Thursday, March 13, 2014

Julia...No...Lola....No...Julia

So I started listening to this fantastic audiobook called MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill. It's the story of a straight-A high school student named Julia and her educational class trip to London. I love stories that are set abroad, and so when I read the back cover of the audio book I was hooked.

But I've been having trouble staying in the story because the narrator of the audiobook is Shannon McManus. I love her voice. She's perfect for YA and has so much enthusiasm and emotion. But she's also the narrator for LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins and I've listened to that audio book at least a dozen times.

So it is embedded in my brain that the voice is of Shannon McManus IS Lola Nolan. And Lola and Julia (the main character of MEANT TO BE) couldn't be more different. Lola expresses herself by dressing in costume, she does decent in school, is super creative, talks to the moon, and is the exact opposite of straight-laced. At the beginning of the novel Lola's dating a hot twenty-something rockstar. Julia would never break a rule, prefers to spend her time with books, and is a disciplined athlete. Julia's school appointed travel buddy, calls her book licker and accuses her of not knowing how to fun--which is kind of true.

So while I'm listening to MEANT TO BE, I'm like what's wrong with Lola? Why doesn't she want to go the party? What happened to her wardrobe? And then, I'm like woah...regroup...it's Julia. Not Lola.

What's even worse is when Shannon McManus does the voice of a British Guy, it sounds exactly like Etienne St. Clair from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Etienne plays a role in LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, as it is a companion novel to AATFK. So when Julia is at a party in MEANT TO BE and is talking to some British guy that's hitting her. I'm like, why is Etienne hitting on Lola? No, I mean Julia. Why is he hitting on Julia? Why is he in London without Anna? Why? Why?

So, unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be able to finish the audio book for MEANT TO BE. There's just too much character confusion going on in my head. This may be a story I'll just have to pick up in its book form.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Confession

I've been so moved by the honesty and bravery of people like Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, and Natalie Whipple out there on the internet, that it has moved me to do the same.

Confession: I haven't been blogging much lately because I'm afraid I won't say the right thing. I don't want to offend. I want to up lift.

I don't have clinical depression like Myra or Stephanie, but I have family and friends that do. And when people I care about are sad, then I'm sad. I'm like an emotional sponge. I wish I was more like a rubber bouncey ball sometimes. Bounce. Bounce. Just care about my trajectory, and don't let sad things soak into my core.

I'm scared to truly talk about my writing journey. If I talk about something good that happened. Then I'm worried that people will think I'm gloating. If I share the low times, when I'm compulsively stalking my writer e-mail, screaming in my head: somebody please e-mail me back, say something, anything--I'm afraid people will think I'm mental. I'm afraid that people judge me because I choose to write middle grade and young adult fiction, and that I'm not writing intellectual things.

I don't really talk about what's going on with skating. Because frankly, people don't get it. They'll ask things like, Are you going to the Olympics? No, I'm not freaking going to the Olympics. Did you see me in Sochi? Besides do the math. There are so many elite caliber figure skaters out there, and only two or three people get to represent our country in the Olympics once every four years. There's so much luck and timing involved. And hard word. And sacrifice. There are infinite amounts of both needed. And money. Lots of it.

People will say, oh is it your hobby? (People, btw, ask the same thing about writing).
Hobby. That's such a diminishing term for it. That puts it on the same level as stamp collecting and bird watching. My family and I have probably put more money into the sport equivalent to pay for a couple ivy league degrees. I've made social sacrifices. I've cherished every moment on the ice, every glycol and Zamboni exhaust fume I've inhaled. Every fall that's brought me closer to achieving my goals. Every student I've taught. Every show I've performed at. Every competition that I put it all out there for. I'm proud of every piece of music I've edited for every skater. That music and the skating program connected to it, is a tool to their dreams. I am the person I am today because of this sport.

I'm 34. I want to finish off my tests. People my age aren't usually training Junior and Senior Freestyle programs. With my back and neck that's withstood 23 years of a beating with the ice, and my knee, which frankly won't ever be the same after ACL reconstruction...sometimes it's just easier to not talk about how the odds seem stacked against you. I know I'm trying to do something that isn't usually done. But, it's important to me. I've given my life to figure skating. How many people can honestly say that? And now, because I'm 34, I'm expected to just give up my dreams? I. Just. Can't. Do. It. We're talking about six tests. Junior Freestyle. Senior Freestyle. And 4 gold dance test. And then I'll be a triple gold medalist. For me, to pass these things, will be the culmination of my skating career. I can't have invested 23 years and come up short. Some people get that. Some people don't. And I'm tired of hiding the fact, that this is what I do. I spend a majority of my day chasing a dream. I have a day job and I pay my bills. But I hate the fact that I can't share this journey and the importance of it with my family or my friends. When they ask, how'd your day go? I feel like it's socially mandated to give a standard answer like: Work was busy. OR Paid the mortgage today.

Why can't I say, I skated a clean program and wrote a chapter I'm proud of in my WIP? Why do I have to talk about the mundane as if that's the most important thing in my life. When it's not. Why can't I talk about a song that cleared my mind or moved me to tears or a spiritual passage that spoke to my soul? Why does a day have to be quantified by the money earned?

And I guess in the end, I should do as Idina Menzal sings, "Let it go."

I'm not going to lie. I listened to that song five times today and progressively balled my eyes out even more with each repeat. It was cathartic. Something that I needed.

This is my blog. And I'm going to talk about the good and the bad. I hope that through my writing and skating I can inspire others, be a role model (at least to those who think that those things matter). And I don't want my success to be judged by my pay stub, or what car I drive, or the number of children I don't have.

So I plan on being here a lot more and I hope you'll come join me. Peace.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

COVER REVEAL: BEWARE THE WILD by Natalie Parker

Isn't it beautiful and eerie?!? And the line at the top: The most dangerous secrets are the ones we forget, just gives me the shivers. 

Natalie Parker's BEWARE THE WILD debuts October 21, 2014 (Harper Teen). Here's a little bit about the book:


There’s something about the swamp in Sticks, Louisiana. Something different, something haunting . . . something alive. Everyone knows this, and everyone avoids going near it. And even the Mardi Gras–bead-decorated fence that surrounds it keeps people away.
Until one morning when Sterling Saucier’s older brother Phineas runs into the swamp . . .
And doesn’t return.
Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out in his place, and all of a sudden, no one in Sticks remembers Phin at all. They treat Lenora May as if she’s been Sterling’s sister forever.
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp’s done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance—but first she’s got to find someone who believes her.
Heath Durham might be that someone. A loner shrouded behind rumors of drug addiction, Heath has had his own strange experience with the swamp. He and Sterling will have to piece together enough bits of memory and ancient swamp lore to get to the truth. But as the wild swamp encroaches on their town, Sterling and Heath may find a lot more than they expected . . . and Phin may be lost to them forever.
The concept of the novel is spooky and fabulous, and makes me nervous to go around swamps in Louisiana, or swamps anywhere for that matter. Swamps are just so...swampy. 
I've gotten to know Natalie a little bit this past year by participating in two of her Critique Camps. I put two manuscripts through camps and learned a great deal about giving and receiving critique. Natalie has an excellent editorial eye. And I suggest that anyone who wants to put the first 10k of their novel to the test--consider Crit Camp!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Getting Through It

I accidentally sat on my cat's tail. Nothing better than a shrill meow to start off a blog writing session. I'm not really sure what this post is about, but I just know that its been awhile since I'd written anything here.

Chuck Wendig wrote an awesome post about The Days When You Don't Feel Like Writing. I haven't written anything in a few weeks. I was working on revisions here and there, and then after my melt down I took a break. I read my first Cora Cormack novel and then dove into Shannon Messenger's second book in the KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES series. I also started knitting a circle scarf and watching the Olympics. I skated for the first time in almost two weeks yesterday, for some much needed heart therapy, and finally started to feel like myself again. Have I actually put Chuck Wendig's advice into action?

No.

But, I'm getting there. It'll be soon. I can feel it building in my bones.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Melt Down

Yeah, I kind of had a writerly melt down the other day. It was bad. I texted Sarcastically Delicious (aka huzband) and said, I quit. And then he so wisely reminded me that if I love to write then I should continue writing--that's all that matters. And he's right.

And then one of my best friend's texted me and told me I was her hero and not to give up. And I about wanted to cry.

I knew I didn't really want to quit writing. I was just frustrated.

But sometimes I just get caught up in all of the...stuff. You know what I'm talking about. The stuff that comes with trying to make it as a writer in the big vast world of publishing. I think I was barely keeping my head above water and then I made a mistake with my WIP. I had forgotten about this new plot point that I had added. It was a very much needed plot point. But then, I had forgotten that I had added it and didn't remember it until about 10,000 words later.

Yeah.

I've got to go back and fix everything.

And I don't know why just this little thing got to me so much, because I don't mind revising or rewriting in the least bit. But, just with everything else; it was the straw that broke the camel's back (or knocked Anita off the camel and made her fall into a pile of camel poo.)

So I'm going to take a break from writing for a few days. Read some. Waste some time watching television. Learn how to do the Purl stitch finally so all my knitting doesn't just consist of one stitch, LOL.

I wish everyone a happy week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Checking In

I know. I know. It's been a month or so since I've posted on the blog. Honestly, I've just been so busy writing and revising that I haven't had time to come up with anything witty or entertaining to say here. And after all, that's the point of all this, yeah? To first and foremost focus on the writing career, and then supplement with the blog. Unfortunately, the supplementing has gone to the wayside.

This past month I've read some fantastic books. ELEANOR & PARK and FAN GIRL, both by Rainbow Rowell. She's definitely becoming one of my fave authors. I highly recommend both if you enjoy YA contemporary.


I saw one of the most spectacular figure skating performances I've seen in a long time (basically since they changed the judging system), and it brought tears to my eyes to see this humble, talented man bring an arena to their feet. Definitely rooting for him at the Olympics.




I'd love to stay and share and chat more. But I've got to get back to work on my Book Map. I'm participating in Editor Cheryl Klein's (Arthur Levine Books) Plot Intensive at the SCBWI Springmingle in March. I'm so excited to take my MG Sci-Fi and strengthen its plot at this workshop.

I wish everyone a wonderful day and Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Writers Series: Introducing Lisa Casian

My good friend, Lisa Casian's romance novel, BLOODROSE, debuted on November 29th. 
Check out the steamy cover! So I thought we'd spend some time chatting with Lisa about romance novels.

So be honest, how old were you when you read your first romance novel?

I was about fifteen. It was historical and I vaguely remember the story. I remember it was pretty steamy and everyone looked amazing. It was my sister's book.

Yes, eye candy is one of the fun parts about reading romance novels. What inspired you to start writing romance? What was your inspiration for BLOOD ROSE?

I have no loyalty to a particular genre. I read horror, contemporary, fantasy...all in binges. I picked up a Catherine Coulter regency romance book and it led me to read most of her titles. I was completely hooked. I wrote BLOODROSE in 2008. I never meant for it to see the light of day. I wanted to write historical, romance, action-adventure, and paranormal and BLOODROSE was it. I actually had no clue what I was doing. One scene led to the next and on and on it went. Because it was a vampire story, and the market was saturated with them, I decided not to pursue publication. But then this year Breathless Press had a five page critique opportunity for a romance piece and I decided to send BLOODROSE. That led to a full request and here we are. 

I think there is some misunderstanding out there about what romance fiction really is, and some people unfairly group it with erotica or call it closet porn for women. What are your thoughts?

First, let me just say that romance doesn't equal sex in books. It can have sex but the major indicator is the relationship between the main couple. Nicholas Sparks is a great author who gleams over the "sex" part. And then you have JR Ward and Sherillyn Kenyon who can fill pages of the act.  Any book that makes you feel something is worth the read. Horror makes me sleep with the lights on, fantasy lets me dream of dragons, contemporary reminds me I'm not alone, and romance makes me feel that I deserve to be loved. People read to feel something, to connect with the characters, to be thrilled with plot. There shouldn't be any stigma attached to it.

Well said, Lisa. Who are some of your favorite romance authors?

I've been blessed to have picked up some great books. My favorites are Christine Rains, JR Ward, and Sherillyn Kenyon.

I've always thought that with the increase of e-reader use it would help / boost romance novel sales (not that they need any help). Who wants to be caught holding a book with a shirtless man with glistening, bulging muscles, and a swooning half dressed buxom lady draped over his arm? What are your thoughts?

That sounds like the cover of BLOODROSE. LOL.  I don't have the formal numbers, but I want to say that paperback sales were huge with romance. I mean, I used to go into the corner store and their shelves were lined with romance paperbacks. Maybe because they were easier to hide inside a purse, or you can cover the cover with your hand as you read in public, who knows? The e-book is a great substitute for that. Again, I know romance sales are huge, but I'm not sure of the actual numbers.

Thanks for chatting with us, Lisa!

Thanks for having me, Anita. It was fun!

If you're interested in checking out BLOODROSE, you can find it on Amazon, here. And if you'd like a chance to win a copy of the book, the giveaway is here.


BLOODROSE
By Lisa Casian
Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Breathless Press

Isabeau's life is haunted by nightmares her brother insists are a lie. Bowen's looking to revenge himself against his father while helping his friend. When they meet, all hell breaks loose against Isabeau. Can Bowen protect her? Is love ever the safe choice?
Newly convinced by a mentor to value human life, Bowen, a Shade Hunter, has withdrawn from aristocratic society in pursuit of the creature that made him into the evil that consumes him—his father. Bowen's plans are thwarted when he assists a wealthy earl in finding his missing fiancĂ©. He's drawn to the man's beautiful sister, Isabeau. Bowen soon realizes that their fates are intertwined and she's aroused a passion in him he'd never thought possible.
Isabeau Harington has always lived in fear. Surviving an attack that killed her parents, she always believed the monsters would return for her. When she meets Bowen, a mysterious, charismatic stranger who drives away those fears, she learns that the very man she's falling in love with may be in league with the monsters hunting her. As a pawn in an Immortal's scheme, Isabeau must make the ultimate decision—love or safety?

ISBN: 978-1-77101-181-5
Heat Rating: 3