Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Words on Wednesday

First of all, I’m LOVING WriteOnCon this year! The theme is Back to Basics, and I’ve learned more than I thought I would. I’m not saying I think I know it all or anything, but I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about the basics at least. I. Was. Wrong.

Seriously, there’s always more to learn because everyone approaches writing differently. There are some amazing suggestions on the site. Check it out if you have time (last session of the Con is tonight, but the stuff will still be there for you to enjoy at your leisure).

One thing I saw at the conference and wanted to share (I got permission) is this fun trailer for The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (she’s such fun to watch and you should watch her presentation on Do It Yourself promotion from Tuesday’s session of WriteOnCon).

I’ll be sad to see the conference end tonight, but my family will be glad I’m no longer glued to the computer.

How has your Wednesday been?

Write on!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Words

It’s here! The kids are off to their first day of school. While I’m excited because it means I’ll be able to get back to a writing schedule/routine, I’m also a bit nervous. Not sure if it’s nerves for the kids and the new school year for them, or nerves for myself and my writing. I’m not sure why I should be nervous about diving back into a regular writing schedule, but I think I might be. This is the first time in a long time that I’ll have Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for nothing but writing. I won’t be going back to school myself this semester, and (so far) I’m not signed up to do any volunteering at the school library. My days from about 9:00 until 3:00 are all mine for writing!

Of course, Wednesday isn’t in the list above because hubby is off on Wednesdays, and it’s hard to write when he’s home watching TV. But today, he had a meeting in Flagstaff so he’s gone too (won’t be home until after the kids are). I’m going to get some writing done today! It’s not that I haven’t been writing at all during the summer—I did a bit here and there when I could, but it was hard with kids home—but there’s a part of me that wonders if my lax summer habits will be easy to break (played lots of games during the summer). I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things (this blog post might be considered an effort to procrastinate, but I think it’s more of a “breaking the ice” type thing) right away and accomplish quite a bit of writing.

The first project I’ll be tackling is finishing up the rewrite of the MG I’ve been doing. Once finished with the rewrite, I’ll be revising it based on feedback from critique buddies. I’m setting a deadline and planning on having it all finished and revised and ready to send to my wonderful agent by the end of September.

What are your plans for this wonderful Wednesday?

Write on!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July Recent Reads Reviews

It’s time for some reviews on books I’ve read recently (well, since my last reviews in April). As a reminder of my new scoring system, I’m using emoticons. Here’s what they mean:

Open-mouthed smileWOW—I loved this book and will talk/have talked about/shared it with others.

Smile--Not totally in love, but this was a great book and I may talk about/share it with others.

Thinking smile--This was okay. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favorite.

Sad smile--This wasn’t for me. I stopped reading and couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Steaming mad--How did this get published?

If you happen to be the author of one of the books I review, please remember this is my honest opinion. Don’t hate me if I don’t give your book a great big happy grin. I am only one reader in the whole wide readership and I’m sure there are those who’ll love your work—it just wasn’t me.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel--Open-mouthed smile--I picked this up at a book fair at the middle school last year. It sat in my TBR pile for quite a while—not because I didn’t want to read it, but because there were so many other books I had added to the pile first (yes, I’m reviewing out of order). I passed over some of the books that had been in the pile much longer and picked up this one. I guess I was in the mood for something dark. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved how Oppel treated Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein and other characters. The idea of showing Victor’s earlier years is brilliant! It looked interesting when I picked it up in the book fair, but I may not have if the librarian (a trusted friend) had mentioned she picked herself up a copy. I’m glad I bought it! Oppel’s tale is rich with beautiful prose, and he handles the dark mind of Victor in a sympathetic and engrossing way. This is one I’ve added to my re-read pile.

The story—Sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein’s twin brother, Konrad, is ill and the doctors can’t seem to cure him. Desperate to save his brother, Victor enlists the help of his friend, Henry, and his beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, to help him find a cure. They think they’ve found the answer when they stumble on a secret library filled with Alchemy books. The practice of Alchemy is against the law, but Victor is willing to risk it when he discovers a recipe for the Elixir of Life. Certain it will cure his brother, he’s willing to make great sacrifices (I won’t tell you what and spoil it) to get the ingredients and see the potion made.


Dangerous Favor by Joyce DiPastena--Open-mouthed smile--While this wasn’t a “recent” read, I don’t remember reviewing it and wanted to. I love how DiPastena gives a brand new story and characters while still blending in past characters from her novels, Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart. This is another sweet (and clean) romance that transports the reader to the middle ages. I loved traipsing across medieval France with Mathilde and Etienne!

The story—Mathilde’s family was thrust into poverty when her father was accused of stealing from the king. Mathilde knows he’s innocent, but without a rich and connected husband, she has no way to prove it. She’s set her sights on Lord Therri and is determined to win his hand—and money and connections. She sets out to grant Therri her favor (an embroidered white ribbon her brother let her borrow) for the knight’s tournament. Instead, she’s tricked into granting her favor to Therri’s friend, Etienne. This sets in motion a chain of events that puts Mathilde and those around her in danger. Etinne is smitten by Mathilde and determined to save her from the dangerous nightmares of her past.


Drawn by Marie Lamba--Open-mouthed smile--Lamba’s great characters pulled me into the story, but it was the fascination of time travel/ghosts of the past that kept me reading. I’m a sucker for castles and loved the one in Drawn. The twining of past and present was brilliantly done, as was the romance and growth of the characters in both time periods. There were a few things I figured out before they were revealed (including who the “bad guy” was). I’ve been known to stop reading books when they are too predictable—but there has to be an eye-roll factor present for me to put it down, and there wasn’t any eye-rolling while I read Drawn. Even though I figured it out, Lamba’s characters and world were interesting and real enough to keep me reading.

The story—Michelle De Freccio isn’t sure she’s going to like living in England with her father or attending Wallingford Academy, but she’s willing to give it a try. Especially since no one knows her, and she won’t have the embarrassment of being known as the daughter of a psychic mother and schizophrenic brother to deal with. She’s making a new life for herself and enjoying drawing the mysterious man who’s showed up in her drawings—until she comes face to face with him. She’s immediately drawn to him, but things get complicated when she discovers who he really is. When she tries to unravel the mystery of him, it changes her future and his.


Those are some of my recent (or not so recent) reads. There are more I’ve read and need to review, but this is already a long post so they’ll have to wait until next time.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books have been your favorite reads recently?


Read on!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I’m Free to Write

Today I’m grateful for those who fought to win American independence and those who continue to fight to keep us free. In honor of these amazing and brave people, I’m going to exercise my freedom of speech and using the morning to write. Yay!

After the kids are up, we’ll have our flag ceremony (our Cub Scout is excited). Then the rest of the day will be pretty boring. The kids promised to clean their rooms (we’ll see if it happens), and I need to do a load of dishes and a load of towels (amazing how fast they get used in summer when kids are playing in the pool). Maybe we’ll have a barbeque for lunch, but basically everything we do is distraction to keep the kids from constantly asking me if it’s time for fireworks.

Yes, despite the extreme fire danger, our town does fireworks every year. Only because they do the fireworks out on the lake in Green Valley Park. Once again, the sky is cloudy and it looks like rain (it seems to rain here EVERY July 4th). I’m not sure how much of the fireworks we’ll be able to enjoy if it’s pouring down rain (though we did watch the fireworks in a light rain a couple of years ago). Still, we need the rain, and I’m grateful whenever it falls.

We aren’t sure where we’ll go to watch the fireworks this year. We used to have a spot up by the airport but over the years, others in the town have discovered what an amazing vantage point it is and it’s been super crowded the last couple of years.

We don’t go down to the park because it’s WAY too congested down there with all the people and traffic. Still, we’ll enjoy celebrating our independence today however we manage to do it.

But, as I said, I’ll be using the morning to do some writing.

What about you? If you’re here in America, what do you do to celebrate Independence Day?

Write on.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Five

1. Another day of peace and quiet (at least till hubby comes home from work). I’ve done a little writing and then had to stop and do a lot of plotting (hey, sometimes these things need to be planned). I’m taking a break to blog and then get lunch before diving back into more writing.

2. On my break, I discovered the amazing Dawn Metcalf is celebrating the first anniversary of her book, LUMINOUS!

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Wow. In celebration of the anniversary she’s holding a giveaway. Go here to check it out and enter.

3. Though I’m enjoying my quiet time, I do find I’m missing my kids. Crazy, I know. The house is just so quiet. No one is banging on my door or yelling “Mom” from somewhere else in the house. And there aren’t any little arms to give me hugs. We’ve been keeping in touch with Facetime (the kids all have their own iPods and hubby and I have our iPads), but it’s not the same. I’ll be glad to have them back—but I’m sure I’ll miss the quiet time when it’s gone too. The grass is always greener and all that.

4. I can’t believe this month is almost over! It was full of fun with us taking the kids to the zoo and science center and Lowell Observatory. And oldest son, E, turned 19 on the 22nd!! July will be here in a few more days and with it J and JR’s birthdays, mine and hubby’s anniversary, and the kids will be going back to school! Crazy!

5. What plans do you have for the end of June and the first of July this weekend?

Write on.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Things

My house is quiet.

No, I didn’t murder my family and bury them in the back yard or anything.  It’s quiet because hubby and oldest son are off working today. “But wait,” you say. “You have three other children. What about them?” Ah, fear not, my friends. Last night we dropped the three youngest kids off at the in-laws in Flagstaff where they’ll stay until Sunday. This means quiet time for me. Yay!

So, what am I doing with my first day of quiet? Well, I spent the morning catching up on emails and such. I thought I’d spend the rest of the day catching up on housework (cleaning the kids’ rooms while they’re gone), but another plan has formed instead.

Since it’s hard to get any writing done when the kids are home—they think they need their mother for other things, silly beasts—I decided to use this rare kid-free time to get some writing done.

Granted, it would be easier to clean their rooms while they’re gone so they aren’t looking over my shoulder and begging to keep things I want to throw away, but it can be done while they’re home (even if it means keeping a few things that would normally be thrown out), and writing can’t.

So, after I get something lunch-ish to eat, I plan to tackle a couple of critiques. Once I get those done, I’ll be able to dive into my WIP guilt free—at least until I have to walk down the hall for something and see that the rooms really do need my attention. I guess I’ll just have to avoid the hallway. Winking smile

Hope you all have a happy Thursday!

Write on.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Five

1. I love this post by Dawn Metcalf about beginnings and endings. Beginnings are hard for me. Endings can sometimes be hard too, but at least there’s the satisfaction of reaching the end. With the beginning, there’s a blank page staring at me, daring me to fill it. It’s usually a struggle. I rewrite/revise my beginnings countless times, but the endings usually don’t require much revision/rewriting. What about you? Do you prefer beginnings or endings?

2. I’ve been slacking again. Not only have I ignored my blog (sorry) and Facebook (not a bad thing, necessarily), but I’ve been ignoring my writing (a very bad thing). Okay, so things have been busy with the start of summer and family obligations, and crafting obligations (yes, it’s an obligation—I’m paying for a space in a local store and I needed to fill it), and everything, but really, I COULD have done some writing if I really wanted to. I’ve just been too lazy. Even now, I’m blogging to avoid working on my WIP (I WILL do at least one chapter today, I’ve promised myself—and now you). Is it harder for you to write in the summer?

3. Father’s Day is Sunday, and I haven’t done a single bit of shopping. I don’t even know what to get hubby. I’m making a shoe rack for my dad and still need to buy the wood and stuff to make it. I had no problem coming up with a gift idea for my dad, but it’s more difficult to figure out something for hubby. *sigh* I know my dad needs a shoe rack (and decided to build one instead of buy one), but I can’t think of a single thing hubby wants/needs. We always get him lame things like a tie or DVD or something. Although, now that I think about it, he has mentioned wanting a new speaker system for the bedroom TV/DVD/BlueRay. Hmm . . . problem solved—well sort of, I still have to take the kids shopping to buy it and that can be a HUGE problem (kids don’t shop well—always ask for stuff and stress me out). Winking smile What are you planning for Father’s Day?

4. Vacationing is exhausting. It was more of a day trip, really, but it was still exhausting. We went to the Phoenix Zoo AND the Arizona Science Center on Wednesday. We will never do it again! One or the other, but never both in the same day. I have never walked so much in my life, and my legs are S-O-R-E. Okay, so the exercise is good for me and all that, but DANG!

5. Even though there are more blogs to catch up on and all that, I’m going to resist temptation and get to work on my revising/rewriting. Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there.

Write on.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I just finished watching America’s Got Talent. This singer shocked the heck out of me. If you haven’t seen Andrew De Leon’s audition, you’ve GOT to watch this!



Sing on!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Longing for Spring

I know it just passed and summer is here for a while. I still have fall and winter to go through, but I’m very much looking forward to Spring 2013. Here’s why:


Synopsis Cover Copy:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.

A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.

From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.


You can’t see me, but I’m grinning from ear to ear and bursting with excitement! I’ve loved Kimberley’s books (and have reviewed them here on my blog) and am so very much looking forward to the release of this one. Doesn’t it sound amazing?! And the cover is gorgeous (all of her covers have been).

So, I’ll burn through the summer months, enjoy the fall of leaves in autumn, freeze in the winter, and endure whatever may come because I know that when spring comes, not only will I have flowers to look forward too, I’ll also have WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME to read.

Kimberley is having a giveaway on her blog (free autographed books, people—don’t miss it). Go here to check it out. Click to visit Kimberley's blog and learn about the giveaway (it’s super simple, promise).

What book/books are you looking forward to?

Write/Read on.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Critiquing Today for Better Writing Tomorrow

As writers we learn our craft from many different sources: workshops, hundreds/thousands of books that promise to take our writing to the next level, lots of practice (I’ve been “seriously” practicing for almost nine years), attending conferences, etc.

All these things are awesome, but perhaps one of the least heralded sources of learning comes in the form of critique. Getting a critique from another author (regardless of that author’s experience level) teaches us something about our manuscript and writing style. Incredibly helpful as this is, I feel one of the greatest sources for learning comes in GIVING a critique to another author.

It was through critiquing another’s work that I learned the meaning of “show, don’t tell.” In pouring over paragraph after paragraph of backstory, I learned to recognize info dumps. It wasn’t until I started critiquing another’s work that I learned how pompous, unnatural, and “writerly” my words sounded on paper. Critiquing other manuscripts helped me find my own voice.


For one thing, it’s easier to spot discrepancies in other people’s work. We aren’t attached to it and are able to read with an objectivity we don’t have when it comes to our own work. This practice opens our eyes to the same or similar flaws in our own work (at least it will if we let it—cause guess what, my friends, none of us are perfect—no matter how long we’ve been writing). I think somewhere in the back of our subconscious minds, we know what is wrong with our work. But do we listen to the subconscious?


That is, until we critique another writer’s work. Then our subconscious is free to gravitate to the flaws it knows so well—the flaws present in our own work.

So get out there and critique, my fellow writers. Learn the things your subconscious has been trying to tell you all this time. Then dive into your own work and fix the issues you’ve discovered.


Write/Critique on.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Five

1. This has been a miserable week! Sunday we went to visit hubby’s mom for early mother’s day (that’s not the miserable part). By the time we got home Sunday night, hubby was feeling sick. Monday night, I started coughing. And it was all downhill from there. We’ve been sick this whole week! Coughing, throat so raw it hurts to swallow, stuffy nose, high fevers. It hasn’t been fun. I ended up in the ER on Wednesday morning because my chest hurt so bad it was hard to breathe (I have a weak chest wall). They gave me antibiotics and told me to rest. Gee, thanks. *eye roll*

I can barely talk now (and it hurts when I try), it’s still painful to breathe, but I’m taking Motrin to help with the pain. I’m taking Sudafed to help with the stuffy nose, sucking on cough drops like they’re candy to help with the sore throat, and taking the azithromycin (antibiotic). Hopefully it will all go away soon—and I won’t get pneumonia (I usually get it whenever I have a respiratory infection).

2. The kids have been out of school most of the week with the sickness. It’s hard enough feeling crappy, but trying to take care of kids who also feel crappy on top of it is even worse. It’s all part of being a mom though.

3. We’re supposed to go to Snowflake to visit my mom on Sunday for Mother’s Day. I’m not sure we’ll make it with all the sickness. I’m still hoping I feel better by then and can at least go by myself if I have to.

4. With all the sickness, I haven’t done much writing. I did manage to critique a chapter for someone though. And I have looked at my MG . . . read through a bit, but didn’t write anything.

5. I hope Sunday brings all my LJ friends a great Mother’s Day!

Stay well!

Write on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Things

1. I survived the weekend trip to Tucson (it seems it’s taken me this long to fully recover). We ended up NOT going to the science center. Instead, we took the kids to Toys R Us. That may seem like a lame option, but my kids have never been to a Toys R Us and they wanted to go (except oldest son, E, who stayed in the hotel room). Later that night we went out to dinner with my oldest sister and her family and my mom. We ate at Golden Corral (which we had also never been to). After eating, we went back to the hotel and the kids and hubby swam in the pool with the cousins while I chatted with my sister. We got to see my younger sister’s new baby and lots of family that I hadn’t seen in a while—including my two new adorable nieces.

2. I’ve been having more fun painting on the iPad!

Spring BloomsPurple Storm

Using hubby’s stylus wasn’t cutting it for me so after some research I bought the Adonit Jot Pro stylus:


You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a cap that screws onto the end (so you don’t lose it). It also sticks nicely to the magnetic side of the iPad so I don’t lose it. Yay! I had some fun experimenting and drew this a few minutes ago (took about an hour):

character 1

Then I decided to add some freckles:

character freckles 2

I’ve decided I LOVE the Jot Pro stylus! It’s very responsive and with the little round see through surface, I’m able to add fine detail to things.

3. It’s raining here today. Though I love that this means I won’t have to water my flowers, the kids broke all the umbrellas (they think they’re toys no matter how many times I tell them not to touch unless it’s raining) so I’m trying to stay inside today. However, the kids have a 1/2 day of school so I’ll likely have to drive to the bus stop to pick them up (they ride the bus home now to save gas $$) so they won’t get their little heads rained upon.

4. Next week is finals. I’m not overly concerned since they are take home tests—open book and everything (I love my history teacher). Next Tuesday will be my last “official” day of school. Monday the 7th I’ll have to go back to ceramics to pick up my finished projects, but that doesn’t really count as a class IMO. I’m excited that it’s almost over, but also sad since I won’t be going back next semester (and maybe not the semester after that).

5. I got an email from my amazing agent with fabulous feedback on my YA yesterday! Can I just say again that she’s amazing?! Some of the things she pointed out were “duh” moments, but I never would have seen them if she hadn’t pointed them out to me. There are LOTS of problems with this MS (I did tell her it was a mess before sending it to her), and I emailed back to ask if she thought it was worth fixing or if I should move on. We’ll see what she says.

6. I’m going to work on my MG today. I do love this story, but I did ask amazing agent if she wanted to look at what I have so far to see if it’s suitable for the market before I spend too much time on a MS that won’t sell. I have so many other ideas waiting for me that it’s good to have someone who can guide me and let me know what to work on. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.

I hope you all have a great Thursday!!

Write on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Three

1. This week the kids have been doing AIMS testing. As a reward for their hard work (and because we needed to go visit family on Sunday anyway), we planned a trip to Tucson. We plan to visit Flandrau Science Center on Saturday and then spend some time on Sunday with my sister and brother-in-law so we can see their new baby boy (born at the beginning of this month). As always happens when we try to plan something, we aren’t sure we’ll make it. Hubby started feeling lousy yesterday. He has a sore throat and is coughing a bit. *sigh* We’ll see how things are tomorrow and then make a decision (hopefully in time to cancel hotel reservations). The kids have been very understanding about the possible cancellation (a couple of them are actually hoping we don’t go since they had planned to spend time with friends on Saturday). Still, I hope we are able to go since it will be good to get away and have some fun . . . and see the new nephew.

2. I’ve been doing some writing on the MG and revising on the YA. Things are going well in both of them (and a huge thanks to a certain critique buddy who has been sending a few chapters of the YA at a time with the most awesome feedback!!). While working on the projects, ideas for new works have tried to tempt me away. I’m holding strong and only taking down notes instead of dropping everything to play with the new shiny—a big step for me since I like new shiny things.

3. Speaking of new shiny things, about a week ago, I got a shiny new iPad! I wasn’t going to get one since I didn’t think it would be useful to me and would only distract me from my work—but hubby got one and I discovered the world of technology and apps at my fingertips! To tell the truth, the main reason I gave in and got one of my own was because of school. No. Really! There’s this awesome app called AudioNote where I can record the lectures and type notes at the same time (we got the Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad) and the notes are synched and time stamped to the lecture. So if I have a question about one of my notes or just want to hear a section again I click on my note, and it plays back that part of the lecture! Also, my History 105 book that I bought for Kindle only works on PC, Mac, or iPad so I had been trying to read it off my laptop each week—not fun. Though the iPad screen isn’t as easy on my eyes as the e-ink display of my Kindle, it’s easier and much more fun on the iPad. I can zoom in on a page of text or a map or picture in the book with the touch of my fingers. So cool!! I still prefer my Kindle for reading everything else. There’s also this App called OnLive Desktop where I can send my Word documents to my iPad and work on them there! So I can take my writing with me in a much smaller and easier to carry/work with format (cause that Bluetooth keyboard rocks).

And that’s not all the iPad can do. I broke down and spent about $6 to purchase the ArtRage app for iPad! This is the program I use at my laptop for drawing/sketching on my Intuos 4 tablet. I do like the tablet better than the iPad just because the stylus for the tablet is better than the stylus I stole—um borrowed from hubby for the iPad. The stylus hubby bought just has this large round rubbery thing on the end of it and it doesn’t work so well when trying to do fine detail work. Still, it’s much better than using my finger. Here are a couple of drawings I did as experiments on the iPad:

Tulip drawn on iPadMoon over water drawn on iPad


If any of my artist friends know of a stylus for iPad that is more “art friendly,” let me know. Not that I plan on spending a lot of time drawing on the iPad or anything. *blush*

There are apps to help the kids with their math and everything so it’s useful that way too (and, yes, we let the kids use them too). Also there is this horribly addicting app called Magic Piano (by Smule) that I’ve fallen in love with (thanks, sis for that—not!). Too much fun!!! Eh-hem. But really I’ve been working on my writing. Honest. The iPad fun is done after hours.

Do any of you have iPads? If so, what are your favorite apps? If you don’t have an iPad, do you want one and why or why not?


Write on!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Recent Reads Reviews

Try saying that three times fast. Winking smile

It’s time for me to get back into posting book reviews on my blog. I’ve decided to change up the format from my old Novel Novel Review days and try something new. Everyone uses stars or asterisks so I’m going to use emoticons instead.

Open-mouthed smile--WOW—I loved this book and have talked about/shared it with others.

Smile--Not totally in love, but this was a great book and I may talk about/share it with others.

Thinking smile--This was okay. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favorite.

Sad smile--This wasn’t for me. I stopped reading and couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Steaming mad--How did this get published?

If you happen to be the author of one of the books I review, please remember this is my honest opinion. Don’t hate me if I don’t give your book a great big happy grin. I am only one reader in the whole wide readership and I’m sure there are those who’ll love your work—it just wasn’t me.

And so, for my first Recent Reads Review:

The Skeleton’s Knife by Joni Sensel—Open-mouthed smile—I’ve loved the Farwalker books from the moment I read The Farwalker’s Quest. Reading The Skeleton’s Knife was bittersweet for me; it’s the last book in the trilogy, and I’m sorry to see Ariel’s adventures end. But if beloved characters and world have to end, this is a great way to do it. I loved this book so much more than the second book (though not as much as the first). Sensel has a way of building a world and characters that grab on and don’t let go. The Skeleton’s Knife is the perfect blend of character and action that kept me reading through to the last page. Though the ending was quite satisfying, I admit, I still want more. But, as the song says, “you can’t always get what you want.”

The story—Ariel Farwalker is torn between the two young men she loves and struggles to discover which love to choose. Complicated as love is, the haunting past is even more so. In order to look to her future, Ariel must set out on an adventure to put the past and its memories to rest. After retrieving the Skeleton’s Knife, she must take it where it belongs. Though dead, the knife’s owner is bent on revenge. In order to save a life and have any hope for the future, Ariel must journey into a forbidding land where she will discover the truth about love and the power of forgiveness.


Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull—Open-mouthed smile—I thought Mull was a genius fantasy writer when I read the Fablehaven series, and my opinion hasn’t changed with this new series. Though a bit slower moving than Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, I enjoyed the continued adventures of Jason and Rachel. And what adventures! Who wouldn’t want to be swallowed by a hippo or walk through an arch and end up in a new world? Okay, I’d choose the walking through the arch over the hippo method, but still—awesome! There was a nice balance between the two main characters, but I identified with and enjoyed Rachel’s story more in this book (the first book concentrated more on Jason IMO—which isn’t a problem). After the way this book ended, I can’t wait for the next Beyonders novel!

The story—After returning to his world, Jason finds himself longing for Lyrian and the friends he left behind there. Knowing he has valuable information that could change the course of the quest only makes him more desperate to get back. But going back will mean putting himself in danger since he’s at the top of Maldor’s most wanted list. In Jason’s absence, Rachel and the rest of their friends in Lyrian have continued their struggles against Maldor. Their most promising asset is Rachel and her newly discovered abilities—if she can learn to use them. In spite of the dangers, Jason finds his way back to Lyrian in time to warn his friends, but the information he shares sets the friends on a new and dangerous path to get the rebellion formed before Maldor can crush it and all of them.


Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin—Smile—I won an ARC of this novel and was kind of unsure about reading it. Not that the story didn’t sound awesome (cause it does), but because I’ve always loved Poe and don’t think anyone can do his work proud. I’m kind of wrong. Griffin interprets Poe’s tale into a vivid and imaginative dark novel. The only reason it doesn’t get a big huge smiley face from me is because I don’t care for the drug/alcohol abuse instances in the book. I know I’m a prude when it comes to this, and I’ve overlooked it before, but there was quite a bit of it in this one which made it difficult to get away from. True, the drug/alcohol abuse added to the darkness of the novel and character, but I think it would have worked just as well with less. In spite of the drug use, it gets a happy face because I enjoyed the dark, diseased world Griffin created—and I do want to read the next book.

The story—Araby hasn’t known a world without the plague and Prince Prospero’s rule, but she longs for one. The rich wear masks to protect them from the plague, and the poor die by the thousands. Corpse collectors and wagons piled high with the dead aren’t an uncommon sight. The dark atmosphere of her world makes it near impossible for Araby to deal with the death of her twin brother. Instead of facing it, she loses herself to the Debauchery Club, and the escape of drugs and alcohol it offers. At least until Araby finds a new escape in two young men and the different worlds each has to offer.


And that will do it for the Recent Reads Reviews for now. I have some other reads and hope to get reviews of them up soon.


Read on.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Five

1. The kids go back to school on Monday!!! Um . . . and so do I. Did you notice the lack of exclamation points there? Yeah. Having this week off made me realize how nice it is not to have to worry about getting to class. I haven’t worn make-up or styled my hair all week and have hardly left the house (thus the lack of make-up and hair style). Crazy as it is to admit this, it was NICE. The kids were here with me so I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but I managed to do a bit. But it’s been relaxing and I’ve enjoyed not rushing to get everything done. I realized my days are okay most of the time, but the evenings when I have school are hectic (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). Tuesday the kids have scouts and church activities so it makes it even more rushed. I miss the quiet life.

2. All this has made me reconsider signing up for classes in the fall. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the classes I’ve taken, but my heart just isn’t in it anymore. Not even ceramics. I find myself dreading having to go to class on Monday mornings. Once I get there, I have a good time creating and it has helped my creativity and desire to write . . . but I never stay the entire class time like I did last time I took it (class is from 8:30-2:20). I usually arrive around 9:00 and leave just after noon. This makes me sad. But I also think it might be a good thing because I’ll be able to let it go without much regret (I hope). I’m still not sure what I’ll do about the fall semester, but Spring Break has really made me think.

3. We are going to have a little trip today. Going to drive to Scottsdale to the Apple Store. Hubby is buying an iPad 3 for himself. I bought him an iPad for Valentine’s Day thinking he would be so happy (since he’s wanted one for years). He wasn’t. He thanked me very kindly for the iPad and asked if I wanted to take it back because the new iPad would be released sometime very soon. LOL Yeah, I had no idea! I happily took it back and we waited. The money I’d gotten back from returning the iPad ended up going to buy other things, but we saved up enough to get him one today. He’s excited. I kind of am too because I’d like to see what all the hype is about. The kids have had iPod touches for years and loved them. I just got one a couple of months ago—but since I don’t listen to music much, it’s kind of a waste for me. It was sort of an “extra” and only cost me $100—daughter broke hers, I bought her a new one, and we got the broken one replaced—so it’s not a total waste. Plus, I get to play Angry Birds on it. Our youngest son is the only child who doesn’t have his own iPod touch and he plays with “mine” a lot. I’m thinking of giving it to him since I really don’t use it.

4. I want brownies. I’m too lazy to make them. I won’t have brownies.

5. The snow we got on Sunday and Monday is all melted away and it’s feeling Spring-like today. I’m not sure how long it will last, but it’s put me in the mood to do some cleaning. This got me thinking about Spring Cleaning and how it relates to writing (it does—bear with me).

Revising a manuscript is a lot like spring cleaning. We’ve gone through the motions of fixing a few things here and there as we wrote (or not—depending on your method), but we know there are still a few things that need deeper cleaning.  After letting the manuscript sit for a while with out much being done to it (or ignoring it completely—like those places under the sink etc.), we pull it out.

Now it’s time to dive in and really get down to work. We obliterate the sticky cobwebs (weedy words), polish those sentences (tightening), and take away all the dust (back story and exposition). When all is said and done, our manuscript is clean and polished and all ready for spring (submission).

See? I told you revision is like spring cleaning. I’ve almost finished the spring cleaning of my YA manuscript (20 pages to go). Then I get to go back to the MG and finish rewriting it—then it will be time to spring clean it as well (though I’m doing quite a bit of that as I go along—it’s kind of a rewrite/revise situation).

I hope you all have a great weekend (and clean up those manuscripts)!

Write Clean on!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Five

1. We had fun on President’s Day. We took the kids to the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. We saw the Van Gogh Live exhibit. Though I didn’t get to spend as much time in there as I would have liked 9the kids weren’t as interested in it as I was). Still, it was nice to get to see it. We also went to the Imax theatre at the center to see Hubble 3D. I had no idea the Hubble telescope could see so far into space! Awesome experience! We ended up purchasing a yearly membership so we plan to go back at least one other time this year (hopefully more than once).

2. I started a new picture book but after re-reading it, I’m thinking it might be too scary for kids. LOL Yeah, my imagination is warped. I’ve put it on hold for a little while until I can figure out how to fix it.

3. J has been home from school all this week with a bronchial infection (she went to the doctor on Tuesday and got antibiotics). It’s awful to hear her coughing and not be able to do anything about it. Sometimes she coughs so hard she says it hurts her chest. Poor thing. Um . . . I really hope she doesn’t pass it on to anyone else. Thank goodness for Lysol/Clorox wipes and spray!

4. I have a PowerPoint presentation for History 102 due on Tuesday. My topic is the 1918 flu epidemic. I have another PowerPoint presentation for History 105 due on March 5th with Charles Dickens as my topic. Both presentations only have to be about 10 minutes long. The hard part for me won’t be putting them together, but not getting carried away and making them too long. LOL

5.  Yesterday was crazy! I had so much to do and was feeling sluggish. I didn’t get everything done that I needed to, but at least I accomplished SOMETHING! J was still home sick and that made it harder, but she’s pretty good about not bugging me every five seconds so I was able to get a bit of writing done before I had to get busy on household stuff. I still have piles of laundry to get through today, and the dishes need washing (they never end). In spite of still having housework to do, I’m hoping to still get some revising time in. I miss working on my MG!

Enjoy the weekend!

Write on.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Five

1. I’ve been having fun illustrating with my new Wacom Intuos4 Wireless Tablet. Here’s a little something I did to try out my Autodesk Sketchbook program (it came as a free download when I got my tablet).

Unicorn in color light blue and grey2

I like Autodesk Sketchbook, but I like ArtRage Pro better (though I had to pay for it).

Any illustrators out there who have an illustrating program they prefer to use?

I also have Corel Painter Sketch Pad and a trial of OpenCanvas, but I’m new to this whole computer illustration thing and have found ArtRage Pro and Autodesk Sketchbook to be the most user friendly (cause I’m lame—I mentioned that, right?). Still, it’s been nice to have another creative outlet since I missed ceramics class for the last two weeks.

2. I’ve resisted temptation to play with the tablet today and did a bit of work on my middle grade novel instead (it was HARD to resist the call of the tablet). When I’m done with this post, I’ll continue to resist the tablet temptation and go back to writing. I’m not sure I’ll keep working on the MG though. I have a new picture book idea that’s been bouncing around in my head and I may work on that instead.

3. We had a quiz in History 102 on Tuesday night. Last night we got the results (the class is two nights a week—Tue and Thur). I passed, but only because the teacher threw out some of the questions we all got wrong (they were kind of tricky and she felt bad that no one got them right). After that quiz, I’m even more nervous about the History 105 quiz I took on Monday. I still don’t know my score for that one (had a fever brain that night)—and since Monday is President’s Day, I won’t know for a week after that!!! Since it’s the same teacher as my History 102 class, I’m hoping she’ll be lenient in 105 too!

4.  Since there’s no classes on Monday, I won’t be able to go to ceramics AGAIN! That’s three weeks in a row. *frown* That means I’ll probably have to take some time next week to play around with the tablet more. *grin*

5. Valentine’s Day was okay. It started out rough, the two sick kids from Monday were still sick and had to stay home. Thank goodness their teachers said they could come back at the end of the day to join in the Valentine’s Day celebrations in class or they might have recreated the St. Valentine’s Day massacre at my house! Hubby gave me a card and some Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates (my favorite). We think alike because I got him the same thing (he loves those chocolates too). We had a good laugh about that. I did have class on Tuesday night and the above mentioned quiz, but after class ended at around 8:00, hubby took me out to dinner. It was Y-U-M-M-Y!!

May your weekend be all you want it to be!

Write on.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Woe is Monday

The past week wasn’t nice to me. I had one child home sick from Tuesday to Thursday. I started a marathon house cleaning effort on Wednesday that continued all through the weekend (this is what happens when you let things go far too long). Now I’m in pain. Yes, I hurt myself cleaning house—it’s dangerous business.

It was the sweeping/vacuuming that did me in—or maybe it was the thousand loads of laundry or mopping the floor. I doubt it was the loading of the dishwasher since I do that all the time with no ill effects. I think I need to get a doctor’s note to excuse me from housework in the future.

Of course, cleaning out the minivan didn’t help. I would have put off that cleaning job had the rotten thing not griped and complained and gone on strike. But after 124,000 miles on original parts and no trips to the car doctor for a check-up, it threatened to quit if it’s demands weren’t met. So I had to clean it out, removing stacks of papers shoved under the seat—that I suspect are missing homework assignments. Old hamburger wrappers tossed toward—but missing—the garbage sack hung lovingly between the driver and passenger seats. Then there were the piles of rocks my kids like to collect—and not just gravel dragged in off the playground, but larger specimens as well (called “pretty rocks” at our house). Then I had to vacuum the van to get up the smashed pretzels/popcorn/chips/I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-know-what-it-was off the seats and floor. Once finished we took the van to the car doctor so he could tell us it will cost $1400 or more to cure what ails it and get it back to work.

I’m driving the Mazda Protégé today—which doesn’t make E happy since it means he isn’t driving it. It’s an old car and in need of a trip to the car doctor itself. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it starts making demands and goes on strike as well.

Of course all my sore muscles might not be from housework at all but from whatever illness is causing me to run a slight fever today. But I like the idea that the illness is Toomuch Houseworkitis so I’m going to stick with that theory.

It’s more likely that it’s a real virus or something since I have two kids sick and home from school today. This means I wasn’t able to go to school this morning either—and the class I missed was ceramics and I WANTED to go. I have History 105 tonight AND we’re supposed to have a quiz. Things are not looking good for passing the quiz tonight. History is hard enough for me without having a fever brain on top of it. *sigh*

I hope this week improves (and that I won’t get super sick from whatever illness is invading my system). Even with the kids home today I’ve managed to do a bit of writing. I can’t guarantee it makes any sense (ditto for this blog post) or that I won’t have to redo every last word of it, but that happens even when I don’t have a fever brain so I can’t really blame it on that—well, I can, but I won’t.

Hope you all have a great Monday and a happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

Write on (but don’t clean on—it’s dangerous).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Six on a Sleepy Saturday

I missed posting yesterday so I’ll throw one up today.

1. The dogs were on crack or something yesterday. They kept running inside and jumping at the gate (sounded like someone was bouncing a ball or something). After being driven insane by that all day, when we brought them inside and locked them in the kennels (that’s what we do at night) all they did was whine and cry. I put them out many times to use the restroom—thinking that was the trouble—and gave them water to drink and everything I could think of (I even sprayed them with a squirt bottle). But they wouldn’t shut up! So I haven’t had more than a couple of hours of sleep. I’m tired.

2. When I went to buy dog food at the pet store, they were out of the brand I usually buy so I bought them some Blue Buffalo. I wonder if that was the reason for the extra hyper-activeness? It might be because one of them is inside jumping at the gate again today. *sigh* They better behave tonight or—yeah, I don’t know what I’ll do. Probably whine and cry and bawl right along with them (and change dog food on Monday).

3. Even though I’m tired, I’m going to try to get a little bit of work done on the rewrite of my MG. Things are going well with it and I’m super excited to be rewriting it. I’ve always loved the story and characters and I hope this rewrite will do the trick (I’ve learned quite a bit since I first wrote it eight years ago).

4. We were going to go to Flagstaff today, but since the dogs kept us up all night, we will probably just stay home. This doesn’t make the kids happy as they wanted to visit grandma and grandpa and eat at Peter Piper Pizza, but that’s the way things go.

5. Because they were up all night too, the dogs slept in this morning—which meant hubby and I got to sleep in a little. Youngest son, JR, came in at about 8:30 to ask if he should get a bath before going to his friend’s birthday party at 10:00. Hubby took pity on me (he got slightly more sleep than me and doesn’t have trouble sleeping during the day like I do) and took JR to buy a birthday present and then to the party. <3 that man!

6. I’m trying to win me some Jodi-mitts so, despite my exhaustion, I spent the morning drawing an entry for the contest Jodi Meadows is having. Check out the details on her blog. The contest ends tonight, but there’s still a little time to enter (you don’t have to draw anything—it gives extra entries—all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog post for an entry). Anyway, here is the drawing I did.

Butterfly dragon color scan


I hope you all have a great weekend!

Write on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creating = Writing + Chocolate cake is dangerous

Yesterday was my first ceramics class of the semester. It’s been a year since last I did ceramics. I missed it! I decided to make a Christmas-ish container type thing—it was a spur of the moment/what the heck am I going to make/I have to do something besides sit here situation. We’ll see how it turns out after it dries and is fired, glazed, and fired again.

Anyway, by the time the class was over, I had thought through some issues in my MG (making ceramics doesn’t use all my concentration) and wanted to rush home and work on it. I couldn’t because I had to pick the kids up from school (the class goes from 8:3-2:20 and the kids get out at 2:15). After I picked them up from school, I rushed home (drove a little over the speed limit) in the hopes of getting to work on it.

Alas, I had to do some house cleaning because my parents called and were on their way to my house. It was great to see them, but the weather was turning nasty and they had to rush away after only a few minutes. Still, at least the dishes were done and the floors swept and mopped. I hoped to get to writing then, but my cousin called with some questions and then my sister called with an update on my brother (he’s been in the hospital since Sunday with complications from an appendectomy). By the time I got off the phone, I had ten minutes to get to my evening History class.

The class went well, and I really think I’m going to like it, but when I got home, I had to help the kids with homework and get some food in me (hubby made dinner) and then I was exhausted!

Today I was supposed to help out in the kids’ school library. I ditched so I could do some writing and also read the chapter I need to read before class tonight.

The point of all this is that I’m back! I’m no longer in a writing funk and WANT to write again. YAY!!

Those of you who have been there will understand my excitement. I was hoping the ceramics class would due the trick and am pleased that it did (even though I didn’t get the time to write yesterday). I’m not sure the librarian is very happy, but sometimes volunteer work has to be put on the back burner for a while.

I’m working on my MG today (though I’m taking a break to blog—and then get some breakfast/brunch) and things have been going well so far this morning. I hope to accomplish more before I have to go get the kids from school (I’ll do my History reading after I get them since class isn’t until 6:00 tonight).

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking. How do you get out of your writing funk? Are you the type of person who just writes even when you don’t feel like it? Do you have another creative outlet you do (crochet, drawing, painting, photography, etc.) to help get your creativity flowing? Or do you have something else that may not necessarily be creative that you do to help get your writing groove back?

Write/Share on!

Edited to add:

Chocolate Cake Is Dangerous!

I decided my breakfast/brunch would be a piece of the Entenmann’s Chocolate Fudge Cake that hubby brought home yesterday (he brought home two and we ate the other one after dinner). As I opened the box, I cut my pinky finger! OUCH!! Stinking cardboard cuts! It sliced off a little bit of skin and is stinging and bleeding a little. I managed to scrounge around and found what I’m pretty sure is the last band-aid in the house. It stuck together when I was trying to put it on and I mangled it a bit, but managed to get the cut covered (so I won’t bleed all over my keyboard).

Now I’m sitting down with a sliced finger, a slice of cake, and a glass of milk (we’ll pretend this is a balanced and nutritious meal). Mmmm. It’s worth it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Five

1. I’m pretty sure K had a seizure last night/early this morning. All I know is that when I went to wake her up for school, she had wet her bed and drooled all over (poor girl). I got her up and into a bath and then she started complaining of a huge headache and feeling like she was going to throw up—which always happens after a big seizure. She doesn’t usually wet the bed (though she does tend to drool a bit) and when coupled with the headache and nausea, I’m pretty sure had an episode. I just wish I knew how long it lasted and how bad it was. She didn’t seem to have bitten her tongue this time at least.

2. After all that, she still wanted to go to school. I tried to convince her to stay home, but she insisted. I gave her children’s ibuprofen and off we went. When we arrived at school, she was still complaining of a headache and nausea. It took her teacher telling her to go home that finally did it, but only after K made me promise she could go back if she felt better later. She came home and slept for about an hour and wanted to go back to school. I grudgingly took her and hope she will be okay for the rest of the day. The teacher knows what to look out for, but I still worry.

3. I got a little bit of writing done while she was sleeping on my bed. It was hard because I was trying to type softly so as not to wake her. I never realized how LOUD typing can be until I was trying to be quiet! Dang! Those little key strokes are noisy!

4. Yesterday morning, I sent of the third PB manuscript for the series my agent suggested. I had also sent her a Christmas PB manuscript. She’s been sick and emailed that she’d get to them as soon as she possibly can. Poor woman! I can’t imagine trying to work and fight off the whooping cough at the same time. Anyway, I told her I’d work on my YA or MG stuff until I hear back from her. Yesterday I worked on one of my new YA projects and again this morning. But, if I do any more writing today, I think I’ll work on my MG for a while.

5. I’m feeling run down because I haven’t been getting enough sleep and am thinking of taking a nap when I’m done with this post—writing can wait, right? I mean, if I write when I’m tired, I may end up with a more mixed up and crazy world than Alice’s Wonderland!

Write Sleep on!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Five—um, I mean—Thirteen

In honor of this most wonderful superstitious filled day.

1. I’ve signed up to attend college classes (9 credit hours)

2. College started on Wednesday. My first class was to be last night (U. S. History II), but the college called at about noon to tell me the teacher dropped the class for lack of students.

3. Since that class was dropped, I signed up for another class that was to be held last night (Psychology).

4. The college called at about 3:30 to say they found another teacher to teach the History class that the other teacher had dropped.

5. I dropped Psychology (they are on the same night and time) and re-signed up for History, but the class was cancelled for Thursday night since the new teacher needed some time to get a lesson plan together. Our first class will be on Tuesday evening.

6. I have Ceramics on Monday morning and History 105 (Western Civilization II) on Monday nights. Since MLK day is on Monday, I won’t get to attend these classes until January 23.

7. January 23 is AFTER the add/drop date so I really hope I like them—I know I love ceramics, but am concerned about the History class especially since I will be taking two of them this semester. What was I thinking???!!!

8. I was going to take a drawing class this semester, but decided to drop it because the class was Wednesday mornings. If I would have kept it, I’d be gone all day Monday for Ceramics (8:30-2:20), all day Tuesday to volunteer at the kids’ school library (9:00-2:15), and most of Wednesday (8:30-12:50) for the Drawing class. I also volunteer at the library part of Thursday mornings. That would have left me NO WRITING TIME!! AHHH. It was painful to drop the drawing class, but it had to be done. I’ll take it another semester.

9. One “fun” class is enough (ceramics) and I needed to fill the other two slots with “serious” classes. Hopefully it was the right decision, but I can’t help wondering if I should have taken two “fun” classes and only one “serious” class. Winking smile 

10. It’s been cold and windy here the last few days. I’m ready for spring!

11. I haven’t been in the mood to write much lately. I’ve still been trying, but it’s hard to make the words come. I’ll probably have to delete everything I’ve written and start over when I’m finally back in the groove of things.

12.  I’ve fallen off my Wii Fit wagon. I was aiming for “playing” it every day in hopes of getting a little bit in shape, but I only made it three days in a row. Of course, it doesn’t help that the kids take the Wii Fit platform out of my room so they can play it in the living room (yes, we have two Wii systems—one for the kids and one for hubby and I . . . we’re geeks, okay?). I’d tell them to leave it in here and ban them from taking it, but how can I deny them the chance to exercise too? Maybe I should break down and buy another Wii Fit system. *sigh*

13. I’ve delayed as much as I can (well, I’m sure I can find some other distraction if I REALLY wanted to) with online time and need to get some writing done. Unfortunately, it hasn’t felt fun for me lately and I’m approaching it like it’s a chore. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I need to get out of this funk soon!!! I love writing---I just don’t want to do it right now. I know this mood will change, I just don’t know when.

Well, I made it all the way to 13 (I wasn’t sure I would). Hope you all have a wonderful and LUCKY Friday the 13th.

Write on.