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.


Friday, February 3, 2012

four things.


Remember when Jess met John and Hank Green, and I sort of did, because I was in her pocket?

Well, then it got even more awesome, and this is what came in the mail the other day:

Wahoo, my very own Hanklerfish!


I inadvertently entered and won a flash fiction bloghop the other day {follow link for the prompt}. Inadvertently, because I somehow completely forgot that it was a contest. I posted my entry on Tumblr, because I'd already put something up here that day {hey guys, btw, I'm on Tumblr now, and it is, like, perfect for flash}. I didn't get it up until after midnight... and, I don't know what I was thinking; I totally spaced. When the winners were announced, I was like, "Wait, WHAT?"
Oh, me. I need to rethink my sleep schedule, or something.

So anyway, to all interested parties, head on over and sign up for
 The Knights of Micro Fiction!
Hosted monthly by Kathy McKendry
and her daughter, Jess {hey, I know a lot of you}.
And then check out my wonderful prize-- an interview on Kathy's blog!
Thanks, ladies! I'll try to pay better attention next time.



Highlight of my week:

My actual friend's actual book came out! 
I bought it at freaking Barnes & Noble!!!

It was the coolest thing.
I was able to pick up the phone and
call the author
of the book
 I'd just read...

Seriously, friends. Nothing beats that.

In celebration of Kristen, tune in soon for an interview with her!
She is one of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever known-- I'm sure you guys will love her.