Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feeling a Little Horrible...

I'm currently enrolled in the Institute for Children's Literature's novel course and am working on my first YA novel. My instructor recommended a few books for me to read. One of the recommended books is, "Inkheart," by Cornelia Funke.

I've heard of the book and the movie, of course, but I'm the type of person who likes to read the book before watching Hollywood's adaptation. There have been many times when I've seen a movie and then found out it was based on a book. I usually run out and get the book but unfortunately, my reading experience is changed because I picture the actors while I'm reading. But back to the reason behind this post...

So, back in November, I made a trip to my local library. Of course, they didn't have it on their shelves but they ordered a copy through the County branch. They called two days later and boy, I was so excited! I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into the giant tome.

I loved the story idea. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our voices were able to bring the characters of our favorite books into the real world. Unless your favorite book is zombie-related...

I've been known to read two or three books at a time. I don't usually have a problem keeping the plots and characters straight because the books usually consist of a YA or MG book, a James Patterson novel, and a Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich book.

When I returned home with "Inkheart," I immediately read 2 chapters. I then proceeded to read a Donna Jo Napoli book. I read another chapter of "Inkheart" and then read 3 magazines. Three more chapters of "Inkheart" and then a JD Robb book. I returned to the library 4 times to renew "Inkheart" and STILL I was only 1/3 of the way through the book.

"What the heck is wrong with me?" I kept asking myself. "This is a bestseller. You SHOULD love this book." I scolded myself and put my foot down. I would not open another book until I finished the novel.

I sat down to read "Inkheart"and refused to acknowledge the beckoning "Hush," by Donna Jo Napoli on my dining room table. During that time, I made mental lists of things I needed to do the following day, groceries we absolutely needed to replenish, and what my next blog post would be about.

Two hours later, I threw up my hands, removed my bookmark, and slammed the book closed. In 4 months, I had read 250 pages, only half the book, and could go no further. I picked up "Hush," a 300 page book, patiently waiting for me on the dining room table, and finished it in 6 hours. (My thoughts on that wonderful book to come in a later post.)

"Inkheart" sits in my car, waiting for 5:30 when I can leave work and return it to the care of our town librarians.

I know not everyone can love the same books or the same authors. The books that some people find amazing are boring to other people. Everyone has their own opinion and I'm ok with that. What bothers me is that I feel horrible about not being able to finish it so I could even give an opinion.

So, my question to you is: "Has this ever happened to you? Do you ever feel horrible when you aren't able to finish a book?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pen Names

It's finished!

Almost a year ago, I had an idea. After months of revision, reworking, and rewriting, along with critiques by two people, (Thanks Courtney Rene and my brutally honest daughter, Amanda!) my adult novel is finally ready for the next step...the agent queries.

I have several published children's stories and am also working on my first YA novel. My completed novel (title withheld-hence, The Novel) is for adult audiences and should I be lucky enough to get it published, I plan on using a pseudonym or pen-name.

Nora Roberts, one of my favorite authors, uses a pseudonym for  her "In Death" series. Stephen King, another of my favorites, used a pseudonym for various titles. Even Samuel L. Clemens is best known as Mark Twain.

It took awhile to create a name I felt comfortable with but the pseudonym creation process felt easier than typing the name onto my manuscript.

The Novel is one of my babies. I lost sleep over the plots, ignored my housework while my characters revealed themselves, and missed more than a few hours of work to rewrite scenes. Somehow, it seems wrong to put a name other than my own as the author. It almost feels as if I'm putting my work up for adoption.

I know, I know, it is in my best interests to use a pen name if I ever hope to publish more children's stories. Still...

Do any of you write for both children and adults? What are your thoughts on pseudonyms? Do you use one? If so, what were your feelings the first time you used it on one of your manuscripts?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

Woohoo! My blog was nominated for my second award!  (And it's a pretty one, too!)

It is the One Lovely Blog Award, and I'm so ecstatic that I was chosen to receive it.

Thank you Katrina DeLallo for the nomination. Please check out her blog here: she posts some beautiful sketches along with a ton of handy-dandy tidbits of fun and information over at her little cyber home.

Here's how the award works:

Accept the award, and post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and their blog link.
  1. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. (Ok. So, here is where I didn't follow the rules. I only passed the award to 6 others.)
  2. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they've been chosen for this award.

Here are my lucky winners:

Kim's-- Cupcake Corner
Angelia's-- One Writer's Journey
Jo's-- Will Blog For Kids
Linda's Blog
Lynne's-- Making Stuff Up and Writing it Down
Sarah's-- From Sarah, With Joy

Congratulations, bloggers!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's that time of year again...


The Cheerios® New Author Contest encourages aspiring authors to write and submit an original story for a book for children ages 3 to 8.


Grand Prize:

One (1) Grand Prize of $5000 cash will be awarded. In addition to the cash prize, the Grand Prize winning story submission will be offered to Simon & Schuster, Inc. for possible future publication.

First Runner-Up Prizes
Two (2) First Runner-Up Prizes of $1000 each will be awarded. The $1000 First Runner-Up Prizes will be awarded as checks made payable to each of the two (2) First Runner-Up Prize winners.

The stories of the First Runner-Up Prize winners will appear on


You are eligible if you are 18 years of age or older as of the date you enter and are a legal United States resident residing in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia during the competition.

You are not eligible to enter and will be disqualified if:
  • You are a professional writer, such as a novelist, magazine, blogger or newspaper writer who writes books or articles for pay.
  • You have authored any work of fiction that has been published or is about to be published in exchange for payment.
  • You are a volunteer of the First Book Advisory Board or an employee of General Mills, Skybridge Marketing Group, Simon & Schuster, Inc., First Book or any of their respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated companies, or a member of the immediate family (parent, children, siblings, spouse, regardless of where they live) or same household of such employees (whether related or not).


Online entry only.
Go to and submit your story.
Story must be 500 words or less, submitted in readable font (e.g.Times New Roman or Arial) in the English or Spanish language.
All electronic entries must be received between 12:00 a.m. (Central Time) on March 22, 2011 and 11:59 p.m. (Central Time) on July 15, 2011. Each electronic entry should be submitted only once.
No limit on number of entries per person!

Visit for the complete list of rules.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun Facts

We all have our writing rituals and favorite creative atmospheres.

Some of us get right to work at the keyboard and type away while others write everything down on paper first.  Some of us have a favorite pen, or use a particular color ink, and others use lead pencils.

I came across some fun facts recently and wanted to share them.

For those of us who prefer writing on paper first, here are a few tidbits about paper:

1. Before the Chinese began paper making, wasps were the first creatures to produce paper.
2. A description of paper making was first written in the 2nd century CE.
3. Paper making was brought to Europe by the Arabs.
4. Wisconsin is the #1 paper making state in the US.
5. Recycling one ton of paper saves about 17 trees.

For those of us who enjoy the smooth glide of a pencil:

1. A pencil will write in zero gravity, upside down, and underwater.
2. One pencil can write 45,000 words.
3. Two million pencils are used in the US every year and most of them have erasers. The majority of pencils sold in Europe do not have erasers.
4. An average tree can make 170,000 pencils.
5. The "lead" in pencils is actually graphite. Graphite was discovered in a large and very pure quantity near Cumbria, England, in the 1500's.

For those of us who prefer writing in ink:

1. The origin of the word pen is "penna," the Latin word for feather.
2. Feather pens, or quills, were the most important writing tools for over a thousand years.
3. Quills were used as early as the 7th century AD and were used until the development of the steel-nib pen.
4. The first success for the ballpoint pen came in 1945 when 5,000 people jammed the entrance of New York's Gimbels Department Store. The pens were guaranteed to write for two years without refilling.  Gimbels sold out its entire stock of 10,000 pens at $12.50 each!

And for those who go straight to their computer:

1. The world's first computer, called the Z1, was invented by Konrad Zuse in 1936.
2. The first computer mouse was invented by Doug Engelbart in 1964 and was made of wood.
3. Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, is quoted as asserting the world would probably never need more than 5 computers. Of course, he referred to main frame computers, which his company built.
4. Once mastered, the DVORAK keyboard is twenty times faster than QWERTY.

When an idea strikes, any pen or available slip of paper works for me, but I find I'm most productive and creative when taking a lead pencil to a piece of paper before typing it into my computer. For the record, I always use both sides of a paper sheet before shredding it and then using it as compost.

Although I've heard of the DVORAK keyboard, I've yet to try using it.  Have any of you tried it yet?

What are your favorite writing tools?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Short Story Contest

Wow!  I can't believe it's been 16 days since my last blog post!  I apologize for being so scarce lately. Sometimes when I start a new project, I find myself eating, sleeping, and dreaming about it until I'm done.

My femme fatale novel project is halfway through the first revision and it's coming along nicely. Unfortunately, I'm racking my brain for a title. My quest for agents to query has also begun and the first chapter of The Clover Key (a YA historical fantasy) is rewritten in a new point of view.  Next, comes the outlining for the second and third chapters.  YUCK!  But that's for another post...

I've even gone through over 150 e-mails of newsletters, market updates, funny jokes, etc. with a resolution to scan my e-mail once a week.  Not to mention playing Cityville on Facebook, but that's like therapy.

Needless to say, I've been busy. As I'm sure you ALL are.

I find that working on big projects, like novels, are fun but sometimes a short story creeps into my head that begs to be written down.  (Yes, I write on paper with a lead pencil, first.  ALWAYS.)

So, I came across a short story contest I thought I would pass along to all of you:


The entry fee is only $5.00!
Each contest is limited to 500 entrants and they give away 85 (yup, 85) prizes!  (I like those odds.)

1st Place: $300
2nd Place: $250
3rd Place: $200

So, this is how it works:
Visit the website to register for the contest and to view the extensive list of prizes.  Start time is April 30th, 2011 at 12:00pm (noon) central time.
When you register, you can download a PDF file of the guidelines.  BUT you cannot write a story and then enter the contest. No, no, no.
Here's where the fun starts--At 12 noon, you will receive an e-mail with the contest topic and the word count. (It will also be posted on the website when the contest starts.)
You have 24 hours to write a short story and submit it according to their guidelines.

This contest is fun and inexpensive and gets the creative juices flowing.  Why not give it a try?