Friday, October 29, 2010

Do you know Marieke?

If you don't know her, you should!  And lucky for you, today is Aspiring Author Friday.

I'll tell you a little bit about her, but if you want to know the in depth factoids, you should check out her website.  

Marieke loves to ramble about YA, writing, time travel and iced lattes.  She has an awesome master's degree in Medieval Studies and I don't think I could pronounce her name if I tried (*blush*)

She collects random pins and can read eight different languages to a reasonable degree of success.  She says, "I also collect swords. I once wanted to be a professional archer. Both of course because I still secretly hope to be a knight someday. I wanted to be a fighter pilot growing up, unfortunately my eyes got in the way. For years I also wanted to dye my hair silver. My mum, rightly so, understood that to mean gray and was less than amused *lol*" 

How long have you been writing?
 I'm afraid I have to go for the least original answer and say as long as I can remember. I was that kid who walked around with her nose in a book - from a very early age I devoured books. And that's almost literal - I remember being home sick one day and reading, reading, reading. I read seven books that day. (Wow!  Way to go!)  So I've always loved reading and I've always loved making up stories of my own, though they were half-formed ideas mostly. Fragments.There was one story that changed that.  (Ooo, awesome!)

What made you want to write?
One of my favorite children's books - a story about a young boy aspiring to be a knight in a land of adventures and happily ever after. I didn't want to finish the book. After the last page I started right over again. But then one day I decided to write my own sequel. So you could almost say my first actual story was a fanfic! The next story I wrote was in a world completely my own. At 13 I'd finished my first 'novel', one that hopefully will never see the light of day. Though I still love the story it was... not all that good. I did submit it to a publisher, who very graciously said no. 
Over the years I got to know more aspiring writers, still read widely, and became an active member of the fantasy community. I entered contests, won some, judged some, reviewed for a few small press magazines, published a few short stories, but most of all I swapped critiques, asked questions, and learned SO MUCH. 

Strangely though, I began to feel out of place. Most of my stories had young adult characters, but not the young farm boy saving the world. I started reading YA fiction again and... I fell in love. Head over heels.  
(YA got me falling too.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?  Any certain music or drink you just have to have to concentrate?
Nope, not at all. I can write anywhere, anywhen. Which is incredibly useful! Although, once I start writing I am likely to forget the rest of the world, so I have to be wary of that. (You know, so I won't miss trains, forget about work and other deadlines... details like that!)  (Okay, I'm COMPLETELY jealous about this one.  I totally get distracted.  Bummer.)

What is your favorite thing to write?
I think the logical thing to say now would be fantasy, right? At the moment, it isn't. I have two WIPs I'm working on. One is a retelling of Tristan and Ysolde, basically historical fantasy, and I love it to tiny little bits. But the other, LOVING ADELINE, the WIP I'm currently finishing, is literary YA. Writing that feels like... breaking my heart one bit at a time. It's hard, it's emotional, and I love it. (*Chills*.)  So for now my answer would be literary YA. :)

Though it changes with every story. I can't write a story well if I'm not completely emotionally invested. 

And there are always fantasy elements in my writing. LA is literary, but with a speculative twist. A little, perhaps, like Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME and Meg Rosoff's HOW I LIVE NOW, though I will immediately say in type of story only. I dare not compare them any further :) 

So there's always a spark of fantasy in every story I write, no matter the genre. There's always the little girl in me trying to find magic in everything. (That's awesome.  I love fantasy too.)
What other genres do you enjoy writing, if any?
Ooh, I've two WIPs I'm very excited about. One steampunk and the other dystopian. They're next on my list once I've finished LOVING ADELINE and YSOLDE. Both are YA, by the way. I do have some MG story ideas too, but I want to get a better feel for middle grade stories before I start on those :)

What is your favorite genre to read?
If it involves letters and words I understand I'll read everything and anything.  
What is your favorite blog?
Right now I would have to say the blog of one of my brilliant critique partners: Rach Writes... Rach is hosting the Writers' Platform-Building Crusade and it's amazing!! But she also has great insider scoops and great writing advice!
Have you been to a conference?  If you've been to more than one, which was your favorite and why?
Do fantasy conventions count? ;) (TOTALLY!)  My first writing conference, actually, was WriteOnCon.  I LOVED it. The girls there did such an amazing job and I met some very lovely people via the forums. Can't wait for next year. (That was mine too and I agree, it was so worth it!  I'm super excited for next year's too!)
Which authors do you admire?
Thankfully you didn't ask me about my favorite books, because I hate having to choose! Having said that, choosing authors isn't easy either!

A few very random names that come to mind - Neil Gaiman, for his amazing ability to create timeless stories. Rebecca Stead, for writing one of the best children's books I've ever read. Pat Rothfuss, because man, have you seen his beard?! Also for his ability to curse people through dedications in books :P Nancy Garden, for Annie on my Mind. 

And you know, the kidlit community at large. Especially the authors contributing to my 'How to' blog series. I love how people are always willing to support each other and cheer each other on. It's inspiring! 
How often do you write?
I try to write daily and I'm definitely always working on some story or other. There's so much that inspires me - I walk around in a world that consists of stories. Most of my blog readers will know this - I'm insanely curious and I always wonder what moves and motivates people. But it's not just that. It can be a beautiful sight in Ireland that inspires a love story. The feeling of standing outside in the snow when inside the houses are warm and light. A starry night. My world is full of stories and I can't do anything but write them down and hope I do them justice.
What do you prefer more, an iced latte or ice cream?
You're not seriously asking me that question, are you?! Shock! Horror! Gasp!



*whispers* I will have to go with iced lattes. 
(In my defense, I KNEW you loved these.  I just had to ask, since you mentioned in Factoid #2 that you love anything iced and you heart ice cream!  I heart ice cream, but apparently in a different way!  I loved your response to my question though.)

A HUGE thanks to Marieke.  It was a pleasure to learn more about her!  


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Awesome Elana Johnson with Marieke!

Do you feel like this sometimes with your submissions?  

Maybe you need to fix up your query.

Want to know a whole lot of incredibly useful information on querying?  Go over to Marieke's website RIGHT NOW then!  It's a great post, one that I will definitely be going to back to when I start querying.  Oh, and go ahead and follow her blog, because not only is she awesome, but then you get to enter a contest to win a preorder of Elana's book Possession.  Feel lucky?  Me too.  

P.S.  Tomorrow is Aspiring Author Friday.  You won't want to miss it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday-Random writing about writing...SCOPE THIS OUT!

Have you ever looked through a scope, whether it's a telescope, microscope, scope on a gun, or even binoculars?  Well if you have, have you ever had the problem where you aren't standing in exactly the right spot and there are black circles that take over the lens?  I have and I hate that it makes me feel blind!

My husband was using scopes as an analogy the other night.  Of course it wasn't a writing analogy, but it totally applied to using beta readers and critique groups.  I love when I can connect my conversations to writing :)

Here is how he explained it to me.  There are two lenses on a gun scope.  You have to look just right through the both of them in order to line the target up and hit your goal.  If you take away one of the lenses, your aim wouldn't be exact.  

Now I will apply it to beta readers and critique groups.  If my scope, or writing, was just looked at by me, I might not see everything that it needs to hit my goal.  But when the others read it, it brings another lens into play and the target is lined up more accurately.

You see?  We NEED others to read our work so we know what's missing.  Of course we all love what we write, but at least for me, it doesn't always make sense to everyone else.  Their opinions help me line up the target so I can reach my goal!  Isn't it just fabulous?  

My last thought.  It's important to use a scope that fits what you're doing.  Don't try to use a gun scope on your telescope.  It won't work.  Find beta readers and a critique group that can relate to what you write.  Get a great scope and get a clear picture!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Overcoming Setbacks

I just learned about NANOWRIMO and I'm sad to say that I won't be able to participate this year.  Sad day!  This is the first time I've even heard about it.  But I can tell you right now that there is absolutely no possible way that I can write a whole novel in the month of November.  Give me a different month, sure, but not that one.  My whole month is filled with anything and everything.  And if you don't know by now, it makes me sad.  I'd love to do it!

So, here is my solution.  I have set two new goals.  Instead of writing a whole novel (50,000) words in 30 days, my goal is to finish my current work in progress by the end of November.  That alone is going to be tough.  Then in January (because December is ridiculously busy too) I will be doing my own "write a book in one month."  If anyone else wants to join me then, that would be fun!

Good luck to all those who are lucky enough to have that kind of time, or are willing enough to go zombie for a month!  Really, I thought it through multiple times and I just couldn't think of a way that it would work out for me.  I would have to sacrifice ALL sleep to join.  I'm excited for everyone else though!  

Awesome Giveaway by Emy Shin

Check out Emy Shin's blog for a giveaway of an ARC of the book Matched.  

Here's what she has to say

It was pure luck that I got two ARCs of this incredible, addictive, and beautifully written debut, and to keep both of them to myself would be hideously selfish. And who better to give one of it to if not one of my wonderful blog readers?

I'm totally there!  This book has been on my TBR list for too long!  *crosses fingers that I win*


This past week I read Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt.

Princess For Hire

Here is Goodreads jacket flap version of what it's all about.

When a well-dressed woman steps out of a bubble and wants to know if you'd like to become a substitute princess, do you 
A) run 
B) faint 
C) say yes? 
For Desi Bascomb, who's been longing for some glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C). Desi has a rare ability: with the help of "Royal Rouge," she can temporarily transform into the exact look-alike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right? 
Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras.... In this winning debut, one girl's dream of glamour transforms into the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time.

Here is my basic review.
I give it a  out of 5 stars and a G movie rating.  I absolutely LOVE that it is a clean book.  The reason for the three stars is mostly for the fact that it felt like a MG/YA crossover and I'm pretty much a YA lover.  It was a cute read and since I do have a soft spot for princess stories, I really did like it.

Have any of you read it?  What did you think?

Friday, October 22, 2010

20 Followers?!? Sa-weet!


Holy awesomeness!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the Perfecting The Craft followers!  I'm so happy to have so many friends to perfect the craft with!  I feel like there should be some kind of contest or giveaway.  I'm kind of new to all this.  Is there some kind of protocol for having giveaways on writing blogs for the amount of followers?  I've heard of the 100 mark, but are there any below that?  What's your opinion?  Maybe I'll have to bend the rules if not at 20 then maybe soon!

Thanks again, especially to all those that visited today for Shallee's interview.  I'm getting ready to ask our next week's guest!  Be sure to come visit again :)

Have a fabulous fall weekend!

Introducing Shallee McArthur

Shallee McArthur  "Writer of YA science fiction, lover of Africa and chocolate raisins, wife, mother, and woman extraordinaire. Or so I'd like to think."  (Taken from Shallee's awesome blog).

How long have you been writing?

If you ask my mom, she claims I started doodling circles on lined paper at nine months. But she's about the only one who counts that as my start at writing. I have been writing since I was a kid, though. My first stories I actually stole from the Story Club in Anne of Green Gables. I wrote my first novel in high school, but it wasn't until college that I really got serious about my writing. And it's only been the last year or so that I've focused on getting published.
What made you want to write?

I have no idea.  All I know is, I can't stop! I love turning ideas into stories, I love discovering characters and worlds, and my fingers itch to write them down. So I guess it's that love of creation that makes me want to write.
Do you have any pet peeves while writing?  Any certain music or drink you just have to have to concentrate?

I hate it when the phone rings while I'm writing, even though I usually ignore it. It pulls me out of the story so abruptly. As for food, I don't HAVE to have anything. But a few handfuls of chocolate raisins never goes amiss. :) 
What is your favorite thing to write?

I've always, always loved science fiction. And I'm drawn to young adult stories as well. There's something about the combination of the two of ideas and passionate young people. It just doesn't get much better than that. 
What other genre's do you enjoy writing, if any?

I also dabble a little in creative nonfiction. I took a class on it in college, and actually had a few pieces published in college journals. I love the ability to be completely true to my own voice in this genre. 
What are your favorite genres to read?

Um...anything? I'm very omnivorous when it comes to reading. I love sci fi and young adult, of course, but I also love memoir, literary fiction, crime fiction, I said, pretty much anything!
Do you have a favorite blog?

Hm, tough one. I do really love Mary Kole's Kidlit site. She gives such amazing, valuable information on both writing and publishing, and she's not afraid to be honest. 
Have you been to a conference?  If you've been to more than one, which was your favorite and why?
I went to my first conference last year: LDS Storymakers. And I LOVED it. The classes and workshops were amazing, with some top notch industry professionals. But my favorite part was the networking. I spent two whole days meeting and making friends with other writers. I also was part of the early morning critique groups, and got some great feedback on my work in addition to some good friends.
Which author's do you admire?
I absolutely love Brandon Sanderson. He has a way of pulling you completely into his world and characters so that you believe it's a real place. I also love Dan Wells, and not just because he was the leader of my conference critique group (okay, so maybe that made me a little fan-girl). His two books out are a prime example of incredible characterization-- he took a sociopathic teenager and actually made you care about him. It's amazing.
How often do you write?
Usually every day, though I miss occasionally (the joys of being a mom!). I can usually get in between one to three hours a day, depending on how the day goes.  

A BIG thanks to Shallee for answering these questions!  It was so good to learn more about her!  I can personally say that her writing rocks and if she ever gives a contest to critique, you'd better be there!  Remember to check out her blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Get Ready For Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the first Aspiring Author Interview Friday!  I just wanted to give you all a heads up that I will be interviewing the one and only Shallee McArthur.  Her interview will be posted mid-morning.  Come and have fun learning more about a fellow writer!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday-Writing about writing. Ice Cream Cone with a CHERRY!

I love ice cream, but ice cream with a cherry on top is even better.  Sure, go ahead and throw in some whipped cream, but the cherry is my favorite.  I know, some of you may think that's a little gross, but we are all entitled to our opinions :)

My life is like a giant waffle ice cream cone filled with the yummiest ice cream, and yes, even a huge red cherry on top.  The thick waffle cone is my strong foundation.  It's what holds my life together.  That would include things like my family, friends, and faith.  I picked a waffle cone because they are the best and they are really thick.  I have a great foundation!

The ice cream is the sweet things that fill my life.  Of course life has its 'rocky roads' so to speak, but vacations with my husband, visits with my family, laughter from my kids, family outings, church activities, and all the other great things hidden in life's journey are all so sweet!

And then there is the cherry on top.  When I finally get time to write, it's like eating the cherry on top.  I only discovered my love for writing about a year ago.  The first time I sat down to write, I thought I was crazy.  Me write?  Yeah RIGHT!  But, I did it.  My writing was terrible, and is still really bad, but I'm learning.  And it is so much fun.  I might not get to write as often as I'd like, but when I do, it's so great.  Some of you may get to write often enough that it has become part of your sweet ice cream.  That's awesome!  Hopefully, one day, when my kids are all in school (that would be in forever) I'll get another sweet thing to fill my life everyday!

Where is your writing in your ice cream cone?  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


twomore.jpg picture by abena888

Thanks to Shallee for the award!  You can visit her very creative and worth your time blog at

So, maybe you'd like to know more about me and my blog?

My first writing outlet blog was called, Random Thoughts from the Sleep Deprived.  I have random thoughts at random moments everyday and my goal with that blog was to have it be my random thoughts outlet.  My sleep deprived life made it really hard to write those thoughts when there was so much else I wanted to do.  Also, most of my thoughts turned from random whatever to random writing thoughts.  So, I deleted that blog and created this one!

Other things I enjoy doing besides writing are:  talking to my husband, playing with my kids, hanging out with my husband, coloring with my kids, going on dates with my husband, chasing my kids, making girly hair clips, getting together with friends, visiting family, going on vacations, and daydreaming about sleep.  Oh, and I like to be on the computer finding other writing friends!

Nearly three years ago, I became an avid reader.  Two years later, I became an avid writer.  I'm constantly learning.  And I'm constantly loving the journey.

I'd like to pass this award onto a few people!  Quinn at for his constant comments, Shannon Messenger at for her awesome daily posts, and Elana Johnson at for letting me take part in my very first great blogging experiment!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Very First Basic Book Blog Monday-PARANORMALCY

I finished reading Paranormalcy last week.  First of all, I have to say that I absolutely adore the cover!  Ready for it?  Here it is!

Is that not super stunning?  Totally compelled me to read the book before I knew anything about it.  After I read more about it, I was even more hungry to eat it up!

You want to know what it's about?
Here's the goodreads jacket flap version.

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal. 

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 

So much for normal.

My basic review?

I rate it PG in movie terms and I give it 
 out of 5 stars all around!

If you like anything paranormal, you'll love Paranormalcy!
You can visit the awesome author, Kiersten White, at her blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Thoughts...From the Sleep Deprived!

I just had a couple of things on my mind.  The first is that I have had NO time to write this week.  Honestly, I haven't even opened word.  Actually, I did, but it wasn't to write :(  Life just gets so busy sometimes.  But hopefully I can get back into the groove next week!

On the other hand, I did read some really great books!  I just finished Paranormalcy last night and it will probably one of the first books when I start my Basic Book review day.  That's right!  I'm actually going to have planned post days!  One is going to be a basic book review, one is going to be random thoughts on writing, and the last is going to be aspiring writer interviews!  Is that not exciting?  I totally think so.  Now I just have to get on the ball and do it.  Hopefully, since I've announced it, I will be more motivated.

That last and most random thought is that one day I'm going to write a book using the security words that you have to type in order to post.  They are Hi-Lar-I-Ous!  No joke!  I've read some of the funniest things!

Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend!  Just a thought for you to take along, "Life's rough, wear a helmet!"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Color your writing!

Last weekend I was coloring princess pictures with my adorable kiddies and a thought came to me.  Between me and my kids, we can all color the same picture but they can all look totally different.  Honestly, how many times have you either entered a coloring contest or seen pictures from one?  Typically, they all color the same picture.  So, how is it that they can all look so different?  Each picture has a different emphasis and diverse color scheme.
Okay, so my analogy is a little stretched, but bare with me.  When we color a picture we get the big picture and then think, "Now how am I going to color this so that it fits me?"  How much detail are we going to put in?  Which areas are we really going to work hard on?  What color and mood am I going for?


When you want to color a picture (or write a story), you first need to think of what kind of picture you want to color.  Who is the picture for?  More importantly, what kind of picture can you color the best?  Are you going to color a princess picture or is it going to be animals?  Is it going to be funny, scary, light and fluffy?  Are your colors going to be bold, soft, sharp lines, round edges?  YOU decide because it's YOUR picture.  If you color it well enough, detail it just right, and give it a fresh look, other's might like it too!


P.S. I hear people are a little tired of vampire pictures.  :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mush Brain!

I just had to tell you about my brain, or rather my non-brain, last night.  Up to this point I have never truly regretted not writing something down.  Usually it comes back to me when I sit down to write the chapter in progress.  Well, last night I was completely stumped.  My brain felt like this


I honestly had nothing.  Not a thing.  I even wondered why I was sitting behind some piece of technology.  Of course, it was a long day with my kids and my brain had good reason to look like that.  Hopefully tonight I can put everything back in place and retrieve what I fear might be lost.

Then instead of looking like this

I can feel like this

Okay, a little cheesy, but I'm not computer savvy and this is google images provided.

So, you may be wondering what I did instead of trudged through the muck coming out of my upper head?  I grabbed my current read and snuggled under a blanket.

What do you do when you suffer from a severe writing block?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Google Images?

Google Images

I just had a question for all you computer savvy people.  If I get my images from Google Images do I need to find where they got it and give credit or just post the picture and let everyone else enjoy?  I'd hate to be dishonest, so I thought I'd ask.

A Little Bit Anxious :)

I write nearly every week night after my kids go to bed.  So, you'd think by writing this often that I wouldn't get nervous about it right?  WRONG.  No matter how often I write, I get anxious every time I open up that word document.  Thoughts like, "What if ideas don't flow?"  or "Maybe this story isn't so great and I just think it is?"  Honestly, I write mostly for the fact that I love it.  It's my most recent and overly obsessive hobby.  My story develops in my head all day and I get to let that creativity flow at night...then I try to get to sleep and put my brain to rest.

So why do I get anxious?  NO CLUE.  But, I seem to find the courage to press through that small barrier.  Good thing too because I almost always feel better when I finish for the night.  It's like a big sigh that built up during the day.  It something that I need to set free!

Here's my question.  What kind of barriers do you have when writing?  Is there one area that just makes you nervous?  Characters, plot, subplots?