Monday, December 30, 2013

In Which I Received Books!

Well Christmas has come and gone for another year, as expected. I hope everyone had a good time with their friends and family.

As usual, my fam goes a little cray cray with the gift giving, so I ended up with a lot of books I'm excited to read. Of course, first I have to finish the library books I have checked out. Until then, my new shiny books will have to sit prettily on  my end table.

I mean, look at them!

Awesome, right? I don't know how I'll pick which one to read first.

How about you, did you get any books or awesome gifts for Christmas? (Twin, Brother and I also got a sausage maker attachment for Twin's mixer, so we spent Saturday playing board games and making up some bratwursts. It was awesome)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

In Which I Am So Busy

I am ridiculously busy and probably will remain so for the next month or more. Outside of the holidays, which is, of course, taxing my time some, I have workshop pieces to critique for the MFA residency before the 9th (10, 15 page critiques to dole out) a manuscript I have to read for a friend (paying what I owe and all that), writing group critiques and revisions on All That Remains.

...and as I wrote that last bit, I totally just realized I forgot to print off my own 15 pages for my critique at the MFA. Nice move, Sarah. DERP.

I plan to keep up blogging here and there, but don't expect posts from me on the actual holidays and also I'll take a short hiatus while I'm at the MFA residency, just because it's ten full days of stuff and I won't have much time to check emails, let alone respond to comments etc (and I hate writing posts when I can't respond).

I wish I had more time. There are some great movies out right now that I'm worried I won't get a chance to see (Though I did get to see Desolation of Smaug this last weekend. Holy frickin crap how great was it? (spoiler: so great))

But Christmas Eve is tomorrow, which is awesome. I actually prefer it over Christmas day because my family has a delicious meal of crab legs and poté , and clam chowder throughout the day and we'll open one present each and play games and sit in the hot tub and be fat and merry.


Christmas day, while full of awesome presents and stuff, is a bit too much of "we're required to go see other family" and while I enjoy seeing family, sometimes I wish I could just spend the day relaxing.

Anyway, this was a really roundabout way to say my posts will be sporadic for a bit.

What about you? Have you seen Desolation of Smaug? Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Fun

Here we are! Just a few days before I get presents!

Some of them are starting to get wrapped and put under the tree. If I could get up there, I'd unwrap them and have a good time.

definitely add this ornament to the tree

But I can't, so instead here's some fun to launch you into the weekend!









Monday, December 16, 2013

In Which I Read As A Writer

My MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults starts on January 9th. Or at least that's when my first residency starts anyway.

The residency is where everyone enrolled in the program travels to campus and spends 10 days work shopping and listening to readings and lectures by the faculty or visiting writers. We'll be assigned our mentors and then we'll work with them for the next 6 months until the next residency in the summer.

So yes, that's my actual start date for the MFA. But obviously I've been doing a lot of MFA work already. Mostly reading.

I've read about 50 of the 120 books I need to read by the end of my first year. We're supposed to have 40 done before our first residency so I'm a bit ahead of the game.

this picture would only be accurate if there was a lot more snow

Also the vast majority of my reading has been novels, which means the reading will just get easier as I go along and start to tackle the picture books and easy readers.

Well, not easier I guess. Just faster.

Because we're supposed to read the books critically, and write up 3 - 4 sentences regarding an element of craft.

And this is something that is often difficult for me. Especially if it's a book I like. If I don't like a book, it's easy for me to examine why I don't like it. But if I love a book, it's really hard for me not to be swept away.

I've got a few books on my list that I read that I didn't write anything about because I just didn't know what to say.

And sometimes I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over again. This book has a great voice. This one too. Ooh and this one.

But, I definitely think it's sinking in more. At the very least it's easier for me to get in the mindset of looking at a book critically.

Though I will add, it's a fresh breath of relief when I can read a book just for fun (even if some of the critical thinking slips in. Which, I suppose, is the point of it all)

What about you? Do you ever read critically? Is it easy for you? Or hard?)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Pukwudgie

Another one of my favorite topics today, the Pukwudgie.

The Pukwudgie is a troll-like creature from Wampanoag folklore. They resemble humans except for elongated noses, fingers and ears, and a stomach that hangs low to their knees. In the legends, they purportedly kidnap children, lead travelers astray and, most importantly, push people off cliffs.

But the interesting thing about Pukwudgies are that people have real encounters with them today.
One of the places where there have been multiple sightings is the Freetown-Fall River State Forest in Massachusetts. People have reported sightings of pukwudgies coming into their camps and even following them:

"It/he was about 3.5 to 4 feet tall and he was squatting.  In fact, he walked in a squat.  He moved that way until he was about 12-15 feet from me, then he stopped and just stared at us.  I could see the shadow he was making on the ground, in the moonlight and he wasn't transparent, (although at times he seemed to shimmer.)  He looked wet.  His hair was long and damp-looking.  His face was human, but his nose was long, almost over his upper lip.  I couldn't see any teeth.  His eyes were greenish-yellow.  He was wearing a shirt that looked as though it was made of sticks and I think he was wearing a loincloth of sorts.  (It may have been his skin too.)  His feet seemed bare, but there weren't any discernible toes.  His hands were human, but his fingers were very long also.
One hand was held like a fist, with a stick in it that only protruded from the bottom of his hand and there were beads and feathers hanging from the end.  The other hand was empty and he kept opening and closing it.  He didn't make any sound at all, not even on the dry ground.  I have no idea how long we were there like that, but I do know that he was looking at me, because my friends, (including Andy), not only commented on it later, but they were looking from him to me while we were in the "standoff."
After a while, he left.  But he didn't walk away.  He moved to his left, (our right.)  The path that he chose was directly off of the rock, but he didn't descend, he just moved through the air and we could see him passing through the trees until he was out of sight"

Most spooky of all, perhaps, is that Freetown State Forest is also known for a rash of strange suicides, where people apparently jumped off a cliff.

Monday, December 9, 2013

In Which I Hodge-Podge

I can't believe we're into week two of December. 2013 went fasssst.

So the Baker's Dozen auction went well for me! (and thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented on my entry. Totally made my day)

I walked away with a full MS request, which I've already fired off. Starting on Wednesday, any other agent who bid or didn't get a chance to bid, can request pages as well and Authoress will forward any info from lurking agents.

Will I get any further requests? I have no idea. I reached my goal just by getting in so anything else is just icing on the cake.

(mmmmm cake).

I also submitted my 15 pages for my MFA workshop. So now I don't have to worry/stress about that anymore, which is good. I have 4 extra books I need to read for the MFA residency before Jan 9th. Luckily the library had all 4 in. Unluckily no one could find the picture book I needed so now I've got to wait for an email for when it appears. (Picture books, man. I can never find them).

And Wednesday we find out who gets picked for Pitch Wars. I'm excited. Not just for myself but to see if anyone I know or am rooting for gets picked too. I'd be excited if I got picked, no doubt, but I'd be perfectly fine if I wasn't.

Otherwise, this week I've got to start tackling some revisions and brainstorming others, which I'm excited about (but also a little scared. Because, let's get serious, I run through all the gamut of feels like all the time.)

And also try and finish up my Xmas shopping.

And that's me in a nutshell for another week. How about you? How are things going? Did you finish buying all the presents you need to buy? Have you been feeling all the feels? And staying warm (I can't express how cold it's been here (actually I can. Like -10.))

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Fun

Hi Ape-friends!  It's Yvie here to launch you into the weekend with a post of internet fun!

Can you believe we're already into December? But you know what that means? It means presents.

AND! I was sneaky enough to catch a glimpse of my present. I saw it when it was being carried into the dining room and put on the table. It's an orange squeaky snake, which is my most favorite toy of all time. I get a new one once a year.

And just because I'm little, doesn't mean I don't remember where they put that toy. Tables don't stop me:

How did I get up, even though the chairs were pushed in? It's my secret and I'm not telling

All right, onto the fun!









Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group

First Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another IWSG post!

So, I've been querying. For a few weeks now. And it's been going well. Which is great. I'd obviously much rather it be going well than not.

But also, just because it's going well, doesn't mean it's still not hard. Even if you haven't gotten any rejections (and trust me on this one) it is still stressful. There is hand wringing, and worrying and so much what iffing it can make a person crazy.

Ugh I can't even tell you how many times I've gone on agent stalking binges. Which is just ridiculous, too, because I've done my research on the agents, so I've read the interviews and forum posts and what have you. But when I'm in that mood, I go read them all again, because I feel like I need to do something.

The solution of course--wait. Let me back up. There are two solutions actually. The first is time. You just can't sustain that type of crazy for too long without getting exhausted. And once you reach that point, the obsessing starts to dry up some.

The second solution is starting something new. This, I think, is the most important. Because let's say the querying goes the best it can go and you get an offer. It's a lot better to go into that conversation with something else on your plate, so when the agent asks "what else you got" you can say "actually, I've been working on this" and roll off your one sentence pitch (you do have a one sentence pitch, right? Even for your WIP? (if you don't, I highly recommend crafting one))

So, yeah. Obviously this isn't my first time (or even second) around the query tree, and while I still enjoy querying (yes, yes, it's true) I do think some of the novelty has worn off this time around.

How about you? Querying or submitting or dealing with anything else that makes you a little cray cray?

Monday, December 2, 2013

In Which I Contest

So, tis the season. For contests that is! I usually jump into a few contests with each MS and for ALL THAT REMAINS it's no different.

I'm a big fan of Authoress's Baker's Dozen Auction. I've always wanted to get in (and have been trying for the last few years). But I've never been very good at loglines and stuff and junk.

But I was going to try this year again. I had a goal of getting in (which, you know, is stupid since I can't control whether I get in or not so setting a goal for it is a study in frustration, but there you have it).
and this year I GOT IN!

I'm number 50 if you want to check me out. The agents bid on entries tomorrow. I'm not sure I'll get any bids (competition is tough and stuff) but my goal was just to get in, so I'm happy.

The other contest I'm going to enter is Pitch Wars.

Like Baker's Dozen, Pitch Wars is kind of a big deal. But the thing I love about Pitch Wars is that if you get picked by a mentor, they'll read your entire MS! How awesome is that? Super awesome.

I actually think my query and first five pages have a pretty good chance. Well, as good a chance as possible since I'll be up against 100s of other people, but still. Luckily submissions are today. Unluckily I'll have to be patient (BOOOO) for a whole week to see who gets picked. I've got some QT Forum friends also submitting so I'm crossing my fingers that someone I know gets picked.

But, yeah. I don't see myself participating in any other contests for ATR. Once you reach a point in querying it just gets a little pointless to enter them anymore. But I'm feeling pretty good.

How about you? Throwing it down in any contests?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Oak Island Money Pit

The money pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, is one of my favorite stories about possible buried treasure. Mostly because there have been so many excavations of the site and yet, still to this day, there is still conflict and mystery surrounding it.

in 1795, an eighteen year old boy discovered a depression in the ground of oak island and a tackle block hanging from a tree adjacent. So he convinced two of his friends to help excavate the hole.

A few feet down, they found a layer of flagstones, and on the walls of the pit were visible markings from a pick. As they kept digging, they found layers of logs every ten feet, but they were forced to abandon their quest after about 30 feet.

Eight years later, a company of men arrived at Oak Island to tackle "the money pit" as the pit had been named, seeking what was rumored to be pirate treasure (Captain Kidd's or Blackbeard's).
They continued the excavation down to about 90 feet, continuing to find layers of logs every ten feet. They also found layers of charcoal, putty and cocoanut fiber at 40, 50 and 60 feet (and it is important to note that coconuts do not grow in Canada).

At around 80-90 feet they recovered a stone with an inscription on it. At the time, someone translated this to read:  forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.
Unfortunately, the stone's current whereabouts are a source of continued conflict so the inscription cannot be verified.

Once they removed the stone, though, the pit flooded back up to 33 feet and no amount of bailing could remove the water. (Later, it would be discovered that the pit was attached to 3 exits tunnels that led to the ocean (whether these tunnels were manmade or not is another source of conflict. If man-made, it leads many people to believe that the tunnels were put in place as a type of booby-trap, acting as a siphon to pull water into the pit if someone were to dig past a certain depth)).

In 1849 another excavation drilled into the pit (after failing to drain it) and, using an auger, drilled through a spruce platform at 98 feet, a twelve inches headspace, 22 inches of "metal in pieces", 8 inches of oak, another 22 inches of metal, 4 inches of oak, another spruce layer and finally clay for 7 feet without striking anything else.

In 1861, an excavation resulted in the collapse of the bottom of the pit, either into a booby trap, or a natural cavern. Further excavation continued up through the 1950s (Franklin Roosevelt was part of an excavation in 1909 and kept up with news regarding the money pit for most of his life).

Today, treasure hunting continues on oak island under the terms of a license.

The most popular theory about the pit is that it is the location of Captain Kidd's or Blackbeard's treasure (who was famously quoted as saying he buried his treasure "where none but Satan and myself can find it"). But other theories abound, including Marie Antoinette's missing jewels, treasure from a Spanish galleon, Freemason treasure, or documents from Sir Francis Bacon proving he was the one who wrote Shakespeare's plays.

Of course, skeptics say that the money pit is actually a natural sinkhole, which is not uncommon for the mainland area. The layers of logs could be fallen trees that have fallen into the hole.
I don't think we can rule this out, but the strict, even layers of the trees throw this into doubt, as does the layer of coconut fiber (which was tested at the Smithsonian).

Whether there actually is treasure in the money pit though, if there ever was, still remains a mystery to this day.

The Money Pit today

Thoughts? Theories?

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Which I'm Neurotic

I've been a neurotic mess for the past two or three weeks. Ask anyone who's spent any time with me.

It's because of querying, of course. I always forget how crazy I get right when I start querying something new.

I mean, I've been down this querying road before, so you'd think I'd be used to it by  now. And in a way I am*. But still, the obsessively checking the gmail is, like, extra worse this time.

But, last week, the neuroses lifted a bit. I felt less obsessive about the gmail, felt pretty good about how querying was going (which has been very good, so far. Part of driving force behind so much crazy, methinks) and was ready to start tackling the new WIP.

So I did. The outline was done (if rough. That middle, man. I dunno. I'm hoping something obvious will show up as I write. We'll see I suppose) and I was just wasting time and staring at gmail. So I dove in and wrote 1.5 chapter.

And it was pretty terrible. But I also liked it. I need to have 15 pages ready for workshopping for the MFA. Normally I'd just keep going, but I've told myself I'm allowed to go back and tweak this beginning as much as I want until I have to submit it. Then it's mostly off limits until I finish the whole draft.

So the next day I went back and started fixing the first chapter (I had to back up a bit, start a little sooner for some grounding and world building. Already it's looking better).

But then some crazy awesome stuff happened (involving twitter (which I don't want to talk about because of reasons I outlined here)) and BAM! All forward momentum stopped. I didn't even finish writing the sentence I had started. I was back to being neurotic.

But, luckily, it seems the neuroses weren't able to keep their grip. I was pretty much back to business mode the next day.

But, it makes me realize, if/when I get an offer, I am going to be pretty much useless for the next two weeks. I foresee that I will drive quite a few people crazy before it's all said and done.

How about you? Feeling neurotic about anything?

*So when you've done a lot of querying, rejections get a lot easier. But, unfortunately, the good news (reqeuests and junk) also don't feel as exciting as they used to. So it's still a rollercoaster, but the climbs and the drops aren't as high or low.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In Which I Have Superstitions

I'm oddly superstitious while querying.

Which is kind of weird because I'm not actually that superstitious as a person. But when querying, I dunno, man. I'm just worried about jinxing things.

It's why I never talk about how querying is going for me on the blog. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Every once in awhile I'll give a little generic hint, but I'm honestly worried that if I talk about it too much, I'll be jinxing it.

Which is funny because I'm perfectly fine talking about it in person with people (and by in person i mostly mean via email). So why do feel that talking one on one is okay, but bringing up on social media is asking for trouble?

I have no clue.

(Completely OT: I'm watching Tangled while writing this and found a plot hole. Rapunzel has been locked in her tower her whole life. She even sings a song about how she's never felt grass or the sun or what have you before.

And yet somehow, when trapped in a hole filling with water, she knows how to swim? That makes no sense. BOO on it, I say. BOO)

Anyway, is there anything you're oddly superstitious about?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Fun

Hi Ape-Friends!!

Yvie's here to launch you into the weekend with a little bit of fun!

But remember, as always, winter is coming

Let's get to it!









Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Weird: Shugborough Inscription

Sometime between 1748 and 1763 the Shepherd's Monument was built on the grounds of Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, England. It contains a relief sculpture of Nicolas Poussin's painting The Shepherds of Arcadia.



The monument was commissioned by Thomas Anson, but paid for by his brother George Anson.

Which, okay. Nice little monument, but where's the mystery? Where's the weird?

Directly below the mirror image of the painting.

A sequence of letters rest between the letters DM

The letters have never been explained and to this day remain one of the world's most cryptic ciphertexts.

On Roman tombs, DM typically stood for Diis Manibus: dedicated to the shades. But no one has been able to figure out what the remaining letters mean. Some people think maybe they're acrostic (each letter represents the initial letter of a word) but theories abound.

One theory is that the letters are a dedication by George Anson to his deceased wife for the Latin phrase Optimae Uxoris Optimae Sororis Viduus Amantissimus Vovit Virtutibus -- "Best of wives, Best of sisters, a most devoted Widower dedicates (this) to your virtues"

Another theory is that the letters stand for numbers which sum to 2810, the distance in miles from Shugborough to the so-called "Money Pit" on Oak Island in Nova Scotia (another Wednesday Weird post I have in the making).

None of the existing theories, though, whether plausible or just crazy, satisfactorily explain the secret message carved into the stone of the monument.

Thoughts? Theories?

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Which I Regret Not NaNoing

I slightly (sliiiightly) regret not doing NaNo this year.

Yes I miss the camaraderie and I feel a twinge of envy whenever I see anyone with their word count  tallies (even those of you running behind. Yes, I'm envious of you too).

But it's more than just missing out. Come early January I have to attend my first residency for my MFA. And we have to have 15-20 pages to workshop.

What we workshop doesn't have to be what we work on with our mentors. It can be something different or completely separate. Or it could be a chunk of what we're going to work on for the semester too.

I could probably bring a chunk of All That Remains. But I've just started querying it, and the idea of workshopping it while it's out and about, makes me feel a little sick. I dunno, I just don't think I'm the type of person who can do that.

So that leaves something new. And that leaves under two months to come up with it.

Now, I've been brainstorming a new novel, but I've been taking my time, trying to come up with a side plot, trying to think of more ways it can get worse for my MC, trying to make sure he stays active instead of reactive (which is always a problem for me). I'm making good headway in the prep, but not enough to write an outline yet, which I need to have before I start drafting.

So. I've decided to set myself a goal/deadline. Spend the rest of November brainstorming and doing the rest of my pre-draft prep, but come December, time to start writing the new novel. I don't need to finish it, obvs, before the residency, but I would feel much happier and less stressed out if I could at least get like 20K or so down beforehand.

I wish I had realized all of this before NaNo had started. Then maybe I would have tried harder to get ready before November and join in with everyone else. But I had stuff going on with All That Remains, and that had to be my priority at that time. Anyway, nothing much I can do about it now.

How about you? Are you NaNoing? Or did you skip it this year?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Fun

We've reached Friday which means we're almost into the weekend!

Yes! Carry me off into the weekend!


Let's get it started with our usual fun!




Awesome dollhouse

Thanks to Michael Offut for the video

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