Monday, January 31, 2011

Pay It Forward

Shelli at Market My Words is having a Pay It Forward contest today! She is encouraging writers to acknowledge the writers that help them in their writer's journey. I'm more than happy to participate. I have found this writing community so supportive, and I have learned so much from so many of you.

So today I want to give a hug and a shout out to a select few who really make my writing adventure worthwhile.

Anita Laydon Miller - I can't remember how I found Anita's blog, but once I started following her, I found her posts to be so intelligent and funny, and now I consider her a good friend. Anita shares book reviews, funny anecdotes, her MFA journey, and more on her blog. She is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency. Anita critiques my writing, leaves sarcastic comments, and brightens my day. Thank you, Anita!

Sharon Mayhew - Sharon is my behind the scenes cheerleader. I think we met during Mother Reader's Comment Challenge last year. Sharon is so generous with sharing writing information with her fellow writers through emails or on her blog. She was my first Skype partner. She sends me encouraging emails, helps critique my writing, and one day we are sure to meet in person as she lives one state away. Thank you, Sharon!

Tina Laurel Lee (along with Jon, Heather, Marisa and company at The Practice Room) - Tina created The Practice Room for writers to spend an hour writing and reconvene in a chat room to talk about what was accomplished. I love it! Not only does it help me set a goal for the day, but I love the support (and giggles) I get in the chat room. Check The Practice Room out sometime. It's a treat! Not only is she the boss lady at TPR, but she did a fab critique for me on my latest middle grade. Thank you, Tina!

There are so many more people that have helped me with their writing tips, encouragement, comments, prizes. I could seriously list 100. Who gives out more advice than Elana? Who has awesome agent contests but Shelli? Who gives out more books than anyone I know plus makes cool vlogs but Carol? Not to mention the WriteOnCon ladies who set up such informative chats and conferences. Angela at The Bookshelf Muse gives us a handy thesaurus. Casey at Literary Rambles makes it so much easier to research agents. Lola and Candyland share my love of rock 'n' roll (and now Candace has an agent! Woo Hoo!). Suzanne gives us a question each day to think about. There are my first friends in the blogging world: Rena, Kim, Sam, Christy. My best friend, Becky, who shares my love of writing, plus takes me to her lakehouse for writing retreats. My local critique group (Ann, Cathy, Angela) and Mark One Page At A Time online group (Hema, Sharon, Yaya, Laura ). I want to list so many more, but if you stopped by today to read this, please know that I am thankful for you. I sincerely am.

Yes, as goofy as it is, I found that you can develop true friendship on the internet. My blogger/writer friends ROCK!

Who helps you on your writing journey? Look for other Pay It Forward posts by other writers all week long!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This and That Thursday


Life is flying by way too fast. I swear I just wrote a This and That Thursday, and here it is again.

My sixth grade son was in the 6th-8th grade spelling bee last week. I'm so proud of him. He was knocked out with the word sashay. He spelled it sachet. Another friend's son at a junior high school in another town also missed sashay, too! Of course now that word is frequently used in this house.

My third grader won her class spelling bee and will be competing in her grade's spelling bee next month. She was so excited to tell us, especially after seeing her big brother compete.

So I will have my kids edit my manuscript for spelling errors. Cheap labor! I will pay them in Skittles! One candy per error. That's fair, right? And if I'm a good speller, not too many cavities will come from this.

I can't leave my little guy out. My kindergartener can spell fun. As in how do you spell Xbox Batman Lego game? F-U-N! Yes, he says this about everything...

1. Just about done with the revisions of my middle grade. Almost there...

2. I've been to The Practice Room a few times in the last few weeks. You go to the blog at a scheduled time (see blog for the weekly schedule), set your goal, write (or revise or whatever), then meet up and chat about your writing (and other inane things). It's very motivating, and having writers that get you and support you makes it even more worthwhile and fun.

3. I also started a writing project with Jon Arntson that I'm excited about. It will be good to have someone to set goals and stay focused with.

4. I participated in another wonderful WriteOnCon chat on Monday with the lovely agents of Pippin. These chats are so informative! Follow the WriteOnCon blog so you know when the next event pops up!

5. I receive Possession author, Elana Johnson's email newsletter. (Do you? You should.) I discovered that she offers her fabulous From Query to the Call e-book for FREE on her website. It's so amazing and helpful just as Elana is so amazing and helpful. Thanks, Elana!

6. I recently signed up to participate in the the second annual PICTURE BOOK MARATHON—a sort of NaNoWriMo for picture book writers.

"Participants write 26 picture books during the month. Since February has 28 days, this leaves two well-deserved rest days. Marathon "training" emails will start in mid-January for those who sign up. There is no cost to join, your email won't be shared with anyone, and you don't post your work. The marathon is simply a motivational tool to jumpstart your writing. Visit for more details and to sign up. The deadline to join is January 30."

I realize I won't actually write 26. But it will motivate me to write several rough drafts. I miss writing picture books, so this will be a great jumpstart for me to brainstorm ideas and play with my long picture book idea list I already have.
Are any of you participating?

Thank you to Dezmond at Hollywood Spy for awarding me the Heart Award at his fabulous awards party. Dezz just had his 300,000th visitor!

Thank you to Patricia Timms for awarding me the Life Is Good award. Indeed it is.

Thank you to Christy at Christy's Creative Space for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award! Which seems ironic as I type this in my mismatched jammies with a sweatshirt on top.
For both awards, I was supposed to write things about myself, but I think this post is already too long, so I will give you this 2008 post with random facts about me.

And a THANK YOU to Shelley at Storyqueen's Castle. I won her book Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace at her blog last week. I can't wait to read it!!
Also go to Candyland and check out her sidebar. Do it!


1. Shelli at Market My Words is having a Pay It Forward contest. Check this post for details. Shelli is giving away query critiques plus a chance for her to recommend one lucky writer to her agent! Look for special Pay It Forward posts on Monday to celebrate writers who help fellow writers!

2. Carolina Valdez Miller is giving away a signed copy of XVI! Contest ends today!!! Carol is also giving away a signed copy of The Liar Society by the Roeker sisters!!!!!!!!!!!! That gal is sure generous! That giveaway ends Feb. 3.

3. Wendy at Musings from Down Under is having her first blog contest! Guess her middle name by tomorrow to win!

4. Lydia at The Word is My Oyster is giving away chicken pox or a gift card! Her contest ends February 4!

So, do you want some snoo?
What? What's snoo?
Nothin'. What's snoo with you? Seriously, tell me. What's new with you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest

You all know how much I love music. Today Cassastar author Alex Cavanaugh is hosting a Top Ten Songs blogfest. Head to his blog to check out more lists! There are so many different genres of music, so many talented musicians, I am certain no list will be the same. I'm excited to check everyone's out.

I tell you, it was tough to choose only ten of my top ten songs of all time. They may not be the best songs ever written; most have not won Grammy awards, but these are songs that I can listen to over and over again without getting sick of them.

Honorable Mentions: Again, it was so hard to narrow these down so here are a few more: "Tyler" by The Toadies, "Black Heart Inertia" by Incubus, "Everything" by Buckcherry, "In My Life" by the Beatles, "Send the Pain Below" by Chevelle, "Careless Memories" by Duran Duran. C'mon this was tough for me!

Here are MY TOP TEN songs with a pic of the band taken by me (or of me) at a concert. I also added the first line of the song. Thanks for coming by and rockin' it with me!

Photobucket"Semi Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind - catchiest song ever
I'm packed and I'm holding,
I'm smiling, she's living, she's golden and
she lives for me, She says she lives for me,

"Rest in Pieces" by Saliva - beautiful rock song
Look at me, my depth perception must be off again
Cause this hurts deeper than I thought it did
It has not healed with time

Photobucket"Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns N Roses - great guitar riff, classic song of my youth
She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky

"Wild Side" by Motley Crue - torn between this and Crue's "Afraid", but this won because it's good ole classic rock 'n' roll
Kneel down ye sinners, to
Streetwise religion
Greed's been crowned the new King"

"The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars - Love Jared's vocals
What if I wanted to break
Laugh it all off in your face
What would you do?

Photobucket"Somebody Told Me" by the Killers - Great danceable, catchy song
Breaking my back just to know your name
Seventeen tracks and I've had it with this game

"Famous Last Words" by My Chemical Romance - I just love it. Probably my favorite song to sing along to.
Now I know, that I can't make you stay.
But where's your heart?

"To Be Loved" by Papa Roach - My favorite song to scream to and jump up and down to at a concert
Listen up, turn it up and rock it out.
Party on, I wanna hear you scream and shout.

"All My Life" by Foo Fighters - Love the beginning and when it gets frantic
All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes, never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies, but I’m getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope.

"Unholy Confessions" by Avenged Sevenfold - Best beginning guitar riff ever. Most excellent drums and guitar on any song.
"Why try," she said as she walked away.
Tried not to lose you.
Two vibrant hearts could change.

What is your favorite song of all time?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This and That Thursday

My family of five attended the Wisconsin/Illinois college basketball game last weekend. It was the first collegiate ball game for the kids. They were amazed at how big the Kohl Center was, plus they loved all the excitement (and snacks). I went to the University of Illinois, so I was a minority in the crowd in orange. I told the kids I didn't care if they rooted for the Badgers as we will be living in Wisconsin sometime this year. So my youngest stayed loyal to his mom in blue and orange, and the older two sported new red Badger wear for the game. We don't care if they wear red, but they will never wear green and yellow. Go Bears on Sunday!

I'm happily in the final stages of revision of my middle grade. I had fabulous suggestions from my reader friends, and the manuscript is better than ever!

Congrats to my mystery friend from two weeks ago, Samantha Verant! Sam is now represented by Stephanie DeVita of Dystel & Goderich! Félicitations, Samantha! Please go congratulate her at her Life, Love, and Living in France blog!
C. Lee McKenzie's second book, The Princess of Las Pulgas was released in December. Congrats, Lee! If you are in Cali, she is having a book signing today at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto!


Theresa at Substitute Teacher's Saga is having a Four Hundred Follower Fiesta! Fab prizes include a query critique and books! Check it out!

Larissa is giving away some amazing books including Carrie Ryan's newest! Stop by Larissa's World to enter!
Have a fabulous day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globe Wrap Up

Yes, it's that time again. Time for actors and actors to get dressed up, have a few cocktails, and pat each other on the back. Ricky Gervais served as the wickedly sarcastic and funny host of the glamorous evening.

For a complete list of last night's winners, check here (who do I look like, Ryan Seacrest? C'mon! I'm about one foot taller than him)

And my usual

1. Was that a fake, angry smile from Johnny Depp after Ricky blasted The Tourist? But still a handsome, angry smile.

2. Not loving Scarlett Johannsen's odd hairdo...nor Christian Bale's long, shaggy do.

3. Katey Sagal so does not look like Peg Bundy anymore! (but Ed O'Neill kinda still looks like Al...still love him on Modern Family though!)

4. So sweet that Lea Michele is weeping for joy for Glee winner Chris Colfer.

5. Michelle Pfeiffer is a timeless beauty.

6. Whoops! Pretty dress, Eva, but looks hard to walk in.

7. Steve Buscemi is a darn good actor, but man he's kinda creeeeeepy.

8. Toy Story 3 FTW!

9. Who else thinks that Emma Stone is adorable? And she looks cute as a blonde or brunette.

10. Who's the cowgirl who won't let go of Claire Danes? And while I'm talking about Danes, Claire gets on my nerves.

11. Okay, now I feel bad. The cowgirl is amazing autistic scientist, Temple Grandin, who HBO created a movie about. Hey! I didn't know!

12. Steve Carell always cracks me up. So does Tina Fey who said when presenting awards to writers, "Screenplays we would have written...if we had the time."

13. I love that Sofia Vergara clapped excitedly when her name was called as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (for Modern Family, one of my fave shows!).

14. Love Vanessa William's earrings!

15. Awwww, Natalie Portman's sporting a baby bump...and a Bump-It in her hair?
And my 11 year old son says, "Glad someone from Star Wars won!" I told him that she was pregnant with Luke and Leia.

16. Michael Douglas looks great after his battle with cancer. He quipped,"There's gotta be an easier way to get a standing ovation."

Olivia Wilde looked absolutely stunning in her sparkly dress. She makes me want to try wearing my hair in bangs yet again.
I also liked Susanne Bier's, director of Best Foreign Film, simple, yet lovely white dress. Her necklace was just the right accessory, too.

And winners of showing their Golden Globes at the Golden Globes: Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Love Hewitt and January Jones.

Did anyone else watch the show? Whaddya think?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Party at Dezz's!

I'm fashionably late as usual. But please stop and visit Dezmond at his fabulous Hollywood Spy blog for the awards party! I'm heading there now! Should I start with a champagne or head straight for the hors doevres? Better get there soon, because Matthew is sure to be shirtless after a few brewskies.

Click HERE to PARTY!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What the Ophiuchus is Going on with the Zodiac?

The internet is abuzz with the recent changes in the zodiac. According to the media, a 13th sign, Ophiuchus, has been added that changes the dates of the astrology signs. Read more here.

I don't read my horoscope anymore, but I do believe I share many traits of the general characteristics for Cancer the Crab. Homebody? Check. Emotional? Check. Nurturing? Check. Protective of family? Big check. Strong willed? Check. Persistent? Check. Romantic? Okay, not really...but the majority of the traits I do identify with.

When I was young, I was very into astrology. I bought mini monthly horoscopes that were wrapped in a tube for 50 cents at Zayre. In junior high, my two best friends and I bought baseball t-shirts with our astrology sign on the front and our name in fuzzy letters on the back (which resulted in a fight with them because they made fun of my growing assets which seemed to be accentuated by the two squares on each side of the central iron on. I ended up walking home from our sleepover very ticked off one evening - but no worries, we are all still best friends to this day). I also did a major 8th grade presentation and report on astrology (I got an A).

Here are the alleged new dates. Did yours change?

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

So needless to say, I am interested in this new development. According to the new calendar, I am no longer a Cancer, but a Gemini. I seriously have a Cancer the crab Christmas ornament (I also bought my two besties a zodiac ornament as well) and two tshirts with the sign of the Crab on them. Do I need to donate them now? I also realized that all three of my children are now Leos. Should be get a pet lion? What about the poor blokes who have zodiac tattoos?! Now do I have to change my main character's sign in my manuscript? She was a Capricorn!

National and local news media are reporting about this new change, but reports that it's hogwash.

What do you think about these reports? Me? I'm happy to remain a Cancer the crab. My "new" sign, Gemini says I'm adaptable. Apparently I don't want to adapt to my new sign. But does it really matter? No, I'm not going to lose sleep over this, but I am intrigued.

Did your sign change? What are your thoughts?

One more thing, if you visit any more blogs today, please visit Carol's. Watch her inspiring, creative video HERE on how to live a Kick Ass Life. Thanks, Carol. You make me want to be a better person, and you make me want to go to a 30 Seconds to Mars concert with you.
Have a fab weekend, all!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For Crying Out Loud!

Are you a crybaby? Do you cry at Hallmark commercials? Love songs? Rom-com movies?

I'm usually not a sap. I did cry easily as a child (and was teased by my sister "B-A, B-A, B-A-B-Y!"). I cry when I'm stressed. I cry when I'm proud of my children. But it takes a lot to make me cry in a book or movie.

As a writer (or director or songwriter), you want the reader to connect emotionally with the characters. You want them to empathize with them, you want them to feel what they are feeling.

Let's explore what moments do make a reader snivel: death, the emotional bond between parent and child, heartbreak over a lost love, an important accomplished goal, a disappointment. Do you have any more to add?
Now let's explore specific movies, books, or songs that made us reach for the Kleenex and/or curl up in the fetal position.

I'll go first.

It takes a lot to make me cry in a book. Here's a few that I can remember. I probably have cried a few more times than this, but this is all I can remember!

1. The very end of the first chapter of Hunger Games when a certain someone was selected.

2. When my favorite character died in Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows.

3. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein has gotten me emotional too thinking about the sacrifices a parent makes for each child. Okay, I'm sentimental sometimes!

I think I cry more easily in movies or TV than books because I'm a visual person. But even so, the book is always better than the movie.
My family teases my sister because she's cried at every Twilight movie. Every time we watch a movie with her, my kids ask her, "Are you crying, Denise?!"
Now that I'm making a list, I can't think of too many movies, probably because I usually watch comedies!

1. Despicable Me - yes, I teared up a little at the end.

2. The Blind Side - what a feel good movie mixed with a few tears

3. Marley and Me - I watched it about five months after my dog had died. :(

4. Saving Private Ryan - Just wow. How could you not feel something?

5. Steel Magnolias - And this was before I had my own daughter with kidney problems.


1. I just cried last week at the episode of How I Met Your Mother. I watch that show because it makes me laugh, but I definitely cried last Monday due to the unexpected death of a character.

2. I cried at an episode of Young and the Restless when a teenager that was a main character died in a car crash. I sobbed! It's every parent's worst nightmare.

3. When I was pregnant with each child, I'd watch A Baby Story on TLC. I bawled and bawled at the end of each show when the baby was born. Every time!

4. This probably doesn't count, but The Soup and Tosh.0 occasionally make me laugh so hard that I'm crying. Seriously!

Hardly any songs make me cry, but these do.

1. "Tears from Heaven" by Eric Clapton. I even cried as a teenager hearing this song and realizing what it was about.

2. "Daniel" by Elton John. My husband's uncle Danny died trying to save a coworker's life. This beautiful song was played at his funeral. I tear up whenever I hear it. My youngest son's middle name is named after Uncle Danny.

3. "Fiction" by Avenged Sevenfold. I don't cry when I hear this song, but I feel like I want to. It has a beautiful, haunting piano introduction, and it is the last album that the Avenged drummer, The Rev, contributed to before he died. In this song, he eerily sings, "I know you'll find your own way, when I'm not with you." Every time I hear this, a wave of sadness comes over me.

What books, movies, or songs make you weepy?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This and That Thursday

I have had a sore throat and have been feeling blah the last couple of days so not as much productivity as I would have liked. Boo hoo. I hope to feel better soon because Friday night my family is celebrating! My sister, Denise, is being inducted into our high school's Sports Hall of Fame. Congrats, Denise! That girl is not only nice, smart, and beautiful, but a great athlete too! And while I'm talking about her, her company VaVaVroom is having a HUGE sale. Check it out here.

I am revisiting the first chapter of Rock 'n' Roll Princesses Wear Black. I'm excited for my "Nailing Your First Chapter" webinar with agent Mark McVeigh through YALitChat on Saturday!
1. You all may know that Carrie Harris's debut novel, Bad Taste in Boys (I already have some signed bookmarks, yo) comes out this year. Well, this funny gal just sold TWO more books to Delacourte! Bad Hair Day comes out in 2012 and an undetermined (but I'm predicting hilarious and supernatural) book comes out the next year. CONGRATS, CARRIE!

2. Plus, another blogger that makes me giggle, Ellen Oh, snagged a three book deal with Prophecy: The Dragon King Chronicles. CONGRATS, ELLO!

3. Another friend has some fab news as well, but not official yet, so I'm saying a secret congrats to her!

1. Stop by Heather Kelly's blog tomorrow for an interview with Terry Lynn Johnson and a chance to win her new book, Dogsled Dreams. Congrats, Terry!

2. Today starts Mother Reader's Comment Challenge. I met so many fab people through this challenge last year plus I won a prize. Go to Mother Reader's blog or Lee Wind's blog to join in on the fun! I'm looking forward to visiting some new blogs through this challenge.
3. Go to Keri Mikulski's blog and wish her a Happy Book Birthday! Her book, Head Games, was released this week! Hurray for sporty girls!

I've been listening to a lot of Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry lately. Next concert is Buckcherry next month!

And hey, you! Yeah, that fabulous person that stopped by my blog today. Yes, I am talking to you. You have yourself an amazing day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 by the Numbers

2010 was a great year for music, literature, and TV. Here's my take on the year.

28+ MG, YA or adult fiction books read:
BEST: Hunger Games trilogy (hard to choose; I read so many great books this year!)

Here is my incomplete list
(Note to self: start a word document in January and add books as you read them.)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Brixton Brothers The Case of the Case by Mac Barnett
Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvator
Beautiful Creatures
Dead Tossed Waves
by Carrie Ryan
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Ramona Quimby Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Frindle, The Janitor's Boy, The Report Card, and Lost and Found by Andrew Clements
by Maggie Stiefvator
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton
Fat Vampire by Adam Rex
Scholastic Candy Apple middle grade series (Miss Popularity, How To Be a Girly Girl in Just Ten Days, The Boy Next Door, The Accidental Cheerleader)
Allie Finkle’s Rules For Girls: Moving Day and The New Girl by Meg Cabot
Late, Late at Night by Rick Springfield
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green


4 In theater (Avatar, Despicable Me, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, Gulliver's Travels)

14+ on DVD
BEST: The Blind Side

8 TV SHOWS DVRed per week
BEST: True Blood
The Soup, True Blood, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives, Tosh.0, Community, The Young and the Restless (Though many of these I catch up on episodes in the summer, and I watch Y&R maybe once every few weeks)


BEST: Rockstar Uproar (my son's first concert) and MCR and 30stm (actually all concerts were awesome, but most special is definitely the one with my son!)

JET, 30 Seconds to Mars/Neon Trees, Q101 Jamboree (Janus, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Seether, Three Days Grace), Papa Roach, Rockstar Uproar (Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, New Medicine), Papa Roach, Billy Idol/Slash, My Chemical Romance


Biggest number of hits: How Writing is Like Dancing and Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest


Honorable mention pop song: "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz

10. "Welcome to the Family" by Avenged Sevenfold

9. "All Night Long" by Buckcherry

8. "Your Betrayal" by Bullet for My Valentine

7. "Laid" by New Medicine

6. "Animal" by Neon Trees

5. "Nightmare" by Avenged Sevenfold

4. "Closer to the Edge" by 30 Seconds to Mars

3. "Say You'll Haunt Me" by Stone Sour

2. "Na Na Na" by My Chemical Romance

1. "Kick in the Teeth" by Papa Roach

What was your favorite book, TV show, movie, and song of the year?

Today's Tune for Tuesday, my number 5 pick for the year by A7X (PG13 vid):