Monday, October 31, 2011

Laini Taylor Signing

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Laini Taylor's signing near my house. Like I have mentioned once or twice, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of my favorite books this year, so I was really excited to hear Laini talk about it, meet her, and get a copy signed.

I love book signings for many reasons, but one major reason is that my buddy Tameka often shows up to fangirl with me. Catching up with Tameka AND meeting and supporting an awesome YA author? Always a good time.

This event was a lot of fun because of more than just Tameka. One of the cashiers was wearing a blue Karou wig and there were blue feather masks and hamsa tattoos. I love when the stores have a little fun with the signings!


I loved hearing how Laini Taylor came up with the idea for this book and getting a little insight into her writing process. I would have loved to just sit down and pick her brain about the world she created and the characters in this book, but spoilers were off limits and we didn't have the time. But I did get to tell her how much I loved it, so that was good enough for me.


See her gorgeous wishbone necklace? I die!

Thanks, Laini, for being so awesome...and for writing such an amazing book!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Five (18)

1. This week has been a really rough one for me, friends. I thought for sure that Mercury must be in retrograde or something, but according to this site it isn't. So I don't know WTF is going on. I've had technology fail after technology fail, I've been a clumsy mess, and it's just basically been a ROUGH WEEK. I have never been so happy to see Friday get here, I swear.
 
 
2. My first major technology fail happened on Tuesday night. Back when I got my Mac, I got a trial version of iWorks. But when it it expired I ended up getting Scrivener to do my writing, so it was no big deal that I didn't have a word processing program on there. I got to the point in editing my WIP, though, that I needed to move from Scrivener and edit on Word. I still didn't have iWorks, and I had an extra Dell for work, so I just started doing my writing on that instead of my Mac. Well, I finally got a copy of iWorks and installed it on Tuesday night. Then I got to town doing a TON of polishing on my WIP. Well, don't you know that it didn't install correctly (even though it said it did) and I lost all my changes?! OF COURSE I DID. It turns out that there is a glitch when installing iWorks out of the box when you have the trial versoin installed. OF COURSE THERE IS. I tried all day on Wednesday to uninstall the trial version, but apparently little files were living in places I couldn't find, so I couldn't get rid of it. I spent all day fretting over it. I finally made an appointment at the Genius bar at my local Apple store and, of course, the Genius clicked like two things and it was all fixed.
 
So now I can happily edit on my Mac like a normal person, but all of Tuesday night's polishing is lost. Womp womp.
 
(I have to say that having access to the Genius bar is the BEST reason to buy a Mac. Life savers, them.)
 
 
3. My second fail involves my normal photo hosting site and the post I had planned for yesterday. My pictures just never uploaded. They always upload just fine and this time they just NEVER DID. And I was too busy with everything falling into a shambles around me this week to try to figure out WHY and make it work. I just kept trying and trying to upload and then I just gave up on the pictures and the post and everything. Bah. I guess I'll try to post it some other time when I'm not such a mess.
 
 
4. I was hoping to go down to San Diego this weekend and hang out in the bar at World Fantasy Con...so many of my bloggy and Twitter friends are down there, and I SO wanted to go hang out with them! But in the end I decided to be a Big Girl and stay home and work. It's the end of the quarter and grades are due, and I have some other pressing obligations. It really kills me (like, honestly, hurts me down deep inside) to know that people are out having fun and I'm not there, but I need to learn to make adult decisions every now and then. So, go me. I'll be locked in my cave this weeked.
 
 
5. So, I totally committed to NaNoWriMo, but with everything going wrong I really don't see how I'm going to do this. But I'm committed, you guys! I told my students about it! I have a NaNo countdown on the white board. I have some of them doing it with me. I even filmed a video about it for our morning news that is going to play on Monday! So I HAVE to do it. The entire student body will judge me if I don't do it. But I don't feel mentally prepared AT ALL. I mean...NOT AT ALL. I guess I'll add that to my enormous list of Big Girl things to do this weekend.
 
An entire school of teenagers judging you is a great motivator, I guess. But UGH. My brain. It's a disaster right now.
 
 
I hope all of you had a better week than I did...and I hope you all have a great weekend! <3

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of October


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

What is the best book you read in October?

Well, unlike last month, I actually did read this month. I read three books! Go me!

The best book I read BY FAR is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. 


I did a Book Love post on this book as soon as I finished it back at the beginning of the month, and since then I have tried to convince more people to read it...mainly because I want to talk about it! Here's the thing about this book - it's almost a month later and I am STILL thinking about it. A LOT. I don't want to overhype it, but PEOPLE, this book is nothing like what I expected and it truly captivated me. If you haven't read it, you are really missing out.

This is not the last you will hear about this book around here this week. Like I said...I want to talk about it!

What's the best book you've read this month?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Luna Lovegood

On Saturday I had an early Halloween party. I love Halloween and I love dressing up, but I was faced with a bit of a challenge this year. I wanted to put something together on the cheap, and I wanted to wear something I could also wear to school on Halloween day. Nope, no sexy _________ for me this year.

I decided to be Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books, and, thanks to the internet, I was able to put the costume together on the cheap! Since there is still plenty of time to put together a costume, I figured I would share the pieces of my Luna costume with you guys.


Wizard robe: I used my college graduation gown. If you don't have a gown from your own graduation, I often see these at thrift stores

Collared shirt: Can you believe I don't own a white collared shirt? Button-up collared shirts generally aren't long enough on me, so I tend to avoid them. (I also hate ironing.) I found this LONG white polo at TJ Maxx for $7. It's totally something I can wear again, too.

Tie: I was going to get a plain blue tie and paint it, but I saw this one at TJ Maxx and it was perfect. It was $14 (a little more than the plain tie), but it's something the husband can wear to work, unlike one that I paint. So it was worth it to splurge a little (heh...yeah, $14 is a splurge) on the tie since he can actually get use out of it. I would have preferred book Ravenclaw colors (blue/bronze) to movie Ravenclaw colors (blue/blue), but what can you do.

Spectraspecs: I found this template online. I printed them on a silvery cardstock ($0.60) so they had a shimmery look. The lenses were cut out of plastic binder pencil pouches from Target ($0.69 each).

Earrings: I found this pattern to make radish earrings out of seed beads, but in the end I decided it would be easier and cheaper to just use real radishes. So I bought a small bag of earring hooks ($2) and a bunch of radishes from the store ($0.89/bunch), pulled out the smallest two, and used a ribbon to connect the radish to the earring hook. It took about 5 minutes.

Cork necklace: I had a bad day on Friday, so I went to the store and bought a cheap bottle of wine ($5), polished it off while catching up on Vlogbrothers videos (PERFECT Friday night, BTW), then used the cork for the necklace. I bent one of the earring hooks, stuck it in the top of the cork, then looped a ribbon through it.

Wand: I picked up a nice stick while I was walking the dog.

Quibbler: My friend Lauren sent me the images I printed out for the Quibbler. I just Googled and saw the same image here, so I'm sure it lives elsewhere on the internet as well. Or, if you are crafty, you could probably design your own Quibbler cover. I printed out the image and taped it on the cover of an old US Weekly that was lying around the house.

Clothes: I just wore comfy workout capris, since you couldn't really see my bottoms with the robe. Then I threw on some polka dotted knee socks and Chucks for a little Luna whimsy.

Hair: Luckily I have platinum blonde hair, like Luna, so I didn't need to worry about a wig or anything. I just curled it all and put the top part back. I tried to make it a little sloppy and haphazard in the back.

I put it all together, and here was the finished product:


I got lots of compliments on my costume, and the Harry Potter fans at the party were particularly excited about it. I can't wait to see what my students think of it next Monday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Five (17)

1. Go check out YAConfidential today! Alison Miller has a great post on high school spirit days, and you can see some of my students' answers in there! My students are the cutest.
 
 
2. I tested out a new writing cave this week, but it didn't go very well. The first time I went it was nice and empty, but I tried again yesterday and it was so packed. I had to sit at a random bar top that did not give me enough room for my long-ass legs, so I ended up having to sit straddling the bar...it was not comfy. Or attractive. Then, because it was so crowded, it was ridiculously LOUD in there and I couldn't concentrate. Plus, the WiFi connection was TERRIBLE. It kept cutting out. It shouldn't have been a big deal, but I was on a computer that doesn't house my music, and because of the bad WiFi it wouldn't stay connected to Spotify or YouTube. I needed my music to drown out the LOUD PEOPLE (one table was some sort of law school-related interview and they were speaking at the top of their lungs, and another table was two girls meeting for the first time, maybe as potential roommates or something, and they were speaking at the top of their lungs), so I finally used the Pandora on my phone, but that drained my battery. Oy. And let's not even talk about the bathroom situation.
 
I think I'll give it one more try because it's close to my house and the coffee is way tasier than Starbucks, but if it's like that again then we're just not going to work out.
 
 
3. I quit my second job...I think. I gave my notice through our online messaging system, but no one has confirmed yet. I would have done it in person, but I haven't worked there in over a month and they don't have me on the schedule for the next month either. I didn't want to have to make a special trip down there just to quit, but it looks like they may make me do that if they don't acknowledge my notice.
 
Maybe I'll send them a carrier pigeon.
 
 
4. So, the first Breaking Dawn movie is coming out soon, and I could not be less interested in seeing it. I don't even know when it opens, to tell you the truth. I'm pretty famous in some circles for my firey hate of that book, and people keep trying to tell me that I will still go see the movie, but NO SIR. You are WRONG. I am not at all interested in seeing that hot mess, not even to mock it.
 
I was a big drinker of the Twilight Kool Aid, but that book (and some other things) really ruined the whole experience for me, so nope.com, no Breaking Dawn movie for me.
 
(BTW, I explained the plot of this book to the husband and his friend, and they both thought I was making it up just to mess with them.)
 
 
5. I have an early Halloween party tomorrow night. I'm attempting a Luna Lovegood costume. It's low budget, but hopefully it still comes together nicely. We'll see.
 
 
 
Have a great weekend, friends!
 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spirit Day

Today is Spirit Day.

From the GLAAD website:

Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

I usually don't participate in these days where you wear something to support a cuase. Honestly, I think they are pretty useless. If you want to support a cause, donate money or donate your time. Wearing a certain shirt or posting something in your facebook status doesn't do anything to help cure the disease or make the bad thing go away.

But Spirit Day is different.

Being a gay teen isn't something like cancer that needs to be cured. It's something that needs to be supported. We need to show these LGBT teens that WE LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE, and, as a teacher, I think me making the choice to wear a purple sweater today does that. I think this is a day where just wearing a certain color can have a big impact.

It shows my LGBT students that someone here at school supports them. It shows my questioning students that there is someone here who wants them to be okay with themselves, no matter what. It gives kids who feel like they can't be open about who they are a smiling face to come to if they need a friend. 

I love all of my students (yes, even the ones who drive me nuts), and I want them all to find happiness. I want them all to feel safe and loved and respected. And I want to make sure that they all know that.

My students have already noticed my purple. I got several high fives this morning from fellow purple-wearers. They know I'm on Team Equality, all because I chose to wear my purple sweater today.

A girl walked in to my zero period in puprle jeans, a purple tank top, a purple sweater, purple shoes, a purple purse, and a purple sign around her neck that said "I Am Anti-Gay Bullying." I swear, you guys, I had to fight back the tears when I saw her. Her choice in clothing had an enormous impact on me today, and I'm sure it will have an impact on other kids at school, because they know she is on her side. I think that's very powerful.

I don't think my sweater choice is going to end gay bullying, or suddenly make everyone at my very conservative high school completely accepting of all of the gay and quesitoning students here. That's going to take time and money and effort and it's not going to happen because we all wear the same color one day. But I do think that one or two kids will see me today and know that I love them for who they are. And the more purple they see on campus today, the more supported and loved and safe they will feel. I like being a part of that.

I hope you are wearing your purple for Spirit Day today!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Why 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's your numero-uno reason for writing?
 
I write because that's the way that I communicate the best.
 
I write to problem solve. I always have. I am a slow processor. I was never tested for dyslexia, mainly because I was certified gifted, so I guess it never occurred to anyone that I might have issues with my processing. She's smart, she's gifted, so she must not have any issues. But I do. Major issues, actually. I don't know my right from my left. I'm terrible with directions and other spatial things like that. I can't do the simplest math...you should see me at the Blackjack table. I need the husband or the dealer to tell me what my two cards add up to. It takes me longer than most people to recall simple facts and I can think of the perfect comeback to your insult...just give me about fifteen minutes.
 
My brain just works really, really slowly for most things.*
 
This is why I need writing. I'm able to get my thoughts out at my own speed. I'm able to go back to what I wrote, the first thing that poured out of my head, and make sure it's right. I can tweak it and fix it and correct it until it says exactly what I want to say.
 
It's how I figure things out.
 
When I'm frustrated with the husband or a friend, I don't talk to them directly until I have written them a letter. I'm not going to give them a letter, but I need to sort out my feelings in writing before I can express them verbally. When I have to do any sort of business I send an email instead of making a phone call, because with email I can make sure I address all of the important points and don't forget anything.
 
When I was a kid, I had pen pals and wrote letters.
When I was in my early 20s, I blogged.
I email, I'm on message boards. I communicate through writing.
 
My need to write to communicate has led me to try to write to tell a story.
 
I didn't set out to be a Writer. That's just how I communicate. It's how my brain works.
 
 
*Weirdly enough, I am a ridiculously fast reader.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Incubus

My favorite band is Incubus. I fell in love with them when I first saw them live with my bff back in August of 2001. Since then I have seen them live 12 times. They released a new album over the summer and were touring for it, so I knew I had to get tickets for show 13.

I was determined to get awesome seats to this show. The thing about seeing them so much is that it's not really enough for me to just be there anymore. They were playing at a big amphitheater, and I didn't want to be in the back. I wanted to be CLOSE. Sadly, this wasn't really in the cards. I'm on a major budget right now, and close seats are $$. I had birthday money I'd been tucking away for something special, and I was fully prepared to use it on amazing seats, but the husband talked me out of it. We ended up with tickets toward the back of the amphitheater, and I was a little bummed, but, honestly, just glad the tight budget allowed for tickets at all. YAY INCUBUS!

Pretty much the worst picture ever

As we were walking up to the venue, a local radio station was having a ticket promo giveaway, so I wandered over to their booth to see what I would have to do to get better tickets. Unfortunately they were only upgrading lawn seats, and, thankfully, we weren't that far back, so we turned to go browse the merch booth and grab a drink before the show started.

Right as I turned around I heard, "Jessica Love!" It was one of my friends from sorority; I haven't seen her since I graduated! I wasn't too surprised to see her there...I know she's a bit of a concert hoor like I am. In fact, I brought her with me to a Linkin Park show at the Roxy back in '01. We were right there in the pit and got out butts kicked, and we stuck around after and got pictures with the band...it was so much fun. Anyway, it was so good to see her and meet her boyfriend and say hello.

Anyway, the husband and I went up to our seats and they weren't so bad. Pretty far up, but we had a nice clear view of the stage and we were right in the middle. The band opened with Privilege, and I just started rocking out like a mofo. I was just happy to be there, you know? I felt bad for fretting about our tickets, I was just so happy to be seeing my very favorite band again. (Although, going to Incubus shows hasn't been the same since bff moved to the east coast. Incubus is one of the things that was always our thing, and I feel like I'm cheating on her when I go to a show with someone else.)

Well, about three songs into the show, my friend texted me. There were two empty seats next to her in the Orchestra. She said she would smuggle us down there if we wanted. Um...yeah! I grabbed the husband and we ran down there, and a few songs later, this was our view.


What? Seriously?


I was KICKING MYSELF because the husband and I had quite the conversation about bringing my camera with us. I finally decided to leave it in the car because we were so far away I wouldn't get any good pictures, but HOLY CATS imagine the shots I could have gotten with my 12x optical zoom from this close! UGH. Luckily my phone takes okay pictures, but still. THE PICTURES I COULD HAVE TAKEN. Woe.

So, WHEEE, everything worked out! I stayed in budget and still got awesome seats to see my favorite band for the 13th time. And, again, this brings me back to the fact that all good things in my life spring from my sorority. Love, love, love.

Brandon and Mike acoustic




For the Incubus fans out there, here's the set list from the show:

Privilege
Wish You Were Here
Adolescents
Pardon Me
Promises, Promises
Isadore
A Crow Left of the Murder
Talk Shows on Mute
A Certain Shade of Green
Stellar
In the Company of Wolves
Defiance (acoustic)
Love Hurts (acoustic)
Warning
Anna Molly
Dig (remix)
Drive
Switchblade
Megalomaniac

Nice To Know You
Tomorrow's Food

I always make playlists of my favorite concerts, so here's the playlist on Spotify if you guys want to check it out. I wished this show wasn't all "hits" (with the exception of the opening song and the stuff from the new album), but it was fun to hear the new stuff live. I'm really enjoying their new album, If Not Now, When?

Any other Incubus fans out there? Or, do you guys have a band you LOVE like I love Incubus?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Madness

My internet situation at home has been...troublesome. So that meant no blog post last Thursday or Friday. I have internet just fine at work, but, because I work at a school, pretty much everything fun is blocked. I used to teach a laptop-based English class, so I TOTALLY GET IT. I'm glad all of the internetty distractions are blocked for the students. But as a grown adult, dangit, I want to update my blog on my lunch break and I can't. That's frustrating.

I used to email updates to my blog. This was especially useful for Road Trip Wednesday posts when the topic wasn't announced the night before. But lately my email updates haven't been working! I would type up a post and email it and it would be returned to me undeliverable. I was prompted by typing this post to go into my settings and see if anything had changed...apparently when Blogger switched over to the new format it disabled my email permissions! Blast! So I just turned them back on. And, inspired by Sarah Enni's blog meltdown, I also set it to email me every post.

Aren't you guys so glad that I blog about every thought that crosses my mind and every little thing I do as I do it? I know you are! My blog is SO FASCINATING sometimes!

Anyway.

Here's a random Monday update for you guys.

I hit 900 followers on Twitter. WTF. I'm flattered, but I don't get it. I think I'm boring as hell. (See above paragraphs for explanation.) (Don't take this as an invitation to unfollow me, though.)

I have had some dark moments of the soul with my WIP. I am tempted to throw it out the window. Long hours spent on it are just making it worse. Is this normal?

I was filling up my coffee at Panera and I caught the eye of this really cute, really tall guy and he was totally looking at me. And I was all EFF YES, I STILL HAVE IT. And I thought briefly about the fact that I had no makeup on and hadn't exactly brushed my hair and was still kinda in my pajamas, but I brushed off those thoughts in favor of EFF YES, I STILL HAVE IT. But then I went to the bathroom and I saw that my hair looked like this:

So, while I might still have it in some capacity, I certainly did not have it on this day, and the really cute, really tall guy was just wondering WTF was going on with my hair. Womp womp. Maybe I should actually, I don't know, do something with myself before I leave the house.

I'm not going to lie, you guys, this last push of revision on my ms has me a little punch drunk.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Your Writing Journey


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



We've reached the 100th mile marker. How has your writing journey gone so far?


I touched on this a little in yesterday's post. It's been almost three years now since I first sat down to try to write a novel. It has NOT been three straight years of writing. I didn't take it very seriously at first, and it's only been in the past year and a half or so that I have been really serious about making this A Thing. 


Since then I have...


Tossed this whole project out the door twice and started over again. I've also written countless drafts, and completely shelved it once, only to pull it back off the shelf less than a month later for an *urgent* finish that I am still *urgently* working on six months later


Attended two local SCBWI retreats, two national SCBWI conferences, and one Big Sur Writing Workshop. I've also taken two semesters of a novel writing workshop at my local community college


Applied to, and then been rejected from, an MFA program


Started a book review blog, helped grow that book review blog into something big and fun and awesome, and then closed down that book review blog in favor of this blog, which is slowly growing into something else big and fun and awesome


Made some amazing writing friends...the fabulous ladies of my writing group as well as all of the people I have met through SCBWI and blogging


Realized I am most definitely a plotter and an outliner, and not at all a pantser


and the most important thing...


I have done something that many people always talk about but few ever do. I started a novel and I wrote a novel and I finished a novel*. I'm really, really proud of myself. Regardless of what ever happens with it, if I get an agent or sell it or don't get an agent or don't sell it or never write another word again, I have done this really, really awesome thing. 


How has your writing journey gone?




*It's in its final stages of revision right now. It's not DONE done, but it's done for the most part. It can just be done a little better.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's That Time Again! NaNo Time!

In 2008 I got a crazy idea and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. Now, until this point I'd only had a vague desire to write a book. I'd always been a writer of sorts, but more of a blogger, journaler, letter writer, and someone who used writing to solve problems. Never a Writer in the way that someone who sits down to write a novel is a Writer.

I also decided to write a YA novel. Why? Who the heck knows. I was teaching high school, and I had been ingesting the Twilight crack. I guess those reasons seemed as good as any. I took a plot element from a song on one of my favorite albums and on November 1st I decided to go to town on it. No outlining, no plotting, no planning. Just by the seat of my pants.

I won NaNo that year. By the end of the month I had about 54,000 words of a dual 1st person POV YA novel about...well, I have no idea what it was about. And it wasn't totally done. But I had something, and I won NaNo, and that was quite a big accomplishment.

Since then I have read over 250 YA novels. I have gone to conferences and started two blogs and met other writers and I have written and written and written.

And I've been working on the same story.

I had to totally trash that NaNo draft. It was horrible. Embarrassingly horrible. But I didn't trash the characters and I didn't trash the story and I rewrote it all from the very beginning. I skipped NaNo '09 and NaNo '10 because I wanted to make this one work. I rewrote it again. I added plots. I cut out a POV. I added and cut and changed characters. I outlined and outlined and wrote and wrote and revised and revised.

Now it's almost time for NaNo '11. Three years since I had my first seed of an idea for this story. Three years since I typed the first word (which is long since cut). Three years and three new starts and I'm finally, FINALLY almost done.

I really want to participate in NaNo '11. I have an idea. I have a partial outline. I will NOT make the Big Mistake of '08, which is wandering up to the keyboard and typing all willy-nilly with no plan. Because that mistake has taken three years to untangle. Three years of learning a TON about my process, that's for sure, but three years just the same.

I'm excited for NaNo '11, and I'm excited to take everything I have learned since NaNo '08 and hopefully come out of it with a working draft that I don't have to completely overhaul. And even if it is a hot mess, well, I'm sure November will be a fun month anyway.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo '11? Do you have anything planned out? Or are you just pantsing it?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lauren Oliver Signing

This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to go see one of my very favorite authors, Lauren Oliver! I'm lucky because I live between LA and San Diego, so authors usually come through one of those cities or the other, but Lauren came right into OC, so I hardly had to travel at all to see her. Lucky me!

Also lucky me because my buddy Crystal was in town from Alabama, so she was able to meet to meet up with me and Tameka for the signing. YAY!

I'm cracking up because Lauren posted this picture on her blog in an update about her signings.


You can see my shiny white hair in the front there (I came straight from the stylist that day, so my color was fresh and she gave me a conditioning treatment...I don't always have shampoo commercial hair) and I'm getting my phone ready to take a picture.

This picture, actually.

I took and deleted a bunch of pictures, so it really makes me laugh that the one that I kept for this post is the one that I got photographed taking. Tee hee.

Anyway, Lauren is awesome. I usually love the authors I meet, but Lauren is one who I couldn't help think that I would totally be friends with. She was so funny and fun, and I really enjoyed hearing her talk about her new book Liesl & Po. I can't wait to read it!

Me and Lauren, who was wearing some nice tall boots, so I didn't have to do my usual fold


I look hideous in this picture, but Tameka and Crystal look so cute I figured I would post it anyway. 

It was funny because the three of us got asked a few times what we, three grown-ass women, were doing there for this signing. Not in those exact words, but the implication was definitely there. We let our YA flag fly and said we just love Lauren's books and love YA and are darn proud of it!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Five (16)

1. This week was homecoming week at my school. All week we had spirit dress up days leading up to the football game tonight and the dance tomorrow. If you follow me on Twitter (and you're on Twitter at 6:45am), you've seen my daily updates about what day it is and what I'm wearing.

Just for the purposes of real life YA research, these were the dress up days this week:

Stoplight Monday (wear red if you're taken, green if you're single, and yellow if you're not sure) (yes, I'm serious. This is an actual thing. They do it every year and I hate, hate, HATE it)
Tie Dye Tuesday
Workout Wednesday
Tank Thursday (you were supposed to wear tank tops, but the other English teachers and I interpreted this as military tanks and all wore camo)
School Shirt Friday

I wasn't really a fan of any of these days. Well, Workout Wednesday was nice because it was a chance to for me to get away with wearing sweatpants to work. But I was so comfy that I almost fell asleep at my chair during silent reading. Maybe there's a reason professional clothes are so uncomfortable.

Anyway, tonight at the game I get to drive the queen candidates around on a golf cart. Wheee!


2. I got bangs.

I'm still undecided, but mainly because I think they are too long. I think if I shortened them up a tad then I would like them a lot better.

I keep trying to take a picture to post and every picture turns out AWFUL. I don't know if that is me or the bangs causing the pictures to look so terrible. I'll blame it on the bangs.

I know this is very important news for you. Try not to lose sleep this weekend over the state of my bangs. (Or fringe, if we're being British)


3. So, Halloween is coming up. I love Halloween, and I love dressing up, but I don't have any costume ideas for this year. Do you guys have any costume suggestions for me? I'm looking for something that I can wear both to parties and to school (so no sexy nun or something like that) and that will be relatively cheap and easy. Are you dressing up for Halloween? What are you going to be? What should I do?

And, more importantly, what should the dog be? Gunner needs to be something awesome.


4. WIP update - I'm close you guys. SO CLOSE. I already got feedback from one of my readers, and I've been fiddling with her suggestions. I tried to write wrote the first draft of my synopsis last night. (Spoiler alert: It's horrible) I can't stop thinking about all of the ways I'm going to make this book perfect. EEEEK. I'm excited.

I wish October wasn't the BUSIEST MONTH OF MY LIFE. I swear...there's one day I have invitations for FOUR THINGS. On one day. I'm not trying to be all OMG I'm so popular, but jeez...can't we spread the things out a little bit? I have a novel to polish!


5. This weekend's things? Tonight is the homecoming football game, like I said. Then tomorrow my brother is in town, so I'll be heading out to my parents' house to hang with my family. Then Sunday is a birthday party for the two kids of my dear friend. Not a lot of down time, but a lot of quality time with some special people, so it will be a good one.


Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Love: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?



When I read this summary I thought, wow, this book is so, so, SO not my thing. Winged strangers? Human teeth? Otherworldly war? No. Just, no. 


It's not that I have anything against fantasy, it's just that I don't have a fantasy brain. I just don't get it like I want to, so I don't read it very often. My brain just does so much better with real life. 


But everyone kept telling me how good this book was and how amazing the writing was. So good, they told me, that the brilliant writing would trump the fantasy world. I would love it, they all promised. 


So, yeah, they were right. The writing in this book is amazing. It's so amazing it will make you curl up in a ball and dream of setting your own ms on fire because you know it will never, ever be this good. (Well, maybe that's just me.) Beautiful, beautiful descriptions that will make you want to linger over them before you turn the page. 


Then there is this story. OH THIS STORY. It gutted me. I'm strictly anti-spoiler, so I don't want to say much more, but I was truly surprised by a lot of the twists and turns, and the ending had me, again, curled up in that dang ball, this time wanting to set fire to this dang book for taking me on such an emotional rollercoaster. 


I'm not going to say that I forgot it was fantasy, because with this story it's pretty much impossible. I mean, some of the character have hooves for goodness sake. But I will say that I didn't struggle with it, and it didn't distract me from the story like it to often does. (And, again, this is my issue, because fantasy doesn't really click in my brain.) I got so lost in Prague and Karou's world that it just didn't bother me. 


So, seeing as I'm not a huge fan of fantasy and I adored it, I can only imagine how much fans of fantasy will just gobble this book up. I couldn't put it down. I loved it. I can't stop thinking about it. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Side Characters in the Spotlight


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

We've done adults that should star in a YA novel-- tomorrow, tell us supporting characters that deserve the spotlight!

It was tough to narrow this down to three, I have so many side characters that I love. I had to limit it, otherwise I may have listed every side character in every book I have liked ever. And that would be a little ridiculous.

Ron Weasley in Harry Potter

Can I please have all Ron, all the time? I love this guy, as I have mentioned before. I would love a whole series about Ron's post-Hogwarts life. Last chapter to epilogue wasn't enough for me...more Weasley, please!

Ashely in Moonglass 

Ashely was HILARIOUS in this book. I loved her. As someone who is very familiar with Newport girls, I loved this twist on the stereotypical spoiled, clueless beach chick. Ashely was just a breath of fresh air...I would love to hang out with her, and I would really love to read an Ashely-centered romance. I mean, who is the guy who would end up with this girl? I bet he's amazing, and I must know more about him. Jessi Kirby, please write this for me!

Jenna in Hex Hall

I love Jenna, and she needs to be the star of her own show. Her backstory is so fascinating, and a Jenna prequel would be awesome. I know we know the brief version of how she ended up a vampire, but I'd really love the details, and I'd love the details of her life when Sophie isn't around. 

Do you guys have any side characters you would love to see star in their own story?

Monday, October 3, 2011

OC Children's Book Festival 2011

Yesterday was the annual OC Children's Book Festival. I love this book event because it is so close to home for me, and they've had a really great collection of YA authors the past two years.

My first stop of the day was the Keeping It Real panel featuring Lindsey Leavitt, Kirsten Hubbard, Jessi Kirby, and Andrew Smith. (If you aren't reading Andrew Smith's blog, you are really missing out, IMO. In a world of author blogs where everyone feels the need to be positive all the time, Andrew is just honest about his experiences and the state of writing and YA. I so much love reading his outlook on things, even though I'm still too scared to read my signed copy of The Marbury Lens.)
Being a writer and lover of contemp, I knew this would be my favorite panel. And look how attractive and awesome everyone here is! I really enjoyed everything these contemp authors had to say. 

While I was getting my copy of Moonglass signed by Jessi Kirby, the fug girls, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, read from Spoiled

I wandered around the festival for a bit, then came back to the YA stage to find Kami Garcia reading a little bit from Beautiful Chaos

I had been pretty excited to see and hear Molly Shannon, who apparently has a picture book out, but the main stage was running way behind schedule. She was supposed to be on at 1:20 and she didn't take the stage until close to 2. By that time it was time for the paranormal panel back at the YA stage, so I didn't get to stay every long for Molly, but I did manage to snap this picture. She's so adorable!

I made it back to the YA stage just in time for the paranormal panel featuring Emma Michaels, Inara Scott, Cindy Pon, Gretchen McNeil, and Jeff Mariotte
At one point, Gretchen read the infamous doll shop scene from Possess and creeped us all out. 

Even though there were a few more authors taking the stage, I was melting by this point. I didn't realize how hot it was going to be, and there weren't a lot of shady areas throughout the festival. The tent over the YA stage was pretty small, and there weren't a ton of chairs. I actually went home pretty early in the day to change out of my jeans and t-shirt and into a dress...thank goodness the festival was so close to my house. But by the end of the day I was feeling pretty sweaty and smelly and just ready to go. This is why there are no pictures of me. Heh. 

Now, normally when I go to these things I get a book by each author to get signed, and then I pick up a few extra copies to give away as blog prizes. Well, I put myself on a book buying ban a bit ago, so I didn't buy one single book. This isn't really something to brag about, since I really do like to support the authors when I go to these events. But my budget is very pleased with me for sticking to it and resisting the siren song of new signed books. 

I had a great time seeing all of these great authors and some of my local writing and blogging friends. I always love local author events...and I have another one coming up this week! Yay!