Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HP Blogfest! And how do you say HYPERVENTILATING in French?

So, yeah. Awesome.

And now my Harry Potter Blogfest entry. We had to choose which two characters would be our best mates at Hogwarts. Great question! Check out the other entries here. As for me...

I'm going with my 16-17 year old self here, so I would be the bespectacled, boy-crazy, pre-makeover'd Mia Thermopolis, third wheel mate of Percy Weasley and Penelope Clearwater. 'He's so dreeeeeamy,' the third divider in my five subject notebook reads. Penny's my BFF, for sure, but I'm secretly super jealous of her. There may even be a dog-eared book of un-love spells in the restricted section with my fingerprints all over it. Yes, I'm in love with Percy. That strong chin, big hands, commanding presence. But I've known him forever. He thinks of me as a sister. 

A love triangle that only one of us can see. Sigh... 

Ahh, high school. :) Hope you enjoyed!

Oh, yeah! Crits for Water starts soon. You NEED to check this out!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paul in the big 100 (Sucker Punch sold out)!

I was super excited to watch Sucker Punch, but it sold out. 'Yippee!!!!' said the economy.

So, I rolled with the punches, bypassed Limitless (don't worry, it's on my list), and checked out Paul. Here's the one hundred word review.

Shaun of the Dead?
Hot Fuzz?
Previews for Paul?
But I can admit when I’m wrong!
Two best friends take an American road trip toward Area 51 and meet Paul. Fleeing his government prison and voiced by Seth Rogen, this alien’s a rude, crude dude, but there’s a sentimental side to him that got a sniff or two from me. And the bird scene from the previews doesn’t stop being funny. Behind the excellent geek references, uber-creative cursing, and Pegg/Frost’s phenomenal chemistry, there’s a nice story about friendship, loyalty, and believing in the unbelievable. Good movie!   

And that's it!

I'm back in the B-U-tiful (and COLD) Midwest. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, FORKS? They all met me this past week. In true Olympic Peninsula form, the weather was cool and wet, but when we hit First Beach in LaPush, the clouds parted to give us a little piece of Heaven. :)

I took the week off my revision and now have a gnawing urge to jump back in and finish it up by the end of March. So, four days left in the month. Any goals you're wrapping up? Plans for April? Have you signed up for the A to Z Challenge? How about checked out Crits for Water? And have you seen the most recent Entertainment Weekly? No? Google it immediately. Trust me. You know what? Just buy a copy. There's some Hunger Games goodies inside that add to the cover droolfest story.

Okay! Enough of my yammering!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Flying before you know it

First, an adorable cheetah video. He'll be flying before you know it!

Second, a fun fact. Some cheetahs in captivity get lonely (poor things), so they may be raised alongside a litter of puppies. Dog and Cat grow up together as the bestest of best friends. Yes, I'm serious. Thank you, San Diego Zoo!

Third, the dreaded housekeeping. I understand if you stop reading. The baby cheetah and cat/dog BFF's were my reel-you-in and grand-finale. But if you're still with me, there are a ton of truly sing-song awwwwesommmme things happening right now.

The Now-Starring Blogfest - Cast the MG's from your WIP. You know you have someone in mind to play your hero and definitely your villain.

Crits for Water - A spectacular fundraiser for WOW generosity, let me tell you. Check it out, and be a part of it!

Harry Potter Blogfest - Are words really necessary? Go. Do. Fun.

Lisa DesRochers is in Contest Mode - She's giving away everything (okay, so not everything), but a lot!

A to Z blogfest - It starts in April, and I'm setting a goal to visit 3-5 blogs each day. That won't get me through them all (over 500 participants, yowza!), but it's a start.

There are a ton of other contests, giveaways, and blogfests happening or about to happen, but these are the ones that come to mind. Also, I crossed off something on the ole' Bucket List, and it only shows up so-so in pics. If you look close enough in this ultra windy image, you'll see a bit of red. Thanks for the dare, Teralyn! :)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

If you've ever had the pleasure of calling I.T. professionals, especially those working in a Support capacity, you may have been asked these questions:

Have you tried restarting the program?

Have you tried clearing out your temporary internet files?

and my personal favorite,

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

If you've never watched The I.T. Crowd, go Netflix it right now. I'll wait.........

Okay, so my point in all this is sometimes revising becomes a call to an I.T. department. Have I tried this? How about that? Maybe my brain and my fingers need to WebEx to get on the same page? If I could just GoTo Meeting with every industry professional I'm about to query/submit/research, maybe I'll get it exactly right for them.

But if you're anything like me, sometimes you have to try turning it off and on again. Step away from that MS (what I mean is, back away veeeery slowly) and come back later. So, my spring break (SPRING BREAK) is my turning it off. I'm going to work on my revision, definitely, but not to the extent that it feels forced.

This brings me to my new goal. I'm dedicating two hours a (week)night minimum to writing. No blogging, reading, anything, until I get through two hours. Now, that may be one page or thirty, but time is my greatest enemy, and I plan on commanding it in the second quarter of 2011. Weekends are a writing free-for-all!

Do you ever feel like turning it off and on again is the best thing you can do for your WIP? How do you truly step away? Vacation? Other projects? Conferences (have I mentioned BackSpace)? Do you love your I.T. department as much as I do? :)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Astronauts versus Cavemen...yeah, remember this?

When Nathan Fillion hit the cover of Entertainment Weekly last week with the header 'Geek God,' it got me thinking about our beloved Joss Whedon. The man is genius made flesh, but you already know that.

To start your week with a real stumper, I've resurrected a Joss and Co. most-important-question-in-the-world from Angel.

Who would win? Astronauts or Cavemen?

Most people I ask (and yes, I do ask) have an immediate answer, followed by an 'obviously,' such as 'Astonauts obviously. They're in tip-top physical shape.' OR 'Cavemen obviously. They eat saber-toothed tigers for dinner.'

So, it's time to debate your position. Let's make this fun.

To be fair, I thought this was an earlier episode of Angel, maybe even when Connor was a baby, but Google tells me it came right before the Illyria story line.

Some quick announcements:

YAtopia is having an amazing agent pitch contest. If you have a completed MS, you need to check this out.

Michael at In Time... is hosting a Harry Potter blogfest that just screams 'who were you in high school,' but with an HP twist. Love it!

I'll be making my way to the West Coast this week (Seattle, Forks, *strangled cry of excitement*) and trying to finish the conversion of my MS from college to high school for the previously mentioned amazing agent pitch contest. It's like writing a new book! I'm getting new and different ideas left, right, and center, scrapping material I hate to lose, and learning a lot about 'show don't tell.'

Okay. Enough blabbering from me. Who would win? Astronauts or Cavemen?


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Red Riding Hood Review in 100 Words! AND Agent Pitch Contest!

First off, I have to pass along a huge agent pitch contest. YAtopia is hosting Ammi-Joan Paquette, and you do NOT want to miss it.

On to our movie! This week, my fabulous first reader and I watched Red Riding Hood. Here's my 100 word review.

Girl likes darkly handsome boy. Girl is promised to lightly handsome boy. Wolf kills Girl’s sister and wants to take Girl away. Neither handsome boy is Wolf. Seyfriend is bug-eyed and overly pale in this poor attempt at cashing in on the werewolf craze. Darkly Handsome is eye candy, definitely, and Gary Oldman projects a major Dracula vibe (which is a fantastic movie, FYI), but the camerawork’s too busy, the dialogue sounds like George Lucas wrote it, and some of the acting needs work.
What big eyes you have? Yeah. The better to see why I should’ve watched Limitless instead.

And that wraps another week! Have you seen this one? What did you think?

This was the first movie in a while where we had just awful, rude people in the theater. Loud laughing, cell phone beeps, shushing (with subsequent, sarcastic answering shushes). It wasn't an Oscar winner by any means, but the theater experience deserves a bit more respect. You know? :)

Next week? Sucker Punch from Seattle, WA!

Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Revised Catch Me if You Can entry, and Spring Forward to HELP!

I hope you all wore green yesterday and avoided the many (and awkward) pinches of your peers and co-workers. I wonder if the number of sexual harassment meetings increases the day before St. Patty's Day? Hmm...


I had a ton of great feedback for the Catch Me if You Can blogfest last week, so I revised a bit. Here's the update. Let me know if it could keep an agent reading, and feel free to rip it to shreds. :)

Prep schools aren’t just for the preppy. Us poor schmo types migrate to places like Harrington Dove Academy to escape the greatest horror of our seventeen-year-old lives.
I woke to two, tone deaf voices making sounds that were parrot, monkey, and tornado siren all at once. Okay, maybe they were singing. My roommate and I had the pleasure of cheerleader suitemates, and though I try not to believe stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers. I cringed at a particularly loud warble and wondered how much booze they snuck by the resident advisor last night. Or with her help. Our RA wanted to be legal like elephants want peanuts.
By quarter past nine, the brain children next door were quiet/passed out/dead, and I rolled out of bed to pack for the holiday break. I pulled onto the highway an hour later, cursing the sprinkles that dotted my windshield. Mom hadn’t called back after last night’s fiasco, but I wasn’t surprised. She didn’t know how to check her texts without help, and forget Dad. He was hopeless when it came to cell phones.
I passed a caravan of senior citizens using the left lane for sightseeing and set the cruise control with more force than necessary, Gorilla Gluing my eyes to the road. Honestly, I didn’t trust myself not to snarl at the lead driver of what had to be a Henry Ford original.
Black clouds as thick as my trig book were marching across the sun, and I set my windshield wipers to their max setting about ten minutes later. My mother’s phantom voice sliced through my brain (‘you never see the water until you hydroplane, Katherine’), so I turned down the music, flipped my cruise off, and moved into the right lane. But I was not happy about it.
When the rain let up, I hurried to set my cruise again. It was way too dark for the middle of the day, but I didn’t care. I just wanted out of this car. Then immediately back in it. An entire month with my parents was the longest and most painful death I could imagine.
A horn blared.
Flashes of lightning lit up a bouncing shape to my left. Maybe a deer? I checked to see if anyone swerved for it, and the honking sounded again. I sat straighter, tugged at the seatbelt crossing my chest, and breathed in. But that was it.
Headlights blinded me.
Something smashed into my chest.
I screamed once.

That's it! Let me know.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my short for the Hone Your Skills blogfest on Wednesday. I have a ton of work to do on that one. The concensus was 'Confusing,' but you've given me some great ideas to make it better. Plus, it's set in Texas, and the Texas Observer's looking for some short stories. Who knows, right?

Quick return to my Bucket List. One of my items was to dye my hair, and unless it gets rescheduled again, I'm doing it TODAY! So, SO excited! I'm thinking about Alyson Hannigan red. She's done a lot of different shades, so my description doesn't narrow it down, but the picture might. We'll see what happens!

And don't forget about my Spring Forward and Help! event. I'll be out of town on Saturday, so I'll let it linger until the end of the day Sunday for your chance to win some awesome books and scrumptious chocolate just for helping those in Japan and around the Pacific.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hone Your Skills Blogfest!

Rosie C. at East for Green Eyes and Charity at My Writing Journey are hosting a new Blogfest! Check out the other participants and give them feedback.

Here's the idea:
  1. On March 16, post a short story around 750 words, no more than 1000, in any genre you like.
  2. Read and give a critique for the person before and after you in the Linky List (and as many others as you can/want to). When you critique: a) find at least two things that really work, and b) at least two suggestions for how it can be tightened or improved.  
  3. (Optional) When you post on March 16, list one or two (online) journals where you plan to submit your piece after making revisions.
I appreciate any and all feedback on my short. This was written in 2010 and submitted to a Women on Writing Fiction Contest. I've tweaked it a bit for this post, but it's pretty raw. I call it Could've Looked, Should've Listened. Enjoy, and comment away!

They found the vampire dog just outside Close City.
That’s the last thing Jeffrey said to me before I tossed my sneakers in a bin at Security. This beast, the third we’d heard about, took a bullet in the neck while draining a chicken. After hearing my husband’s exaggerations about this dog-wolf-bear monstrosity, I refused to look at the pictures he seemed hell-bent on showing me.
I sprinted to make my connection after the Dallas flight and sat beside an enormous man with deceptively light body odor. I thought it was me, and while he chatted with the grandma across the aisle about an increase in the coyote population, I fiddled with the buttons above the seat and gave myself a discreet sniff. Certain my armpits smelled like Bath and Body Works, I settled into the half seat left after the man’s belly situated itself.
The jolt of our landing shocked me awake, my heart running five minute miles. Rain beat on the porthole of a window, and I rubbed my swollen stomach. I hailed a cab in the pouring rain, but the poor driver didn’t speak a syllable of English. He kept turning his head to ask me about a chupa-something. Around the seventh time, I snapped that I didn’t even like Taco Bell and could he please drive faster.
If the nightmare I was looking into now was any indication, I must’ve upset him. This was not in my briefing.
The gnarled hole of an entrance was two feet taller than my five foot five but very narrow. If I reached my hand in, I was positive it would disappear into blackness thicker than dear Aunt Ruthy’s homemade syrup. I looked over my shoulder when I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching me, and the baby decided that moment to jab a knee into my kidney. My hand flew to the opening of the cave-like place to steady myself and landed in something wet. I snatched my fingers back, pulling a string of mucous-like drippings with it. I somehow swallowed back the vomit that rushed up my throat.
After two, deep breaths, I tugged my courage around me like a Snuggie and stepped into the darkness, the silky horror of spider webs immediately netting across my face and tangling in my black curls. I jumped forward with a shriek and clawed at my face as the smell of decay accosted me. This time, I couldn’t help it. The meager contents of my stomach splashed into the water beside me.
Wait. There wasn’t supposed to be water.
Something brushed my leg.
I ran to the left, wrapping a protective arm around my middle, and my shin bumped into something solid. I crashed to the icy floor. My free hand fumbled for whatever tripped me while my eyes darted back and forth, trying to find whatever was stalking me. I touched something at last and followed its curvy contours until I felt silky skin, lips, eyes…blinking eyes!
I leapt to my feet, held my belly, and sprinted the way I came. Around the water, through the webs, out the opening, across the parking lot, and through the double doors. I slammed the key card in front of the skinny blond at the check-in desk.
“I demand to speak to the manager about my room!”  
Her eyes widened when she saw my bulging stomach, and a smile slithered across her blood red lips. “I’m the manager.” Her voice could seduce a priest.
“There’s a…a woman, I think, and water…spiders…” Her hungry look silenced me as the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Before I could blink, the girl’s loveliness disappeared, and she changed, no, transformed, into a disfigured, dog-like thing with a hunched, hairless back that reached up to my belly button. It turned its crooked snout and yellowed fangs toward me, took a loud, panting sniff, and jumped.
My name is Jewel Ceray, and my darling Jayce was born three months later. He would always be safe from me, from the pack, but as my sharp, shining eyes followed Jeffrey into the bedroom, I wondered if my baby would be the only one.

That's it! The hosts of this blogfest asked for a listing of where I plan to submit this, but I have no plans at this time. I've never even thought about online journals... This short was an on-a-whim idea based on another idea (an adult novel about a thirteen year old Jayce, actually). So, read it, comment, critique. I appreciate any and all feedback!

And my Spring Forward and Help! event ends Saturday. I know we can make a difference for those affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and continued threats in Japan and the Pacific!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Broadway Musical

I'm going to the Backspace Writers' Conference in May, and it'll be my first time in the ginormous Big Apple. So, while I'm there, I was thinking about seeing something on Broadway. Probably Spiderman. It's been in the entertainment news like crazy for as long as I've been subscribed to Entertainment Weekly, but the day (yes, THE DAY) I dared to think this thought, my newest EW shows up with this picture:

And Spiderman swung out the window.

Who else is going to Backspace? What other conferences are you considering?

Between the excitement of my first major conference, being in the same room as THE Harry Potter, and talking to actual agents and editors, I may be doin' the Snoopy dance for a month! :)

Please don't forget about my Spring Forward and Help! event. There are so many in Japan and around the Pacific that need help, and I'm giving away books and chocolate to encourage everyone to do whatever they are able. We can can make a difference!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

True Grit. My 100 Word Review (without contractions...eep!)

We all know my feelings on The Hunger Games (specifically Peeta, but I will not start that again...right now). So when I read a probably not at all relevant rumor that Hailee Steinfeld was in the running to play Katniss, I checked the listings and found that True Grit was still playing at my local theater.

Here is my 100 word review for your reading pleasure, and in the spirit of the movie, I am writing without contractions today (marvelous detail, by the way).

Fourteen year old Mattie Ross is hunting her father’s killer. She enlists the help of U.S. Marshall ‘Rooster’ Cogburn, a man of grit who loves his drink. Jeff Bridges stumbles, yammers, and shoots his way into our hearts from inside an outhouse and, later, in a tear-jerking race to save a life. A mustachioed, oh-so-arrogant Texas Ranger (Damon) joins their gang and may be sweet on Mattie, but nothing comes of it. Hailee Steinfeld brings her all-grown-up-still-a-child character a sense of teeth-clenching determination, terrifying vulnerability, and LOL humor in men’s clothing and a too-big hat. Huge recommend for True Grit.     
And that is it. What did you think of Steinfeld's performance? Could she pull off Katniss Everdeen? I believe so, but it all depends on how well she can shoot an arrow. :)
Please check out my Spring Forward and Help! event. I am giving away five books and the always-popular chocolate to encourage everyone to help the Earthquake/Tsunami relief effort in Japan and around the Pacific. If we all give a little, it will help a lot. Please join me in helping those who desperately need it in the aftermath of this horrifying disaster.
Thanks so much, and be safe.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan Earthquake Reaction. We can HELP!


But you don't need me to tell you. The news has shown us all. Massive waves, bus-sized cracks in city streets, homes burning, nuclear plants exploding, overturned ships, people sagging against crumbling walls with shaky hands pressed to their mouths in awe of the horror that the 8.9 quake brought on their country. Then the tsunami warnings sounded for countries in and around the Pacific.

When disasters like this happen, I believe they bring the very, very best out in us all. So, I'm asking you to donate to the Red Cross or other relief organization. Give if you can, even if it's a couple dollars. It'll help.

Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist did (is still doing) an incentive for the Christchurch, New Zealand disaster, and it's inspired me. So, here's the deal. I'll do 5 prize packs to motivate you. Not sure what they'll be (definitely a book and something else...yeah, not sure yet).

1. Comment to this post that you're doing something to help. I don't care what it is, and you don't have to tell me. Just post.

2. Spread the word like wildfire. On your blog, your Facebook, your Twitter, wherever. Just tell people. 

I'll pick five random posts next Saturday, 3/19/11, for my mystery (even to me) prize packs.

UPDATE! I perused B&N yesterday and came up with the following INCENTIVE PRIZES. Yay! I've either recently read (and loved) these books or come across great reviews for them.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beadoin
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Plus, a decadent Endangered Species chocolate bar! UPDATE!

Please, please help if you're able!

Be safe.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Bucket List Blogfest! No Morgan Freeman, sorry...

Or Jack Nicholson, for that matter. But still, check out the other blogfesters here at Swin - Write - Run.

Five things from my bucket list. Wow. At twenty eight, it's tough to think about what a bucket list really means (death, DEATH, deeeeeath), but I may as well do things while I'm young, right?

I jumped out of a plane in 2010, so that one has a huge checkmark. If you're thinking about doing it, you should. Seriously. It was amazing. Buy the video, buy the pictures. Do it all, and do it right.

So, here we go!

1. Get a tattoo.
Yes, I want one. A little one, probably on the back of my neck. And as dork-tastic as it is, I want the four star Dragon Ball. Hey, you bring the seven together and get a wish. That's awesome. You just can't deny it. Maybe that will be for my thirtieth birthday. But my wussiness and low pain tolerance may present a problem...

2. Cruise around the world
Eat Pray Love made me remember how much world travelling used to mean to me. People always say they'll travel if they come into money, and I'm no different. So, since I don't play the lottery and I'm not expecting a Rowling-sized payout any tim soon (realistic, not negative!), I'm going to have to save-save-save. But I want it more than so many things in life.

3. Dye my hair
This is old-hat for many people, but I've never done it. The closest I came was when I was nineteen. I wanted red highlights through my muddy brown. Paid my money, sat in the chair, and saw zero difference at the end of it all. Unbeknowst to me, my dear (meddling) mother told the stylist to make it as faint as she could. So, I don't count it. :) Blonde streaks would be fun, but I'm so partial to something in red.

4. Learn French
I took Spanish in high school, but's just such a gorgeous, sensual language. It's like a warm oboe solo with subtle vibrato. Know what I mean? It would be fun to learn and speak (when I'm travelling through France, of course).

5. Dark Phoenix for Halloween
This is my outlandish one if you didn't already guess. :) But I'd have to really, REALLY pull it off. High heels, spandex, reddish brown wig. Now we've come to the real reason for all my exercising, huh? That would be the year I actually go to Halloween parties.

So, there's my five. Travelling would open up so many more, but I had to really think of these. I'm looking forward to reading the other buckets list to get more ideas.

What about you? Five things on your bucket list. Annnnnd GO!



Thursday, March 10, 2011

A New Blogfest and Awards for the Cheetah!

Swim - Write - Run is hosting The Bucket List blogfest this Friday! Check it out and sign up. Brainstorming my post was tough, so give me more ideas. :) I need more excitement in my life!

And Kristina at KayKay's Corner gave The Flying Cheetah two awards! I'm super excited!

But wait! There's more!

Zan Marie at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree sent those awards as well! I asked for more excitement, right? :)

To accept these awards, I have to:

1. Thank and link back to the person(s) who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 or so recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

So here goes:

1. Kristina at KayKay's Corner hosted the amazing Catch Me if You Can blogfest, and I'm so grateful for that and these fantastic awards! Thanks!

I came across Zan Marie's blog during the CMiYC blogfest and was hooked. Thanks so much for the awards! My little Cheetah's growing up. *sniffle*

2. i. I'm an Accountant and had 'visions' of my first novel/series on my drives to and from review courses for a certification exam.

ii. I'm a sucker for stray cats. I have four rescuees in the house, and every roamer in the neighborhood knows I'll feed them (especially the Fatty McFatterson white cat with the crooked tail).

iii. I don't watch the news. It's terrible, because I have no idea what's going on when people talk about current events, but it's so negative! I glance at the Yahoo homepage once or twice a day and click on the things that interest me (funny animal videos, healthy eating tips, movie stuff, and the occasional business article if it involves consumer spending trends). I actually get a lot of news from your blogs and appreciate it!

iv. I'm a bit of a Honda snob. My first car was a Civic that lived to be 220,000 miles before my dad sold her. Oh, she still lives, don't worry, but she's someone else's baby. I have a different Civic now and love her with all my heart. :)

v. If (when!) I sell a book, the first thing I want to do is buy my mom a pair of gorgeous, diamond earrings. Just because she's awesome.

vi. When I was a kid, I watched Peter Pan until the VHS dissolved into powder. Well, not really powder, but it definitely died. This was NOT the Disney version, but the Mary Martin stage play that PBS aired once, and my wonderful mom (see v.) taped for me. Most. Awesome. Thing. Ever.

vii. Marie is my middle name. ;)

3. These are some blogs I've come to really enjoy over my two-three months traversing the mountainous blog terrain.
Angelic Muse: Angelica Jackson - The contest watcher. You're fantastic!

Ali Cross - The creator of NiNoWriMo. Ninja writing! How cool is that?

Something else to distract me - Erinn's having an awesome contest involving a myriad of awesomosities. No, I cannot over-use that word. Which word you say? Oh, um, hmm...AWESOME!
Carrie Keeps Typing - Laugh-out-loud sense of humor. Definitely keep typing!
Clarissa Draper - Thanks for the first chapter critique! It's come a long way since you read it. :)
Iggi and Gabi - So, so, so much great information for us beginners. Thanks!

YA Audiobook Addict - Gave me a wonderful query critique and assorted advice. I can't say enough thank-yous!
My Life in Fiction - One of my first followers. Introduced me to Eat Pray Love. Wonderful!

The Book Lady - Caryn's having a contest involving books and chocolate. I assume you're there and have stopped reading this post, but that's understandable. :) Come back and read the rest!

East for Green Eyes - First off, gorgeous design. I could only dream of having eyes like that. Also, check out the Hone Your Skills blogfest coming up next week.

Market My Words - Great advice on marketing and breaking into the industry. Shelli's very grateful for her success and isn't afraid to help others. She's been spectacularly patient with my questions. Thanks!
Paper Hangover - New blog, but familiar names (Holly at Super Mom Writes, Pam at Y(A)? Cuz we Write are a couple). The hosts are bottomless pits of information about the industry and dos and don'ts. Umm, I realize calling you 'pits' sounds pretty awful, but it really means 'so remarkably phenominal my word choice is limited.' hehe
Read. Write. Repeat. - What can I NOT say about Lisa! Such a huge help to me in critiquing, advice, everything. The best! And she has the most beautiful baby girl. Go to her blog and check her out!

I know I've forgotten a ton. All the blogs I follow have something unique that pulled me in, so I love them all!

I'll let everyone know about the awards before the end of the week, and thanks again to Kristina and Zan Marie! You've made the Cheetah very, very happy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Thanks to everyone who commented on my post for the Catch Me If You Can blogfest. You confirmed that the last line (the reference to a dream) could scare away a charging silverback gorilla. It's gone, never to be heard from again.

And hello, welcome, HI to all the new faces at the Cheetah! I hopped around some of your blogs over the last two days, and I'm so excited to follow your journey toward publication. We'll all get there together! :)

So, what's with the title of this post, right? David Bowie told us to turn and face the strange. Well, strange for me is accepting how incredibly difficult it's going to be to sell a college-set novel. Strange for an agent would probably be taking a chance on a brand new author who refuses to change that tough-to-sell setting. So, I'm turning, facing, and EMBRACING the strange.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pulling Kat and company back to high school and declaring my first novel (formerly known as Outta the Bag) Young Adult. I've always considered it YA, but even with a strong teenager-style voice, it hasn't moved forward on the query side. Now, I'm not so naive to think that's the only issue, but this is the one I've heard the most about.

Thanks for all the feedback on this change, you know who you are. Will editing be an uphill battle? Yes! Am I excited? YES! This is the 'fresh and new' I've been needing for a while now. My big question is this. Can I requery agents who've passed on me before? Different setting, different title, revamped query. Anyone have any experience with this? I'd love to hear from you.

What changes have you made to your darlings throughout your writing careers? How difficult were they? What 'strange' do you see on the horizon that needs to be faced? And have you been high-fived this week? If not, consider my hand raised. :)


Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me if You Can Blogfest!

So, Kristina over at KayKay's Corner is having a blogfest! I'm so into these right now it isn't funny. :)

Here's the challenge:

Post the first 550 words (or less) of your WIP on your blog for feedback as to whether this would catch an agent's eye.

Be honest! :) Here we go.

Prep schools aren’t exclusively for the preppy. Us poor schmo types migrate to places like Harrington Dove Academy to escape the greatest horror of our seventeen-year-old lives.
Our parents.
My roommate and I had the pleasure (that’s dripping sarcasm, thanks) of cheerleader suitemates, and I woke to the sound of two, tone deaf voices telling me to ‘putta ring on it.’ Harrington’s dorms were radically liberal, what with girls and guys on the same floor (‘just asking for…you know,’ per my mother), but the suites were same-sex. And thus, the young Beyonce’s on the other side of the shared bath. Though I try not to believe in stereotypes, these girls confirmed every one I’d ever heard about pom-pom pushers.
And (apparently) they liked to sing at eight in the morning the week before break. I cringed at a particularly loud warble and wondered how much booze they snuck by the resident advisor last night. Or with her help. Our RA wanted to be legal as badly as a border-crossing immigrant.
By quarter past nine, they were quiet (passed out? dead?), and I rolled out of bed to pack. I pulled onto the highway around eleven, cursing the sprinkles dotting my windshield. Mom hadn’t called back after last night’s fiasco, but I wasn’t surprised. She didn’t know how to check her texts without help, and forget Dad. He was hopeless when it came to cell phones.
I passed a caravan of senior citizens using the left lane for sightseeing and set the cruise control with more force than necessary, Gorilla Gluing my eyes to the road as I passed. Honestly, I didn’t trust myself not to snarl at the lead driver of what had to be a Henry Ford original.
Thick, gray clouds were marching across the sun, and I set my windshield wipers to their max setting about ten minutes later. My mother’s phantom voice sliced through my brain (‘you never see the water until you hydroplane, Katherine’), so I turned down the music, flipped my cruise off, and moved into the right lane. But I was not happy about it.
When the elephant-sized drops let up, I hurried to set my cruise again. It was far too dark for the middle of the day, but I didn’t care. I just wanted out of this car. A horn blared, and I looked in my rearview mirror.
“What’s the problem, mister?” A flash of lightning lit up a flouncing shape to my left. Maybe a deer? I checked to see if anyone swerved for it, and the honking sounded again. I sat straighter and tugged at the seatbelt crossing my body.
It happened very fast.
Headlights blinded me.
Something smashed into my chest.
I screamed once.
And to think this all started with a silly, little dream.

That's it!

As of last Tuesday, I've decided to pull my college-age story back to junior year of high school. I've gotten this suggestion many times by many extremely wonderful authors, but held out. Boy, never again! Jennifer at YA Audiobook Addict made the suggestion of a boarding school, and love her heart, it's a fantastic idea. I've always thought of this book as YA, but setting and the age of my characters bumped against it.
Plus, if I completely revamp, I may be able to resubmit to agents who passed on it. Am I wrong on that? Hmm...anyone with experience, help! I don't want to wind up 'that person.' You know, the one Janet Reid blogs about where she posts a picture of Meredith Barnes giving the camera the stink eye? Yeah, you know the one.

Thanks for reading! What do you think? All/any/every feedback is welcome. And check out the other blogfesters. :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Hundred Words for The Adjustment Bureau

Another week has shaken our hands and left through the back. Can you believe it's March!? Wow.

I saw The Adjustment Bureau yesterday and wanted to pass on my thoughts in...can you guess...try again....getting warmer...uh huh...100 WORDS!

We follow David, a wannabe Senator. After an embarrassing loss, he meets Elise. They flirt for about three minutes and kiss. It’s instant love (but not convincing). They unexpectedly meet again, and The Adjustment Bureau, case workers (angels) carrying out The Chairman’s (God’s) plan, steps in. The plan doesn’t want David and Elise together. There’s some Matrix-like 'travelling' involved, but nowhere near as awesome.
Matt Damon does a lot of running, Blunt is a breathtaking dancer, and John Slattery’s ‘Son-of-a…’ scene is pretty funny, but the movie didn’t live up to the previews. Not bad, but wait for the DVD.

And that's all, folks! What did you think of this one? I'm not sure what I'm seeing next week. Any recommendations?
Check out the Catch Me If You Can blogfest on Monday, and rip the first chapter of Deadly Dark Dreams (formerly known as Outta the Bag) to shreds! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gone but not Forgotten Blogfest!

Erinn, Pam, Quita, Alicia, and Holly are hosting a blogfest. Here's the challenge:

List your top 5 TV shows no longer making NEW episodes.

In no particular order
1. Veronica Mars

I know Kristin Bell's gone on to do bigger and better things (I liked When in Rome if only for the Napoleon/Pedro reunion...and, yes, Josh Duhamel), but what about Veronica and Logan? I Netflixed the first season just as the third was ending, then it was cancelled, and no amount of Mars Bars could bring it back. I couldn't bring myself to watch seasons 2 and 3 knowing it didn't wrap up. Why don't the networks give these shows some notice!?

2. Young Americans
This was a WB summer show back in the late nineties sponsored by Coca-Cola and maybe ran for ten episodes, but I LOVED it. It was my first glimpse of Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder (hello, Damon), and the characters were just excellent. Scout, the richy-rich who falls for the small-town girl. Jake, a girl parading as a guy to get into the prestigious academy, and Somerhalder (I can't even remember his character's name) who likes Jake as a guy and finds out that he's a she in the last episode.

And then it got cancelled. *sigh*

3. My So-Called Life
Who didn't want more Jordan Catalano? This show started my forever crush on Jared Leto. No matter what hair style or color or role or band or dot-dot-dot, he remains Jordan Catalano in my eyes. My heart's all a'flutter just thinking about him. And, yes, the rest of the show was great as well. High school wasn't sugar-coated. It wasn't all wrapped up with a pretty, pink bow at the end of each episode. It was honest and ruthless and made us come back for more. But there must not have been enough of us, huh?

4. The Class
Andrea Anders just can't catch a break. She was the charming yet ridiculously clumsy Alex in Joey (which was cancelled), then she nabbed a part on The Class (which was cancelled), and I don't know if Better Off Ted made the cut. But The Class was a great show. One entire episode had the main character and his could-be love interest in an ice cream store. She (love interest) dares him (main character) to ask for ten taste-tests then leave the store without buying anything. Long story short (too late), a whole crowd of people come into this store while he's doing this (elderly folks, little kids, a man in a wheelchair), and it. was. Hilarious. But the show got cancelled.

5. Jack of All Trades
A Bruce Campbell show, yes. The King of B-movies had a great show that didn't last long enough. It was rude, crude, unrealistic, beyond-out-there, and it just plain worked. The show received zero notice before the plug was pulled, so it didn't even wrap up the season, let alone the show. The Daring Dragoon and his (maybe) lady love were so close, but...well, you know. Cancelled!

Now, I left Angel off here, because I loved the fifth season (thank you, Spike!). Whedon and crew knew they were getting the ax, and pulled out all the stops. Anyone else love the puppet episode? Yeah, me too. I never watched Firefly, but from what I've read, I'm sure I would've loved it, and it was Buffy's and Dawson's time to go (my opinion).

Check out the other blogfesters, and leave me your own comments. Does anyone else remember Young Americans? :)


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Forget the Cowbell; I need more Draco Malfoy! Part 2

I wanted to continue my post about fan fiction. We all love it, whether we admit it loud and proud or keep it as our most delicious secret. It's succulent WORDS, baby, and oh, how we love words.


There's a pervasive What-If element to many fan fics, and that's really nothing new. Now, I loved X-Men comics when I was younger (well into my teenage years, thanks), and every so often, Marvel's writers released a What-If issue/storyline.

Here's a quick list that someone's put on Wikipedia. Heck, the X-Men went through an entire Age of Apocalypse (so incredibly awesome, by the way) to show what happened if Xavier died before creating the X-Men. Even the people deciding the future of every story wanted to explore different angles with their characters. And why not? It sold comics, entertained us, made us go 'hmmm.' Great idea, right?

It's no surprise then, that writers and readers across the planet want to do the same with characters so magnificent that they're more friends than figments of the imagination. Here are some questions I'm almost positive at least one fic has answered: What-If...

Bella chose Jacob
Voldemort won
Kendra killed Drusilla (yeah, roll that around your brain for a minute)
Gayle took Peeta's place in the games
Peter left Neverland forever

If could be anything, everything! A whim, a raised eyebrow, an 'ooh, what about this...'

So, what's yours? What is that one thing you would change in your favorite story, and how would it effect every single other thing that happens? Why not write it?


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Reading Recap, NYR Update 2/12, and Contest Update

It's March! Daylight Savings, St. Patty's Day, Spring (SPRING!). My New Year's Resolutions are still going strong, and my first ever contest has come to an end. Three, lucky ladies will be getting emails from me shortly, and the Exotic Feline Rescue Center will get a $60 donation. Thank you all so, SO much for following this blog. It's still in its infancy, but I'm grateful to have met you all.

Without further gracious blabbering, here are my February books:

2/4/11 - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I really enjoyed this book, first of all. It was terrifying, especially since the audience will be middle grade, but at the same do I put probably need to read things like this. A gritty, have-and-have-not, be grateful, very political kind of book with a bit of a love story. If you haven't picked this one up, do so. You'll be appalled by the brutality, but thoughtful at the masterpiece that is Katniss Everdeen.

2/6/11 - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
This is my favorite in the trilogy. Peeta Mellark may have turned me off to bad boys for good (remember this post?). I certainly fell in love with him. More in this book than the first one. There's still quite a bit of bloodshed. One of my favorite characters, Cinna, is assumed to be dead, and I gobbled up every word to see if Peeta would make it. Excellent book!

2/7/11 - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Yes, yes. I know. I read the book in a day. But you probably did too! This was my least favorite of the three, but I have to imagine that these kinds of ugly things happen in a civil war. I wanted a fight between the potential suitors followed by their confessions of love, but it didn't happen. Gale and Katniss aren't speaking most of the time, and Peeta...I just can't talk about it. It ends the way I hoped, though too quickly and not without a lot more blood and heartbreak, but Collins got the romance right (my opinion). Everyone needs to read these books.

2/15/11 - Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris
I met Carrie at the Antioch Writer's Workshop in 2010, my first foray into the world of writing/authors/conferencing/etc. She was sweet and helpful and honest, so I tried out her Jane Austen-inspired murder mystery about Mr. Darcy and his new wife. We all know the story of Pride and Prejudice, and this picks up immediately after that. The dialogue is enchanting (yes, enchanting) and the pace is slow-to-moderate until the end. It wraps up in a hurry, but it works. Not my normal read, but I enjoyed it.

2/20/11 - Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Loved, loved, loved (and LOVE) this book. Gilbert's voice and the way she weaves her personal tale of divorce, exploration, discovery, and hope (yes, yes HOPE) have rekindled the wannabe traveller in me. I've never been out of the country (excluding U.S. protectorates). Heck, I've only rarely been west of the Mississippi, so I know nothing about travelling, but I want it. I want it so badly I can't stop surfing travel websites. Read this book, whether you're twenty, thirty, forty, or one hundred and twelve, because it needs to be devoured. Thank you so much to Kate Scott for having a contest from which I won this incredible book.

2/26/11 - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
This was a good one. I liked it a lot better than Looking for Alaska (not that LfA wasn't good, but I'm not a huge fan of heart-crushing, sob stories [my opinion]). The inability of the characters to understand what they're feeling plays out like seventeen/eighteen year old drama. It's real, making me once again wonder if Green is the inspiration for the main character in his book. Laugh-out-loud funny in some parts and painful in others, I'm glad it was recommended (and loaned) to me.

Plans for March:

I'll be conservative in my plan and hope to surprise myself. On the Kindle: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, The Room by Emma Donoghue, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. In addition, there's a book called The Overnight Socialite on my desk that I bought ages ago and need to read, so that will be four.

What March reading plans do you have? How about plans for Spring? Do you clean? Do you break, as in Spring Break? Are you going to Seattle/Forks (yay! me too!)?