Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don't Knock on the RIng

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) picks on me when I wear my high school class ring.
I suppose he thinks it's childish or that high school was so-thirteen-years ago. My argument is that what's the point of getting a high school class ring if you're only supposed to wear it when you're high school. That doesn't make sense. Sometimes he'll ask me where my college or graduate school rings are. And I'll just shrug and say, "Meh. Didn't want one."

I notice I tend to wear it more when I'm drafting or revising. I suppose it helps me remember my teen self--all the boy drama, friend drama, boy drama, skating drama, boy drama, school drama...I think you get the picture. The cosmos just seemed different back then and it definitely seemed more centered around me. And any infinitesimal change in a facet of that cosmos would seem either universe shattering or the source of exponential happiness.

So, yes, wearing the ring reminds me of being teeny (no not microscopic but teenage-esque). But it is also a tangible reminder of the fruits of hard work. This ring was the first major purchase I had paid for on my own. I remember ordering it from a local jewelry store and having it put on layaway. Every week I would show up at that jewelry store with ten or twenty dollars from paycheck. The staff would always smile and take my money. I honestly can't remember how much it cost or how long it took me to pay it off, but the jewelry store staff shared in my triumph the day I got to take it home.

Do you have a memento or something you cherish that helps you remember your teen years?

Friday, December 23, 2011

First Double Salchow Since Total ACL Reconstruction Surgery!!!

Today I got the best Christmas present EVER. After tearing my ACL back in March 2010 I landed my first double salchow today!

Silly orthopedic surgeons totally under estimate the difficulty of skating, spinning, and jumping on narrow metal blades with sharp teeth on the end. They told me I'd be back to skating six months after surgery. Boy, were they smoking crack. At six months I still couldn't walk like a normal person.

TWENTY ONE months after surgery I attempted my first double jump. Kind of a big difference.

Regardless, I'm happy despite how long it took because there were points I doubted I could ever do any of this again. It's been a slow process of healing that has required a ton of hard work. My first back-to-ice-happy-moment was when I got to perform in the Pelham Skate School's production of Musical Legends and Divas on Ice and then came today.

Below, via my awesome coach, Danny's iPhone comes my first double salchow since surgery:



Funny thing is that I didn't wake up this morning thinking I wanted to try a double salchow today. But, Danny remembered a comment I made last week where I said I thought I could probably re-learn how to do a double salchow before a single flip. Flips put considerable pressure and torque on my right knee.

So this morning Danny said, "How about double salchow?"

I'm sure I gave him a look that clearly said, Are you crazy?

The first few attempts I popped and did singles because I was sooo nervous and scared. I was worried about how much the landing would hurt or I was worried about how unhappy my knee would be if I fell and twisted it. All sorts of negative horrific scenarios were playing through my head.

I pushed the negative thoughts aside and let the nineteen or twenty years of muscle memory kick in.

And it worked.

Granted, it's not the prettiest double salchow, but I have plenty of time to perfect it again now that I know that I can actually do it.

Just want to thank my coach Danny and my trainers Dedrick and Jorge at PURmotion for helping make this possible.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Google--An Indispensable Tool

As I work on my re-write/revision today I find myself turning to Google for all sorts of things:
  • A street map of the area around Big Ben and Westminster Bridge
  • A tube map of London
  • Ice cream places near Big Ben. Which if you need to know there is a Haagen Dazs on Leicester Square.
  • Different types of eyebrow piercings
  • Types of camera lenses
  • Turns out the British prefer the term cab instead of taxi
What have you googled today?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reason #242 Why I Love the Writing Community

When you love your story and your characters you find yourself willing to do extreme things to make them shine. Last week, with some fabulous critiques and suggestions from Dear Editor I made the decision to move forward with what I think is my tenth rewrite/revision. I wasn't bummed about it, but actually the opposite--extremely excited.

And then I read this post by soon to be published author Shannon Whitney Messenger and I knew my decision was the right one. You have to read this post in which she details her journey from draft one to publication.

In case you don't have time to read it though, let me summarize it for you:
20

Yes, it took her twenty drafts. How fortuitous was it for me to read this post on the day I planned to embark on number ten--that is why I love this writing community.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Thankful...

This past weekend was epic for me because it was the first time I performed on the ice since I tore my ACL back in 2010. I can't skate like I could before the injury, but I worked my tail off to do what I can do today and I wanted to share!

I also want to give a shout out to everyone who helped me heal emotionally and physically from my injury.Thank you Dedrick Agee and Jorge Bonnet, my trainers, for never giving up on me and encouraging me to keep pushing myself. Danny Tate, you are the best coach and best friend a girl could ask for. Mom thank you for helping me through my early recovery and for telling me that I will skate again. Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend), couldn't have done it without your love, support, and lectures about the merits of fish oil, glucosamine, and not slacking on my therapy. My cousin Priya, for coming over after the surgery and coaching me through those dreadful leg raises. Rink buddies, you dont' know how happy it made me to rehearse and perform along side you guys again. And to my gal pals (you know who you are) thank you for listening to all my wining and for your love and understanding.

Both numbers below are group numbers. If you have trouble finding me, look for the brown person.



Monday, November 28, 2011

My Recent Adventures



I know. I know. I've been missing on the blog-o-sphere recently, but I've been busy with my adventures.
  • I reached my page goal for the end of November. Woot! Woot!
  • Experienced new exponential levels of traffic congestion.
  • When we spent a night playing accidental vigilante cop, I learned that the D.C. in Washington D.C. doesn't stand for District of Columbia, it stands for District of Crazy . We witnessed a guy get thrown out of an SUV and punched in the face; saw two guys ripping their shirts off and throwing each other into glass shop windows; and witnessed a guy beating up a girl because she lost his keys. Pathetic. But, I must say, the 911 responders were amazing and got help on the way immediately. Sadly, though Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) thinks I'm crazy because prior to the trip I told him how amazing D.C. was. And it is, there is so much history and beautiful architecture. But unfortunately, S.D. didn't get to see this side of the city, and I doubt he ever wants to go back.
  • My cousins and I were almost run over by a guy in a Mercedes. And then when we gave the driver the evil eye he responded with threatening to punch us in the face. Really?!?
  • I've always wanted to be in a flash mob and I got the opportunity when we did a pseudo flash mob at my cousin's wedding reception.  
  • I got my nails shellacked last week. It's kind of like gel or acrylic nails except without the sandpaper drills. So it's still my nail but with a super resistant nail polish on top. I'm impressed with where nail technology is going these days.
  • It's show time this week! That means lots of rehearsals leading up to this weekend. If you are in the Birmingham area, come check out Musical Legends and Divas on Ice December 3rd at 7:00pm and December 4th at 3:00pm at the Pelham Civic Complex. This will be the first time I perform in front of an audience since I tore my ACL. Super excited and thankful for the opportunity!
  • I'm going to the SCBWI conference this January! Any one else going?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Switch Narrators on Me

One of the best narrators of all time is Jim Dale. He narrates the entire Harry Potter series on audio book and gives every a character a unique voice. He is very consistent about making sure each distinct voice is utilized with the appropriate character. Step back and think about how many characters there are in the series. The amazingness that is Jim Dale astounds me every time I listen to the series.

Recently, I've lost myself in a paranormal young adult series. The narrator for the first three books was fantabulous. She did an excellent job of giving every character a unique voice and making sure each voice was age appropriate. Well, something political must have happened in the middle of the recording of the series, because book number four and on are recorded by a completely different studio and publisher than the first three. Hence, there is a different narrator.

I know I can be resistant to change and I was extra skeptical when I put disc 1 in my CD player, but I was willing to give this new narrator a chance. I really was. But when she made the seventeen year old main character sound like she was thirteen it made everything seem less believable. In addition, this narrator is not consisent about giving each character a distinct voice. So sometimes you assume it's Character A speaking but it's really Character C.

I'm so put off by this new narrator that I'm seriously thinking of just buying the books or checking them out from the library. And then I wonder if that was the publisher's goal. Maybe they wanted to annoy us with the recording so we'd go buy the book instead. Maybe there's a higher profit margin on the book instead of the audio book.

Ok, sorry about getting all conspiracy theory there. Just speculating.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lost in Fiction Land

My blog is my home page on Firefox and when I opened up my browser this morning I realized I hadn't posted since October 27th! Yikes!

And for that I'm very sorry.
I've been lost in fiction land.

Been ferociously busy rewriting/revising my novel Shift. And when I'm not rewriting I've been trying to be a good critique partner. And when I'm not critiquing I've been listening to the House of Night series written by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast on audio book. And when I'm not doing those things I'm participating in real life stuff. Boo. But, it has to be done.

I don't have anything really inspirational, funny, or writerly to say. But here's some stuff that I find quite interest:

Amazon has a lending program for those who have an Amazon Prime Account and a Kindle. Very intrigued by this as I have one but not the other. Which one do I have? I'll leave you guessing on that one. Oh, the suspense.

I love Maggie Stiefvater's books. I am itching to find time to read the Scorpio Races. She wrote an excellent blog post about creating mood in your writing.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gossip Time...Divergent

Let me start by saying how much I love sleep. I like to get a decent amount and I like the sleep to occur at a particular part of the day--night. That being said, it shows how much I liked Divergent by Veronica Roth if it kept me up super past my bed time. The last book I stayed up uber late for was Deathly Hallows, and that was epic Harry Potter.

In this dystopian novel Roth creates a world where you have to choose a faction that best reflects the values you hold dear. Dauntless for bravery, Erudite for intellect, Candor for honesty, Abnegation for selflessness, or Amity for peace. It was hard enough to decide what to major in college. I couldn't imagine making a colossal decision that involves ultimately changing your environment, your family, your career, everything you stand for basically, as the main character Beatrice Prior had to do in this novel.

My favorite character is a teen boy named Four. You've got to read the book to find out where he got his unique name from. But other than the intrigue of Four, the book itself is fast paced, unique, and a definite page turner.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Silly Questionairre

Today I'm going to the dentist. I'd like to say I'm excited about it, but that would be an absolute lie. Last night I was filling out the paperwork for my appointment and I found some of the questions quite interesting:

Would you like to keep all of your teeth all of your life?
Really? Are there some people who don't want to keep their teeth? Or any body part for that matter? I'm sorry, but I'm kind of attached to my limbs and teeth and, yes, I plan on keeping them for my entire life (that is barring any disaster--but even if I do have to face a disaster--I'd like to be a survivor of said disaster who keeps all her body parts and teeth).

Do you feel nervous about having dental treatment?
I circled YES on this one, of course. I for one do not equate a trip to the dentist with going to Disney World.

If yes, please describe (I actually answered this part with a numbered list)
  1. Injections
  2. Drills
  3. I'm afraid the dentist will alter the natural contour of my teeth
  4. I'm afraid my bite will be incorrect after dental work
  5. I'm afraid of faulty fillings that will leak prematurely
  6. Root canals. Don't say that word around me.
Have you ever had an upsetting dental experience?
I also circled YES on this one.

If yes, please describe (Again I provided another numbered list)
  1. Hygienists who scale sensitive areas of my teeth
  2. Adverse reactions to prior oral surgery
  3. Mean hygienists
Hey, if you're going to ask me questions like this, expect me to answer them honestly.

Friday, October 14, 2011

T.G.I.F.

I can't convey how relieved I am that it's Friday. I can hole up in my little house and stay away from all the things that make life difficult. (I hope I'm not jinxing myself).

This week has been quite interesting, unfortunately a lot of these interesting things seriously took away from my writing schedule. And because I couldn't write as much as I had wanted to this week it made all the bumps of this week seem worse.

It started with the dentist telling me that I have four cavities (one being seriously close to the root) even though they praised what a wonderful job I'd been doing flossing and brushing and said I had virtually no plaque on my teeth. They said it just happens...with age. Poo on age.

My clothes dryer decided it wanted to be difficult and will now only work if I physically hold the start button the entire time it's running. Talked to someone about it. They said it just happens with age. Poo on age again.

Then the transmission in my car failed. The mechanic said it just happens with age. Triple poo on age again.

Epic ant infestation took over part of the kitchen, even though I'm careful about not leaving crumbs on the counter. Apparently, Sasha and Jasmine Kitty don't feel similarly and they left crumbs all around their automatic cat feeder and the ants had their Thanksgiving feast a month early. So after my car died I spent the next hour and half sucking up hundreds of ants with my vacuum cleaner and laying out ant bait.

At this point, Age, you can bring on whatever you want. I can take it. I'm not going to let you get me down. Bring it on!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

I know I've heard this many times as an ice skater. Practice makes perfect. A coach once gave me a handout that basically broke down how many times a jump had to be repeated before a skater could achieve a high landing consistency rate.

It can take almost a several hundred attempts of a jump to achieve even a moderate consistency rate.

If a skater trains one hour a day and they are trying to learn an axel jump. The skater may attempt this jump twenty to thirty times in an hour. A lot of it depends on what other skills the skater must train during that time period and how bad they are falling. If they train five days a week, one hour per day, the skater is probably attempting around 125 axels per week.

It may take a couple to several weeks before the skater lands even one, and then another couple hundred attempts to start landing them fifty percent of the time. And just because you land the jump doesn't mean it's necessarily the best axel out on the market. It can always be higher, rotate faster, travel a farther distance across the ice, have a stronger landing. There is always room for improvement.

This type of work ethic is ingrained in me from twenty years of skating, and yet I don't always apply the patience I have for ice skating training to my writing. Even though I've seen significant improvement in my own and my critique partner's writing with every draft we write. It sometimes doesn't sink in just how much we need to write and read to improve. Natalie Whipple wrote a great post about hope and talks about how she wrote ten novels before she even signed with an agent.

Hope is a fickle thing. Some days I seem to have more than others. But, I've come to this conclusion, because I've seen it on my life-long ice skating journey, if you put in the hard work, eventually, you'll achieve the results you seek.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feline Editor

Sasha Kitty editing my manuscript. Her ink of choice is orange, instead of red. She thinks red ink is so cliche. Right now, she's working on substantive edits, commenting on the character arc. This look represents her distaste due to the lack of a feline protagonist. Humans are so overrated.






Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things I've Learned on Twitter

I've been trying to be more active on Twitter and I've learned so many interesting things this past week!
  • Harry Potter Land! In Spring 2012 Leavesden studios are opening doors and allowing people to tour the magical sets used to film all eight movies. I so want to go. Trip to England anybody?
  • I recently got an iPad. And I thoroughly enjoy it. But after owning a light weight Nook, I find that the iPad is a little heavy to hold when reading (or heavy for a girl with twenty years worth of figure skating falls and slapping her wrists on the ice). So I've been quite intrigued by Amazon's new announcement of the Kindle Fire. And this device is literally on FIRE. 250,000 have already been ordered in FIVE DAYS!
  • The sequel to Alexandra Adornetto's Halo is out. The cover is smoking, as is the title: Hades.
  • I also came across a great blog called Ingrid's Notes. She has an excellent seven part series called To Plot or Not to Plot. She discusses things, such as the difference between narrative and story and whether or not your story even has a plot.
  • And lastly, I learned I'm not the only person that struggles with their cat getting between them and their laptop.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Skype Fail

This past year I learned of the wonders of Skype & Face Time (video chatting over the Internet). It's a wonderful way to stay in touch with family and friends. Sure, there are phones, email, and Facebook. But, it's different when you actually get to see the person you are communicating with. There are so many unsaid things that can be inferred by facial expressions and pertinent pauses in conversation.

You can even have pizza dates as Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) and I do since he recently moved away for school. We even will watch NFL games together.

But, I've noticed something that I do that probably makes me seem like an egocentric video chatter. When you face time or skype a video stream of your image shows up in a little box in the corner of the screen. Sometimes I find that I end up looking at myself more than the person I am chatting with--and no it's not because I like to look at myself--it's more because I'm worried about what I look like. Usually I will video chat with my laptop, but then I started using my iPad and Sarcastically Delicious asked why I looked orange and puffy. Apparently there is a different in picture quality between the two devices and also a difference in lag time between video and audio. Sometimes S.D. says I look like a badly dubbed Asian movie.

Regardless of the device, I've become self conscious about looking like a life size Cheeto on the web or a character from Kung Pow (which if you haven't seen and you like stupid-funny movies, i highly recommend) So rather than enjoying the full experience of web chatting, I'm looking at myself forty to fifty percent of the time, rather than devoting one hundred percent of my attention to the person I'm talking to. Chatting fail.



Friday, September 23, 2011

Yay! For Meeting New People!

I had the opportunity yesterday to spend almost four hours in the car with a new friend. We hit it off right away and talked about all sorts of topics from sports to the non-linear concept of time to frustrating college professors. 

What I hadn't expected from this car ride, though, was to find the answer to a problem with my manuscript. Car Friend isn't even a writer, she's a ballerina that likes math, and she had no clue that I was struggling with a problem with one of the male characters of my book. But, she just brought up this random concept in our conversation, and as soon as she introduced the idea, the gears in my head started turning and I became increasingly excited.

I tried explaining to Car Friend how literally giddy I was about said idea and how I wanted to apply it in my book, and of course she was happy that she could help, but I think she had no idea just how epic this conversation was for me. I can't wait to get back to my manuscript and incorporate this shiny, bright, new idea. And on that note, I'm going to shove off. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Confession...

I love British accents.
I don't know why. I just do. They have a hypnotizing effect on me; music to my ears. Maybe I was British in another life. Maybe it's because the British occupied India for so long. Or maybe because British accents are bloody fantastic and anyone who doesn't think so is mental?

I guess it isn't ironic that five of the characters in my novel are British (technically one is Welsh). Three are adults and two are teens, and because I want my characters to be as authentic as possible I tune into and try to study all things British. Television. Movies. Audio books. Youtube videos by Charlie McDonnell.

The problem is that it's kind of seeping into my language. The other day I told my staff at work that something was "spot on." Which is weird coming from an Indian girl, born in Alabama, whose speech developed in Ohio and Missouri, but then picked up a few southernisms (yes, I made up that word...I think...) later in life, talking to someone from a tiny town in Alabama. It's just a bit odd, isn't it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anita Land

Anita land has been quite adventurous lately.
  • I managed to lock myself out of my friend's house. At 7:00 am. Friend is out of town.
  • The poo gods have blessed my home with copious amounts of cat diarrhea recently. Perhaps it's a good omen, like having a bird poop on your head (laughing to myself thinking about fly by pooping).
  • I was mistaken for a federal agent.
  • A guy that jumps out of planes told me that I look younger than I really am.
  • Purple ink has become my color of choice and I don't understand why it isn't acceptable to use for legal documents or medical records.
  • And this song about the BP oil spill has been playing on permanent repeat in my head, and it's not exactly one of those songs I should sing out loud...
  • I really want to be a part of a flash mob and throw a green tea and broccoli party.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Question to Those Much Wiser Than I

I read a lot of young adult books since that's what I like to write. And I've been noticing a trend. Many of the endings are not in fact endings. They are cliffhangers, sometimes at intense moments, and if you want to know what happens next you've got to read the next book.

Now, I've always heard that as an un-agented, un-published writer you should write your novel so that it can stand alone on it's own and then if later down the line your book sells with possibly a sequel, then your editor and you will decide where book two and so on will go.

Does the term stand-alone then preclude a cliff hanger ending? A perfect example is Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, did she initially write that book with an intended cliff hanger ending, or was that something that she and her agent changed before submissions, or something that she and her editor added after it sold as a series?

Should I pretty much tie up all the story threads at the ending of my novel or should I leave some of them loose and dangling?

Any comments or clarifications?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gossip Time...Red Glove

Red Glove by Holly Black is the sequel to White Cat (click link to read my Gossip Time review of this book).

I LOVED both of these books. In this second installment we spend time with the oh-so-intriguing Cassel Sharpe (don't worry I'm not going to give away any spoilers). He's still attending Wallingford prep school, still a fabulous con man and a smart ass, but the family angst, federal angst, and pressure from the crime families only increases, and things with the love of his life Lila only get more complicated.

I couldn't put this book down and I can't wait to spend more time in Cassel Sharpe's word when the third installment of the Curse Worker Series, Black Heart comes out April 3, 2012.

If you haven't already, check out Holly Black's nifty website.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Awkwardness

This weekend my videography company filmed an ice skating competition. Watching all the pre-teens and teens in their skating dresses reminded me of the awkwardness of adolescence.

I was one of those twelve-year-old who had reached full height and whose feet were too big for her. It didn't help when other people noticed. I remember getting fitted for skates and wanting to curl up my toes as they took measurements. I wore shoes that were about a size and a half too small for me. I claimed I liked them snug, that I liked the feeling of them molding to my feet like ice skates. But, I think was really trying that whole Chinese-binding-feet thing.

I saw lanky girls in ice skating dresses that reminded me of myself at that age. I saw the horrendous things that mother's do to their children in the name of ice skating. I mean, come on, isn't being an adolescent awkward enough without your Mom adding blond extensions to your pony tail that are three shades lighter than your actual hair and hanging down to your butt? I think this girls pony tail threw off her center of gravity because all of her spins traveled quite a bit. There was another girl whose parents had put her in black skates. Boy skates! It would have been better if she had been in brown rental skates. But, to wear boy skates? I could tell she was uncomfortable, skating with her shoulders hunched up to her ears. I felt sorry for her. Another parent placed what seemed like an entire bouquet of white flowers on top of her child's head. Again, being head heavy it seemed to hinder her balance.

Remembering the awkwardness of adolescence reminded me that as a young adult writer it's important not to forget how uncomfortable our characters can be with their bodies and self image. That being one hundred percent comfortable with your self, ok, maybe eighty percent comfortable with yourself, comes with time and the slow building up of confidence.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disconnect

I feel like I write the best when I write a little bit everyday. In the late winter/early spring time I was on a roll. My hands were constantly in my story, I barely had to re-read what I wrote from one writing session to the next. I was always in the moment, my characters and plot consistently somewhere in my mind, whether it be in the forefront or the background. I could take a fifteen minute break in the day and use it to pump out a decent amount of wordage.

Lately, writing has become sporadic. And I find it's harder to squeeze in productive writing sessions. I still try though, but often I have to re-read the last couple of pages just to reacquaint myself with the setting and the mood. And right when I get to the end of what I'm reading, itching to grab the pen and plunge in, that's precisely when life interrupts me. Sigh. I close my notebook and shift my attention to life.

As this happens more and more, a negative attitude sets in of why even try because I know as soon as I try to re-read any of my manuscript in preparation to write, something will pop up and thwart my intentions. And then before you know it a couple, then several days pass without writing a word because I'm searching for that ideal time to write; a couple of free hours to dedicate to my pen and imagination. Soon, the guilt sets in as I realize I'm not giving my goals one hundred percent. I'll never finish this draft.

When I listen to an audio book or walk by books at the store or library I no longer feel that surge of exhilaration that comes with dreaming and aspiring. There's a total disconnect. And then when I do find time to write, I'll choose to peruse my manuscript instead only to disbelieve that I actually wrote any of it. I'm mental, what can I say.

Eventually, I put myself back together and the writing and the dreaming proceeds again without a hitch, but only after I take the time to crawl out of the swampy disconnect that I've created for myself.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wedding!

This weekend my cousin Namita is getting married and I am supremely excited. It's always fun when you're awesome cousin or a close friend gets married. But even if I don't know the couple, I still love weddings. Yes, I suppose being a girl, I'm genetically wired to adore weddings. But, to me a wedding is such a multi-layered experience--kind of like reading a book. Weddings are love stories, a very important episode in the epic saga of love.

When I'm not writing, I also run a video production company and one of our specialities is wedding videography. As a videographer we have a unique relationship with the bride, groom, their family and friends. We get to see the behind the scenes stuff. We get to hear about the journey that brought the couple together for their momentous occassion. I often stay in touch with couples afterwards. Usually things end up happy, or normal you could say. They have babies, maybe move across the country, grow succesful careers. But sometimes bad things happen. A huband leaves his wife before I can even deliver the wedding DVD. Injury and sickness. Sometimes the reality of life hits some harder than others.

My favorite part of wedding videography isn't necessarily the filming per say, but the editting process, specifically making highlight/montage videos. Making a highlight/montage video gives me the opportunity to tell the story of the couple's wedding day with images and music instead of words. I guess when it comes down to it, I'm a story teller at heart.

I know a lot of authors and aspiring writers out there are amazing artists and share their wonderful sketches and designs on their blog. I like to think of myself of a video artist...





Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just A Little Respect...

I don't like to talk about current events or politics on this blog, but something has been irking me since I watched the news last night. Many comments are being made that Irene was blown out of proportion. Now, I don't live in the northeast, but some of the images of the flooding do look devastating. What irks me though are the people that are saying Irene wasn't a big deal, that everyone over reacted--are they taking into account that thirty eight people died? Tell those thirty eight families that lost a loved one that Irene wasn't a big deal. The name Irene will probably haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Back in April we had a ton of tornadoes in Alabama and the rest of the southeast. I personally wasn't really affected. The sky turned green, it got kind of windy, and the rain pounded down on my roof. So for me, yeah, it wasn't a big deal. But, I didn't go around saying that out of respect for the many people that lost homes and loved ones.

Just saying...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Age

I've come to believe that numerical age is meaningless. I've met forty years olds that look like they're sixty and sixty year olds that look like they are forty. But, it's not just about looks, it's also about behavior. How many young adult books have you read where the protagonist, often only fifteen or sixteen, face adult challenges and by meeting that challenge may seem more adult like than another fifteen year old.

I think responsibility matures fictional and real people, sometimes in a positive way, sometimes negative. But also a person's notions about what they can and can't do because of their age can make them older or seem younger. I know fifty years olds that still ice skate because they love it and I know twenty four year olds that won't dare lace up a pair of boots because they believe they're too old for it.
I understand that sometimes physical limitations and stress can play a role in a person's perceived age as well.

I guess I find it interesting how different and almost malleable our "age" can be via our attitude, nutrition, physical health, and external factors. When we create our characters, they're not just seventeen year old girls or twelve year old boys that fit in these perfect compartments set aside for people those age, we've got to think about them from a multi-factorial view point to really determine what their true age is.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gossip Time...Illusions

Illusions, written by Aprilynne Pike, is the third book in a series. I honestly thought this was the last book of a trilogy. I don't know why I thought that, I think I was lead to believe that (maybe Aprilynne's awesome blog sent me some subliminal messages that made me think that), so anyway, when I got to the whammy-ending I realized the story for Laurel, David, and Tamani was only beginning.

Usually, I'm not one for fairies. When I think of fairies it makes me think of cartoons and being in elementary school and every single girl dressing up like a ballerina or a fairy Halloween. No, Aprilynne makes fairies seem scientifically plausible. Seriously. And the world building is so detailed and just so believable that I'd consider searching for the gates of Avalon (the home of the fairies) next time I visit California.

If you're looking for a good series to soak into, start with Wings the first book, and then you'll immediately be itching to read Spells, and then of course Illusions. And talk about intense love triangle, this one seems even worse for the main character Laurel then Bella having to choose between Jacob and Edward. In Twilight you always kind of knew Edward was the one, but in this series, it's hard to say.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Confession

I think I've known this for a long time, but I didn't want to admit this to myself. It's un-girly. Un-nautural. Something must be genetically mis-wired in me.

Hi, my name is Anita, and I hate to shop.

Going to the mall and shopping for clothes makes my back hurt and gives me a headache. Often, I have to take someone for moral support (i.e. I sit in the dressing room, they pick stuff out, and bring it to me). I also think it's important to look for bargains because why should any one over pay for anything, but alas, bargain hunting takes time and work, and frankly I'd rather be writing or skating or doing squat thrusts followed by an infinite number of push ups. So rather than looking for those good deals, how about we just don't shop at all?

And it's not just clothes. It's cars too. Because of my long commutes my very young car has over two hundred thousand miles on it. Do you think I'm going to look for another one? Absolutely, NOT. I'm going to drive that thing until that engine's last dying breath of internal combustion.

It's also computers. Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) spent forty plus hours researching and shopping for his computers, I think I fell to the wayside around fifteen or twenty hours.

Apartments and home shopping is also a chore. If you're a real estate agent, just show me a couple, the best that you have, that are safe, clean, and in my budget, and I'll just pick one.

Wal-mart. Yeah, good luck getting me to go there. That's why I buy household products in bulk. A one time shop for soap, tissue paper, dish washing detergent. I'll even admit to the fact that I've purchased these items on Amazon. Yes, I bought soap on Amazon.

I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I get married. Ugh. I can feel the anti-shopping-nausea coming on right now. Perhaps I'll get married at one those all-inclusive set ups where all I have to do is show up. That sounds perfect.

Is it just me, or are there any other anti-shoppers out there?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What I've Learned...

I've been writing for a long time and it's a continual learning process. I thought today I'd talk about one of the many things I've learned over the years, and that is: Don't Jump the Gun.
I think this is a mistake we've all made at one point, and I made it under the encouragement of a published author, is we query too early. You've heard this a thousand times over, write the best book that you can. Well, that takes time, a lot of it.

  •  After you finish you first draft it is not ready for querying. It's not. No matter how much you love it. It's not. Distance yourself from it for a few weeks and then go back and read it. You'll see what I mean.
  • Listen to that voice in your head. Often, we are perfectly aware of the flaws in our story and writing. And yet we push those voices aside and don't really listen to them until a critique partner or agent echos that same thought. 
  • The story just doesn't have to be spectacular, the writing does too. I've critiqued manuscripts where I'm like this is an awesome story, but then when you get down to the sentences, the words, they all need some tightening and polishing. Every word has to earn it's right to be there, so take the time to let every one of them shine.
  • Don't be scared to re-write. In that first draft, you're just getting to know your characters, their likes/dislikes, and motivations. Sometimes you have to go back and delete scenes, add new ones, but it doesn't mean that what you wrote in that first draft was a waste of time. That was an important step towards learning who your characters are.
Also, if you haven't already, check out www.writeoncon.com, it's a FREE on-line writing conference with some amazing editors, authors, and agents sharing their wisdom.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Skating Update

Skating Update Since ACL Reconstruction: It's a work in progress. LOL. Kind of like writing. I've progressed from skating in a circle around the rink to actually doing some turns and spins. Yay!
I even signed up to skate in this year's ice show at our rink: Musical Legends and Divas on Ice. It's on December 3rd and 4th which means I have a lot of figuring out to do by then. Sunday was our first group practice and it went a little something like this:

Choreographer: Who here can do a double toe loop?

Me: (I don't raise my hand. But when choreographer starts eyeballing me, I succumb and raise it half way). Well, I can't do one right now, but I'm hoping I can again in two months.

Choreographer: Who here can do an illusion?

Me: Well, I used to be able to do one, so give me a few weeks to figure that one out.

Choreographer demonstrates a knee slide across the ice.

Me: That is so not happening.

You get the picture.

Despite my shortcomings, it was so nice to be on the ice practicing for a performance and being out there with old skating buddies. I just hope I can get it all back by December. I have a LOT of work to do.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm Tweeting...well, sort of....

So to add to my social networking prowess I have officially joined the world of Twitter. My Twitter name is Anita_Writes and as of yet I haven't tweeted about anything. I hope I used the word tweet correctly in that previous sentence.

 This whole twitter thing is quite foreign to me, but I started following some of my favorite author peeps such as Elana Johnson and Ally Condie, a few agents, and Publishers Weekly.

And as far as subject matter for my soon to be written tweets, it seems people discuss everything from the cute stuff their children say to what they bought at Wal-Mart. Hmm...I guess I could start there. I bought a snazzy new composition book today to write the last third of my work in progress, Shift.
What do you guys tweet about and who do you like to follow on Twitter?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Reincarnated Love Story

The other day Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) and I were making dinner and we had the following conversation:

"I've got a great idea for your next book," S.D. says as he chops onions.
I look up from the meat I'm browning, always interested to hear his thoughts on young adult literature (especially since he doesn't read any). "What's that?"
"You should write a story about love that prevails through reincarnation. About souls that find each other again and again, an eternal love story."
I smile. "That a great idea. In fact it's a New York Times best selling idea."
S.D. pauses his chopping, scrutinizing me, not sure if I'm mocking him or not.
"Yeah, it's called The Immortal series by Alyson Noel and The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate. Both very good."
His shoulders slump. "Late again." He's notorious for coming up with ideas for books, inventions, scientific theories, etc...just a bit too late.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gossip Time...The Gathering

After reading Kelley Armstrong's the Darkest Powers series and absolutely loving it, I was quick to snag this audio book off the shelves. The Gathering is the first book of a new series for Ms. Armstrong and boy is it a page turner.

The main character, fifteen-soon-to-be-sixteen year old Maya is awesome. She's outdoorsy, snarky, smart, and brave. After a recent personal tragedy, Maya is just trying to get back into the swing of things at her small home town of Salmon Creek which has less than two hundred people living on it. Her best friend, Daniel, is not only hot and coveted by all the girls at school, but he's just a good guy. He's always got Maya's back.

I want to say more about the plot, but I'm afraid of giving anything away. Not only is this book character driven, but there's a couple of mysteries woven in, a ton of suspense, along with a bit of supernatural and paranormal stuff. I think Amazon does a better job of describing what the book is about:

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Plants and Zombies Kept Me From Writing

So I'm a bit behind on the whole video gaming thing. I stopped playing basically when the controllers got too complicated. Four different buttons, two triggers, two different type of joysticks, and the responsibility of controlling my view point. Too much. I grew up in the age of Nintendo 64 and Super Mario Bros. 2-D fun.
I know I'm totally dating myself here.

Usually, I get a majority of my writing done on the weekends. But brother's iPad and animated plants and zombies had a different plan in store for me.

Look at all the pretty colors and the array of talented plants. I wish I had a plant that shot peas at people who stepped uninvited on my lawn. Don't you be steppin' on my lawn after Scott's Lawn Care Service fertilizes. I'd also like a giant purple plant that ate zombies. I mean, everyone needs one of those, especially with the talk of the impending zombie apocalypse. But, make sure you have at least a couple because they can only eat one zombie at a time. There's even a zombie on a Zamboni. He's making ice so the zombies can skate their way to eating my brains out.

So in the end, yeah, I may not have made a lot (ok, any) head way with my manuscript, but I did beat the entire game. And you know what's at the end?? A zombie music video!! The lead singer is a sunflower and I'm not going to lie, the lyrics, There's a zombie on your lawn, were going through my head for a couple of days.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gossip Time...White Cat

Natalie Whipple mentioned on her blog that White Cat by Holly Black was a must read. So when I found the audio book at my local library I snatched it up. She wasn't kidding...this book is good.

Seventeen year old Cassel Sharp is the only non-worker in a family of workers. Workers are people who excel at manipulating emotions, killing, modifying memories, affecting people's dreams, etc...



When Cassel wakes up to find himself teetering on the roof of his dormitory, it ignites a chain of events that makes Cassel Sharp doubt his family, his memories, even himself.

The narrator of the audio book is Jessie Eisenberg, you may have seen him star in movies such as Zombieland or The Social Network. He does an excellent job and I can't imagine any other voice playing Cassel Sharp.

The strengths of Holly Black's writing come most definitely in the voice but also in the art of teasing out a story and building suspense and doubt. She has a pretty cool website and blog. Check them out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter!!

I've heard many people say on the web and on television that this movie marks the end of an era.

I started reading the Harry Potter books in the spring of 2001 and I've been hooked ever since. I remember how I breezed through books one through four and then counted the days until Order of the Phoenix came out. I remember I was in graduate school when the fifth book came out and I got some weird looks carrying around that thick tome wherever I went, reading it in between classes and sometimes during lectures. But, I didn't care. I had to know what was going on with Harry and the gang.

Since 2001 I've been to midnight book release events with friends, eagerly anticipated the movies release in theaters and then on DVD. It's been so much fun. It's bittersweet that the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on July 15th kind of means there will be nothing to look forward to as far as the wizarding world is concerned except for my annual Harry Potter-audio-book-a-thon where I listen to books one through seven in the car.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Congratulations Natalie Whipple!!

I'm sure if you're any part of the  blog-o-sphere, you know who Natalie Whipple is. And if you don't, come on, where have you been?
I've been reading Natalie's blog on almost a daily basis since, gosh, I don't know, around 2009. She is not only a talented writer but also a fantastic artist. Natalie has written some stellar posts about writing, revising, the emotional roller coaster that is the publishing world, and random things as well. You can tell from her blog that she is a hard working writer with a good heart.
That's why I was so incredibly happy for her when she posted this two days ago:

Natalie Whipple’s debut novel TRANSPARENT, pitched as X-Men meets The Godfather, in which an invisible girl has to stop her dad—an infamous crime lord—from ruining her life, to Erica Sussman at HarperTeen, in a two-book deal, by Anna Webman at Curtis Brown.

She shares her journey here and here. Enjoy and be inspired!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Writing is Like a Water Slide

Since I'm still not able to ice skate, I decided that I'm going to become a swimmer. Two weeks ago I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA. Granted, I know how to swim, but I didn't know how to do the different strokes or how one goes about swimming laps.

My instructor was the sweetest a girl, a college student, and she taught me freestyle, back stroke, and breast stroke. I tried learning the butterfly, but the dolphin kick motion of the legs aggravated my knee. On the last day of lessons, my instructor made a joke and asked if I wanted my ribbon for completing the course. I laughed and said that I didn't need a ribbon, but was wondering if I could go down the water slide. Hey, the other kids got to, why can't I?

And when she said I could go down that slide, it was like a victory moment. I had been eying that long blue slide for two weeks, thinking about how unfair it was that adult's didn't get to go down it. So at the end of the lesson, my instructor granted me permission to go down the slide. But, I insisted that she join me.

And she did.

We screamed like little girls as our bodies were shot like bullets down the slippery plastic, our bodies bumping back and forth against the sides. The other instructors saw how much fun we were having, so they joined in too. The parents sitting in the beach chairs laughed at us, joining in the fun. It was such a happy time.

And of course as I floated there, wading in the water, I couldn't help but think how this whole swimming experience was like writing. In the beginning, I knew how to swim, just like I knew how to write sentences. But, with time, patience, and training, my ability to swim and be efficient at it improved, just as my writing has over the years. And to me, that slide was like landing an agent. I don't have an agent, but I can imagine that once you sign, you're elated, but then comes the work, and sometimes it might hurt, just as my elbow hurt when it rammed against the side wall of the slide.

Metaphors for writing are all around us, aren't they? What have you experienced lately that reminded you of a writer's journey?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gossip Time...The Fallen Series

This past month I've been listening to Lauren Kate's Fallen, Torment, and Passion on audiobook in the car and I've been enamored.

In the first book, Fallen, we meet seventeen-year-old Luce, a new student at the reform school, Sword and Cross. But, Lucinda isn't your typical reform student. She's actually a good girl, haunted by shadows, and the death of the first boy she ever kissed. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say there's eternal love, kissing, angels, demons, and in the second book, Torment, Nephilim.

The one thing I've really enjoyed about reading this series is how Lauren Kate is the master of slowly releasing information, always leaving the reader in suspense. And she only gets better at it in the second and third book.
My only, teeny, tiny beef with the series is I can't figure out why the cover picture depicts a girl with long black hair because in the first book it is repeatedly mentioned how Luce's Mom had to cut Luce's hair off after the fire. But, maybe the girl on the cover isn't Luce? Maybe it's someone else? I guess I won't figure out the meaning behind it until I finish the whole series.

If you're looking for a good series to get wrapped up in, I definitely recommend Lauren Kate's Fallen Novels.






Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Can Be So ADD

I'm finally semi-caught up on my work so I decided to reward myself this morning with three hours of uninterrupted writing time. I managed to finish a pretty difficult chapter but I also did the following:
  • Swiffered the house. I LOVE my Swiffer Vac. I think it's revolutionary for cleaning hardwood floors. I'm such a huge fan of this product don't be surprised if in the future I decide to dedicate a whole blog post to the awesomeness that is the Swiffer Vac.
  • Wash the dishes.
  • Put up my laundry.
  • Brushed the cats only after I mused for several minutes about how happy they get after they poo in the litter box and wonder what the world would be like if humans bolted from their bathrooms in a fury of glee every time they made a number two.
I'm at the end of my story and it's so complicated and I'm always worried about the execution that I'd like to think these ADD moments are more times of reflection rather than avoidance or procrastination for the creative task at hand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So Many Good Books to Read!! EEEP!

There are too many new books out there that I am dying to read. I'm bombarded by all these tantalizing books and I don't know what to do! A lot of the books I'm gushing over are parts of series so I promise not to give away any spoilers.

Do Ever and Damen get to be together forever (the way they want to be)? OMG. I can't wait to read this last installment of the Immortal series.











I LOVED the first book in this series, The Heist Society. I can't wait to see what Katarina Bishop steals next and am eager to see if her relationship with W.W. Hale turns into something more. And I wonder if Kat will ever figure out what the W.W. stands for.















The Warlock, the fifth book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series came out in January and I've been dying to read it. Problem is, I feel like I should re-read at least the last two books in the series just so I can get back in the thick of things. I remember at the end of book four that the big thing happened with you know, and then I feared that they may never see each other ever again, or that the other character was on the brink of death, and that other one was possessed. Don't you love my spoiler-free-code-talk?















Supernaturally, the sequel to Paranormalcy, comes out July 26. I love Kiersten White's voice. I also love Evies' innocence, spunk, and love of all things pink. I can't wait to see where the second book takes Evie and Lend.

Maggie Stiefvater will tell you that her books are about wolves and kissing. I highly recommend the first two books in the series, Shiver and Linger. Forever, the conclusion to this best selling trilogy, comes out on July 12 and I'm counting the days!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gossip Time...City of Fallen Angels

When I finished reading the third book, City of Glass, in the Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare I thought that was it. All the characters were happy, all the conflicts were resolved, but boy was I wrong.

First, if you haven't read this series and you like fantasy, paranormal romances, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, fairies, angels, and demons...well, you get the picture--start reading now. Obviously, start with book one, City of Bones.

Back in 2009 I did a gossip time post about City of Glass in which I said Clare was the master of cliffhangers, well, she's got even better at leaving us hanging and I absolutely can not wait for the fifth book to come out in May 2012. *groans in impatient agony*

But, knowing her, she'll just leave me at another cliffhanger in book five and the sixth book doesn't come out until September 2013! Ugh. So, I guess if you're impatient like me just wait until 2013 so you can read through the whole series without the all the waiting in between.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Dilemma

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) and I have been watching a lot of movies this month because all of our favorite television shows are vacationing (and also because I tend to fall asleep when he makes me watch the news all the time).

We watched True Grit (which I highly recommend), The Mechanic (anything with Jason Statham is always cool because that guy is BAD-ASS), The Switch (S.D. can't stand romantic comedies, but he liked this one because the kid in it is so cool), and Just Go With It (we both like Adam Sandler). But, the movie that I thought about the most after I watched it was The Dilemma.

I'm not going to give away any spoilers, just present the situation, like a movie trailer.

You discover that your best friend's wife is cheating on him. Your instinct is to tell him the truth ASAP. But, you hesitate because your best friend is also your business partner, he has a high anxiety and stress level, suffers from ulcers, and is trying to meet a crucial deadline that will either make or break both of your careers. Do you tell him now? Wait until after the important deadline? Pretend you didn't see anything and don't tell him at all because you don't want to meddle in his marriage? What do you do? WHAT do you do?

Obviously, you can watch the movie and see how Vince Vaughn's character handles the situation. It gets pretty funny and sad at times.

How would you handle the dilemma?

Friday, June 10, 2011

How do you ask the Librarian out?

No, I'm not looking to ask out the librarian. I've thankfully got Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend). But, today I was chatting on the phone with Friend, and he is smitten with his local librarian. He's pretty sure that she's solo because she doesn't leave at three o'clock to pick up her (existent/non-existent) kids from school, she doesn't wear a ring, she works long hours, and Friend hasn't seen any boy toys lingering at the check out counter.

We brainstormed a couple game plans:

Closing Time Blitz
Friend surmises the best time to ask librarian out is to make a move at closing time. Linger at the library until the last minute, and then when the last patron is gone, saunter over to the counter to make a move. Progress conversation to maybe a coffee date. The problem with this play however is that it is a blitz. At my local library things get pretty chaotic in the end zone before the game clock is about to expire, with patrons rushing to check out and return items. So I guess it just depends on how crowded the end zone is on this game plan.

Quarterback Comedy Sneak
Friend likes to hit the gym and often checks out books about working out. If Friend gets the snap count just right, he can sneak a moment in with librarian, return the books, and make a joke about how the work out books are great even though his figure may not be showing it. After the laughter (aka touchdown), Friend can go in for the two point conversion (asking her out on a date).

Off Tackle (Off Peak) Rush
Friend can time this play during slow times at the library. Times when librarian is done doing what she needs to do and she's twiddling her thumbs at the counter. Friend visits library frequently, and he can try to develop a friendship with librarian, he just has to work on the timing of the visits. The problem with the off tackle rush, however, is that since it is summer, the library tends to stay pretty busy, so getting one on one flirt time with the librarian maybe sparse. This play, I think, is better suited for fall through spring, when the kids are in school during the day, and the library isn't as busy.

We're looking for suggestions. Any game plans you guys would like to add to the playbook?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gossip Time...Possession

If you haven't heard, Possession written by Elana Johnson debuts TODAY!! This was a page turner for me. I devoured the book in one bite, well maybe it was two or three. The point is, is that it was just that GOOD.
  • It's a big chase. Any movie or book where characters I care about are being chased, is a book or movie that I have difficulty walking away from.
  • Oppression. This book has tons of it. In the dystopian society that Elana Johnson has so craftily built, people aren't allowed to touch, make decisions, heck live really. Most people are in this stupor from having to plug into the transmissions every night. But not Vi, she gave up on the tranmissions long ago.
  • There's a love triangle. Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) has no clue why I like love triangles (Hunger Games, Twilight, Wings- they all have triangles in them). I think it makes him feel threatened some how, that maybe one day I might go looking for a hypotenuse or something. (I know. I know. Lame geometry joke). But, honestly, Vi has some decisions to make: childhood love or hot new guy. It's tough.
GO BUY IT. YOU WON'T REGRET IT.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Learning a Lesson Through A Forgotten Video

I'm still not back on the ice even though it's been about fourteen months since I had ACL reconstruction in my knee, but it's ok, I'm not looking for sympathy or anything like that. It's just what it is. It's like I'm climbing this very high mountain called Mt. Recovery, and I've only scaled about fifty percent.

Last Tuesday I had a hole in my tire. You're probably wondering why I'm telling you about a hole in my tire because this blog is about writing, skating, and laughter, not automotive repair. But, let me tell you, that hole was significant. Because when I called Sears Auto Center I found out I had purchased that tire April 23, 2010, almost exactly one month after ACL surgery. And do you know how many miles I had driven on that tire in thirteen months?

40,000 miles.
Yes, FOURTY THOUSAND MILES.
My poor knee never had a chance to recover properly. Driving, especially in the first 6-9 months was the most uncomfortable thing for me to do, it irritated my knee, and it always stayed swollen, but I did it for my job.

As of a few weeks ago I left said job and now have time to do all sorts of things, such as clean out the hard drive of my computer. As I was doing some digital cleaning this afternoon, I came across this video from 2007:



Watching this video of course brought tears to my eyes, but it also made me think about a couple of things:

Fighting Back
This video I've posted was from a performance on Saturday December 1, 2007. There is actually a second video from the first performance on Friday November 30, 2007 that I did not post. The Friday performance was horrible. I fell on two jumps, flipped my program around, and almost skated into the chair where the flag and uniform rested. And in general, the performance was lacking. I didn't finish off the choreography and the spins were lackluster at best. But, then I came back on Saturday and landed all the jumps (albeit shakily) and only fell once. I felt the spins were better and it's always good when one doesn't skate into a chair. But, rather that being defeated by Friday's performance, I came back stronger on Saturday's performance, and I'm proud of that.

Perspective
To be honest, I was never really proud of either performance. I remember how back then, in 2008, I was so focused on all the negative aspects of it that if someone complimented me I was convinced it was only because they were trying to be polite. But, now as I watch it three and a half years later, I appreciate what I could do so much more. Sure, I fell down and and some jumps were shaky, but I was skating. You never realize how precious something is until it is taken away from you (aka your toe pick gets stuck in a hole and you tear your ACL). I just look at it now (and please don't think I'm being egotistical when I say this) and I think it's beautiful, not because I was some fabulous skater-- I wasn't. But, because I was skating and gliding and expressing myself through music.

Hands Circling Over the Head
So yeah, there are apparently some types of choreography that I just don't do well, and that would be the two instances where I circled my hands over my head. What was I doing? Spinning invisible pizza dough in the air? I remember feeling awkward when I did it and and watching it now makes me cringe. They always say if you're not comfortable with something you should let your choreographer know. But, silly ole' non-confrontational me didn't say anything. Note to self: In future, if you get to skate in a show again, ex-nay on the hands circling over the head and any other type of choreography that makes me look clumsy or uncomfortable.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Congratulations to Joshua McCune!!!

I'm making tacos but amidst all the beef browning I had to share the wonderful news that Bane of Anubis (aka Joshua McCune) just sold Kissing Dragons in a three book deal!!! He's only got two congratulatory comments right now and he should have like a hundred. So go on, get your bootie patooties over there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

SUBJECT: OMG

Within the time span of about a week I have received e-mails from two different critique partners with the subject: OMG!!!!
The quadruple exclamation point should already let you know that the information contained within the e-mail was some form of fantabulous news about CP's book. Getting these kind of e-mails makes me extremely happy. When you are someone's critique partner it's more than just catching comma splices and misspelled words it's about being a friend, a cheerleader, brainstorming partner, and weathering the ups and downs that come with writing together.
I am so proud of the opportunities both of my CPs have created for themselves through perseverance, writing, writing, and more writing. Let's cross our fingers and see what happens to them both.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory of Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan

Last Wednesday evening, May 25, 2011, I received a text message from Roopa, one of my best friends:

My Dad died today. Suddenly.

It's all just been a blur since then. At the funeral service family and friends were invited to speak words of remembrance and to celebrate the life of Dr. Jagdish Dhawan. I wanted to speak, but was in no state to control my emotions long enough to get what I wanted to say out. Had I been stronger, this is what I would have liked to say to celebrate the life of my Uncle:

I first met Uncle in 1998 or 1999 and the first things that struck me were his infectious smile and his ability to make other people laugh. He and Auntie treated me like their daughter from day one, and their son Rinku has always treated me like like his younger sister. And Roopa and I have had a typical sister-like relationship, we laugh, we disagree, we agree, we cry together and then laugh again. The Dhawans are family. There are so many memories that I would like to share, but a few always come to the forefront of my mind when I think of Uncle.

Back around 1999 or 2000, I was over at Roopa's apartment and Uncle and Auntie were visiting. Uncle was baking salmon in the oven. I never knew he was such a great chef. He taught me how to prepare the fish and surround the fillet with onions and tomatoes. And rather than twiddling our thumbs while we waited for the fish to bake for almost forty five minutes, he kept us entertained by asking us about school and making us laugh. Together we would check on the fish periodically and when we finally sat down at the dinner table, I can say that was the best salmon I had ever eaten. About a year or two ago, I told Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) that I wanted to make salmon "Uncle Style." S.D. was game, so we gave it a go. It came out ok. Waiting out the bake time was almost torture, and I realized it was because we were missing Uncle's entertainment, and when we at the fish it was yummy but not as delectable as that day back in 2000. I think the cooking was missing the main ingredient: Uncle's love.

This past December Roopa and Rishi were married in Miami. Uncle, was beaming the entire weekend, the happiest Father of the Bride EVER. Two days before the wedding, Uncle took Roopa and her friends out to eat at this amazing Greek restaurant. Roopa had just had bridal mendhi applied to her hands, arms, feet and legs, so she wasn't able to touch anything for fear of smearing the mendhi. We all watched Uncle lovingly feed his daughter with his own hands. Then once our stomachs were full we (including Uncle and Auntie) started dancing on top of the tables, in between the tables, and we were throwing napkins in the air, screaming Ooopa!!  I found this video clip this morning. I don't even remember filming it, but I think it shows how much of a fun loving person Uncle was and how much he loved his wife:

video

Uncle, you left us before we were ready to let you go. I would have loved to see your smiling face at my own wedding or watch you bounce your first grandchild on your knee. But, I guess God needed you more.

Here is a link to the obituary. Dr. Dhawan was an esteemed professor at the University of South Alabama and a scholarship has been set up in his memory.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Dr. Jagdish C. Dhawan Memorial Endowed Book Award. Contributions to this fund should be directed to the USA Development Office; TRP III, Ste. 2150; Mobile, AL 36688.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Winner of Possession ARC!!

Drum roll please. Turn in a circle three times then remove your blindfold.

THE WINNER IS

Ru

When Ru isn't fawning over her coveted stain glass window she thwarts government mind control by being super boring. Hope you can handle reading Possession, Ru, because it is anything short of boring. Please e-mail me at productofanillusion at gmail dot com so that you may claim your prize.

For those of you who couldn't come up with more ingenious ways to triumph over government mind control or make me laugh, you can still purchase a copy of Possession when it debuts on June 7th, and learn tips from Vi and Jag.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Memory of Mrs. Marianne Dotson, 1926-2011

Mrs. Dotson was my first skating coach and passed away on May 22, 2011. She instructed me between the ages of about twelve and fifteen. The relationship between a figure skating coach and student is unique and far more personal than in some other sports. I saw Mrs. Dotson five days a week, and even if I didn't have a lesson scheduled with her everyday, she always had her eye on me, and was molding me into a better person.

I can still hear her saying to me in her German accent, "One. Two. Three. One. Two. Three. Leg through and Jump," when she taught me how to do my first axel. 

I remember how for the life of me I couldn't do a camel spin in front of her because I would get so nervous. So she would turn her back to me and watch me spin in the reflection of the glass. It would make her laugh every time.

I remember how much she liked my backward outside pivot and always found a place for them in my programs.

I remember how proud she was when I did well in competition and how she encouraged me to never stop trying when I fell.

I remember how she encouraged me to eat healthy. "If the hips get too wide you can not rotate." As a teen, I rarely, if ever, ate french fries, potato chips, etc... I wish I had the will power to eat that healthy now. Oh, Mrs. Dotson, if you could only see my hips now.

When she told me that I should become an ice dancer, even though I didn't take her advice for almost five years, she was right. She always had her student's best interest at heart.

Mrs. Dotson taught me more than skating, she taught me life lessons such as the importance of punctuality, responsibility, and perseverance. I still remember the day she taught me responsibility. I had left my skating music in my locker at school and she was livid with me. And she had every right to be angry. How were we supposed to train my program without my music? And since that day, which was about fifteen or sixteen years ago, I have never once stepped onto the ice with out my music if I was training a program.

When my family didn't have enough money to pay for my training, Mrs. Dotson allowed me to assist her when she taught classes in lieu for ice time and helped me get a scholarship to help with skating expenses. I will never forget that opportunity she gave me.

And as the years went by, whether I would run into her at a test session, competition, or just a casual passing in the lobby of the skating rink, she always greeted me with a smile and called out, "Anita!" in her signature accent. She always asked about school and was proud of the fact that I kept testing and skating throughout college and graduate school. I remember one time she said, "There isn't a test session that Anita isn't skating at."

And lastly, in her passing, she taught me the importance of humility. Growing up, I think I knew that she was Miss Belgium in 1952, but I honestly can't remember. It's not something that she ever brought up. But, it wasn't until she passed that I learned she was a competitor in the 1952 Miss Universe Pageant or that she starred in movies in Hollywood and Belgium under the name of Myriam Lynn. Before the funeral service I was able to glimpse for a few minutes the many stunning beautiful pictures of her. I wish I could have stayed longer to see them all.

Mrs. Dotson you made a positive mark not only on my life, but the lives of all of your students, family, and friends. My only regret is that I didn't come see you this past December at the ice show in Huntsville. I had work to do and couldn't make the trip. I would have loved to have seen you smile and hear you say my name in that way that you only could.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Dotson.

Donations can be made in her honor to the Marianne Dotson Scholarship Fund at Municipal Ice Complex, Attn: Friends of Recreational Ice Activities 3185 Leeman Ferry Rd, Huntsville, Al 35801.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ken Jeong, aka Dr. Chang

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) texted this to me yesterday:
 Professor Chang is a real life doctor.

Actor Ken Jeong is not only the villain from Hangover that shared his Bojangles with the entire world, but he also plays the character Professor Chang on NBC's hilarious sitcom Community, amongst other well known roles the past couple of years.

So, when I see Ken Jeong who is not only licensed to practice internal medicine in the state of California, but also in the past four years has had a meteoric rise into movie stardom, I can't help but be inspired by that.

According to wikipedia, Mr. Jeong began developing his stand up comedy while he was doing his residency in New Orleans. Does this remind you of anyone? You perhaps? Working a full time job, but still trying to pursue your dreams as a writer on the side?

Ken Jeong didn't give up, and neither should you.

Don't forget to enter to win a free copy of Possession by Elana Johnson here. Contest ends midnight on 5/25/11.

Monday, May 23, 2011

100!!!

It makes me all sorts of happy to see that my blog now has one hundred followers. It frequently astounds me that there are people out there that take time out of their busy lives to read what I have to say. So I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who reads, comments, or has clicked that on the FOLLOW button. Thank you! Thank you!

I also wanted to remind everyone of the Possession ARC Book Give Away Contest that ends midnight on May 25, 2011. The author of Possession, Elana Johnson, wrote a really cool post today on Jemi Fraser's blog about world building. Check it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Characters That Stay With You

A few weeks back one of my critique partners mentioned that while she was doing the dishes she found herself thinking about Maya and Fabian, two of the main characters in my novel, Shift. She said that they were the kind of characters that stayed with you long after you finished reading.

This was probably one of the best compliments I had ever received about my writing because I totally get what she means.

After I finished reading the Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare, I thought about Jace, Clary, Simon, Isabelle, Alec, Luke, etc... for days. I think I even dreamed about certain scenes from the book. I felt the same way about the character's in Maggie Stiefvater's books Shiver and Linger. And also *cough* Edward *cough* and Bella *cough**cough.* Excuse me. Allergy season is horrid down here in Alabama right now.

So today being May 20th, the release date of Pirates of the Carribean 4, I don't think you can even comprehend how excited I am about seeing this guy again:
Jack Sparrow is the epitome of one of those characters that you'll never forget. I thought about him and his antics for days after I finished watching Pirates 1, 2, and 3.

I want to remind everyone of the Possession ARC give away. Go to this post to enter and for contest details. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Possession ARC GIVE AWAY!


I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading Elana Johnson's soon to be published Possession, set to debut on June 7, 2011. And I want to share the fun.

Step 1: Leave a comment on this post in which you do one of the following:
  • Share what your greatest possession is. Please don't list people because we all know that our loved ones are the most important things in our lives.
  • Tell me how you would thwart governmental mind control.
  • Make me laugh.
Step 2: If you aren't already, become a follower.

Contest is open for entries from today until midnight of May 25, 2011. The comment I find most intriguing will be the winner. Contest is open to U.S. Residents only.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day One

You know how sometimes people say, I wish I had time to pick the roses?

Well, that's what I did with my new found time. Much to my surprise, the knock-out rose bushes on the side of my house had grown so tall that the flowers were touching the roof. I promise I didn't give them any mutant plant food or genetically modify them.

I cut the ones I liked and the photo on the left depicts my shoddy attempt at flower arranging.

And as always I must find a way to tie this into writing or skating or laughter, because someone might say that the banner of this blog is misleading in it's ideals.

So here goes...

I think it's important to be happy and to have free time to do whimsical things such as cut mutant roses from your garden. Because these little things are part of life, and the more of life we experience, the richer our writing will become.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vision

I have a poster in my home office of Mr. Walt Disney standing on a bleak stretch of empty land. Behind him is a faded dream-like image of the ever-famous castle that we all know as the icon of Disney motion pictures and the Magic Kingdom itself. Beneath the photo is the word VISION in big white letters and then there is a quote under it from Mr. Walt Disney:

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

I love this poster because it inspires me. I've recently made some drastic decisions in my life that I think are for the better (aka more time to clean my oven, be happy, cut that second toe nail that keeps digging into the skin of my big toe, play with my kitties more, catching up on weeks of unwatched episodes of Dancing with the Stars, continue crying a little for James Durbin getting kicked off of Idol yesterday, and most importantly write the best book that I can). I hope the outcome of these decisions will allow me to reach my vision, my dream for my life.

Happy writing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

To all the writers and authors out there that are mothers, and to all the mothers that aren't writers or authors: Happy Mother's Day!


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!