March 27, 2012

Book Cover Lookalikes

I've been piddling around with this post for a few weeks, giggling like an idiot while I came up with the cover comparisons. And then I clicked onto YA Highway's post today, and lo and behold, they beat me to the punch. Ah well. I figure I'll just go ahead and give you what I've got. They're far too fun not to share. Bear in mind that this is not an exact thing. It's that situation where you have to do a double take when you see a cover thinking you saw someone else on it. A quick look that leaves you thinking: Holy buckets, that person looks a little like [fill in the blank with a celebrity name].

So this, my friends, is what sometimes happens when publishers choose to go with photographs of actual people on the covers of books, especially in YA, it would seem:

Vampire Academy meets Angelina Jolie = Jolie Academy??
Thanks to my sister (who pointed this one out), I'll never be able
to look at my copy of Ophelia again without seeing Michael Cera.
It's not exact, but it's close enough to make me think Incarnate cover girl
resembles Jackie Emerson aka 'Foxface' from the Hunger Games movie.
Slap a fascinator on Gathering gal and you've almost got Kate Middleton.
Well hello, Ms. Moore. That dress looks awfully nice on you on that cover.
I don't watch True Blood, but this Folly cover model is a dead ringer, right?
Where She Went? Um, she's Lost on an island somewhere. And she's blonde.
 
In completely unrelated and completely awful news, my notebook's hard drive cacked out today. Yep, it up and crashed on me, and now I can't even turn my notebook on. The super fun thing about this is that lately I've become a bit slack with backing up all of the BIG changes I've made to my WiP. Right now I'm afraid of the possibility that even the techiest of techie dudes won't be able to save it. That scares me because I'm not sure I can replicate the many changes I've made, particularly in the wording. Think happy thoughts. Think about Peeta. Think happy thoughts. Think about Peeta... So until I can get this mess all sorted out, I may be a little absent on the blogs. We'll just have to see. 

Here's hoping the odds are in my favor...

P.S. I should probably mention that this lovely notebook is only 3 months old. And it was free (as part of a contract deal with our TV/internet/phone provider). Which proves one or two things: 1) Few things are actually free, and 2) HP pretty much sucks. You hear that, HP? You stink. The End.

March 22, 2012

Stereotypes Suck Pants

I'm going to try really hard not to go into a rant here. And I hope I don't come across as snarky either. Today while I was on Twitter, one of the dudes that I follow retweeted this fun little snippet:

"I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada." (Bill Maher in the article Please Stop Apologizing)

Hardy har. This is me (a Canadian) yucking it up. Right. Can we all agree that stereotypes suck? It's never okay to suggest that all Asians excel in Math or that all athletes are stupid. Stereotypes suggest a kind of laziness and ignorance in the people who peddle them. It says that we just can't be bothered to learn about a culture, a person, or whatever. Sure, we Canadians like to mock ourselves, but that's our prerogative as Canadians. But it's all in good fun. Um, not if the butt of the joke isn't laughing anymore. We've all stereotyped in one way or another whether we like to admit it or not. But maybe we should try to do it a little lot less.

I don't want you to think that I don't have a sense of humour or can't take a joke, but mocking my country even in good fun really bothers me (because sadly, many people believe the jokes). Canada is frequently the butt of jokes on TV, the worst offenders shows like South Park* and How I Met Your Mother. ** I figure if it bothers me this much, maybe I should try informing rather than scowling and moaning about it. So here goes...

Popular Misconceptions Aboot Aboat About Canada, Eh?:*** 

1.  Canadians are nice and never offend anyone.
Ha! If only this were true. The population of jerks per capita in Canada probably equals that of most other countries. I've lived in Germany, spent a whole summer in Scotland, and visited many places around the US and Europe and have met many nice and polite people in all of these locales. Canada does not have a monopoly on niceness. Capiche?
2.  We all talk in this wacked out accent rife with aboots and ehs.
Wrong. I will admit to saying 'eh' on occasion, but it's not a conversational crutch for me, nor is this the case with most people I know. The only place in this country that you might hear about pronounced aboot is Newfoundland and it's such a tiny percentage of our population. Sure you might know someone from Canada who speaks like this, but then I also know Americans who say y'all. Do all y'all say y'all? Do all English folk say "Jolly good, pip pip, cheerio, my good man"? No? Didn't think so.
3.  We hate Americans.
Again: wrong. Man, we hate you so much that we share tons of things with you like "the largest bilateral relationship of any two nations on Earth" (Source). We also watch all your TV and movies, buy products from all your companies, and frequently travel to visit your beautiful country on vacation. Not exactly something I'd call hate. More like friendship.
4.  It's always cold here (Canada = The Great White North or a polar icecap).
Sure we get more than our fair share of chilly days in the winter, but we also get very hot temperatures in the summer as well. Every summer for as long as I can remember we have hit 30°C (86°F) or higher. There are places in Canada that see far more rainfall than they do snow (like the Western coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island). We don't live in igloos, ski season does end, and most of us have never seen a polar bear (except at a zoo).
5.  Our national anthem (O, Canada) is to the tune of O, Christmas Tree.
Not even close, actually. There are plenty of versions (most of them cheesy) on YouTube. Here's one with pretty pictures of our very pretty country (P.S. It has a polar bear in it).
6.   We all know so and so from [fill in the blank] in Canada.
I promise you I don't know that person you know from Canada. Canada is BIG****. Our population is only four times that of New York City, but as far as sheer landmass, we are the second largest country in the world. We're just spread out a lot. However, 90% of our population lives within 160km (100 miles) of the USA/Canada border (see #4).
7.  Our national security and/or military stinks.
Untrue. Did you know that Canada was involved in WWII from the beginning? To this day, Holland sends tulip bulbs every year to Ottawa, our nation's capitol, to thank us for being so instrumental in their country's liberation. We also established a beachhead at Juno Beach during the invasion of Normandy. We've been involved in a number of other military endeavors since then, but more recently, our troops were involved in the war in Afghanistan. Our armed forces are frequently among the first to provide aid in times of emergency and natural disaster globally. CSIS, our Intelligence branch, works with both the CIA and MI5 in stopping threats to national security. They also work in conjunction with our federal police service, the RCMP. Side note: the Mounties aren't always dressed in the Red Serge. It's just their dress uniform. Normally, they dress like normal police officers, which we also have all across Canada as not all of our cops are Mounties. I worked for a local police force myself for a while (here's proof).
8.  We all speak English and French.
English and French may be Canada's national languages, but not every Canadian can speak both. Some places in Quebec (our French province) people speak only French, and many Canadians either don't speak it at all, or know very little. Canada is very diverse with groups of people from all over the world, and just as many different languages.
Watching my brother-in-law carry the torch.
9.  Canadians aren't patriotic.
Canadians are patriotic, we just aren't loud about it. Except for this one time where we unleashed the beast and let the world know just how proud we are to belong to this country (think Vancouver 2010). As a nation, we'll never be the same again, and that's a good thing.
10.  We're all hockey, beer, and maple syrup fans.
Okay, this one is mostly true. Go Edmonton Oilers!!

Like I said, I'm not trying to be all ranty or snarky, but the only way to clear up some of these misconceptions is to share a little about this wonderful country I'm proud to call home.

_________________________________________________
*The South Park movie had a song entitled "Blame Canada" that was nominated for an Oscar.
**Cobie Smulders (Robin) is Canadian, but does this give them license to crack jokes about us? 
***See, I have a sense of humour :-)
****Canada has a total area of 9.9 million square kilometres (3.8 million square miles) and touches three different oceans--the Atlantic, the Arctic, and the Pacific (Source).

March 21, 2012

RTW: Favourite Literary Moment

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

This week's topic:
A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision...these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.

What is your favourite literary moment?

Seneca's Beard (!)*, this one's a toughie. There are many, let me tell you. One literary moment that stands out for sure (I was reminded of it by Beck Nicholas today) was THE moment in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. If you've read it, you'll know what part I mean, and if you have yet to read it (seriously, what are you waiting for?) I haven't spoiled anything. Usually, my favourite moments in books are the romantic ones when the protag and his/her love interest finally get together. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good kiss (ewww, that sounded gross the way I worded that there).

And so, because I can't really nail down just one, I'm going to go with the most relevant right now. I'm currently rereading The Hunger Games trilogy to buff up on my HG knowledge before the movie this weekend, and there are any number of moments to choose from in all three books. The berries. Rue. Peeta's first interview(!) with Caesar Flickerman. But for whatever reason, this is the scene that popped into my head when I read today's RTW topic:
"You here to finish me off, Sweetheart?"
***Caution: Spoilers ahead. Though, the fact that I have to say this makes me wonder if you've been living under a rock. Or buried in the mud... Seriously.***

The first time I read The Hunger Games, this part just made me squeal with glee (I refuse to use the word "squee"). Katniss and Peeta are finally reunited after getting separated from the start. And of course it leads right into The Cave Scene (which feels like it needs CAPS, an excess of exclamatory punctuation, stars, bolding, and underlining) which I absolutely loved. But ever since that first time reading it and stumbling across this particular image:


There is no way that I'll be able to read that scene now without snorting, without craving chocolate cake, and without seeing Peeta in a wholly unflattering, unsexy light. Awesome. Not that there's anything particularly hot about being buried in the mud, bleeding. Except after this weekend, I'm hoping these wacky and cakey images will be replaced permanently by a better one. One like this:

THAT'S what I'm talking about (in a total non-cougar way, I promise).
Completely non-RTW-related, but Hunger Games-related... I attempted to do the Katniss braid (aka a Dutch braid) in my hair before bed last night just to see if I could (read: because I'm just cheesy enough to consider wearing it that way to the movie). My hair is thicker than Jennifer Lawrence's so it doesn't look quite the same, but I think you get the idea. So I guess I succeeded in figuring out the braid, but also in giving myself a massive kink in my neck in the process, which is still painfully present this morning. Which really only emphasizes one thing: I'd definitely be the first one to drop and the first cannon-fire you'd hear if I was tossed in the arena.

Bah! Not quite, but close enough.

*I'm still trying to make the exclamation "Seneca's Beard!" happen. Have you seen that thing? It's like it's a character in and of itself.

March 20, 2012

April Showers, May Flowers, and...Books!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is all about Spring and books! Today is the first day of Spring, and what better way to kick it off than to feature book releases between today and June 21st?

The topic was Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List, but since there are just too many if you include all the ones already in my possession, I thought I'd stick with books that are not yet out. I know it's been said already, but there are just far too many books, and far too little time to read them. So we'll start with my Spring 2012 TBR list (in order of release date and linked to their Goodreads summaries):

1.  A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont (March 27th)
The MC, Emma, in this story gets sucked into a copy of Jane Eyre, one of my favourite classic reads. Sounds like a dream come true (minus the crazypants wife). Sign me up!
2.  The List by Siobhan Vivian (April 1st)
From Goodreads: "An intense look at the rules of high school attraction--and the price that's paid for them." The list is basically a hot or not ranking that goes up every year, destructive in many ways. This feels like it could be good, but also difficult to read.
3.  Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (April 10th)
Fans of TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon A Time, might find this one appealing. 
4.  Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (April 24th)
From Goodreads:  A "reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's gothic horror story The Masque of the Red Death". A deadly plague, romance, and saving the human race? Yes, please.
5.  The Selection by Kiera Cass (April 24th)
From the sounds of it, a girly dystopian with a kickass heroine. Not sure if you know, but it will be airing as a weekly TV drama on the CW this Fall. Could be interesting.

6.  Insurgent by Veronica Roth (May 1st)
This one tops my Spring 2012 TBR list, but also my 2012 TBR list in general. I've been waiting for this one since reading Divergent (twice) last year. It's been a very long wait!
7.  Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (May 1st)
I actually have an ARC of this which I received from Bailey at Over Yonder... I still have yet to read Graceling and Fire, but those are up next after I finish my reread of Mockingjay. It would feel like a waste of an ARC if I didn't read it before its release.
8.  Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (May 8th)
I'm a total sucker for a fairy tale adaptation/retelling, so this one caught my attention. It takes on The Frog Prince, made popular by the Brothers Grimm. Intriguing....
9.  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (June 5th)
Between the recommendation on the cover by Veronica Roth, and the total fangirling on Twitter by folks that I follow (one said she loved it as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor), I'm pretty much sold. Not sure if it is set in Russia or what (the cover and names point in that direction), but that would only make it more appealing.
10.  My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (June 14th)
After reading (and loving) Stephanie Perkins' books this Fall, I went on a hunt for something similar. In my Goodreads wanderings I stumbled upon this book, and found this description appealing: "A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another." Still a ways to go :(

What book releases are you eagerly anticipating this Spring?

March 19, 2012

A Bad Case of the Dumps

Yes, you read that right. And no, it's not what it sounds like. What I'm talking about is the dreaded infodump. Heck, the very word itself feels like it should have hissing and booing as a soundtrack. So why did I bring up the infodump (*sounds of hissing and booing*)? Well, as it turns out I'm a 'violator' of the worst sort when it comes to this.

For some time now the beginning of my WiP has been giving me a headache. I don't hate it, but something just feels wrong and it is almost certainly the backstory infodump I felt compelled to include. Here's the thing: I don't hate backstory. I also don't hate prologues. Both, if you believe everything you read, are supposedly things that everybody like, ever born absolutely can't stand (NB: sarcasm totally intended). These kinds of generalizations kind of drive me bonkers. I think it would probably be a safe bet that this makes more sense: Backstory and prologues suck when they don't add anything to the story. Can we agree on that? Some authors manage to do both of these well. Take J. K. Rowling, for instance, who masterfully worked a prologue into Chapter One of the first Harry Potter book.

The sad fact is, I am not J. K. Rowling.

I'm writing a sci fi story, and with that comes a great deal of world-building. One of the things that I can't stand as a reader is being plunked down in a world that I can make neither heads nor tails of. So just how much explanation is necessary? Example: As much as I loved Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky*, I was initially put off by the fact that I didn't really understand what was going on. Maybe I'm just thick. In the end, I loved the book and I'm really glad I didn't put it down.

I set out this morning searching the web for justification for my backstory infodump. Let me tell ya, there was very little to be had. General consensus: Infodumps blow chunks. Avoid them altogether. Stop. Just stop. To which I say: Great. The most popular piece of advice on this topic? Hack it out or weave it into the story in very small, palatable morsels. I bet you can't guess what's on my agenda today? From the sounds of it, infodumps are a rookie mistake and are often symptomatic of a bad case of telling instead of showing. And here I thought I had a handle on 'show don't tell'.

Two of my favourite books--Divergent and The Hunger Games--don't shy away from backstory or (slight) infodumps, but the authors do it so well you don't feel like reading it is a giant slog-fest. In both cases, more information is required for the reader to understand what the heck is going on. In Divergent we need to understand what the deal is with the factions and why they came to be. In The Hunger Games, it's pretty crucial that the reader has information early on about the Districts and about the Reaping itself. But neither author leads with this backstory. It's okay for the reader to have questions because that's what keeps them reading (Case in point: Why I stuck with Under the Never Sky and wasn't disappointed). You just have to hope that these questions you've raised are intriguing enough and your writing compelling enough for your readers to come along for the ride.

I'm sure much of this is old news to you, but I thought I'd share my thoughts on the issue. So what about you? Do you have a bad case of the dumps too? Do you hate infodumps and backstory?
_________________________________________________________
*In this particular case, much was made clear(er) as the book went on.

March 14, 2012

Debut Author Interview: Jessica Therrien

As a participant in the Oppression Blog Tour, I have the privilege of welcoming brand spankin' new author Jessica Therrien to the blog today. This is my very first bona fide author interview, so I'm a little bit excited. But before we get started, here's an introduction to Jessica (from Goodreads):

Jessica Therrien is the author of OPPRESSION, book one in her YA paranormal romance/adventure series, CHILDREN OF THE GODS. OPPRESSION was published by ZOVA books in February 2012.

Jessica is a graduate of San Diego State University. She lived in Taiwan for a year where she learned Chinese, but she lives in Chula Vista now, where everyone speaks Spanish instead. Although she is a Strategic Planner at the Otay Water District, her alter ego is a writer, who loves the arts with a passion.

Jessica is currently writing book two in her CHILDREN OF THE GODS series.

So without further ado, welcome Jessica!

A Little More About You
What is a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
 I'm completely, deathly, crazy afraid of aliens. I know...so weird. I blame E.T.

What books have influenced your life most?
1.  Where the Red Fern Grows - Because when I read it as a kid I cried for three days.
2.  Harry Potter - Because I'd never read books so fast in my life.
3.  Do I dare say Twilight (don't throw tomatoes...) - Because it started my YA book addiction.
4.  The Hunger Games - Because I'd never read anything so compelling.
5.  Divergent - Because it made me realize what kind of writer I want to be.

Your story touches on Greek mythology. If you could be any mythological being, who would you be?
In terms of traditional Greek mythology, I'd be Aphrodite, the goddess of love. If we're strictly talking Children of the Gods, I'd be descendant of Hermes or Iris for the reason I list in the next question.

Would you want to have a supernatural ability like Elyse? And if so, what would it be?
Who wouldn't want a supernatural ability? Heck yeah, I would want one. I would want the ability to fly.

About Writing In General
Which one are you: Super Plotter OR Pantser Extraordinaire (or a little bit of both)?
Honestly, I start out trying to be a Super Plotter. I'm a complete perfectionist. However, my writing brain doesn't like to listen. It goes in all sorts of crazy directions, and by the time I'm finished, my outline is completely irrelevant.

I'm a Pantser Extraordinaire at heart.

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing process?
My brain likes to give me ideas when it wants to, not when it's necessarily the most convenient time. I could have the whole day free to write, and nothing comes, instead it chooses to give me ideas in the middle of grocery shopping or driving. Thank God for my droid.

Where do you get your ideas for your stories? What inspires you?
My best ideas come from brainstorming sessions with my mom and sister. Talking about my books always gets my creative juices flowing. I'm inspired by music, good TV *cough* The Vampire Diaries *cough*, and memories. I love to use memories in my writing.

What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Go to a writers conference. That's what worked for me. Even if you don't get what you're looking for, you'll meet great writer friends.

About Your Debut Novel Oppression
How did the idea for Oppression come about?
I needed something new to feed my YA book addiction. At the time, I wasn't finding it, so I wrote what I knew I wanted to read. Now that the YA genre has exploded, there are so many great YA books out there.

What was the hardest part about writing Oppression?
For me, editing was the hardest part, but also the most rewarding. It's hard to change something you've worked for years to make perfect, but in the end, so worth it.

From beginning to end, how long did it take you to complete the first draft of your story?
That's a hard question to answer because I gave up so many times. I wouldn't write for months. I want to say two years, counting those months I set it aside.

Which of your characters in Oppression was your favourite to write?
Oddly enough, it's Kara. She was never supposed to play a big part, but she just sort of took on a life of her own. I couldn't ignore her. She just weaseled her way into the story.

*     *     *

Thanks, Jessica for the interview! I read Oppression just prior to its launch and really enjoyed it. I'll definitely be picking up a copy of Children of the Gods #2 when it hits shelves so I can find out what happens next. If you haven't read it yet, you can find it at:

Amazon (US, CAN, UK)
Kindle (for only $0.99!)
Nook (for only $0.99!)
You can also buy a signed copy on Jessica's blog (very cool!)

For those of you taking part in The Debut Author Challenge through The Story Siren's blog, this would be a good one to add to your list.



March 13, 2012

A Girl With a Grammar Goal

After reading Liz Parker's (The English Bad Ass) post today about ellipses, I got to thinking about grammar and just how badly mine needs a tuneup. Certain glaring grammatical errors drive me bonkers like the best of them (they're/their/there screwups, 'yous guys', 'I seen', and so on), but I know there are grammatical no-nos that I'm guilty of (like ending this sentence with a preposition for starters). It's all a little overwhelming, though.

I don't really remember learning grammar in school (I'm sure we did) except for the time in grade seven where my idiot teacher made every boy in our class cry at the blackboard because none of them had any clue what they were doing. What a winner. I took French from grade one right through grade twelve and we definitely learned grammar in those classes. Too bad my brain can't easily convert this French grammar knowledge into its English equivalent.

Hoping to improve my grammar, I took two Linguistics courses in University. Sadly, I didn't take away a whole lot more than the fact that Klingon uses a lot of glottal stops (don't ask). Knowing that my grammar was less than stellar, I purchased Grammar For Dummies some time ago. Turns out I was a dummy for even purchasing it, that's how useless the book is. It has mostly been a non-issue whether I knew how to properly use a semicolon, or whether I have a major comma addiction. Until now. Now that I'm writing with hopes of getting published, I know it's important to fine tune all of these previously not-so-important details. Spelling has never been a problem, but punctuation?

I know how to use the semicolon in theory, but in practice I'm like a deer in the headlights. I use em dashes and ellipses a lot more than I should, and I think I mostly get their usage, but I'm still not 100% certain. As for commas, whoever it was that told me to place a comma anywhere you would naturally pause for breath when reading aloud was kind of wrong. Goodness, if this was actually the case, at the rate I'm dropping commas you'd think I was a chain smoker running a marathon... while smoking. To quote Oscar Wilde:
"I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out."
One thing I definitely know about commas: I'm a big fan of the Oxford comma. Always have been, always will be. In my opinion, a sentence containing a series reads completely wrong without it.

Exactly. So, so wrong. Move over Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and make room for Abraham Lincoln: Rhino. Maybe there will come a day when everybody stops using the Oxford comma, but I guarantee you that I will be among the last, clinging to it like there's no tomorrow.

Anyway, I've decided it's high time I learned the whens and hows of punctuation usage once and for all, if for no other reason than to avoid complete and utter embarrassment when I query my WiP. Do you know of any really good sources for buffing up on grammar? I checked out the Grammar Girl website today, but could definitely use more suggestions. I'm open to non-internet options too.

March 12, 2012

Monday Murmlings

I feel like I haven't posted in ages, but in reality it's only been since Thursday. A lot has been going on since then and I haven't really been able to post anything. This is what's been going on and what I'm thinking about this Monday morning:

1)  Since Thursday I've relocated to my parents' place an hour away for the next month or so (family health situation). It's amazing how much stuff you have to bring along when you're away from home indefinitely. I seriously feel like a traveling circus, like the Ringling Brothers or something. Between my parents' cats and mine it's a little like a zoo around here, which is wonderful for my allergies. Good times, good times. Still, it's nice to spend time with my mom and to be able to help out in whatever way I can.

2)  Change Write Now Round 2 started up on Sunday so those of us participating have been getting to know our teammates and making some important changes to our lifestyles. This has been challenging for me since my schedule and surroundings have changed, but I'm giving it my best shot and so far so good. I ate out last night and was very proud of myself for choosing a healthier option from a menu teeming with yummy-looking pizza and other temptations.

3)  I bonked my head so hard getting into a minivan yesterday that I was honestly concerned about having a concussion (no joke). I've got some serious skills, obviously. First day with my new head.... Last night's sleep was hardly a good one as my mom woke me up every couple of hours just to make sure I was okay. Needless to say, neither of us feels overly motivated to do a whole lot today. Boo.

4)  Before leaving home I printed off a copy of my WiP (aka Beaster Book), and actually seeing that sucker stacked on my desk was both exciting and alarming. I plan on doing some serious revisions over the next while and I know this will be way better on paper. I do feel bad about wasting paper, but it'll be easier than doing it all on computer. I'm still hoping to be mostly done this story before we head off on our trip to Scotland at the start of May. We'll have to see how that goes.

5)  Today is the LA premiere of The Hunger Games movie! I caved to some of the commercialism and bought a mockingjay prop replica pin which I will probably wear until it falls off. I also gave in to the temptation of the China Glaze Hunger Games nail polishes. Yes, I'm a little embarrassed about this, but they were just really cool. Since my mail is being held while I'm away I won't have them in time for the movie. Too bad. I'm fully expecting to see a pile of Katniss-inspired braids at the movie, along with the possibility of Capitol-inspired fashion. I'll be sporting my HG tee and mockingjay pin!

So what's on your mind this Monday morning? Go ahead and share a little of your brain vomit.

March 8, 2012

An Excerpt From My WiP (*tries not to hurl*)

I've been tagged in the Lucky 7 Meme by Rachel Pudelek over at A Rainy Day Writer In the Evergreen State. The requirement of this meme is to take my current WiP, flip to the 77th page, down to the 7th line, and to post the following 7 lines. Hence the '7' in Lucky 7. I should preface this by saying that I have massive heart palpitations and feel a little queasy at the moment. Why you ask? Well, I haven't shared my writing with anyone yet. Period. Not even my husband. So with that in mind and also the fact that this hasn't been critiqued/ revised/polished/whatever, here's my excerpt from Watch of Night (I like to think of it as YA Sci Fi Lite):

     Hyperion was a hulking silver ship floating on a sea of nothingness as far as the eye could see. That’s if you didn’t count the horseshoe ring of the Colony surrounding it. I didn’t. It was secluded and lonely and I despised the very sight of it. Over the next few days I avoided everyone, Cal included, secretly plotting my escape. If I’d been thinking rationally, I would never have attempted something so ridiculous. But when my moment finally arrived, I seized it with both hands. One of the Colony’s doors was propped open to admit the latest arrival of plucky new colonists. Nobody noticed when I slipped through the crowd and out to freedom.
     Or so I thought.  (← I totally cheated and added the 8th line.)

So there you have it. It's a very brief flashback of how the protag, Carina, felt about being a part of the Hyperion mission (she had no say in the matter). The rest of the story is told in the First Person, in present tense (big surprise in YA, right?). This WiP has become a big snarly beast and my first draft still isn't quite done. It's going to be a real pleasure (not) to revise, as you can well imagine.

And now, because I really should get back to my writing (I haven't written in nearly two weeks) I kind of need to forego passing this on to seven other writers. Sorry for being such a party pooper :(


March 7, 2012

RTW: My Life In a Title

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:

NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

First off, let me just say that discussing my imaginary memoir makes me about as twitchy as deciding what I want on my tombstone or signing the 'donate my organs' line on my health card. Turns out I may be a little superstitious about one or two things (or twenty). Maybe that means my memoir should be called something like Worrywart. Think Bossypants only far more stressful and whole lot less funny.

Truthfully, if I were to sum up my life thus far in a title, what jumps to mind instantly is: 

WAITING For WHO Knows WHAT
  
Waiting. Always waiting. If I could count the number of times that I've said internally or aloud, "It'll be better when [insert better-making event here]." I am the queen of always looking ahead to when my life will magically be all shiny and so much better than it is now. It'll be better when I graduate and have a teaching job. Wrong! It'll be better when we move to such and such a place. Not! It'll be better when blah blah blah raspberry sound blah blah. 

The point of this is not to go all Eeyore on you, grumbling and moaning about my less than shiny life. Because I actually have a pretty darn good life, if I do say so myself. Everything may not have gone as I planned (when does it ever?), I may have accumulated some regrets and just as many I wish I hads along the way. BUT I have also made many good decisions and am the recipient of some really great things in life, not the least of which, a wonderful and supportive husband and family. 

And yet, with all of my It'll be better whens, I'm completely letting my life pass me by. Here I am in my early-ish 30s still waiting for my life to start. Newsflash: Your life started more than 30 years ago. I think this is at least in part what prompted me to take control and start writing with hopes of someday (maybe) getting published. Following my dreams begins with me. It's not entirely dependent on my circumstances.

Which is why I've started organizing my life a little better. I've made a Monday to Friday schedule for myself that will hopefully make my life more "streamlined for maximum efficiency and to increase optimal results".* It's also why I've taken the bull by the horns and signed up for Change Write Now Round 2. My life is only as good as I make it NOW. If I keep waiting for when it'll be better, I'll end up looking like him:

It's definitely time I started enjoying my 'box of chocolates' as nutty as it might be, don't you think?

_______________________________
* From Crossed by Ally Condie (p. 10).

Picture Sources: Waiting For Snow by *StudioQube on deviantART (And I'm so not waiting for snow. We have more than enough, thank you very much.) and Skeleton Waiting for a Bus from here.

March 6, 2012

Cover Love

Today's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is all about our favourite books covers:

Top 10 Covers of 2012
(that we know of so far)

Since I read mostly YA, my cover choices are all YA. I have read some of the books on my list already, while others are not out yet (obviously). I opted to stick with selections from my Goodreads TBR list, so they are all books that I consider both eye-catching and intriguing.



Here are my Top Ten 2012 (YA) Covers (in random order):




Butterflies
1)  Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (01/31)
2)  Pure by Julianna Baggott (02/08)



Dresses
3)  The Selection* by Kiera Cass (04/24)
4)  Everneath by Brodi Ashton (01/24)
5)  A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont        (03/27)





Skies and Sci Fi
6)  Cinder by Marissa Meyer (01/03)
7)  Tempest by Julie Cross (01/17)
      by Diana Peterfreund (06/12)






Goggles and Dragons
9)  The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent (08/14)
10)  Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (07/10)





Honourable Mentions
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (05/01)
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (05/08)
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (09/18)

How about you? Any favourite 2012 covers?
_______________________________________________
* Someone on Goodreads pointed out that the girl looks like she's sniffing her armpit. I love this cover but can't even look at it without thinking that now. And now you will too. You're welcome.

March 5, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

I don't know about you, but I'm good and done with Winter. Too bad Winter isn't quite done with me...

 Unless you enlarge the picture you can't actually tell that the snow is still coming down. Guess I'll just go dust off the mukluks and give the sled dogs a run. Kidding. I've never owned a pair of mukluks, nor have I ever ridden or owned a dog sled. Or caribou or moose. Glad we cleared that up.
  
Here's hoping Spring will soon be on its way. To celebrate Spring (and maybe hasten its arrival???) the wonderful Rebecca Behrens is doing a Spring Break Giveaway of three really great ARCs. Make sure to swing by and check it out, and stay awhile to enjoy her blog -- it's informative, insightful, inspiring and intertaining entertaining.
  
On to the purpose of this post and what I mean by this post's title. I'm not sure if it's because Spring is (we're hoping) around the corner or what, but lately I've been feeling the urge to trim away some of the excess in my life. And it's not just one or two aspects that need a little off the top, it's nearly everything:
  
Diet and (lack of) Exercise
You may remember me determining to make some of these changes here, but I have to say so far it's been a failure of epic proportions. Put it this way, I've eaten pizza four times in the last week and not once was it leftovers (as if that somehow makes it better). FOUR, folks. That's tasty disgusting and really unhealthy. After last night's pizza shame, I vowed no más (!!!), then I promptly went over to Change Write Now* and signed my name to the next round. Bam! Done. No more waffling back and forth deciding whether I would commit to participating. I desperately need accountability in my life, and it's not coming from the husband who loves me just the way I am. Sorry, Hubby. I really am thankful for the love goggles, though. Now that I have teammates counting on me, I'll have to commit to making positive changes which is what I need. I've also decided that from now on my Monday to Friday will be scheduled in order to minimize all of the frittering away of my time that I've been doing and to maximize the good habits and goals in my life.

Sources of Entertainment
Have you noticed that TV has really been kind of sucky lately? The shows that I have been watching, with the exception of a few winners like Blue Bloods, Revenge, The Good Wife,  have mostly been sorta lame, stale, and blahhhh. Time to start deleting series recordings from the ole PVR. Frankly, I'd so much rather curl up with a good book and make a bigger dent in my Goodreads Reading Challenge than keep up with whatever socially inept thing Bones will say next on Bones (you've run your course, just end it already).
  
My WiP In All Its Beefy Glory
Good gosh this thing is a beast. Seriously, you'd probably need a crane to remove it from my house. Just when I think the thing is wrapping up (finally!) I remember something else I want or need to add. It just. Never. Ends. Revisions are gonna be a blast, I tell you what. Fortunately, I already have scenes in mind that will either get the axe altogether, or will be thinned up quite a bit. I blew past the 100,000 words mark awhile ago, which gives me palpitations just thinking about it. At least I have a game plan in mind.
  
Social Media
Just how many forms of social media does a person need?! This blog, Twitter, and Goodreads are about the only forms of social media that I want to hang onto (and the occasional short glimpse of Pinterest). As for Facebook, its days are seriously numbered. All of the 'friends' that I no longer really know, that I no longer have anything in common with, are suddenly feeling like excess. Some people think that blogger pals aren't real friends (I disagree wholeheartedly, BTW) but I feel like I have so much more in common with all of you than with these spectres from my past. My finger is just itching to hit the delete button on Facebook. 

Speaking of breaking up with social media, bad habits, and relationships that have run their course, I'm hooked on this breakup song by Gotye:



There's a little bit of skin in this video (if you're squeamish about such things), but it doesn't show anything questionable**. There's something really catchy about the style of this song. It almost has a bit of a 1960s flair with the little bossa nova-esque sounds in the background (Gah! Austin Powers theme song. Sorry!).

So how about you? Are you also feeling the urge to streamline your life and trim the excess?

______________________________________________
* Signup goes through March 9th and Round 2 starts March 11th. If you're interested in having partners cheer you on while making positive lifestyle changes, check it out here. Oh, and there are prizes!
  
** There is a brief shot of the dude's 'Ken underwear', which is what my sister and I call the spot where a dude's legs attach to his torso. You know, the lines that look like the 'underwear' on Barbie's buddy, Ken.

March 3, 2012

I Am Simply a Book Drunkard

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

I've sung the praises of Book Closeouts here before, and I'm going to do it again right now. Book Closeouts is pretty darn awesome (most of the time). Every so often I'll swing on over there to see if they've got any of the books that have been sitting on my TBR shelf on Goodreads for a while. I got pretty lucky, and since ten* books came to about $30 CAD I don't have to feel guilty about it!

Here's what showed up in my mailbox this week:
(NB: All of the book titles are linked to their Goodreads descriptions)

1.  Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (a signed copy!!)
2.  Girl v. Boy by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout
3.  Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout
4.  Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
5.  Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors


6.  Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
7.  The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
8.  As You Wish by Jackson Pearce (a signed copy!!)
9.  The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
10.  Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley


Did any new and exciting books show up in your 'mailbox' this week? (mail, store, library, etc.)


*I should mention, 7 out of the 10 books are hardback too. That's a pretty sweet deal!



March 2, 2012

And the Winner Is...

I apologize for not announcing the winner sooner but I just could not stay awake until midnight. First of all, I'd like to thank all of you who entered, and for taking the time to follow this blog. And now on to the winner (selected by Random.org):

Katy Upperman!

Yay, Katy! Looks like your book-winning luck has returned. Just send me a quick email (the link is to the left) with your book choice and mailing address and I'll hop on it right away.

March 1, 2012

Time Is Tickin' Away...

Just a little reminder that my 100th Follower Giveaway wraps up tonight at midnight. At that time I, or rather Rafflecopter, will select a winner. For those of you not in the know, this is what I'm giving away:

Your choice of book (valued up to$15) from the Book Depository. 

The giveaway is open internationally as long as TBD ships to you. Here is the link to the original post that includes information about all of the ways you can enter (commenting, following, tweeting...).

Call it a great big thank you to all of you for following this blog, for encouraging me, and for making me smile through your comments.

You guys are the best!