Saturday, April 30, 2011

(Belated) Book of the Week: The Last Little Blue Envelope

Do you ever have those weeks when life just kind of gets away from you? That's kind of what happened to me this week. Thus why you're getting the book of the week post I normally do on Thursday...on Saturday.

Frankly, I'm just impressed with myself that I'm doing it at all.

Between killing characters, making chaos, trying to get some reading done, and going through all the normal HPA craziness that comes with ending one campaign and starting another, it's kind of amazing I made it to this weekend. It was just an interesting week of trying to get things accomplished, but only getting about half of the things done I wanted to originally.

Ah, well. Win some, lose some. Whatever.


The book I've been reading this week is (finally) The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson. It came out on Tuesday and I was SO EXCITED to finally get it.

It's just as wonderful as I guessed it would be. I always love what Maureen Johnson writes, though, so I didn't worry otherwise. I wish I could have gotten more read this week, but I'm loving it anyway. If you get the chance to read this book, I'm sure you'd love it too. It's just quality YA.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I have to ask...are you writing a novel?"

BACKGROUND: I bought an Alphasmart 3000 word processor a few months ago. It's kind of a ridiculous looking plastic toy that has become my lifeline to getting significant words down each day. Every day at work, around noon, I go down to the cafeteria, buy a salad, go sit myself down at the smallest table I can find (because when I sit at the longer tables, I end up getting crowded by people when I'd rather have my personal bubble), break out my Alphasmart, and get to work for 45 minutes.

Anyway, so that's what I've been doing almost every lunch break for the last few months. I plug away at my little, silly-looking Alphasmart and try to ignore the people staring at me (because, yes, I have actually caught people staring at me a few times). And then something happened a couple of weeks ago that kind of made my day.

An older gentleman came up to where I was sitting and he said, "Excuse me, but I have to ask. What is that?"

So I explained to him that it's a word processor that I can keep in my bag and hook up to my home computer later.

And then he asked, "I guessed you were writing something! Are you writing a novel?"

There's something incredibly...humbling, I guess...about seeing someone get so excited when they find out you're writing a novel. There's this whole idea that novelists are magicians of sorts, people to be admired. Or, rather, there's that idea among people who like to read, anyway. I don't know about the rest of the population. But you always hear about the dream of "writing the next great American novel" and people say this with a sense of wonder.

And I get that, because I'm a reader. And I follow my favorite authors on the social networks religiously. And I love hearing the backstories.

But, at the same time, I write novels myself. That separation has disappeared for me. I no longer look at writers and say "that's amazing, I want to do that" because I DO do that. I may not be published yet, but I create worlds of my own, and have characters that bug me in the middle of the night, and fend off the plot bunnies, and do word counts, and celebrate finishing a first draft manuscript by getting frozen yogurt. I feel all the ups and downs of writing a novel. I procrastinate like hell in that lull in the middle.

Over the last couple of years, writing novels has just kind of become,

So it was something a little surreal when this gentleman got really excited that I was working on a novel during lunch. And then the surrealness has continued, as apparently the two of us eat lunch at the same time, so I've run into him almost every day since. Usually, he'll just wave enthusiastically, but today we got into a conversation about what I'm writing and if I'm published and all the bookstore drama going on.

Seeing someone I don't know so intrigued and excited about my writing just renews my love of it. It makes me remember what I do, through the eyes of people who don't do it too. I create worlds. I tell stories. I suck people into these times and places that they never expected to be. There is definitely something magical about being a writer.

So thank god for the random strangers who ask things like "Are you writing a novel?" to keep that in perspective.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Love of the Week: Accio Books!

So this week's love is slightly shameless, seeing as how I'm a staffer for the HPA (Harry Potter Alliance).

This is the last week of HPA's annual Accio Books! campaign. The short version of it is that Accio Books! is a book drive. This year we're being super epic and actually building a library for the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School. The school opened in September 2010, but they sadly have no library.


So that's what we're doing. People are collecting books of all kinds for a K-5 school library. Non-fiction, fiction, picture books, novels. If you can think of it, these kids need it.

And, yeah, this is the last week to send in books that will count for points here. But that's still a WHOLE WEEK when you can mail books to the school! Then just make sure you go enter your donations so your points can count for the house of your choice in the house cup competition. I've been giving my points to Gryffindor!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book of the Week: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Remember that time when I said I wasn't going to read any fun YA until I finally finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Do you want to know how long that plan lasted?

Well, actually it kind of died two weeks ago.

But the second attempt at that plan died yesterday.

I'm still reading Dragon Tattoo, but I need fun YA to keep me going.

I've actually already read this amazing book before, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. I am, however, now RE-reading it, because its sequel comes out next week (The Last Little Blue Envelope) and I'll be darned if I don't get that book the day it comes out. Anyway, this one is just as amazing as the first time I read it. I always love what Maureen Johnson writes, though, so I may be a wee bit prejudiced about it.

Although, in a way, I don't consider it cheating on my Dragon Tattoo goal, seeing as how I've read 13 Little Blue Envelopes before. Next week, when I start reading the sequel as soon as it's in my hands, then I'll definitely be cheating on my goal. But that's next week's issue.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Wednesday: Why Tornadoes and I Don't Get Along

I mean, yeah, no one's a big fan of tornadoes. I don't see anyone cheering when they have to take shelter in the basement.

In the interest of full disclosure, Spring is my favorite season. I love the colors and the smells and the warmth (but not too warm of warmth...just enough so I don't have to wear my wool coat anymore). I love the flowers and the garden-planting and the sounds of lawn mowers cranking up again. It's a great time of year.

Minus it being the start of storm season.

I've always been anxious around storms. The thunder and lightening make me unrealistically nervous. I don't find the pounding rain soothing. It kind of gets on my nerves when I have to keep unplugging my computer to save it from power surges, and power outages are not my definition of a jolly good time.

But the worst part...the absolute worst part is the tornadoes.

In a way, it's ironic. I have a rather irrational fear of tornadoes, considering I've never actually ended up in one. But my favorite movie is Wizard of Oz and I was addicted to the show Storm Chasers for a few years.

Yeah, I'm a little backwards.

The very idea of tornadoes (outside of my movies or TV) makes me nervous. It could be on the other side of the city, and I still won't sleep well. It doesn't help that a tornado siren is located somewhere near my house, so when my county goes on warning, my ears get blasted away. I always get a little jittery whenever I have to go take shelter. And I've gotten into this unnerving habit of immediately taking stuff with me to "save," just in case--my laptop, my first teddy bear (Bunky), my sorority pin.

Fortunately, I've figured out ways to relieve the anxiety. In the case of taking shelter, I always take a book with me to read. If I'm reading, I don't let myself think about what's going on around me. And if we don't have to take shelter, I blast my music.

So what inspired this week's random post? It could possibly be the 2am wake-up call I had this morning when the tornado sirens blared because of the tornado hovering over the other side of the city. It made for a rather tired Erin the rest of the day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Tuesday: From the Playlist

I've shared "theme songs" for my novels on here before, so I'm going to do that today too for Writing Tuesday!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about playlists over on Fiction Flurry. If you read that post, then you know that I'm a big fan of novel playlists. I have a little too much fun creating them. And when I hear a song that I feel would fit in well with a character or a feeling or whatever, I almost always get it for my iPod.

This was one of those songs.

I'll admit it...I'm a Gleek. I just think the show is a fun one. And when they did this song for the regionals episode (it's a Glee original, actually!), I knew it belonged on my playlist for Call to Action, the project I'm currently revising. It describes my protagonist, Care's, journey so well for me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love of the Week: Peeps

What with Easter coming up this weekend, it seemed appropriate for me to have this week's love be something Easter-related.

Like candy.

My favorite Easter candy has always been Peeps. Sugar-covered marshmallows are just a win anyway, but then when they're in cute shapes, I don't see how you can lose.

Plus...they're really fun to put in the microwave!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book(s) of the Week: Dragon Tattoos and Grammar Nerds

I pretty much crank through a book a week. Normally. So I figure I'll use Thursdays to ramble about whatever I'm reading, or have been reading...or read...each week.

The whole "book a week" thing doesn't really count this week, because I'm STILL READING The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Ugh. I miss my YA, but I'm trying really hard (and have already failed once) at not picking up anything YA until I FINISH THIS BOOK.

Here's the thing about Dragon starts out way too slow for me. I've been trying to read this for at least three weeks now and have only just gotten to page 150 or so. And it's JUST NOW interesting me. But I bought the book a few months ago, and I started reading it, so now I feel obligated to finish. *sigh*

The whole "don't read anything until I finish Dragon Tattoo" doesn't count for books on writing, because I pretty much constantly have one I'm in the process of reading. The writing craft books tend to take me a little longer than a week, but...oh, well.

The craft book I'm reading right now is...

I'm really enjoying The Writer's Notebook. I actually bought it at the Book Loft last week when I went there with some of the girls from my writers group. I'm really in no hurry to finish it. I try to read an essay every few days, but they're all really quite interesting. I'm addicted to writing craft books. I can't help it.

And, last but most certainly not least, I'm also reading:

That's right, folks. I'm also reading a book about grammar. But it's a HILARIOUS book about grammar, so that has to count for something, right?


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random Wednesday: Why People in Ohio Need to Learn to Drive in Precipitation

Wednesdays...they're going to be random. They WERE going to be ranty, but that seemed highly pessimistic of me. So...sometimes there will be rants, and sometimes it'll just be me spurting off whatever I feel like that week.

This week, I want to talk about why people in Ohio need to learn that precipitation DOES NOT EQUAL driving like a moron.

I mentioned earlier that it was raining on Monday. I hate...HATE...when it rains and/or snows where I live, because for some unknown reason this makes people forget all they learned in driver's ed. I mean...this is Ohio. It rains a LOT during the spring and snows a LOT during the winter. It's how the midwest works. But, somehow, during the intervening months, no one can seem to remember what this wet stuff is.

I usually take the back roads to get home from work, mostly because the outer belt is an absolute nightmare during rush hour. BUT, I've since learned that when it's raining hard or snowing, I need to avoid said back roads. The traffic backs up ridiculously. No idea why. It's not like there are that many more people out and driving when it's raining/snowing. It's just that people forget the concepts of the gas pedal and green lights.

So why this rant? It was coming, to be honest. I rant about the sucky driving of my fellow Ohioans nearly every time there's precipitation in the air, because I just don't get why this is a problem. But on Monday I nearly got slammed into by some idiot who ran a red light, and that really was the icing on the cake.

The best part was...after I laid on my horn...he just stared at me like "what?" Yeah. What. IT'S A RED LIGHT, GENIUS!

I'm okay, though. I didn't get hit, even though I was within a few feet of it. But it just didn't help my mood that day, when I was already not a very happy person (Mondays and I just don't get along, and this past Monday was particularly drawn out).

The moral of the story? Learn to drive in precipitation. It's good for you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writing Tuesday: The Voices in My Head

Tuesdays will be my day of talking about writing and the writing life. Thus, I name them WRITING TUESDAY. This will be my day of the week to talk about whatever it is I feel like talking about regarding it my writing, or something I read about writing. Maybe I'll share some passages of WIPs. Who knows?

So, here's my first Writing Tuesday post!

Last night, this conversation happened between me and one of my best friends...

Me: My character is going to hate me.
Tracy: Huh?
Me: She's going to hate me. I'm killing off a ton of people.
Tracy: Okay...
Me: She's never going to talk to me again.
Tracy: You do realize your characters aren't real, right?

I've been told this about a thousand times by people who, well, aren't writers. Because writers realize that, on some level, the characters are real. We know that we can't always control what comes out of our characters mouths.

It's like we have voices in our heads.

I learn new things about my various characters all the time. Right now, I'm writing the first draft of the sequel of the novel I'm about to send out. And I've learned some interesting new things about my characters over the last manuscript and a half.

1. One girl doesn't deal with stress very well. And she's slightly bi-polar most of the time.
2. Another girl can never keep her opinions to herself. Ever. Even when they're arguing about life-or-death situations.
3. My protagonist can be an emotional wreck, but she can also be ridiculously intense and focused.
4. One of my protagonist's best friends...yeah...he actually has a heart. Awwwww.

These things? Yeah, I didn't know about them when I first created these characters. These are things I only ever found out because I let my characters control the story and say what they need to say.

I think this is one of the best things about being a writer--it's like no matter how old we get, we can still have our imaginary friends.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Take 2: A New Schedule...Starting with LOVE OF THE WEEK

You know, I feel like I say this a lot...but I have really been failing at posting on here. Shame on me.

I got to thinking about this over the last few weeks and I realized that really the only time I've posted on here regularly, and not failed, was when I did the Thirty Letters, Thirty Days exercise.

So this leads me to...I'm creating a schedule for myself. Maybe if I have a specific topic to post on Mondays-Fridays, I'll actually...oh, I don't Not everything is going to be writing-related. In fact, as I have the schedule now, only two days a week will be related to what's going on in my writing life. Which I think will be good, especially since I now post over at Fiction Flurry, which is the blog for the writers group I've been active in over the last few months.

So this is the inaugural post of my shiny new schedule. Hopefully this works out well for everyone, because I really do want to post on here more regularly.


It was going to be "Obsession of the Week," but somehow that sounded...I don't know...too intense? Because some things I love I'm not obsessed with. This week's love I am, but that doesn't mean it'll hold true other weeks.

Why did I choose Love of the Week for Monday? Mostly because I despise Mondays. They make me tired and upset and, on rainy Mondays like today, not very much of a people person. The only redeeming quality of Monday is that I have dance class in the evenings. And Castle's on. That's it. Other than that...nope, I hate Mondays. So, with that, I give you the very first Love of the Week. And it's...



That's right. I've gotten into wizard rock. I partly blame this on my being a Harry Potter Alliance staffer and I also partly blame it on my horrible habit of randomly surfing through YouTube. Whatever you want to point fingers at, I found a couple videos of this band on YouTube and watched them.

I fell in love.

I bought and downloaded three of their albums from iTunes.

I've pretty much spent the last few working days listening to MoM music. Mostly because it makes me happy, keeps me awake, and allows me to tune out whatever's going on around me that I don't want to listen to. And if that's not the mark of awesome music, then I don't know what is.