Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Tron" and a tiny blogcation...

Happy December 26th!!  :)

For everyone who celebrated Christmas or any Holiday cheer yesterday, I hope you all had a wonderful time, got some awesome swag, and shared time with people you love.  I did!

So, I'm taking the coming week off from work *woot woot!! dancing a jig and throwing confetti*.  Yeah, just a tiny bit excited about it.  :)  And as I'm thinking about ALL the things I can get done with a week off work, I've decided to take a small vacation from blogging.  Minute, really.  I may or may not be around the blogosphere as 2010 dwindles away, but I'll be back to visit you all on Jan. 1st, when I participate in Elena's 100 words for $100 blogfest.

I know Jen @ Unedited has something exciting cooked up for 2011 as well!  And if you're just a bit lazy (like me) I believe she mentioned she'll be listing upcoming blogfests and contests on Friday!

So, for now - this is where I'm off to later today:

on IMAX: 3D, baby!!  (Hope it's good!!??)

And here's my wish to all of you:

I hope 2011 finds you all FANTASTICALLY well!  And I'll keep my fingers crossed that we all get a few MS requests, agent representations, book deals, tops to the NY Bestsellers list, or whatever your wish may be in the coming new year!!  See you on the 1st! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Find the Story Friday!! Into the tunnel.....

...and where does it go?


MORE Christmas lights - but, as I was driving through these, it was a little surreal when I was inside with the ever changing lights blinking around and sliding by me. (I think I had a Willy Wonka flashback!)  If I was a character in a fantastical story, where would this tunnel take me?  Hmm.... 

 What devices have you used in your stories to take characters....elsewhere?  Feel free to share...unless it's a closely guarded secret... then I'm happy to wait and read all about it in your published copy.  :)

Happy Christmas Eve!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To tickle your holiday funny bone...

Hello there, my peeps!  Wasn't Jen's and Melissa's Be Jolly, By Golly Blogfest on Monday absolutely fabulous!!  I had a great time visiting so many lovely holiday blogs, meeting new bloggy friends, and sharing in some holiday fun!  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can visit my jolly post "here" and the other fabulous entries "here" ~ :)

Busy, BUSY day today, so I'm just going to leave you with a few Christmas funnies *a-cop-out-choo*:

Hoping your presents are bought, wrapped and under the tree!!  Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My "Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest" Post(est) with the Most(est)!!

Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Merriest of ALL Merry Christmases to each and every one of you!! 
Christmas, to me, is THE most magical of holidays in the year.  It brings families together, it brings joy to many, it frees the hearts and pocketbooks of people and promotes charity and well wishes to all.  I wish a piece of its magic to touch everyone, everywhere and in all walks of life.  Who can't use a little magic now and then?  :)

For me, Christmas started with a story:

or two:

It's never quite the same for me with out a little of this:

And when it comes to snow balls...

Recipe:  INGREDIENTS 1 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup chopped walnuts (I use pecans, which I put in the blender to chop pretty fine),  1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a second time.

...I'd rather eat them.

And as my hodge-podge little-tree-that-could looks like this:

I'm happy to rely on other people's holiday decor:

On Christmas morning, I'm hoping that these are filled:

and that I get to eat some of this...

Recipe!!  INGREDIENTS:  1 bag shredded hashbrowns, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 16oz carton sour cream, half stick of butter, 1 small onion (diced), bag of shredded cheddar, salt & pepper to taste  (if you like it a little soupier, also mix in small can of evaporated milk)
DIRECTIONS:  lightly grease 13x9 inch pan, thaw shredded hashbrown in microwave, melt butter and mix with hashbrowns, mix in soup and sourcream, diced onion and 1-2 cups shredded cheddar.  Mix well, put in pan.  Top with more shredded cheddar.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

...with my ham! 

I'll be happy to spend the day with my family and just relax and be jolly, by golly!  It will be a great few days!  And I wish the same for ALL of you. :)  Merry Christmas ~ from Donea Lee

(P.S.  you can read more about my holiday traditions "here" and don't forget to also check out yesterday's GNO post!  AND don't forget to check out other Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest posts!!  You can find a list of all participants "here"!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

GNO!! An exercise in character development... :)

Happy Sunday to all my fellow bloggers, friends and random readers!!

I'm going to break down my title for you first:

GNO (aka Girl's Night Out) = a MUST for the entire female population!!  If you aren't scheduling these at least once a month with your best gal pals - START NOW!!

Exercise = the writery type, of course.  But, also the literal type.  I think I seriously laughed part of my arse off last night!!  Can't complain about that ~ :)

Character Development = it's all about the games, here.  In particular - Boxers or Briefs.  If you haven't played this one - pick it up.  Seriously.  It's hilarious!!  And insightful.  Find out what your friends REALLY think about you... and link together some quirky character attributes at the same time!

Last night, my sisters and friends and I celebrated our annual Christmas GNO!!  We brought a fun $10 gift to exchange via the "left/right" game (you can google this), an appetizer to share for dinner (shrimp cocktail, bacon-wrapped l'il smokies, queso dip, spinach dip, jalapeno poppers, cheese and crackers, meatballs - num!), and also a homemade treat to exchange:

white choc chex mix, pumpkin choc chip mini loaf, butterscotch haystacks, mint brownies, creative take on cannoli, peanut brittle, and a cookie brownie - *drools*
We also, of course, had to play games and gab the night away (yeah, I got home at 3am...)  I LOVED it!!  Soooo much fun!  Did you know that getting together with your girlfriends is actually good for your health?  Seriously - look it up!  AND of course you've heard that laughter is one of the best ways to lose calories (and with what we ate last night, we needed to laugh A LOT!).

As we played our games - a hilarious round of Boxers or Briefs, in which you roll a die of I's, I want's, I have's, I dont's, etc...and your friends get to pick the best random phrase to describe you - I realized that this is a really fun way to get to know people.  It's also a great way to pick fun.  By the end of the game - I was "a whole lotta woman", who was "too much to handle", and thus became a "master debater".  Yeah - not sure I'll live this one down anytime soon - but, I'm a good sport!

We also ended up with a "Jedi Master" who loves "pink fluffy bunnies", a woman who's apparently an authority of all things "Teletubbies" and "Barney", a gal who's "good with her hands", "gives a great massage" and "wishes to run a marathon...naked", and a *warning!!  bowel movements involved* long-time sufferer of "constipation", who's addiction to laxatives has left her dependent on "Depends".  (yeah, my friends are sweethearts, no?)

Afterwards, we all wrote down a deep dark secret and an embarrassing moment to throw into a bowl.  We passed the bowl around, picked a paper to read and tried to guess who wrote it.  I'll just say I learned some interesting tid-bits about everyone!

But, seriously.  Isn't this kind of a fabulous way to do some character development for your MCs and/or supporting characters in a novel?  People's pasts, their quirks, their secrets, the things that embarrass them, etc., it's all part of what makes them who they are today and motivates the things they do, speak, think, eat, all of it!

So - my suggestion to you....if you're ever stuck wondering what you need to make your character as unique as can be?  Have a night out with good friends...


Friday, December 17, 2010

Find the Story Friday!!! And me..without my good camera...

I am by no means a professional photographer.  (Oh, Happy Friday, btw!!)

I would love to take classes and someday I'm sure I will.  Because I am forever looking at the world through a lense.  I'll see something (ok, mostly landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, full moons (the kind in the SKY, people!!) fall leaves and oddly enough...snow) and think, "Wow.  That'd make a great picture!" 

And do I ever have my camera at these times?  Yeah,  I do usually have my phone.  It's not quite the same...I can't zoom.  I can't mess with the lighting, use a flash, play with the scene set up, yadda, yadda.  But, I get the image.  And the one I'm sharing with you today is from one of the moments.  Actually, I credit my daughter with this one.  I made her stand on the top of my car in the grocery parking lot to get a better shot...  :)

Gorgeous, no?  (well, minus the cars and those blasted telephone poles!!)

Sunsets are always good story fodder for romance - don't you think?  Are any of your MCs currently making out with minor characters or pondering the wonders of the universe while watching a sunset right now?

Happy writing!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Verification? Schmerification... :p

Happy Wednesday, all!

Bare with me.  I'm having one of those random "what the heck do I blog about today" moments.  We all get them, right?  (eek!  it's not just me, is it?  IS IT??)  I've been trying to catch up on my blog reads today.  And can I just say - you guys like ROCK and stuff!  I've been thoroughly entertained!

Colene Murphy had a great blog up about NO EXCUSES!  It was more than that - some great examples of people to really be inspired by, but I love her "this-is-how-it-is-and-you're-going-to-read-it-and-like-it" message at the end.  Timely, for me, because I'm an excuse-making maven!

Abby Minard (one great bloggy friend) interviewed Jen Daiker (another favorite bloggy friend!) today!  Some fabulous tidbits about Jen that, ok - kind of make me want to throw things at her, but since I love her so much, I'll resist - I'm sure you'd love to read about.

And reading Jen's blog (hilarious today, btw) led me to a new blog (yay!!!) and a really cool blogfest!  Check out the "100 words for $100" blogfest here, courtesy of Elena Solodow ~ :)

Elana Johnson's blog was all about (now - sing it with me!!) "These are a few of my fav-or-ite things"

Shannon Whitney Messenger also answered some questions about herself today that you MUST read!  Seriously - I laugh out loud every single time I read her blogs.  :)  (Oh - and hot guys always to be found here - BONUS!)

Shayda Bakshi had a great post about cheerios and cutting cholesterol in your Wips!  Great advice!  And a SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to her for getting an honorable mention in another pitch contest!!  That's so GREAT!

And you still have time to get in on Dangerous with a Pen's "Stranger than Fiction" blogfest - ENDS tonight, midnight.  She's got some FAB prizes up for grabs, so check it out!

And one more - my little sis started a blog and right now I'm her ONLY follower... :(  If you get a chance to read her and would like to follow, you can find The Great EsCait here!

If you're not mentioned above, please don't think that it's because I don't love you!!  It's just that these great posts are what I've managed to read today...but, I'm still reading!!  I just thought I needed to get a post out there, too.

But, as my ideas pale in comparison - I thought I'd just link you to some good reads today.

I will leave you with my one thought - reading through all these blogs has required me to put in A LOT of those darned little verification words!!!!!  **

Where do they come up with those things???  But, I thought it might be fun to write a few down and try to use them in a sentence.  Here's today's winners: (verification words underlined)

"I was gurking Saturday night, and dude, it totally threw my back out."
"I'm proud to say that I am now 100% fluent in Inglic."
"Forsoan long now, I just can't eat chicken without thinking about Bert."
"I really must admire Persephone for all her lovely pirthespian sensibilities."

My challenge to you today?  PLEASE COMMENT WITH A HUM-DINGER SENTENCE OF YOUR OWN USING TODAY'S BEST VERIFICATION WORD!!  (*winner for the best one will get a virtual high-5 and I'll totally drink a glass of bubbly (cider) in your honor!!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Happy Sunday, everyone!  I've got some pretty cool news. 

If you haven't before entered Operation Awesome's "Mystery Agent Contest", you might want to check it out.  This is one to watch for, because when they send out the call for one-line pitches - it's limited to 50 entries.  And they go QUICK!!  Like, that day.  *And special note...if you do check out the next one and see 50 comments, don't lose heart - there's a good chance non-pitchy comments were made and they're really not to 50 yet.

Anyhow!  I entered the one for December.  I didn't win the Grand Prize (you get to sent the agent your FULL MS!)  I didn't win one of the 4 honorable mentions that the agent picked, either.  (partials, people!)  HOWEVER - I did get a mention in the "Special Requests"!!  And I quote:


"I’d be more than happy to see a query and the first ten pages from anyone who participated in the contest, but based on the pitches, I especially would like to hear from the authors of OUT OF MY BODY, THE IRON WOOD, ANGEL OUT OF THE WATERS, THREE PARTS DEAD, SIEGE OF THE HEART, PHANTOM FIRES, THE WHISPERING CITY, and THE CABIN AT LOST CREEK."

OK - you see that one on the end there?  That's ME!!!! 
Can you give me a WOOT WOOT!?  *pauses to listen*  Awww - thanks!  :)
I'm pretty excited!  (ya know, in case you couldn't tell or anything...)  I may not have been THE winner, but I certainly feel like A winner.  Why?  Because this is all about validation.  I'm in that top 26% of pitches that appealed to the agent, Weronika Janczuk.  I pitched something that actually APPEALED to a bona fide, real-life, in-the-biz agent!!  Whether she likes what I send her or not (of course, hoping she does!) the point is that I now know that I've got a story concept/pitch that is appealing.  And I can SOOOO work with that!
I've been researching away - just a tad worried that I don't have the time to research Weronika the way I'd like to, or read some of the books she's agented or recommends - but, I'm assuming when you get a request like this the ideal thing is to get your query and pages to her lightening quick!  So, that's what I'll be working on today.  Wish me luck?
And I pose this question to all of you:  HAVE YOU ENTERED ANY MYSTERY AGENT and/or PITCH CONTESTS LATELY? 
Happy Writing!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Find the Story Friday!! Dognapped....

Hello my blog-tastic friends!  So sorry for the late post...been a busy day!  But, I did get some Christmas shopping done - yay!

So, I'll make this quick.  Here's my pic for the week.  Why?  Because it made me laugh.  Really - the story possibilities for this photo are endless and sure to be fun!  Wait for it....


I KNOW, right??  Lol ~ :)  Would love to hear your story ideas for my cute little pic here.  WHAT DOES THIS MAKE YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU SEE IT?

Happy Friday!!
(oh, yeah!  check out this cool ARC giveaway on Shannon Messenger's blog!!)
(oh, double yeah!  There's also some awesome stuff up for grabs over at the league of extraordinary writers!!)
(and a third, oh yeah!!  My baby sis just started a blog!!  :)  Do a girl a favor and check her out right here - thanks!)
(Ok - need to add a 4th because you CAN"T miss this!!  Beth Revis' Epic Contest of Epic!!  Enter here!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Importance of Traditions...

I grew up LOVING Christmas.

We had a wonderful tradition. On Christmas Eve, my dad’s entire family would congregate at my Grandparents house for a fabulous, yum-alicious potluck dinner, gift exchange, and famed original kids’ Christmas play. Naturally, I was the writer and producer of these plays. My cousins, sisters, and I would hunker down in Grandma’s spare bedroom downstairs and raid her drawers and closet for costumes and props. The script would be written on the fly, that night. Rehearsals were short. Themes changed every year. And we always had a blast! The play best remembered was “Christmas around the world”. My sister, to this day, still hasn’t lived down her version of the Russian kazatsky! Sooooo fun!

But, as time passed and we grew up…this tradition that I so very much loved as a kid, faded away. My parents kept the tradition in their own way. As my sisters and I grew up and started having kids, we started to gather at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve for more delicious potlucks and also a gift exchange. Our kids tried the play thing, but sadly it wasn’t a success for them. Still – we always had a great time.

An added bonus? All our spouses families generally tended to celebrate together on Christmas Day so we didn’t have to do that trade off thing – your family on odd years, my family on even. We enjoyed spending Christmas Eve or day with both families every year. It worked out great!

And I still love Christmas. I’ll have to admit, some of its magic for me has dimmed since my mom passed away. My dad remarried and things inevitably began to change (again). I can’t say for better or for worse. My new stepmom has some fabulous Christmas traditions of her own (or so I’ve heard), but the thing is….they aren’t the traditions I grew up with. They just aren’t MY traditions.

Last year, for the first time I can EVER remember, my family did not spend Christmas Eve together. And this year? Still up in the air. It’s sad to me. My sisters and I were talking about it the other day, what should we do? My dad and stepmom will be wrapped up in her Christmas Eve tradition a few hours away from where we all live. We’re invited of course, but… oh, ho, ho – those pesky, darn “buts”.

But, I’m going to do my best to “buck up” this Christmas. For me, I know something will work its way out eventually. I may be a little whiny now, but I’m not above creating a new tradition for my own little family that my daughter, hopefully, will look back on fondly and want to share with her own kids in the years to come. And I’ve at least got great memories, right? (consoling encouraged and appreciated…thanks)

My point is (yes, I do have one…kind of) TRADITIONS ROCK! I think they are an important part of life and if you can hold on to yours for a lifetime – even better! And if you can’t…make some great ones of your own and share them with the people you love.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An In-between Day...and contest winner!!

Happy Sunday, friends!  I've got a contest winner to announce today!!  *pauses to do a little jig*  :) 

But, first (don't hate me!)  I've got a post to get out there today and I hope you'll read through to the end, instead of scrolling quickly.  *waits to listen for mad mouse scrolling....none?  Phew!*

Today, as you all know, is Dec. 5th.  It's kind of a weird day for me.  It's between the birthdays of my husband and that elusive "one-that-got-away".  Ok, well - let me first preface the rest of this by saying that I love my husband.  In fact, I spoiled him to his heart's content with a fancy-schmancy dinner last night of prime rib, blue moons, and creme brulee at Rickenbackers.  AND Mr. What-if is in a different state and HAPPILY married to not me.  Still....

Do you have this elusive "one"?  Do you ever sometimes sit and wonder how vastly different your life could be if you'd ended up with one person over the other?  Or, even if you're not married, certainly there is a decision you've made in life that pointed you in one direction over another: jobs, education, friends, etc.

Even stranger for me, though.... my husband and this other guy went to the same high school.  They knew of each other, but weren't friends.  They were born the same year - two days apart.  This would make them both Sagittarius's.  But, honestly - they couldn't be more different.  (makes me wonder if I need to put stock in Zodiac signs AT ALL...)  See?

Mr. "IF" was unavailable, so Tom is sitting in....


You get my pondering, right?  :)  (couldn't!)  And of course, there's no sure way to tell if one decision/one fate would have worked out better than another.  But...there's always "but".  Anywho!  That's what's on my mind today - and JUST today.  Every December 5th = me and "What if?"  (hey, that rhymes!)


Well, thanks for ploughing through my thought of the day.  :)  Onto the thing you really want to know - winner, winNER, WINNER!!

Here's the hat with all of your entries:

Here's my daughter picking the winner:

And here's the lucky, no-rigged, bonafide WINNER extraordinaire!!!

CONGRATULATIONS, COLENE!!!!  *dances another jig!*  Please make sure you e-mail me your preference of Amazon or B&N and if you'd like the ornament or something else (holiday related).  And don't lose heart, losers the-rest-of-you-who-didn't-win.  :)  Random generosity is cool.  I'll totally do this again!
Hope you've all been having a FABULOUS weekend!  I'm off til Wednesday to read, read and read a little more....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Find the Story Friday!! It's a circle! No, it's a rock. No, it's a...???

Happy Find-the-Story Friday, y'all!  :)  I need your help.  I've picked out a cool pic to inspire you today.  At least, I hope it inspires you!  It's a little bit of a riddle.  And I'd explain it to you better, except that I can't tell you what the picture is.  Why?  Because I'd like you to guess.

But, please don't think I'm initiating a brain-drain on you for nothing!  The first person to correctly guess what/where the picture is will get two extra entries into my GIVEAWAY.  (which ends tomorrow, midnight, btw.  Winner picked on Sunday - woo hoo!!  Hurry - enter "here".)  Ready?

Want a clue?  This may or may not give it away.  And this is actually why I need your help.  This image didn't inspire a new story, but an old one for me.  It's a key/button/somethingorother to open a portal into a different dimension.  A dimension where Merlin (played by Sean Connery) has been trapped for centuries by the evil Morgan le Fay.  A "modern-day" tourist activates said button and finds herself in an ancient cavern with the man of magic himself.  It's a show I saw on tv a gazillion years ago and I CANNOT for the life of me remember the title of it.  Does this ring a bell to anyone?  Anyone?

If not, that's ok.  It will remain a nagging half memory in my brain, but it's cool.  Really!  :)  Bonus entries require a correct guess of the picture only.

And hopefully, the picture inspires a story idea for you to boot.  May the best guess win!

(p.s. check out another great Giveaway at newly followed Leisha Maw's blog!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NeToReMo – An Experiment in Writing!!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!! It’s the first day of December and the first day of an experiment in writing for me. Now, once you hear my little plan, you may actually think this is an experiment in reading, but I promise you it’s not. (Of course, if the experiment doesn’t work, I claim the right to retract this statement…)

A while back I posted a list of Inspirational Quotes from Writers (mmmm….s’mores….). There was one by William Faulkner that really struck me: “Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the most. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”

Now, I know we’ve all heard this before – to be a good writer, you must read, read, read! Oh, yeah – and read some more.

Confession time? I’ve never really taken this to heart. Don’t get me wrong! I read. Of course I do! But, have I ever read, say 10 novels in a month? Well….ummm….no. *sees jaws dropping* (I know, I know…but please keep reading. You can throw stuff at me later…)

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m declaring December NEED TO READ MORE month!! Or NeToReMo!! (Pronounced in my head as “neat-oh ream-oh”, so say that out loud with me, thumbs up and in a slightly high-pitched voice – it’s fun!!)

I soo hope I’m not plagiarizing this term from somewhere…hold on, please. *googling* Nope. Well, there’s someone using this as a name…I clicked on the site and it froze my browser! (so – don’t do this, please) October is National book month, March is national reading month….but, well…I think I’m ok. Crap! Some dispute on whether September or December is Read-a-new-book month…There is a NaJuReMoNoMo thing in January…..BUT MINE’S DIFFERENT!

Anyhow, here’s what I’m going to do. The obvious – read. A lot. A ton! More than I’ve EVER read in one month EVER! And if Faulkner knew anything, I’m also going to absorb it all in. The good, the bad – all of it.

I’m going to abstain from writing my novel. *more jaws dropping* At least until Jan. 1st. I may make special exceptions when something I’ve read touches/inspires me so much that holding in my own ideas about my novel may literally kill me and I just have to get it out. But December is all about the absorption!

Here’s my list of books to tackle:

Going Bovine – Libba Bray
Demon’s Lexicon – Sarah Rees Brennan
Fire – Kristin Cashore
If I Stay – Gayle Forman
Princess of the Midnight Ball – Jessica Day George
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder – Julie Halpern
The Reformed Vampire Support Group – Catherine Jinks
The Forest of Hands & Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Lament, and Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater
Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
Ash – Malinda Lo
Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia
The Ever After – Amy Huntley

But, I’m not just going to read these. That’s the easy part. I went to a Writer’s conference a few years back and part of their particular plan to make you a better writer was to have you copy, by hand, a very long passage of words and paragraphs from well respected stories, over and over and over again. Now, I’m not necessarily a proponent of this method, BUT I think it holds some merit. I’m going to challenge myself to write down things that really pop out at me as I read. Great metaphors, snappy dialogue, quirky/unique characterization. I’m going to try to pick out the inciting incidents. Make my choice for the overall best first line! Stuff like that.

Ok. Admittedly. Most of this is nothing new. No advice here you haven’t heard before. But, I’m challenging you anyhow! Anyone who would like to join me in NeToReMo this month, here’s what you’ve gotta do:

1. Read 50,000 words in ONE month!! (What’s that? OH! That’s only challenging if you WRITE 50,000 words in 1 month? My bad….) Let’s up that to: 650,000 words in 1 month. A nice round #
2. No your-own-novel writing! (Unless absolutely necessary…)
3. Jot down the best bits. (as mentioned above: metaphors, similes, dialogue, characterization, description, climax, inciting incidents, etc)
4. Make your picks for the best first line. (There can only be one winner!)
5. Post all about the experience on January 1st. (Oh, and write, write, write on this date. WRITE like you mean it!)

My expectation is that, by the end of the month, I’ll be so full of the written word that I will spew forth some fabulous ones of my own! It will be all about writing, revision and querying at the start of 2011. But, to end my 2010 with a bang, baNG, BANG!! I’m reading my way through the Holidays. Care to join?

*special note on #1 – to get to those 650,000 words, this might be an excellent time to get to all those beta-reads or critique your CP projects. Just a thought… I listed books, but I never said they had to be published ones! :)

Oh, and don’t forget to enter my GIVEAWAY! Ends midnight, Dec. 4th…

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Tangled" webs we weave...and some awards!!

Happy Sunday, all!  Have you worked off that Turkey dinner yet?  I've thought about aerobisizing it off all weekend long (few rounds of Just Dance oughtta do it, right?)... but all that thinking just made me crave more turkey, so once I'm done here I think I'm going to cook it all again.  Stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes - the whole shebang!  So, I guess I'd better type quickly!!  My stomach is starting to rumble.....

Aside from mad turkey cravings since Thursday, my daughter and I went to see Disney's "Tangled" yesterday:

It was soooooo ADORABLE!!!  I really enjoyed it.  Truly.  My daughter even made the bold statement that "This is my new favorite Disney movie!"  I don't know if I'd go that far...(B&B is still nearest and dearest to my heart) but it's right up there!  Well, you know...with the other 10 or 15 or 20 Disney shows I love.  :)

Disney, of course, always does their unique spin on a classic.  *Spoiler*  There was no blind prince here.  And Rapunzel wasn't cast from the tower by the evil witch.  She escaped on her own.  But, I enjoyed the creative deviations that Disney took all the same.

And I find that I really enjoy this in books that I read - a twist on a classic fairy tale.  I may have mentioned this before, but I really love Shannon Hale's "Goose Girl" series.  It's her own twist on a (possibly more obscure) Grimm's Fairy tale.  One of my own novels-in-progress (wip) is a small twist on the Snow White fairy tale.  At least - I hope that part of it is obvious to readers.  I know a lot of writers do this (Gregory Maguire, Neil Gaiman, or Alex Flinn's "Beastly", which is also coming out on film soon) - I mean A LOT of writers.  So my question for you today is, "Do you?"  Are any of you incorporating/twisting/revisiting classic fairy tales in your novels?

Some other wonderful business to attend to now!!  I've been awarded some blogging awards!!  Yeah, me!!  Lindsey over at "Dangerous with a Pen" gave me the Versatile blogger award.  Thank you, Lindsey!!  And Alexia over at "The Life and Literary Pursuits of Alexia Chamberlynn" gave me the Honest Scrap award:

Woo hoo!!  Thanks, Alexia!  Ok - so I've gotten the Versatile blogger award before from Abby over at Above Water - but I wasn't cued in on the "rules" of accepting such wonderful, thoughtful awards.  So - I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself for the VB and 10 things for the HS...eek!  Really?  Does that mean 17 things about me right now?  I'll make it brief:

(Actually, I'm cheating a's a list of 17 of my favorite (insert category here))

Favorite Foods:

1 - Thanksgiving dinner (the whole thing!)  2 - SF Sourdough Ham&Pineapple Pizza w/Alfredo sauce  3 - Oooo!  Speaking of Alfredo Sauce - from Olive Garden, on breadsticks or fettuccine  4 - BBq'd hamburgers

Favorite Sweets (yes, this deserves its own category):

5 - CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!!  (forever on the hunt for the perfect recipe)  6 - Caramel corn  7 - brownies, frosted  8 - strawberry shortcake   *argh!, it's passed*

Favorite TV Shows:

9 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer!!  (A MUST watch for any doubters out there of this show's pure, clever awesomeness!!!!)  10 - Star Trek  (all version of it, except the that weird?)  11 - Pushing Daisies (you said "goodbye" toooo soon!)  12 - Top Chef!!

Favorite Board/Card Games:

13 - Apples to Apples (so fun!)  14 - Hand and Foot (for the serious card-player)  15 - Cranium (got clay?)  16 - Shout about the Movies (ok, this one's a dvd game, but it counts!)

And finally, my favorite 13-year-old:

17 - My daughter Alexandra, OF COURSE!!  (yeah, she just came in and read this and says to me "Oh, I'm number 17??)  Please insert her at #1 - :)

I also must pass this on to some wonderful bloggers I know - in my opinion, you're ALL fantastic!  (cop out).  I've already listed some WONDERFUL ones above (Alexia, Lindsey, Abby)  but, here's a few more:

Colene @ The Journey
Lydia @ The Word is my Oyster
Ivy @ The Happy Whisk
Jen @ Unedited
Shannon Whitney Messenger
Jess @ Falling Leaflets
Lenny Lee @ Lenny's World
Shayda @ Shayda Writes

These are just to name a few of the GREAT blogs I've come across!  There are a LOT more, to be sure!  So - if you're feeling versatile and honest today, please pick either award for yourselves.  :)
(Oh, yeah - don't forget to enter my giveaway!!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Find the Story Friday!!!! Puttin' a little Spring in your Winter....

Happy Friday - all!  Soooo.  Is anyone reading this on your phone/laptop as you freeze to death in line and outside your favorite department store for the Black Friday shop-a-ganza mayhem??  Not me!!  Seriously.  You couldn't pay me to stay up all night in the cold with a bunch of strangers only to stampede through random-store doors in hopes of fighting, grappling, stealing, wrestling  getting a deal on something I probably don't need anyhow.

But if this is your bag (baby), I hope you're staying warm, you don't get trampled, and you steal the deal of a lifetime!  :)

And also hoping your Thanksgiving was fantabulous!  Mine sure was.  Did I mention that Thanksgiving dinner is my all-time favorite meal of the year?  My sister switched it up a little this year (I'm generally a traditionalist with my T-day meals....turkey, cranberry sauce, mash taters and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls...) and made a butternut squash souffle.  Yum!!  And then we played games while (some of) the boys watched football.  Games = Spoons (we only saw a few injuries) and Phase 10 (I won!!).  I love long days with great food, great conversation and fun with the people I love.

But, after all was said and done, we left a great day and each other in a freezing cold night.  I've been home for a few hours now, but my teeth are still chattering!! I sat here thinking of what photo I'd add for Find the Story Friday - I realized that even if you're not as cold as's still winter out there, everywhere!  So - here's a little spring to your winter.  Let me know how it inspires?  I'm giving you a few choices here, so hopefully one of these lovely spring pics will spark a story idea in you:



Little slice of Secret Garden here....

Gorgeous, no?
Hmmm....I'm visualizing #1 -  a scene set for a lover's quarrel  and/or  #2 -  a clandestine meeting of two old high school friends at the Tulip festival in Amsterdam.

Anything budding in that brain of yours?  Hope so!  Now grab that pen and write!  :)

(oh - and P.S.!!  If you haven't entered my GIVEAWAY yet, there's still time.  Accepting entries through Midnight, Dec. 4th)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Happy Thanksgiving!!" she said.

Welcome to a few new followers and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you ALL!!  I sincerely hope that you all have a wonderful day tomorrow with family, friends, and everyone who loves and appreciates your pure awesomeness.  Holidays are the best!

A few things I'm thankful for - my family (of course!!), my friends (in real life AND on-line), some other important stuff (job, home, clothes, food, freedom, etc.), my freedom to write fiction (and a little God-given talent, I hope) - there's so many things to be thankful for!

So enjoy your day and also a few Thanksgiving (serious and/or funny) quotes/poems I dug up from the QuoteGarden.

For your serious/heartfelt holiday moods:

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. ~Aesop
He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
~J.A. Shedd

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To tickle your turkey...err funny bone:

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day. ~Irv Kupcinet

Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants. ~Kevin James

I love Thanksgiving turkey. It's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts. ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
~Author Unknown

And for the Football fans out there:

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck

Hope you all have a good one!  What are you thankful for this year?  :)

p.s.  if you haven't entered my giveaway yet - please go check it out here!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giveaway!! It’s all about the (Birthday) Presents!!

First of all, HAPPIEST OF ALL HAPPY BIRTHDAYS TO MY BEAUTIFUL ALEXANDRA!!  My only daughter is a teenager today!!  OMG – a teenager?!!?  (Heaven help me now!!)  Yesterday, we had a chance to experience a “Private Penguin Encounter” at the Living Planet Aquarium as one of her special birthday weekend activities.  Check out these cool pics:
There's my cute girl - right in the middle of it all (as usual...)!
Three in a row
Aren't they CUTE!!?
This girly bird had a thing for my husband...
But her boyfriend was having none of that!!  "Look, look - I'm bowing.  I'm clealy AWESOME!  Pick me, pick me!!"
Penguins bow to their mating interest...a fun little fact for you all!  These are Gentoo penguins, by the way.  So adorable.  They even gave my daughter a birthday present of their own:
Penguin ART!  :)
Totally awesome, right? We’re off later today for MORE fun, as today is her actually birth date. But, I thought I’d present this little post first:

My first EVER Giveaway!!! (aka – random generosity, or shameless ploy for more followers, or what have you…) Since today, my daughter’s birthday, is all about the presents and I’m in this generous mood – and we’re also on the heels of Thanksgiving (thank you!) and Christmas (more presents!) – here’s what I’m offering today:

#1 - A $30 gift card to your choice of or Barnes and Noble (OR a Mrs. Field’s gift card, because I’m looking at their Holiday catalog right now and drooling…YUM!)

But, wait! There’s MORE! (I can’t write that without channeling my inner-infomercial voice)

#2 – I will also dig deep into the bloggy archives of the winner and read/consider/mull over to determine the PERFECT Christmas ornament for you! (which I will mail along with your gift card) **for any winner who doesn’t celebrate Christmas or put up a tree (or have a blog...), please feel free to suggest an alternate Holiday treat.

Interested? Here’s what you have to do:

1 – be a current follower and comment on this post = 2 entries

2 – become a follower and comment on this post = 1 entry

3 – Bonus entries for: blogging about my Giveaway (+3), linking my Giveaway on your sidebar (+2) (*please note in comments if you do either/both)

That’s it! Easy enough, right? I hope this is something that appeals to all of you. It will be FUN for me!! I LOVE ornaments!!

And I’m going to go old-school and actually pick my winner from a hat. From this hat:

So, please spread the word, comment away and GOOD LUCK! *I’ll be running this for two weeks from today. Contest will conclude and winner chosen on Sunday, Dec. 5th.  Woo hoo!! :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's "FIND THE STORY" Friday - Me Mateys!!

Happy Friday, everyone!!  *does a little dance*  Is there anything better than weekends?  No-work, stress-free, sleep-till-noon weekends?  (I sooo need one.)  If you're doing that Friday-dance with me and nodding, I hope you thoroughly enjoy yours - :)

And welcome to my next "Find the Story" Friday!!  Since I first gave you a place (Stonehenge), and I next gave you a thing (lost balloons), today I thought I'd give you a person.  So, get those idea wheels rolling and let me know what you think about when you see this:
are you patiently waiting?

Wow - ok.  Here's my picture-inspired story blurb:  This poor sucker's bored wife decides to take silly pictures of him with this cool new app on her brand new phone, while waiting for her turn at bowling at some dive alley in random city, MA.  She gets her kicks texting these funny pics to her bff's at home.  Chaos ensues when the pic hits Youtube and a pirate crew, looking to recruit, comes knocking at the door.....(based on a true story)

Any of you playing around with pirate stories?  Or does this, by chance, make you want to?  :) 

Well, that's all I've got for you today folks, but I've got something AWESOME planned for Sunday!!  Stay tuned!!  Hope ye all have a treasure filled, plank-walk free, jolly roger start to your weekends! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspiration and Marshmallows!!

For a writer - Imagination is the marshmallow and Inspiration is the fire that burns it into that toasty, yummy treat that we all crave (oh, you know you do – admit it!). Sure, the marshmallow on its own is a great little sugar-fix. But, isn’t it sooo much better toasted? Smeared between chocolate and graham crackers? (ummm, totally!)

Imagination is a wonderful gift! But, that little bit of inspiration that makes us want to take our imaginings to a whole new place is key to a writer.

A few things brought me to this post idea this week. Reading Elana J.’s reflection on her successful year! Read even a little bit about her journey and her writing/blogging/everything!! processes and you’ll be inspired! And then the fabulous Jen Daiker, whose inspiration to blog about Harry Potter this week (shucks, why wouldn’t you?) opened up a great opportunity for her! (Sooo excited for you, Jen!) And then, of course, we’re still in the middle of Nano month. Who couldn’t use a little bit of inspiration about now?

So, I Googled “inspirational quotes by writers” and I’m sure the majority of you have probably read these all before, but in case you’re having one of those writing days where you need a good kick in the tush? Here’s what I’ve got for you:

“There are times when quantity is at least as important as quality in learning an art.” Lawrence Watt-Evans (An EXCELLENT one for Nano)

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain (Notice I’m not keeping any of you away? That’s right – because you’re GREAT! Such a supportive, wonderful group of fellow writers I’ve found. *hugs!*)

“Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” Oscar Wilde

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

“Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer.” John O’Hara

“Read a lot, finding out what kind of writing turns you on, in order to develop a criterion for your own writing. And then trust it – and yourself.” Rosemary Daniell

“If you would be a writer, first be a reader. Only through the assimilation of ideas, thoughts and philosophies can one begin to focus his own ideas, thoughts and philosophies.” Allan W. Eckert

“Start early and work hard. A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” David Eddings

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the most. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” William Faulkner

“Write what you care about and understand. Writers should never try to outguess the marketplace in search of a salable idea; the simple truth is that all good books will eventually find a publisher if the writer tries hard enough, and a central secret to writing a good book is to write one that people like you will enjoy.” Richard North Patterson

“When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.” Kurt Vonnegut

“I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there.” H.G. Wells

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” Doris Lessing

“The first thing you have to consider when writing a novel is your story, and then your story – and then your story!” Ford Madox Ford

“The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.” Thomas Mann (This one goes good with my toasty marshmallow, am I right?)

“The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.” Tom Clancy

“If a book is not alive in the writer’s mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-shit.” Stephen King

“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft – then you can add all the genius you like.” Phyllis A Whitney

And ultimately - “He is able, who thinks he is able.” Buddha

(Source of Quotes found here)

So, you’re all like “King/Queen Inspired” now, right?  Good.  Now, go turn on that stove burner, stick a marshmallow on a fork, toast it, eat it….all set?  Now write!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homage to Other GREAT Artists I know - :)

I read another great blog (Lydia at "The Word is my Oyster") the other day that asked, "Where else has your creativity taken you?"  Sadly, for's limited to writing (at least I hope I have talent for this!) and probably cooking (people eat what I put in front of them, so that's a good sign, right?)  Sure, there's other things I'd LIKE to be good at.  I still want to take that pottery class someday.  But, this question also got me thinking about other people I know that are AMAZINGLY talented and I thought I'd take this Sunday to pay Homage to some other great artists.

I'm starting with my mom.  Sadly, we lost her in 2006 - sooo young, only 52.  I still miss her every single day, especially around the holidays.  She was an amazing cook, an amazing decorator (everyone wanted her to design a room in their homes!) and just awesome at crafting whatever struck her fancy.  Not to mention, she was the best mother four girls could have.  I'd like to share just a handful of the wonderful things she made that I'm lucky to have in my possession:    (pardon the tacky back-drop sheet...)

My lovely mother and just one of her cool birdhouses
I LOVE these (above) birdhouses - she rocked, grouted and painted them - there are barns, churches, log cabins, all sorts - but I loved this round one.  Here's a bird bath she did:

Bird bath from the side
From the top
Another cool rock pot she did:

Here's a Christmas pot and topiary she created - both bases are done with tissue paper - so cool! 

She shaped and curled all that ribbon, used tissue paper on pot - awesome...

Check out the detail and wrap around the handle
Here's a reversible picture she soldered silver around:

One side
The other

Some other lovely pots and jugs:

I love the antiquing finish on the middle one!
 She even did jewelry:

My daughter as model for both

Like I said, these are just a tiny, minuscule taste of all the wonderful things she created.  They were my FAVORITE gifts and the best keepsakes ever.  I'll take hand-made over store-bought any day!

My lovely sister, Cait, is following in Mom's footsteps.  Look at this cool picture frame she made for my birthday:

I also have some fabulous friends (on-line and in-person) that have talents I can't help but envy.

Here's a little shout out to one of my best g-friends, Sarah Jebian, who is an absolutely stunning singer.  She's currently in the works of putting out her first album.  I'm soooo excited for her!!!!  She's also a dancer and an actress and just an all-around great talent.  You can check out some of her performances via her FB page here. 

And another very talented blog friend, Kelly Sansom, her blog makes me laugh and her pictures I want to BUY and FRAME and HANG all over my house!!!  She's a gifted photographer - she and her husband have a photography business in Utah called "Gallery Photography".  She also makes jewelry and gourmet cooks!  Seriously, she's awesome.  Check out her blog.

And then, of course - can't forget to give thanks to all of you - more amazing friends, bloggers, writers, and just all around GREAT people!!  You all ROCK!  Seriously!  I'm happy to have met you ALL.

Happy Sunday!!