Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z - Zeal

No matter what you do, do it with zeal.  It doesn’t matter if people are watching, or if anyone even knows.  In the great scheme of things- you’ll know.  Draw confidence from small successes.  ‘I totally emptied the laundry basket today.’   ‘I made a kick ass meal.’   ‘I wrote a whole chapter.’  ‘I controlled my temper.’  'I got a perfect score on guitar hero!'

Knowing that you’re capable of your best makes all the difference in every aspect of life.

Well, there you have it.  Short but sweet- this A-Z challenge has been full of surprises and I’ve met great people and discovered some amazing blogs!  Thank you to all my new followers and to everyone who commented on this months posts!

Have a great weekend!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Y - Yikes!

It’s one of my husband and I’s favorite words.    
When one of the kids comes in with a huge snail (yes they do grow to be the size of small dogs around here)- ‘Yikes!’

When the weird lady in the grocery line keeps turning around to talk to us about God- hubby and I share a discrete ‘yiiiikes!?…’ behind her back.

When one of us is confused, tired, or completely freaking out about something ridiculous, we can always count on the other to break the tension with a muttered ‘Yikes.’

Surprised?  ‘Yikes!’

Disgusted?  ‘Yikes!’

Faced with the bizarre?  ‘Yah-hiiikes!’

And ‘Yikes!’ this post went on way too long.  I gotta get back to watching William and Kate tie the knot;)

Have a great weekend everyone!  I’ll ‘Z’ you tomorrow for the final day of our A-Z challenge!  Can you believe it's over already?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

X - X-static!

Okay, how many of you looked up ‘x’ words in an online dictionary this morning and just stared at it for awhile?  *creepy raises her hand*

X is one of those letters of the alphabet the founding fathers should have thought a little longer and harder about before including.  Sure, it’s useful enough when placed inside a word.   But nobody wants to use it to make the sound that is, essentially, it’s name sake.  Why?  Who the hell knows!?

So, what is a woman to do?  Well, today I am going to place the ‘x’ where it should rightfully be.  I swear, this is totally on principle and not due to the fact that ‘x’ words are ridiculous and impossible to write a post on.  Right?  Right!

So today, I’m replacing that pesky ‘ecs’ (what I’d call ‘a wanna be ‘x’) so that the real underappreciated ‘X’ may shine.

Why am I X-static today?  Well, for one, my husband came home with a surprise for me last night! 

That’s right, I officially have a brand new ‘Precious’!!!!  A 2010 Packard Bell Easy Note laptop in red chrome.   I think I’m in love…Um, with my husband too, of course- he’s the best husband a creepy writer can ask for!

When was the last time you were X-static about something?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W - Waiting, waiting, aaaand waiting

Trying to get published is an absolute lesson in patience.  Basically from the time you start writing to the time you actually see your book in stores is anywhere from three years to….eternity and beyond.

You have to wait until you finish your book, first of all.  I mean really finish it.  Then you wait while beta readers help critique (if they are as awesome as mine, they don’t keep you in suspense for too long).  Then you wait until you’ve completed the revision process.  Then you wait until your query is perfect.

Then you send it out and reeaaaaally wait.  This is the part you have no control over.  Agents take around two to three months to get to most queries. 

They ask for a partial. You wait a month.  They ask for more. You wait another month.  They offer you representation!!!  You wait until papers are signed (another month) to make the announcements.  They require revisions before they send it out to publishers.  You do them in a few weeks.  And then you wait awhile for the ‘okay’.  They submit your novel!!!  You wait anywhere from three to six months.  Editors finally get back to you.   They’re not interested.  You wait some more.  A house wants to publish it!  You get a book deal.  You wait to hear more info…weeks, months.  You find out your release date is a year from now.  Aaaand more waiting.

And this is a best case scenario.  If you’re like me, you have to wait until you write ‘the book’ as well - which precedes all the other waiting there is to look forward to.  Now- I hate waiting.  I’ve said it before but I have the patience of a shitzu with bladder issues.  HOWEVER, since starting this whole endeavor, I must admit I’ve gotten better at it.

I don’t check my email a million times a day after submitting anymore. (at least, not after the first week)  I’ve stopped wondering about the when and the if and the how of it all and just figure ‘if it’s meant to be, it will be.’  I bide my time by writing (I’ve got a new YA romance in the works -A comedy that has me all wrapped up in writerly goodness) .  Blogging, and reading.  I’m not gonna lie - It took a LONG time to get to this point but eventually, I think everyone learns to wait if their forced to do it enough.  One thing is for sure- without this process, I don’t know if I would have ever really learned the true meaning of 'patience'.

How do you deal with the Waiting Game?

PS- I'm hoping to get my old background back eventually but apparently 'thecutestblogontheblock' has contracted a virus that made it impossible to see my blog or any of my friends blogs that used 'cutest'.  I want my creepy pink diner background back!  Oh Cutest!  How thou hast betrayed us all!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V - Voice

Agents and editors affirm that ‘voice’ is one of the most important factors when considering a manuscript. 

But its also one of the hardest to nail down because there isn’t one thing that identifies ‘voice’.  I mean, is it the voice you hear in your head while reading?  Is it style?  Is it tone?  Is it the humor, point of view, or vocabulary the author chooses to employ?

Is it all of the above?

My answer would be yes.  To me, voice is kind of like your writing ‘accent’.  I’m not talking about slipping into an irish brogue or a southern drawl when you’re writing.  I’m talking about relaying the words in the way they’re ‘meant’ to be written when telling this particular story. 
Voice can change from piece to piece, with each story and each set of characters.  It changes if you’re writing in the first person (where your mc is describing events in their own way)  or in the third person- a storyteller who retains a clear ‘voice’ meanwhile describing the thoughts and actions of the characters.

A few questions to ask yourself before you sit down to write.  What kind of story is this?  Is it lighthearted and funny?  Dark, suspenseful, or thrilling?  The voice you use should immediately hint at what’s ahead.  If the voice is full of foreboding, regret, sorrow, you settle in for a darker tale.  If the first lines are light or funny, you know you’re in for a more humorous read.

 All of these can be relayed depending on the vocabulary you choose- for instance, these are some ‘first sentences’ from a few books in which the voice is immediately apparent:

Mysterious:  ‘The secret is how to die.’
Haunting:  ‘This story begins in a city of bones.’
Light:  ‘Nowhere is unemployment more disastrous than in the area of romance.’

What creates voice isn’t just the words themselves, but how the person telling the story uses them. 

I mean, what if the first sentence read:  ‘How to die is the secret.’—it changes the effect doesn’t it?

What does ‘voice’ mean to you?  

Monday, April 25, 2011

U - Universal Expressions

Has anyone ever seen the show ‘Lie to Me’?  Back seasons  started airing on French television recently and I gotta say I find the whole thing really interesting (even though Tim Roth is constantly hopping around the screen like he has to pee-  what is with that?) Apparently there are six universal expressions:  sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.   These expressions have the same effect on a human face, no matter the time, place, or culture. 

It got me thinking about what I would have to do if I had a character who couldn’t speak.  It’d be a great exercise in physical description and finding the emotion based only on how the character ‘looks’ without giving it away outright.  Jessica Bell and Nicole Ducleroir have combined their A-Z challenge in a similar exercise where they've written quick excerpts that display a hidden emotion.  The goal is to figure out which emotion they’re trying to show!  Be sure to check it out!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

T- Tanning

Yup.  That’s all I’ve got going on today.  I’m not one of those people who can lay out in the sun for hours.  In fact, I’m quite the opposite.  I hate hate hate being too hot.  Another reason I love fall and winter is the layers.  If you’re too hot, you can just take off some more clothes.  But in summer?  Once you’re down to your bikini and the heat is still rolling in, you’ve got few options.   Plus, in most cases and places, (like in a public parking lot) you can’t just strip down to your skivvies ‘cause the sun’s blazing.

I can deal with a little tanning if there is a water source nearby.  I’ll get cooled off in a pool or an outdoor shower and then be able to manage lying out for the fifteen minutes or so it takes for me to dry off and get hot again.   This used to drive my friends crazy.

But there is something to be said for lying out on a hot day with a cool drink, the radio turned up and the perfume-sample smell of a brand new women’s magazine mixed with spf 50 lotion.   It’s in the high 70’s today in Ile de France so I’m going to soak up the last couple days of my spring break before school goes back into session Tuesday. 

I hope you all have a fantastic Easter weekend!!


Friday, April 22, 2011

S- Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus!

Dominus Deus Sabaoth.   France is primarily a Catholic country.  I guess after all the religion wars, Catholicism won out in these parts but I’m too lazy to Google the how or why right now.  I was raised Roman Catholic and had to go through the whole sh-bang – CCD classes, first communion, confession and confirmation.   After all that, I turned out to be what my grandmother refers to as a ‘Cafeteria Catholic’.  I take and accept what I agree with and kind of ignore what I don’t.  My grandmother, as you might have guessed, is the opposite of a ‘Cafeteria Catholic’.  But I firmly believe everyone has the right to whatever faith feels right to them.

With that said, this week the French are preparing the big Easter celebration.  But instead of the ‘Easter Bunny’ hopping down the bunny trail, here the eggs are brought to you by….

Church bells.

When I asked my French students how church bells were responsible for chocolate eggs appearing in your home or back yard they just shrugged.  Like the whole sticking each other with fish on April Fool’s Day, I guess the French don’t really put much stalk in the how or why’s behind tradition.  They just do it.  Which is fine by me!  If they wanna stick eachother with paper fish or run around looking for bells flying in the sky, that’s their prerogative.

A Catholic friend of mine explained, however, that from Thursday until Sunday, the church bells don’t ring.  That’s Catholic tradition.  So what they tell the kids is that on Thursday all the church bells sprout wings and fly away to Rome to see the Pope.   On their way back Sunday morning, they drop chocolate Easter eggs into all the back yards, arrive in their towers and sing their hearts out for the Easter celebration. 

Now, believing in a rabbit who delivers chocolate eggs makes about as much sense as all of that but I did believe for a long time.  (Actually my parents had to tell me the truth about both the Easter Bunny and Santa at an age I’m almost too embarrassed to divulge.  We writers just want to believe don’t we?  Imagination wins out every time?)  So I guess I can’t knock the French’s explanation of things.

I hope you guys all have a great Easter.  And look out for egg-projecting bells flying overhead!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

R- Right Round Baby Right Round...

Like a record baby when you go down down...  and I am just right back where I started. 

You think rejection gets easier.  And in a way, it does.  I barely blink when I get a query rejection.  That’s a superficial rejection really.  The agent wasn’t up for the idea.  They aren’t taking on paranormals or supernaturals or whatever I’m trying to sell them. Or they’re in an ‘MG’ phase and not really looking for YA, even though it says YA on their website. 


The problem is, the deeper you go into this process the bigger and more painful the rejection gets.

You get a request for the first 30 pages and you think ‘now the agent is going to get a real sense of your writing- the story, and where it’s going.  You hope and pray it’ll be enough.

You get rejected. 

And it stings.  A lot.  But after three or four of these, you learn to stop feeling hopeful when you get a partial request.

But what happens when after the first 30 pages, they want even MORE!!?  How about a FULL request??  Now you’re hopping up and down-  you know the story gets really rolling, the agent must be attached to the characters by now and the ending rocks!

You get a rejection.

And not a ‘this and this is what turned me off’ type of rejection.  Oh no - not even a bone thrown, just a basic form rejection with a little detail here and there to prove they actually read (some) of your stuff.

That, my friends, is the worst rejection.  Because it makes you question everything.  If an agent read the stuff you were so sure would hook them and they still didn’t want it, where does that leave you?  You can’t move forward because you don’t know what it is that made them reject you.  By now, you’ve had the thing critiqued and beta read into oblivion and no one can seem to tell you what’s wrong with it.

For me, after a couple rejections like that, I just stopped believing. 

That’s right.  I can honestly say at this point, I don’t believe I’ll ever be traditionally published.  It’s like believing in Santa Claus.  It’s a nice idea, but old Saint Nick is not gonna show up under my tree. 

That doesn't stop me from putting the tree up every year…because that’s just what you do.

I’m doing this…the blog, the queries, the writing- completely without faith.  Or hope.  What no one tells you is that rejection sucks it all out of you eventually until you wonder constantly ‘Why?  Why do I even bother continuing?’

I still ask myself that question every day.  Every time I send out a new query to an agent.  Every time I sit down in front of my computer to write.  I don’t know why I keep going anymore.  I just do and try not to think about how much of a failure I am.  And I guess that's all you can really do in the end.  Just keep going.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q - Quando Quando Quando?

            For one of the romantic scenes in my YA contemporary romance, I needed to find a song that the love interest could play for my MC.  Craig was a jock with a secret hankering for the classical guitar.  I needed something sexy- preferably with a bit of Italian (his roots) and after enough digging, I found ‘Quando Quando Quando’.

            Of course, it helped that the version I listened to was sung by Michael Bublé=instantly sexy.  But after writing the scene, the stupid song got STUCK in my head for the remainder of the manuscript and whenever I hear it, I can only think of Craig and Avery, that magical night when he played his way into her heart…amongst other things.

Here’s the link if you want to give it a listen.  I’m at the point where I think it has magical powers of seduction.

Has your manuscript ever led you to music, or a song you wouldn’t have normally listened to?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P- Psychic Story Network

Do you want to raise the tension?  Create fear and eeriness?  Give your reader a glimpse into the future? 


All you need is a quick séance with a psychic!

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) : 'The Grim, my dear, the Grim!' cried Professor Trelawney, who looked shocked that Harry hadn't understood. 'The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen – the worst omen – of death!

The Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead):  Rhonda the psychic tells Rose only one thing; You will destroy that which is undead. She also gives Dimitri a reading; You will loose what you value the most. 

The Vampire Diaries  (L.J. Smith):  "Elena, don't go to that bridge!  It's death Elena.  Death is waiting there."  Bonnie - The Struggle

Sepulchre (Katie Mosse)
“Also, the Devil is raising his arm in a gesture reminiscent of the Magician.”
            “Like two sides of the same person.”
“Could be,” Laura nodded.  “Tarot is all about the patterns, about the relationships between one card and another.”

If you want to spookify your scene with a ghostly revelation, try the where you can get your very own psychic character for a flat rate of $39.99! 

Have you ever had a real psychic reading?  I had a couple tarot readings in my younger years and the lady made a believer outta me!  And yes, I DO have my very own personal story psychic in one of my books.  They come in handy, after all!


Monday, April 18, 2011

O- Out of Material

Lets be O-nest here.  Most of us woke up this morning and thought ‘O’….hmn.  I don’t know about you but the first thing that popped into my mind was ‘ORGASM!!’ (woohoo!).   But I shook my head.  ‘No no,  can’t write about that.  I do have some self control, after all.’

What about Origami?  Like ‘Orgasm’, it has and ‘O’, and ‘A’, and a ‘G’, right?  But I don’t really know much about origami besides the little birdie where you pull the tail and the wings move.

Then I just sat at my desk for awhile saying ‘Ooooooooooo.’
‘Oh Oh Oh’


Then I thought ‘hey!  I can’t decide!  Maybe there is a word for indecision that begins with ‘O’!!?  Katie, you are a genius!  I looked up indecision through the online thesaurus and scrolled down.

‘Oscillation!’  YES!   I knew it!  Except when you plug ‘Oscillation’ into the dictionary, indecision and uncertainty don’t come up.  Apparently it’s more of a mathematical term and doesn’t really mean anything useful.

So ‘oscillation’ sucks.  How about a word for ‘failure’?  


I am officially ‘O’ut of material here!  Guess it comes with the territory when you’re pantsing A-ZL  In any case, I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s (much more thought-out and enlightening) ‘O’ posts for today!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

N - New Kids on the Block

I’ve never really been a hard core fanatic of anything.  I’ve never bid on ebay for an autograph or a lock of hair.  I’ve never written a fan letter. 

That said, there were certain times when I could be described as borderline fanatic:

The New Kids on the Block Years  Year

Sure, I was only nine.  –but old enough to have a crush on Joey of NKTB.  I had several t-shirts, books, stickers, posters from BOP and Tiger Beat magazines lining my bedroom.  The first concert I ever attended was NKTB.  My friend Shana’s father took us- with our matching knee length t-shirts, short Debbie Gibson haircuts, and mismatched neon socks- to revel in the wonders of Donny ripping off his shirt and shaking out his hockey hair to ‘Step by Step’.

After that, it was difficult to imagine meeting the objects of my adoration for one simple reason.

They were either dead or on the road to extinction.

The Beatles.  I discovered my father’s record collection and fell in love with John Lennon’s broken voice.  Despite all the lovey dovey songs, my favorite Beatles hit is without a doubt ‘I am the walrus’ (goo goo g’joob) 

Shakespeare.  I worshiped Shakespeare- had the entire play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ hung and framed on my bedroom wall, bought all the renditions of his plays on dvd and memorized my favorite scenes.  The movie version of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is still one of my favorites.

Sublime.  I think Sublime was the only group I a: owned every album of and b: knew all the words to every song and said album.  I listened to these cd’s relentlessly during my teen years, especially in the summer time.

Have you ever been a fanatic?  What music, books, or movies are/were you a die-hard fan of?

Friday, April 15, 2011

M - The Man-Tail and Me

Have you ever wondered about the original titles of the books you read and how it could have effected whether or not you read them in the first place?

Like ‘Twilight’ originally being called ‘Forks’.   Do you think a book with the name ‘Forks’ would’ve gotten 1.  As many readers  2.  All the hype?

Titles matter.  A lot.  Which is why I’m debating mine.
My YA urban fantasy is entitled ‘Fossegrim’.  But I’m beginning to think this title  doesn’t reflect the humor or lightness in the story.  Here’s the blurb for those who haven’t read it:

Teen delinquent Sage Reynolds has been looking forward to his eighteenth birthday ever since he was dropped into ‘the system’.   Now, just six months from freedom, his foster parents are sending him away to military school after one (okay, maybe two) run-ins with the law.  Sage was pretty sure he’d covered all his bases in the ‘screwed department’.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

In this 75,000 word YA urban fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of turning ‘Fossegrim’- a mermaid race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea.  Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on snort.  He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back.  His one shot at turning human again lies with the Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down that transformed him.  Problem is- no one has heard from her in seventy years and there’s a chance she’s being held by the Fossegrim’s ancient enemies, the Fiskari -- an underground organization of Norse fishermen who capture and use Fossegrim for monetary gain.  If Sage can manage to avoid capture, find the girl, and convince her to go back to the ocean, he might be able to reclaim his humanity.  If not, he’ll be spending the rest of his life as a sushi-eating Fossefreak.

So I’m letting my readers be the judge.  What do YOU think?  Is ‘The Man-Tail and Me’ a convincing title or a confusing one?? If you saw a book with the title ‘Fossegrim’ (press #1)or ‘The Man-Tail and Me’ (press #2) which would you be more likely to pick up?  …Or do both titles blow chowder? (press #3)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

L - LIAR LIAR Pants on Fiyah!

Creepy Query Girl- age five  * drops cereal all over the floor in the kitchen*   Mother walks in  -“Katie!  What did you do?”

“It wasn’t me!  It was Amy!!!”  (points at her three year old sister who still conveniently speaks incomprehensible baby English)

CQG- age ten  *gets a little carried away during a water fight (it happens to everyone doesn’t it?) and spits a mouthful of water at a passing car…  the car squeals to a stop, reverses and chases her to the neighbors house.  Man gets out of the car and rings on neighbor’s door.  Creepy hides out in the backyard and then innocently walks down the driveway thinking ‘maybe they didn’t see who spit?’   Alas, the man catches Creepy and asks “That bigger girl put you up to that didn’t she?”

Creepy replies solemnly with fingers crossed behind her back. “Oh yes sir”   (In my defense, I felt so bad about getting my friend in trouble; I brought her my piece of pie that night and told her mother the truth)

CQG- age seventeen.  “There’s no way I could have been speeding officer.  You see my car is overheating as we speak and I’m not even sure it can go 60 miles an hour in this condition…”

CQG- age twenty seven *breathes through her mouth to make her nose sound stuffy*  “Yes, yes, I think I have the flu.  NO I won’t be coming into work today…”

What are some of the lies you’ve told that stick out in your memory?  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K- Katie is My Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

A name is something most of us are born with, like hair color or gender.  It was decided before we even got here.

That said, I’m pretty happy with my name.  I like ‘Katie’- always have.  I like other ‘Katie-s’ too even though I haven’t met very many in real life.  I think the name represents who I am pretty well.

But it does make me wonder- when you hear a name, does a set of corresponding personality traits for that name rush forward in your mind?  It does for me and I always wondered why.  Is it the people we meet?  Do we associate the same traits with everyone who bares that name?  OR do our names define who we are and people with the same name kind of morph into the mold?  (cue twilight zone music)

I’ve decided to do a little experiment and I welcome you to do the same in the comments section.  Here are a list of girls names-  I’d like you to copy it and give the personality trait that comes to you first for each. 





Here are some of mine:

Britney – Quirky

Gina – Funny & Outgoing

Sarah- Quiet and Sweet

Tanya – Bad Ass  (hello?  Tanya Harding anyone?)

  Tell me -what do you think about people with the same name sharing traits?  Do they really or is it just our minds categorizing? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J - Jabberwocky

Three factors contributed to most of my childhood nightmares.  The first was ‘The Price is Right.’ (I still can’t watch game shows.  The blinking lights, fake smiles, and over enthusiastic contestants creep me out.)

The second was the song ‘Tom’s Diner’ by Suzanne Vega. (It used to play on the radio as I was falling asleep every night and gives me the willies to this day)

And the third was the 1985 movie version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  (haven’t watched it in forever, but I have a feeling it’s even more messed up than my memory will allow me to recall) - Sure, the made up words, confusing worlds, and actors who purposely bugged their eyes out (without digital enhancement) was enough to make my kiddie stomach do flip flobs.  But then came:

The Jabberwocky. 

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

-Lewis Caroll 1872

In a world where nothing is as it seems and you can’t be sure of anything, adding a creepy monster to the mix (who, according to experts, can also be interpreted as anything worth running from) is enough to send a seven year old over the edge.

What random things freaked you out as a kid?


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