Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fun

And we've made it through winter, ape-friends, and come through the other side into spring.

And I am delighted!

Yes, I DO have a necklace of flowers. Jealous?

Which means time to spread that delight to you with some things to make you laugh.









Monday, March 23, 2015

In Which I Read BONE GAP And I Think Maybe You Should Too

So, we're half way into March and I'm fairly certain I just read the best book I'm going to read all year.

Yeah. BONE GAP by Laura Ruby* is just that good. You know how you can tell I really mean it? Because I never review books. If you look through my five years of blogging, you'll find maybe one or two book reviews. If you check my Goodreads page, you'll find the same.

Mostly that's because I'm not really good at reviewing books. I'm not good at critical reading, and I'm also not really good at expressing why I like certain things (you can take a look at my end of year best books I read posts and see this is true. They're mostly paragraphs of "this book was great and I lurved it!" without much else).

But I loved BONE GAP so much, that I knew I needed to try to do a review justice. Because I think so many of you would love it too.

When beautiful Roza goes missing, no one believes Finn when he says a man took her, because Finn can't remember what the man looked like.

Roza is beautiful, a fact she's lived with all her life. And she's well aware of how some men treat beautiful women. So when a man takes her and gives her everything she could want as long as she loves him, she tells him no. And continues to tell him no.

But Roza's disappearance haunts Finn, and since he's the only one who believes she's been taken, it's up to him to find her.

BONE GAP was one of those books where I stayed up late reading it, because I couldn't put it down. Finally though, finally, I had to go to bed (you know, because stupid adulthood means responsibilities and junk. That's one thing they never tell you as a kid, that as an adult, you feel like you get even less sleep and you want it even more).

So I went to bed, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I woke up early, sat in my living room with my dogs, and finished it that morning. I read it in one day, guys. And, I mean, I do that pretty regularly because if you set aside 4-5 hours a day to read, you can read a whole book. But this wasn't even that. This was taking away from precious sleep because I needed to know what was going to happen. I was that invested in the book.

BONE GAP has so many wonderful things. It has corn that's kind of creepy. It has a man that's more than just kind of creepy. It has cats and kittens, giant dogs and black horses, bees and goats and lambs. And some of these animals are magical, and some of them aren't.

It has beautiful girls and boys and ugly girls and boys. It has girls and boys that need rescuing and girls and boys who rescue themselves.

And, finally it has magic and mystery and people broken by love and people saved by love.

I wish it had been 1,000 pages. I was super sad when it was done. I didn't want to even pick up another book (even though I have a full TBR pile which I'm excited to dive into).

I honestly can't wait until I can read it again.

*Full disclosure - Laura Ruby was my second semester advisor for my MFA. She's just as awesome as her books.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Fun

Friday, Friday, Friday!

We've made it through another week, and the weather keeps getting warmer and soon the grass will be greener which is exactly what my delicate dog feet are looking forward to.

Grass is always better than snow and ice

Let's get this weekend started!









Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Weird: Reincarnated Boy

Today we're talking about a fun murder. A fun murder you say? How can that be a thing?
Read on, and find out!

Dr. Eli Lasch was best known for developing a medical system in Gaza as part of an Israeli government operation in the 60s. He died in 2009 (no, he's not the victim) but before that, he related a story he personally witnessed to a therapist.

In Golan Heights, a region near the border of Syria and Israel, a boy was born with a long red birthmark on his skull.

He was part of the Druze ethnic group, which accepts the idea of reincarnation. Because of this, they often believe that birthmarks can be related to trauma in a past life, and so when the boy was old enough to talk and told his parents that he had been killed by a blow to the head from an axe, no one was surprised or frightened.

When children are three, it's customary to take them to the home in their previous life if they remember it. After they arrived in his village, the boy was able to remember details of his home as well as who he was in his previous life.

A village local said the man the boy purported to be in a past life had disappeared years earlier, and his family had assumed he had wandered into nearby hostile territory.

The boy disagreed. He said he'd been murdered, and knew the name of the man who had killed him.
They confronted the man, who denied everything, but the boy wasn't done.

He said he knew where his body was buried. In the spot where he indicated, the villagers found a skeleton, with a wound in the skull that corresponded to the boy's birthmark. They also found the murder weapon, an axe, buried nearby.

The man accused admitted to the crime after being faced with this evidence.

See? A fun murder? (okay, I mean, the murder was probably horrible and terrifying. But look at this fun story, with outside witnesses--one of which was a doctor! Fun, right?)

Thoughts or theories?


Monday, March 16, 2015

In Which We Talk About Luck

In the world of being an author, we're always told to work hard, to do our research and all that good stuff. And absolutely 100% on all that. If you do the hard work that needs to be done, and you do the research, you will already be in the top 10% of the slush pile. And that is a good place to be.

But there's another aspect, too, that most people acknowledge, but it isn't always talked about, and that's luck.

Much of querying and submission and reaching the right audience is not always something we can control. If people knew what was going to sell, or sell well, then we'd all be rich.

But we don't. So publishers and agents and writers and even readers have to take chances. Which is where the luck comes from.

Maybe you've just written something that is what an agent is looking for. Or a publisher. Or a brand new audience. As luck would have it, and all that.

For me, I definitely think luck played a part, especially when I queried.

I spoke a bit about this HERE already, but, before I started querying, I hit an MN SCBWI conference. It was one I had been to before, but this year was the first time I was going to pay for a critique of my work (the previous years I was at the end of querying a MS. This year, I had yet to start so the timing was perfect (lucky me)).

For the critique, you could get assigned an agent or an editor. And I got the editor. I was kind of hoping for the agent (just because I knew I wanted an agent first) but I was still excited to speak with the editor. She was from a smaller imprint at a larger house, so I was excited to see what she had to say about my first 5 pages and maybe how I could improve them.

But she didn't have a critique for me, at least, not one with improvements. Instead what she said was that she loved it, and she wanted to see the whole manuscript. And when I told her I wanted an agent and was planning on starting to query in the next few weeks, she said that was a good idea and said I should put her name in the query.

Which was such an awesome thing for her to do. I got a lot of requests on my MS when I started querying, (though that was normal for me) but I'm almost positive that my lack of rejections were due to the fact that I put that editor's name in my query letter.

And all of this was just due to luck, that I was assigned to an editor at the conference instead of the agent. And from that moment, I can trace with a single, direct line the offers I got, the agent I signed with (who called the editor I'd mentioned in my query) and the book deal I later accepted from HarperTeen.

So, yes, Luck does play a part. But I don't think it's something you should worry about. Yes, we can't control it, but also, sometimes it's nice to just let it play its part and see where we end up.

What about you? Has Luck played a role in your journey?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Fun

Oh. My. Dog.

Can you BELIEVE it's been so long since I've last gotten to do a Friday Fun, ape-friends?

I have a bone to pick with you

Me neither. It's a damn national travesty, let me tell you.

But now that I'm back, we might as well get this started, because the sooner the fun starts, the sooner the weekend is here.






Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday Weird: The Sea Peoples

Phew. It's been awhile since I've been able to write up a Wednesday Weird. I always write my blog posts on Sundays, and it's just been a few months where I've had enough free time on a Sunday to write one up (because WWs take research, friends.)

Anyway, today's topic: The Sea Peoples.

1200 BC had quite a few empires slipping into decline--the Hittites, the Mycenaeans and everyone's favorite, the Egyptians.

So, they're already having a rough time of it, and then a huge army of barbarians showed up and laid waste to pretty much everything they touched.

These are the Sea Peoples, and even though it's 2015, we still have no idea who they were.

One of the first places they attacked was Anatolia (modern day Turkey). Anatolia at the time was quite powerful, but king Ugarit received a message from a neighboring king begging for help against a band of unknown attackers.

So, Ugarit, being a good neighbor, sent his army to help out. But, unfortunately it didn't. The Sea Peoples burned the neighboring city to the ground, then for the hell of it (because, I mean, they came all that way) they marched to Ugarit's city and burned it to the ground as well before they disappeared.

A few years later, the same thing happened at Kadesh (modern day Syria). And then they just marched and sailed and burned through civilization so violently that it actually reshaped the landscape.

Eventually they reached Egypt and attacked. And, of course, you'd better believe if the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids they weren't effing around.

The Sea Peoples used massive invasion forces twice, but each time the Egyptians held them off. Finally the Sea Peoples left again. And that was it.

Scholars today have some theories about their identities--maybe they came from Europe, or Asia Minor, or the Balkans. But pretty much anyone's guess is as good as the next, because the only people who ever met the Sea Peoples were too busy fighting and dying to spend any time to take notes or document who they could be or where they came from.

Hell, for all we know, the Sea Peoples are still out there today.
Just biding their time . . .

Monday, March 9, 2015

In Which I Push Through Some Crappy Writing

I can't even believe it's March.

It feels like winter just started and yet here we are, with our snow melting and spring on it's way. I think it's because we had such a mild winter here in MN. Not a lot of snow, not too many days below 0.

Besides a picture book I wrote last month, I really hadn't done any creative writing this year yet until last week, when I was able to pump out 15 pages on my WIPs (10 pages on my MG fantasy, and 5 pages on Book 2). And, I mean, that's not a ton of writing, but it felt really accomplished.

Especially since I've been in a whining funk for pretty much all of 2015.

I was actually more excited about the 5 pages on B2 because I had written ten pages already, and then felt stuck. I'd been staring at those ten pages for two months, thinking about how I had set myself up so piss poorly that I didn't even know how to continue.

Finally, last week, I just decided to skip the damn transition. To jump right into chapter two and deal with the stupid first chapter later.

Which, duh, of course that's a good idea. But knowing that and actually doing it, I find, are two different things. Especially since I write chronologically and edit as I go, so I know I'll keep reading that first chapter and it will still have problems (ugh. All the problems) and it will keep bugging me.

Which is fine. It can bug me all it wants as long as it doesn't stall me or stop me from making forward motion.

So, yeah. Last week was good. Not great, but good. But I think it opened the door for great days in the near future.

How are all your projects going? Are you ready for spring?


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

First Wednesday of the month means it's time for IWSG!

Co-hosts this month are: Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence


My insecurities this month are the same as pretty much any other month (second verse, same as the first!) Time.

I have so much to do not only for March, but also just this semester in general.

I need the revise my critical thesis for the MFA
I need to revise my picture book for the MFA
I need to start my MG fantasy for the MFA
I need to continue writing Book 2 for ASSASSIN'S HEART

That is a lot of work I need to get done. And I've never written a MG novel before, so that brings with it some unease.

But the solution, of course, is the same as it almost always is: just do the work.

The only way out is through, and all of that.

How's your March looking?

Monday, March 2, 2015

In Which I Get A Bookish Gift

Birthdays in our family tend the stretch out for a few weeks. Especially for Twin and I, since there's two of us. Sometimes gifts get spread out, but sometimes not.

This year we got some gifts right away and some gifts a little later.

The last gift I got, though, was one of the coolest. And my mom made it.

Upon first glance it appears to just be a thesaurus


But what's this latch on the side??
It's a book box!
It could have been a book clutch, if I wanted. She would have added a handle for me. But I kind of liked it as is, as a booky box.
And with that, my birthday was officially over. It was a pretty great time.

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