Oct 24, 2011



My head still feels a bit like Times Square with crazy news tickers all over the place.

But that's okay, I am still super excited about nano.

So, let me elaborate on the process Kelly and I are employing this year.

First, this is Kelly's first nano and my second attempt. We aren't pretending we know what we are doing; this is all an experiment. We will succeed though.

So how will we succeed? Well, we have about 15k words (give or take a few grand). Using the outline we are currently creating, we will start from where we left off and write. Our goal is 50,000 words because we believe our novel will end up just shy of that when it is ready for publication. Since we are collaborating, we have each taken on the goal of 18,000 words.

I know, I know, that is SO CHEATING! But cut us some slack. We are not doing NaNo for the competition (which breaks my uber-competitive side's heart). We are doing NaNo for the sake of finishing our project and participating in the fun conversations around our corner of the blogosphere.

Thank you to all who have wished us luck. We will be updating you as November rushes by. Come December, we will be editing and looking for readers after the new year!

I love how I can feel the energy behind nano!!


Oct 18, 2011

I promised you a post about nano...

And...here it is!

I am crazy ambivalent about nano this year. A large part of my hesitation is due to my crash and burn last year, which lead to a two month blogging hiatus. Also, I am wondering how the hell I am going to write when I don't even have time to write right now. Let's call those the cons.

The pros? Well, I am writing my nano project with Kelly (you may call this cheating, but we don't give a fandango). Kelly is a ball of energy, and even when we have no idea what we are doing, we are productive and prolific.

Another pro is that I will finally be challenging myself. It took me a year to take on a challenge...a real challenge. Part of being a writer is to push yourself, right? Well, I have been living a safe distance from the edge. In the words of Celine Dion Lea Michele, "But what do you say to taking chances, what do you say to jumping off the edge?" 

I say, let's go! (Picture me and Nano holding hands and jumping off the edge as Lea Michele sings in the background.)

So you've seen the pros and the cons, what about the project? Kelly and I have been working on pecking at resuscitating our collaboration project for eight months. As the summer came to a close, we realized it was now or never. And with the wave of energy Nano creates, we decided why not tap into that grid.

And so, here we are: outlining, skyping, typing, and riding the waves, in prep for Nanowrimo 2011!

Oct 14, 2011

Pay it Forward Blogfest and A SCARY GOOD BOOK

First of all, today is a great day because the Tigers and the Red Wings won last night! Yeah!

Okay, so let's get down to business. Today I am taking part in Matt McNish and Alex Cavanaugh's Pay it Forward Blogfest! I will be highlighting three blogs that I really want you to know about. I will briefly describe them and then let you follow the link. Hopefully, you will become a follower once on the other end of the link. Let's get started.

1. Anita Laydon Miller's Blog (AND Anita Laydon Miller's Middle Grade Blog, oops - is that cheating?) With each blog, Anita gives her readers anecdotes about her personal life and her writing life, and how the two tie together. She asks for advice, gives advice, and shares techniques learned through her classes as she works toward an MFA. Anita has been a rock for me since I started blogging, and I am so thankful for her friendship and her nagging.

Anita recently released her second self-published children's ebook, A Scary Good Book. I love the title and cover of her latest release, but the inside is even more amazing. Children and adults will be wowed by the thrills and chills, but Anita grounds this great kids ebook with moments of reality and depth. The characters are easy to relate to one minute and totally annoying the next - that is a great skill in writing, in my opinion. Anita rings several seemingly unrelated events together and knocked my socks off with the ending.

I really want you to give A Scary Good Book a chance, head to Anita's buy page to see Anita's answers to many ebook-related FAQ's.

2. Jedi! Ninja! Homeboy!, which is the virtual home of writer Bryan Bliss. Beside having a kick ass author name, Bryan is one insightful son of a gun. His posts are so deep, but also hilarious. At times, I feel like I am reading a Sherman Alexie/John Green hybrid. But Bryan really has a unique voice and perspective that is hard to find. His critiques are amazing too. Why should you follow his blog? Well, Bryan needs your readership and you need Bryan's humor. Win-win.

3. Mia Hayson, a Scottish writer around my age, has one of the highest quality blogs out there. My Literary Jam and Toast has a lot of followers, but every time I go there, she has very few comments. I just don't get it. Mia is always good for sweet, custom-made infrographics, zombie related everything, and just heartwarming well wishes for everyone. I really think I am in love with her. And Scotland.

Oct 13, 2011

A Post on Thursday, Why Not?

I'll end up posting every day this week. I have not done that in ages. The initial reason for posting today is to explain my post for tomorrow when I will be reviewing Anita Laydon Miller's A Scary Good Book AND participating in Matt McNish and Alex Cavanaugh's Pay it Forward Blogfest. Follow the link for Matt's intro post and the official list of participants. The point of the blogfest is to feature three bloggers who may not be well-known but are pure awesome. I have had an extremely hard time choosing three, and my old followers will not be surprised by my list. So come back tomorrow and see who I want to share with you!

With that out of the way, I want to share with you a poem from Edgar Guest, who wrote over 11,000 poems for the Detroit Free Press in the first half of the 20th century. One of the things I like best about Guest's poem is the clarity of word and ease of rhythm. I urge you to check out Guest and get a taste for the Michigan I love.

Story Telling

By Edgar Guest

Most every night when they're in bed,
And both their little prayers have said,
They shout for me to come upstairs
And tell them tales of gypsies bold,
And eagles with the claws that hold
A baby's weight, and fairy sprites
That roam the woods on starry nights.

And I must illustrate these tales,
Must imitate the northern gales
That toss the native man's canoe,
And show the way he paddles, too.
If in the story comes a bear,
I have to pause and sniff the air
And show the way he climbs the trees
To steal the honey from the bees.

And then I buzz like angry bees
And sting him on his nose and knees
And howl in pain, till mother cries:
"That pair will never shut their eyes,
While all that noise up there you make;
You're simply keeping them awake."
And then they whisper: "Just one more,"
And once again I'm forced to roar.

New stories every night they ask.
And that is not an easy task;
I have to be so many things,
The frog that croaks, the lark that sings,
The cunning fox, the frightened hen;
But just last night they stumped me, when
They wanted me to twist and squirm
And imitate an angle worm.

At last they tumble off to sleep,
And softly from their room I creep
And brush and comb the shock of hair
I tossed about to be a bear.
Then mother says: "Well, I should say
You're just as much a child as they."
But you can bet I'll not resign
That story telling job of mine.

Oct 12, 2011


Upon finishing Nightshade City, Hilary Wagner's debut novel, I was so inspired that I moved one of my animal-civilization books to the front burner. That project lived off Hilary's inspiration for two months. Part of the reason I was able to ride the wave for so long is because Hilary's writing is gorgeous and flowing, but lucid. It really blew my mind. As Nightshade City came to a close, every muscle in the plot was tense and then the book ended with a fifteen thousand foot cliffhanger. I was wowed and found myself yearning for the sequel in the same way I awaited Catching Fire.

As you can imagine, the instant the ARC of The White Assassin arrived, I ignored my homework, ripped open the packaging, and glanced at the first page. I had intended to read page one and then get ready for work. Oops, I was a little late for work that night, and extremely tired from lack of sleep the next day.

The White Assassin moves at a different pace than its predecessor in the series, and readers will find themselves excited by the frequent changes in direction and emotion. Through fantastic writing, Hilary does not allow the reader to be jarred or pulled out of the story. She makes things too important to miss or ignore. Each character is vital and multidimensional, which is another spot where Hilary inspires my writing. You will fall in love with several characters in these books - consider yourself warned.

My attention was held until the very end of the The White Assassin. I highly recommend these two books by Hilary Wagner, especially for families who like to read together.

Oct 11, 2011

Look Forward to Two More MG Reviews

Sometimes I really suck as a blogger. I am too neurotic for this biz. Anyway, I forgot to tell you that along with yesterday's review of My Very UnFairy Tale Life, I have two more amazing middle grade novels to feature. Tomorrow, I am part of Hilary Wagner's The White Assassin tour. On Friday, I will be encouraging you to purchase A Scary Good Book, Anita Laydon Miller's $0.99 children's ebook.

Oct 10, 2011

Kick-A**, Catch-All Monday: MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE, by Anna Staniszewski

I no longer trust Blogger's scheduling apparatus. Anyone else having issues with it?

You may be here for a Kick-A** Debut Author Spotlight.

You may be here for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

You may be here as part of Anna Staniszewski's blogtour for her debut novel, My Very UnFairy Tale Life.


I took every opportunity that came about to highlight Anna's debut novel. Here's why:

My Very UnFairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski is the perfect middle grade novel for anyone who wants to escape and laugh a heck of a lot. Jenny the Adventurer had me laughing on nearly every page as she ran from unicorns, talked-down to a gnome, and sought to reclaim her "normal" life. Besides Anna's lucid sense of humor, MVUFTL is an amazing debut middle grade novel because we explore Jenny's life from profound angles as well. Jenny struggles with the loss of her parents and overcoming common adolescent inhibitions.

I found myself relating to Jenny, no matter where she ended up. Anna created very real worlds, some I would love to visit, and others I wish to never see. I recommend MVUFTL to every middle grade reader, no matter your age.

Take yourself on a journey and join Jenny as she "accidentally" changes the world. My Very UnFairy Tale Life is now available for preorder and will be released next month.

In the comments, tell me about a land you'd like to visit, or avoid, that exists solely in your head.

Oct 7, 2011

I rely on my crit partners to tell me what day it is

I had the following blog chain post written and ready for your eyes. I scheduled it and went along my merry (extremely busy and stressful) day. Well, since Heather, my main writing partner, has been dealing with tragedy and celebration this week, we have been out of touch. If I had chatted with Heather, she would have reminded me that it is not 2012. You see, I scheduled my post for October 6, 2012. Go me. What follows is what I had intended for you to read yesterday about my crit partner Heather.

Sarah started the latest blog chain. She says: Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals, and what influence have they had on your work? Afterward, check out Christine's post!

Yeah....that's me

Six months into my "writing career", I started my blog. Followers, and their comments, came in droves! I felt like the Willamette Valley of the blogosphere. Several folks from those beginning days are my closest friends here in the virtual world and they often read my work. In the beginning, I think my blog made me sound vulnerable, but willing to take feedback. Tina Laurel Lee, Marisa Hopkins, and Kelly Polark came to my rescue, so did many more amazing people. No one was there like quite like Heather Kelly was.

As easily as a friendship starts at a coffee shop between two "soul mates", Heather and I hit it off! We shared many goals, but we were more interested in the goals we didn't share. Heather and I spent a lot of time getting into each others' heads and discussing the things that make us tick and the those that give us tics.

We have never met in person, though that is at the top of my list right now, but Heather and I know more about each other than I know about most of my IRL friends. She has seen my writing in its rawest form, for good and for bad. She has also seen the really good stuff that I am unwilling to put out there at the moment. Heather is one of only two people to have seen portions of my autobiography, which is a story that tends to surprise people.

Other than my own life story, Heather has inspired me to get my ideas out of my head and onto paper. She has encouraged me to push myself and to push the envelop. Even Heather's writing inspires me. It's like playing baseball with Gibson and becoming a great yourself (Heather and I also share a love of baseball - GO TIGERS!! ALCS baby!!).

Right now, we are pushing each other to work toward publication, but not necessarily in the traditional way. I'm not speaking directly to self-publication. Heather and I are brimming with ideas that involve technology, great story telling, and interaction. It's been a ongoing project that seems to have a life of its own. Expect great things :P

I think it's clear that Heather and I have an unusual bond, one that will stay strong for many years to come.

I love you, Heather. You're the world's best writing partner, but you're also my best friend.

Oct 5, 2011

So, like, um...

I meant for October the be the month where I finally energized my blog and regained the presence I once had in the blogosphere. So much for that endeavor! As I prepare for nanowrimo and mid-terms, I lose hope that I will be able to turn my blog back into what it was in the glory days.

I should say that I do not lament any part of my journey. In fact, I feel extremely comfortable with where I am today. That, I feel, is part of the problem. I have stopped pushing myself.

In the coming weeks, I have several book reviews to post, all of books written by friends. It will be a week of praise! After that, I will start making goals and confessions about nano. Plan to be surprised. That makes no sense...lol. Oh, and tomorrow is my day to post for the blog chain - there's another great topic this time around.

Okay, I have spent enough time away from my speech. I must go finish writing it - I present tomorrow morning!