Thursday, September 29, 2011

Come meet the fabulous Christine Tyler!

My PhotoChristine Tyler lives in the underwater realm of the Pacific Northwest. She is accompanied by her submarine Lieutenant husband and organically grown offspring. She enjoys geology, botany, romantic chemistry and yoga. And raptors. Very much raptors.

Awesome right? I got that from the about me page on her blog. In general, though, she says, "I'm either writing what I can imagine or imagining I can write. Either works."

They both work for me :)

So, Christine, how long have you been writing?

I made up stories before I could write. Once there were words and spellings and sentences to put them down, they started getting put down. It is evident, through my silly rhetoric and elementary scribblings, that I found myself clever from an early age.

What made you want to write?

My father's side of the family are all really big on stories. They memorize long ballads to recite at Christmastime, weave funny yarns from their lives, or write really really long "family newsletters." It's a genetic disorder. When I was a kid, I had a dream about a beautiful coastline, a castle, a wheat-field, and a forest. I've revisited that place so many times since then, it feels just as real as this world. I've imagined myself there every night since I was five. I can imagine different places, but it's like taking a vacation from my real imagination.

(Sounds beautiful! Everyone needs a place to retreat.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

I choose not to let things bother me. Writers are going to have a heck of a time trying to be creative if they're distracted by common sounds, noises, lights, etc. Pet peeves are just that--pets. They're something you feed and nurture because you consider them special. Then they get bigger and poop all over your house. Train your pet peeve (which is really yourself), because you are the writer. You are the author. You are in charge.

If it demands my attention (crying child, request from husband etc), I usually try to address the issue according to importance and move on from there.

(Man, everything seems so simple and realistic when you put it that way. Sounds like you have great self control and don't let yourself get bothered by much. Which, basically makes me jealous. Shh, don't tell anyone!)

If you could sit down and reread any book, which would it be?

My most reread book is The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. I learn a lot about myself every time. I'm a big fan of self-awareness in thought and personal accountability. Clive had that in spades.

(Another book I need to read. Man, I'm sad I joined the reading world so late in life. There's so much to catch up on!)

Quick, you only have enough time to visit a few writing blogs/websites, which ones will you go to? 

My typical run goes exactly as follows:
Twitter to see what's up, Jeigh Meredith my glorious critique partner, Rachel Bean to see her genius YA perspective, Roni Loren and Tawna Fenske for sass, Janet Reidfor shark bait, Kristin Nelson for biz updates, and then I float around new-friend blogs like Jess and Shelly. And then Matt Bird for an inferiority complex.

(Hello! Is everyone opening these in other tabs? You should! They are ALL awesome. Thank you Christine for providing so many great blogs/websites to check out.)

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would want to meet Michael Crichton alive, because then he would be alive. And he could make sure they don't bungle up Jurassic Park 4.

Do you prefer:

Hot dogs or hamburgers?
Hot dogs at the ballpark. Hamburgers at home--with buffalo meat. I don't eat fast food.

Vampires or Werewolves?
Werewolves, actually. I've always been very fond of werewolves. I'm 0% interested in vampires.

1st person POV or 3rd?
Whichever won't draw attention to itself while I'm reading. Announcing a switch in POV with a character's name for a chapter heading? I can barely stomach it. I think that's one of my biggest reading turnoffs. It feels so lazy.

Edward Cullen, Harry Potter or Peeta Mellark?
I've never read Twilight, and I'd be team Jacob if I did. All the way. The Hunger Games also doesn't appeal to me. Lord of the Flies used child/child violence to achieve social commentary. It appears to me that The Hunger Games uses child/child violence to be sensational and gripping.

Harry Potter? Perfection.
My teenage obsession with Harry knew no limits, not even social norms. I wrote fanfiction, bought every peice of crap Warner Brothers slapped the HP logo on, and dragged my then-boyfriend to every book event. When we finally broke up after two years, we were having our last duke-out on the phone--the big doozy. Everything we ever hated about each other spewed out in a lava-flow of secret irritations, peeves, and items of utmost loathing. It finished up something like this:

BF: and you're a nag and you're manipulative and you yelled at my mom that one time on the phone and she hates you, and you didn't like that Christmas present two years ago and you KNOW WHAT ELSE?!


BF: I...never...liked...HARRY POTTER!!!

I haven't talked to him since.

(No. Way. He didn't say that! Talk about a hit...somewhere sensitive. Good thing you got rid of him!)

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Hi-Chew and Bueno are my favorite candies in the world. Choosing between them would be like choosing between my Japanese and Mexican adoptive children.

(And now I have to look them up because I don't even know what they are.)


Oh, yummy! They both look good, although I'm leaning a little to the Hi-Chew...but I like fruity candy. I need to try both, though. Christine, where can I get these?

And hopefully that answer comes in the comments section :) Thanks so much, Christine, for letting me interview you on my blog today! It was fun learning more about you. 

Be sure to stop by Christine's blog, The Writer Coaster, for additional info and writing fun! 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Ninja Challenge Time!

It's challenge time, but first I have to tell you about two yummy treats I just rediscovered!

You all should know by now how much I love giant Laffy Taffy's and Sour Patch Kids, right? Well, have you ever had Mamba's or fruity Mentos? Man, my teeth are going to hate me!

Anyway, here are the requirements for the most recent campaign challenge.
Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
  • include the word "imago" in the title
  • include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

Yeah, this was the hardest challenge Rach has ever given. Hands down. At least, for me it was. Maybe everyone else just has a bigger vocab than I do.

After looking up each word at and being more confused then I was when I first read the words, I decided that I didn't have to use the word the right way. In the end, maybe I did, maybe I didn't. You'll have to decide for yourself! 

 Super Ninja Imago 

One minute I was enduring miasma, when BAM! Out of nowhere I tumbled into blackness with a stick in one hand.

What was I supposed to do with that? I searched the cold ground and found a chain between two handles.

Suddenly, a door opened and a hot Japanese boy gaped at me. “What are you waiting for?” he asked. “Get up and put your nunchucks in ready position. They’re here.”

I jumped to my feet and wondered what a nunchuck ready position was. Hot boy raced off and I followed, my nunchuck swinging in circles. We rounded a corner and faced five ninjas.   

“Do you remember the first spell?” boy asked. His wand lifted, turning the closest ninja into a rat.

I mirrored him and said the first thing that came to mind. “Abracadabra Lacuna.”

Nothing happened.

The ninjas moved closer so I swung my nunchuck and let go. It totally missed my target, smacking hot boy in the gut.  

I wanted to help him but the ninjas were moving in. I lifted my wand again. “Synchronicity oscitate.”

BAM! I landed back in class, my science teacher gaping at me with his teaching stick in hand. Stupid sci-fi ninja.   

So, did I use the words right? Any of them? 

If you like this, be sure to stop by here and actually "Like" it. I'm number 134 . And while you're there, be sure to read more! I'm excited to make the rounds myself.

Do you like writing flash fiction? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aspiring Author Stephanie Sinkhorn

she looks like this.I recently made an awesome blogging friend through the Writer's Platform Building Campaign. And that new friend is Stephanie Sinkhorn! I'm super excited to learn more about her!

From Stephanie's blog, we learn, "S.E. Sinkhorn, an author of young adult fiction. She loves the ocean, Phoenix Wright, and garlic popcorn. She blogs about YA, writing, publishing, pop culture, and the occasional weird news story. Welcome to her world.

She has been known to answer to Steph, Stephy, or "hey dudette.""

Awesome right? And garlic popcorn sounds super yummy...I need to try it. But since I don't know where to get it and am not very good in the kitchen, I'll just pass this around for the interview.

*Yes, we might all have garlic breath, but at least we aren't breathing the same air :)

So, Stephanie, how long have you been writing?

I always feel like kind of a doofus being one of those writers who’s like, “I’ve been writing ever since I knew how!” But, well, yeah. I’m pretty sure there’s a little 15-page book somewhere in my Mom’s keepsake box that includes the bio: “Stephanie is eight years old. She likes cats and Big League Chew. This is her third book.” I’ve been writing with a goal toward publication for about three years.

(There's nothing wrong with writing since you were really little. We can't all start writing at the same time :) And I totally have stacks of books that my six year old daughter has written. She'll get to say the same thing as you when she's older...well, if she sticks with it!)

What made you want to write?

Mostly the fact that I’m a literature and screenplay nerd. I love dialogue and description and detail. Fitting all those things together and creating something new is immensely entertaining and therapeutic for me. I’ve always been highly imaginative. Now I just put my overactive imaginings to paper.

(And I bet with all that passion it comes out on the paper really well!)

What book are you reading right now and which one do you have lined up to read next?

Currently I’m reading Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake. It’s superbly creepy. Next up is either Wither by Lauren DeStefano or Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. Depends on what kind of mood I’m in.

If you could pick the setting of one book to live in, which would it be?

This is totally the clichĂ©d, obvious answer, but Harry Potter and his wizarding world. It’s so full of life and fantastically imagined. That series was a big part of my coming-of-age, so I think I’ll always feel “at home” there.

(That is a popular answer to that question, but there's nothing wrong with that! I would probably have to pick the same thing...or some kind of mixture of that world and another. Can it mix with something from Pride and Prejudice? Hmm.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

Interruptions, big time. My fiancĂ© gets kind of huffy when I’m writing because I get in the zone and completely tune him out. He’ll be saying something to me and it takes several seconds for me to pull out of my writer-brain and go “huh?” And then I’m all distracted and discombobulated when I try to get back into that state of mind. My other big peeve is my own perfectionism. It holds me back from getting words on the page sometimes.

(I love that you said discombobulated! That describes my mind at several points during the day. Mostly when my characters and children are all fighting for my attention while I'm doing something mundane like making dinner or driving.)

What's your favorite:

Book- Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Author- If you’re making me pick just one, I have to say Neil Gaiman

Character- Lyra Silvertongue

Thing about writing- Turning the perfect phrase and thinking, “YES. This is exactly what was in my mind’s eye.”

Time of day- Nighttime, when it’s cool and relaxed.

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Depends, but usually chocolate. With peanut butter, if possible.

(Sure it's possible. And definitely one of the best ways to eat chocolate. In my opinion, chocolate is always better with something else...but I'm a fruity sour kind of person. I like my treats to surprise me. Like, yeah you're about to stick that chocolate in your mouth, but did you know there's a nugget of peanut butter in the middle? LUCKY! Or, yeah that little man shaped candy may have sugar looking stuff on the outside but guess what? He's sour! And then sweet again. Okay, sorry about the long explanation. Here's a treat to make up for it.)

Thanks for answering my questions, Stephanie! It was a fun and tasty interview :) 

Everyone else, be sure hop on over to Stephanie's blog, Maybe Genius

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WINNERS!!! Are you the lucky winner?

Thanks to everyone who entered my blogoversary/300 followers giveaway! I love the support I get from all of you. 

3 lucky bloggers won a First Chapter critique from yours truly! But before I announce who they are, I also want to give thanks to my computer, printer, scissors, mixing bowl, and four year old twins.

Now, if I could get a drum roll please...

(This is where you listen to the drum roll from my hands.)

Our three winners are:


(serves sour patch kids and chocolate)

Go ahead and send your first chapter to me at michelle m merrill (at) hotmail (dot) com.

How do you guys like to celebrate something awesome?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

No, not kidney bean...RACHEL BEAN!

And yes, there is a huge difference. One is much sweeter, can talk, has hands, and even write's stories!
My PhotoI recently met Rachel through the Writer's Platform Building Campaign. We're in the same group and I definitely consider myself lucky.

When I asked how she'd describe herself, she said this.

I'm a goofy, fun-loving, high-school-attending girl who likes reading, writing, drawing, eating, and laughing my head off at random things. I originally started my blog to post pictures up of my artwork for my older, college-attending, brother, but well... that never happened. So my blog just kinda sat there, neglected and sad, for a couple years. Then one day I was reading a friends blog, and decided that I not only wanted to start writing again, but it was also a pretty good idea to use my blog so I could stalk-uh, follow, other people's bigger, more successful ones. However, I greatly underestimated the power and lure of the blogging world, and a couple months later started actually using mine as a writing blog (with the occasional book review). So yep, there's the story :)

Yeah, the blogging world has a power of its own. The lure is overwhelming sometimes...but oh so worth it! And I have to say how fun it is to have a high school student to hang out with...since she's around the age of most of my main character's. Now it's time to pick her writing brain...

Rachel, how long have you been writing?

Basically since I could lift a pencil. We even have a picture of me sitting on the couch as a toddler, pretending to write. As for professionally writing (as in, wanting to get published), well, I've only been doing that for a couple of months.

(You're so many steps ahead of me. I may have been writing for a little longer, but I'm much older. Yay for you!)

What made you want to write?

Well, the first time was because it was fun and I liked it. The second time ( I dropped it for a couple years), was because I remembered how much I liked it. Yeah, creative, I know, but it's true. As I mentioned before, it was my friends blog that helped me to remember that, and that friend was Chrisitine Tyler. So thanks Christine! ( btw, I recommend checking out her blog...... Christine, you owe me one ;)

(I recommend it too. Just sayin'.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

Um... no, I can't think of any. Haha, that's not to say I won't ever get one, though :)

(None? Lucky!)

If you could sit down and reread any book, which would it be?

Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter. Haha, if you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll probably recognize that name because I may or may not have mentioned it... a couple times.

(I've seen that book so many times and have thought about picking it up, but never have. Now I'll have to do it! Thanks for the recommendation.)

Quick, you only have a few minutes on the internet, which writing blogs/websites would you visit? 

Haha, well definitely mine first ;) But if I still have time after that ( and Facebook...) I always check out Christine's blog (which I talked about above) and Jeigh at Writerbrained . Check them out!

(Great choices!)

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would you choose?

Ally Carter, definitely. She wrote my two top favorite series, and well, she's just kinda awesome :)

Do you prefer:

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? Mayo all the way :)

Dashes or Parentheses? Parentheses (If you haven't noticed...;)

Series or single stories? Oooh,, I've never really thought about that. I guess I'd go with series, because you can fit so much more into it! More character development, plot twists, and just more of everything! The one thing I hate about series though is having to wait for the next book to come out. Especially when the previous book ended with a big cliff hanger (which sadly a lot of authors like to do...). That's the worst.... but then again, when the next book comes out, it's so much more exciting! Haha, but yeah, I would say series :)

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Well, let's see. About a year ago I not only stopped hating chocolate but actually started loving it ( but only if its the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth milk chocolate kind). But on the other hand, there's Sour Patch Watermelons, which are just amazing and have been my favorite for years. So I guess I'll have to represent the Sour Patch (Watermelons, not the Kids) and go with fruit candy :)

(Woohoo! Yes, the Sour Patch Watermelons are awesome as well. Here, have some.)

Thanks so much Rachel! I had a great time learning more about you. I hope everyone else did as well. Now, go visit her blog, Rachel Bean, to find out even more.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I have so much to celebrate! But first I wanted to mention a book I just read...and liked :)

The Hourglass Door (Hourglass Door, #1)

I've finished the first two in the series and can't wait to get my hands on the third and final one that came out this summer! If you like time travel with a bit of romance, you'll love this :)

Now onto the celebrations! First of all, in case you haven't noticed, I hit 300 followers sometime in the last month! 

Sour Patch Kids for everyone :)

What, not good enough? Well, I guess I'll share my most favorite candy with you then. 

But that's not all! Mostly, I want to say 

I have the best blogging friends. You are all such a great support in my search to become a better writer!

The next thing to celebrate is... drum-roll blog :) I've been blogging here for just over a year and have my Aspiring Author Interview anniversary on September 22! 

I've enjoyed these interview's SO much. Words cannot express. 

So, instead, I'll use my skills. Well, those that I've developed over the last couple of years with writing, critiquing, and reading "how to write and edit" books, blogs, websites, etc.

I'm giving away 3 First Chapter Critique's!

How do you enter? Easy. Follow my blog, comment on this post by 11:59 pm Sunday, September 18th, and come back next Tuesday to see if you won.

Want an extra entry? Blog about this giveaway and your name will be put in the drawing an extra time! It has to be on your blog...not Twitter or Facebook. Sorry, I like to keep it simple.