Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year in Review - 2009

I know, I know. I changed my template again. But it had to be done. As cool as the last one was, it had too many kinks and I'm not e-savvy enough to figure them out.

So my friend asked me what my top 3 things were that happened in 2009. Naming just three things is impossible! This year, hubby and I went to Italy with some friends (AMAZING…can’t wait to go back); we got a second boxer, Duke, whom Mylie now can't live without; we got new carpet (somewhat in part because of Duke); fixed up three rooms in the house (which took awhile, because we are DIYers); finally bought some furniture for the master bedroom (no more TV trays for nightstands!); AND I finished my first novel. What a year!

Adult books of note that I've read in 2009: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. One of my favorite books now. Magical realism nestled in a sweet story. Look for her new one coming out this Spring! The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Really well written, with great characters. The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Much better written than the Twilight series, her adult novel debut is gripping (after page 80). Give it a chance. It’s a really creative story. I loved it. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Interesting character weaving. I plan to continue the series. Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson. Light and cutesy story, with not nearly enough romance. But I found myself getting into it anyway. Austenland by Shannon Hale. I’m a sucker for stuff like this if it’s done right, and I felt like this one was. I never saw the ending coming. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Amazing. Everyone must read it. You’ll never look at your dog the same way again.

YA books of note that I've read in 2009: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Best books I’ve read all year. Both really solid stories that are impossible to put down. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Very interesting story with twists you never see coming. If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Unique POV, and some very straightforward thought. Worth a read – it’s short. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the new Twilight, ladies and gents, but much better written. I can’t get it out of my head.

TV shows I got sucked into this year: Glee (YES, I am a GleeK); The Vampire Diaries; Eastwick; Modern Family; Community; Parks and Recreation.
Very angry they canceled Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who? and Life on Mars.
STILL mad about October Road getting canceled, even though it was forever ago.
Can't wait for LOST' s final season!!!

Books to look forward to in 2010: The Hunger Games # 3 by Suzanne Collins; The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen; Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Will Stephenie Meyer EVER write a sequel to The Host???

Movies I liked in 2009: The Proposal; The Blind Side; BBC Miniseries Lost in Austen (I’m obsessed, to tell you the truth); Confessions of a Shopaholic; UP; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Marley and Me; Sherlock Holmes (go see it while it's still out!!)

Movies to look forward to in 2010: Alice in Wonderland; Iron Man 2; When in Rome; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; And I’ll go see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, just because I will. And I’ll also go see Valentine’s Day and Toy Story 3.

Hard to believe another decade has passed. Hard to believe 10 years ago I was still a junior in high school, boyfriendless, and angry at reading and writing because it was required. Now I’ve been married three years, have a house and two dogs, and I can’t stop reading and writing. Time changes everything.

I hope everyone experienced a great 2009, and will have an even more blessed 2010!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Video Game Writers

There is a whole world of video games that, before Christmas, I’ve had no reason to know of. Hubby’s parents gave us a PS3, and suddenly my eyes are opened. I’ve read that people are or used to be “video game writers”, and forgive me, but I’ve always laughed at that. WRITING a video game?! What’s to write? I’ve only ever just imagined a group of teens in a far off country called Japan saying, “Ok, these two Italian guys are going to rescue this princess from this dragon and they will need mushrooms and flowers for power and will jump over this pipe and slide through this one and bust through this brick and pounce on this turtle-duck….” Then, “Ok, this paperboy will ride his bike down this street and throw papers in these driveways avoiding cars and dogs.” Then, “Ok, these two monkeys are going to swing on these ropes and talk to this really old monkey and ride in this cart and pounce on this snake and throw a barrel at this buzzard and fight this crocodile…” Doesn’t seem like a whole lot of writing (though I'm sure I'm wrong).

But now…before you even get to select your character there is a ten minute movie you have to watch to get the back-story and receive your mission. Then you play for five minutes, walk through a door, another movie, play some more, another movie. There is a whole storyline!!! Professional actors often do the voices! Here I was still following Yoshi on my MarioKart.

Kudos to you, game writers. Your job is a lot more complex than I ever dreamed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Too Many Books at a Time

I just finished an AMAZING book yesterday called The Art of Racing in the Rain. Read my little review on it HERE. If you haven't read this book yet, you need to.

Does anyone else have the problem of reading too many books at once? I mean, just look down and to the right at my goodreads widget and you'll see...I clearly have a problem. Currently, I'm reading an ARC of Truly Madly, due out in February - it's pretty fun so far; then there is Cut and Run, written by the president of my writers guild - really quite hilarious so far; then there is Dead Until Dark, which honestly I have had sitting on my nightstand for a month without reading hardly any of it - It's funny, but I think I'm getting bored; then there is Shiver, which is amazing so far; then I just bought Beautiful Creatures with one of my B&N giftcards I got for Christmas, and I'm ITCHING to start reading it....but I'm making myself wait until I finish at least ONE of these other books.

I get asked a lot, especially by my sister-in-law, "How can you read so many stories at once? Don't you get them mixed up?" And the truth is, I don't get them mixed up. And I think that's why I find myself adding yet another book on the pile today. I'll admit...it gets a little overwhelming...stupid...because I get attached to all of these stories and I want to know how they end...NOW.


I think if I were to make a New Year resolution, it would be to only read one book at a time...and to lose about 15 pounds, but let's face it, which one is easier to accomplish?

You're right. The 15 pounds.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Merry

Well, it's been brought to my attention that my synopsis is a bit...confusing. So, back to the drawing board!! That's why we have to show people our work and get feedback! What makes perfect sense in my head, might not even be English to others. Why is synopsis writing so hard?! Argh. Double argh.

The shopping is done, the knitting is almost done, and the festivities start tonight! I'm already hungry! Merry Christmas to all! God's blessings to you and your families.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Am I Alone on This?

Today started out great. Despite it being one of the busiest shopping days of the year (I thought that was Black Friday?), I got quite a few things knocked out this morning. Returned some things, got a birthday present para mi madre, picked up some more paint for the master bedroom, got a few more things for a certain someone's stocking. While I was at Home Depot, I was toting my cart to the cart return and this guy was just finished loading his purchases into his car, so I said, "Do you want me to return your cart along with mine?" as I reached out for it, and he said "NO! I will take yours! That's the way it should be. Merry Christmas!" I think I had a smile on my face for five minutes. Thanks dude, whoever you are. Sometimes strangers are just downright nice.

So I handed off another manuscript this evening at my writers guild's Christmas party. (So nervous!) Today, I finished all of my grammar edits, thanks to my wonderful friend who happens to be an english teacher! Had a falling out with BOTH of our household printers (we are no longer on speaking terms), but managed to get one manuscript printed and handed off. The other will have to wait until I say that my Officejet can be released from time out.

Tell me what y'all think about this...maybe some of y'all have similar issues. I've been finding that it's extremely hard to tell certain people that I write. I've been writing for YEARS, and one of my best friends has no clue. I just can't tell her. And today, hubby spilled the beans to some of our closest friends that I had written a book and was in a writers guild, and they were like, WHAT? He was very confused that they didn't know. "But you have a blog and everything!" he says. "Yes, but THEY don't know about it!" I said. I've just been very selective about who I think can handle it and who can't. Maybe I'm afraid of judgement? I can be critiqued by strangers and acquaintances because they will be honest and who cares if they think I'm a freak. But some people I'm close to...it's just hard to expose this part of my life. It's like I'm holding out for the published copy in hand. "Look! I did this!" Maybe I'm waiting for that wow factor? haha. Hadn't thought of that before. Some of my close friends have been vital in my book's progress, and some...I just can't tell. Am I alone here?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Analogies from Strange Places

This morning I had a really strange analogy pop into my head while I was driving. First, this car pulled out in front of me like they didn’t see me there at all, only to go slower than the speed limit. I zipped around them to avoid collision, and to get back up to the speed limit, or a wee bit faster because I was running late. Now, despite the fact that I was driving faster than the offender, he caught up with me at each stop light. And I realized that sometimes, even if we drive fast, we aren’t really getting to our destination any faster. We're just increasing our chances of getting in a wreck.
And I think writing a novel and attempting to get published can be looked at this way. Think about it. If we rush through the process in a hurry to see our book in print without doing the necessary editing, going to critique group meetings, studying the market – we’re just going to keep getting stuck at red lights, and those we blazed right on by will catch up and eventually pass us, probably getting there before we do. And we may have even gotten in a wreck somewhere along the way.
I keep thinking I’m so close to being able to query agents, and while I may be close, I still have plenty I can do. Why do I feel like I need to rush? Why do I feel like I’m getting older so quickly and my chances of making something of myself are dwindling?
These things take the time that they take for a reason, and we won’t get to where we’re going any faster than we were meant to.

So, I'm pretty sure I finished my Christmas shopping today! I may still need a few stocking stuffers (it's hard when you're trying not to keep candy in the house...and not to eat it all while wrapping presents). I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and week leading up to Christmas. I'm asking for lots of books (go figure), movies, music (including both Glee soundtrack volumes!), and a few other choice items. What about y'all?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One in a Hundred

This past year I stumbled upon the blog of literary agent, Kristin Nelson. I can’t even put into words how much I’ve learned from her. She really has a heart for helping writers get the resources they need, and I so appreciate it. I read through some of her archived posts daily, and today I stumbled upon this:

“Writers with “ideas” for a great novel are a dime a dozen. It’s that one in a hundred writer who actually has the perseverance and stamina to sit down and write the entire thing (which is a huge achievement all in itself since the majority of aspiring writers never even make it that far).”

I don’t think it ever occurred to me not to finish the story that I started, but I guess some people lose their steam. Feels good to be in the minority.

I've also read elsewhere that many authors write well over five novels before getting one published. Now, having only finished one so far...that's pretty scary to hear, right? No one wants to think that their four year labor of love was for nothing.

But then, it wouldn't really have been for nothing would it? I've learned how to write and how not to write over these past four years through this process...been finding my "voice"... so I shouldn't get discouraged, right? Riiiiight. It still hurts to think that this story I'm so attached to is most likely going to float around to a few friends and live on my shelf for the rest of my life.

But we're writers. And writers write because they love it...and we aren't going to stop just because the odds seem impossible. Keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goodreads

I'd like to take a moment to highlight one of my more recent obsessions. Goodreads.com. I have my sister-in-law to thank for that. She calls it, "Facebook for nerds", which I guess it sort of is. It's a really great way to keep track of what you read and what you thought about it. You collect friends like Myspace or Facebook, but it's friendlier and mostly reading interest related. My page is goodreads.com/kristinrae. Check out what I'm reading, what I've read, and read some reviews to books maybe you're thinking about reading. You can type in any book or author and it will pull up lots of reviews. Good way to judge what you really want to spend your time reading. Perhaps you already knew about Goodreads and I was just late on the bandwagon...but it's a must to check out.

Time for editing!

Monday, December 14, 2009

One of those days...

Slow day at work - though briefly uplifted with a trip to the Jason's Deli salad bar. Vacuumed all the dog hair off the love seat just to discover that slip covers are a JOKE. Gonna take Duke to the vet because he's 1 year old and STILL has accidents in the house - thank the LORD we put an indoor/outdoor rug on the new carpet in the room the dogs have access to. I mean, is he dumb? Does he have a bladder problem? He KNOWS he did wrong, cause he runs and hides. Whatever Duke. I'm decluttering the house which makes me feel like I still have too much STUFF. But I'm sure once we get our new bedroom furniture in, and I organize all my crafty supplies in the closet with the lovely new shelves hubby just put in for me (thank you!), I will feel much less cluttered. Yes, I'm sure that will happen.

Just wrapped a few presents! I love love love wrapping presents. I make a huge ordeal out of it, and drag it out for days and weeks. A few here, a few there. Definitely a highlight to the day.

There are some interesting articles and statements floating around about the Harlequin imprint if you haven't seen them. I'm surprised Harlequin is so shocked that RWA, MWA, and SFWA don't believe it's legitimate publishing. No kidding Harlequin. I'm glad I'm not a romance writer right now, how about y'all?

About to edit for about a half an hour before I hit the hay! Happy Monday to all. Four more days until the weekend!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Party!

Today was supermuch fun! Hubby and I went to our very first Hanukkah party. It was very informal - mostly an excuse to make a bunch of Hanukkah food, which was great. We sampled Noodle Kugel, Matzah Ball Soup, and Potato Latkes. Good food, hilarious company. And I am very, very full.

We finally bought some furniture for our master bedroom! No more TV tray nightstands!! Now all we have to do is agree on a paint color for the walls....

So, didn't get any editing done today, but I should be able to this week! Deadline for the Scratch Contest is December 23rd! Also, a fun weekly short story online magazine is Fiction Weekly. They are constantly taking submissions, and it's free. Good places to dip the toes in the water for short story contests, and to read a lot of them too!

Well, back to the cubicles tomorrow. It's been a great weekend of freedom, but, of course, it cannot last.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

So Fresh, and Stain Free!

I LOVE NEW CARPET!

But the house does smell funny. Tomorrow looks to be a day of shopping for organizational goodies!!

Once all this mess is straightened up, I will be able to focus on my short story submissions, and editing the novel. I have three more people lined up to read it, and if all goes well with that, on to the queries!!

It's late, and I'm starving, so I must go to sleep before I eat something!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fresh Carpet

You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why
Kristin has been knittin’ some ______s.

That’s right…I have two victims of the handmade Christmas present lined up for this year. Who will it be? “The best kind of prize is a SURprize.” (If you didn’t catch the quote, it’s from ELF. And if you haven’t watched it yet this season…DO.)

We are getting new carpet tomorrow!!! I am pumped. All week we've been moving out of our bedrooms and into the dining room. O what fun. But it will all be worth it after tomorrow when we get to move back in...with cushy, clean, stain-free, fresh carpet underfoot. I can almost feel it now. Sigh. And oh, the organizational possibilities. My gramma said, "I think everyone should think that they are moving at least once a year." So true, lady. Go through your junk and conquer that clutter!! (I guess that's what Spring cleaning is?)

Well, the hunt for literary agents is in full swing now. I have a nice list I'm compiling. There are some great people out there, and I'm learning a lot a lot a lot. (I've had my #1 pick written down for months now...must control the level of attachment that is forming before I am a gonner)

This weekend will be full of carpet getting, moving back in, and editing for me. Happy weekend to all (two) of you!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hello World

Staring at a completely blank blog is a bit intimidating. How does one start this blogging process anyway? And even more importantly, who's going to read it?! I suppose for awhile it's going to strictly be for me. Sort of a journal right? A "here's what I did/should not have eaten/meant to do"?
Well, here I am world. And here goes nothin'.

So, this weekend, hubby and I lugged our carafe overflowing with coins down to the local Coinstar machine. We each took a guess at the kitty. My guess was $35, his was $21 until he noticed a few quarters mingling with the lessers, then changed his guess to $29. And who knew, but you can trade in your coins for GIFTCARDS!! Hubby would just not be a Texan if he overlooked the Cabela's selection, but I had my eyes on iTunes. So we compromised. He took half, I took half. But apparently my half had a few more quarters. He was quite impressed with his $30...until my $42.16 flashed up on the screen. Oops(bwahahaha).
I've been browsing iTunes and am now the proud, legal listener of Adele's cd, a few Mindy Smith Christmas songs, and the newest Eisley EP. Oh, and I still have $25 left. Smirk.

As some of you (and I mean me, since no one knows about this blog) know, I have been working on a novel for the past, oh, four years or so. And it's finally nearing the end of the initial process. It's almost completely different from the version four years ago, but this is a good thing. I've also written quite a few short stories, started a second novel, and have who knows how many pages of notes on something completely different. Golly this is fun!
I've been studying the craft. I joined several writing groups, read tons of books, blogs, you name it (Have also met some amazing, kind, encouraging, and helpful people). I've immersed myself into this writing world, learning as much as I possibly can, and I'm happy to say that I think I'm getting a handle on it. And I'm excited.

Let's see how this all goes...together. Me and...me. Smirk.