Sep 28, 2011

What to Sacrifice?

That post title could lead into so many things. I bet most of you thought I'd be talking about cutting things off my to-do list. Au contraire, my friends. I am adding to my to-do list because apparently I want it to not only cover the circumference of this planet but also those of the other 7 (8?) planets in the solar system.

So what is it that I am adding to my to-do list? More like, what am I not adding.

Okay, okay, I'm getting to the point: I want to make social networking my bitch!

Go make me a sandwich, Zuckerberg! (btw, the soundtrack to your unauthorized biopic is mind-blowing)

You see, dear readers, I have been meaning to conquer social networking sites for two years now. I want them working for me and not the other way around. 

Twitter is the easiest to conquer, but I still have opportunities there - blankets to nest in. 

Facebook changes every seven days, so that has been a game of cat and mouse. meow. 

Google+...I have no effing idea what to even say about that maze. Where's my f*cking cheese, yo?!

tumblr, LinkedIn, and the others can stay in the background for now. I don't have energy for those.

What am I forgetting??? Oh yeah, perhaps my best friend, or what should be, this place: Am I using this platform to its fullest potential? Not by any means. What else can I do?

Enough questions. My new goal is to find the damn answers.

The correct answer does not involve sacrificing things from my to-do list - I need to multi-task like my mother did while doing the dishes, yelling at the five of us kids, and carrying on a lovely conversation about hydrangeas on the telephone. What I mean to say is adding this social networking challenge to my list cannot make me into a monster. I need to gracefully multitask. I shall plie and/or curtsy after completing each task.

The point of all this, I need to find an offering for the tech gods as I take on this social networking endeavor. At first I was thinking a lamb, but I hear the tech gods have a thing for circuit boards. I am heading to the basement to look through the boxes marked RELICS OF THE 1980's AND 90's. Oh, look, a bag phone!

This open-ended series between Heather and me is sure to be interesting. Please join us in any fashion by giving us advice or posting your own trials and tribulations of sticking it to the tech gods.

But, seriously, who moved my cheese?

Sep 27, 2011


It's running through my head like a hyperactive news ticker.


I am excited and scared.

A large part of me wants to work on the second person experiment, which now has a title! Speak for Yourself just isn't what I want to use a month of awesome writing for.

Another part of me wants to work on my autobiography, which I am developing as an assignment for my Michigan Lit class. My idea with this project is to write short stories and see how they come together. But...I don't want to use nano for this either.

My nano project is going to be Sasquatch Eleanor, a project Kelly and I have been chewing on for half a year. We have faced many setbacks between both our schedules. Writing a novel when the authors are a college student who works 50 hours a week and a mother who is moving and working is, like, impossible. It's kind of funny that we once thought we'd be edited all summer.

In all honesty, Sasquatch Eleanor is the perfect project for us. There's humor, drama, and summer camp (because that's a genre all its own). The love we have for this story premise is palpable for our crit partners. So are the pushes they have been giving us! With that said, I'd better get back to work on my outline so that Kelly and I will be rearing and ready to go come November.

Are you nanoing? If so, what are you working on? If not, what is your goal for November?

Sep 21, 2011

Can You Hook a Teen? Blogfest Contest

UPDATE: My entry has been posted. Thanks to everyone who read and gave feedback. I appreciate you all!

I am participating in my first writing contest. I chose to pare down the first 250 words of The Second Person Experiment, which remains untitled. I know some of you are sick of this story being shoved down your throat, but I think some new folks will be stopping by and I wanted to get their input. All input is appreciated and will influence my final entry to the contest, due Thursday night. The entries will be judged by Teen Eyes, have you seen these girls? They are amazing! The contest is hosted by Brenda Drake.

The Second Person Experiment
YA contemporary

Chapter One

“Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.” –Grandpa

You avoided getting a summer job for three reasons 1. you’re lazy 2. you had prior obligations and 3. you try your hardest not to listen to your parents. Sitting on the toilet, you ponder these truths.
1. Yes, you are lazy, but you’re lazy with class. You bathe and workout. You wear Axe body spray and hold doors for the ladies. You work hard on your material, and it pays off - everyone laughs at your jokes.
2. Video games. Parties. Video games. Sleep. Video games. indeed, you were very busy this summer. There was no time to ‘freshen up and head to the mall and ask for applications’ like your mom asked you to do on a daily basis. You were too busy. So busy, in fact, you didn’t have time to fill out the day planner your dad bought you. That was supposed to be the proof that you were trying. Well, you weren’t.
3. Your parents are wrong 99% of the time. “Allen, do this, Allen, do that, and everything else will fall into place.” Well, you listened to them for the first twelve years of your life and look where that got you.
There’s only one person who lead you in the right direction and that was Grandpa. You miss him and wish he were still here to tell you what to do. And then you realize he would’ve told you to get a job.
Dammit, someone forgot to change the roll. Oh yeah, it was you.

Sep 20, 2011

Blog Chain: Three Books That Took Faith

Shaun started the newest chain, then Sarah posted and now it's my turn to partake in this thought-provoking chain! Shaun says, "What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?"

I tend to abandon books, even good ones, because I get distracted, stressed for time, and sucked into my own writing. I try to give books fifty pages before I'll abandon them all together. The following three books are ones that may not have had me at page 1, 20, or 40, but I stayed with them and by page 50 I was hooked.

1. The Dust of 100 Dogs, A.S. King. It's not that King's debut novel starts off just starts off odd. It's the early nineties and right away the reader is expected to believe the main character is a reincarnation of a seventeenth century pirate, who dies in the first chapter. It's a convoluted mess, but King starts to lay out pieces that push the reader to begin piecing the puzzle together. The real thing that kept me reading was King's amazing narrative through several characters over many, many years. By the end, I was proclaiming to the world how much I loved this book!

2. Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. As with all Bray books, it starts off normal and then things get weird, and fast. My immediate issue with the novel was not the plot, but the main character, who hardly cared about his own life - I could not understand why I should care. Bray introduces characters who are gems and this pushes the story into high gear. The characters mixed with the bizarre places they go makes for one of the most hilarious books I have ever read. Going Bovine really has it all.

3. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer. Despite the feelings you may have on the Twilight realm, The Host is something completely different. Meyer utilizes the first few hundred pages to lay the groundwork for what becomes and amazing story. If you enjoy ready descriptions, then this will be no issue for you, but for me it dragged on and on. And yet, I was totally invested. It was a bizarre experience reading this novel. I had no expectations. I didn't really know who Stephenie Meyer was at the time. She drew me into the story with vivid details and an extremely large cast of characters.

So there you have them, three books that I had through till the end, but boy was I glad I did! Tomorrow, we need to check Christine's blog to see what three books she lists.

Sep 19, 2011

Let's Redefine Monday

Every Monday I have class in the afternoon, which is rather rough for me. Part of what makes it so difficult is when I wake up and log onto facebook, blogger, and twitter, my spirit to succeed is assailed by ten thousand posts about how Monday is being a jerk and not being fair and is the worst day of the week.

Monday is just another day of the week - we are in total control of how good or bad it goes. If you're reading this early in the morning, then put on your game face and go forth and conquer. If you're reading this in the afternoon, then stop lamenting the time gone by and start your good day now! If you're arriving here on Tuesday, take an honest look at yesterday and find the ways the day was bad...I bet you'll have to think really hard.

Make it a good week, my friends! Tomorrow, I am a link in the blog chain again. The new topic focuses on books that took work, but were worth it.

For the record, I frequently partake in the Monday hates me posts. I posted my Monday face on facebook last week: 

Sep 16, 2011

Blog Chain: A Dark and Stormy Night

It's my second time participating in the blog chain that Christine invited me to and this time she got to pick the topic! If I were you, I'd head to Christine's blog and check out all the awesome entries after reading mine. Of course, you could back track too and check the previous link on the chain from Sarah. Another way to keep on up the chain posts is to utilize the blog roll on the bottom of the left sidebar here at my blog. Someone posts every day.


Since we are all writers, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choice.
The topic: A dark and stormy night.
I decided to drag out something I wrote over a year ago that seems to fit the theme. The Storyteller and The Ghost was a brainstorming exercise, one that I have repeated several times, where the first line and the last line should line up. Enjoy an installment from my mini stories series!

Blogger's new image viewer is so annoying. I am sorry if you cannot read the story below even after enlarging it. I am working on a new version.

Click image to enlarge

I believe Shaun chooses next, so head to his blog tomorrow to see the new chain!

Sep 14, 2011

Pictures of the Mackinac Bridge

I already have a million pictures of the bridge, but every time we head up to Mackinac I have to take a million more. Here are some pics I took with my iPhone over the course of the weekend.

From Wawatam Park in Mackinaw City

From the ferry (we beat that other ferry by minutes!)

From Mackinac Island

The Mackinac Bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac, which is the separation between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, to connect the Lower Peninsula with the UP.  It's 5 miles long long and green, with white towers. Needless to say, the bridge is an important icon to Michigan.

Interesting fact: In 1835, Michigan and Ohio went to war over the strip of land where Toledo stands. If you look at a map, Indiana's and Ohio's border with Michigan does not line up. President Andrew Jackson stepped in and Michigan conceded the land to Ohio. In return, we received the UP. The timber and copper found in the UP in the subsequent years has made Michigan more money than the cold rush made for California.

Michigan is a beautiful state. It sucks to know that most out-of-staters view us as unemployed hicks who are trying to invent the next great American car. Even without talking about industry, Michigan is still the 8th most populous state where natural beauty abounds and opportunities lie around every corner.

Sep 12, 2011

Step Back in Time: Mackinac Island, Michigan

This past weekend, three of my closest friends and I made a four hour trek to the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and had a blast!

Mackinac Island (pronounces mack-in-aw) is most famously known for two things. In 1875, the island became America's second National Park (following Yellowstone). It is now a Michigan State Park where no cars are allowed and Victorian mansions abound.

Secondly, Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge. I am not sure about your states, but Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream is one of the most popular flavors and is available at every ice cream shoppe (including the one that employs me).

The history of Mackinac Island is staggering and those who have not heard of the island are amazed at the number of historically important sites on the island. Fort Mackinac, built during the Revolutionary War, helped the British maintain control of the upper Great Lakes until 1796 (fifteen years after we gained independence!).

The Grand Hotel, built in 1887, is an architectural treasure that has been beautifully maintained. I think the photos speak for themselves.

You can't tell from here, but the pool is in the shape of a foot and is said to be Paul Bunyan's footprint.

Oh, and you may wonder about the no car thing, the island is home to hundreds of carriages and bicycles. We usually bike, but since one of my friends is pregnant, we opted for a private carriage tour.

How did we get to the island? We took a ferry, of course.

And finally, a few random photos so you get the gist of Mackinac Island.

On Wednesday, I'll wrap up my vacation with a post about the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City, which is where we stayed. 

Sep 9, 2011

Review and contest: UPGRADER: RE-ENGINEERED, by Terry Tibke

the writer's dojo

When Ali Cross asked me to participate in Terry Tibke's Upgrader blog tour, I got excited because I had seen Terry's posts about the book several times. I read Upgrader on my iPhone, but there are several other ways to get engrossed in Terry's e-book.

Right off the bat, we are thrown into action as a massive explosion takes place. It's a bit jarring, but it works well and sets up the intensity of the novel. The first chapter is cryptic, but detailed, and I knew right away that this was going to be an exciting mystery/adventure story. 

The plot moves quickly as the world we know, Dylan's world, is meshed with the world of Brahm and other terrors. Terry makes sure to implant back story at the appropriate moments, but for the most part Upgrader moves very fast. In fact, it ended a bit too quickly for me. I only wish I had more time with the creepy monsters and the formidable characters (the good and the bad ones!)

Anyway, most readers will quickly identify with Dylan and find it exciting to be in his shoes with his recent development of "special powers" and bizarre nemeses. The sci fi nature will satisfy boy readers, and is appropriate for kids even as young as 10. Adults will also enjoy Upgrader, especially for the fact that it is such a quick read.

For $2.99, I hope you'll give Upgrader a chance. You definitely need to visit Terry or Ali and read the other posts along the tour to read about an interesting journey to publication.

AND you can win a $10 Barnes and Noble by stating the type of weapon you'd want to appear out of your skin in the comments. Don't worry, your skin will heal (mostly) each time you use it. I'll use to select a winner after 11:59 pm EST on Friday, September 16.

Sep 7, 2011

Check out this book trailer

I had a great post dedicated for today, but it needs more development. Instead, enjoy hump day by watching this one minute book trailer that is supremely awesome.

Sep 5, 2011

"But, of course, it's still important to actually write."

The title of this post comes from Kris, who commented on my blog chain post. The post, which explored the changes in the publishing industry, namely self-publishing, received a lot of comments that made my day.

Kris's comment, however, put it all into perspective: no matter the journey you take or the one you think will be best for you, the very most important part is to write a damn good book. Whether or not you plan to get an agent, self-pub, or take over the world, those dreams are irrelevant if the work you put out sucks.

That doesn't sound very motivational, does it? Maybe it would help to know that I am writing this post to myself and that I find motivation is the strangest places. The same can be said about inspiration.

Here's the motivation: surround yourself with people who care and who know what the hell they are talking about. Use those people to the fullest and give back at every possible opportunity. I am already surrounded by writers who have raised me to levels I used to dream of. I could name the names, but it would take forever and in some cases, those connections are just between me and the author. I think that's how it should be. My journey.

At one point in time, not that long ago, I wanted to flaunt my journey. I wanted the most blog followers and the nicest looking blog. And hey, I kinda had both for about a month (circa March 2010), but it had nothing to do with my writing journey. I am pleasantly relieved to have gotten over that phase right away.

In the year and more since, I have grown leaps and bounds with my writing. I still cringe when other writers ask what I am working on or what I write (I usually respond honestly, "What don't I write"). I cringe even more when non-writers ask the same questions. I don't cringe on purpose, I do so because I have yet to try something else. I am a creature of habit.

Being habitually uncomfortable, I have yet to be comfortable with my writing. I have yet to accept that I have a large number of unfinished novels and picture books that are full of truly fantastic ideas, and that it's okay that they are incomplete. Here's the big one: I have yet to accept that fact that it is more than okay that I don't have perfect grammar and spelling skills, but that my writing is still phenomenal.

I can't straight out tell my crit partners that I think them liars. It's me, not them; I do not believe in my writing. But, again...that's okay because my writing believes in me.

But, of course, it's still important to actually write. To write for you, for me, and for those who I will one day meet.

Sep 4, 2011

Dream Crit Partner Apology

So, I think I need to followup my dream crit partners post with an apology because the comments made me worried that I offended some of you.

I only meant for the exercise to be a lighthearted one that caused us to think about how we view successful authors. When I read an excellent book, I frequently imagine the author reading my work and receiving their two cents. Plus, I want that author to be my friend...I fall strongly on the extrovert side of the spectrum, so magnetic personalities (or writing voices in this case) draw me in fast and hard.

In truth, I am very satisfied with my crit partners, some of whom commented. I have received critiques that blew my mind with the breadth and depth to which they went. In fact, my crit partners frequently demonstrate the highest levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Their invaluable input has not only improved my writing, but it has improved my critiques and my blog posts.

I may not have the blog following that I once had, but I feel more firmly planted on my platform than I ever have. I promise to never talk about dream crit partners again. I plan to wholly focus on my writing this fall and come back after the new year with some finished projects that I can share with you all here at my author platform.

Onward and upwards, my friends. 

Sep 2, 2011


Well, it's official: the fall semester has begun. I have The Principles of Speaking, Teaching Diverse Learners, Topics in Literature: Michigan Lit, and Bio. I am extremely excited about the first three, but ambivalent about the latter. I do enjoy a good Bio course, but this one is online.

As part of the Michigan Lit course, we are asked to create our own work of Michigan lit. Um, hello. I am freaking excited about that one. It'll be the first time I will be writing something other than an essay in college.

I was going to say more, but I need to shower and get to work. Later, gators.