Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

I've been doing Christmas-y things, thus, tonight was the first night I actually hunkered down to do some writing. I just wanted to stop by and wish everyone a very warm, safe, and happy Christmas! I hope Santa was kind to you and yours!

Love, milk and cookies - Christine

P.S. I leave you with some shiny, itty bitty Fluffy progress in word count form:

8843 / 60000 words. 15% done!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do Eeeit! FAR FROM YOU release celebration and contest!

FAR FROM YOU release celebration and contest!

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -

Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -

Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO enteries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan

~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott

~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones

~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas

~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield

~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack

~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch

~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Longest Week Ever

(Christine guiltily peeks around and blows a breath on the thin layer of dust that's settled on her blog ... )

Hello! Sorry I've been MIA ... not a lot of writing news to report because I haven't been doing much writing. I've been really restless while trying to get over a cold and ... just counting down the hours till Christmas vacation (3 more days). For kids, the night before Christmas is the longest night of the year. For us adults (or pretend aduts), the week before no work is the longest of all.

Along with the normal dreams of sugar plums, I've also been dreaming about hours dedicated to The Unicorn Tamer. In my dream, I'm sitting all cozy by the sparkling Christmas tree, with a Starbucks gingerbread white chocolate mocha, and all my edits and re-writes are easy and brilliant. Ha! I wish! All daydreams aside, I am honestly looking forward to having the time to dedicate to my writing. I know it won't be smooth sailing ... but I really want to re-write the partial portion of my manuscript and fix the glaring holes!

I really don't have an excuse for NOT writing though, so I'm really going to try and at least work on Fluffy everyday (Fluffy is the code name for my untitled, YA Urban Fantasy, btw). If I want to finish Fluffy by February or March, I've got to get my butt in gear. So, for encouragement, here's my shiny new word count progress bar for Fluffy:

7177 / 60000 words. 12% done!

I think I'll try and write an outline today. I never liked writing outlines in high school or college ... they always felt like a waste of time to me. Why spend an hour writing an outline when you can spend an hour writing the meat? However, over the past couple years, I've finally found a worthy use for an outline: novel writing. In case you're wondering, I write it out in list form and mark each "event" or "scene" with numbers and do it on a chapter by chapter basis. For example:

Chapter 15 - Title of Chapter
1. Protagonist recovers/reacts to the end of Chapter 14
2. Protagonist meets side-kick and they don't get along
3. Side-kick promises Protagonist something shiny and our hero reluctantly follows him to Hades

I know it's not Christmas yet, but I wanted to wish the few of you who do follow this blog a Happy Holidays! I'm thankful for each and every one of you. I'm working on my online presence in the writing community and am even looking for some critique partners so hopefully ... I'll grow my blog friends base. But thank you, yes you, who come to read my ramblings on this scary hard adventure. Heart!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mostly Reading, Little Writing

Hello! Even though I haven't been doing much physical writing, I've been doing writing related things:

-- I entered the first paragraph of my untitled work-in-progress (WIP) to Nathan Bransford's contest! He's amazing to volunteer his time like that. Merry Christmas to us! Already he's got over 809 comments ... half of those are probably entries! Wish me luck! If I win, I hope he'll be OK with reviewing the partial for The Unicorn Tamer because I haven't finished the query or the first 3 chapters of my WIP. I decided not to submit the first paragraph of TUT because after Miss Snark's First Victim two sentences critique, I know that the first paragraph of TUT needs work. A partial read by Nathan would really jumpstart my editing over Christmas! Santa? Please?

-- I got curious and decided to try out Authonomy - if you want, you can check out the first 11,500 words of The Unicorn Tamer here. I haven't decided if I liked the site yet. I'm not really sure if I feel comfortable having so much of The Unicorn Tamer out in the public like that. Also, I feel that if I want to be "successful" on Authonomy, I would have to spend a lot of time networking, commenting on profiles, critiquing books, ect. I don't know if I have the time to invest all that energy. We shall see ... EDIT: It's Dec. 19, 2008 and I pulled my stuff off Authonomy a couple days ago. I just didn't have the time to invest in the community. Maybe someday I'll try again ...

-- I entered the two different versions of the first two sentences of TUT here and here. It was great - reading the other entries and reading the comments on my own. The exercise helped me see that I need to make the first couple of chapters of TUT (essentially, the partial portion) much more exciting.

-- I joined Miss Snark's First Victim's first chapter critique group. To help a fellow aspiring author, I am going to be reading the first chapter of her love story (that oddly reminds me of the movie "P.S. I Love You") and hopefully giving her fair, useful feedback.

-- I am now following 41 blogs! Woo!

P.S. I miss Disneyland.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fluffy and Fun YA

I always find something else to do when what I have to do is pack. I despise packing. But I have to pack because I have to sleep and I have to sleep because I have to catch a plane bright and early tomorrow. My friends and I are off to Disneyland! I love Disneyland - the idea of it, the details, the fact that's it's a tangible piece of imagination for children - and am really looking forward to seeing the park all decked out for the holidays.

So writing-wise, I've yet to send out my new query. I think I'm going to wait until after the holidays. I have been struggling with the first couple chapters of THE UNICORN TAMER - wondering if there's anyway I can make them more exciting, improve my voice - especially that of my main character's. Since I've been staring at the manuscript for about 8 years now, I decided to take a break. The good news is, I have a new story that isn't as demanding as a children's fantasy. There is no world-building involved and no exhausting, detailed epic I have to create and fret over. This new story if fluffy and fun - it's a YA romance with a supernatural twist. The only difficult part is writing in first person - which I've NEVER done before, but thought I'd try. I can always change it later if it doesn't work out. Since I'm only in the beginning stages, I won't spill too much juicy detail here. I don't even have a title yet (how about I give it the code name Fluffy, for now). I'm glad I'm taking a step back to let The Unicorn Tamer stew for a bit. It's still my baby - per se - and I will do everything I can to get it published, but right now ... stewing is good. I will edit and polish more over Xmas vacation.

I have several other story ideas - the one that tops the list is another fantasy geared towards middle-grade boys - but with all the energy I'm putting into The Unicorn Tamer, I wasn't ready to start another epic. Then ... a couple days ago ... Fluffy presented itself and 3000 words later, I have scenes! I completely failed NaNoWriMo, but I'm going to really try to finish this story in a couple of months instead of years. Once I have more of the story written, I'll write the blurb and put it up here.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Q, P, F

When I was little, I think my favorite letter was "C" ... because "C" is for "Cookie" and that's good enough for me! "C" also stood for "Christine" and for "Christmas" - both cool things if you asked me. Nowadays, my life seems to revolve around the letters Q, P, and F - Queries, Partials, and Fulls.

I was thinking about those letters today and how tricky they were. Each time you "graduate" from a Q to a P to an F, the stakes get higher and higher. And when I say "stakes," I mean pain. I finally figured it out. With a Q, you're trying to sell an idea. In a way, queries are sort of like pick-up lines and good hygiene - you need both to make a good first impression. With a P, you're trying to sell your writing. That's why a reject for a P hurts ten times more (maybe even 50 times more) than a reject for a Q. An agent probably knows if he/she likes your writing after the first 2-5 pages ... maybe 10. No longer are you trying to hook the agent with a fancy one-liner, you're trying to keep them reading. If they stop, then, well, sometimes you wonder if you should give up as well. Then, there's the F. With the F, you're trying to sell your story. Your story includes your beloved characters and this universe you made just for them. It's your love for your characters and the adventures they seek that encourages you to write till the 100,000th word. If the agent rejects you there, that's probably pain times 1000. What it means is that you got their attention, they liked your writing, BUT they didn't like the story you wrote.

And why do we write? It's because we thought we had a story to tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Counting the Days till Christmas

Only three writing related things to post:

1. TW answers responses to rejection letters, thus, she is awesome and no... I didn't write to bother her, I wrote to thank her for her time

2. I have a shiny new query letter and 5 hand-picked agents who will be receiving said query letter tomorrow!

3. I entered two different versions of THE UNICORN TAMER's first two sentences here... let the critiquing begin!

And now, some fun end of the year stuff as we count down the days till Christmas vacation!

100 Things I've Done (red is in the past year, blue is in my life):

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I played alto sax in high school... and over the summer, I got up and played a kazoo in a band that came by work...)
4. Visited Hawaii (one of my favorite places!)
5. Watched a meteor shower (I think I saw one this year, but I don't remember...)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (twice this year!)
8. Climbed a mountain (the Harding Ice Field in Alaska... now THAT was a mountain)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (been to, but I don't think I walked to the top)
18. Grown your own vegetables (one year, Bryce and I tried to grow tomatoes...)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (but not with my new laser eyes)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (another one I can't remember if I've done this year...)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke (Rock Band style)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Hawaii!)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (it did not rain enough this year)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (Alaska!)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I think I do this every year)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I'm fairly certain...)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Very soon, I hope!!!!)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (I will never forget... my World Cultures professor said that even if you're not Catholic or religious, you should read the Bible, because it's one of the best stories ever written...)
86. Visited the White House (yes, I think)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Sir Ian Mckellen! Does Eric Schmidt and Larry Page count, too?)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!)