Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo in Two Days!

Somehow, I managed to talk myself into June's Camp NaNoWriMo. Last November's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was my first 50k-word writing blitz. It's a challenge that takes commitment, but I was so glad (and exhausted!) when I reached December 1st.

I tell everyone I talk to about writing to check out NaNoWriMo. I found that I really did well when I broke down the process of writing a novel into (somewhat) manageable chunks each day. It also gave me a great feel for how much I was writing. And because it's a true marathon, I adopted the "just get the words out" mantra. Any first draft doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be done. NaNoWriMo taught me a lot the first time, and I'm excited to see what I learn my next time through.

I've got a great new plot bunny that I'm in love with and I can't wait to get started. I am, however, also terrified. It's hard to believe I'm already staring down June's doorstep.

I'm taking the next couple of days to try and rest my brain so I can roll into Camp NaNo with my writing guns blazing.

Educate yourself about the topic in this post: Camp NaNo:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fixation Friday: Spotify

As a writer, music is very important to me. There's just something about the way music can affect you and influence the mood and tempo of your writing. When I need to write a tough scene, I usually try to find something melancholy that speaks to me. If I'm doing a scene that is more action-oriented, I blast club and dance music with a fast beat.

The best tool in my music toolbox is Spotify. It's amazing. I have dozens of playlists from classical to 90's hits to my morose mix (my favorite moody, broody songs!). Here are some of my favorite playlists from my WIP:

In Other Words - Ben Kweller
The Freshmen - The Verve Pipe
The Shining - Badly Drawn Boy
Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie
Title and Registration - Death Cab for Cutie
Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard
Mad World - Gary Jules
Pink Bullets - The Shins
Slow - Grouplove
Orange Sky - Alexi Murdoch
The Scientist - Willie Nelson
Heavy In Your Arms - Florence + The Machine

If I'm in the groove and just need music to be playing in the background, I go to my classical mix of Debussy, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven. What does everyone else listen to?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Pandemonium

*Some spoilers to Delirium*

Pandemonium is the second book in Lauren Oliver's Delirium series. The first book, Delirium, introduced readers to a dystopian future where love is outlawed. Known as Amor Deliria Nervosa, love is a disease which every citizen in the future United States is inoculated against. Those who choose to refuse the vaccine are imprisoned, killed, or escape the fenced in cities for the wilds and the life of a fugitive. Love, we learn, is a killer and the stability of the world is only secured when people are free from its clutches. Our heroine Lena is only months from receiving her 'cure' and can't wait for an adult life away from turmoil and feelings.Of course, this was all before she met Alex. Beautiful, uncured, and dangerous, Alex teaches Lena that life without love is a terrible substitute. Love is what sustains, heals, and yes, hurts, but it is worth it to Alex to be free to feel.

Delirium ends with Alex and Lena's botched escape from the city of Portland, Maine. Lena makes it out to the wilds without Alex and runs across a group of uncureds trying to live free from the influence of the heavily governed cities. We meet a brand new cast of characters, some good, some bad. The story of Lena's arrival and assimilation with the group of outlaws is interspersed with her new life posing as a cured girl. Lena has adopted the role of freedom fighter in New York and has the task of taking down the system from within. It is unclear what Lena's exact role is, but she joins a radical group called the DFA which seeks to cure the population earlier than the standard age of 16. Through her spying, she meets Julian, son of the leader of the DFA. When a rally turns into a riot caused by a radical group of uncureds, Julian and Lena are forced to work together to survive.

I really liked the premise of Delirium when I read it last year, but it was a slow start for me. I put off reading Pandemonium, but eventually picked up my copy. Once I started, I finished with a couple of days. It was packed full of action and the pacing flew through Lena's changed world. I was completely taken in by her new, stronger self and was cheering for her success the whole way through. I can't wait for the next book to come out. If you're looking for a new dystopian YA to read, check out Delirium. Be prepared for a slow start, but stick with it. It's worth it. Promise.

Educate yourself on the topic in this post:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fixation Friday: The Fray & Red Rocks

Now that I'm not tweeting for my life with The Writer's Voice, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

I talk about living in Colorado a lot because I love it. I feel blessed to live in a place with so much natural beauty. If I drive 45 minutes west from my house, I hit the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. How lucky am I? Anyway, one of my favorite pastimes is going to concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO. Red Rocks is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world (according to their website). It is magical. That may sound corny, but there is no place in the world I'd rather go to see a concert.

See? Awesome.
I was fortunate enough to catch a hometown favorite, The Fray, play at the last show of their tour. One thing you learn about living in CO is that the weather can turn on you in an instant. This last Saturday was one of those times. It was cold and rainy and my friends and I were drenched by the time The Fray hit the stage. But you know what? It was awesome all the same and I had one of the moments where I stopped and took a look around and felt so grateful. Grateful for my amazing friends. Grateful for my wonderful husband (who took baby duty for the night so I could spend a night out with my girls). And just plain grateful.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and a moment to stop and smell the roses!

Educate yourself on the topic in this post:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: The Exiled Queen

I read The Demon King, book #1 in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, a few weeks ago. It was a slow start for me, but I kept going based on the glowing reviews I'd read. Ultimately, I was so glad that I plowed through the first couple hundred pages because I rewarded with a rich portrait of the Seven Realms and some great action.

I picked up The Exiled Queen (book #2) shortly after finishing the first, but didn't get a chance to dive in until after all The Writer's Voice competition craziness died down (see multiple posts on the insanity below). I was happy to find myself thrown back into the Han and Raisa's world as each reaches a turning point in their young, troubled lives. Han Alister, reformed streetlord, and Princess Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the throne of the Fells, make parallel journeys to Oden's Ford (think boarding school for wizards, soldiers, and scholars). One forced to flea from an arranged marriage and the other out of options and without a family, they meet again in a completely new environment.

As a student at Mystwerk House, school for wizards, Han learns to unleash the power of his amulet and harness his own innate skills. His street savvy helps him stay alive in the blue-blooded world of wizardry, but he finds he lacks many of the social graces necessary to live amongst them.

Raisa escapes an arranged marriage to a boy whose family would use her to centralize their own power and travels to Oden Ford with life-long friend (and recent crush) Amon Byrne. Under the guise of Rebecca Morley, Raisa attends the military academy Wein House. Though Raisa was brought up with a thorough education, she discovers she was never taught many of the essential traits necessary to be a strong queen.  

Both Raisa and Han are in places of great personal change, but find themselves drawn to the other. The growing relationship is threatened by the secrets both keep. Han has no idea that Raisa is a princess and part of the royalty he blames for the death of his mother and sister. And Raisa doesn't know that Han has embroiled himself in conflict between wizards and the upland clans of Fells.

I'll try not to spoil too much, for those who haven't read this series yet, but I loved seeing the unique place of Oden's Ford which exists free from the influence of the ruling royalty and the wars that continue to ravage the land surrounding it. I've become very fond of both Han and Raisa and liked how the story is told from their distinct perspectives. They come from separate worlds and see each other so differently. I enjoyed their budding romance, which never struck me as particularly juvenile as is the case with so many YA relationships.

I had such a great time with this book and am dying for the next one. Lucky for me, this is one series that is near completion with the fourth and final installment due out this fall.

Educate yourself on the topic in this post:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

For When You Feel Like Giving Up

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ― Harriet Beecher Stowe

I entered The Writer's Voice competition to try and earn a spot on one of four teams and have my query and first 250 read by some stellar agents. So far, all the spots have been taken with a few alternates moving into the competition tonight. I wasn't picked, which is a bummer, but I know better than to give up. I've picked myself up, dusted myself off, and this post is me getting fired up to move forward.

So, for everyone out there who has been bitten by bitterness or is just plum out of fuel, here are the greatest motivational speeches of all time:

Monday, May 7, 2012

What I've Learned from the Writer's Voice Competition

**Looking for my entry (#94)? Click here.**

Well, about half of the spots in the final round have been selected so far. I'm happy to see so many of my favorite entries make the cut (I knew I had great taste!). There is some serious talent in the pool of 200 contestants and everyone has sure made the coaches jobs of selecting only 40 entries very difficult.

I'm so glad to even be a part of the contest (not that I wouldn't L-O-V-E to be picked to move forward), and if nothing else, I've learned a lot about how wonderful and supportive other writers are. Even though we're all competing for the same spots, everyone is cheering other entries on and celebrating the great work others are doing.

I feel so warm and fuzzy about everyone that I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on other entries. Thank you for creating a sense of community surrounding this crazy contest. And thank you to the coaches for putting this all together.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writer's Voice Contest Entry

I'm so excited to have landed a spot in The Writer's Voice contest! “The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). It is based on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice.

For my entry, I'm submitting my Adult Fantasy manuscript AMORTAL.

Plot Summary:

a·mor·tal noun /āmôrtl/ Someone who lives outside of the bounds of mortality, but can, with a single choice, be mortal once more.

When his mortal girlfriend is kidnapped and held for ransom, 360-year-old amortal Marcus Brandon has from sunrise to sunset to save her and his dreams for a normal life.

As long as he’s born his talisman, an ancient amulet and source of his amortality, Marcus has struggled to maintain his grasp on his humanity and himself. The talisman is one of five that imprisons fractures of a primal spirit, and as such, the magic has a will of its own. It seeks to reunite itself with its missing pieces into one. It is Marcus’s sworn duty to see this never happens. Being the guardian of such a force is not without drawbacks. Its inherent darkness has driven Marcus to blackout bouts of depravity over the course of his tumultuous amortal existence.

On the day Marcus plans to ask Nicola for her hand in marriage, she is abducted by Marcus’s dangerous underworld associates. The cost of her freedom is nothing less than the talisman Marcus holds, a price he can’t pay. Though he would sacrifice his amortality for Nicola’s life in an instant, and planned to do so once their life together began, the nature of the talisman will not allow him to relinquish it under duress. He must freely will it to another.

Teaming up with new acquaintance and fellow amortal, Ana Sofia, Marcus embarks on a rescue mission while internally battling the force of the magic that threatens to consume him. As Marcus and Ana unravel a plot to usurp the five talismans, they’re faced with betrayal, murder, and the consequences of choice.

First 250:

He sat with his head bowed, as if in prayer, but those who knew him understood he prayed to no one. The bloodstone in the center of his talisman emitted an eerie glow in the early morning light. In the pre-dawn moments of the quiet morning, only a week before his 360th birthday, Marcus was finally ready to resume the life he paused so many years ago.

His head raised to watch the sun crest over the San Francisco skyline from his favorite bench in the park near his apartment. This was his final sunrise as a true amortal. By sunset, his life would begin anew with the only love he had ever found in his lifetimes wandering this world. Her heart was his home and he was grateful his talisman, for all its destructive forces, had given him the centuries it took to meet her. He would relive every achingly lonely year again if it would end with her in his arms.

Lingering in his mind was not the talisman he was about to eschew, but another stone, one more recently procured. The small blue box adorned with its dainty white ribbon was easily concealed in his grasp. Its weight was feather light compared to the heft of the promise that came with it. Forever. Some might think he was rushing headlong into his proposal. After all, he was only 20 years old. His time after tonight would no longer be endless, but he’d give her every moment nonetheless.