Thursday, May 31, 2012

YA Book Club: Insurgent

It's time for the May YA book club hosted by Tracey Neithercott, and today we are discussing Insurgent by Veronica Roth!

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I was a huge fan of Divergent. I got everyone I knew to read it, including my students, who actually had a little Divergent book club going on for a bit, and I was bouncing off the walls waiting for Insurgent, the second book in the series.

The thing is, though...when Insurgent finally came out it took me for-ev-er to get through it. For. Ev. Er.

There are various reasons it took me so long to get through it, but, really there is only one big reason. 

Not enough Four. guys? I'm in love with Four. I don't give a flying fig about any of the other characters. Not even Tris. She can die in a fire for all I care...I just want MOAR FOUR. 

Every scene in this book that didn't have Four in it...I didn't care. It was torture to get through. Okay, not torture...but it was slow. Too slow. I just wanted to rush through it and get to the parts with Four again. Four angsting. Four brooding over something. Four making a plan. 

And let's not even talk about how many times I read and re-read chapter five. Man, I'm such a perv. 

So, yeah, I'm That Girl. I'm the girl who wants more kissing...always. Even at the end of the world as we know it, I want more kissing. Even in a book about...well, anything but romance. I want more kissing. Some people complain that certain books put too much emphasis on romance, I always say there isn't enough. There is never enough angst, never enough touching, and never enough making out to keep me happy, Insurgent included. The more Tris did something dumb, the more annoyed I got because I knew it would be taking her away from Four and there would be less making out than I wanted. 

Do I have any other hardcore romance lovers out there...even in dystopian books? Even in books that aren't even supposed to be romance books at all? Anyone else constantly disappointed that there isn't awesome kissing on every page?

Anyone else go back and read chapter five more than once?

No? Just me?

Ah well. 

Who else read Insurgent? What did you think about it?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Do You Read?

Wednesday: May I ask you a question?

How do you read? Hardcover? Paperbacks? E-books? A combination?

Where do you get your books? Amazon? B&N? Local indie? Library? 

I never thought I would be into e-books. Honestly, the idea of an e-reader never really appealed to me. My bookshelf is like my personal trophy case, and I like having the books I have read and loved on display in my home, and I don't really travel enough to need the convenience.

But then I got turned on to NetGalley, and I read a book or two on the husband's iPad and I was hooked. Soon after that I started reading books on my phone, and I couldn't believe how convenient it was. I didn't hate it like I thought I would, and now I find myself reading most of books on my phone.

Last week I took the plunge and bought myself my own tablet so I could use it for an e-reader. I love reading on my phone, but it drains the battery and I wanted something a little bigger. I was going to get a Kindle Fire, but this Samsung Galaxy tablet is only $50 more and has tons more features, so it was an easy decision.

I love this thing!

I still don't see myself paying full price for e-books any time soon. I love my hardcovers on my shelf, and if I don't want to keep a book I like being able to donate it to my classroom for my students to read, which I can't do with an e-book. But I love reading e-galleys and Kindle bargain books on the e-reader and on my phone!

I love the library, but I haven't used mine as much recently for whatever reason. I get most of my books through B&N, either in-store or online, because I have a membership and get a discount and free shipping. I love my library's used bookstore and I really wish I had an awesome indie close by, but I always pick up a book or 12 when I trek to an indie for a signing.

So, what about you guys? What are your reading preferences?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Time Between Us Love

You may remember awhile ago when I shared my excitement over the cover of TIME BETWEEN US, Tamara Ireland Stone's debut time travel romance.

Well, today I am thrilled to have Tamara here on the blog talking about her book, launching her gorgeous new website, and hosting an amazing giveaway, full of ARCs and prizes. Go check out her blog for all of the awesome details. But don't go have to hear all about this book first.

Worlds apart, the two were never supposed to meet. But a minor lapse in judgement leads Bennett into Anna’s life, and the two embark on a journey full of romance and daring adventures, even though they both know that they might be dooming themselves to heartbreak. After all, at any moment Bennett could get knocked right back to when he belongs.

When a horrible accident throws everything they believe into question, Anna and Bennett face an impossible choice that could tear them apart. Against a ticking clock, they are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, 
Time Between Us is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.

Um...could a book sound any more WRITTEN FOR JESS than this one? Well, yeah, it can. Because there is a lot more to this book, and all of it is even more awesome. I got an egalley from NetGalley last week, devoured it in one night, and I pretty much haven't been able to stop talking or thinking about it since.

Luckily for me, Tamara stopped by the blog and I got a chance to ask her some questions...hopefully that will keep me satisfied until this book comes out in October and I have more people to talk to about it.

Okay, Tamara, you know that description of your book has me drooling. Is there anything else that is not in the official plot summary that you want us to know about this book? 

Time Between Us is a romance, but it's also a complex story. It's packed with lots of interesting twists and turns that I hope will surprise you, and make you ask yourself big questions. 

I've always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, but I’ve especially loved the opportunity it gave me to contemplate what ifs? What if you could go back to a point when you had to make a big decision and make a different one? What if you could go back and correct a big mistake you made? What if you simply had a bad day and you could give yourself a do-over? If you could do any of these things, should you? What might happen if you did?

See how much fun I have with this? I hope readers have fun pondering too. 

I'm fascinated by time travel, too, and I have been ever since Back To The Future, but thinking about it too much makes my brain hurt. How does time travel work for Anna and Bennett? And how did you develop their time travel universe without it getting too out of control?

I get brainaches all the time. 

Early in the development of this story, I decided that time travel would be restricted to Bennett's lifetime. That gave me lots of interesting avenues to explore, while allowing me to keep the story contemporary. But that also kept me from tumbling into dangerous territory like "The Grandfather Paradox", which basically says that if you went back in time and accidentally changed history in a way that killed your grandfather before he met your grandmother, you would never be born (this is a bad thing for time travelers. Avoid at all costs.)

The travel limitations helped me keep the parameters intact, but that’s not to say it’s been easy. I’ve paid such close attention to every single detail along the way—I have timelines and calendars, and files and files of background research—and still, when you’re writing about something as complicated as time travel, it’s so easy to make a mistake. You need people to talk it out with. My husband and my editor are my brilliant time travel logic partners.

But I’ve loved geeking out on time travel. I think it’s a blast to insert a new element, knot it all up, and then unravel it in an interesting way. If you let out an audible, “Whoa” at that point, I’ve achieved what I was going for.

About these characters...Bennett is a boy after my own heart who uses his time travel abilities to go to see his favorite bands in awesome locations. I saw on his list of shows he went to Incubus, my all-time favorite, in Indonesia. Smart guy! Which of those shows was his absolute favorite? And which do you think would be your favorite?

I think Bennett's favorite show would have been Radiohead at The Edge (Palo Alto, California) in '96. It's a small venue and this would have been one of their earlier shows. Five months after this concert, they toured as the opening act for Alanis Morissette and the rest, as they say, is history.

As for me, I'm huge Foo Fighters fan, so if I had to pick one show from this list, it would be Foos in Paris. Because it’s Foos. In Paris. But also because this was the "In Your Honor” tour (one of my favorite albums), but they closed with Monkey Wrench, which was the song that first made me a fan.

I love Anna's big map, just waiting for the pins to be added as she travels all over the world. What is Anna's number one dream destination? And what about you? Where would you travel to if you could go anywhere in the world? 

Anna has been dreaming about going to Paris for a long time. Quaint cafes. Lattes. The Seine. It all sounds magical to her.

As for me, I've been to quite a few incredible places in the world, but of course, I've barely scratched the surface. I want to put a pin in Spain next, but my ultimate travel destination is Angkor Wat. I hear it's changing quickly, so I need to get there soon.

It's going to be a long wait between now and October when this book hits the shelves. Since you can't time travel, what are you doing with yourself in the meantime?
I'm looking forward to a nice summer with my two kids—my son is 9 and my daughter is 7. And I'm gearing up for BEA next week, ALA at the end of the month, a few other exciting conferences, and a big launch party in October. And, of course, I'm working on my next book (which I'm ridiculously excited about). I'm trying to savor every moment, so every once in a while, I summon Bennett to take me back two or three days so I can have some extra time. He's super handy.

Wow! You know that was my first interview ever, right? Are these always this much fun?

Thank you so much for hosting me today, and for helping me introduce Anna & Bennett. Like me, they appreciate your warm welcome (and your wonderful taste in music)! 
You're so welcome, Tamara! You know I'll chat about amazing books and music any day of the week. sounds amazing, right?

And remember I said there was a giveaway? Tamara has these amazing things for TWO lucky winners:

 * A signed ARC of TIME BETWEEN US
 * Anna’s playlist 
 * A $20 iTunes gift card so you can grab your favorite music
 * Signed bookmarks
 * More stickers than you’ll know what to do with

 * A signed ARC of TIME BETWEEN US
 * Bennett's playlist
 * A $20 Ticketmaster gift card to help get you to that concert you’re dying to see
 * Signed bookmarks
 * More stickers than you’ll know what to do with

Go check out all the contest information on Tamara's blog, and go check out the gorgeous book website. Then join me in the long wait until October when I can gush about this book and you guys can gush right back. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bookanitsas: In Honor

Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.

Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

I knew I would love this book when Jessi Kirby read from it at the Summer Lovin' tour with Morgan Mattson and Jenny Han and I started crying right there in Barnes & Noble. There was just something about the idea of Honor getting this letter from her dead brother and feeling this need to carry out his final request that just got me right there, you know? 

And I was right, I did love this book. I read through the whole thing in one Lazy Sunday sitting. I loved Honor's journey...not only the physical journey from Texas to California but also the journey of grief, acceptance, and understanding that she takes with Rusty in tow. She is going through so much with the death of her brother and we see her slowly transform with each stop on their trip and each encounter with someone on their journey.

Her rocky relationship with Rusty is very natural. It's obvious they have a past, and they start off in a very hostile place with one another. Slowly they open up about Finn and share their memories and feelings and they soften toward one another. I liked how natural this was. (However, I feel like I am really missing on some of the Rusty love because I have never seen an episode of FNL.) And, without any spoilers, I really love how the story between Rusty and Honor wrapped up. And that's all I will say. 

In Honor is a perfect summer read. It's all about saying goodbye and new beginnings, and it's perfect for a summer afternoon by the pool.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today:

LiLa Roecker interviews an Actual Young Adult
Shannon Messenger celebrates SURRENDER – with arc giveaway
Stasia Ward Kehoe unearths “shadowy” YA titles
Jessica Love is all about IN HONOR
Christine Fonseca interviews author Jo Ramsey

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Great Gatsby Trailer

Wednesday: May I ask you a question?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is my absolute favorite book. And yesterday the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's movie adaptation was released.

I'm currently teaching Gatsby to my sophomores, and we are almost done. I can't wait to show them this trailer in class today! It's such perfect timing for its release, since we won't be able to watch this movie together as a class. 

Do you love The Great Gatsby? Hate it? Never read it? And what do you think about this trailer? What are your thoughts on this new adaptation?

I have a few doubts about the casting, but this trailer made me FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS. I squealed, I got chills, and I even I cried a little. Yes, I cried. This is my very favorite book and it looks like Baz Luhrmann NAILED IT. The lines that come word for word from the book, the rain when Gatbsy and Daisy meet, Jordan Baker!, TJ Eckleberg, Gatsby's yellow car, and OMG THE SCENE WITH THE SHIRTS. I DIE. 

Not to mention, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of Romeo + Juliet is one of my very favorite movies ever. I know I'm going to love this. I've already watched this trailer a zillion times, and when I wasn't watching it I was listening to that Jack White cover of U2's Love Is Blindness because OMG where has that been all my life. 

I can't wait for this movie. Can't. Wait. (It doesn't help that my students keep joking that the world is going to end before I get a chance to see it.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo a Day May - Part 2

Tuesday: May I tell you something about myself?

I've been participating in the Photo A Day May challenge on Instagram. I shared my first 10 photos from the challenge here, and now I have 10 more photos for you, along with a little bit of context for those of you who have seen them on Twitter and/or Instagram already. 

May 11: Kitchen
On the day of the kitchen prompt I found myself nowhere near a kitchen at all. I was straight from work to dinner out to my student's performance of Phantom of the Opera to home in time to go to bed. The closest I got to a kitchen was a shrimp taco or three and a margarita from El Torito. Sometimes that's all you can manage. 

May 12: Something that makes you happy
After my long day of driving all over the place the day before and then getting home late, it was so nice to have a lazy Saturday and take a long afternoon nap. Naps make me so happy.

May 13: Mom
My mom lives about 40 miles from me, but on Mother's Day she happened to be in my neck of the woods, so we went out for pho. It was her first time trying it and she loved it!

May 14: Grass
A gorgeous sunny afternoon at the dog park, with a maxi skirt, cute sandals, and lots of grass. Funny story about those sandals...they are just cheapies from Traget, but I really like them. So, of course, Gunner ate them. So I ordered a new pair and, of course, Gunner at those (the ones in this picture), too. I have just placed my order for a third pair of these sandals from Target, and you can bet I'll be keeping them away from his sneaky little teeth. 

May 15: Love
There's no love like the love of a sweet dog. This little boy makes me so happy...even when he gobbles up my shoes. 

May 16: What you're reading
My TBR pile. I didn't realize Why We Broke Up was in there...I read that months ago, so it needs to move. There were also a couple of books that were still in the bag from my shopping trip that have since been put up here.
That big, scary blue book is for school. I keep, um, not reading it. 

May 17: Snack
My favorite after work snack...toasted sprouted grain muffin, avocado, goat cheese, fried egg, black pepper, then smoosh together in a sandwich. SO GOOD. 

May 18: Something you made
This day was similar to the kitchen day (and they were both Fridays...stop giving me these domestic prompts on Fridays!)...I wasn't going to be around anything that I actually made. But I did make an impromptu dinner date with my mom, who was still in town. We had these delicious drinks and a super yummy dinner. And we just had a good time talking and hanging out. 

May 19: A favorite place
Newport Beach! My very favorite place! I have no idea why I made this stupid face for the picture, but I was out on my friend's Duffy boat in the bay and it was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. 

May 20: Something you can't live without
I was out and about all day Friday and all day Saturday, so on Sunday I was desperate for some alone time. I'm an introvert, and I can't live without my alone time. I needed to recharge and the best way to do that was spend all morning in bed reading a book and a half.

I'll share the rest of the pictures at the end of the month!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Friday: May I share something funny?

Some of you have noticed that I've been changing up my blog layout this week. It's been an ongoing process because I have some of the tools I need at work and some at home, so I've done a little here and there. But after tinkering all week I think I have something I am happy with. And I did it all myself, which is fun.

I also updated all of my woefully out of date pages along the top, and I added the FAQ page. I don't have very many frequently asked questions, but I felt like having the page there made me sorta cool, so I added it anyway.

So, my something funny for the day is hidden on that FAQ page. Go check it out! (Some of you may have seen it before...I posted it on Twitter one night. But, honestly, it never gets old.) And then let me know in the comments if there is a question you think I should answer on that page, because I am fresh out of ideas. I threw some questions and answers up there, but it's far from done and far from organized. I need your help!

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bookanistas: Unbreak My Heart

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

Oh man...this is JUST the book that I have been wanting and needing to read lately! I loved it! I started reading it on my phone (thanks NetGalley!) while I was at the gym and I stayed on the elliptical way longer than intended because I didn't want to put it down. Then I came home and devoured the rest of it, because I just couldn't go to sleep without knowing how things turned out for Clem. 

First of all, I have a love/hate relationship with I Fell For My Best Friend's Boyfriend books. I absolutely love flawed narrators who make morally ambiguous choices. LOVE THEM. But I find that every time there is one of these stories, the author justifies the narrator's actions by making the best friend a total bitch. Now, I get it. I get that it is difficult to pull this off and keep our narrator likable. But not every girl who falls for her bff's man has a bitch for a friend...because why would she be friends with such a horrible person in the first place, you know? 

Well, Melissa Walker TOTALLY PULLED THIS OFF. Because Amanda, Clem's best friend, isn't a bitch at all. She's an awesome friend to Clem, and she has been since they were little. So I was loving how Clem remained a likable narrator, how the flashbacks totally explained her feelings for Ethan, Amanda's boyfriend, and showed how Clem could fall for him while still loving her pretty awesome friend. GO MELISSA WALKER. Thank you for doing this and doing it well. 

As if this wasn't enough, SHE BROUGHT THE HOT GINGER. If you know me at all you know that I totally have a hot ginger fetish, and James, the guy Clem meets while out on the water with her parents trying to escape from her bad choices, is a totally hot and awesome Ginger. 

In addition to all of this, I have been wondering if I would be able to pull off flashbacks in my current WIP, and seeing how they worked so well in this book gave me the confidence I needed to keep going in the direction I've been going. So, yeah...perfect book at the perfect time. 

If you're like me and like books about flawed narrators, or if you're looking for a book that delves into female friendships, or if you like hot gingers, this might just be the book you've been waiting for, too. 

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  interviews author Sandra Almazan
Stasia Ward Kehoe is spellbound by ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD & GIRL OF NIGHTMARES
Jessica Love falls for UNBREAK MY HEART
LiLa Roecker swoons over STORYBOUND
Megan Miranda is giddy for GILT
Debra Driza celebrates STARTERS

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Wednesday: May I ask you a question?

Guess what, you's another music post. I told you...I'm obsessed.

I have a playlist going of songs that seem like they were written just for the story I'm writing. (And, in a way, some of them actually were. Hello, cryptic clue to my current project.) But there is one song I was introduced to from the lovely Anne Riley that as soon as I heard it was like BAM. This song is EXACTLY my characters and their situation. And every time I listen to it, I swear I hear their voices in my ear.


UUF. What a gorgeous song. And such perfect inspiration for me.

What song is the anthem of your current WIP?

Or, if you aren't a writer or writing something right now, what song is the anthem of your life right now?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tunesday

Tuesday: May I tell you something about myself?

If you've known me for more than five minutes you know that I love music. Well, I don't just love it...I'm completely obsessed. So when I saw this music survey over on Katy Upperman's blog, I knew I had to save it for one of these talk about myself days. 

(Click on the links to listen to any of the songs via YouTube)

1. What are your three favorite songs right now?
Oh man...impossible question is impossible. Um...
Skinny Love by Bon Iver has been #1 for a long, long time now. This song continues to gut me.
What A Day by Greg Laswell is always one that I will repeat over and over and over.
Royal Blue by Cold War Kids always makes me sing along.
2. What is the most played song on your iTunes? 
This isn't totally accurate because my play count has been reset like three different times, most recently about a year ago. So right now it is The Honest Truth by Typhoon. But I know that before that it was Play Crack The Sky by Brand New, which is one of my very favorite songs ever. (I haven't listened to it as much lately because it makes me Feel All The Feelings.)
3. What song are you listening to right now? 
Well, right this very second I am now listening to Play Crack The Sky. But before that I was listening to Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars. (Another song that makes me Feel All The Feelings, but I can listen to it without breaking down, unlike Play Crack The Sky and Skinny Love. Uh, has a big impact on me sometimes.)
4. What was the last album you bought? 
The last album I was gifted was the new album from The Shins, Point of Morrow. My work bff got it for me. The last album I purchased myself was Ghost by Radical Face. It's an older album, but Welcome Home, Son popped up on my Pandora and I loved it, so I bought the album so I could listen to the rest. It was a good purchase. 
5. What was the last concert you went to? 
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Three days and five stages of amazing music in the desert!

Of those bands I saw Bon Iver, The Shins, Manchester Orchestra, The Head and the Heart, Girl Talk, Florence and the Machine, M83, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Lissie, AraabMUSIK, The Black Keys, Miike Snow, Dre and Snoop, and...probably way more that I'm totally forgetting. It was non-stop music, fun, and awesomeness the whole time. 

Here are a few pictures...

Parking lot self-timer pic

A major highlight was Girl Talk's set. My work bff and I were up SUPER close and we danced like crazy the entire time. It was so much fun. 

Up super close for Girl Talk
If you don't know what Girl Talk is all about, check out this video from Coachella. I was there in that crowd, but this isn't my video. Now imagine this going on for 45+ minutes. So. Much. Freaking. Fun. 
And, of course, there was the debut of the Tupac hologram. 
It was my first time at Coachella and it was a freaking BLAST. Music lovers' paradise, that. 

6. What was the first album you ever bought? The first album I remember owning (in cassete tape form, natch) was KICK by INXS.

7. What was the last single you downloaded? Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg. Another one that popped up on Pandora that I liked. This one reminded me of my WIP, so I wanted to put it on my WIP playlist.

8. Favorite artist or band? 
I have three answers to this question, depending on the context or my mood. 

Simon & Garfunkel

(Just bought tickets to my 14th Incubus show this past weekend...can't wait!)

Brand New
Brand New's album The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is full of some of the most beautiful and poignant lyrics ever. (If you aren't familiar with Brand New you are probably scrolling back up to that picture I just posted and scratching your head. But I swear. If you don't believe me, listen to Jesus Christ.)
9. What’s your favorite musical genre? 
Uh...rock? Indie? A guy with a guitar? I don't know...I just like what I like. You can probably tell what that is from my answers to these questions. 
10. Quote one of your favorite lyrics: 
This has been the hardest question so far! Being a writer in love with words I am drawn to songs with beautiful lyrics. So many of the songs I have mentioned above have lyrics that I love to repeat over and over and write down and try to develop a story out of. (The idea for my last book came from a Brand New song, and the idea for my current project sort of came from a song by a band that I haven't mentioned on this post today. Heh.)

I haven't singled out an Incubus song, so here's one with some lyrics that I absolutely love. 

Pantomime - Incubus
In my fantasy I'm a pantomime
I'll just move my hands and everyone sees what I mean
Words are too messy and it's way past time
To hand in my mouth, paint my face white and try

To reinvent the sea one wave at a time
Speak without my voice
And see the world by candlelight

I ain't afraid to let it out
I'm not afraid to take that fall
But I've found beyond all doubt
We say more by saying nothing at all

In my fantasy no such thing as time
Minutes bleed into days, avant garde
Show me your heresy and I'll show you mine
We only speak in pantomimes on this carpet ride

I ain't afraid to let it out
I'm not afraid to take that fall
But I've found beyond all doubt
We say more by saying nothing at all

In my fantasy you look good entwined
In my hair and skin and spit and sweat and spilled red wine
You're my deep secret, I'm your pantomime
I'll just move my hands, I promise you'll see what I mean anyone else music obsessed out there? 

Monday, May 14, 2012


Monday: May I tell you something about writing?

I mentioned this a little last week, but I recently went on a writing retreat with some of my very favorite local writing buddies!

Kat, Rachel, Dana, Amaris, Liz, and me

I was in major writing mode, so I didn't get very many pictures, but if you hop over to Dana's blog you can see some pictures that she snapped. 

This retreat was a great idea, and it came at a perfect time for me. I was feeling stalled in my own writing and just getting overwhelmed in life as I tend to do. I was sort of stuck on a part and I was thinking about it a lot, but not really doing. I was making a lot of excuses. 

So, the six of us rented this cabin in Lake Arrowhead and headed up there for the weekend with one goal: WRITING. Some of us were drafting, some of us were revising, and some of us were cutting, but all of us had goals we wanted to achieve and were thrilled for the time away from husbands, kids, jobs, and responsibilities to just get it done. 

Our little cabin was the perfect writing haven. Couches and chairs and window seats and a huge kitchen table for us to gather around. We brainstormed and shared our goals and our worries and our ideas, and then we settled into our cozy spots and it was silent. Yes, a house full of six women was total silent. Well, aside from the tapping of the keys and the slurping of the coffee. It was awesome. 

In the end I was way more productive than I even thought I would be. I added 11,000 words to my ms over the course of our retreat. Now, before you throw me a parade, I was able to salvage several scenes I had cut after my story changed direction, so I edited those and added them back in. But that was probably 3-4K...the rest were all brand new words. I was finally able to shake off the funk I had been in with this story and make some major progress, which felt amazing. 

I was also able to do some major bonding with these amazing women and just talk writing with people who understand, which is really priceless. 

Since then I have been trying my hardest to keep up my momentum from the retreat. It's hard when you are thrown back into real life and actually have to worry about things like going to work again, but it's been put back in the forefront of my priorities now, and I'm working my hardest to keep it there. 

I know a writing retreat isn't possible for everyone. It isn't cheap, and not everyone has a whole weekend to get away from reality. But check out this post from my friend Kelsey who set up a little writing retreat in her backyard. You don't always have to go up to the mountains to get in the zone when it comes to your writing, so maybe there is a nice place for you to get away right in your area. 

Have you been on a writing retreat before? Do you have one in the works? Do you think this kind of intensive, all day writing would work for you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Photo A Day May - Part 1

Friday: May I share something funny? (Or just something fun)

I was pretty excited when Instagram came to Android. I decided to hop right in to one of the photo a day challenges, and it's been pretty fun so far. Those of you who follow me on Instagram have already seen these...and I've posted them on Twitter, too. But I wanted to share them here, too, and provide a little more context to the photos.

May 1: Peace
There is nothing more peaceful than an empty classroom after a long day of students, students, students. I love them, don't get me wrong. I love their jokes and their laughter and their banter. But it's constant. That moment of peace is so nice. 

May 2: Skyline
The husband surprised me with tickets to the Lakers playoff game at Staples Center in downtown LA. It was a gloomy day. 
I used to hate LA, but it has grown on me so much in the past few years, after I made a deal with God while running the LA marathon. I promised that if I could just get through the marathon I would never speak ill of LA again. And, weirdly enough, going through that marathon with this city really did change me toward it. I love it now, and this skyline is a really welcome sight. 

May 3: Something you wore today

My mom got these for me at Target. I like them a lot. 

May 4: Fun!
Friday afternoon I headed up to a cabin in Lake Arrowhead that some of my local writing buddies and I rented for a weekend writing retreat. 
I know this might not look like everyone's ideal photo for Fun!, but there was no other way I wold have rather spent this weekend. 
(I know most of you are writers, so you understand how much fun a weekend in a cabin with other writers only worrying about writing would be.)

May 5: Bird
I spent all day Saturday sitting by that picture window from the picture above waiting for a bird to land on a tree so I could snap a picture for the day, and of course it never happened. I finally gave up and snapped this picture of the bird artwork over the fireplace in our cabin. So rustic!

Then, of course, as soon as I give up and commit to another picture, this guy practically lands on my head. 
I love all the Blue Jays up in our local mountains. I know they aren't very nice birds, but they sure are pretty.

May 6: You
Oh, the beauty of Instagram, that it makes me look good in this picture that I snapped in the parking lot of Mother's Market after driving back from the mountains. I was tired, in desperate need of a shower, and not wearing any makeup, and somehow with the right filter and the reflection of the sun in my glasses, it looks almost glamorous. 

May 7: Someone that inspires you
An art wall has popped up on our campus. Students have been adding drawings and quotations, and I love it. I walked by the other day and saw this stuck in between two drawings, so I snapped a photo.
I like it for this prompt because you can interpret it so many different ways. 
My students and their art wall inspire me.
Hazel and Augustus and their relationship inspire me. 
John Green and his gorgeous book inspire me. 
All of the above. 
I think the most interesting part of this is that it looks EXACTLY like my handwriting. Especially the Augustus. EXACTLY my handwriting. But I didn't write it. I swear.

May 8: A smell you adore
I didn't mean to have two TFiOS-related pictures in a row, but I had this book put aside for a student and, really, there is no better smell than book smell. 

May 9: Something you do every day
I don't have a yard, so I take my Gunner dog to the dog park every day when I get home from work so he can get some exercise and hang out with other dogs. There is a lot of grass at the park, but he wasn't standing in it when I snapped this picture. I swear our park isn't a giant dust bowl. 
My favorite part of this picture is his little tongue.

May 10: A favorite word
I had a tough time with this prompt. I wasn't sure in advance what I was going to do. But yesterday I came home from work and took a nap on the couch, wrapped in my favorite red fleece blanket. Then I woke up and grabbed my computer and Gunner jumped up and settled himself in the bend of my knees and he was looking at me like this, with that sweet face, and I knew what my word was. 
This little dog trusts me so much to take care of him and feed him and keep him safe. And I love doing it for him. He's my heart, this little guy.

I'll post the rest of these later in the month. Happy Friday everyone!