Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On the deck: Thirty!

I started a Goodreads account this year to get recommendations on books to read. At some point, I started keeping track of the books I've read. Well, most of them. ;) Some of them... yeah, we don't need to know what kind of free e-books I read. (And fan-fiction...)

ANYWAY.

I've read over thirty books (that I will own up to!) this year! I have an on-going list of books I would like to read. I KNOW I am going to read The Heir by Keira Cass. There's a new series that I began. Joe and I are done with Percy Jackson so we need a new series to read together. Any suggestions for books to read in 2015?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where to go, what to do.

So. The novel.

I was chatting on-line last week with a friend who is a real, live published author. I got to beta-read one of her short stories and we were chatting about titles. She gave me some tips on writing a query letter, which I will totally take her up on.

But.

I've thought of offering the book on-line. Not through Kindle, but setting up something on a blog or such where I would post chapters a week and people could read it, much like the old newspaper serials. I'd much rather go through a traditional publishing house, as I don't know if I have the skills to self-market my book. Plus, at what point do I say, "this isn't going to sell through the traditional sites, I need to do this on my own?"

I honestly have no clue.

I need to think, think, think about this.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

SSS: A little more than six!

A little more than six sentences today. The main character's birthday is on Christmas because, well, why not? And what would be the biggest problems with a Christmas birthday? Joint gifts!

“Oh, did someone say heels?” asked my sister’s voice. I turned and looked at Lizzie, who was standing in the doorway, peeling off her gloves. Leaning over my shoulder, she scanned the list, her eyes lighting up. “Formal dresses! Emma, please let me take you shopping!”
“Tell you what,” I said suddenly, handing her the list, “surprise me.” 
“What?” 
“Consider it a birthday gift,” I said with a wave of my hand. “You love this stuff and I’m too busy to take off and go shopping. Get me whatever I need and what will look good on me. Dress, shoes, earrings, whatever. Go crazy. Call it my birthday and Christmas gift.”



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Six Sentence Sunday

Another Six Sentence Sunday, this time from Chapter Three:

When Fred arrived the next week, dressed in his heaviest winter coat, Dad’s car keys dangling from his hand, the first thing he saw was … not the new display cases … or the banner … but the giant photo of me. Even though Clark had artistically displayed the canvas print with several others that complemented it, it was the largest and most noticeable print on the wall. I had to admit that they added the perfect touch to the soothing blue-grey walls and new black tables and chairs that were scattered through the front room. The front had gone from being twenty years out of date to fresh and new and modern. Although the construction was still going on in the back, the front was spotless.

All of this, of course, was lost on my brother.

“What, in the name of all that is holy, is that?” asked Fred, pointing to the picture.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Justin and the Herd Review Movies and Act Adorable

cross posted with my parenting blog.

My brother-in-law has a YouTube channel where he and his friend review movies. This week he had four special co-hosts- my kids!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So, I have this theory...

Bear with me, now. I have a theory. A completely weird theory but one that holds up to evidence in The Hunger Games books. Oh, and I am also accepting scenes from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire  movies as cannon because Suzanne Collins worked on both movies/screenplays. We know she requested more of Effie Trinket in Mockingjay: Part One based on the actress's portrayal of Effie in CF, so we can assume Collins has a decent amount of sway as to what happens in the movies.

My theory? Ready for this? The 74th Hunger Games was rigged to get rid of, or stomp down, Katniss.

I mean, really rigged. Like, the Capitol/Snow knew about Katniss and wanted that chick down.

Why? Well, people, let's go alll the way back to when Mr. Everdeen and Mr. Hawthrone were blown to bits in the mine accident. Oh, yes, I am suggesting that it was intentional.

In THG, one of the first things we learn about Katniss's father is that he hunted with a bow and arrow, items he could have sold for a handsome price but people (Peacekeepers) would think he was trying to arm the Seam for a rebellion. Right after that, Katniss says, "when I was younger, I used to worry my mother with the things I would blurt out about District 12 and the people who rule our country Panem...." (5). She says she learned to school her face, keep her head down and not say anything that could get her and her family in trouble.

So, her father hunts illegally with an illegal bow and arrow and Katniss heard someone unpleasant things about the Capitol. Could her father have said things about Panem that would have had Peacekeepers sniffing around their door? Evidence points in this direction, as we learn in Mockingjay that Mr. Everdeen used to sing The Hanging Tree. He sang it enough that a young Katniss, about six or so, knew the words and sang them to Prim as they played. Her mother overheard them and got angry, angry enough that she scared little Katniss into hiding in the meadow. Apparently, Mr. Everdeen was known for singing this song in D12, as Peeta (coming down from the hijacking) remembers Mr. Everdeen singing The Hanging Tree in the bakery.

If Mr. Everdeen is singing The Hanging Tree, a song that is a punishable offense to sing, what else is he saying about the Capitol? 

Hold that thought for a moment. Let's move onto Gale. We know little about his father, just that Mr. Hawthrone was killed in the same mining accident that killed Mr. Everdeen. But Gale is full of "fire" and routinely rants about the Capitol and the injustices of life in D12. We know Gale's smart and, yes, he could have come up with these (justifiable) rants on his own. Like Katniss, he was forced to help feed his siblings at a young age, although Hazell Hawthrone isn't incapacitated like Mrs. Everdeen. Oh, yes, he has good reasons to be mad at the world... but is it possible that he heard the same rants from his father? I say yes, very, very possible.

So we have two people, Mr. Everdeen and Mr. Hawthrone, who have complaints against the Capitol. We know the Capitol has Peacekeepers and possible spies everywhere. Could the mining accident have not been an accident? In other words, was it on purpose to kill two (however quietly) vocal people who spoke out against the Capitol?

Following my theory, two men who spoke out against the Captiol are dead. They leave behind six children, one yet unborn, and two widows. No one cares what happens to them; as The Hunger Games proves, life is disposable. Mrs. Everdeen fades into depression, Prim and Katniss begin to starve, Hazell has a new baby and begins to take in laundry to make ends meet. As far as anyone in power is concerned, the problem is taken care of.

But then! Peeta throws her the bread, she is saved and remembers what her father taught her about eatable plants, she hunts, teams up with Gale and everyone's... well, not warm and completely fed and not totally happy but not starving.

You can almost hear the Capitol face-palming at this.

They got rid of Mr. Everdeen but now they have another problem on their hands: Katniss. Like her father, she's bucking the system by hunting and trading at the Hob. She knows the system is unfair and pits the Merchant class against the Seam- she listens to Gale, after all. But where he wants to actively change the system, she just wants to live in relative peace and take care of Prim. Of course, though, her illegal activities must be stopped. How would you bring down a devoted older sister? Reap her younger sister.

Peacekeepers/Snow want two possible outcomes of the Reaping: Prim is reaped, goes into the Games and dies OR Katniss takes her place, goes into the Games and dies. Even if she wins, which they doubt, they don't expect her to become a role model for a rebellion. As Peeta says multiple throughout the series, and Delly indicated in D13, "[She] doesn't know the effect [she] has." She volunteered for Prim out of love, not expecting the three-fingered salute from her district.

But Snow knew. While Seneca Crane was crowing about an underdog, Snow was all, "Seriously, contain that spark." We see in the movie that Crane tries to follow Snow's orders but Katniss will.not.die. Not fire, not starvation, not the Careers. Snow's probably beheading his roses in frustration.

Crane, though, eventually gives into Haymitch's request and "gives young love a chance." As Gamemaker, he could have flooded the cave but instead Peeta and Katniss get some alone-time to connect. In doing so, they win the hearts of the nation and become devoted to each other. Although they have a small past (the bread) and Katniss clearly thinks about Peeta in the time between the bread and the Reaping, it is possible, without that deeply personal connection, she would have killed Peeta to win the Games. Yes, IF Crane had played the Game according to Snow's wishes, IF he hadn't announced that two from the same district could win, IF they hadn't had those days in the cave to connect, IF Peeta survived the cut on his leg, alone, I think Katniss would have won the Games. Then, of course, Snow would have sold her body like he did Finnick, or something equally as deplorable, or she would have gone mad like Annie Cresta. But all that is speculation, of course- if this, if that.

What IF things had gone according to Snow's wishes? Katniss would have been under Snow's thumb, still trying to survive to keep Prim safe. If she died, Gale would have moved on to someone else, keeping the Everdeen's safe until Prim was old enough to help bring in enough money as a healer or got married. But, of course, everything blew up in Snow's face.

So, two people win the Games, they have the devotion of the Capitol and inspired the districts to stand up against injustice. Crane's dead- Nightlock, according to the movies. Katniss is home, but still hunting in the woods and is thinking of teaching Gale's brother to hunt. She's still friends with Gale and listening to him hope for a rebellion. IF she had gone home and been a good little Victor arranging flowers or whatnot, MAYBE Snow would have left them alone. MAYBE.

Now, I think Snow knows Katniss loves Peeta*; maybe not in a romantic way, but she is devoted to him and we all know Katniss is willing to die for the people she's devoted too. Yet Snow completely plays head games with her, leading her to believe she hasn't convinced him she loves Peeta. That is Snow's MO, after all- head games, or worse. But, the spark was lit and we all know what happened next.

Let's diverge for a moment. Why not Reap Gale? Gale is clearly the trouble maker. He's the one who is out spoken against the Capitol and his name is in forty-something times. No one would be surprised if an eighteen year old male from a large family who took out tessera was Reaped. Think about Gale's personality, though. He would use his time in the Capitol to start an uprising or, at least, plant seeds of one. If Katniss is a spark, Gale is a smoldering fire and it wouldn't take much breath to turn into a wildfire. Whereas Katniss can be contained, everyone knew Gale couldn't. Plus, Gale had much better odds of winning the thing because he's big, strong and thinks like a solider. Yeah, the odds would not have been in Snow's favor if Gale had been Reaped. (Plus, can you see Snow manipulating Gale like he does Finnick? I can't.)

So, yep, that's my theory folks. Snow rigged the reaping to try and get rid of Katniss and everything went so very wrong on his end and so very right for everyone else. Too bad it took loosing so many people and a war to achieve peace.


*This is confirmed in Mockingjay!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mockingjay thoughts

Head over to WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door for my thoughts on Mockingjay, Part 1! If you haven't read the books or seen the movie, be warned that it contains:


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Six Sentence Sunday

Over on Tumblr, some FanFic writers have an event going called Six Sentence Sunday, where you post six sentences from your work in progress. It's a fun idea and really makes me ready to read new chapters from their works! (Yeah, yeah, I read FanFiction.)

I'm considering Until Then a WIP because it is unpublished and I am editing some scenes. Here's one from Chapter Two:

I wanted to write and the only way to write, really write, to create books that could cause people to sit on the couch and neglect their children, was to move away. Visas were hard to come by so the month after I turned sixteen, I marched down to the judicial offices and applied. My father was livid with rage when he found out, yelling at me over dinner as Fred smirked at me, the rest of my siblings hiding in the living room as a war raged on in the kitchen.
“Emma Mary Culkin! What makes you think you can do this?”
“I’m sixteen!” I shot back. “I’m legal.  I could quit secondary school now if I wanted and…”
“Don’t you dare quit school!” he yelled.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recipes from the book: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Where have I been? Well, I'll get to that in a moment (no, nothing dramatic, no worries) but first you need to know about this wonderful thing called: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.

Yes, pumpkin has taken over the cookies in our house. I mean, it's, what, a vegetable? Vegetables in cookies makes them healthy cookies. Yep, healthy. You read that right here on the internet, people, which makes it true. *wink*

I adore pumpkin. I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Muffins (with chocolate or cinnamon chips but not both at the same time, thank you!), Pumpkin Bread and... what else can we put pumpkin in? I even once made pasta with a pumpkin-Alfredo type sauce but I was the only one who ate it. It's so bad I have a canned pumpkin preference (Trader Joe's brand of organic pumpkin).

I love pumpkin so much it made a cameo in my (unpublished) book, if food can make a cameo. In one of the first pages, the main character walks into the bakery for her shift and comments, "Pumpkin cookies?"

"Of course! It's the first day of October!" replies the owner.

The cookies mentioned in the book are inspired by this recipe over at A Bitchin' Kitchen. They are perfect on a cold, rainy fall day with a cup of hot tea (or coffee or coco or milk). My kids nibble on them when they come home from school; in fact, they should come out of the oven right as school let's out, just in time to spoil their dinner!

I am notorious for making changes to recipes but I don't change much, if anything, about these cookies. Instead of the different spices, I use a heaping teaspoon of Pumpkin Spice in the dough and in the sugar coating. Now, I like my world pumpkin spice-y, but you may not so adjust (or not) according to your preference.

The only thing that I think would make these cookies even better would be to eat them while reading my book but we're still working on getting an agent for it. Maybe it's just waiting for an agent who adores pumpkin?

Want more pumpkin recipes? I have them on Pinterest! Follow my Pumpkin Everything! board.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The problem with the plains

I live in a state that has been scientifically proven to be flatter than a pancake. No joke! It was in Time Magazine. Anyway, this has proven to be a problem when the book I wrote takes place in the mountains.

For the most part, life everywhere is the same. I lived in Hawaii as a teenager and people tend to think it was all surfing and days at the beach. Yeah, we went to the beach a lot but I also spent six hours a day in school, had homework, swim team, baby sitting, my mom still had to grocery shop... normal stuff. Yes, we had wonderful weather and lots of sand but life was much the same as it is in the Midwest- school, work, housework, cooking, repeat. My book doesn't deal with life in the wilderness or anything "outdoorsy" that might take place in the woods but I need to picture the town and country in which it takes place.

That can be hard when I so removed from landforms and big, tall, old trees. I rely on Pinterest a lot for inspiration. I doodle what the inside of the castle looks like and how the town is laid out. One of the nice things about inventing a whole country is that I can completely invent how I want it to look and don't have to rely on pre-existing city plans. But I do need to, say, obey the laws of nature and create a realistic city layout. Where I live, everything is flat and modern, since the town really started to grow in the 1960's. The country I invented in much older, so houses wouldn't be laid out in the perfect suburban plan.

It's an interesting quandary but one I'm having fun with!

Friday, September 12, 2014

On the Deck: What We're Reading (9/12/14)

(Please note that all links to Amazon are Amazon affiliate links. If you order through the link, I will get a small kick back.)

Me: Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

BigBrother (age ten): The Serpents Shadow

Princess (age 8.5): She's reading The Lilac Tunnel for the second time to choose a new story! In school, she has a book called The Night Fairy at her desk.

PuddinPie and Bear (5  and 4): The Eve of the Emperor Penguin, a Magic treehouse book. We've also read several books about cows and sheep!

Recommending:

 I found this book hilarious! I thought it might be a bit morbid but it isn't. It's a great
YA mystery with a touch of romance.
 

Monday, September 8, 2014

trying

A (very) (okay, not so very but it sometimes seems like it) long time ago, I tried to get published. This was the days before the internet, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and everything was done via snail mail and the Pony Express. (I kid, I kid. I never used snails. Too slimey.) In my opinion, it was harder to search for agents and even harder to find out what they wanted.

Now, it's super easy to find agents and what they want. I like being able to e-mail them queries; it makes modifying and personalizing my query so much easier! Plus, I can keep track of who I sent stuff to and when, so I know to check if my query was lost in internet space or it's still in the "give us 2 weeks" time frame.

Now, back in the Pony Express days, rejection hurt a lot more. I mean, who doesn't love getting mail and having it be a "maybe" for your novel? THE EXCITEMENT! Then to have it be... a rejection! Noooo. Plus, I was younger too. Things seemed more personal then.

I'm not a sunshiny, positive person naturally; I've worked hard to be more optimistic. It would be easy to get upset and depressed and think my novel COMPLETELY SUCKS or HOW DARE THEY REJECT MY GENUIS! But now that I'm (cough) older, I see things in a different light. I'm happy that the two agents who sent me rejection notes actually seemed to read my work. My novel isn't right for them but, hey, they at least considered it! That's something! Plus, this is not the hardest thing I have ever done. Sure, making sure my book, query letter and everything is beyond perfect can be annoying. It can be frustrating. But mind-numbing, life altering hard? Psssst. Nope.

So what do I do when I get a rejection notice? I take a sip of my water/tea/coffee/pumpkin spice latte and say, "Bummer, dude." When I have a moment, I look over my query letter and first 5-10 pages of my novel to see where I can make them better (the letter) or if I missed a stupid little mistake (the novel). Then I turn to my spreadsheet, cross off the agents that sent me a rejection notice, send out one or two new queries, maybe look for more agents who are accepting new authors and then get back to *insert household task here.*

Okay, I'm lying about the last part. I go back to Facebook to "network" or find cool stuff on Pinterest.

The bottom line? I don't dwell. I'm doing something I promised myself I would do with my writing: I'm trying. I am actively trying to see an agent for my work. And trying feels really, really awesome.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Query Letter

Since my novel is done (again), edited (again) and edited (againandagainandagain) AND because I'm shoving my anal, type-a side out the window for a moment, I am now querying agents to see if someone wants to loooove me.

(Note: I am shoving my type-a personality out the window because, if I didn't, the novel and query would NEVER BE PERFECT ENOUGH to send out. So. I am reminding myself that it IS good enough to send out now and, besides, if I don't, the Engineer would strangle me.)

I've Googled the google out of "how to write a query letter" and spoken to other authors about this. I've sent it to them, gotten feedback and sent it off to agents. I'm not expecting a response anytime soon, as most websites and people have told me AT LEAST 2-3 weeks. No problem... in that respect. But writing the letter? PROBLEM.

I actually am NOT having an abnormal amount of trouble with the blurb and summary of my book. But the about me section? UGH. I HATE trying to summarize myself because I sound LAME. I mean, nothing screams "publish me" like "overweight housewife and mother of four who writes YA romance while her children are at TKD, cello and speech therapy!" Oh yeah. Living the life.

I kinda want to write something like this:

Laura is an ex-Catholic school English/literature teacher, wife, and mother of four. She has a BSE from UNIVERISTY and has published many super-awesome articles about parenting, which makes her sound like she knows what she's doing. (Spoiler: she doesn't.) She will read anything with print on it, especially if it means she can put off folding laundry. She considers Facebook "networking" and Pinterest "menu planning." Her daily goals include drinking a pot of coffee, embarrassing her kids by car dancing in the car pool line, threatening to sell the dog, cooking meals no one will eat and writing young adult novels while waiting at speech therapy/tkd/cello lessons. She can be found on-line at Slaying Dragons, WaldenMommy and her writing blog.... or hiding in the laundry room away from the kids.

Instead, I'm super professional, or try to be, which makes Type-A me worrying that I am giving them what they way but am not STANDING OUT enough. And I should STAND OUT. Ugh. See, this is what happens when I go out of my comfort zone... I don't feel comfortable!

Oh, well, on ward and upward!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Go "like" Jane Lebak

A few winters ago, I reviewed a wonderful book on my other blog.  Jane Lebak wrote The Boys Upstairs, a sweet novel about a priest who takes care of homeless boys. It's a lovely book, although not without its share of complex characters and events. Still, it made me want to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and read.

Anyway, Ms. Lebak now has a Facebook page! Go "like" it not only because she is an awesome writer and a likeable lady, but to show the newbie to the FB world some love!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Um, I'd like Word please.

A year ago, I got a new to me computer that was a complete and utter lemon. I couldn't even make lemonade out of that sucker. I asked DH for a new one because a writer's gotta have her Microsoft Word and internet connection. (And no way was I fighting with my kids for their computer. I think he keys are glued down with a substance NASA would have liked to have gotten ahold of.) Engineer Husband ponied up for my birthday and I have a lurvley new computer with a fancy touch screen. It's so lightweight, which is perfect because I do much of my writing on the go. (I'm beginning to feel like a commercial here. I digress.)

Of course, since it is brand spankin' new it doesn't have Word on it. I mean, I have trial software but it expired. DH sent me the info to update it but that didn't work. We were going to do it over Labor Day weekend but our entire household was felled by a cold/sinus thing. As of this writing, I still don't have Word fully installed AND I am getting awful close to querying agents. As in, I'm refining my query letter. EK!

This had better get done this week or I am in deep trouble...

Monday, September 1, 2014

I should but I won't

If you follow my parenting blog, WaldenMommy, you may remember that my son and niece were both born prematurely. As a result, our families walk in the March for Babies, volunteer with various NICU organizations and my husband and I take Thanksgiving dinner to our NICU every year.

When people hear our story, and then learn that I like to write, I often get, "You should write a book about it!" I smile and nod and say, "Yes, I should," because I should. But I won't.

Not now.

You see, writing a book about my son's NICU journey and the impact it has had on our lives would require me to go back there. Not the NICU, physically, but there, that place, that place I was in when my son was born. It required me to revisit the feelings I had when I learned he would come early, when I saw him in the NICU, that Christmas season when we struggled to get him to eat and grow. It would require me revisiting the year after his birth, being pregnant with my fourth child and then the realization that our preemie has developmental delays.

And you know what? I don't want to go there.

The nice thing about being an author is that, to some degree, I can choose what to write about. I have written about the NICU but I don't want to, right now, dive into the experience and turn it into a full length book. Perhaps one day I will but, for now, people will have to be content with the articles I have on-line about prematurity, the NICU and beyond.

Maybe someday I will write that book. But not now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Engineer and the Author

Huh, sounds like a title for a romance novel. Anyway...

My husband is an engineer and works in an industry that most hippies picket. (I say that lovingly. I'm a hippie.) Needless to say, his artistic side is seriously lacking. His ability to be creative is limited to picking out paint colors for the house, and painting walls. Most of his wardrobe is made up of neutral colors with a bit of light blue thrown in. The man can't even see a straight line.

And then there's me. I admit my fashion sense is lacking but I have Pinterest at my disposal. I can't draw or paint like my siblings can but I can sew and, obviously, write. We're pretty much opposites and agree that if we had met as children, we would not have been friends. (I played with dolls. He beheaded dolls. You get the idea.)

However, my husband loves me and is supportive of my writing. He understands that this is something I love, even if he doesn't understand why I love it. He listens to me ramble on about plot and characters and I listen to him talk about cars and job sites and paperwork. We're a weird couple but we love each other and it works.

Even though my husband can't string a creative sentence together, I do ask for his opinion on certain things- namely, what kind of car the characters should drive. Our conversations go something like this:

Me: What kind of car would a parent buy their two teenage daughters to share?
Him: Is this Europe or America?
Me: [answers] Oh, and it needs to do this, this and this. I'm thinking it's green.
Him: What year does your story take place?
Me: What does that matter?
Him: (long suffering sigh) Okay, it's THIS CAR, with this engine and does this.
Me: Is that a four door? Because I'm seeing it as a four door.
Him: Yeah. Now, make sure you put THIS MAKE, THIS MODEL and THESE ENGINE SPECS in when you talk about the car.
Me: I don't need that many details in the novel. The story isn't about the car!
Him: Your readers will want to know all the details. Doesn't the car have an important role in the book?
Me: No. No it doesn't...
Him: You could MAKE it have an important role!
Me: Go back to watching Doctor Who, honey.

I love that he's interested and supportive. I really couldn't do this without him! Still, I don't think a book about cars is in my future. (I think Pixar took care of that, in movie form.) However, if you ever read my stories and find a paragraph extolling the virtues of a car, you'll know my husband influenced that!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My own Scottish Book

JK Rowling once reference to her then-planned massive book about all things Harry Potter as "the Scottish Book." The original reference belong to Shakespeare, as Macbeth was called "the Scottish play." It was considered bad luck to speak the name of a play before it was preformed. I jokingly refer to one of my works as "the Scottish book" in the same manner. Not because it doesn't have a name (it does) or because I think it's unlucky speak the name of a book first (I don't) but because if I don't joke about this book, I'll cry.

Many eons ago, I wrote a highly fictional account of my time spent in Asia. It was awesome, or so people said. It won an award or two. Friends read it and liked it. I've reconnected with people from that time period and they all ask me about this book. It was never published and it was tucked away to be edited and revised later.

Like many of my ideas from that time period, it was undergoing extensive re-writes at my hand. This book was particularly difficult to revise because I had to look up dates from years ago (was that day a Monday? Tuesday?) and keep events historical accurate and realistic. It required reading non-fiction books and speaking to my parents about events that happened when I was a young teenager. My father had to fill me in what had really happened, events that had been hidden from me because I was too young to know about them.

Needless to say, it was super slow going and a very painstaking process. While I was working on this, I was also in college, dating my now-husband, getting married and having babies. Technology was changing, computers were changing and upgrading the files the hosted my book wasn't a priority. When life settled down a bit, I began to work on it again- and my computer died.

Gone were many pictures of my son in the NICU. Gone were several books, including my "Scottish Book." You see, my computer had a virus. I think I had backed up the story on CD-ROM. I think. I don't know for sure and the computer tech told me that my CDs were likely infected too. I never tried to put them in my new computer, for fear of infecting that one too.

That was also several years ago. After a second computer crash (I'm a slow learner), my father gifted me with an external hard drive. All my writing is backed up on that and on my computer. I also have an external CD/DVD port but I haven't tried to run the Scottish book's CD on it. Honestly, I don't know if it would work with my computer; I'm using the same program but a much, much newer one. And if the tech is right and there is a horrible virus on it? I can't risk my shiny new computer like that.

But all.that.work! Allll the work. I still have hard copies of the original, thank God. I could go back and re-type a new copy but I had some awesome scenes in the most recent re-writes. I had figured out dates and done a lot of the "grunt work" so to speak. It's upsetting to think of it all there, but not. When people ask me about it, I sternly say, "We do not speak of this. Ever." They laugh but I'm sad.

Will my Scottish book ever be written? I don't know. It's not even in my personal que of novels I am working on. Nevertheless, it holds a special place in my heart and I hope that, one day, it shall be officially named and worked on.

And the moral of this story, if there is one? Back up, back up, back up and get a damn good virus software.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Movie Miracle

Earlier this year, I was gearing up to watch The Hunger Games (again) when my ten year old asked, "Is this the movie about people who fight each other, their city is bombed and they go to live underground in District 13?" Um, yes son, it is. How do you know that? "Oh, some kids in my class are reading the books for their novel study. Can I read them?"

Now, I love me a good dystopia. I'm the only person who loved 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World and so on in high school. We won't talk about how many times I have read The Hunger Games series. But for my ten year old son? No. Nope. Too young. If you want to read dystopia, I suggested, then read The Giver.

Of course, when I heard that The Giver movie was coming out, I told my husband that I HAD to go see it. I told my son that I would take him IF he read the book and then hounded him to READ THE BOOK so I had an excuse to see the movie! He finished it, liked it and wasn't about to turn down an excuse for movie popcorn and a soda.

Now, I am the worst person ever to see book to movie adaptions with. (This is according to my husband and friend, who vow to start a support group for people who go to the movies with me.) I gripped at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I had... moments, shall we say, with Twilight. Divergent was interesting. We shall not talk about the Percy Jackson movies because my blood pressure can't handle going that high. In fact, the only "book to movie" movies I like are The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Sure, they made changes and left some scenes out, but they were mostly character development scenes and they were able to develop the characters well without them. Well done, actors, well done.

In a miracle of epic movie proportions, I actually liked The Giver movie. They upped the ages of the characters but I honestly don't think a 12 year old could have played Jonas with the depth and maturity the character called for and it would have looked silly to cast, say, a sixteen year old as a 12 year old. Most of the changes they made were due to the added maturity of the characters, not for shock value or to make it a teenage romance movie.

According to Lowry, the baby who plays Gabe should be given a special baby Oscar and I completely agree. The kid stole scenes like it was nobody's business. He cries in most of them and I just wanted to reach through, hug him and give them all a lesson on the type of parenting this kid needs. (Wear him in a sling often, cuddle him, answer his cries at night...) No wonder Gabe was failure to thrive! Oh, and the scenes with Jonas and Gabe? So precious.

Lilly, Jonas' sister, was fleshed out a bit. In the movie, we view the Ceremony of Loss and Lilly makes a smart-alec comment that had me and my friends laughing. Typical nine year old.

Now, in the book, Rosemary is never seen from or heard but we "see" her in the movie. People made a big deal out of Taylor Swift playing this role but she really had no screen time and her musical talent? Not really there. I thought they could have gotten anyone with a decent voice to play her. I was expecting Taylor Swift stuff like, I dunno, SINGING. Rosemary IS a big part in this movie but not in a visual sense.

One thing that really thrilled me about THG and CF was the behind-the-scenes politics that make the actions of some of the characters, such as the Gamekeepers, make more sense. You get this in TG too. There's tension between the Chief Elder and The Giver and Jonas' mother has a fairly important role. You see more of what happens AFTER Jonas' leaves. (SPOILER ALERT: Did anyone catch the comment between The Chief Elder and The Giver that implies they were once partners?)

The ended actually tied up better than the book. I like the ending of the book and it is open for sequels (or not) but a movie needs to be tied up tighter and it is. It's still the same ending but tighter. You get a sense of completion, which many readers did not get from the book. And, again, it works that the book ends as it does, just as the adjustments to the ending of the movie work for a movie. (I know, it's vague but I don't want to spoil the movie-ending because it is a little different from the book.)

I will give a parental warning: you DO see the scene where they release a twin and (movie spoiler) they also show how they release a teenager/adult. It involve needles, so if you have a kid who FREAKS THE FREAK out over shots, skip those scenes when it comes out on DVD. My daughter is eight and wants to see this movie but I think the Release of the newchild might be too much for her. She adores babies and is sensitive to them being hurt. As a mother, I worked to distance myself from the scene (I knew it was coming, so it helped) but it was still hard to watch.

I think we'll get it when it comes out on DVD. I'm not sure if it will be a Christmas present for myself or my son! It's a movie I will gladly watch with him again.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Inspiration

I was 13 when we moved to South Korea, thanks to the USAF. Back in the dark ages, the internet was just getting started. We didn't have internet at home, although I know my father e-mailed our extended family in the States. As a result, friends kept in touch with me by letter and packages, sending us things we couldn't get on base (like my brother's favorite cereal) and fun trinkets.

One such trinket was a hair clip. (Stay with me people...) You know those giant flowers and bows you can buy for baby girls? Adorbs, right? Well, this was the height of the handmade hair clips made with balloon, ribbons, buttons and this thick plastic stuff that you could heat up mold into a variety of shapes. I really liked them and a friend sent me one that she bought at a craft fair. I remember it was blue, pink and purple, all with a metallic sheen to it. It even had a name: a king's ransom.

"That would be a good title for a book," I thought and began to mull it over in my head. What would a book titled A King's Ransom be about?

The story popped into my head the next day, as I was walking to school with a friend. There, in the middle of the playground, the whispers of the story came to me. Over the next few months, the story was fleshed out.

Over the years, the story was written and printed and shoved in a drawer. It went through another revision when I received a new computer and needed to update the files. There was another version, completely rewritten. Characters were added and changed. Events were thrown around. The title changed. They grew. I grew. Now, many years and many changes later, it's finished.

Sorta.

Maybe.

See, my anal type- A personality is rearing its head. I have the book to an editor but I keep thinking, "Oh, I want to change this! Would this work better? I think I should build up this character!" It's taking everything I have to NOT drag up the file and change things. I'm going to see what changes she suggests first.  If I have a new scene in my head, it goes into a new file, waiting to be cut and pasted in (or not). It's going to be a long process but I have to remind myself that when I get there, it will be so worth it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

First Post!

For those of you who followed me here from my parenting blog, WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door, WELCOME! If you are new here, WELCOME WELCOME!

This blog is all about... writing! I'm an aspiring YA novelist. Here you will find less about my kids and more about writing, blogging, reading, novels and inspiration. I'll still write at WaldenMommy but I thought a blog devoted to my journey as something other than "just" a mom is worth its own blog.

So welcome and please pardon my dust as we get this thing up and going!