Saturday, January 30, 2010


I'm obeying Shelley's charge to answer the following questions with only one word.  I had to cheat a little.

Your Cell Phone?
Your Hair?
Your Mother?
Your Father?
Your Favorite Food?
Your Dream Last Night?
Your Favorite Drink?
Naked Juice
Your Dream/Goal?
What Room Are You In?
Family Room
Your Hobby?
Your Fear?
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years?
Where Were You Last Night?
Something That You Aren't?
Gloria Ambrosia
Wish List Item?
Where Did You Grow Up?
Last Thing You Did?
What Are You Wearing?
Your TV?
Your Pets?
Your Life?
Your Mood? 
Impatient (or so Ben tells me)
Missing Someone?
Something You Aren't Wearing?
Your Favorite Store?
Your Favorite Color?
When Was The Last Time You Laughed?
Last Time You Cried?
Your Best Friend?
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Bed 
Favorite Place To Eat?
Cafe Rio

If you read this, you are automatically charged with the task of answering these questions yourself.  But only if you want to.

Now I'm going to post the video my daughter has been begging to watch for the last five minutes.

I know.  It's a bit morbid for a two-year-old, but she thinks it's great.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Quick Update

Thank you so much for your encouraging words.  I've filled two holes and revised the scenes from my first draft up to the next hole.  Now, I only have two holes left to fill, but these will take longer; I could probably call them trenches.  ;)  

I find revising scenes I've let sit for a while easier than revising something I've just written. Problems leap out at me.  The good writing just does it's job and moves me through the story without grabbing my attention. Anything--it doesn't matter how clever it is--that jolts me out of the story needs to be revised or deleted.  Even the humor should feel like it belongs.

And, last night, I had a much better idea for an ending, so I guess I'll be re-writing that too. That's okay though.  I knew my ending wasn't good enough when I wrote it, but I had more fun writing that scene than any other scene in the novel.  I think I'll keep it as a deleted scene.  Do any of you keep deleted scenes? 

If you have a few minutes, this one is pretty good.  :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Filling in Holes

I realized last night, as I was revising (or procrastinating writing the next chapter), why I have such a hard time writing anything longer than a picture book in chronological order.  It's not necessarily a bad thing; instead of struggling with writer's block, I move on or work on something else.  Unfortunately, I leave holes to fill in later on.  Sometimes filling them in is easy, and sometimes adding a couple of hundred words is a struggle.  As long as I keep adding words though, I learn more about the characters and what motivates them. Those words may not make it through my next revision, but they add something to the story anyway.

When I was in college, I took a creative writing class where the main projects were writing a short story and a personal essay.  For the short story, our professor had us write about a decision we'd made.  Then he had us write the experience from someone else's point of view and fictionalize it.  Then he had us write through to the end of our story before he had us go back and write the beginning.  So, when I get an idea for a novel, I rarely start at the beginning.  I dive into the action.  I have to go back and set it up later, but I just write whatever scene comes to me until the plot starts to emerge.  It doesn't take long.  If I get stuck, I write background on characters to get to know them better.

It works, but I've been revising and filling in holes and revising the new stuff for the last third of my novel since October.  Of course, I took November off for NaNoWriMo, and I always binge read in December.  And then, there were all of those fun writing contest the first week in January.  But I've been working hard since then. Honest.  And I think the end is in sight.  I'll let you know when I get there.  It's kind of like Magellan finding the East Indies in this clip.

As for my inability to write a first draft from beginning to end, I'm blaming that one on the professor. ;)  

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Lovely Book

If reading a book that's been written in letters makes you insane, this may not be the book for you, but I loved it. "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" is the best adult book I've read in years. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle)

There were so many things about this book that made me happy.  I loved the idea that a certain famous author/playwright might have written letters to a little girl who'd lost her cat, letters with stories of the cat's adventures.  I loved how sharing books and stories brought the characters together.  I was sad to learn that Mary Ann Shaffer died before the book was published though.  Had she written more books, I would have picked them up.  Annie Barrows has other children's books.  I've read one or two from her "Ivie and Bean" series, and they were wickedly funny.  I can't tell you how refreshing it was for me to find a book written for my age group that I could connect with.  

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Catching Fire vs. The Hunger Games

One of my friends borrowed CATCHING FIRE  from one of their friends for me a couple of days ago.  Suzanne Collins definitely wrote another page turner, but I can wait to finish the series.

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

I liked the first one better.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Best Series Books of 2009

I've been meaning to recommend these as part of a GREAT BOOKS I READ IN 2009 post, but I don't think that post is going to happen.  January is almost over, and I read way too many great books last year.  No, I mean it. One of my older sisters tried to talk me to going to a 12-steps type program for my reading addiction, but I'm not willing to kick the habit.  In this post, I am only going to tackle a few of my favorite series books, and I am only going to post one picture from each series.

Easy Readers - the ELEPHANT AND PIGGY books, by Mo Willems.  If you have a child learning to read, especially a boy, you'll want to check these out.  Funny books are the best!

I Will Surprise My Friend! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

YA Science Fiction - the DRAGONBACK ADVENTURES, by Timothy Zahn.  I almost didn't pick these up because I wasn't crazy about the cover on the first one (that still isn't the way I picture the characters), but I knew I liked Zahn's writing.  I can't recommend these enough.  I loved Draco, the warrior poet.  He was one of those characters you want to hang out with, and he's not even the main character.  I loved the plot loops and the way Zahn resolved them.  I will read all six of these books again. This is the first one.

Dragon and Thief: The First Dragonback Adventure (Dragonback (Quality))

Children's/YA Fantasy - PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS, by Rick Riordan.  There are six of these as well.  I went into this series skeptical, and I'm still marveling over the man's ability to incorporate mythology without getting bogged down in it.  There were no bogs.  The stories were extremely fast paced, but I still connected with the characters and understood what was going on.  Everyone I've recommended this series to has loved it, especially the boys. My favorite in the series was THE SEA OF MONSTERS, but I've always loved THE ODYSSEY. This is a picture of the first book.  

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

If you've read any of these books already, or if you pick them up, let me know what you think.     

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heroic Cockroaches and Stuff

I thought I was behind the times, reading THE HUNGER GAMES last night (and into the morning, if I'm being honest).  I mean, it's been out since 2008.  The critics already raved and gave awards to Suzanne Collins. 

The Hunger Games

I thought I'd better put CATCHING FIRE on hold through our library system today.  I'd rather be reading it today, but I didn't know the first one would end the way it did, and I'm really trying to turn some of my reading time into writing time.  There's only so much time in the day. I knew the wait would be bad because I had to wait quite a while for the first one.  I am now 92nd in line for CATCHING FIRE.  So, it looks like I'll meet my writing and revision goals for February after all.

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

I read GREGOR THE OVERLANDER and the rest of her first series last year, and would whole-heartedly recommend it, if the later books in the series weren't so violent.  I loved her characters.  If you've read the first book, you know what I mean.  The cockroaches were my favorites.  And there was this really great bonding moment at the end of the last book that redeemed the series for me.  I felt like it needed redeeming after all the death and suffering I waded through.  But my husband thinks I'm too sensitive, and maybe he's right.  So, if reading about children and teens thrown into kill or be killed situations doesn't particularly bother you, her books are amazing.  There is meaning behind the death and suffering, and it's going to be very hard for me to wait for that next book.    

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Contest for Readers

I just came across this fun little package for people who like to read.  Do you have any idea how cool my eleven-year-old would think this is? Especially if I threw a good book into the mix?

If you're interested, click here.  You have until the 19th to win.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Last week, when I placed second in Natalie's contest, Josin L. McQuein's comment about my entry made me think.  She said, "And Myrna's is a lesson on how to pack maximum story into minimum space. I've seen full length chapters that aren't that clear with establishing a world's backstory and structure."  

Nice of her to say so, but reading it made me realize the first chapter of my WIP is guilty guilty guilty.  I spent a great deal of time revising and moving stuff around last week, and I'm still not happy.  I think I need to write a prologue.

I originally decided not to write a prologue because having that prologue pushes my story that much closer to being high fantasy, and most of my favorite agents aren't the least bit interested in high fantasy.  But maybe that's what the story is,and I kind of like prologues.  A great prologue draws a reader right into the story and gives them a sense of background.  My novel has an obnoxious amount of backstory (some of which the reader will never know), and it's challenging to work the essentials into the story without force-feeding the reader.

What do you think about prologues?  

I've noticed a trend (Twilight, The Sisters Grimm, ect.) where, instead of a prologue, they take the most exciting/dangerous moment in the story and put it at the beginning of the book.  They leave the reader hanging at the worst possible moment and then begin the story.  How do you feel about those (not sure what to call them)? They certainly made me want to know what was going to happen.

But that isn't what I'm off to write.  I'm off to write a prologue.

P.S.  If you have a copy of CALAMITY JACK, Nathan Hale is drawing avatars for anyone who sends him a picture of their copy.  Go here to find out more, but be quick about it.  His offer is only good through today. 



Friday, January 8, 2010

Contest Winner

Okay, the contest is closed, and Krista won.  So, Krista, let me know if you'd rather have hardcover or softcover and whether you'd like me to mail it to you or meet you for lunch in Mesquite next week.  We could even brown bag it at the park, if the weather stays like it's been this week.  Did I throw enough options at you?

I read CALAMITY JACK last night, and I thought it was even better than RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE.  Hmm.  I might have to read them again to make sure though.

Rapunzel's RevengeCalamity Jack

In other (but still contest related) news, I won second place in Natalie Whipple's writing contest.  I'm super excited because I am a big fan of her art.  I thought about posting my entry here, but I don't think I could do it without tinkering and making it twice as long as the entry that I actually entered.  I had to cut so much to keep it under 500 words.  And the other two winners were awesome, so I'm just linking to her blog where you can see her picture and read all three stories.  

Monday, January 4, 2010


Natalie Whipple blogged about going to her first book launch party at "The King's English Bookshop," and reading her post reminded me about mine.  My sisters and two of my nieces drove up to Salt Lake to attend Shannon Hale's FOREST BORN release party at the same book store last September.

The evidence above turned out fuzzy and cut out both of my nieces, but we had a blast!  When we were getting our books signed, she recognized my name and asked if I'd commented on her blog.  Sometimes, having a unique name is totally awesome, and so is meeting one of your favorite authors and finding out she is every bit as friendly and witty as you'd imagined she'd be.  

The sequel to RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE comes out this week, and I am anxiously awaiting two (you heard that right), two copies of CALAMITY JACK.  I intend to wear out the first copy, but I'm giving the second one away. 

Calamity Jack

Just looking at the cover makes me want to read it.  If you would like a chance to win this collaboration by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale (no relation), type CALAMITY JACK somewhere in your comment.  I'll close the contest at noon (Pacific) on Friday, January 8th, and select a winner at random.

If you can't possibly wait for the possibility that I might mail you a copy, you can click on the cover in this post to pre-order it at Amazon (last time I checked) for a hefty discount.  Book stores should be carrying it by the end of the week, and the above mentioned Hales will be throwing a release party this Saturday.      

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The New Year

I love writing out resolutions or goals.  Every year, my husband laughs as I write out a long list of what I would like to accomplish in the coming year.  I know I won't get everything done, but it helps me sort out my priorities and find my direction.  In fact, I like to break my goals for the year into monthly, weekly, and even daily lists.  I love Mondays.  I get a lot more done on a Monday than I do on a Thursday because I generally run out of steam or get distracted half-way through the week and then have to make up the difference on Saturday.  My Saturdays, especially the last one of the month, tend to be brutal.

Writing out resolutions can be a lot like outlining a novel.  It never turns out the way I plan, but it turns out better when I plan than when I don't.  Having a plan gives me the nerve to move forward; I don't have to dither over what I'm doing (if they gave medals for dithering, I'd be highly  decorated) or ask myself if I'm crazy for spending so much time writing nonsense.  I'm flexible, so if the plan isn't working, I re-work the plan.  I'm also easily distracted (try dangling something shiny in front of me or recommending a great book).  Life throws stuff at me that I don't plan for all of the time, but, unless my two-year-old wants me to play catch with a golf ball, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  If life were predictable, it would be boring.  And speaking of distractions, check this out.

2009 was my best writing year ever, and I'm excited to see what I can get done this new year.  What do you get excited about when you think about 2010?