Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNo-who?

That's right. I said it.

NaNo who? I kicked NaNoWriMo's trash this month! 50,000 words in under thirty days. Pretty awesome, eh?


Above is a screen shot of my stats. It was a struggle in the beginning to get my minimum word count done. But you can see I was consistent with pumping the words out, regardless.

I know that NaNoWriMo might not be for everyone, but for my personality it worked. I loved the discipline and since I'm a visual person, seeing my stats each day helped motivate me to continue.

I thought it'd be fun to share with you the opening of my NaNo book. The story is currently entitled, WESTRIDGE, which is about an all boy rehab facility that has an uncanny success rate. The boys are coming out perfect. Too perfect.

When Allie, aka Al, learns that her brother's life is in jeopardy, she disguises herself as a boy to get enrolled into Westridge and save him. I could tell you more, but... I won't.

Here's the first bit:




Warmth spread over me, deadening my muscles and mind. I held onto the feeling, knowing it wouldn’t last long. The air around me was a gigantic cushion, tingling and caressing my skin as though it were lifting me from the couch. I felt languid, free, good.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Zach murmured next to me.
I snuggled closer, careful not to move too much so it didn’t ruin the effect of the drug. I closed my eyes and let the sensation carry me away… away from school, stress, and Lady Edna’s dirty basement.
I didn’t know why I’d fought against Zach for so long. This was wonderful, this feeling of utter freedom, this numb, warm place. Maybe Zach and I would take that next step tonight. After all, he had been patient. I opened my mouth to say so, but stopped, waiting; words would spoil this moment.
The coziness continued to stretch beneath my skin, wrap around my toes. I felt equal to everyone else on the planet. Nothing mattered. My lack of parents, money—and as cliché as it was—love. Even Jason, being the over protective older brother, couldn’t bring me down.
We’re all the family we need, you and I.
Crap.
The thought of Jason’s words dampened the high. I shoved him from my mind, trying to focus on the moment, although it was hard knowing he was upstairs probably doing his homework being the perfect person that he was. He would kill me if he knew what I was doing down here with his best friend.
Double crap.
There went another bit of the high. I sighed and rolled away from Zach, placing my hands on top of my thighs. My legs barely registered the contact, just the slight impression of heat. I felt disconnected from my body, like my hands were a million miles away from my head. I rubbed the fabric of my jeans, slowly, because it was hard to move.
Just as I began to give into the feeling again, a crash sounded from upstairs. I jerked upright. My head spun.
“Did you hear that?”
Zach moaned and mumbled something incoherent. My heart pounded in my ears. Maybe I had imagined it. Hallucinating on this stuff was pretty common. I relaxed back into the couch.
Another crash came, followed by hurried footsteps. I sat upright again, straining for the source of sound. Shouts and a series of loud bangs echoed from upstairs. No way I imagined those.
“Zach, come on! Something’s happening!”
I shoved his shoulder, trying to get him to stand, but he swatted me away. I got to my feet, swayed, and managed a few steps before the world slipped out from under me. The thick, green carpet was soft under my cheek and for a moment I closed my eyes, relishing in the comfort.
“Al!” Jason called from upstairs. “Al!”
My eyes snapped open and my heart thundered in my chest. On my hands and knees, I hobbled over to the base of the stairs, feeling like I moved through emerald slush. I glanced up and saw a dozen masked men tearing through the living room, their outlines blurring around the edges.
Two of them carried Jason. My stomach went hollow.
“Al! Call someone! Help!” Jason yelled. He kicked out his legs and caught one of the men in the jaw. The man went tumbling. Two more seized Jason, holding him by all limbs. I watched from below, unable to move.
Jason’s panicked eyes caught mine before a black bag was thrown over his head. He cried, the sound muffled, and then he was out of sight. The front door slammed.
Silence ripped through my ears, meshing with the shock in my head. Then reality hit.
“Jason!” I yelled. “Jason!” My voice sounded far away, like the tail end of an echo. I grabbed onto the banister, my vision swimming in ripples.  “Zach, please,” I said. “You have to do something!”
But Zach was in his own world, a goofy daze on his face.

***
I hope you enjoyed! I'm pretty stoked about this project and it's flowing really well. Thanks to NaNo, the first draft is out and now I get to do the fun part. Cleaning it up! (No sarcasm, I'm being serious!) I'd love to hear about the projects you're working on and if you find NaNo helpful. 

Oh, and don't forget to enter the 12-Days of Christmas Giveaway

Red. Head. Out. :D 

Monday, November 28, 2011

My First Giveaway!

Yes, you read that right.

Today's blog post is a... GIVEAWAY!

Blogger Sarah Belliston has organized a 12-Days of Christmas blog hop. On her website is a list of twelve blogs that are all giving something away for the month of December. The contest starts now and ends on Dec 13th when we start picking one winner a day. How awesome is free stuff?

I'm lucky enough to be the "Four Calling Birds" day of Christmas. Hence the cool pic ------------------------>

So what's my giveaway?

*clears throat and waits for drumroll*



A signed copy of TIMELESS by Alexandra Monir complete with the Timeless soundtrack, written and performed by the lovely author herself!

How do you win?

All I ask is that you be a follower of my blog and comment on this post. That's it! And on Dec 16, I will use random.org and select a winner. The contest is open to anyone! (unless you're a sparkly vampire)

So check out the grab button on my sidebar and take a look at all of the awesome giveaways going on in December! Yay for the holidays!

Red. Head. Out. :D

Monday, November 21, 2011

The 5x5 Thanksgiving Post!

When we're asked what we're GRATEFUL for, the big obvious answers are usually the ones that come to mind: health, happiness, home, family, etc, etc...

Now, I definitely don't want to downplay any of these items, (because of course I'm GRATEFUL, only a psychopath wouldn't be) But I wanted to break it down and find the obscure things in my life that I really am GRATEFUL to have.

Five Foods:

Brown Sugar Pop-tarts (not toasted)
Dolmathes (a Lebanese family favorite)
Zuppa's Turkey, Spinach, Artichoke sandwich
Ruth's Chris Filet Mignon with blue cheese and asparagus (drool...)
Marie Calendar's fresh peach pie with whipping cream to the sky!

Five moments in the last year:

Birth of new baby
Son reaching THREE years of complete remission from cancer!
Oldest daughter discovering the tooth fairy wasn't real
My SCBWI retreat with Leigh Fallon
McDonald family trip to the Grand Canyon

Five tools that help me write:


Thesaurus (love)
iPad
Any scrap of paper I find around the house to jot notes down on
Beta readers (You know who you are!)
Nice Agents

Modern Conveniences:


Lip Gloss
Kitchen Aid Mixer (Love to bake!)
Warm showers
Big Comfy Blankets
Hair straightener

Five Miscellaneous:


Best husband on the planet
Hazelnut hot chocolate (with whipping cream, not marshmallows!)
Being thirty years old and STILL cavity free!!! (er... it's probably time I go to the dentist... been awhile)
My first partial being upgraded to a full!
Foot rubs


Calling all Gratefuls! What has you smiling the most this holiday season? Is it family related? Twilight related? Or is it as simple as the pair of toe socks you've been dying to pull out from your winter storage? Do any of my top fives coincide with yours? I'd love to hear!

Red. Head. Out. :D



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anticipate Much?

Anticipation: To expect or predict/ Guess or be aware of/ Look forward to

What is it about anticipation that makes your heart pump and fingers tingle with excitement? Sometimes the anticipation is better than the actual thing.

Since I'm completely consumed with NaNoWriMo right now, I thought I'd share an excerpt from the novel I'm querying. I think this scene depicts how awesome anticipation can be. Without getting into too many details, Clara, the MC, has a huge thing for the voice in her head. This scene is when she decides to tell him her true feelings:


I spread the blanket on the ground and sat with the journal on my lap. After a few minutes, I fidgeted, worried he wouldn’t show. But then, he was there, hovering like a shadow in my head.
Did you think I’d forget? he asked. 
I felt my mouth turn up at the corners and warmth spread inside my chest. I loved the sound of his low, honeyed voice. Normally, whenever I felt his presence slide into my mind, I pushed down any feelings that threatened to surface, in fear he would discover the truth. But today, all my walls were down.
“I brought you a gift,” I said, reaching for the journal. I allowed my thoughts to tumble forward, the pages and pages of words that expressed how I felt.
His presence froze and then shifted uncomfortably in my mind.
Clara… don’t. His voice was hesitant, embarrassed.
My heart dropped, the acid in my stomach eating it raw.
“Why not?” I asked. “You had to know on some level how I felt.”
He retreated, but I held on, keeping him there. I swallowed and gathered my courage. “If there was one thing I wanted… would you give it to me?”
I felt his interest pique. Like what?
I shut my eyes and searched through the jumble of ideas that banged around in my head, trying to pick the one thing I most wanted. When the answer popped forward, I smiled.
“I want a kiss.” Hope danced just under the surface of my skin, weaving, twisting through my body.
His presence became deathly still. He was fighting, debating whether or not to go. 
“I’m seventeen,” I pleaded. “I’ve never been kissed. Please?”
With my eyes still closed, the sun was warm and red through my lids. Then, everything went dim.
Gone from my mind, I sensed him before me, but was too scared to open my eyes. A net of energy pushed, pulled, and twirled between us. He shifted closer and I felt his breath on my face. The journal dug into my palms and a drip of sweat slid down the nape of my neck. Anticipation choked me. In what felt like an eternity later, the energy released and something tingled like a warm breeze over my lips. I gasped.
The darkness lifted. My eyes shot open.
I was alone.
---------------
I hope all of you have something that you're anticipating right now... whether it be your first kiss, a fun trip, or just that leftover turkey sandwich you have for lunch! 

Red. Head. Out.  :D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Truth Behind My Querying Mask...

I'm feeling a bit open and vulnerable right now, so I've decided to be bold and peel off a layer so you can see the dark truth.

I've a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in me.

To the world, I put on the happy query face. Because really, I've had an AMAZING run with my first novel. I've gotten request after request, and had multiple partials turn into fulls, I've even had an agent say, "Your first ten pages are some of the best I've ever received."

But nothing has clicked yet.

I respect every agent I've had contact with and especially the ones who have given me FEEDBACK. I swear, getting advice from an agent is so rare. I've been one of the lucky ones. So of course, I've seized any ounce of counsel I've been given and applied it to my MS so fast I'm sure my MC's head has spun.

But here's the problem: It doesn't feel wholly right anymore. I feel like I've messed up the pacing. Maybe there's too much action and not enough character development. Does it read too much like a fable? Is it too plot driven? It's when I started getting contradictory advice that I knew I'd made a mistake.

I wasn't trusting my gut.

I've always considered one of my strengths being my ability to adapt, to take advice and not be sold on the current state of my MS. I'm not one of those stubborn writers where it's either "my way or the highway" ... I'm in this to learn, to soak up every piece of knowledge in this art that I can. Because I know I have the talent to do this.

...but...

and it's a huge BUT...

I've also learned I need to trust that little something inside of me... that little spark that told me I was the one person to write this story.

Each manuscript starts out as a little seed: (and cue cheesy plant metaphor) an idea, a passing thought, a dream (heh, Steph Meyer wasn't the only one) ... but after your story has grown to adulthood, reflect on whether or not that "feeling" that burned inside your heart when that first idea took hold is still there. Am I making sense? Or is my mom the only one reading still? (Hi mom!)

I still hope there'll be an agent that will see the magic and potential with my story, but if not, heh, I know I won't make the same mistakes with my future novels. I'm going to trust my gut. Because I think each of us writers have that inner compass built within us.

What about you? Do you jump on advice too quickly? Do you take into full account everything that your beta readers or agents tell you? Or are you too stubborn? Unable to bend when you need to bend?

Red. Head. Out.

:D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Drumroll please...

Yes, ladies and twitter folks, we have the results for my new sign off phrase!

The competition was steep, and even a little frightening at times, but a strong leader did come through in the end! *clears throat* Can we have the lights dimmed, please?


Okay, and the results for the honorable, honorable mentions are: (1 vote)

Pack light
I'm stronger than I book
Write on
Stay Strong
Keep it relevant, keep it real
Book mom, no hands! (yes, someone actually voted for that)
Morgypoos has vacated the building
Spot you later
Oo-de-lally (now we're just being ridiculous)

Alright, moving on to honorable mentions: (3 votes)

Toodle-oo
Take luck
Shamy out for now (SOFN)

Third place: (4 votes)

Bahahaha!!!! (Really? REALLY, people?)


...............................................dramatic break..........................................

Second place: (with a whopping 7 votes)

Shamy out!

Now, before we go onto the first place winner, I'd like to give a special award to Tymothy Longoria's original sign off phrase that still has me laughing with originality:

"Up, up... and Shamaaaaaay!"

*waits for applauds*

Annnnd cue confetti:

(Oh, and all of you people at home can turn on some Celebration by Kool & the gang, that'll help with the ambiance)

THE FIRST PLACE WINNER IS......

Red. Head. Out.

(With an astronomical number of 10 votes!)

I'd like to thank all the twitter peeps, facebook friends and small people out there that have made this contest possible. Without you I wouldn't have a slammin' sign off phrase and would probably be ending my post with something cliche like: "And that's the way it is."

So, on that note, I'll bid you adieu!

Red. Head. Out.
 
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