Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Things that make me smile.

I have to admit...not everything makes me smile. I know, gasp, but it's true. I wish I could own up to being a peppy, happy, upbeat go getter, that can have three out of five kids sick with 103.5 fever, a messy house, and a smile? Yeah, so not happening. 

But there are a few things that made me happy today!

#1. Christmas music. My favorites are: Breath of Heaven, Joseph's Lullaby, and All I want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey). 

#2. I got onto the blog tonight and noticed a new follower. Who is the lucky number 341? My dear hubby! It took over three years and 340 other followers for him to join. I swear he loves me :)

#3. I just tackled my first 250 words for this contest.

Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest

I can now say that I've rewritten my first page...oh...maybe 100 times? My book has come a long way. I love the beginning now. Maybe I'll post it on here soon! 

If you want to enter this contest, go now! Like, drop what you're doing and get over there. It closes on November 30. Yes, it's been open for a month, but I just heard about it and got my entry in on time! 

I've seen this contest in years past, but never felt like I was ready to enter. There is a 15$ charge but hopefully it will pay off for me :)

So, my friends, what made you smile today?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A time to remember...

Remember how I used to post on here quite regularly? What in the world happened?

#1. I had baby number 5. Pretty much self explanatory.

#2. That baby had colic for three months. 

#3. One month after the colic ended, we decided to put our house on the market.

#4. A month later (mid-August) the house is still on the market but we decide to look for other work opportunities in a place more desirable to live.

#5. A month later we get an interview in Boise, ID.

#6. Two weeks later we get offered that job.

#7. Two weeks later we are packed up and on our way to start the new job, leave the unsold house, max out all stress levels moving to another state, dealing with a short sale, registering three kids for a school that has twice the workload than the last one, and trying to get settled.

#8. A month later, that's today, we are still trying to settle.

And my writing? Totally on the back burner. It kills me too because I was almost done with a rewrite and wanted to be querying...a month ago :( That's life I suppose. My writing time will come again. Hopefully soon!

So, if you are reading this, thanks for returning. I hope to be able to post more often soon!

Have a great week and happy writing!

And for all those hard core NaNo writer's, good luck!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh hello...

Yes, it basically took that much time to get over the awesomeness of WriteOnCon. Not to mention get my kids started in school and get in the swing if things. 

But I've started another round of revisions and am back to critiquing. I love it! 

I have a few exciting things to tell you.

First of all, have you read these?

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) StarCrossed Liar's Moon (Thief Errant, #2)

If you love fantasy as much as better read them! I have to say one thing though (besides the fact that they are a vortex of awesomesauce), Liar's Moon comes after Star Crossed and it kind of leaves you hanging. The worst part? I can not find anywhere that she is writing the next one! It's KILLING me! The character's are so well written with an intense story line that delivers at a great pace. And I need more!

The other crazy, amazing, awesome, super duper thing that I have to tell better said by the person it comes from :) Head over to Shallee McArthur's blog for some happy news!

I hope you have a great week! Happy writing :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where will you be?

For the next week I'll be busy. Where will I be? Hanging out here.

If you've never heard of it, get over there right now! It's the best online writing conference...and it's free. You can't get any better than that. The critique forums are open right now, but the real deal is next week. Get ready for awesomeness!

And if anyone is new to my blog from WriteOnCon, it's nice to meet you. I hope to see you around :)

So...where will you be?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Hate" words.

My seven year old daughter and I had an interesting conversation in the car today. I was telling her that she needs to practice swimming in order to get better.

"There are some words I don't like Mom," she told me.

I said, "Oh, like what?"

"I don't like the word "practice." I don't like the word "learn." And I don't like the word "happily ever after." 

"Why don't you like happily ever after?"

"Because it's boring."

Boring? How could she not like Happily Ever After's? Those are my favorite! But what if people are sick of happily ever after's? 

I've seen a lot of 'realistic' endings to books lately. You know the not so happily ever after, this is life endings. They're good, but not my type. I read a book to escape the boring every day to day things. If I wanted a tragedy, I'd watch the news. 

So, what's your type? Are you bored of the Happily Ever After endings?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I got a feelin'...

Feelin' like it's time to write again! I've got that itch...and it's time to scratch! My baby's colic is GONE! She turned 12 weeks and it just ended. No more consistent ongoing crying. I feel my sanity returning bit by bit. And with it comes that itch to write. I'm SO excited!

So what's my plan? Well, I want to go over my genie book again and get some more queries out. That's my plan until WriteOnCon in August. After that, I plan on writing another first draft. I can't get enough of them! There's something thrilling about creating a new story.

What has been going on with everyone? I just got back from Utah and wish I could have visited with more friends. My luck is the worst. Every time we go to Utah, my kids get sick. And this time we passed the stomach bug the whole two weeks. But I did get to visit with two of my favorite writer friends!

Here is my friend, Shallee. We've been friends since grade school and she is a fantastic writer!

And here is my friend, Chantele. We're friends through blogging and one day, we'll actually get to hang out...not just stop by her exit on my way out of town. I know, I'm horrible. But we were all sick. And this is me, ready for a ten hour car ride, with a new haircut. I've had better moments. 

I'm so glad I got to see my friends! One day I will meet more of you. I promise :)

Here's a look at the new cut. It's extreme, but fun and super easy to do. Just what I need with five kids!

Well, tomorrow is the 4th of July and we're ready to celebrate! If anyone else is celebrating this holiday, have a great day and be safe!

Friday, June 15, 2012

AWESOME Cover Reveal!!!

My great friend, Chantele Sedgwick, got her book cover! It's full of awesomeness. I can't wait to read this book. 

Here's the cover and blurb! 

Awesome right? I LOVE me a book with a fairytale twist! 
Want to know what it's about? 

Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings. 

If you don't know Chantele, or even if you do, head over to her blog. The book releases August 1st! Be sure to go here to add it to your goodreads list :) 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Life of Chaos...

First of all, what happened to blogger? The format is all changed and I'm a little lost, but I'll get there.

Second of all...Hi! It's been a long time! Too long. And that's my fault. Or rather, my new life with five kids, the youngest being  a very cute and precious colicky baby. If that doesn't explain my brain, maybe my absence will be enough. I'm tired and busy. 

But I couldn't go longer than two months without blogging. And I hate going longer than two months without writing, but my brain isn't up to that yet. Hopefully soon though! I want to go through my book a few more times, add and subtract, change a few things, and query again.

So what's been going on? This is what I've been doing...or at least some form of snuggling this cute, colicky baby :)

Isn't she just perfect? Did I mention she has colic? Haha. It's kind of taking over my life...

One more thing I want to mention is that May 1st was a big day for my TBR pile. Three awesome books came out on the same day! And I will be getting my copies soon! 

The first is Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Next is Destined by Aprilynne Pike.

Destined (Wings, #4)

And the last, which I'm most excited about, is Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

Awesome right? Yes, all part of their own series, but they are all series that I absolutely love! If you haven't read them, get to it :)

I hope to be around a bit more, but don't expect too much yet. Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh where oh where...

Has Michelle gone? Seriously...I know some of you might be thinking that. Or you've just completely forgotten about me, which is totally justifiable. 


I'd like to say I've been busy. But it's more like I've been brain dead, and I've had company here for over a week. 

Why brain dead? Well, I'm going to have a baby in 10 days. Awesome right? I think so. I can't wait to have it out. Between puffy hands, random pains, and other pregnancy side will be good to have the baby. Not to mention the fact that I'll get to cuddle the baby and watch my little kids love her! 


Sadly, this all means that I'll probably continue in a slightly comatose brain dead state of mind for a little while longer. Spring break is here next week and then I'll have a newborn and more, if you can't find me, please don't forget about me completely :)

I'll be back! In the meantime, good luck with all your writing adventures. Congrats to those getting agents, book deals, etc. I won't go into the amount of jealousy that may cause here, but luckily the brain dead version of myself won't mind as much. I hope the best for all of you! You write books and I get to read them. And one day you can read one that I've written!


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Key to Success

Never give up.

I just watched the movie Hoodwinked Too with my kids. Was it as good as the first? Not hardly, but there is a priceless quote I had to share with you.

"A person cannot fail without giving up."

Simple. Don't give up. If you want to get published, write twenty books, see your name on a cover...don't give up. Giving up is the first step to failure. As long as you're working on your goal, you're in the right direction! Each word you write, each conversation you type, they're all getting you one step closer to your dream.

Dream big, set goals, and never give up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Voice Coach...

Every time my favorite singing show comes on...I have to post about it. Why? Because it relates SO much to writing. And it's just awesome.

I absolutely love this show. It's filled with wonderful singers that are judged purely on their voice during the blind auditions. Never seen it? You should. The contestants sing to four judges who have their backs to the singer. The contestant is judged on their voice and if the judge wants them on their team, they push their button and turn around.

I love it when more than one judge wants the singer on their team. When this happens, the decision is left to the singer to decide on their coach.

So, what does this have to do with writing? First of all, your work is based on your voice! Imagine the whole query process as a chance for you to put your voice out there to win a coach from your top options. So many times a query comes down to concept, writing, execution, and most of all the VOICE! 

If you don't have a unique and appealing voice, you'll never get an agent to turn their head. Just like a singer on this show will never get a judge to turn their chair if they don't have the voice.

Which is why you want to make sure you are giving your very best. You need to do your work, research, rewrites, put your manuscript through all you have...twice, three times, or six (like the one I'm querying) and then you can try to get a coach.

One thing I didn't focus on last time I posted about this show, that I want to emphasize this time, is the coach. These aren't just people who kind of know the writing market. Yes, they're people just like all us, but they really know their stuff. Most agents go through extensive internships before even becoming an agent. They know what will sell, how to make it even better, how to get an editor, and which publishers to target. 

Just like the experienced and well-known singing coaches on The Voice, literary agents are experienced and ready to do the work for you if they like your stuff. So give them your best. Make your voice stand out. Get your work in their hands and let them be your coach!

Remember, whether it's singing or writing, it's business. Be respectful and remember that not every coach is right for every person. Sometimes the singers on The Voice are great singers, but they just don't connect with any of the judges. If your query goes unnoticed, it might be that it's just not ready. But it could be that it's just not the right fit for that agent. 

Work on your voice and be willing to work for your coach!

Good luck :)

Anyone else querying? It's a long, slow process...but we can go through it together! You never know, you might be one of the lucky ones that gets more than one coach that want you. And then you get to pick!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nothing says love like...

Flowers? A card? A box of chocolates? What says love to you?

I realize this post is late for being a lovey dovey Valentine's Day post, but I've been busy doing heart shaped hair-do's, buying Valentine's gifts, making homemade bread, making Valentine's dessert, and making homemade heart shaped pizza's. It was a good day but I'm ready to do nothing tomorrow.

The pizza's were a success. The dessert? Well, let's just say when your sister tells you to pour a "thing" of chocolate syrup on top, it might be a good idea to clarify what a "thing" is. Or you could end up pouring a whole 24 ounce bottle of Hershey's syrup when all you really needed was an 8 ounce can. Yeah, it was rich my!

Anyway, back to what says love to you. Personally, I don't want flowers or a box of chocolates. If any of you remember my sugar of choice, it's fruity candy. And as far as flowers go? Keep em. They die and I'd rather use the money for something else.

Here's the real question. What would your character's prefer? Going through each in my head, Emmarie wouldn't mind flowers, Brielle would love a doughnut or a certain lamp, Triz would kill for a box of permanent markers, and Mella would like a quiet picnic by the lake with Ev. 

Oh, and my upcoming MC (no name yet) would love a binder and some mechanical pencils. That has love written all over it right? Totally!


Whatever says love to you, I hope you got it today.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Email Stress

In which I vent about my email for a minute in hopes that someone else has the same problem and can give me some advice. Maybe I'm not as tech savvy as I thought.

After my first batch of queries, I checked the emails in my sent box to make sure they were formatted right. They weren't. Despite the fact that I copied it from my document, pasted it to my email, and double checked it before I sent it, the font size was all over the place. And one of my sentences was cut in the middle and put on the next line. 

Not to mention that my indentations on the pasted pages below the query were all over the place. If the format of my email shows anything about my editing skills, I'm doomed! 

I tried something different in this next batch of queries and after checking it, I realized it did the same thing. Gah! I could be ruined.

But for all its worth, I want to reassure everyone that I do know how to format a query and manuscript. Apparently I need lessons in "perfecting the email 101."

Thanks for letting me vent! Has anyone had else had this problem?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A cluttered home...

My house is small. And thanks to the housing market, our two year plan is prolonged for an undefined period. We're going on five years and will probably be here for at least three more. 

What's the biggest problem? Space. See, we only have 970 sq ft to work with. And now that our fifth child's on the way...let's just say we have to get creative. 

Not to mention we have to get rid of anything that isn't necessary! We just said goodbye to the entertainment center that held many treasures behind its closed doors. Where did all those treasures go? Either to a different spot in our house or out of the house completely. 

What does this have to do with writing?

Let's say our book should only be 970 sq ft...or 70-80,o00 words max. So, what if it's over that? We have to dejunk and get rid of the unnecessary. Even if our manuscript isn't that long, each word needs to be there for a reason. Each scene needs to be completely essential to moving the plot along.

And if it doesn't, that's where the reader will wade through slowly and get stuck. Just like a cluttered area in a house. 

Cut the clutter. Get rid of the junk. Create a space that is easy to walk (read) through and will be enjoyable :)

Do you have a hard time cutting the junk during revisions?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Musings about...well myself.

Is that selfish? Like I just announced that I'm going to spend a post talking about myself and I think you all should read it? Okay, probably sounded like that. Here's my thought process.

Since I started querying (oh last night around midnight), I had to choose something to keep myself busy. And even now that I've got the perfect thing, I still check my email every five minutes. I know. Pathetic. I swear I'm not that impatient. Just excited about the possibilities.

Right after I finished writing Smoke and Ashes (the book I'm querying) in Jan 2010, I decided to finish another book I had started. So I did. I finished it in a month or two. And then, pretty sure I just tucked it away so I could focus on revisions for the first book.

Well, yesterday I decided to get that second book out. It's called Dael. And after reading through the first few chapters, I instantly fell back in love with it! 

And then I remembered an interview my friend did of me while I was writing that book. Here is my favorite question and answer (the pictures weren't in the original post...but I couldn't help myself).

Random writing question: If your current main character were to run into Edward Cullen at school, how would they react?

They pass each other by the back window and Mella stops. Edward nearly runs into her, distracted by what she's thinking.

Edward: "How do you know I want to eat you?"

Mella: "How do you know I know you want to eat me?"

Edward: "Uh, I don't."

Mella: "Wait. You want to eat me?"

Edward: "I need to go."

Sun comes out and the diamond skin sends a million sparkles through the air.

Mella: "Well, that's a new one. Does that attract the girls or scare them away?"

Edward: "Uh..."

Mella: "No worries. It has no affect on me."

Edward goes to take a step past Mella but he stops when he sees the look on her face. She's staring at his eyes.

Mella: "Nice eyes. I've seen better, though. Just sayin'."

Mella struts away and never looks back.

Love it! I love my characters in this book. If you want to read the full interview, check it out here on Chantele Sedgwick's blog.

And that got me thinking about other things I've written, mostly for Campaigner challenges through Rachael Harrie's blog.

I love the writing challenges she issues. That's the main reason I join the group. So, if you want my three favorite pieces of flash fiction from this last campaign, here they are.

Nowhere to Hide.


Super Ninja Imago.

And in case you're wondering more about the Platform-Building Campaign, Rach is about to launch the fourth one soon! 

And if you want an embarrassing High School story I told in Shallee McArthur's teen tales. Go here. Yes, it applies to writing. I promise :)

See, I didn't only talk about myself. All three of those fabulous ladies are worth following if you don't yet! 

Have you ever gone back to an old WIP and fallen in love with it that quickly? Have you ever tried to write a flash fiction? How about a flash fiction with crazy requirements like made up words and specific details?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baby Steps.

No, this isn't about real babies...even though that is certainly on my mind. I just wanted to talk about ways to achieve goals.

The key, for me, it to set small goals. Yes, I'd like to have an agent. And I'd love all my books to reach perfection without several revisions, but that's not realistic.

So, set small goals. Try to write so many words or chapters each week. If it doesn't work, lower the goal and work toward that. Keeping a goal in mind will help you work toward something. Which is better than working toward nothing and just hoping something gets done.

When you set small goals and achieve them, it will give you more motivation to set other goals. And along the way, you'll be closer to your end goal than you ever thought you would! 

It's rare for a soccer goalie to score a point for their team. But if they set the ball rolling and give it direction, the ball will make it from one point to another until it smashes the net on the other side.

Make realistic goals. Achieve those goals. And find yourself closer to your dreams then you ever thought possible! 

What goals are you tackling? Anything that could be more achievable through smaller goals? 

Monday, January 30, 2012


Thanks to all those who support this blog. Today I have a winner to announce!

Congratulations to Juliemybird! 

Feel free to email me your first chapter anytime!

michelle m merrill (at) hotmail (dot) com

I'll be having more giveaways so be sure to stop by in the future! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Query Advice.

I've researched and read a lot of query advice, but now I want to ask what you think. If you could tell someone three things before they query, what would it be? 

I'd love to hear anything! I've read books, written books, revised, edited, critiqued, all that. But I've never queried. And I want to make sure I have all the pieces before I attack the puzzle.

So, what would you tell me either from your own experience or maybe something priceless that you've learned from someone else? I'd hate to be missing that one piece :) 

Also, don't forget to enter my first chapter critique giveaway in my last post. It closes Sunday night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cel-e-brate good times, Come ON!

Here are my reasons to celebrate.

First, I finished my WIP! Yay! It's not as long as I'd like, but that can definitely change during revisions. And the best part? I wrote it in exactly three weeks. That's a record that was only possible through outlining. Not to mention the fact that I can think and type much faster than when I started writing two years ago. 

Here are my final stats...

Final word count: 56,605.

Brains status: I'm not going to lie. It's a little fried.

Conflict level: Awesome.

Character's: Unforgettable.

At least I feel that way right now. I'm sure my eyes will be opened to the truth when I do my first read through :) 

What's up next? Query time! Another reason to celebrate. It's not for this project, but for the one I wrote in January 2011.

And the last reason to celebrate is kind of a sad celebration. I've decided that until I have my baby, I won't be able to do Aspiring Author interviews.

Sad day.

I probably love doing them more than anyone else likes to read them. But I have the hardest time remembering to do everything in my life. So this is my way of simplifying. I hope to start back up in May or June. And then I'll have so many more friends to get to know!

Instead of doing interviews, I want to do more giveaway's! 

That's fair, right? Well, maybe a little :)

So to celebrate these good times and start my giveaway spree, I want to offer a first chapter critique!

Leave a comment on this post and tell me if you want to be in the drawing. It closes midnight on Sunday, January 29th and is open to anyone, although I'm better at Young Adult. I'll announce the winner on Monday or Tuesday next week :)

And just to give you a glance at what my life looks like, here are some pictures of yours truly taken by my lovely friend Mandie Briggs. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

JaNo 2012 Check-in Week 3!!!

Yeah, this is a little late, but I've spent the whole day getting ready for my daughter's seventh birthday party! I can't believe she's that old. 

But late is better than never, right? 


Here's my report.

Word count: 51,022

Brain status: Still going

Conflict: Raging in the climax.

Characters: Rockin' in their own ways.

I love this book more and more each day, even if it is an awful first draft. I've learned one great thing about writing a book so quickly, though. It's so much easier to remember the things that are foreshadowed or tie ins from the beginning to end. Maybe that's never a problem for any of you, but sometimes it is for me. And this time, I've written it so fast, I think I've remembered everything. But, I may be wrong. Between late nights and preggo brain, I could definitely be stuck in hopeful thinking!

How was your week? What do you have planned for writing goals next week? 

I'm going to finish my book and start on getting my other one tightened for querying! Eek!

Have a great weekend :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

JaNo 2011 update #2 and Book Review

I just finished my writing for the week. I usually don't write on the weekends, but sometimes I squeeze it in. This weekend is busy, though, so it's unlikely.

As far as my JaNo is going, it's great! I'm surprised at how much I'm getting done. Here is my current progress.

Word Count: 34,468.

Conflict level: Awesome!

Character Development: The same.

Brain Power: Surprisingly high! Even with the growing baby inside. 

Hopefully I can keep it up until I finish! 

And I even read a book this week, which is something I usually don't allow during my JaNo.

In fact, I've finished three books this month. The first two weren't worth mentioning because I couldn't stand them. But the third one was awesome! It's been so long since I've gotten sucked into a book enough that I didn't want to put it down. And this one was like a black hole. 

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)

The character's are fantastic, the pace is steady, the conflict is great, and the romance is totally there.

I know, really vague, but that's because I think you should read it. Find out what it's like for yourself!

How did your week go? What have you read lately? I need more good book suggestions :)