Monday, May 16, 2011

You'll pay for that

To save money, Mom let Grandma cut her hair.A mistake was made on the bangs, and in the attempts to fix it, the problem only got worse. 

Her bangs are now so short and shaggy that it looks like she has a severe mullet. I really can't express how awful it is. I love Mom way to much to take a picture. Seriously, it's so bad, Mom was considering calling in sick to work. (And she is not a vain person.) Grandma even told Mom she didn't want to see her for two weeks. 

Lately, I've been struggling with too little time and too much to do. I was thinking of only half-heartedly editing my novel. What happened to Mom reminded me why that's a bad idea. 

Taking shortcuts shows. If you try to save yourself money, time, or whatever else, you can end up costing yourself more.  You could accidentally make your novel so bad, it can't be seen by the public. Even your family might back away. 

So here's my advice. When you're trying to make your novel better, go to the right people. Don't let someone make changes if you feel they're unqualified. And, for heaven's sake, don't try to take the easy way. In the end, you'll only be adding more grief and stress. 

(I missed Thursdays post last week because Blogger exploded. I took it as a sign from the Universe (that is why I didn't try to make up for it on Friday). So for all of you who suffered from the craziness, it was my fault. The Universe thought I needed to de-stress so it annihilated one of my obligations. Forgive me?)

Have you ever had a horrible haircut? Ever done something to save yourself money or time then later paid for it?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No sides for me thanks!

I'm going to make an outrageous statement (you've been warned).

There should be no side characters in your novels

In real life, there's no such thing as a side character. Everyone is the main character of their own story. Everyone is interesting in their own way. Everyone has something to share, learn and grow from. Everyone has battles. No ones sole purpose is to help someone else's storyline. 

It should be the same in books. 

Characters should never do something based on plot reasons alone. They need their own motivations and reasons for doing everything. It doesn't matter that the reader knows it, it only matters if you do. They should have backstories and an arc, basically, they should be eligible for their very own companion novel.

Because people will notice if your characters are only tools, if they're only there for the MC. And it will make all your characterization seem flat.

Are your side characters fleshed out? Can you think of any examples where every character had their own story? 

Monday, March 28, 2011


Double-sided tape is the best invention ever. Seriously.

And I think you should aspire to the awesomeness of double-sided tape. Here's how:

1. You're story should be smooth with no creases and wrinkles. It should look and seem flawless. (Even if every writer out there knows it took a crapload of effort. It shouldn't look or feel that way.)

2. You want your story to stick with people. You want them to feel it long after they've put it down.

3. You shouldn't waste any words, sentences or scenes. Everything should be multi functional and serving double duty to create layers and impressions and inspire feelings.

How do you achieve all these? With some natural talent, a desire to improve your craft, critique partners who will point out the flaws and a whole lot of revision.

But, if you work hard enough, you can be as awesome as double sided tape!

Good luck.

I apologize for the lameness of this post. School is currently frying my brains. I don't have enough cells left to create something brilliant.

What do you want to be like? How was your weekend?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Zombies should be dead

I understand the interest and psychological associations with vampires (death and lust), werewolves (beast within), goblins (greed), etc, etc. The roots of most mythological creatures have some form in logic. And I appreciate that.

There's one that doesn't. Zombies. What the hell is the point?

They are mindless, rotting corpses, have no character and are obsessed with eating brains. Maybe they are rooted in our gluttony? Maybe people write zombie apocalypses as a way to illustrate how the destruction of mankind will be from us mindlessly turning on each other? Maybe people just want violence?

I don't know.

But with zombie's, we're being cheated of the best part - a villain. 

When a protagonist struggles against the threat, I'm sorry, but they look like morons. If you can't protect yourself against something that can't think...I don't know how you make it through the day. (I do understand it's about the numbers but that just isn't enough to satisfy me.)

Zombies are all the same. The associated plots aren't any better: Impossible odds (numbers and hard to kill), some weird sickness (that is never explained) started it all, it's the apocalypse, blah, blah, blah. They are interchangeable in the worst way.

They're supposed to be scary. But, they aren't. Empty bodies walking around, groaning and moaning doesn't inspire any sort of fear. What scares me the most? The fact that so many people like them. 

Are you pro or anti zombie? 

If you're into zombies please explain why, argue your point! I really do want to know why people like them.

If you hate them, tell me why (so I don't feel like the only person on the planet who does!)!

Is their any other mythological creature you hate/don't understand?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't settle, you deserve more

People, I'm telling you, you need a critique group (or at least a critique partner). Seriously, if you don't have one, you need to go out and get one. Now.

That being said, the first group you join may not be the right one for you. And if that's the case you need to consider cutting them lose. 

Here's some things to keep in mind when deciding if a group is working for you:

1. Are they investing as much energy into your work as you're investing into theirs? 

2. Do you share different writing strengths so that you can truly compliment and help each other?

3. Are your writing levels moderately the same?

4. Are you interested in their stories? (If you aren't, you are setting yourself up for a whole world of pain and agony.)

5. Is the group operating in a way that works for you? (However formal or informal you want that to be.)

6. Do you get along with the other members?

7. Are you happy? (This is, by far, the most important and all the other factors will play into this one.)

Having people you trust who can look at your work objectively is very important. But, don't settle for just anyone. Look for the group that is going to fit you and your story the best.

Do you have a critique group? How did you know it was the right one? 
Have you had any bad experiences with Critique groups? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Act first, think later.

Mia (my cat), my dog, Mom and I were all enjoying a nice walk. Another, off leash dog, came towards us. I put Mia on my shoulder. Unfortunately, her tail was hanging down and the, nameless, black dog sniffed it. 

Mia freaked. Hissing, spitting, and twice her normal size from her fur standing on end, she leaped from my shoulder and hit the floor. 

I tugged so hard on her leash she was airborne, flying back towards me. I grabbed her round the middle and she scrambled onto the back of my neck, all puffy and perturbed. 

I laughed my (according to Mom) nervous If-This-Situation-Actually-Scared-Me-I-May-Burst-Into-Tears-Any-Second laugh. 

Later, Mom described it as just seeing a giant Mia soaring through the air, hitting the ground and then flying again. The entire thing took seconds. Mom couldn't even sort out what was happening while it did. 

But to me, the situation was very clear. Mia, my four pound ball of fluff, being on the ground with two 60+ pound dogs who want to play with her, while she's terrified, was an awful situation. 

I didn't think. I just reacted. Thoughts and all that other stuff came later. 

And that is something every writer should keep in mind when writing an action scene. Your characters aren't going to be thinking about what to do or how to do it. They are going to react. Immediately. They can think later when they, and everyone they care about, is safe. 

Just something to keep in mind while you are writing or editing this week. 

Do you react before you think? Are action scenes easy or hard for you? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Demotivational posters are the new motivation!

Sometimes, it's better not to look in the rear view mirror. 

You may not like what you see. 

However, this weekend, you should look at some of your old writing. Feel free to cringe and groan and laugh at what you thought was a brilliant metaphor. 

And then, see how far you've come. 

Then, recognize this: you are only going to get better. 

It isn't even close to Game Over for you yet. 

Sometimes, you just want to go out and have fun. 

Allowing yourself to relax is important, but make sure you're getting everything you need to get done first. 

Otherwise, you'll regret those hours of nothingness when you have to get back to work. 

Besides, you'll enjoy the free time more if you've earned it. 

Give yourself a couple of goals this weekend, complete them, and then, celebrate!

How far have you come in your writing? What are your goals this weekend? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The results are in!!!

Remember two weeks ago when I was freaking out about an interview and wouldn't tell you what it was about?

It had something to do with:

The type of streets you just can't find in Canada.

A place called Amiens.......

Which just so happens, has the largest Notre Dame cathedral.....

....Amiens is also only an hour from the  Eiffel Tower. 

It's always been a dream of mine to go to Europe.

And I'll be living and studying there, for a month this summer. 

I'll get to visit both Paris and London and do awesome things like climb the Eiffel Tower, go to the Tower of London (torture devices rock!), and stroll along Kensington gardens. 

Yeah, life is good. 

Again, thank you for all your support with the interview, it helped me get through it and of my dreams is coming true!

Do you have any good news to share? Have you ever studied abroad? Been to Europe? Where are some places I should look at going (in France or England)? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kill doubt in five simple steps

I'm a doubter. 

I have a giant Doubt Monster lurking behind me when it comes to the quality of my writing. (I would really appreciate it if two extremely hot brothers who deal with the Supernatural regularly would get on with killing it. I mean, it might as well be a demon.)

When it  comes to other books, the Doubt Monster and I curl up on the couch together. I can only suspend my disbelief so far. 

Here's some general rules to slay my Doubt Monster when I read your book. (This message is to unpublished and published writers alike. Also, while I say my, I'm positive this can be generalized to encompass most readers.)

1. If two characters are going to be madly in love, I need a bigger reason then she/he's hot. That isn't love, it's lust. And, I'm sorry, but lust isn't worth much more than a quick wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

2. If your character is going to go into a dangerous situation, they need a really good reason. Humans have something called a sense of self-preservation and if they're going to ignore their instincts, I want a why.

3. If there are paranormal or fantasy elements or you're creating a new world (dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi, even a tiny town) then you need a solid and logical foundation. Without a basic set of rules and standards, you have nothing to offer me but chaos and a world that makes no sense. 

4. Never use characters for plot purposes alone. I don't care if you need Minor Character X in a bar to let slip Important Fact Y to your MC. If Minor Character X is only there to tell MC something, I will notice. And I will not be happy. Just like Main Characters, Minor Characters need to have their own purposes, motivations and goals - it doesn't matter if the reader knows them but it sure as heck matters if you do. 

5. A plot twist is only a plot twist if it happens right in front of me. Meaning, that, once the twist is revealed, I should be able to look back at your story and see there was hints the whole time, they were just so subtle and well done that I didn't pick up on it. Blatant lying to create a plot twist isn't a good illusion, it's a cheap parlor trick and breaks the author/reader trust. 

How do you feel when you encounter things on this list? Do you have anything to add? 

Friday, March 11, 2011

If pictures say a thousand words....

It's final project time now. My next month or so is going to be a study in sleep deprivation and working myself into a coma. But then I'm off. I can't decide whether I want time to speed up (so it can be over already) or slow down (so I can finish everything without killing myself - accidentally, of course). (Also, I probably won't be as good at getting to your blogs so I'm sorry and I still think your awesome but something has to give!)

So today, all I've got for you is this: 

A collage of ******** 
(AKA pictures that remind me of My-Top-Secret-Fantasy-World)

Do you make collages or draw pictures? 

Also, please let me live vicariously through you, What are your plans this weekend?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's the little things

When your having one of those days, the kind where you just don't know how you're going to make it through.

Opening your messages to something like this, hits you just the right way. You can feel your stress evaporating because no matter how bad your day was going, someone gives a crap. They're there, even  when they didn't know you needed them. And that's special.

I've had enough superficial and fair-weather friends to know that finding true, real friends is rare. Take in the odds of how big the world is and you could never find anyone whose going to stick with you no matter what. Who understands you and your dreams, who you can both laugh and be vulnerable with, who is unfailingly encouraging and supportive.

I owe blogger a lot because it made the world a small enough place for me to find a person like that.

This post is dedicated to Erica Mitchell-Spickard for being the kind of friend I've always needed. And the twin I always wanted. Applebee's won't know what hit em! I hope this post makes your day as much as you made mine on Monday.

And seriously you guys, you need to check out Erica's blog. She's doing this awesome series on her writing journey and the things she's learned along the way. You'll find yourself relating, laughing and cringing, all at the same time. Plus, it's illustrated so there's fun pictures like this:

What has blogger done for you? 

If there's someone in your life whose awesome, and makes this journey easier and better, tell them. You never know, you could be turning a bad day into a good one. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's all about the framework

When I was younger, Mom bought a Tiger T-shirt. She loved the imagery on it so much, she framed it. 

That sounds kind of silly, doesn't it? Framing a shirt. 

But, people comment on how gorgeous the Tiger picture is. They choose it over the other pictures and paintings in our living room. I always laugh because I know it's a shirt. When I tell them, they never believe me. 

If Mom had just worn the shirt, people would've probably thought it was nice, but they wouldn't be stunned by it. And, from this scenario, I've learned a valuable lesson. 

Presentation matters.

What you show and don't show counts. Where you draw the readers attention counts. 

Framing your story incorrectly can make an excellent idea boring just as framing a mediocre idea well can make it a huge success. 

Do you struggle with framing your story?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Imagination will be the death of me

I just want to thank everyone for all your encouragement on my last post. I was totally freaking out and yet again, you guys amaze me with how supportive and understanding you are. It wasn't as bad as I feared - my interviewers were very kind and the interview was much more like a conversation than an interview. And conversations...I'm good at those. I'll know the results by March 15th, and I'll obviously let you know (and reveal what this whole thing was about!). 

I honestly think I'd be bored all the time without my imagination. But sometimes, I wish it wasn't so hyperactive. Especially on nights like last night.

Picture it:

You're home alone, trying to write an essay. You're dog starts barking and growling like he's been possessed. It startles you so badly you knock your laptop to the floor. You tell your dog to cut it out but he's staring out the slightly open window, hackles raised.

There's something out there. It's just a cat or a squirrel, you tell yourself. But your heart still beats too fast. Then there's a flash of light followed by the rolling boom of thunder. The lights in your living room flicker, briefly plunging you into darkness.

You know what this all means. You've seen enough TV, read enough books. It means there's a demonic spirit or ghost and you're going to die......

Every creak and shadow in my house had me gritting my teeth and picturing my own murder. Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep.

I wouldn't trade my imagination for anything but boy, sometimes I wish I could turn it off.

Does your imagination ever get away from you? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fake it until you make it

I have a really important interview today. If all goes well, one of my dreams will come true.

Talk about pressure.

I'm pretty sure three people are interviewing me at the same time. Those odds are imposing. I'm already shrinking. My insides are ripping themselves into bloody tatters (yes, it feels as gross as it sounds).

I've never liked interviews. (Who does?)My aversion is kind of weird though: I'm extroverted and social, I love being the center of attention and, at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I can talk about myself for hours. I think it may have something to do with the formality of it all. I'm not good in formal situations, they never fail to make me fidget.

There's only one way I'm going to get through tomorrow. I'm going to have to fake it - plaster on my charming smile, laugh instead of puking, and project confidence. I have to make them want me as much as I want this.

But, I figure, if I fake it with enough conviction maybe I won't be faking it at all.

How do you get through uncomfortable situations? Have you ever done something you hated to make a dream of yours become a reality?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Wars 7

Before I dive into this weeks installment of Book Wars, I have a link you should check out. My awesome friend Jennie Bailey interviewed me for her Paws and Learn blog about my cat. If you want to know why I walk my cat, you should check it out!

On to this week's installment of Book Wars - the entirely positive battle between books I read this week.
(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their Goodreads page) 

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

So this book is based on the screenplay for the movie coming out on March 11th.  That being said, this book has no ending so it's hard to give you my overall opinion on it. (I did not know there was no ending when I bought it.) Apparently the final chapter of the book (the one that ties everything together) isn't going to be released until March 14th (so people have time to see the movie). I guess they want the ending to be a surprise. But, without an ending, I feel I have nothing more to say about the book than: it provides some interesting background information on the village the characters live in that I'm sure the movie won't.


Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

My favorite  thing about this book is the humor. The MC Finbar is an awkward, pale kid with a 'perfect' twin brother who wants nothing more than to get a girl but has had nothing but awful luck so far. He keeps up to date with pop culture and realizes he can use the vampire trend to his advantage. If you don't think a high school boy pretending to be a vampire is funny on it's own...well, there's lots of other humor in here too. 

This Week's Winner:

Bloodthirsty wins, hands down - and not just because it has an ending! This book is a believable portrayal of high school. It's relateable because pretty much everyone has done something crazy to get the attention of the opposite sex. At one point in our lives, we've all wanted to be someone else. This book is so funny because of its honesty. If you've ever been on the Vampire Book Bandwagon (and seriously, who hasn't been at one point or another?) I definitely recommend this book. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's your stance?

I'd like to preface this post by asking your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the lack of creativity that is about to follow. I'm sick and actually curious to know how you'd answer.

What's your opinion on chapter introductions? 

Do you like numbers? (For example, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc)

Do you like chapter titles that tell you the main subject of the following text? (For example, Cassandra Clare's City Of Bones: 1 Pandemonium, 2 Secrets and Lies, 3 Shadowhunter, etc)

Do you like chapter titles that subtlety give you information but use humor to do so (and take out numbers all together)? (For example, Kiersten White's Paranormalcy: Oh, bite me; A population of nightmares; Not - Me And I)

Do you like chapter headings that reveal more about a character's interests? (For example, Carrie Jones'
Need (her MC is obsessed with phobias): Phobophobia: fear of phobias; Mnemophobia: fear of memories; Didaskaleinophobia: fear of going to school, etc)

Do you notice chapter titles at all or do you just read the story? 

Have you noticed another way to introduce a chapter I haven't mentioned? 

So, tell me, What's your opinion?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Wars 6

It's finally time for another Book Wars - the entirely positive battle to win best book of the week!

For more information on any of these books, press their name and you'll be redirected to their goodreads page.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This book is written in a pretty unique way. It's like an epic fairytale in the Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm Brothers style except it's a longer story.


The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This novel is all about how one generation living in a dictatorship affects all future generations. My favorite part was the historical footnotes spread throughout where I learned about Trujillo the dictator in the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961. I never realized the horrors that country faced, we never learned about it in school though this guy was arguably as horrible as Hitler. The only difference? He didn't leave a paper trail behind him - just a scarred country terrified into silence.


I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
The First book in the John Cleaver series

The Main Character John's struggle with his own natural inclinations. Having a MC whose worst enemy is himself makes for truly interesting psychological elements. I was questioning my own inclinations right along with John.

The Winner This Week

Without a doubt, I pick I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. The writing in this novel was clean, it painted vivid pictures in my mind (which wasn't always a great thing - some of it's gross!), and was just plain amazing. I found the MC relatable (which, unfortunately, makes me worry about the state of my mind since he is a sociopath). The details about famous serial killers was super interesting. I enjoyed the plot. Honestly, I don't really have anything negative to say. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys the crime shows out there (CSI, Criminal Minds, Castle, etc).

What have you read recently? What are you reading right now? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

We make our own dragons!

I met a dragon* last night. Thing was scaly, with talons and spikes.

You know what I was told to do when I was staring open mouthed and apprehensive? Touch it. Pick it up. 

I was thinking: Are you nuts. Dragon has scales! Talons! Spikes! It's teeth could rip my finger off!

I picked one up anyway. (After some convincing of course.)

And guess what? The scales weren't that rough. The talons curled around my finger (in a nice way). The spikes were all for show - they were rubber and bendy. The dragon didn't even have teeth!

It wasn't so bad. 

That's kind of like life too. Sometimes we're terrified just by looking at what's in front of us. Our fear paralyzes us. The worst thing? Sometimes our dreams seem so big and unreachable they may as well be fire-breathing dragons with claws as big as your head.

But if we just reach out and grab whatever's terrifying us (unless it's your boss or another person because no one wants sexual harassment charges!) we just might find out, it isn't as awful as we thought it would be. 

 Have you ever magnified your fear of something so much that you made it out to be way worse than it ever was? Have you faced any of your fears lately?

*More specifically, a Bearded Dragon. 

Also this is my 100th post. I can't believe I've written a hundred of these things and people actually read them! Thanks for being here guys!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What kind of eggs are you?

My brain feels like several different types of eggs: runny, scrambled and fried. (Midterm week is trying to kill me.)

It's really hard, when you put in so much effort and it doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere. No matter what you do, how hard you try, how little you sleep - it's never enough. It's hellish.

I know I'm not the only student out there dealing with too much homework, but sometimes, it really feels like it. Sometimes, when you're struggling you can't help but feel alone.

All I really have to say today is this: 

No matter what you are struggling with right now (issues at home/work/school, writing, editing, or querying), no matter  how hard it is, how stressful, and no matter how much you feel like you aren't enough, you are going to get through this. It isn't the end it feels like.

You are enough. You always were and always will be. As long as you believe that's true (cause it is), you can do anything. 

And, if today is one of the days when you can't muster up that belief, know this: I still believe in you.

What kind of eggs are you right now(Scrambled, fried, runny, overeasy, hard-boiled, steamed or sunny side up)? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already

Christina Lee and Stina teamed up to bring us this blogfest. Check out the other entries here.

This excerpt is from my next story idea. I plan to write this book when school's out but here's a glimpse into my novel writing future (in less than 250 words):

The tip of Fay’s dagger presses against my throat. The heat of her wild magic makes my throat itch and burn but if I move, I know she’ll kill me. Morgana could bring me back from the dead but I know I won’t come back right. I’d be as mindless and empty as Mom after Morgana tried it on her.

I say, “I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“You’re at my house, Oliver.” Green sparks run up and down her black hair.

I take a mental photograph of the way her body curves, all coiled power and sin. I know my memory won’t do her justice but it’s all I have since she decided Morgana and I were evil.

“We don’t have to be enemies Fay. Morgana’s prepared to forgive you for betraying-” I shut up when Fay flips her dagger into her wrist holster and wraps her tiny fingers around my throat. It’s so nice to have her touching me again.

Fay’s grip tightens but then she drops her hands. Her breath tickles my neck, “I can’t kill you Ollie. I should but-”

“You still love me.” I whisper.

She bites her lip and my resistance crumbles. If she finds the courage to finish me, so be it.

I kiss her. And she’s kissing me back, as untamed and feverish as ever. I’m unsure how much my heart can swell before it bursts.

Fay should know she’s never needed daggers or magic to kill me.

Let me know what you think! How was your weekend? Any plans this week? (It's midterm week for me...excuse me while I go off and die! Except, not really, because that's way too melodramatic.)

Also, Happy Valentines Day! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

How are you leaving them?

Your first line needs to be everything. You know that. But did you know that your last line is, essentially the yang to the first line's ying?

The last thing any reader is going to see of your book, is going to be the last line. It has to satisfy them because there's nothing else after that. It needs to be memorable, special and definitely not cheesy. It needs to match the everything of your first sentence. It needs to balance out.

I mean, if a book were a sandwich, you wouldn't put one slice of baked-from-scratch-bread on top (the first line), mouthwatering-pick-your-favorite-fillings in the middle (your story) and dry-left-out-on-the-counter-too-long-store-bought-bread on the bottom. It just doesn't make sense.

When I'm browsing books in the store I always look at covers first (Yeah, I know that's shallow), then I skim the first lines but, because there's so much pressure on them, usually these are good. Finally, I read the last line. And, honestly, a lot of them suck, or are cheesy, or are interchangeable (they could end any story). That definitely makes me question what's in the middle. It makes me doubt the writer and if someone hasn't promised me the book is worth my time I will never read that book.

It all really comes down to this, I think your last line says more about what kind of writer you are then your first.

Maybe that's just my opinion but, when you look at your manuscript, at the journey your readers will go through, I want you to look at your last line. Was the journey worth it?

The real question is this: how do you want to leave your readers?

Thoughts on the last line? Do you ever read a last line before you start? Are you proud of your last line? Any other thing in writing books that is so important but you think get's overlooked?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books that tell a story

What happens when you are delirious from sleep deprivation, spend five hours dissecting the fall of the Byzantine Empire then try and think of an easy blog post? You think: why don't I take a picture of some of the books in my to be read pile. But what happens is, you end up making a short story based only on book titles.  At least, that's what happened to me. (Also, do not try to stack 24 books on top of each other. It's a bad idea)

Vixen, The Child Thief, cast a Shadowspell on the univited while her partner The Necromancer (the one on The Demon King's Hate List) applied The Grimm Legacy to the Guardians of the gate just because Thirteen Days To Midnight, Mr. Monster had said "I Am Not A Serial Killer." The Exiled Queen, living in Dust City, heard Newes From The Dead about Red Riding Hood. Red riding hood encouraged The Alchemyst, The Magician and The Pathfinder to use Hex Hall to find the Prophecy Of The Sisters in order to stop the Bloodthirsty Revolution started by the monsters of The Reformed Vampire Support Group.

How do you relax after a long day? Do you frequently start a simple task and then turn it into something accident?

Also, I'd like to thank Christina Lee for doing a post several months ago where she turned her book titles into a poem. It was the inspiration for this one!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's only clever if it works

I love Mom dearly, really I do. She's an amazing woman and I wouldn't be who I am today without her ceaseless support. That being said, I suggest you avoid being like her.*

See, Mom was cooking chicken and realized she was doing way too much for two people. What does she do? She takes the excess and puts it in the dog's bowl. Then buries the chicken under a mountain of kibble. "Can't give it to him too easily. He should work for the good stuff." She said. 

My dog stared at the bowl. Sniffed it a few times. Then stared at Mom like, what - why'd you do that? Eventually, he shoved all the kibble aside - knocking it all over the floor in the process - and ate the chicken. And, oddly enough, he never finished his dinner - I know because when Mom went to feed him tonight she noticed the bowl was still mostly full. 

The moral of the story is this: you aren't being clever when you hide the good stuff (basically the juicy, meaty bits) in your book under a bunch of dry stuff. You're just forcing the reader to search for it. They won't be happy and once they get what they're looking for, they'll leave your book half-finished. There'll also be a mess left behind (and this will probably be your reputation because why would they trust you again?!).

Any clever tricks authors have tried to pull on you lately? Any awesome plans for the weekend (seriously, tell me, all I've got to look forward to is piles of homework!)?

*When I say don't be like Mom, I really only mean in this case. You'd probably love her if you met her. She rocks! (Love you Mom.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There's someone you should meet

Friends, I'd like you to meet Obstacles (pronounced like a Greek word/name so something close to this: Ob/stock/a/lees).

You might recognize him, since we all face him everyday. He comes in many forms - too much homework, illness, fear, a loss of direction/purpose, the absence of time, lack of money, self-doubt (or someone else doubting you), basically anything and everything can be turned into Obstacles (even those donuts your friend brought into the office when you're trying to lose weight!).

He looms, giant and scary, casting our dreams in shadows. Sometimes, the shadow distorts our dreams so harshly, that we hardly recognize them anymore. Sometimes, we can no longer even see them. We stand there, paralyzed with fear.

But the important thing to remember is this: Obstacles is ugly - he has horrible, matted hair; the harshest unibrow ever; a nose five times bigger then it should be; a potbelly - he has horrible fashion sense and (most importantly) his hands are stuck to his butt.

In case this isn't obvious, it's kind of hard for a troll-man to do anything to you without hands. So you know what you do? You just get rid of him.

When Obstacles presents himself, first thing you do? Take a lesson from cats everywhere and turn your head away. Then think about what you are going to do to him.

When Obstacles comes with way too much homework or so many editing plans you feel paralyzed.......kick him with your foot!

When Obstacles comes with self-doubt......punch him in the face!

When Obstacles comes with illness.....set him on fire!

When Obstacles comes and tries to steal all your time away from you.....drown him in a lake!

When Obstacles comes, however he's disguising himself this what you need to to get him the hell out of your way!

Obstacles can only stop us from following our dreams if we let him. It's our choice.

What will you choose? (Feel free to discuss some of your obstacles in the comments and tell me just what you are going to do with them!)

(Credit for the invention of Obstacles (pronounced ob/stock/a/les) comes from Chris Brady one of the world's top 30 leadership gurus. Mom saw him at a convention this past weekend and I thought you guys needed to hear this message because it sure as heck spoke to me!)

(Also, Thank you Abby Minard, Colene Murphy and Jennie Bailey for encouraging me to write this post! I probably wouldn't have without their encouragement....Obstacles was in the way, but I set him straight!)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Wars 5

It's time for Book Wars. The entirely positive epic battle to be picked as my favorite read this week.

Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The most interesting thing about this book is the way McBride handled her narrative. The chapters switch from first person to third limited but I didn't even realize she was switching between the two until about halfway through the novel and it struck me. The main characters voice is first and the glimpses into others are in third. It was amazingly well done - you feel close to the MC but get to see/hear more as well. I don't think there are many authors who can pull this off but when they works.


The Ant and the Elephant by Vince Poscente

I loved the message in this book: all about the power of your subconscious mind.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I have to credit McCarthy for conveying the psychological realities of a post-apocalyptic world. It was bleak and hopeless and, I suppose, that makes it the most realistic dystopian I've ever read.


Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scattered throughout this book are some very interesting passages that made me stop and think about people or things in my life and why I saw them the way I did.

This Weeks Winner

This week is a little different. I have two winners. Not necessarily because I couldn't decide between the two but because they are so different that I find choosing between them to be unfair.

If you're looking for a fun, easy and interesting read I'd definitely recommend Hold me closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Maybe it's just me but the fact that the main character worked at a fast food joint made me relate to him in a way I've never related to another character. (Yes, I used to work at McDonalds - in case you were going to ask.)

If you're interested in reading a book written as a fable and actually teaches you about the power of your subconscious (and, consequently, yourself) then I'd say The Ant and the Elephant by Vince Poscente is a must read. It was interesting and fascinating. (Also, I tested the techniques this book illustrates to get what you want/achieve goals and it totally works! I promise!)

What have you been reading this week?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Survive Canadian Winters

In order to survive Canadian winters, there are a few general guidelines you must always follow.**

Don't stand under trees unless you're willing to risk big snow lumps falling on your head.

Be careful of frozen bodies of water. They may, like the river below, not be frozen but just full of slush (they are trying to lull you into a false sense of security. Their favorite past-time is giving people hypothermia, I'm sure of it).

 Under no circumstances should you stand still for too long. If you do, you'll look a lot like Grandpa.

If you want to stay warm, you have to build an igloo. Don't worry, our igloos are high-tech: we've got electricity so you won't miss any of your favorite shows.

**The advice here is an exaggeration. It's not that bad. Usually. 

How do you survive your climate? 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If I could turn back time

Here I am, almost a month into this school semester and I'm already drowning, sinking underneath the weight of my homework.

Here I am, desperately wanting to start edits on Book 1.

Here I am, needing to get Book 2 out of my head and into the real world.

Here I am, wishing I could hang out with my friends and not feel like I'm wasting time I don't have.

Here I am, sitting on my bed, staring at the clothes strewn across my room (that need to be washed) and the floor (that needs to be vacuumed).

Here I am, holding my official Time Turner prop that my mom bought for me one Christmas...........

And all I can do, is wish that it was real.

What are you wishing you had time for?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Wars 4

It's time for another Book Wars!

(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their goodreads page so you can get an actual synopsis.)

Fearscape by Simon Holt
Third book in The Devouring series

The overarching theme for all three books is finally verbalized at the end of this book and it validated the MC's (Reggie) journey for me. Here's the two lines that say it all, "But for all the horrors Reggie had seen, she had also witnessed the wonder of the human spirit fighting back. It wasn't about eradicating fear; it was about overcoming it." To me, this was a really powerful message.


Fire In The Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

This book is set in rural France several decades ago (not sure of the exact date) and I loved the way she highlighted the community, the way they both operated as a collective and as individuals and the way they kept family matters family matters (even though everyone else knew about it!). It was a very interesting and revealing look into rural existence in France after the war (first - I think).


Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

So, unless you haven't been reading any of the new fiction books in the last couple of years, you know that love triangles are in (even when we say they're going out). But, I have never read a book where I ever had a doubt about who I wanted the main character to be with. I always know within the first third who I want to win (even though half the time they don't). That is, until I read this book. I actually couldn't decide. I wanted her to choose both of them (but then I don't want them all to be together or anything like that). My point is, the best thing about this book is that the love triangle actually felt like a real love triangle, each guy brought something different and valuable to the table and I understood why Frannie was conflicted because so was I.


Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I really liked the beginning of this book, it started out with a bang and went right into the action - basically, straight to the point with no unnecessary set up.

This Week's Winner

So, this week, I have to go with Personal Demons. The main character was strong but still feminine and relateable . Also, as I said before, I was really impressed with how the author handled the romantic aspects of the story - it was very well done. I'm excited for the next book in this series.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read this week?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Can you answer this?

Today I'm going to ask you a couple questions (that are supposedly unanswerable) and I want you to give me your wackiest or most logical (your choice) answers in the comments (because you're writers or creatively inclined people and you want to make stuff up for a living). 

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?

If you choke a smurf, what color does it turn?

When you're sitting on the upstairs floor are you sitting on the downstairs ceiling?

Why is it that murder always seems to liven a novel?

I hope your weekend is as awesome as my cat is cute!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Picture this: you're reading a novel and are about halfway through, there's several characters talking and one of them references an event that - while not overtly important - happened during the time frame of the novel itself. The characters elaborate enough so you aren't sitting there scratching your head but they don't truly explain/show what happened.

What do you think? How do you feel?

I was talking to a friend the other day and we had a pretty in-depth discussion on ambiguity. It ended with me finally sorting out my emotions and thoughts on the matter. 

In short: I think it's a good thing.

My reasoning is this: if we are aware, as readers, that events are happening outside the scope of the novel that we're seeing it manipulates our subconscious impressions of these characters. How, you ask? We're being shown that we aren't necessary for these characters to exist. Their existence doesn't depend upon us reading the novel. They are more than what we see. 

This, in turn, makes them more real.

(As an aside: way too much ambiguity is bad! Just like anything else in writing, it's a fine line between an author doing this well and completely butchering it.)

How do you feel about ambiguity? Any other tricks you can think of to manipulate* your readers?

*Don't even pretend you don't want to manipulate your readers. You do. You want them to care about your characters. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Wars 3

It's time for the entirely positive war between inanimate objects (books) that are shuffled around in my mind, words flying everywhere, until, I - the supreme ruler (of my mind) - decide who wins!

(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their goodreads page and get a synopsis.)

Entice by Carrie Jones
Third book in the Need Series

I really like all the foklore and mythology Carrie Jones integrates into her series and this book does that the best out of the three.


The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The descriptions in this novel brought the setting, characters and world to life. They were gritty and real and I could almost taste/touch/smell it all. For something so infused with fantasy and foklore it seemed very believable and I think the descriptions had a lot to do with that.


The Devouring by Simon Holt
The first book in The Devouring series

I started reading this before bed and couldn't put it down because if I did, I wouldn't know how the conflict was resolved, and if that was true then I wouldn't know how to beat the Vours (the villainous creatures who devour human souls and steal their bodies). Holt created creatures that fed on people's fears and my overactive imagination started feeding my conscious all of my fears until I was, quite honestly, scared to turn out my light (The Vours come when the night eats light). I believed in this book. (Until the next day when I realized that was just madness.)

Soulstice by Simon Holt
The second book in The Devouring series

The fears in the first book were physical things - clowns, spiders, water, etc - but in this installment we deal with fears like desolation, being afraid of your self and guilt and this intangible fears are far more horrifying. This book doesn't skip on horror at all, so if that's what you're looking for...

Winner This Week:

This week I have to go with The Replacement. The main character Mackie was strange and interesting and the world was dark and dreary but not hopeless. The entire story revolves around foklore but the fantasy is believable because the descriptions make it all seem real. Days after I finished, I was still thinking about the town of Gentry. That is a mark of a good book (especially when you've read two after it and still can't stop thinking about it).

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read this week?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Physical manifestations of the creative process

The fabulously talented Abby Minard interviewed me! That's two now! (I feel so legitimate - like I really could be an author one day. I mean, I'm a nobody - in the writing world - and people still care to ask me questions (People I respect no less!).) So please go here and check it out. Also, follow her if your not - she's one of my critique partners and let me just say this: I love the way her brain works. 

When I'm really focusing on something creative - like the two paintings in this post I made for Sister (sorry for the odd angle of the pictures)- I get really hot. I mean like on-the-verge-of-a-seizure-if-I-don't-melt-like-the-wicked-witch-from-the-west-first kind of overheating. My blood boils, bones liquefy and my muscles turn to goo (which is like liquefying but WAY worse. It's stickier). It's unbearable. 

It's kind of like my entire being is so focused on creating that it works overtime and produces mass amounts of creative energy. All this energy can't possibly fit into a word document or on a canvas. The excess turns inward and my insides glow red until I'm radiating the heat and I want to die. 

BUT! I just have to finish what I'm working on. I end up working in a feverish frenzy, trying so hard to get it all out even though I'm slightly delirious and crazed and on the verge of heat-stroke.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? 

Anyways, my overheating makes me realize that writing (or anything creative) isn't just mental or emotional - it's physical too. My body does what it can to contribute to the creativity too (even if I wish it'd be a little more considerate and moderate the temperature somewhat). Writing is an all consuming experience - to do it, you need to invest everything.

I hope that your weekend is full of hot flashes and skin-melting-muscle-changing-bone-liquefying agony. I mean this in the nicest possible way. 

Anything odd happen to you when you write? Do you have any other creative interests beside writing?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hockey is to this Canadian as editing is to this writer

I've never liked hockey. (That may sound odd since I'm Canadian and that's our sport but it's true.)

The rest of my family feels differently. My Uncle B actually has seasons tickets to watch the Vancouver Canucks and (I think) everyone else in the family has watched a game from his amazing seats.

Last week at a family dinner to celebrate Mom and Grandpa's birthdays, my Uncle was trying to get rid of his tickets because him and my aunt weren't going to be able to make it. Everyone else was busy. My Grandparents were available but that meant there was one empty seat (there are three tickets).

Somehow despite countless, adamant, No's I got talked into going. I dragged my feet all the way to the Arena and into the VIP club section and down to the fourth row, just in front of the net (told you they were amazing).

The Detroit Red Wings and The Vancouver Canucks were on the ice, practicing.

I watched in awe at their effortless ability on skates.

(To understand my love of people on skates you need to know this: I used to figure skate (and I used to be so short that I totally pulled off the Munch-kin look from the Wizard of Oz) and I could watch figure skating for hours because I think it's the most gorgeous thing ever.)

I was already rethinking my opinion....during the practice. When the game started I felt myself sucked into the atmosphere, into the swelling and denouement's of the crowd. I'll be honest, I didn't always know what was happening - the great thing is, it didn't really seem to matter because I was watching and when I was confused I could lean over and ask my Grandparents to explain.

I could see the expressions on the players faces. I could feel (almost) the rattle of the plexiglass when the players were slammed into the sideboards.

My insides got all messed up when the Red Wings tied it and we went into overtime. When we lost during the shoot out, I was a little disappointed but not really because the game itself, the actual process, was so much more than I thought it would be. Watching a game in person is nothing like seeing it on TV. 

And, because I always tie these little stories into writing somehow, let me say this: I'm starting to edit my first draft this week and I am dragging my feet. I am dreading editing like I dreaded going to that game. Except a little worse because editing is a longer commitment.

My only hope is that once I actually start, when my characters pull me back into their world, that editing won't be as bad as I think it will be.

I may not 'win' the first time round but maybe I'll get a few good plays in.

Ever been dragged into something you thought you'd hate and have your mind changed? What part of the writing process to you dread?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Wars 2

The event were, despite the negative connotation of war, there is absolutely no bloodshed! (Or spilled ink - since we are dealing with books here)

This week I read:
(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their Goodreads page)

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
First book in the Lorien Legacies

With I Am Number Four, my favorite thing has to be the story itself. There really isn't any other way to explain my feelings about this book except the story was...out of this world (And yeah, I know this pun is totally lame because the book has something to do with Aliens - as an aside: I'm not a big fan of aliens but this book  may have changed my mind....)


Once A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

The best thing about this book is the emphasis on family dynamics. Too often in books, this sort of atmosphere is left by the wayside - which after reading this book, I'm reminded of how silly that is. With a large family you have all the stuff that makes for interesting plot: love, drama, comedy, rivalry, competition, support.

This Week's Winner

This week my favorite book would have to be I Am Number Four. This book convinced me that alien-centric books really aren't lame and considering how anti I was before, that's saying something. At first I thought it would be very Smallville (TV show based on Superman before he was Superman) but it really came into it's own. It's well paced and sets up the beginning of a series perfectly. I was gripped from the first chapter and had no choice but to read straight through to the end. 

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What's your favorite read this week?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Writers PSA

Guess what you guys? I've been interviewed! (Somehow this makes me feel more legit!I) If you feel like getting to know me a bit better, hop over to the wonderfully kind, awesome and superb Michelle Merrill's blog. (Subliminal messaging: do it!)

On to the Writers Public Service Announcement

Do you write best in the comfort of your own bed or your favorite chair? Is writing at a desk simply not cutting it?

Never fear! Smart people somewhere have thought of that!

Someone gets that, for writers, sitting at a desk for hours on end can be hard on our backs. That after a while, your creative juices start getting clogged because of your discomfort. They know you want to move to someplace more comfortable. But now your legs are at risk of being severely burnt from your computer overheating (We'll spare you pictures of this disaster because it's gross but if you're curious google computer leg burns) and your computer itself is at risk of being damaged from not being able to cool down properly.

Writers of the world, we have the ultimate solution to all your writerly woes (Well, all of the physical ones. There is no magical cure for mental woes such as writers block, misbehaving characters and plot holes).

I give you the lap desk!

A solid surface for your computer or notebook, a cup holder so you have your favorite drink at the ready at all times, and a bean bag body that conforms to fit you

This Writers PSA will now conclude with a firsthand testimonial:

I never thought of buying myself a lap desk. But my Aunt and Uncle bought me one for Christmas and, after trying it once, I was addicted. My lap desk fits my writerly needs, conforms to me to maximize comfort potential, it's in a stylish black and white design, and it's quickly becoming a writing necessity! I'm not quite sure how I wrote in bed without it before now. I have to say, I love it. Go buy one writer friends, I swear you won't regret it!
- Melissa Wideen, Satisfied Consumer

Did you get any gifts that are quickly becoming necessity's? Do you write in bed? Do you have a lap desk (If not, seriously guys, they are amazing! Go get one!)?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nothing beats homemade

Just before Christmas last year my GG (Great Grandma) died. She was 99. When I was younger she used to make GG buns and Cinnamon buns. Her bread is what my childish mind associated her with. I didn't know her very well. To me, she made (delicious) buns and watched daytime Soaps.

This Christmas, I wanted to bring her to the family in some way so Grandma and I attempted to make GG buns (plain white buns). We succeeded and they were melt-in-your-mouth-utterly-fantastic. And I'm not even just saying that. Every one commented and when dessert, tantalizing and sinfully delicious as always was laid out, a lot of my family decided against that extra cookie or piece of trifle and had another bun instead. (Yeah, they transcend the whole dinner/dessert boundaries.)

The only downside to GG buns? The store bought stuff just doesn't cut it anymore. I used to LOVE the store bought buns (probably cause I hadn't had a GG bun since I was an early teen). Now, they taste bland and flavorless and....sort of empty.

It's a lot like reading.

There are books that are all kind of the same when it comes down to it. There's a uniformity to it all. Different authors and ideas but, really, not that different. You can love these books. Devour them one after another like you'll never read another book again. You get crazy excited when you see there's more for your pleasure.

And then you find it. The original, from scratch, novel that opens your eyes, makes you realize that you've been taking in a lot of emptiness that really didn't taste that good when you compare it to the freshness and flavor infested book you're now holding.

I have a challenge for you all this year.

Make sure your book is "homemade." It's harder. Your muscles will ache from getting out all the kinks, you'll beg to be finished but know you're not. You'll need help. But don't worry, there's a recipe still, there's still a way to get it done - you just have to put more of you into it.

Trust me, your hard work will pay off in the end.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Wars

As I mentioned in this post 2011 is a year of goals. One of the goals I set for myself is to read 110 books this year. (I'm also starting a regular blogging schedule of Monday-Wednesday-Friday.)

I kept trying to think about how I could keep you all updated with what I've read. I don't want to review books - I respect those who do but sometimes I really can't think of enough to say and I get really picky with the books I do read. Even books I love I wouldn't necessarily give 5/5 stars. So, while brainstorming, I came up with the idea of Book Wars.

Every Monday I'll post all the books I read during the week (from Monday to Sunday) and say one good thing about each book - there will be no negatives because I know first hand how hard it is to write a book. At the end of the post I'll pick my weekly favorite (which is where the 'war' part comes in, one book will end up on top though with very little bloodshed - unless, of course that's what the books about!).

I know it's only the 3rd but I've already read three books so we can start this week:
(For more about any of these books click on the title to be redirected to their Goodreads page.)

Captivate by Carrie Jones
The second book in the Need series.

My favorite thing about this book is the main character's voice. I love Zara's (MC) obsession with phobias: it's funny, amusing and interesting. And I even feel like I'm learning something.


ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor
The third and final book in the Looking Glass Wars

If you hadn't guessed by my blog's title, I love Alice Adventures in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass. The Looking Glass Wars trilogy is basically a re-imagining of Alyss' story in a darker world. As with the first two in this series, I love the concept and the world. I also love how our world and Wonderland are so intertwined with each other yet separate at the same time (which basically fits into loving the concept).


The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
The third and final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy

I like how the covers in this series focus on the changing stone. When focusing on the actual story, again I really enjoyed the concept. The idea of a Necromancer as a main character is something I hadn't seen in other fiction books. Maybe I'm too morbid or something but I really like the idea and Chloe's (MC) powers - even when they creeped me out and gave me shivers.

This weeks winner:

Unfortunately, I don't feel very strongly about any of these books. It's hard to pick a winner because, while I enjoyed them all, I don't feel like any one of them really stood out to me as better or easier to recommend then the others. I have positives and negatives (though I'll keep those to myself!) things to say about each of these books that are about equal in number. 

In the end, I think I have to go with ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor. It isn't the best book in the series but it is a series that I would definitely recommend if you ever enjoyed Alice in Wonderland. The first book Looking Glass Wars will always be my favorite. 

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your thoughts?

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! Anything exciting happen that I missed during my absence?