Love This.

For those of you who, like me, were not at SCBWI's Winter Conference this past weekend, you must go check out the recap of Sara Zarr's keynote at Notes From the Slushpile. (Oh, and don't feel too bad for me. We had 70 degree weather on Saturday, and I pretty much spent the full day inhaling sunshine through my pores.)

I need to tattoo this quote from Sara's speech on my noggin:
The time between when you are no longer a beginner but you are not yet in the business is the hardest and no one can tell you how long this phase will last.

Oh, and this one:
Most of us have to stop half of what we are doing and start doing the other half well.

Oh, dear.

Something terrible has happened to my computer monitor. Hubbykins got me a monitor stand to put my laptop under, which would seem like a good thing, wouldn't it? Something I'd totally less-than-three, right?

Wrong. It's stretched everything out all wonky, and I have no idea how to fix it, and Hubbykins is out for the afternoon running errands. Help.

I was going to write for the afternoon, but the simple act of checking my e-mail and writing this post is giving me a headache.

Looking Back

Ever have a book that you remember with great fondness, but when you go back to re-read, it's lost its oomph?  Maybe it spoke to you at the time because you were going through a particular something. Maybe your taste in books has just changed.

But then, there's that book. The one you're afraid to read because it might have lost its magic, but you take the plunge. And it's only gotten better.
This is on my nightstand. Well, my nightstand, my dining room table, the edge of my couch but Hubbykins keeps putting it back on my nightstand every morning

**shivers**

Delightfully Weird

Am I the only person who loves the fact that this book features a (hilarious) chicken with a human mother?



Seriously adorable picture book if you have a child like mine who is not fond of bedtime.

Don't Forget...

Deborah Halverson is giving away a free substantive edit for a completed MG or YA manuscript over at DearEditor to one lucky reader. Contest ends January 31st.

For Those of Us Who are Easily Distrac...

Squirrel!

Hubbykins actually recommended this word-processing program (if you can call it that) for times that I need to write and can't seem to ignore my e-mail/Twitter/Google Reader. It's called Dark Room, and, yeah, typing words on an otherwise black screen...that's basically it.  You can download it here.

Also, I just want to apologize in advance for my posts' sentence spacing in the foreseeable future.  I'm trying to re-train myself to single space between sentences instead of double spacing as I was taught umpteen years ago. I've always been proud of my mad typing skills ever since hitting 120 wpm in the 9th grade, so it's driving me a little craz...

Squirrel!

Things I Heart Right Now

Saw this on Design Dazzle, and all I can say is, "Want, want, want, want, want."

More "want, want, want" via Pretty Foods & Pretty Drinks:

Oh, and welcome back, Leslie Knope.
I have missed you.


And what was that you just said?  This is a blog about writing?  Well, how about winning a full substantive edit from Dear Editor?  Yeah, I know.  Me, too.

Go Buy This Book.

Now.



In case you're one of the three people who hasn't bought it yet.

I just finished it today, and I've been trying to think of the best word to describe it the whole time I've been reading.

Glittering.

The characters are rich and nuanced.  Her plot is detailed but fast-paced and twisting (in the best possible way).  The world is layered, believable, and creepy creepy creepy.  (Again, in the best possible way.)

Plus, Beth's awesome.

So go.  Now.  Buy it.  scoot scoot

Actual E-mail Conversation with Hubbykins This Morning

Me:  i <3 you.

Hubbykins:  I "less than three" you, too?  Am I too old for text abbreviations to understand them? 

Me:  Are you being serious?  I can't tell.  It's a heart on its side.  :)   ...That colon with a parentheses after it is a "smiley-face".

Hubbykins:  I was being serious!  I see it now!  I love you too.  Boy, I can't believe I can't even decipher text coding...  and I <3 you too.

Me:  Don't sweat it.  Text speak is on the way out.  People don't need it with iPhones.



But I'll always less than three him, no matter what.
 

What's Your Process Blogfest

A big thanks to Shallee for hosting today's blogfest!

My process.

Oh...my process.

First off, I'm not a pantser...completely.  After inspiration has struck, I usually spend about a week letting myself get acquainted with the characters and every nook and cranny of the story in my head.  This is my favorite part of writing.  When I have to have a pad of paper close by 24/7 because ideas are flying at me left and right and I can't keep up.  This is falling in love.

This does not last.  Because I have to write the first draft.  Those characters?  Turns out they need back stories and nuances and imperfections and physical traits.  Those nooks and crannies?  They're filled with possibilities.  And cobwebs.  This is our first big fight.  There will be many more to come.

We make up when I type "The End" that first time.  I may need to break up shove it in a drawer for awhile.  But I can't stop thinking about it.  Mostly, that first revision, I spend most of the time thinking of ways to be a lot more horrible to my characters.  Really, really horrible.  If I threw rocks at them in the first draft, I need to figure out how to throw grenades.  (I should mention I'm a fairly "clean" first drafter.  Grammar is in my blood, so I don't have to spend too much time fixing commas and misspelled words and whatnot.  If anything, I have to spend some time "unfixing" it.  Loosen up the dialogue and such.)  But I'm committed at this point.  I'm getting antsy for a ring.

At this point, it's time to get a 2nd (and 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th...) opinion.  Off to the beta readers.  Premarital counseling, if you will.
And here's where the analogy ends.  I'm not married to it yet.  Yes, I've been devoted.  In love.  But marriage is so  much more than that.  And what will the trip down the altar look like?  Getting an agent?  A publisher?  Readers?  I'm not sure.  But every published author seems to say the same thing.  Once it's out there, it's not yours anymore.  It becomes bigger than you.  And so I think marriage is a good analogy for that published stage of writing.  All that love and hard work, building up and paying off.  The true hard work is up the road (which terrifies me).  But I'm committed.

And The Winner Is...

So the Pea helped me pick out the winner of the Great Cheapskate Giveaway this morning.  I went super high tech (i.e. writing the entries on little slips of paper and shaking them up in a small cup).

At first, the Pea was happy to help:


But after choosing the winner, he decided he would rather hold the camera:


Which rapidly devolved into "I want to hold whatever you are holding" (in this case, the winner's number):



#12...Abby Annis!

Yay!  Congrats, Abby!  Hope this brightened your Monday morning.

This, That, and the Other

This:  It's the last day to enter my Great Cheapskate Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Matched by Ally Condie.


That:  I've been developing a sleep disorder over the last week.  Right before I fell asleep last night, Hubbykins said, "No more weird stuff."  Umm, what?  Apparently, I've been waking up in the middle of the night lately laughing my head off, arguing chatting with imaginary people, and otherwise wreaking havoc in the bedroom.  Hubbykins found it amusing at first but now finds it creepy.  

I would have challenged what he was claiming, but I woke up from a dream the other night with a brilliant subplot to add in to my (YA sci-fi) novel, and when I got up in the morning, I had scribbled the words, "Leash on a hamster ball...Ralph".  So.  Yeah.


The Other:  This may be the most awesome Twilight-related thing I've seen.  Ever.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other



I finally let Hubbykins read my whole manuscript, and he finished it in two nights, which was heartening in itself.  With me sitting near him pretty much the whole time, I got a running commentary.  I realized he's the first guy who's read the story.  Quite interesting, the male perspective.  The things he focused in on were primarily plot details and repetitive phrases.  Also, how the love interest would really be feeling about the situation he found himself in.  Most of the (female) critiquers who have read the story have zeroed in on emotional reactions and depth.

My favorite comment of his, halfway in: "You're not going to pull a LOST on me, are you?  I'm going to be mad if I don't get answers until the last page and they're not even satisfying."

He reassured me after finishing that I did not pull a LOST.


Hey!  Haven't entered to win a copy of Matched in my Great Cheapskate Giveaway yet?  Do it now!  Go.  Go!

I Soooo Saw This Coming.


Do not like the timing, ending-of-marriage-wise, for both of them.  But how adorable are they?  Answer:  Quite.

Also.  Hey, go enter my Great Cheapskate Giveaway if you haven't yet to win a copy of Matched by Allie Condie.

Also also.  If you haven't yet, head over to Beth Revis's blog and congratulate her on her book birthday today!  Then go buy Across the Universe if you haven't yet.

I Have a Coffee Shop!


The hottest new coffee shop is right around the corner from my house.

It has everything.

Art from local artists.  Coffee bean bags hanging on the wall.  Good to the last slurp frappuccinos.  A massive,  industrial-looking 8-pronged ceiling fan.  Stacks of take one/leave one books on a shelf in the corner.  And a well-meaning barista who asked about my writing (aka, my first elevator pitch fail of the year). 


Hey, don't forget to enter my Great Cheapskate Giveaway!

I Am An Idiot.

I forgot to put the name and e-mail fields in my Great Cheapskate Giveaway form. So if you entered yesterday, please go ahead and re-fill out the form and accept my idiotic apology.

The World's Biggest Cheapskate. Also, A Giveaway.

Hello.  My name is Karen.  I am a cheapskate.

I can't remember the last outfit I bought full-priced.  I choose date night locations based on coupons.  I make my own yogurt (even if it was a rough start).  I switched to Luvs from Pampers even after this happened.

I am a cheapskate.  And I married a cheapskate.

I get most of my reading material from the library.  Waiting for the pack of ravenous, starving, angry writers to descend.  In my defense, I frequently request that my public library order debut authors' books.  But I have made it a New Year's resolution this year to purchase more books.  Doing my part to help a struggling industry that I want to break in to.  Is it a sign that I'm a true writer that it's bugging the heck out of me that I dangled that preposition, but I'm not going to switch it because phrasing it correctly would feel like an inauthentic voice on my part?

Which brings me to the point of this post.  I just finished reading Matched this morning by Allie Condie.  Which I bought.  Full priced (which is really, really bugging me because I got a 25% off coupon in my e-mail two days after I purchased it).  If you haven't read it yet, it's beautifully written.  It was more slow and thoughtful than I expected.  An aching, not a slap.

And now I'm going to give it away to one lucky reader.


For the record, this reminds me of my parents' friend in high school who used to open records and make a copy for himself before giving the LP as a gift.

((Looking in mirror in horror))  I am him.  Hey, at least I removed the dust jacket to keep it pristine.



But your gain!

ETA:  The contest is now closed.