Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, I've thoroughly enjoyed my nice week off from work. I actually can't believe it's already coming to an end, but it is what it is. I had a wonderful holiday this year as usual; my family generally spoils each other and this year was no exception. I have SO MANY books to read, you guys. I think I got around 12 books. Maybe more. This is perfect for the hibernation season that is upon us now. January and February are such awful months. I avoid leaving the house at all costs as much as possible. Staying snuggled up on the couch under cats and blankets with a pile of books, some snacks, and some hot tea (or wine, as the case may be) is the perfect way to get through the miserable winter months.

Anyway, it being New Year's Eve and all, I thought I would share some resolutions. Of course, I very rarely keep them, so I very rarely bother to make them. But I'm really hoping that my dream comes true in 2011. The dream of someone telling me they like what I wrote and they want to help me get it published. So obviously, this is my main goal for the year. If all else fails, and I don't get any bites on my manuscript, then I vow to start another, better book and keep going at it. I have plenty of ideas in my head to keep plugging away writing for a looooong time. Someday, I will make it happen. But for now, my fingers are staying crossed for 2011being my year.

My other resolutions are the same as always- work out more, stop spending so much money I don't have (this will probably never happen, but at least I can say I'm making an effort...sorta), stop worrying about the small things so much. Try to appreciate all that I have, which quite honestly is a damn lot. Cherish my friends and family, never take anyone for granted.

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's to a fabulous 2011!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

holiday craziness

Whew. I feel like I've been running totally nonstop since last week, and it's really starting to wear on me a bit. For over a week now I've been scrambling to finish shopping, bake cookies, wrap presents, have a social life, go to Christmas parties, etc. Oh, and eat. I've been eating a ton of delicious food. I'm happy to say that as of this past weekend, my shopping and wrapping are DONE. Our living/dining room is filled with pretty sparkly presents everywhere. Yay. Still none under the tree for me though...ahem. I do need to bake another batch of M&M cookies, because somehow those seem to have disappeared.

Anyway, I'm totes excited for this coming weekend. Christmas Eve is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. We always spend the day at my Gramma's house, eating her fabulous Lake Erie perch and homemade pierogies. And her mushroom soup- I'm not a huge soup fan, but I make an exception for this stuff. It's definitely my favorite meal of the year, even topping Thanksgiving. We stuff ourselves silly, do our gift exchange, and generally just enjoy hanging out with each other. Afterwards, Dan and I go home and open our gifts to each other before heading out to the east side. We started a new tradition about five years ago- we go out there in the evening, hang with my brother and seeester in law, order Chinese food & watch Christmas Vacation (which, I might add, we haven't watched yet this holiday season...what's up with that??). Christmas morning is spent at my parent's house, opening gifts and making breakfast, then we head to Dan's mom's for the rest of the day. It's definitely a crazy time, but I wouldn't change anything about it.

Sometimes I find myself getting a little sad though. My wonderful, awesome, hilarious Grampa passed away on December 22nd back in 1997. I honestly can't believe it's been that long, and ohhh how I wish Dan had gotten to meet him. Then about five years ago or so, my sweet Grandma O passed away around this time as well. I was her "little mouse", and it's one of my biggest regrets that I missed visiting her in the hospital before she passed. I remember when I was really little, every Christmas she would give me an ornament right off her tree, and I have those ornaments on my tree today. I miss them so much, but it really makes me cherish the moments I have left with my last Gramma. She amazes me with everything she still does at age 84.

So here's to another crazy busy week and good times with family and dear friends ahead. Remember what this season is truly about. It's so easy to get lost in all the materialistic aspects of Christmas at times, but it's truly about showing the people who mean the most to you how much you care about them.

Well, and eating lots of good food, too. ;o)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Tis the Season...

Whoa, so it's been over a week since I've posted anything here...sorry, you guys. Work has been a little crazy and so has, well, everything else.

The holiday season is officially upon us, and I generally do love this time of year. I love shopping (obvs), I love twinkling Christmas lights, baking cookies, spending time with friends and family, etc. I'm not a huge fan of snow, however, and we've been getting hit with it for a good three days now. Um...and only four more months of this?? Joy. Someone remind me why I live in a cold climate. Seasons, schmeasons...I could totally do without winter.

Anyway, last Friday I was off work and spent the whole day Christmas shopping with my mom and sis in law. I'd say I'm about 75% done. I need to revise my lists and make sure I know what's left to get and where I need to go, because Dan and I are heading back out on Friday afternoon and I plan on totally finishing up. I love lists, too, by the way. I have my Christmas lists down to a science, and this year I also have an app on my phone that keeps track of what I've bought and how much I've spent per person. Brilliant! One would think I'd feel super organized and in control of everything...but um, I really don't. For some reason this year I feel totally scatterbrained about what I've bought and still need to get. It's bizarre. I think once I make my new list I'll feel a little better, though. I hope.

After shopping this Friday I'm hoping to start wrapping stuff too. Our tilty tree looks so lonely with no sparkly presents underneath it! I love wrapping presents. I love pretty shiny paper and big giant bows. I'm a total nerd about wrapping (like so many things, really). I hate gift bags and only use them when something is totally odd-shaped and won't fit in a box. Then Saturday is baking day with Karyn! She's coming over and I plan on making four types of cookies this year - peanut butter blossoms, m&m cookies, chocolate chip & gingerbread. I'm cheating with the gingerbread and using a mix, because the mix I found is DELICIOUS. Everything else is from scratch though.

So with everything going on this busy time of year, my poor manuscript has been collecting dust a little bit on my jump drive. I've been trying to work on revisions whenever I can, but as I mentioned before it's terribly slow-going. I think I'm only through about 3 and a half chapters so far. But I'm liking where it's going. I've been taking out stuff that bothered me, switching more things around, and adding stuff based on the feedback I got. I'm still hoping to have the first round of revisions done before Christmas...but if not, I do at least have the week between Christmas and New Year's off, so I'll have some good quality time to work on it.

I'll try to post some pics up here sometime of our tree and stuff...if I ever have a spare moment again...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Git 'Er Done

I've never been much of a procrastinator. Back in school, I generally raced to get assignments done so that I could move on to more important things, like hang out and drink coffee with friends. I hated putting stuff off til the last minute and never, ever pulled an all-nighter to study or complete a paper. At any job I've ever had, if there's work to be done, I just get it done. End of story. I'd much rather be busy than sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

Let's be honest though. There are always those projects that I dread, that are mind-numbing or have no real deadline. Those are the ones I do, in fact, put off for a while.

So after another week off from In My Mind's Eye, last night I finally worked on revisions for over two hours. I just barely got through the first three chapters. And after looking back at some of my feedback, I realized there's still some more tweaking to do on those chapters. It's a much longer process than I ever dreamed it would be. As I mentioned before, I already completely changed the beginning, but last night I moved even a few more things around. I have a document started of the pieces I've been removing, and my original intention was to put those pieces back in somewhere else. Now I'm thinking the story might be ok without them. Ahhh, decisions.

I really, really want to get this completed and have the best manuscript I can possibly write in my paws before I start querying agents (and want this to happen by the end of January at the latest). I think I'm just starting to be afraid that I'll never be done revising, that there are always going to be more things I think I should change or move around. Like, when does it end? How will I know I'm really, truly done? Every time I think a chapter is complete, I decide to change it again. Is this going to happen with each and every chapter? Every time I open the story, I'm going to want to change more stuff?? Ugh. It's stressing me out just thinking about it.

I don't feel like I'm procrastinating about getting the revisions done, I just feel like I need more time to do them. Like, twelve straight hours of uninterrupted time to sit and read and fix things. And I will never get that much time all at once. Certainly not at this time of year.

But I know I'll get it done, eventually. Last night I was reading through my Twitter feed, and I follow a handful of YA authors. All of them seem to know each other. They respond to each other's tweets and offer encouragement and praise for each other's novels. I want to be a part of that community. More than anything I've ever wanted before.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ding Ding! Round 1!

One of my editors finished reading In My Mind's Eye already and provided me with some really good feedback. Basically she said the beginning definitely needs to be reworked because it doesn't have the same feel or rhythm as the rest of the book. This was no big surprise, as I couldn't agree more. So. Back to the drawing board.

The last time I tried to rewrite the beginning, I basically took what I already had and removed some paragraphs, rearranged some stuff, and then added a bit back in. It didn't work. It was still too...I don't know, wordy. I stared at it for a good two hours before finally just giving up. I think having a good week or so away from the story helped immensely. This time, I opened a brand new word document and just started the beginning completely fresh.

And guess what? It is SO MUCH BETTER.

I left the opening two paragraphs as is, which may or may not end up becoming a short preface. But the new beginning FINALLY flows right into the story, without a crapload of character description and background info. I think I'm finally getting there. I think readers won't get bored within the first five pages anymore, getting bogged down with so much info right off the bat. I think they'll now be curious to find out more...they might be scratching their heads a little until they get to the part where I explain why Sophie is the way she is. Which will still be towards the beginning, it just won't open with it anymore. But having some incentive to keep reading is a good thing, yes?

Hallefreakinglujah, you guys. I feel like this has been a major breakthrough. And I've only gotten one person's feedback so far! By the time I get everyone else's, I'll definitely have a bestselling novel on my hands. Er...right?

Anyway. It's Friday and I have a lovely low key weekend with the husband in front of me. It's the calm before the storm that is the insanity of the holiday season. I'll be pretty much booked every weekend through New Year's after this, so I'm planning on enjoying my down time! Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The title of this blog is completely stolen from my favorite website, Forever Young Adult. It means The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome. The main symptom I experienced yesterday (and there are several, you'll have to go to their website for the full definition) was "After finishing the final sentence, you stare at the last page for at least two minutes. An irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath are common side effects during this stage."

I experienced this not once, but twice yesterday. First, when I finished The Hunger Games at lunchtime. I know some of you have already read it, but holy crap, you guys. Must. Read. More. I'm totally going to go out & get the other two in the series this week. Then, last night, because I'm taking a break from my own book while my editors are reading it, I decided to start another little YA novel called Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr. Yea, I got totally sucked in and read the whole thing in about three hours, finishing it right before I went to bed (and completely ignoring my poor husband in the process- sorry, babe). I just could not put it down!

I don't want to get into too many details about it, but it's one of those books that really inspired me. I was a little bummed out by the ending (mainly because I'm a sucker for happy endings- and while this was basically happy, it still wasn't exactly what I wanted to happen). It was about the special childhood friendship between a girl and a boy who were both basically outcasts, teased and tormented every day at their school. Boy moves away, leaving girl to fend for herself, and she totally reinvents herself after a few years and a new school. Boy returns several years later and her past slaps her in the face- all the things she's tried so hard to forget come rushing back in.

I've often thought about writing a book about my experiences being bullied in grade school & then again in junior high. To be honest, I've blocked a lot of it out. I only remember that a few select kids decided just to not like me one day, and they made my life a living hell. I think that's why this book touched me so much. It's not something I really ever talk about- in fact, even writing it here is extremely difficult. I know a lot of kids go through this stuff and survive and turn out to be pretty awesome people. Some don't. I believe there were about four suicides at my old high school due to bullying over the past year or so. The reactions former classmates had to these suicides were somewhat interesting- a lot of people "can't remember high school being that bad". Um, yea, because you weren't on the receiving end of the bullying. But can be so ruthless. I can still recall the terror of stepping on to the bus in the morning, waiting for the relentless name calling to begin. The feeling of being so, so alone, without anyone to sit with at lunchtime. I didn't have a Cameron Quick for even a little while like Jennifer did in the story. I'd like to think that going through all that still made me a stronger person, but I'm not really sure that's true.

I am so, so blessed today to have an amazing group of friends, some of them still from high school. I would do anything for any one of them. I'm so blessed that after a few awful failed relationships, my heart was able to heal and I finally found my husband, my other half. The stuff I went through as a kid sometimes seems like ancient history, other times, when I'm feeling especially insecure, it's like it's still just simmering under the surface of my skin. Like Jennifer in the book, a lot of times I push all the bad memories away and struggle to appear confident and in control.

I didn't mean to get all heavy in this blog...but I do love when a book affects me like this. Regardless of whatever bad stuff it brought up, feeling inspired is always a good thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Outta my hands

Well, my manuscript is now officially in the paws of my editors, along with a list of questions/concerns I have about the story. A part of me can't wait to get their feedback, and the other part of me is totally nervous that they're all going to think it's a piece of crap and I should scrap the whole thing. I just hope they'll be gentle. This is my baby, my first ever finished novel. Even if it ends up going nowhere, I'm always going to have a special place in my heart for this story and the characters. what? It's weird to not have it to work on for a while. So much of my time lately has been devoted to just finishing the damn thing, and then I spent about another week or so revising. But it's time for me to take a step away. I've been so involved with the story that I've been going through major insecurity issues over it again, comparing it to some of the other YA stuff I've been reading and thinking it'll never measure up. Sigh. I definitely think it has potential, but it needs a lot of polishing. Like, a lot.

So even though I'll have another round or two of revisions to do after I get feedback, I think for now I'm going to start creating my agent list. I've been bookmarking agent sites here and there as I steal names from the acknowledgements of the YA books I've been reading. I'm gonna nerd all out and make a nice Excel spreadsheet though to help me keep track of where I'm sending it and stuff. And I'll keep working on my query letter, which I will most likely end up posting here for feedback at some point.

I still have a ton of ideas for more stories too. As I mentioned before, I'm feeling a sequel to In My Mind's Eye...and I also have another little story I started long ago that I'd like to continue. They say practice makes perfect, and I'll never get tired of writing. Even if I suck at it and end up writing just for myself and anyone I can bribe into reading it, I'll keep at it.

Happy weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comments, anyone?

Real quick- some of you mentioned that you couldn't post comments on this here blog. I think I fixed that. I always welcome feedback, so please, comment away!

Or, of course, feel free to continue to be a silent reader lurking out there.

I'll have a post later this week...nothing new to report at this time. I'm still plugging away on revisions so I can get my first draft out to my editors before the end of this week. That's my deadline- you editors (and you know who you are) will receive copies by Friday at the latest. Even if I have to stay up super late tomorrow night & Wednesday night to get the revisions done.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Revising is hard, mmmkay?

I've been sick for a few days, so I haven't really had the desire to pick up my manuscript and start making those much-needed revisions. I finally had a chance last night to sit down and start to look at the beginning of my story and try to figure out where I'm going to move some of the descriptive parts I feel don't need to be at the very beginning. I'd rather get right into the story and give background stuff later.

Wow. It was hard, you guys.

I opened a separate Word document and copied and pasted the sections I want to move over to that, then tried to basically start the beginning where I wanted it to start- with Sophie, present day, the day she sees Brody for the first time at school. But then I went and added back in a little bit of the background stuff- I still think it's important to know right off the bat that she didn't have the most normal childhood. It's vital to understanding why she is the way she is, why her friendship with Jenna is so strong. There's a fine line, I think, between getting right into the meat of the story but making sure readers know who Sophie is first.

I think I'm struggling so much because I just really, really want readers to feel compelled to keep reading after the first two pages. Plus, when you're querying, most agents will ask for either the first chapter or only the first 5-10 pages along with your query letter. This means those first few pages need to be amazing.

And I know this is the first draft of the first completed novel I've ever written. It's going to need work. And while I think it's a good effort, when I compare it to other YA books I've been reading I'm not sure it's anywhere near as good as those. I really sit and wonder how a reader will think mine measures up to the Meg Cabots and Sarah Dessens of the YA world. I'm proud of what I've already accomplished just by finishing it, but I definitely still have my moments of insecurity and doubt.

As I mentioned before, I can't wait to get feedback on it from my "editors". I actually plan on coming up with a list of questions for them before they read it, things that might be nagging on me a little bit to get their thoughts about it.

But for now, I still need a few more days to plug away at the first chapter. Sigh. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let the Revisions Begin!

OMG. My first draft is DONE. COMPLETE. FINISHED. What a bittersweet feeling, for reals.

I can't believe how close I actually ended up to my original word count goal. As of right now, before I rework the beginning and do the other 972 revisions that will undoubtably be needed, I am at 376 double-spaced pages set in Courier New font, and a total of 79,630 words. My goal was 80,000 words sooo...yea, scarily close.

I know it needs work. I know it. And I can't wait to redo the beginning and let my "editors" take it from there after that's fixed. Of course, I'll be starting the revision process myself on the rest of it, but I'm so very curious to get feedback on it. I've been thinking about posting my query letter here too, and get some feedback on that from, well, whoever wants to give it. My next goal is to start querying process in January 2011. Let's start the new year off with a book deal, right? RIGHT?

So, it's Friday night, I'm sitting on the couch with a cat curled up next to me, catching up on Days of our Lives (oh, how I giggle at this show) until it's time for the season premiere of What Not to Wear. Since I've been battling a sore throat all week, I'm being lame tonight in order to try to rest up for the big Halloween bash tomorrow night. Ok really, I enjoy a lame Friday night here and there. Have I mentioned I'm old?

OH- and before I go, I just wanted to share my new favorite website in the WHOLE FREAKING WORLD. The girls that write for this site are nothing short of pure comedic genuises. If you're a fan of the young adult book/tv world, you MUST CHECK THIS OUT. Now, right now! Even if you're not, just read some of their reviews- they'll make you want to go out and buy all these books ASAP. My Goodreads list is out of control thanks to them. I promise if nothing else, the hilarious recaps of Sweet Valley High will have you spitting out whatever food or drink you might be consuming.

Forever Young Adult

Happy Friday & Halloween! Hope everyone has a spooktacular weekend!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The costume catastrophe

So, we have a big Halloween party coming up this weekend, and Dan and I finally had some time to go out looking for costumes this past Saturday. Hoooo boy, you guys. I struck out big time.

I've always had pretty good costumes. Ok, well, the years I've had parties to go to, I usually have no problem coming up with something somewhat original and/or creative. Until last year, I had never gotten a store-bought costume (and that one I actually borrowed from a friend- a super cute "beer girl" outfit, thanks Shell!). One year I was the Britney Spears circa "Baby One More Time" (it was the year this video came out, mind you...doing Britney now is just a little, well, sad). I had that entire costume DOWN- from the fuzzy pink hair ties to the black suede loafers. It was perfection. Another year I was an 80s prom queen. Picture a lovely baby pink satin & white lace assymetrical dress, complete with blue eye shadow, big hair, and lacy fingerless gloves. There was my 50s housewife costume, an adorable blue poofy dress I wore one of my gram's aprons with and carried around a martini glass and a feather duster. My last "good" costume, in which I won Most Original Costume at our work party, was my "cast-off bachelorette" costume. I wore a fancy black dress, taped bloody gauze around my wrists, smeared my eye makeup and carried around a dead rose. Again, perfection.

Where has my creativity gone?? This past weekend we went to three different Halloween stores to look at costumes, and absolutely nothing struck me as something I'd want to wear. Everything for girls is soooo ridiculously slutty. And I realize that Halloween is one of the days where girls get an excuse to show some skin, but come on. Slutty Big Bird?? Really?? Not to mention the costumes I tried on, which all cost between $40-60, were all complete pieces of trash. They fit awful, were see-through, scratchy, uncomfortable, etc. I was finally able to pick up the costume I originally saw at Target, which is cute but nothing spectacular. At least it seems somewhat well-made.

Next year, I am vowing to do something on my own again. Which means I'll have to start brainstorming in like August, apparently. Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'll be chasing that starlight...

Ok. So. I've been meaning to write a recap of the Muse show all week, but it's been a little crazy. Um, yea, that's a lie actually. I could've written it on Wednesday when I was off work, but I had more important things to do, like lay on the couch and get caught up on my DVR'ed Days of Our Lives. And nap.

Anyway, so Debbie and I made it down to Columbus with no problems at all. We didn't even hit any rush hour traffic. We drove up and down High Street for a few minutes before finding a parking spot on a side street in the Short North. We had dinner at a little Irish pub-type place called Mac's where I stuffed myself full of tater tots. Delicious. We left Mac's around 7 to head over to the Schottenstein Center, which was about 5 minutes or so down the road. To our absolute amazement, they had free parking for the concert. I was totally shocked by that- I'm so used to paying Cleveland's $20 "event parking" fees downtown. We got in and found our seats with no problem. Of course they were nosebleed seats, but at least we had a good view of everything. Next time though, I will absolutely pay the extra money to be closer. Please, Muse...come back and let there be a next time. I am begging you.

Anyway, Metric went on right at 7:30 on the nose. They sounded great, and I was a little surprised that people didn't seem more into them. I mean, I know they were just the opener, but I think they're fantastic. The arena probably wasn't even half full by the time they were finishing up their set, which ended exactly at 8:10.

So. Right before 9 pm, the lights went down. Pandemonium ensued. Ok, not really, but the crowd was definitely super psyched for Muse for sure. Let me back up for a second to describe the stage though. While Metric was playing, there were these giant skyscraper looking things behind them. I think Debbie called them Spiderman buildings. So after all Metric's equipment was cleared away, the big building things were all that was left onstage. When the lights went down for Muse, the windows in the buildings started lighting up, one by one. Then it looked like people were climbing the stairs inside the buildings. Then it looked like people were falling off the top of the buildings. Then all of a sudden Muse started playing "Uprising", the middle section of the buildings rose up (or went down, I'm not sure because I was trying to figure out where the hell they were playing) and each member of Muse was each of the pillars. Like so:

That's singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy in his cute red pants on the left, drummer Dominic Howard in the middle, and bassist Chris Wolstenholme on the right. If you squint real hard you can see them.

I have been to many, many concerts/shows in my day, kids. And I have never, ever, seen anything like this one. Not only did Muse sound completely amazing- the singer did not miss a single note (even the high ones!), and his guitar playing is just ridiculous- but their entire stage show totally blew me away. The lights, the video, the set up with the pillars going up and down out of the floor...good god. Let's just say it's been kind of a long time since at the end of a show, I really, REALLY didn't want it to end. Usually by the second encore I'm like, ok, this was great and all, but I'm ready to head out and get some Taco Bell and hit the hay. Not with Muse. I could've watched them play for another 4 hours.

I'm actually kicking myself for not getting into their music sooner. They've been around since like 1999...where have I been?? Seriously. Thanks to Sirius/XM radio and to Debbie for burning me their CDs, and then to Stephenie Meyer for putting them on the Twilight/New Moon/Eclipse soundtracks, I've finally discovered what is surely one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time. I cannot stop listening to the 4 CDs of theirs I have in my car's CD changer. It's like other music just can't compare to them right now. Ok, maybe the new Arcade Fire can (and their show 3 years ago was my #1 top show of all time until now, too).

So thank you, Muse, for the best show I have ever been to. You guys are ridiculous. Thank you Dan, for getting me the tickets for our anniversary. And thanks to Debbie for making the trek down to Columbus with me! It was an experience I certainly will not forget anytime soon!

Monday, October 11, 2010

birthday week!

This coming Sunday, I will officially turn 34 years old. Good lord, how did that happen? It's strange, because some days I still don't feel like an official "adult". Even though I'm finally married, own my own home, etc...maybe it's because we don't have kids?? Or is it because some days I just want to revel in being irresponsible and lazy? Maybe because I'm finally just now starting to realize my dream of wanting to write for a living?? Who knows. All I do know is that sometimes I still get carded for buying wine, so at least some people look at me and think I'm younger than I am. I'll take it.

Other days though, I feel like I'm about to turn 74, not 34. My knee has been giving out on me lately, probably from starting up ballet again at my old age. So that's fun. It takes me 3 days to recover from a fun weekend (I'm still dragging from going to the Browns game yesterday and will most likely be in bed again by 9 pm tonight- yes I said again).

But regardless, a fun week lies ahead! Tomorrow Debbie and I are going down to Columbus to see Muse- it's actually an anniversary gift from Dan, not a birthday gift, but since it's my birthday week I'm claiming it as part of the festivities anyway. I am so, so psyched for this show, you guys. I won't be able to talk for days (which some might say is a good thing- to them I say, shuddy). Wednesday is dinner out with Dan and my awesome mom in law. Friday is lunch at Red Robin for my free birthday burger! Woooot. That night I'm staying in to make food for the weekend, cuz Saturday we're hitting the wineries out on the eastside and Sunday is the big family September/October birthday extravaganza at my brother's. I always look forward to our winery trips, and at this time of year it's going to be gorgeous out there! And then I'm hoping next Monday to go to dinner with Dan at D'Agnese's, this delicious Italian place by us. So, a nice week's worth of fun! As it should be.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TGIF and stuff

I did it. I wrote the big bad scene I was dreading. Sigh. It really did hurt. But now that it's out of the way, I can move on with the rest. I can feel the story starting to come to a close. Well, almost. There are still a lot of things that need to happen. For the first time ever, I actually wrote out a timeline of events, just so I wouldn't forget how everything should unfold. Usually I just write as I go- and that sounds weird, but do you know what I mean? I just write what I feel should be happening as I move along with the story. But now that it's coming to the end (sorta), I felt like I had to stay on track. I'm right around 60,000 words now. 100,000 was my original goal, but I think 80-90,000 would be perfectly acceptable, especially for YA.

So, now that I'm getting closer to ending it (sob), I've been on the internets researching queries and agents and all that fun stuff. All I have to say is thank god for the internet. Seriously. I've learned SO many interesting things about writing queries. The query is almost as important as the story itself, since it's the first thing an agent sees, it's what makes them curious enough to ask for a partial or full manuscript. I have mine written already, for the most part, but I'm sure I'll be tweaking it as I get more information about how to write a good one. I found a site called Query Shark yesterday in which an agent takes submitted queries, and with the author's blessing, basically rips them apart. It may seem a little harsh, but she's just offering awesome information about what NOT to do (she also will look at each revised query the author sends in, and comment on those as well). I also read some stats about how many queries a typical agency will get in a month- the number was around 1200. Around 100 were thrown out without being read due to the author not following submission requirements (And, really? You're not going to read the directions??), and out of the remaining, only around 40 were offered requests for partials or full manuscripts. Those numbers are, um, kinda terrifying. But I believe in my work. I just hope someone else does too.

In other news, it's Friday and the weekend is almost here! Tonight I'll be enjoying some quality time with my seeester in law while the boys make noise in the basement. Tomorrow is Josie time. My husband has plans with a friend in the evening, so I'll be enjoying my couch, DVR and some vino. And of course, I'll be plugging away at In My Mind's Eye. Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The downhill battle

So I was going to post another little snippet today, but yea...left my flash drive at home on the coffeetable. Whoops. Perhaps tomorrow.

I was hella productive again writing-wise on Friday. I'm over 56,000 words so it's all downhill from here. I'm now getting to the point in In My Mind's Eye when everything starts to turn upside down for Sophie and Brody. And I'm finding the "bad stuff" hard to write for two reasons: 1) I think I've just grown so close to my characters that it actually hurts ME that bad things are about to happen to them. Is that weird? Probably. It's just hard to write the conflict that's going to mess everything up for them. Trust me, I know it has to happen. A story that's nothing but sunshine and daisies is far from interesting. I just think I'll be in as much pain over it as the characters are. Anyway, 2) I'm almost sad that I'm moving on so quickly and that the story is inevitably going to end. Again, weird, I know. It's the same feeling I get when I'm close to finishing reading a really good book though. I want so badly to finish it and see what happens, but then at the same time, it's just...over. Bittersweet, I guess.

And of course, with the ending of the story comes the scariest part of all: querying agents. Well, after I revise it and revise it again and am absolutely 100% sure that it's completely perfect. I'm already proud of it, but me thinking it's great and an agent who wants to help me get it published and sold thinking it's great are two verrrrrry different things. I'm bracing myself for the rejection that's bound to come in, but I'm also hoping that with that rejection I'll get some good ideas for how to make it even better. Or, how to make my next story better and get THAT one published. I'm not delusional here. I know it's a farfetched dream to think someone will snatch up my very first manuscript and declare it the next Twilight (and I'm totally not going for that anyway- but um, if Rob Pattinson wants to be cast as the lead role if/when it's made into a film, by all means, let's go for it...), but I am definitely hopeful that something will come of it. The power of positive thinking, right? It's just not an option for this to NOT happen...someday, anyway.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Center Stage

So guess what I realized last night? I am never going to be a ballerina. *gasp*!

Seriously, you guys. Ok, so I actually figured this out a long time ago. But at one point I really thought I might make a career out of dance somehow. I was probably about ten years old, but still. I remember my ballet teacher back then telling me that my legs were attached "wrong" at the hips- meaning my turnout would never, ever be what it was supposed to be. But I kept trying. Then a year or so later an orthopedic surgeon told me I should never dance in toeshoes- the bones in my feet were all jacked up (it was heredity- my dad and gramma also had jacked up feet). What did I do that same year? Yep- I went out and bought my first pair of toeshoes. And not to toot my own horn, but I was good at pointe. I think all my physical issues just made me try all that much harder at it.

Fast forward another 10 years or so to when I had to have surgery on my right foot to correct all the bones I messed up even further in ballet class...yeah, whoops. I suppose the doc was right.
Meh. And then to make matters worse, I broke my foot four years ago in a jazz class. Hit a slippery spot on the floor during a tour jete' and bam! Broken fifth metatarsal and 8 weeks on crutches.

So I'm taking ballet just for fun right now. I haven't taken it for several years- I can't remember if my last class was the summer before or after I broke my foot. Regardless, it's been a while. There are only a few people in my adult class, and two of them are really well trained. As soon as I saw the newest girl last night, my heart dropped a little. She just looked like a ballerina. Tall, thin, no hips to speak of, and totally graceful. Every move came completely effortlessly to her. Ballet always used to make me feel graceful...last night though, I felt a little bit like a frumpy, stumbling, clumsy troll. Especially next to Ms. Ballerina. She made me want to be her. And I'm sooooo not on her level. Not even close.

Sigh. Well, my pique' turns still kickass though. Even though I'm totally paying for them today with my cramped up calf muscles. Hopefully every week it'll start to come back to me a bit more and more. This blog is all about living the dream, right? So I may not ever be a real ballerina, but at least for an hour each week, I can pretend that dream is still a little bit alive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

8 years

I'm picking up my first new pair of glasses this week in 8 years. The last time I got glasses I still had good vision insurance through TMP, so they were practically free. My insurance for vision care now, quite frankly, blows. But it was time to just bite the bullet and get a new pair anyway. My eyes are seriously horrendous (-10 in left eye, -11 in right), but I'm hoping that MAYBE I'll even be able to wear these out in public from time to time. We shall see.

The fact that it's been 8 years since I've had new glasses got me thinking about where I was 8 years ago in my life as a whole. I shall summarize (and this is difficult for me, because I don't have the best long-term memory):
  • I was 25 years old. It's funny to think that at one point in my life, I thought for SURE I'd at least be engaged by this age. And now it's funny to look back and realize that if that had actually happened, I'd be soooo much worse off today.
  • I had just moved into the Chaunticlair condo with Mel and Tracy. My first time out on my own, unless you count OU (which I kinda do and kinda don't). Before moving in with them, I was on the brink of moving to Columbus. Some people might say I was trying to escape from my past on the eastside. Some people might be totally dead on right about that.
  • Ollie was just a teeny tiny kitten, much resembling a baby squirrel. He was also still pure evil. He didn't mellow out til Stewie came two years later.
  • I was still, on the whole, completely miserable. I was in a relationship that I knew wasn't anything that I wanted, but boredom and loneliness kept me in it.
  • Obviously, I hadn't met Dan yet. When I met him, around this time of year almost, in 2003, as Sophie says to Brody, he "changed...everything".
  • As I mentioned, I was still at TMP in a job going totally nowhere. When I started there in 2000 right out of college, it was the best job in the world. God, we had so much fun there for a couple years. Unfortunately, it all started to go downhill around 2002. All I can say about that place is I got some absolutely amazing friendships out of it. Karyn, Debbie, Barra, I'm looking at you guys. And of course Rose, Mel, Tracy, Sarah, Rachel...I'm so glad to this day we all still keep in touch as much as possible!

I know they (whoever "they" are) say that your past shapes who you are in the future. I'm pretty proud of the person I've become. I'm happy and content with my life for the most part now. Of course, I wish we were living just a liiiiiittle more comfortably, and that we weren't worried about Dan's job situation, etc. But to be able to say that I'm really, truly happy is a big deal. And I'm proud of the fact that I'm really going for my dream now, after so many years of putting it off. Even if nothing comes of my story, at least I can say I went for it, that I finished something I'm totally proud of. And then I'll move on to the next one in my little brain and try all over again. I'm not giving up this time. I refuse to put what I want on hold ever again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Historical stuff

It's been a busy few days, so I don't mean to be ignoring the blog here, but things have been a little crazy. Well, at work anyway. I've been spending my evenings in true nerd style with my nose in a book. Specifically, a book called Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen. My sis in law lent it to me a long time ago- to bring on my honeymoon actually, I think- and I brought it, but never started it. It's a huge paperback, another one of those historical fiction novels my sis in law loves so much. I've never really been into the historical/time period stuff. At least, I wasn't until Debbie Lamb introduced me to the Outlander series. But I left the historical stuff at that series. I guess I kinda figured nothing could really compare to Diana Gabaldon's writing.

But now I'm finding myself fascinated by these books. I got all into the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig (again, thanks to seeester), which takes place in early 19th century England. Through a Glass Darkly is set in 18th century France & England. I think I'm more amazed at the author's talents to truly transport the readers back in time. It's something special to be able to write dialogue and descriptions set in that time frame. I think, anyway. So much research must be done to be able to write as though the author was really part of that time period.

When I become a successful author (ahem), I'm totally writing a book set in the 1940's. WWII era. It's still going to be YA, but from a teenager's perspective back then. I have the best resource too- my awesome Gramma. I'm not sure if I'm more excited to write the book, or just to sit and listen to all her stories from back in the day. I can't wait to hear about how she met my Grampa, all the dancing and crazy things they used to do. So it'll be loosely based on her life and stories- with her permission, of course.

But for now, I need to move forward with Sophie and Brodie. One step at a time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The name game

I recently read an interesting blog regarding your professional name vs. your personal name. Actually, this blog was more of a married name vs. maiden name discussion, but the blog author is a published author, who happens to go by both her married and maiden names (check out her blog, here). One of those hypenated deals, but without the hyphen. And maybe I'm jumping the gun a little bit, because I haven't had anything published just yet under any name, but it's still something that's on my mind for the future. If and when I get published, what name will I use?

I like my married name. I consider it an "upgrade" from my maiden name, since it looks nicer and is easier to pronounce (if you're not a moron, anyway. It's completely phonetic, yet people still find ways to butcher it). However, I do realize it's a bit of a mouthful. My first name alone is three syllables, and my last name has four, and there are a lot of N's and A's involved. I always sort of thought I would end up using a pseudonym, just so it'd be easier for everyone, including myself. I would keep my first name, but probably use my husband's middle name or something for my last name. That way I'll still keep a part of him involved in my pen name.

I kinda like that idea best, but then there's also that egomaniac side of me that says, hey- if you're not using your real name, who will believe YOU really wrote the book? I mean, of course, once I'm a bestselling author and doing book tours and readings and whatnot, of course people will know it's me (riiiiiiight?). But starting up as an unknown, I think I'd be more like, hey, look at me!! I did it!!

It may be a moot point...who knows if I'll ever get published. I know I'm going to try my damnedest though! I feel like it's a dream within my reach for the first time in my life. I'm not really sure why- maybe I just believe in my story that much.

Anyway. Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, August 30, 2010

I heart books

I love buying books. I love owning them, being able to look back through my bookshelves and remember how much I loved certain stories. I rarely ever sell my books back or give them away, unless I thought something was a real stinker. Soon, I'm going to have to ask my dad to build me another bookshelf. My current ones are getting a little out of control.

I buy most of my books from Half Priced Books or off Ebay's website. I just ordered two books today for under $5 each- and that included the shipping costs, my friends. I don't mind reading "gently used" copies at all. Most of the books I've gotten from are in decent shape too. I've never gotten anything that's like, missing pages or written all over and unreadable. For someone who likes to buy at least a few books a month, HPB and are a godsend. It's certainly not like I'm made of money over here.

That being said, I think I'm finally going to venture into that crazy place that lets you borrow books for FREE, as long as you promise to bring them back. Yep, I'm talking about the library. I could also mean my sister in law's spare bedroom- she has way more books than I have!- but right now I'm dying to read more YA stuff. What exactly are the kids into these days? Of course you have your big series like Harry Potter & Twilight, but what about the lesser-known stuff? I just found a couple YA authors I'm dying to check out- Cecil Castellucci (this month's book club author, thanks to yours truly), Eileen Cook (author of What Would Emma Do which I read a few weeks ago- I would love to write like her! So funny), Maggie Stiefvater (she writes a werewolf series), and today Holly told me about Suzanne Collins & her Hunger Games series. There are so many others too. I'm seriously going to go broke if I start buying all these books at once, half-priced or not.

Although who am I kidding? Once I love an author, I have to OWN everything by him or her. But, at least this way I can check things out for free first, right?

Is it sad that I'm actually a little nervous to go into a library? I'm pretty sure the last time I set foot in one was when I was in college. I know it's ridiculous, but I might need a tutorial on how they work these days. I guess I'll find out soon enough. I plan on stopping one day after work this week. There are THREE libraries I could potentially hit on my way home from work. Three!! It's ludicrous that I haven't checked one of them out yet.

I might have to beat down some kids for the books I want though...heh.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Up Late

I totally shouldn't be awake right now. You know how sometimes your mind just won't turn off? Your body is exhausted, but you can't quiet all the thoughts & ideas racing around your head? Yea. That was me from about 6 am til I finally gave up and got out of bed at 8. Pretty sure a nap will be in order later.

Last night my good friend Debbie came over to watch the last 5 episodes of the first season of The Vampire Diaries on my DVR. We ate Chinese food, drank wine, and watched these two fine specimens for about 4 1/2 hours:

Meeeeeow. Hello, Salvatore Brothers. If you don't watch The Vampire Diaries, gaahhhh why not??? It's such a good show. The writing is witty, funny, scary, snarky and exciting. And hello? Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley (above) certainly provide enough eye candy for 45 minutes of your time.

Oh, you're not a 13 year old girl? Well, me neither, obs. And I love it. But then again, I've been into all things vampire since I was around 13. The Lost Boys? Yes, please- can quote every line. Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire series? Read 'em all at least a few times in junior high. I know I have a vampire novel started in my crate of books somewhere. But, at this point, who wants to write yet another Twilight wannabe? I love the Twilight series as well, of course, I freely admit that. But seriously...damn you, Stephenie Meyer, for ruining anyone else's chances of writing a successful vampire series.

Anyway. Debbie left around 11:30, and I grabbed my lap top, intending to turn it off and head up to bed for the night. I'd had 3 big glasses of wine and was buzzed and sleepy, and my contacts were killing me. Instead, I found myself starting a new section of In My Mind's Eye that I'll have to tie in later. There was a scene unfolding in my head that I just had to get down. It's sort of a pivotal point in the little love-triangle-that-really-isn't-much-of-a-love-triange I have going on. I would add a snippet here, but it would give way too much away. I ended up writing three full pages, over 1,100 words. And was up rereading them and changing things here and there until about 1:30 in the morning. Whoopsie.

So, I'm tired today, but it was worth it. Any progress is good. I've given myself an end of the year deadline to have the first draft completed, so I need to keep moving forward as much as possible.

Thank you, Damon and Stefan Salvatore, for inspiring me to write like a fiend last night. Sometimes it doesn't take much. Wink, wink.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day One

Well hello there and welcome to my new blog. I've been talking for months about starting a blog up, and I finally decided to just bite the bullet and do it. Please bear with me, because I might not be all that interesting for a while. I promise I'll get better at this.

Let's see, I suppose I should start off with a little introduction to myself. My name is Joanna. I am almost 34 years old, and I'm not entirely sure where my 30s are going. These past few years have been a whirlwind. Three years ago, I bought a horrendous condo in foreclosure with my then-boyfriend. It's now a lovely condo, thanks to about twelve weeks of remodeling and lots of help from friends & family. The following year we got engaged. Last year we were married. Now, things are dying down, and my husband and I spend our time hanging out with our cats and not really doing too much. I rather enjoy our boring life together. He's truly my best friend. And I apologize for that out of nowhere mushiness.

Last year was a wonderful year and a terrible year all rolled into one. Planning a wedding was one of the most fun things I've ever gotten to do. Stressful, of course, but fun. I'm lucky enough to be somewhat ridiculously organized, so it wasn't all that difficult for me. And the wedding day itself was completely perfect. However, while my personal life was going fab, last year was a bad, bad year at work. A year that made me question why on earth I was willing to go through life not really doing what I wanted to be doing. Don't get me wrong- I like my job for the most part. I work with some outstanding people and the work itself can be challenging and somewhat interesting. But anyone who knows me knows that I've always wanted to write books.

I've been writing stories since around the fifth grade. I remember bringing them in for classmates to read and the feelings of excitement and pride when they asked to read more. Writing was my escape throughout high school, when I was a miserable teenager wishing to live anyone's life but her own (as if I really had it that bad). I have a whole crate of notebooks with handwritten stories in them still living at my parent's house somewhere. One of these days I need to get those and see if there's anything worth salvaging.

The story I'm working on now is called In My Mind's Eye. It's a young adult novel about a teenage girl whose parents were murdered when she was five years old, the way she's dealt with the murders, and how her life changes when a new boy arrives at her high school. It's about being different, falling in love, and awesome friendships. In a nutshell, anyway. I obviously don't want to give too much away. I'm almost at the halfway point- I have just over 40,000 words, and I'd like to get to about 100,000 before I start doing the major revising. It's been slow going at times; I started it last year and then with all the wedding planning, got sidetracked for a while. It's actually based off a short story I wrote in high school. I changed a lot, added new characters, etc, but it's coming along pretty nicely now. I'm excited to write it and can't wait to share it with people. Some people have already gotten a sneak preview, but I expect that by the time I'm finished it'll be a lot different from those first few rough drafts.

So, to close out my first blog post ever, what you should expect to see here: Snippets from In My Mind's Eye that I'm especially proud of, boring stuff about my everyday life, maybe some fun pictures here and there...I don't know. I'm just gonna roll with it. Thanks in advance for reading this! I hope it's going to be at least somewhat enjoyable.