Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview with Aspiring Author Colene Murphy

Hey guys!  Here is another installment of my aspiring author interviews!  Today, it's with Colene Murphy, my new crititque partner! (I now have 2 crit partners- how awesome is that??)

  I just printed off the first 100 pages of her novel, and I'm so excited to read it!

So, without further ado, here are her questions!

When did you realize you wanted to be an author? 

 It was when I started to really read YA. I was a little hesitant about it at first because at the time, I felt  like buying in the YA section made me look juvenile and immature. It was a mindset that in my 20's I should be more grown up - reading autobiographies and political novels and stuff. But when I started I just couldn't stop reading them. Devouring them. They took my breath away, made me cry hysterically, made me laugh like a loon, and I knew I wanted to affect people that way.

What genre do you like to write?  

Westerns! No, YA

What authors inspire you?    

Different ones for different things to write are inspirational. J.K. Rowling is my go to when I need to see how she created emotion with characters.  James Dashner is great at nail-biting suspense. Laura Whitcomb weaves words like magic. Every sentence is beauty with her, no matter what she's writing about. And of course, Suzanne Collins, Kim Harrison, Garth Nix, Jenny B. Jones, Neal Shusterman, and C.S.Lewis. Tons more, but I bet you want to move on and all.

How often do you write? 

 I try to get something, anything, down every day of the week. I like thousands-of-words days but if I can write a decent paragraph it isn't a waste. Weekends are harder. I'm trying to find more discipline for weekend writing. I bet I could get 10x more done if I did.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?    

Oh, pantser definitely! The first and last novel I plotted out, scene by scene, I screwed up beyond repair! It was awful. I had these set things I demanded of my novel but my characters I created just didn't want to do that. I ended up with a weird, unfinished ending that you could tell was rushed. It was like me and my characters dueled for the ending and no one won. Now I just write. I have an idea of my main character and maybe a second one. I give myself a beginning and a vague idea of how I want the MC to grow and then just sit down and type. They take me where I need to go. It always works out and I am much more satisfied and proud of the end result. One idea's rough draft actually finished thousands of words sooner than I intended, just because that was where it needed to.

Where do you write best, and do you listen to music while you write? 

 I love music. Most writers say that, but its the truth. And the kind depends on the scene and how I need to feel. Pandora Radio is the best website created for that. I write a lot at work and on my designated love seat. I tried to write at my desk before but can't focus when I'm there. Just doesn't feel right. I need to be comfortable or in a familiar atmosphere and the home office is most definitely not either.

What is on your TBR pile? 

Oh, gosh. What isn't? A Matter of Magic, Personal Demons, Once a Witch, Divergent, Z, Neverwhere, Lament, Across the Universe, The Cinderella Society, Firelight, Paranormalcy, Angel Fire, Scorch Trials, Nightshade, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Bleeding Violet, Winter Garden, Matched, The Replacement, Nevermore, Halo, Seers of Light, Poison Study...oh I could go on and on! I have a disorder...YABookaholic much?

If Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling got in a cat fight, who would win?

J.K.Rowling looks like she could throw some good punches if need be. I'd bet on her any day. Her characters would own Meyer's characters easily too. It's just facts, I only repeat them.

What is your “day” job?

Bounty Hunting unicyclist. Oh wait, you meant the boring one. Receptionist.  Someone seriously called the other day to ask me what time we closed at noon. But it pays the bills and I have some awesome bosses so no complaints here.

What can you not leave home without?

(cell phones are off limits- NO ONE can leave home without one of those) Lint roller. 5 cats makes you constantly furry.

Mac or PC?

PC! I know how to trouble-shoot and replace parts in PC's thanks to a computer techy dad. Mac's are as good as Mar's to me. Wouldn't know where to start.

Favorite dessert?  

Anything strawberry. Icecream, shortcake, cupcakes, pie, cheesecake. You get the picture.

Favorite desert?   

Rangipo Desert. It's in New Zealand near 3 active peaks. That sounded like I knew what I was talking about, right? Totally just wikipedia-d that junk. But it does look cool and isn't as scary as the Sahara either.

Where is your dream vacation?  

I would love to hop around Europe seeing all the famous sights and museums. One day, you know I will.

Finally, link us to your website, blog, fb, twitter and anything else you might like to shamelessly plug for yourself.          

Sweet! Thanks!
Thanks so much, Abby. Been a great pleasure and I love your blog!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Screwing Up

Okay, so you know when you've screwed up big time and you totally want to pull all your hair out, throw a huge temper tantrum, and then punch a hole in the wall?  Well, that happened to me yesterday, and let me tell you- I think I did throw a little tantrum, and quite possibly made myself bald.  The wall is still in tact though...but only because of my joint problem in my hands (otherwise that wall would have been pulverized).

Then, you call Hubsies all in a dither and of course he's at work and can't do anything, and you hang up and freak out some more.  Then, you calm down a little, take some deep breaths...and it's supposed to get better at that point.  But it doesn't.  You think sleeping on it will work.  Nope.  Still freaking out. 

But then, you have to realize the consequences of your actions, and now you know for next time what NOT to do.  It makes you stronger and more wise.  Or maybe the valium just helps you forget it ever happened.

It's kind of the same thing in the publishing world.  Of course I don't really know what it's like to screw up big time with agents or editors or whatever, because I haven't tried to pitch my book yet.

But these people do:

What NOT to put in your query letter to a literary agent

These people TOTALLY messed up royally in their queries.  I don't know if they just crawled out of a rock and decided one day to query an agent, but it totally makes me feel better about myself.  I have a nice laugh when I read these, and think "Ah, one less query I have to worry about being better than mine".

Anyway, so when you mess up royally in your life, just go to that website and have a good laugh at the people who totally just ruined their writing careers.  It helps.  I promise. 

P.S. seriously, it's okay to laugh- if you are serious about becoming an author, then you KNOW what to put in your query... and definitely what not to put.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

OMG Stephanie Tanner Did Drugs??

So, do you guys remember the show, Full House?  Okay, who doesn't, right?  I was exactly the right age where TGIF and Full House were HUGE hits in my house.  Every Friday night my sister and I would just eat up the cheesy 90's sitcoms that took away an hour or so of our lives.

Stephanie was my favorite, since she was pretty much my age (maybe a year or two younger) and I wanted to be just like Jodie Sweetin (the actress who played Stephanie).  I checked out those thin little children's biography books from the library on her, and I think I may have written to get an autographed picture of her.

Good thing I kind of forgot about her after the show was finished, or else if I would have turned out just like her- I would have become addicted to meth, coke, alcohol, married to a cop while doing meth, partying and doing drugs while giving speeches about being sober to colleges, and then getting married and divorced for a second time with a horrible custody battle all before the age of 30.

No joke.

She totally opens up and in a very dramatic tell-all memoir (that probably could be turned into a totally awesome made-for-tv movie on Lifetime) that I am reading right now:

She lets loose everything about her life leading up to 2009.  She even had a relapse while she was writing the book about being totally screwed up on drugs.  I'm not completely finished with it yet (but I did flip through it and read several chapters here and there before I decided to check it out and read it completely) and I'm pretty sure she's completely sober right now.  Which is awesome since she has an adorable little baby girl.

Anyway, it's crazy the things you find out about these people you looked up to when you were younger.  Like, Christian Bale was my total first major celebrity crush back in 1992 ( I was 11) when he was in Newsies.  Then, he went off the radar for a while, and came back a total jerk.  So sad.

But then others turn out to be awesome, like this guy:

Brad Pitt has given away millions to charities, and he's only in his 40's!  He turned out to be one great guy (and it helps that he's totally hot too- oh, and I can say I have a link to him- he's from my town!  Way better than that Scroggins guy)- he's also got like, a million kids (half of which he adopted which is awesome in my book), and travels the world with them and his wife (and honestly, I really don't care how he got that wife...I'm not going to get into that here- we're being all happy and positive on this blog!) (but btw, I LOVE Angie if you want to know).

And I LOVED this guy when his show was on.  Don't know if you remember it (only if you lived in a cave in the 90's!)-

Will Smith is now a wonderful family man, action movie star, and all around great guy who also gives to a lot of great charities.  Sigh...look at him now:


So, I guess this is a message for you, child actors (um, there probably aren't any reading my blog right now....but I need to make some kind of point with this whole thing, right?) ahem...all those Miranda Cossgroves and Miley Cyruses and kid from Two and a Half Men- don't screw up.  We're watching you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Love Triangle

Little Monster:  Mommy, you know, I have two boyfriends.
Me: Really?  Who?
Little Monster: (highly exaggerated sigh) uuggghhhh, Bobby and Tommy*, duh
Me: Oh yeah?
Little Monster: They are totally my boyfriends, dude. 

(This conversation was literally, like yesterday in the car on the way home from school.  She's 5, for the record)

*names have been changed to protect what little masculenity these poor boys have left after doing my daughter's bidding all day

Ah, the love triangle.

"Dude, what's that smell?"

Love it or hate it?

I for one, am not a big fan of love triangles in books.  I think they've always just annoyed me.  I don't know, I kind of want to focus on just one love interest, and have the conflict be about the journey they face together, or the story around them.  It is almost borderline soap-operaish and those things annoy me to no end.  But some love triangles are written very well, and I'm okay with them.  It really just depends.  Plus TONS of people like love triangles in their books.

My first novel is a fantasy with a romance between two people weaved into it.  It's not a romance with a little fantasy on the side.  (which, those are totally fine- I like those sometimes, when I'm looking for a good, steamy book).  But mainly, the story focuses on the journey ahead of my characters, and the romance kinda just blossoms around it. 


I have a second book that I will write while I query this one.  Completely different than this one.  Still a fantasy (with DRAGONS- squeee!), but get ready for this....

It has a love triangle.  *facepalm*

I know, I just totally ranted about how I don't like them.  But then I was thinking of this idea that would be totally cool.  And my main character would have a best friend that she grew up with that she always thought she'd be with.  But then this other guy comes up and, well, without giving too much away, they are basically THROWN together by destiny.  So then the struggle is, she always thought she'd be with her best friend, but now this other guy is here, but she's mad that she basically has no choice on the matter and HAS to be with him, so she sets out on this journey that totally questions who she is and she has to decide if she wants to break all the rules, give up her true self and be with her best friend, or give in to destiny and be with this guy (that she might be kind of crushing on since they made this journey together).

Anyway.  So.  Slap me in the face and go, "Abby, if you hate love triangles don't write one!"  I KNOW, but the thing kinda has to be that way.  Thats what happens to writers.  We get an idea, and we really don't have any control over it.   It has a mind of it's own, and you best be writing that now.

It's like in my first book.  I have an ensemble cast, with four characters I would consider pretty significant.  Two are the love interests and from their POV, so I would say they are the Main-Main characters.  Then we have the other two- no love interest to each other,  but they will each have their own love story in the sequels after (if I get them).  So as I was writing my second boy character (not the main-main character), he pretty much told me he was gay.  Like, it just came out.  I didn't go along and think, hm, how can I make him more controversial...I know, I'll make him gay!  It totally didn't go like that.  I just...knew.  I started writing him, and the emotions that came with his friend in the beginning really blew me away.  So of course he's gay- he  But it's not like flamboyent "Just Jack" gay- it's more subtle, and he's a calm, wise-before-his-years guy.  I mean, this is a fantasy set in a world I made up, but with that classic medieval-type tendencies of horses, tunics, kings, and magic.  You normally wouldn't find a gay person in one of those, but I say...why not?  Why can't it just be there.  Like no controversy over it, and no one getting offended.  That's not the issue.  The issue is, why is this insane Mage trying to annialate our kingdom? 

Anyway, I digress...

Besides, his love story isn't the main point- its in the background.  If my book ever gets picked up, I do have sequels planned where each main character gets their own story and own POV (with the others still in the books of course).  But thats way down the line, and I don't get to write any type of sequel until this one sells.

Which brings me back to the squeelightful dragon book I am planning (and any other swimmy ideas in my head right now).  When you have an idea, or start writing a book, sometimes it takes you places you never thought could be possible.  In the beginning you swear you would never kill off a very important character...but then he dies and you cry like a baby because you weren't expecting it.  Or you swear on Edward's life that you would never write a love triangle (which, now that I think about it, that was stupid...Edward is technically my swearing was totally null and void, which means it was just inevitible for that to happen), but then you have an awesome idea for a love triangle and it HAS to happen.  Your characters are screaming at you to put it down on paper because that is the way they are, and they need to be validated on that paper or computer screen.

And, you never know.  The story might change when I start writing it.  My characters might be like, "Hey, I don't want to be in a love triangle" and I'll be all, "Okay" and see where they take me. 

BUT.  not until I finish this one.  Which, by-the-way, I am at around 75,000 words, and building right up to that spectacular climax.  I can't wait for it to be done, but at the same time I'll be sad.  I love my characters.  Plus I am UBER nervous to start writing a query letter to send out to agents.  Once all that is done, I can start on my new book, and let that journey take me to far off places I've never dreamed. Until then, I'll go snuggle down with my best friends er...I mean the people in my head...erm, my main characters of my book (whew, there we go, thats the right one) and tell their story that has been itching to get out for years.

So, what do you think about love triangles?  In Books or Movies?  Maybe I'll take a whole other post to talk about Buffy and her screwy, that might take several posts...or like a whole blog dedicated to all things Buffy..sigh...Oh um, yeah, you're still here.  Okay, go, find some cool love triangles and tell me whats worked for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#Speakloudly-Book Banning in Republic MO: Update

I thought I'd update today on the book banning controversy in my town.  I can't believe my little town is famous for something so...sad.  I really hope the school board won't make their decisions based on one man's opinion.  But they won't make any final decisions until later in the year.  Hopefully I can stay updated on my school district's decision throughout the year.  None of them have been officially banned, like Stockton's Book Ban, and I truly hope it doesn't come down to that.

But, so far:

Slaughterhouse 5 is still off the shelves as far as I know.
Twenty Boy Summer is still "on review"- which I am not sure if it's actually been pulled or not
Speak is safe, for now.

I found a helpful blog from the Office for Intellectual Freedom over at the American Library Association containing information on the recent events.  It contains a response from the Superintendent of the Republic School system on the issues brought up by Mr. Scroggins about Sex Ed classes and textbooks, but nothing about the books he requested to be removed.

Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a piece for Wednesday's editorial section of the News-Leader- you can find it HERE
She also thanked everyone who got involved in the #speakloudly campaign, here in her blog
(she gives a link to the Reclusive Bibliophile's blog that has a list of many blogs that participated in this campaign- mine's on there!  Along with many other's that I read).

Sarah Ockler also wrote a piece, HERE
And posted a video to her blog

Also, there are various opinion pieces from concerned citizens of the Springfield and Republic area, and you can find them all HERE  Make sure to look back at Tuesday 9/21 and Wednesday 9/22 because I think it updates daily with the newest opinions.  I am sure we'll have many more to come in the next few days.

I wrote to Superintendent Vern Minor as a concerned parent of the school district.  All I got in response was a "thank you for your letter".  I also got a survey from the school district (how fitting it was sent out at this point in time) and made clear my concerns over the removal of Slaughterhouse 5 and Twenty Boy Summer, as well as the consideration of removing Speak.

If one voice can get books pulled from the shelves of a school library, then I hope thousands can get them put back on.

P.S.Please feel free to add anything you might find about it in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hang a Right at Unicorn Village

So, imagine you are reading a really awesome fantasy novel.  The author has described her world beautifully, inviting you in to meet all sorts of amazing creatures and characters.  The main character sets out on an amazing journey, filled with adventure and surprise at every turn (with a little bit of romance thrown in- you always have to have that!).  She gets instructions on how to brave the wilds of the Enchanted Forest, maneuver the Sorrowful Swamps, and avoid the cranky Troll's caves all together.  She must stop at the Witches Domain before she can continue on to the Mermaid's Lair, but she can't forget to hang a right at Unicorn Village.  You have a moment of utter panic, realizing you have no idea where the main character is in this world.  But then...a sigh of relief.  You frantically flip back to the beginning of the book, and there it is.

Right after the title page.

The Map.

(Cue choirs singing in the background)

Anne McCaffrey's Pern

Yes folks, the all-powerful, pulse-reducing, sigh-of-relief-because-you-know-where-the-character-is map.  If you are a fantasy reader, you come to expect maps of these totally unknown and gorgeous worlds that authors create.  It's like the 2nd main character.  Just like "The City" is the 5th character in "Sex and the City", the map of a fantasy novel is a character in itself.  It's not complete without one. 

Now, I know sometimes certain fantasy novels don't need them because they take place in our world and during our time.  That's all fine.  If its some sort of paranormal or magical realism book, and it takes place in our unchanged world, then I don't need a map.  Even though I've never been to Podunk U.S.A., I know what the US looks like, and can pretty much picture a typical town in my head and get by with descriptions from the author.  It's when something is changed about it, or it's an entirely new world that I need some kind of map so I can picture where the characters are going a little bit better.

So this all brings me to a recent annoyance I had with a certain book not containing a map.  Let me just say, I don't review books on here, so I'm not going to say anything about the book.  BUT I can totally say something about the absence of a map.  The book was Mockingjay.  I know, I know, it takes place in what was once North America.  BUT- it's totally changed.  Panem is not the US we know today, and Suzanne Collins makes it clear in the first Hunger Games book that it isn't.  I know we didn't really need the map in the first book, but it still would be nice to know where the districts are located.  I don't want to reveal anything about the book, since some of you still might be waiting to read it.  But, seriously...we need a map.  I was so confused as to where these districts might be in relation to what was once the US, that it distracted me a little from the story.  I kept wanting to flip back to the front to look at the map, but then remembered I couldn't!

Anyway, so.  Fantasy novels and maps = awesomeness.  I'm just saying.  It makes us fantasy readers less frantic and confused if we have a map in the beginning of the book.  Maybe it's just me though.  Maybe I'm just weird like that, and most people don't care whether there is a map or not.  But let me just say- if I pick up your book, and it doesn't have a map- I'm probably going to go on a little rant about it and annoy hubsies for a good 5 minutes.  And you don't want that- trust me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

#Speakloudly: in my own backyard

Imagine my horror when I opened up my blogger account last night and started to read through the blogs I subscribe to.  It started at first with someone mentioning a Missouri man who wanted to ban Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler from his local public school.  I immediately thought, "Oh great, another Missouri book banning." and "What the heck- why Speak?"  Then, there was a link to the opinion piece he wrote into our newspaper- here is the link. 

My stomach flipped up to my throat as I saw my own town as the subject.  He's trying to get books banned from MY town's schools.  They've already removed Slaughterhouse Five apparently.

Speak is about a girl who is being raped and dealing with the horrors that come with it.  Mr. Scroggins called it pornographic.  Ms. Anderson stated on her blog that she gets many many emails and letters from students saying her book finally helped them to speak out.  To get help form the horrors I hope my own daughter never has to face.  We can't shield our children from this reality- they need to know about it.  How to deal with it when it happens to them, and not to stay silent. 

I know I just had a post on the incident in Stockton, and this makes #2 in a week.  But I can't sit by while this happens in my town.  The school my daughter goes to.

The author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson got wind about this and blogged about it yesterday here.

That caused an explosion of blogs, tweets and posts on the Internet about this case. 

Lisa and Laura Hilton, authors of Liar Society, are doing a contest where they will donate a copy of Speak to a school/library for every 25 comments to their post here

Here is a blog post by an ACTUAL TEENAGER.  OMG, shield your eyes for the evil corruption spewing out of her blog. 

Another contest- Sarah Ockler, the author of Twenty Boy Summer (one of the books mentioned by Scroggins) is giving away a Wesley Scroggins Filthy Book Prize Pack here

Please, if you want to take a stand and Speak out, write to the Superintendent Vern Minor or to the high school principal. 

NO ONE has the right to censor what your child reads besides you.  If you don't want them to read it, then fine.  But don't tell my child what she can or can't read.  I will decide that for myself.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yet Another Banned Book

Banned Books Week is coming up (Sept 25-Oct 2), so it was kind of fitting when I heard a book had recently been banned from a school library in a town very near to mine.  It wasn't just was voted by the school board to ban it.

This is the book that was banned, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  I actually have not read this book, but I plan to.  Very soon.  Along with the hundreds of kids who are now banned from reading this book.  Because when you ban a book, it just makes it that much more popular.  Which is awesome for the author.  But the amount of hatred towards that author is not awesome- and that part sucks. 

You can probably guess the stand most librarians and authors have on this issue.  I'm not going to go into depth why I believe book banning is wrong, because this blog isn't really here for me to rant and go all politic-y on you. 

I think my most basic argument is this:  if you are a parent, and you don't want your child to read something, then don't let them read it.  PLEASE do not decide what is okay for someone else's child to read.  Books are created for our enjoyment, and what one person may hate, another may love.  It is not for you to decide what other children should or shouldn't be reading.  A good parent is one that cares about his/her child, and talks to them about their beliefs and why they believe it.  I'm not telling parents to let their children read this book.  I am saying, let the libraries cary it, and if you need to talk to your own child about whether or not you want them to read it, then talk to them about it.  Not mine.  I'll do the talking with mine, you do the talking with yours.   And leave the book selection to the librarians.  I'm pretty sure they know what they are doing.

And guess what, when they turn 18 and out the door, you better believe they will read every book you wouldn't let them read, watch every movie you restricted, and use every curse word that was forbidden (okay probably earlier while they are out with their friends somewhere...but that's not the point).  I think the more communication we have with our children, the better off they will be as they grow into adults and their little minds are bombarded with information.  If you respect them, they will respect you.  And hopefully, whatever your wishes are (I'm not going into that right now...) they will respect them as well. 

Okay, stepping off my soap box now.

I'd like to close my post with an awesome awesome response to the recent book banning.  THIS was written to the Opinions section of a local newspaper in response to the banning of Absolutely True Diary...
I love how sarcastic he is, and what I love even more, is the fact that many people thought he was serious.

So...pick up a banned book to read next week.  You can find a list of the most challenged books in 2009 Here, and any other links to books or info on Banned Books Week.  I'm going to read Absolutely True Diary that week...  Oh wait, I can't get a copy at my library because there are 65 HOLDS on it! (and it just keeps rising!)  But have no fear!  We have many more on order!  Which means more money for the author, woot!  More publicity = more demand, which in turn = more published books! Or, I can just read one of the many other books that have been contested or banned.

Maybe I'll read this instead:      or this:   or maybe even this:

Have you ever encountered an instance in which a book has been banned in your library or school?

Happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interview with Aspiring Author Andy Thompson

I'm going to be occasionally posting interviews with aspiring authors on my blog.  I will throw in some published authors here and there as well.

UPDATE: I totally forgot to add...if you are an aspiring author shoot me an email or leave me a comment!  I'd love to interview you!! 

The first interview is with my Critique Partner, Andy Thompson.  He's got all these great ideas for this awesome fantasy world.  He's writing an epic adult novel, and will also write a YA novel set in that world.  I love reading his material, and can't wait for him to finish!

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I don't want to be an author, being an author is way too much work.  I just want to be a storyteller who gets paid to tell stories in book form. Even though I have never really wanted to be an author, I started building a fantasy world and a story in high school and I have been working on it ever since.  It was only after my wife's encouragement in the last couple years that I thought seriously about turning it into a book to be published, and only after that did I think that perhaps I could turn it into a career.

What genre do you like to write?
I write what I read, and that is epic sword and sorcery fantasy.  My primary project is an adult series, but I also have a young adult trilogy in the works that is set in the same world.  Eventually I would like to have a children's series set in my world too.

How often do you write?
Not often enough.  Writing is a very difficult labor intensive process for me and so I don't do it as much as I should.  My wife and I bought our first house in April and that took a lot of my time up until about a month ago.  But regardless of the excuse, the fact is that I am out of the habit of writing. My goal has always been to work on my books for a minimum of an hour a day, but I would say that recently (meaning since April) I probably write around 3 hours a week.  I am really trying to get back in the saddle now that summer is over though.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both, I have worked very hard to build vibrant world and I know the whole story already in my head. But as far as the actual pen to paper is concerned, I allow myself to go where the writing takes me.  Although I will make an outline every once in a while if I am having trouble getting the story to where I need to go.

Where do you write best, and do you listen to music while you write?
I go back and forth between my recliner and my desk.  Currently my desk is covered with paperwork so right now I am writing in my recliner. I always listen to music when I write. I want to give out a mix CD of the songs that inspired me when I give out copies of my book if I get published. I can tell you that the song that most inspires my adult fantasy series is Kiss From A Rose by Seal.  That would definitely be the theme song if my books would someday be made into a movie.

What is on your TBR pile?
Well I am rereading Harry Potter before the movie in November so I am currently in Goblet of Fire.  I am reading the ARC of the first book in Brandon Sanderson's new series, entitled The Way of Kings. I am also starting The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima, starting with The Demon King.

If Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling got in a cat fight, who would win?
It would never happen because JK is too classy, but in a fight between their fans, Rowling fans would win.  Hands down.

What is your “day” job?
I work as a Computer Technician for the Springfield Greene County Library

What can you not leave home without? (cell phones are off limits- NO ONE can leave home without one of those)
I am pretty low maintenance.  I carry keys, phone, wallet, wedding ring, and Chap Stick.

Mac or PC?
Depends on what I am doing.  If I want something reliable then Mac, but if I do not want to pay a premium and I like having versatility I would go PC.  For devices I would definitely go Mac.

Favorite dessert?
Éclair Cake

Favorite desert?
The Pillars of Creation (Gold Star for you if you get this reference )

Where is your dream vacation?
Touring the USA, going to every NFL stadium

Finally, link us to your website, blog, fb, twitter and anything else you might like to shamelessly plug for yourself
You can catch me on twitter: @crazywriterblog
At my daily sports blog:
And at my writing blog:

Thanks for the great questions!

Thanks for letting me interview you, Andy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Man's (and Woman's...but not mine right now) Best Friend

Ah.  The perfect dog: You start off your day with a huge kiss and happy tail wagging from the family member that probably adores you best.  Not too much kissing, because you know...slobber. Gross.  He totally knows just one lick and that's it.  Then he happily goes outside, does his business and comes in to eat breakfast.  You leave for work, leaving him out in the house because he's the best dog ever and just lies around waiting for you to come home from working all day.  He probably does your dishes for you too.  You come home, receive kisses at the door (again, just one...'cause you know, slobber. Gross).  And your pooch happily lays at your feet (at a safe distance while you rub him with said feet) until it's time for a walk.  You go on a brisk walk in the beautiful evening air, and come home to relax a little more while poochie gently plays with the kids before bedtime.  Then it's bedtime and we start the whole process over.

My dog is totally like that.  NOT.

(don't be fooled by that innocent face)

My dog is a 100 pound lap dog.  At least, that's what he thinks he is.  He has no sense of personal boundaries, and will sit on you if you happen to be lying on the floor coloring with your daughter.  He's 20 pounds overweight even though we starve him with weight-control food, and take walks (most nights).  He's huge because he counter-serfs.  He doesn't just sniff around up there... when he stands on his hind legs he towers above the counter and pretty much eats anything in sight.  Hubsies said he ate a whole bag of bread today.  It was on top of the bread box (we had an extra loaf in the breadbox), which was on top of the counter, WAY far in the back.  He snatched it while hubs was out of the room for maybe like 2 seconds.  And walks?  Yeah right- HE walks ME.  Plus he licks.  Like, A LOT.  And he pants.  In your face.  And don't even get me started on his farts.

But I can live with most of that.  He's a great dog, and I love him.  I really do. But, I had to take him to the vet for his yearly check up.  We get there early (which is a miracle because I am NEVER early for anything) and he proceeds to freak out and whine for the 20 minutes until his appointment.  Then, we get into the room and the vet comes in.  We talk, he gets weighed and we find out he gained another 10 pounds this past year.  Then my vet proceeds to yell at me for him being overweight (okay, so maybe she didn't yell...actually she wasn't even stern.  She's a very very sweet, soft-spoken lady.  So what she said was "It looks like you might have to start taking Mr Sooner on more walks" in that sweet doggie-voice.  But I just heard, "YOUR DOG IS FAT AND IT'S YOUR FAULT!" with buggy eyes and hair standing on-end). 

So he gets his shots, and we go to pay.  I hook him up to the hooky-upper thing that you can chain your dog too while you pay, and wait for them to get my bill ready.  Sooner is very agitated, but I just assume its because he's at the vet.  And he's been agitated the whole time.  A line starts forming behind me, and I'm getting a little more nervous as he gets more nervous while we wait.  So I'm waiting...and I start to smell poop.  I'm thinking, "Man, someone's dog just took a dump".  So I casually look over at Sooner and


A huge pile of crap is steaming on the floor, next to my dog, slowly permeating every nose in the place, threatening to make everyone spew their lunch all over each other. 


So, breaking into a sweat, I tell the nice lady that my dog just pooped, and Oh my god, I'm so embarrassed, and Oh my god I'm so sorry, and PLEASE JUST LET ME PAY SO I CAN LEAVE!  Okay so that last part wasn't said, but I was screaming it in my head.  FINALLY, finally, I pay and high-tail it out of there, so embarrassed, and I probably can't show my face in there again...although they probably won't recognize me considering my face was probably the color of a tomato. 

SO.  After all that, I still love my dog.  He is so wonderful with Little Monster and literally lets her ride around on him, dress him up, and basically lets her abuse him to no end.  But seriously, he is SO not my best friend right now. 

P.S. I'm not even going to mention the time that he was left outside by accident when we went out for the day, and we came back to find a window screen completely ripped out with the shade shredded to pieces and claw marks up and down the trim.
P.P.S. or the time that he was accidentally left out of his crate inside, and the pantry door was accidentally left open and he had gotten into the trash can and I came home to find trash ALL over the house...and poop all over the back doormat.

Nope.  Not gonna mention those.  Love my dog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bosses...Love them or Hate them?

Fortunately, I have the extreme pleasure of saying that I love my boss.  Of course, if I hated her, I probably wouldn't be doing a post about it.  Because she will probably read this.  And then I'd find out that my stash of skittles is actually a stash of laxatives....after I've eaten them all.

Anyway, not very many people can say that they truly love everything about their boss.  But seriously...she's awesome.  She's like my very own pseudo-mom down here (uh, I mean sister...). 

She has her own family, and her own problems to worry about, but she makes time for me and truly cares about me.  Recently, hubsies and I had to make a life-changing decision- boiled down, it was pretty much stay here or move away.  In the beginning I told him that we'd seriously have to stay because my boss would probably chain me to my office chair and not let me leave (we work in very close quarters- there are three of us, in a tiny office...all day...together- I'd probably start to smell after a while...).  She pretty much hinted at that when we were discussing this decision at work the other day.  I thought both of us would break down crying any minute, and I just had to leave before the water-works were turned on (don't tell her that I noticed she might cry...she's so totally tough, it's not even funny...but under that hard shell is really a warm, soft 

Anyway, so I had told her I would let her know our decision the next day, and of course with everything around me seeming to fall to pieces, I neglected to call her and tell her our decision.  She called me at home on a Saturday to find out what it was (we're staying, by-the-way).  I was so touched that she called me to see how everything was going, that I just had to write about it on my blog.  Now, you're probably saying, "Abby- she totally just wants you to stay because you are the best Interlibrary Loan Assistant ever, and the world of ILL would fall apart without you." Yes, of course it would.  But, I truly believe it's more than that. 

Here's why: if it was only because of the job, she wouldn't have gotten me this for my birthday:
(Okay, so I totally got rid of the picture she put in there- it was of much as I like to stare at myself occasionally...all day while I'm trying to write is a little distracting...I mean..seriously)

Plus, she gave me a huge bag of skittles (and a totally awesome coaster for the cupholder in my new car).  Does this lady know me, or what?  Anyone that knows me, knows I love candy.  Plus, those that know me intimately (well, before a week ago when I started this blog and announced to the world that I am trying to write a book...which might be a huge mistake now that I think about it..hello!  Expectations!) know that I have wanted to write a book for a long time.  She told me the minute she saw that in the store she HAD to get it for me.  A boss who doesn't care about me, and only cares about my work would not do that.

I really feel like I can tell her anything, and know that she has my best interest at heart.  I still love her even when she lectures me like a mom- like when she lectured me about posting things on facebook that are a little too personal or discloses my husband's location and the fact that I'm home alone or something (totally what my mom does), I still think she's awesome (just like my mom).

Anyway, before this post becomes a love letter to my boss (too late), I just wanted to say how much I appreciate her and all she does.  She is one of the hardest workers I know, and is so dedicated- not only to us and her job, but to her family and friends.  I'm am truly very happy to say how awesome she is, and that when the day comes for one of us to leave, an ark better be ready because the flood gates will open.

So... here's the big question- what should I put in that little frame??

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Team Edward? Jacob? How about Jareth?

Here's a doozy of a photo to finish out your workday:

(although I think the grey pants he wears in the movie show off his um...features better)

Yes, Jareth, you sparkle so much Edward would be jealous.  I've been blinded by your sparkles so many times it's countless, but I keep coming back for more. 

Here's a tip: watch Labyrinth in Blue Ray and everything is a hundred times more clear...I mean everything.  Ah, Jareth...who reminds me of the babe?  Yep, you do. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Playing the Waiting Game

Waiting...everybody does it.  Whether it's in line at the checkout counter (why do I always pick the SLOWEST line?), or waiting for that paycheck every other Friday, or maybe just waiting for your child to stop goofing around and put her clothes on because we're late for school.

Some people have a more intense type of wait.  The type from the moment you find out you have to wait, all the way up until the moment you hear whatever it is you need to hear.  That part is agonizing.  I would consider this waiting to see if you made a part in the play you just auditioned for, waiting to hear back after a job interview, waiting to find out about test results, or it could be waiting to hear back from the many agents you just queried your book to.

You know you are not going to find out for three or four days, but your mind tells you that you need to know NOW.  You can't concentrate on anything.  Your bones are about to shake right out of your skin, and you feel like you may need to run to the nearest trash can, and there is nothing you can do about it.  Nothing.  Except take deep breaths, and try to busy yourself with something else.  By the last day, when you KNOW you are supposed to hear something, you give yourself an ulcer just agonizing over it.  It's drawn out until the very last minute, threatening to empty the contents of your stomach more than once.  You don't need coffee this day- your adrenaline does the job for you. find out.  YES, finally my tilting world should right itself and everything will be back to normal. WRONG.  You get thrown some kind of curve ball and the roller coaster starts up again. 

Life seems like one big waiting game.  I just need to learn to grab that game and rattle it's pieces.  Play it differently, take it by surprise.  That's what makes it interesting.  The ups and downs keep life in perspective (even if it may feel like an alien inside you is trying to rip your insides out), and they motivate you to keep trying and do whats best for you.

Anyway, I imagine this is what it will be like to query agents.  And then when I get an agent, this is what it would be like to have my book pitched to publishers.  And then when a publisher picks it up, this is what it will be like while I wait for it to come out in a YEAR or more.  And then when it finally comes out, this is what it will be like waiting for those reviews- hoping you get 5 stars instead of none.  And do it all over again with your next book.  This is the life writers/authors/illustrators choose.  Because we love to write.  Like all of us passionate writers say, it's not about the money or the fame (if it is we chose the wrong business- Stephanie's and J.K.'s don't happen every day), it's about getting our story out for everyone to hear. 

I'm not ready to play that waiting game yet, but I've got plenty of other waiting games to keep me occupied.  Now if I could just get that game called Life in order, I'd be set, right?

No seriously, where is my board game Life?  I have a sudden urge to play it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

New(ish) Desk to Do Official Writerly Stuff

After a year of typing out my book on a glider, with my laptop literally on my lap, I got a new desk! 

(Okay, so that chair is insanely uncomfortable- I think it was made in the 1800's, but that's all I have for now...oh, and ignore the ugly paint color- we bought the house a year ago and still have yet to paint our room...we're waiting for that perfect bedroom suite to smack us in the face)

Well, technically its not brand new- its the big one that we had in our office/playroom/guestroom/tv room.

 Hubsters got a cute little desk just for his computer. 

All he does is play WOW with his brother and friends, and occasionally Little Monster will play her Spongebob games on it.  So we (I) decided it'd be best for him to have a small one, and me to have the big giant one to do writerly type things on.  And the bills.  And planning stuff.  And everything else I do that requires a desk.

I feel kinda sad for my glider.  It's been pretty faithful after all these years.  It was back in 2005 when we got it...I still remember the day it came shiny and new to our door (my wonderful sis bought it for us!), hubs put it together using beautiful, eloquent words, and finally it was ready for Baby.  Baby came, and Mr. Glider held us in his cushiony arms, absorbing spit up like a champ.  Baby grew up, and turned into Little Monster but Mr. Glider wasn't put, Little Monster still likes to rock when she's sad.  And then, in Feb of 2009, I had a revelation.  I NEED to write this book that has been swimming inside my head for a long time.  Hubs agreed to buy me a laptop only IF I started writing it.  No problem.  So laptop was bought, and I had nowhere to go, so Mr. Glider accepted me with open arms.  Looking a little worn with stains from who knows where, I didn't discriminate.  So I started writing. 

Flash forward to a year later, a new house, and a faithful Mr. Glider still rocking away.  I've moved on to a bigger desk, but Mr. Glider will always have a place in my heart.  Hopefully we will have many more days of rocking Little Monster...even when she's 15.  Hey and you never know, maybe I'll sit and write on Mr Glider sometime just for old time's sake. 

(Dude, ignore the mess...that was my desk for a year...seriously.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thanks for Letting Me Stalk You

Do you ever have those days where you wake up, and everything in front of you is so overwhelming that you just want to crawl back into the comfort of your own bed?  But then reality takes you by your sheets and flips you out into the day, forcing you to face it.  Or in my case, Little Monster comes in around 7 and stands there staring at me until I feel her creepy presence and wake with a start.  It also doesn't help that I had slept on the couch up until about 6 am because Hubs is sick with a cold, and he managed to consume the entire bed so I couldn't fit on it.  Anyway, the power of this all encompassing, overwhelming feeling seems to try to drag me down the rest of the day.  My house is a mess and I don't know where to start cleaning it.  I am groggy from taking anit-nausea meds the night before and I really do just want to go back to sleep, and Little Monster wants breakfast, the tv turned on, and a playmate.  All by 7am. 

Then, I sit down at my computer and read the author and agent blogs I keep up with.  And I'm so overwhelmed with doubt that I just want to quit writing.  Writing is scary- you spend all this time on a novel- your baby- and when you are done, you send it out fresh and new into the world only to hear back that the agents wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.  I haven't had the privilege of going through that just yet.  I'm not even finished with my book.  But now I wonder if I'm procrastinating so I don't have to revise and make it perfect, and then write that perfect query that will catch the agents eye, and go through rejections only to realize that maybe this novel is not "the one", and then have to start from scratch.

I just don't know if I'm ready for all of that!  Maybe that's why I started my blog.  To waste more time not writing, and not getting closer to my goal.  But you know what?  Determination is what sets true writers apart from those with just a dream.  I need to turn my doubt into encouragement when I read other authors blogs who've made it, or when I get awesome tips from literary agents.  That is what should keep me going, and it should not be bringing me down. 

So really what I should be doing, is thanking all those authors that share their awesome stories of getting their first novel published.  Their experiences should give me the fuel I need to finish my book, revise like there's no tomorrow, and write the best darn query letter of my life.  So thank you.  Thank you.  I really love you.  Serioulsy. I do.  (authors are totally like celebrities for me)  Okay, sounding stalkerish...really, I'm not.  Okay, just a little..but I guess it is kinda stalkerish to anticipate with a drooling mouth what my favorite author or agent will write today on their blog. 

Okay so, seriously though.  Pep talk- for all you aspiring authors out there, just keep going.  Keep reading up on the business, doing your research, finishing that book and revising like crazy.  So many authors have gone through what I am, and so many of them finally get that book published.  It's a crazy road, and we do it because we love it.  We want people to read our stories, and want our characters come to life.  Just try a little harder each day (and I am seriously trying hard to take my own advice, here) not to be too overwhelmed, and turn that doubt into encouragement.

Okay, now on to stopping the procrastination and doing something productive today.  Um...maybe I'll start tomorrow...I need a nap.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Post

I'm sitting here outside on this gorgeous day with Hubsters while Little Monster jumps on the trampoline with a neighborhood friend.  Ah, this is the life.  Beautiful weather, the kid is occupied, and Hubs and I sit in companionable silence.  Oh, and the MILLION dogs barking at us from all sides of the yard.  But still...peace.  Oh wait, there's the train that runs practically in our back yard...  and we're back to peace. we've all migrated inside because there is a wasp nest under the trampoline.  Ah, peace.

Anyway, so this is my first post.  I guess I should try to convince you as to why you should follow my blog out of the TONS of other blogs out there about being a mother, wife, trying to write, having a part time job, and overall juggling my hectic life.  But honestly, I can't give you a good reason.  It probably is the same as every other blog out there.  But, dear readers, (I say readers, meaning my mom and the guy that accidentally stumbles on to my blog because he was googling how to keep his head above water while swimming...hi mom! and...random guy..) even if I don't drastically change your lives with my posts (but if I do, that would be awesome), I hope to at least provide you with a bit of entertainment and insight into my experiences in trying to write YA novels.

I promise I won't try too hard to get you to like me, but I hope you do!  Check back regularly because I plan on updating this thing every couple days.  We'll see how that works out, and don't hesitate to contact me with questions!