Friday, September 30, 2011

oh, the early work: a contest/blogfest!

Back in February, I put myself out there and started making blog friends. I wanted to throw a party, but felt kind of dumb doing so.

In April, I had my first blogaversary, or however you spell that made-up word. I didn't say anything, because, well, who would notice? I wasn't very prolific, which embarrassed me. A bunch of blogs I read had garnered huge followings before the end of six months. I kept my mouth shut, when I should have danced in the streets. Go me!

In May, I finished my first draft of my first novel, which I did announce, but never really celebrated here. I wanted to, though! It was the best feeling in the world.

In August, I joined the Campaign, which was a huge step, also deserving of a party that had yet to come {insert obligatory "please vote for my flash fiction piece, if you feel inclined and have not done so already! #141, yeah yeah!"}.

And then, this week, I finally made it to 100 followers, and I realized,

Yep. The time has come.
Time for presents.

source, yo.
The truth is, as I've blabbed about a million times before, this blogging journey has truly blessed me. If you would like to hear me gush further, read this post about skunks and crit partners.

So, hey. Let's not just have presents, let's have a contest!

During Christine Tyler's Sparkfest, an idea struck me. I would be really, intensely interested to hear about the "early work" of my fellow writers, and I'd love to share my own.

I'll just tell you know.
My first story ever was about two sad dinosaurs who fell in love and weren't sad anymore.
aw, and now they're happy! yay!
It was awesome. I was six.

In middle school, I filled up a notebook--in stylish burgundy ink--with a story about a girl whose best friends were the wolves behind her house. Sound familiar? It was TERRIBLE. And terribly amusing. Not surprisingly, I giggled through the whole first half of this book.

you can't fight the wolf shirt.
{but it wouldn't hurt to think twice before wearing it to church.}
Are you as excited as I am to hear what crazy/hilarious/embarrassing/possibly disturbing things your fellow bloggers thought up as children? I should hope so, or no one's going to have fun with this. Ha.

A few requirements, to get us started. Please follow me, if you haven't done so already. I want to make sure you'll see the announcement if you win! Let me know in the comments if you tweet/FB/blog about this contest, and I'll give you an extra entry {for each platform} for the random drawing. I don't have a nifty jpeg for this contest/blogfest, so if you include an image of a wolf or a dinosaur, or both, I'll give you another extra entry.

There will be three winners.

Update: more info on the prizes (a copy of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, for example) can be found in this post.

Enter your link on the list below-- after you've written your post {please pretty please}-- between now and October 14th 28th. Winners will be announced the next day! {Or maybe the day after that, depending on the level of sanity around here.} The line at the bottom says to comment after you've left a link, but feel free to do so beforehand. I'm not that picky.

Thanks, everyone! See you in the funny pages.

Oh, P.S, this is open internationally. Postage, schmostage.

{Thanks to everyone who participated!}

Thursday, September 29, 2011

introducing: thumbs up from skunk!

A of all, if you feel so inclined, take a gander at my challenge piece for the Campaign! And if you're feeling likey, even better! I'm #141, and I could sure use your lovely votes.

So, remember when J and Kathleen and Amanda and Rachel Bean all gave me awards {THANK YOU!}, and I never passed them on? Well. It's because J and I had something special up our collective sleeve.

Here's the thing. Writing is hard. Admitting that you write is hard. I could not do this alone, and it is amazing to look back and see my own growth--both as a writer and a human being-- since I started collecting pocket writer buddies, also known as crit partners. They have uplifted and influenced me in ways I did not even know I needed.

It isn't just the crit partners, though. It's this whole blogging community. Going to visit a friend I made on the internet solidified it for me-- this is the bomb. No one says that anymore, but you know what I mean. At least I didn't say "the bomb dot com."

Recently, I've talking a lot with another blog friend, whom you know as J, and she and I realized something.

We had to make our own blog award.

Because, you know what? We all feel like stinky, stinky skunks some days. I, for example, was putrid with my own fear just a couple weeks ago. I was certain that I was foolish in letting myself believe I could write. But Jeigh and J {ha}, as well as a few frequent commenters {who likely didn't realize their influence}, picked me up from my own mire and set me back down on my feet. Or, rather, my fingertips... at the keyboard.

And so, instead of passing on another round of versatility, irresistible sweetness, and liebster love {thank you thank you thank you to all the folks who recognized me--you are fantastic}, J and I would like to bring you this:

Because you make us feel {and smell} a lot better

Let's talk about J. Her incredibly talented fiance made the award for us. {If you're interested, you can enter a chance to win a sketch of your MC over at Concrete Pieces of Soul. J and C are cool like that.} She has been a great friend to me in the short time I've known her, and her encouragement helped me find the confidence to send out a chapter for critique, post my Campaign Challenge piece... take your pick. You are fabulous, J. I look forward to the day you announce your name on the internets, so I won't have to keep backspacing when I talk about you. Haha.

Since the Random-Things-About-Yourself trope is getting a little tired, J and I decided to make this award different. Of course, still thank and link back to the person who gave it to you. Thumbs Up from Skunk is about confidence, believing in yourself, so we think it'd be great for you to list one Thing About Yourself That Pleases You, one thing you LOVE. It could be anything, from your writing, to a good meal you had, a conversation with a witty cut-up... something good. To get the ball rolling, J and I are passing the award onto five people a piece, but you can give it to as many or as few as you like. You can even hold onto it, if you'd rather, until a particularly uplifting something occurs, and then pass it on accordingly. Or, as J says in her post, "until someone comes along and changes your universe." I love that.

My Pleasing Thing is:

This week, I sent a scene to three discerning sets of eyes, and got a lot of great feedback. It was the first time I'd really done such a thing since college. One friend {an about-to-be-published friend} said, "...the writing is solid. You should be super proud. That's going to be in a cover in no time."

hello, stock photo.
It was one of those moments that made me want to say, "You flatter me, but..."
... but on the inside? Heart racing, breath quickening... was it really that... promising?

No one else may agree with her opinion, but I was the best-smelling skunk on the block for the rest of that day... not to mention every day since.

And here is who I'm passing this on to {don't forget to notify your recipients}!

Jeigh. Rhymes with J {see above}. I did not know what having a writer friend truly meant until I met you. Not only do we make each other laugh, but we've met each others' crises. You've taught me how to crit, how to write cute boys {they eat a lot}, and how to read three books in one day. I was just a little slow on the uptake with the last one. We are *so* on the same page, and words just fall short of describing it. I am thrilled to have you in my life. Brain twin. :B

Elisabeth {or fairbetty, as they call you around here}. Remember when we were together in Gatlinburg last summer, not knowing that the other one blogged and wrote? Funny how that happens. Now you are someone I know I can turn to, a real-life friend {albeit far away} who also *gets* me on the writer level. You are a solid rock, always encouraging, always smiling. And it's nice to not be the only vegetarian around here.

Amber. What an awesome cheerleader you are! I can always count on you to remind me that I *can* do this, I *can* set a schedule for myself and be organized, I *can* open up and let myself learn. You ask the best questions, and my brain just loves it.

Ruth Josse and Sarah Pearson.You ladies are consistently encouraging and uplifting in your comments. I am so honored and happy to see you on here after almost every post, sending all kinds of good feelings my way. You take what it means to be a follower seriously, and I admire that. I also need to pick your brains and take notes on how you do it.

And that's how you do the Thumbs Up from Skunk {which totally needs an accompanying dance move}. This is for you, friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

grandfather imago.

“Jessa,” my little brother says, “you oscitate like a cat.”

“Bradley,” I bite back, “you use words like

I am, admittedly, getting pretty tired of my homework. And the vocabulary kick.

He grins and pushes up the living room window. “I shall affix a lacuna,” he announces. I roll my eyes. Bradley, as of last week, is a kid’s game show champion, and can longer bring himself to talk like the rest of us.

“What is he doing out there?” The unexpected, normal words pull me out of my impending math nap. I put down my book and join Bradley at the window. Past our own mirrored faces, we see our estranged grandfather, squirting lighter fluid on the neighbor’s house.

Bradly leaves me and bolts out the door. I run after him.
“Gramps!” he cries. The old man looks up at us and drops the plastic bottle.

“Bradley...” he looks confused. “Did you win?”

Bradley glances at me, and then nods. “Yeah, I won.”

A miasma, a noxious wall of realizations, hits me as I watch Gramps. The hero.

“You want to know perfect synchronicity, boy?” the old man slurs. He’s drunk.

But deft, as he lights the match.


And there you have it, my friends. Something I wrote!

 As many of you have likely guessed, this was for the 2nd Campaigner Challenge. I had to use imago in the title, and include miasma, lacuna, oscitate, and synchronicity. For an extra challenge, I could (and did) incorporate a mirror, and make it 200 words exactly. Whew.

This was hard! Now I want to finish the story, expand it into something that breathes a little better. We'll see.

The winners of this challenge will be based on popularity (eek), so, if you likey, please go votey!
I am number... 141, it looks like. 

My fingers are crossed!

in which i confess my fears.

I have recently {i.e. within the past hour} made a huge discovery...

I am whiney-pants scared of blogging, anymore.

What is this phenomenon? I'd say it has something to with:

If I blog, I won't write. If I don't write, why am I blogging about it?
I never post anything useful.
I can't share actual book opinions, in case the author sees it.
{Remember when I said that Fallen was not my cup of tea? Truth: I thought it was terrible.}
So-and-so said I was funny, so now everyone wants *the funny*, but what if it was a FLUKE?
Ack, I can't say Oh my pants, anymore, because now it might offend somebody.
{Hm, which I just put in huge bold letters above this list.}
The Campaigners expect something from me, but I suck at delivering.
Crap, I shouldn't say suck, either.
Crap, I can't even say crap!

You see how it escalates. WELL. I apologize for all the offending I imagine I do, even though I {maybe} don't. I'm hoping this week breaks me of my fear, because I have at least three posts up my sleeve before going on a backpacking trip this weekend.


Just had to throw out a little honesty. I feel better.

le source.

Friday, September 23, 2011

an amazing thing happened this week...

My computer died.

I spent about twelve hours thinking that I'd lost everything, and so, when I discovered that I actually hadn't, it lit quite the fire under my lazy bum. I have spent the last four days WRITING. Can you believe it? Putting fingers-to-keyboard and proving myself, for once? I set a goal for this weekend and everything. Astounding.

I apologize for the scant appearance in Campaign-land. I am really excited about the second challenge, even though I have no earthly clue what I'm going to come up with for it. We shall see. Until then, here are some other things:

1. Tune in next week for a 100 Followers giveaway/contest/blogfest. It will be fun, promise.

2. I did not fully realize that adding the :: :: to rosewood pencil box would change its alphabetization. Oops. As soon as I assemble a legit banner, I should be rejoining the R's. {Hello, R's! Sorry I left you for the punctuation marks.}

3. I will also be jumbling through a pile of awards to pass on. There may be a surprise in there, as well. Not sure yet.

4. Last weekend, we found a copy of Bongo Kongo at my in-laws' house. It will be played tonight.

Okay, friends. That self-imposed deadline won't wait.

See you soon!

{So much for posting on Mondays and Thursdays.}

Friday, September 16, 2011

the champion drooler makes friends in real life.

Notice anything different? Fair warning, my friends: I may like consistency elsewhere, but on the blog, j'aime le change... ment. My previous hold of five months was a record. {On the Xanga page I had in college, I changed the look more often than I posted.} And so, if this blog starts to look different every time you visit, my apologies. For now, though... you like?

Mmm, new things. I am a champion drooler* over new things. And I don't mean material things, necessarily, lest you harrumph at my covetousness. This is not a post about my covetousness {that one will involve shoes and iPhone apps and books}. This is a post about the rosy cusp of possibility, where the best outcomes still seem the most likely. Ahh.

We are back from our 15 days of America-hopping madness, and it's got me feeling... new. Like, there was my life before going to Yellowstone/meeting Jeigh freaking Meredith in person {and sleeping on her comfy couch for a weekend}, and now there's my life AFTER.

Here, have some Tang {Orange! Great for Breakfast! Possibly Flammable!} whilst I list {am I the only person who likes Tang? With lists? And whilsts?}:

1. It is, perhaps, not as creepy as I once thought to make writer friends on the internet. Fancy that. Of course, you're all like, "Derr, isn't that what the Campaign is FOR?" Yes. But I was once hesitant.

2. Something changes when you meet a blog buddy/crit partner/story cheerleader in person. You notice things you could never pick up from emails or phone chats, like the color of her hair {kind of reddish! did you know?}, or her piano skill level {much higher than expected}, or the fact that she actually is a mom, with real live children and stuff. Amazing, I know.

Towely is watching you.
3. Also wonderful is that, when meeting with a writer friend, you can leave the saucy minx of book-shame at home. It's not the same as telling a new, unaccustomed friend that you're writing a fantasyish novel-or-something for young people, or maybe grown-ups, if they like to read stuff for young people, stop looking at me like that. Jeigh already knows. Our friendship was catalyzed by the fact that we are BOTH writing fantasyish novels-or-something for young people, etc. It's liberating to not fear the knee-jerk, sideways glance, you know? {Is that just me?}

4. Sleep is for later-times. Five AM is for giggling.

5. If you've been following Jeigh for a while {what's that? You're not a Jeigh-follower? Well, you'd better get on that {she totally knows a short-cut}. I'll be here when you get back}, you've probably seen something about her freakish reading speed. It is {...going to be?}, as one Barney Stinson might say:

Truth. WELL. I got to experience the legend first hand, and let me say... what, 350 pages, Jeigh? Yeah. In five hours. I have a lot to learn from this woman.

6. In other news! Remember this picture from our adventures in Gatlinburg?

Yeah? Yeah? Any last guesses? No? Well, here--from 6:40 to 6:57--is what it immediately made me think of:

And that's two Phineas and Ferb clips in a month. At least this one was in English.

Alas, this post is not as much about the rosy cusp of possibility as I'd planned, unless you count that I am so excited to be back in my own home after half a month, it makes me want to be *productive.* I might even exercise.

This has potential to be STELLAR.
Or, perhaps... legendary.

{Y'all watch How I Met Your Mother and Phineas and Ferb, right? A perfectly logical combination.}

7. Huh. Y'all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

a funny thing happened on the way to wyoming.

Namely, we got stuck in Tennessee for an extra two days. Ha! And so, to celebrate our communication error with the airline, we decided to live it up in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for  a little while.

Confession:  I do not 100% hate the tourist trap that is Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It's nothing compared to the actual park, of course, but it's sort of, I don't know... fun. In moderation. And so, this time, my husband and I did all the hokey stuff we'd never let ourselves do before. And by "all," I mean four, because the options went beyond our budget, and I lost the Old Timey Photo debate.

First of all, we splurged a little to stay at The Inn at Christmas Place, in Pigeon Forge. Holly Jolly!

It's the creepy, high-upon-a-shelf-dwelling,
 Santa-fairy breakfast elf, complete with "crap, is he following me?" eyes!
He's been ogling that omelette station for YEARS.
The giant glockenspiel!
We had such a blast watching this thing chime the hour.
(If you look closely, you can see the little Santa coming out
of the door where the cuckoo bird would usually be.)
I can't lie, I quite enjoyed my time at the Christmas Place. The included breakfast was delicious. All the decorations made me giggle and want to run around in circles in my pjs and sing carols and talk about music boxes (interestingly, a fair description of my usual impulses).

And now, for the other things we finally did:  Oh my gosh, it's everything Ripley's! The Aquarium! Believe it or Not! Guinness World Records (which, by the way, could really use an update)!

Gigantic turtle bones YAY!
You can barely see it in this, but apparently sharks really do
swim near the surface, their dorsal fins cutting a wake.
Maybe you *can* believe what you see in movies!
Big picture for a BIG sea turtle. Likely the biggest I've ever seen.
Maw. Sea turtles. You're the best.  :)
The Aquarium was lots of fun, and I only got moderately creeped out. Fish give me the willies. I don't know what it is. I mean, I'm fascinated by them, but sometimes they give me nightmares. Especially the giant ones. *shudder*

Moving on.
Ah, James McCarthy. The hometown hero I never knew I had.
I feel like I've read a book about this guy.
Fifty points and a cyber hug for the first person who
can guess what this immediately made me think of.
We learned a LOT about Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man in recorded history. There were three displays devoted to him in two museums.

Well, my friends, I'm cutting it pretty close tonight, after saying that I would post on Mondays and Thursdays. But, hey, I'm on vacation, right?

Oh, and yes, we did eventually make it to Wyoming. 

Note: Due to this trip, I'm not going to be able to participate in the first Campaigner Challenge, but I wish you all the happiest of writings, and I look forward to perusing all the entries. :)