Sunday, December 27, 2009

Moving Mayhem

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~Walt Disney

I'm moving on Tuesday.

Yeah, that's right. Smack dab in the middle of Christmas and New Years. Because, you know, what better time of the year to do one of the top five most stressful life events?

I apologize for my lack of comments and blogging, but I will be buried in boxes for the next few days. I hope you all had a magical Christmas (if you celebrate it) and have a wonderful and prosperous new year.

Photos of the new house soon to come. Wait until you see my new writing area!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Twas two nights before xmas and somewhere in my house,
Was a half written mermaid manuscript,
And a dusty computer mouse,

All my blogger friends waited by their computers with care,
In hopes that my comment soon would be there.
Their kind words and awards all accumulated in my head,
While my gratitude and appreciation still remained left unsaid.

So I slipped on my kerchief, and put the Riesling on tap,
Then booted up my computer instead of taking a much needed nap.
When there on my screen there appeared such a splatter,
Days of colorful comments made my guilty conscience grow fatter.

Away to my dashboard I clicked with a flash,
Scanned through the hundreds of posts and developed a stress rash,
Every update and contest deserved my full attention,
Then I discovered kissing scenes! There were too many to mention.

How? my wandering mind wondered with fear,
Could I ever leave comments for ALL the writer friends I hold dear?
More rapid than cheetahs the fond memories came,
As I sipped wine, pulled my hair out, and called them by name;

“Now Jessica! Now Jennifer! Now Jody, and Jade!
On Catherine! On Carolina! On Bethany and BJ!
To Diana! To Dominique! To Elaine and Ellie!
For Tabitha! For Tricia! For Karen and Kelly!
Hey Joanne! Hey Joyce! Hey Carol Anne and Aubrie!
Hi Georgina! Hi Mireyah! Hi Courtney and Corey!
Oh Lady Glamis! Oh Lotusgirl! Oh Rhiannon and Sara!
Now Mary! Now Marybeth! Now Tess and Tira!
On Shannon M! On Shannon O! On Frankie and Jessie!
To Glass Dragon, To Kristi! To Voidwalker and Vicky!
For Natalie M! For Natalie B! For Megan and Marie!
Hey Susan! Hey Stephanie! Hey Melissa and Patti!”

From the top of my head, to the top of my dashboard wall,
I knew there was no way to properly comment on them all,
So up to the “New Post” button I flew,
With a heart full of love and a big group thank you.

My eyes how they twinkled, my smile was so bright,
As I thought of all my writing pals, on this late holiday night,
You inspire, you entertain, you share, and you teach,
You help keep me and others going when the dream seems out of reach.

Thank you for every story, award, comment, and post,
I’m raising my wine glass for an internet toast.
May you all hear me exclaim as I sign off tonight,
Merry Christmas to all! And to all a good-write!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Tonight, one year ago, on December 21, 2008, my world changed dramatically. I started writing my first novel. I didn't want to write a novel. I didn't know how to write a novel. It just sort of happened.

Today I went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to bake chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because that's what I was doing this time last year when the story of The Kindrily crashed into my life at breakneck speed. I was baking cookies and listening to an old Ella Fitzgerald song. One line from Someone to Watch Over Me, created an image in my head of a green-eyed girl who had an amazing, tragic, and magical story to tell. So I started telling it. With no idea what I was doing, or how to write a chapter, much less a whole novel. I got so consumed by it that I burnt the cookies. I've decided to make the event an annual tradition, except tonight I may set a timer.

A year later and my story has been beta read by a beloved few, edited over and over, hacked and slashed, had action and conflict added to it. My MS has been worked and reworked and improving every step of the way.

So have I. Becoming a great writer is a long process. I'm not even close to being great yet, but my goodness, I have come a long way in 365 days.

I finished a novel. I attended the Pikes Peak Writers conference. I met talented writers, agents, and editors. I've developed near and dear friendships with my betas--and at times I wonder what I ever did without those gals in my life. I have read more books than usual and appreciated them in a new way. I have fallen in love with my characters; cried for them, laughed at them, cheered them on, killed them off, and gave them life again.

The most amazing part of all of this is even though I know how much work was required to "finish" a novel, and how slim the odds are of my story getting published, I am writing my second one. The reward isn't in getting the book deal (though that would be fantastic) the reward is creating. Falling in love--and hate--and being a part of a new world of people, places, and things. I'm doing it all over again, and I didn't even need cookies to inspire this new tale.

One year and so much has happened. Many writers are way ahead of me. They've been at this for years. They have written volumes upon volumes. They are better, stronger, more knowledgeable. Some are agented, published, or been on book tours. Good for them. Good for all of us. It doesn't matter where we are on our path, it's nice to know the others who are walking it with us. Even those who are miles ahead, or a few steps behind.

Do you have a writing anniversary? How long have you been at it? I guess I should count my creative writing school days as writing time, but the world of novels is so much more fun. Wherever you are on your journey, I hope you enjoy it every step of the way. And if you're in my neighborhood tonight and want to stop by for milk and warm cookies, my door is always open.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living."
— Anaïs Nin
As promised, here is a photo that foretold I would someday write a story about mermaids. Me at age two...
Seawees were so cool. So was my parents striped couch and my brother's cute matching short and tank set. That's my sweet grandmother looking on in the background. I also loved Care Bears, My Little Pony, Glow Worms, and Teddy Ruxpin. Hmm, I wonder if that gives any indication of what novels may manifest in my future.

Anyway, back to mermaids.

Me at age 21 (maybe 22. I can't remember) with the most popular mermaid of them all...

I was trying to pose like her, but I couldn't get my hair to whoosh up in the air like hers. That's my beautiful and supportive mother on the other side of Ariel. You too can pose with this statue if you cruise on the Disney Wonder.

I kept my promise, those are my pics. No lengthy post today, nothing exciting to update about, I'm just having fun splashing around with old photos and sharing with all you great blogging friends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Word About Awards

Time to say thank you to a few gals for blog awards I recently received.

The Honest Scrap Award was presented to me three times within one week. See, it pays to be honest.

Thank you to Karen Denise at I'm Always Write. #1 she has one of the greatest names in the world. #2 She lives in the town I grew up in. Well, okay the zipcodes are one digit off because our towns sit side by side, but still. I know the roads she travels because I grew up traveling them myself. Now, we share a journey down the roads of writing and I love reading her blog.

AND to Victoria S. the aspiring author of AMBER. Victoria always makes me a little mad because she posts AMAZING photos that I wish I would have found first. Then I forgive her because she posts fun, interesting stuff. We would probably love everything each other writes because we seem to have the same tastes and mind set. Oh, and she has great music on her player. I leave her page up while I'm blogging just so I can hear all her good song choices.

AND last but not least, to Tricia O'Brien at Talespinning. Tricia and I are both writing about mermaids. She was a great cheerleader for me during NaNo, and her blog always has such great photography and thought provoking posts. I figure in a couple years Tricia and I will be on a book signing tour together when the Mermaid craze hits with fury. :)

The wonderful gals I'm awarding the Honest Scrap Award to are:

Ellie Kings at Matters of the Heart
Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books

The other award I received was The Superior Scribbler award from Frankie Diane Mallis at Frankie Writes.
Frankie's blog never fails to make me smile. She has a potpourri of writing advice, funny videos, talented artist friends who she loves and shows support for, AND she made a deal with the universe. I get daily notes from the universe, so I think it's cool that people are making deals with my note writer. :)

(For those of you who are wondering about my sanity because of that daily notes comments, go check out and sign up to receive your own notes. They are very inspiring.)

I'd like to award The Superior Scribbler award to:

Bethany Mattingly at ASPIRATIONS of a writer and agriculture lover.
Aubrie Dionne at Author, Flutist, Teacher.

Any person I have created a link for is worth checking out because they all some great insight or opinions to offer. Go check them out!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I did not meet the 50k NaNo goal. The beauty in that statement is that I do not care, nor do I feel like a failure. Why? Because I have about 35k words of a great story. I broke the rules. I edited chapters over and over again. I did spell check, I did research, I did delete the crap I read and didn't like any more.

To me, writing is not about how fast I can write or how quickly I can reach a word count goal. One day if I have an agent and publisher that has me on a deadline, THEN I will reevaluate my feelings about rushing my work.

This past week I've been at Disney World with my parents. While some NaNo peeps were stressing on November 30th and trying to reach 50k, I was enjoying the magic of Disney and letting it inspire some fantastic ideas for my story. I even saw the cutest painting in the Wyland Gallery of...guess what?...yup, MERMAIDS! Yay! The artist is Jim Warren and I'm convinced everyone in the scene is having a tea party in my honor and toasting to the fact that my new story is coming along swimmingly, and that one day in the near future (hopefully), the world will have another fabulous merfolk story.

How did the rest of you do? How's your current WIP? What's magical in your life these days?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Infinite Takes On The Same Theme

***beautiful mermaid pics used to be in this post but due to the recent lawsuits for using photos on blogs I took them down.***

My newest story is about a mermaid.
There, I said it.
For months I've been keeping it hush-hush in fear that everyone else would suddenly start writing about mermaids. What a stupid fear. That's like saying only one writer ever thought of writing about wizards, or fairies, or, yup, wait for it ...vampires.

Fact is, one theme or idea can be interpreted an infinite amount of ways. Just because I'm writing a story about merfolk (yes there are hot mermen involved) doesn't mean anyone else would ever come remotely close to writing the same story I'm writing. I can even post pictures here that inspire me and relate to my story in some way, but I guarantee no one could guess HOW or WHAT those photos mean.

Does my mermaid live in Alaska?
Or are those hunks of quartz rock?
Can she only come out of the water during a full moon?

Does she fall in love with a well-dressed human?
Do they love to dance?
Or do I just love Josephine Wall (the artist) and felt the need to include her amazing work in my post?

This one could summarize my whole story.

I don't know.
What's your interpretation of it?

That's the thing. Story tellers create their own worlds, rules, characters, plots, arcs, etc. We can take one concept and run a gazillion different directions with it.

I know one writer/blog friend who is also writing about mermaids. We discovered that fact because we're NaNo buddies. Are our stories similar? No, not in the slightest. Do I feel threatened that her story might get published before mine? I hope it does! Maybe she'll help create the buzz about aquafolk so there will be a demand from publishers when I try to pitch mine. (We both can only hope.)

No matter what creatures, or themes, or places we write about, we should never be worried about someone else doing it too. The details of your story and the depths of your imagination will never be exactly like someone else. I'd never reveal ALL my secrets and the incredible details of my newest characters, but I'm no longer afraid to share a glimpse into their fantastic world.

What about you? Are you the type that shouts from the mountaintops about what you're writing, or do you keep it hidden away in the secret depths of the ocean?

While I'm at my parents house on Thanksgiving, I will dig out the photos of me from when I was two and had an obsession with SeaWees. Yes, folks, my love of underwater people started at a very early age. Little Karen with mermaids photo to be posted soon!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've Started Spiraling

Years ago I remember someone (can't remember who for the life of me) on a television show or movie saying, "Let's not start spiraling." They meant don't let this spiral downward into negativity or make this conversation worse. For some reason that line stuck with me and I've used it a few times when a friend or family member started going to an ugly place that I didn't feel needed visiting.

Newsflash! I've started spiraling. Actually I've been spiraling for a couple weeks now, but I'm really starting to feel the pull--and push--of this whirlwind and I've got to tell you, spiraling is not a bad thing.

My newest story goes to some dark places. Some of my characters say and do things I'd never even think of, but I wrote their scenes so obviously I DID think of them. When I go back and reread scenes I wrote last week my eyes bulge and I gasp a little as if I'm reading about this shocking behavior for the first time. I know I wrote it. I was there. It's not like I mentally checked out while I typed, but I'm still a little astounded at what I've created.

However, where there is darkness, light must eventually shine. Ah, the law of yin and yang. Especially in my stories because I do have that magical fairytale mentality. Many times I wonder if I should stop spiraling downward into the dangerous, racy, and kind of wicked world of several of my new characters. Maybe I should keep it light and happy and safe. I ride the spiral upward back to a place of rainbows, sunrises, and happy thoughts. Then the shady ones tug at my hands and feet and pull me back under.

I start to see a seesaw effect of light and dark in my story and it makes me squeal with delight. It keeps me on my toes, it keeps me intrigued, it explores very different worlds, reasoning, lifestyles, emotions, and mentalities. If I'm having this much fun writing it then maybe, hopefully, someday readers might have fun seesawing and spiraling through my story too.

What about you? Do you let yourself and your writing spiral out of control every now and then?

Monday, November 9, 2009


Yesterday I took a breather from my new WIP and watched BECOMING JANE (a film inspired by the early life of author Jane Austen.) Sigh.

I laughed. I cried. I hit the rewind button several times so I could hear the brilliant dialogue. Most of my tears were because my heart ached for Jane and Tom. Some of my tears were because I worried my life would turn out like Jane's. Not the part where she writes several of the greatest novels in literature. No, that aspect of her life makes her one of my idols. I'm talking about the final scene where she finishes reading Pride and Prejudice, then folds her hands over her novel. The camera zooms in on the fact that she isn't wearing a wedding band.

Yup, that part almost sent me running for the Riesling.

In my Men Of Our Dreams post, I mentioned my fears about my fictitious crushes interfering with my real love life (or lack thereof). Now comes the next big smack in the face. Am I missing out on having an exciting "real life" because I spend hours upon hours alone writing about imaginary people, places, and plots? Perhaps.

However, one of my favorite parts of the movie put that worry into perspective.

In the scene I'm referring to, Lady Gresham (stuffy old broad) is attempting to get Jane and Mr. Wisley to spend quality time together. Suddenly Jane rushes over to a bench--ignoring her unwelcomed guests--and starts making notes in a notebook. I will quote the characters directly because it's much more brilliant that way.
Lady Gresham: What is she doing?
Mr. Wisley: Writing.
Lady Gresham: Can anything be done about it?
We all know the answer. No. Nothing can be done about it. Not if you're a real writer.

Inspiration does not always strike at the most appropriate or convenient times. Writers may have to decline social invitations, lose sleep, skip meals, and miss out on time with friends and family. Sometimes we can't ignore our ideas, or not write them down just because we have company. Or a job. Or chores to do. Many writers give up certainty and security in exchange for a great deal of uncertainty and solitude. Why?

This next quote hit very close to home.
Jane: You live so quietly, and yet your novels are filled with romance, danger, and terror.
Mrs. Radcliffe (the Authoress): Everything my life is not...Of what do you wish to write?
Jane: Of the heart.
Mrs. Radcliffe: Do you know it?
Jane Austen: Not all of it.
Mrs. Radcliffe: In time, you will. But even if that fails, that's what the imagination is for.
Real life beckons, enticing me with possibilities of who I might meet, things I could do, places I should visit. Instead, I quietly curl up on my couch and dive back into creating my latest novel. It may never be published. It may never be read by anyone but a few people close to me, and most likely won't ever make me wealthy or famous. Yet I grab my laptop and happily write anyway. Why? Because I'm a writer, and nothing can be done about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I'm in heaven. Again.

I visited once before back in December. I stayed there until April because it was so beautiful, exciting, ever-changing, and addictive. Then I had to leave. Reality called and I had obligations like a writers conference, editing, revisions, networking, beta reading, and a pesky day job.

For months I've been worried I'd never get to visit heaven again. See, I didn't pay attention to how I got there. It wasn't planned, I didn't follow a map, and it wasn't where or what I thought it would be. I stumbled upon it by accident. (If there are such things as accidents--fatalists would say it's all destiny).

My heaven was writing a novel. Sleepless nights, endless cups of coffee, very little food, and being inspired by song lyrics that sent me rushing to my computer to write that next scene. I found joy in creating fantastical puzzle pieces of people, places, events, and conversations--even though I wasn't sure if the pieces would ever fit together.

At the time it wasn't about the end result, it was about getting the next scene, idea, or line out of my head and onto my computer screen. I'd never finish a novel! But gosh, what fun these imaginary people had while keeping me awake at night. Then somehow--maybe by divine or magical intervention--all those puzzle pieces snapped together and told a complete tale.

Surely it was a fluke. Afterward I read many blogs and websites about outlines, plotting tools, character development exercises, etc. If I had read all the "how to" advice before I wrote my first book, I believe it would have never been written. Knowing what I know now, I'd never expect to be able to create a bunch of puzzle pieces and have them mysteriously align again.

Oh, but wait. Here I am writing a new tale, with no outlines or method to my madness. Sparks keep flying and I keep typing while I marvel at how any of this stuff ever finds it's way into my mind. This quote sums it up nicely...

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." E.L. Doctorow

Maybe this story won't ever snap itself into completion like the last one. Maybe it will. Maybe my journey isn't guided by headlights. Instead, it's bursting through the darkness like colorful fireworks. I don't know what color, or shape, or where the next explosion will be. All I know is each one lights up my world, and I am loving every boom, ooh, and ah.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Getting To Know You--And Me

My last post, Got Questions?, gave fellow bloggers the chance to ask me questions. I'm hopped up on antibiotics and cold meds today, so forgive the lack of creativity and/or spelling and grammar errors. My head feels like it's filled with clouds and cobwebs. Okay, on we go...

Melissa: My characters are Elements because of the air, earth, fire, water concepts, but they are not the mythical Elementals like gnomes, undines, etc. More astrological and nature based. They look and act like real human beings, but they're gifted in lots of cool ways.
I am so jealous of your photographic memory. I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last night.

Susan: Come on down! You’re the next contestant on…just kidding. I’m a bit of a game show fan myself. And yes I am currently working on another project about Merfolk--along with some other underwater creatures. I’m very excited about my new aqua crew.

I like it here (Florida) very much. I love having the beaches and bay on either side of me. I don’t think I’d ever move back to Baltimore. There is too much of the world I still want to see and experience. My job is okay, but I’d much rather be writing and traveling the world! You should visit Panama sometime. You could practice your Spanish and it’s an amazing country.

Natalie: A wired jaw huh? You’ve given me an idea for my new diet! Dancing. Yes, when I was little I thought for sure I‘d be a professional dancer at Disney World or on Broadway. It never happened, but I did take many years of classes and went to a high school for the arts and majored in dance. The studio where I currently take classes is awesome and many times throughout the year we have guest choreographers from shows like So You Think You Can Dance.

Becca- I’m so sorry I made your Q eyes cry. Yes, I will send you the rest of my story so you can see how it ends.

- Yes, I’ve already written a good bit of book 2 of The Kindrily, and a tiny bit of book 3. I have LOTS of ideas for my star-written crew. That’s so neat about your voice. Ever thought of doing voice overs for movies or cartoons? I always thought that would be a fun career.

Lady Glam: My favorite food? That’s a tough one because I love so many. Chocolate and peanut butter are at the very top of the list and yes, I eat both of them more often than I should. Though I do love cashews too!

Andrew: Welcome! Thanks for saying hello. The Kindrily was definitely an obsession. Eating and sleeping took a back burner while I wrote it. Editing and revising took another few months, but I slowly learned to balance real life with my writing life. There is no rhyme or reason to when and how much I write. When ideas hit me I write. 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, however long it takes. I’m not one of those “sit and write an hour a day” kind of people. I’ve never been that disciplined.
London is one of my top places I’d like to visit. I’m a bit envious that you’ve lived there.

Tira: Your question ties in nicely with my last comment. My favorite place so far is either Hawaii or Panama. I loved them both. Places Id love to go: England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, Greece, Egypt, the list goes on and on. India is on my list too. I have a dear friend who lives there and I’d love to go visit her. I assume you love it since you’ve been so many times.

Ellie: Ooooh my favorite white wine is Bukettraube, from South Africa. The smell alone is pure heaven. I’m by no means a wine connoisseur, but I ordered this wine at JIKO restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and it is by far the best I’ve ever had. I’d order it by the case if I could afford it.

Sara: Thank you so much for my award!

Georgina: Your question was my favorite! I met my M N M’s (aka my uber talented, beautiful-inside-and-out, extraordinary league of ladies) via the web. Megan started a blog called Word Stringers and invited all writers to join. At first quite a few people did, but over time most members fell away and we realized the four of us were the main people posting, commenting, and supporting each other. I swear I have come to love those gals like they’re my sisters (and I don’t have any sisters so it’s a nice addition to the family!) We still occasionally post to our private blog just for fun, but mainly we email back and forth all day. My “reply all” button has been working overtime since the day we all banned together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sigh. I have heard the rumors about Michael but I choose to ignore them. Plus Reid is still my number 1 pick for future husband. ;)

Thanks to everyone who participated in my little getting to know you session. I loved learning fun facts about all of you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Got Questions?

These days we can connect with anyone virtually. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. People all over the world can be found and connected with others through a few clicks of the mouse. Folks give updates on anything and everything that happens in their life (or someone else's.) Their thoughts, questions, ponderings, and such, are out there for all the world to see.

It has me wondering, does anyone really care what others have to say? Or do we just enjoy seeing ourselves and our words out there in the universe?

I've met some wonderful friends through blogging. My writing group has become so near and dear to me that I'm not sure what I'd do without those three gals in my life. I've reconnected with old friends on Facebook. I've learned personal tidbits of info on people via Twitter (some I find funny or fascinating--others not so much.)I really enjoyed reading the comments on my last post. I enjoyed getting to know more about all my blogging buddies. I want to know more!

Many times I find myself wanting to ask semi-famous people questions, but I refuse to feel like one of those stalker types, so I only lurk in the shadows of their social networking sites. I am by no means semi-famous, but I do wonder if any of my blog readers have questions they'd like to ask me. Does anyone really give a hoot about me or my life except for the minuscule parts I blog about? Probably not. But maybe. I think it's a fun social experiment to find out.

Usually I hold my cards close to my chest with strangers, but most of you don't feel like strangers to me anymore. So, if you have something you'd like to ask, I'm making myself an open book for a couple days. Ask away. I will answer all questions in my next post. There's only one catch. You have to post a random or interesting fact about yourself. Yup, this is a give and take relationship.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Men of our Dreams

My mother suggested I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I started it and she’s right—as always—I love it. Some of the thoughts and quotes in this novel are timeless, but one in particular almost made me drop the book in a moment of self-realization.
“I sometimes think I prefer suitors in books rather than right in front of me. How awful, backward, cowardly, and mentally warped that will be if it turns out to be true.”

Oh boy. Juliet summed up my dating dilemmas in two sentences. What if I’m turning away perfectly good suitors because they don’t live up to the high standards my fictitious crushes have set? My passion for great love stories will result in me never having my own. What a twisted trick of fate that would be.

The 3 dream men of my life are amazing. They set a very high bar.

1.) REID ROSENTHAL (From The Bachelorette) – He takes the number one spot because he makes me laugh. He’s got a sense of humor that I adore, and a smile that’s contagious. His soulful eyes, family values, and playful (yet kind of shy) demeanor makes me melt. I could list 88 other reasons why I find him gorgeous (inside and out) but then we start crossing into the stalker realm. I’m sure he has enough of those.
2.) MICHAEL BUBLE (Singer)- Another real life guy (kind of). I don’t follow tabloid gossip, so don’t tell me if he’s not as perfect and old-fashionably romantic as I imagine him to be. We have a starry-eyed love affair through his songs (he writes all of them for me you know). I’m sure we’d dance around to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald music while agreeing that no matter how fast-paced and lacking-in-morals the world is, we will always make time for, and stay true to each other, until the end of time.
3.) SETH MORGAN- Okay, he’s a character in the novel Wicked Lovely, but who cares? He’s a smart, sexy, readaholic who is just the right balance of sensitive and bad ass. He’s faithfully devoted to his girl (which of course is me—not Aislinn) and he stays and fights for love even when times get tough, dangerous, and seemingly impossible. His pet snake freaks me out a bit, but I am willing to accept a few quirks and flaws. That comes with any relationship.

Everyone is flawed. I’m okay with that. I certainly have flaws. My characters are flawed. Boringly perfect is, well, boring. I don’t want perfect. I want perfect for me. The problem is, perfect for me has become a delicate blend of Reid, Michael, and Seth.

Now here’s the problem with my crushes (besides the obvious never-gonna-happen part). They are only perfect in my mind. Reid and Michael may exist in real life BUT their fame has probably inflated their ego to a size so astronomic it would never fit in my quaint little universe. I don’t like cocky, and with that many fans, I’m sure it’s next to impossible to not be cocky. Plus, who knows if Reid was being Real Reid while cameras followed him around 24-7. And Michael is used to red carpets and sold out shows. Would he ever be happy with movie nights on the couch eating ice cream together? Um, no, probably not.

Watching my crushes on TV, listening to them on my Ipod, or reading about them in a book is not helping me achieve my dream of finding my soul mate. It’s not like Seth is going to cross a magical portal and spring to life from the pages of my books.

(I just had flashbacks of that 80’s A-ha video for Take On Me. I LOVED that video as a kid. Wow, maybe my fictitious crush issues run deeper than I thought.)

Anywho, how can three men I've never met leave me all warm and tingly? And why can’t the men I go on dates with ever make me feel that way?

I don’t know how the Guernsey story ends yet. I’m hoping it’s something like... the pen pal letters from Dawsey evolve into love letters, Juliet goes to Gurnsey to meet him in person, their worlds collide; resulting in fireworks, magical kisses, late nights, comfortable silence, lots of laughter, and a happily ever after. Wait. What a coincidence, that’s how I want MY story to unfold too. (Seriously, I’m placing the blame for my fairytale syndrome on A-ha. That’s gotta be where all this stems from.)

Please tell me I’m not alone. Who are your fictitious or never-gonna-happen crushes? And why do you love them so much?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Storytellers of the World

Storytellers. Where would the world be without them?
No, seriously. In the rush to speed read through blogs today, take ten seconds to contemplate that question.
Where would the world be without storytellers?

Sad thought isn't it?

Now, if you have a couple more minutes, watch this video. I figured I'd watch one or two minutes then click away. But like any great storyteller, she made me stay until the end. She left me touched, moved, in awe, and teary-eyed. An amazing, hauntingly beautiful story being told in a very unique way.

Her name is Ksenya Simonova. She was on Ukraine's Got Talent. Her canvas is a pane of glass. She used volcanic and sea sand to create a masterpiece tale of those effected by the Great Patriotic War. Love, loss, hope, despair, and how those emotions change us and our lives. You may have recognized some of the music. The voice sound clips were from war news footage.

Proof that in any language, or time period, the beauty and fragility of the human soul is universal.

Here's to the storytellers. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This Is Not For You

This is not for you.

This is not for family, or friends, or writers.
These words are not advice, or wisdom, or to be critiqued in any way.
This is not proper punctuation, or grammar, or sentence structure.
This is expression, emotion, and raw reverie.

This is for an eighteen-year-old man,
driving too fast from a story he knows every side of.
Wishing tonight she’d finally choose love instead of lies.
With eyes like stars and a heart bigger than the moon,
who had no idea his midnight ride would be his last.

This is for a seventeen-year-old girl,
sitting beside a wrecked car on a dark winding road,
whispering I love you and promising it will all be okay.
With no idea she is holding a last chance in her arms,
who thirteen years later, is still waiting to say I’m sorry.

This is for a night that loops repeatedly through my mind.
With his mother’s tears forever falling upon the hospital floor,
while his big brother’s scream eternally echoes down a hallway.
Where thirteen years later, a part of my soul still stands in that ER,
begging him not to go.

This is because it is 10-14.
Every year on this day, I yearn to bake a birthday cake, find the perfect gift,
and attach it to 888 balloons,
so it will float up into Heaven,
and show him that I haven’t forgotten.
That I will never forget.

This is for him. And for me. And for them.

This is for anyone who knows this feeling.
Who is haunted by a number, a date, a song,
or a place and time you can’t reach.
Who incorrectly assumed there would always be tomorrow.
For those who talk to the stars, and pray an angel is listening.

This is for everyone who has ever loved, or lost.
Who has experienced the beauty of this world, or the ugliness.
Who understands the meaning of tragedy,
but hopes to be spared from it, again.
For those who brave the path of healing,
even when it seems an impossible journey.

This is for anyone living their story.
To anyone who believes in happily ever after, or fears a nevermore.

We are countless characters, with infinite backstories,
creating never-ending plots in this book called life.
We are the sum of our parts, our people, and our experiences.
Moments hidden away in almost forgotten pages,
and memories that never leave us,
fluttering like angel wings as the chapters of our life rapidly flip by.

This is not for you, or for him, or for me.
This is for each and every soul who has ever felt sorry, guilty, lost, afraid, abandoned, insecure, unsure, self-doubting, self-loathing, self-sacrificing, misguided, misunderstood, unknown, unseen, unheard, unkind, loved, hated, hurt, confused, or alone.

We are all in this together.
We all have a him, her, them, me, or us.
We all live with a mistake, a regret, a burden, a broken promise, or a shattered heart.
We are all living this life one page at a time,
and we all have a story to share.
This is for the stars, the moon, and the angels.

This is for all of us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Change of FireHeart

Debbie Ohi aka InkyGirl (or on Twitter InkyElbows)always has great tweets. She tweets links to literary news and happenings, writing advice, etc. Today she tweeted a link to a blog post by Alegra Clarke on Editor Unleashed about NaNoWriMo.

Dang it.

I've been trying not to get sucked in the November madness. November is jam packed with my trip home to Baltimore, NFL football games, fall frolicking at the beach when the weather cools down, possible moving, Thanksgiving, my annual early xmas trip to Disney World with my family. The list goes on and on.

I can't write a 50k word novel in November!
I mean sure I wrote a 150k word novel in a little over two months last winter, but I was insane and out of touch with most of reality for those two months. I don't want to go through that again.

Oh wait. Yes I do.

That "creative state of crazy" was one of the best times of my life. The thought of writing a first draft of a whole new novel in one month excites me. I get to conjure up new people in a new world with new adventures, problems, character flaws, and of course (since it's me writing the story) there will be a whole lot of magic and fantasy.

So, Alegra and Debbie, you have twisted my arm. I have caved. NaNoWriMo here I come.

My username is FireHeart. (My acupuncturist told me I was a "FireHeart" during our last session. Since I was a child I've wondered what my name would be if I was a CareBear, so now I know. FireHeart. I like it. Now I need a cool picture for my belly.)

Are you up for the NaNoWriMo challenege? Have you already registered? If so let me know what your username is so we can all cheer each other on. Ya know like, "CareBear Stare!!!" Sorry, can you tell I loved the CareBears?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Karmic Kraziness

If you're a tweeter (aka member of Twitter), you probably follow group chats. I usually lurk on #KidLitChat and #YALitChat. Mostly I just take it all in and keep my opinions to myself, but this past week I read something that sent my karma radar beeping off the charts.

The discussion of the evening was EBooks. That is one giant soapbox that I won't scrub or dub around in right now. However, an agent said this...
e reader ARC hopefully would mean they wouldn't end up on ebay any more #kidlitchat


First off, just in case anyone doesn't know, an ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy of a book. Meaning someone was lucky enough to get a copy before it was released to the public. Meaning said lucky person got it for free. Usually as part of it's promotional campaign. As in, please read this and if you like it, help promote the book and the author. NOT and I repeat, NOT SELL IT ON EBAY.

I mean, seriously. What kind of person does this? I was so grateful when I received my first ARC. I am always grateful when I win a book in a contest or giveaway. My way to show my gratitude is to help spread the word so the author, agent, publisher, etc. can continue earning a living by legitimately selling copies of their books. As if the business isn't tough enough these days, now we've got people taking advantage of the ARC system?

The karma gods will be laying a major smackdown on the people who are selling or have sold ARCs on Ebay. I know it. Karma gods are always watching, and they take their jobs very seriously. If any of you readers have committed this greedy crime, feel free to remove yourself as one of my blog supporters. I don't want any bad karma due to the guilty by association rule.

For the rest of you, who are like me, and assume people have more common sense and morals than to do such a thing, can I get a "WTH?"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's All Subjective

My last post on adverbs might have been interpreted as me being picky (or judgmental). Writing and reading is subjective, so I understand the varying reactions to my post. However, it actually was my attempt at a bit of literary humor. (See, I do use adverbs. I'm quite fond of them ACTUALLY.) I'm going to quote a pro and see if he does better than me.

"Great Rules of Writing"
Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire

Come on. One of those had to make you giggle.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Annoying Adverb-tising

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."~Stephen King

Today at work I realized how much my writer experiences effect me. Writing, editing, beta reading, and more editing tend to sharpen your senses. I've learned to look for things like tense changes, over usage of "was," too many adverbs, etc.

Apparently, (see how easily they sneak in there?) my brain has been conditioned to listen for adverbs too.

While listening to a resident explain why his rent would be late this month, he drove me nuts with adverbs. "Unfortunately, we really had an exceptionally rare situation..." It didn't stop there. He may have broke the world record for most adverbs used during a conversation. And I was painfully aware of every single one.

He's that guy that needs a word count limit on his story. Otherwise, he'd take 200k words to say something that would have been more effective and engaging if cut down to 80k.

Stephen King would have smacked him. I wanted to smack him, but I'm no Stephen King. If I was, I assure you, I would quit my day job.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to edit the world and people around you? Or am I the only writer who carries her editing habits into real life? Better yet, have you gone through your MS and removed all unnecessary adverbs? Really? Surely, you can find a few more to cut.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Music of My Soul

Igot tagged the other day by my kick butt beta buddy Marie. She has an awesome (and funny) blog called Booknapped. If you don't follow it, you're missing out. The girl has moxie. In more ways than one. ;)

Now, to complete the task given to me by a virtual "tag you're it." I must list 7 of my favorite songs. As Marie stated on her blog, this task is nearly impossible for me. I have SO many great songs in my jukebox of a brain. Music moves me. It feeds my soul. Stirs my emotions. Rocks my world. Makes me dance. Inspires me.

Here are 7 that touched me and stayed with me. Trust me, there are 818 more I'd like to add to the list. But I never get tired of hearing any of these songs. And like most lyrics, I've found a deep personal meaning in them. They are in no particular order. I love them all for different reasons. Without further ado...

32 Flavors- Ani Difranco
“Squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some.”

Sound of Pulling Heaven Down- Blue October

“So rest assured I have the key to every opening
To every wishing well that's deep enough to dream.”

"In my dreams I'm dying all the time
As I wake its kaleidoscopic mind"

Are You Out There-Dar Williams

"And when I turned your station on
You sounded more familiar than that party was"

Come Home-One Republic
“There’s someone I’ve been missing
I think that they could be
The better half of me
They’re in the wrong place trying to make it right”

Angels on the Moon- Thriving Ivory
“This is to one last day in the shadows
And to know a brothers love
This is to New York City angels
And the rivers of our blood
This is to all of us.”

Israel Kamakawiwo Ole' - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can't I?”

Now I must tag 7 people so we can share our love of music. I'm picking 7 different personalities because I like variety. And I'm hoping to learn about some new good music from all of them. (Follow all of them if you don't already. They're fabulous!) My lucky seven are:

Becca Brown
Jenn Johansson
Katie Salidas
Tess Hilmo
Jessica Nelson
Lady Glamis
Susan Mills

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simon & Schuster Know Me

on't go gettin' all excited (or envious). No, Simon & Schuster did not buy my story. They sent me The Hollow, by Jessica Verday.

I won it in their Labor Day Twitter contest. I had to tweet a photo of me reading one of their books during my long Labor day weekend. Winners would receive a S&S novel sent to them. Here was my entry...

And, I won! I didn't know which of their many fabulous books I'd be receiving until this beauty (The Hollow) showed up at my door step today. I haven't read it YET, but it's exactly the kind of book that would seduce me to pick it up off a shelf at Borders. It's even thick! Over 500 pages!

As a writer, I understand and adhere to the word count guidelines of genres. But I have to admit, I enjoy long stories. I feel so much more satisfied purchasing a hardcover, 400-500 page book, rather than a 250 page paperback. There's just a nostalgic feeling to the bigger books. Call me old-fashioned, but in our high paced, instant gratification society, I WANT a long story to lure me away from reality for awhile. If it's too short, I feel deprived.

The Hollow is my kind of book. Enigmatic, intriguing description, pretty cover, and the potential to give me more bang for my buck. Oh, wait, I didn't pay any bucks for this book. Even better! (But at $17.99 it's a steal. I definitely would have bought it if I hadn't won it.)

I swear, it's like Simon & Schuster know me and hand picked the perfect prize for me. Love those S&S folks. Go buy their books!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Do you ever read a book or watch a movie and think "Aw crap! I used that idea in my story!" It can be something simple. A phrase. Trigger event. Name. Clothing style. Anything. Do we see the similarity because we wrote our story and know it so intimately that we can pick out any minuscule resemblance to our own characters or plot?

Are there any truly original ideas left out there?

My story begins with a car wreck where my MC loses her parents and brother. It's been done before. I know that. If I Stay is a great book and has the same trigger event, but what happens after that crash beginning is a very different story.

I can defend that argument until I'm blue in the face, but will it matter when an agent reads my first chapter? Will they think "Seen it before." And hit the auto reject button? Do I change my opening scene so it starts with a train wreck, or a bombing, or something else that isn't so trendy or popular right now?

I discussed this with a good friend last night and he told me, "There are no original ideas anymore. You wrote your story the way it is for a reason. Leave it."

While I am a huge believer in the everything happens for a reason concept. I've evolved enough as a writer to know there are times I should bend so my story doesn't break me. I have no problem weaving a new pathway to death's doorstep for my MC's family. Not to sound heartless, but I just need them to die. If car accidents aren't considered "fresh" right now, I've got many more tragic events in my large briefcase of an imagination.

But how do we know what to change and what not to? If I write a new opening scene where the family plunges to their death in a faulty Ferris wheel cart, will I read a book about carnivals next month and decide amusement park fatalities are too overdone?

Where does it stop? I see similarities between stories everywhere I look--and read. As writers it's our job to create something new and different, but has that become an impossible task? Or just nearly impossible, with a lot of research required to make it fresh?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Hokey Pokey

Warning: This is a long post. It's self-indulgent. Run (click away) while you can.

THE HOKEY: aka why I AM cut out to be a writer:

My Imagination
I had one heck of an imagination as a kid. Back then, my parents called it lying, and punished me for it…a lot. However, if I just put a disclaimer that “this is fiction” before my tall tales, it becomes a story instead of a lie. And nobody punishes me (except myself when I think it’s not good.)

My People Watching Skills
…are Olympic league status. If they’d make people watching an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal. Because of my PW skills, I notice stuff. Then I make that stuff part of my characters' personalities. I create stories from the stupid, quirky, and fascinating things people do.

My Grammar
…ain’t that bad. I’m no English professor, but I’m pretty sure I grasp the general concept and rules behind sentence structure. I could definitely improve my skills. There is always room for improvement. Or at least that’s what the cliché Gods tell me.

My Common Sense
I could never be one of those aspiring authors that gets a rejection letter and writes the agent back telling them they don’t know what they’re missing out on. I would never be so stubborn as to think my MS is perfect and not take suggestions or critique on how to make it stronger. What’s that cliché Gods? Oh yes, it is worth repeating; there is always room for improvement. Which brings me to…

My Humility
I know I’m no Stephen King. I know I haven’t written the next Harry Potter. I know that even if my book ever does get published, some people will hate it. BUT, some people might love it. And through all the hokey and pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

Now with all that being said,

THE POKEY: aka why I AM NOT cut out to be a writer.

My Imagination
Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said 100 times before in every way possible? My imagination is good, but can it compete with the other millions of writers out there?

My People Watching Skills
I watch and read the stories and struggles of all the writers around me. I met people at a writers conference that have been writing for decades without ever being published. I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen with my own eyes that it’s next to impossible.

My Grammar
…ain’t that good. My writing is nowhere near perfect. A friend told me “It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what editors are for!” But she’s wrong. The writing has to be phenomenal--especially in this market. Use too many adverbs, say “was” too much, misuse commas and colons and you’ve signed your own form rejection letter. Fact is, there’s just too much talent out there, and many aspiring writer’s DO have perfect manuscripts.

My Common Sense
Fewer deals are being made. Agents are taking on fewer clients. Due to the recession more people than ever are trying to write a book and get it published. The odds of getting an agent are slim. The odds of getting published? I might as well take up a career in getting struck by lightening. I know my odds, and they aren’t very good.

My Humility
There’s always been that voice inside of me that doubts myself. Me? Become a best selling author? Have a following of fans that wait on the edge of their seats for my next book to come out? Readers will line up to ask for my autograph? Yeah, right.

So, which is it? Hokey or Pokey? Am I a writer or aren’t I? Truth is, it’s not a question. It’s not a decision I made. It just sort of happened. I didn’t have a say in the matter. My story has been written. And so far, it’s part of a trilogy, so I have to keep writing. If for no one else, then for my characters. I can’t just leave their lives unfinished in a make believe world I created. How cruel would that be?

Some days there will be rejections, tears, and harsh criticism. Other days there will be a beta reader that says “This is a perfectly perfect paragraph,” or another reader tells me they loved Nathan more than Edward (True! I swear!) Those are the days that keep me writing. The moments when I stare at my emotional mess of a crazy fantastic story and smile.

Maybe my stories won’t ever get published, but maybe they will. Cliché Gods assure me that “Only time will tell.” Until then, however far THEN may be, I will keep trying to be a better writer (self-doubts and all). Because what if, one day, an agent does love my story? And then a publisher loves my story. Maybe one day all of this work will result in a letter from a fan that says “Thank you for writing this.”

THEN, all of this hokey pokey will turn itself around.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jealousy vs. Happiness

am grateful every day for my amazing beta readers. There is a small group of us that have become very close. We turn to, confide in, critique, inspire, and lend support to one another. They are fabulous. Seriously. Some of the stuff they write blows my mind. And almost all of their suggestions or comments on my MS (no matter how harsh) have improved my story IMMENSELY. Because of their greatness I've always wondered what would happen when one of my Writing Posse got an offer from an agent. (It was inevitable after all!) Would I be happy but also a little envious? Would I be jealous? I love my WP gals, but I'm only human.

Yesterday I found out exactly what happens.

I saw the email come across my phone screen. The title was "I just got a call." My heart raced. I knew what it meant before I hit the read button. And when I did read the rest of the email I LITERALLY teared up and got goosebumps. GOOD TEARS. The "oh-she's worked so hard and is such a great person she so deserves this" tears. One of my Writing Posse members got offered representation!

So, without further ado, blogging world meet Natalie Bahm.

She's been a lurker on blogs (wise decision to spend more time on her story and less time writing a blog. lol) But now, my WP and I have demanded she start her own blog so the rest of the world can experience how fabulous she is. We've been keeping her to ourselves for much too long.

Go say hi. Take good notes. And follow her journey through the would of a debut author becoming published. Cuz I have no doubt publishers will be snatching up her story right away.

Ps...Happiness kicked Jealousy's butt. Jealousy never stood a chance. And a little envy never hurt anybody. ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day Jobbery

I haven't had time to blog lately. Or read blogs. Or comment on blogs. Or edit as much as I'd like. Or write as much as I'd like. Why? Because of my day job.

If you don't have a Facebook or twitter account, I probably don't know what you've been up to for the past few weeks. I want to know, I really do, but there aren't enough hours in the day. One liner updates or emails that get sent to my phone are the only connections I've had to my writing world buddies lately.

Today on FB I replied to one author friend who said just as he started getting into his WIP, he had to go to the day job. My reply (as I'm rushing out of the shower getting ready for my own daily office grind) "Day jobbery stinks. soon as I win Powerball I'm donating a million to some of my fav writers with day jobs so they can quit and write full time."

Don't get me wrong, I like my day job. I work with an awesome (and funny) group of people. I just wish it didn't take up so much of my day--week--month--year--life! It puts a HUGE damper on my writing time. Not to mention, I have a 9-6 schedule! Whatever happened to 9-5? That extra hour would really help. I envy those writers that can stay at home all day and write to their hearts content.

Come on Powerball...I promise, I'll be generous and better the literary world one writer at a time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love Me A Great Cause

Six degrees of separation led me to discover the Fivers. (Well, okay really it was more like one degree, but six sounded better with the whole five theme.)
I just finished reading my ARC copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and let me tell you, she's a very talented new author. Not to mention I am head over wings in love with Patch. So, if you love YA, dark heroes, or angels, make sure to buy a copy when it's released on October 13th.

Now onto the cause that I found via Becca's blog.

Four inspiring and talented authors teamed up to create a great cause that inspires and encourages people to follow their passions. I've already joined and I suggest you do too.

Kay Cassidy, Becca Fitzpatrick, Alyson Noel and Tera Lynn Childs. I mean really, what writer wouldn't want to be part of such a fabulous group of heroines. :)

My five: Writing, Dancing, Music, Animal Rescue, and Chocolate :) Okay, chocolate probably doesn't count. So I'm also passionate about Natural Health.

Friday, August 14, 2009

CHAPTER 1- The Kindrily

After receiving compliments from an editor/author that left me dancing and teary-eyed (happy grateful tears), I now feel confident enough to share my first chapter with more than just my beta readers.

So, in honor of this rainy day here in FL, Chapter 1 of The Kindrily has been posted to my website.

I hope it hooks you. Happy Friday!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Geeking Out

So last night as I'm beta reading for a friend, I get an email inbox alert. I see that it's from the author/editor that I won a critique from at the writers conference I attended. I took a deep breath and thought, "Do I really want to read her comments right before bed?" (Thinking she'd hack and slash me to shreds.) I'm a glutton for punishment so I opened the email.

The letter made me cry. In a good, amazing, beautiful, inspiring, light a fire under my butt kind of way. She went on for several (well written) paragraphs about how much she loved my first 20 pages and synopsis. I kept checking the name at the top of the letter to make sure she really meant to send it to me.

I know it's only one person's opinion, but it's a professional writer's opinion and it feels good to know someone besides me and my mother thinks my story is wonderful. This woman probably has no idea how much her words meant to me, but I am oh-so-humbly grateful to her.

I'm crying and geeking out over this letter. I can't imagine what it must feel like to get the call from an agent offering representation. Or the call that your book has just been sold. Jeesh! I think I'd have a heart attack.

But...suddenly the impossible dream of getting published doesn't seem so impossible.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


For those who missed my last note from the universe, you should know the universe sends me daily messages. Seriously, delivered to my email box five days a week. They inspire me and remind me what I need to hear. (I can put in a call to my people if you want the universe to send you love notes too ;) )

Today's dose of wisdom is one of those that I feel should be shared with all my friends. Because really, if you take out my name and substitute your own, you should get goosebumps and be inspired by the bright future ahead of you. No matter where you are on your journey, the best is yet to come.

"Look at it like this, Karen, the more challenging your life story has been so far, the bigger the goose bumps for future generations who retell it to their kids. Who will no doubt add, "And if Karen Hooper was able to do all that, so can you!"

We've barely just begun -
The Universe

PS. Peter Pan, eat your heart out. Huh, Karen...?"

Monday, July 27, 2009


Awriter friend sent me a link to my short story that was posted on Electric Spec's blog today. They are accepting submissions for the first two hundred words of short stories and critiquing them. Mine is today's victim. lol.

My first line didn't tell enough. It's an enigmatic beginning. Probably because I like the mysterious, magical and unknown, but I do agree that the reader should be clued in right from the get go. So I'm grateful for the critique. The reader would probably enjoy my story much more if they knew the MC had just made it to Heaven.

This is why we put ourselves out there, so we can learn and become better writers.

However, now I have to rethink the first line of The Kindrily. Because guess what? Yup, it has an enigmatic beginning. First lines are so important. I thought mine was great but now it may be back to the drawing board.

How much thought have you put into your first line? Does it hook, does it reveal, does it define the problem?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The story of The Kindrily barreled into my world like a Mack truck. I wrote the whole thing (plus parts of book 2) in two months.

After it was written came the real work. The editing, the revising, character developments, etc. Many of the great changes were because I had honest and fantastic beta readers that helped strengthen the story.

Now it's sooo close to being done (I think). I've got two more betas that still have to read through until the end. Once I hear their critique I know it will be even stronger. I wish I could wiggle my nose and voila! Finished. Ready to send to agents. Instead, I must practice patience. I know this--my father has told me I need to learn to be more patient at least 8,000 times in my life.

So I stare at this new truck, the one that feels like it's moving impossibly slow. I want to honk my horn, swerve around it, try to illegally pass over the double line, but instead I repeat, "Patience, Karen, patience." Then I take a deep breath.

Then I remind myself this is just the beginning. The Mack truck is long gone. I miss its flashing lights. I miss the deep loud horn vibrating the walls of my house. The future will be one slow moving truck after another (if I'm lucky). Query Truck. Agent Reading MS Truck. Editor Truck. Publisher Submission Truck. etc etc.

There is no room for road rage in the world of an aspiring author.

Friday, July 17, 2009


o yesterday I participated in the 10k Fun Day. I set a goal for writing 10k words in one day. I realized after I had written 5k or so that I easily met this crazy pace of writing when I wrote the first draft of the Kindrily. I wrote the entire novel in two months while working a full time job. I didn't have much of a social life for those ten months, but my obsession with my story kept me happy (and busy).

Yesterday, however, was a different story.
The first 3-5k were fairly easy. I caught up on some new scenes for book two and three that I'd been thinking about. I wrote a couple thousand words for my new story. But then the creative juices ran dry. So to reach my goal I forced myself to keep writing. The result...

I wrote a scene where my characters were bitching at me. Asking why I was making them say and do stupid things. Questioning why in the world I'd make them downward spiral into a sea of mediocrity. Why? Because I was forcing myself to meet a word count with no brilliant ideas. My characters asked ME to physically jump into the story so they could smack me or hold my head under water for awhile until I promised to stop writing crappy lines and uninspired action scenes.

I took a hint, apologized, moved most of it to the Cutting Room Floor folder, and focused on short stories or my Why I Suck As A Writer essay. Don't worry, I then wrote a Why I'm A Good Writer essay.

I made 10k. 10,006 to be exact. Though my last words to cross the finish line read "This has been the most frustrating day of writing in my life." (sorry Milli)
It's a great idea this 10k in a day thing, but I've learned that I prefer writing when inspiration hits me. Otherwise, it doesn't do anyone much good. Especially my characters--who are still throwing darts at my photograph as we speak. Don't worry, they will forgive me. We have that kind of relationship.

What about you? Do your characters get mad if you don't do their story justice?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I love quotes. Always have. Years ago when I watched "The Secret" I heard one of the speakers recite a Martin Luther King quote that gave me goosebumps.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

I couldn't believe I'd never heard it before. It's one that stuck with me. One that I need to remind myself of when I'm scared to take the first step towards something. Then, I remind myself of it when I've gotten through the first step, but need the courage, will, or strength, to take the next one.

I remember saying this quote to myself when I first though about writing a novel. So I stepped. Blindly.

For months I've been climbing a very crowded staircase. Many writers have been climbing for years without reaching a landing. Lately I've been hovering on my current step...

Staring up at the spiraling, intimidating, long path in front of me.
Wondering if all this climbing and stressing is worth it.
Is it foolish to believe I'll ever reach the top?
It looks impossible from way down here.
With such a long, long way to go.
Pushing through the pain.
Tripping & Stumbling.




Climb blindly.
But enjoy the scenery.
Make each step mean something.
Realize turning back is also giving up.
Set small, reachable goals, but keep dreaming big.
Don't compete with others climbing the stairway with you.
Learn, grow, and expand your support system--and horizons.
Put one foot in front of the other, passionately, even when it's hard.

Remember, we don't have to see the whole staircase. Keep in mind, we're not alone on this journey. Rest assured, the top is probably nothing like you think it will look like anyway. Besides, there is always another staircase waiting to be conquered. Keep climbing. Blindly. But with faith. Oh, and breathe. Just breathe.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today Rachelle Gardner did a great post on agent's editing for their clients. Some agents are willing to roll up their sleeves and polish your MS til it shines. BUT (we've all heard that BUT cancels out whatever you said before it) in this tough market, where anyone and everyone is trying to get their book published, agents shouldn't have to. Why? Because there's just so much freakin' talent out there. They have PLENTY to choose from. Yes, they have to sort through a lot of slush to find it, BUT when they do find a well written, ready to submit to publishers MS, they are going to thank the query Gods if they don't have to spend hours upon hours of hard work to get your MS ready.

I think many aspiring authors hear the tales of a new author that wrote a story, queried a few agents, got representation quickly, and became a best seller. Now, everyone thinks they can do it. Sad fact is, it RARELY happens like that. Many of us MUST go through draft after draft, beta readers, critique, line editing, suggestions on plot and character development, etc etc etc. And then when we think it's perfect and ready to go, we should probably go through all that stuff a few more times.

It's a tough market. Agents want GREAT. Not "Okay, but needs some work." Many of us are guilty of "querying too soon" even though we've read the agent blogs that say not to. We think they won't care that a few commas are missing, or that there are too many adverbs. Surely, they'll think the story is so amazing that they'll happily do all the editing work for me. Ummmmmmmmm, no. Probably not. BUT, way to think optimistically (aka foolishly).

Agents are busy people. And publishers are being very picky in this economy. Good won't cut it. Make it great. Then, once you think it's great, make it phenomenal.

What do you think? Are you hoping that an agent will see your story as a diamond in the rough, or are YOU polishing it until it sparkles and shines?

Saturday, June 27, 2009


So I decided to create my own award for a few of my writer friends that I am eternally gratefully for. All you fellow writers out there know how priceless feedback, critique, and advice can be. I've met so many great people through this wide and wonderful blogging world. I think it means a lot if we show our appreciation once in awhile. Feel free to give this award to anyone you feel is worthy.

The FIRST--the very first in history--recipients of the Thanks A Latte award are...

Megan Rebekah- Thank you for the great advice on conflict, and MC development. For catching my love of eyes, so it didn't annoy anyone later. And for meeting me for coffee to discuss writing in real life.

Marie Devers- Thank you for being so knowledgeable with grammar, strong sentence structure, and catching those typos on my revision. And of course for sharing Moxie's world with me.

Becca Brown Thank you for your brutal honesty, your keen eye for non-teenish words, and for your hilarious sarcasm that makes me laugh out loud (real laughing, not the fake "lol" kind.)

This award is served with a big heap of gratitude to the recipient.
Somehow you’ve sweetened or perked up my writing and I am grateful for the advice or wisdom you’ve shared with me. May your good karma coffee cup always be brimming with sunshine. Thanks a latte for all you’ve done!

Share this cup with someone in the future and spread the java joy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I've talked about how I'm a people watcher and many times I develop my characters based on sayings or body language that I observe in other people. Since I started writing my novel, I've noticed I find bits of inspiration everywhere. Sometimes in the strangest of places.

I was walking my dogs one morning and noticed an absurd amount of worms on a neighbors sidewalk. Pretty gross but whatever...moving on. The next day, and the next, I noticed more and more. Many were dead or dried up from the sun. I literally felt like I was walking through a worm graveyard (minus the graves). However, one morning a line came to me. You writers know what I'm talking about, that sentence or two that you keep repeating and think, "Hmm could this work as a story? Could this be my great first line that hooks readers?"

The line (which I am totally in love with by the way) started a new, wonderful, magical story that has been manifesting in my mind. How did it all start? Worms. Lots and lots of worms. Worms = Magical Love Story. Go figure.

I've only written about 5k words so far because I'm busy revising The Kindrily. But I'm excited about my newest story, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.
What bout you? What's a strange or interesting place you found inspiration?

Monday, June 15, 2009


BJ Anderson suggested a wonderful idea. The third week of each month a group of us are UNPLUGGING from the social networking world so we can focus on writing. No Facebook, Twittering, Blogging, etc.

I'm sure it will add hours of writing time to my work week--which I desperately need right now--so I am participating. You are welcome to too.

Sorry if I'm not reading or commenting on posts but I will be busy writing. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Yesterday I posted that I was grounding myself from blogging so I could get my revision and editing done. I should be sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on but I'm rebelling because I need some writer advice. :) And technically this IS part of my revision process, so I don't feel guilty.

SONGS. Who the heck knew quoting a song or two in your novel could cause such a hullabaloo?! I used to have old song lyrics (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra etc) at the beginning of a few of my scenes. I also quote two or three lines from a U2, Beatles and Frank Sinatra song. NOW, after reading posts about what a pain it is to obtain permission to use songs in a novel, I've done some reevaluating.

Chapter intro songs got cut. No biggie there. Frank song, I'm thinking of just saying Frank's voice sang over the radio (not quote exact lyrics). Beatles song, I can cut without a piece of my heart breaking away. BUT my U2 song quote is more about the underlying message behind the couple lines. SO...I'm thinking...what if I have my MC say she's quoting the band E3 (or whatever...obvious, but not actually U2) and MAKE UP song lyrics that are similar so the meaning is still there, but not U2's lyrics? Do you think that's a good alternative?

I don't want agents to read my book and turn up their nose because there's a song quote in my first 100 pages. What do you think?

PS, If anyone knows Bono could you have him call me so I can get his permission? Thanks. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009


I love my blogging world. I've learned so much from my new Writing World friends and received great support, critique, suggestions, advice etc. However...

I am grounding myself until further notice. No blogging. No Facebook, Twitter, or anything else except my manuscript and

My MS is going through changes. And I'm beyond frustrated that it's taking me so long to accomplish my goal.

So warm regards to all of you. I will miss you dearly. BUT I am locking myself away for a day or two (or three). My mission...

-Taking out many of my "was" sentences.
-Adding more conflict.
-Cleaning up the new conflict and dialogue I added.
-Researching this whole song quoting/free domain issue. To see if I need to cut my song quotes. (Don't erase that post Tess! I need it to do research.)
-calling Bono if I do need to cut my lyrics because dang it, my U2 quote is such a great moment in my story!
-Yet another round of "is this adverb helping or hurting?"

In the soon to be famous words of River Malone, "Try not to miss me too much!"

Ah that reminds me,
-Develop River's goal and motivation more clearly.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The universe sends me daily notes that keep me inspired. No, I'm not crazy, someone actually created a website where you can sign up to receive daily emails with a note from "The Universe." Some days they really hit home, or make me smile, or tell me what I need to hear. Today's note made me do that head nod thing where I agree with every word I read, but lately, may have forgotten such a beautiful truth. So I decided to share it because so many of us are in the same boat. For all you aspiring authors, substitute your name for mine when you read it. It applies to all of us. :)

"The baby steps in the beginning of a journey, Karen, always seem inadequate compared to the brilliance of the dream that inspired them. This is natural. If the dream wasn't so far "out there" and dazzling, it wouldn't be worth dreaming! Just don't be led to think that the physical ground you cover with your baby steps is all that they accomplish. Because for every mortal step you take, another cog in a giant wheel behind the curtains of time and space advances, and with it, 10,000 new possibilities.

Better than Star Trek,
The Universe

PS. And you shall wonder, Karen, at what you ever did to deserve so very much."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


For several weeks a few people have mentioned they can't open the comments section on my blog. Some can't open it at all, others can't post a comment. They get an error screen. :(

Has anyone else had this issue? Any suggestions on how to fix it? Could it possibly be the template I chose? (Maybe it's got a cookies glitch with Internet Explorer?? That seems to be the browser that people are using when they have issues).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 1, 2009


“Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come.” ~Lucy Larcom

It's my 30th birthday.

When my mom was this age she was married and had my brother and me.
I have no boyfriend, two dogs, and a WIP YA novel.
Very different paths of life.

On my 29th birthday, I had no idea I was going to write a book. No idea that I would attend a writers conference, or discover a beautiful new world of talented writing folks. So I can honestly say that A LOT can happen in a year.

Who knows what my 30th year of life has in store, but all I can say is "bring it on."

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Since I finished writing The Kindrily, I've always wanted to get to the "hotel moment" faster. I've said it out loud to everyone who reads my book. They all nod and say "yup, that's where I got hooked." (including my latest beta reader)

It's not good when the scene your readers get hooked on is over 100 pages into your story. No publisher is going to write "the beginning is a little slow but you'll be hooked at page 128!" on the jacket flap. And even if we lived in Bizarro world, and they did write that, readers would just turn to page 128 and start reading. (I know I would).

SO...this means changes are on the horizon. BIG changes. Not the kind where you copy a few lines of dialogue and paste them to a different place in your story and say "I've made some changes." I'm talking REAL changes. More action, more conflict, less backstory, removing all the godforsaken italics, and inserting sparkly shiny hooks throughout the first however many pages so my readers get pulled through the magical waters of my story.

I knew it needed to be done but I wasn't sure how to do it. My story was the black and white version of this photo (badass artwork by the way--props to ROBO)but soon it will be the improved colorful version. I've figured out what can and needs to be done. Now if I could just stop blogging and get to it!

*Sips Belgian chocolate flavored coffee and smiles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today was my first day at my new job. My brain is so fried from the chaos that I can hardly think, much less type. I'm happy to have a good job in this crazy economy but I must confess that all day I was clicking my heels together and repeating "there's no place like at home writing."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Okay so Tess Hilmo inspired me to search for beta readers for my book. A few friends and family members have read it and I appreciate their input but I'm thinking I need a few writers to give me constructive criticism.

This weekend I made some changes to the first 50 pages and I'm feeling pretty good about them. I still have a few more changes I want to make but my goal is to be done by this weekend. Once I'm finished (this draft)I'd like to get some feedback.

I read somewhere that you should find betas and ask them to ONLY tell you what they DON'T like. What DOESN'T work. THAT will help you be a better writer. I agree (kind of), so I'm asking for that in my beta readers, but if you also want to tell me what you DID like, I wouldn't object. :)

I realize everyone is buy writing, reading, working, taking care of kids and homes etc. So I don't expect lightning fast response times. And honestly, if you don't enjoy YA (it is older YA) or love stories with magical elements, this probably isn't the book for you. So my feelings won't be hurt if you don't volunteer. However, if you do have some free time and are interested in reading AND CRITIQUING The Kindrily, please let me know. I would be eternally grateful. And of course, I would offer to beta read for you too (though I'm certainly no expert.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I started rereading The Kindrily last night to see if I could make some "get to the action quicker" changes in the beginning. It's been a couple weeks since I've read it. I fell in love all over again.
I'm a song junkie. My love of music and lyrics is hard wired into my soul. As I was reading a Nathan scene (my oh-so-lovable secondary protagonist) the old David Crosby song HERO played in my head over and over. I don't know if it was the song or Nathan that gave me goosebumps but a few lines from that oldie but goody summarize my love for my book and Nathan. So I thought I'd share.

"It was one of those great stories that you can't put down at night
The hero knew what he had to do and he wasn't afraid to fight...

And the reason that she loved him
Was the reason I loved him too
And he never wondered what was right or wrong
He just knew, he just knew."

Sigh. Such a great song. What about you? Do you have certain songs that relate to or inspire your writing?

PS...Yes that's what Nathan looks like. Different tattoo but he could easily be thought of as an angel so it works :)

Friday, May 22, 2009


ME! :D
As if receiving a blog award today wasn't great enough (Thank you Lady Glamis) I just found out that I am the WINNER of Joyce Wolfley's FIRST EVER CONTEST.

I never win anything. So needless to say I'm thrilled! Plus I'm REALLY a part of history now. FIRST WINNER EVER (of Joyce's blog contests) SO THANK YOU JOYCE! I can't wait to use my $10 Target card to buy a new book.


Thanks so much to Michelle aka Lady Glamis for giving me this award. She's already become a great "blogging world friend" who shares her knowledge, experience, and support.

"These blogs invests and believes in the proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships, they are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends, they are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to another blogger who must include this clever-written text into the body of their award.”

I'm passing the award along to Megan Rebekah . Another aspiring author who I can't wait to share the NY Times Best Seller List with in the future.

Happy Friday to everyone!

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