year's resolutions, I present one of my favorite songs.

All Will Be Well
by The Gabe Dixon Band

I tried to find a video without an ad, but sadly no dice. Sorry about that.

The new day dawns,
And I am practicing my purpose once again.
It is fresh and it is fruitful if I win but if I lose,
Oooo I don't know.
I will be tired but I will turn and I will go,
Only guessing til I get there then I'll know,
Oh oh oh I will know.

All the children walking home past the factories
Could see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you.
All the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates
Illuminating what I know is true,

All will be well.
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself,
All will be well.
You can ask me how but only time will tell.

The winter's cold,
But the snow still lightly settles on the trees.
And a mess is still a moment I can seize until I know,
That all will be well.
Even though sometimes this is hard to tell,
And the fight is just as frustrating as hell
All will be well.

All the children walking home past the factories,
Could see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you.
All the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates
Illuminating what I know is true

All will be well.
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well.
You can ask me how but only time will tell.

Keep it up and don't give up
And chase your dreams and you will find
All in time.

All the children walking home past the factories
Could see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you.
All the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates
Illuminating what I know is true,

All will be well.
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself,
All will be well.
You can ask me how but only time will tell.

My journey (or, there's always more to the story than you know.)

Elana Johnson has a great post up on her blog this morning about the four years it took her to become published and the milestones along the way. One of the things she points out is that everyone's journey is different, which is one of the truest things you can ever say about the publishing business. Everyone gets there a different way, and there's no better example of that than me.

To illustrate, I thought I'd share some of the journey so far:

1997: I'm a sophomore in high school, with minimal social skills and an addiction to books. I start writing a novel based on the computer game I'm playing.

1998: My English teacher and I start a writing club. I write a really horrible poem about Christmas trees and change my novel's beginning three times.

1999: The year I graduate, my teacher finds me some information on the Institute of Children's Literature, a mail-order class operating out of Connecticut. They have a test/writing sample that you have to complete and send in. I do and immediately they write back saying I'm eligible. But I don't have the money, so I ignore them. I continue to get letters from them about once a year reminding me that I have applied and been accepted and I show talent.

2000: I start my novel over. Also, I learn to play guitar and decide I want to do music as a career. It doesn't work out.

2002: I decide that being a writer is what I want to do, and I finally sign up for a class from the Institute. My family has been telling me since high school that I was meant to be a writer, and they enjoy saying "I told you so." I work on finishing my novel from high school and then rewriting it.

2003: I know nothing about publishing--other than what I've learned in market guides--and I don't use the Internet a lot so I start querying my high school novel by snail mail. (To all the big publishing houses, of course.) Form rejections pour in. Discouraged, I switch to short story and article writing, and take a class in that. I don't sell anything, but I get very close several times.  I keep writing.

2007: I sit down in a coffee shop with a notebook (since I don't have a laptop) and start writing my second book, about an estate where girls are groomed for all kinds of different fates. I call it The House of a Thousand Dolls. I draft it longhand and then revise as I type it in.

2008: I write the last sentence of Dolls and start a blog that same night.  Six months later, after diving into the online writing community, I figure out what agents do and decide I want one.  Also in 2008, I join a critique group for the first time.

2009: I start querying agents about The House of a Thousand Dolls. I get a few partial requests but nothing pans out. I make online friends and study everything I can about querying agents. And I start writing my third book, about a girl who dies and comes back as a cat.

2010: I write my fourth book, a middle grade about dragons in Alaska. I keep querying Dolls, and at last get a phone call from an agent, who ends up passing on the book. But he wanted to see my next book, so I shelve Dolls and get to work on the cat book instead. The cat book brings me mostly form rejections, and two full requests. I write another book, a thriller set on a cruise ship. At some point, I go back and completely rewrite Dolls, but I keep querying the cat book. No dice.

2011: Deeply discouraged, I send out one query for Dolls to Jenn Laughran, just so I can feel like I'm moving forward. I don't expect much, but in a hilarious twist of fate, she loves it. And then she finds an editor who loves it too. I call my mother, who screams so loudly you can hear it across the room. The rest of 2011 is taken up with sporadic happy dances, writing another middle-grade and more edits than I've ever seen in my life.

Which brings us to today.

If you only saw the public parts of this story, it would be a story about how, in the span of five months, I went from hopeful querier to agented author with a two-book deal. If you focused only on the book I sold, then the process took four years from first draft to book deal.

But the reality is, the story is much, much longer than that. From the time I first started pursuing publication until now, it took almost ten years. From the time I first thought, "I like this world, I should write a book about it," it took fourteen.

Five months
Four years
Ten years
Fourteen years

It's all in how you tell the story. And I guarantee you, for every "overnight" success you see, there is more to the story than you know. More work. More rejection. More failure. Heck, there are parts of my story that aren't in here, or that I can't talk about for various reasons.

Elana asked this question at the end of her post: "Do you have a time frame for how long you'll stick with this before you re-evaluate your writing career?"

For me the answer is yes and no. I'm always re-evaluating, trying new things, reaching out in new directions. But if you're talking about whether or not I would give up on writing after a set period of time, well...

That answer
has always

How long have you been writing or pursuing publication? Do you have a timeframe in mind? Would you ever give up?

Win an autographed copy of LOVE AND LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay!

(I'm blogging from my ipad, just to see if it works. *experiments* *fiddles*)

 Anyway, I have a great giveaway today. As I mentioned yesterday, I got to fly down to Boise last week to celebrate Sarah's book launch. And I picked up two autographed copies, one for me and one for you!

 *hits blogging snag*

(Hmmm... looks like I can't add a picture of the book unless I already have it in my album. TO THE LAPTOP!)

Here's the blurb from Goodreads:

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

This book is awesome, and I'm not just saying that because I critiqued it. *grin* It's full of giggly and serious moments, and is a lovely light read for fans of novels-in-verse.

And one of you can win it! All you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment.

You can get an extra entries by tweeting about the contest, or facebooking, blogging, etc. Just leave a link! And international entries are welcome.

The contest ends midnight, Monday the 16th.

What's your favorite novel-in-verse?

Another year, another list of random things and exclamation points.

Some updates!


Seriously, this round almost killed me. I hit a snag and....well, I'll share a bit more later, but it was hard. Fortunately my editor and agent are both awesome so I made it through with my sanity intact. What there is of it. (ha)

So what now? Well, either we'll do one more quick polish round and turn it in for copyedits, or my editor will decide it's done now and turn it in for copyedits. Or she'll decide she hates all of my new solutions and I'll have to brain myself with my new ipad.


It was a surprise from my husband because my Alphasmart, which I love and cherish, is having a lot of problems and won't talk to either of our computers very well anymore. So he bought me an ipad and a keyboard so I could first draft on it. Also he put this on the back:

Yes, I got teary. Shut up.

In other news...


The other awesome Christmas present I got this year was from my father, who is a fellow nerd and thought I could use it for research.

The Complete National Geographic

It's AMAZING. I have up to 2009, but I can get a CD with 2010 on it for about ten bucks. I spent a good two hours of the car trip from Boise to Moscow looking up the Atacama desert in Chile, which is the setting for my Shiny New Book Idea. I took a ton of notes, it was very cool.

Speaking of Boise....


Sarah Tregay is one of my old critique partners from Boise, and her book Love and Leftovers just came out.

It's extra awesome to be able to celebrate the release of a book you actually helped critique and I was so happy for her. It was a great time. I went down for the launch, and--as per my usual way--got a signed book for me, and one to give away! I also got a couple of other books I'd been eyeing. So there will be more contests coming up soon,.

So that's my last few weeks.  Now I'm going to slow down a little, change gears and take advantage of this breathing space.

How have you been? Any exclamation points in your life lately?

New books I read in 2011!

Once again, it's graph-and-widget time, where I break down what I read last year. Today is new books!

These are all the new-to-me books that I read in 2011.

New Books of 2011!

Anna and the French Kiss
You Wish
Zombies Vs. Unicorns
The Ring of Solomon
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Across the Universe
Grip of the Shadow Plague
Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
Keys to the Demon Prison
The Outstretched Shadow: Obsidian Series, Book 1
When Darkness Falls
To Light a Candle: Obsidian Series, Book 2
Still Sucks to Be Me: More All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton Smith, Teen Vampire
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Thirteen Reasons Why

Miriam's favorite books »

They were all pretty stinking awesome.

What are new books you read last year that you enjoyed?


Let's kick off the new year  with a winner!

The winner of Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore is....


Diane, just email me with your contact information and I'll mail you the book.

Thanks for all the entries guys! You made all these contests so much fun!
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.