Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Resolution Paradox

Do you make resolutions? I feel like I go through this every year. I probably change my mind about how I feel about them every year too. Yes, I make resolutions! No, no way. Resolutions never pan out, why make them? Maybe.... I could try to make a few....


I never stick to resolutions. There, I said it. I just don't. RESOLUTION sounds so... definite. Which I guess is the point, but to avoid setting myself up for disappointment, I think I'll just make note of a few writerly things that would be pretty cool if they happened in 2012.

  • Finish a first draft of my current WIP - I'm coming up on 60k words TODAY (1,645 words to go), so that next 10k or so to wrap everything up should be a January BREEZE. But you know, I thought I'd have the whole thing done last July, so, I'm hoping this is more than wishful thinking.
  • Revise revise revise and query said WIP - *bites nails prematurely* 
  • Get an agent - I got a B&N gift card for Christmas (Several) and one of the things I bought with them is the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents. I've thumbed through it and it seems useful. But first my plan is to research the agents of authors that I've heard of and love, because, well, obviously their agent gets it. LOL. 
  • Finish a first draft of the WIP I started in, what, 2010?? The one who's characters keep nudging at me saying, please tell our story. It's good. We promise. I'm actually really itching to get back to that one. But my Italy story is rolling right along right now, so I'm not stopping until it's done and in my Beta's hands.
Then of course, more personally, there's the old standby to lose weight. But, as DL points out in this fantastic BLOG POST, we're insane if we keep making the same resolutions without changing up our method. We set ourselves up to fail them every year because doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes is INSANE. I took the bull by the horns BEFORE the New Year, and started my workout reboot a month ago. No resolution there. Just a lifestyle change. Now to just stick with it....  

Any writerly aspirations for 2012? I'm still just SO pumped about what this year has in store, I can't explain why. Does it feel like you're just standing on the edge of something really exciting?? 

However you ring in the New Year, please be safe out on the roads especially! Not everyone is as smart as you are. ;)

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 New Year Giveaway Hop!


I am number 171 on this gigantic giveaway hop! Special thanks to I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Babs Book Bistro for hosting!

2012! I don't know about y'all, but I'm pumped about this year. There's something about the even number that has such a nice ring to it! This is OUR YEAR, y'all.

Let's start the year off right, with a GIVEAWAY! I'm giving away my hardback copy of Julie Halpern's Don't Stop Now! I thoroughly enjoyed this fun story, and hope you will too!





From Goodreads:
On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?

To Enter: *US only


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Adapt

Is change hard for anyone else? Especially change you didn't see coming?

I want to thank all of you for your kind words and encouragement after my news yesterday. I know this change was meant to happen, it just blindsided me and I was angry. I need time to adapt. Just like I had to adapt when I started back in July. What did I go and do? I got attached. Not just to the money (not that it was a ton, but it was something on top of photography), but to the girls I worked with. I will miss a couple of them in particular, and it will be an adjustment not to have them in my daily life anymore.

This little blip in employment now joins the list of jobs I had in my twenties that I'll look back on one day and say, OH YEAH! I forgot I did that!

I'm pouring my extra time into my workouts, house cleaning, meal preparing, and most importantly, my WIP!

Better things are around the corner, but it's up to me to make that turn.

2012 is my year. Is it yours too??

Monday, December 26, 2011

Best part of waking up... is getting fired

My mom tells me my blog's getting boring, sorry! haha I know I've been absent, we're all busy this time of year. October through November were pretty busy for me with photography, throw in a part time job three days a week and I didn't have much extra time for writing, forget blogging!

I've actually been composing a difficult post for a couple weeks now, and it's still not ready to share. It's nothing personally serious, don't get nervous! Just something I discovered doing research on my WIP and wanted to share. I'll try to have it done later this week.

Last week was really hard for me. My good friend and manager at my part time job (the reason I worked there in the first place) was suddenly let go. This just a month after the other office girl was randomly let go. I started working there in July, and then BAM, last week I was the one with seniority in the front office. I was still learning! Still passing on phone calls to my manager, then suddenly I'm the one getting calls passed to me!

Well, Tuesday after they let her go, I got the big long speech from the practice manager how they were happy with my work and they didn't want me to worry. I had to work my REAR off last week being the one in the office that had any idea what I was doing, staying almost two hours late every day to finish up and try to do damage control. I was STRESSED.

I go in this morning, the day after Christmas (and Mom's birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), and they LET ME GO TOO! For, get this, NO REASON. Who does that? They're happy with my work, don't want me to worry, I have ZERO write ups, no warning, just BAM you're fired. My guess is they want my position to be full time (and to pay less than they payed me), and I wasn't able to do that since I run my photography biz too. Mom thinks something more sinister is going on, which sounds exciting, but if there was something I may have caught wind of, I'm too blonde to have noticed.

Now I can finally stop complaining and finish that symphony... err, WIP ;)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2012 Multi-Cultural YA Book Challenge!!

One Page at a Time and Truly Bookish have put together a ROCKIN book challenge for next year!

These awesome ladies are highlighting YA books written by multi-cultural/ethnic minorities OR featuring multi-cultural/ethnic minorities as main characters. The goal is to read 12 minority YA books for the year, newly published or not. And every month, they'll feature a book or author that meets the criteria and do a book giveaway for the challenge participants!

Seriously, this is a super awesome book challenge, and I encourage everyone to click the pretty button below to learn more about it and to sign up.



I had fun working on a shiny new button too! Isn't it cute?! Don't you want to put it on your blog? 
WINK WINK

I already have some books in mind for this challenge:

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Tiger's Quest and Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, and Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

Look, that's nearly the challenge right there! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air

I'm in the market for a laptop! This week I discovered something new about myself. I focus better on writing in public. I don't know what it is. You'd think I'd be MORE distracted, but when I try to write at home, I see too many other things being neglected and I run off to do those things instead. That's why it's December and my WIP is still in shambles.

So, that being said, I need a new laptop. The one I'm using weighs like 20 pounds, it's nearly 5 years old (which makes it a dinosaur in technology years), and I had to do surgery on it for an entire day just to get it to run. I pretty much stripped it of everything but MS Word. Did I mention the battery life is about 45 minutes TOPS? So if I don't get the seat close to the plug, my writing (typing) time is short. I'd also like to be able to listen to music while I write, and this computer is too much of a sissy to handle that anymore.

I'm a converted Mac user now (since getting my iMac last year that I'm STILL in LURVE with), so I was curious how many of you have MacBooks. My husband has the 13" MacBook Pro, so I pretty much know how adorable it is, but what's the deal with the MacBook Air? Anyone have one? It doesn't have a disc drive, does it? I think that could be a problem. What's the word?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two Year Blogiversary!

Can you believe it?!?! Tomorrow marks two years of blogging for me!!

*throws confetti on all your heads*

I've made so many friends, found a few indispensable critique partners, and I've learned so so so much. Thank you to all my lovely 373 followers, I appreciate each and every one of you!

So how should I celebrate this anniversary of blogging? What would you like to see from me? A giveaway? A contest? Giftcards? Specific books? Let me know what rocks your blogiversary world!

And since today is Friday, here are five random things on my mind today:

1. Food journaling is hard.

2. My lemon tree is inside most of this week, since it's been freezing at night. I think it likes the toasty temperature because a lot of the little flower buds have opened up and they smell HEAVENLY!

3. I keep forgetting Christmas is so close, and there are still a couple people I have NO CLUE what to gift them with.

4. Santa has elves, we have Target. So true. So. True.

5. Every year I let myself buy a new Christmas album, and this year I bought Michael Buble's newest called "Christmas," if you can believe it. Now I usually enjoy his songs on the radio. I love his throw-back voice and a little part of me tingles at the thought that he can sell out our largest stadium in town in the matter of an hour (isn't it awesome that the general population can still appreciate this style of music?! I love it.) This album is loaded with classics sung only the way he can sing them, and it's a welcome addition to my Christmas playlist.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I don't think I'm gonna make the goal...

I was supposed to read 50 books this year for my Goodreads challenge. Apparently I've only read 38 as of right now, and I'm "8 books behind". I don't think I can read 8 books in less than a month. This was a goal I really thought I could hit. Once Autumn rolled in and photography picked up, everything else fell behind.

My WIP has been on the backburner too, which makes me sad. I was so sure I was going to finish it in June! Then July! Okay, maybe August... October? End of the year...? To my critique girls, I really do appreciate the pestering for more pages. Even though I'm slow getting them to you, knowing that you are that engaged in my story that you keep asking for more, inspires me to work even harder to finish this sucker for you! I'm taking at least January off of photography and I'm buckling down to get my story finished and edited.

How have your 2011 goals been for you this year? It's so funny how fired up we are every January, only to let ourselves down by June. By October we've probably completely forgotten everything we set out to do. Does that happen to you too, or is it just me? (Please say it's not just me! ;)

I'm not waiting until January 2012 to get my act back together. I'm taking control again right now! Or... maybe Monday.

KIDDING! RIGHT NOW!! I pledge to myself to at least write one chapter in my WIP by the time the weekend is up!! Wow that felt good.

LET'S DO THIS

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tangled Tides Launch Web Party!

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO TANGLED TIDES!

Today is the release day for Karen Amanda Hooper's debut YA novel, Tangled Tides! Karen's blog was one of the first I followed when I started blogging, so I'm BEYOND excited to have witnessed her journey and to celebrate her release day with her!! Congratulations!

   

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one. 
When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious. 
Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans. 

I got my copy in the mail last week (pre-order, baby!) and I've already started reading it. I can tell I'm in for quite the ride! I can't wait to swim farther into this underwater world she's created! And speaking of...

WAR OF THE UNDERWATER WORLDS!

Karen's story contains battling merfolk, selkies, sirens and gorgons. She says she loves all of them, but she wants everyone else to choose a side, so...

I CHOOSE SIRENS! These creatures are singers AND they control the weather. You can't get much more awesome than that!

(Click image to visit the artist's blog)



Linkage:

Karen's Website - She's giving stuff away, so go check it out!! Also, be sure to follow her on Twitter!! Join in the celebration today! @Karen_Hooper 
Amazon
Rhemalda Bookstore
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend! Safe travels, safe eating, safe outdoor sports (we'll probably play yard golf... no football for this family!), safe Black Friday shopping sprees!

I'm still editing my travel photos, but this one has lovely fall colors, so I had to share. If you ever go to Sonoma, I highly recommend the public tour at The Benziger Winery. They're biodynamic--super interesting to learn about!



HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM ME AND HANDY


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who's Ready for The Hunger Games Movies?

Well, I've got to say I'm super impressed with the trailer to The Hunger Games. I'm a little surprised they've released such a large trailer already when we have SO LONG TO WAIT, but it's nice to get a taste.

Anyone else tear up just a TINY bit and shiver with goosebumps when Katniss yells, "I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!"?

Holy Moses, my nerves are settled about many things now. I think they've worked very hard to do the books justice. Sure, there will be differences--there always are--but in my opinion, this looks fantastic.



And I may or may not have watched it a few extra times just to hear the music again. Already love it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Vacation is OVER

Already? Really? My week in California didn't seem to fly by while I was experiencing it, but now that I'm back, sitting here in my scrubs, putting off going into work as long as possible, I can't believe the fun is over.

I'm seriously going to be late if I type much more, but I will share a couple photos before I jet. I took HUNDREDS and I haven't even looked at them all yet, so I'll be sure to share more later.



This is a panoramic of Fallen Leaf Lake in Tahoe. We hiked through SNOW to get to it! 
ACTUAL SNOW!!!


How are YOU doing?! I've missed you, and have LOTS of blog catching up to do!! How's NaNo going??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ringer, Revenge... and other new shows

Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar's newest project, didn't do a whole lot for me at first. It was sort of interesting, but my DVR recorded three or four more episodes before I even watched the second one. I just wasn't excited about it. Then one lazy night, I watched ALL of them, chomping at the bit for more. It's REALLY good. If you need a reason to watch, how about this guy:


Remember him? Sweet, young Officer Lowe, so concerned about all the frozen dead bodies floating in the ocean after the Titanic sunk. I was totally Team Leo back when this movie came out (I was 14, please), but this guy stuck out to me, even then. Maybe it was the prominent nose, the accent, I don't know. But I liked him. And besides the twisted twisted twisted storyline of Ringer, he's a reason to keep watching. 


And yes, that's Nestor Carbonell back there. The creepy, pretty guy from Lost that doesn't actually wear eyeliner even though it looks like it. You know who else has a recurring role on Ringer?? LOGAN ECHOLLS from Veronica Mars! Well, Jason Dohring, anyway.


If they don't go the teacher/student romantic relationship with his storyline, I'd be surprised, because they're certainly setting it up for that. Hopefully they'll surprise us and do something else. Either way, glad he found work!

Revenge!! By far my favorite new show this year. The first episode was good, a total surprise because I really didn't know what to expect. I was a big fan of Everwood, so when I saw Emily VanCamp had her own show, I knew I had to tune in. Best surprise on the show, KYLE VALENTI from Roswell! Nick Wechsler plays Jack, the OTHER love interest.


I'm Team Jack all the way. This is a TWISTY amazing show, and if you haven't seen it, try to catch up online if you can. It's WORTH IT. 

Once Upon a Time started a little hokey for me. I was super disappointed with the first episode, mostly because it wasn't what I expected from the previews. I gave it another chance, and I'm telling you, episode two HOOKED me deep. As soon as Emma cut down that apple tree (which is NOT a Honeycrisp tree... HC apples aren't red like that, HELLO) with a chainsaw and told that evil witch, "YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M CAPABLE OF!" WOOOHOO! And! Sark will be on the next episode!! (Well, David Anders. He'll always be Sark from Alias to me)

Grimm was a surprise as well. Another twist with the fairy tale involvement, but it's, as Sophie Jordan tweeted to me, CREEPY GOOD. I'm interested to see where this show goes.

The Secret Circle had a strong enough start for me to keep watching, but there's still something missing. I'll keep watching, but I'm not entirely sure why.

Soon to go is Hart of Dixie... those accents are atrocious and I'm attached to zero of the characters. I guess I keep waiting for something to actually HAPPEN. If it doesn't soon, I'm deleting from the list.

I've also been watching Tim Allen's new show Last Man Standing. It's no Home Improvement, but I've always been a fan of his humor.

Person of Interest is a tricky fish. I love Jim Caviezel (especially after meeting him--STILL SQUEEING about that), but if they don't attach me to these characters soon, I'll lose interest.

New Girl is pretty funny, I must admit. But it's not for everyone.

Gave up on:
Up All Night after 3 episodes. Don't get me wrong, it's funny! But it's no Samantha Who (SHAME on ABC for canceling that!).
Charlie's Angels after 10 minutes of the first episode.
2 Broke Girls is funny, but I never got hooked enough to look forward to the next episode.
Nikita was great last season, but I couldn't get into it this year.
Terra Nova after the first episode. I actually really liked it (despite the digital effects), but it's one of those that I wasn't anxious to sit down and watch, and it started to clog up my DVR. I think it will be a Netflixer for me later.

Still watching:
The Vampire Diaries How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Whipped Damon. Ripper Stefan. Brainwashed Tyler. Cheater Jeremy. Human Matt. That's five ways right there. ;) Seriously though, I'm sucked into TVD like never before this season. I'm a little sad the whole ghost thing seems to be a done deal--they could have stretched that at least a couple more episodes--but what they did with it was super cool for me anyway. And I was totally Team Anna/Jeremy so getting a bit of that back was fabulous.
Community
Parks and Recreation
Modern Family
Glee, although there's something about it now. I'm not in LOVE like I used to be. And that makes me sad.
The Big Bang Theory
Bones
Castle


Missing:
Outsourced
Mr. Sunshine


Looking forward to:
Smash
Alcatraz


My GOSH there are a lot of shows. Thank God for DVR!!

What about you? Any new shows hook you this year? Any you gave up on?



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - Yep, Another Signing!

I totally lucked out living in a city that gets SO MANY AMAZING AUTHOR EVENTS! I feel like I'm going to one every week!

This past Friday I got to meet the authors of the Castor Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness) for the release of the third, but not final, installment, Beautiful Chaos. As always, it's fascinating how different each author's publishing story is from the next, and these ladies... let's just say they don't call themselves accidental authors for nothing.





In bulleted note fashion, here's a very paraphrased version of how Beautiful Creatures came to be:


  • Kami Garcia was an English teacher, and she led a book club for her students (Margaret's daughter was one of them).
  • At one of their meetings (in 2007), the kids were griping about too many werewolves, vampires, wimpy and whiny female main characters, and generic story locations. 
  • Kami and Margaret had lunch and discussed what the kids pointed out, and they started to dream up a world that broke the mold, and soon had a rough outline of BC on a napkin. 
  • Their story idea was from a male POV with the female as the parnormal, with a setting in South Carolina.
  • Margaret went home and told her daughter that she was writing a book with Ms. Garcia, to which her daughter replied, "Yeah, right, Mom. And in three days you'll be onto something else."
  • Kami and Margaret took it as a challenge and wrote about 30 pages very quickly, then gave it to M's daughter who said, "It's okay... what happens next?" 
  • Soon, all seven teens in the book club were chomping at the bit for more, desperate to know what happened next. The ladies kept writing, just for these kids, no expectations other than wanting them to enjoy it. 
  • When they finished the story (Then called Sixteen Moons), they talked about creating a web page where they could post the story for all to read. When Kami told a friend--who was an author--about it, he said, "YOU ARE IDIOTS! DON'T DO THAT!"
  • Said friend sent their story to his agent without telling them, after which Margaret got a phone call from her gushing about how much she loved their story. M had no clue who she was exactly, why she had their story, or if they had an agent now... she never sent them anything to sign... they were afraid to come right out and ask--they knew NOTHING about the publishing industry. Bloggers know more than they did! 
  • That agent got their story sold to a publishing house, and the book went to auction (which they thought was a bad thing, because the runt pigs no one wants are auctioned off). 
  • The book went on to be on Amazon's list before it was even officially released, it was nominated for awards, it just went CRAZY with popularity, completely blowing the ladies away. 
  • ON WRITING: Margaret writes a chapter, Kami takes it and deletes what she doesn't like (a lot of commas), and they pass it back and forth about ten times, changing words here and there until eventually every sentence is a mix of both of them. Then Kami writes a chapter and they do the whole thing over again. 
  • Kami types with only THREE FINGERS on her right hand. Three hovering fingers. 
  • MOVIE NEWS: The final script has been accepted by the studio (the people that made The Blind Side), so they're one step closer! 
Pretty amazing story for two ladies writing a story written for seven teens. Have you read this series? 


Monday, October 17, 2011

Melissa De La Cruz - Her Story

Friday I drove into Houston for the Melissa De La Cruz signing event at Blue Willow. Before hearing her speak, I knew nothing about her except that she wrote the Blue Bloods series. What an interesting publishing story she has! Here's her journey, extremely paraphrased in bulleted points for easy follow-along-ing.


  • Knew she wanted to write from age 11
  • Took writing seriously in her early twenties, wrote a novel.
  • Had zero connections in the publishing industry. She bought a book outlining agents and what they're looking for, then queried. 
  • Landed an agent, but was unable to sell that novel to a publishing house. 
  • Wrote a novel every year, and every year got rejected by publishers. 
  • Sold her first book at age 27. They gave her a year to work on it and the editor told her it had no plot. 
  • They gave her six months to fix it, helping her outline and work on character development.
  • She studied plots and learned to take them very very seriously. Years later, someone said, "Oh you're Melissa De La Cruz! I hear you're awesome at plots!"
  • Her editor wanted her to write a young adult, dark fantasy, and the idea for Blue Bloods was born--at the time, no one was writing about vampires. 
  • As soon as she submitted her manuscript for Blue Bloods, she saw Twilight was released already. At first she was nervous about it, but the Twilight mania helped her success with Blue Bloods. 
  • At a TLA event, she sat on a panel with Stephenie Meyer and they exchanged books (she is giddy about having signed copies!), agreeing that they would read them when finished with their own vampire series. When the Twilight movie came out, Melissa went to see it and was relieved at how different her story was from Stephenie's. She then read the books, and joined Team Edward. ;)
  • Melissa outlined her latest book five years ago, and warns writers to write EVERYTHING down. If you're writing a series, keep notes even about the little things, because you never know what you're going to forget, such as the little things she hinted at in the first books that need to play out later. She doesn't retain information as well as she used to. 
  • Television: For six months, she worked with producers at CW to develop Blue Bloods into a television show, and she had no reason to believe it wasn't going to happen. Everyone told her it was on. (Her husband later said she was unbearable during this time--really big head!)
  • A week after the big meeting/presentation with executives at CW, the network passed on Blue Bloods. Two weeks later, it was announced that the CW bought The Vampire Diaries. Melissa joked that show is "dead to her" and she still hasn't seen one episode.  
  • Since then, she's had several movie offers and turned them all down. 

  • Cover story: Melissa actually has cover approval. For Blue Bloods, they showed her a rough idea pieced together with stock photos. She liked the idea but thought it was cheesy and asked for a photo shoot. They said, "Oh sure sure!" then went around their offices saying, "Who has a pretty neck?!" The girl that landed on the cover is actually Melissa's editor who was a ballerina. Her mom still calls her and says, "Hey, I just saw your neck in Target!" Book two is also someone from the publishing office. After book three they started having real photo shoots.       

Melissa was fun and entertaining, and it was great to meet her and get my copies signed. I look forward to starting this series when I get back in the vampire mood. :)

As usual, I'm inspired to write. If only I could find where I hid all my spare time....


Monday, October 10, 2011

Kickin' 2011 Debut Author Spotlight

Big thanks to Christina Lee for organizing this 2011 Debut Author Spotlight! Visit her blog for links to everyone else participating!

I scored an ARC to the fantastic 2011 debut CLARITY earlier this year, by author Kim Harrington.


When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats. Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My thoughts: I'm a cover lover, and this one definitely caught my eye on the blogs as well as when I scrolled through the Goodreads giveaways. I added my name to the list of the 2000+ hopefuls for the ARC and Kim Harrington herself picked me!  

Clare, her mother, and brother are pretty much the town freak show, but a useful freak show! Especially when there is a murder case to solve. The first chapter was a bit slow for me, mostly because I'm never sure what to expect with first chapters and it takes a while to learn the rules of a different paranormal world from the last book I read. I wasn't fully engaged until several chapters in, and things started really swinging.

Hot ex boyfriend with dramatic history? Check. Witchy girl that likes to ruin your life? Check. Hot and mysterious newcomer? Check. A murder case with tons of suspects and all of them plausible? Check. Like Clare, I had no idea who to focus on as a suspect, and her inner concerns about certain people in particular were realistic and heartbreaking. Go ahead and try to guess "who-done-it". You're probably going to be wrong. I sure was.  

Harrington's writing is straightforward and enjoyable. The characters each stood out on their own, and they all served a purpose. I could picture them perfectly. I won't complain about how short it was (it was a little short!) because I enjoy these kinds of books that you get pulled into and you don't really need to put it down to go to sleep--you probably have time to finish! 

Book two, Perception, comes out in March of 2012!



Kim Harrington:
Goodreads
Blog
Buy the Books

What other 2011 releases did I love, you ask??

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Liesl & Po and Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Solstice by P.J. Hoover
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
And let's not forget Lola and the Boy Next Door by the fabulous Stephanie Perkins! Favorite contemporary YA read of the year (after Anna and the French Kiss, of course). Obsessed much? Why yes, yes I am. ;)

Have YOU read Clarity yet? Planning on it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Five

1. STRESS IS MY MIDDLE NAME

2. So, today while I was trying to decompress, enjoying an episode of Castle while eating lunch, my carbon monoxide detector goes off. I change the batteries. Same thing. Open the windows. Call the gas company. Wait for gas man for about 45 minutes outside. I thought it had "cooled off" outside. No, it has not. Gas man comes and waves this little thing around everywhere. Nope. No CO anywhere to be found. No leaks. All's well. Guess I need a new detector. And a nap I don't have time for. AFTER I get the new detector because I'm nervous like that.

3. Allergies have set in. Huzzah.

4. Do self-imposed deadlines actually work? I'm thinking no, because if they did, I would have finished my first draft in July. Then August. Nope, maybe by October 1st. No? October 15th then! Um... not gonna happen.

5. Vampire Diaries fans... isn't the whole fun of tension between characters that "unspoken" element? You just pick up on the subtleties, the looks, the longing. You DON'T talk about it. "Why don't you take a beat from Elena?" Excuse me? No. "You have feelings for Damon!" "OMG what if I do?" PAH-LEASE. Don't tell us there's an issue. SHOW US. That's writing 101, TVD.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fitness Check-In (Week 8)

I missed last week's check-in because I was out of town, but skipping a week makes for a more dramatic weigh-in the next! Still the slowest progress known to woman-kind, but I guess it counts as progress nonetheless.

So the first deadline I had for myself in all of this is October 22, my 10 year HS reunion. It's SOON, and I'm nowhere near the 10 pounds I wanted to lose, but I'm also not stressing about it as much. The reunion is turning into more of a super casual backyard BBQ with pretty much just the people I see considerably often anyway. Now, I'm not slowing down, I'm working at not getting upset with myself for the slow progress.

Total weight lost: 3.2lbs
Total inches lost: 4.75"

How are your goals coming?

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Love Author Events!

I'm going to skip all the negative bits about the Austin Teen Book Festival because I'm moving past the disappointing moments of bummer and suck and you can't make me talk about it any more! ALL I'm going to say is don't follow the logic that saving the best for last is a good thing. It will bite you in your REAR. Eat your dessert first, my friends.

The theme was steampunk thanks to the keynote speaker's latest series. Quite a few people were decked out in the full garb, but I just constructed a few pieces of steampunk inspired jewelry: A ring that I kept getting caught on EVERYTHING and eventually took off, and a necklace.



Here's a fellow I never dreamed I'd meet, but I did! And I cut myself out of the picture because, well, with this face you wouldn't be looking at me anyway.


The Keynote Speaker, SCOTT WESTERFELD! 

He totally made that face on purpose. Did you take a picture with him too? Let's compare.

Also met the hilarious Maureen Johnson.


Met some other authors too, but wasn't able to do pictures with them. I'll just say that Jackson Pearce is PRECIOUS! Mary E. Pearson is SUPER nice, and I also got my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson signed by David Levithan though I didn't actually get to meet him... but I'm not talking about that, remember?! STOP!

And let's not forget, my favorite author, STEPHANIE PERKINS!! 


After I read Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year, I pretty much forced my mom (and all my friends) to read it, and she inhaled it. It was fun having another fangirl along with me this weekend!
And... Stephanie remembered me. So I don't have to tell you other fangirls how freaking cool that is. ;)

Had so much fun meeting bloggers I haven't met before, making new friends, and seeing old ones!

As always, the writing inspiration is in FULL SWING. I've kicked out around 3,500 words this weekend. Anyone else feeling it?!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival

Am I going to see you in Austin this Saturday for the Austin Teen Book Festival??! Check out the load of authors that are going to be there!!


Scott Westerfeld is the keynote speaker, and I'm so pumped to hear from such a successful author. And also very pumped to finally own a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door, and to meet Stephanie again! She pretty much rocks my book world. 

If I have cell service, I'll be reachable via Twitter @kristincreative. I'll be the one with the pile of books in my arms o_O



Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five

1. There's a box of soup mix in my pantry with a serving size of TWO TABLESPOONS. Are they serious? Two tablespoons? FOR SOUP? That's not being eaten any time soon. I read my labels in the store now.

2. I actually got some writing done this week! Wednesday I managed to squeak out 1,500 words. Hopefully I'll get another nice chunk written this weekend!

3. Switchfoot's new album comes out Tuesday!! CAN. NOT. WAIT.

4. Lots of new shows are starting up. The Vampire Diaries is off to a strong start, and I'm enjoying The Secret Circle and Revenge so far. Parks and Rec is just as hilarious as always, as is The Big Bang Theory. Castle's premiere left me going, eh. Glee was another let down for some reason. I guess my expectations were too high for those two shows. Looking forward to checking out Hart of Dixie, Once Upon a Time, and Smash when they start. Maybe Grimm too. Can't decide about Tera Nova...

5. Tonight will be a blast from the past! I'm going with Heather to see HEART! Well, Def Leppard is the headliner but I only know the one song. Heart was MY BAND as a youngster, and was also my first concert. If I remember correctly (which I honestly might not, because I was around 7) the line-up was Blind Melon, The Black Crowes, and Heart. I've been a concert addict ever since.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fitness Check-In (Week6)

*Disclaimer: Please forgive the negative bits of this post. Everyone needs to vent sometimes, and this is my time. ;)

How's everyone doing? Any fantastic results to share? Please tell me, because I'm in that frustrated stage again where nothing is happening. Clothes still fit the same, weight hasn't changed, no inches lost, calorie intake all within daily goals. I know it takes a long time but dang, I can't wait to share some excitement already. I'm like a broken record and these weekly posts feel like downers that I force optimism into. I don't want to force my optimism, I want to RADIATE natural optimism.

I already had a dream/nightmare about my HS reunion. I'm pretty sure it took place in the Hogwarts' dining hall. Snape was there. So was Danny Elfman--I almost cried. Lots of teachers, former classmates from my class and younger... and everyone was skinny but me.

On a chiropractic note, I had my first cracking yesterday. Who knew it wasn't scary at all? All those jitters for nothing. Seeing the X-rays was pretty cool. I knew I was crooked but WOW. No wonder I'm hurting. Can't WAIT to feel better from this!

Thanks to KM for reminding me the benefits of intervals while doing cardio. Wore me out this week, but I like it! Thanks to Courtney (she's a new blogger, give her a follow!) for her personal training expertise and encouragement, to L. Diane Wolfe for sharing all that great information with me, and to Deana Barnhart for needing these posts just as much as I do. You all help me not to give up, and I hope I'm returning the favor to others. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Five

1. I went to the chiropractor today for the first time ever. Nothing crazy yet, since it was the initial visit, but apparently I'm pretty crooked. I look forward to getting cracked and feeling better!!

2. To the woman that drives the same route as I do to work in the morning, WAKE UP EARLIER! Seriously, five minutes or less is all it takes to put your makeup on at home in front of the bathroom mirror. It won't be my fault when you poke out your eye with your mascara wand when I honk at you to STAY IN YOUR OWN FREAKING LANE. When you're behind the wheel, driving is your JOB. Not putting on your makeup, not texting or checking your email or updating your Twitter status. That's great you care so little about your own life to drive like an idiot, but I CARE ABOUT MINE.

3. Wow that felt good to get off my chest.

4. Does anyone else counting calories feel hungry, like, all the time?

5. Netflix just added Felicity to their instant offerings, and while it's not Bones (WHERE ARE YOU SEASON SIX?), it still has some great moments. Best quote so far is from Ben: "There's like this wall, in my head. On one side there's the part of my brain that understands things and absorbs things. On the other side of the wall is poetry." Ben... I'm with you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fitness Check-In (Week 5)

It's like I'm immune. No real measurable differences this week. I can't dip any lower than the two pounds I keep fluctuating with. And I'm not losing crazy amounts of inches either. This week, I lost .25" in ONE arm? What the double hockey sticks is that about? This slothly progress is making for one frustrated girl. But really... my body doesn't understand the concept of a week. That's a brain thing. That's a thing man created to mark the passing of time. I can't logically expect my body to do what I want each week if it doesn't work in those terms. I hope it catches on soon though, because my accountability friend is running out of ways to say, "You're getting SO close to that point where it gets easier." Oh yeah? Do you want a slap? ;)

And once again I will sing the praises of the smart phone app MyFitnessPal. It makes counting calories SO easy, I can't even tell you. Now I know beyond a doubt that I'm not overeating, which SHOULD make meeting my goals that much easier (this is purely theoretical... because, well, the goals are still very far from reach).

Here are a few changes I made this week: I'm drinking a LOT of water. Well, it feels like a lot, but it's eight cups a day, which is what we're supposed to be drinking. I haven't noticed it do anything for me yet except add several extra trips to the restroom throughout the day. I've also increased the weight in my strength training by 5-10 pounds on a couple machines because they were getting too easy.

A trick I learned this week: If you listen to music while trying to count strength training reps, and lose count easily (like I do) because you're singing along, just picture a clock. In your mind, move the clock hand to each number. I go to 13 so my hand goes all the way around the clock and stops again at the 1. Now I can mouth the words to my songs (because there really is no stopping me from doing that) and keep track of my reps!

How are your workouts coming? Any progress to share so I can slap you(r back)?


On another note, these are the books I have left for swapping if you're interested.


Instructions for a Broken Heart Liesl & Po 

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culberson (ARC)
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (ARC)
Clarity by Kim Harrington (SIGNED ARC)

Red Riding Hood Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, Book 3)

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions (shorts stories by popular YA authors - ARC)
Red Riding Hood by Blakley-Cartwright/Johnson (Paperback, not the cover shown above)
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy #3 (Paperback)


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One down... five left

Enthralled seems to be quite popular! Therefore, it is gone. Here's what's left.

Wanna swap?! Whatcha got?


Instructions for a Broken Heart Liesl & Po Clarity (Clarity Novel)

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culberson (ARC)
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (ARC)
Clarity by Kim Harrington (SIGNED ARC)

Red Riding Hood Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, Book 3)

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions (shorts stories by popular YA authors - ARC)
Red Riding Hood by Blakley-Cartwright/Johnson (Paperback, not the cover shown above)
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy #3 (Paperback)