Attempting to be Social

Last night, I went to a game night at a friends’ apartment.  It was a lot of fun.  I finally got to play Cards Against Humanity, which is oh so wrong and yet oh so hilariously right.  

However, throughout the night, I also ended up revealing how much of a big weirdo I am.  For example, at one point, we were talking about pets and how they destroy their toys.  I contributed by telling the story of my sweet, dearly departed cat Figo and how he ripped the eyes out of his stuffed frog.  Well, being the clever nerd that I am, I named the frog Gloucester, after the Earl of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s King Lear who gets his eyeballs gouged out of his head. It’s really gross.  Anyway, I ended up having to explain all of that to this group of people, and let me tell you, they were all staring at me like I had sprouted an extra head.  

Note to self: When you’re trying to make a good impression, gouging eyeballs is not the way to go.  

Other than me being really awkward and weird, however, it was a really fun night.  I spend so much of my time either writing or trying to get the word out about my book, that social life and getting out and having fun has kind of taken a back seat.  That’s okay, because it’s what I love and it’s what I want to do, but I think it’s important to remember that I am allowed to have fun and just hang out sometimes.  

That being said, I have less than three chapters to go before finishing the first draft of the sequel, so I really want to buckle down and just get it done!  I am SO ready to move on in the process, I’m about to go crazy!  I want to get this book out for all of you!  But I also want it to be high quality.  For me, that is the most important thing about self-publishing.  Make it big publishing house quality.  One of the reason self-publishing gets such a bad rap is because some of the books LOOK like they were self-published.  I know there’s that phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover,” but the sad truth is covers matter.  If it looks cheap, it’s going to have a hard time out there.  I’ve read books where I could tell the author put no effort into making the book look professional, inside or outside.  The story could have been absolutely amazing, but it was still a HUGE turn off for me.  

I’m not even sure how I got to that point, but you get it.  Make your book look professional.  Moving on…

I’ve been thinking about what book I want to start on next after the sequel to Cemetery Tours is out.  I might try to get a few single, stand alone novels out before diving into the trilogy I have planned or writing more CT books.  Then again, I might just jump right into the trilogy.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to write for years, ever since 2008.  I won’t go into too many details.  In fact, I’m not going to tell you much at all.  All I can tell you is that the idea came to me on the San Antonio River Walk.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage 

So pretty.  I love San Antonio.  

Anyway, it’s a beautiful day and I’m going to go work on my book.  

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Advertisements

Characters, Quirks, and Eccentricities

This afternoon, I indulged in one of my favorite snacks ever – trail mix.  My favorite includes M&M’s, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, raisins, and peanuts.  Naturally, I love the chocolate, the peanut butter, and I actually really love the raisins, but peanuts?  I can tolerate a few to round out the delicate balance of flavor, but I could never eat them alone, or stand more than about three per handful.  Aside from the fact that they make peanut butter, I really don’t like anything about peanuts.  I don’t like the smell, I don’t like the taste, and I especially don’t like the texture.  They feel sort of soft, almost chalky, and yet they’re solid.  They’re just… weird.

Oddly enough, my admittedly peculiar contempt for peanuts got me thinking about personality traits, which of course, got me thinking about characterization in stories.  Characters are what make a story for me.  If I don’t like or connect with the characters, good luck getting me to finish reading your book.  If I don’t like characters that I’ve written, I will scrap the entire book and start over.  I got about nine chapters into one of my works that is currently in progress, realized I didn’t care if any of my characters died or not, and so I went back to the beginning.

Even though they don’t always turn out the way I think they will, crafting new characters is my absolute favorite thing about writing.  I love personalities, I love dialogue, and I love relationships.  I also love giving them quirks and eccentricities, kind of like my disdain for peanuts.  In Cemetery Tours, Kate has her germ-phobia and obsession with television, Michael has a dry, almost cynical sense of humor, Luke has a ridiculous fashion sense, and Brink… well… Brink is just a walking talking explosion of all things 1990s and plaid.  I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter who I talk to, Brink is EVERYONE’s favorite character!  I can understand that, though.

In my experience, side characters are often the ones that end up stealing the show and I think it’s because, I hate to say it, a lot of times, they’re more interesting than the main characters.  They are somewhat more realistic with their quirks and distinct personalities.  I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather hang out with Fred and George Weasley than Harry Potter.  Or I would, you know, if JK Rowling hadn’t KILLED Fred!

In my mind, he’s not really dead.  George somehow managed to come up with a way to bring him back to life.  Shh!

That being said, I’m about to head out to a poker night.  I don’t play poker, but my friends are going to be there, so I figured I’d go and hang out for a while.

Have a great night, all!

198904_1019897851356_511_n

 

Thoughts on Adulthood

Today was a good day.  I drove out to Addison to meet a friend for lunch and on the way, I saw a train!  I’m not sure if 26 year old women are still supposed to get excited about seeing trains, but I love them! ImageImageImage

ImageImage

Seeing the train kind of got me thinking about what it means to be an adult.  I grew up thinking, “Okay… once I reach a certain age or cross a certain line, then I will be an adult.”  I believed that being an adult was something that would just eventually happen.  One day, I’d wake up and I’d prefer documentaries to Disney.  I’d stop geeking out over passing trains.  I’d stop secretly pretending to be a super hero while I work out.  I’d enjoy things like going out to bars and clubs more than I enjoy sitting at home with a book.  I’d start to appreciate the value of things like taxes and mortgages and new refrigerators.  I’d prefer heels and cute flats to bare feet and flip flops.

None of that has happened yet.  And you know, frankly, I’m not sure I want it to happen.  I like who I am.  And that doesn’t make me any less of an adult.  I know plenty of adults who love Disney and who prefer comfort to style and who don’t know the first things about taxes.  Life itself is a learning process.  We don’t reach a point where we’re full grown and suddenly we’ve got everything figured out, and I don’t think we’re meant to.  How boring would that be, to have all the answers all the time?

So, I will continue to go about my life, delighting over trains, marathoning Disney movies, and saving the world from my elliptical.

Oh, and building extravagant blanket forts for my cat.

Bhbw9L0CQAACxsF

Carry on, friends.

Oh Look, Another Monday

Hello friends, and welcome back to the real world.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  I took a day off from blogging yesterday and drove out for Fort Worth to visit my best friend whom I haven’t seen in over a month (not okay!).    

Image

Fort Worth is actually a really cool city, especially with the stockyards!  I even did a photography project in grad school featuring the stockyards.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 In actual book-related news, Cemetery Tours 2 is officially less than four chapters away from being finished!  I think I’m going to email my cover designer either today or tomorrow to get his opinion on graphics.  I’m also thinking of asking a friend of mine to take some new professional photographs for me.  I’ve never really done a professional shoot before, and I think it might be fun and beneficial.  

Finally, and this is exciting, Cemetery Tours has been selected for review by Book Viral!  http://www.bookviral.com 

I’m not sure when it will be up, but I will definitely let you all know when it is!  I’m so thrilled!  All you new authors out there, reviews are SO IMPORTANT.  I can’t even tell you.  

Anyway, this is going to be a short post because I’ve been under the weather today.  Fun, fun.  I think I’m just going to spend the rest of the day writing in my pajamas. 

Which, you know, is probably what I’d be doing even if I wasn’t feeling sick, but whatever.  

Under The Sea

My family loves attending musicals.  We live in Dallas, home to the largest Arts District in the nation, which is pretty cool since when people think of musicals and the arts, they usually think of New York or maybe California.  Just another example of how everything is bigger and better in Texas.

Sorry, but you know, it’s a running gag and has to be said.

Anyway, as I said, we are big musical fans.  My sister is even studying vocal performance at college and will constantly text me to let me know just what professional female vocalists are doing wrong.  Me?  Well, I just enjoy singing and dancing and a fun storyline.  Especially if that storyline happens to include my favorite Disney Princess of all time.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about my love for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and Tolkien, but I feel I’ve only touched on my love for Disney, especially The Little Mermaid.  The Little Mermaid came out the year after I was born, so I literally grew up with Ariel.

My childhood revolved around Disney.  My bird was named Belle, my sweet kitty Jazzy was named after Princess Jasmine, but Ariel was always my favorite.  I know a lot of girls my age really connect with Belle, and in ways, I do too.  I’m a brunette and I think books are super cool, but I always wanted to be Ariel.

For one thing, she’s a mermaid, and come on, who would not want to be a mermaid?  I honestly never understood why she would want to leave the ocean, but she’s still the best.

Ariel was never the perfect daughter or the perfect Princess.  She’s adventurous, she’s stubborn, she likes to find things out for herself, she’s curious, she’s rebellious, and she follows her heart even when everyone else tells her she’s wrong.  Ariel literally swims against the tide.  She also never lets anyone or anything stop her from having fun.

Finally, Ariel is just super awkward and adorable.  Could any other Princess actually get away with combing her hair with a fork – excuse me, a dingle hopper – at the dinner table, in front of a handsome Prince?  I don’t think so.

As soon as I heard that the musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid was heading to Dallas, I wasted no time in purchasing tickets.  Long story short: best money I ever spent.

Seeing Ariel brought to life in front of my eyes was nothing short of magical.  Unlike the original Broadway production where the mermaids all had tails and “swam” around on roller skates, Ariel and King Triton actually floated across the stage like they were swimming.  The set and costumes were beautiful, dazzling, and, not to sound girly here or anything, very sparkly!

Ariel was portrayed by Broadway alum (and a member of the original TLM cast) Chelsea Morgan Stock.  She was incredible.  I’ll admit I had a hard time warming up to Sierra Boggess.  I’m not sure why.  Probably because she wasn’t Jodi Benson.  But Miss Stock was amazing.  Her Ariel was just as adventurous and warm and stubborn and adorable as she’s always been.  I especially loved her scenes with Eric Kunze AKA the dashing and dreamy Prince Eric (with an equally amazing singing voice).  I’m tempted to say I liked their relationship more in the musical than I did in the movie.  Blasphemy, I know, but they were so cute.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers for those who haven’t seen the musical, just know that I cried at the end.

There were a few things that they changed from the movie that I would have recommended they left alone.  For example, I’m not sure if this is the way it was in the original Broadway production (I know they made a few alterations), but Flounder, Ariel’s best little fish friend, had a huge crush on Ariel!   I’m sorry, but I found that odd.  My best friend has been trying to convince me for years that the Flounder in the movie had a crush on Ariel and I always told her that she was crazy because A) Flounder is like Ariel’s little brother or maybe even her talking pet and B) HE’S A FISH.  But she remained convinced that Flounder was just pining for Ariel the entire movie.  I was very reluctant to admit to her that the musical people apparently agree with her.

Image

Image

With this Trident Pen, I shall finally rule the Seven Seas.

And after I was done crying my eyes out over the beautiful ending, my family and I went to eat delicious Texas Barbecue.

Image

If anyone should wish to contact me, I shall be in my pajamas, marathoning every Disney movie I own.  Especially The Little Mermaid.

Just For Fun

In honor of Friday, I thought I’d take the day off of business stuff and just post something fun.  Okay, it’s still sort of about writing, but it’s silly and cute, not “hey, go buy my book” and miniature progress reports.

I was going through some of my old stuff the other day and I found a few of the first books that I ever wrote.  They’re not actually my books, more like little kid versions of Disney movies, but I did find one book that I wrote called, A Scary Book for Halloween.  It went something like…

“Mummies scare people on Halloween night.

Spiders bite on Halloween night.

Pumpkin faces glow bright on Halloween night.

Meow go Halloween cats.

Ghosts arise on Halloween night.

Witches go back and forth through the air.

Frankenstein.”

I have to admit, I cracked up.  I spent an entire book (or like, six pages) writing about all these monsters and what they do and I ended it with “Frankenstein.”  Smart kid.

A few other gems include lines such a page from my Dallas book, “This is a cactus that is sharp,” and “This is a tortilla growing in a tortilla patch.”  Now, I don’t know if I thought I was being funny or if I actually believed that tortillas grew in tortilla patches, but I still got a pretty good laugh out of it.

I also found an old alphabet book that I wrote.  I was particularly impressed by my choice for O.

Image

It’s kind of cute.  I was smart enough to know what an opal was but not smart enough to know not to write my lower case a’s backwards.

I also found a few of my Disney books…

Image

I was so obsessed with Ariel.

Image

This one was written before I figured out that J and L are not the same letter.

Image

Apparently, Prince Philip was not important enough for color.

Image

“Prick your finger!”

But the first book I ever “wrote” was inspired by Donald Crews’ Shortcut.  I still remember my pre-k teacher reading it to us like it was yesterday.  It was about a group of kids who had stayed out past dark, so they decided to take a shortcut home along the railroad tracks.  Near the end of their journey, they heard a train whistling in the distance, and they knew it would be coming along the tracks.  In my head, that train whistle in the night was so eerie, and I remember feeling chilled and a little scared.  It was the first time a book had gotten to me like that, and I was fascinated by the idea that words on a page could be so powerful.  I decided right then and there that I had to have that book, but instead of going out and buying it, I wanted to recreate it for myself.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 3.13.43 PM 33754_1572238539528_2680209_n

So, there you have it.  A small glimpse into the early days of my writing career.  Hey, we all have to start somewhere.  You know, I didn’t realize that writing was what I wanted to do with my life until my junior year of college.  Looking back, I can’t believe it took me that long to figure it out.  I’ve been writing for fun and therapy since the day I learned the alphabet.  Granted, it took me a while to master a few letters, but overall, I think I’ve got them down.  Though I’m still a little iffy on 5’s if I’m being totally honest.  My hand has just never felt comfortable writing 5’s.

Anyway, before I sign off for the day, I also wanted to share this adorable picture of my kitties when they were babies.  Sadly, my sweet Rusty (the orange one) is no longer with us, but Jazzy (the one with the tongue) is still alive and happy, even though my sister says that in this picture, she looks like an “aloof doofus.”  Mean.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 3.15.45 PM

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

The Downhill Slide

Yesterday morning, I was feeling a little stumped.  I was also in a rotten mood, but that was mostly because of the weather and I don’t sleep as much during the week as I probably should (I make up for it on weekends though!).  I knew I was nearing the end of the first draft of my new manuscript, but I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to tie everything together and make it all fall into place.  Finishing a book can be really intimidating.  You want to make sure you’ve covered everything, left no stone unturned, or any mystery or plot open or unsolved (unless, of course, you’re planning a sequel).  

Speaking of sequels, I need to find out when the new Mediator book by Meg Cabot is coming out!  I love that series.  Heck, I love everything she writes.  I kind of want to be Meg Cabot when I grow up.

Anyway, thankfully, I got past the stumped-ness after hours and hours of literally staring at a blank wall and imagining every possible outcome, solution, and scenario.  I knew how I wanted it to end, I just need a little guidance on how to get there.  I’ve finally managed to write out a miniature outline for the final few chapters and have mostly determined that I’m four and a half chapters away from being finished!  Yaaaay!  

Once that’s finished, the next order of business will be reading through and editing it myself before sending it off to my real editor, making sure my beta reader (AKA my sister) likes it and doesn’t think it’s crap, and consulting with my brilliant cover designer.

Image

 

Seriously, he’s just the best.  I do not know where I’d be without him.

And yes, this was a cheap shot at getting my book cover out on your news feed.  Sorry.  

Long story short, I’m really close to being done and I hope that I can still make my self-imposed summer deadline.  That’s one good thing about being an indie author, the only deadlines you have to abide by are your own.  Unfortunately, I’m a really easy going boss and I cut myself a LOT of slack.  I’m actually really good with other people’s deadlines (thank you, six years of higher education).  If you give me an assignment and a date by which I need to finish, you can bet you bonnet that I will have it done.  If you don’t give me a deadline, however, I am going to do whatever I want, whenever I feel like it.  I’m just kind of a go with the wind, free spirit like that.  

Well, that’s all for tonight.  I’m about to head out and take a walk around the park with my friend and her doggy.  I hope you all have a pleasant evening! 

Oh and also, I got new glasses!  I can see!   

Image

Books and Chocolate

I knew when I woke up and saw that it was once again gray and muggy outside that it was going to be a bad day.  My beautiful, sunny, warm weather had abandoned me and I fully intended to take it out on the world by making everyone around me miserable.  I mustered up the worst attitude I could, went into work at my day job with a scowl on my face, and waited for someone to say or do something that would give me the opportunity to make their day a little worse.  

However, as it turns out, today hasn’t been a bad day at all.  It’s actually been a really great day!  I mean yeah, the weather is still gross and I miss the sunshine, but I hear a lot of good music today on the radio (“My Girl” anyone?), I ran into one of my best friends at the supermarket and we shopped together, we both bought ourselves enormous boxes of Russell Stover’s Valentine’s Chocolates (on sale!), Cemetery Tours is still selling, and I received my copy of Seance, the book that I reviewed for my author friend over in the UK.  

I guess God or the fates or the universe just wasn’t in the mood to deal with me being a brat.  So they sent me friends and books and chocolates!  Seriously, do I really need anything else in life?  

Image

So delicious… and they’re all DARK chocolate! The best!

Image

Yay books!

I’m always so excited to get books by fellow indie authors.  I’m in the process of setting up my office, but when I do, I want to have an entire bookshelf dedicated to works by indies.  It is so, so, so important to support each other.  The publishing world is changing, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

I’m getting very close to finishing the sequel to Cemetery Tours.  When I was writing the first one, the last few chapters were the easiest to write.  For some reason, with this one, I’m still trying to figure out just how to make everything fall into place the way it needs to.  I’m sure I will, I just don’t know how much longer it will take.  Hopefully not too long, because I am super ready to get to publishing AND to get started writing something new!  

I hope you’re all well, and if you’re not, go eat some chocolate and read a good book.  I guarantee you’ll feel better.