Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday share: books!

Today I'm sharing the book love.

Yesterday was a dual release day for two of my favorite authors (and good people), Melissa Marr (Ink Exchange) and Jeaniene Frost (One Foot in the Grave). It's the second book for each of them, and I loved both the first books. Of course I ran off to the bookstore and snatched them both off the shelves. Yay!

To celebrate, I'm sharing two other books I enjoyed with YOU.

First up, R.A. Nelson's Breathe My Name.

From the Penguin site:

I need to see you.

Please come right away.

We have to finish.

Frances Robinson is in high school now. She lives a quiet, suburban life, far from her horrifying past. When she was a child, her birthmother smothered her three sisters. Through pure luck, Frances survived. Now her mother has just been released from prison . . . and she wants to see Frances.

A new boy at school called Nix charms Frances. Together, Nix and Frances embark on a clandestine journey to visit Frances’ mother: to confront the monster in its lair. This trip will help Frances at last find peace—or die trying. But no matter what, Frances will discover just what it means to finish.


Here's what I said about it on the blog when I read it: I highly recommend it. The writing is tense and vivid, with a strong, unique voice. There were times I had to put it down because the subject matter was so difficult, but I always went back to it, and I'm glad I did.

This book really draws you into a unique world, and a strong character.

Next up:

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

How could you not love THAT cover?

From Publishers Weekly:

British blogger Phillips's delightful debut finds the Greek gods and goddesses living in a tumbledown house in modern-day London and facing a very serious problem: their powers are waning, and immortality does not seem guaranteed. In between looking for work and keeping house, the ancient family is still up to its oldest pursuit: crossing and double-crossing each other. Apollo, who has been cosmically bored for centuries, has been appearing as a television psychic in a bid for stardom. His aunt Aphrodite, a phone-sex worker, sabotages him by having her son Eros shoot him with an arrow of love, making him fall for a very ordinary mortal-a cleaning woman named Alice, who happens to be in love with Neil, another nice, retiring mortal. When Artemis-the goddess of the moon, chastity and the hunt, who has been working as a dog walker-hires Alice to tidy up, the household is set to combust, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar.


This one was an impulse buy, because the premise made me laugh...and it lived up to the premise AND the cover. The writing reminded me of Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors of all time. It was just pure fun.

So, would you like one of these bad boys?

To enter: Leave a comment to this post and share the book love. Tell me about a recent book you enjoyed that you'd recommend to others. Entries close at midnight MST tonight.

I'll do a random drawing tomorrow morning, and pick two winners. First chosen gets first pick. No international entries, please! (I can't afford the postage!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday share: music

Today I'm going to share one of my favorite songs.

When I was in the early stages of writing JENNA, I was hunting around for some new music. A good friend ({cough} Kreek {cough}) recommended KT Tunstall, a Scottish singer/songwriter I'd never heard of. I LOVED her stuff, from the first song that first day.

KT's albums became my writing soundtrack. I listened to her every day I wrote JENNA. It became my pattern: open up a game of Spider Solitaire (what?), start playing KT's music, start writing. I think I was telling my subconscious it was time to get busy. When I listen to her music anywhere, now, I automatically start thinking of story ideas.

When JENNA was done I figured it was time for a new soundtrack, for the new book. But then KT came out with a new it continued. I listened to a mix of all her stuff, still, for most of the time of writing GHOST GIRL.

And I'm thrilled to say that hubby and I are going to see KT perform live, this Saturday in San Diego. Front row!! Woohoo!!

Anyway, today I'm sharing a particularly important song for me. Astute listeners may guess, correctly, that I was indeed listening to this song when I was plotting GG...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday share: another blog

Thanks for participating in Sharing Friday, everyone! That was fun. I think I might have to do it again sometime.

This week I'm going to have to skimp on the blogging, as I'm pushing hard on:
  1. GG revisions
  2. my multimedia final project
  3. my ethics paper
  4. work
Not necessarily in that order on any particular day. To keep things interesting, though, I'm going to share SOMEthing every day. Today I'm sharing my favorite blog post of the day, from my kick-ass superstar agent Janet, talking about an Idol panel at a conference:

I'm in Awe of You

I first connected with Janet at just such a panel--they're powerful. You can get real, honest feedback, right there. Whether it's something like that or sending out queries: Be brave. Trust in your writing and keep going no matter what. If you've got something good and you KEEP TRYING, it will happen eventually.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sharing Friday!!

Today feels like a good day, and I'm in a sharing/reading mood. Let's share!

1. Pull a short bit (less than 200 words) that you like from the chapter you're working on. If you're editing like me, stick a finger or a cursor randomly somewhere, and find something you like around there.
2. Post your bit here.
3. Comment on other people's bits, if you like. This is for fun, not critique, so please only positive things. (If you don't have anything nice to say...)

From Chapter 8 of Ghost Girl:

It was cold outside, but I couldn't really feel it, not in my bones. It was like the memory of cold instead of the real thing. I let out a puff of breath, looking to left and right. There she was, huddling against a skinny tree at the edge of the parking lot. Just past her everything got foggy, like we were on the edge of a storm. Or that was how far this place had been imagined, and no farther.

I got to her as quick as I could, before she could disappear beyond that barrier, into the clouds.

"Hey. You okay?"

She twitched like a scared animal, big-eyed. She reminded me of Megan, actually. Not in looks—she had short, pixie-cut black hair—but in expression.

"Why am I here?" she asked, soft.

"I don't know," I said honestly. "Did you used to come to Starbucks a lot when you were alive?"

Her mouth opened and closed, exactly like a fish. "Alive?"

Crap. Oh, don't tell me she doesn't know she's dead. Don't tell me I have to tell her that.

No, you idiot, you just did.


Join in!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What I'm looking at

Janet Reid asked what you're lookin' at. Since writers also seem to have a fascination with each other's spaces, I thought I'd share a couple of pics today. First, the view out my itty-bitty office window (This building was built in 1896. I have a HUGE office, but apparently they did not believe 3rd-floor people should have big windows in 1896!):

Yes, that's fresh snow on the trees.

But this is what I really look at, all day and when I'm writing:

That's all Child's artwork and pictures of her. I ran out of room a while back, and have started to rotate...but I think I need a ladder so I can go higher too. Looking at this wall, at her artwork and drawings at different ages and "I love you Mommy" notes in WAY different levels of writing...this is what I write for. No, this is what I do everything for.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Toolbox: Chapter Chart

Still crunching around here. Two weeks left in the semester, so that means final projects are almost due (60% of my grade! Yikes!). Budget dealings. New projects, which always come in only when there are already piles. BUT I finally managed to finish my read-through of GG, and am at last on to my first major revision step: the Chapter Chart.

The Chapter Chart is my own version of Diana Peterfreund's Plot Board. I'm very visual AND analytical (after the fact), so I was drawn to her method immediately...I just didn't have that much room. So instead of a big board I use a tabloid sheet of paper, and instead of post-its I use a big pile o' highlighters. Other than that, it works pretty much the same.

My method:

1. AFTER the first draft is written, I do a read-through. Then I identify major plotlines/threads that I want to track, and assign each one a color. For instance, this book has 7 threads I want to look at (at least at this stage--I could get more into detail, but I think this will work for now). For GG, most of these threads are the relationship with a particular person (Mom, DR, Tony), but not all.

2. I divide my paper up into columns, one for each chapter, and label the columns "Ch 1" etc. This book, first draft, has 21 chapters.

3. In each column I write the basic action that happens in each scene. Under each scene description I mark the colors of the threads involved/progressed in that scene. For this book I also write how many pages each chapter was.

What does this do for me? It gives me a visual look, in one swoop, at how the threads are carried through the book. I can see easily if I dropped a relationship or thread for too long, or introduced something too late. It helps me organize all the threads in my head, and intertwine them better. It helps me judge the balance, the pacing, and where I just dropped the ball (cut!). Most important of all, it gives me, at the start of revisions, a good sense of the whole book and how it works together.

I write by the seat of my pants, with no idea where I'm going. But once I'm there, it's time for active craft to take over. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


In case you thought I was kidding about the winter weather...

These are icicles outside my window. We are very very careful walking around these buildings right about now...

More meme

It's Meme Season, apparently. Or maybe I'm just feeling meme-y. I borrowed this one from Melissa Marr.

You're feeling:
headachy, because I messed up my coffee schedule this morning

On your mind: Work work. I have to figure out my 2009 budget by tomorrow. Which is why I'm doing this instead.

On your desk: Piles of paper, aforementioned budget, big jug o' water, a Baked Apple Pie-scented candle, and my Ghost Girl mascot

Last meal: donuts (what? I bought 'em to thank my staff. So I got to have some too...)

You dread: being stuck in a small confined space

You crave: coffee

A smell that cheers you up: the smell of pavement after a good rain

A food that you despise: curry (bleah)

How long since you last shaved: this morning

Current state of your hair: messy. My hair looks just like my avatar's at the moment.

First stop in a bookstore: kid's books. Child and I always read together in bookstores.

Free afternoon activity choice: writing! Or reading...

Something that freaks you out : waiting endlessly

Something that makes you sigh: Child, and how short her childhood is

You have never: gone sky-diving

Would you:
hmm...don't think so. Every once in a while I think so, then reality kicks in.

You never want to try: sushi (same as Melissa)

You want to but haven't: gone to Yellowstone Nat'l Park

Place you want to go for the first time: New York City

Place you want to go back to: Hawaii

Your favorite day of the week: Saturday

Add a question in this sort of random way to the list here in the comments AND answer it and the rest on your blog.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Adventure! Danger! Snow.

The fun, adventurous part of living in Montana?

You'd think it would be some sort of outdoor sport, wouldn't you? Skiing, or mountain biking. Nope. It's the weather.

Last weekend, 70 degrees and balmy. This weekend, 7 inches of snow, record-low temperatures (7 degrees!), and ice. We're thrust back into ice-on-the-car, snow boots, and sliding around corners. I like snow and all, and it's very pretty out, in a Christmas card sort of way. But you know? I'm kinda ready for consistent Spring, and no more piles of white stuff.

This is just a warning to those of you who really want to tell me how beautiful it is in your part of the world right now, with all those flowers and blooming trees and grass. Yeah. Don't do that.

Now, I've been tagged by Heather. As with all tags, I reserve the right to change it completely. So here are the rules I'm following:

The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.

The nearest book, I'm happy to say, is Lee Child's KILLING FLOOR. I just started it, but I'm in love with it so far. The voice is amazing.

Page 123, fifth sentence etc.:

It was clear Charlie didn't know anything. She thought her husband had been arrested because of some kind of mistake. Not because he was grabbed up in some kind of trouble which had just got two people murdered.

Whew, not a spoiler.

Now the rest of the rules were about tagging five other people, but I don't like to do that. So if you're reading this and you have a blog, consider yourself invited to play. If you want. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008


Ahhhh, I'm happy today.

For me, because it's the weekend, my class is over, and it's sunny outside (even though we have 2-8 inches of snow predicted this weekend...). I'm listening to good music and rocking out. We're going out to Mexican food tonight, and I am darn well having a margarita.

For my friend, because she took the second step towards publication today (the first step was finishing a good book!) and I am SO DARN PROUD OF HER. Linda, a bow to you.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Concerts as inspiration

This will be brief, as I've got a pile of work still to do and a meeting in an hour. I kept waiting for "time to blog" today, but it looks like a block of time just isn't gonna happen.

But I did want to mention that we saw a kick-ASS concert last night, Empire Brass. It's a quintet with 2 trumpets, a trombone, a french horn, and a tuba. Man, they were sooooo good, perfectly crisp and clear. They played everything from classical to Gershwin and Copland, and we all loved it.

We go to a lot of shows around here. We buy season tickets for most of the series, so that's 5 symphony performances, 4 or 5 community concert series shows, 3 or 4 theater series shows, the kid's theater, and sometimes community concerts, ballet performances, or shows in neighboring towns. It's especially cool now that Child is 6, and actually pays attention and enjoys going. (Aside: the only year we did NOT bring her to shows was when she was 3--she was too wiggly. Before that she slept, and since then she sits nicely. Of course she taps her feet, conducts, or plays violin on my arm sometimes, but that's all good.)

Anyway, my point is that I love going to concerts, but I only pay attention to the music ones about half the time. The other half I spend pondering my characters in my head, or daydreaming new plot twists. There's something about sitting still, letting music pour over me, that induces book-thoughts. I get some of my best ideas in concerts.

Actually there are 3 places I get my best ideas (outside of sitting at my desk and writing):

  1. The shower
  2. Movie theatres, sitting there waiting for the previews (I'm often early)
  3. Concerts
Apparently I need to force myself to be still to have the opportunity to ramble-think. How about you? What are your best places for inspiration, other than your writing place?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Finally a taste of spring

This weekend was absolutely glorious: sunny and almost 70 degrees both days, which is when Montana is at its most beautiful. I'm happy to say that we took full advantage of it. In no particular order, we:
  • flew a kite
  • played on the playground, all of us together (twice). Swings are still fun.
  • went for a walk at the creek, and tried to feed the ducks. Where are all the ducks?
  • went swimming at the hot springs, in the outside pool
  • had a roaring game of soccer in our snow-free yard
  • set chairs up outside and read together, in the sun (I was reading and marking GG)
  • made cookies (okay, that one was indoors)
Unfortunately, I'm back at my desk in my office today, and feeling slightly down. Let-down, maybe? We're supposed to have one more day like this and then another storm/cold front moves in tomorrow.

Here's another of my favorite photos. And nope, that's definitely not Child. In fact, that's one of Child's "boyfriends". :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sad Songs

I love this song. It comes to me at odd moments, all on its own.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mood: Relaxed

Yesterday turned out to be a lovely chat-with-friends day. Is Tigger chatty? I'm not sure, but it was nice, no matter how you label it.

News: My most excellent friend Vicki Pettersson has a new message board! Check it out. She plans to hang out there often and be available for questions. How rocking is that?

I'm diving into revisions for GG today. I've got it all printed out, pencil in hand. First up: plot revision, wherein I fix all the stuff that changed over the course of the book, check character consistency, check the overall pacing and story. I read it through once, make notes and some initial changes, and then chart it out. This is the analytical stage, from the bird's eye point of view. I have to keep reminding myself--and I make big written notes to remind myself, because I need that--that this is NOT the language draft, and I am not to worry about language yet.

I still tweak it a little. But honestly I try to stay out of that part on this go-round.

Is anyone else working on revisions right now? Are ya with me? (hmmm, maybe I could write a post or two about revision process as I go through it this time.)

And now another photo for you, because I like sharing photos.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


We were discussing on one of my writer's boards yesterday how all of us were in a gloomy, down-and-depressed mood, at the same time. Like this:

Yesterday, for whatever reason, was an Eeyore day. (I admit, my thankful list was an attempt to cheer myself up!)

Fortunately, Jodi had the idea of declaring today a TIGGER DAY!

Tigger's bouncy, happy, a little wacky, and full of good news.

Happy Tigger Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

I'm declaring today Thankful Tuesday!!

If you want to play, reply either in the comments or on your own blog with things that YOU are thankful for today. As many as you like! As you can see from my list, they don't need to be the usual things. :)

I'm thankful for:

1. My family. (Okay, that is a usual thing. But I AM!)
2. Public radio.
3. Salt & vinegar potato chips.
4. My gargoyle mascot guy, who's sitting beside me now, eyes lit.
5. John Denver, the early songs.
6. The moment when you look at a picture you took, or a sentence you wrote, and you LOVE IT.
7. Mountains.
8. New books.
9. Hugs.
10. The voices in my head. (No, not like that. CHARACTERS.)

Anyone wanna play? It does have a cheering effect. :)

Monday, April 07, 2008


What's up today?

Nothing. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. And homework and nothing.

To distract myself and hopefully entertain y'all, here are a few photos I took last fall for my photography class. These are some of my favorites. :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Random Friday Thoughts


Child was sneaking reading this morning instead of getting ready. When I checked on her, she was still in her PJs, sitting cross-legged on her rug engrossed in a Pooh book. This meant that breakfast was rushed, she missed half her show, and she didn't have time to dress all the bears for "school" like she usually does.

I was thrilled. She's a reader!! Wahoo!


I haven't written for 3 days, letting Ghost Girl "sit" until I can have enough perspective on it to do revisions. I'm supposed to be relaxing, enjoying myself, filling the well. I'll admit that I don't like it a bit. Instead of feeling free to relax I feel hollow, aimless, and unproductive. Without a story in my head I am without a secret life, my own place to escape to. I am stuck in the harsh glare of reality.

I really must start something. You see it's getting bad. :)

I was going to hold off on starting Melody until I did revisions of Ghost Girl. I'm supposed to be working on my thesis. Hmmm. I'll think of something.


I have at least been doing some reading. As I mentioned, I finished Repossessed. I also finished Shannon Hale's The Princess Academy, which I enjoyed very much. Next up is Blueboarder Elizabeth Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold. We've also been watching The Tudors (season 2 just started!) and DVDs of Dead Like Me, which I always wanted to watch when it was on but never managed.


I was very surprised by the results of my poll as to what y'all would like as a contest prize. I expected the free books to win hands down. Once you take out the vote I had to make to test the thing, though {cough}, 60% wanted the crit/edit. Wow! I guess maybe I will do that one of these days.

I reserve the right to give away books or signed books too, though. :)


As you can see, my brain is fairly scattered today. What are y'all up to?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Reason why I love my husband #10323

Hubby calls at leaving time, when we normally would carpool home:

Him: "I'm just calling to remind you that you drove your own car today. And that you need to pick up Child at X instead of Y, because it's Thursday."

Me (doing remarkable job of pretending that I remembered both of those things on my own, when in fact I was thinking of Something Else and probably would have forgotten both): "Yes. Thank you."

This, sadly, is not at all unusual.


Whenever I really need to relax, I pull up this picture:

Because everybody needs a little Baby Yoga. Or Baby Buddha, depending on your mood.

My mood is quite high today, though. One of the reasons is this book:

I read it in one satisfying gulp yesterday. I meant to dip in, like I usually do, but it would not have it. I could not put the thing away. It's original, funny-as-hell, and intriguing. Go read it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I'm pondering upcoming contests. Please answer the poll as to which prizes you like better!


Things are hopping around here.

Last night Bill Clinton was in town, giving a talk at the local high school. Seriously! Not even an April Fool's joke!

I didn't go see him, though, because I had tickets to go with a friend to Little Women: The Broadway Musical. I'll take Jo over Bill, thanks. For the record (Little Women spoilers, if for some reason you've never read it or seen the movie):

--Yes, Beth's death still made me cry, even though I knew it was coming.
--I still hate and despise Amy. (What writer could EVER forgive the manuscript-burning scene?)
--Laurie was SUCH a cutie in this show (dimples!), I wanted to yell at Jo for not marrying him.
--But then Professor Baher was cute too, so it was okay.
--I am such a sucker for (a) musicals and (b) childhood books brought to life and (c) any theater, really, if the acting is good.

In other upcoming events, I'm going to hear Patricia Briggs talk tonight at our university author reception. And this weekend both Hillary AND Obama will be in town stumping. I couldn't get tickets to that--hardly anybody could--but maybe I'll get to see them!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's!

I saw this cartoon on a comic site (original here: and adapted it. Want to know what pure evil looks like? Forget about vampires or vortexes. This, my friends, would be pure evil: