Monday, February 28, 2011

A Book That Rocked My World

I don’t do book reviews very often.  It’s not that I don’t like/love most of the books I read, but more often than not, I find the majority of my to-be-ordered/read list from reviews I've found through the blogosphere.  Plus, I am  an incorrigible ‘mood reader’-  I go looking for books I’m in the mood for, whether its YA, Romance, Historical, Paranormal, etc…I read a little bit of everything but one thing that really seals the deal on if I order a book or not is the reviews.

This week I read my first book by Kristan Higgans entitled ‘Just One of the Guys’ and after finishing, I not only went and gave it five stars on Goodreads but I also did a quick review (which I never do).  I couldn’t help it!  The book totally rocked my world. 

Back cover description :  So when journalist Chastity O’Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it’s time to start working on some of those feminine wiles.  Two tiny problems : #1—she’s five feet eleven inches of rock-solic girl power, and #2—she’s cursed with four alpha male older brothers.
While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up.  Now there’s only one problem :  Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she’s never quite gotten over—although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.
Yet, the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks.  But even with the in-your-face competitions, the irresistible Trevor just can’t seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys…

Well, the back cover description pretty much blows chowder compared to what this little beauty actually holds.

What I love about Higgan’s characters is that they are all flawed in some way but she was very clever in choosing flaws that would help advance the plot.  In the very first scene Charity chokes on a hors d’Ĺ“uvre and struggles to give herself the heimlich all while her boyfriend of three weeks  (who doesn’t notice her dilema) tries to ‘put her down’ gently.  I knew from the first page that this wasn’t going to be a normal chick lit/contemporary romance. 

Not only are the situations themselves funny as hell, but the way the main character explains and shares her thoughts is right on the money.  –and I’m not talking about that faint pleasant smile and head bob I usually get while reading witty dialogue or even a mild-mannered ‘snort’ here and there when something silly happens.  I’m talking about having to put the book down and laugh for a good minute, replaying the episode in my head while my husband looks at me like I’ve finally lost it.   --From being chased down by her female dog in heat during a first date to realising she’s been chatting with her BROTHER on, we laugh and cry by Chastity’s side as she struggles to find her way through the dating pool towards Mr. Right. This was just too good not to share !

I hope ya’ll have a great Monday !


Friday, February 25, 2011

Culture Shock

There’s always plenty to say about what threw me off guard when I first moved to France.  But honestly, the biggest culture shock I ever experienced was coming BACK to the U.S. after a three year absence. 

Strange but true.  I’m including an excerpt here from an online post I wrote in 2009 after arriving back in the states for the first time in a long time :

‘Well, here I am. Back in the U S of A.  It's been almost three years since I've been back to my homeland. (I feel like I'm in a confessional)

Coming back to the US is always an interesting experience for me.  It's strange to think that you can have culture shock when returning to your native country, yet that seems to be my case.

It usually takes me two weeks to get back into the flow of things over here.  The first week is spent in utter rebellion.  I don't like the food, or the commercials every three minutes, or the way you have to look at everyone you meet straight in the eye and wave no matter where you are.  What is with that?  At least there are no false pretenses with the french.  They frown straight away and you know where you stand.  The american's are sneakier in that they'll give you a big smile and wave and then say you look like deranged giraffe the moment you turn your back.

There's a Mcdonalds at fifteen minute intervals no matter where you go.  And it takes you at least that long to get anywhere.

I had a minor panic attack when I went to the grocery store.  There's just too much to look at.  Bottles and boxes and cans as far as the eye can see.  Everything is 'preprepared', mixed, flavored, or frozen.  You can't find the base ingredients to anything unless you dig, and even then, it's a long shot.  It took me twenty minutes to find plain couscous.  My father is going to take me to a whole foods store so that I can find my way around without an inhalor or a shot of 

After experiencing this, I could easily imagine how the the United States might seem to a European seeing it for the first time.  Everything is super sized- the houses, buildings, grocery stores, cars, and food.

 It’s like living in a world of giants. 

I remember when I came back to France after that trip, it felt like my french appartment had shrunk in size.  And our seven seat mini van could’ve passed for a clown car compared to my father’s bronco.   I think in exchange, many americans visiting France or other places in Europe notice how small everything seems.  You can check out a post about that here.

Hope ya’ll have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All the Cool Kids Are Doin' It...

Took me long enough.  I believe I’m actually candidate #294 on the link list.  (I know-holy crap!) Basically you have to post something new every day in April (except Sundays).  Each topic reflects a letter of the alphabet in order. 

Now, I know that I’m probably going to fail this challenge miserably.  To tell you the truth, my blog is starting to give me naked-in-front-of-the-blogosphere-holding-a-blue-ribbon nightmares.  I wake up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and think ‘oh crap.  What am I going to blog about today?’  Then I pray inspiration strikes.  Most times it does.   Other times…not so much.

In any case, after lots of thought, I knew I couldn’t pass up the A-Z this year.  You see, a year ago this April, Creepy Query Girl was born.  I remember wandering around like the bald, bleary-eyed newbie that I was, attempting my first comments, clicking the ‘follow’ button until my finger developed abnormal twitchiness…

And most of the blogs I frequented at that time had a common theme.  They were ALL doing the A-Z challenge!   Capitalized letters were busting through the seams of Googlereader.  It was everywhere.  The posts were original, funny and often pulled out of one’s ass.  But that’s what makes it so great!

So, for the month of April, I’m setting down my binoculars and pink camouflage agent-stalking outfit in favor of a quill pen and some old-school ABC’s. 

Das right.  Going back to the root of all – cause you know…letters are like the atoms in matter, forming together to create something different every time, with like, it’s own genetic code. 


Sorry.  Just feeding my analogy addiction.  It’s a long road to recovery.

Anyways, for those interested in the challenge, you can check it out at Misadventures in Candyland here.

Be there or be square.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Good Agent

I read this blog post a few months back by literary agent Natalie Fischer and thought to myself, 'now THAT is a good agent right there!' 

Basically, despite moving up in the food-chain, Natalie tries to remind herself what it felt like to be a querying author- to be humiliated by a rookie mistake, or distraught with rejection.  She also reflects on the ‘signs’ that she was becoming an agent with an ego. 

Now, I’m a querying author.  My goal is to find an agent who enjoys what I write enough to want to represent it.  Someone who will help me evolve- move forward and be the best I can be. 

But sometimes I can’t help looking at agents as these all-powerful gods because I need them in order to achieve my dreams.  Then I realized how unrealistic that is.  Agents were once students, authors, assistants, and they all acquired that first client who made them into what they are.  They know rejection.  They’re people too and they ‘get it’.  Making them into gods isn’t good for queriers OR the agents they query. 

I mean, we do have a choice.  And the longer we’re in the process, the more we learn, the more we write, the better we become and our chances of writing THAT book definitely increases.  We come into contact with a lot of differing agents in that time between our ‘first query’ and ‘the decision’.  It’s easy to pick out agents who’ve forgotten what it’s like- we see the blogs and twitters mentioned here by Good Agent Mandy Hubbard.  We know who reads slush at 3am and sends out reckless rejects instead of counting sheep.  (I would have thought even that was just fine if I hadn’t read blog posts by Good Agent Mary Kole about how she approaches slush.)

Anyways, I wouldn’t be a CQG if I didn’t point this out at least once.  Please read the agent posts mentioned.  I think they’re great examples of how to treat queriers with that little cowboy hat-tip that makes all the difference. 


Friday, February 18, 2011

Hello there Pig Face

The first time I saw a pig head behind the French marketplace counter, I couldn’t help thinking how much more difficult it was going to be to eat meat that was staring back at me (I said difficult- not impossible.  I am an incorrigible carnivore.)

In addition to pigs, you can also find whole skinned rabbits (who look unnaturally like cats without their fur *shivers*)  Chickens with their heads and feet still in-tact but minus the feathers.    Cow tongues (and yes, they do still look like cow tongues even non-attached to the cow), or other interesting animal organs like hearts, livers, intestines and even eyeballs and testicles (I kid you not).

The meat might be behind the window, but it’s uncovered.  Chickens are hanging from pegs by their necks along with the dried sausages.  Fish are thrown on top of ice and left out on the open counter (no window) for the duration of the market with more ice added to keep ‘em cold.  Fruit and vegetables aren’t in plastic but are simply piled into bins. Often times the vender will have a few cut open so you can taste the produce yourself before you buy.  They’re sold by season so you can’t find winter vegetables in spring or summer, etc…but most are grown and transported within France so they’re fresh and -let’s face it- delicious.

The meat counter might be shocking to some.  But you also have to realize that the meat and chickens are mostly free range raised- no chemicals, hormones, or pesticides.  They’re killed fresh and then sold fresh and often times EATEN fresh, and even raw.

I often kid that my mother-in-law likes her beef still mooing.  And the cheese! Her cheese is so bacteria filled it could grow legs and walk across her plate. 

However, I’m one of those people that will try anything once.  Since living in France, I have tasted raw meat. (In a ‘tartar’ or a ‘Carpaccio’ it’s actually quite good)  And I have to say my preferences have gone from ‘well done’ to what Americans would consider ‘bloody’.
I’ve also had rabbit (which was hard for me since I actually owned rabbits as pets growing up. Ugh)  Foie gras, (duck liver),  Cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs- that DO NOT taste like chicken and there’s not enough meat to constitute the trouble of eating them imo),  Escargots (snails) Sanglier (wild boar) and andouilette (pig intestine)
I recommend all of the above with the exception of the andouillette.

I’m sorry but if it looks like poop and smells like poop, for me, there’s no way around it.

 It’s poop. 

There’s no fooling my senses, no matter how much Dijon mustard the French throw on top.
Have a great weekend everybody!  And ‘thank you!’ to all my new followers and those that commented on this week’s posts!  Sorry I haven’t been around much - kids and hubby are on vacation so I’m on a short leash until Tuesday!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OMG! You can totally see her double spaces.

Up until recently, I had no idea that double spaces after a period were so offensive to many industry professionals.

Apparently back when there were monospaced typefaces (yeah, look up the word) for things like typewriters and DOS documents, a double space after the period was deemed necessary so you could easily see where one sentence ended and another began.

Now that most fonts are proportional, the status of double spacing has been changed from aesthetically pleasing to unnecessary, annoying and unprofessional

Oh COME ON!!! 

Does it really (I mean really) make that much of a difference?

Apparently yes. 

Depending on who you ask.

Arguments against double spacing:

They create holes in the page that jump out at you and are annoying.

They’re old fashioned.  (Old fashioned?  I’m only twenty-eight years old for crying out loud!  When did schools start teaching kids to type with only one space after a period? Cause mine obviously missed the memo.) 

My arguments in defense of continued double spacing: 

Double spaces are prettier.  Ex:

Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. 
(Are you feeling the claustrophobia?  Are you?  I know I am)

Three blind mice.  Three blind mice.  See how they run. 
(Admit it- It’s like taking a nice fresh breath between sentences.  Really.)

A double space gives the writer and the reader the time to breath, to think- that one extra second to assimilate the information from the sentence that came before.  We need it!

They say it sticks out.  I say it looks cleaner.

 Pot-A-to / Pot-AH-to.

Sure, it wouldn’t be moving mountains to just pay attention and train yourself to put one space after a period.  But it’s the principle of the thing!  -- Like why I won’t ever use the word ‘sneaked’ in place of ‘snuck’.  (*shivers* - word still gives me the willies)

What do you think?  Should industry professionals make such a big deal about double spaces?   Are they really that offensive?  Do you still use them or have you been able to train yourself out of them?

PS- I had a fantastic time combing the blogosphere for clues to DL HAMMONS WHODUNNIT contest and got to check out bloggers I’d never met before!  The prizes are insane and this is probably the most fun and original blogging contest I’ve ever participated in so check it out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already Blogfest

In honor of the big V-Day I've joined in Christina Lee's and Stina L's Just Kiss Already Blogfest!  Below is a 250 word excerpt from my YA contemporary romance Love Potion N° NOT!.  Be sure to check out the other entries here.  Have a great Valentines Day everyone!
Craig turned towards her, shaking his head.  His eyes flickered over her features.  “I don’t think you’re a loser, if that’s what you mean.”  He took her hand in his and they looked at each other for a moment; crystal blue eyes meeting deep brown. 
She barely had time to think before he closed the distance between them in one step and his lips were on hers, nudging her head upwards gently.  Avery started in panic, eyes wide and lips pliant beneath his kiss.  Warmth from his body seeped through her until her eyes slowly fluttered closed, her lips finally working against his.  She ran her fingers up through his soft hair while Craig’s arms circled her, pulling her closer to him.  He inched her back toward the brick wall, finally pinning her in place as the kiss grew heated, their mouths meeting harder and tongues sliding together in perfect rhythm.  Avery pressed against him and he pressed back, one hand gripping the back of her thigh.
BAM!  The door to the parking lot slammed open and Craig pulled away, breathless.  “Jesus.” He turned away from the doorway where students began to flow out into the parking lot, signaling the show had ended.  Avery gripped the wall behind her, chest rising and lips swollen.  They swayed inwards, hungry to take up where they had left off. 
“Hey Craig!”
Craig’s head flew up, the spell broken.  “Shit.”  His eyes grazed over Avery’s body once more before he pushed away from the wall.  “I gotta go.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

On Vacation Much?!

That’s right.  In France we get two weeks off in February.  We also get two weeks off in April, in October, and in December/January for the holidays.  Then we’re off for the summer at the end of June.

For those French people who don’t work for the school system, vacation time is around eight weeks total on average.
That’ s two months paid vacation a year.  And they can take it all at once if they see fit.

Which is why, I suppose, the French make such a big deal out of ‘going on vacation’  or ‘Les Vacances!’.

It’s something you have to do- a part of the yearly circle of events. 

In the summer, most of the French population gravitates towards the south of France.  In the winter, they go to the Swiss Alps for skiing. 

Don’t have the money?  The Center for Family Allocations will PAY for your family to go spend a couple weeks in the south so that your children can get out of the city for some fresh air.  Yes, the French Riviera is a necessity for normal childhood development.

THAT is how important vacation is to the French.  It’s downright sacred.

Now, growing up in the U.S., we had plenty of summer vacation time.  But that’s a little different than actually going somewhere on vacation.

We didn’t go on vacation, vacation came to us!  There were carnivals, fairs, 4th of July barbeques, shopping mall trips, and days at the beach or the lake.

When I tell this to my French peeps they look at me with such pity.  ‘Oh you poor thing!  You’ve never seen the south of France?  We’ll you’ve just never been on vacation!’

In truth, I don’t feel like I missed out.  Most of my vacation was spent hanging around my neighborhood, going swimming in our little above ground pool or in the neighbor’s pool, running barefoot through the woods by our house, or going for walks with my best friend across the street and waiting for the ice cream truck. 

Yes, the ice cream truck.

If you didn’t ever experience the wonder of the ice cream truck, Eddie Murphy just about sums it up in the skit below.  (Oh -If swearing makes you skittish…um, you probably shouldn’t watch.)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If I Were a Rich Girl

Last week’s rejection got me thinking.  What would I do if I were filthy rich?  Would I still write?  (you know- in between traveling and eating out a different restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner? )

Would I still pursue an agent?

I suppose being richer than God (as my father would say) could facilitate the process.  I could fly to every writer’s conference all over the world until they finally get sick of me and offer to take on my book.   Or bribe someone.

But would I do it?   Or would I hold out for true love?

And what about self publishing?  If I had the money to publish my own books, market them, buy publicity and pay to have them put on the shelves at all the leading stores would I do it? 
And the answers I came up with were pretty surprising:

YES, of course I would do it!


 Just joking

But really, I would write no matter what.  It’s become a part of who I am. 
And truth be told it brings me joy when others read my work and fall in love with the characters I’ve spent so much time with.  It’s like every person who reads them makes them more real. 

Do I think my books are worthier than any others that are already in print or about to be published? 

Hell no!

But I do think they ARE worthy.  They have worth and they’re entertaining in their own right.

If I believe in them-  I have to believe they’re worthy enough to earn their own agent, own publisher, own readers without money being thrown around. 

Even if I end up old and grey before this happens. (which is looking like a serious possibility at this point)

It’s like the situation in day-time soap operas where the rich corporate boss pays people off to accept his kid in their elite school/club/law firm.

The kid is always so pissed when he finds out.

Because it’s like their father didn’t believe they had what it took to begin with.  And even though my books won’t slam the door in some dramatic exit if they discover their editor received a private donation, it’s still a disservice I don’t think I’d be willing to do them.

What about you?  What would you do if you were a rich girl or a ‘reech mahn?’ (Is it just me, or did that come out sounding Jamaican?  I was going for fiddler on the roof Russian.  Oh well.  Off to study how to write dialects…)

Monday, February 7, 2011

FFC Contest Winner

So we had some pretty interesting entries for the Guess That Freaky-French Commercial Contest!  

Entrants watched the freaky-french commercial that featured basically a whole city just…well, making out, and gave their best guesses as to what was being sold.
Among the guesses were:
Allergy Medicine
Life insurance
Dating site
Heart Medicine
Steel toed work boots
Window cleaner
Chap stick
Eyeglass cleaner
 Skin cream
 Acne medication
 Tooth whitener
Contact lenses
Mouth wash 

Well, the commercial was for a well known brand of GLASSES  ‘Krys’ who has just come up with a new one-year insurance policy for their customers--And I guess it really makes everyone wanna make out.

the Winner of the book ‘Personal Demons’ is :

  GINA from Writer’s Blog! 

Congratulations Gina! Please be sure to email me your coordinates so I can send you the book!

Thanks so much to all of you who commented on my Ten Sucky Things post.  Rejection doesn’t get easier, especially when you come so close, no matter how long you’re at this.  I usually deal with it in several phases. 

Phase 1: Flatness “I knew this would happen.”
Phase 2: Realization “NOOOooooooo!  Why God, WHY!?”
Phase 3: Tears
Phase 4:  Comfortable numbness.  “Put yourself together woman! You’ve got responsibilities!  There’s no crying in baseball!”
Phase5:  “But NooooooOOOOOO!”
Phase6:  Frantic Binge Querying.  “SOMEONE must be out there for me.  I have to find them!!!!”
Phase 7:  New Requests come in.  “Hmmmn.  Maybe THIS will be the one!”

What are your phases of grief when it comes to rejection?  

Have a great Monday people!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Ten Sucky Things That Would Still Feel Better Than a Form Rejection on a Full or Partial MS

Due to not one but TWO heartbreaking rejections this week, my MS and I are interrupting our normally scheduled programming in favor of a much needed Ten Sucky Things That Still Feel Better Than a Full MS Rejection

         1. Realizing you’re out of toilet paper in an empty public bathroom.  After number two.  While on a date.

2.       2. No available parking spaces within a one mile vicinity of your very-important-appointment that you’ve waited months for. 

3.       3. Kids dropping gum in your hair while you sleep that gets so stuck and ground in to your head that you have to cut it out and deal with the consequences.

4.    4Permanent marker on your face.

5.    5. Dropping the boeuf bourgignion you spent hours preparing on the floor because you forgot potholders.  And you burned your hands.  And you were having your boss over for dinner.

 6.Bird crap on the car you JUST finished washing.

7.    7. When for some god-forsaken reason, your dishes come out of the dishwater dirtier than when they went in.

8.    8.A flickering light that you push on because it usually stops the flickering.  But this time the glass light fixture just pops off and falls on your head.  (yes, this has happened to me.  And yes, it totally hurt.  But not as much as the form rejection.)

9.    9. No internet for a whole WEEK

       10.  Dropping your cell phone in the toilet

       Any other sucky things you guys can think of that feel better than a Full MS rejection?

      My MS is singing her usual song.  Please join in if you know the tune.

 Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight,
 Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight.

Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer
that we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there.

And even though I know how very far apart we are,
it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the nightwind starts to sing a lonesome lullabye,
it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big skyyyyyyyy!

Ooooooh!  Somewhere out there,
 if love can see us through,
Then we’ll be together, somewhere out there,
out where dreams come true…


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