Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Birthday Giveaway!!!

I am turning 28 on Sunday, and in addition to watching the casino shoot off fireworks and spending time with my family, I want to have a giveaway here to celebrate my birthday!

And since my absolute favorite gift to recieve is always a book I haven't read (which my family complains is hard to find), that's what I want to give away. I will draw one person and give them whatever book they are dying to read this summer.

The rules are simple:
1--Just make a comment below and tell me what YA book you really, really want to read.

2--Include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.

3--Be a follower of my blog.

Bonus--You can have additional entries if you tweet or blog about this (just let me know.)

That's it!

The contest will end Tuesday, July 5th at midnight.
I'll draw a winner a week from today, Wednesday July 6th.

**Thank you Chantele Sedgwick for this giveaway idea. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lovin' the Language Blogfest

I (barely) survived my girls camp experience this year. Turns out I prefer the mountains and sleeping in a tent, and yes, even outhouses, to being crammed with seven other people in a 12'x12' room. Once we worked through all the drama (would it be girls camp without drama?) and had our shower day, everything went a lot smoother. Also, I was so tired from staying up late the first few nights, that I discovered I can sleep through almost anything (noise, lights, laughing, talking, crying....)

Now I'm back just in time for Jolene's blog fest!

I love beautiful writing. Nothing can draw me into a story more than the ability to put words together in a way that just makes me sigh.

In the novel I just finished writing, FALLING, Brenna (my main character) goes to group therapy for siblings of people who have a traumatic brain injury. This is one of my favorite journal entries that she writes for therapy (we're only supposed to do five sentences, but I've been following rules all week, and feeling an itch to break one or two, so here you go):

I think about that last day a lot. The last day that Brian was normal and how we teased each other and were so comfortable and didn’t ever think that anything could change that. I remember closing my eyes and letting the air conditioner blow in my face, and pretending that I was climbing outside, wishing I had the courage to do it.
            But I was too afraid of falling—afraid that the anchor might give, that the ropes could unravel against the hard rock, that one mistake could cause me to plummet to the unforgiving ground. I didn’t realize then that there were other ways of falling, ways that were even longer, scarier than literally falling from a great height. Like falling in love with someone you didn’t even like before. Falling between the cracks in a family you thought you belonged to. Falling into a life you never wanted to live. Completely falling apart.
            Who knew all along I was afraid of the wrong kind of fall?
Brenna’s Sibling Support Journal

Can't wait to read what you have!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spending the week...

with teenagers at a church in New Mexico. I think I've mentioned before that I am the youth (girls) camp director for our local church unit and we were supposed to go camping up in the mountains for a week, but the entire Catalina Mountain range was closed due to fires. So there's this old church that does family reunions that we're going to sleep in (can I tell you how happy I am that we're going to have flushing toilets? See this post to really understand my complete joy.)

So, I am gearing up for a week of crafts, swimming, hiking, learning first aid, skits, firesides, archery, staying up late, and lots of inside jokes. And maybe even some ideas for my next book. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Documents Galore

While saving my writing yesterday, I noticed that I have a lot of documents for each book that I write. This wasn't a new revelation, since I save something to those folders almost everyday, but I started scrolling through my folders and just realized there were a ton. Maybe more than one person should have for one book (or maybe it's normal, IDK.)

I think my husband's engineering ways are starting to rub off on me, because I decided to add them all up and see how many saved documents I have for each of my finished books (stalling, anyone?) I stopped short of making a pie chart of the results even though I knew it would've made him proud.

For Meg's Melody:
48 documents

For Falling:
67 documents

Document titles include:
Alternate beginnings 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Element of Blank (the original title) installments 1-7 (when I was sending sections to my mom as I wrote them—that way she’d keep asking for more, so I had to keep writing in a timely manner)

Queries 1-8

Synopsis 1 and 2

TBI outtakes (TBI=traumatic brain injury--from before I’d even titled the story)

TBI treatment, information, interviews

And all of the critiques that my crit partners have sent me. (More about their awesomeness later)

I need to know if there are others out there like me!
Do you have a a ton of documents saved for each book you write?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Throwing out a scene

Tossing a scene can be really, really hard. I know. I've tossed a ton of them.

With Meg's Melody, I have a deleted scenes folder that is as long as the book. Sometimes I cut scenes because they weren't adding Meg or Matt's emotional journey. Sometimes I needed to show a concept or growth or past about a character, but decided that the way I'd originally told it wasn't the best way. And some scenes, I had to cut because my publisher needed it to be a certain word count--so I looked for my weaker scenes.

Right now, I am in the final, final editing stages of my ms and there is one last scene I am tightening up. Last night I rewrote the scene, but decided that I didn't like my rewrite at all. It was an experiment that succeeded because I now know where I don't want to take that scene. So around midnight (since I'm just obsessive enough to not be able to sleep when I have a scene that needs finishing) I made a list of what I need to accomplish with my scene.

It looked like this: (picture scraggly handwriting since I wrote this in the dark before getting in bed)

1. Gabe=Tim (a replacement for the lighthearted/normal friendship she's been craving)
2. We learn more about Philip from Gabe--get inklings of Philip's past so "the past" revelation isn't so surprising
3.Give Brenna a fun, lighthearted night (she needs it)
4. Establish that Brenna and Philip are friends now--not just people that hang out because they have a connection to Brian
5. Hint at Philip's deeper feelings for Brenna (very slightly)

So, this list probably doesn't make sense without knowing who my characters are, but I wanted to give you a sense of how I edit. If a scene just isn't working for me, I make a list of what I'm trying to accomplish in that scene, and think about how to rewrite, bringing those ideas out even more--while conveying the tone I want for that section (in this case, everyone needs a break from all of the heavy stuff that's been going on in the book so far) in addition to making sure the main theme of the book is still being supported.

Then I save my original scenes in a folder called "deleted scenes" (original title, I know.) Always save those scenes. You might end up using parts of them somewhere.

How do you decide which scenes to cut and which to keep when you're editing?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jumping Back to High School

Not literally (although my ten year reunion is this year, so I will be back shortly) but I mean with my reading.

I read way many more young adult books now than I did when I was in high school. I read a ton, then, but it was always adult books that I stole off of my mom's bookshelf.

Recently, I had a conversation with a few friends about  books they read in high school, and of course the conversation turned to what we all had to read in out English classes. I realized that my English classes must have been reading some interesting things (AP, nuff said), so I hadn't read a lot of the "normal" classics that weren't touched in my college English courses (the many, many that I took.)

So my quest is to read all those classics from high school English that I never read while actually in high school. I just read A Tale of Two Cities for the first time (loved it, although a little wordy, but what did I expect with Dickens?) And now I'm reading 1984.

Did you read YA in high school?
What other classic suggestions do you have for me that you read in high school?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Contest with Gabriella Lessa

       Weronica Janczuk, an agent for Lynn C. Franklin is judging this contest. Go here for the details. We are all posting a love scene from our novels. Here is one of my favorites from my new ms, Falling.

Name: Kaylee Baldwin
Title: Falling
Genre: Contemporary YA
Entry word count: 726 words
Manuscript word cout: 75 K
Link #: 16

I'd love any feedback you have!

Scene:
     Philip’s whole house smelled comforting, like cinnamon and vanilla, wrapped in warmness and peace. I inhaled a deep breath of that feeling, wishing it could remain with me when I went back to my house, back to the loneliness so thick it reeked of mildew.
            Gabe sat on the couch and patted the seat next to him. Ricky jumped into the armchair I’d set my sights on, pulling the lever for the footrest before I could make my move, before I could even blink. I sighed and shuffled toward Gabe, sitting as far from him as I could without actually being on the other side of the couch.
            Philip had run off somewhere once he dropped his dish in the sink, and I pushed down disappointment that he wouldn’t be joining us.
            Lizzie popped the movie in and turned off the lights before lying down on the lush carpet in front of us. I sank further into the leather couch as she found the DVD menu and pushed play.
            “Thought you might still be cold,” Philip murmured in my ear as he sat down on the couch beside me. He draped a worn quilt across my legs, his arm and leg pressing against mine, making it hard for me to breath. I was much closer to him than I probably should’ve been, but I didn’t want Gabe to get the wrong idea if I scooted his way.
            I pulled the quilt up higher, trying to concentrate on the opening action sequence of the movie. Philip shifted, angling his body toward me just a little bit. The fresh shower scent I’d had a small taste of from his sweatshirt was so much better, stronger, with the real thing sitting beside me.
            “How do your hands feel?” Philip whispered close to my ear, his warm breath shooting tingles of awareness down my spine.
            “A little sore, but not too bad.” I smirked, knowing that his hands had to be worse off than mine. “How about you?”
            His shoulder shrugged against mine. “My hands got pretty tough building houses this summer. It’s actually my forearms that are killing me.”
            “Shhhhh.” Ricky turned to us with a stern expression.
            “Sorry,” I whispered. I pretended to be engrossed in the movie, even when Gabe’s gaze lingered on me and Philip before turning back to the show.
            After a few minutes, Philip’s hand brushed against mine where it rested on my leg under the quilt. He turned my palm face-up and ran his finger across the beginnings of new calluses. I knew he had to have felt, or heard, my breathing hitch as he continued to trace the lines in my palm and fingers.
            “It’s hard to believe that these little hands could pull you up so quick,” he breathed against my ear, before entwining my small, cold fingers between his large, warm ones. His thumb continued to dance patterns on the top of my hand, causing my blood to rush so fast through my body that I couldn’t have paid any attention to the movie if my life had depended on it.
            Suddenly, Gabe scooted closer to me and slipped his arm around my shoulder. Philip raised an eyebrow, his hand squeezing mine once more before letting go. The room seemed to come back into focus for me again, the sound of squealing cars in the movie, of Philip shifting away from me, of Gabe breathing too close to my ear. What was I doing? I was on a date with Gabe and holding hands with Philip? And hating that he had to let me go?
            I was possibly one of the worst people in the world at that moment. Philip was Brian’s boring friend. And my friend too, but only a friend. I needed to remember this. But, really, he wasn’t so boring, as I’d found out that morning. And maybe his flirting wasn’t horrible all of the time. I forced myself to stop thinking about that, stiffening when Gabe began to tickle the little hairs at the back of my neck. Philip must have noticed because he folded his arms and leaned even further away.
            We’re just friends. We’re just friends. I chanted it over and over in my mind, but all I could think about was how good it felt when Philip touched me so softly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I heart my Kindle

Why?

New reason #1-- Maybe I'm seriously behind the times here, but did you know that you can loan out books on your Kindle? I went to the Manage My Kindle page to clean up my library and noticed the "Loan this book" tab. Not all books are available for loan, but most of mine were. And one of my best friends just got a Kindle for her B-day, so now we can loan our books to each other instead of me just giving her my Kindle for a week (I really trust this girl, but missed my Kindle when she had it)

New reason #2--I went to Net Galleys (check this site out if you review books, it is awesome) yesterday to get an arc of a book I was asked to review, and they sent it right to my Kindle. And it turned out to be an awesome book that I stayed up past midnight to finish. I'll be a part of a blog tour in about a month, so look for my review.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

No Patience

My computer is driving me INSANE!!!!
It is taking forever to load pages, open files, search on google, get into blogger. And forget trying to comment on people's blogs.

Then last night--Word froze up on me, and of course I hadn't saved in an hour, and I lost a lot of what I'd written. Without auto recovery, my computer would probably be in a very sad place right now.

I can feel my heart-rate skyrocketing to unhealthy proportions this afternoon waiting for my computer to load things, so I decided to time myself and see how long I could go wait for page to load without getting antsy.

Five seconds.

After that, I could barely go another five seconds (so ten seconds total of waiting for a page to load) before giving up and exiting out completely. Sad, but true.

Now to begin the campaign to convince the hubs that a new computer is a necessity.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How I find time to write

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how I find time to write with my three kids and church stuff I usually have going on. Sometimes I stay up really late, get a babysitter for a few hours, convince my husband to play Mr. Mom on the weekends, but those things don't happen very often. Instead, I have to find little chunks of time throughout my week, which means giving up something else that used to fill that time.

A few things I’ve had to give up so I have time to write...

  1. Television.*
  2. Folding Laundry. Really, why does it need to be folded, if we are just going to wear it within a couple of days anyway?
  3. Scrapbooking. Thank goodness for digital albums, or else my kids pics would still be on a roll of film in a box somewhere, I’m sure.
  4. Most of my hobbies. I have been working on an afghan for two years, I have two quilt tops done that need batting and backing and tying, and a Welcome Bear I’ve been painting outfits to go with each month—still have a few outfits left to paint. I work on a little bit every time I get a chance, but at this rate, it’s going to be another couple of years before I’m finished with any of them.**
  5. Exercising at the gym. I go for a walk every morning to get out of the house and see my friends/walking buddies, but I’ve given up going to the gym I’m already paying for with my HOA fees. The only time I could get down there without kids is in the evening and that is prime writing time.
  6. Naps.
 *Except for Bachelor/ette because everyone needs some veg time in the week
**Since I only work on these things while I'm watching Bachelor/ette--heaven forbid I just sit and relax. :)

The next question... Is it worth it? YES!

Are there things you've had to give up in order to find time to write?

Monday, June 6, 2011

When we want to quit

For Memorial Day some friends of ours went with me and my husband on a 5K Mud Run (er, walk). And what a reality check this 5K mud run/walk really was for me. I go walking almost three miles everyday--pushing my two kids (30lbs each) in a double stroller--so I thought it would be no problem.

Wrong.

After standing in the relentless AZ heat for almost an hour just waiting for our start time, I was a little dehydrated. But still totally pumped. We finally got in line for our turn, counted down from ten, and we were off to a great start.

Until about 100 meters in, I got a side ache. I mean, come on! I knew it was going to be a loooong race after that. (In my defense, I had told my team that I was going to be the weak link. I think they thought I was exaggerating. I was not.)

But, I pushed on, mostly because I was trying to impress my husband--yes, married almost seven years, still trying to trick him into believing that I'm semi-athletic (failing miserably, by the way). All of a sudden everyone was running toward us, yelling that we were all going the wrong way. So we had to turn around, run the quarterish mile to get back on course, then continued. At this point, it turned into a mud walk for me, my pride going out the window when I realized my breakfast was going to be apart of the obstacles for the runners behind me if I kept pushing myself. I even considered stopping, because so far, this mud run? Not so much MUD as endless dirt and thorny shrubs (that I brushed against and got thorns in my legs. Fun times)

About a mile in, we had a water station, then a hose down, then a bouncy house slip and slide, then another water station. And I was a new woman. I could actually jog after getting wet and having some much needed water. They should have had some of those things in the first mile, instead of just having us run in dry dirt in the hot sun, nothing to break it up.

So, as usual, this made me think about my writing. I started out strong in this race, lost momentum when we went the wrong way, got discouraged when it was the same thing over and over for the first mile, and even thought about giving up. But I kept pushing myself forward (mostly because of pride, kind of because I'd paid a lot of money to torture myself like this) and once I got hydrated, ended up having so much fun that I'm going to do it again in September.

Like with our writing, sometimes we lose momentum, hate our beginnings, don't know where we're going, don't know why we're even torturing ourselves like this anyway--no one is making us write and submit and get rejected over and over again--but then you get to that point where it is just fun. Maybe you have to slow down a bit to make it enjoyable again, or maybe you have to just go crazy with your plot and characters and remember that above all, writing is supposed to be FUN or enjoyable or fulfilling. That the more we write, the better we get at it, and when we take a wrong turn, it's not the end of the world, we just have to get back on track.

The point? Don't quit!! Keep pushing yourself forward, remembering why you're writing in the first place, and have fun with it again.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What is scarier than submitting to an agent?

Having teenagers read the skit you wrote for them to perform at church camp.

Not kidding. I am the girls camp director for my ward and part of my duty is to get a 8-10 minute skit for them to act out on skit night. So instead of googling a previously written skit, I got an idea that I really liked, so I wrote the skit for them. I loved the finished product, but when it came time for me to print out copies of it to give to the girls for practice, I started freaking out a little.

What if they don't like it?
What if they mock it?
What if they don't want to do it?

Since I only had minutes to print out the skit and get to my meeting, I didn't have time to back out at this point, and just took what I had. I gave it to the girls and told them that they could ad lib in any [appropriate] way that they wanted (this is church camp, after all). And the result? Hilarious. These girls are so funny and fun and positive, and they were awesome in the skit. Sure, it's not the rap we did last year, but we've gotta mix things up now and then (although, one of the girls--the villain--did say her lines as a rap and it was perfect.)

I think it's scarier having people I know read something I've written than having complete strangers read it. If strangers reject me, whatev. Yes, I'm bummed when I get rejected, but I never have to see the rejecter. So I get rejected once and move on. With people I know, I have to see them at church, the pool, the grocery store, our kids' schools, always remembering....
How do you feel about sharing your writing with people you know?