Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zippers and the End of the Challenge


Whether you hear it in the movies, see it on television, or read it in a book, that unmistakable sound of metal teeth mashing together or ripping apart sends our brains to certain places. Maybe a cramped restroom stall, behind the dressing curtain at your favorite department store, or even a cold and windy morning jog.

But for me, I always see a dilapidated building, a blond man, and the coolest hero in the world.

Have you guessed yet? :) For the letter 'Z' and my final post for the A to Z Challenge, let's talk Buffy, zippers, and unhealthy relationships.

In the whirlwind that was Buffy's Season Six, Joss Whedon gave all of us Spike-lovers a break and let our Blondie Bear have a taste of his Slayer. They finally kissed as the music swelled at the end of Once More with Feeling (a real kiss, people, not a Buffy Bot kiss). Another tease in Tabula Rasa, which might be one of my favorite episodes.

Then the zipper.

Punches, insults, kicks, threats, kisses, zzziiiiiiP. And they brought the building down. My college roomie and I just looked at each other with owl eyes and 'O' mouths. Did they really just...nah, surely not...oh my...are they...and then the episode ended.


It was certainly a night to remember. That season focused on unhealthy relationships and decisions. Buffy had Spike, Willow had crazy magic (drugs), Dawn turned all kleptomaniac, Xander left Anya at the alter, Anya scurried back to the Vengeance Demon fold, the Nerd Trio (LOVE THEM) tried out villainy, but in the end, characters died, Friendship won out, and Spike got a soul. Good times!

Have you ever written a zipper sound into your writing? Is it the best way to begin a love/sex scene? It was effective on that Buffy episode, but so awkward. Maybe that's why I remember it so vividly. Yeah, um, I'm positive that's the only reason I remember that episode. hehe

The A to Z Challenge comes to an end today. My posting schedule will relax back to three days a week starting Monday. It's been a wild ride! So many new faces and fantastic blogs. If you made it, congratulations! If not, there's always next year. :) I'll do a wrap up some time next week, but for now, enjoy the weekend!


Friday, April 29, 2011

You! Yes, youYouYOU!!!!!

Why do you write?

The million dollar question, right?

Why do you write?

The notoriety? The money? The warm and fuzzy feeling when you see your name in print?

Why do you write?

To get your story out there? To share a message? To meet other people?

Why do you write?

To go to conferences? To make your free time worth while?

Why do you write?

Because your characters are just as important as real people? Because they have voices that deserve to be heard?

Why do you write?

For me? For your mother? Father? Siblings? Super awesome cousins or friends or blog followers?

Why do you write?

How about for you? Yes. For YOU!

Because YOU are important. YOU are the million dollar question. YOU are notorious, money, warm, and fuzzy. YOU have a story, a message. I want to meet YOU on blogs, at conferences, in your free time. YOU make your characters important and loved, give them voice. Write for YOU. Exist for YOU.

YOU are everything. Never forget it. :)

A big thanks to Christine for unknowingly inspiring me to do this oh-so-sappy post. I appreciate all of you! Thanks for visiting my tiny piece of the world.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

'X' Marks the Spot. Ex-loves in your story

We all have ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-somethings. We loved them, laughed with them, left them (because, of course, they never left us. No sir). They shaped the way we view the world. They even contributed to the people we are today whether we admit it or not. :)

So, it makes perfect sense that exes show up in our writing, especially in the land of YA. At seventeen, all I wanted was a boyfriend. All the popular girls had boyfriends. All the popular guys had girlfriends. I needed in on that! It was the best of times...for a while. Then came the worst of times. Major heartbreak occured and left me and all of my friends (bless them) in a wallowing pit of ice cream-laden misery. I believe the concept of peanut butter pancakes with chocolate and marshmallow syrup came into existence over a break-up.

And the world is better because of it.

So, how do exes shape your story? Do they pine for your MC? Is there vicious hate going on? How about a best friend hooking up with an MC's ex? Oh, the possibilities! And all of them make for a dramatic, earth-shattering plot twist. Those only-too-real happenings keep me coming back to YA over and over, remembering my own experiences and wishing I had another chance to do it all again. :)


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Voracious Readers - Taz prefers e-books?

If you want to be a good writer, you need to read voraciously.

Be a voracious reader.

Read with voraciousness at a minimum Level Orange.

You hear/read these things all the time (okay, so maybe not that last one), and for the most part, we do and we are and we try. So, why is it that every time I see the word 'voracious,' I think of one and only one thing?

Yes, ladies and gents. Taz.

Though he may not be the most well-spoken or mild-mannered of his species, Taz embodies the word 'voracious.' Having a very eager approach to an activity. This is the first definition that Google gives me. Actually, that's not true. The very first is 'wanting or devouring large quantities of food,' which does fit. *nods head, nods head* But my point (I think I have one) is that we writers can learn a lot from Taz.

1. Be yourself. If we all reach Taz levels of Awesome, no one will mind if we spit everywhere, destroy massive trees, buildings, and assorted cartoon characters in our personal vortex, or write what's in our hearts.

2. Eloquent speech is for television and radio personalities. Not a great speaker? The idea of approaching an agent or editor in a packed room at a conference makes you hyperventilate? Well, that's why we write, but never forget the most important thing Taz teaches us. See #1.

3. E-books rule. I bet my Kindle could survive a Taz tantrum. Paper books? Oh, you mean confetti? heh

4. For further emphasis, see #1. It really is important.

A big congrats to KATRINA who won my crazy-mistake Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray giveaway! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter. :)

What are you voraciously reading right now? April's coming to an end. Don't you want to read one more book before Sunday? Come on. I know you do. Everyone's doin' it (can you say 'peer pressure?)! :)



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Water for Elephants. The Circus Spectacular in 100 Words!

I'm switching 'W' and 'V' in the A to Z Challenge. Yep, it's happening. :) I hope you'll forgive my second switch of the month, but I was fortunate enough to see Water for Elephants last Saturday. I didn't want to keep my review in limbo for too long. Feel free to eat up these delicious one hundred words with a golden spork!

Robert Pattinson plays Jacob, a Cornell almost-grad who loses everything when his parents die the day of his final veterinarian exams. He hops a circus train to escape his life. With a schizophrenic ringmaster (Waltz), a bewitching main act (Witherspoon), and a four ton elephant, Jacob keeps busy. Pattinson shows us he’s more than a sparkling tween idol, but Waltz steals the show with his terrifying Jekyll and Hyde routine. Witherspoon is lovely, the menagerie impresses 'rubes' and moviegoers alike, and Rosie the Elephant reminds that animals feel, understand, and love just like humans. A beautiful two hours!

And that's it!

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, and this movie was a great reminder that our furry friends need a hand every so often. Open your heart when you're able. Trust me. You won't regret it!

AND another Water for Elephants fan, the lovely Zan Marie at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree, is five followers away from a major milestone. Can anyone help her out? It'll be fun. Would I, could I, lie to you?

I'll announce the Deathly Hallows Blu-Ray winner tomorrow! Thanks for everyone who threw out their fave characters. We all know the Cheetah likes her bad boys. *cough* Malfoy *cough*


Monday, April 25, 2011

Utterly Fabulous! It's time for The Now Starring Blogfest!

So, Alexis over at Kore Averna is having a blogfest! This is my 'U' post in the A to Z challenge. :) I know, I know. I'm pushing the metaphorical envelope.


My WIP (boy, I've called it Live.Die.Repeat, Outta the Bag, Deadly Dark Dreams, Dying for a Breath of many titles, but none of them spewing awesomeness on the masses) is ripe with characters I've cast in the future television series. Not movie, you ask? Nope. It feels like a series to me with a WB/CW vibe (think Roswell, but without aliens). I've used celebrities for most of my darlings, but my main character, Kat, looks like one of the lovely ladies from a workout video I've used in the past, and Tate (who I love so, So, SO (TOO) much) is a world class swimmer. Sometimes you just see a person and, you know? :)

My cast:

Kat Wake - Leili Zadeh (she's in this video introducing the Chalean Extreme workout, but I couldn't find a good picture). Dark eyes, dark hair, average height. Basically, a Goldilock's porridge, all-around 'everywoman' look.

Tate Sinclair - Ashley Delaney (image 4 in my slideshow above)
Sierra Long - Jamie Chung (image 5)

Nick Trimmer - Zac Efron (image 3)

Doctor Megan Caste - Maria Bello (image 2)

Banner Lambert - Josh Duhamel (image 1)

Now, my eye colors are all over the place, and Josh Duhamel would look about ten years older, but there they are. I left off some of the more visible secondary characters, like Penny and Leslie, because I only have a picture in my head for them. Well, that's not necessarily true. I saw my Penny at a Cincinnati Reds game in 2010. She was walking down the steps as I headed for the nachos (I know, how could I think of anything else with my nacho-induced tunnel vision, but it happened). No time to take a picture, but that anonymous person was Penny. It can only ever be her now. *sigh*

This was so much fun! Please note, not a one of these pics are mine. Check out the other blogfesters, and thanks for stopping by the Cheetah!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tour through Twilight Territory

The teensy town of Forks, Washington embraced the mania, and I saw it first hand. Walk with me.

First, we journey into the Olympic Peninsula. Shrouded in fog and never without a slight drizzle, I snap this shot along Crescent Lake. Pretty, huh?

I make our party stop for a good, old-fashioned tree hugging. :) Yes, I'm a tree-hugging dork. Not the coolest thing about me, but in the top ten.

The temperature is not our friend, and my goosebumps hang around the entire day.

After a while, we come to the mile or two of road running through Forks. A stoplight, the high school (Home of the Spartans), and the large Forks Outfitters building are the main landmarks. It's not a big place, so when I say the citizens have embraced Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, I mean they sell it everywhere they can. Not in a ridiculous, we're-out-for-the-money kind of way, but it has a distinct presence.

We stop in the Welcome Center, see Bella's truck, buy some junk food at the Forks Outfitters, and head to First Beach. I don't think either of these trucks were the one from the movie, but do you really think that stops me from oohing and aahing all over them?

The sun still hasn't made an appearance as we cross the Treaty Line into La Push. Now, we all know my team of choice, but when we park the car at First Beach, I admit to considering a side switch. I mean, look at it. The clouds part, people laugh, dogs bark, the wind blows our hair around in magical tornadoes.
Hello, Team Jacob! 

But our day of Twilight fun must come to an end eventually. We drive out of La Push, wave a chilly goodbye to Forks High School and the Twilight store at the stoplight, and take the road back through the rainforest. Oh, and we see a rainbow!

Boy, present tense is rough. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Please excuse the blurriness on that last pic. I was in the backseat of an SUV going about fifty miles per hour along the bend of the lake, window down, rain in my face, camera hanging into the wind to get this shot. Worth it!

My group ate dinner at Bella Italia in Port Angeles, and no, I didn't get the mushroom ravioli that Bella orders in the book. :) Then I fell asleep on the drive back to Seattle (as I'm almost guaranteed to do on any hour-plus trip). A day of fun in a sleepy town pulled into notoriety by the wonder of YA fiction, and I wanted to share it with you.

The Now Starring Blogfest is on Monday, Water for Elephants review on Tuesday, and the end of the A to Z Challenge is next Saturday. *wipes forehead* It's been a wild ride! I'm giving away a Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray here, so enter before the end of the day on Sunday. Super, super easy to win!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Secrets, secrets, secrets. Who do you tell?


They can be jumbo or microscopic, juicy or ho-hum. Maybe dirty or as squeaky clean as your two front teeth on the ride home from the dentist. No matter what kind of secrets we build into our stories, there's a decision that comes with each one.

Who do we tell?

Some writers let the characters and the reader find out together. Others give some characters a hint, and still others tell the reader everything but won't drop the characters even the smallest bone. In many cases, there will be a mix. Secrets are divvied out like free pens at a career fair. One for you, one for you, one for that guy over there. Everybody knows something, but no one knows everything. Your reader bites his/her nails as the MC talks to her brother's killer, and HOLY HOT DOG, don't turn your back!!!! Secrets lend to tension. Knowledge does too. Add a bit of well-placed suspicion (another 'S'), and you've got a best seller, baby! :)

How do you use secrets in your writing? Generous or stingy? And how awesome is that moment when it all comes together?

The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 Blu-Ray giveaway ends on Sunday, so enter here.

And, oh yeah. Today is EARTH DAY! Send a WWF e-card to someone awesome! Here's mine to you (thank you, WWF website for unknowingly sharing this image). And thank you, my darlings, for visiting the Cheetah!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Revisiting 'P' - Oh, the Cleverness that is Pan

I allowed myself an indulgence yesterday. Indulgence meaning I shirked all reading, writing, blogging, etc., responsibilities and watched one of my all-time favorite movies.

Peter Pan.

Back in 2003, this live action version of J.M. Barrie's tale hit theaters. My reaction to the preview? Comical. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. I may have crowed out loud in the theater.

Yep. I'm that person and proud of it.

When I was young, single digits young, my mother* recorded Peter Pan from PBS or TNT or some other awesome station. This was the Mary Martin stage version with mascot-costumed Nana and enough wires to teach Spiderman: Bring on the Dark a thing or two about flying. The memory of the day the VCR chewed up that overwatched video cassette and spit it out seared my brain. The tears, the anguish, the sorrow! Because this production, darlings, was a live stage play aired on television. Something not easily recaptured on VHS. What would I do without Peter, Wendy, the Lost Boys, the dreadful and devious Captain Hook? More tears, more anguish, more sorrow! Life as I knew it had ended!

Years later, I cherish my younger self's passion for fairy dust, happy thoughts, and the refusal to grow up. For loving a boy who wanted only to be a child and have fun. Isn't Peter the reason I, as a twenty eight year old accountant, read and write? To revisit the carefree girl I was when I watched that video to death? When germs weren't a worry and responsibility barely existed? When my imagination had no limit?

From this post, you may think 'R' is for rhetorical questions, hehe, and though you may be right, I'm sacrificing 'R' to revisit 'P.' Well, 'P' as in Peter, though 'P' as in Potter was worth it (go here to enter my Deathly Hallows, Part 1 Blu-Ray giveaway). 'P' as in Peeta would've been good, too, but if I have to choose one, and I mean only one to keep and care for my heart, it must be Peter, because he makes me smile, he makes me crow, he makes the Cheetah fly!

What are your happy thoughts? Did you have a story like this when you were younger? One that made you crow? :)


*My mom is one of my happiest thoughts!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Potter GIVEAWAY! Who wants this Blu-Ray?! :)

So, in my cheetah mania to get my grubby paws on Deathly Hallows Part 1, I sprinted into the store, purchased the first shiny copy I found advertising a sneak peek of Part 2, ripped off the plastic, and...


A Blu-Ray!? But I haven't made the conversion from DVD! And now I can't return it!! Panic!! PANIC!!

I almost bought a Blu-Ray Player. Seriously. But a checkout line decision pushed me back to the Electronics Department. I bought the DVD with all its yummy extras and have an unused (but without the plastic wrap) Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy to give away. TO ONE OF YOU!

Between now and Sunday, 4/24/11, all you have to do is comment on this post and tell me your favorite character in the Harry Potter series. Easy, right? If your email address isn't on your profile, leave that in your comment as well. One winner will be randomly selected. Consider this my Earth Day/Good Friday/Easter Giveaway. Remember the lion from the Cadbury commercials? Well, now there's a winged cheetah with rabbit ears and a ball-of-fluff tail!

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my query yesterday. Your comments were wonderful and so helpful! I'll tackle revisions in the (very) near future. And thanks to Google images for the teaser.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Query Help Blogfest! Don't worry. I didn't magically forget 'P.'

For today and tomorrow, Quack comes before Panther in the alphabet. It's happening, people! Learn it, live it, love it! And stop by tomorrow for details about my Deathly Hallows Part 1 Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Giveaway. Someone has to win. Might as well be you!

So,  Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita, and Alicia are the hosts today. Pop around to the other queries and lavish them with your feedback. Here's the latest version of mine. *hands out red pens*

Dear Agent,
Katherine Wake transferred to Harrington Dove Academy to escape her parent-planned future and live on her own terms. She never dreamed her new life might kill her.   
A car crash throws seventeen year old Kat into the doorway of the afterlife, but it’s…a doctor’s waiting room? No harp pluckin’ angels or pearly gates. Just a smirking blonde by the name of Doc. She offers to send Kat back to the land of the living in exchange for one teensy, weensy favor. Steal the memories of a man who wants to talk about this secret place. That’s a big no-no, but Doc won’t say why.
Kat accepts, refusing to give up the life she’s fought her friends, family, and even her own prejudices to build. But her trip into the next life stamps a beacon on her soul that attracts new and deadly faces to her school, including the man she’s hunting. If she fails to hold up her end of the deal, Doc’s threatened to wipe Kat’s memory and push her soul into the next life. If the others get to her first…well, a future as Mom and Dad’s little doll looks like paradise pizza with Star Crunch sprinkles. 
My paranormal Young Adult novel DEADLY DARK DREAMS is complete at 66,000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Alright, darlings. Let's see those claws. :) Thanks so much for your feedback!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Overly Ominous Music, but a Must-See. Source Code in 100 Words

Tap tap tap.

Housekeeping. You want me fluff your pillow?

Uh, wait. Different kind of housekeeping. Before I review Source Code, here are some reminders.

YAtopia's having a Pitch Contest with Agent Natalie Fischer. Check it out. Also,  Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita, and Alicia are hosting a Query Help blogfest tomorrow, so don't miss it. Crits for Water is going strong. There are special auctions and random crit drawings from authors and agents happening all the time. And the Now Starring Blogfest is right around the corner. :) I think that's it.

No! WAIT! I somehow have an extra copy of HP and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital with all the extras, and I'm giving it away this week! More info tomorrow, I promise. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

I watched Jake Gyllenhaal's Source Code on Saturday, and once again, I have to humbly admit my preview-induced impressions were wrongwrongwrong. Here's my one hundred word review. Enjoy!

The Source Code is an in-development, government project that lets one mind experience the eight minutes before another’s death. Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) tries to stop a terrorist's plot to wipe Chicago off the map. He goes in, train blows up. Again and again. But it’s not as Groundhog Day as it sounds. The opening score was too dark and thrill-a-minute for the sweeping landscapes and peaceful Chicago skyline (think Shutter Island), but touching moments outweighed the doom-and-gloom. Gyllenhaal’s baby blues and phenomenal acting won my heart. Tragic, yet hopeful. Don’t let the previews fool you. This was an excellent movie!

That's it! Water for Elephants comes out Friday, and I'm M.C. Hammering around my house in excitement. Won't you join me? :)


Sunday, April 17, 2011

YAtopia Pitch Contest!

So, YAtopia's having another awesome pitch contest. Check it out here. There's an entry limit, so you'll want to go soon. Like now. :) The YAtopians (umm, yeah) will pick twenty 'finalists,' and Agent Natalie Fischer, who is currently closed to submissions, will choose a winner.

Good luck!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Naming Blog Posts is a Bit like Pitching

I struggle with pitches. Just call me Wordy McWordenheimer. When I need to catch your attention, I'd rather do jumping jacks and make bird noises than write two sentences (or less, ugh).

But if you think about it, a lot of things in life are like pitching. Anything could be a pitch if it's trying to grab attention. Consider channel surfing. Your eyes focus on the scene for, what, ten seconds or less, and you make a decision. Buying clothes, yep, that's another pitch. Walk through the store, see something that's a maybe, touch it, hold it up to you, make a decision. That tangerine tank with buttons decorating the straps just pitched you. Advertisements, the smells pumped out of candy stores or Bath and Body Works, the music to which you just can't help bobbing your head when you walk by an Abercrombie. All are meant to entice, to draw you in. Some work, others don't.

And blog post names. If you're like me, you follow a ton of blogs. I subscibe to emails on a few, but mostly, I scroll through Google reader and decide which ones to read based on the title and first sentence. We all pitch to each other on a daily, weekly, monthly, etc., basis. We win some, we lose others. After all, there are only so many 'leisure' hours in the day, and I have to jump on my WIP at some point.

So, how do you decide the names for your posts? Do you go for the shock factor? The hot-topic-of-the-week approach? How about being clever? How well do you play to your audience? What's your pitch strategy?

Sharing is caring, you know. Maybe we can learn from each other on this one. I'll take all the help I can get. Thanks for visiting the Cheetah! :)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. Forget the Cowbell... Part 3

My secret's out! I've crushed on Draco Malfoy since the moment I saw that slicked-back platinum hair. Thank you, Tom Felton. Just...thank you! And thank you Warner Brothers for the image that is so not mine.

If you missed the first two parts of my 'Forget the Cowbell, I need more Draco Malfoy' conversation about fan fiction, here's a summary. Part 1 - Fan fiction's a way to develop supporting characters and their stories. Part 2 - Fan fiction's a nifty way to explore what-ifs. But Part 3 may be the biggest and best reason we readers and writers dare step into the fan fiction arena.

Part 3 - Fan fiction's a way to change the story's ending.

Here's a poll. Raise your hand if you've finished a book and wished some of the characters back to life. Now be honest! With the final Harry Potter movie in three months, I'm stocking up on tissues. Don't worry, there are no spoilers here, but I expect to cry/blubber/make sounds like arrows have punctured my intestines more in this one than I did at the end of Meet Joe Black and the Angel episode I Will Remember You combined (no one needs to see that, trust me).

Second poll. Hands up if you wanted to change/add a romance. Come on. No Draco/Hermione supporters out there? ;) Honestly, I just don't believe you.

Last poll (I promise). Give me a nod if you want a lighter tale for the characters in that terribly dark series. Or the flip of that. You need (yes, need) to see the light and fluffy turn its darkest dark. Both can add depth and feeling, make us laugh or cry, and ultimately give me that one little thing I need like humans need oxygen.

Sometimes, I just need more Draco Malfoy!

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Legend...wait for it...


So, Neil Patrick Harris is awesome. We all know that.

But do you know about some of the other legendary things happening around the blogosphere right now? Yes, I'm still using that word. I just can't stop it!

ebysswriter's 250 Word Pitch Contest

Crits for Water

And how about the awesomeness in beautiful Ohio (waves to the other Ohioans! Oh, and everyone else. Okay, just double-arm-waving like a crazy person now)?


I stopped at Panera after work on Tuesday, bought a Chai Tea Latte and bagel, and pulled out the old five subject notebook. I created Zane Bradley. Who? Zane Bradley! One of the POV's in my new project, LOVE'S SMILING DEATH. This is my second, pen-to-paper project, and I've forgotten just how difficult it is to get the words from my brain to the page in some meaningful order. I don't know if this project is 'for real' or just an exercise, but I'm enjoying it so far. It's not paranormal. It's not even YA. Something new and different to flex my writerly muscles. :)

So, what's on your plate this week? A sweet onion poppy seed bagel (don't worry, I only breathed on myself)? How about a new WIP? I'm one hundred percent positive your work will be legend, wait for it...


PSYCH!       Dary! :)

(btw, that pic? It's not mine)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Killing Me (or your reader) Softly


It's the easiest way to kill momentum. The best excuse for your reader to drop the book.

And it's so super easy to get there! On my seventh read-through of my MS, about seventy pages in, I jumped out of my chair and bolted from the office. Why? Because I'd been sleep-reading/revising for about six pages. Holy hot dog, Batman! I'd bored MYSELF. If I couldn't read my pride and joy without nodding off, how could I hold someone else's attention?

Do you find your attention span getting smaller every day? Struggling to get interested in a book without immediate action? Falling asl-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Hehe. Just kidding. Is it a death sentence when your own story bores you?

In the spirit of NOT boring you, this is a shorty post. Thanks for hangin' with the Cheetah!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jar Jar Binks or Creating the Worst Character Ever!

I'm a Star Wars fan thanks to my bestest childhood friend holding my eyelids open ALL NIGHT LONG to watch episodes 4-6. That was, well, more-years-than-I'd-like-to-count ago, and I fell hard for Han Solo. Who says 'I know' when a princess tells you she loves you? Han does, and I love him for it.

Don't worry. He knows. ;)


My 'J' in the A to Z Challenge stands for the evil that is Jar Jar Binks. I thought about putting an image in this post, then stopped the googling. You know. Because of the evil. So instead, here's a cute, widdle cheetah cub (unfortunately, neither pic nor cub belong to me).

Drown in your ooohs and awwws, darlings!

But Jar Jar represents something amazing in the world of storytelling. He proves that while manufactured love is magically strong in a reader/watcher, hate pounds the jeepers out of you. You feel it like a rock in your gut, like a Crucio from Bellatrix Lestrange. It's dark and twisting like that Venomy sludge that turns Spidey's suit black, and no matter what you do or how hard you try, you'll never get rid of it. It never dies. HE nevers dies. Jar Jar frickin' Binks. Hate made (storytime) flesh. In fact, I'm never saying 'hate' again. It will forever be 'jarjar.'

So, how do you create Jar Jar-sized jarjar in your book? Is it for your villain? How about an idea? Like Vice or Fate or Chance. We personify those all the time. Maybe it's the war within your MC. A battle to the death with a shapeless, jarjarful Jar Jar. *shiver*

In other, completely non-jarjar related news, the Cheetah got herself an AWARD! Yay! Dierdra over at A Storybook World has gifted us with the Powerful Woman Writer Award. Again, I say Yay! She does all her own art. Gorgeous! Check out her blog when you have a chance. Thanks, Dierdra. The tail's doing a happy dance!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Imagine a British Pirate in a top hat. 100 Words for Arthur!

A bit liberal with my letters for the A to Z Challenge? Maybe. :) But you all know what a movieholic I am! So, for my 'I' post, here's my 100 word review of Arthur.

Captain Sparrow, three bottles of vodka, Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows, and strip him down to a pair of turquoise man panties. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Arthur Bach.
The film follows crazy-haired, enormous-mouthed Brand as he squanders money, falls in love, and learns to grow up. Interactions between Arthur and his nanny, Hobson (Mirren), entertain and endear you to the ridiculous man-child. His fear of horses (and its extended description) bring on the choking type of laughs, but don’t be surprised by a tear or two later.
Funny, heart-warming, and there’s a Batmobile. You couldn’t ask for anything more! J  

That's it! Hope you enjoyed. There are a couple blogfests coming up that you won't want to miss. The lovely ladies who brought you the 99th Page blogfest are hosting a Query Help blogfest on the 19th, and Alexis at Kore Averna is putting on The Now Starring blogfest on the 25th. Check these out, sign up, and have a little fun!
Did you see Arthur? Like? Dislike? How about Russell Brand?
Thanks to everyone who's stopped by from A to Z. There are over 1,200 people taking that challenge, and it's been difficult for me to get around to many of the blogs. That must be where the 'challenge' piece comes in. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

'H' is for...sorry, distracted by Peeta Mellark

Yes, 'H' is for Hunger Games. I'll wait while the shock wears off.

Casting news wall-papered the Web this week. Some shed tears, others cockadoodled with joy. I don't know Mr. Hemsworth very well, but darken his features and he looks the part of the rugged-best-friend-who-waited-too-long-sorry-bout-your-love-I-love-Peeta.

But Josh Hutcherson? I saw Bridge to Terabithia (a must-read, if not a must-watch), Journey to the Center of the Earth (sorry Brendan Frasier, you were much better in Bedazzled and Blast from the Past), and RV (groan...just groan). But my foggy memory tells me Josh was very, very young in those movies. Like, too young to even consider as the new love of my life. So, I hopped over to IMDB, which I can't live without, and found he's grown up a bit. With sun-kissed skin, bleached hair, and the brightest, sky-colored contacts you can find, could this face be your Peeta? Hmmm...for me?


Look at that smile, the strong line of his jaw. He could paint a flower on my skin or bake me up the yummiest bread on the planet anytime. He'll need to beef up a bit (call Taylor Lautner's personal trainer; seems to do a good job), but I'm game. Agree? Disagree?

But there's so many more characters! Effie, Prim, RUE, CINNA. If Stanley Tucci doesn't play Cinna, I'll be a bit sad. My cuz and first reader said 'absolutely not' to that suggestion. 'I always imagined Cinna as a very handsome man.' Okay, but hear me out. Patient, soft-spoken, quiet strength, and remember him sitting in the crowd and moving his finger in a circle to tell Katniss to twirl? That is Stanley Tucci. But I read a probably completely unfounded rumor that Ewan McGregor could be Cinna. Handsome? Check. If you don't think so, go watch Moulin Rouge.

Well, watch it anyway, but...yeah, back to The Hunger Games.

Which casting decision are you watching? Who would be your pick? Your thoughts on the choices for Peeta and Gale? How about Katniss? Where can I get a Mockingjoy pin? :)


Friday, April 8, 2011

Giving and Government OR Selfless and...well, I'm just saying

No, this is not a political post. I'll actually talk about a BOOK! :)

But first, giving. There are amazing displays of selflessness happening every minute across the world. Altruism is far from dead, people. Whether it's money or time or food or clothing or a warm bed, people are helping people (and animals and the planet) because human beings, at their very cores, are GOOD. Hey, another 'G' word. Neat.

Now, this is just my opinion. You may not agree, and that's cool. Takes all kinds.

Here are a few things happening (or very recently ended) in the writerly community that show how awesome people can be when others need help. Crits for Water, Write Hope, Books for Japan.

Sound familiar? :) And I'll bet there are tons of others I don't know about. Post the link to any you're following/have heard of/are putting on, and I'll pop around to see more proof that people are good, great even, at giving.

My other 'G' is government. Still not a political post even with the shadow of the cranky government shutdown looming. I want to talk about government/politics/power in books. Those things may drive potential readers away quicker than you can say 'holy hot dog,' but others embrace them. That's why a certain former prez and former Alaskan Governor hit the top ten of every nonfiction list the first day/week/month their books hit the shelves.

Beyond that, though, government themes in fiction are prevalent. One of my favorites is Atlas Shrugged. Okay, bear with me. It's a huge book with a couple very (very) long speeches that make the eyes droop. But it's a beautiful tale about one woman's search for the self-made man of her dreams in a corrupted world where bad deeds are rewarded and hard work is punished. There are, however, strong and loud political opinions, and Ayn Rand wanted it that way. So, yeah, whatever. Try to see past that, because it's about the story. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden (catch that? huh? *wink*) stand firmly in my top ten list of favorite characters of all time. Oh, and Francisco d'Anconia is pretty darn close.

Even Harry Potter has some quiet political messages, The Hunger Games too.

HA! Thank you, Cheetah Obvious. Of course The Hung-well, we'll talk more about that 'H' tomorrow.

Time to wrap up. Do you have a subtle (or loud) message in your WIP, political or otherwise? Did you intend for it to happen, or did the characters force it on you? They'll do that, you know. Mine decide things, but don't tell me until the fifth draft. Makes me want to Homer-style strangle them sometimes!

Enjoy the sun, give when others need it, and don't let worries about tomorrow keep you from enjoying every moment of life. Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Food and Fitness. Finding a balance!

'F' will always be for food.

My greatest friend. Always there when I'm down. Willing to hug me tight around the middle even when I don't want it (I so want it). Greets me in my kitchen when I can't sleep at night. Never misses a party. Even my belly snarls and whines when you're away from me. Ahhh. Love you, Food.

My worst enemy! Always there when I'm down. Willing to hug me tight around the middle even when I don't want it (I do NOT want it). Greets me in my kitchen when I can't sleep at night. Never misses a party. Even my belly snarls and whines when you're away from me. Ahhh. Curse you, Food.

Ever felt like that? :)

Yeah, me too. But food isn't evil. Our bodies actually do need and love it. Even the real 'F' word (not that 'F' word, geez!), FAT, isn't the demon that we/the media have made it.

Speaking of demons. Haaaaave you met Luc?

Anyway....what was I talki-OH YEAH!

Fat. We need it. So slice some avocado into your salad, eat a handful of cashews, dip a strawberry into the darkest, dark chocolate you can find (cacao, cacao!). Don't go crazy with it, skip the processed stuff, and your body will thank you for it.

'But my metabolism!' you say. It slows down as we age. That's just a fact. Solution? You need some muscle, baby! I'm not talking about super hero, Governator-style guns, but muscle burns more calories than fat. Your body loves muscle like the Cheetah loves Peeta (and she loveloveloves Peeta). That brings me to another 'F.' My good friend Fitness. :)

I'm still going strong with TurboFire and Shakeology, neither of which I am selling or pushing anyone to try (yes, that's a disclaimer. sorry). Something else may work for you, and that's awesome. Being different makes the world a wonderful place to live.

So, what's your balance? How do you reward yourself? It's almost time for ripe, bursting, glorious strawberries in my neck of the woods. What's in season where you live? :)

Thanks for all the Vamp feedback yesterday. Consensus? Most of us like our vamps smokin' hot and baddy, bad, ba-bad. :)


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Edward Complex. Those Vamps think they're SO smart!

As a human (and proud of it, thanks), I just don't get those nicey-nice vamps.

Quick reminder: I'm Team Edward, Team Spike, Team Eric, Team Damon. Give me another vamp series, and I'll give you a team. Boy, what would we do without the idea of 'team?' Now, back to my 'E' post for the A to Z Challenge.

When you look at the goody-two-shoes Vampires in pop culture, something keeps coming up. I'm naming it The Edward Complex, but it could very easily be called The Angel Complex or The Kinda-Sorta-Bill/Eric complex. Have I lost you? No? Fantastic!

Something bad happens and WHAM!

'Oh, I'm so terrible for you.'

'But you should have a normal life.'

'I'm an evil thing that drinks blood and kills people and punches puppies.'

Not really punches puppies. Seriously, people. They're not that evil. :)

Edward leaves Bella, Angel leaves Buffy. They think they're so smart, and what happens? The girls move on, well, Buffy did anyway. Because she's the better B (see Christa's post on this - spot on). So, why the complex? Why do they think they're right, that they have the right to make choices for two people?

Because they're older? Because they're wiser?

No. It's because they're a teensy bit selfish.

Which brings me to Bill Compton and Eric Northman. Now, these yummies know something about selfish. They don't leave Sookie (well, Bill kinda did, but Eric hasn't, um, yet), but they try to run her life like it's their job. Bill (Moody McPouterson) and Eric (sorry...drooling...can't make up a funny-sounding name...oops, still drooling) don't fit into The Edward Complex, but hey, we're having a vamp discussion, right? Can't forget anyone (James, Carlisle, The Master, Stefan, all the vonderful actors who played the Count over the years, THE COUNT (von, two, three...ah ah ah), Lestat, that greasy-haired vamp/werewolf dude from Underworld, Jim Carrey, and yes, even Kiefer Sutherland).

Who else? I know I missed a ton.

For those of you writing a book starring vamps, do any of your manly bloodsuckers succumb to the Edward Complex? Do they actually leave the beautiful woman to cry herself into oblivion? Then get upset when she finds someone else (I'm skipping safely over Riley and moving on to Spike, just so we're clear)? How about your lady vamps? I always imagined female vampires would be more ruthless than the men. How else do you explain Victoria, Darla, Drusilla, Vamp Willow? How awesome was Vamp Willow? Honestly.

Enough of my ramblings. :) Thanks for the congrats yesterday. You are all truly wonderful!


As always, the lovely pics aren't mine.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Darlings! Darlings! My One Hundred (and two) Darlings!

The Flying Cheetah was gifted with her 100th follower yesterday (101 and 102 also)! Crescendoing squeeeeealllll!!!!

Darlings! Every one of you!

Before you came along, I was a Frowny McGee -->

<-- But now I'm all jump-for-joy-twisty-tail!

I know we'll have many more happy, cheetah moments together in the future. What with all the books and movies, obscure Peter Pan references, countless blogfests, contests, pictures that are so not mine (see above), fitness fun, query reconstructions, advice sharing, critiquing, laughing, smiling, maybe actually meeting at conferences, writing, did I mention obscure Peter Pan references?

Long story short (too late), thanks to all of you, my beautiful darlings!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Cinematic Charm or Chaotic Confusion? Sucker Punch review in 100!

Another week, another movie!

Real quick, I need to inundate you with links. After those, enjoy my 100 word review of Sucker Punch.

Crits for Water - Awesome.

Books for Japan at Fire and Ice - Scroll down, look on the right side.

A to Z Blogfest - Who says you can't still join? You know you want to (cough...peer pressure...cough).

Now Starring Blogfest - Cast your characters on April 25. Big fun. Go do. Ugh.

Peeta - Not officially cast, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. You know I love me some Peeta.

And now, SUCKER PUNCH. My 'C' entry for the A to Z Challenge.

Emaciated dolls locked in a mental institution.
Exotic dancers entertaining privileged men in a snazzy night club.
Gun/sword/bomb-toting, (almost) indestructible sepia warriors in fantasy land?
A bit slow to start, but Sucker Punch packs a, well, punch of sorts once it gets going. Baby Doll’s racing to avoid a lobotomy and the others (Jena Malone’s the real star) just want to be free. Too much slow motion/extreme close-ups/CGI in many parts, but the villain goes to a new level of shudder-inducing, creeptastic sleazebag that’s well worth watching. Decent (somewhat confusing) story, gorgeous girls, and plenty of pyrotechnics. *grin*

That's it! Have you seen Sucker Punch? Any thoughts? We're probably looking at Limitless, Arthur, or Source Code next (hello, Variety). And Water for Elephants at the end of the month. Squeal!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Epic Contest! I'm using the word EPIC here!

You must check this out.

One Twitter-sized pitch wins a full manuscript request from THE Suzie Townsend.

Here's mine. Get out the red pen and rip it to shreds!

Kat escapes death by agreeing to steal Banner’s memories of the afterlife. But he’s on a mission to gain her secrets. He wants her soul.

Get yours ready, and thanks for any feedback!

Books, books, books! March Recap, NYR Update 3/12

Spring has sprung. Holy hot dog, it's April! Second quarter is upon us with its rain-and-shine and tax deadlines and TULIPS! Well, unless the snow from last Thursday killed them. :) Nah!

The New Year's Resolutions are going strong, although my healthy eating took a dive during the Seattle vacation. I'm back on track starting Monday with a new round of TurboFire and an attempt at going vegetarian. We'll see what happens!

So, here are my March books:

3/5/11 - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Was I motivated to read this book by Robert Pattinson's sun-kissed face in the movie previews? Not entirely (motivated to see the movie in April? ummm, YES!). This is a lovely story with an unnerving villain and a twist that caught me by surprise. Written in flashbacks from the ninety-three year old Jacob's perspective as he ponders the meaning of his life in a nursing home, I'd recommend it to anyone who's ever wondered about the behind-the-scenes of the circus. The picture is very obviously not mine.

3/6/11 - The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I would read a bit, put the book down, then wander back to it. Does the lovely Lennie end up with Joe? I sure hoped so, but needed to find out, so I read it in a day. Yes, a day! And I'm not a fast reader. This one's a heartbreaker, so be warned, but it's also a story of self-discovery and family ties with poetry flitting about the pages. Lots (and lots and lots) of descriptions and similes, but it's not distracting. A quick, good read with another good boy that I may have a crush on (but nothing, nothing like Peeta; remember this post?).

3/24/11 - The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Well, I was certainly 'into' the book. Meaning, the creepy creeps lived in me every time I picked up the bent paperback. Seriously. The killer is an everyday kind of guy who I probably walk past at my job, on the street, in the gracery store *cold chill.* But the ending just wasn't what I expected. A good book, yes, but not one I would seek out again. I suppose that made the story feel more real (and, did I mention, creepy? Yeah).

Does rereading and revising my WIP count? hehe

Plans for April:

Well, I still have The Room by Emma Donoghue and The Hating Game by Talli Roland on my Kindle. A friend at work recommended (and loaned) Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett, but I'm struggling to stay interested at only page fifty. So, those are the three I'll focus on. Any others can be bonus.

On the writing side, I will (WILL) finalize-for-now my WIP. It's time for some feedback, so Katharine and her Crits for Water campaign will see me soon. Such a fantastic idea and a great cause! As always, if you haven't popped over there, go. Now. I'll wait...........okay. Oh, you need more time? ..............good.

I also have a new idea banging around my head that needs written down, so I'll try Ali Cross's NiNoWriMo another month (Feb. and Mar. weren't exactly successful, but you know, constant vigilence! Or something like that).
What will you be reading in April? How about your garden? Is your green thumb poised and ready? :)

Thanks for checkin' out the Cheetah!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Accents in your dialogue. The A to Z Challenge has begun!

The A to Z Challenge begins today! You can still join, of course, and hop around to some of the over 600 (600!) blogs that took the challenge. A post a day in April, excluding Sundays. That's one for each letter of the alphabet. *wipes sweat from forehead*

So, for me, A is for Accents in dialogue.

I want so much to add accents in my dialogue. A Russian zee instead of boring, old S. Shortened word forms or completely fake words to emphasize the sultry drawl of my Southern Belle (I'm from the very southern part of Ohio, and yes, we drop consonants like Ace Ventura dropped that poor raccoon).

But as much as I'd like to write that way, I find more and more that it annoys the jeepers out of me to read dialogue with heavy accents written in. My brain stumbles a bit too much, and pleasure reading should never feel like work. So, what's a girl to do?

How do you approach accents in your dialogue?

Quick note: I've been on a mission this week to finish my college-to-high school conversion of my WIP, and I'm so enormously sorry I haven't been a good blog follower. I promise I'll catch up over the weekend! Thanks to everyone who stopped by during the Harry Potter blogfest! Don't forget Crits for Water.