Friday, May 31, 2013

Just a little update

Was tired of the old background.  So I changed it a bit.  Will probably change it again once I figure out how the new templates work...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hurrah for Critique Partner!

I've talked about Critique Partner (CP) for a while now.  We met on Maggie Stiefvater's blog  - she has a CP match-up three years running now.  We both adore her writing so we exchanged some pages and Viola! We decided we were a good fit. 

For Christmas, I sent her, and she sent me the same book!! "The Curiosities" which is a collection of short stories by Maggie and her two critique partners Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff.  All three a published YA authors. 

So, we decided with the new year to start writing short stories.  One a month based on a common prompt.


February
the prompt was a quote on the Truth
I wrote this long thing about a woman with evil intent.  Surprisingly, CP's story also featured a woman with evil intent.

March
the prompt was chick-lit/romance story featuring a tropical travel destination to enter into a competition.  The winner gets some travel goodies and a consultation with an agent, and her story will be included in an upcoming anthology perfect for summer vacation.  Check out this link:
Belinda Jones Travel Book Club

Here I figured out I don't do chick-lit very well as mine turned out to be more of a horror story.
But CP!!! CP did a great one and is now one of ten finalists!  In my humble opinion, I think she's the winner.

April
The prompt was to include a night-blooming flower.  I decided here to kill two birds with one stone and use this prompt for my A-Z blogging challenge theme.

CP wrote a fantasy piece which I think is one of the strongest things she's ever written.

May
The prompt is to include a kitsune which is a Japanese mythological creature. 

The short story thing has been great!  It really makes you stretch yourself in terms of writing.  I already see the benefit in my writing.  And CP? CP has blown me away.  She is one of the ten finalists in the Belinda Jones Short Story Competition.  I think she's the winner.  But I may a little biased.  You can check out the finalists and the first lines of their entries here:

Sunlounger Finalists

CP's entry is called "Fia McQueen's Great Escape"

Keep your fingers crossed.  Winner announced June 1st!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day! and Turtles!


Turtles are considered good luck in so many asian cultures.  At the Arboretum  got this photo of three of them sunning themselves!

Happy Mother's day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Peacocks (and Peahens) everywhere


A couple of years ago, there were two peacocks running up and down our street.  Now I realize they were runaways from the Los Angeles Arboretum.  I went there today and they were everywhere!  There was one attacking a car in the parking lot!  This one was pecking at the glass, trying to get into the gardens.

Look at the glorious plumage on this one.  They sell feathers in the giftshop for $1.50 each.

Yeah, wanted to show the peahen, just so you see the difference.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

L.A. Times Festival of Books 4-21-2013

I went to the L.A. Times Festival of Books but I didn't blog about it because I was knee-deep in the A-Z challenge.  So, alittle late but...
Here is the gorgeous campus at USC

These sisters, Isabella & Irena De Wardin were promoting their series of books "The Humming Bird" by giving away copies!  It was a family affair.  Their mom was so cute, passing out bookmarks and posters. 

From Left to Right: Ransom Rigg, Melissa de la Cruz, Maureen Johnson, Katherine Marsh, Lisa McMann.
I went on Sunday, so I missed Cassandra Clare's panel.  But this panel entitled "Love and Vengeance, Real & Unreal" was pretty interesting.

This is the second time I had the pleasure of hearing Maureen Johnson speak.  She is hilarious!! She's working on the Bane Chronicles with Cassandra Clare.  Can't Wait!

Ransom Rigg wrote the "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and is working on the sequel.

Melissa de la Cruz wrote a ton of bestelling novels including the Blue Blood series.  Lifetime is making a 10 part TV series based on her "Witches of East End".  She's writing a new series "The Court of the Last Princess"

Katherine Marsh is the author of "Jepp, Who Defied the Stars" which is historical YA about a court dwarf. 

And Lisa McMann wrote the Wake trilogy (Wake, Fade, and Gone).  She's got a new "Visions" series and "Crash" is the first book in that series.

I found out that some students these days, when they have a book report due, they contact the authors!  During the panel's Q&A, one girl, who probably had a book report due, asked what the theme of the author's books were! lol. This is when the authors started saying how they got asked this question alot!  I never thought about doing that.  Now I know!  And interestingly, two of the authors didn't know what their theme was. 

Here is a unique way to promote your book!  "Grapeshot and Demon" by Vincent P. Scully

Oh and I just happened to wander by Sarah Dessen who was signing, so I picked up "The Truth About Forever"!  I forgot to get a picture (because I was so excited!) 






Monday, May 6, 2013

More Cinco De Mayo

Cute little dancers

A little creepy

Old world feel



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

I've lived near Los Angeles for most of my life, never been to Olvera Street so I decided to remedy this situation today, Cinco de Mayo. 

Mariachi Music in the train station

 Huraches

Lucha Libre masks

Dancers ready to go on stage

More Mariachis


Friday, May 3, 2013

A to Z challenge reflections

So we're supposed to post our thoughts about the A to Z Challenge today. 

I signed up at the last minute, with maybe an hour to spare before the deadline.  I wasn't going to do it this year, it was a real time-suck last year.  But then my critique partner and I have a monthly short story prompt and I figured, "heck, I'll kill two birds with one stone" type thing and decided I would try and write a story over 26 installments.  The prompt was to include a flower that blooms at night.  It sounded mystical/magical so I started out with a kind of prophecy and went from there.

I had nothing written in advance so I spent an inordinate amout of time thinking about the story each day.  At one point, I was so distracted, I put cereal into my cat's food bowl!  It was kind of like writing for a soap opera ( I imagine) as there had to be a post and it couldn't advance the story along too much or I'd get to the end too quickly.  I loaded up on characters (4 main ones) so I could have enough story.  And then halfway through, I worried I had too much story! Panic!  

I was also working on telling stories third person and from different POVs.  That helped with all the different characters. 

Anyway, with all the focus on writing, I didn't visit as many fellow A-Z participants as I would have liked.  The (WR) code helped because I didn't waste my time going to sites that weren't my interest nor would they like mine.

I found some great new ones, though, and I thought I'd share them (in no particular order)
  • Tangent Shell  She also did a story in 26 parts. Each day from a different person's POV.  I thought it was quite successful and kept you guessing until the very end.  She's got it all in one place now so you don't need to pull up 26 different entries. 
  • Melanie Schulz  Wrote little vignettes/character profiles/scenes each day.  Great writing!  She has a book "The Newsstand Project" which released Wednesday May1.  Check out her stuff, you'll probably end up wanting her book!
  • Escaping Samsara  I stumbled across this one.  He writes poetry.  I'm not a big poetry fan but his poems I love, for whatever reason.  Check it out.  Sometimes it's a three line haiku, other times, it is a full-on sonnet.  
  • The Ruralhood She wrote stories about growing up in a small town.  Lovely pieces.
  • Cassie Mae YA Romance Author  Cassie Mae wrote each day about a date she's been on.  Some of them are snort-cola-out-of-your-nose hilarious. Some just make you say "Aw!" She's got THREE count 'em THREE books coming out this year!  Based on the A-Z entries, I'm definitely picking up "How to Date a Nerd" because she seems like an expert on the subject!