Monday, February 28, 2011

Knowing When to Pull the Plug

I was actually inspired to write this post after giving a rather long-winded answer to an interesting question posed on Tracy's Forever Endeavor Blog.

I've mentioned before how much I loved V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic, and most of the subsequent books in the series. 

Notice I said most.  The first two books were out-and-out amazing.  Suspenseful, sad, and mind-blowingly effed-up in the best possible way.  Not to mention V.C.'s unmistakable flair for hinting at different interpretations of everything going on without ever giving the reader a concrete answer (was Sylvia really mentally impaired in My Sweet Audrina?  Did Corinne really dump Cory's body in another part of the attic, despite promising to give him a proper burial?  You are a masterful genius of torture, Virginia Andrews!)

But by the time I finished the third book in the Dollanganger series, I remember thinking hmm... V.C. was a little off her game on that one.
By the fifth and final book, I was scratching my head, wondering how things had veered so off course.  The storyline had gone from Wow, that's effed up! to Wow, that's just effing stupid!  The little things that drew me in had slowly disappeared; the intricacies of the plot, the dark depth of the storytelling.

I decided to try the Casteel series next, to see if I'd fare any better.  It was the same phenomenon all over again, except this time, it was worse.  Several of the characters spoke with distinct Southern accents, which disappeared as the series progressed.  And one character was named Walter Drake, after the explorer, but went by Drake.  Well someone obviously forgot this little detail, because a couple books later he's referred to as "Drake Ormond Casteel".  Was V.C. losing her mind?

No, but unfortunately, she did pass away from breast cancer in 1986.  The only books she finished before her death were My Sweet Audrina, Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, Heaven, and Dark Angel.  The rest were penned by a ghostwriter, and in my opinion, not a very good one.  Then again, how does a detail like getting a character's name wrong slip past the editors, too?

Which leads me to my main question.  When a series is concerned, why don't people seem to know when to leave well enough alone?  If it's already a ghost of what it once was, isn't it better to just let it die?

I'm sure not everyone noticed the difference in the V.C. Andrews novels, but I did, and it bothered me.  Was it greed that led publishers to plaster her name on the covers of books that weren't worthy of it? 

Pull the plug, people.  Don't let the quality of the work suffer.

I have a feeling something similar happened with Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series.  While none of the titles in the 8-book series will make it to my list of all time favorites, they were still an enjoyable read.  ** Be forewarned I will be giving away plot details next**

The whole premise of the series is the mystery surrounding the disappearance of pretty, popular Ali who dropped off the face of the earth after a fight with her four best friends.  Three years later, they each start receiving cryptic text messages signed "A" referencing things that only Ali knew.  Then Ali's body is found.  And the text messages keep coming. 

Not a mind-blowing plot, but intriguing enough to keep me reading for four books, after which it seemed the mysteries were solved and life would go back to normal.  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure this was where Sara Shepard intended for the series to end.  If it wasn't, it should have been.  Because after book four, things just got ridiculous.  Emily is banished to Amish country.  Hanna and Kate fight over perv-y Mike Montgomery.  Spencer turns out to be Ali's long-lost sister.  And worst of all, Ali turns up alive and well, despite her body having been found and buried in the first book.  She does disappear again, though I haven't read the last book to find out WTF was up with that, nor do I care to. 

That plug should have been pulled four books ago. 

My last example of a series that should have been put out of its misery is not a book, but it's dear to my heart all the same.  I'm talking, of course, about Smallville.

Siiiighhh, Smallville.  I can't tell you how many times I cried watching this show because I was so head over heels in love with everything about it.  Cried, like, hysterically.  If you've ever seen the episode where they flash back to Lex Luthor's birthday and no one came to his party, you know what I mean.  Or the episode where Clark lost his father trying to save Lana, or the episode where Lana married Lex after telling Clark she wanted to be with him... Ahem, Sorry.  I tend to gush when I talk about those first five seasons.

I just loved the angsty dynamic between Clark and Lana.  She was so darn pretty, I wanted to be her.
I lived for them to get together (Lois who?).  I loved the relationship between Clark and his parents, and I gave huge props for the fact that they always followed through on story lines.

For the first five seasons, that is.  I read in TV Guide a long time ago that the show was intended for a five-season run.  Then it became the most popular show on the CW network, and wouldn't you know it, the five season idea went out the window.  Along with it went the attention to detail I'd so admired. 

Now in it's eighth season, Smallville is virtually unrecognizable and utterly silly.  Jonathan is dead, Martha only comes around once in a blue moon, and Lex Luthor peaced out a couple seasons ago.   Tell me - how do you tell a story about Superman without Lex Luthor?  Sure Justin Hartley is one sexy piece of shirtless eye candy as Oliver, but it's just not the same without Michael Rosenbaums' darkly delicious villain.  And it irks me so badly that Clark and Lois are together.  Everyone knows that Lois Lane is supposed to be in love with the Superman persona and barely knows Clark Kent is alive.  She's certainly not supposed to be happily engaged to, and living with him, while fully aware of his dual identity.

But this is what happens when people, whomever they may be, refuse to let a series end on a high note and insist on squeezing blood from a stone. 

Of course, Tom Welling and his gorgeous lips and eyes still set my heart aflutter.  Look at him!
But that doesn't mean I wanted to see my beloved show run into the ground.  I would have rather seen it end too soon and end well than be reduced to a shadow of its former self because it was stretched too thin.

So I say again, pull the plug, people.  Quantity and quality are not one in the same. I hope if I am ever faced with the choice, I will choose quality.  Then again, I haven't had an offer to publish one book, let alone eight.

What's your opinion on the matter?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maggie Stiefvater's Spring Cleaning Book Contest

I can't think of anything better than winning free books.  Except for winning free books once owned by an author as awesome as Maggie Stiefvater, so I'm entering her Spring Cleaning contest!

Go forth and enter too!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Question That Shouldn't Be Asked

I know this is very personal and off-topic for a blog about reading and writing, but with the impending births of both a niece and a nephew, this subject has been weighing heavily on my mind.

I mentioned it once before, under the protection of knowing no one was really reading this blog at that point, but now I want people to know.  I want people to hear this. 

I may never have a child of my own to read a bedtime story to.  I might never hold a tiny hand and marvel at how much it looks like my own.  I am childless, but it is not by choice - and I wish people would not assume the contrary. 

My husband and I have been trying for two years to have a baby. Two years, two specialists, two surgeries, and two miscarriages later, we are still childless.  I realize four years of marriage and thirty years of age is not a lot in this day and age, but apparently to some people (especially old Italian ladies), it's an eternity.  Believe me, it feels like it sometimes. 

But no matter how old someone is, or how long they have been married, I don't feel it is ever appropriate to go up to that person in the middle of a baby shower, put your hand on their belly, and ask, "Where's your baby?"

Yes, this actually happened to me.  And the best part?  The question came from a woman who'd never had children of her own.  I could understand if it had come from a Fertile Myrtle who could, as my co-worker put it, "look at 'it' and get pregnant", because it's more difficult to understand a struggle you've never encountered.  But for someone who'd never produced a child herself to be so insensitive was incomprehensible.

Not one to disrespect my elders, I swallowed the very rude response lingering in my throat, and went with one of the generic, polite answers I've come to master: We're working on it, Eventually, It Happens When it Happens.  But let me tell you what bothers me about these answers: they're designed to prevent the person who asked the question - the question that's really none of their business in the first place - from becoming uncomfortable.  Because let's face it.  When people come up and give you the wink-wink-nudge-nudge- when-are-the-babies-coming question, the last thing they're expecting in response is, "Well, I was pregnant about a year ago, but the baby's heart stopped at nine weeks.  Then, this December, I had another miscarriage eight days before Christmas."

No one knows what to say to that, and then they may feel guilty for asking what they thought was an innocent question.  It is an innocent question, because if everything is working correctly, getting pregnant is what your body is supposed to do.  But it's unfair to assume everyone's body works the same way.  It's not as simple as merely having all the right parts.  And common sense, even in someone who has never experienced infertility, should still dictate that if someone is thirty and married four years with no children, there is probably a reason for it.

Even if that reason is "I'm not ready", or in some cases, "I don't want children", no one should be put on the spot to publicize that information.  I am very open to talking about my journey through infertility, and my miscarriages- that is, when people aren't randomly groping my stomach.  I believe that if my experience or my knowlege can help someone, I'm all for discussion.  Some women, however, would rather sever a limb than talk about what is still a rather taboo subject.  That's their choice, and they have a right to feel that way.

I didn't discuss what I was going through for the entire first year.  My husband and I didn't breathe a word to even our own mothers.  But when I went for my ultrasound and was forced to watch my child's heart struggling to beat until it stopped altogether, I couldn't take it anymore.  I was tired of feeling alone, tired of being tired and never being able to say the real reason.  I called my mother from the car right after that ultrasound, and everything came pouring out of me.  And you know what?  I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my chest.  I wish more women would understand that it's ok to talk about it.  Once you do, you find that so many others have been in your shoes.  And, you realize how unfair it is that you're expected to come up with polite answers to bold questions just to safeguard someone else's comfort.

I get that people want to see me reproduce.  I get that it excites them.  Yet, I urge people who are guilty of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink-when-are-you-going-to-have-babies attack to rethink asking this question.  Or at least give serious thought to how you phrase it, because no one should feel like they're being called to the carpet for being childless.  You may get a polite answer and a polite smile, but that smile may be masking months or even years of physical and emotional pain.  The real answer may very well be "I don't know."

Some day I would love to post a picture of my newborn baby on this blog, just as I would love to announce that I'm getting published.  Realistically, I know I may never have the opportunity to do either.  But I'm not giving up, and if I've helped or encouraged or inspired even one person by sharing my stories, then at least I've done that much.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Picks & Pans

I just finished Beastly by Alex Flinn, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't feel it would be honest if I gave it my "Amazing Book Alert" label.

It's a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast, from the beast's perspective.  The premise is great, and the synopsis is killer:

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

Seriously, if I could bottle that and use it to write a query letter, I would be published already.  It was the whole reason I squealed and finagled a sample from my Harper rep.
But from the first page, I found the story off-putting.  It opens in a chatroom, where famous fairy tail characters such as The Little Mermaid and The Frog Prince are all using pseudonyms to get acquainted with one another, bonding over their transformations from one form of life to another.  The chatroom sequences occur throughout the book, and I didn't see how they added any value to the story.  If anything, they were kind of cutesy-annoying and definitely unnecessary.
The other thing that really bothered me was Kyle's age.  At the onset of the story, he is fourteen years old, experienced beyond his years, and equally arrogant.  Maybe I'm about to show my old lady side here, but he's having sex at fourteen.  FOURTEEN!  Believe, me I'm not clueless enough to think it doesn't happen, but it's approached in such a casual manner that I had to balk.  I know realism is not the goal in fairy tales, but I think it would have been more realistic if Kyle were at least sixteen, if not eighteen.  It didn't make sense for a freshman to have that much clout.  Or that much sex.
Anyhow, once he's cursed with his beastliness, the deal is that he must find true love within two years.  When someone can love him in spite of his looks, and prove it with a kiss, the curse will be broken.
Now here's the part I liked.  *Sort of spoilery so here's your opportunity to stop reading*  The girl he winds up falling for is not someone "hot" in the conventional sense.  In fact, the first two times he sees her, he thinks she's plain.  It's not until he starts getting to know her that he sees things he hadn't noticed before, like the green in her eyes, or the way the sun makes her red hair look like gold.  It REALLY would have annoyed me if she was some obvious beauty and he lusted for her right off the bat.  Why?  Because I think it's easier for girls to see past a person's looks, anyway.  Maybe that's biased, but try to imagine the story in reverse, where a guy has to fall for a girl who has hair springing from every pore.  See what I mean?  So the fact that there were a million other reasons he thought she was too good for him made me like him quite a bit, and like her even more.
The end is as you would expect: curse broken, lesson learned.  And there were no really good makeout scenes, despite the curse-breaking catalyst being a kiss.  I want my makeout scenes, damn it.  I expect much better from the next book I'm going to read, Anna and the French Kiss.  With a title like that, it better not disappoint!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Atlanta

In light of this week's Glee episode, I decided to post this story.

A couple years ago, my husband boarded a plane for a business trip to Atlanta.  It was nothing new, since he works for a company headquartered in Georgia, and goes there quite frequently.

On this day, however, the flight was delayed.  After sitting on the plane for nearly an hour, people were getting understandably restless.  That was when a young boy went up to the flight attendant and explained that he was traveling to Georgia to meet with Usher and possibly sign a recording contract, and would they mind if he sang for everyone?

So the flight attendant handed over the intercom, and the boy proceeded to serenade the plane with Chris Brown's "With You".  My husband reported that he was clearly talented, but wasn't sure if he believed the whole story about going to Georgia to meet with Usher.  I mean, what are the odds that you've just been serenaded on a plane by a future music superstar?

When my husband got home, he found some videos of the boy on You Tube, once again singing "With You".  I agreed he was adorable and that he had a very nice voice, but didn't give it much thought.

Little did either of us know that years later, we would be watching an entire episode of Glee dedicated to his music, his hair, and his hoodies.  That's right folks, the kid on the plane was none other than:

Justin Bieber.  The Biebs.  Ignitor of Bieber Fever.  So did my husband get his autograph that day? 

Baby, Baby, Baby Noooooo....  Ahem.  I mean, no.  But it's probably better that he didn't, at least for the Biebs.  Because knowing our luck, if we had gotten his John Hancock, it would have been the kiss of death for his career.

Every time we see this kid's face on a magazine, or hear his songs on the radio, or see the commercial for his freaking movie, we have to laugh about the kid on the plane.  But everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Moral of the story: Be very nice to your neighbor the next time you fly.  And if he gets up and sings, get his autograph just in case!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm Completely Addicted to Blogfests

A blogfest where I get to talk about myself?  Sounds awesome!  Here are my answers to the Bernard Pivot Blogfest Survey!

What is your favorite word?

Probably something food-related, like sugar or cookie!  I'm Italian and I love to eat!
What is your least favorite word?
Moist.  It grosses me out, and I have no idea why.  And there is a food-related word I hate: scrod.  Seriously, what a dumb name for a fish.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Hmmm... turned on literally?  Rick Malambri, LOL.  No, seriously I love a good romantic story set among a beautiful backdrop.  As far as spiritually, I'm Catholic which basically means anything that feels good is a sin so I wouldn't use "turned on" in the same sentence with spiritual!
What turns you off?
So many things.  Rude people, self-centered people, sloppiness, bodily functions as humor.  Funky-looking feet, bad breath, people who bathe in perfume/cologne.  I could go on and on with this one!
What is your favorite curse word?
Definitely ass

What sound or noise do you love?
My nephew Evan's laugh.  It's so stinkin' cute.  And the songs I mentioned in my last post. 
What sound or noise do you hate?
Again, bodily functions.  Also, when my husband stands over my shoulder while I'm on the computer and swallows in my ear.  Drives me absolutely freakin' nuts!  Oh yes, and when I shared a room with my sister at one point, she used to grind her teeth.  I get chills thinking about that noise!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
That's easy- writing!  My job right now is hardly a profession and I would love for writing to be a career and not a hobby.
What profession would you not like to do?
Any form of physical labor.  I'm a 106-pound weakling and I am not cut out for manual work.  That and anything Mike Rowe has tried on Dirty Jobs.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I'd like him to explain why it always seemed I had to work a little harder for things that came so easily to other people.  If it was some kind of test... did I pass?

Lyrical Genius

A couple posts ago, I blogged about the total ridiculousness of some song lyrics.  Now I think it's only fair to flip it around and pay homage to those lyrics that make me stop and say, that was freaking amazing.  And here you have:

Lyrics I Lust For (How's that for cheesy?):

Song: Fields of Gold
Artist: Sting
Lyric: And you can tell the sun in his jealous sky/When we walked in fields of gold

Really the words to this whole song are poetic and beautiful, but I absolutely love the concept of the sky being jealous of its crown jewel.  Can you imagine how that novel would read?  The images it would conjure?  The sky at the mercy of the blazing sun... ugh.  So gorgeous.  Tackling that one would require a much better writer than I!

Song: Fifteen
Artist: Taylor Swift
Lyric: In your life you'll do things greater/than dating a boy on the football team

Taylor haters better back it on up because to this I say yes, Yes, and YES Taylor Swift!!  I can't tell you how it bothers me that so many girls grow up believing it's more important to be pretty and popular than smart or kind.  LISTEN TO TAYLOR!  Life is not defined by who you are in high school!  Don't learn this the hard way like Sam in Before I Fall
I will never forget being introduced to a pretty young girl, whom I'll call Melody, in this manner: "This is Melody.  She's a cheerleader.  And her boyfriend is on the football team."  Which was supposed to be my cue to... what?  Squeal with delight?  Congratulate her?  Collapse under the weight of my jealousy?  I'm sure I'll never see the day when someone introduces me as such: "This is Gina.  She reads more books in a month than most people do in a year.  And she's married to an accountant."
There's too much emphasis on the wrong things in this world, and I give Taylor props for being pretty AND popular, and still wanting to do things greater than dating a boy on the football team. 

Song: Come on Get Higher
Artist: Matt Nathanson
Lyric: I miss the pull of your heart/I taste the sparks on your tongue/I see angels and devils and god when you come on/Hold on

Hel-lo.  That is one profound orgasm.  This is the kind of song I wish someone had written about me.  I know my husband loves me, but alas, the man deals in numbers, not words.  "Babe I love you" is the best I'm going to get.  As for me, I can't say I'm responsible for him seeing angels or devils but I'm pretty sure I've shown him the wrath of hell once or twice.  Does that count?  And while we're on the subject of hell...
Song: Grenade
Artist: Bruno Mars
Lyric: Tell the devil I said hey when you get back to where you're from

While I despise the rest of this song for its stalker-ish qualities, I love this line.  What a creative way to tell someone to go to Hell!

Song: End of Innoncence
Artist: Don Henley
Lyric: I need to remember this/So baby give me just one kiss/And let me take a long last look/Before we say goodbye /Just lay your head back on the ground/And let your hair fall all around me/Offer up your best defense/This is the end/This is the end of the innocence

I've never been crazy about the melody to this song, but I've always loved the words, especially since there are so many layers of innocence desecrated within it. Beautiful.  Nostalgic.  Tragic.

Song: Black
Artist: Pearl Jam
Lyric: I know some day you'll have a beautiful life/I know you'll be the sun/In somebody else's sky/But why, why can't it be mine?

This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  Eddie Vedders voice lends a heartbroken, haunted quality to already incredible lyrics.  It's the perfect song for anyone who's given all of his or herself to someone and had their heart crushed in return.  Oh Eddie.  As a girl rejected by almost every boy she ever longed for (except the one who mattered most), I find myself wanting to smack your muse for shattering your world and thank her for making you produce this epitome of amazingness.

Last but not least, if my book ever becomes a real book, and then becomes a movie, Second Star to the Right from an awesome local band, Waking Eliot, must go on the soundtrack!

And... am I showing my age if I say Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard is still one of the greatest dance songs ever?   And showing my immaturity by admitting I loved the Justin Bieber number on Glee last night?

So what music is YOUR muse?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already Blogfest

I love kissing scenes!  So it makes perfect sense that I've decided to enter the Just Kiss Already Blogfest.  Here is the excerpt from my story (it's a little long, I know), tentatively titled Life Before Death:

It was the second time Michael had mentioned being a different person since I’d met him.  I was just about to ask what he meant by it when the wind kicked up, just as I had been afraid it might. It was even stronger coming off the water, and I stood in place squeezing my eyes shut and holding my hands (shoes, ice cream and all) in front of me, as if that would actually help. Bits of sand flew up and attacked like angry bees, stinging my cheeks. I shrieked, turning toward Michael’s arm to shield my face and he pulled me to him, hugging me protectively against his chest. The direction of the wind changed just then, blowing my hair against his shirt and sending fat, airborne droplets of cold ocean water smashing against his arm and the side of my head. Then, as suddenly as it had come on, the gusty outburst was over.

I could feel Michael’s chest shaking with laughter as I peeled my face from his shirt and opened one eye, the one that didn’t have wet hair plastered over it.

“This is starting to become a habit,” I said through my own laughter, recalling the way I wound up doused in water the night I met him.

“Guess you were right,” he said smiling down at me. His hands were on my shoulders, but before I could reach up to peel the sodden hair from my cheek, his fingers were gently brushing it away for me.

I wanted to answer with some witty reply, but the air evaporated from my lungs when his fingers brushed against my face. He continued to stroke my hair, though none of it was sticking to me anymore. Even if I had been able to speak, there was only one coherent thought flashing through my head: He’s going to kiss me.

And he did. His lips pressed gently against mine, cool and soft and electrifying all at once. I closed my eyes, afraid I might wake up if I moved any other part of my body. My eyelids fluttered open when he pulled away suddenly, and I saw that he was looking at me as if to ask if this was okay. My reaction surprised even me.

I threw my arms around his neck and stood on my toes, pressing my lips against his with complete abandon. His arms wrapped around me and I reveled in the way he felt and smelled and tasted. All my defenses had been carried away with the wind. I wasn’t doing this for Rebecca. I wasn’t doing it for my mother. This was entirely for me, and it felt like something I had waited for my whole life.

Michael lifted me right off the ground and I felt his lips curl into a smile.

“Not bad for just friends,” he said huskily.

Hope you enjoyed! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writer's Blog: Eye Candy Edition

I don't know about you, but I sometimes when I'm reading the description of a character I can't help but picture a face I've seen before.  More often than not I conjure a generic face, but when the opposite happens it's usually an actor, or a face I've seen in a magazine, or more rarely, someone I know in real life.

It's pretty easy to use actors for the hotties.  For example, I'm sure I've mentioned ad nauseum how much I loved the boys of Nightshade, Shay and Ren.  Ren is the sexy alpha male of the Bane pack, and the more I read, the more I saw a specific someone embodying this charismatic hottie.  I give you - and you can thank me later - Rick Malambri:


Ahem, 'scuse me.  Now that I've wiped the drool from my keyboard I can continue with the post.  I would LOVE if Rick were actually young enough to play Ren in a movie version of Nightshade.  But then again, how often are actual teenagers cast to play teenagers?  If he got rid of the 5:00 shadow, he might just pull it off.  Still, even Rick's tall-dark-n-sexiness couldn't distract me from how badly Step Up 3 sucked.  Aaaaand it's also kind of gross that he has the same name as my dad. 

Anyhow, I also found familiar faces floating around in my mind when I envisioned the male mc for my own story.  I mentioned a couple posts ago that I have a weakness for dark-haired, light-eyed boys, so it's no shock that my beloved Michael bears the killer combo.  At first, I pictured him looking a lot like a long-time crush of mine, Smallville's Tom Welling:

But since Tom is getting up there in years, eventually the image in my mind began to meld with a more age appropriate face, that of Vampire Diaries Steve McQueen:

Put 'em both together and whaddya got?  One smokin' mc, who's charming to boot.  I hope you'll all love him as much as I do one day!

So I'm curious-- do you ever picture actors or actresses in the roles of main characters?  Create a new face?  Or base them on someone you know? 

Or are you just scrolling back up to look at Rick again?  I know.  You're welcome : )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Could My Luck be Changing?

First... Hello new followers!  Thanks for signing on to bear witness to my rants and rambles!

So it seems I had a bit of a lucky streak yesterday.  I was floored to find out that I was the winner of not one, but two contests.  First, Katie, aka Creepy Query Girl announced I had won her Freaky French Commercial Contest!  I was totally psyched, seeing as I rarely, RARELY win anything.  The prize is Lisa Derochers Personal Demons, a book I've been wanting to read anyway and had tried to win once before, on Andrea Cremer's blog. 

Alas, it didn't work out.  I wasn't surprised.

So imagine my shock when later that evening, I discovered I was one of the forty winners of L.K. Madigan's Feast of Awesome Giveaway!  I was very moved by Lisa's story and wanted to do whatever I could to honor her, as well as the many people in my life who I mentioned in this post.

Now it also just so happens that this very same evening, I read an interview with an agent who said she doesn't read queries, she jumps right into the sample pages!  That's right, in this interview, Weronika Janczuk actually says those words.  I have begged for agents to do exactly that!  I think my pages are far better than my query, and along comes an agent who doesn't let everything - or anything for that matter - ride on the query.  I can't help but wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something?  Yes... I think I hear it now: 

Don't count on it, kid.

Crap.  But guess what?  I'm going to scramble like hell to get my manuscript in decent shape, and I'm going to try anyway.  Take that, universe!

Let's hope my luck yesterday wasn't a freaky fluke.  Hope you're all feeling lucky today!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Clearly My Priorities Are Straight...

I should be cleaning my downstairs bathroom.  Or working on my revisions.  Or finally getting in the shower.

Instead, I've opted to follow through on my Stylish Blogger duties.  I mentioned that I would try to get to this in my last post, so here goes.  First, the rules - at least two of which I intend to break.

1. Thank the person who gave the award (Did this already, but what the heck... whatuuuup Aleeza!)

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers you discovered and like (Need some more time for this one.  I'm not even sure I follow fifteen blogs yet!)

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they've won (Again, need to pick the winners first)

So seven random factoids.  I'll warn you now, I'm not terribly interesting.  So here goes:
1) When I was younger I used to bring books to parties and picnics and totally tune out the goings-on around me.  My mother used to call me anti-social because of it.  She meant it as an insult, and at the time I took it that way.  Now, however, I totally own my anti-socialness.  Though I no longer bring books to parties.
2) My family and my husband's family go way back.  His great-grandmother and great-grandfather were the first friends my grandparents made when they came here from Italy, and subsequently became godparents to my mother and her siblings.  Our parents went to high school together.  The funny part?  He and I never laid eyes on each other until high school.  Senior year we started dating and have been together ever since.
3) I hate vomit.  Hate it whether it's my own or someone else's.  I don't want to do it, see it, hear it, or smell it.  Uhhh I'm practically convulsing just thinking about it.
4) I used to be too skinny for size 0 jeans.  Trust me, no longer a problem.
5) I have never tried a cigarette or a joint.  And I don't care what anyone thinks of that.
6) My first crush was on John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease.  I wanted to be Sandy.  To this day, I swoon over dark-haired, light-eyed boys.
6-1/2) I still refer to guys as boys, because I can't bring myself to think of people my age as "men".
7) I never eat the tip (top or bottom) of a banana.  I have no idea why. 
So there you have it.  Happy Saturday procrastination!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Aspiring Young Author Has Meltdown

... is what the headline would be for my life right now.  Though it hasn't reached meltdown status YET, and calling myself "young" at thirty is probably pushing it.

It's amazing how a little time away from your manuscript can give you a whole new perspective.  And you know what my lovely little epiphany turned out to be?  This thing needs a major friggin' overhaul.

At first I thought it was just a matter of moving things around.  I had too much going on in the third chapter, not enough in the fourth, and so on.  A little cutting and pasting should solve that problem.  But it has turned into so. much. more.

Believe me, I know it's for the better.  But it feels like a game of Jenga.  Remove a piece, and now there's a hole.  A weak spot.  One false move and you can send the whole thing toppling down around you, unless you find the best possible way to reconstruct the pieces.

I suck at Jenga.

So this morning I woke up feeling less than confident, especially because no one offered an opinion on my Would You Read On?? Part Deux post, despite the encouraging responses on the first.  But also because I keep wondering if the day will come where I look at my manuscript and decide, this is pretty damn good!  Or will I just keep finding changes to make?  And even if I do reach manuscript Nirvana, what in sam hell am I going to do about my rejected-more-than-Jennifer-Aniston query letter?!

Lo and behold, things have a way of working out when you need them to.  Natalie Whipple is offering the equivalent of a dating service on her blog - except she's matching people with critique partners.  Clearly, I am in dire need of crit partners, since I refuse to reveal my secret author side to those who know me best.  So the opportunity to let total strangers tell me how I can do better?  What luck!  I signed up immediately.

Then I came across this post by Leigh Ann, in which she refers to my blog as "pretty awesome".  It absolutely, positively made my day.  I have no idea how she found me, but the fact that she would use the word awesome to describe things I've written is a huge, HUGE piece of encouragement.

And last but not least, this post was sitting in my blogroll this morning, letting me know I was the recipient of one of Aleeza's Stylish Blogger Awards!  (Which by the way I know there are certain duties that go along with the honor and I'll try to get to them!)

It's amazing how little things like these can pick you up when you're feeling utterly useless.  It was enough to motivate me to sift through the rubble of my manuscript and keep plugging on the rebuild.  It may still be a construction zone right now, but sooner or later it will emerge structurally sound.  Hopefully I'll find the right help to get it there, and then my goal will be well within my reach.  I have to believe things will get better, otherwise.... well, you read the title of the post.

But enough about me.  How are you?