Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Dig Reading Challenge: March Update

I am loving this challenge more and more each month.

The only problem: my desire to give is still greater than my actual budget.

I over-gave this month, and that probably won't surprise anyone, considering recent world events.

I meant to "catch-up" with New Zealand in March, and then the events happened in Japan. I also wanted to support a friend raising money for MS, which is really important to me personally.

So... I knew I would give more than prescribed by the rules of my own challenge.

Then, when filling out the form at the Americares site, I thought I put in "$30.00" and somehow when I clicked send it came out as "$100.00".

After a BIG GULP I thought, while it was more than I planned to give, I could never begrudge the Japanese people this donation.

It is likely that I will be TOTALLY BROKE this summer (as a teacher I don't get paid in the summer. YIKES!).

With that in mind, I will bank some of these and use them in the summer months as I need them to meet my challenge.

What did I read this month?
What my Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Wake by Lisa McMann
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A Killing Frost by John Marsden
Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
The Time Machine by HG Wells

Who am I giving to and how much?
By my own contest rules, that would merit a $40.00 donation for the month. 

What did I give:
$50.00 to the Crimmins family's MS walk (here's the National Multiple Sclerosis Society page)
$30.00 to New Zealand Earthquake Relief via the Red Cross
and $100.00 to Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Relief via Americares (which has a 5-star charity navigator rating)

So, I actually gave $180.00 this month.

But please, understand, this is WAY out of my budget. I am BANKING the extra $140.00 to cover me over the summer when my checking account hovers around 0.

So, what about you, did you join the challenge?

What did you read this month and what did you choose to give? To whom did you give it?

You can join the challenge at any point in the year.

Happy READING and Happy GIVING!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When I Actually Write A Book, You Will Be Acknowledged

 Brought to us by the lovely Blue Lipstick Samurai

Write an acknowledgment blurb for 12 people, with 12 reasons. But not just ANY twelve people:
  • 3 people you know IRL.
  • 3 people you know online.
  • 1 person who has died.
  • 1 person you never met.
  • 1 person you met once.
  • 1 couple (so, 2 people).
  • 1 author. 

    For everything: Mike, James, and Willy.
    For being nice to me when I was a newbie: Glenna, Erinn, and Holly.
    For being totally unconventional: the late Emma Wainer.
    For loving insects as much as I do: E.O. Wilson.
    For helping with my luggage so I didn't miss the "T": anonymous guy in Boston in 1993.
    For not being like the parents in YA books: mom and dad.
    and for thinking outside the box: Theodor Geisel. I have been reading your books in awe since 1974.

    Check out Glenna's blog to see the rest of the entries, or post one yourself!

Monday, March 28, 2011

When is real not enough?

Something struck me as I was reading through feedback on my WIP over the last months.

In the text there were two things that happened that were taken pretty closely from real life. Events that were unique (maybe even offbeat), but because I knew them to be real I felt confident about weaving them into my story. That being said, neither was very likely in real life (one involved a roundabout explanation for why my MC had no driver's license, the other involved a person telling a family member that they would haunt them under certain conditions).

To me they seemed plausible, but only because in my mind they were based on real events.

In both cases I got feedback from readers that they came off as implausible, impractical, even unrealistic.

It got me to thinking about when things feel "true" in books. That essential element of storytelling that either makes you nod and read on, or roll your eyes and mutter "seriously?" It reminded me of the principle of Occam's Razor: that all other things being equal, the simplest explanation is the one you should take.

I realized through this process that even if elements came from reality, it didn't necessarily make them plausible for a reader. It was definitely one of those cool "aha" moments in writing.

So, have you experienced something similar?

How do you judge an event in your story, to ensure it feels real to the reader? 

What "aha" writing moments have you had lately?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Survey you will love

Do you follow Claire over at Points of Claire-ification?

She has a great blog that, among other things, follows her life as a writer and reader, and as a Barbadian (the web says you call someone from Barbados a Bajan? Help me, Claire, I am ignorant!) living in Japan.

She is collecting information to build an ultimate list of "the 100 books every writer should read".

As a social scientist, I love data. I feel like it's good data karma for me to take part in surveys and such when I see them-- but I'm doing this strictly as a writer. I have seen Must Read book lists on the web, and I am always a little disappointed. Sometimes they seem composed only of "the classics" (which can differ by country), or the biggest sellers.

I would LOVE to see what WRITERS say are the best 100 books, particularly writers of YA.

So, Visit her Site, and sign up to submit your 100 favorite books by email (directions on the post). She is giving away a few prizes to participants.

She wants 1000 participants. Whew-- that is a herculean task, but wouldn't it be great to see the results?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What a week

Thanks everyone for the support last week. It is truly appreciated.

I wanted to let you know about this fab little blogfest on the horizon!

March 30th, Save the Date for the

When I Actually Write A Book, You Will Be Acknowledged Blogfest

write an acknowledgment blurb for 12 people, with 12 reasons. But not just ANY twelve people:
  • 3 people you know IRL.
  • 3 people you know online.
  • 1 person who has died.
  • 1 person you never met.
  • 1 person you met once.
  • 1 couple (so, 2 people).
  • 1 author.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Ever have one of those weeks?

It's that point in the semester... it happens at least twice a year... when things go into blur mode.

Please forgive my lack of web presence. I am a bad Blogger and an even worse Follower this week.

I'm really gonna get it all together, soon. I promise!

Organize my closets, invent a day with longer hours, train my body to sleep less, potty train my child, attend a parent-teacher conference, walk the dog, finish all my work, get ahead with work, actually finish editing my novel, and, well, you know... whatever else ends up on my to do list.

So enjoy this in my absence.

What did we do before the internet?

Monday, March 21, 2011

More reviews (What my mother doesn't know)

What my mother doesn't know, by Sonya Sones

What a sweet and darling book. At just under 19,000 words this story, told in verse, never feels slight.

Sophie tells us about her life as a ninth-grader. We observe as she looks for love, falls in and out of it, and has near-misses with things that aren't love at all.

We watch as she grows into herself a little, starts to see herself as an individual instead of just the product of her friends or family.

I enjoyed it-- and I will read more from Sonya Sones.

I recommend this book.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A week of reviews day five (wake)

Wake by Lisa McMann

Janie gets sucked into dreams. If someone is near her, and they fall asleep, she is pulled in and observes the dream. She feels it, whether she wants to or not-- scary, sad, or funny. She dreams with you.

As super powers go, this probably wouldn't make my list. After reading this book...definitely not.

Give me the ability to fly any day. I don't want to be in people's dreams.

Janie has a hard life. Her mom is an alcoholic with very few moments of warmth toward her. Her father is absent. She is dirt-poor. Money doesn't solve problems, but not having adequate clothes and things can make life harder for a teenager. Despite everything stacked against her, Janie keeps trudging through life.

The book is not sunny. It's gritty. Janie is really trapped by her "power" if you will. It takes her a long time to work to control it in various ways. Even when she works hard and has good things happen to her in life, I found myself worrying about her.

I thought the love story was real and sweet in its own way. I felt myself taking on the persona of Janie, though, I worried about her trusting anyone. She'd gotten a raw deal so often, I was petrified every time she opened herself up.

There were some funny moments as Janie experiences the dreams of her teenage colleagues-- the falling dreams, the naked in front of the class dreams. There are also some poignant dreams at the nursing home where she works. Janie did not get sucked into my personal recurring dream: where all my teeth fall out. Ugh. I hate that one.

But what a fascinating premise. It has a GREAT potential for mysteries and intrigue. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the books are all about.

I recommend this book.

Interesting trivia-- I check book lengths sometimes, and this one was 36,700 words. What do you think of that?

Do you have a recurring dream?

Did you read Wake? What did you think of it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

A week of reviews day four (13 reasons why)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Hannah is dead. Nobody understands why. Then the tapes arrive. Clay starts to listen to them. Hannah's voice explains, on thirteen sides, why. The thirteen people that brought her to this place. The role Clay played.

It is really hard for me to read about or talk about suicide. I don't imagine it's easy for anyone, but I have my own reasons for treating that subject in a special way.

For keeping it at a distance.

This book was difficult for me, because I worried about the way Asher would treat it. I didn't think he'd be light about it, but I worried he'd kind of go through the paces and then be trite about it.

I'm the type of person that watches a teen movie-- you know the ones with the big party scene. It's fun. Lots of laughs. Everyone's excited and psyched about this awesome party- WOOT- and all I can think about is: "who is going to clean this place up when the party is over". I have trouble NOT thinking about the consequences. I have trouble not thinking about the people off-screen and how the events are going to impact them.  

 I didn't warm to this book until the very end. I just can't read about suicide without wishing the whole time that things are going to change. That it's going to work out. That it won't happen.

But that's not reality. That didn't happen here, but I think in writing about this topic-- and by exploring what brought this character to this place in her life, Asher takes on a whole host of issues. He shines a light on things like reputation. About how we let rumors influence how we treat people. How we shy away from the issues that aren't pretty. On how we avoid unpleasantness. On the idea that one little act can lead to another little act, which can influence another little moment.

I think he does it well. He does it carefully.

I hope it works like a beacon to any kids who are going through the things Hannah is dealing with. And I hope it leads them away from her fate.

I recommend this book.

Have you read it? What did you think? 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A week of reviews day three (John Marsden Fest)

Now a duo from John Marsden. Books two and three in the Tomorrow, When the War Began series.
The Dead of Night and A Killing Frost

 The basic premise: a group of Australian teens go camping. While they are away, their country is invaded by an army. The kids are at first shocked but eventually begin carrying out guerrilla warfare against the invaders. Don't forget, they're also still teenagers. They continue to deal with some of the stress, emotion, and drama of teenage life. Our narrator is Ellie, who not only relates what they're doing, but also catalogs the way their new life is changing them. She questions whether they can ever be innocent, child-like, again -- or if this is all in the past.

I am so loving this series, and I get why it is popular. Marsden is great at direct storytelling, lots of action, riveting experience, but also really exploring how the world has changed for Ellie and her friends. He is deft at portraying the subtle ways they are changing-- in some ways maturing, and in other ways hardening.

In both these books the kids finally run into another group. Once it happened I realized I'd been gunning for them to find someone else-- to find some adults, to have people to commiserate with, to find some solidarity. It's an experience I was longing for, for them, but what Marsden does with it is just incredible. He turns this longing on its head in a really incredible way. The portrayal of this other group Harvey's Heroes, particularly their leader, focuses on core issues of good and evil. Whether this is black and white, as they've all been taught, or whether in reality it's much more subtle.

By finally taking them out of their group you see just how fortunate they have been, how special their little group is.

Marsden keeps the action coming in these books, but he also explores deeper questions, about freedom, control, power, and community.

I highly recommend these books. This is a series of seven, and I'm looking forward to reading them all.  They are quick and exciting reads. Check them out.

What about you? Have you read them? What did you think? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Writing in Real Life

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's question: Who (from real life) have you written into a book?

This is a tricky one, because I try not to write people exactly from real life. I want my books to be read by the masses, and I never want to feel embarrassed that so-and-so realizes it's them. That's just awkward.

I also believe real life is never as interesting as fiction, and I think the same is true of characters. I do, however, take the essence of people and try to infuse them in my characters.

So, for example, I draw from my own experience to model my MC Bea from The Insect Collector.

I use all of my greatest and best friends to create a composite that is her closest friend, Maggie.

But... If you want to know a little secret, I met a person last year who I thought was a real slimeball. It was for an event and he was the guest speaker. He spoke eloquently and on interesting topics, but the moment his speaking time ended he became rude and unfriendly. He's one of those people that (no matter how he/she looks) becomes ugly before your eyes because of the way they treat people.

I spent most of the event,
a) wishing I was somewhere else, and
b) morphing him into my villain for The Insect Collector books.

When do I include a character from real life? Only when necessitated by the most honorable forms of revenge. 

Visit the Highway to see how others responded!

Check out Carolina Valdez Miller, celebrating getting an agent with style.

On a serious note, the writing community is responding to the disaster in Japan. Visit the Write Hope site!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A week of reviews day two (Prisoner in the Palace)

Prisoners in the Palace: how princess Victoria became Queen with the help of her maid, a reporter, and a scoundrel by Michaela MacColl

I liked this book. I really did. Unfortunately for the book, I watched the film Young Victoria about a month ago. Just weeks ago I was so clueless about Victoria's life that I would have found this story riveting. Having just seen the film that follows the same period of time, the thunder was stolen a little from the book.

It's a shame.

If I'd realized it, I would have read the book first, and then watched the film.
The books covers Victoria from 17 until 18. The film goes from the 17-year old Victoria until about age 20.

If you haven't seen/read either, do read the book first and then see the film. I think you'll enjoy them both.

So, I knew what was coming, which took a little steam away from the book. That being said, I really liked the book.

It is a fictionalized version of the early events in Victoria's life-- and she led a fascinating life. She was in line to become Queen after her Uncle, the King (her father died when she was a child). She was raised by her mother, who in turn was controlled in many ways by Sir John Conroy-- a real-life villain.We get an inside view of the events through the eyes of Eliza-- a girl who is on the cusp of merchant class/upper class when her parents are killed tragically. With few prospects Eliza changes course, gives up her dreams of marrying as a lady, and goes with the next best option: working as a ladies maid for the Queen. She's actually quite lucky to get such an opportunity. Through Eliza we get to experience this year in Victoria's life.

Of course we know Victoria for what she became-- we know she was a successful Queen who grew the British Empire in an incredible way. The glorification of that empire is debatable, and personally I feel that a lot of the problems around the world today are the direct result of Colonialism.The entire continent of Africa continues to suffer the repercussions of decades of colonial-era extraction.

Regardless, she is considered a success story, and by the rules of the day built the empire in an important and enviable way.

It is amazing to recognize who she became as compared to the way she was raised.

I thought the book was well-researched, and an interesting way to take that story and turn it into a YA novel. But for me the luster of the book was stolen a bit because I knew too much about how it would all turn out. I have read and enjoyed Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries, and I found myself comparing this to those books. This book didn't quite have the zazz of a Sally mystery, but again, I think knowing the ending really took away from the story for me.

I am also still really curious (after both the film and the book) about Victoria's childhood. I would love to know more about how that shaped who she became.

Have you read it? What did you think? Did you see Young Victoria?

Any opinions on colonialism or Victoria in general?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Break: A week of reviews (Never Let Me Go)

It's my spring break, which means TIME. Time to write. Time to work. Time when the kids are in school and I am not. Time. The thing I never have enough of.

In honor of the occasion, I'm enjoying a laid back week of posting: sharing reviews of books I've read in March.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

At first you think Tommy, Kath, and Ruth are sort-of typical kids at a British boarding school. That they're going to be dealing with some interesting, but not completely unique, coming-of-age-type story.

Then Ishiguro drops a hint here.

He whispers a little something there.

He lets you know that what is happening is not typical.

Tommy, Kath, Ruth, and all the other students are not normal. They're different. There is something special about them. Something they are designed for.

Something they become. Something they complete.

I don't want to spoil it.

But it's a lovely, sad, and heart-breaking book.

You are with them as they figure it out. As they realize they always knew it. You watch as they accept it.

Ishiguro approaches a lot of interesting questions about morals, ethics, technology, and science. At the same time, it's a book about adolescence. About how adolescents treat each other in the more human and cruel ways.

In this way, Tommy, Kath, and Ruth are completely normal.

It's a slow and quiet story, but packs a punch under the surface. I was mesmerized by the way Ishiguro reveals the story to us in pieces. As Kathy narrates she links her stream of conscious thought to different events, pulling the veil back a millimeter at a time, until you accept their fate just as they do.

I highly recommend this book.

Have you read it?  Have you seen the movie?

What did you think?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We be illin'

I wanted to thank everyone for all the great comments you posted last week. I felt bad that I was unable to keep up with replying.

My husband came down with the flu about 15 days ago. Last Sunday night I started to get feverish and achy. Neither of us had opted for flu shots this year, which I thoroughly regret now.

His turned into bronchitis and mine into a sinus infection. oh Joy! I haven't felt this run-down in a long time. I can't remember the last time I had a fever.

Thankfully the kids are not sick, and I'm hoping desperately that they will not get sick. They both have had a flu shot, so I feel mildly confident.

The point is, because I write and schedule posts in advance, my posts kept popping up even though I was barely functioning. So when it came to replying to comments, I was simply incapacitated. The good news: I was able to read a little, and have many reviews to share next week.

I wish you all good health and a great week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Bucket List Blogfest

In this blogfest, Mo asks us to share a few items from our respective bucket lists.

Here are five items from my most current bucket list.

-See a baobab tree in Africa.  
I studied the baobab, Adansonia digitata, for years but have never seen it in what I consider its true home.  My experiences with the baobab have only been in the Americas. I want to see it in its rightful place.

-get agent/sell my book
Am I right to imagine this will be on everyone's list? 

-ride cross-country by train
My first choice would be America, but I wouldn't mind any long, gorgeous train journey. This is a shot of Canada below, and I'd also take the Orient Express. 
Work on an organic farm for vacay. I'd love to do that. Especially if it was in New Zealand or Australia.

-visit Alaska with my husband, because seeing his slide show is not enough.  I mean, it's a good slide show... but it's still just a slide show.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Favorite Picture Book Blogfest

When I saw this blogfest title from the Write-at-home-mom I knew instantly what book I would choose.

It's my all time FAVORITE picture book.

It's about a bull, but also a bee.

 That's right. My favorite picture book of all time is The Story of Ferdinand. Story by Munro Leaf with drawings by Robert Lawson.

Before James was born I made small portraits of our favorite picture book characters to hang around his room. The Little House, Yertle the Turtle, Max from Where the Wild Things Are, Lowly Worm, Peter Rabbit, Madeline, and OF COURSE, Ferdinand.

This is the portrait I made for James' wall-- of my favorite scene, when he sits on the bee!

I read this to my boys all the time. It is a lovely and timeless book.

What's your favorite picture book? A classic? A new one? Or one you've written yourself?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This RTW is held in honor of Kirsten Hubbard's book release Like Mandarin. In Like Mandarin, 14-year-old Grace Carpenter would give anything to be like 17-year-old Mandarin Ramey -- the bold, carefree wild girl of their small Wyoming town. Answer this week's question about yourself in High School:

Well I was from the Brat Pack era, and so of course I wanted to be like Molly Ringwald (more so in 16 Candles, or Pretty in Pink than in Breakfast Club where she was too snooty) or like Ally Sheedy in St Elmo's Fire and War Games.

Where did they go to High School? It seemed like a million miles away from my football-obsessed small town. They were smart, creative (remember the dress Molly made in PinP), fun, and effortlessly cool. Even though they were held in contrast to the perfect-blond-cheerleader types, they still got the guys.

I so wanted to be them in high school. 

Visit the Highway to see how others responded!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tiny Punk and the MACHINE!

Here are the results of my foray into steam punk accessory creation. My earlier post is here. I was inspired by Susan Dennard's series of steam punk posts. It was a fun activity for a Saturday, but working with a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and two 5 year olds was tough. 

If you're looking for the Catch Me If You Can Blogfest, it's one post down.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blogfest: catch me if you can!

Hosted by Kristina Fugate at Kaykay's Corner.

Post the first 550 words of your WIP for critique. Leave feedback in the comments below, or (if you need more space) please feel free to email me at insectwriter(at)gmail(dot)com

This is from my WIP Swamped, a YA mystery set in Georgia with a MC who is a 17 year old boy.

*****Already made some changes based on Monday's comments******

Technically it’s not stealing. Stealing would be illegal. What we’re doing is moving things. That’s a better description. Moving items in unexpected ways. That’s all. Stealing is wrong. 
Moving is entertainment.
When the dusty red cloud builds on the road, I whistle to Kai and we both drop. I look over at Kai, who pulls his baseball cap low over his forehead, pressing his face into his chest to control the streams of laughter threatening to escape. It comes out, not like the roar it should be, but as a gush of snorts and coughs. I squash the laugh building in my own chest.
“Shut the hell up,” I whisper through my teeth. Kai grips his sides and tries to get control. Peering over the downed tree I see a truck approaching. It’s him. The truck pulls to a stop and the engine cuts off.
He’s seen it. 
An antique tractor in a field is nothing unusual. An antique tractor in a field five miles away from where you left it... well, that's something else.
A few feet from me Kai convulses in a new set of giggles. Shaking my head I curse him under my breath. He’s gonna get us busted.
The car door opens with a metallic creak and Kai becomes still. It’s quiet for a full minute. Then the farmer’s voice roars across the alfalfa field. Both our bodies startle in unison.
“I swear to God I’m gonna catch you boys one day! You’re gonna regret this!”
A wave of hot fear passes across my body. Maybe we’ve gone too far, but I don’t think so.
The farmer gets back into his truck and turns it around in angry stops and starts. He flies down the road kicking up more dust.
Kai stretches his arms above his head and yawns. “Damn I’m tired, but that was totally worth it.”
 “Let’s get out of here before he comes back.”
One sweaty and dirty hour later we make it to Kai’s grandma’s store. Kai tugs on the door, setting off the bells that hover over the frame in a jangle. A cold push of air greets us. I breathe in deeply and fall into one of the rocking chairs set up by the cash register. Kai shuffles to the cooler in the corner, pulling two ice cold cokes out. He walks over and collapses into the chair next to me. We crack our cokes open in unison, and I’m just about to take that first sip, when his Grandma pops out of the back.
“I hope you’ve got money for those.”
Kai puts the can against his mouth and starts chugging. I pull the can away, just before managing to get that first delicious sip, and push my mouth up in a smile.
“Hi Mrs. Johnson. Umm, we uh,” I nudge Kai with my elbow, “we do have the money, just not on us at this moment.”
She rolls her eyes then walks over and smacks Kai on the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper, “I’m not running a charity shop here.”
Kai pulls the can away, dazed from the rapid influx of cola, and sputters a little, “yeah, sorry Memaw, just put it on my tab.”
She taps him again on the head, making her way to the counter, “What the hell you talking about, son? You’d have to work to have a tab."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Steam Punk + Kids Teaser

Inspired by the lovely Susan Dennard (who, after seeing her website, my son James refers to as the "pretty inventor"), I embarked on a steam-punk costume-making spree last weekend.

Susan makes it look easy and very cool. She provides instructions on her site on how to make a gun, goggles, and a utility belt. Here are Susan's goggles.

See now why my son is starry-eyed over her?

Okay. So I pulled my friend Izzi and her two lovely daughters into the scheme. Izzi is the mistress of all things second-hand, and she provided lots of gee-gaws for our project.

She also has a glue gun.

When I envisioned making steam punk accessories, I guess I didn't really consider my partners in crime: a two year old, a three year old, and two five year olds.

Let's just say... it's work trying to explain one's steam punk vision to this audience.

It doesn't help when our friend Jeff spent most of the time insisting we made up this whole steam punk thing.

I had fun. I hope everyone else did, too.

I am working on a steam-punk mini-comic starring the kids. I'll post it later this week.

Thanks Susan for the inspiration! We had a lot of fun.

Here's a teaser from the comic.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bio Signs and Contests

Three quick things I just HAVE to mention.

First, two of my absolute favorite writing bloggers are having contests that are pushing-against-their-contest-seams with fabulous prizes.

Erinn celebrates Awesomeness with a $25 Amazon Gift Card, a full manuscript critique (she reads my work, and I am telling you, she is excellent), and a pre-order of Where She Went (the sequel to If I Stay by Gayle Forman).  Check it out!

The Blue Lipstick Samurai offers sweet treats, music, bookmarks, a $15 gift card, a query critique from Elana Johnson, a 15 page critique from Claudia Mills, and a surprise from Janet Reid (aka the query shark). This contest is a MUST. It ends TODAY so HURRY!!!

Second, if you are not following Angela Felsted, you are doing yourself a disservice.

She's a musician, poet, and writer. Her poetry is posted frequently-- for me it's a soothing counterpart to the usual posts everyone else (including myself) is writing.

In addition to all of that, Angela is working to construct a dictionary of bio-signs. Just the kind of uber-brainy project that a writing nerd like myself adores (and you will, too).

She catalogs bio-signs for every emotion.

For example, here are some from Fear (taken DIRECTLY from her website):

External signs
27. Flinching
28. Denying it/shaking head
29. Making demands/taking charge
30. Throws back shoulders/ puffs themselves up
31. Hair pulling
32. Fist pounding

Internal signs

13. Every muscle in your body goes stiff.
14. You stutter and trip over your words.
15. You see people’s mouths move but don’t hear them.
16. You jump with every sound or touch.
17. Your stomach sinks.
18. You want to scream.
19. You have the urge to hit something.
20. Your heart pounds in your throat.

She has dozens for each emotion and feeling, and includes (find them on her right-hand side bar):

and MANY more

Read hers, add your own, or simply soak up some inspiration!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blogfest: Gone but not forgotten

Erinn is hosting the coolest Blogfest ever. Go check it out now!

Gone but not forgotten

Post your top five TV show's no longer on the air.

What do you miss? What shows have you been hankering for long after they left that electric talking box in your living room?

1. Arrested Development. An instant classic. THE BEST cast. The FUNNIEST dialog. PRICELESS cameos. Even down to Ron Howard's narration, I loved EVERYTHING about this show, especially that circular story-telling. As I look at the cast I can't even pick a favorite. I love them all so much. Buster is nearly my top pick, but I really love them all. I could quote this show all day.

I just hope the film version lives up to my extraordinarily high expectations.

2. Lost- but not the stuff that didn't make sense, the other stuff. The first couple of seasons. I could have watched that forever, but the way it fell apart at the end just didn't satisfy me at all.I want someone to remake it now, and make it make sense this time, please.

3. My So Called Life. Oh Claire Danes. How I loved you back in the day. I wanted to be you. Well, at least, I wanted to be you in the sense that I wanted to be near Jordan Catalano. All the time. You were so angsty and fussy in your teenage glory. It was fantastic, and such a nice counterpoint to the 90201 version of life. Real characters, strong teen voices, atypical plots (remember the homeless girl, wasn't it a musician, I'm thinking Juliana Hatfield played her, but I might have dreamed that).
This is the kind of show that I think in current times people would have used media campaigns to keep afloat. Alas, you were before your time My So Called Life. And you paid heavily for it.

4. Ed. I am not even sure I saw all of these, but the ones I saw I liked. I remember trying to find more and hearing it was gone already. A real bummer. I especially loved Michael Ian Black, who I still can't get enough of. There was something about the humor on this show, and also the chemistry of the cast that made it something special.

5. Hey Arnold. This is most like my current fave kid show Phineas and Ferb. I haven't seen it in years, but at the time it just seemed smarter and better than the other shows on the air. I used to watch it with the Tyler kids all the time when babysitting. My entire philosophy for buying gifts is based on their Christmas special (it had to be somewhere around 1996-1998). It was about Arnold's grandad's neighbor, the (as I remember) Vietnamese refugee, and how Arnold drew his name in the building's secret Santa and had to figure out what this guy could possible want for Christmas. It was magical.