Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adventures in finding critique partners

I have belonged to several writing groups.  The first one was a bunch of us who all signed up for Screenwriting 101.  We'd bring in our pages each week to class and then get people to read them out loud.  Several of the members of the class were actors, notably, one who was so good at cold reading that everybody wanted him to be their main character.

After the class ended, we kept going for a while.  But slowly, life took its toll and it dwindled down to two people - me and my friend David.  We kept meeting, kept writing.  Eventually, we stopped writing but kept up the friendship - even after he moved away to NYC.  We still meet up at ComiCon each year!

Next, I joined a writer's group that a co-worker recommended.  They are this huge organization with all kinds of sub-groups: scriptwriting, plotting the story, fiction writing.  I joined the fiction group.  Every month, we'd meet up and read 10 pages out loud.  Here I learned to critique quickly as after the pages were read, they'd go around and everybody had to say what they thought.  This is thinking on your feet because it's hard to not get caught up in the story and focus on the technique/structure.

Also, you learn to take criticism by example.  Every once in a while we'd get an angry writer who didn't take criticism well.  I learned from that as well.  Learned to be gentle in your words because you don't want to discourage people from continuing on.  Went to this group religiously for about a year and a half.  But nobody was writing YA fiction.  Everybody was focused on short stories.  And with only ten pages a month, well, after a year, I was still only a third of the way through my novel.  And I was getting the same comments all the time from people who didn't show up each month.

Thankfully, one of the ladies in the group decided to start an off-shot, a novel writing group.  This group did 30 pages a month so I was able to get more done.  I switched over to this group and have been at it for a year.  I just finished getting through the entire book.  Yay!  However, have the same problem in that the ladies of this group write mysteries.  I write YA.  I love them and will continue on, but I keep feeling that I'm needing someone who appreciates YA to read my stuff.

Are there no other YA writers out there?  Obviously not, since YA Fiction is abundant on the bookshelves of the remaining bookstores these days.  So I started my search for a YA partner or two.

I joined this group called scbwi: society of childrens book writers and illustrators.  They have this website "critique connections" where you can post messages.  I posted my "wanted" ad and in less than 24 hours I had over ten responses! 

Now it is kind of like being sent out on blind dates.  We're exchanging pages and providing reviews of each others works.  If we like, and if we write similar sorts of things, we'll make it official.  If we don't, we'll move on.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I found this baby parked outside one of the houses on the route of my daily walk.  A mobile billboard of a sort.  I wonder how much you get paid to put these ads on your car ?  And I wonder how much damage it does to the paint on your car underneath.  Or are you stuck with the ads on your car forever?

Anyway, can you imagine driving up to valet parking at some fancy-schmancy restaurant in this thing!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Somebody slapped this "Immigration Reform Now" sticker on the back of a street sign.
It is by famed grafitti artist Shepard Fairey. 

I had no idea who he was until I started working on sneaker co X account.  They had this crazy idea to hire some graffiti artists to create some ads for them.  They asked me to find this guy. 

Anyway, they laughed at me when I approached them.  Too famous and too important to be doing ads for shoes.  But not too famous to deface public property...

You might know him for these posters

Quest Crew

Sorry all,
been trying to get my monthly pages done.  I'm starting a new book and the going has been slow.  Plus, the procrastination/napping is not helping.  I'm still five pages short so I'm keeping it brief. 

Yesterday I went to a fund raiser for Japan Tsunami/Earthquake/Nuclear Disaster.  They organized this thing in 3 weeks, all local (i.e. no George Clooney stepping up for national network broadcast).

Anyway, these kids with strange hair closed the show.  They were so good.  They are called Quest Crew.  They won some dance show I think it is called "America's Best Dance Crew".

Oh, and what do you know, somebody already posted the performance on YouTube.  Here is the link:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!  Hope you get a ton of marshmallow chickee. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Orange Flower

One tiny perfect orange flower.  I think this is the blossom of some kind of squash.  So random to bloom in the middle of nothingness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Purple Flowers

I believe I've talked about my love of purple flowers.  These aren't really purple though, they're more like fuschia.  Still, very bright and cheery.  Just what we need on a grey day like today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How To Hook A Hottie

Was it last week that I went to the book fair?  Time flies...
I got this book there, "How to Hook a Hottie." 

Kate, a senior in high school, is single minded in purpose.  Earn 5k before graduation and her parents will let her have the funds they put away for her for college so she can dive right into the business world, instead of wasting time in college.

Her troubles begin when her chem partner, the jock-most-popular-guy in school asks her out.  She thinks he's a brainless oaf but she says yes mainly because he's a pest.

Soon the rumor machine kicks into overdrive and suddenly Kate is Ms. Popularity and people start asking her for advice on how to get boy/girl.  Kate decides to make the most of it and starts charging $100 for her matchmaking service.

Of course, she can't do it alone, she needs the help of her friend, boy-next-door Dal...

This book was cute.  I even had to take it to work and read the ending at lunch.  A little on the youngish side (more middle school than high school) but I'm not sorry I read it.

The author has other books "Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress" and "The ABC's of kissing boys". Both sound fun, but like I said, kinda on the young side (even for me!)

Side note, when I googled the title, these images came up.  Ha ha, too funny...

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Think these are a version of primroses.  Pretty...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Zen-ish Fountain

Here is a cool little Zen-like fountain I found

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pappa Rich: The Father Of All Buns

I've talked frequently about Beard Papa's the cream puff place.  Now sister turned me on to this other place called Pappa Rich:  The Father of all Buns.

First time I heard the name, I laughed.  Sounds kind of dirty -- The Father Of All Buns? lol.

And the Asian Chef doll outside? Kinda creepy in a Stephen King sort of way.

But I powered quickly past the doll and went inside.

They have four flavors of buns.  The original, cheese, chocolate and I forget the last one.  I tried an original, which is Mocha and Maple flavor.  They heat them for like 15 seconds which is perfect.

The mocha and coffee flavor is baked into the bun, so it isn't too sweet.  And the inside is hollow, there is a big slab of butter-like filling coating the inside of the bun.  But again, not too greasy so as to be gross.  Just the right touch.  It was yummy. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rock The Drop

Today was the day for "Rock The Drop" (see previous post).  The idea is to leave a book somewhere where a teen would pick it up and read it.  The books I chose were both from the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.  Unfortunately, most of my YA books are on Kindle so not much to choose from.  I had my Twilight series but never going to get rid of those.

I put the labels in the books as instructed, then headed out to leave them somewhere.  It was a lot like hiding Easter Eggs.

Here is where I left one.  Ha, can you tell where it is?

Here is where I left the other. 

Hope some Teens have a good time reading these.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bottle Brush Tree

The name of this tree is Callistemon.  But everyone calls it a Bottle Brush Tree.  It is pretty self-explanatory as to why.  These trees are in full bloom right now.  They are pretty but not so good to have to park under. 

Teen Book Drop

Thought this was a cool idea so I'm reposting it.  Hoping you will read it in time for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Purple Flowers

I love purple flowers.  Not exactly sure what these are called.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bird's Nest

A little bird's nest I found along the walk route.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pretty Flowers

Pretty flowers from my daily (yeah, right) walk..

Think these are cherry blossoms

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Fair

Today I went to a book fair.  It was part of the "Romantic Times" Convention.  But that isn't why went.  I went because I wanted to meet three YA (young adult) novelists.  The Romantic Times people were having a YA section for the first time.

Here is part of the book bag I got for the $5 admission.  Red bag of course, with different book covers on the other side.  When did all the covers feature naked men and women?  Like I'll be taking this to the market soon... NOT.

There was some confusion as to how to get in.  But once we figured it out, It was really conveniently set up.  There were like 300 different authors there but all the YA authors were put together in the same two rows.  So the three people I wanted to see were pretty much all next to each other!

They also had stacks of their books for sale.  So easy - just pick one up, get it signed, and pay for it on your way out.  Of course, you're allowed to bring your own from home.  I bought my second copy of Vampire Academy yesterday because my first copy was a kindle e-book so I couldn't really get that signed.

 Here is my signed copy!  Of course, I said how much I liked the series and she told me about the new series she is starting in August. You know I'll buy it when it comes out.  This author had the second longest line for signings.

This author had the longest line of everyone at the convention.  I had blogged about her new release just a few days ago (the pretty covers).  Anyway, she asked me if I was Team Jace or Team Simon (ala Team Edward/Jacob).  I think I gave the right answer - I said Team Clary (ala Team Bella). 

I'm glad I bought the book there.  The actual printed book has an extra letter (from Jace to Clary) in it.  She also was giving away these weird little postcards.  I didn't know exactly what they were until I turned them over.  They were written on from some of the other characters to each other.  Fun.  I need to read the book to figure it out.

Next I headed over to Rachel Caine's table.  She writes about vampires as well.  The Morganville Vampires.  She had a decent line for her signings, but nothing like Richelle or Cassandra.  She is on book 8 of a planned 12 book series.  I bought one of her books too...

Okay, so I finished getting the signatures I wanted so we roam around and sister buys some book I never heard of "Tiger's Curse" by Colleen Houck.  There is no line.  It is kind of like being at Prom and not being asked to dance. 

I wander over to another table with limited traffic.  I buy a book because I think the cover is cute.  The author seems really nice.  It is called "How To Hook A Hottie".  Ha ha.  sense of humor. She signs it for me.  It says "Hope you reel in your hottie". 

Fifty bucks later, I'm home and tired and pull out one of the books to read.  Guess which one I start?  The one about the hottie, of course!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Trouble with Kindle

I love my Kindle. Although I have been neglecting it lately due to shiny new toy called ipad, and the discovery of HD hidden object games (don't start, they are addicting).

Anyway, I've talked before on how much I like my Kindle, so I don't need to repeat myself. I have found a disadvantage though... I'm planning on going to a bookfair on Saturday to see some of my favorite authors. They will be signing and I just realized I have nothing for them to sign anymore because I bought all their books on Kindle.

So tomorrow, I will have to find a bookstore (my Borders closed. I've covered that as well -- boy I'm pretty boring, I'm realizing) and buy the actual printed version of books that I want signed.

So that is one negative to having a Kindle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The danger of the internet

I've been following trends in self publishing since I might end up there.  Anyway, I follow this guy Nathan Bransford.  He used to be a literary agent and now he has this great blog.  He had a great article yesterday.

The story is this:  A self-published author sent her e-book to a reviewer BigAl.  Big Al gave the book a favorable review but commented about the poor editing (lots of typos, etc).  And the authoress got mad and posted her rants and profanities on Big Al's website. 

But then, the followers of Big Al got mad and started making fun of her on her Amazon listing, Giving fake 5 star ratings and but also totally trashing her as well.

Oy.  I agree with Amanda Hocking who says no matter how bad the review is, always say "thank you" and I appreciate and respect your opinion.

Anyway, here are the links.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

City of Fallen Angels

Yeah, I love to read Young Adult fiction.  Today was the release day of "City of Fallen Angels."
The fourth of the "Mortal Instruments" series.  I hate to say I judged the books by their covers, but I did.  I mean, the artwork is so gorgeous on these:

And here is the new book's cover

The redhead is Clary, the main character.  She is in love with Jace (the blond shirtless one).  Their story seemed pretty much wrapped up at the end of book 3.  Book 4 (left) seems to be Simon's story.  Simon is the brunette on the cover of city of glass.  He was Clary's best friend and was in love with her.  This new book has Clary and Simon on the cover.  Hmm...
Anyway, EW has three trailers up for the new book.  This one is my favorite.  Simon is cuter than I imagined when reading the books.  I'm pretty sure this is being made into a movie too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Young Adult Fiction I follow

I'm sure you've read me pontificating about the "Hunger Games" books and upcoming movie. I love the first two books. The last one? Eh...

They cast Jennifer Lawrence as the lead, Katniss Everdeen.

Today they cast Peeta and Gale. Both actors I never heard of, nor not exactly who I pictured. I have an open mind though. Hopefully they are good actors. (Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are All Right) left, and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) right)

Next, I follow Maggie Stiefvater's blog. She wrote "Shiver" and "Linger", about the wolves and people of Mercy Falls. The third book comes out later this year. Can't wait.
Anyway, Friday she posted this news about the fourth book!!!!

p.s. note the date.

Also follow Kiersten White who wrote "Paranormalcy". this was her post Friday.
again, note the date...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Header

Finally changed the title artwork.  The plan is to change it once a quarter.  But, I forget, or when I remember, I'm at a place where I can't download the new header.

You're probably wondering where is Fairview.  Well, it is everywhere.  It is one of the most common names of towns/cities/counties in America. 

Nathan Fillion

Last week, I think, Nathan Fillion was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.  I've been a fan since "Two Guys A Girl and a Pizza Place".  Okay I'm dating myself...

Before his success in the TV Show "Castle", he had this little show on FOX for about 11 episodes called "Firefly" by Josh Whedon.  I think I was one of five people who watched it. (thus the eleven episodes only).

But I remember him also doing one of those sci-fi anthology episodes as well.

So fast forward to several years later and I'm sitting in the massive Hall H of ComiCon.  Waiting for one of the studios to do their massive presentation.  (if you leave the hall, you lose your seat and have to line up again to get back in.  So you just don't leave.  You get in at around 10a and you sit there all day)

And while I'm waiting I endure numerous presentations.  One of which is for some film called "Serenity".  The cast comes on and it is the crew from "Firefly."  The studio brought everyone.  And Captain Mal is Nathan Fillion.  What is evident immediately is the guy's charisma and wit.  He is definitely the one in charge, the one taking all the questions and the guy with the funniest answers.

I don't remember much else about that particular ComiCon except for that "Serenity" panel.  We go home with Serenity posters, soundtracks, and when the movie opens, we're there opening weekend.

The movie doesn't break any records, but it was still a nice continuation of the firefly fable.  I'm now a total fan of Nathan Fillion and I enjoy his appearances in "Waitress", endure him in "Drive" and feel bad for him in "Desperate Housewives" (because he doesn't have much of a part), and sorry, couldn't go see "Slither" even though he was in it.

But now he's in "Castle" and it seems to be doing well.  I'm glad because I feel vindicated that I liked him back in the day when he was a firefighter on 2 guys...