Thursday, October 18, 2012

i don't know what happened...

A million trillion apologies. My blog has been selling stuff like a lunatic lately, without my consent (stupid blog). It's as if it knew, "Hey, she's going to be away from the internet for a while. Attack!"

I have changed my password, twice for good measure, and... as frustrating as it is, I will likely reactivate the "please prove you're not a robot" thing.

Other than that madness, here's what's going on:

I am in Bend, Oregon! Hello, Oregon. Gosh you're pretty (I should probably take more pictures).

Up next on the trip: Portland! Olympia! Seattle! Salt Lake City! Rexburg! Featuring the unique CP stylings of Christine Tyler and Jeigh Meredith, and a wild dance party of productivity with the Writers' Group of Joy and Awesomeness.

Oh, and there's something I should probably announce, in a few day's time. Not particularly writing-related, but still a common theme on this blog. Hint: I'm beginning to feel a bit more transient in nature than I ever expected.

Sorry again for all the dumb advice my blog felt it just HAD to share while I was driving across the country.

Cheers. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

guys! guys! road trip wednesday!

As I sit here in my p'jams, eating pasta-from-a-pack for dinner (with a rescued OrangeLeaf spoonie-thing as utensil), I realize that it is HIGH TIME I rejoin the ranks for RTW.

total glamour.
Road Trip Wednesday is a "blog carnival" hosted by YA Highway. It's lots of fun (says the girl who always forgets to play-- oops).

This week's topic: What do you hope to be writing in one year? Three? Five?

Good question, internet.
The short answer: SOMETHING ELSE.

More specifically: I have reason to believe that one year from now, I will still be working on B&A, just in a different phase of the journey. After that, however, there are a lot of different things I'd like to try. I love writing short stories, and I've always wanted to develop more of those for submission and whatnot. This may come as a surprise to some (or, haha, as no surprise to others), but the work I was actually proudest of in college was a 10-minute play. (oh, be still my heart.)

So, now you know my pipe dreams. HA! Not including the current one.

As far as what I want to write about, here is a conglomerate love list (since I missed that week, too) of the ideas that are always fumbling around in my brain:

MC who feels no physical pain, but craploads of emotion
labyrinth under a woefully mundane small town
unrequited love (a popular theme from the first 2.2 decades of my life)
glass arrowheads
red hair and brown eyes
parents genetically altering the looks of their children
Jamey Purlock, in all his glory (please find a home. I want to write you.)
girls school in American South during WWII

So... obviously not all the same story. Haha.

... OR IS IT?

No, seriously, there's no way.

I won't assign years to these things, since I honestly cannot fathom the timeline, but there you go. Whee!

*snuggles back into writing cave*

Monday, October 1, 2012

rainy day words.

Today could EASILY become a stay-in-bed-and-watch-k-drama day, but I mustn't... let it... 

*crawls to laptop* *opens document* *dies on the inside*

I will not open DramaFever. I will not. I will not. I will not even LINK to it, because I'm sparing my friends the awesomeness UNTIL THEY MEET THEIR GOALS.

*makes more coffee*

I will not go turn on the shiny-new piano. I will not. OH HOW I WANT TO, but I'm resisting. It will still be there AFTER I MEET MY GOAL.

*resumes staring contest with work in progress*


... What's this thing about again?


I miss flash fiction. It's so good for the mechanisms and the brain juice. Maybe that would help.

*searches for flash fic prompts*

*discovers THIS site*

I can write that. I can. I'll give myself 300 words (not including these 15-- hey!). I might even share it in the comments later. And this will be part one of my NEW GOAL.

Maybe you can play along.
And maybe we can keep doing these on rainy days.
For fun. And to keep each other away from bed and TV.

*opens new doc* *kicks rainy day slump in the face*

*pours you a cup of joe*

Update: This is an absurd amount of ideas for 300 words. Haha. Oops. SOMEONE GOT EXCITED. *points to self*

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Christmas revelation: 2011 throwback.

image found here.
At Christmas last year, a lovely glass of Pinot Noir and some down home holiday cheer prompted me to confess writing to one of my uncles. This is the same uncle who used to tell us elaborate scary stories around the campfire every summer. It was a big kernel for Little Bird and her love of make-believe. Granted, none of us realized they were borrowed stories. Now the big joke at family gatherings is that, upon the awakening of adolescence, my cousins and I were all baffled to learn that Uncle Paul had stolen IT from Stephen King, and not the other way around.

After telling my uncle that I had written two novels (that is, a sh**ty first draft for each), he said, "That's great! *beams with premature pride* You know what I see you writing? Drama. Just a good, old-fashioned family drama."

My immediate thought: I kind of wish I was. How do you tell the uncle who introduced you to Stephen King that are you are not, in fact, writing any good, old-fashioned family dramas? It made me take a hard look at how I categorize my work. The knee-jerk label is "YA fantasy." That's what the market would call it. I don't feel any shame for this, but here's the thing:

"YA fantasy" is a just a classification. A classification that pulls me in like a magnet, but also, one that meant little-to-nothing (or, at least, not-at-all-the-same-thing) 50 years ago. At their core, don't all good stories, regardless of genre/demographic/any other definition, all come back to the play between comedy and tragedy?

You can't always go for the assumptions others make about you. I mean, why should any of us be bound by that? It's destructive. If I was bound by my grandmother's view of me, I'd have to be a genius, beautiful, social butterfly who loves everyone and everything, all the time, and is never sad. Spoiler alert: this is impossible.

But my uncle really struck a chord in me. Because after the initial shock of OH MY GOSH PLEASE DON'T ASK ME WHAT I AM WRITING (surprisingly, no one that night did), I realized...

Huh. Wait a minute. It is a family drama! Guised in a speculative world. How could he tell, without me even knowing?

Which got me to thinking about the *magic* in this story, and what purpose it serves. A good thing to consider, yeah? And also, why magic? Why fantasy?

A few findings: My characters don't use magic so much as experience it. And it is, without a doubt, the backbone of that family drama. For this story, it works. 

But, just as I can't be bound by what others think, I also can't be bound by my own blind definitions of self. A startling discovery: the VAST majority of story ideas I've been culminating since childhood are contemporary stories or magical realism. Almost all of them are dramas. Further startling discovery: my current WiP is the only flat-out fantasy idea that's ever taken up residence in ye olde cranium.


Merry Christmas!










Also, this.

i couldn't resist. credit.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bird in the box is HERE.

So. Remember this?

"When I began blogging in 2010, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn't think I was starting a "writing blog," though that's quickly what it became.

For some time, I've felt uncomfortable splitting myself in two with every post. There's the writer me, and the pre-taking-it-seriously writer me, also known as college me, theatre me, camp counselor me, facebook me...

Now, as I do begin to take writing more seriously, I want to also take blogging about writing more seriously. Not that I can make grand promises. You likely won't be able to tell the difference between this blog and the new one. But the act of embarking, of calling out a change, and of assigning a specific portion of myself to a certain space feels VERY much like the right thing to do.

It only took signing up for WriteOnCon for me to realize (even after all those Platform-Building Campaigns-- yay!) that I didn't want to lead other writers (or, eep, industry pros) to a personal blog about nothing in particular + writing sometimes

Thus! Bird in the Box is born! I know I've been dormant lately (summers are HARD), but I'd love to see some familiar faces pop by the new digs. I may continue to post here, but Bird in the Box is where all the writing-related things will be, from now on. Also, I won't be offended if you decide to un-follow RwPB. Seriously. Love to all of you! I would have never come so far in the craft, as far as I have yet to go, without the help of fellow bloggers. 

*internet hug*"

Friends, I made a mistake. I've been toiling over that post ever since I wrote it. Toiling over the split. Because, at my heart of hearts, that's EXACTLY what I DO want to lead other writers, or industry pros, or even real-life friends (as scary as you are, for some reason) to. Me being Me. And there is a big part of Me that wants to blog about craft, which is something I've been afraid to do. I thought starting over would fix that, but it really only made me feel lonely and embarrassed. Why should I have wanted to change so much, so badly?

And so, yes, Bird in the Box is born. But Bird in the Box is also HERE, at, formerly rosewood pencil box. I haven't changed so much recently that I should abandon everything I was before. 

I mean, I obviously still have a thing for boxes.  :)

Thanks for sticking with me. I've a had a bit of a floundery summer. And, to echo what I said before, lots of love, and lots of thanks. I owe a metric ton of my growth to blogging. Annnnnnd now I'll stop being sappy, put on my big-girl hat, and give up worrying what others think of me.


(Note: I went in to edit this post, and ended up changing it entirely. Hello to everyone who commented before, both here and there. You had a lot to do with this. You're brilliant, and I love you. Okay, NOW I'm done with the sappiness.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

songs + summer :: this week's rtw.

A little known fact: August is one of my favorite months. I didn't like it much as a kid (September, either. For shame), but now I do. It's peaceful. I associate it with vacation. I'm not *on* vacation, but I'm thinking of it, so that's... something.

In celebration of summer, I'm pulling myself out of Temporary Blog Obscurity to participate in this week's Road Trip Wednesday. If you want to join in, hop on over to YA Highway and check it out.

This week's topic: What music has been your summer soundtrack?

Well. Since June began with YET ANOTHER move (as you might recall), my first anthem of Summer 2012 was this:

why am i the one, by fun.


And then I went to camp where, as always, I fell in love with a handful of praise and worship songs that everybody and their mom already knew, but were mega-special and brand-new to me.

cannons, by phil wickham.

revelation song, by... whomever has the least-distracting video. phillips, craig & dean, it seems (baha. did not ever see myself listening to them, but, well, here i am).

Upon returning home, I dove back into the music I'd been getting into in the spring, and discovered that I'd been glossing over an incredible song for months without realizing it. Again, FOR SHAME.

soon or never, by punch brothers.

Which got me thinking about STORY again, and brought back to light all the music I've been using as inspiration for that for the past two years. One of the more recent highlights of which is:

the peace of wild things/dayblind, by crooked still.

Holy cow. I obviously have a thing for Aoife O'Donovan and Chris Thile.

You know how sometimes authors make playlists for their books that fans get all excited about? These last two songs. Yes. That. For me. If I ever have to make one. Someday.

Oh, and to tack on last week's topic, the best book I read in July was probably A MILLION SUNS, by Beth Revis. I enjoyed it a whole Goodreads star more than AtU. In case you were dying to know.

Happy August!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

you know it's been a while when...

You can't even remember what your blog looks like.


After all that time I spent trying to make it work.


Summer is in its fully glory here in the mid-south US. And with summer's full glory comes an unintentional but unavoidable (and, honestly, annual) blogging hiatus. In case anyone was worried.

I'll be spending most of the next month counseling at Camp Loucon, which is also where I've been the last two weeks. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it does a number on my relationship with the internet (maybe that's *why* I wouldn't trade it... or part of why).

Lots of good things going on, writing-wise, too. Things that require time and focus.

And so, I'll be hopping off until August.

See you then!

Monday, May 21, 2012

gosh, the very thing i don't want to blog about.

We are moving. Again.

Random cat picture says:
You've got to be effing kidding me.
We just got here.
Oh, don't I know it.
But this is a good thing! And here's why (*though I am rather NERVY these days*) :

1. It's all about where/what you're moving TO, and FOR, and both are great.
   TO = Kentucky (near Lexington. And also near my home!)
   WHY = Husband got the job he's wanted since college, which is kind of a big deal.

2. The specifics of the TO are pretty epic:
and by "this," I mean the turret.
and by "house," I mean "tiny apartment."
3. Further specifics include!
  ~ Walking distance to a cozy, nook-infested library.
  ~ Living above a STORE that sells CELTIC THINGS in a TINY TOWN in HORSE COUNTRY. I mean come on.
  ~ No more long drives to "stock up" on Ale-8. We will be surrounded by it.
  ~ Did I mention the turret? The exposed brick walls? Or the fact that we'll be living in a landmark*?
*I don't even think I'm making that up. Probably not on the national registry or anything, but seriously. Look at it. Everyone in town knows that turret. And next week, I will be sleeping in it.

4. Now is a really good time for us to be moving back to Kentucky. Camp is about to start, and I will be *that much closer.*

5. Midway (the little town) is boatloads of charming.

6. It will be a year of adventure!

7. I've made ABYSMAL progress, writing-wise, since our move to Chattanooga. A lot of that had to do with real-life stuff, but I still think the change will be good. 

And there's your update.

Perhaps I will return to all things with a vengeance?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

bitterblue @ first novels club!

Hey friends. A quick hello to say, Hey! You could win a signed copy of BITTERBLUE, by Kristin Cashore, over at First Novels Club!

Gracious knows, I need all the chances I can get to not pay for books. My poor husband.

[[Tidbit: FNC was my conduit to YA and blogging, just so you know. I'm kind of here, doing this, because if what I saw them doing, over there. Good to know, huh?]]

More from me soon, I hope!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

hurry scurry road trip wednesday, brought to you by thursday morning.

A brief post to finally participate in RTW (or anything at all) again:

What IRL friends can you talk YA with? (that's the paraphrased version.)

Funny, because I just figured out today that IRL = in real life. Why must that be abbreviated, internet? It's not like it's hard to type, or over-used. Is it? I don't even know.

Believe it or not, a surprising number of my real-life friends are into YA, or are at least aware and/or respectful of it. I have a whopping THREE real-life friends (from three completely different circles) that have been writing YA for years. Three! And I didn't know about any of them until I came out as a YA-writing girl, myself. Like we'd all been keeping THE BIG YA SECRET without knowing it.

As far as YA-reading friends go, well... there are a bunch of those, as well. Some have come out of the woodwork and surprised me, while others have been there the whole time. I really am lucky, I guess.

But I still don't bring up YA around certain people. It's not everyone's cup of tea.

Or maybe I'm just shy.

Happy road tripping... yesterday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

april is the wild card.

As you may have noticed, I am not participating in the A-Z blogging challenge. Sweet relief! There's no way I was gonna pull that off.

And since I've developed a false sense of no-one-can-see-me, I've switched to a font that does this blog absolutely no favors. The words are difficult to read, but they also LOOK WHIMSICAL, and let's not forget our priorities, here.

Also, no guarantee on the background. I am in IDENTITY CRISIS MODE.


I'm in Martha's Vineyard. This morning I woke up in Boston. Yesterday we went to Maine. This weekend we'll be in Manhattan.

And I've forgotten what day of the week it is (Wednesday. It's Wednesday).

random cat picture says,
"how productive can you really be on this thing?"

Perhaps I will post something that makes more sense tomorrow (now that we have internet again).

Until then, here's some unadulterated nonsense, for all you phone-puter gaming fans:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

:: monday mixtape.

The Punch Brothers. "Don't Get Married Without Me."
Because it makes me dance like a loon.

(brief language warning, for anyone who might mind.)

Scott Avett. "Just a Closer Walk with Thee"
(the adorable version):

The Avett Brothers. "Murder in the City:"
(the still does not aptly highlight the video.
the video is amazing.)

Crooked Still. Heart-stopping cover of
Paul Simon's "American Tune:"

And worlds collide here with Aoife O'Donovan joining Chris Thile/Yo-Yo Ma/Edgar Meyer/Stuart Duncan for "Here and Heaven," from their stellar Goat Rodeo Sessions:

And since we're talking about Goat Rodeo, here's "Attaboy," again. Live this time.

And there you have it.
Your very first RwPB* :: monday mixtape
(belated by an hour, but, eh. It's still Monday for all of my crit partners).
Perhaps I'll keep doing this?
*because I didn't feel like typing out rosewood pencil box?

I sure hope you guys like progressive bluegrass.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

false starts + second drafts :: cranky post.

This is the third time I've started this blog post. I'm doing that middle-of-the-night thing again, too. And I'm using words like "this" and "that" more than usual.


I'm drowning in false starts.

Writing is not my friend, these days. I don't feel like I have anything to say. I'm afraid of working on what I need to work on, because I don't want it to fall apart. Again. Again and again and again.

All I want to do is hole up with the books I should have read a month ago and try to make stories feel like fun again.

I *think* I figured out what was wrong with my beginning. A week ago, I was calling this a "breakthrough." Now I'm just calling it stupid. The issue:  If I write it, it will inevitably be wrong in a few weeks time. And so I haven't written it.

First drafts are nothing, guys.
It's the second draft that's killing me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

cat picture + jennifer :: true things.

Hey there, strangers.

Lots of stuff, lots of stuff. Lots of good stuff. Midnight blogging, too. Hello, friends on the other side of the world who are enjoying this lovely March morning. My cat just fell asleep on my arm after attacking my hands. He does stuff like that. It merits a picture.

Oh, Oliver. If you'd stop being cute, I'd stop taking pictures of you.

Anywho, my friends, in 24 hours I'll be watching
The Hunger Games {!}
and probably dying a little bit inside. The question is whether or not it will be the good kind of dying {because there are two kinds, you know}.

It gets me to thinking, do any of you remember this? I had so few readers a year ago when the casting craze began, I'm not sure who knows. I've felt funny about saying anything since then, but it's true.

I grew up going to church with Jennifer Lawrence and her family. Yes, that Jennifer Lawrence. I know. I know. It is amazing. I am so happy for her, and proud beyond words. It is also incredibly weird because, well. You know. I knew her as a little kid, and not as freaking Katniss. The bragging rights pretty much end there, but now you know. In case you didn't before. I just... had to tell you again. I don't even know why. But it's a true thing, and I like for people to know true things about me.

We love you, Jennifer. Louisville girls represent.

Friday, March 16, 2012

double tagged! also, a facelift.

I have been double-tagged!
Once by Colin D. Smith {all the 7s}, and once by TZ Wallace {good old 11 questions}.

Let's start with the questions!

1. What book character do you have a crush on?

Let me tell you guys about my husband. He has curly blond hair and gray-blue eyes. He loves to cook and gets adorably excited about food, especially baked goods. He is quiet and kind, almost to a fault. He has been known to paint and get hopelessly romantic. When I first read The Hunger Games, I couldn't get over the parallels.* So this question is kind of a no-brainer.

Is it any wonder I liked Peeta so much?

*Note: My husband is significantly less perfect and more human, though. Just the way I like 'em.

2. What was the last book that made you cry?

I'm going to go with all-out bawled, here, and not just choked up. I got choked up in Legend over Day's necklace {I don't even know why}, but that wasn't the same. The last book that made me *cry* cry was The Book Thief. I mean, come on people. I cried for so many reasons, and throughout the whole thing. There was the emotional gravity of World War II, first of all, but also the sheer beauty of the storytelling. And the characters in that book. Oh man.

Before The Book Thief, there was A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, which made me weep on a plane.

3. What scenes are the hardest for you to write?

Transitions/decision making. I get bored reading them, I get bored writing them.

4. Are you superstitious about your writing methods, or do you have any rituals regarding your writing?

I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate ritual. Probably too much, because then I become dependent on the ritual {which, in turn, is the definition of superstitious, so...}. Can I write without coffe/tea? Can I write without checking my email compulsively every fifteen minutes? Can I write in public/at home/in the car, if I'm not used to it? Yes, Julie. Yes you can.

One thing I do, that makes me feel like a weirdo, is migrate while I write. I might start on the couch, but if the juices aren't flowing, I'll move to the table. If I get stuck again, I'll go to the guest bedroom {which is supposed to be my "office"}. After a few days of this, I'll write at the library. I have a Goldilocks complex. I might also be in a funk.

5. Do you listen to music when writing, or do you have to have silence?

Oh good heavens, I can't stand to listen to music while writing. I work in silence. I love music, and I listen to it for mood all the time, but trying to write to it makes me feel punchy/insane. Or like my brain might melt out of my ears. If I'm ever trying to write in a loud or public place, I'll listen to brown noise {a few degrees lower/softer than white noise} on my headphones. Silence is king, though. Or should I say, ADD is king, and silence the most effective medicine?

6. What book antagonist do you love to hate?

Who doesn't have a thing for Voldemort?

7. What is the last book you stayed up ridiculously late to finish reading?

All three of the books I read last month accomplished this. Article 5, Anna Dressed in Blood, and Legend. The again, I tend to stay up ridiculously late, regardless.

8. When was the last time that you waited in line for a book release?

I have only done this once, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

9. What book{s} is/are currently on your bedside table?

My planner. A Game of Thrones. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. The Plot Whisperer. My notebook. Zombies vs. Unicorns. A printed copy of my first draft. A History of Asia.

10. What is your "guilty pleasure" book that you read and re-read?

I don't know if I would call this a guilty pleasure, since there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but I generally always want to go back to I Capture the Castle.

11. How comfortable are you calling yourself a "writer?"

Today, not very, since I have little to show for it.

Sweet! Moving on to the 7's.

I don't know who decided to call this Lucky 7 meme "lucky." Haaaaaaaaaaaa. The seven lines starting with line seven of page seventy-seven of my horrid rough draft from a year ago are, predictably, horrid. Excuses, excuses. But seriously. Those words aren't going to see the light of day. They occur 'midst things that are no longer relevant. I haven't reached page 77 of the rewrite, yet. And so, I'm treating you with seven lines from page 77 of my NaNo project, instead. But watch out. I haven't looked at this in three and a half months, and it has never been edited. Not a smidge. Wahoo!


She tips the suitcase onto its spine, there on the floor in the middle of the little back room attached to the kitchen. No one else seems to notice this corner, or care for it. Embarrassed, I can’t stop thinking about the contents of the cupboards behind me. My mouth actually starts to water over nothing in particular, and I train my attention back to Nan. No one else is eating. I wonder if Catie and Donovan realize that I’m still starving, burning up on the fumes of hospital coffee and eating them whole.

Nan unclasps the hooks on the old suitcase and half of it thuds to the floor.


Oh man, check out ALL of my slap-dash writing flaws. Way too many words? Check. Run-on sentences? Check. Descriptions that make no sense? Check check. How on earth does one "eat" coffee fumes whole? After burning up on them? Ah, NaNo. I even remember being proud of this paragraph. *goose laugh* But that's the thing about rough drafts, I guess. You write them to iron out your thoughts, not to please anyone else. Right?

Also, I had forgotten that I wrote most of this in first/present. Interesting.

Well that was fun. I actually just got excited about NaNo again. If you feel like playing along, consider yourself tagged!

While you're here, how do you like the new look?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

pi day.

Doesn't make me think of math or food.

Pi day makes me think of this:

A girl can't help her favorite book.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

and by tonight, i meant tomorrow morning.

Good morning!

The moment has arrived! Our winners of a signed copy of Article 5 are:


Anonymous {look at you go, Anonymous! Haha.}


Sarah Pearson!

Congrats to you both! I am emailing you right now. And then I'm hitting the road for Knoxville, and the most fun afternoon ever.

Yay books!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Guess what I'm NOT forgetting to post about today?!

It's Tuesday (...right?), and I'm going to talk about YA. Or maybe teenagers.

I'm going to talk about myself as a teenager, and why some YA is lost on me.

There I am on the left {in blue}, at the tender age of 14. Here is what I remember thinking about back then:

~my friends.
~my beliefs.
~how to relate to people.
~does anyone like me?
~do I fit in?
~my values.
~helping others.

As I got older, the thoughts expanded to include:


Boys were low on the list. My heartbroken days wouldn't happen until college. But as a teen? It was about my friends. I had a ton of guy friends. They were my brothers. I cared about them. Sure, I had crushes, too, but they meant less in the grand scheme, even then. They existed for the sole purpose of being thought about, not talked to. And if a crush and a friend overlapped? I did what I thought was best. I tried to turn it off. I kept up the friendships. I devoted myself to what I valued most {God and theatre}.

I don't know why I was like this. I may have been prudish. Naive. I shrug off those accusations, though, because I was living the way I wanted to. I won't deny that I got emotional and overwhelmed and pined after the occasional boy who would never know my name. And I won't deny that I struggled majorly with social norms, and that I put way too much pressure on myself to be "good." Yet, somehow, I remember understanding my place in life a little better than I now realize is normal.

If normal is based on teenagers in books, that is. I often wonder what sixteen-year-old me would have done if any book premise had been real. What if I had been selected for The Hunger Games? The real me from 2001, and not some archetypal teenage figurehead. Sixteen-year-old Julie would have either screamed and panicked and tried to run away, or walked forward like a martyr, with absolutely no hope or expectation of surviving. Maybe a little of both. I was no Katniss.

What if seventeen-year-old Julie had found herself surrounded by, oh I don't know, werewolves or faeries or something? What would she have done? First, the reality would have taken a long time to sink in. There would have been mixed feelings of, "Is this entirely true? Am I completely losing it?" and, "I knew fantasy was real, I knew it I knew it I knew it." Also, "how can I work this into a college application? Because that would be awesome."

However!, if some hot werewolf boy had come forward and immediately pledged his undying love, replete with possessive undertones, I would have made this face:

or something equally offensive.

And perhaps that is why there is a chunk of YA that just does not connect with me. I was never that girl. I don't know how to relate to her. 

I'm tired of reading books about teenagers that propagate adult fantasies. You know? It's fine if you like that, and I'm not saying I don't enjoy the odd romp through such things, but what exactly are you trying to say?

A question: Are you writing about kids? Or adults in wish-fulfilling teenage bodies? Not saying one is better than the other, just saying we should stop fooling ourselves. You're going to make money either way. Maybe.

Wow. Snarkfest, out.

{{In other news, Article 5 winners to be announced tonight!}}

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leap day, rtw, a goodreads question, and march madness.

You guys, you guys, you guys.

a) Time's about out to enter to win a signed copy of Article 5, by Kristen Simmons. Please check it out if you're interested. Info here!

b) Voting is still open for the 1st Campaign Challenge! My contribution, Maximum Splatter, is #196. Us bottom-dwellers {also known as the procrastinators} are pretty lonely, you know. If you're feeling daunted by the huge list of 200+ plus entries, might I suggest beginning at the end? We've got some good stuff, too! :)

and, c) I'm FINALLY posting for Road Trip Wednesday again. Hello, road trippers!

This week's topic is "What was the best book you read in February?"

Leave it to me to turn this into a loaded question.
I do love Leap Day.
You see, I'm in a book funk. Or, I keep telling myself that I am. My gut reaction to this topic was, "Yikes, I didn't read ANY books in February," which is entirely untrue! I don't know what's wrong with me. I actually read three, but they were all within the first two weeks of the month. Maybe that's why I forgot.

Of those three:

Article 5 takes the cake. I also read Anna Dressed in Blood and Legend. I enjoyed all of them, but A5 wins. And not just because my friend wrote it. Speaking of, in case you missed the earlier link: interview with Kristen! Giveaway of awesome! You still have a week to enter.

*end of shameless plugging*

The other night at a women's fellowship thing at church, we all went around the room and said what we were currently reading. But after the three mentioned above, I'd stalled out, and then overcompensated. You guys, I'm reading, like, five books right now. And I realized, if I can't read a book in about a week, I sort of feel like it'll never happen. I know this isn't true. I've proven myself wrong countless times. Still.

When it was my turn, I listed the five books that are currently stacked up by my bed, but something felt wrong. I know I'm in the middle of *something,* right now, I thought...

Then I remembered, but was to shy to blurt, "Oh, does manga count?"

Friends, tell me, does manga count?

Because, while I haven't devoured a novel in over two weeks, I *have* been eye-deep in this wonderfulness:

Fruits Basket, Fruits Basket, OH!

The day I discovered that I could get a free manga reader for le iPhone was a jolly day, indeed. And, according to it, I've read close to 30 {extra} books since the middle of January.

The secret is out. Not only does she watch anime, she reads manga, too.

It's a recent development. Really, I'm just fulfilling my role as a book person.

And a nerdy female.

So, here's my question.

Do I add these "extra" books to Goodreads? I want to. I want them to count toward my 2012 total. Is anyone out there going to demand my head on a spike for this? Will you scoff and say, "Yeah, sure, it says she's read {however many} books this year, but we all know half of them are manga."

Is that... even a bad thing?

Oh, and d) Have you all heard about March Madness? Not the basketball one, though I love that, too.* This one's about writing! And setting goals! And achieving them! Also, prizes. Here are my goals for March, in case you're interested:

~Finish crit for a CP before weekend.
~Pound out the first 15k of WiP rewrite (at least).
~Idea dash/loose-outline the first third.
~Remove myself from the internet after one hour of blog-reading.
~Finish reading three of the five books on my nightstand.

 Wish me all kinds of luck. Later taters.

*I grew up in Kentucky. Therefore, these things are true about me: I love basketball. I love horse-racing. It's just... a thing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

campaign challenge time: maximum splatter.

Rules found here.


Shadows crept across the wall. One belonged to Jack, and one was mine. Our toes were blue in our shoes.

Jack’s shadow lengthened onto the bright sidewalk. Mine lagged in the alley. I lifted the heavy basket higher onto my hip and watched him, boots crunching as he stalked across the road. The snow compounded the sunshine into white blindness, even as it melted.

Earlier, we’d carved deep X's on pilfered, decomposing citruses, hoping for maximum splatter. We’d tested one out on the icy bricks of my mother's shed: gorgeous.

“Liza!” he called.

I skittered across the ice, jealous of his better shoes.

Jack grabbed the squishiest orange he could find and pelted it onto a slab of white that had once been a shop front. Color and rot burst open. We laughed and Jack reached in for another. 

A chipped porcelain cherub caught my eye in the window, flanked by photos and birds.

“Jack, look.”

He pressed his face up to the glass. “What about it?”

“It’s pretty.”

He scoffed. “You turning into a girl now?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” My cheeks burned. 

On a scale of rotten fruit to pretty things, I’d rather be faded than sticky. 

Everything, faded.

And there you go! 200 words exactly {according to Scrivener}, with the proper opening and closing lines {plus one comma}, and the word "orange." I'm pretty late in the game, so I'd greatly appreciate your votes! 

Here it is again, in disconnected photos:

Naming credit, I should add, goes to Jeigh Meredith. These guys were Boy and Girl for two days, and nothing would come together. CPs are the best!

Don't forget to pop around to the other entries to vote and leave comments and spread the love!

Friday, February 17, 2012

answers to questions, and then more questions.

Welcome back, me. While you were off gallivanting in the abyss of your imagination {or trying to, at least}, Julia King tagged you to answer 11 questions. All of us here in your brain think this would be a nice way to return to your blog.

Thanks... self.

{It's been along week.}

Okay, here we go!


I don't know if there's a specific one that stands out, but generally every adventure I had with my cousins blends into one big, happy mess of nostalgia. Fall weekends at Otter Creek, summer weekends at the lake... few thing were better, back then.


I always have a hard time with this question, because it's such a no-brainer {I mean, come on, my parents and grandparents are amazing. Plus they like, RAISED ME, and stuff}.

So, not including the humans who helped shaped me into a well-balanced adult?

Alton Brown is my hero, because he posted a picture of himself wearing a fedora on Facebook, and I just love the guy. He has never pulled me from a burning building, but he does make me laugh, and want to cook {the latter of which is nearly as impressive as walking through fire}, and he's from Atlanta, which is, like, right down the road. What's not to love?


I'm still thinking about Alton Brown, so... food.
Also, "Why was school never as much fun as Good Eats?"
And, "It's so weird being this close to Georgia."
And, "I used to live right across the river from Indiana. Indiana and Georgia are, like, opposites."
This could go on forever; I'll spare us both.


What's with all the food today? It's like I just started exercising again, or something...
If it's going to make me sick later, I probably have an unhealthy desire to eat it CONSTANTLY. Cheezits give me heartburn, for example. Whyyy????


Oh... now I'm going to have to go watch that movie again.
I remember, like, 0% of it.
Unless you mean the Groundhog Day four years ago where I started talking to the boy who would eventually become my husband. The only thing I would have done to shake up that day:  kiss him, right there in front of his best friend's wedding party. That would have been memorable. Also, completely out of character for both of us.


How can I choose? Probably a cat. I'm already quite like one. All introverted and ambivalent, and only affectionate when I want to be {I am more affectionate than most cats, though}.


Because I felt like I might go crazy otherwise? Also, I ran out of excuses not to.


In bed or on a couch, usually. Sometimes I enjoy pacing {on even ground} with a book in hand. This winter I've found myself reading in the bath an awful lot. I kind of wish I could write in there, but, sigh. Best not to get electrocuted.


Well I can't choose just one. Do you know any book people who can choose just one?
The handful I *always* mention are:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. {also check out Beatrice & Virgil. It is insane.}
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, & Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (duh).
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (duh).
Lips Touch {and everything else} by Laini Taylor.

{but there are many more I love.}


I'm going to go with the unshakably Louisvillian answer, here, and say, DERBY DAY!
It's almost as much a family get-together as Christmas. Plus, there's the regional pride, the singing of my My Old Kentucky Home {so far away *sob*}, Derby pie {I don't even like desserts much, but this is killer}, horses, strawberries, and hats. No one expects anything from anyone else {i.e. no gifts}, it's just about being together. It was in my family, at least. I always loved that.


Oh, don't tempt me. I'd go to the London Olympics. And then to the small town in Crete where my husband and I were adopted by our neighbors. We miss our Greek friends! {Best. Honeymoon. Ever.}

Thanks for tagging me, Julia!

I was also bestowed a blog award while away. Thanks kmckendry!

You already know a few interesting things about me, thanks to Julia's questions, but I'll add a few more.

1. I am a picky eater, and that's one top of being vegetarian {you may already know this}.
2. I got my pupils dilated today, but the doctor didn't put very much of the solution in my left eye. I look pretty hilarious right now.
3. I love all animals, but I own only cats. For now.
4. I have hazel eyes.
5. My heritage is primarily German.
6. I was not a coffee person until last year, but now I'm hooked {I am my mother's daughter}.
7. I did not write as much this week as I'd hoped.

Okay! That was fun.

I suppose now it's my turn to ask questions and give awards?

1. What flower do you most anticipate every spring?
2. Which musician do you always go back to?
3. Do you use a rewards system when you write? Has that EVER worked for you?
4. Best book you read in 2011?
5. Is it sunny where you are?
6. Are you a picky eater?
7. Who is *your* non-parental hero?
8. Would you rather go skiing or sledding?
9. What came first: the character or the premise?
10. How has your writing habit surprised you?
11. Favorite TV show?

If you feel like answering, YOU ARE HEREBY TAGGED!

And if you're feeling Kreativ, YOU ARE HEREBY AWARDED! Especially if you are a new follower {hi new followers!}

In other words, this coffee shop is about to close and I have to get back home. Bring on the Campaign! See you all at the first challenge on Monday. To the weekend! To writing! To my dilated right pupil!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

about the campaign, goals, and this awesome thing called "doing the work."

First and foremost, if you haven't entered to win a signed copy of Article 5, and you would like to, click here! Kristen Simmons is a dear friend, so let's keep supporting her. {Note: the more entries I get on this giveaway, the more winners there will be!}

To all my new Campaign friends and followers and soon-to-be friends, hello!

I have a quick something to say. I've decided {just now this very second}, that until the official Campaign start date next week, I am going to take a mini-break from blogging. Kind of an awkward time, I know, but it's for a good reason.

I'm writing again. For reals. Like, with goals and everything. And if I could take that Blogger icon down from my bookmarks, even if it's just for a handful of days, that would be really helpful.

I will still be doing my Campaign-ly duties, of course. Just not until next week.

To tide you over, here's the song that pretty much epitomizes everything I want my main character to be:

The mood is a little chippy, but seriously, even the title {"Attaboy"} is perfect.

Okay, here I go.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

if you can't think of a witty title, just say... tuesday stuff {tuesday stuff!}.

So, a second ago, I was all pouting and frustrated, scrolling down my blogger dashboard looking for nothing in particular, telling my husband, "I don't want to go to small group! I have to write, but I forgot how!" And he kissed me and said, "You haven't forgotten how." And I said, "Yes-huh I have! And I just remembered that I have to blog today and I haven't done that yet either and I'm never-- Oh! 'How to Return to Writing After A Long Break!' Well, looky there." Thanks, Nathan Bransford.

Today is Tuesday, the day I usually participate in this:

But since my brain went all mushy and happy after Kristen's interview {don't forget to enter the giveaway, if you like!}, and I decided to regain control of my writing habits... I totally forgot about it. To tide you over, here is an interesting and pertinent video of Agent Kristin explaining the difference between YA and MG {another thing I've been stressing over, lately}:

And last but not least, it's time for the Campaign! I'm very excited about this one because it's only a month long, with two challenges instead of three. And, as always, it will be a fun chance to get to know other writers and sharpen those commenting skills. I hope you'll join me!

Monday, February 6, 2012

an interview with kristen simmons, + giveaway of awesome!

Friends, friends, friends. Remember last week when my friend's book came out? Well.

Do I have a treat for you! First, a little background: 

I met Kristen Simmons several years ago in my hometown of Louisville, KY, where she and my mom were Jazzercise instructors together. {Don't knock it till you try it, for reals.}

My mom always had a new Kristen story, and she told me over and over again how much I would love her, which was, of course, so true.

Kristen and I first bonded over the atrocities of the last few seasons of LOST, and neither of us knew the other one wrote. Well, in all honesty, I was only just starting to get serious about it {there wasn't much to know}, but I had NO EARTHLY CLUE that she was writing.
Then, one day, my mom called me and said,"So, guess what? ...Kristen got a book deal!"
And I said,  "Kristen who? Kristen, Kristen?"

And she was like, "Yes, Kristen Simmons!"

Who knew?!

So then Kristen and I bonded over writing, which, it turns out, is a much more enjoyable topic than the last few seasons of LOST. 

She has been a great friend and mentor, full of laughter and words of wisdom and encouragement, and I am SO THRILLED AND HONORED to share this interview with her. Thank you, Kristen, for letting me ask you so many questions. :)

From Article 5's Goodreads page:

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. 

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

And now, here's Kristen!

she's so pretty!
1. About the places: Did you spend more time consulting physical maps or Google? Just out of curiosity. {By the way, I will never look at a vacant Dick's parking lot the same, again.}
Both actually! Sometimes I would google an area and access that spooky Big-Brother-Watches-All feature where you can get a 360 degree view of a certain street or a certain shop. Other times I tracked Ember's journey on a physical map I had tacked up on my wall. I spent a lot of time counting miles on Mapquest (to figure out how long it would take them to get certain places), and figuring out back roads that would detour them from the FBR. Like, a lot of time. I am really bad at both math and spatial relationships.
2. When in the process did your title emerge?
Right at the beginning. The idea of Moral Statutes manifested first, and then the title fell into place. I have not had the same luck since. The sequel is still unnamed...

3. What makes A5 unlike many dystopians {something I loved about this book}?
I think it's atypical mostly because the setting and time are so close to the present. Ember and Chase have no access to special technologies, there are no laser weapons or super computers. In fact, because of the War (which is reflected on little in Book 1 due to the nature of their necessary flight) there are actually less scientific advancements available than before. The divide between those in power and those without is so wide that few can afford to attend to anything besides their basic needs - safety, food, shelter, etc. Also, there's a strong relationship component, but it's not an easy relationship, it's a struggle. 

4. Did you expect Chase's red plaid shirt to be immortalized on the cover? 

No I didn't, but the first time I saw it I was overcome with joy and screamed: "THEY PUT HIS SHIRT ON THE COVER!" I love that it's there. Whenever I picture Chase, he's wearing that flannel.

4a. What was it like seeing your characters there for the first time?

I love them. I think the art team nailed them. And I love that they're looking away, so that you can still decide what their faces look like for yourself.

5. What's something not many people know about Kristen Simmons that you actually wish they did know?

Let's see...I really wish that people knew that I have a fairly life-interfering watermelon addiction. It's a problem. It's expensive to buy a watermelon every other day, especially in the winter. And you run the risk of it being mushy, or not sweet. I hope people learn from my struggles, and strive to live a life of varied fruit consumption.

{Oh, how I love you. Haha.}

6. Please discuss your favorite types and flavors of frozen treats {I know you want to}.

Frozen treats. Oh, pumpkin ice cream, how I love thee. Also strawberry milkshakes. Also banana ice cream from Marble Slab, when they mix in fresh strawberries. Also frozen kit kats. Have you ever frozen a kit kat Julie? It's delightful. Also frozen chocolate covered bananas.

{I have had frozen kit kats, believe it or not. That's how they always came at summer camp. I ate far too many. Also, THERE'S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND. Is what frozen chocolate covered bananas will forever make me think of.}

7. Last movie you saw in theaters?

Sherlock Holmes! (I am embarrassed to admit that we have been back to the theater twice, but that I have gotten the movie times wrong and so we've left.)

7a. Worth it?
Yes! It was awesome! I love Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law together. They make me giggle.

8. What's something you absolutely love about Tampa?

I want to say the water - it's so awesome being close to the ocean - but honestly, I really love the rain storms here. They don't last long, but when they come you pretty much have to stop everything and pay attention to them. It rains harder here than anywhere I've lived, and there are the most fantastic lightning storms. It's completely consuming.

{Um, yeah. I feel like I would love that, too.}

9. What's the number one thing you miss about Louisville?

My friends! And the restaurants. I never knew this before we lived in Louisville, but that place has the best food.

{Oh my gosh, that is so true. I didn't realize it until I moved away!}

10. Can you introduce us to Rudy? Baw, Rudy.

What, you mean this precious creature?

Rudy came to us as a rescue from the track, all beaten up and anxious. Greyhounds don't have the knowledge that other dogs do when you get them under these circumstances, so for the first six months we had to carry his little 80 pound self up and down stairs (he didn't know what to do), and teach him it was okay to be pet, and water down his food so he didn't inhale it. Now he's a cuddler and he loves his squeaky toys. He probably deserves co-authorship of Article 5 as he truly is a divine muse, but I refuse to give it to him as he is also a huge distraction.

11. What does your handwriting look like?
It's terrible! A combination of cursive and print.

 I cannot be confined by font size or straight lines either. Learning to type was really a good thing. 

12. So, uh... will you hang out with me and have the best day ever on March 7, at Union Ave Books in Knoxville?
I thought you'd never ask...


Thank you again, Kristen!

And now, how could I *not* follow up with a giveaway?

Leave a comment with your email address, and I'll enter you in a drawing for a signed copy of Article 5. Whoo! Open until March 5, winners announced March 6, books signed March 7, and {Lord willing, since I'm usually bad at this} sent out on March 8. Or 9. Open internationally!

Thanks friend, and don't forget to spread the word.