For the Criminally Inane

For the Criminally Inane

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cultural Literacy

A few years ago, my hubby challenged me to read the first Twilight book. I took it with me on a flight and I did read the whole thing. Maybe it was because I'd already seen the movie, maybe it was my pride, but I couldn't get into it. It bored me. I decided I wasn't going to read anymore and be content consuming the content via the movies and that was that. Then, a few weeks ago, my friend lent me the rest of the series and told me to read it. I dunno, maybe I'm just one of those people that don't like to follow the crowd, or maybe I rebel against the band wagon, but I really didn't want to read it. But my friend appealed to cultural literacy. She argued that one should read the series just to know what ever one else is talking about. Agreed, I don't have a great deal of cultural literacy in pop culture, I don't watch TV or movies very often and when people were talking about "Lost" a few years ago, I felt it. There is merit to being able to converse with people on a popular culture level, not that I feel a need to go out and watch every movie, every TV show, just so I can connect with people, but I felt pretty stupid when I asked a friend what the Amazing Race was. Even my hubby knew what that was.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

John Flanagan

This Aussi was AWESOME! Now, I'm not usually a big fan of Middle Grade male protag fantasies. I went to his signing because my husband had a meeting that night, so I took our copy of his book to be personalized. But I left Flanagan's presentation thinking I might pick up his books. As he read from his writing, he teared up a bit, getting emotional over these characters he's created. You could tell he was passionate about writing, living and sharing. His series, Ranger's Apprentice is one of my husband's favorite and Flanagan is coming out with a new series, too! So, if you have a ten year old boy in your life, I recommend this! Oh, and PS: It's kind of a funny picture of me because he made me laugh right before the it was taken. He called me a perky American girl!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why us "unattractive people" are so cool.

So, I've made an observation. Beautiful people have easier lives. They do. There have been studies I learned about in my college edjemacation that talk about how people think better of people who are good looking. They think they are kinder, nicer, and beautiful people enjoy special perks--essentially people want to be friends with beautiful people. (I know this anecdotally, too, because I'm married to one of these blessed people who gets away with murder because he's good looking.) As much as we hate to admit it, we judge people based on heuristics. So, what do the rest of us "unattractive" or let's say less-attractive people have to offer? Growing up, since I couldn't make friends on my good looks alone, yep, you guessed it, I had to actually develop a personality. Now, I have to rely on my sparkly wit to win friendships. So when life hands you a beautiful face, just remember the rest of us have found other ways to get noticed, and that makes us cool.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why read/write fantasy?

I took an awesome creative writing course in college on short stories. When I told my teacher I wanted to write fantasy, he kind of discouraged me, saying I should write slice of life stories. Persuaded by his reasoning, I gave up fantasy writing in search of things of more literary value. Hmmm, looking back I think that was a mistake. Not that writing literary fiction or learning how to write literary fiction was a waste of time, quite the opposite, but I think there is some merit to reading and writing fantasy. First off, for me, reading fantasy is about escapism. It's fun to leave your world and completely delve into some other realm. Then you can safely come back and face reality. It's therapeutic. Second, I like writing fantasy because I can write about issues in a metaphoric way. (Uh-oh, one of those literary terms. That doesn't belong in fantasy writing...fantasy writing should be about fun.) Well, it is, but for me, there is a battle between right and wrong out there and good and evil. (Bullies evil, underdog good.) And in fantasy you can take that to an extreme. Magic can be good or bad, I can talk about issues that people don't normally talk about these days except in fantasy: righteousness, loyalty, oaths, self-sacrifice. Wait, don't these sound like literary terms? Yes, that's right, there's so much in fantasy that is of worth, just as in literary fiction. One last thought, when was the last time you were dying to read that plotless literary, high brow 700 page book? Exactly. And when it comes to paychecks, who do you think gets paid more? Just ask JK Rowling what she'd prefer to write.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Making Friends

One of my last good friends is moving this winter so you know what that means. I have to get out and make some new friends! I love making new friends. Friends are like handbags, you can never have too many. So, I thought I'd write myself a little tutorial about making friends. I should be an expert on this subject because I've moved nearly every two years in my youth and live in a high-turn-over area with lots of students, so I think I'm getting pretty good at it. First, smile a lot. Whether you are the new one or not, people like happy people, they're attracted to smiles. Why? Maybe people feel that if you're smiling you must be nice and nice people make great friends. Second, ask for and remember people's names. My hubby and I play this game at church to see who can remember the most new people's names. (I usually win, although he's got me a few times.) People like to be remembered and known. Third, ask people about themselves. This one took me years to learn. I still babble about myself, but usually when I'm trying to impress someone--waaaaaaay backwards. People like talking about themselves as a general rule. If you ask them questions about themselves, they usually know the answer. Try to ask questions that will give more than a yes or no answer unless you plan follow up questions that will bring out more. Try to avoid the old, "You like this...So to I...blah, me, blah, I...." Just ask follow up questions. (I'm still working on this one!) Fourth, do something for them. Or have them do something for you. Service is a great way to make a friend because you invest in them. But if they invest in you (just don't manipulate them into doing something for you, major friend turn off) then they will be more bonded to you. Fifth, time. Often, it takes time to make a really good friend and it requires that you spend time with them. This is essential whether you are single, married, have kids. Time is the water and feed for your friendship flower. Without it, it dies. Sometimes that requires sacrifice, so you have to ask yourself, if it's worth it. I hope it is.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ally Condie

I'm always on the lookout for good teen fiction. A friend of mine recommended Ally Condie's Matched. She came here and her presentation was so cool. She had slides on the things that inspired her to write her dystopian novel. She talked about art, writing and poetry, music. She shared how her brother and brother-in-law were invaluable resources for learning survival skills.
I'm going to be reading her book this week! Check her out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo

No, that is not some type-o. It's National Novel Writing Month! That's right! For the next thirty days, I'm going to write a 50,000 word novel. So, I'm writing this to let you know if my facebook status updates, blogposts, emails and housekeeping are lacking, it's because I'm writing. I'll still try to blog about whatever pops into my head. For instance, I've got this great article my hubby forwarded to me that I'm dying to blog about. So stay tuned. Does anybody else do anything crazy like this?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why girls date jerks

This is such a mystifying question for all of us, but especially to nice guys who stand by while girls go for unworthy men: Why do girls date jerky men? I have few theories. First, girls mistake arrogance for confidence. Jerky guys seem to ooze this self-awareness that nice guys don't tend to have. Bu the problem is, these jerky guys are usually self-centered, large-egoed guys who are looking for someone to fulfill his agenda. Second, bad boys are exciting, unpredictable, intriguing. Girls like a puzzle. If you are too easy to read, it's not a challenge. Third, one reader pointed out that girls like guys that need to be reformed. Blame "Grease" for that. Guess what, most guys aren't going to change for you, honey. Fourth, sometimes the bad boys aren't afraid to make a move, like ask a girl out. While the nice guys debate, hem and haw, the bad guys figure they don't have anything to loose and take a leap. For all their failings, bad guys have guts. You may wish they didn't , but they do. Personally, I've dated a few jerks and nice guys. My money is on the nice guys. They are focused on the girl instead of themselves, which is really what you want in a long term sustainable relationship.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why nice guys finish last.

A couple guys close to me are on the dating scene, in various stages--from getting dates, to regularly seeing someone to almost engaged. All of them are awesome guys, hard workers, great senses of humor, nice looking--even hot! (I can say that because none of them read this blog--alas, their one blemish!) Yet, they all struggle with one thing: nice-guy-itis. Yup. They are too nice. Wait, is that possible? Too nice? Some girls seem to think so, and I want to figure out why. For me, I like nice guys (I'm married to the supreme nice guy! Thanks for letting me go to London, hubbs!) but when I was dating I had a hard time crushing on one. Why? Nice guys treat you right, they open doors, listen to classical music, love their mothers, so why, why, WHY couldn't I like them? It's because nice guys are nice to everyone. It's hard to know if your crush is just being nice to you, like he is to everyone, or if he's interested. See, if a jerky guy is nice to you, you know he likes you. Plus there's no mystery. Nice guys don't seem to have deep, dark brooding pasts that make them dark and mysterious. Girls like mystery. Or maybe a better word, surprises. I loved it when I found out something cool about a guy I was interested in. I'm not saying all nice guys are boring--ha! Far from it. But the unexpected is exciting, and maybe the nice guys can loosen up a bit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can't Write in a Vacuum

I realized something in the last few months while I've been struggling to even have a desire to write. I started my fourth novel and gave it to my hubby to read and he liked it, encouraged me. But then he said, "I think you need to write this one on your own and I'll read it when it's all done." Guess what happened. Yup, my writing stalled out. Like, I don't even have a desire to write. It seems if I don't get immediate pats on the back, I don't have the will to go on. But it's not that my ego needs to be stroked, or I need encouragement after every chapter because I'm a self-conscious writer. It's true, I cannot write in a vacuum. First off, it's very dusty and dirty, and very cramped--ha, ha! Bad joke, I know. But honestly, rarely can people do any kind of great work on their own. I need to bounce ideas off someone, I need someone to ask me probing questions that open up whole areas of character exploration, or understanding or takes my plot on an unexpected and fun ride. I need that. In your creative work, do you have other people help you? Do you just do it on your own? What kind of help do you get?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Life is pain, Highness.

Sorry to steal one of my favorite Princess Bride quotes for the title. I just wanted to talk a little about painful emotions. I remember in high school, every emotion was on one side of the spectrum or the other. The highest highs, the lowest lows. Crush-O-the-Hour said hi to me after class, it's a great day! Crush-O-the-Hour didn't say hi after class, devastation and self-deprecating thoughts clouded the day. In college, that spectrum seemed to even out, still jogging from one side to the other if some guy asked me on a date, (emotional high), but if he asked out some other girl, you guessed it, devastation and but not-so-self-deprecating thoughts--I had grown up a little, see. I remember one break up, definitely the worst break up I had in college, that sent me reeling through the harsh and vivid high school emotions. Don't worry, I know for sure he won't be reading this. Yeah, it was that bad. We're not even friends on facebook, that's how bad it was. Anyway, I won't go through the details of the break up or how it happened, but I will say this: I died that day. A part of my heart shriveled up like a potato left in the pantry for a over a year. I was emotionally sick. Physically hurt. I didn't eat for three days. Well, I probably wandered into the kitchen and picked at something, but I certainly didn't eat any meals. My countenance was awful. If there had been any pictures taken at that time (thankfully there were none), I would've looked like I'd just escaped from out-patient surgery and felt just as bad. Flash forward to present time. I've not had any harrowing experiences since then. Those kind of emotions are for high school dramas and maybe a little in college right? I mean, nothings got me rattled in the last nine and a half years I've had of wedded bliss. Until a few months ago. I had a friend break up. If you don't know what a friend break up is, it's kind of like a boyfriend break up, only it's with a friend instead of a boy. Again, no details of why or how, but all those emotions I thought I'd left behind me in high school or even college, you know the sickening feeling, the flush of heat, the gut-wringing pain, were right back in my face. I thought due to my relatively conflict-free marriage that as I matured, those feelings weren't as intense. But I was wrong. Grief, pain, sorrow, loss, humiliation even weirdly enough, jealousy, all still hurt with the intensity of high school. Does it ever get any less painful to deal with those emotions in this human experience?

Friday, October 7, 2011

What's a romantic gift?

A long time ago in the 90's, I watched a remake of the movie "Father of the Bride." As far as remakes go, it's pretty good. But there was one part that I thought was a little silly. The bride-to-be bursts in the door in tears saying the wedding is off. When the parents dig a little deeper, they find that the groom had bought her a blender. Assuming he meant for her to be all domestic, she goes nuts and calls off the wedding. This is all sorted out of course and there is indeed a happy ending. But that brings to mind a question, what is a romantic gift? Romantic gifts , meaning, what expresses love, are different for each person. I'll have to say, my hubby got me a $300 Vitamix blender for Mother's Day. And we've used it more than all the jewelry he's gotten me. And guess which got him more smooches? That's right the blender. Was it a romantic gift? YES! Why? Because he knew I wanted it. Thoughtfulness, then is the key to romantic gifts. Do you agree?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What are you passionate about?

You know, I've watched "The Secret," I've read books on how to be successful. They all have a common question: What are you passionate about? I believe where passion meets talent and persistence, you'll have success. But what if your passion is something stupid like playing parlor games or hanging out and talking? My hubby, the brilliant scientist, asks me all the time, what are you passionate about, what makes you the happiest? I wish it was something awesome like my friends who are opening businesses, working a job that saves lives, taking joy in raising a house full of kids and never seeing the bottom of a diaper pail. I came to a realization that I am shallow. I am happiest when I'm organizing spontaneous fun and chilling with people talking about relationships. Pathetic, eh? I'm not sure if that will ever make me successful. I had a lot of fun in college, but that was it. What are you passionate about? What topic gets you talking? What subject never tires you? How did you discover your passion? I want to know!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Comments (fixes?)

Ok, I searched the help board and they gave me this if comments aren't happening. First they said to enable cookies. If you don't want them enabled all the time, just enable them, make a comment then disable them on your browser. Other helpful info: 1) Try Clearing Your Cache out (http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser's-Cache) 2) Does it happen if you use another browser like Firefox, IE, Chrome etc? 3) Do you have any Addons/Ad Blockers/Pop-up blockers/Firewall that maybe blocking? They said those things may interfere with comment posting. Happy commenting!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Comments

A few of you have complained that you can't post comments. I messed around with my settings to see if it helps. Try posting a comment. If you can't, leave it in the facebook comments section and I'll contact blogger. Thanks.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vanity

I'm getting to that age now where I'm starting to be concerned about my looks. Are they fading? Am I as attractive as I was when I first met my hubby? I noticed a few wrinkles next to my eyes (laugh lines, to be sure) and decided to do something about it. I went to Target and bought my first ever age-defying face wash. Before this, I was content with just soap and water. But this new wash was splashed with promises of smaller pores, less wrinkles--younger looking skin! I bought it, hook, line and sinker. So, I tried it out for a few weeks and I started developing pimples. Unbelievable! So much money for face wash and it makes me brake out? I wanted to call the company and complain or at least get my money back that could be better used to upgrade my bulbous TV. I complained to my husband about the lies these companies get away with when he said, "No, honey. They kept their promise. You do have younger looking skin--the skin of a acne-ridden fifteen year old." Oh, vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Romance: the dirty word

When I tell people I write romances, I get a variety of responses but most of them are negative, like I just told them I have some communicable disease that's explained in detail only on the CDC website. What? Is writing about true love, relationships, what make people fall in or out of love wrong, bad or juvenile? I'm not writing bodice-ripping, lecherous tales of secrecy and seduction. Come on, it's me. If you know me, you know I'm not writing that. But some people give me such scorching looks that I think, maybe I should be writing high-brow, soul-searching literature, as if that's the only type of literature worth reading. But then who says, I'm not. Just because I happen to be exploring relationships, doesn't mean there isn't depth, meaning or a life-changing message in them. Reading is dreaming with your eyes open. If the dream is boring then you'll wake and find something else to do. I write to give my mind a little recess, a break from reality. I hope that's why people read.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'Tis easier to consume than create

So, I'm starting my writing schedule again. I've been too long distracted with summer and company and fun. Time to get serious, or since I write comedy, silly, again. Have you ever had the feeling that you want to live in another world, be complete absorbed, lost from reality? When your life is too complicated, too stressful, too weird to deal with do you need to check out for a while? I do. I think most people need a bit of an escape now and then. Usually when I need that, I read a book because quite frankly, it's darn hard to write. Writing takes brain power, stamina, persistence, diligence and much more. Reading, or worse, watching TV, only requires a pair of eyes. So why bother writing when 1-there is so much to consume and 2-it is much easier to consume than to create. Well, I want to write stories that interest me, that explore my ideas, that help me to string out my thoughts, examine them and make sense of them. It's so interesting. There are things I find out about myself as I write, sometimes deep hidden secrets that scare me. I've uncovered a whole new me, and that discovery makes all the work worth it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When Friends Leave

This was the summer of the mass exodus of my friends. It's not that I'm not used to saying good-bye to friends. I grew up as an Army Brat so I moved on an average of every two years until I graduated from high school. I liked moving around, meeting new people, the change of scenery, a new adventure, a clean slate. But here's the big difference, this summer, my friends left me. And I hate being left behind. Most of my friends went on to bigger and better things--new jobs, next stage of schooling, new houses--and I'm still here. And here is full of memories of my friends. Church, where most of my friends are, is weird, when I expect to see someone sitting on the pew and they are not. Or the phone rings and I know it's not them, calling to ask a favor to to borrow something. I know the solution is to get out and make new friends. But some friends are irreplaceable. Irreplaceable because we passed through some significant event, like going through a hard time together or going through something joyful together. Those experiences create powerful impressions, impressions that fade into memories. And I try to hold on to those memories but it's as hard for me as holding water in my fist--the harder I grasp, the more the water leaks out my fingers--and out my eyes for some reason. I'm writing this because I don't think I'm always emotionally honest. I think I try really hard not to miss people and pretend I don't. Why? Pride? Don't want to miss them more than they miss me? No, I don't think it's that. I think I don't like getting hurt. I mean, missing people hurts like eating emotional wasabe sauce. But I told the hubbs after a few tears squeezed out of my eyes, if I can't take the pain, I don't deserve the joy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Living with a scientist

I'm married to a brilliant scientist. Life with a scientist has its ups and down. Up--he knows how to convert kilos to pounds and kilometres to miles, in his head. Heck, he even knows what a kilometre is! Down, that means he's smarter than me. Which makes me constantly ask, whuuuuuuuut? If my head was an oak tree, (just follow me on this one, ok?) then my husband is talking at the Empire State Building level--way over my head. Maybe an oak tree is too generous for me. Usually his scientistness is great. The only time it's a problem is when we are cooking. I'm a dash here, pinch here type of gal. Hubby requires a protocol. It's like he can't do anything unless it's specifically spelled out. When my husband asks me how much milk I put in a banana smoothie, I just make up a measurement, uh, just a cup, honey. But that's a good thing. I've had some really bad meals come out of the dash-pinch methodology. So, who's the smart one? The one who follows directions to the T or the one who makes it up? You're right, and I'm more like a dogwood, not oak.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RIP Borders

My favorite book store is going out of business. It's depressing to see the shelves empty, not that selling books is bad, but the fact that they are not restocking them. It's like a part of me is dying. I have so many memories of chasing the kids around while trying to read the inside cover of a book. Does clearing out the bookstores make way for digital books? Personally, I'm not a fan. I like the smell and feel of real books. Is the end of bookstores? Is it the end of books? You tell me. Maybe I'm a Luddite, but I'm hoping books are not going away anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friends

I have lots of friends, some microwave friends, some casserole friends and some rotisserie friends. The microwave friendships usually require little effort or sacrifice. Relationships are formed quickly and then are over with, not very satisfying. They're like when I talk to someone behind me in line at the grocery store, we laugh, we complain, but we don't call each other for babysitting. When I was in school, they were your classmates that you didn't hang out with on the weekends. We'd joke, compare homework, but it never really went any further than that.

Casserole friends. Most of my friends fall here. Casseroles require a little bit more effort, various ingredients, more work, but are more satisfying. I love hot crispy cheese that gathers in the corners of a casserole cooked in the oven. These are the friends that are probably parents of my kids friends, my neighbors.

Then there's rotisserie. Slow basting and roasting over a fire, laborious turning of a spit. I have few of these. They are roommates, siblings, my hubby and children--family. They require so much sacrifice that I'm not sure I can have more than a few. These are people I don't want to ever let go of, the people I love most dear on the earth.

Having friends is risky, though. They weasel their way into your heart and then once they are embedded in your softest flesh, they have the ability to hurt you or not. But you've got to have them. It's not an optional relationship in life. I hope that most of our relationship fall into the casserole or rotisserie spectrum. Life is too lonely eating the microwave stuff.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who is my audience?

The ideas that are coming to me now are for an older audience than YA. The last few stories I have written deal with gals in their young twenties experiencing adult life for the first time. Why do I write about this age group? Those early years of finding out who I was in the world were so deliciously fun for me. I had so many options in love, career etc. And I hadn't made any huge mistakes, so I wasn't burdened by regret. That's an exciting time. I want my protagonists to also have more opportunities to do things that girls in YA just can't do--move away and live in a foreign country all by themselves, for example.

What I worry about writing for this audience is that girls ages 18-20 are living life, they don't want to read about it. I remember being that age and having my own experiences with love, real love, not just high school crushes. There was no way I wanted to read a book about someone else falling in love at that point in time. The story I was living was much more dramatic and exciting. We don't tend to read in the stage that we are at.

I guess that's one reason that right now, I don't read stories about stay-at-home-moms who are looking to find themselves. I'm living the dream right now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Teen Section Only

A couple of months ago, my family and I went to our city library. We always head straight to the top floor where the kids picture, Juvenile and YA books are shelved. Since I consume a great deal of YA literature, hanging out in the YA section is pretty much the only place to go. My husband is looking at Manga and I have a book, and we're sitting in the seating section when one of the library workers comes over. She points to the scrawling cursive above the shelves that says, "Teen Lounge." "This is for teens only," she says. Then she asks us to leave.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

I didn't know you can discriminate against age at a tax-payer funded institution! The one and only teenager who was sitting there, gave me a look that said, "This lady is crazy!" I was so mad, I almost said something, like "I read YA, I should be able to lounge here!" Instead, my husband and I slinked out, annoyed that someone would even care, and didn't even check out a book! Ha! Take that!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Try My Luck

A friend of mine (thank you!) posted Carrie Harris's website because she thought I might be interested. Win a Kindle or a mentorship. Uh, hello! Totally want the mentorship. I can buy a Kindle. Thanks for hooking me up! So here's my blog entry that will give me one more chance to win. Hm, never heard of the book, but I'll have to check it out! I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why is funky chemistry so cravable?

My husband and I have discussed funky chemistry a lot lately as my current WIP involves a ton of it and I want to make sure I get it right. I was trying to describe to him what it was like and he had no clue, hadn't an idea what I was talking about. I guess he's never felt it. I couldn't explain how it's like feeling the other person wanting you. Obviously, we're missing funky chemistry from our relationship. (Note: it's not necessary to have funky chemistry to have an emotionally strong and healthy marriage. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's because we don't have funky chemistry that it works.)

Then, a weeks ago, my husband comes home from the pub and tells me this story. (No, he wasn't imbibing alcohol, he was drinking root beer.) While he and his friends were snarfing pizza, he noticed this woman across the room. Every once in a while he'd catch her staring at him. Now, my husband is hot and when he's wearing his white shirt and slacks I just want to poor butterscotch all over him and eat him up. But, honestly folks he's not Brad Pitt (that's fine for me, I'm no Angelina). Are you sure? I ask. Yes, he assured me. (He wasn't drinking remember!) He finally understood what funky chemistry feels like and it was weird. Having someone find you attractive is quite an ego boost, a thrill, it's intoxicating.

Why do we crave funky chemistry? Or maybe I shouldn't beg the question. Do you crave funky chemistry? I love it in novels, long for it in rom-coms. But I have to ask one more question: What makes funky chemistry? I wrote out two things I think define funky chemistry in novels. Feel free to add your own. There's probably more. But I think this is the core.

1. Hero and Heroine are hyper aware of each other and can sense attraction of the other.
2. They are attracted (not necessarily physically, although some of that, too) to each other but cannot have each other for at least one strong reason.


Part of the funky chemistry is the not having. Once we get what we want, the unmet desire that causes the fire is sated and therefore not as interesting, in my opinion.

How do I know it I get it right in my writing? I'll let my readers be the judge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ally Carter!




Went to see Ally Carter at the county library last night dressed as Gallagher Girls (me, my friend and my daughter). She was awesome! Got free key chains. Love those freebies. She said my hubby's Blackthorn t-shirt was her favorite. I mean, it's not every tour that she meets a guy so in love with his wife that he will consent to wearing a t-shirt for a school that exists only in YA chick lit!

Ally was friendly, personable, and speaks with a charming slight Midwest accent. She is touring and signing as her new book Uncommon Criminals has come out this month. I waited, ever so patiently to buy it from Puddnhead Books (an indy bookshop that helps fund author tours.) We went an hour early, hoping for good seats. I took a friends' daughter's book for her to get signed.

So she said she didn't tell anyone at her day job that she was writing until she was published. She didn't want to be one of those writers that talked and never wrote. I was so ashamed then to tell her, (but I did) that I had just sent a query to her literary agency for a novel I had written, citing in my query that my novel is written for older sisters and moms of Ally Carter fans. She said that will impress her agents. We'll see. I still haven't heard back from them.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making Female Friends

Now that I'm happily married and I no longer have to worry about how to deal with dating, I found a new problem has arisen: making female friends. It's like I'm back at the dating stage only it's with girls instead of guys and instead of hashing with my roommates, I'm hashing with my husband.

Typical Conversation at my house:

"She said to call her sometime this week," I say to my hubby as I unload sippies from the dishwasher. "When should I call her? Is today too early?"

"Call her," says my husband, sweeping the floor.

"But will that look too stalkerish, if I call her the day after she says to call?"

"No. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear from you." He bends to sweep up the pile.

"I just don't want to appear over-anxious and therefore needy. Nothing scares away friends more than needy."

He empties the dustpan into the trash, banging it on the side to make sure it all comes out. "She's probably needy, too. That's why she told you to call."

"Do you think she likes me?" He's heard this question fifteen times, already.

"If she didn't like you, she wouldn't have told you to call."

"Should I invite her to do something? Or is it too early in the friendship? I don't want to blow this."

"Invite her to the park. Then your kids can play and you two can talk."

"Okay, I'm going to do it. I'm going to give her a call." I pause holding the phone. "Will you call for me?"


I'm probably thinking about this since a large chunk of my friends are moving this summer. Their husbands done with schooling, they are moving on to bigger and greener pastures, the green meaning actually making some! For the last few years I've been in my little comfort zone of friends, ones I can call in the middle of the night for babysitting, ones I borrow stuff from, friends of my kids. I'm going to have to proactive in making new friends this summer. I hope my husband can handle it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stong vs. Weak Female Protagonist

Girls want to read books about girls like themselves. So why do all the agents say they want stories with a strong female protagonist? I understand from a plotting point of view that a girl who's making decisions and going places is much more interesting to read about. But then I think of Bella. Why was she so effective? First she was coupled with a vampire. Let's face it, Edward is the star of the show, right? But Meyer does something interesting, whether intentional or not--Bella is every girl. Who hasn't felt stupid, clutzy, even the cheerleaders. (See True Story below.) It's like the reader morphs into Bella, she disappears. We are living the story.

True Story: I sat next to a girl in high school in one of my classes. She was toned, she was tanned, she was, in a word, H-O-T. Ok, that was three letters. Her hair was high lighted, her nails were done. I never saw her wear the same thing twice. Plus, she hung out with all the popular crowd aka "Jock Hall." K, now you know what type of girl she is, crowned Prom Royalty and all that. Zoom forward ten or so years. My sister runs into her at a church function. My sister remembers her (that's what sets the popular from the unpopular, the unpopular are not memorable.) Of course she doesn't remember my sister because we only went to that high school for two years--a small blip in the high school yearbook. So, my sister asks her if she remembers me. (I sat next to her remember? I think we shared papers once!) Not that we're self-absorbed, but I'd like to think we're memorable. Ok, long story even longer, when she says no, she didn't didn't remember us, my sister humbly responds that we were sort of nerds (therefore unmemorable) and here's the kicker! This tanned beauty queen says, "Oh, so was I!"

WHAAAAAAAAA? I'm telling you folks, she was not a nerd. My point is, we all feel like nerds in high school!

So back to Bella. If we all feel like nerds shouldn't agents be looking for "relatable" female protagonists ie ones that feel nerdy? Maybe people would buy more books? Or maybe it's just the vampires.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Signs It Might Be Over

So, I read this article stating five signs a relationship might be over because I love reading news about relationships, wondering if there is any truth to them. So I clicked on this article about the five signs and laughed. One of the signs it maybe be over is one of the partners losing weight and getting into shape.

Why is that funny? Because for me, if this were true, my husband would worry every time I have a baby and obsess over loosing the baby weight. (#3 baby is one and I still have ten pounds to go!) It's not because I'm playing the field or even looking around. (I've been happily married almost 9 years now, and with three kids in tow--you don't leave that easily!) I just want to get my pre-baby body back! But maybe it's different for guys.

Maybe I should worry when my husband folds down his Bowflex, and pumps up the bike tires in the morning. Is he trying to tone up for the next relationship? When he works out, I must say, he is one handsome hunk of a man. But if this is a sign that my hubby's starting to look around, well, I should feel nice and comforted. The bike hasn't been outside in a while and the Bowflex is getting dusty. Thanks honey. I think he's not working out, just to make me feel secure. What a sacrifice!

So gals when you see your hubby's gut and you are tempted to complain about his lack of personal discipline, will power or whatever, just remember, it could be a sign that both he and his love handles are here to stay.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What do women want in a Male Protagonist? And Sample Pages from SWISS MISS

If you're looking to read the first three pages of SWISS MISS, here's your chance!

Sample Pages


Okay, now's the time to hear from you. What do you women want in a male protagonist? Here are some of my favorite heroes from my favorite books:

1. Mr. Darcy, the rich powerful, stoic, but handsome man who loves the heroine even though she treats him like dirt.

2. Rhett Butler, also rich, but he and Scarlet have some funky chemistry. He wants her and will stop at nothing to get her. (Then leaves her in the end. Eek, I hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone!)

3. Wesley aka Farmboy aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, he will survive anything for true love, torture, ROUSes, fireswamp. He comes back to life to save her, even if she did leave him in the fireswamp. Swashbuckling comedy.

You get the idea.

So what do you want? Sexy? Goofy? Funky chemistry? Emotional connection? Does he have to be rich? Powerful? Must he love the female protagonist, pine for her? Tell me your favorite male protags, and I better hear more than just Edward or Jacob!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I'm trying for Traditional Publishing

So many people have suggested since I've told them I've written a book that I should e-pub. Lots of reasons to go with e-publishing, you get to keep all your own rights, you don't have to pay any percentage of the profits to agents or editors, immediate and world-wide distribution. But there are some good reasons to go the traditional route of getting an agent and trying to traditionally publish. I thought I'd write a post about why I'm going the way of the good ol' glue and paper publishing. Reasons below:

1. I don't know enough people. If I were famous or already had a team of marketing geniuses on my payroll, I'd totally go e-pub. But truth be told, it's easy to get lost in the sea of e-pub when nobody has heard of you/heard of your book.
2. Having an agent is like having a real estate agent, yes, you can sell your house without one, but how long would it take you?
3. I'm self absorbed. I'd like to see my name in print.
4. I like something physical. I love the feel, the smell and taste, (yes sometimes I bite my pages) of real books. Plus, it's easier to give away copies of your book for Christmas when they're in print.
5. Can't sign a e-pub copy. Book tours just wouldn't be as much fun.
6. An agent brings a whole set of networking and tools that are indispensable to a writer.
7. If it goes through traditional publishing channels, I know I've produced the very best work I've ever written. Much too easy to say "good enough" and then e-pub.
8. Author photograph on flap. Need I say more?
9. Not being able to get an agent is NOT a good reason to e-pub. Means, I need to write better.
10. Ego fluff. I know, but it'd be really great to have someone validate your work as a writer. I said it. It's true. There.

Monday I'm going to ask reader questions about what women like in a male protagonist, so be ready to give your opinions! Thanks!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Started Number Four

No, I didn't read I Am Four. I started writing my fourth novel. It's about a girl who meets this guy... Hey, isn't that how all my stories go? My next novel after this one will be a YA fantasy. I promise I will deviate from my formula just a bit. After writing 14,000 words in this new story, I noticed that, as in Swiss Miss, my main character girl faints with hunger. I'm like, what is that all about? As the king says in the Richard Chamberlain Slipper and the Rose, "All girls faint, they know it's expected of them."

Working on a query letter to send to Sara Megibow of Nelson literary agency. I am having some friends read over my draft first, just to make sure it's all good.

Just another thought. I read in one of my writing books that Isaac Asimov said that if a doctor gave him six minutes to live, he wouldn't slow down, he'd type faster. I sometimes feel the same way, a story begging to be told, that I wake in the night and take furious notes. Sometimes I beg them to let me sleep, (uh, that might not be a good idea to silence my muse.)

Last thought, Ally Carter of Gallagher Girl fame is coming out with her second Heist Society this summer. And she's coming here! My friend and I are dressing up like Gallagher girls, so if you're in town and want to join us, grab a plaid skirt and join us June 25th at the county library.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Query Class

I'm in the process of self-teaching myself how to be a writer/how to get published. So, I started taking classes. My husband is okay with this because eighty bucks for a webinar is waaaaaaaaaay cheaper than spending twelve grand on a real estate seminar. (By the way gals, the best way to get what you want is to want something even more expensive first, when your husband balks, just say fine, I really want X [less expensive, more desired thing.] Works every time.)

Anyway, back to my class. So, yet-to-be-published authors should have a website up and running and probably giving away free chocolate or something to attract hits. Hmmmm....not a bad idea. So I set up my website. Thought you guys might want to take a peek: http://ameyzeigler.com Aack! Did I just do that? I just posted my website. Ok, calm down. It's okay. Breathe, breathe.

Also started a twitter account. Yup, you guessed it. @ameyzeigler Man, I'm glad I have a weird name. I can always get it.

Yes, and the last thing the agent said, who was teaching this class was to post bi- or tri- weekly! What am I going to say? So little to say, so much time.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sexy men don't smile?

Do women really find brooding, pouty-lipped men more attractive than a grinning guy? According to a study done in Canada, the research seems to suggest yes. Well, since I'm married to a man more like Tom Hanks than Robert Pattinson, I have to ask why?

First off, the article says the test was done on initial reactions. At a first glance, who looks sexier, the grinning goof or the man who looks like he's been naughty? Some of the grinning goofs out there may be thinking this is the reason you aren't getting dates Friday nights. Before you don a frown and smouldering eyes, let's look at what they're really saying. What do people mean when they say sexual attractiveness Let's define sexual attractiveness as someone to fantasize about, not to have a real relationship with. Two totally different things. And let's be honest girls, do you really want a brooding man to drag you down. Imagine being married to a brooder:

You: (Over OJ in the breakfast nook.) Ah, the sun is finally out. Looks like it's going to be a sunny day.
Ultimate Sexy-Husband Brooder: Yeah, I think I prefer the clouds, since now I can't go out without sparkling like quartz.
You: Well, that's a bummer since I was thinking of going to the Botanical Gardens today.
Ultimate Sexy-Husband Brooder: (with bedroom eyes) How 'bout instead we stay in.
You: Well, since it's been raining steadily for the last week, I'm kinda sick of being in the house. I need to get out.
Ultimate Sexy-Husband Brooder: (Pouting) You never want to do what I want to do.

Noooooo thank you! I like guys who are bright and enthusiastic, who smile, especially at me. Now, in TV/movies do we like Brooders, yes, but that's fiction, not real life. So relax, all you nice guys who smile, you may not get voted in the top ten for initial attraction, but in the long run you will be happier than the brooding men.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Problem with Chick-lit

I ran into a problem. I'm rewriting the ending of my first chick-lit I think could actually be publishable. But I get to the end and I'm fighting worldly expectations of an intimate scene at the end. It's gotta happen right? It's a romance. They've got to at least kiss, right? Kissing, I can handle, sexual tension, I can handle. But sex before marriage? Sure, I could write it in a tasteful way, but really, I don't want to champion a behavior in my heroine that I would not (morally) do myself. Two options, scrap it start on something new, forget it until the Victorian Age revolution happens, or I can turn it into a Christian romance. Is there any other solution and still feel right in my conscience?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fraud Writer

So I feel funny telling people I'm a writer because one of the first things people ask is, So what have you published? Then I say, well, I haven't published anything. Then they say, what editors are you sending your work to. Oh, I say, I haven't published anything. They give me this knowing look. "You're not a real writer," they think. Aaaaack, I'm a fraud! So, now I feel the need to justify it. Darn it, I didn't major or get in MFA in creative writing. "Uh," I blab. "I write four to six hours a day!" Does it convince them? Maybe if my name was Stephanie Meyer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conflicting Advice

As a newbie writer, I've been reading all sorts of books on writing. But what's really frustrating is I keep getting conflicting advice:

Don't start with dialogue.
Start with dialogue if you want immediacy.

Don't start with expository.
Establish a voice.

Don't have dialogue on the first three pages.
Get the first three pages moving quick.

Break the rules.
Follow the rules.

There are no rules.

Write with formula.
Don't write formula.

Don't start with backstory.
Unless it's really gripping.

Don't start with scenic description.
Unless it moves the story.

Aaaaaaarrrrrrggg!

Basically I've decided this. There are certain elements that need to be mastered. If you can master them, then you can do whatever you want and still sell.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good weather is the thief of productivity

Ah, the spring is here. And with it comes the most beautiful weather ever. But it's hard to get any work done when the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and all the neglected leaves from fall need to be raked up. But never fear! That's why laptops were invented. Just unhook from the wall and travel to your favorite outdoor area (mine is the park so my kids will play). Ah, spring. Now if I can just figure out if that squirrel is making a noise on my roof or in my attic. Guess which I want it to be.

Friday, February 18, 2011

February Slumps

February is such a hard month for me. Thankfully it's only twenty-eight days long! Maybe it's because Christmas is over and paid for. Really I think it's because it's cold. I'm solar-powered. Not sure I can live north of the Mason-Dixon line. I'm having a hard time staying motivated. For Valentine's Day, my husband got me a novel-writing aid, Scrivener. I've imported my latest WIP, but I just stare. I've written the whole first draft, but at chapter 20 or so, it lags. How do I fix it? I asked the baby Budda, the all-knowing oracle of cuteness (my 9-month old) and he shook his head at my latest solutions. Now what? Part of the problem is that the said 9-month old is waking every hour, sometimes less at night. My creative brain is fried. How do you keep going under some crazy stress?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Critique of my first Three pages

I subscribe to Nelson Literary Agency's newsletter and found out that one of their agents was going to do a Webinar about the first three pages and do a critique. Wow! I mean, the opportunity to get my pages under the eyes of one of my top-tier picks, where can I sign up? So I did. The webinar was fun and informative. I got my critique back last night and she didn't lambaste it too much. Still needs some work before I send it out.