Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Discounts

One of the treasured gifts I received for Christmas was seven large bars of dark chocolate imported from Austria. I kid you not. My grandparents mailed this from Pennsylvania. Ironically, my sister is in Austria right now, so every time I take a bite, I think of her.

She's staying in the same town that The Sound Of Music happened. Wow. What an amazing place to spend Christmas.


Do I need the extra calories. Oh yeah. This stuff is amazing.

Which, by the way, has nothing at all to do with today's post about getting a discount. Overstock.com asked me if I would take a moment and mention a couple of the many things they carried and then- you all get to save 10% on anything you order. Everyone wins.

Hmmm, what to choose....

Honestly, I love their Necklaces and Pendants. They have everything from simple to extravagant. I'm sort of a sucker for simple and I love all the celtic things they have to offer.

And, for some reason I'm drawn to their DVD Player selection. I love portable DVD players. We don't have a television in every room, so it's nice to be able to pull out a tiny DVD player once in a while and let the kids watch movies in their rooms.

Anyway, there are so many things to look at, you could spend hours.

Here's what you need to know for your 10% off. The discount code is:121745, good for 10% off Overstock products (excluding movies, books, and electronics). This discount code never expires, however, it can only be used once per email address.
202234 - free shipping promo code for electronics.

To use this code, go to the checkout and click "Use Promo Code". A box will appear and that's where you put in 121745.

Have fun shopping!

And here's the disclaimer they made me say....

All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Banana Bread Brilliance


Maybe it all started on Christmas day. I was talking to my grandma who lives in Pennsylvania and she told me that my sister (who is in Austria right now) called on Christmas Eve and wanted my mom's banana nut bread recipe. It had to be my mom's recipe, not a knock-off.

Yes, my grandma had a recipe card in my mom's hand writing and they all lived happily ever after.

But I got to thinking, I've never liked banana bread. And I have all these over ripe bananas sitting on my counter. What to do....

Well, I finally decided to invent a banana bread recipe that I did like. And it worked! Me inventing recipes nearly always ends in disaster, so you can imagine my surprise when I tasted my new favorite banana bread ever.


Banana Cranberry Nut Bread
3 ripe bananas
1 cup cranberries
a 3 inch square chunk of orange peel
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Put all these into the blender and blend.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup crushed almonds

Mix flour, soda and nuts. Add blended ingredients to this and mix. If making a loaf, 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Muffins 25 minutes. Make sure to spray your pans with cooking spray.

And, to making these even more to-die-for, spread cream cheese frosting over top of either muffins or loaf.

The irony of this post is how un-kitchen-friendly I really am. My in-laws had the misfortune of spending Christmas dinner with us. I ruined the rolls and the potatoes. The pre-cooked ham turned out great, but my husband was in charge of that. Oh well. But I scored points with the homemade cranberries. It's another recipe I invented and love. One out of three.

Feel free to share any favorite recipes with me. I need all the help I can get!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A new Christmas


All the frenzy is over. The presents are opened. The moment of truth came and we made it.

And now that the dust has settled, all I can think about is all the people that have touched me. All the people that I love. I want to talk to every single one of them, tell them how much I love them, but it's impossible.

Instead, I'll just send this message out to the universe, and maybe if I'm lucky, you'll read this and know how much you mean to me.

My life wasn't built by one set of hands. It took a world full of people. The words and kindnesses from hands across the earth have shaped me. Strangers I will never meet in person have offered heartfelt words. Friends from all walks of life have reached out to me when I needed another hand to hold. Family, extended, step and all forms have been there for me in so many different ways. I could never truly express my gratitude.

The thought of how each one of you has influenced my life brings tears to my eyes.

Authors from books high and low who have taken time to let me into their world, even for a moment.

My husband was sweet and re-organized my books after my little people re-shelved everything. I watched as he put the books back in order by author, and I told him they were not books, they were people. I can't look at books and not see a person who wrote it. Whether I've had the privilege to meet that person or not, they are very real to me and keep me company with their words.

Merry Christmas everyone. You will never know how significantly you have touched another's life, especially mine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming

It's almost here. Christmas.

Last night (after spending the evening wrapping presents) we came home to find our kids wandering around the house at 10:15 PM as if that was normal. Ha ha ha...

We ended up on a "What I want for Christmas" conversation (a little late) and found out how we scored as parents.

From oldest to youngest, we got the updated list. Updated as in this is the first time we had heard most of this stuff.

Okay, we got a couple things right, like 25%.

It makes me want to take back all the stuff we bought and buy them what they really want. But I won't. Because it's too much work.

And really, are they going to be that disappointed when they open their presents this year? I doubt they will spend any time grieving for the things they wanted when something brand new is sitting right in front of them.

I could be wrong.

But what else can I do?

My six-year-old son was explaining how things worked to my three-year-old daughter the other day. See, sometimes Santa can't come to your house. Then mom and dad just take care of everything. That's what happened last year.

It did???

Dang.

I must have done something wrong.

I wonder if Santa is coming this year. The only way we'll know for sure is if there's a little coal waiting for us. At least according to my six-year-old son, we have a few on the Naughty List.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Editing and a Conference plug

It's a week before Christmas. Perfect time to go through the final edits for my next book...right? Okay, I admit. I freaked. The whole book the week before Christmas? Really???

After I got over it I went to work. And then I figured out how to make things flow better in the places that were still bumpy. Pretty soon I fell in love with the story all over again.

For a while I was in the I-am-so-sick-of-this-story mode that I never wanted to read it again. I imagined sitting at a book signing and telling people that they might be wasting their money on this one.

But since I was forced to thoroughly go through the whole thing again after not looking at it for four months, I can honestly say that I like this story. You'll like this story. It's a ride with funny quirks and lots of twists.

April. You'll get to read it in April. Mark it on your calendars...

Speaking of calendars- it's time to register for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference

There will be an epic critique forum called Bootcamp where you will have the chance to bring the first 15 pages of your manuscript to have an extreme makeover. This Bootcamp is sometimes considered the best part of the entire conference. You can't go and not come away with fresh perspective in writing. It's amazing. Bootcamp is May 5.

The conference runs May 6-7. You can register for one day (either Friday or Saturday) or both. And, thanks to the hard work of my co-chair for agents and editors, we have a stellar list of guests.

Becca Stumpf- an agent from Prospect Agency
Marcia Markland- Senior Editor with Thomas Dunn Books (St. Martin's Press)
Sara Crowe- an agent with Harvey Klinger, inc
Sara Megibow- an agent at Nelson Literary Agency

And tons of talented presenters....

Traci Abramson
Liz Adair
Stacy Anderson
Bron Bahlman
Shirley Bahlman
Michelle Ashman Bell
Laura Bingham
Deanne Blackhurst
Rachelle Christensen
Frank Cole
Bob Conder
Kristyn Crow
James Dashner
Josi Kilpack
Julie Wright
Sarah Eden
Angela Eschler
Terri Ferran
Karen Hoover
Melanie Jacobson
Marion Jensen
Clint Johnson
Elana Johnson
Eric Johnson
Peri Kinder
Laurie Lewis
Gregg Luke
Annette Lyon
Lisa Mangum
Heather Moore
Rachel Nunes
Josh Perky
Tristi Pinkston
Sheralyn Pratt
Janette Rallison
Brandon Sanderson
Jeff Savage
Kirk Shaw
Lu Ann Staheli
Jane Still
Howard Tayler
G.G. Vandagriff
Dan Wells
Robison Wells
Tyler Whitesides
Becca Wilhite
Dave Wolverton
Need I say more?

Go. Register. You won't regret it.

Last year I missed out on the pitch sessions, but sent my query letter to one of the agents after the conference. Not only did she ask for my entire manuscript, but I ended up having to choose between her and another agent. It was hard. Really hard. I wish I could have said yes to both.

My point is, even if you don't get to do a pitch session at the conference, it doesn't mean you won't have a personal career changing experience as a result of attending.

I know I did.

I still keep in touch with the new friends I met there. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to connect with so many other writers. This conference had over 400 attendees last year. This year even more are expected. They are thinking big- are you?

If there is even a remote possibility that you could attend, you should seriously consider it. I know I had my doubts before I went the first time, but now that I've been, I can tell you that it is a superior conference.

Alright... back to edits for me...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Playwright

A playwright, also known as a dramatist, is a person who writes dramatic literature or drama. These works are usually written to be performed in front of a live audience by actors. They may also be closet dramas or literary works written using dramatic forms but not meant for performance.

The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder (as in a wheelwright or cartwright). Hence the prefix and the suffix combine to indicate someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form, someone who crafts plays. The homophone with write is in this case entirely coincidental.

And there you have it. Is there a difference between a playwright and a novelist?

A novel is a long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century.

Further definition of the genre is historically difficult. The construction of the narrative, the plot, the way reality is created in the works of fiction, the fascination of the character study, and the use of language are usually discussed to show a novel's artistic merits.

I think yes. There is a dramatic difference between writing a play and writing a novel. The question is, can a novel writer write a play?

In one month?

I've been having my doubts. Here's the way I see it. If someone asks me to write a play for a good cause even though I am entirely unqualified for the job, I should try to do it anyway. They assured me there was no one else. It was me or no one.

Was Noah asked to build an ark because he was the greatest ship-builder to ever walk the planet? I really doubt it. But he got his hammer out anyway and he did it.

Sure, he had lots of help, but if he hadn't decided to try no one could have helped him. I can't imagine how daunting the idea of building a floating zoo must have been. Such a thing had never been done in the history of time.

But he didn't build it in one day. He took it one piece of wood at a time.

I guess if Noah could build an ark, maybe I can build a play. Or at least try.

The real test will be seeing how this plays out on a stage at the end. At least it won't rain for forty days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Be a Writer

Thanks to everyone who stopped in yesterday. Tristi is a genius when it comes to book launches. I don't know if I could pull something off that big, but I should definitely give it a try.

Lucky for you, the next book in the Alvor series will be released in April, so I'll have lots of time to go crazy in March getting everyone excited about it.

But let's talk writing for a second.

Someone asked me the other day to "write a letter to me for my writers class about things needed to be a writer."

It's such a big question. Is it "things you need to be a professionally published writer" or "things you need to write something, anything"?

Because the two are so different.

To be a writer, all you need is a little imagination, literacy and something to write on and with. That's it.

But to be a professionally published writer, you need that and a whole lot more. There are entire writers conferences that focus on what people need to be professional writers. It can not be covered in a single letter.

Alas, she probably still would like me to write some kind of profound advice. So here's a skeleton list. It does not and can not cover all that is needed to be a professional author, but it's a start.

*Write. The more you write, the better you get at it.
*Use a computer and save everything on a flashdrive, thumbdrive, or whatever computer saving thing you like the most. Don't rely solely on your computer's memory banks. Computers crash.
*Read what you write. Look for spelling, grammar, overused words, adverbs, passive tense, cliche's, inconsistencies in character dialogue, credibility in characters' emotional, physical and verbal reactions and then fix all that stuff.
*Have someone else read your work after you have. Believe them. Honest critique is hard to come by. If someone offers advice, thank them for it and seriously consider using it.
*Read your work again. After everyone else has had their say. After you've fixed it and fixed it and are sick to death of it, give it a little time and REDO you revisions. Trust me, you missed some things.
*If possible, find a fresh person to read through it again. Someone who hasn't already read it. They're likely to find more things for you to look at.

Editing and writing- you can't have one without the other.

Now, the publishing part. Do you want a small press, large press or self-publishing press? If you don't know what that means, you need to find out.

Small press- doesn't cost authors to publish. Small presses don't require agents and submissions are made directly from the author to the publishing house. Small presses have minimal distributing abilities, but are a great way to get a career started in that they are easier to work with, faster and don't require a long drawn-out submission process.

Large press- you're going to need a literary agent. Agents submit your manuscript to editors in big publishing houses. They do all the leg work and they negotiate your contract. Sounds great, doesn't it? It is. But, having an agent doesn't guarantee a quick sell of your manuscript- or a sale at all. And, getting an agent is a demanding project in itself. A few strike gold on their first try, but most people have to learn the ropes of querying to get there.
Large presses have greater distributing power and therefore can afford to offer authors advances (money before your book actually hits the shelves). Big houses take more time, about two years, to get books out on the shelves. Their editing and marketing departments are superior and they will help you get your book to be as good as it can get.

Self-publishing- Costs writer money to publish. There is limited distributing power and no editing offered for free. Marketing is up to the writer. No need for acceptance from an editor or an agent. Anyone can self-publish. This is for writers who want to see their work become books no matter what or for those who have a niche that is very specific.

Besides traveling the long road of publishing, a writer needs to be able to market. This is the last thing, the most overlooked aspect of being a writer. But it is vital to selling books.

I'm going to leave it at that today. Besides the basic traits of patience, persistence and hard work, there is no magic when it comes to publishing. The magic is in the story itself. All stories seem to come to life as they are written and it's an incredible process to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Twas the Day Before December

'Twas the day before December
And all through the house
I've been reconciling November
And I've had my doubts.

My NANOWRIMO shot
may have fallen a little short
Instead of writing the whole ending
I left the ball in their court

The characters took on
A life of their own
Changing my well planned plot
and deepening the tone.

But I'm not disappointed
in how everything went.
It just means I have to
Creatively end.

November had even more
surprises in store.
One of the best was more family
closer to my door.

The snow didn't wait
to make it's grand entrance this year
And thanks to a friend's furnace skills
It's warm again in here.

Now dentist, now doctors, on optomotrist, on visits,
on appointments and papers and forms and more visits.
December is coming in a whip of cold air
And if we're lucky, Merry Christmas soon will be here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Winner

Congratulations to Nebraska Filleman, the winner of the $50 gift card to CSN. Thanks to all of you who stopped by.

So, it's Black Friday. My husband came home with a bag full of socks at 8:00 this freezing cold morning. He told me it wasn't that exciting. His report included inconsiderate shoppers and sleeping men on benches. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.... we had a Thanksgiving surprise yesterday morning around 7 AM. The furnace went out. We have tried to heat our house with the woodstove, but so far, there is still much to be desired. In other words, the office where I'm typing this is probably 45 degrees. I'm thinking of finding some gloves.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and are having a great weekend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gift Card Giveaway

You may not be thinking about Christmas yet, but I'm thinking about you. To help you find the perfect gift, sling backpacks, stuff for the kitchen, backyard, living room, closet, office, toys for the kids, baby gear or literally thousands of other ideas, CSN has you covered.

And they want to give away $50 to use in their online store.

There really isn't anyone who couldn't benefit from the selection available. Truly. I've been lost in their web pages for hours at a time.

Here's the gig. The contest starts today and ends on Black Friday-- November 26, an unofficial American holiday where people flock to the stores to buy gifts for Christmas.

This is where I confess that I am not a Black Friday shopper by nature. I generally avoid crowded stores when possible. I hate waiting in long lines. I don't get up at 5 AM to be there on time, standing in the freezing cold, waiting for the amazing doorbuster sale.

My husband, on the other hand, is the king of Black Friday sock sales. Not kidding. He's been known to sneak out of the house early in the morning and come back with treasures.

So, back to the exciting part where you win $50. All you have to do is tell me something you like to do the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving. It could be Black Friday, or the days to follow.

And, since the gift card is electronic and send via e-mail, please leave your e-mail address in your comment.

Finally, be A VERY COOL PERSON. It's easy. You just follow this blog.

Have a good one. I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yeah Write


I've spent a lot of time the last two and a half weeks on mostly two things....

Being sick and writing.

Now that the being sick part is finally trickling away from our home, I have the most delicious part left for the whole rest of the month.

Writing.

I am loving it. Honestly, I haven't spent as much time on the internet because I'd rather be working on my novel than anything else.

I thought the beginning of a new story is where authors were madly and deeply in love with their work, but I'm finding that the more I dive into this, the less I want to climb out. Like water clinging to my swimsuit, this story follows me around. My character still surprises me, making choices I never saw coming.

And I thought I knew her better than anyone.

Alas, I am taking a few minutes to share with you my strange passion. If you see me driving down the street or at the grocery store and I don't even notice you, it's probably because my head is still in my book. And, uhm, sorry if that actually happened to you.

As for a useful writing tip.... I decided last night that a favorite CD playing quietly outranks Veggie Tales as background noise. I love quiet the most, but was surprised at how the music made my words come to life in my head almost like a movie.

Another tip... when writing an especially emotional scene, be sure that no one is going to walk in while the tears are still streaming down your cheeks. It takes way too much time to explain and honestly, it only confuses people. And check your makeup BEFORE you leave the house.

If I go MIA for a few days, you'll know why. I'm living inside a story right now with some reality on the side.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Someone won two books today

Congratulations Lena!

Thanks to Random.org, Lena is the lucky winner of the double book giveaway.

Oh, but stay tuned. We are jumping right into another giveaway VERY SOON. This time, be looking for some CSN money.

Details to come.

In other random news.... *this is where you read about my real life stuff*

*I officially think it's ridiculous to have a chest cold and then contract the stomach flu. Apparently my body didn't think I'd had enough or something. Thought I was through being sick.... ha ha ha...

*I had the NICEST e-mail today from a high school senior from
Negros Occidental (the island she lives on) Here's a few words from her...

We have a lot of butterfly gardens and farms. They're kind of our specialty, and now whenever I see them around, I think, "Alvor!" So thank you for giving me the pleasure of reading your book.

I would so love to see those butterfly gardens and farms. Can you imagine? That would be amazing.

*NaNoWriMo- or my alternate approach to it, is going GREAT. Side benefit of being sick is having lots of time to write. I really am going to get this book finished this month.

*And thanks for sharing your thoughts on spicing up November. I loved reading them. All your comments make my day brighter.

See you soon for another giveaway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spicing things up


Okay, we need a giveaway. It's been too long. Since it's five months before the second book of Alvor is released, I'm going to do a double book giveaway.

Meaning.... the winner gets Alvor and another YA book of my choice. Ha ha ha.... I'm not going to tell you what the other book is. But I will tell you that I read it and I liked it. It's clean, funny and has a touch of romance without being mushy.

So... do you want something new to read?

Here's the scoop. You have to leave a comment- give me something that spices up your November days. You know, cinnamon in your cocoa, watching the latest flick with a bag of popcorn, painting your nails orange, whatever. Just give me some spice.

And, of course, you need to be a "Very Cool Person" ( a follower of this blog for those of you who weren't completely sure what defined you as one of those) AND make sure your e-mail address is in your comment so I can find you if you win.

That's it. Now give me some spice. Starting now.

Contest ends Friday November 12- and I'll use random.org to choose the winner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Raking, Writing and Arithmetic

It's November. Need I say more?

Raking: Yes, you can have 7 inches of leaves in your front yard, it turns out. And the two hour power outage today was the perfect time to get out there and rake it up. I can't write if there's no power, right? Well, technically I could have used my laptop battery. But when I realized I was going to have to rake the inside of my house soon, I decided today was the day.

Writing: When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing, feeling guilty for not writing or planning my next space of time when I will get to write.

Arithmetic: Goal: 4 pages a day, at least 5 days a week. Making up for lost time due to parent/teacher conferences, babysitting kids, raking leaves and other necessary-for-living obligations allowed. That means writing ten pages at least one of the days of the week.
I will write 80 pages before November is over. I will.

If I say it enough times, then it will happen...right?

Seriously. What's not to love about November?

Okay, getting back to work now...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One Scary Night


It turns out I'm married to my dream vampire.

Thank goodness he doesn't really bite. Although he disagrees.

Tomorrow- I'll get some pictures up of the kids.

Till then- Have a safe, if not scary, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

On your mark, get set....

It's almost here.

You're probably thinking Halloween. And yeah, we're pretty excited for that holiday at our house. Is there another holiday where sugar is more glorified and easily accessible?

November is almost here. And besides the fact that I'm taking all five of our kids to the dentist on Monday, it marks the beginning of a national writing frenzy.

I'm talking about NaNoWriMoAs a writer, I love this month. So very much. November is my chance to re-focus on writing. Maybe it's because I feel like I have a good excuse to tuck in thousands of words a week. Or maybe it's knowing how many other people are out there writing like crazy too.

But I should tell you right now, I've never once done a real NaNoWroMo. The real NNWM involves beginning a brand new story and writing as much as you can on that novel during November. There are contests to see who can write the most words- stuff like that.

So far, every year when November rolls around, I'm already in middle of a story and I want to keep working on it. This year, I have an even better reason to keep writing on the same novel. My agent is anxious for me to get my latest WIP (work in progress) done.

I wish I were already done. I've already taken more time writing this story than any other book that I've worked on. I started it 8 months ago. Wow. It's really been that long.

*Me, shaking my head*

My goal is to get this thing done in November.

I've learned that each story takes a different road. My WIP is a contemporary YA with the tiniest touch of science fiction. The story is heavier than anything I've ever tried to write. It takes a whole new level of emotional clarity and awareness to make it honest and real.

Meanwhile, I have to balance the literary with action. I guess that's why it has taken me so long to write this thing.

I believe in writing goals, and while the rest of you NaNoWriMo people are typing wildly away, I'll be working steadily to meet my own goal next month.

Happy writing to all of you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Contagious

It's that time of year again when things are going around. This week at my house, it's the stomach flu. I know. So exciting. Really, you may have an idea of just how much excitement that has been, especially if you were fortunate enough to have your child sitting behind my six-year-old during the Primary program last Sunday.

But that's not the kind of contagious I wanted to talk about.

It's so easy to catch a cold. Or the flu.
But how easy is it to catch success? Hmmm. Why isn't success contagious?

How many people do you know that have made it to where you want to be? How many people have you seen get there while you struggle to take those same steps?

Success might not be contagious like the flu, but if we want to get some of it, I think it's possible. Maybe we won't have the same exact path to our success, but by using some methods of the successful, we are going to get a lot closer to our goal than if we try to go it alone without any role models to look up to.

And, you are going to look a whole lot different when you get to your top than that other person did. We're all so different. Our idea of success varies a lot too. Is success money-based? Is it friend-based? Family? Love? Education?

Most the time it's a combination of all of those things with some rating a higher percentage than others.
And how do you know if you get there?

Well, you never "get there". Every time you reach the top of the hill you were climbing, you look out and see an even bigger mountain ahead. Another goal. Another struggle to get to the next top.
Which is why we can't "catch" success. We can only keep heading towards it.
So here's to the mountain you're climbing. Bring a water bottle and keep taking those steps.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What are you reading?

I don't know if it has anything to do with the fall weather, or if I'm just always like this and I never noticed, but I've been loving reading like crazy lately. The only problem with this is re-reading everything I own, but still wishing for new books.

Sure, there are plenty of good ones that are fun to read the second time around too, but a new book right now is like cheesecake. A new book that is super wonderful is like chocolate cheesecake.

What's on my plate right now? I'm re-reading Pretties by Scott Westerfeld. I just finished Uglies, again. I finished Firelight (which I loved) by Sophie Jordan and I'm reading My Double Life by Janette Rallison.
I went to Costco on Saturday and found a stack of books I wanted. Not that I bought, mind you, just that I wanted. A nice hundred dollar or so stack. Aaahhhh. I love books.

On Amazon last week I ordered The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory--More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards by Dinah Bucholz.


Because it sounded so cool and I can't imagine how fun it's going to be to eat Harry Potter food for Halloween.
I'm still waiting for that one to arrive. I hardly ever buy cookbooks. It takes something pretty creative, like Chocolate Never Faileth, by Annette Lyon or something equally alluring to catch my attention.
I'm not so good with keeping up with Goodreads or Shelfari, but I do read. A lot. And, let's face it, I would rather spend my time writing books that giving public reviews books I've read.

Hope you find a good book to lose yourself in. I only mention books I think would do the trick, so be brave. Try one out. Well, take into consideration that I love Middle Grade and Young Adult. And yummy food that I may never figure out how to make. But I'll try anyway.

And tell me what you're reading. I'm always on the hunt for another good book.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Booktoberfest


In case you think I've stopped doing all things authorly, here's a fun dig going on tomorrow.

If you're looking for something to do this Saturday, check out Booktoberfest from 10-6. This non-profit event includes booths for area writing groups, local author spotlights, book signings and a kids' corner. The festival goal is to connect, inspire and educate writers throughout the Treasure Valley.

I'll be speaking at 1:50.

The address is
1422 South Tech Lane
Meridian, ID, 83642

(Off of Overland just past Roaring Springs. The event area is directly on your right as you enter.)

Speaking of speaking...it looks like I need to come up with another power point presentation. My husband suggested I just put up a bunch of random pictures that have nothing to do with what I'm saying so that everyone has something interesting to do while I'm talking. Was that a hint?

So, if you're in the area and you want something fun, free and different to do- come. You can bring the kids.

And while we're talking about events, put this one on your calendar too. November 19- Rock to Read. Sounds cool. It will be. Check out this article

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wicked Good Shoes

I had to choose something. Something......

It took me hours. CSN has so many choices.
Did I go with the light fixture or the globe????

Well, my feet stepped in and chose for me. Years ago I had problems with my arches and my Dr. threatened to slap me in a cast for 5 weeks. Maybe I've been dancing too much, or running around in my slippers too many hours of the day, but when my feet started killing me, I knew I had to do something.

So I did my research and found Alegria Paloma- cute little Mary Jane shoes that work magic on arches.I got them yesterday and they are awesome. Really.

CSN was super easy to work with and they even upgraded my shipping for free. Fast. I couldn't believe it.

Now my only problem is, I want more of those shoes! Aaaah. My arches don't hurt anymore... We'll see how my feet do after six hours of dancing between today and tomorrow.

No, I'm not getting too old for this. No way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Look Up


The other day someone asked me why I had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling of my dance studio.

In the winter months it gets dark earlier. Sometimes, due to a storm or some other cause, we lose power. It doesn't happen very often, but when the bright studio is plunged suddenly into darkness it can cause panic.

Panicked kids can get hurt.

So I have the stars.

If the lights ever go out during class, I just say, "Look up."

They look up and see the ceiling full of glowing stars and they forget that it's dark. Every time, the stars have calmed my students- students of every age. It's not scary when you can look up and see the stars.

And maybe it doesn't even make logical sense. The stars aren't bright enough to light the studio. The kids are still in the same black room with the same question in their minds... Is the power going to go back on soon?

But I'm here to tell you that it does work. Every time. And I've been thinking about it since the question was posed.

Does your life feel like the power went out? Are you sitting in some form of darkness and you're not sure when it will ever get light again? Are you feeling your way around a big room hoping to figure out where the door is?

It's kind of a funny thing, but real life has stars. I don't care where in the world you live, if you look up in the middle of the blackest night, you'll see the stars.

Sometimes stars might be gratitude. Realizing all the things you do have. Stars might be your dreams, knowing you're not going to stay in the dark room forever. Stars can be prayer. Knowing that no matter what, you're never alone. Stars can be other people, sharing the moment with you so that being in the dark isn't as hard.

Look up. You'll see there are stars. And it won't be forever before the lights come back on.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A peek into my glamorous life....

If you thought that meant posh furniture, console tables with roses... hmmm, it's making me want one just thinking about it.... then you haven't seen my glamorous life.

It's October and I've been in a bit of a funk. I spent the last two days sewing a witch dress for my six-year-old and avoiding the general population because I have pinkeye. Pinkeye does not look better with makeup, by the way. Still pink. And if it's so dang contagious, I'm guessing it's only a matter of hours before my other eye catches it... ha ha ha.

But sewing. You know, the weirdest thing about sewing is that I normally hate doing it. But then October funk rolls around and all I feel like doing is sewing costumes. Seriously. It's almost like an obsession. I don't want to write, do housework or anything but sew the cutest little costumes.

Don't worry, I'm gonna get over the costume thing really soon. The dress is almost finished, but the Zorro cape waits for me. I need a sword right now. Whipping that thing in a big fat Z would be so satisfying.

Told you I was crazy.

And, because I wanted to find out first hand what CSN stores were like, I decided to review one of their products. There are so many things, how will I ever choose????

Do I go with the floating globe or the aqua towels? Or should I be more practical and buy a light for the living room? We don't exactly have any lights in our living room. Did you know CSN has over 11,000 pendant lights to choose from? I think I'm going to make my husband choose.

As long as I'm aimlessly rambling, I have to tell you that I'm reading FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan and I'm loving it. It took me by surprise. This is one of those stories I will read more than once. It's such a rare treat to randomly buy a book and have it be such a winner. Get it. Read it. It's that good.

Okay, my mountain of laundry calls. Back to my glamorous life....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Gift of a....


Every year, I share my birthday. It's sort of a family tradition. It all started when I had my first child. The wrapping paper was so colorful and fun....why does Mom get to open it and not Me?

And it's not that much fun opening presents with my kids all sitting there with sad looks on their faces because all the presents are for me instead of them.

Back in the day, we would go to the mall and let the kids choose something small at the Disney Store. We always had a modest price limit but they were thrilled beyond reason.

Then the Disney Store went out of business. I guess that kind of kills the trip to the mall. And the kids have school, and after that, after-school activities. I'm still trying to figure out the perfect thing.

And I doubt it means as much to them as it does to me, but as I thought about my birthday this week, I decided to give them something different. Well, and on a selfish note, I gave them something that I wanted.

Clean bedrooms.

Uhh, this is the part where you all realize how domestically challenged I am. It took me two hours per bedroom. And I didn't even clean under their beds. They do have these under-bed boxes though, so there's really not a whole lot to do. I usually make them shimmy under their beds to grab the stray toys and lost socks.

But this time I did it while they were in school.

And you know what? They didn't really care. My six-year-old son immediately filled his vacant dresser top with toys. My nine-year-old son was in heaven that I found his lost game. My six-year-old daughter was sure I stole all her bracelets...after all, if they're not all over the floor, they must be gone forever!

Just to make things fair, I cleaned my room too. I found more things that I had lost than what they had lost. What does that tell you? Oh, yeah, and it took longer than two hours to clean my room.

I won't say that my house is sparkling clean. It would take a crew of professionals to accomplish that. And probably a remodel. Seriously, there is only so much you can do with used carpet from the neighbor's house in your living room and an unfinished ceiling. Uhh, not to mention the eroding panel walls, the scary kitchen counters and we don't even want to get into what the bathroom needs.....

But, I will say that I feel happy every time I go into the kids' rooms. And, for rest of the house, I'm lucky enough to live in my future-house-of-my-dreams. It's what I've always wanted..room to move, a pasture out back with horses, my very own dance studio and a place for the kids to play.

In five years my house will be 100 years old. And I will always get to feel young next to it.

The only thing I wanted for my birthday was for my family to be happy. I was lucky enough to get that. And I feel blessed. When I think of everything else I have in addition to that, I feel grateful beyond words. Especially grateful for the One who gave me everything, and all that I will ever have.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A few words about Alvor

I know there are millions of people out there who have never read Alvor. So, for those of you who may have questions, here is an introduction without spoilers....

Alvor hit the shelves of Barnes & Noble in the Young Reader (age 7 and up) category

Why? Although the main characters are fifteen, the story is pure fun and requires no parental supervision to enjoy. This is a book that can be read aloud to children as young as four.

And yet, teens love it. Adults love it. It turns out there isn't an age limit to a fun clean story.

So while it's listed as a YA book on Amazon, it's rated as a young reader book for content. There's not a gory, gross, graphic or dirty scene in the whole novel. Really. I promise.

Alvor is a three-book series. The first book finishes with satisfaction, but leaves the door wide open for questions. The second book addresses the most obvious questions and the third book will end the series.

The second book has a working title of WINGS OF LIGHT. It will go to press February 11 and be released sometime in April. This book falls in step with the first book in that it could be categorized as Middle Grade due to the clean content. All three books in the series will follow this pattern.

I do school presentations for elementary, middle/Jr. high schools and high schools. As a former secondary education teacher, I am well versed in teaching kids. In other words, I know how to have a blast talking about reading and writing.

And, I am versatile in giving specific direction on writing and editing should a class want that kind of opportunity.

This year I am giving free school visits. You can have me for free as long as you're nice and schedule the visit in advance.

For schools who want a fund-raiser, I have books orders available where schools can earn $1 for each book ordered. I always sell books at a discount to schools. That includes teachers and librarians.

How do you get a visit or order books at a discount? Go to my website www.laurabingham.com

That's Alvor in a nutshell. If you have anything to add, or a question at all, feel free to ask.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Words

A day in the life of all of you... I couldn't resist! These are all your words.


Nothing interesting happened today.


We had to read a LOT of Puritan poetry, Dante, my husband is reading Maze Runner, the Maze Runner was incredible, finally started reading the first 13th Reality book to my son and just got a dopy of Joy Feilding’s Charley’s Web in the mail today. I love the smell of a new book!! Even if I don’t win, I’m getting it the day of!


I have my final Japanese test, a chemistry quiz, a PreCalc test yesterday and totally blanked on some formulas, but I got an 82! I got 100 on my math test.


Today my youngest had his first homework for kindergarten and is going to his first piano lesson. I took a flower arranging class. I’m not very creative but I love flowers. My students would FREAK if I brought in an ARC of Scorch Trials. I play volleyball for my high school team. I love sports and reading. Hour long violin lessons and piano lessons. My softball team had to move up to the harder division. Very exciting!



I just cleaned out a bag of rotting potatoes. I packed 2 boxes today. I packed the pictures on the walls and boy, does it look bare. I picked about 240 dozen ears of corn. I’m expecting around 1,400 4th graders to come through my corn maze. I’m almost done painting my office and can finally move the furniture back in. Yay!


Tomorrow is my fiancee’s birthday, and I’m very excited to go out to eat. I am going to be a mother-in-law for the first time. I have 6 children and still find time to read. I was feeling tired and stretched in many different directions and all the suddenly elastigirl popped into my brain from the Incredibles and I thought, I am like a superhero! Aren’t all moms? My baby brother just fell on his butt while trying to walk… when I’m in college he won’t even be in kindergarten. My two year old is FINALLY potty trained!! My brother is getting married on Saturday. I have a nephew now! Today my mum just came back from a conference in Klang, Selangor. I’m so excited she’s back! I just came from lunch with my sister-in-law.


My china cabinet fell over today and broke all my Country Roses china. I only have 1 tea cup left….sniff.


We waited last night to see if we had to evacuate because of the Machine Gun Fire in Herriman.


I’m actually scared right now. I am having surgery to remove the cancer next to my right eye. But I know that I am going to make it, and that the sun will keep coming up each morning.



I tried picking out a picture, for what road I’m on, but I couldn’t decide! I think it’s probably sort of like Lombard’s St. in San Francisco.


A squirrel peed on my head today and I wish I was kidding. But I’m not.


I’m so excited- I’m getting a service dog next week. My cousin left me with his dog while he is gone and Mondo is a sweet dog. I wish I HAD a dog.



I got more than 1 hr. of sleep last night! I couldn’t sleep and have been up from 2:30 a.m. and now wondering how I am going to work this morning!


I am a bored banker who writes on the side. I was mentioned on a HUGE online interview with Selena Gomez. I’m a medical transcriptionist and the A/C is always out. I just got my first rejection from an editor this week, but it’s okay because it was very nice.


I just ate a Bagel, egg, sausage & cheese sandwich from McDonald’s. It was delicious. I made Spaghetti for dinner tonight and if I may say so myself, it was DELICIOUS! Today I ate out of a chocolate fountain at a dinner for my college’s honors program. I am being lazy today and got a rotisserie chicken for dinner.


I threw my pillow at my tv after watching the season finale of True Blood.


I live in the Philippine Islands in Asia and we scarcely get the good books in the bookstore. Any bookworm would die out here.


I saved a baby from choking.


I heard from a friend today that I hadn’t heard from for a very long time.


My favorite color is mauve, I like rabbits (to pet, not to eat) and if I don’t leave right now, I’ll be late.


Hope you have a nice day! :D

Monday, September 27, 2010

THE SCORCH TRIALS winner

It's here. The day you've all been waiting for!

Congratulations Tere Kirkland!

So, I'm out of new books. I just finished Mockingjay, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, The Scorch Trials and the latest 13th Reality book. And I'm fresh out of new material.

Any suggestions for another read?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Scorch Trials Giveaway!


So, I got an unexpected package in the mail today- another Advanced Reader Copy of THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner.

How cool is that? So, since I have two copies, I can't NOT give you a chance to win.

Do you want it? How could you not????

Here's the rules....

* be a Very Cool Person (i.e. follower on this blog)
* leave your e-mail address in your comment
* and Say something!!! Like that your dog finally learned how to roll over or that you bought a new package of pencils today. I don't know. Just something. I love reading about you people.

I'll use Random.org to choose a winner September 27. Good luck!

Which Road are You On?


Life is a highway. Or a street somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Or something else altogether.




The question is, which road are you on? Is your life barely hanging on to the cliff or is it going around in one continuous never-ending cycle?
Or does it feel like you are headed straight into the unknown with no way of being sure that the end will be what you hoped?
Or are you in middle of the constant stream of ups and downs?

Maybe the point really is that you're still on the road. That you haven't turned into a rest stop and refuse to leave.

Here's my little motivational thought for the day. Keep driving. The road's gonna change. It never stays the same forever and it's worth the ride. One of these days you're going to look out your window and realize how beautiful everything really is.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Winner and a Snickers Bar


I don't buy candy bars unless it's Halloween.

Notice the period?

Last night my husband brought my 13 yr. old son to the store with him after picking him up from football practice. (yes, you heard right. He wants to play football now. )

Anyway, Snickers bars were buy one get one free. And being the soft daddy that he is, my husband bought my son a candy bar. And then thoughtfully put the other one in the freezer to eat later crushed up over ice cream, which to my utter astonishment is very awesome.

Remember the part about me not buying candy bars? I'm probably the only one that's never tried that with a Snickers bar before.

So I see the candy bar, get the short version of how it came to be at our house, and then ask what the heck nougatocity is. I can barely pronounce it.

Then left the room. You know, to catch two minutes of reading time because the kids are all in bed and the house is finally silent.

Then I hear my husband reading from the wrapper...
Nougatocity- a heightened yet fleeting state of accomplishment that makes you realize how unbelievably unmotivated you normally are.

What? Seriously? You buy a candy bar and it insults you? I'm unbelievably unmotivated normally? Ouch.

Whatever happened to FORTUNE cookies? Tell me something happy. You know, Dove Promises? I like happy.

I muttered "unbelievably unmotivated you normally are" for the rest of the evening.

And now on to less profound thoughts not found in the wrapper of a candy bar....

The winner of the $50 CSN gift card goes to throuthehaze

Thanks to all you Very Cool People who signed up and shared your warm thoughts. I loved hearing from you. Now I'm totally in the mood for applesauce. And pie. And hot chocolate. And cozy time reading on the couch not eating insulting Snickers bars.

Next time I'm buying Dark Chocolate Reeces.... and it better not call me names.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Scorch Trials Review

I know most of you haven't read THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner because, well, it's not out yet. It will be October 12 and you're not gonna want to miss this one.

THE MAZE RUNNER was released last year on my birthday, October 6. I decided that for my birthday I would go to every book carrying store and see who had The Maze Runner. If I didn't see it on the shelf, I asked someone when it was coming in or if they could order it for me.

And, for the record, I honestly think that the last book my husband read was The Maze Runner. Seriously.

So when The Scorch Trials ARC was circulating through the literary community, I wanted one. So bad. And for some reason I was lucky enough to have Random House generously send me a free copy to review. So cool. I did a little dance in the middle of a store when my husband called to tell me that it arrived at our house. I was that excited.

Without further ado, I give you my thoughts on The Scorch Trials....

Holy Flipping Action, Batman. There is no dead time in this story (no pun intended). James has no fear when it comes to his imagination. There is no action too tense or gut tightening. If you enjoyed "The Dark Knight", there are parts of this book that will resonate with you.

If you're a little wimpy, like me, and like a smart book with witty twists, this book delivers. It has more than the fast-paced action, it has a plot with some thought.

So, whatever turns you on to a book, an unexpected kiss, a gun in the hands of a maniac, or a smart twisting plot, this is the story you're looking for.

Lastly.... and I've been really struggling with the last part of this post. Really. See, I've been thinking long and hard about giving up the ARC to some well intentioned blog reader, aka- you, since I was planning on buying THE SCORCH TRIALS anyway. But my husband still wants to read it.

So here's the deal. If you convince me that you want it badly enough, the guilty conscience side of me might listen. But you've really gotta want it. Otherwise, my husband is thinking two copies of The Scorch Trials at our home might just be a really good thing. Hmmm, we'll see who wins.

Plan on making this series a part of your personal library. You won't be sorry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oooh... Time for another giveaway!

Are you breaking out the hot chocolate, warm soup and dutch ovens yet?

Doesn't peach cobbler sound amazing?

Fall hasn't officially started according to the calendar, but we can't wait until September 23 to turn on the heater. One great thing about cooler weather is the excuse to make warm food. All summer I avoid the kitchen as much as I can. We live on pasta salad for dinner.

But now? Oh yeah. We're breaking out the good warm foods.

And, to help you make some of your own, CSN is offering a $50 gift card. Keep reading and I'll tell you how to sign up.

But first, SCBWI is having a conference here in Boise September 11. Tomorrow! I'm so excited. I get to present and hang out with some amazing people.

And tonight, I'll be signing books with some other awesome authors at the Rediscovered Bookshop from 6-8 PM, 180 N. 8th Street, between Main and Idaho.

If you live around here, I'd love to see you.

More items on the list... I'll find out on Tuesday what month the next book of the Alvor series will be released. So far, it's been narrowed down to somewhere between April and August 2011.

Okay, now for that $50 gift card.

Here's the deal. I need more people on my list of "Very Cool People" (aka ... followers). So, sign up as a follower if you haven't already. Leave your e-mail address in your comment. The gift card is a code that will be e-mailed to you.

And, shoot me something interesting.. you know, tell me your favorite fall food, or why you love this time of year, or why you're super excited for Book 2 to come out, or that you promise to come to my book signing tonight.... or whatever.

But if you just leave your e-mail address and don't say anything at all... dude... you're not gonna win.

I'll give you all until September 17 to sign up.

Until then, enjoy the fresh fall weather-wherever you live. And eat something yummy.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

How To....

Life is full of all kinds of lessons. I spend time trying to learn them only to realize that there is too many for me to wrap my head around.

And, of course, the answers in life are not always the same for everyone. Darn it.

If I could tell you how to....be fit and trim...(eat right and exercise) people would flock to find out...even though they already know. It's not that we don't know. It's that we're looking for a new angle. Something we haven't tried before that might make it more doable for us.

Don't have time to exercise during the day? Take a walk after you've put the kids to bed.

Eat right? If you don't have it around, you won't eat it.

Now, if I could tell you how to become rich and famous. Or just rich. Now there would be something not to be missed.

What if I changed it to "how to accomplish your dreams"? Sounds easier. Kind of.

And just like being fit and trim, the answer is simple. Work hard and never give up. But what about all your failings? What about all those times when you've worked hard and it hasn't panned out? Oh, yeah. That's the never give up part.

Or change your dream.

But if you can't let go of your dream, I've got a new angle to consider.

No one will remember your failings. In the end, it's the one success that outweighs failure to the point of amnesia. Not only will people not remember how many times you fell on your face before getting to the finish line, but if reminded, it will only make you more relate-able.

How many people want "how to lose weight" advise from someone who has never been overweight? Or is it the ones who have dropped a magnitude of inches and pounds that we all are in awe of. They are the ones who inspire.

So is it with our attempts to succeed. As people realize how many times you were told no, how many rejections you received, how many people gave you no hope that you should go on, they will not only come to respect your success, but you will inspire them to keep pursuing their dreams.

Failures in trying is simply proof that you are still working towards your goals. Give up after that first face-plant and no one will even remember that you tried.

Get up and keep running and they'll never forget you.

I realized that I could spend nearly a year if I posted one rejection a day that I have received since I started writing. Nearly a YEAR!!! And that doesn't count all the ones I threw away- every single one that was mailed to me.

I have literally hundreds of reasons to give up.

But here's one more reason not to. These are the ones I want to read over and over.
This one is from a student in Utah whom I've never met....

p.s i absolutely love your book!!

So how do you get there? It's really hard. Simple in strategy, but incredibly difficult in execution. Work hard and never give up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Following Dreams


Jackie Evancho

I just watched another u-tube video of Jackie Evancho. Such an amazing gift. And at the end, she was asked if she ever gets nervous.

She said "...I do get nervous. I don't want to mess up and this is a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I really just hope that it happens."

For her, the world is sure that it will happen. There's no question. My thirteen year old son feels sorry for the other talent contestants because "What chance do they have over a ten year old opera singer?"

But this post isn't just about a little girl with a bright future. It's about all of us. The ones who haven't blown the minds of the entire world with our talent.

I was really struck by her comment. "...this is a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I really just hope that it happens."

Is there anyone out there on the planet who is seriously pursuing their dreams who hasn't felt that way? I feel it everyday. With the book my agent is submitting and the one I'm writing right now.

Because it's a big shot and it helps me follow my dreams and I just really hope that it happens.

I will succeed because I absolutely refuse to give up. That's it.

Thanks Jackie, for being such an inspiration to the world. You make it a beautiful place.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flow chart

So, like all good researchers, I've finally found the key to answering the question I'm supposed to field at the SCBWI conference Sept. 11.

My topic assignment... and I quote...

Laura- talk about what you have learned about working with a small publisher, scheduling book signings, were they worth it, etc.

The question...

Was it worth it?

I have to admit. When I got this question, I couldn't help but feel like it was a leading question into the answer "NO!!!".

But that wasn't the answer I would give. And I've been racking my brain to say everything in a way that would come off helpful, understandable and fair.

And then, unknowingly, a friend put a post on his blog that was the key. Thanks Jeff Savage. I say friend because he has taken the time to answer some of my questions, even though he may have been on the other side of the continent at the time. I love e-mails.

I'm not usually into flow charts, but this is one of those times when I think it will visually illustrate more than I could get across verbally. The concept is simple, but for me- everything I've been thinking since assigned this topic.

And now I have to decide whether to give everyone a preview of my presentation. Hmmm....

How 'bout I give you the basic idea in a nutshell....

Road to Big House publication (if everything magically goes completely perfectly without a single hitch)

Write Brilliant Story- 1st draft= 3 months
Revise Story = 3 months

Now you need an agent...
Query and get request for partial = 8 weeks
Agent requests full = 8-12 weeks
Agent offers representation = 3 months

(I used his numbers. I assure you, your time line will vary greatly)

And, then...
Agent offers editing advise= 2 months
Agent submits to publishing houses = 3 months

You get a book deal...
You're book is available online and in stores = 1.5-2 years

Total time from start to finish... 3.5-4 years

(again, this time line can vary greatly)

My point is, for 3.5-4 years you have no audience. No one has read any of your work. No one is looking forward to reading your big house book. You have no fan base. (Unless you've created it some other way besides producing books.)

It's still going to be years before I have a book with a big house, even if I were lucky enough to land a contract this week. In the meantime, here are the pros and cons of going with a small house...

Cons...
Small press means small money
Small money means small marketing
Small marketing means small audience base
Small audience base means small sales
Small sales means small paycheck

Pros...
My book sees shelves in every state of the US, at least for a while
It's available online
I get to meet people through book signings
I get to share what I've learned with schools and other organizations
I learn a lot about writing because I'm writing all the time
I get to write more than one genre because I'm not locked into a deadline
I get to present at conferences - I love doing this
I get into conferences for FREE- also love this
I have a fan base- people find my book and are looking for my next one
I learn a lot about marketing because I'm doing it
I have lots of opportunities to meet other authors
Using a small press does not prevent me from getting an agent and moving into a big house

And I bet I could keep going for a long long time. My point is, there are lots of benefits of going small press.

At the end of the day, or years as the case may be, I will still get to my goal of publishing with a big house, but I will get to be a published author the whole time.

So, to answer the question, "Is it worth it?"

Yes. Really. You should know what you're getting into, but I definitely think there are advantages to getting in the thick of the publishing world even before you land your big book deal.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Brand New Day

It's the first time I've ever put "new blog post" on my list of things to do today. Usually, I float over to my blog and am antsy to fill it up with stuff. But lately I've felt like I had nothing NEW to say.

Now I do.

1. New school year! Today is the first day of school for my kids. All of them have a new bus stop. And, my twins are in first grade, so lots of firsts for them.... all day school, lunch at school, getting on and off the bus with their big brother. So fun!

2. I got a contract today for the next book in the Alvor series. I'll let you know as soon as I find out when the next book will be in stores.

3. Alone at home with my three-year-old. I was figuring out how long it's been since I've had just a three year old at home during the day. Ten years. Ten years ago my oldest was still an only child. It didn't last.

4. And now we have nap-time for my three-year-old. This is big. We had to abandon naps for a couple months this summer because our house was too crazy with kids. Of course, this means writing time for me. YAY!!!

I'll be pulling my kids out of school on Thursday and Friday to go to my niece's wedding on Friday. A five day weekend. I feel like I'm cheating. And then I promise to get back to the regularly scheduled life... work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Anticipations

Things are changing. The weather kicked into fall gear last night as if someone handed in a calendar informing the storm patterns that most kids are either in school already, or almost. For us, we have one more week.

This morning as I helped my kids get ready for church, my first grader twins kept asking if school was tomorrow. They're so excited. The bus. Lunch at school. Friends, friends and more friends.

We've got the old tennis shoes replaced with new ones. All the boys have haircuts. The backpacks are waiting with baited breath. It's almost here.

They're ready.

And that's about how my contract for the second book of Alvor is right now. It's been edited, several times. Revised some more. And now, we're on our last go-through. Sometime this week I'll hopefully have the last editing suggestions. It's almost there.

Hmm, wish I could say the same thing for the book my agent is shopping out. Wouldn't that be AMAZING?! Someday. It will happen.

The SCBWI conference here in Boise is September 11 at BSU. Here's a peek at some of the guests...

Cheryl Klein, senior editor at Scholastic
Jill Corcoran, agent at the Herman Agency

And I get to present too. I'm excited.

And speaking of things I'm excited about, we're taking the kids to Idaho Falls in a couple weeks for my niece's wedding. Uhm, so, my kids will be in school for three days before we pull them out of school for a five-day weekend. Yeah. Oh well. Hopefully it's warm enough to use the outdoor swimming pool at the hotel.

I'm also very jazzed about the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner. I still can't believe Random House sent me a free book just because I asked nicely. Totally cool. I feel like I'm cheating. I got a free book AND I didn't have to wait until October when it's going to be released. No guilt here at all. Nope. Just pure joy.

Be expecting a book review coming soon. I've never posted a review for any of James's books, so this will be fun. My son who is now in 8th grade did a book report project when he was in 4th grade of one of James Dashner's A DOOR IN THE WOODS books. Back then I had no idea that I would someday write books and that James would become one of my friends. Life is full of wonderful surprises.

Aaah. It's good to realize how many things I have to be excited about. And that's only a few. The more I think about good things, the more ideas start piling up in my head. I could write a whole book on it... don't worry... if I do, I won't make you read it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Randomness

I can't believe it's Wednesday already. The little people are getting bored around here. Record high of crying and moaning going on. I think summer is coming to an end. I realized today that I've only written ten pages in the last two weeks. TEN PAGES!!! Of course, I've edited for several hours, so that should count for something.

Eighth Grade registration was a shocker. It cost over $100 for my son's classes, activity card, year book, lock and I can't remember what else. Then it occurred to me. My twins will be double that when they get into 8th grade. And I'll still have all these other kids to register. Woe. Hopefully I'm rich by then.

Which isn't likely.

Then there's the school clothes, school supplies and who knows what else. How do you people do it? The lottery? Rich relatives?

Okay, I'll stop complaining now.

Lately I've been up to my eyeballs in figuring out clogging costumes. I've seen more sparkly material in the last few weeks than the Miss America Pageant. And that's saying something. But I've got a lot of it figured out... I think.

This is the point where I should stop worrying about what we're going to wear and start worrying about what we're going to dance. Choreography season... I will get to it. I will.

In the meantime, can I just put a good word out there for all the boy dancers! I love it. This is a great time to dance if you're a guy. In fact, I have more guys than girls in one of my levels. Unheard of for me. And so cool. We're doing an all-boys class just because we can. So awesome.

And, my thirteen-year-old son taught a step to my adult performing team last week. That was amazing. After watching him teach them, I gained a whole new appreciation for his talent. Now if I could just get him to take out the garbage with that much enthusiasm...

Great, now I sound like I'm bragging. I'm not. Just thinking out loud... as it were.

My publisher found someone who has never read Alvor to review my second book to the series. They want a fresh eye to make it a strong enough story to stand alone. Hopefully we'll wrap up the editing soon.

In the meantime, I get to see my soon-to-be married niece and family this Saturday! Yay!

And I can't believe I'm saying this... but I'm excited for school to start. Don't tell my kids. But maybe they're getting excited too. Friends. Lots of friends. If you didn't have to wake up early there really wouldn't be a downside.

Okay, end of random rambling. Until next time...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Someone at Walmart

My grandma sent this to me today. It just struck me with more than one reaction. Try it on and see what you think....


Charley, a new retiree-greeter at Wal-Mart, just couldn't seem to get to work on time.

Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late. But he was a good worker, really
tidy, clean-shaven, sharp minded and a real credit to the company and
obviously demonstrating their "Older Person Friendly" policies.
One day the boss called him into the office for a talk.
"Charley, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic, you do a bang up job,
but your being late so often is quite bothersome."

"Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it."
''Well good, you are a team player. That's what I like to hear.
It's odd though your coming in late.
I know you're retired from the Armed Forces.
What did they say if you came in late there?"









''They said, "Good morning, General, can I get you coffee, sir?'''