Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of August

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question: 

What's the best book you read this month?

I haven't done a Book Love for it yet, but the best book I read in August, and quite possibly all year so far, was Lola and the Boy Next Door.
I loved Anna and the French Kiss more than I think I can really explain, so I was a little nervous with this one. What if it didn't live up to Anna? What if it suffers from Book 2 Syndrome and lets me down? What if it...isn't that good?

Well, my fears were entirely unfounded. And, I think I can actually say that I liked it better than Anna and the French Kiss
I know, I know. It seems totally crazy. But I think that Lola and I had a lot more in common and I think Cricket was a lot more my type than Etienne. I still love Anna and Etienne, of course. (And Anna and Etienne show up in this book! It's so fun!) But Lola and Cricket's story had me squeeing in ways I didn't even know I could squee. 

This book comes out on September 29th, and I highly recommend you just go ahead and pre-order it right now.* Anna fans, you won't be disappointed at all. Stephanie Perkins delivers big time with this one. And if any of you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss yet, you are missing out on one of the best YA contemporary romances you will ever read. Get on that! 

What's the best book you read in August?

*If you haven't entered my giveaway yet, be sure to go comment! I'm giving away a pre-order of Lola and the Boy Next Door!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Somebody That I Used To Know

Last week on Twitter the wonderful Khy posted a link to a song she had been listening to over and over again. I always like to hear what other people are listening to, so I clicked on her link...and I have NOT stopped listening to this song since.

What's awesome about this song to me is the addition of the female vocals. It takes what could have just been a generic woe is me breakup song and adds another element. He is upset about how she reacts to the breakup and we sympathize with him...until she comes back and throws his actions in his face. Then you see her side of the story and you can almost hear him become more defensive in return.

I think this is why I love the Glee version of Rolling in the Deep so much more than Adele's version. The male and female vocals make the song sound more like a challenge to each other than just a whine. And why I love novels written with dual narrator 1st person POV! I love hearing both sides of a makes everything so much more complex.

Anyway, I'm truly in love with everything about this song (including this amazing video!), and I can't wait to put it on a thousand playlists.

(OMG, this is the best frame in the entire video. YouTube freeze frame FTW!)

Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye

Now and then I think of when we were together 
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die 
Told myself that you were right for me 
But felt so lonely in your company 
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness 
Like resignation to the end 
Always the end 
So when we found that we could not make sense 
Well you said that we would still be friends 
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn't have to cut me off 
Make out like it never happened 
And that we were nothing 
And I don't even need your love 
But you treat me like a stranger 
And that feels so rough 
You didn't have to stoop so low 
Have your friends collect your records 
And then change your number 
I guess that I don't need that though 
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over 
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done 
And I don't wanna live that way 
Reading into every word you say 
You said that you could let it go 
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know...

But you didn't have to cut me off 
Make out like it never happened 
And that we were nothing 
And I don't even need your love 
But you treat me like a stranger 
And that feels so rough 
You didn't have to stoop so low 
Have your friends collect your records 
And then change your number 
I guess that I don't need that though 
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

I used to know 
That I used to know


Monday, August 29, 2011

Kill Those Darlings!

It has taken a lot of thought, but I decided to change an element of my WIP.

I know it doesn't sound like a big deal. I'm revising. Things change in revision. That's the point. Chapters get cut. Entire characters get wiped out of existence. I know this.

But this...this thing I'm changing. It was the THING that inspired my story. The very heart of it. And that's not so easy to just let go.

I've known for awhile that it wasn't really working. While it was the thing that launched the story, the story has evolved so much since then. It's been through one major rewrite. Plot elements galore have been added. My main character has REALLY changed.

But this thing stayed.

Because it was THE THING. The inspiration.

I've been writing around it. I've been cutting things that lead up to it. I've been imagining the "I don't really believe she would do this" comments from people.

And...well, I finally accepted it had to go.

It took me a long time to be okay with that, and I think part of this is me finally dealing with my fear. I've been holding on to this element because I'm scared to let it go and scared to really move forward, and, om some level, scared to do what it takes to make this story the best it can be.

I'm doing it, though! I'm doing it! I'm killing those darlings! Watch me go!

The funny thing is, it's really not a huge deal in the big picture of my story. And I'm not totally taking it out. Just changing it a little bit. I'm just feeling like being a little dramatic on a Monday, I guess.

Do you have a hard time letting go of those special things in your stories? 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five (10)

1. Yesterday was my first day back at school.

I had a few small snafus. My classroom was nowhere near ready and I spent all morning running around all sweaty doing last minute prep. Last minute prep included, but was not limited to, magic eraser-ing a lovely drawing of the male genitalia and a choice phrase or two off the side of one of my desks. I spent a lot of time on my hair, but it came out terrible in my school picture, and my ill-thought-out first day outfit looked less profesh and more like I walk-of-shamed into my classroom. Then, of course, within 5 minutes of 1st period starting I managed to work "G-Spot" into a conversation, and when I looked down to grab that pesky string that was hanging out of my jacket sleeve I realized it wasn't actually a string but rather the strap to my bra. Hanging out the sleeve of my jacket.


So, I made it. I'm exhausted as hell, and apparently they expect me to go back today. And for several months in a row. Yeesh. I don't know if I can handle this. I need a nap.

2. I spent my night recovering by sharing a bottle of wine with my friend Claire and watching Bad Teacher. It was actually a perfect First Day of School recovery activity. And there was the bonus of this:

nom nom nom nom nom

3. Yeah, thanks to The Campaign I have some new followers. New followers, you need to know this about me and this alone. I LOVE JASON SEGEL. Like, bad. Like, really bad. Like, embarrassingly bad. I mean, this exists on my computer:

Yeah, I'm that person. And I'm not ashamed.

Well, maybe just a little bit.

But, really? Jason Segel is pretty much as sexy as it gets in my world. And if you don't agree...well, maybe we should hang out so I don't have to fight you for him.

4. Oh! Did you hear the news? My writing bestie Heather Trese has started blogging again! If you get a chance, stop by her blog and say hello. Heather's blog is awesome and Heather is awesome and your life will really be a better place if she is in it. Trust me.

Also my good buddy Melissa Landers has started up a group blog with some of her friends called Honestly YA, so check that out if you are looking for a new blog to add to your reader!

5. I have a ton of family obligations this weekend which, sadly, means no real time to write. I am so pumped to outline the changes I need to make to make my WIP AWESOME and time is just slipping away from me. I love my family, but I wish they would understand that I really need to harness this positive energy right now so I can run with it. Oh well...I'll do what I can.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Love: Moonglass

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

I don't know what took me so long to read this stunning debut by Jessi Kirby. I mean, I had a zillion good reasons to pick it up ASAP. First of all, you know I love contemporary. And Sarah Dessen, goddess of YA contemp, blurbed it, so you know it's awesome. Then there's the fact that it takes place here in Orange County, where I live. I actually live pretty darn close to the place where the book takes place, so I knew I would be familiar with the setting, which always makes a book fun to read. Then there is the fact that Jessi Kirby actually KNOWS A BUNCH OF MY FORMER STUDENTS. Well, geez, why hadn't I read this book before? I have no idea. I have no excuses.

Well, I finally brought it with me on vacation and read it on the plane home from Costa Rica. And I devoured it and loved every second of it, as I knew I would.

This book starts out pretty light. Anna is new to Crystal Cove and struggles with her dad's distance and being the new girl. She makes some new friends, meets a cute boy, and starts to settle in. But soon she begins to uncover all these things about her mother, her parents' past, and her mother's death that she never knew. The more she delves into the reality of what happened to her mom, the more serious the book becomes and the more Anna struggles with the things she has always believed.

There's really everything you could want in a solid contemp read in this book. Anna is an awesome narrator, and I loved spending time in her head. The supporting cast was really great. I particularly loved Ashely, the first new friend Anna makes in Crystal Cove, and Tyler, the cute lifeguard love interest. And then there are the secrets, the surprising things Anna digs up as she delves into her family's past. Add all of these in with Jessi Kirby's beautiful writing, and, well, I can see why this book has been getting so much praise. I loved it. Had it not been from the library, I would have given it to the teen girl sitting next to me on the plane and told her, "You NEED to read this."* 

If you love contemporary YA, picking up this book is a no-brainer. If you don't read a ton of contemp, this is one I recommend you try. And don't wait as long as I did, or you'll regret it.

*I went to Borders last night and rescued their last copy, so I have one to lend out now

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Writer's Block

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.

This week's question: 
How do you beat writer's block?
I heard somewhere that there is no such thing as writer's block - the problem is that you don't know your story or your characters well enough. So when I am battling a day of sitting down at my computer and the words just NOT coming to me, I think of this and I realize that I don't know what my character would do here because I just don't know this part of my story like I should. So the best thing for me to do is BRAINSTORM.
Brainstorming with other people saves my writing life. In fact, I had an awesome brainstorm about my plot with my CP Julie last night. I was stuck on a plot element and I'd received some great notes about it, but I wasn't sure how to make it all work. So I just talked it out and suddenly the ideas were flowing. My writing group. with our weekly chats and constant emails, is good for this, too. Any time I am stuck I have a number of people I can go to and just bounce ideas off of. I find that often I just need to look at things from a different perspective and then suddenly everything opens up to me.
(It's not ALWAYS that easy...but usually)
What about you? What do you do to beat writer's block?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Campagin

This week, both the lovely Katy Upperman and the lovely Allison Miller blogged about Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform Building Campaign. Since I think both Katy and Allison are pretty awesome, I figured it was worth a look. And after poking around Rachael's blog a bit, I decided to sign up.

At my stage in the game, it's not so much about building a platform as much as it is about connecting with other writers in the same place as I am and just making friends. I love a good support system, and I know the internet is full of writers going through the same things I am...I just need to find them!

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, check out Rachael's blog. The list of campaigners closes on August 31st, so hurry up! And maybe I'll see you around the campaign!

Happy Blogaversary! (And Giveaway!)

Woot! It's my one year blogaversary! I started this blog a year ago as a place to document my writing journey. I don't talk all that much about writing...I mostly just talk about myself, but I appreciate that you guys seem to stick around anyway. Thank you!

I've met so many really wonderful people through this blog in the past year, and I am so glad that I've been able to foster some really cool friendships and keep up with all of you here. It's been a lot of fun. I've been blogging in some form or another since 2003, and I'm still trying to work out a balance of blogging that fits me (not too personal, not too boring, still me), but I think I'm getting there. Well, I hope so, anyway.

I was curious, so I checked my stats to see what my most popular posts have been, aside from contests and giveaways.

Far and away, my most popular post is this one:

I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good (With Ron Weasley)

In fact, aside from my name, "I'd get sleazy for Ron Weasley" is the most popular search term that brings people here to this blog! So awesome!

Other popular posts:

What Harry Potter House Are You?
Bye Bye Book Blog
Thinking About Boys
And the very recent Blind Terror

I love checking the stats. It's so much fun.

So, to say thanks for hanging out with me over here for the past year, I'm hosting a little giveaway. I picked up two signed books at SCBWI LA earlier this month, and one lucky winner will get them both! YAY!

Yup, one lucky winner will get a signed copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson as well as a signed copy of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray! These two ladies were the highlight of the conference for me, so I'm excited to share these signed books with you.

Actually, as I look at my followers box, I'm really close to 200 followers! Eeep! So if I get to 200 followers in the course of this giveaway, I'll toss in a pre-order of the book I am most excited for in the coming months...

(I passed 200 followers! So the winner will also get the pre-order of Lola and the Boy Next Door!)

All you need to do is leave me a comment on this post by September 6th. Make sure you leave me an email address so I can get in touch with you if you win. And, because I want to say thanks to all of you, this contest is even open internationally! Woo!

See? I love you guys. Let's get in here for a group hug.

<3 <3 <3 Thanks for hanging around, you guys. Here's to another year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pura Vida

I'm back from Costa Rica! Oh man, what an amazing trip that was.

My family stayed in Jaco, an awesome little beach town on the Pacific coast. We were in a condo right on the beach, and we all spent a lot of time lounging at the pool, drinking coffee on our balcony, frolicking at the beach, and wandering around town. It was a most excellent vacation, and the perfect way to end my summer break.*

Anyway, I thought I would just share some photos from my trip. I'm not really a photographer, and I don't think these pics get anywhere close to capturing the beauty of this amazing place. Costa Rica is paradise on Earth. We met so many Americans there who came down for a surf trip or a visit and just never went back. Let me tell you, I can totally see why, and I would not really be too against doing that myself. I loved ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING about this country.

This was the view from our condo. I woke up to this every morning, and spent at least an hour drinking my coffee and staring at this view.

It wasn't all that hot, but it was VERY humid, as you can see from my foggy camera. We went during the rainy season and had a few gnarly thunderstorms. 

Taking a boat out to Isla Tortuga. The pineapple in Costa Rica is KILLER. I could have lived on pineapple.

Isla Tortuga. We snorkeled here and jet skiied and lounged on the beach. It was beautiful.

A three-toed sloth! Looking right at me! We saw him at Manuel Antonio National Park, along with howler monkeys, deadly spiders, a boa, lots of crabs, and all sorts of other creatures. This guy was my favorite. (I got this picture through a little scope, that's why there is the black circle around him.)

Walking through Manuel Antonio after taking a dip in the ocean. This is right after a raccoon came up behind my mom and grabbed my bag and ran off with it. Luckily it was just my trash bag and not my bag with my camera, money, etc. I swear, I wasn't trying to litter! The raccoon stole my trash!

The beach in front of our condo where I spent most of my time. Look how deserted it was on this day! We were literally the only people out there! (Those are logs behind me, not other people.) The sand here is black because of volcanic ash.

I couldn't leave the jungle without going ziplining!

The view of Jaco from the top of the mountain where we started ziplining

There I go! It was so much fun, and the views of the jungle and the beach were incredible. 

And it just wouldn't be me if I didn't make friends with a beach dog. This little girl belonged to the guy who ran the surf school, but she would come sit down with me every time I was on the beach. She was so sweet! There were so many sweet dogs all over the place, and they loved to play in the water!

So, now I'm back to reality. I'm in my classroom and preparing for students. But in my mind I'm still in Costa Rica, still on that beach, still sitting on that balcony. It's tough to leave that behind and get back to the real world.

*Yup, summer is over. School starts on Thursday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five (9)

1. Today is my last full day in Costa Rica. I am so sad about this. We leave tomorrow morning and head back home, and I think my family will have to drag me kicking and screaming. There is not one single thing I don't love about this country. Not one. I'll try to do a recap post next week some time, but until then, this pretty much sums up what I've been up to:
Yeah, that doesn't suck.

2. I will say that I'm looking forward to running back to the waiting paws of my little pup. I haven't seen him in almost two weeks, and I miss his fuzzy butt! Luckily my cousin is watching him and keeps posting pictures of him being cute on facebook, so I know he is happy and doing well.

The latest from my cousin's facebook. Apparently he had just chased a cat out of the yard. I've never seen him even care about a cat before!

3. Even though I was on vacation, I still managed to participate in WriteOnCon as much as possible. We have free WiFi here in our condo, and I can see the ocean from the deck, so even when I was browsing in the WriteOnCon forums, I was stil enjoying my vacation. 

I was hesitant to participate on the forums since I've been in such a weird place with my writing since SCBWI LA, but I'm glad I did. I got a lot of positive feedback that made me feel a little more confident. I'm still in a state of confusion with my WIP, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about it while I've been down here, and I think a well-timed email may have sparked something that could untangle it. 

4. When I get home I need to deal with the reality of going back to work. I've loved my two months off, and I'm in serious denial that I will have students in less than a week. My classroom is still in a shambles, and I have done NOTHING to prepare for the new school year aside from reading a bunch of YA books for my classroom library. I'm such a failure as a responsible adult. In the past I've always had my department chair (who teaches the same classes that I do) to help me pull it together, but she got promoted and now I am the lead on one of my courses. People are going to be coming to ME for help. Yikes. I think I know what I'll be doing on the flight home. 

5. Okay, I need to get out of here. No more talking about work...I'm spending my last day in Costa Rica ziplining through the jungle. Again, that doesn't suck. PURA VIDA!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Ballgame

I've been in such a weird funk since SCBWI LA, so I thought I would share a song that's been speaking to my mood.

I just typed up a whole whiny emo paragraph, but I deleted it. I guess I'll let the song speak for itself.

Check this version with my boyfriend Jesse Lacey from Brand New:

Ballgame - Kevin Devine

A good man doesn't drink
And I've been drinking alone
So what does that make me?

My hands they always shake
And no one's calling my phone
So what does that make me?

And I know the kid with his guitar
So drunk and anxious
Has been done to death
So tell me what hasn't
I'll try it

Because I'm selfish enough to wanna get better
But I'm backwards enough not to take any steps to get there

And when you realize it's a pattern
And not a phase
It's what you've become and it's what you will stay
That's ballgame

'Cause I don't got room in my life for anyone else
And I've driven away all the people that could help
And I still don't even know what I need to do to fix myself

There's a clamp around my chest
That tightens every time I lapse into
Another sorry story

About my miserable collapse
A bronze box I keep encased in glass
And dust off whenever I want your pity

'Cause lately I've had to come to grips with scope and figure
How my problems stack up in a world two steps from ruin
(Or maybe it's rapture)

Well, either way, I realize that my shit's about as small as it could be
But that makes me feel worse for even feeling this bad in the first place

'Cause there's a war starting soon, and all the flags'll be waving
Daniel's 20-year-old friend will be ready, and willing, and waiting
He's a Marine and he told me

And that makes me sad
Really, really fucking sad
But at least he'll act

I'll just bite my tongue and then say, "Daniel you wish him luck
or pray that he comes back for his mother's sake",
and then I'll drink those thoughts away
I've gotten good at that

And when you realize it's a pattern
And not a phase
It's what you've become and it's what you will stay
That's ballgame

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hola From Costa Rica!

Hola from Costa Rica!

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I ended up having a little bit of a snafu on my way down here. 

We had a quick connection in Houston, and with our flight from LAX running behind we ended up running Amazing Race style to our connecting gate with minutes to spare before it took off. Well, don’t you know that even though the plane was still there, they wouldn’t let us on. The woman at the gate said she called to our plane to see if anyone on board needed to get on the flight and apparently someone on our plane said no. I call shenanigans on that, since there were actually TWELVE of us. And she wouldn't look any of us in the eye, so you know that's a bad sign.

So, we stood there and watched as the plane took off without us, and then we went over to customer service to get rebooked. The next flight wasn’t for almost seven hours, and the airline wouldn’t do anything for us. No meal vouchers, no passes to the lounge, nothing. They said they didn’t have anything they could do. So we ended up kicking it in the Houston airport for a loooong time. 
Two sucky things (well, suckier than sitting in an airport for seven hours):
  1. We were supposed to meet my brother and his girlfriend at the San Jose airport (they were flying in from Denver)
  2. We had hired a driver to take us from the airport to our condo on the beach (about 2 hours away)
So now we had to try to get in touch with both my brother and the driver so the driver could take my brother and his gf to our condo, and we were going to have to pay for him to then come back to the airport, pick us up, and then take us to the beach. 


Any-hoo. I got some outlining done on my next project done during my residency at the Houston airport. I also organized all of the files on my computer and made some new playlists. Yay for being productive in the face of great boredom and frustration. 

But WE MADE IT. Finally. 

And Costa Rica is amazing. 

We have a lot of awesome adventures planned for the week, and I can't wait. But I'm also stoked to just sit here on our balcony and enjoy this view.

Hasta la vista!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Clear Head Friday

Tomorrow morning I am off to Costa Rica with my family! My mom retired from her job a few months ago and is taking all of us on a fun vacation to celebrate. I haven't seen my brother in...jeez, I can't even think of the last time I saw my brother.* That's bad. So, yeah, I haven't seen my brother and his girlfriend in a long time, and I've never been to Costa Rica. This is going to be an amazing vacation, and I am so looking forward to doing nothing but relaxing.

Yup, this is the beach where I will be relaxing! PURA VIDA!

Tomorrow is also my six-year wedding anniversary...

The husband and I have been married for six years and together for lucky thirteen. Yeah, that's a long time. Go us! Amazingly, we haven't killed each other yet. I celebrate this fact every single day.*

I can't thank you guys enough for the amazing response to my post yesterday. It means so much to me to know that I'm not alone. I'm going to spend a lot of time over my vacation just thinking about things. Not writing, but planning. I'm hoping to return with a clear head. I hate being so insecure.

That's what vacations are good for, right? Clearing your head? I sure hope so.

Thanks for the love.

*Ok, it turns out I last saw my brother in February, which really wasn't that long ago. I just totally forgot. Sister FAIL, for sure. 

**As you can see, I'm not very sappy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blind Terror

I've been having a hard time putting into words my main takeaway from the SCBWI LA conference this past weekend.

It was from Laurie Halse Anderson's breakout session about living a creative life. She talked at length about the things we do in our personal lives that get in the way of our writing and how to manage it. This is something I really struggle with, so it was a very useful session. I'm probably going to type up some of the notes and keep them somewhere I can see them when I am wasting my very precious time farting around on the internet.

At the end of the session, as I was already feeling emotional from one of the most influential and amazing authors of our generation telling me all of the things I needed to hear about managing myself and giving myself the time I need to create, the topic of self sabotage came up.

Laurie said that we sabotage ourselves and our own progress out of fear.

And when she said that, I stopped breathing and I felt like I had been smacked and I swear, the floor opened up and swallowed me.

FEAR, you guys. FEAR.

I don't know, maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but when Laurie said this, it opened up this thing I had been holding close inside of myself, refusing to acknowledge.

I knew that there was some reason that the closer I get to finishing my WIP, the slower I go. That there was a reason that I seem to put more and more space between myself and the end of this book. I just never really thought too much about what it was or why, chalked it up to procrastination, and just kept going along at my slow pace.

But it turns out that




And the crazy thing is, I didn't even realize how scared I was. But since I left Laurie's session this past Friday, I have been on the brink of tears. I feel like I am going to have a breakdown at any given second. It's because I acknowledged the fear, I accepted that it was there, and now it is the only thing I can think about. It's like it is pulsing through my veins.

I can't shake free of it.

I'm trying to figure out WHAT I am scared of. Scared of sucking? Scared of rejection? Scared of realizing I'm not a good writer? Scared of being the only person who doesn't realize I'm not a good writer? All of these things? Something else?

I'm not sure exactly what I am scared of. I just know I am afraid down to my core. And it's keeping me from making progress.

If I don't have a completed and polished ms, I can't NOT get an agent. I can't NOT get published. I can't NOT succeed.

But I can't do those things, either.

So, I'm sort of at a crossroads right now. Last week I thought I was just a slow writer, but now I have realized that I have the FEAR. (Fear is what Laurie Halse Anderson said, but over the past few days I've spent with it, I'm realizing that it's more like BLIND TERROR.) When I was ignorant of the fear, I just kept plodding along, but now I am frozen.

I don't WANT to finish. And I am subconsciously doing things to keep myself from finishing. Because I'm scared.

I need to get over it. I need to face it and kick it in the balls and run past it when it's writhing around on the ground clutching its crotch.

I can't let it stop me.

But did I mention that it is more like BLIND TERROR? That shit is scary, yo.

So here I am, trying to figure myself out. Trying not to cry. Trying not to let it keep me from doing what I want to do.

But I don't know how to proceed.

Have any of you faced this? How do you deal? I really need to know what to do here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: When Do You Write?

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.

This week's question: 

What time do you prefer to do your writing? Early Worm? Night Owl ? Any five seconds you can grab?

I feel like there's really only a five or six hour window during the day when I am actually alert and functioning. I usually try to write during that time, but it doesn't always work out.

I'm SO not a morning person. And this coming school year, my first class will begin at 7:30am. Yes, that means teenagers in my face at 7:30. That means coffee and shower and commute all take place even earlier than that.

This coming year is going to be a real treat.

Then, because I'm so not a morning person, but I'm forced to be up and functional much earlier than I would like to be, I generally crash out pretty early at night. If I'm not snuggled up in bed by 11pm, I'm pretty useless for, oh, the rest of the week.

So, I have this time between 5-ish and 11 where I do my writing (along with everything else). I don't know if it's my ideal time to get my writing done, but it's pretty much my only time to get my writing done, so I make it work.

When do you write?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winner Winner Books For Dinner!

I'm still recovering, but luckily I can just post the winners of my latest book giveaway and call it a blog post for the day. Yay for lazy exhausted blogging!

The winner of the signed copy of Supernaturally is

The winner of the signed copy of Nightshade is


The winner of the signed copy of Anna and the French Kiss is


YAY winners! You'll be getting your books shortly.

I was blown away by the number of entries I had in this contest! Thank you all so much for hanging out, reading my blog, supporting me on my road, and taking the free things I give away. You are all so amazing. <3

My one year blogaversary for this blog is coming up soon, and I have a special surprise to thank you for going on this journey with me. Stay tuned.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 8, 2011

SCBWI LA Recovery

SCBWI LA totally fed my soul and inspired the crap out of me, but OH MY GOODNESS I am so exhausted. This social introvert has had all the energy sucked out of her and needs some time to recharge.
Me and Laurie Halse Anderson!

Me, my lovely friends, and Libba Bray!
(My cell phone battery is so bright, I get overexposed in almost every picture. The fun of being a white girl.)

I'll leave you with some links to the SCBWI Team Blog recaps of some of the major keynotes and breakout sessions that I loved. Check these out to get a sense of the killer inspiration that I had the pleasure of experiencing this week. 

Laurie Halse Anderson's breakout session on living a creative life <--- This was THE session for me. It spoke to me in ways I can't even explain

I'm still hanging around the hotel today, even though I'm not participating in the intensives that are going on. I so need this day of recovery...and time to get going on my writing, since I'm now feeling so inspired.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Five (8)

1. Hi from SCBWI LA! I'm waiting for my first breakout session to begin (Writing About Other Cultures), so I thought I would pop in and say hello. I've already seen so many friends and heard two wonderful keynote speeches. I'm so happy to be here and so ready to be inspired!

2. My heart was broken when I heard that John Green wasn't going to be here because of his surgery. OMG the heartbreak. I can't even put it into words.

But Judy Blume is here in his place, and that's nothing to sneeze at. I mean, really. Just As Long As We're Together was pretty much THE book of my childhood.

With all of the other authors I've seen so far, well, my fangirl is in full effect right now.

3. I signed up for Pottermore yesterday!

As if there was any doubt ;-)

Although I had a hell of a time finding the damn quill. Once you solved the clue (which was easy) you were redirected to a page where you were supposed to find the quill. I was searching and searching and clicking and clicking and totally flummoxed. Until my friend Anna told me it was in the banner ad at the top of the page. You know, the thing with animated quills flying around. DUH.

I think I'm so used to just ignoring flashing banner ads that I didn't even register it at all.

Anyway, I think this might have been a Ravenclaw cleverness test for me, and I failed pretty horribly. Womp womp.

4. If you missed my post from the other day about Ringgold Reads, please go check it out. It's a wonderful effort put together by wonderful people. School libraries in Ringgold, GA lost EVERYTHING. Even one book can make a huge difference.

5. Ok, my session is starting up, so I need to go. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! I may be picking up some awesome books for you all, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

SCBWI LA Weekend

Today I am off to the SCBWI summer conference in LA!

Starting tomorrow, I get to have knowledge dropped on my by the likes of Libba Bray and Laurie Halse Andserson! I get to hang out with writer besties like Heather Trese and Shana Silver! I get to hob nob with all kinds of bloggers, writers, authors, illustrators, and publishing people!


If you're going to be there, please come say hello if you see me around. I'm horribly awkward and will likely spill something on you, but I'll be super happy to meet you. That's my favorite part about these conferences - meeting all the people I know from my blog, Twitter, and the internet.

And if you aren't going to be there, follow along online! The official Twitter hashtag for the conference is #LA11SCBWI, so you can see what everyone is tweeting. And the SCBWI Team Blog does an amazing job at recapping the speakers and sessions almost as soon as they finish.

I'll see you all back here when I'm back...and I'll give you a great recap of the conference!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ringgold Reads

My good friend Julie has joined together with author Susan Gregg Gilmore and Random House to start up Ringgold Reads, a long-term program to rebuild the libraries at Ringgold Middle School and Ringgold High School in Ringgold, GA. The libraries at both of these rural Title 1 schools were destroyed during the devastating tornadoes back in April, and they need books!

Please take a moment to like their fb page and follow them on Twitter. You can directly help the kids in these schools by donating books. School is starting up again soon, and these schools need all the books they can get.

Julie is one of the sweetest and most caring people I have the pleasure of knowing, and she would be more than happy to answer any of your questions about Ringgold Reads, so contact her via her blog or the RR fb page if you need any more information.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Spotify

Has anyone else out there had the chance to check out Spotify yet? I am so in love with it!

If you haven't heard of Spotify, it's a music app that came from the UK and has just made its way over here to the US. It's invite only right now, and if you go to you can enter your email and request an invite.

So, basically Spotify lets you listen to pretty much any album or music track from any computer for free.

Yeah. Amazing, right?

You can also sync it to your iTunes library so you can access the music on your computer from anywhere, too. And if you upgrade to the premium you can even get to your music and the Spotify music from your phone. So literally any music anywhere.

It's also fun because you can share playlists with other users.

Click to make it bigger

That's my profile says I'm sharing 12 playlists. I have a few setlists from shows I've been to and loved (I always do that with my favorite shows...look up the setlist and make a playlist of it), Maggie Stiefvater's playlists for Shiver and Linger (they are KILLER if you guys haven't listened to them), and a few other random ones. 

Here's the playlist of mine that I'm listening to right this very minute. I have it shared on my profile. It's called Your Ghost. (Does anyone else give their playlists titles?)

Click to make it bigger

I had a few albums I wanted my friend Erin to listen to, so I made a playlist on Spotify and shared it with her. She subscribed to it, so she'll be able to follow it when I add new stuff for her.

I'm still trying to figure out everything it can do, but so far I am having the best time playing around with it. It's really fun to be able to listen to pretty much anything, and it's a really easy way to try out new music!

I think the real test will be when I go back to work and see if the app works from school! Pretty much everything music related is blocked for us there, but this is NEW. They don't know about it yet! If I can have Spotify at my desk I will be the happiest teacher on the block.

Is anyone else on Spotify? If you are, look me up! I'm jessrlove (put spotify:user:jessrlove in the search box) and I'd love to share playlists with you!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Signed Books - Too Much Of A Good Thing?

One of the members of my online book club recently asked about bringing books to a signing and if it was obnoxious to have authors sign multiple books. That brought up the response from more than one person that having more signed books makes the signed books you have less special.

I'm not going to lie, this makes NO sense to me.

So, if something is special you want less of it?

I obviously enjoy having signed books. I have over 50 signed books in my shelves, some personalized and some not, and I'm getting even more this weekend. I LOVE getting my books signed. So this thought process makes ZERO sense to me. I think signed books are special, and I want more, more, more!

Here are some of my favorite signed books:

One of my very favorite and most special students got me a copy of Holes signed and personalized by Louis Sachar. I can't even tell you how much this one means to me.

My signed and personalized ARC of Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty. I won this one from a haiku contest she had on her blog before the book was released. I also have a signed copy she sent me because my friends and I made up the hashtag #lassodicking on Twitter in honor of Marcus Flutie.

I thought I had shared my signed and personalized copy of Zeitoun by Dave Eggers on here before, but it turns out that I never blogged the LA Times Festival of Books because it was during my Month of Sick. So, here is it. I DIE.

A random find...I picked up Everything Is Illuminated from the used bookstore for $1 and it happened to be signed by Jonathan Safran Foer! That was a really cool surprise. It's signed To R, and he has such a cool signature. I love this one.

I love that when I met Gayle Forman and got If I Stay signed, she put a personal message in the book based on the conversation she had.

(I don't have a picture of this book right now because my friend Erin is borrowing it. I hate lending out my signed books (I actually hate lending out any of my books, actually), but I knew she would love it, so I told her to guard it with her life. No reading at the pool!)

Then there is my signed copy of the most special YA book in my collection. The book that made me fall in love with YA, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen.

I love that all of my signed books have a story to go with them, and I think it makes my collection of books that much more interesting and personal.

So, I just don't get why you would avoid getting books signed by the author so that the few you do have signed are more special.

Does anyone else feel this way about signed books? Or can you help me understand it at all? That you would prefer to get fewer signed so it is more special? Or are you like me and try to get as many signed as possible?