Jan 16, 2009

Fun Friday – Coffee Addict

 

Signs You Drink Too Much Coffee (click for more)

- You answer the door before people knock.
- Juan Valdez named his donkey after you.
- You ski uphill.
- You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.
- You haven't blinked since the last lunar eclipse.
- You lick your coffeepot clean.
- You're the employee of the month at the local coffeehouse and you don't even work there.
- Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
- You chew on other people's fingernails.
- Your T-shirt says, "Decaffeinated coffee is the devil's blend."
- You can type sixty words per minute ... with your feet.
- You can jump-start your car without cables.

 

Jan 15, 2009

Happy Birthday – What did you get me?

It is true. Today IS my birthday. You don’t have to get me anything. (Though I am not going to say no to books!) Instead I am giving something to you. That’s right. I am hosting my first ever contest.

So, first things first. You have to email all entries into this contest and I am therefore disabling commenting on this post. If you would like to leave me birthday wishes you can comment on an alternate post or feel free to email me. Or just send me books.

ALL EMAILS in regards to this contest MUST have the subject “Contest”.

(Okay, Megan, will you shut up already and tell us what we can win??) Fine, fine.

1rst prize: $30 Amazon shopping spree. You pick the books, I purchase and have them shipped directly to you.

2nd and 3rd prize: $10 gift certificate to book seller of your choice.

Step 1:
Email me, mopsmomut @ yahoo.com, with the subject “Contest”. You must list one book you would want to get if you win. If you do not do this step you cannot be entered to win. If you just want to be entered once, that’s all you have to do.

Step 2: (optional)
Email me one link per email to every promotion of this contest.
If it is something unlinkable just send me an email detailing what you did. (Limit 10) One entry per promotion.

Step 3: (optional)
If you follow someone’s link here and chose to enter please list whose link you followed. This gets an additional entry for both link follower and link poster.

Step 4: (optional)
Make an interesting, intelligent, or insightful comment on one of my previous posts or any post made between now and the contest end. (Limit 5) One entry per comment deemed worthy by me. (Please make sure comment info connects with original email or email me letting me know you commented.)

The contest starts today,
January 15th
and ends
February 15th.
The best present you can give me is helping me talk about books!

(Email me with any questions or comments.)

Jan 14, 2009

Inside The Writer’s Studio – Your Questions Answered

Last week I started my feature Inside The Writer’s Studio where I invited authors to take us inside their workspace and give us a glimpse into their writing life. Mandy Hubbard, the author of the upcoming young adult novel Prada and Prejudice, agreed to be the first participant. I hoped readers would ask her questions and they obliged me. Mandy was so wonderful that she answered ALL the questions.

Mandy: First off, thanks for all the great questions! Secondly, um, I think I have to admit that my office is NOT always that clean, even though I would like it to be. The pictures were taken the day after I assembled that lovely IKEA desk, bookshelf and chair. So it hadn’t had time to get cluttered yet!


I asked Mandy to explain the rest of the room that you can’t see in the picture. And tell us a little more about the writing space in her own words.

I used a small chunk of my advance money to buy the long-wanted office furniture (and the framed print) so it was money well spent. And since I went to Ikea, the furniture was super cheap! (The bookcase was $120, the desk $79, and the chair $100.) Let' see... as far as the rest of the space, there is also a leather loveseat that was recently moved out of another room. Luckily it matched the furniture! Other than that, the window has some truly tragic miniblinds, and I have one of those utility style metal filing cabinets. Yes, you can see why I left out that side of the room! Not to mention, the closet, window and doors wont have any molding on them until next month when the contractor comes to finish up the final touches of our remodel. Would you believe the room used to be 100% wood paneling from 1966?

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I think Mandy put that advance money to very good use!
Don’t you? And here you have it, the Mandy Hubbard interview, made by you!

Answers to your questions:

Devyn Burton said... Do you listen to Music while your write? If so does your music play lists change with each project?

Mandy: I do! It’s not hard to write the fluffy, happy scenes without music, and I didn’t need music to write PRADA. But when it comes to the darker more intense scenes, music is my friend. I wrote a more literary novel called SHATTERED that I hope to sell under a pen name, and I had a whole list of dark, haunting love songs! I blogged it here: http://mandywriter.livejournal.com/123397.html

Chelsea said... I see that you keep your bookshelf close to your writing space - do you use any of the books for inspiration as you write?

Mandy: Hmm…Good question! I get different kinds of inspiration from different books. Shattered, the book I reference above, was partially inspired by reading Dessen’s DREAMLAND. She shows an entirely different side of abusive relationships than the side I show. Others, like regency romances, helped me get into the world of 1815.

Shooting Stars Mag said... I love it! And that's so awesome that the book cover is framed and hung in her house...Did you always want to do that or was it something you thought of after getting the cover? Perhaps even someone else's idea?

Mandy: I have dreamt of having a poster-sized version of my cover for years! Long before I had the cover--or ever sold a novel. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I always knew I’d want to do it.

Paul David said...My question is this: What's you writing frequency like? Do you commit to a certain number of words/paragraphs/pages per day or is it a random thing?

Mandy: It depends on if I’m on deadline or not. If I have a deadline to get something to my agent or editor, I do the math to figure out how much I need to squeeze in every day. Believe it or not, weekends are absolutely the worst writing time for me. I do most of it at night or during my daily train commute.

If I’m not on deadline, its stop-go-stop-go until I am done. If I’m feeling good and it’s flowing well, I’m obsessive about getting back to the computer to do a couple thousand more words. If I’m stuck, it can be hard to focus and not open my email box instead!

Luisa Perkins said...I'm wondering how you balance your writing time with taking care of the needs of your family?

Mandy: I’m supposed to balance it? Ha. Mostly, family comes first, so I have to fit the writing around that. I tote my laptop around and write during train commutes and lunch breaks, and then again after 8PM when my toddler is asleep. If I’m on deadline, my husband does his best to give me a little extra time here and there, but that doesn’t always happen. A lot of people believe to write a book, you need a full hour or two to devote every day. You don’t. You can write a book in ten minute increments if that’s all you’ve got!

TC said... The first thing I noticed about the writing space is the lack of anything green and living, i.e., a potted plant! That girl needs a desk top topiary or something. And Mandy, is your space window-less? I sure hope not. But of course we're all different; perhaps you're a minimalist writer? ;~)

Mandy: Sadly, I kill plants. Give me a perky, happy plant, and it’ll be yellow in twenty-four hours. (I’m seriously considering buying some of those as-seen-on-tv watering ball things, just to see if they are as miraculous as they claim to be.)

There is a window to the left of my bookcase, in bad need of some new window treatment!

BJ Blinston said..Does the environment lend to the story? Does it help when editing or rereading? Do you find you need different environments in order to write different stories?

Mandy: Sometimes! For the most part, all I do is re-read the last few pages I wrote to get back into the groove, and it doesn’t matter where I am (as long as there isn’t some crazy loud people talking next to me.). But when writing SHATTERED, it was so dark and heartbreaking the only way I could get the voice right was if I sat in bed with the laptop, with the lights out, and the earphones in. I periodically stopped typing and listened to the music for a little bit, and then picked it up again. It was emotionally exhausting keeping myself in that mindset for a few hours every night, but it made for a stronger story, and I wrote the whole rough draft in less than two weeks.

For the lighter stuff, I can write just about anywhere. I try to avoid writing promiscuous scenes on the train because I’m paranoid the person next to me is secretly reading it!

sorenj said... I'm curious about the inspiration for this particular novel. For example, did you want to write a novel and this was the result or did you have an idea or a theme, start writing, and sort of discovered a book?

Mandy: This particular novel came from my love of Regency Romances, but I felt a little disconnected since the heroines of 1815 think differently than those of the twenty-first century. So why not sent a modern teen there and see how she deals? Discovering the true heart of the story, though, took 9 drafts.

Rachel S said...What is your favorite Taylor Swift song? (excluding Love Story)

Mandy: At the moment, probably “You’re not Sorry”.

(And for those wondering where this question came from—Go watch Taylor ’s LOVE STORY video—it parallels the plot for PRADA & PREJUDICE.)


Taylor Swift - Love Story Official Music Video *With Lyrics*

Eric S. said... How do you develop your characters, and settings. Is there a process you find more useful than others.

Mandy: Funny how you ask about characters and settings, because for me they develop the same way—layers and layers. My first drafts are really just the framework, and then as I read it, I continue adding small things. A line here and there, an adverb, an adjective, etc, until it slowly comes to life. Hopefully with time I’ll write stronger first drafts, but for Prada, the characters and 1815 didn’t come alive until recently! Chracters DO NOT come to me fully formed. I discover them as I write.

Darling Diva said... Where did you get your inspiration for this great story idea? and if you encounter a block what do you do to get motivated again?

Mandy: See above (Q asked by Sorenj) for the “inspiration” answer. As for blocks, well, I just have to force my way through it. The easiest way is to take the laptop somewhere with no interruptions and internet access, like the train, and just force myself to write something, even if its crap. I find that pushing through helps get me going, and eventually it flows again. I often delete a lot of what I write during the “block” times, because that was sort of like a warm-up, but what’s left is a good transition into the stuff that flows better! Sometimes you just gotta force yourself to put hands to keyboard until it gets better. And trust me—it does get better. If it doesn’t, you’re writing the wrong story.

Thanks again to Mandy, author of Prada and Prejudice, for answering all our questions.

Maria Murnane Interview

Maria is currently an independent business writer and works mostly with technology and financial services companies. One day she quit her job and ended up in Argentina for a year, where she played semi-pro soccer and also wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Perfect on Paper.

(Doesn’t she look adorable here? She has something mischievous going on in those eyes. And I LOVE that necklace)


Why did you go to Argentina in the first place?
It’s a crazy story, but one day I quit my PR job and literally had no idea what I wanted to do - other than not go to that job anymore. After a couple months of not going anymore, I bought a ticket to fly to Argentina by myself for a couple weeks to practice my Spanish. I didn’t know a single person in the entire country when I got there, but after two weeks I loved it so much that I decided to stay if I could find something to do down there.

So I ended hooking up with the women’s soccer team at River Plate to play for a year (I swear!).
Maria on the feild

Once I got settled into an apartment and was really living there, I realized that if I was ever going to write a funny book based on my experiences as a single woman in San Francisco, which I’d always dreamed about doing, that was that time. So I just started writing and writing and writing, and eventually I had the first draft of what would eventually become Perfect on Paper.

Did you set out to write a novel or did it just happen?
I sat down and said “I’m going to write a novel.” And I never looked back.

How is market writing different from writing a novel? Do you find that they compliment each other?
Great question, and they’re totally different. Most of the marketing writing I do, whether it’s a whitepaper, case study, press release, etc., is for a business audience, so the writing has to be somewhat formal. Sometimes I’m able to insert a little humor into the whitepapers, but for the most part it’s straightforward and factual, with the objective of presenting information or making a case for a particular issue (e.g. I recently wrote a whitepaper for a client about how the “software as a service” model is a smart option for small businesses in a recession. Fascinating!!). Speeches are much different because they’re in first person and thus can show a little personality, but those aren’t the norm in my workload.

A novel, on the other hand, is anything you want it to be. Every scene, every character, every conversation is all up to you and your imagination. It’s fantastic! Unless, of course, when you can’t think of what to write next. Then it’s time to go take a walk or make a pot of coffee and hope you can come up with something.

How long was the editing process?
Now THAT took a while. I wrote the first draft in a little less than five months, but I think I spent about 10 months editing it after that.


Did you know that you wanted it to be published when you were writing it?
I still want it to be published! Here’s what I mean: After I finished the first draft I came back from Argentina and was lucky enough to sign with an agent pretty quickly. She told me she’d been waiting for a book just like mine for a long time, and she thought a publishing house would offer me a two-book deal. She said my voice was the funniest she’d read in ages, so at that point I really thought it was going to happen for me. I thought maybe I would even be on Oprah!!

So I spent a few months editing the book based on my agent’s feedback, which was really good. And then we were ready to go! But when she shopped it around, the reply was pretty unanimous?no thanks. Then she said there was nothing else she could do for me and fired me, over email, two days before Christmas. From dreaming about Oprah to getting booted over email. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.

I cried for about three days, then spent about six months reworking the book again. Then I went to a writers conference and pitched it myself to four publishing houses and three agents, and they all said it sounded great and wanted to read it. So I was pretty excited ? again! But when I finally heard back from all of them, it was more or less the same story I’d heard the first time around: no thanks.

So once again I was crushed. More tears. It was so brutal! At that point I didn’t know what to do, so for about six months I left the book sitting on my computer and started doing marketing writing to start earning a decent living again.
(My site is www.winksink.com for anyone who needs help!)

Then one day my incredibly sweet dad, who btw is gaining quite a following among book bloggers for his personal touch when he sends out review copies for me, handed me a huge book on self-publishing that he had read, along with a little plan he'd written for what I needed to do to publish on my own - and the associated pages in the book for each action item in the plan. It nearly made me cry. He told me he loved my book and that I couldn't let it go, so he was going to help me publish it. So that’s what we did. And here we are!

Now that the book has been so well-received and has even won a couple awards, I am hoping the publishers might have a change of heart - fingers crossed!

And now taking a page out of Waverly’s book (Maria’s main character) I present you with the question that Maria insisted I include despite my mortification.

You are happily married, how did you get into the voice of a single woman so well?
Happily married? What? What? Honey, I am soooo single!!! What gave you the idea that I am married? That is too funny. (Who is my husband btw? I hope it is Tom Brady.)

Here’s the back story…See above? When Maria mentioned her dad? Well, I read the very sweet letter that came along with my copy of the the book and thought it was from her HUSBAND. Yeah. I know, I feel a little red in the face too. BUT, in my defense, I was not the FIRST blogger to be confused. (I was the second. But nobody wants to be the first one voted off the island.)

Maria, let’s hope you scared them off way before this deep in the post!! Special thanks for the candids you graciously provided.

Look for my review soon, when I no longer feel obligated to endear myself to Ms. Murnane. *wink*

Jan 13, 2009

Trailer Tuesday


Last Sunday I talked about the things I enjoyed about the changes being made in book trailers. I talked about how I liked 's style and featured one of her trailer. The trailer above for The Professors' Wives' Club is completely different, but I love it just as much.

Cover of This is the second of the interview/author talking about their book type video I have seen and I really enjoy them. I love how this one gives a peek into Joanne Rendell's creation process.

“Alternately amusing and serious, with a little literary mystery thrown in for good measure, Rendell’s smart and pleasing tale of friendship and self-actualization has broad appeal.”—Booklist
I really want to read this book and this trailer just made me lust for it even more. It was great getting a real live glimpse into Joanne's daily life. And Benny is so adorable you have no option but to fall in love with him. (I already have, several times.)

Read this New York Times article on Joanne and Benny.

Celebrate Tina Ferraro!

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to chat with Kelly Parra and win a copy of Invisible Touch. (I just realized it should have been included in my mail post. Silly me!) I have been reading it and enjoying it.

During the chat I was also about to meet the fabulous Tina Ferraro. And let me tell you, the more I get to know about her, the more I like her. Tina is crazy with energy and always friendly and helpful. Tina is a passionate writer and a thoughtful and caring person always looking for new ways to connect with her readers.

In fact YOU can connect with her in much the same way I first did on February 12th. She will be participating with the members of Chelsea’s book club (and other interested parties.) Feel free to email me or head over to Chelsea’s blog for more info.

Kelly and Tina share a unique partnership. They are critique partners, co-bloggers, and (not least of all) friends. It seems fitting to meet them as a pair; they compliment each other so well.

So, why are we celebrating? Today is the release of Tina’s third young adult novel! The ABC’s of Kissing Boys sounds like a fun and fast-paced read. I can imagine myself giggling the whole way through it.

Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens.

This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

In a recent article I was able to read just why Tina decided to write for a young adult audience. She spoke with such intelligence regarding the matter I was truly impressed. Any reader of my blog knows that I am passionate reader and lover of young adult literature, I love getting into the mind of the writer and understanding why they chose young adult. For Tina, she felt compelled after seeing a void in the market. During the recent interview she said, “I saw a lot of dark options rather than light, fun, sweet stories.”

Light, fun, and sweet. I think we all need more of that in our lives. The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, along with Tina’s other titles, seem to fit the bill. She continued to say that young adults are at an exciting time in their lives with so much of the journey ahead of them. She said she could relate “…to the pathos of those changing times in a person’s life.”

The ABC’s of Kissing Boys in Tina’s own words:
“She concocts this plan to get on varsity, and it involves a kissing booth at the sports fair and kissing the prom king, but first she has to learn how to kiss.”

It was such a pleasure to meet such an open author willing to share so much of herself with her readers. You can find more of Tina online.

Jan 12, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I didn’t get my post done last week. In part I only got one book. And believe me I was excited, but instead you get to see about the books I got over the past TWO weeks. (You know what THAT means. DOUBLE the thrills and chills!!)

__________________________

Chelsea was generous enough to enter me for winning The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren. You had to enter a friend and since I am so awesome she decided to enter me.

I had never heard of Wendy Toliver previously, but I am happy to know her now and receive this book. I have friended her on facebook and proved both of our awesome by making her reportedly laugh on several occasions. We both know she made a wise choice in accepting me in the first place!


From Wendy’s site:
(the book is in stores NOW!)


I have inside info that tells me she is going to be featured in an author chat with Chelsea very soon. You will not want to miss getting to “meet” this fun loving author.

She realized my fabulousity early on and went ahead and signed my book. Which I will now brag about with the crappy photo below.

Thanks Wendy and Chelsea!

____________

Beth Fehlbaum contacted me through my blog about doing a guest post. She quickly sent me out a copy of her book, Courage in Patience, for me to review. (Look for both of these posts next month!!) Beth is so kind and generous I can’t wait to work with her more.

After a day of hell with my 3 year old, I came back from my errands to find Courage in Patience waiting for me. It was such a nice, tiny reward for the annoyance of my day. It really made me smile.

The first chapter of this book is available online and it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to read more after reading it myself.

Beth says about herself:
"I write fiction for young adults, although the fiction I write is rooted in truth. Even though I'm no longer a teenager, I still see the world through the lens of a teen, and that enables me to shine light on parts of life that some adults would prefer to keep hidden."

Courage in Patience sounds like it is going to be one fabulous read.


Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo started off slow for me.  It didn’t have the magic I was hoping for and expecting after reading Tiger Rising.  I am happy to report it did pay off in the end and I really enjoyed the book.  DiCamillo, as I have previously stated, makes great use of tying literature into her books for young readers.  The book that was used in this story was Gone With the Wind, which I have still yet to read.  But even though Because of Winn-Dixie barely mentioned Gone With the Wind, it still made me really want to read it.

This story, like Tiger Rising, has a great simplicity to it.  I am having a hard time imagining how it was translated into a movie.  I have seen it. I haven’t even heard that much about it. The trailer looks pretty cute. I can see a lot of the elements of the book in it.

 

I did have one favorite part of the book that will not shock any of you. And I would like to share it here for you, but I can’t.  Of course I can’t find the book to quote it.  But I want to get this review up so that I can read my next DiCamillo book.  Since I know you are all dying to know I will update this post when I find the book.  Somewhere.  Among the other books. I don’t have THAT many.

Jan 11, 2009

The Sunday Salon

I am in the middle of a million books right now but I can’t seem to finish any of them. Does this ever happen to you?

For the past 6 months or so I have really been investing my reading time into my growing interest in science fiction. If at least one of my titles isn’t sci fi, I’m not happy.

Right now I am in the middle of two science fiction titles. Unwind by Neal Shusterman was suggested by my friend, and it is great that she understands what I like to read. I enjoyed it from the first page. But now we are in the middle of the book and all the science fiction and futuristic elements have mostly faded away. I enjoy the speculation that a lot of science fiction books provide but get bored when the plot pushes those things aside.

The other science fiction book I am reading is Dune. I thought this would be a very slow and difficult book for me, but I am surprised at how much I am enjoying it and how quickly it is passing by. I am happy that I saw the movie first. It has been a great help in having me understand it all. I am only 20 pages in but I have found them interesting and fairly easy to follow. Has anyone read this?




I did manage to finish one book this weekend.

Perfect on Paper was a delightful read and made me laugh out loud at least once every few pages. Maria Murnane will be stopping by on Wednesday to answer a few of my questions about her books and her writing experiences.

What book did you finish?

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