Friday, September 30, 2011

Last Day of September! Make it Count

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

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

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

Thank you, Google images!

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Award for the Cheetah, and a Simple Dog!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. I seriously heart spreadsheets.

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

Now, 5 blogs with Awesome!

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.


Monday, September 26, 2011

2-for-1 Review for ABDUCTION

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


Friday, September 23, 2011

How Music Tames the Wild Beast

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday! Write something amazing this weekend.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orbit the Earth, and What a Croc!

Another viral video!

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

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

YIKES! What a croc!

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

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


Monday, September 19, 2011

Dangerous and Disturbing. STRAW DOGS in 100 Words

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, September 16, 2011

No One Gets Recess

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Trendy in Titles?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Hundred for WARRIOR: Tom Hardy does it again!

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

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Importance of Remembering

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

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


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BOOKS! August in Review with a NYR Update!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, September 2, 2011

Calling all Reader-friends! Help!

Many of you are beyond 'well-read' in the lovely land of YA, so I'm, begging, for comparable titles to my current project.

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

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

Haaaave you met Conflict? ;)

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

Tap tap tap. Housekeeping. You need towels?

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