Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap-Up. Yes, I'm alive!

Hello, darlings!

It feels like years since I last wrote to you, and I miss you so. Truly, I do. In the month and a half since I started the hiatus, I've buried myself under a ton of great books. Plus Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's been wonderful. Unfortunately, I haven't finished the edit of my current project. I'm more and more thinking my idea is a bit Big for a debut. Maybe I'm wrong, but that spark of love just isn't there right now. Better to sit on it, come back later, and give it the time and respect it deserves.

Before we ring in 2012, I wanted to update you on my books and movies. Now, don't worry. They won't all get 100 words. That would be much too long of a post. So, I'll give each book and movie a score of up to five cheetah tails (all my opinion, of course).

November and December Books:

Fat Vampire, Adam Rex > 2.5 Tails
Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver > 4 Tails
Beautiful Disaster, Jamie McGuire > 3 Tails
13 Little Blue Envelopes, Maureen Johnson > 3 Tails
The Last Little Blue Envelope, Maureen Johnson > 3 Tails
The Vincent Boys, Abbi Cline > 2 Tails
That Boy, Jillian Dodd > 3.5 Tails
Between the Lines, Tamara Webber > 4 Tails
Where You Are, Tamara Webber > 3.5 Tails
Something Like Fate, Susane Colasanti > 2.5 Tails
Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins > 5 Tails!!!!!!
Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins > 5 Tails!!!!!!
Flat-Out Love, Jessica Parks > 4 Tails
Catching Jordan, Miranda Kenneally > 4 Tails
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling > 4 Tails
Size Matters Not, Warwick Davis > 3.5 Tails

I'm still making my way through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it's slow going. I also have a half dozen books waiting on my Kindle Fire (oh, yeah! Did I mention I got a Kindle Fire?! LOVE IT!!!!), and a wonderful work-friend loaned me The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Plus, I received The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Christmas. So many yummy books and so little time! How does a writer write when there's so much awesome stuff to read? :)


Movies

Twilight: Breaking Dawn > 3.5 Tails
The Muppets > 4 Tails
We Bought a Zoo > 4 Tails
New Year's Eve > 3.5 Tails


The New Year is hours away, so I wanted to wish all of you the brightest and best in 2012. I will continue my blog hiatus, but I'm available by email or on Twitter. I have a new idea floating around my happy, cheetah head. We'll see what becomes of it!

I love you all!

:), Marie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Unfortunate Hiatus

Hi all!

I'm alive and well, recovering from my trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I just don't have words to describe the level of Awesome I experienced there. If you get a chance, check it out.

In other news, I'm going on hiatus from blogging. I don't want to, but I need to work on my novel. I need to work on what I want out of writing. Yes, I have ideas. Yes, I love my characters. Yes, I enjoy my fantastic writer-friends and everything I'm learning from them (you!), but if I'm going to write, I need to actually write. And revise. And have fun with it.

I still hope to put up movie reviews on occasion, and I'm on Twitter if you need to contact me.

I love you all! Make no mistake about that, and you'll be the first to know when I come out of blog hibernation. ;) Until then, enjoy life and never forget to SMILE!

-Marie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

October Books! Reviews, NYR Update, and Grizzly Hugs!

Ten months of the year are gone. GONE! Is anyone else asking where the heck they went? Wow...just wow.

November begins the real countdown to the end of the year. The holidays pack a triple punch with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year coming at us jab, hook, upper cut! It's a smiley time full of lights and love, but also stress if we let it be. So raise your right hand. Come on...raise it...please? Okay! Repeat after me.

I -insert your name- *pause* promise not to stress *pause* because it can only bring me down *pause* and being down is lame *pause* Word! :)

My new year's resolutions are relaxed, but still in effect. I'm never happy with the scale, but I'm pretty happy with myself. November's my month to workworkwork on SOULSCAPE and get crits from my super-awesome writer-friends (May and now November Backspace! I have the best writer-friends in the entire world!!!!). Also, I want to start outlining my new YA paranormal idea. I'm wildly excited to start a new project, but I want to put everything I have into SOULSCAPE to make it as good as it can be before querying.

Enough chit-chat, right!? Time for my October BOOKS!

1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
I had to leave my local coffee shop because of all my tears and blubbering. If I Stay focused on Mia and her choice to live or die. SPOILER! She chose life, and that's where the book leaves her boyfriend Adam. Where She Went picks up several years later from Adam's POV. He's tortured and famous and so very fixable, but not without Mia who (again, SPOILER!) left him without a good reason why (so he thinks). Now the two meet up in NYC and try to work things out. Gayle Forman's language and visuals kept me almost ripping the pages just to turn them (even more impressive considering I was reading from my Kindle, hehe). Gayle Forman, I'm so not worthy, Wayne and Garth style. Go. Read. Now.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
While this book is dry and so very different from all of my YA choices (very, very, very, very times infinity different!), it has a good message. Positivity, healthy and meaningful relationships, taking initiative, hard work, etc. Those are the points I took from this book. The habits and principles are common sense, and each one of them weaves its way back to Positivity. No, the author doesn't harp on that word, but everything he discusses could be simplified to staying positive, being positive, behaving positively, and promoting positivity in the way you present yourself. Each one will give you such an advantage over your glass-is-half-empty acquaintances.

3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
I never imagined winning a Rejectionist auction for an ARC of Shatter Me would keep me up all night. This is the best book I've read in a while, and as you know, I've read a lot of awesome books this year. Mafi's dystopian tale of a planet lacking resources, a population starving and dying, and a political regime living the life of luxury threw me to the floor and held me there. Juliette can't touch other people. She hurts them. But when she gets a roommate in her silent prison, everything changes. Mafi creates a torn heroine desperate for contact and love, but afraid of what she could do if she gets them. But it's Warner, the ruthless, desperate, lovely villain that breathes sweet life into the story. I fell in love with his first sickly beautiful backward compliment to Juliette. There's more to him, I just know it. Too bad I have to wait until Fall of 2012 for the second book in the trilogy. *pout* When SHATTER ME releases on 11/15/11, find it and clear your schedule. You will definitely not regret it!

Plans for November:
I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as well as Fat Vampire, on the flights to and from Backspace. I should be able to finish both before month end. Also, I'd love to clear out a third title from my Kindle, but I was recommended Stephenie Meyer's The Host by a writer-friend at Backspace after a description of my WIP. Not sure if there are many similarities, but it never hurts to find out.

What are your November goals? Writing? Reading? Movies? Turkey? Black Friday? hehe. This will be my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. Any ideas on alternatives to the big bird for turkey day? Quick reminder that I won't be blogging Friday or Monday (unless something at the Wizarding World MUST be shared!).

Grizzly hugs!!!

-Marie

Monday, November 7, 2011

I. Have. RETURNED!

Hi all!

I made it home from the Backspace Conference safe, sound, and pumped! It's time to do some major revising to SOULSCAPE and start shopping it. A new idea is floating through my brain. :)

I'll have a series of posts here at the Cheetah about my Backspace education, but today's Monday. I usually give you a 100 word movie review, but I'm changing it up a bit. Still a review. Still 100 words, but not a movie.

I'd like to review the first musical I've ever seen on Broadway!


An eager youth follows a How-To book's advice on climbing the corporate ladder.

I saw this musical for one reason: Daniel Radcliffe. I wanted to see if Harry Potter could sing, dance, and wow on stage, and…ahem...I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! Radcliffe has a sparkling future ahead of him that has nothing to do with being the Chosen One.

Besides Radcliffe, John Larroquette, Christopher Hanke, Mary Faber, and the entire cast made me want to stand and cheer through the entire show.

Go to NY, see How to Succeed…, stand at the stage door. It’s an experience you'll never forget!


I didn't manage to get Daniel's autograph, as security was very tight and I wasn't at the front of the mob crowd. I did get a blurry picture of him, though. SQUEAL! John Larroquette signed my playbill, and I blinded him with pictures. Such a cool experience!

On a related-but-slightly-unrelated note, I guest-posted over at REEL YA. Check out my 100 word review of the best teen movie OF ALL TIME! We can debate it out if you have other nominees for that honor. :)

And on a definitely-and-completely-unrelated note, LOL, I was a finalist in Janet Reid's latest 100 word contest! YAY! If you want to read my teary entry, go here. I'm a big fan of these off-the-cuff shorts. They're fun, challenging, and a breath of fresh air.

Also, I won't be posting this Friday or next Monday as I'll be overindulging in all things Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Have you been before? If so, what can I absolutely NOT miss?

Missed you all last week. Thanks for stopping by the Flying Cheetah!

-Marie

Monday, October 31, 2011

In Time in 100 Words, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween, darlings! Zombie up and vampire down. Today's the one day a year you can be anything you want. Enjoy it! I'm going as a Starbucks barista zombie and plan to Thriller at least once. :) How about you? Witch? Fairy? Katniss? I'd love to see some costumes!

Oh, and here's my pumpkin! A little rough, sure, but such a great time. :)



If you carved a literary pumpkin, head over to YA Highway to enter the Halloween contest. It's free books, people. Can't beat that.

So, on to the movie! I was able to see In Time on Friday.

Hi. I'm Marie. I'm a movieholic.

But don't you see? You're my support group...kind of. Umm, anyway! How about 100 words?


Humans age until they're twenty five, then they're on a clock. Time is currency. The rich have lots, the poor don’t. See the political backdrop of this movie? I loveLoveLOVED the idea, but the execution left me with 'huh?' face. Lots of 'time' puns, a look at Vincent Kartheiser post-Angel (Connor), and the extraordinary Cillian Murphy who didn't get enough TIME in this movie. I cared about his character the most, and his story didn't quite have the punch it could've.

If you're curious about Timberlake as an action star, see it in the theaters. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.





For some wonderful reason, every theater in Dayton, Ohio decided not to play Anonymous. Maybe next week...

I won't be posting on Wednesday or Friday of this week due to my Backspace Conference adventure. Speaking of, there's still time to win SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi! Just go here, and comment on my first pages by the end of the day today. I'll announce a winner tomorrow. Thanks again (and ahead of TIME) to everyone who offered advice on my query and first pages. I sincerely appreciate your feedback. :)

-Marie

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SHATTER ME Winner! Plus, a Second Chance!

Hi All!

Thanks to everyone who sent feedback on my query and first pages! Such an enormous help!

The winner of SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi is....




drum roll drum roll drum roll drum roll drum roll drum roll




Georgia Summers!


Georgia, shoot me an email with book preference (e-book or hardback) and your mailing addy if you prefer hardback. SHATTER ME comes out on 11/15/11.

I'm willing to give away another copy for more feedback on my first pages of SOULSCAPE, because 1) Mafi's book is to-die-for, and 2) you all are so darn smart in your critiques. Tell you what, anyone who comments on my first pages (pasted below) by end of day Monday, I'll put into a SECOND drawing. If you already commented on my first pages (not the query), you're already in.



I caught him watching every day, drawing in my soul as though he held it on a golden chain. And I held his, but only for a moment. Only until he left. He always left.
He leaned against the cafeteria door that day with fire dancing along his skin. I choked on my apple juice when the first of my classmates walked through him like he didn’t exist. Like he wasn’t lighting up the room with the soft glow surrounding him. Like he wasn’t the center of my entire universe with his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets, eyes glued to mine. No one noticed. No one saw him. Except me.
I’m yours.
The thought tingled in my fingertips and crawled through my blood, heating it, haunting me, until it burst into a starry night in the pit of my stomach. Breathing wasn’t an option. Not for either of us. He stumbled backward as if he’d heard my silent promise, his eyes still pulling me, freezing and melting me at the same time, until he touched two fingers to his lips. My world slowed, then stopped as golden light burst from his boots and swept around his legs, along his stomach, over his face until he was gone. I’d never thought my heart could disintegrate. I was wrong.
I bit the inside of my cheek and nudged my best friend’s foot.
“Did you see him, Nicky?”
He followed the thumb I threw over my shoulder.
“Wait! Don’t look!” I said, smashing my bangs over my eyes, embarrassed and stupidstupidstupid. “I mean, well, look, but don’t look like you’re looking.”
Look or don’t look, I told myself. He’s gone.
Nick tugged on the hoop above his eyebrow and swung his baby blues toward the door. “You mean Frat Perkinson?” He asked, losing his perfect cool as my ex sauntered into the room. “Please, please, don’t tell me you’re interested in him again, Kat.”
“Him who?” Leslie drawled as she squeezed into the seat beside Nick.
Penny stiffly took the one by me. My oldest friend pursed her lips as she glared at Nick over the top of her glasses. “You two aren’t talking about Nick’s newest conquest, are you?”
He leaned toward her as his lips twitched. “Try that again with less venom, Penny Perfect. I’m sure the big guy upstairs appreciates my thoughtful approach to free love. My selfless dedication to gender equality. My unceasing efforts to love all the little children of the world.”
I slipped from my seat as the daily fireworks exploded between my friends. But I couldn’t help Leslie calm them down. I couldn’t even calm myself, still catching my breath from the way the boy had kissed his fingertips as his eyes burned into mine. He hadn't just seen my face. He’d heard my thoughts. He’d noticed something bigger, something grander, buried within me and whispering…no, screaming words that made my insides twist and bleed and flare to life.
I’m yours, and you’re mine.


Okay. Let me have it! :)

-Marie

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Plea for Help with a SHATTER ME Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who commented Wednesday on my pitch line and query. You're all in the running for a pre-order of Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME (brilliant story!).


For a second chance, I'm begging for your feedback on my first two pages. The Backspace conference is NEXT WEEK. During the first pages workshop, the participating agents will stop me when they would actually stop reading. *ahem* It would be RATHER AWESOME if I made it through the whole two pages. That's why I need your help. Where would/did you stop? Why? Rip me apart!


Okay...deep breath...here's my (revised) pitch line to get you grounded, then the first two pages of my YA paranormal romance, SOULSCAPE.


Pitch!

Seventeen-year-old Katherine Wake cuts a deal with the afterlife's gatekeeper to win her dead soulmate a new body. But she never expected that body to belong to a girl, and holding up her end of the bargain may cost Kat her soul.




I caught him watching every day, drawing in my soul as though he held it on a golden chain. And I held his, but only for a moment. Only until he left. He always left.
He leaned against the cafeteria door that day, fire dancing along his skin. I choked on my apple juice when the first of my classmates walked through him like he didn’t exist. Like he wasn’t ignoring the seniors trading yearbooks and gossip and goodbyes in the space between us. Like he wasn’t the center of the entire universe with his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets, eyes glued to mine. They didn’t notice him, couldn’t see him. No one could. Except me.
I’m yours.
The thought tingled in my fingertips and crawled through my blood, heating it, haunting me, until it burst into a starry night in the pit of my stomach. Breathing wasn’t a possibility. Not for either of us. He stumbled backward, his eyes still pulling me, freezing and melting me at the same time, until he touched two fingers to his lips. My world slowed, then stopped as a whirlwind of gold light burst from his boots and swept around his legs, along his stomach, over his face until he was gone. I’d never thought a heart could disintegrate. I was wrong.
I bit the inside of my cheek and kicked my best friend’s Converse under the table.
“Did you see him, Nicky?” Nick followed the thumb I threw over my shoulder. “Wait! Don’t look!” I smashed my bangs over my eyes, embarrassed and stupidstupidstupid. “I mean, well, look, but don’t look like you’re looking.”
Look or don’t look, I told myself. He’s gone.
Nick tugged on the hoop above his eyebrow and swung his baby blues toward the door. “You mean Frat Perkinson?” He asked, losing his perfect cool as my ex sauntered into the room. “Please, please, don’t tell me you’re interested in him again, Kat.”
“Him who?” Leslie drawled as she squeezed into the seat beside Nick, Penny stiffly taking the one by me.
My oldest friend pursed her lips as she glared at Nick over the top of her glasses. “You two aren’t talking about Nick’s, umm, relations, are you?”
Nick practically rolled on the floor. “Relations, Penny Perfect? That’s the word of the day? I’m sure the big guy upstairs appreciates my thoughtful approach to free love. My selfless dedication to gender equality. My unceasing efforts to love all the little children of the world.”
I slipped from my seat as the same hateful fireworks from every other day exploded between my best friends. But I couldn’t help Leslie calm them down. I couldn’t even calm myself, still catching my breath from the way the boy’s eyes burned for me. In the moment the world had hiccupped, he saw something bigger, something grander than my mirror ever reflected, massive in its intensity and whispering…no, screaming the words that made my insides pull and twist, live and die.
I’m yours.
He’s gone.
That was our beginning.


Okay, darlings. Break out the red pens!


I'll announce the winner of SHATTER ME on Sunday, as well as post an updated query and two pages for any last minute feedback. Then I'm off to Backspace!


-Marie

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My First RTW, and a Plea for Help!

I've read so many Road Trip Wednesday posts throughout my ten (TEN!) months in the blog universe, but I've never participated. That. Ends. Today!

This week, the lovelies at YA Highway have given me the chance to gush about the best book I read in October. SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi blew my cheetah mind, darlings! Juliette can't touch anyone without hurting, maybe killing them, until now. I can't do it a bit of justice by talking about it, so you must, YOU MUST, go pre-order it. I'll even give you the link. My first ARC (YAY!), and I'm obsessed with Warner, Mafi's sexy, psychotic villain. INCREDIBLE! I gobbled up this book in one day, and you will too. Cross my heart. 


Okay. Off topic, but so important!

I leave for the Backspace conference in a week, *breathes into bag, breathes into bag* so I desperately need your help today and on Friday. In this post, I'm giving you my pitch line and query. If you have time, comment to your heart's content. RipRipRip, because it needs to entice the agent-darlings at the conference to want my book like I want Warner.

To bribe persuade you, I'll enter anyone who comments today and/or Friday (2 entries if you comment both days) into a drawing for a copy of SHATTER ME. Kindle or physical copy, depending on winner's preference. I'll pre-order it for you this weekend.

Okay, here's my pitch line and query. Help!

Pitch!
Seventeen-year-old Kat Wake cuts a deal with the afterlife's gatekeeper to win her dead soulmate a new body, but it's not the body she expects, and holding up her end of the bargain may cost Kat her soul.


Query!
Dear Agent,

When seventeen-year-old Kat Wake learns her true love, Tate, is a soul without a body, she cuts a deal with the afterlife's gatekeeper to win him a new one. But his new body belongs to a girl in their tiny, Bible Belt town. Kat faces the anger and judgment of her family, her community, and even herself as she fights for her love.

But love doesn't slow the hands of the gatekeeper's clock. Kat must still hold up her end of the bargain and steal her tortured English teacher's memory of the afterlife. He somehow knows her plan, though, and has other, wicked ideas for his favorite student. If Kat doesn't succeed in her task, she'll lose everything. Her love. Her life. Even her soul.

My YA paranormal romance, SOULSCAPE, is Gayle Forman's If I Stay meets Inception, and is complete at 60,000 words. This story may stand alone, but has series potential.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



That's it! You're all delightful!

-Marie

Monday, October 24, 2011

100 Words for The Three Musketeers

I didn't see the 1993 Musketeers, so I can't make a fair comparison, but the semi-drunk, quasi-retired musketeers (not to mention, the arrogant D'Artagnan) made me constantly oooh, aaaah, and from-the-belly laugh. They’re on a mission to save France from a bloody war with the Duke of Buckingham (Bloom). An entertaining couple of hours (thank you, Planchet!), brimming with creative swordplay, and all the Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) you'll ever need.

CAUTION, though! Orlando Bloom NEVER PICKS UP A SWORD! I couldn't speak for several minutes when I realized it. Guess I'll have to wait for the sequel. :)


A ton of contests are happening all over our beloved internet. Check out this, this, this, and this for ARC's (sorry about all the links, but...ARC's!!!!!), and Miss Snark for the upcoming Baker's Dozen.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, POSSIBLY LIFE-ALTERING NOTE!

Got your attention? hehe

If you have any chance at all to get a copy of SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi before it comes out on 11/15/11, GET IT. Finished it in A DAY, and I'm a super slow reader. The devious, spine-tingling, bad boy villain grabbed and crushed my heart in his first scene. I'm his forever!

Happy Monday!

-Marie

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Sheldon met Moss

What would happen if
           





                                                 THIS MAN








met










 THIS OTHER MAN?






*tap, tap* "Moss?" *tap tap* "Moss? *tap tap* "Moss?"

"HeLLO, Sheldon!"


Fiction makes us happy dance for so many reasons! Have you ever met a character who you thought, "Wow, -insert character from different work- would LOVE this person?" TV, movies, books, cartoons. It could be anything, really? Like, I think Pumbaa (Lion King) and Alan (Hangover) would get along swimmingly. :) Right?! And, of course, Moss and Sheldon. Could you imagine the bazingas? hehehe That sounds much dirtier than I intended.

Who are your long-lost, fiction buds? Love to hear from you!

Housekeeping, you want me fluff pillows?!

Okay, THE Janet Reid is having a contest here for a crit or books, all of which are several shades of awesome. And Miss Snark's First Victim is hosting the 2nd annual Baker's Dozen for YA soon. Submissions start on Nov. 1, so polish that logline and first 250 words.

Happy Friday, darlings!

-Marie

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Words v. Numbers

Stereotype me.

Go on.

No? Oh...well...umm, this will be a pretty boring post then.

Okay! I'll be you for a sec.


Me: Stereotype me.

You (as played by Me): Okay. You're an Accountant, a BEAN COUNTER. Must be awesome at math and loveLoveLOVES taxes. You're reserved, always quick to contemplate, but never rash in your decisions. And CONSERVATIVE! Accountants are way too conservative.

Me: *devil's-a'comin' scowl*

You (as played by Me): I mean...

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I asked for it.


So, how did momma's little bean counter (worst. descriptor. ever) decide to write a book? Simple!

The same way that lawyer, and those teachers, and HEY YOU! Yeah, you in the corner, that stay-at-home dad. The same way all of you started. With an idea. With a notepad. With a passion. Enjoy it!

BTW, I'm terrible at taxes, can do as much math as the +, -, *, /, and % buttons on my calculator allow, and am the exact opposite of 'reserved.' :D  Our professions don't make us certain things. Our actions do that!

Second BTW! Buy a copy of Lauren Myracle's SHINE. Google her name if you don't know why. :) See? Actions!

-Marie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jump Back! FOOTLOOSE Review in 100 Words

An accident kills five seniors in a tiny Georgia town, and the church-based community bans 'fun.' Three years later, a mouthy Boston gymnast shakes everyone up.

Someone took a good-but-hard-to-believe story (a ban on public dancing?), and added five scenes to make you invest more in the characters. Whether you loved or hated the original FOOTLOOSE, you'll enjoy this touching remake. There are changes, sure, but so much from the 80's is back in style, you may not notice all the throwbacks. :)

Williard still steals the show, and boy, can those kids MOVE! Everybody, including you, cut loose!


For any other Hunger Games groupies out there, the promo poster with Katniss's mockingjay pin was shining in the 'Coming Soon'  advertisement outside my local theater. I squealed like a potbelly pig and took a picture. Several people passed in that eerie silence that means they're afraid of you. Yeah.....lol.



Hyperventilating-excited!

-Marie

Friday, October 14, 2011

Got Advice? Well, Sharing is Caring!

Loglines are tough stuff. Just like queries, synopses, and writing in general.

But back to loglines!

The FABULOUS Linda at Write Escape is hosting a logline bonanza (MSFV-style!). Check it out here and give as much advice as you can. This community is so SO generous ALL THE TIME. From auctions, to spreading the word, to helping each other. I've never seen this much genuine heart in all my 28 years. I'm so grateful to be a part of it!

:) Sappy Cheetah Out!

-Marie

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Call for Log Lines!

I don't post on Thursday, I know! But this is such a HUGE opportunity.

Go here, email your log line, get it critiqued.

Easy as pumpkin pie with that overly large dollop of whipped cream on top, and a sprinkle of nutmeg for equal parts fancy and wonderful-smell. Umm, yeah. Easy as pie. hehe

-Marie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Music: Strong Women and Needy Men

So, I'm driving to work on Tuesday. In those twelve minutes, I hear two songs, a traffic report, and the weather. The traffic and weather were CRAZY interesting, but I won't get you too excited first thing in the morning. It was the music I wanted to talk about, a pattern in music, actually, I've noticed a lot lately.

Strong woman who don't need a man *snap, snap, snap,* especially that insensitive jerkface that dumped them.

AND

Pining men who'll give anything, ANYthing, to win back the strong and sexy girl of their dreams.

Can't we set any of these people up? :) I think a lot of songwriters could be super happy if they, you know, listened to each other.

Personally, I like the arrogant men with moves like Jagger. Umm, yeah, back to the bad boy thing, huh? Yep!

What are you listening to right now? Bonus points if it's My Chemical Romance (LOVE)!

Also, head over to The Rejectionist's blog and bid on an arc of Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME. Great, great cause!!!!!

-Marie

Monday, October 10, 2011

REAL STEEL! Really Worth It! 100 Word Review

Charlie Kenton unexpectedly gets custody of his estranged son, Max, and they spend the summer finding, building, and training an outdated sparring bot, Atom, to get in the robot boxing game, the only kind of boxing in the future. Charlie's a ton of terrible things (drinker, gambler, charmer…), but he used to be different. He was a great boxer with heart, heart, heart. As he trains Atom, as Max makes a friend for the first time, as the two finally find each other, Jackman reminds us how awesome Redemption can be.

Excellent movie for the whole family. Don't miss it!



One hundred words can't do this movie justice! Gaaarrrrrrrr.

When I saw the previews, I basically turned up my nose. I thought it was Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots, The Movie. I never expected the effects to be stunning, and I certainly didn't dream I'd cry. Yes, you heard right. I cried! At the end of this Cinderella story, I wanted to stand on my seat and cheer out loud, so take your friends, your family, your kids, your date, because everyone can enjoy Real Steel.

Not convinced? Okay, here's the kicker. A robot...does The Robot. Yes! Go! Now!!!!! ;)

-Marie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mr. Jobs, Twitter, and baby cheetahs (uh, NOT MINE!)

Hi all, and Happy Friday!

Sad note: The Twitter community understandably teared up Wednesday evening when Steve Jobs passed away. He was an innovator, a think-out-of-the-boxer, who made his dreams come true. No matter what. Whether you liked his methods or have never supported Apple, there's no denying that the man made things happen. For that, he will be missed, but remembered always.

Smiley note: Speaking of Twitter, I'm on Twitter!!!!!! Yes, I finally got my cheetah tail off the couch and figured out what the heck # and @ now mean. There's a cutesy, red button to your right if you'd like to follow me. I'll return the favor, of course. Thanks for the push, Laura Stanford!

Awesome, cutest-thing-EVER note:

Two words.

Flufftastic. Adorableness.

Don't miss it! :D

-Marie

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Books and, as always, a NYR Update

October's here! That means Halloween's on its way, and if you're like me, Halloween means one, incredible thing.

COSTUMES!

There may be a costume contest happening at the Cheetah the first week of November, so dress up, have fun, and get those pics ready. Yay!

NYR's are back on track. The eating's a bit better than August (aka, no longer approaching the land of Epic Fail). I've been mixing up my exercising, which makes it bearable, even fun at times. :) If it's not fun, I won't do it. How about you? Do you absolutely dread exercise? What about going dancing? Probably not as much, huh? Then make that your exercise!

Weekly movies are never an issue, as you all know. October begins the Fall Movie Season, and there are some great ones coming! Real Steel (Hugh Jackman...drool!), Footloose, The Three Musketeers, In Time (that one's going to be aMAZing), Anonymous, Melancholia, and so, SO many more! Which ones are you excited to see?

I'm adding to my writing resolution. I want to have half of my draft polished up and ready for critting by the end of the month. If the first two pages and query pass the test of my fantastic writer-friends (and probably all of you darlings if I decide to post them on the Cheetah for open opinions), I'll be confident going to the Backspace Conference on November 3-4, 2011. Oh, by the way, are you going to Backspace?! You should!

Now, on to the books! I had a late start, then came down to the wire on the minimum resolution number.

1. Evermore: The Immortals by Alyson Noel
Ever's family died in a car accident, leaving her to live a pampered life with her awkward aunt. Except that now she can hear other people's thoughts. Until she meets Damen. Think Twilight meets Sookie Stackhouse. A pretty good read that leaves us wondering what Ever will decide about her apparent immortality. The 'ghost' sister is the best part of the book, acting as both the comic relief and the sad, wandering soul who can't find her way. Thanks for the recommendation, Koreen!

2. Shattered by Sophia Sharp
Another series, I know! Shattered felt a little flat at the beginning, then the middle gives a ton of information, and the end flies, leaving our main characters in a hopeless situation. This is not a stand alone book (my opinion). Laura is self-admittedly average, normal, boring, as are her town and friends. Until, wait for it, a new boy shows up. ;) Logan's different, and he literally shows Laura a brand new world, a forbidden world. When they're discovered, Laura must flee her old life or face death. I found Shattered more Y than A, if you know what I mean, but it passed my 30 page rule.

3. The Great Snape Debate by Amy Berner, Orson Scott Card, and Joyce Millman
Holy. Hot. Dog!
This collection of essays was written after HBP, but before DH, and is split down the middle, half in favor of Snape's innocence and half convinced of his guilt. I won this excellent read from Lisa at Read. Write. Repeat, and it was exactly what I needed to bridge the gap between my second viewing of Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and my visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in November (hy-per-ven-til-breathes into bag-breathes into bag!!!!!!!). Not only do the authors explore Rowling's masterpiece, but they dig into Snape's character and analyze his truly heartbreaking life, guessing at his fate in DH, which of course, we all know *sniff*. When you need a Harry fix and fanfiction's just not doing it, this book won't disappoint.

Plans for October:
I'll be finishing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People this month as CPE for my Accounting certification. It's dry, but it's a necessity. I would also like to read Where She Went by Gayle Forman since I'll be referencing If I Stay in my query for FREEFALL (btw, the awesome Laura Stanford offered up an alternate title, SOUL-CROSSED, for my YA Paranormal Romance. Thoughts?). I also need (yes, NEED) to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Every time I see a trailer for the new movie, I'm equally creeped out and intriqued. Must. Read. Book. I'm giving myself the minimum once again to make time for proofing and polishing and painstakingly perfecting my MS (perfecting was just a 'P' word; I'm confident, but not crazy!).

What are your October goals for everything? Are you a Halloween lover like me? Do you love it so much you've recently purchased a Dachshund because you want to buy one of those hot dog suits for him/her? hehe. Come on. You can admit it!

Enjoy carving pumpkins, eating lots and lots of pie, and attending as many Fall festivals as you can. Thanks for visiting the Cheetah!

-Marie

Monday, October 3, 2011

Moneyball Review, and Hunger Games teaser!!!!!

First of all, I've seen the Hunger Games teaser several times and always forget to mention it (sorry!). Here's a link. There's no Peeta, but I was hopping in my chair. Literally. Raise your hand if you're excited!!!

Also, the fabulous Amparo Ortiz created a new and crazy-awesome blog called Reel YA where she reviews teen books and movies. I love it! Check it out here. So worth it, especially since she reviewed 10 Things I Hate About You last week. I heart Heath Ledger (miss you)!

Okay! I caught Moneyball over the weekend. Here's 100 words for your reading pleasure!


Combine Pitt's looks, a true story, and Jonah Hill's timing, and you get the inspirational Moneyball. Retired baseball player Billy Beane teams up with economist Peter Brand to put together an inexpensive, winning team based strictly on the numbers. Though the Athletics don't win the World Series, the road to the playoffs will hold your attention for about seventy five percent of the movie. The other half hour kind of drags.

Shining spot? Young actress Kerris Dorsey who plays Beane's daughter. Cute as a button with a sweet-as-cotton-candy voice that tugs at your tear ducts. This girl needs more work!


That's it! An excellent date movie. Sports for the guys, and Brad for the girls. ;) Next week will be a fight between Hugh Jackman and Anna Faris. We'll see who wins!

-Marie

Friday, September 30, 2011

Last Day of September! Make it Count

Five ways to make the last day of September 2011 count. Go!

1. Become a morning person! Force away the frown, and say your version of 'Good Morning' to everyone you see from at least 6am to 10am. My greeting tends to be "Mornin' ladies!" or "Hey Boss!." Be THAT person. :)

2. Post on your blog! Even if you don't regularly post on Fridays, find something excellent to say/show. You know, something like this crazy-happy cheetah.


Thank you, Google images!

3. Use the word 'Awesome' on some social media site. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, wherever you prefer.

4. Work on your book. First line, query, synopsis, edits. Whatever needs to be done, do it.

5. Dance in your living room. Sing in your car. Be happy.


You're nervously asking 'What's the deal, Marie?,' right? Well, a flying truck (NOT related to the flying cheetah) ran a stoplight on Wednesday and would've slammed into the driver side door of my beige Civic had not the awesome (AHHH! There's the word!) driver of the van next to me blasted its horn. I'm not dead, and that's pretty cool!

Bottom line. Life's too short. Be happy and healthy! I heart all of you!

-Marie

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Award for the Cheetah, and a Simple Dog!

The amazing Tonya Kuper gave the Cheetah a blog award! I'm so snoopy dancing around my living room.


Here are 7 random facts about me, and 5 blogs you should NOT miss. :)

1. I eat a jar of peanut butter every week. Cross my heart!

2. My WIP, currently titled FREEFALL, has lived in about seven different versions. A college tale, a prep school version,  now a high school romance. It's been focused on so manner of the wrong things, but what it boils down to is a supernatural romance between soulmates separated by life and death. Sigh! That's the good stuff, yeah? hehe

3. I'm a cat person (HA! Did you guess?). I've rescued four wild beasts furry friends, and they allow me to live in their house. I'm the mother, maid, and money to them, and somehow, I'm fine with it.

4. I didn't want to be an author when I was young. I wanted to be a band director, then an actress, then an advertising executive. Today, I'm an accountant! The writing life bloomed from a tiny idea that became 60% of my entire world.

5. I turn the big 3-0 next year, and I'm way too excited about it. Wouldn't an agent's interest be a fabulous gift? (Wouldn't completely finishing my MS be a good way to make that happen...um, yeah.)

6. I seriously heart spreadsheets.

7. I chose my pen based on one of my fave characters in literature, Hank Rearden from ATLAS SHRUGGED. He's flawed in so many ways and kinda hates himself for it. But we love him! Such a great story.


Now, 5 blogs with Awesome!

1. A Writer's Journey - Teralyn's one of the most dedicated bloggers EVER! Check her out.
2. Ashley March - Love Ashley! I discovered her through Kat Brauer's Crits for Water. Such an encouraging sweetheart.
3. The Flighty Temptress - Speaking of Kat Brauer....I could spend a whole post laying on the Amazing, the Fantastic, the Insert-Capitalized-Word-Meaning-Great, but I'll control myself. Go. Awesome.
4. Write Escape - Linda McLaren's my writer-everything. :) Friend, crit, encouragement, an outlet to vent, to ask stupid questions, to give crappy title ideas (a LOT of crappy title ideas). Thank you, dear. You're the best!
5. A ton of awesome agent blogs, like Janet Reid's, Suzie Townsend's, Meredith Barnes's, and so many other agents who work terribly hard to educate us on the industry, good writing, great reading, and what they want to see. Thank you all!

6. BONUS! All of the other blogs I follow. You are my darlings. Educating me, sharing your excitement, your experiences. I truly believe writers are some of the most generous and caring people on the planet. Thank you!


Now, I'll wrap up with a link to this hilarious blog post from Hyperbole and a Half about a simple dog. I haven't laughed this hard in at least seven and a half months. ;)

Thanks for reading.

-Marie

Monday, September 26, 2011

2-for-1 Review for ABDUCTION

You read that right, darlings. One movie, two reviews.

While you may be thinking I have multiple personalities (and I'm not 100% denying that), don't worry. I'm doing two reviews for 1) how I really felt about Taylor Lautner's Abduction, and 2) the guilty pleasure aspect of a movie like this. Sound crazy? Well, I'll walk you through the real review, and you can decide if you want to read my 100 word 'Guilty Pleasure' review. Deal? Great!



When Nathan Price finds his picture on a missing person's website, his entire life changes. Russian baddies and the CIA are after him, but his therapist tells him not to trust anyone except his real dad (who he’s never met). Oh, yeah. There's also a romance. A lot of big names for a movie with relationships as passionate as those in Attack of the Clones, and a *shrug* ending.

BUT…

Lautner takes off his shirt, and Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello exist (though, they’re severely underused). If the previews entice you, take a deep breath and rewatch New Moon. :)





Okay!

That was the actual review, but stick with me another minute. There are certain movies that I see without any expectation that they'll be Oscar contenders. Most of them star Amanda Bynes (I seriously LOVE her. Sue me!). I mean, Rotten Tomatoes gave Abduction a 4%, and Entertainment Weekly rated it a 'C' (reader-reviewers gave it a 'D,' btw), so I wasn't hoping for Inception  or The King's Speech.

So here it is. My 'Guilty Pleasure' review of Abduction. Gentlemen, be warned. There may be squeals.




Big names, hot cars, explosions, and what am I missing...OH! Taylor Lautner!

SQUEAL!

Yes, Jacob's taking center stage with a love interest who may be more bland than Bella Swan. Lautner plays Nathan Price, a rich and extremely buff high school senior with anger management issues and a completely fake life. Thirty minutes into the movie, Nathan and sorta-sweetheart Karen are running from villainous russians and that dude from Spiderman 2. No one can be trusted, but we can't seem to care as Lautner plays the yummy, furrow-browed action star.

He fights, he cries, he takes off his shirt.

SQUEAL!



LOL! I solumnly swear to never put you through that again if you continue following the cheetah. :) And thank you, Google Images, for providing the smoldering goodness above.

-Marie

Friday, September 23, 2011

How Music Tames the Wild Beast

So, I discovered the IHeartRadio App on Wednesday. Three things.

1. It's awesome!!!!! I've been so devoted to the My Chemical Romance album in my car, I haven't actually listened to other music for ages. So much fun to realize whistling is a huge deal, Katie Perry's as cute as a teenage button, and Ga Ga sounds waaaaay too country.

2. It's taking a toll on my reading. I'm too busy bee-bopping around my house to the newest Britney or Maroon Five song, I can't even find the book I'm reading. Maybe that's why my Kindle took a vacation (had to do a hard reset. Super scary!)

3. It's sucking my motivation to write! :( Yes, SAD FACE! Not only because of my previously mentioned bee-bopping, but also because I can't focus on the words in front of me when I'm focused on scream-singing along with Adele.

How do you step away from the music? hehe. While we're at it, how do you add five extra hours to your day to read, write, work, listen, exercise, and oh yeah, sleep!? Is music your Muse or your undoing? Ooh, the cheetah's feeling a bit dramatic today, isn't she? ;)

Happy Friday! Write something amazing this weekend.

-Marie

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orbit the Earth, and What a Croc!

Another viral video!

Save all those millions it would cost to go into space (yes, you actually can), and check out this link.

While you're in awe of our B-U-tiful planet, what about this 2,300+ pound crocodile?



YIKES! What a croc!

I know Earth Day's officially in March, but I like to put a little of that good-natured (PUN), tree-hugging attitude into every day.  The World Wildlife Fund, my charity of choice, offers tons of ways to contribute to its vision of building a future in which people live in harmony with nature. Animal adoptions (umm, cheeetah anyone?!), merchandise, education, and a bunch of fun stuff like this quiz.

Enjoy this Autumn as the colors change, and remember that somewhere, there's a 2,300 pound croc smiling just for you, hehe.

-Marie

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dangerous and Disturbing. STRAW DOGS in 100 Words

What happens when Hollywood meets small town? Rape, death, and Alexander Skarsgard.

Disturbing may be an understatement. From the cat hanging to the creative use of a bear trap, my skin could NOT stop crawling. Besides a weak female lead (charcter, not actress) and a secondary plot straight out of OF MICE AND MEN, Straw Dogs basically follows a writer as he protects his wife and home, but I wouldn't recommend it to the squeamish among us.

One high point. We find out how well Eric Northman speaks with a Bill Compton accent. ;)


When I made a resolution to step out of my movie goer 'comfort zone,' this was the kind of movie I had in mind, but darn it if I don't pay more attention as I walk through my house after dusk. *shiver*

Completely unrelated, a writer auction called Read for Relief is happening right now! Proceeds will benefit Hurricane Irene's victims. Such a great cause! Check it out and bid on some awesome books, critiques, and lovely swag.

-Marie

Friday, September 16, 2011

No One Gets Recess

Remember when you were in elementary school? You're sitting in the cafeteria, lunch forgotten, waiting, yearning, to get outside on the playground. Recess! But then one or two dork-for-brains are talking or throwing paper or sassin' the teacher on duty (yes, sassin'. There's the southern Ohio in me., lol), and recess is taken away. A few ruin something for everyone else.

That's kind of how I feel about the Publishers Weekly article discussing how agents say no to or try to change LGBTQ characters/stories. A couple bad experiences have created a stir, and agents, like Kristin Nelson, are moving quickly to assure writers that, as we all know, it's about the story, it's about the writing, and most agencies don't reject based strictly on a homosexual characters (or, to go one step further, a Jewish character or an African American character). A few ruin something for everyone else.

I thought our country got all this molded, gloppy Hate out of our systems fifty-plus years ago. Maybe I'm just naive, but with an MS dealing, in part, about a 17 year old girl struggling with her attraction to a girl in her class (in the Bible Belt of southern Ohio, of all places), I want to know that someone may see the 'real world' potential for my story. So, if an agent loveLoveLOVES my writing, but can't handle or won't sell it because I've tried to make my characters real-to-life, then that's probably not the agent for me. That person has a job, and he/she has the choice, but it shouldn't put a brand on the industry or discourage writers from *clears throat* WRITING YOUR STORY.

What's the lesson? People disagree. It happens. Write from the heart, polish your story within an inch of its life, and find an agent that loves it as much as you. If you can't, write something else and then another something else (and another, dot dot dot). And, oh yeah, let's tone down that gnarly Hate and embrace perfect, potent Positivity!

-Marie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Trendy in Titles?

I'm terrible at choosing titles, and this certainly isn't the first time I've admitted it. My Katherine Wake story has had so many different, awful titles, I've probably driven my dear Escape Artist coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.

So what's trendy in titles? More importantly, what makes a title utterly unforgettable? Let's look at some popular themes.

1. Main character in the title (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Peter Pan)
While I think this is effective, I'm not sure the character's name would decide for me. Umm, unless it was 'Hugh Jackson's Delicious: Let Me Count the Ways.' All my ladies...would you buy that book? If you say no, you're lying! Gentlemen, if it were Halle Berry, same question. hehe

2. Play on words (or the dreaded pun)
I loveLoveLOVE this. Yes, I'm that dork. I spent an hour after I wrote my book (first draft of the first version) trying to put 'Kat' into my title, googling cat sayings, piecing together acceptable, sometimes 100% not acceptable, titles. Kat Outta the Bag, While the Kat's Away, Kat on a Hot Tin Roof, Kat-tastrophe. That one made me stop, shred my legal pad, and reevaluate if a blog was a good idea. :) Needless to say, I've given up this method for titling.

3. One word titles
Twilight is the obvious example, but think of all the others. Evermore, Shattered, Betrayal, Deception. The list goes on and on. If you had to title your book with one word, what would it be, and how will that word tell your story and grab your potential reader? It's a tall order!

4. What your book's about
I struggle with a two sentence hook. How in the world do I get it down to a short and catchy title? Yikes! The Hunger Games makes perfect sense. Katniss is the star, but the story's about the games. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Yep. Stuck on an island with the same name. Eat, Pray, Love. She eats in Italy, prays in India, and loves in Indonesia. Easy, right? Wrong!!!

5. Anything goes
Some book titles have no connection at all to the story. They may be lovely, memorable, funny, just something that gets a reader to buy the book. One of my favorite books is a recent read called When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer. Without googling, I have no idea what the connection is between the story and the title, but isn't it a gorgeous thought?

How do you title your works? A method? A friend's suggestion? Some kind of activity? I'd love to know, and hey, maybe your advice will save me from my Brain-eating Title Monster. Well, we can hope anyway.

-Marie 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Hundred for WARRIOR: Tom Hardy does it again!

In Warrior, Tommy Reardon lives through his father’s drunken dismissal, his mother’s death, the friendly fire death of his Marine brothers, and now he’s back in Pittsburgh ready to fight UFC-style for five million dollars. Then there’s his brother, Brendan,a physics teacher and retired fighter ‘this close’ to losing his home. When the cage closes for the last match, they'll face each other in the ring.
With family drama, cringe-inducing hits, and the exquisite Tom Hardy, this movie could appeal to anyone. It’s not The Fighter, but it’s very close. You don’t want to miss it.

We're back in the swing of things with another one hundred word review. Can you believe it's the middle of September?! Wow. Just wow.
Have you seen Warrior? Any other movies you're excited to see? Abduction? Real Steel? Sherlock Holmes? Breaking Dawn? So many movies, so little time. :)
-Marie

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Importance of Remembering

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Better people than me will say more beautiful things throughout the weekend, but I wanted to pause and remember the families that were torn apart, the panic around the country, the hopelessness we all felt in our own ways, and the sense of unity afterward when millions of people came together to remember.

Wherever you were that day, wherever you are this Sunday, take a moment to remember, because where we've been influences where we'll go. And I think the future looks lovely. :)

-Marie

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BOOKS! August in Review with a NYR Update!

September! The leaves begin to turn, the temperature considers dropping (then raising, then dropping, you get the idea). Autumn greets us with apples, cider, and hot cocoa. Oh, and with BOOKS!

The New Year Resolutions, fitness-wise, are teetering on the edge of partial failure, especially the healthy eating, so I'm kicking my butt into gear again on September 12. Labor Day weekend was a food fiasco. I need a week to recover before I go cold turkey (is it still 'cold turkey' if you don't eat meat? Hmm...). 

The writing resolution took a break in August as I sought the feedback of my fantastic writer-friends (love you Linda, Laura, Lynne, Nebraska! You're all the very, very best!). While I kept myself away from my MS, I caught up on a few books on my Kindle.

1. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman.
The title's a bit of a mouthful, huh? Goldman writes the book not as an author, but a screenwriter abridging Morgenstern's tale. I'm pretty sure Morgenstern doesn't exist, but even after googling him, there's a smidgeon of doubt left. :) It makes for a, well, classic tale of true love and high adventure! Buttercup is rather dumb, Westley is as wonderful as Carey Elwes portrayed, and Inigo Montoya...perfection. He and Fezzik make the book. Very, very similar to the movie, but seriously, everyone needs to read this. You'll laugh out loud over and over.

2. Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers
The second part of a trilogy should add characters and plotlines and conflicts and leave the reader hanging. Well, Original Sin does just that. Though I enjoyed Personal Demons more, there were parts of this book that gripped me, especially once Gabe comes back and is...tempted. For those who haven't read Personal Demons, Luc (Lucifer) and Gabe (Gabriel) came to Frannie's school to tag her soul for Hell and Heaven, respectively. A love triangle ensues. Good, good stuff, but I won't give anything away. Now, I was totally Team Luc in Personal Demons. Gabe was a bit flat for me. Conflicted, sure, but nothing like in Original Sin. He gets a lot more interesting, and I'll put money down that the story gets better in the third installment. It'll be a long wait for this Cheetah!

3. When One Night Isn't Enough by Wendy S. Marcus
The cover pulled me in, though the story wasn't exactly what I expected. Emotionally damaged Ali hooks up with emotionally damaged co-worker Jared, but he's leaving for another job. Why didn't they use protection?! A quick read with very human characters and a bit of hot sex, this isn't for the faint of heart. Fantastic marketing, though. The cover gave me the impression that it would be a tale of fun seduction, but turned out to be an angsty, mid-twenties romance between two people who don't have a clue what they really want. Not bad at all. :)

4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Sad with a hint of bittersweet. The book follows Mia after a car accident kills her family. She's a kind of ghost watching her body as she tries to decide if she should stay or go. I laughed. I cried. It's a really lovely book with a cliffhanger ending. I read it in hopes of finding a comparable title to my MS. While I think it would do the job, my main character makes her choice early in the book and must deal with the consequences. Looks like I'll be reading the sequel in September. :)


Plans for September:
Well, Forman's Where She Went may come later in the month, but for now, Koreen Clemens, who is fabulous, recommended Evermore by Alyson Noel. Also, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin sounds like a comparable title (thanks, Golden Eagle, who is also fabulous!). Plus, I'm returning to my own MS to polish, tighten, etc., to get it ready for BackSpace in November.

What are your September goals? Books? Writing? Movies? Food? Autumn? Anything?!

No movie review this week due to the holiday, but I'll make up for it next Monday. Promise!

-Marie

Friday, September 2, 2011

Calling all Reader-friends! Help!

Many of you are beyond 'well-read' in the lovely land of YA, so I'm asking...no, begging, for comparable titles to my current project.

My story is about seventeen year old Katherine Wake who's been chosen to stop a war between the rulers of the Crossroads (the afterlife). Kat dies in the first chapter, but returns to life to complete a task from the afterlife's gatekeeper. While this is a secondary conflict to the romance between Kat and Tate, the dead guy who's been watching over her for several years and who doesn't initially have a physical body, I need recent paranormal YA books that focus on life after death, but don't deal with fairies/vampires/werewolves/etc., to add to my TBR list so when I start drafting a query, I can include comparable titles.

Oh, did I mention when Tate gets a body, it's the body of a girl in Kat's class? And, umm, the setting is in the heart of the Bible Belt, so the whole girl-loves-a-girl thing doesn't really fly? Yeah...

Haaaave you met Conflict? ;)

Okay, long story short (too late!), if you can think of any comparable YA titles after reading the spiel above, please post them in the comments. I just finished IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, and while the whole making-a-choice-to-come-back-to-life is part of my story, it's only about the first thirty pages. Any help would be wonderful. I love you, my follower-darlings!

Tap tap tap. Housekeeping. You need towels?

Yes, housekeeping. With the approaching Labor Day holiday, my posting for next week will be Wednesday and Friday only. I hope everyone enjoys the last holiday in summer. Soak up the sun and warmth, wear flip-flops, eat potato salad and baked beans, and don't be afraid to wear white year-round. :)

-Marie

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tension on Every 'Page' - True Blood Style

I've read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books. A telephathic waitress who falls in love with a newly outed vampire in a small and sheltered Louisiana town? Umm, yeah, definitely my cup of tea, but until last week, I'd never watched the HBO show based on the books.

So, what do True Blood and Donald Maass have in common? Or more specifically, why do I think Mr. Maass would applaud the efforts of the show? Because of the constant and unrelenting tension!

Every episode, no matter what problems arise or are solved, ends in a cliffhanger. Very few shows do that. Sure, a season finale usually leaves us hanging, and To BE CONTINUED breaks our hearts every once in a while, but every, single episode? I've rarely seen such a thing. Maass teaches 'tension on every page,' so that a reader won't be able to put down your book, and television must use that same tactic (replace 'page' with 'episode') to keep the viewer coming back. That's the only reason shows go for seven, eight, ten seasons.

As a side note, there are some fantastic shows that have great tension (and story and characters and...) that get cancelled, and I severely dislike the execs who make those decisions (I'm looking at you, Veronica Mars).

But back to my point. Writers can take at least one lesson from True Blood. Every chapter, every section of a chapter, needs to push our readers forward. Tempted to end with your character going to sleep? I sure am. It's easy, but don't do it. How about ending a scene with your MC being deliriously happy? Go ahead, but you better break her heart soon. :) I'm half kidding on those, darlings, but I'm sure you see my point.

Whew! When I edit my MS in September, I hope and pray I remember my own advice. ;)

-Marie 

 

Monday, August 29, 2011

100 Words for Fright Night

Let me start by saying that I'm a huge wuss, and The Lost Boys (the original one) scared the jeepers out of me. But I need to qualify that. I loveLoveLOVE Buffy and all that is Spike and, on occasion, Angel. Twilight? Um, YES! And Damon Salvatore can bite me anytime. ;)

So, even though it was a horror movie and sure to have me shivering in my movie-friend's lap, I braved Fright Night in bloody 3D. Here's my review in, well, you know.

The terribly handsome and deliciously evil vampire, Jerry (yes, Jerry) moves into the house next to Charley's in an isolated Vegas neighborhood. People begin disappearing, Jerry stalks Charley's mother and girlfriend, and a bloody good time is had by all. There were scary, something's-right-around-the-corner-LOOK-OUT parts, but the grisly vampire effects and the gratuitous 3D blood-spurting kept it oddly light. Colin Farrell has the 'half smile paired with gruff, bedroom voice' down to an art, and the Twilight/Buffy/Scooby gang references never got old. This wasn't a terrible movie, but I'm glad I saw it in the middle of the day.

Do I have any horror movie buffs out there? You're SO brave!

-Marie

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spelling Fail! Would you buy this?

My spelling and grammar here at the Cheetah isn't always perfect. I admit and accept that. I've spelled names incorrectly, I've capitalized when capitalizing isn't necessary, and I desperately need to start italicizing movie titles (next week, I promise!). So, we're clear, right? I make spelling and grammar mistakes.

BUT...

I am not a well-known clothing store partnering with well-respected universities to print 'team spirit' shirts. I am not Old Navy, and I did not print a heckuva lot of t-shirts with 'Lets go!' emblazoned across the fronts. Here's the link from which I took the image.

The big question for all of us shopper extraordinaires is this. If Old Navy sells these shirts, will we buy one to represent our favorite team? Well, would you? :) Because they're kind of cute (my opinion).

On a completely unrelated note, Rach at Rach Writes is starting another Platform-building challenge, Rachelle Gardner at her blog gives us hope with a post about 'pass' letters, and our dear Mr. Bransford posted this. He may be one of the most positive-while-still-helpfully-honest bloggers I've stumbled across, and I loved his post.

-Marie

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Battle Royale! First Pages vs. Query Letter

There are many categories of fear along this winding road to publication. Fear of not being good enough, fear of sharing your work with others, fear of no one liking your story, but once you get through those psychological hoops, there are new fears. The greatest, to me, is the fear of rejection.

But we can't be rejected until we submit, which brings me to the demons that are the first pages and the query letter.

*Ding!* Let the fight begin.

In this corner...
We obsess over the 250 words in our query, spending hours, days (weeks?) perfecting it. Is the voice right? Do I put my comparable titles at the beginning or end? What if I don't have any personal information to add? What's the formula? We freak out, and fear sinks its claws into our minds. We need that page to shine, so that every agent asks for more.

In the other corner...
Once we get a request, fear is back. The agent wants to see ten, thirty, fifty pages, maybe even the full MS, but they'll stop reading as soon as we give them a reason. That means the first page must sparkle like a *insert your favorite clique here*. Every word has to propel that agent to the next and the next, so that they're never ABLE to stop reading. Pressure? You bet! Fear? No doubt.

So, who wins this fight? Which of these deadly creatures strikes more fear into your heart of hearts? Anyone interested in a First Pages Blogfest? ;)

-Marie 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Help in 100 Words. Grab those tissues!

In The Help, a budding novelist writes about the lives of the maids in Jackson, Mississippi. How they raise their employer’s children, prepare their food, clean their messes, but aren’t allowed to use the same toilets. My heart broke over and over in this movie, because some piece of this tale rings true of our history. At some point in America, people treated other human beings like a different, inferior species.
The casting is superb, the emotions real, the story tragic but trimmed in delicious hope. You absolutely must see this movie, but take some tissues. J


Hate is worse than the plague in how it spreads and grows, mutates and devours, but there is a cure. Courage. These stories light a fire in me and in you, too, I hope, to work hard to make our world a better place for everyone to live. Agree to disagree, no matter the subject, and just like my post last Friday tried to convey, live your life to the fullest for you and for everyone you meet. You will never regret it.
And on a lighter note, check out the cutest thing EVER!

-Marie

Friday, August 19, 2011

Leasing our Lives?

Most of us have heard the expression to 'give a new lease on life.' It means to make something healthy or to rejuvenate, but I tend to frown when it's used to talk about people. Let me (briefly) explain.

If I'm a really crappy person (hypothetically, thank you), whether it's because I'm mean or unhealthy or bored or whatever, and something miraculous happens to 'give me a new lease on life,' what does that say about the lease on my old life?

Do we lease our lives instead of owning them? And, if so, who's the landlord? No, I'm not talking about religion, though the religious among you may see a connection. I'm more making the point that we shouldn't think of our lives as 'borrowed time' or 'out of our control.' No one else makes our decisions, and good or bad, we have to walk the path we choose.

Here's the thing, though. Nothing's irreversible except death and, ahem, taxes. Hello, Accountant here :). But, seriously, life should be a happy experience. We're only sure of just the one, right? So why not wake up every day with a determination to make it better for yourself or someone else. Go to the spa, give to charity, buy some shoes, sit in the sunshine, see a movie, or whatever you enjoy.

Don't lease your life. Own it, and I promise you'll smile a bit wider, laugh a little louder, and see the world in high definition.

Thanks for stopping by the Cheetah, and Happy Friday!!!!!

-Marie

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New Set of Eyes

I miss my manuscript.


I've had three writer-friends read it, and the feedback was, umm, consistent. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Revamp the first thirty (fifty) pages. Get to the action SOONER. Where I tried to build intrigue, I created a horrifying frustration monster. Where I thought something was cute and funny, my beta readers wanted to murder me. I want to dig into my MS and rip it to shreds!

HOWEVER...

I told myself I wouldn't touch it until September. As much as I itch for it, I won't. I won't! Because I think looking at it with a new set of eyes, a fresh set of eyes, will be magical for it and for me (and hopefully for my lovely critters. Thanks, ladies!!!!).

So, I need help! How do you keep yourself away from a manuscript in need of a good revision? Is it a struggle? Do you dream about it? :)

-Marie

Monday, August 15, 2011

Friends with Benefits in 100 Sweet, Sexy Words!

Friends with Benefits is a romantic comedy poking fun at all romantic comedies. Though it’s not the first movie to do this, the funny, fast-talking Timberlake and Kunis pull it off with a lot of sex, a lot of sass, and a deeper plot than the previews lead me to believe. The recurring jokes and everything Woody Harrelson did kept me laughing, and SPOILER ALERT, there is a ‘happily ever after.’ Oh, and Shaun White? Hilarious as he dons that goofy smile and threatens Justin Timberlake in the most creative ways possible.
My opinion? Better than No Strings Attached. :)  


Another movie, darlings! Though I had planned to see The Help, it just didn't turn out that way. Maybe next week. Have you seen any good movies lately? Excited about the Fall lineup? Breaking Dawn, Part 1? Abduction? Any non-Taylor Lautner movies?


-Marie

Friday, August 12, 2011

When Writer-Friends Find an Agent!!!!!!

It's time to celebrate, darlings!

Christa at Christa Writes snagged herself a fabulous agent! She put in the work, jumped over the hurdles and through the hoops, and it all paid off. I'm delightfully jealous! Stop by her blog and show her some love.

That's the kind of encouragement that helps us all through the dark days. Knowing that it really can happen. No matter how sick we are of a manuscript, there's always another idea floating through our brains. No matter the rejections or frustrations or plot holes or excessive description (yeah, that would be me), there's a day when you're ready. When that perfect, beautiful story is ready. Who knows when, but eventually, it'll happen.

Someone at Backspace, can't remember who, mentioned that musicians don't pick up an instrument and master it in a month. Artists can't just throw paint on a canvas and call it The Mona Lisa. It takes time and work and tears and work and giving up and coming back and, oh hey did I mention, WORK.

Show of hands, who's committed to it? Anyone?

*raises hand!*

-Marie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Celebrity Crush

We all have them. Insane crushes on the rich and famous. There's something very safe in feeling 110% devoted to someone you've never met, maybe who doesn't exist, because admit it, sometimes we're head over heels for a character a person plays, not the person themselves.

It happens in books too, but the visual of a celebrity, someone we can google and read about, drool over in magazines, wonder what they're doing right now, it's the visual that pulls me in. Shallow? Mmmmyeah, but is it really? You all know my feelings for Peeta from The Hunger Games (112% devotion, seriously), so when Josh Hutcherson was cast, I was instantly crushing. That smile, his open and honest attitude toward the role. Yep. Crush, and the 10 years that separate us mean nothing, right? Right.

Right?! :)

Anyway!

One of my best friends had and still has a crush on Mufasa from The Lion King (cartoon version). She always said "Just imagine him as a human being," then she made a 'hubba-hubba' cat noise kind of like a rrrrOU and clawed at the air. Go on. Imagine it. Finished? Crush. hehe

My college roomie had a mad celebrity crush on Nicholas Cage. Say what you will about his movies and acting, but my friend was/is in love. Owned every movie, posters on the wall, called him Nick, and made a deal with her boyfriend-turned-husband that Mr. Cage was the only man for whom she'd leave him. He agreed, making the same deal with Reece Witherspoon.

My current celebrity crushes are Harrison Ford in the seventies (sorry, not now), tanned and smiling Robert Pattinson, Tom Felton, and always, ALWAYS Hugh Jackman. From a fangirl crush perspective, we could add Emma Watson to that list.

It's been a while since I did a totally fun, related-to-nothing blog post, so let's go to town on this. Who are your celebrity crushes? Do you have a deal with your partner like my roomie?

-Marie

As always, thank you Google Images for the pic!

Monday, August 8, 2011

100 Words for Rise of the Planet of the Apes!

Don’t be fooled by the previews. This isn’t ‘Attack of the Killer Apes’ or ‘How the Humans Die.’ It's a tearful tale of one baby chimpanzee, Caesar. Born in a lab, Caesar’s genetic makeup has been altered. He is smart, fast, emotional, and so very confused. His tale from ‘pet’ to leader of a revolution is heartbreaking, but somehow triumphant.
John Lithgow pulls off ‘struggling and sick father’ so well, and Tom Felton, who's probably the final catalyst of the ape revolutionary, made me hate him…well, almost. The effects blew me away, and for a prequel, I highly recommend.

Trivia Time!

What makes a primate a monkey versus an ape? :) I learned this from my five year old niece. Answers in comments, please!

-Marie

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pride versus Pride: How Do You Use It?

Ever since I put The Lion King (Broadway version) soundtrack in my car, I've heard the word Pride a lot more often. It's used as a good thing in most of the show as long as a hero uses it. So, that got me thinking (yikes!). Pride does double duty, being warm and fuzzy and strong on one hand, but villainous on the other.

The Good
"I'm proud of you."

"We're so proud."

"You should take great pride in that."

When Pride is a good thing, it's usually directed from one person to another. My parents, especially my super awesome and very sentimental Dad, always told me how proud they were, even when my successes weren't all that spectacular. The Lion King uses this play on words (pride of lions, harharhar Disney) over and over. 'Remember my pride,' 'matter of pride,' you get the idea.

In our writing, when our spin on Pride is positive, we build strength and depth into our characters. They have emotion, they feel for other people. Or maybe pride becomes a redeeming quality. If your MG starts off in the dumps and finding his/her Pride restores him/her to everything he/she used to be...hello, that's the hero's journey, right?


The Bad
"He's a proud man."

"Your pride will be your downfall."

"See past your pride, and look at what's standing right in front of you."

But there's another side to it. I mean, come on, Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's that thing we have to step over, get around, throw away to get to that 'better place.' Mr. Darcy is one of my favorite bad pride examples, and I'll use him because I usually lose readers when I talk about Saiyans and Vegeta, but for the record, fantastic pride example there. Anyway! Mr. Darcy has to push his pride aside to allow himself to love Elizabeth. She also has pride issues, making them a pair of charming mountain goats in a cliffside battle.

When we create a prideful character, we puff them up, build a layer of arrogance into their makeup, make them more real. Now, we take them on...here it is again...the hero's journey! They must defeat the pride demon inside them to become all they're able to be. It's a piece of Redemption, wouldn't you agree?

How do you use Pride in your writing? Deadly sin? Parental emotion? Little of both?

-Marie