29 January 2009

Embracing Contest Linkspam

It must be something in the air (or water?). Several blogs I follow seem to be hosting giveaways lately.

Carrie Ryan's pimping someone else's autographed book.
Saundra Miller's also giving away said book, along with lots of other goodies.
My friend Tonya Bacon, and local fashion diva extraordinaire, is offering up a Valentine's Day beauty bag.
And, Nathan Bransford and Colleen Lindsay held contests for query critiques.

So if you're looking for some free stuff, I suggest you mosey over to those sites and/or take a look around the blogosphere for yourselves.

As for me, all of this good will has got me wondering: What do I have to give?

You tell me. What would you like me to hold a contest for? I've got a few ideas, but I'm taking suggestions. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

27 January 2009

Embracing Cliches

In lieu of a "real" post today, I'm going to talk about personal mantras--a few of my favorites and a few that make me cringe.

The ones that tickle my fancy:
  • If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all. (Courtesy of Thumper.)
  • What goes around comes around. (Courtesy of Justin Timberlake. Okay, maybe I heard it somewhere before him. But if it's before JT, who cares?)
  • C'est la vie! (Courtesy of French.)
The ones that rub me the wrong way:
  • If you love something, then set it free. (Seriously? Who's bright idea was that? If you do that, then it's gone.)
  • The early bird gets the worm. (So what?! I'm not a bird, and I don't want a worm.)
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (First, what is WITH all the bird allusions? Second, what?! What does this even mean? Yes, I googled it too. So? It still makes no sense.)
And now that I've shared mine (please forgive the commentary and senseless linkage), tell me yours! 

25 January 2009

Embracing the Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected

Before I even opened the e-mail, I knew it wasn't good news. It wasn't pessimism exactly. It was something more akin to a crisis of faith...in myself. As you may recall, I'm not the type to let these kinds of things get to me. But considering the state of the rest of my life at the time, the fifth and final rejection of as many queries hit me particularly hard (especially considering that two of them had come within 24 hours of sending them).

Now, I'm proud to say that true to form, after allowing myself a beer and 15 minutes of pity partying, I embraced the bad and determined to focus on those thing in my control instead of out of it. Thus was a major breakthrough in the plot of ANJIDIA: THE FALL arrived at. In turning my lemons into lemonade, I've discovered a character I didn't know existed and realized that she ties so perfectly into the story of ANJIDIA that I'm almost ashamed I hadn't noticed her sooner.

In summary, I'm ready to begin writing this novel in earnest.

Then, just as I was embracing the good, along came the unexpected in the form of a thoughtful gesture from blogger e. I suddenly had a new opportunity to go with my new attitude. You don't need to guess whether or not I embraced it (and a couple more while I was at it). And even if it doesn't pan out, which it very well may not, I've come out of this particularly dark and dismal tunnel no worse for the wear.

What more could I ask for?

22 January 2009

Embracing the Unconventional: My Goals

The third part of my 'Embracing the Unconventional' series has arrived. Now you get to see those things I've decided that I will do from the 50 unconventional things to do in your lifetime list of Lyved.com.

As always, don't be shy. I'm still waiting to hear a few of your unconventional things!

Will Do (as soon as I'm published):

5. Be in a movie, whether as an extra or as the star. If Stephen King can do it, then why the heck can't I? When my fabulous books are inevitably made into amazing movies, I plan to negotiate a cameo into my contract each and every time. I think I would make an excellent Coffee Shop Woman #2.

12. Have a credit on IMDB.com. See previous. Sam Elliott had better move over!

27. Create a website. What kind of author would I be if I didn't have a website? One day there will be excerpts to post and book tours to promote, and I'm sorry Blogger, but a blog just won't cut it.

36. Travel for a full year. This with either happen because A) I'm fabulously wealthy and can afford to take a year off to sail and backpack and hike to every corner of the globe, or B) I have so many book tours and events to do during the simultaneous launch of my fifth book, second movie and new fragrance that I just don't make it home for a year. (I won't mention the third option, which may or may not involve the word homeless.)

44. Be on a TV news program for something positive. Besides the obvious talk show circuit when my memoir wins a Pulitzer, I plan to use my fame and fortune to promote an amazing cause, which will of course be covered on your nightly news cast.

45. Watch a movie being filmed. Again, see the first thing on this list. How could I be in a movie and not watch it being filmed?

48. Get your name and biography on Wikipedia. Oh man... The day I have a wiki page I will freak out. IMDB is cool, but wiki...is Wiki!!

21 January 2009

Embracing the Unconventional: My Hopes

Welcome to part two of my Embracing the Unconventional series. Hopefully you know that yesterday I decided to tell you about the things I'd done from the 50 unconventional things to do in your lifetime list of Lyved.com. Today, it's all about wish fulfillment. Today, I give you the things I hope to do.

By the way, don't be shy. What do you hope to do in your lifetime?

Hope to Do:

14. Help someone help himself/herself. I've been thinking about teaching a man to fish. But, that requires learning myself...

15. Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue group. I'm envisioning this as a joint venture - a couple's first serious commitment sort of thing. As I'm not part of a couple, you can understand how this is currently a hope for the distant future.

16. Inner tube down a river. My family is big on tubing trips to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas to pass the hot summer days. When I was in high school I missed several of these trips. I plan to rectify that one day. Or, one-up them and tube down the Amazon. You decide.

20. Help family members achieve their goals and dreams. I try to do this every day in every way possible, and I hope that my family sees me as a resource they can depend on.

21. Watch all the top rated films of all time. My ex-roommate actually has a list. As soon as I make a copy of it (or print my own), AFI's top 100 are going down!

26. Work at a zoo or aquarium. I have no idea why this made this list, or why it is something that I have always wanted to do. But it is, and I have. Even if it's only as a weekend volunteer or something, I really hope that I get a chance to help bathe an elephant or feed a baby cheetah. Awwww, baby aminals are sooooo cute.

31. Confront at least one of your big fears. As soon as I figure out what my biggest fears are, I am so on this. I don't believe in letting myself hold me back. Then again, everyone fears something. If I can't think of at least one major fear, then I'm probably living in my own special palace in Denial. So much for self-awareness.

32. At least attempt to tackle every dream and goal you’ve ever had. Again with the self-awareness. I have made an attempt to go after most things I've dreamed of and made goals toward. I still need to live in a cute little apartment in Paris. And I guess I should start saving up for my campaign if I'm going to try to be the first female president of the U. S.

38. Read all your favorite books again. Forever and always. Cathy + Heathcliff = True Love

39. Work less, live more. Word.

46. Stomp grapes at a vineyard. Ideally this would happen on my sprawling grounds in Italy. But I'll take it on a week-long wine tour of Napa.

49. Learn how to drive a tractor. My grandparents live on a farm. My grandfather owns several tractors. I just need to ask. And while I'm at it, I think I'll ask him to teach me how to shoot a rifle. Hunting's cooler than fishing anyway!

50. Do all your favorite things from childhood: skip rocks, build a tree house, go fishing, whatever, but have fun! Seriously, why are fish stalking me today? Alright already. I'll go camping this summer and catch me some dinner (and lunch and breakfast). Anyone have a portable air conditioner I can borrow?

20 January 2009

Embracing the Unconventional: My Past

In honor of today's historic and unconventional events, I've decided to kick off a three-part series that shares a bit about a few of the items from the 50 unconventional things to do in your lifetime list of Lyved.com -- some of the things I have done, some of them I hope to do, and some of them I will do...as soon as I'm a published author.

Today, I'm going to share my past with you, and I invite you to share some stories of your own.

Things I Have Done:

2. Go on a ghost tour. The time: Spring Break '04, Freshman Year. The place: New Orleans, LA. The people: me, my mommy, and a really hot tour guide (oh, and those other people). We did all sorts of tours--ghost, vampire, and voodoo--but my favorite was the ghost tour. It's a shame that I don't even remember which one it was.

6. Pan for gold in a mountain stream. Who hasn't? I've panned at Six Flags, Disneyland, a creek in several of my backyards and at several rivers across the country. Sadly, like most prospectors, I went broke and got syphilis from the local saloon...wait, that's not right.

7. Watch the sun rise and set in the same day. I have one word for you: college.

8. Go outside and dance in a rainstorm. Not surprisingly, another college memory. It wasn't so much romantic as it was cold and sopping, but my friends and I had a blast.

19. Go camping somewhere that has no contact to the outside world. When I was a kid, this was a pretty regular occurrence. I can't believe that I was alive when there were no such things cell phones and Blackberrys. Man, my kids are going to think I lived in the stone ages.

22. Take a spontaneous road trip. Ah, Spring Break '06. That trip is the winner of the "best spontaneous road trip of Sam's life" contest, but there have been several. I like to drive, and I grew up in Texas. Some people would consider the one hour it took me to get to a mall a road trip...

23. Write an article for a newspaper or magazine. I wrote movie reviews for my college paper, The Eagle, and I was published in the school's lit mag, AmLit. So there.

24. Fail several times at something. Ha. Does this really require elaboration? I'd say I do this daily, several times daily.

28. Work a job you hate. I don't really hate things. I don't believe in wasting my energy like that. But there have been several times when I hated aspects of some of my past jobs, and therefore was not too fond of the job itself.

29. Get to know yourself and those closest to you. I hope that I've done a pretty good job of this so far, but it is an ongoing process that I'm sure I'll still be working at on my deathbed.

30. Hunt for treasure. I do this everyday if we're being metaphorical. If not, I'll confess that I did have a beach-combing period when I was a girl.

33. Befriend an enemy. Enemy is a strong word. But I've made friends with rivals and people I initially disliked before. I hope I never have a true enemy.

34. Make friends with very successful people. I consider several of my friends very successful people, all in different ways. I know some people who are successful in business, love, self-actualization, humanitarian efforts. And I try to learn a little more from them every day. Besides, it's all about networking, right? :D

35. Take one day to just watch the clouds and take one night just to watch the stars. How I miss those lazy days of yore. Trampolines will forever be synonymous with stargazing and cloud-watching thanks to my neighbor from junior high school. "Oooh, was that a UFO?" "Nope, I think it was a satellite." "Damn."

41. Find what you were meant to do. Hi, my name is Sam Elliott, and I'm a writer. *waits for the chorus of "Hi, Sam"s.

42. Live without email, IM, or your cell phone for a week. If I'm not counting those crazy years from my childhood, which I shall henceforth refer to as "those days," then I still have achieved this amazing feat. I lived for two whole weeks in Rome, Italy without them. Although, I caved after that and began using all three. What does that say about these days?

43. Join a peaceful protest for a cause you support. Italians aren't only good for amazing foods, good looks, relaxed ways, and historical landmarks. They are also incredibly apt to protest. During my time in Italia, I was invited to participate in a protest against the cancellation of a fine arts budget, and I did. It was empowering and powerful, definitely a memory and experience I'm glad to have.

14 January 2009

Embracing Life Imitating Art...or not

Based on the comments to yesterday's post, it seems as though the 'yeas' have it thus far, not a dissenter in the bunch. One should and can with free conscience write from one's personal experiences was the consensus.

Write what you know.

I'm not buying it. At the risk of alienating what little audience I have, I strongly believe that the idea of "writing what you know" is one of the most overused and under-considered ideals of the literary community.

What does it even mean, to write what you know? How much does Stephen King really know about killer clowns or surviving the apocalypse? Can Meg Cabot know what it's like to be a princess, a mediator, or a psychic? What does Ann Coulter know about anything? I mean... no, actually I did mean that.

My point is that if I wrote only what I knew, well let's just say that I'm not going to limit myself like that. I think that a more appropriate adage would be "write what you can imagine knowing," because in the end, I believe writing comes down to imagination, not knowledge.

Let me put it another way.

I don't know what it's like to run for my life. However, I've had moments where I thought that I was about to die, and I've seen movies and read books about, and witnessed firsthand, how people behave when they fear for their lives. Using that information, I was able to imagine what it'd be like for my character to run for her life--how she'd feel, what she'd be thinking, etc.

I could probably write a dissertation on the subject so I should probably do the smart thing and walk away. But let me leave you with this: I can make a very persuasive argument for one of the leading causes of writing failures being a lack imagination used properly.

Maybe another day.

Food for thought: What makes or breaks an "author" in your opinion? That is, what allows some people to a complete story (and even write them well) while others fall short?

13 January 2009

Embracing Inspiration

I had just begun drafting a post that was going to be entitled "Embracing Anxiety" when I realized that I was feeling exactly how one of the main characters for the novel I'm currently stalled on would be feeling at this point in the story. Struck by inspiration, I've decided to retool my anxiety to be used as the opening to chapter one, which I haven't written a word of in the month since I finished the prologue. 

As a general rule, I don't intentionally use my life as fodder for my fictional canons, but in this case I think that it may be the jump start that ANJIDIA: THE FALL needs. I prefer to keep Mary Sue as far from my stories as possible, unlike some authors I could mention.

Which begs the question: do you let your art imitate your life? If so, how do you draw the lines? Does it even matter?

What say you blogosphere visitors?

07 January 2009

We interrupt this broadcast with a special (not-so-breaking) news bulletin:

Imagine, if you will, an aspiring YA writer.

Imagine that she has returned from a long day at the office and chooses to unwind by catching up on her blog reading.

Imagine that as she's browsing the blog of debut YA author Carrie Ryan she finds this post linking to this article.

Imagine how she feels.

Embrace rage.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program...

06 January 2009

Embracing Focus

As promised, I'm here to talk about focus - how I focus, what helps me focus, etc. I wish that I knew. I've been trying to focus long enough to write this entry since I got home from work and have been unable to. Go figure.

In the past, the best way for me to focus was to set a very clear and realistic goal for myself, put on some headphones (even if I was by myself) with music suited to the task, and be sure that (above all else) I kept my eyes from wandering. While that plan had a success rate of about 85%, I realized tonight that it has a major flaw: it necessitates me having the energy or the will to embrace the focus methodology. That energy is what I find myself lacking tonight.

When coffee (two cups) and food (stir fried turkey sausage, veggies, and rice) and all else (returning missed calls, checking e-mail, watching Beyonce's atrocious video for All the Single Ladies) fail, one is left only to choose self-indulgent defeat or begrudging determination. I have been choosing the former predominantly of late. It's gotten me nowhere. In fact, while it used to at least produce a cleared household chores to-do list, lately it hasn't even done that.

As a result, I find myself embracing the latter instead, dragging myself forward like a wounded soldier on the Front. Obviously the results are mixed. Sometimes you capture the flag, and sometimes focusing for focusing's sake leaves you with nothing more than incessant ramblings and bizarre metaphors.

My apologies.

Until next time...

PS - No updates regarding ANJIDIA and ANJIDIA: THE FALL, as if you had to ask.

05 January 2009

January 5, 2009

You might not be able to put your finger on the reason, but it feels like something is shifting in your energy field. You are ready to show your creative stuff and are hoping that the world is ready to see you in a positive light. Luckily, it may be easier for you to find the happiness you seek in the weeks and months ahead without much extra effort on your part. Trust your instincts and be ready to gratefully accept the admiration heading your way.

So read the horoscope that (instead of the Sun) greeted me this morning. I can only pray that it was handed to tarot.com by the Fates themselves, because I recently began my quest for an agent anew, and, well, I can use all the good karma and support I can get.

That said, I will be chronicling my exploits in publishing and writing in the coming months for the amusement of all, particularly me. I guess we'll be able to see if this forecast proves accurate. By the way, I say "chronicling exploits" instead of "sharing insights," because if I've learned anything about writing, it's that it spawned the word subjective. Everyone's process differs. Everyone's tastes differ. And, most importantly, everyone's story differs.

Still, I'm willing to share mine...for what it's worth. Let's start with the bare bones facts about where I stand in the publishing process and go from there, shall we?

Genre: YA Fantasy
Status: Revisions complete, in query
No. of Rejections: 16

Genre: YA Fantasy
Status: First draft in progress

Genre: Unknown
Status: Plaguing me

I think I'll leave it at that for now, or rather that and a question: What kinds of tricks do you employ to keep yourself motivated and on-target? I'll share mine next time!

Until then...

01 January 2009



verb, -braced, -brac⋅ing, noun –verb (used with object)

1. to take or clasp in the arms; press to the bosom; hug.
2. to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea.
3. to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.
4. to adopt (a profession, a religion, etc.): to embrace Buddhism.
5. to take in with the eye or the mind.
6. to encircle; surround; enclose.
7. to include or contain: An encyclopedia embraces a great number of subjects.
–verb (used without object)
8. to join in an embrace.
9. an act or instance of embracing.

Embrace is my word for 2009.

I found the concept of choosing a word, one single concept, and living a year with your mind, body and soul focused on that word intoxicating. I decided to...embrace it.

I will embrace those who mean something to me as often and joyously as possible. I will embrace the countless things that go right in my life every day, and those that go wrong. I will embrace every minute I get to spend at the job that I love. And I will embrace the long, hard road down which my passion for writing leads me.

I will embrace my life, my hopes, my dreams, myself in 2009.