Friday, May 27, 2011

Thing #1 and Thing #1, and vote on if my Behavior makes me a Stalker

Hey y'all!

Just a Friday quickie of Thing #1 and Thing #1 before my big New York trip:

Thing #1

Are you going to be in the NYC area next week? 

BFACP (Best Friend and Critique Partner) Emily Wing Smith is participating in a Teen Author Reading Night on June 1st.

Here are the details:
Date: June 1, 2011
Place: Mulberry Street Branch of the New York Public Library (Corner of Mulberry and Jersey)
Time: 6-7:30

If you're in the area, please come! Everyone is welcome. I'll be there too, so come and say hi. Bree Despain (author of The Dark Divine) will be there too.  

Thing #2

I still think about my major high school crushes. Not in a "Man, I'd love to trade up, and I wonder what he's up to" kind of way, but more in a "Who did he marry? Where does he live? Is he successful? Is Sam more successful? (kidding)" 

And my biggest crush from high school isn't on Facebook. He's not on Twitter. I don't even know if he's married, where he lives, what he does. This is driving me crazy! Not "so Crazy I can't sleep at night" but more in a "Once a month, when I check Facebook, it would be convenient if he were on there..."

So, here's the vote. Does this sort of behavior make me:

A: So totally normal. Everyone remembers their high school crushes. That's why we love to read Y.A.


B: Stalker. To the nth degree. Give me his name so I can warn him now not to leave his pet rabbit alone in the back yard. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Revealing my Obsessions for New Followers... and I'm going to New York

Okay, I admit it. I forgot today was Wednesday. 

Here's the thing: I went to breakfast with some friends this morning, and I never go to breakfast on Wednesdays. It totally threw me off. 

I feel like that one lady in Emma- Miss Bates - when she gets a letter from Jane Fairfax on a Thursday, and she can't stop talking about it because Jane usually writes on a Tuesday, and today is Thursday, but yet she got a letter, even though it's Tuesday, and can you believe it?

I guess I'm a creature of habit. So, here are two things I'm working on:

1. Anyone in the Big Apple?

I'm leaving for New York City on Saturday, and I have nothing to wear. Not in the way that normal people have "nothing to wear", where they're skimming through clothes in their closet and thinking how old everything is.

I literally have nothing to wear. I went pantsless today, and it's wasn't pretty. And I'd hate to go naked in New York. I've heard the city is very progressive, but that might be pushing the envelope a little too far. 

Emily Wing Smith is giving a reading of her book, with a bunch of other authors on June 1st, somewhere in NYC, so if you're in the area and you want to meet up, you can come! I have no details yet, but I do know it's June 1st. I'll have deets on Friday.

2. Ohmyheck, I already forgot what number 2 was. 

Seriously! I remembered at the top of the post, but now, nothing. What is my problem? Answer me!!!

Let's see...
I went to breakfast. Did I mention how that threw my day off? 


I don't know. So, I'll go to my go-to subject when I'm at a loss. My undercover lover. And by "undercover" I mean "In my dreams" and by "lover" I mean I watch him on the telly a lot.

Yes, Rafa Nadal is number one, and he's playing in the French Open for the next couple of weeks. On ESPN 2 if you're interested. I have a lot of new followers lately, and now might be the time to warn you all that a third of my posts usually have something to do with Rafa.

Or his arms. 

Or his left ab, second from the top.
... and the hip dents.

But I only talk about him during the ATP tennis tour, which is only 11.5 months out of the year. 

Another third of my posts are about how much I love my agent, Michael Bourret. 
The final third is about my love of Diet Coke. Why does anyone read this blog? I suck.

Where was I? Oh great. Now I'm totally lost. Did I talk about my breakfast this morning?

Maybe I should trash this post and start fresh on Friday. 

Trash or Publish, Publish or Trash, Trash or-

Monday, May 23, 2011

Answering the Number One Question I get Asked, and a Peek into my Writing Space

It's time to play the...


Where I take you through my writing day, and you get to guess which priorities get neglected around here. 

This game was inspired by the number of times I get asked, "How do you find time to be a mom and a writer?"

Also brought to you by, "I could write a book, but I don't have the free time you obviously do."

And my favorite: "I'd write a book, but I love my kids."

Okay, nobody really said that last one, but sometimes it feels like it. 

I'm sure you've all heard writers say they are as busy as the next guy, and it's true. So I'll take you on a tour of my writing day.

Here's my writing space:

I come here whenever I get a chance. There are three things I need on my desk in order to really have the most productive writing block (not to be confused with "writer's block":
The Bread of Life.
Water, Diet Coke, Tea, and honey for the tea. 

Yes, I pee a lot. But that gives me a good break. 

I try to make everything convenient. If I need another Diet Coke, I simply walk out to my front porch.

A place for everything, and everything in its place. The Diet Coke's place is on the front porch. Next to the car seat. Under the caulking gun.

If I need something to eat, like a leftover roll, I look under the coffee table.
Who needs a pantry?

If I need something to wear, I look on the kitchen floor, and check to see if they're dry yet.

There really is method to the madness. They're drying in the sunlight.

I like to keep weapons accessible. If I need to act out a fight scene, I simply grab the light saber next to the chair:

... or the sword next to the other chair:

...and for the really emotional scenes, I choose the Scythe of Death on the kitchen bar stool:

If Kid C asks me where he can find a clean shirt, I (exasperatedly) tell him to look where they always are... on certain Tuesdays of the month... when the moon is just right: folded and neatly put away in a large pile next to the banister.
That space is dedicated space.

And if friends come over, I escort them to the one room of the house that is generally clean. The kitchen.
I don't like to be distracted while I'm eating. So there's only one computer and one television in the kitchen.
Sure there are all those clothes on the floor, but they are in really neat piles. The reason my kitchen is so clean (relatively, I know) is because I made a vow a long time ago that the kitchen is too beautiful to mess it up with my lame attempts at cooking.

Now for the crux of the game: Can you guess how I find time to write? Can you GUESS WHAT I NEGLECT?

I heard a quote over the weekend: "Balance comes when you neglect a little bit of everything."

I can't remember who said it. I was too busy writing. But it's very true. I neglect a little bit of everything, but a lot of a certain thing. You probably know what that certain thing is.

What about all y'all? How do you find balance? And was anyone a little disappointed that the Rapture didn't happen? Or maybe it did, and y'all are gone now...

I miss you already. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

The End of Days... and the End of Everneath 2. What Would Your Last Line Look Like?

With the Rapture predicted to happen this Saturday, I decided I had to at least get to the end of my sequel to EVERNEATH... EVERNEATH 2: NEVERABOVE

So, I wrote The. Final. Line. 

At least if the Rapture does happen, and if I disappear sometime tomorrow, someone will be able to read The. Final. Line.

Now to write... The. Second. To. Last. Line. Without which, The. Final. Line. won't make any sense. 

Of course, after the Rapture, only evil people will be left. And they'll be dealing with Armageddon. Will they have time to read a YA Romance? I say... yes. Especially if the power's out, and their house is boarded up to protect from the Zombie Apocalypse (aim for the head), and they don't want to make any noise, what else is there to do but read a book?

But my book is on the computer... 

I can't share the last line, because it's way too spoilery, but I can say there are the words "trusted" and "eternity" in it.

I did show some of the discarded last lines on twitter, so I'll put them here too:

Discarded line #1: "I couldn't believe everyone was dead. I thought for sure someone would make it out of this book alive."

Discarded line #2: "I looked out into my backyard. It really was time to get out the old pooper scooper."

Discarded line #3: "Something itches."

So, what are some of your ideas for discarded last lines of your books? Or any books?

What are y'all doing this weekend? Planning for Rapture? Anyone else going to arrange some clothes on your front lawn to make it look like you... just... disappeared?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The German Cover for my Book... Maybe. Or Maybe Not. Sprechen sie deutsche?

Lately, my Google alert has been going a little crazy with stuff about my book in Germany. When I click through, I see this:

Roughly translated means "Forever Longing".
I don't know if it's a placeholder for another cover, or if it's the actual cover, but I either way I still love it. It's completely different than my American cover but I think it's awesome. (I've seen drafts of my U.S. cover, and it is simply brilliant, but I can't share it yet) .

The German translation is set to release simultaneously with the U.S. version, and I'm lucky to have enthusiastic editors over there. Some German bloggers have been blogging about it, too. I have a difficult time figuring out what they're saying, seeing as I don't speak German and the Google Translation is apparently overseen by a first grader.

Upon hearing this, my mom said, "I know a little German..."

Which made me want to say, "Me too. He's right over there."

A little German.
But I totally didn't say that.

So, my mom took a look at the blogs, and apparently the synopsis of my book goes something like this:

"So... Nikki is... somewhere... stuck in the Unterwelti, and she... something... so she returns home... her boyfriend Jack ist Nikki's gro├če Liebe so, he is Nikki's great love. Cole ist ein Unsterblicher... so, he's a never-die-er... immortal?... and he wants something."

Thanks mom. I couldn't have put it better myself. I will alert my editor that we now have the perfect jacket copy for the back of my book. 

So, what do y'all think of the German cover?

Speaking of my cover, my editor says we should have something to share in the next few weeks. I can't wait. The design team at HarperCollins has done an amazing job, and I'm so happy I won't have to pretend to love my cover... because I love it!

For now, enjoy this scene from that classic TOP SECRET! When I was growing up, I was convinced this movie should've won Best Picture.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In Which we see Thor, and Sam Learns to Appreciate the Male Form

This morning, I'm one follower away from 300. I only point this out because 299 just doesn't seem like a stable number. 299 is the seconds left before the bomb goes off. 299 is the cholesterol level of a large man. 299 isn't a real number. Nobody wants 299 potato chips. A package of 299 paper clips makes me think one is missing.
So now, with 299 followers, I feel like one is missing. Where are you, little lost follower?

On to the post:

Hubs and I went to see Thor over the weekend. 
And the son of Odin was not amused.

Thor sure is a cutie-pie. At one point, he took his shirt off, and I leaned over to Sam and said, eloquently, "Oh, homina homina."
Has anyone seen my love handles? They must've been left behind as I fell from Heaven.

Sam responded with, "Are you under the delusion that you're with your girlfriends right now?"

And I was all, "I'm sorry, but even you have to admit the beauty of this human specimen in front of us. When Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, do you think he was all, 'I'm a guy. Can someone else tell me if Adam looks right?'"

And Sam was like, "I think Michelangelo had a pretty good idea of what the male form looked like."
me: "Exactly. Michelangelo wasn't afraid to admit when something was beautiful, man or woman."

Sam: "Yes, but Michelangelo isn't my go-to guy for lessons on how to be a man."

me: "Well then, let's look at Da Vinci..."
me: "He knew all about the human form, and-"

Sam: "Can we at least pick someone from this century?"
me: "Um... J. Edgar Hoover?"

Sam (bored with the conversation): "Look, if I say 'homina', can we just watch the rest of the movie in peace?"

me: "Yes."

Sam: "Homina."

me: "I know! Isn't he, though?"
Anyone else see Thor? Anyone else say "homina"? Anyone know of a man's man in the last century who could openly appreciate the male form?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ask Me Anything Day! Because I'm Tired of being Stumped by Kid C

Kid C has been asking me questions all week. He never stops. He must think that's how he earns his keep around here. And his questions are impossible to answer:

"How do you make glass?"

"Who would win in a fight between Sonic and the Avatar?"

"Is everything in the world real?"
Follow up: "So, you're saying Sonic is real?"
Follow up to the follow up: "What do you mean really a cartoon?"

"Why are knights extinct?"

"Where is the desert?"
"Where is the Garden of Eden?"

"Who invented school?"

"Who made the first house?"

"Why is America so much younger than other countries?"
follow up: "So, did we steal it from the natives?"
follow up to the follow up: "But isn't stealing bad?"

"Why didn't you catch that Bin Laden guy while you were in Pakistan?"
 (We were in Pakistan two years ago).

And my favorite:
"Is everything in the world possible? Or is nothing impossible?"

Personally, I would love to get some questions I can actually answer. So, let's have an open topic in the comments. Do you have any questions about publishing? Querying? Book Covers? ARCs? Swearing in YA? Writing? Me? Anatomy? The air speed velocity of an African Swallow?

It's a free-for-all. Ask me anything. And I'll try to answer in the comments as the day goes on. 

I know other authors do this, but they are much more popular than I am, so please ask me some questions so I don't feel like a tool. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Flash Forward to the Future for Kid B, and Why I Cried Yesterday

Hey y'all. Yesterday marked The End of the Chimichanga Challenge:

Team Tamale (me): 25,641 words in 21 days.

Team Gluten Intolerant (Bree Despain): Excellent progress, until a trip to Disneyland sidelined her.

Both great showings, but nothing close to the winner...

Team Churro (Kristin Thetford): 40,222 words in 21 days.

That is pretty amazing. So I asked Kristin to share a couple of her favorite lines from her WIP (Work In Progress):

As soon as I received that black envelope, I knew it would be bad.
I wasn't wrong.

I approach the girl in front of me. "You do know that you will most likely be killed."
She nods, and her smile is a sinister twist of thin lips. "I was born for this."

He knows that, despite my ultimate goal, I will have nightmares over what I have done here.

Pretty engaging lines, don't you think? So, if you get a chance, give her a holla in the comments. I will be personally mailing her the grand prize, which is a burrito. Why not a chimichanga, you ask? Well, because burritos are healthier, and I don't have a deep fat fryer. 

On to the post. 

I had a brush with the future yesterday. Kid B is graduating from his special needs preschool, and they sent us this photo to commemorate the event:


They obviously explained the solemnity of the occasion to little Kid B. He looks like he's 5 going on 18 in this picture. I imagine it went like this:

Picture taker: "Okay, Kid B. Try to look like you never had any fun."

Kid B: "But I want to smile!"

Picture taker: "Play time is over! Real adults never smile."

Kid B: "But I'm five!"

Picture taker: "Not for long! You see that thing around your neck? That's called a tie. And it's never coming off! Mwah ha ha ha ha."

I don't know how they got him in a shirt and tie. I can only imagine the whole get-up is an all-in-one sort of thing that they threw over him in the last minute.

What I do know is this: I am so not ready for him to grow up. 

This is a new feeling for me. I never understood those mothers who cried on the first day of kindergarten. I was always the crazy neighbor raising my Diet Coke glass and shouting "Mazel Tov!". Usually, beginning in the labor and delivery room, I start counting down the days til they turn 18 and head off into the world.

I used to wonder why we couldn't be more like animals in the wild. Have the babies, make sure they survive their first week, chew their food for them, and then push them out of their nests to see if they could fly. (Why the baby tigers were in the nest in the first place was always a mystery.)

I even tried to do this at home. First priority was to get them to hold their own bottles. Next was to change their own diapers. Then my master plan was to push them out the door and yell, "Fly, little one. Fly!"

But seeing this picture? *sniff* Really, Pingree School, you're killing me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sweating out a Sequel: Sometimes your MC gives you the Bird

Howdy, y'all. 

Remember, tomorrow is the deadline for those of you who joined in the Chimichanga Challenge. 

I am currently at just over 22,000 words for my sequel. I don't think I'm going to make it to 40,000 by tomorrow, but that's okay. It's a heckuva lot more than I would have written otherwise!

The truth is, I'm feeling a little bit of deadline pressure. The end of school for my kids -- and therefore, the end of free writing days -- is looming like a dark bulbous cloud over the horizon. 

I think my stress is manifesting itself in my writing. Currently, in my sequel, I'm stuck in this one scene where the three main characters are sitting around, staring blankly, with nothing to say to each other.

I've been on this scene for a few days now. Once, a famous writer said, if you're stuck, put your main character up in a tree, and have the others throw rocks at her. I tried that. But the others couldn't be bothered to go searching for rocks, and my Main Character just built herself a hammock in that tree, and is now taking a leisurely snooze. 

I'm at that 22,000 word mark, which is the notorious Point-o-Desperation for the writer. I have thoughts like:

-I'm never going to finish. Books are really really long! Maybe the sequel could be told better in picture-book form. 

-My characters are protesting the lack of progression at this point. They are building hammocks in trees and refusing to cooperate.

-How did I ever finish a book in the first place?

-I'll never be able to finish a book again. That first one was a fluke. It basically wrote itself. (I liken this notion to having a baby, and when looking back on it, forgetting how much it really hurts.)

-I think my MC just gave me the bird.

I'm too easily distracted...

-That wall looks smudgy. Maybe I should clean all the walls.

-It's raining. I long to feel the rain on my face! Time to go outside... Oh wait. It's sunny. I long to feel the sun on my face! Time to go outside.... Lightning? It's been a while since I've been struck by it. Maybe I'll venture outside.

-Oh yay! The Mailman's here! So long, suckahs!

-Meet you for lunch? Sure! I'd never turn down lunch. Even writers have to eat, right? 

-Two lunches? In one day? I'm in!

-Watching Dr. Who isn't procrastinating. It's research. 

-I have to blog first. I can't let my blog readers down. They depend on me!

-It's been years since I've picked my nose. I wonder what's been going on in there? I better find out...

Yeah, any distraction will do. So I'm making a promise, here and now. I will not be distracted any more. I will not let these things get in the way of writing. I will throw my own rocks at my MC, no matter how many times she flips me off. I will not go to lunch more than four times a week. 

Most of all, I will finish this book before June 4. If I don't, you can stick me in a tree and take turns throwing rocks at me. 

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A List! Including: My New Car, Where Comfort is an Option... And Sam Destroys the Indestructible Miracle Blade

Hey y'all!

Happy Friday.

First off, Chersti Nieveen interviewed me on her blog for Utah Author's Month. Please go visit, and leave a comment! I don't want her viewership to go down just because I'm on there.

For today, a list!

1. So, I finally bought a new car. The best thing about it? The car has a special - nay, magical - button. Check it out.

Yep. That there is a "comfort" button.

Has there ever been anything so wonderful? 

I want to know how this button came about. Were the car makers all, "Let's be the first guys to make 'comfort' an option. Not mandatory. We'll be rich!"

When I first got in the car to test drive it, the button was not depressed. I had to wonder, who wouldn't press the button? Maybe someone who had it all, and was like, "I want to see how the uncomfortable people live. Jeeves! Un-press the button!"

There are definitely times I get in the car, and I think to myself, "You know, life has been a little easy lately. Comfort, off!"

Sometimes I threaten the kids: "Stop fighting, or you know that comfort you've been enjoying? Consider it gone!"

2. It's Mother's Day this weekend. Time for really bad art from my kids.
Here's a preview: Kid C made a card for me, and drew a picture of the two of us together. 
Me, Kid C
Emily Wing Smith was right- I do look the same in every picture. Kid C definitely gets his drawing skills from me. Lately, he's been asking if he can illustrate my next book. 

Judging from this picture, that would be totally awesome. 

3. The other day, Sam was baking buffalo wings, and when he removed the tray from the oven, underneath the tin foil he found this:

That would be our kitchen scissors and a steak knife, melted together, and flat as a crepe. 

I sent the picture to Miracle Blade, along with the note, "I thought your knives were supposed to be indestructible, but apparently they can't withstand 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Put that in your infomercial!"

I want to know how Sam took the cookie sheet out of the cupboard, put the knife and scissors on top of it, then placed a sheet of tin foil over the whole thing, and then put two rows of frozen buffalo wings on top of that... and didn't notice!

It's not like they blended in with the background. You really can't get more neon-red than those scissors. And when he was carefully placing the wings on top, was there ever a moment where he thought, "Hey, the wings seem to be pooling on either side of this giant bump in the middle. That's weird."

It's probably an air bubble.

Oh, nope. It's scissors and a steak knife.

So, what are y'all up to this weekend? Any special Mother's Day plans? Have you commented on Chersti's blog? Anyone else ever bake a pair of scissors with a side of steak knife?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When you can't write, just type... and Favorite Lines from the sequel to EVERNEATH

Hey y'all. It's time for a...

Chimichanga Challenge Update:

Team Tamale: 11,845 words (out of 40,000)
Team Gluten-Intolerant: Disneyland (out of 40,000)

Yep, Bree Despain is in Disneyland. So let me just say right now, what were we smoking when we said 40,000 words?

But the contest has kick-started me into the second book. Most authors I know warned me that writing a second book, under contract, under deadline, would be much harder than writing the first.

Now I know what they mean. This second book has been the naughty child. It's shy, stubborn, and it gives me the silent treatment. I kept trying to coax the story out of its bedroom, but most of these attempts ended in a door slammed in my face.

So I sort of just ignored it. But here's something I learned... something we should print on a bumper sticker or something:

The book won't get written if you ignore it.

Catchy, isn't it? Even more simply put: It won't get written if you don't write it.

I know it seems obvious, but it's so easy to forget. If you're like me, you like for your inspiration to hit first, and then the writing comes. But sometimes, you have to write first.

And that's when the writing can be painful... like I have to quite literally take my hand, shove it up my nose, dig around in my brain for the right words, and then yank them out, covered in cerebral goo.

Sometimes you have to forget about the writing and focus on the typing. Just type. Type as many words as you can in an hour.

And through this random typing, I discovered a few scenes I wasn't expecting. I love these scenes. But it took a lot of bad typing, and bad words, to get there.

Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of my favorite lines from EVERNEATH 2. I know they are out of context, but hopefully you'll enjoy them. (I shared a few on Twitter last week).

"Aren’t you the least bit curious about how I got you into bed last night?"

“You haven’t changed a bit. No 'how do you do?' no talk of the weather. Just a good swift kick to the groin.”

"I couldn't help but notice you confiscated a clump of my hair last night."
"What was your first clue?"
"The ripping pain at my temple."

"Sorry, but the vomit spewing from your mouth drowned out that last word. What were you going to do?"

"I hope you realize, if you forget him... he WILL die. You know this, right? Tell me you know this."

Okay, I don't know if those will even be interesting when they're so out of context. Most of them are spoken by the same character. (A character I have grown to love. Obsessively). 

If you're ever stuck on writing, try typing. I promise it will get better. 

What do y'all do when you're stuck? And do you like the lines? And if you're in the Chimichanga Challenge, what's your word count?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Questions from an Eight Year Old about Bin Laden: aka Why I'm tongue tied.

This morning, I talked to Kid C about what happened on September 11, 2001, and then I told him about Bin Laden getting killed, and that this was a historical day. 
He's trying his hardest to comprehend it all, and he's asking me some tough questions.

"Killing is bad right? Then why are we cheering?"

"Doesn't he have a family who will miss him?"

"Is Bin Laden going to Heaven? Then where is he going?"

"Why does he hate us? He doesn't even know me. Would he be happy if I died?" 

"Did Jesus want him dead?"

"Do you think they killed him with a knife or a gun? Which would hurt more?" (His bet was a knife).
"Didn't he have a shield?"

And finally...

"Brodi, what's a double tap?"

And then, as he's trying to figure out how he's supposed to feel, he's all, "So it's okay to celebrate, but not to party."

That's as good a plan as anything I've got.

Anyone have any answers?  All I know is I was relieved when it was time to go to school.

So, where were you on September 11? 

Sam and I were packing our bags for graduate school in London. We had plane tickets for September 12. Needless to say, our flight was postponed.