Filtering by Tag: a-z blogfest

A Quick Drop-In

I've been swamped with homework and the day job, but I thought I'd swing by and say hi to all you wonderful people in the blog world. So...hi!

Also, I've entered two blogfests. It's been SO LONG since I've done a blogfest, on account of my lack of time, but these ones sounded fun:

The Origin Blogfest:

And the A to Z April Challenge

I did the A to Z challenge last year and had a blast. I'm looking forward to doing it again this year, as well as the Origin Blogfest. At the very least, it'll give me a reason to post something, instead of completely forgetting that I HAVE a blog most days!

Anyway, how is everyone? How's your writing going? Is your New Year all that you'd hoped for so far? Are YOU doing either of these blogfests? Maybe another one I haven't heard of yet?

It's Monday, Y'all

Good morning! How do you all like my new layout? I wanted something spring-y to cheer me up since it seems like spring will never come to Michigan...

This is just going to be a quick post this morning, since I've still got to finish up some homework before heading to the day job. I just wanted to share with everyone this adorable award that Elizabeth Mueller made for all of the A-Z participants.

She is currently making her rounds through the almost 1300 participants to personally give them this award. Now THAT'S dedication! Thanks a million, Elizabeth!

Also, during the chaotic month of April, Deirdre over at A Storybook World, gave me this gorgeous award:

Thanks, Deirdre!

Alright, so that wraps up this post. I'm off to take care of some business! Happy Monday, everyone!

Z is for Zzz

So, who else is absolutely exhausted after this month of madness? Between wracking my brain to come up with something to write about to scrambling to get to the computer and post, I am ready for a nap.

Not to mention, I've got finals to study for and a presentation to finish up in time for Tuesday (yeah, I'm a procrastinator). So, I am happy to come to the end of the A-Z Blogfest. Although, I have to say, I had fun with it. It was a great experience and I met a lot of pretty awesome fellow-bloggers.

So, off I go to take a nap. Are you going to do the same?

Y is for Yo-Yo

No, not that little plastic spool attached to a string (although I've had hours of fun with those). Yo-Yo as in the confidence of a writer. One minute, you're on top of the world, the next you're sure you suck and you'll never finish another sentence. You know what I mean. Up and down. Up and down.

"I'm awesome."

"I suck."

"This book rocks."

"This book is trash."

And on and on.

I have dealt with this from the moment I decided to write fiction. And although the down moments are hard and painful, the up moments more than make up for them. There isn't anything like my fingers flying across the keys, my confidence soaring high, my adrenaline pumping through my veins. It's almost the best feeling in the world.

How about you? Do you experience yo-yo confidence? How do you deal with it?

V is for Vices

We all have 'em. Things we love that we know we shouldn't. Things we do that would be seen by others as a waste of time. Foods, TV shows, hobbies. You name it, there's a vice somewhere in there.

My vices include chocolate-covered marshmallows, The Sims 3 and reruns of Friends. I've seen every single episode numerous times, but that doesn't stop me from watching it anytime I see it on.

What about you? What are some of your vices?

U is for Um...Blogfest!

I signed up to do the Now Starring Blogfest over at Rapturous Randomocity because it sounded like fun. But then I couldn't think of anything beginning with U to tie it in. Hence the lazy title!

Anyway, the whole idea behind the blogfest is to select a cast for your WiP, if it were being made into a movie. Cool idea, right? Especially for those of us who already choose pictures of celebrities to represent our characters.

My current WiP is a romance/romantic comedy about a girl who tries to win her ex back before he marries someone else. My dream cast is as follows:

Zooey Deschanel as Tierney, my main character. She's flighty and insecure and a wee bit unstable, but I love her to pieces.

David Conrad as Jack, the best man who is determined to stop her crazy scheme

James van der Beek as Wes, Mr. Right who's about to get married to the wrong girl.

Brittany Snow as Sam, Wes's sweet, perfect fiancee.

And Isla Fisher as Macy, Tierney's best friend, who's always trying to talk sense into her.

So, what do you think? Would you see this movie? Who would you cast in the film version of YOUR book?

R is for Revisions

Revisions. They're a writer's best friend and mortal enemy, all rolled into one. On one hand, you get to tear apart and rebuild your book until it shines. On the other...well, it's a lot of work. And by a lot, I mean A LOT!

For example, about five (ish) years ago, I started a book. It wasn't my first book. I'd written two shorter novels up to that point. So I was feeling pretty good, all kinds of confident, when I started this one. Well, as soon as I typed "The End" I shipped it off to a wonderful critique partner. And, for a few months, we sent chapters back and forth, me soaking in all her priceless advice, her doling out bits of pointers and suggestions. We never reached the end of the book together, but I learned a lot from her.

Getting off track here.

The book I was working on then is the very same book I'm working on right now. I revised and rewrote it to death all those years ago, then sat it aside and picked up something else. Now, I'm completely rewriting it (in first person instead of third) and it's a thousand times better.

At least until I get to the revisions.

Revisions have a way of bringing glaring mistakes and god-awful writing to light.

The thing I notice fixing the most when I start to revise is timing. I always have scenes out of place all over the darn book. 2009's NaNoWriMo novel is a prime example. I cut the first 7k and started at the real meat of the story only to find that, in doing so, 90% of the rest of the book had to be rearranged.

My point here is: Revisions are a bitch. But they're a useful, necessary bitch. And, I have to admit, sometimes I love every second of them.

As for the other times...well, no one likes a bitch.

Q is for Questionnaires

I'm a big fan of getting to know my characters really well before I start writing. My favorite method? Questionnaires. Name, age, hair and eye color, height and all that basic stuff. But then I ask them what their favorite childhood memory is. Or what person had the biggest impact on their life. It's more than just knowing the surface things about these people that live in my head. I need to know what makes them tick. Why they do the things they do.

It really helps to build a story with characters that are that well-developed. Even if your reader never knows that your main character had the chicken pox when she was thirteen or that her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, or that the smell of vanilla gives her a tummy ache. But if YOU know these things, that character is that much more alive to you.

And when your characters are alive in your mind, they'll come to life on the page.

What about you? Do you use questionnaires? What do you ask your characters? What other methods do you use to get to know them?

P is for Procrastination

I like to say that the Internet is a writer's best friend and worst enemy all rolled into one. On one hand, there's an endless supply of information and networking opportunities galore. On the other hand, there are things like Facebook and Twitter and a zillion different games to suck you in.

I am the first to admit that I don't get nearly as much writing done as I used to. The Internet is always there, taunting, teasing and torturing me until I open Firefox and take a peek. Just five minutes, I always say. Just five minutes and I'll get back to work. Well, five minutes turns into ten and the next thing I know, three hours have passed. And then my writing time is gone and I've managed a whopping hundred words.

The Internet is the biggest source of procrastination for me. When the words aren't flowing or I just don't feel like writing, it's where I turn. There are a million and one things to do and I'm pretty sure I do all of them before I try to get back to writing.

What about you? How do you procrastinate?

O is for Overwhelmed

Anyone else ever feel buried under a mountain of things that have to be done? For example, I work full time, I'm back in school for the first time in years, I'm trying to finish the first draft of a novel and revise another, plus I signed up to do this crazy A-Z thing. Not to mention, I've got laundry piled up and a house that needs a good scrubbing. And I've got to get my darn license. Oh yeah, and I should probably find time to spend with Dana somewhere in all that.

What about you? How full is your calendar? How long is your to-do list? Are you feeling a little Overwhelmed?

N is for Names

Naming my characters is probably my favorite part of starting a new story. The name usually comes to me first and I build my character around it. The name usually is a starting point for my character's entire personality.

I like a unique name, but nothing too out there. After all, I grew up with the name Meika. I wouldn't want to saddle my characters with a lifetime of correcting people when they pronounce it wrong, or constantly spelling it out. Of course, I love my name now. I've never met another Meika. Which, I guess, is what I try to do for my characters. The female leads always have names that I love but would never name my children (I've already got names picked out for the kids I'll have someday, so I know which ones to avoid).

Every now and then, I'll read a book and think to myself, "Now, why didn't I name MY character that?" (ie Katniss from The Hunger cool is that name?) But overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the names I've come up with. Last year, I tried to change the name of one of my MC's. I searched and searched for a name for weeks only to end up right back where I started. And you know what? The name fits her perfectly.

So what about you? How do you name your characters? What are some of your favorite names from fiction? Do you like YOUR name?

M is for Muse

In ancient Greece, the Muses were nine goddesses believed to inspire art and literature. Today, writers and artists still believe in them. Maybe not specifically the Greek muses, but we all have a muse, don't we?

They all come in different forms. For some, maybe their muse is a song or singer. Others, maybe a celebrity. Or maybe your muse is someone you know in real life.

As for me, my muse looks a little something like this:

There's just something about Audrey Hepburn that inspires me. Her charm and grace are impeccable. She's just so classy and stylish and timeless. Which is something I hope my writing has.

My other muse is Dana. She pushes me to be better than I am and she believes that I can reach my dreams. Without her, I'm sure I would have given up years ago.

So there ya have it. What about you guys? What or who are your muses? Why?

L is for Lyrics

My favorite kind of music is the heartfelt, well-written kind. You already know I love words, so it's only natural for me to love words in music as well. I have mentioned how I used to want to be a songwriter. Today, I figured I'd share a few of the people that inspired that dream.

Kristyn Osborn
is the songwriting member of the country-pop trio, SHeDAISY. Her lyrics are gorgeous, clever and mesmerizing. I've learned many new words just by listening to her songs. In fact, lead singer Kassidy said that their album Knock on the Sky should have come with a dictionary. A few favorite lines:
Keep Me: The travesty's the irony and the irony is you. I've traded in my sanctity for a cheaper shade of blue
I Wish I Were the Rain: Love's a series of broken sentences
Miscalculations, reconciliations
Seductive highs, destructive lows
Words that fly too fast
Feet that move too slow
Wish I could dance outside this windowpane
Oh, I wish I were the rain
In Terms of Love:
I don't think about black in terms of gray
Or revelations in the light of day
I don't think about cold in terms of ice
Or second chances happenin' twice

I could go on and on with her lyrics but I'll stop there and move on. How gorgeous are they, though?

Next up is Diane Warren. You may have heard tons of her songs and not even realize it. She's written from everyone from Aerosmith (I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing) to LeAnn Rimes (How Do I Live, Can't Fight the Moonlight) to Christina Aguilera (I Turn to You). She's just incredible.

Jewel is a unique writer. The way she words things never ceases to impress me. A few favorites:
Break Me: I will let you undress me, but I warn you, I have thorns like any rose.
Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone: I tried to forget you
but you tied bells to your name
They jingled every time i thought of you
without shame
I tried to be unlovable
Why couldn't you do the same?

Jason Mraz...ahh, I love Mr. A-Z. He's so darn clever and amusing yet raw and real and beautiful. Sometimes I just close my eyes and savor his lyrics:
Beautiful Mess: Well it kind of hurts when the kind of words you write
Kind of turn themselves into knives
And don't mind my nerve you could call it fiction
But I like being submerged in your contradictions, dear
Life Is Wonderful: And it takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
1000 Things: Well I've seen a thousand things in one place
But I stopped my counting when I saw your face
That'll Do (Caution, there's swearing in this one): In the arms of a city that holds no trace for,
the face or,space for you and me.
So go make your life,not a living
And: We should all keep pretending, that our dreams are patent-pending

So there you have it. Just a few of my favorites. So, how about you? Do you have a favorite songwriter? How about a favorite song? What did you think of my favorites?

K is for Katniss

As you may have guessed from the title, today's post is about The Hunger Games. I'm sure by now everyone has at least heard of this series. And if you haven't read it yet...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

I know I've talked about it before. I know I've gone on and on about how I don't really read a lot of YA or anything remotely sci-fi. How I like to stick with my romance/chick lit/women's fiction and literary fiction. But I'd heard such good things about Suzanne Collins' series that I gave it a go.

I borrowed the first book from a friend. And, let me tell you. I could NOT put it down. And as soon as I finished it (in about a day), I had to go out and buy the next one. And after that, Dana bought me Mockingjay. I read all three in about a week.

For those of you that don't know what it's about The Hunger Games series is set in the not so distant future. The US has fallen apart and now there are twelve districts run by the wealthy Capitol. Each year, every district has to offer up "tributes" from ages 12 to 18 to take part in The Hunger Games, which is basically a reality show from hell. There can only be one winner, one survivor. The rest of the tributes must die. Our main character is Katniss Everdeen and the story is thrown into action when her littler sister's name is drawn in the "reaping" and Katniss steps forward to take her place.

What's so great about The Hunger Games? It's just an intense, heart-pounding ride that won't let you go. From the moment Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place, you can see just how high the stakes are for this girl, the provider for her family.

While all the characters are so well-rounded and real (Peeta, Haymitch, Gale, Prim, Cinna...I could go on...), Katniss is one of the best characters I've ever read. She's brave and strong, yet vulnerable. And in spite of so much happening around and to her, she never feels sorry for herself, never gives up. She's one tough chick.

(Hopefully Jennifer Lawrence can bring this bad ass character to life on the big screen)

I also love that it's written in first person, present tense. Very few novels pull this off well, but with this series, it works. It brings such a sense of urgency to an already-tense story.

So there you have it. My fangirl love letter to The Hunger Games.

What about you? Have you read it? Love it? Hate it? What do you think of the casting choices (so far) for the movie? Wouldn't Hugh Laurie be the perfect Haymitch?

J is for Jennifer

There are so many great authors out there that have inspired me to write the types of novels I do. I can't recall the names of those who wrote all the Harlequins I devoured as a teen, though they played a major role in who I am as a writer today. Specifically the fantastic line of Flipside novels that are now extinct. But probably the biggest influence is a woman named Jennifer.

Okay, TWO women named Jennifer.

Jennifer Weiner.

Jennifer Weiner writes with such wry humor and heart that I fall in love with her characters from page one. Though she doesn't write "romance" in the traditional sense of the word, books like Good in Bed or In Her Shoes have an underlying romance theme. She's seriously fantastic.
Jennifer Crusie

Now, Jenny's books are closer to what I'm trying to write. Funny, sexy love stories. If you haven't read a Crusie, you're missing out. Big time.

Though the whole letter J kind of limits this post, I feel like I should mention a couple more lovely ladies that I love. Carly Phillips and Kristan Higgins. I love their work and hope to accomplish something like it someday.

What about you? Who are your writing heroes?

I is for Icon

No, not a writerly icon. My personal icon. And since I missed the opportunity with A and H to pay homage to this wonderful woman, I booted my original I post and made room.

I is for Icon.

Ms. Audrey Hepburn, as a matter of fact.

Audrey epitomizes beauty, grace and charm. If you've ever seen one of her movies, you know what I mean. Audrey in Sabrina? Ridiculously charming and adorable. Breakfast at Tiffany's? Priceless. Roman Holiday? Gah! So cute I can't stand it!

But aside from all that, she was a great person. In the later years of her life, she dedicated her time to charity work and became an ambassador for UNICEF. Above all else, this is what makes her so darn admirable.

Just look at that smile in the face of such devastation.

This is why Audrey Hepburn is my Icon. Aside from her beauty and grace, she had heart and compassion. And that's something I aspire to have each and every day.

E is for Envy

We've all experienced it. The Green-Eyed Monster. That little voice in your head that wants to shove your arch-nemesis down the stairs. That picture in your mind of the best-selling author who can barely construct a sentence getting hit by a bus.


Okay. Maybe my monster's a little more...violent than it should be...

You know what I mean, though.


Come on, I know I'm not the only one who gets jealous.

So, how do you reign in that evil bastard? How do you quiet that voice when you read about one of your blog buddies getting an agent or contract? How do you keep from getting so bitter you could spit?

PS: I promise I haven't actually pictured any of you getting hurt. Cross my heart!

D is for Demeter

Yesterday's post inspired this one. All that mythology soaking into my brain, at least one Greek god or goddess was bound to make an appearance.

D is for Demeter.

Demeter is the Greek goddess of harvest. One of the most beloved gods, the ancient Greeks would set a plate for her at their tables. She was responsible for the crops being plentiful, the earth producing enough to care for her people.

One of my favorite myths revolves around Demeter and her daughter, Persephone.

One day, Persephone was out, picking flowers and just enjoying the day, when Hades (God of the Underworld) was struck by an arrow shot by Eros (aka Cupid) and fell instantly in love with her. In spite of her protests, he dragged her down to the Underworld to be his bride.

Demeter adored her daughter and was devastated when she disappeared. She let the earth grow cold and all the crops die as she roamed the earth looking for her beloved daughter. After learning what happened, Demeter begged Zeus to make Hades release her, to which Zeus said that he would -- as long as Persephone hadn't consumed any food while in the Underworld. Well, she was down there for a while, and a girl is gonna get hungry, right? So she ate a few pomegranate seeds.

Afraid Demeter would condemn all the human race for her daughter's fate, Zeus reached a compromise. Persephone would remain in the Underworld for half the year, and spend the rest with her mother. Thus, the seasons were created.

How cool is that? I love that the ancient Greeks needed an explanation for the seasons so they created this myth. It's so fascinating.

What about you? Do you have any favorite myths? A favorite god or goddess?