Monday, May 30, 2011

Giving New Meaning to "Bitch in Heat"

If a picture paints a thousand words, than this one should say it all:

I do not like to be hot.  Alright, let's not mince words: I am a raging beyotch when I'm hot.  If I lived in an area where the temperature never dropped below 80 degrees, I would be friendless and insane.

I've come pretty close to being both of those things over the last week, as it's been 80+ and humid here in CT, and I live in a house without central air. 

We haven't put our window a/c in the bedroom yet, either, which means I haven't been sleeping well.  Which means I'm hot AND tired - a deadly combo.  Throw in hungry, and whoa, you do not even want to know me.

The picture above was taken at a wedding with an outdoor cocktail hour, on the hottest day of the year up to that point.  There was nowhere I could go to escape the sun, or the humidity.  My husband thought it would be hilarious to show me what I look like when I'm blatantly agitated, hence the get-out-of-my-overheated-face-or-die expression I'm wearing.  I'm sure I've worn that same expression several times this week. 

But who can blame me?  Is there anyone out there who actually enjoys the feeling of being swollen from head to toe?  The sensation of sweat and dirt sticking to your face, and the subsequent clogging of pores and breakouts?  The frizzy, unmanagable hair?  The feeling that your lungs and stomach are being compressed inside your body and threatening to jump right out?

The real conundrum is that I ADORE the beach.  I love flip flops and tank tops and pedicures.  I love summer cookouts, and I love being able to walk outside without putting on sixteen layers of clothing first.  To those things I say, BRING ON SUMMER!

But the excessive heat and humidity?  Keep it.  Unless I'm dealing with it in a place like this:

ARUBA!  My true love

So how do y'all beat the heat?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Letters to the Future Blogfest!

BlogfestKristin Rae over at Kristin Creative had a great idea for a blogfest: write a letter to your future self.  So naturally, being the blogfest-aholic that I am, I had to sign up!  If I could talk to myself in the year 2020, here's how it would go:

Dear Future Gina:

First, let me get this out of the way: I'm sorry for not exercising. 

I knew I should have listened when people told me my warp-speed metabolism would eventually slow down, but when you've spent your life as a 98-pound weakling, it's hard to imagine the day when you outgrow your jeans every six months or so.

That day came.  And instead of pounding away on the treadmill, I pounded away on the keyboard.  I'm so sorry, because I can only imagine what our thighs look like now.  *Shudder*.

I'm assuming you forgive me for the secretary spread, though, because it produced our baby: the New York Times best seller, Life Before Death.  And the subsequent top-grossing movie... you guessed it... Life Before Death, starring Dianna Agron and Steven McQueen.  So suck it up and put on those Spanx, because all those fat cells that accumulated while we sat in front of the computer were well worth it in the end.  You'll agree when you step out in style at the movie premier, your loving husband (yes, still) and perfect dream agent at your side.

So now, future Gina, I'd like YOU to ME a favor.  Can I get a little encouragement here in the present?  Because I'm about two more seconds of staring at this computer screen away from a siezure, and my first three chapters still aren't perfect.  I'm waking up at 4 a.m. to jot down ideas for queries, only to wake up again at 7 a.m. and realize they suck. 

Please tell me this isn't all just a pipe dream.  I need to know we're going to get more out of this than just computer-screen-induced headaches and big thighs.  See you on the other side of the writing wall (right?  RIGHT?),

Present Gina

Friday, May 20, 2011

Boys: The Least Wanted List

This is one of my favorite posts no one got to see, because I posted it when I had no followers.  It deserves a re-run, and re-run it shall get. 

So after careful consideration, I've come up with the flip side of my Most Wanted list. Whether they're sleazy, skeevy, or just plain creepy, these are the YA boys who will haunt my dreams for all the wrong reasons:

5) Tamani from Wings and Spells

Maybe it's the whole low-man-on-the-faerie totem pole that turns me off. Or maybe it's just the green roots of his hair. Or maybe it's that I find Laurel to be kind of bitchy and hate that David and Tamani fall all over her just because she's hot. I like man who fights for what he wants, but begging a girl to love you? Oh, no. No one should have to beg, and especially not to a girl who readily admits she keeps her adoring hottie human boy so she doesn't have to be alone outside the faerie realm. Total beyotch. Grow a pair and get over her.

4) Mike Montgomery from the Pretty Little Liars series

Blue eyes and dark hair is almost always a winning combination in my book. It might even distract me from the fact that his name is short for Michaelangelo.  But Mike Montgomery is the kind of guy who ruins his good looks every time he opens his mouth. Immature AND perverted. Now there's a winning combo * insert sarcasm here*.

3) Christopher from Flowers in the Attic

OK Chris, I know that at the time you were locked in the attic with your sister, it was at a very formative, very hormonal point in your life. But she's still your SISTER for crying out loud!! And you weren't in there forever! Shake it off, buddy! There are plenty of fish in the sea, and ones who come with the added bonus of not needing to worry about inbreeding. Talk about not knowing when to get over it!

2) Reth from Paranormalcy

So just as wolf boys kept popping up in my other list, faeries keep popping up on this one. It's not that I have anything against faeries per se, but Reth (despite being short for "Lorethan", which I thought was a pretty sexy name) comes across as a total cretin.
Speaking in convoluted riddles? Materializing in Evie's room unannounced? Constantly telling her he wants to "fill" her? Ewww! It sounds like a romance novel euphemism for getting it on, except he supposedly has no interest in things of that nature (and WTF is up with that?). I think that's enough strikes to take him out of the game.  Plus, the whole no-nipples-or-belly-button thing freaks me out a little. You stick with your see-through water boy, Evie. At least he's anatomically correct.

1) Ben from the Touch Series

So Ben has the power of psychometry, and can see flashes of your future when he touches you.  Look out though, because if it gets too intense, he may just end up hurting you. I can only speak for myself, but if I had a crush on cute boy, the last thing I would want him to see is visions of my dead body when he puts his hands on me.  And then nearly crushing me from the effort of it? How romantic. But I guess it's better than actually BEING mysteriously dead, like his ex-girlfriend.  Or worse, being obsessed with Ben to the point of pathetic, like Camelia. I know Ben is supposed to come across as brooding, mysterious, and tortured, but I just found him totally creepy. Keep those psychometric paws off me.
So who's on your least wanted list?  Happy Friday all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seeing Things From an Agent's Perspective

Now that I'm following lots of blogs, I feel like I finally identify with the plight of a literary agent.

I check Blogger in the morning before I go to work, and since I'm usually running late as it is, I don't have time to read every single entry in my blogroll.  Instead I have to peruse, picking and choosing based on the post titles and the two or three sentences that show up beneath it.

There are a few blogs that I visit no matter what, but when I'm crunched for time, the only ones I'm going to drop in on are the ones that caught my attention.  Being another five minutes late for work is time well spent if I really enjoy the post, or find it particularly informative.  But if I'm going to risk those five minutes, I have to have a reason to believe it's worth it.

It occurred to me that a literary agent's inbox is like a blogroll, times 100.  All day every day, they have to decide what they MUST READ RIGHT NOW versus what they may take a look at later, versus what they're not going to bother reading at all.

All the more reason why the title of your story and the first few sentences of your query really need to jump out and grab the reader's attention.

All the more reason I'm scared to death to query. 

So tell me, peeps.  Do you visit every entry in your blogroll?  And if not, what makes you click or not click?  I'm hoping we'll see a pattern emerge in the anwers and unlock the secret to getting a query noticed!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amazing Book Alert: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder (The Body Finder, #1)

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though I did have a few beefs.  First, the fact that it's in third person.  It's just a preference of mine to read first person POV, because third leaves me feeling disconnected from the main characters - like you never truly get inside their heads.  But again, that's a matter of preference.

Second, maybe it's because I'm in the critique stages of my own WiP, but I found myself terribly distracted by the number of passive verbs used in this novel.  Each time I came across a sentence like "Violet was turning...", I found myself mentally crossing it out and replacing it with past tense.  Revision-induced neurosis, I suppose. 

Third, and I'm sure this one is purely idiosyncratic, but having seen Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory more times than I can count, the main character's name kept making me think of the line, "Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!"  I know, now I'm just nit-picking.

Nit-picky details aside, the story pulled me right in.  Here's the synopsis:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

Moreso than the murder mystery, my favorite part of the story was Violet and Jay's budding romance.  Which leads me to another small complaint - there is absolutely no description of Jay's physical traits.  No mention of hair color, eye color, etc.  We know he's good-looking because girls fall all over themselves when he's around, but is he Alex Pettyfer good-looking, or Rick Malambri good-looking?  Couldn't tell you.  Even with Violet, for the longest time we only know that she has dark, curly hair.

I suppose the physical descriptions aren't really important, though.  There's a ton of heat between these two, and that's really all you need to know.  When they finally acknowledge that something more lingering beneath the surface of their friendship, I almost cheered.  It's sweet and romantic and realistic.  And their second kiss practically sets the pages on fire.  You go, Kimberly Derting!

The mystery portion of the story is neither predictable nor inventive.  It IS suspenseful, but if the story had been solely about Violet and Jay falling in love, I wouldn't have missed the rest, since I'm a such romance junkie.  The scene where they face down the killer is totally riveting though- especially when Violet senses a brand new echo and you're thinking, Oh my God, if that echo belongs to who I think it belongs to I am so going to die...

At least, that's what I was thinking.  Between the tension and the butterflies, I put this one down feeling satisfied, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Desires of the Dead.  Though quite honestly, I hope there's equal time dedicated to the desires of Jay and Violet, too!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Lois Lane Needs to Jump In a Meteor-Ridden Lake

Clark and Lana.  Need I say more?  Even after all these years, I'm still pining for Kristen Kreuk and her one imperfect tooth and that slightly strange way she spoke.  And now I'm off to watch the last episode  of what was once the greatest TV show EVER.

Here's a tribute to YA romance as it should be.  Good night, Smallville.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why Querying is Like High School All Over Again

So I'm 31 today.  Not happy about it, either.  I thought I was grumpy about turning 30 last year, but now I'm officially "in my thirties", and to my ears it's about as appealing as the sound of my college roommate vomiting in the top bunk while I'm trying to sleep in the bottom.

Oh yeah.  That happened.

Quality school uniforms
Our uniforms looked the ones these
girls are wearing.  No lie.
For some reason, this birthday has me thinking back to high school and how much I hated it.

I lived in Bridgeport, CT until I was 14, where I attended a Catholic  school.  We wore uniforms and had strict rules about appearances, including:
- no visible makeup
- one ring per hand
- no necklaces except crosses or religious medallions

We moved to Monroe, CT right in time for me to start high school. Public high school.  It was a different world.

Oh yeah, did I mention that up to this point I wore NO MAKEUP, and we had UNIFORMS?  Translation: I started public high school in an uppity town with no idea how to dress myself and no knowledge of trends or makeup.

I should have just walked into a lion's cage with steaks pinned all over my body.

I was completely unprepared for how inferior I would feel.  I came from a place where everyone wore the same thing every day, and anyone bearing even the slightest hint of mascara would be immediately sent to the bathroom to wash it off.  Our families shared the same humble financial standings, and I honestly can't remember thinking anyone had it much better than anyone else.

But suddenly, I was surrounded on all sides by sterotypical Mean Girls, all of whom looked like they belonged on the cover of Seventeen magazine.  Their hair was shiny and perfect, unlike the frizzy curls atop my head.  Their skin was glowy and tanned and perfectly made up.  Mine, to say the least, was not.  And on top of it, some of them drove Corvette's to school.  Corvettes.  To high school.

Oh yeah.  That happened, too.

Needless to say, with so many tantalizing choices on the table, I wasn't anything anyone wanted to look at.  And believe me, for a long time, no one did.  When people did notice me, it was to make fun of me, and then I wished I could go back to hiding in the woodwork.  Or cinderblocks, in the case of high schools.

Fast forward to today, my 31st birthday, and not much has changed.  Sure, my fashion sense has improved, and I've learned my way around a makeup bag, but now I'm feeling inferior for a different reason.  And that reason is that I can not write a freaking query letter to save my freaking life.

My query letters are like the physical manifestation of my former high school self.  Awkward, conspicuously unpolished, clunky, and consistently passed over for flashier, prettier versions as I burn with envy. 

What is it about this damn thing that evades me?  Why can I write a 3000-word chapter in a day with no problem, but a 250-word synopsis leaves me totally and utterly stumped?

It's high school all over again. 

In high school, people base their judgment of your entire being on physical appearance, and use it to accept or reject you.  In publishing, agents base their judgment of your entire novel on your query letter, and use it to accept or reject you. 

I've been writing stories since second grade, but I have zero experience with queries, and it shows.  My queries are the plain-faced, fresh-out-of-Catholic-school-girl-who-can't-get-a-date competing with the poised, blinged-out chicks who have more suitors than they know what to do with.

Basically, query letters are the Mean Girls of the publishing world.  They can be the whole reason you're misjudged and overlooked.  Been there, done that. 

Except this time, I refuse to be intimidated.  I plan to work my ass off, and with enough honing, I might stand a chance at not coming out traumatized.

So right now, all I want for my birthday is to do what I never did in high school and KICK SOME MEAN GIRL ASS!

BTW how are you today?  Are queries this much of a stymy to everyone, or is it just me?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway at Confessions of a Bookaholic

All sorts of prizes to be won!  Check them out here!

That's all for today, I'll be back with a real post tomorrow.  Peace, peeps.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Carnival Winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in my little game for the Spring Carnival!  It was so much fun, and I'm looking forward to exploring all the new blogs I've been introduced to.

I had displayed some photos of the place where my newest WIP takes place, and asked y'all to take your best guess.  Several of you guessed correctly (June M even named The Red Parrot from my clue!), and without further ado the correct answer IS:


These photos didn't make the first cut, because they would
have been a dead giveaway.  Obviously.
I wanted to share my very scientific method of choosing the winner.  All qualifying entrants names were put into a bowl. 

High tech, I know.  The bowl was then given to a neutral third party (aka my husband) for the drawing.  And his magic fingers dictated that the winner of CLARITY by Kim Harrington and THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew Kirby IS:

I also promised prizes to random participants, and the random gods (aka have deemed those winners as follows:

PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow goes to:

And last but not least, STRINGS ATTACHED by Judy Blundell goes to:

I will be contacting the winners this morning.  Please send me your info no later than Friday.  Congrats to all the winners and thanks again for playing and following! 

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, May 6, 2011

An Ode to Mom

Three things are making me reflective this week:
1) It's Mother's Day on Sunday. 
2) This month marks one year that I've been with my current fertility specialist, and I'm still not a mom  myself.
3) I'm turning 31 on Wednesday, which means me and my eggs aren't getting any younger.  Which means my chances of celebrating my first Mother's Day AS a mom by the age of 32 are growing slimmer by the day.

I hope that when (and if) I have children, they adore me the way I adore my mother.  I never went through that nasty phase of I-hate-my-mom teenage rebellion.  I always thought she was the bomb, and nothing less.  Even when she wore glasses like this:

Me, my mom, and my sister, circa 1983
So today I want to thank my mom for being the kind of mother I hope to be someday.  It's hard to say what makes someone a Mom and not just a parent, but here are some of the things I've come up with.  Thank you, Mommy, for

- Knowing when to say "no," because it taught me boundaries.
- Letting me face the music when I did something wrong, because it taught me that actions have consequences
- Maintaining your incredible and unique sense of humor, because it taught me the healing power of laughter
- Emphasizing the importance of family, because they really are the most important thing
- Teaching me how to do things instead of doing them for me, because it taught me self-reliance
- For the way your face still lights up when you see me, because it reminds me of how much I am loved

And even though you still love big hair and flashy jewelry, thank you, Mommy, for losing those glasses!  I love you!

Me, my mom, and my sister, 2008

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm an Auntie (Again!)

Technically she's my second cousin, but in my eyes, this is my newest (and first!) little niece, Tessa Lynn.  Born Wednesday morning at 7lbs 2 ounces.  She joins big brother Evan, 2, who wasn't at the hospital when I visited or his adorable face would be all over this post, too. : ) 

Ain't she cute?!
Just had to brag :)

And- only three more days left to play for some awesome YA titles in the Spring Blog Carnival.  Go now if you haven't already!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Romance vs. Straight Up Cheese II

A while back I did a post on a novel so cheesy, I contemplated bludgeoning my eyes out with icicles.  Okay, so not REALLY, but it was pretty bad.  Cliche after mind-numbing cliche.

Even so, I wanted to give this author another chance.  Everyone has days where they're a little off their game, right?

So I went on and ordered the tie-in to the one I'd already read.  It focused on different characters and had a (supposedly) different plot, so I decided to give it a whirl.

But the cheese was served up thick and stinky from the get go.

While the last novel ended after the female mc is held at knifepoint, this one began with the new female mc... being held at knifepoint.  By the same dude.  How original.

This chick happens to be a cop, and the dude attempting to talk down the knife-wielding psychopath is her partner.  But of course, there's more.

They'd had a unique connection, working together like a well-oiled machine.  (Hmm... Freudian, or is it me?)  Spending hours in a car together led to to an immediate friendship and an emotional intimacy Rafe had never experienced before.

Not even with his fiancee.

He and Sara had never acknowledged let alone acted on the feelings simmering between them, but that hadn't lessened the impact.

Right away we know these two have been fighting an attraction to one another.  So naturally, when the knife winds up in his chest and a reporter comes rushing over to find out how it feels to be a hero, Rafe utters this before losing consciousness:  It felt damn good to rescue a gorgeous blonde with curves to die for.

Because who wouldn't say something that long-winded and corny when they've just had a pulmonary artery nicked?  Oh yeah.  It's that bad.

Sara's knee is also injured in the scuffle with Psycho, and afterward she starts receiving threats.  So what's the next logical step?  Moving in with Rafe, of course.  Because who better to protect an injured cop than another injured cop?  It  makes perfect sense!

It makes no sense. 

Except it does provide the perfect opportunity for sex, which they have the very first night she stays under his roof, and multiple times thereafter.  And of course, it's amazing.  Sara has about sixteen orgasms before they even get down to actual intercourse, and then another one for good measure once they do.  Which made me wonder: how does one achieve that kind of blood flow to their nether regions?  Is there some sort of trick I'm not aware of?

Apparently, though, twelve million O's aren't good enough for Sara, because all she can think in the afterglow is, no matter how incredible... when it came to relationships, all good things had to come to an end.

Or as Rafe puts it, While he was being drawn deeper every minute, she was building walls.  So he had to ask himself if, knowing that, he was willing to let down his guard and risk his heart.

Gosh, do you think he's willing?  And isn't this exactly the same conflict as the last novel? 

Unfortunately for Rafe, once he finally drops the L-bomb (in the midst of another episode of multiple orgasms), Sara leaves.  Scared.  Blah blah blah.  And then - get this - she winds up being held at gunpoint by the person who had been threatening her.  And who rescues her?  Uh huh.  You guessed it.

I hate the damsel in distress ploy.  Hate it.  Especially when it's this contrived.  But she finally gives in to her feelings and they wind up together, as you'd expect.  And I'm sure a lifetime of great sex will follow, with a heavy side of cheese.

So tell me- am I being too picky?  Am I the only one who laughs in all the wrong places when reading novels like this?  Would anyone be interested if I held a Cheesy Romance Novel contest/blogfest?  Just let me know, because the wheels are already turning...

And speaking of contests, don't forget to check out mine from the Spring Carnival!  You have until May 8th to enter!