Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!

Our Christmas tree isn't uniform or color coded like the fancy trees in the stores. It isn't perfect and is a little crowded. (It's also fake because I'm allergic to pine!)

There are things Sister and I have made,

There is stuff mom made,

There are decorations that mark times in our lives. Like the ornament I got for my first Christmas, (that makes it twenty years old!)

We even have two stars! (Second star to the right and straight on till morning!)

Our tree is full of us. In my opinion, that makes it better than perfect. 

My favorite grouping of holiday decorations (every available surface in the living room is covered with stuff!) is my mom's village made entirely of the Baileys collectible houses (that only come out at Christmas!).

My favorite holiday dessert is Grandma's Sugar Cookies. If you're interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll email you. All you get for now is this year's icing was made with icing sugar, food coloring, and Bailey's. They taste amazing!

My favorite holiday drink is Peppermint Hot Chocolate. For every 5 ounces of hot chocolate, add 1 ounce of peppermint schnapps (and a little extra if you're like mom and I!). Make sure to dust the rim with sugar. Add a cinnamon stick or peppermint candy cane as a garnish and you're good to go!

Thanks for stopping by and for joining in on this blog fest! Sharing Christmas with my blogger family is a brilliant beginning to an epic holiday season. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

PS. After I finish visiting everyone for the blog fest, I will be taking a hiatus from blogging over the holiday season - my baby sister is coming home tomorrow and I want to spend as much time with family as possible. I'll see you in January!

Please try and stop by as many other blogs as you can and share the holiday spirit, we have so many awesome participants and Jen and I are absolutely amazed at the turn out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking with Grandma... a lot like writing

There are traditions, things that need to be done a certain way. Even if Grandma isn't exactly sure why things need to be done that way anymore.

There is a tried and true recipe. There's a reason everyone raves about Grandma's cookies.

That being said, if you learn the traditions, if you learn the recipes, if you know them as well as Grandma....then you can start substituting. You can play because you understand the fundamentals.

I mean, not even Grandma's going to bemoan you for swapping the milk in the icing for Bailey's. It's still creamy, still does the job of wetting the icing. But everyone likes a kick of alcohol (even as infinitesimal as in a bit of icing) on Christmas when dealing with family.*

* To clarify, I don't need to get drunk in order to deal with my family. I like them. I'm just...stereotyping.

Also, my Grandma isn't as rigid as this may make her sound. She's cool. And I have high standards, in case you're wondering. If you met my Grandparents, you'd love them. Everyone does.

Are you ready to start playing with the rules of writing? Do you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crazy Holiday Blogfest

Christine Danek is hosting the Crazy Holiday Blogfest. The only real prerequisite is that it needs to be about the holidays. Which is good because I didn't have time to write a snippet, instead, I'm going to tell you about my families Christmas tradition.

Christmas with my family is all about bartering, trading and negotiations.


That's understandable. Most families traditions are about a big dinner and exchanging gifts and, while we have that too, it's not the main event. We do something called the pie-pull.

How it works is each household (there's five: Grandparents, Uncle B, Uncle S, Uncle D and Mom) all buy a bunch of small gifts, well to be more accurate we'll buy bigger gifts and break them down into smaller pieces. For example, if someone bought Monopoly they'd separate the game into about six or seven pieces and wrap them individually. Once the presents are wrapped (generally in Newspaper and before we all meet) we attach strings to the gifts and fill a basket with as many presents as will fit. We drape the strings over the edge and then cover the top with a blanket.

We take turns calling out names for people to pick their string. Your draw is entirely up to chance. You unwrap your present which is sometimes already whole and sometimes just a piece of a set.

After there's been several pulls and we all see what everyone else has - including other pieces we need for sets we want to complete - we start bartering and trading with each other. You have to convince other people to trade with you so you can get what you want - and some people in my family drive very hard bargains!

You have to use every tactic at your disposal. Beg! Charm! Flatter! Guilt!

Last year my Cousin M and I were both trying to complete the same set (that was broken into like 15 pieces) and competition like that makes for a very interesting evening. (In case you're wondering, I ended up with most of it but realized he wanted the set more than I did and gave it to him - for everything else he had. Yeah, I only seem nice.)

Anyways, it's pretty much the funnest thing ever and every Christmas Eve (it's a Swedish thing) is full of awesome.

To check out more entries, go here.

Do you have any holiday traditions?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harry Potter Christmas Blogfest

Today is Michael's Harry Potter Blogfest! We had to write a scene during the holiday season featuring any of the Harry Potter characters we wanted. I picked James and Lily and is exactly 500 words.


James Potter tucks his golden snitch into his pocket and grabs a present with flying broomstick wrapping paper from the table. Lily Evans just walked through the portrait hole. “Oy Evans!”

Lily twirls her willow wand, “No need to shout Potter. I’m not deaf.”

“I know. I’m just making sure you can’t use your ‘I didn’t hear you’ excuse today.” James runs a hand through his hair and thrusts the package towards Lily, “I got you something. For Christmas.”

Lily’s green eyes narrow and she pokes her wand at the sloppy bow atop the present. It flops in a rather pathetic matter. “Is it going to explode?”

“I’d never-” James sees the girls face twist in rage and back pedals, “Oh come off it Evans, that was once in first year!”

She glares and her foot taps to the beat of a condemning metronome.

“Okay fine, maybe it was thirteen times but I’ve evolved since then.”

“Have you?” Lily taps her wand against her shoulder. “Will it turn my hair green and silver?”

“It won’t even add gold highlights. I like your hair far too much.”

Lily looks a tad worried, “Is it chocolates filled with love potion then?”

Sirius Black snorts from the red armchair closest to the fire, “He didn’t think of that one, no.”

She must decide James hasn’t the potions skills for she moves on, “Will I get a nose bleed?”

“I’d never harm you.”

“Will I contract Dragon Pox and end up in St. Mungo’s so you can sit at my bedside and act like some knight in Quidditch clad armour?”

James rolls his shoulders and pushes the present under her nose, “I just said it’s not going to hurt you.”

“It won’t dismember, mar, or taint me in anyway? I won’t be angry?”

“I swear on my overly inflated head and Quidditch Captainship.” James holds his hand to his heart.

Lily waits for him to burst into laughter and say it’s all a joke. When he doesn’t, she says “Okay then-”

He grins, “Merry Christmas Evans.”

“Can I finish? I was going to say, if it’s perfectly harmless you won’t mind keeping it.” And with that, Lily Evans turns on her heel and stomps up the girl’s staircase.

Sirius laughs, “Better luck next time mate.”

James chucks the present at his head. “She likes me.”

“Yes and next year you’ll be Head Boy and Girl, she’ll realize she was terribly wrong about you, you’ll fall madly in love, get married and have a kid. People will never forget the beautiful love story of Lily and James Potter.”

James pulls the snitch from his pocket and its wings graze the tips of his fingers. “Our son will be a Quidditch star! There’ll be photos of him all over the Daily Prophet and he’ll be mentioned in books! He’ll be famous. You just wait and see Padfoot. Everybody in the Wizarding world will know his name.”

Sirius palms his face and sighs melodramatically, “I was kidding.”

To check out the other entries, go here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Protected characters means decreased reader interest

This September, my baby sister went to a University in a Alberta. (For those unfamiliar with Canadian geography or have forgotten where I, myself, live I'll simplify: she moved to a different Province.)

This past weekend, something awful happened to her. (I won' bore you with details.) I had so many solutions, so many ways for her to avoid it. When it was clear avoidance was impossible, the distance between us stretched to ridiculous proportions (at least in my head it did). If I was there, I could've accompanied her, eased the tension and given her support.

I came to an awful realization: I couldn't protect her.

The sad truth is we can't always protect the people we love. Even when it kills us not to be there. And, sometimes, protecting them is really just sheltering them and we're, in a round about way, only hurting them. When something huge happens and they have to deal with it themselves, the lack of small successes over the years, really shows. 

It's the same in our books. No matter how much you love your characters, you can't protect them. If you do, you're only hurting your story. You are actually doing a disservice - no one wants to read about characters when their problems are too easy and it is obvious the author is coddling them.

As awful as this sounds: it's good that my heart breaks and I want to cry when I think of all the stuff my characters must survive during my trilogy.

Twisted? Maybe. True? Undoubtedly.

Do you struggle with hurting your characters? Or is it easy? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anticipating 2011

I've never been a goal-setter. To be candid, I've never seen the point and never done a good job at actually keeping the goals that I say I'm going to do.

That's why I'm, honestly, a bit surprised that I succeeded with NaNo. Say what you will about it being too short a time to write so many words, but what NaNo really gave me was a goal and a group of like-minded people with that same goal. Their was a sense of accountability - if I did my normal routine of getting bored and stopping, people were going to know.

With the success of NaNo in mind, I've decided that 2011 is going to be a year of goals and I'm immortalizing these goals on my blog so that I can't back out. If I don't accomplish them, I'll have to answer to all of you.

I know it's a little early to post my new year's goals (as in a month early) but I figure with the holidays and all it will be easier to get it out there now. (Also I can't back out and change my mind in the next month if I do it now!)

Goals for 2011 (That I'll start in January)

*Finish the edits on my recently completed MS

*Start sending out queries by November

*Exercise for at least half an hour every day (it's way too easy during the school months and spending a lot of my free time writing not to do anything - and that's no good!)

*Get a regular blogging schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday

*Read 110 books in 12 months (Cause if I flip 110 it's 2011 minus the two!). I feel like too often, as writers, we focus too much on our own journey - we say we don't have time to read because we're writing. And that's crap. There isn't an excuse not to read and be a part of this community if I expect to be a part of it and have other people read my books one day. I've let my reading slip and there's no valid excuse for it.

Besides, reading makes you a better writer. Period. (Why wouldn't you want this? See? No excuse cause in the end, it's helping you and your journey too.)

I'll probably mostly read fantasy and paranormal (cause it's my favorite) but I'm branching out to read all genres because, well, why not? I'm even planning to read a few leadership and business books at Mom's insistence (it may help me promote and sell my book one day!).

Do you think I'm insane for wanting to do all of this in 2011 while being a full-time student and getting (hopefully) a job?

Have you made any goals lately? How do you feel about making goals? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Make a splash!

Now that I've officially finished all final school projects I can move onto exams - which is a lot less work! 

The Christmas lights are going up on city streets, businesses are decorating and holiday cheer is everywhere. At the end of the week, I get to make sugar cookies with Grandma and mom. I know it's almost Christmas when my family makes cookies together. 

You'll get to see pictures during Jen and mine Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest. Don't forget to sign up if you haven't yet.

Since today is December 1st, it means it's time for Talli Roland to take over Amazon and you (yes you!) can help.

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. (I did!)


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?