My reading list grows exponentially. Everytime I read a book, it'll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It's like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.
-A.J. Jacobs

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So, I have to scream for a minute!!!!!! I made it to the top 1,000 for the Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award! They cut 4,000 entries to get to this first round...

The crazy thing is that I totally forgot about the contest. Totally! I've been so wrapped up in work and a bazillion other things that I didn't even ONCE think about it today, or the past few days to be honest.

And then ChristaCarol emailed me saying, "Congrats," and I was like, "What, Huh??" and then I was like WWWWHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOO HHHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, I'm gonna stop now. Because this post makes no sense! Did anyone else make it!! Let's celebrate together!!

Next round will announce the top 250 on March 23rd. I can only hope to forget about it and be surprised again that day!! :))

Defining Success

Writing is not just what I do in my spare time. It's what I do for a living. My job is to teach my 4th graders how to write, which at times can be an extremely difficult thing to do. Next week my students will be taking a standardized test in which they will have to write a personal narrative to a specific prompt that they are given. The week before the test is ALWAYS a disheartening one. The students suddenly turn into zombies and look at me like I am Charlie Brown's teacher speaking to them. "Wah. Wah. Wah." My heart drops and I am ready to raise the white flag, grab a shovel, and dig my grave. I've taught them everything they need to know, yet this week's stress level is too immense for some of them.

We practiced a prompt this week that was: "Write a composition about a time you found something." The responses I recieved were painful.

I do have to say though, that there are times that I feel on top of the world and like the most successful teacher in the world. This is when I receive paragraphs like this on my desk:

Letting my face fall into my pillow, I sighed deeply. My sister gave me a look and then suggested that we go for a walk. We stepped out the front door and watched sprinklers spin as they spat out water. We listened to the birds chirp their songs, their feet clenched around the branches. As the sunshine and cool breeze hit me, I found a happiness inside of me.

See how this is brilliant? A nine year old wrote this! I am proud to be this student's writing teacher in this moment.

However, my success isn't just defined by the gold mine paragraphs that I receive only every so often. They are also defined by the moments where I wonder if I've spoken a different language all year long. Yesterday was one of those days that my students forgot capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure...basically everything. And not just a handful of students. ALL of them!

I had a long "speech" with them about how I was dissapointed in them and how I expected so much more from them. They left my class quiet and I secretly hoped that they were disappointed in themselves as well. Of course, I couldn't know how my speech affected them, even though I would have given anything to jump inside their thoughts for a few minutes. Undoubtedly, they were probably hearing another language, Charlie Brown's teacher, or most likely even thinking about what they were going to be doing after school. Certainly they wouldn't have given much thought to what I said, because most days, they dont. At least I felt better about getting it off of my chest.

That is, until I recieved this on my desk today.
Dear Mrs. Neal,
The story I am going to write on the test day is the Rollercoaster story, and I also apologize for being so dumb that I can't figure out what story I'm supposed to right. Every school morning, I take brain pills, but it looks like there not doing it. So what I'll do is talk to my mom about it so we can work this out.
Name redacted

And this, my friends, is why I love my job. Aside from the misspelled words here and there (write, ironically misspelled only once), this student's opening, closing, correct comma usage, and word choice had me in tears.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Short and Sweet

I'm still laughing over this coversation I had with K1 the other day on the way to school.

K1: Quit driving like a maniac. I can't draw when you drive too fast.
Me: Zip it. We're late. What're ya drawing?
K1: Mrs. Mickey
Me: You mean Minnie Mouse?
K1: Uh. Nooo. Mickey's mom. Duh.
Me: Are you drawing Mr. Mickey too? You know - Mickey's dad??
K1: No. He's dead.
Me: Oh?
K1: Yeah. It was a bloody death.
Me: Um. That's a little morbid.
K1: He was in a circus performance when a lion got angry with him and ate him. All in one bite.
Me: Hmmm...
K1: But, it's all good cause the other lions loved Mr. Mickey, so they ate the horrible lion who ate Mr. Mickey.

Right. I'm left speechless still. Kids say the darndest things...uh...yeah.

Monday, February 22, 2010

WHOOPS Blogfest!!

Okay, so I'm a little late. But that's totally my style. Better late than never though right? Laurel hosted this great blogfest and I had planned on this scene from my new WIP, but it's not completely polished. Hope you enjoy...

By the time lunch rolled around, hearing his nickname didn’t seem like the worst thing ever. A zero in Language Arts class was much worse. The wrath of his mom would out-do Bree Meyers any day.

Cam grabbed his lunch tray and walked toward his table. A tap on his shoulder stopped him in his tracks and he turned around.

“Oh. Um. Hey.” Cam stuttered, desperately trying not to look directly into her face.

Bree flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder and raised her eyebrows while an amused smile played on her lips.“Listen, Cam. So, I guess I kind of overreacted yesterday. I just wanted to call a truce. Listening to everyone call you Broccoli Spewer is painful enough for your ego.”

She reached out her hand as Cam fumbled with his lunch tray and tried to not freak out over the fact that he was touching Bree Meyers. The Bree Meyers.

Cam couldn’t believe his ears. She had called him by his first name. She remembered his name! She was touching him! He was touching her. Oh, and most importantly she was calling a truce. Things couldn’t get much better.

“Whatever. Don’t look too pleased with yourself, or I might just take it back.”

Turning around, Cam felt like a prize rooster, as he strut his stuff over to the lunch table, when Bree called his name again. The moment was in slow motion, like straight from a movie. Cam turned his torso around to see the smug look on Bree’s face right before an entire tray of spaghetti with red meat sauce slammed into his face.

And then a flash. A camera flash. Shocked and confused, his mouth fell open as the heat of embarrassment rushed his face. Cam felt like crawling into a hole and dying. The only reason he was thankful for the red sauce was for the fact that it was hiding the color of his cheeks, which probably matched the sauce perfectly.

Laughter erupted. Every eyeball was on Cam, basking in his mortification.

“Oh. You didn’t think you were going to get off that easily, did you?” Bree asked as a lone noodle slipped down Cam’s face, falling into his shirt.

In two days he had managed to be attacked by two different types of cafeteria food.

He couldn’t decide which was worse. This one was documented and would be forever remembered in history with a photo to back it up. Spaghetti in face was definitely worse.

Cam stood motionless, unsure of the best way to rectify this situation as Bree sauntered off to her table. Jordan and Bryan jumped up from the table and ran over to help. It was surprising to Cam that they would even claim him in a moment like this.

Deciding to dodge the stares of the onlookers all around him, he took a small step toward the exit of the cafeteria. Bad idea. The sauce was as slippery as baby oil. One step into the mess was all it took to send his foot flying up into the air and his body to eat cafeteria floor. The sting of slamming into concrete was painful, but the sting of the uproarious laughter was worse.

As he lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling, he wondered if he could revert back to his toddler days when closing his eyes tightly would mean he was invisible. He closed his eyes tightly. Hoping. Wishing. Dreaming. Praying.

He slowly opened one eye to peek out, but no such luck. Jordan and Bryan were standing over top of him and the laughing still had not stopped. Insta-mortification. Bree style.

Might as well forget those high hopes of ever becoming Mr. Popular.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


So, my house is clean. Like, clean clean. I thought it would be funny to share some interesting things I found in the playroom that I almost got lost in today.

1 piece of chewed bubble gum (bubble gum machine in playroom = not a good idea)
2 right shoes (Hmmm...)
7 socks (none were matching)
1 sippy cup (Gross - thrown away now)
12 oh-my-goodness-that's-my-most-favorite-toy-and-where-have-you-beens
1 favorite bracelet of mine
2 dead spiders (that I proceeded threaten my children with, "If you don't keep your playroom clean, look who comes to visit!!")
9 capless markers (WHY CAN'T YOU PUT THE DANG CAPS BACK ON??)
AND K3 was found in the rubble.

So, my muse, my beautiful and inspiring muse should be back, right? WRONG! She's off gallivanting around with another lover on an island sipping on pina coladas, while I'm stuck here smashing my head against the keyboard. Not cool.

While I wait for her, I guess I should reveal the true answers from my post yesterday. I really enjoyed getting to see what people thought were truths from my bald faced liar, ahem, creative award. Here they are again along with the story behind each. Even the lies have stories!!

1. I have sidonglobophobia. Look it up.
Not true. I was actually trying to find a phobia related to toilets, well, because who doesn't like toilet humor. But, no, I am not afraid of cotton balls. That's just weird. Now, if you came at me with a q-tip, that'd be a different story...
I also have to say that it's so great that DL pointed out that if you google sidonglobophobia my blog shows up. :)

2. I threatened to take K1 to live with another family, packed her bags, and even drove her to her new family's house.
Um. Yeah. So, I did. Call child protective services on me. But, in my defense, she told me that she didn't like her family and she wished she had a different one. It was hard not smiling as we all packed up in the car and I drove to a not-so-nice neighborhood down the road, all the while telling her how her "new" family had rats and spiders all over their house. It was classic when I saw a man mowing his front yard with a HUGE mask covering his face, and I knew IT was the house. K1 begged to come home. :) EVIL mommy.

3. I've been hit by a car while running.
Not true. But, plenty of my cross country friends in high school were. Who knew cross country runners put their lives in danger every time they'd go for a run?

4. I showed up late to a final exam and ended up falling down an entire flight of stairs in a lecture hall.
TRUTH. Yeah, well without going into back story (since everyone hates back story) I woke up on my bathroom floor with the ink from the back of my hand stained onto my cheek at the time that my final exam was starting. Without brushing my teeth, washing the stamp of my face, or even trying to look among the living, I drove straight to campus. Of course it was my only class in a lecture hall. I burst through the doors 20 minutes after the test started, and if that didn't get me enough attention, I proceeded to fall down the entire flight of stairs. Tumbling, twisting, and bumping down each and every step, the mangled mess of myself lay at the bottom of the stairs. All 300 eyeballs stared. And then two more eyeballs, belonging to my professor, came over to the edge of the stage and decided to mortify me that much more. "Nice of you to show up today." If I could have slithered into a nearby seat, I would have, but I couldn't move. Not out of sheer embarrassment, but because I swore my leg was broken. Some way-to-nice guy picked me up off the floor (probably gagging from the stench emitting from my pores and mouth) and placed me in a chair. I took the test, but by the time I was finished, my leg was throbbing so bad, I couldn't even walk out to my car. Needless to say, I had sprained my ankle. Embarrassing moment #216.

5. I once forgot that I had K2 with me and didn't drop her off at daycare and didn't realize it until I pulled up to work.
This almost happened. I realized it after I had just passed her daycare a minute before and she sneezed. Thank God she sneezed. And at least I didn't make it all the way to work.

6. One time, I accidentally put my car in reverse at a toll booth and ran into the car behind me. It was my husband.
HA! I didn't do this, but a friend of mine did. She even took off afterwards, leaving the toll booth attendant in shock!

7. I skipped a grade and graduated a year early from high school.
I'm no Doogie Howser peeps.

Hope you enjoyed my creativity... :)
Tomorrow, I'll be posting my WHOOPS! blogfest entry that Laurel has set up. Join in the fun times!!

Linger Giveaway Ends Tonight!!

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Muse? Where are You? Come Back to ME!!!

Temporary hiatus is due to the fact that my muse has been taken captive by the chaos, clutter, and disorganization in my home. My house is demanding the painful ransom of...dreaded cleaning. It's a mess. The playroom could totally swallow a small child and it would take rescue teams days to find that child. Wait. Where's K3? Damn. I've lost her in the rubble.

Have you ever just wanted to take a giant vacuum and get rid of EVERYTHING and start over new? Um, not so much? Well, that's where I am right now. Since I don't have a house-sized vacuum, I'm thinking of the evil pleasure I will receive when I take a huge black trash bag and start chucking things that aren't put away where they belong. *Rubs hands together* Diabolical. Before I go digging through the aftermath of some hard core playing in the playroom to find my youngest child, I MUST post these awards.

Let me preface with this: I suck at awards. Now that I got that off my chest, I will bore you with the awards that I have once again stashed up. I'm beginning to think I might have a problem and I may need to appear on Oprah's couch and confess my hoarding tendencies. Maybe while I'm there I can ask her if I can have my book that isn't even published yet on her Oprah's Book Club List. That ought to get things jump started for me...

*WARNING: I have been known to ramble about things that are not true nor will ever happen. You've entered this blog at you're own risk; consider yourselves warned.*

Okay, so, I got this award from Christi at A Torch in the Tempest because she feels like since there is some sort of award conspiracy set up against her, she should continue the conspiracy by sending them my way. You should send any more awards you'd like to give away, straight to her. ;)

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with award. So I'll pass it along to these great blogs because I love to read their blogs and so should you:
1. Elana Johnson
2. Melissa at Chasing the Dream
3. Jen at Unedited
4. Courtney Reese

I got this next fantabulous award from Kristen over at Take It As It Comes. She is so brave as to take me on as a critter partner and I have to say that her writing is AMAZING. Plus she told a very interesting tidbit about herself that involved her being pregnant, a fire, and a burned baby on her blog post the other day. HI-larious. Go check out her blog! NOW!

10 things that make me happy (in no apparent order):
1. Coffee
2. Chocolate
3. Sleeping in (HA!)
4. My children, when they're not fighting
5. My husband, when he picks up his crap
6. A whole day to write -Or-
7. A whole day to read (HA! again)
8. A clean and organized house
9. Food. I am always hungry.
10. Tin Roof ice cream. See?
(I'm beginning to feel like this award is making me aware of why I'm not as happy as I should be...)
And I'm passing this award on to:
1. Rebecca Lynn at New Kid on Writer's Block
2. Summer at ...And This Time, Concentrate!
3. Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment at a Time

I was also awarded this bald faced liar creative award by Courtney Reese because of how brilliantly imaginative I am, I'm assuming. It would have nothing to do with the fact that I pride myself on my ability to make stuff up. Nope. Not at all. Her blog is greatness AND she was even the creator of the last HUGE blog fest that went down on V-day. Go check her out if you haven't already!

This award requires some of my mad creative skills.
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.
5. Nominate seven “Creative Writers” who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

Courtney's twist that I decided to steal: Rather than go easy on you and only have 1 truth, I’ve changed the rules a bit. So, here are your 5 lies and 2 truths. Which is which? You’ll find out on my next post. Hopefully by then, my house will be an organizational heaven again and my muse will be back and ready to write.

1. I have sidonglobophobia. Look it up.
2. I threatened to take K1 to live with another family, packed her bags, and even drove her to her new family's house.
3. I've been hit by a car while running.
4. I showed up late to a final exam and ended up falling down an entire flight of stairs in a lecture hall.
5. I once forgot that I had K2 with me and didn't drop her off at daycare and didn't realize it until I pulled up to work.
6. One time, I accidentally put my car in reverse at a toll booth and ran into the car behind me. It was my husband.
7. I skipped a grade and graduated a year early from high school.

This award is now being passed on to:
1. Christi at A Torch in the Tempest
2. Kristen at Take it As it Comes
3. ChristaCarol Jones
4. The Life We Love
5. Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets
6. Kimberly Franklin
7. Gavin at Insanity's Musings

To all of you award getters, sorry if you've already gotten the award - my eyes are bleeding trying to look through all the blogs to figure out who to give these to. Not to mention my fingers are cramping from not only typing this but linking everything. I need to go take a break. Oh wait. Gotta clean. Peace out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


1. Got my first rejection. Wah. Wah. Wahhh... Oh well. At least my first rejection is over.

2. Contests: Two very huge and spectacular contests are taking place. (Wait. Now that I did this by numbers, my outline needs to move to letters. Hmmm. Should rethink this. But no.)

A. Elana Johnson is having a Pay It Forward Query Critique Contest. If you are writing your query, or you are like me and you have re-written it from scratch 19 times, then this is for you! Go check it out!!

B. Maggie Stiefvater's Linger Giveaway Contest - CANNOT wait for this book to come out!! Could possibly die before I get to read it. (Well, maybe not, but...)

3. I'm on Twitter. I don't know what that means. So much so that when I first started to post this the original sentence said and I quote, "I'm on Tweeter."
I do know that my little doohickey is #tiffanyaneal
And bear with me peeps. I am not technology stupid, but my blog is only a few weeks old, and moving to Twitter is a monumental leap.

*I interrupt this very important blog message with an update. ChristaCarol Jones is the one who MADE me join this, err, I mean suggested it would be a great networking tool. And as she just pointed out to me, it is not a number sign it is the at sign. See how much I know?? @tiffanyaneal (GEEZ)*

4. I've written the first chapter of my new is a middle grade written in 3rd person POV and my MC is a thirteen year old boy. *Channeling my inner 13 year old boy* Um. Wait. That's not possible. So, if any of you have inner 13 year old boys in you please send those vibes my way. Thanks in advance.

So, yeah, that's about all I got. I shall leave you with a teaser from the masterpiece better known as The Post-It Bandits (read here if you want to know how I got the story idea), the (semi) finished Chapter 1: Stupid Killer Broccoli. This is VERY new, so I am open to any suggestions, revisions, edits, and what-have-yous...just leave me a comment. Enjoy! :)


Cam exhaled deeply and pushed around the mystery meat plopped haphazardly on the plastic tray. He wasn’t hungry, but even if he was, he wouldn’t dare stick a piece of that ham…turkey…beef…whatever it was, into his mouth. He’d probably die a slow and painful death if he did.

Jabbing his fork into the soggy broccoli, he brought it up for closer inspection and let the quasi-vegetable hang down lifelessly. Before it could plunge down and hit the deadly meat, he threw it into his mouth. At that same moment, he was elbowed, causing the broccoli to tumble down his throat way faster than he had wanted it to. He started choking uncontrollably. Everyone in the cafeteria stopped, turned, and stared. This was definitely not the kind of attention he wanted.

“Dude. Sorry. That was totally an accident,” Bryan said as he threw his leg over the bench and sat down next to him. Jordan, who had just sat down across from Cam, tilted her head to the side and scrunched up her forehead.

“You gonna live?” she joked.

In between coughs and gasps for air, Cam was able to let a, “No big deal,” escape his mouth. Another fit of coughing went by before he said, “It just went down wrong.”

But the dang thing was lodged in the back of his throat and he seriously thought he was going to die. And there he’d been concerned about eating the meat. Stupid killer broccoli. Bryan slapped Cam hard on the back, dislodging the miniature tree from the back of his throat as he coughed as hard as he could.

The mighty green vegetable came sailing out of his mouth, flying at a ridiculous speed and splatted against Bree Meyers, the most popular girl in the 8th grade class. Crap.

Cam’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, and the sweat that had beaded up on his forehead from the near death experience slowly trickled down his face.

“Oh. Em. Gee!” Bree squealed as she peeled the half chewed, slobber-covered vegetable off of her cheek. “Who threw this at me?”

The whole entire cafeteria sat in the dead most silence it had ever been in the entire three years he had attended Jackson Middle School. Mouths were dropped open. Food remained half chewed. Eyes couldn’t decide whether to look at Bree or to look at Cam.

Cam’s mouth hung open in a stupor. Not good. Not good at all. His mind spun with a million words he could say to diffuse the situation, but the best he could come up with was, “Sorry.”

“YOU? Cal?”

“It’s Cam.”

“Cal. Cam. Whatever your name is. I don’t care. You have just ruined my life! You are going to pay for this. Do you understand me?” she screamed.

At this point, Bree was standing shaking her fist at him acting like he had just thrown a chocolate pie in her face instead of an innocent, small piece of broccoli. Disgusting? Yes. Screaming that he’d ruined her life? Hardly. More like she’d just ruined his. And did anyone seem to care that he could have died on that piece of broccoli? Not at all.

She stormed out of the cafeteria, still silent in the wake of the monumental disaster that had just taken place. Slowly, people began to let their held breaths out and chatter started filling the open space again.


“Don’t dude me, Bryan,” Cam muttered.

“That sucked.”

“Ya think?”

“I mean, if you want to get technical, it’s really your fault. You were the one who not only bought that strange deformity of a vegetable, but then you actually put it in your mouth.” Bryan said.

Cam shot him an I’m-gonna-kill-you-if-you-say-one-more-word look to Bryan. In return, Bryan threw up his arms in defense.

“Alright. Fine. It was partially my fault. But who cares, anyway? We’re talking Bree Meyers. She doesn’t even know your name. Did you hear she called you Cal?”
Another death glare was shot at Bryan. Cam glanced over at Jordan, who raised her eyebrows and half-smiled at him.

“You have to admit it was kind of funny. The look on her face was priceless,” Jordan laughed.

Cam was beginning to wonder why he considered these two sorry excuses for human beings in front of him his friends. He knew he was just irritated at the whole situation, but these supposed friends had been around his entire life. They should know him better and know that this was not the right time to try to make him laugh. He needed some time to let the sting wear off before he could joke about it.

“Just relax, Cam. It’ll all blow over by the end of the day. Bree’s precious face isn’t mangled and her glamour posse probably already has her looking as fake as ever again.”

Cam pushed his tray away from him, less hungry than he was before. It wasn’t the fact that Bree said she was going to get him for what he did that was bothering him the most. What bothered him the most was the fact that his chances of making it into the popular crowd before the end of his 8th grade year had just moved from slim to non-existent. It didn’t seem likely, no matter how many times Jordan and Bryan said it, that this would be easily forgotten. By anybody. Especially them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hoarding Awards...Cause That's How I Roll

Yeah. So. I have been totally holding this award captive that Christi from at A Torch in the Tempest, and I can tell you that it's because I have been giving it WAY too much thought. That's because it's the Honest award, and honestly...well, never mind, I'll save that for the post. If you haven't checked out her blog, you must. She is fan-friggin-tastic. And she is a Texan. Not to mention she told me I could shoot her. Not that I ever would...You catch my drift. Check her out!

To win this beautiful award means that I must list 10 things about myself that are unusual or odd and to do so honestly.

1. I make stuff up. It's true. You never know when I'm telling the truth. Unless you are reading this post, which as you know is all completely HONEST factoids about me.

2. My husband and I named our new puppy after our favorite serial killer Dexter. See the resemblance?

Ummm. Yes. Dexter is inside a glass container.

3. I used to be the one and only Chuck E. Cheese. Until the kids tore off my arms and beat me with them.

4. I talk to myself. And I talk to my characters. Out loud. They respond.

5. When I found out that K3 was a girl, I laid on the table crying. No, I bawled. I mourned the loss of the baby boy I'd never have for like a week.

6. On the topic of babies...when K2 was born I pretty much denied she was mine. Not only was she fair skinned with blonde/reddish hair, but she was uuuugley. For reals. I'm not lying. Because this is the honest award.

7. I used to be a promotional model. For Copenhagen. I live in Texas people.

8. I own a Walmart shirt. A Miley Cyrus one.

9. I won a bake-off competition for my Better Than Sex cake. I know, right?

10. Okay. This one is embarrassing. I used to run cross country. Wait...there's more. :) I managed to pee my pants and throw up all over myself in one such race.

And the awards must go to six of you and you are:

Kristen at Take It As It Comes My newly found critter...AKA critique partner. Yay me!
Lindsey at Dangerous With a Pen
Merissa at See Merissa Write
Anissa at Anissa Off the Record
Courtney Reese
You Live And Learn. At Any Rate, You Live.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love At First Sight Blogfest

Courtney Reese is hosting the Love at First Sight Blogfest, and I thought, what the hey, why not? It's not too late for you to post yours. Stop by her blog and sign your name up and post your awesomely wonderful lurve scene.

I had such a hard time picking out which scene to use for this...but ultimately I decided to share this one. Okay, so it's a bit long. Does that surprise you? Yeah. Didn't think so.


“I am beyond curious about you, Channing. It seems like one minute you’re an open book for me to read and you’re inviting me in to do just that. And then the next you’re distant and unsure of whether or not you want to be around me at all. I don’t understand.”

I drew in a deep breath, uncertain of how to respond to his beyond insightful observation of my totally erratic behaviors.

“If I say it has nothing to do with you, will that be enough?” I asked squinting my eyes and pleading with him to just agree with what I said so we could enjoy the time we had together, before it all fell apart like the rest of my life.

“Probably won’t be enough. If you haven’t taken the hint yet, I don’t give up easily. Why are you so intent on denying this? I know that we’ve only known each other for a little over a month, and I may be going out on a limb here, but I think you can see what’s going on here just as well as I can.”

His persistence was charming and painful at the same time, making it hard for me to know what to do.

“If you mean, do I enjoy spending time with you, then yes, I do. I just have a lot going on that makes life kind of strange and difficult and unlivable all at the same time. Being friends with you is one thing…” my voice trailed off undecided on how to end the sentence. How am I supposed to be convincing when I don’t even know what I want? I looked down, unknowingly tugging on my necklace and tried my best to avoid his eyes.

He tilted his head to the side and turned to face me. A gust of wind whipped by causing a few strands of my hair to get caught in front of my face and a chill ran down my spine. He reached down and softly pushed the hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear. I looked up and got lost in his eyes, almost forgetting how to breathe. How in the world did he manage to do these things to me? Quickly, I broke his gaze, knowing that if I didn’t do it then, I might just drop all my carefully built defenses and give in to him.

“Channing? Why can’t you look at me? It’s like it’s painful for you for some reason.” His strained voice came out in a fog in the crisp, cold air.

“No, it’s not painful the way you’re thinking.”

I wanted to say, it’s actually worse than painful. Excruciating.

But instead, I struggled to spurt out, “It’s just the opposite.”

He moved closer to me on the bench and before I knew it, he had both of his hands holding mine. I wanted to pull away, worried I might get sucked into a vision that might ruin the moment, but even more honestly concerned about getting sucked into him. I swallowed my fear and refused the temptation to pull away, letting him hold my hands. He made my heart flutter, against my will. It wasn’t fair what he was doing; making my mind and heart go to battle against each other like that.

I had never felt so thrilled and cursed at the same time.

“Reed…I…I’ve never dated anyone. I’m a really awful friend and I just don’t know if I can do this. Earlier when I said that it wasn’t you, I meant it. I have a really difficult time letting people come into my world. I know you don’t know this, but I’ve made a lot of progress with you and for some reason you’re the first person in a long time that I’ve been almost convinced to let in. I think about it all the time. But it’s just so complicated.”

I looked down, biting my bottom lip, afraid to hear what would come next. I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with this façade much longer. Fighting him off was much harder than I had anticipated.

My eyes were unable to follow my brain’s directions and no matter how hard I tried to keep them glued to the ground, they forced their way up to look at Reed’s face. All of the sudden, I wasn’t afraid that I was going to see a vision. I was seeing one unfold in real time. It was the same one that I had seen only a couple of weeks ago, on the day that I had first met Reed.

Knowing what was coming made it increasingly difficult to breathe. Every square inch of my being wanted to be there and experience this with him, but my mind was screaming to get up and run. The kiss seemed inevitable unless I freaked out in the last possible minute and left him hanging. It wasn’t likely that it would happen that way considering how much a piece of me wanted it and couldn’t wait for it. Not to mention the fact that my body was stuck to the spot I was sitting in.

Any time I had ever had a vision that included myself, the moment would seem to move into slow motion as everything around me stopped. This time, however, that was even intensified. There was not another person or care in this universe that existed and the only sound I could hear was the rough breathing escaping my mouth and the pounding of my heart in my ears. Get control of yourself Channing.

“Let me in,” he breathed, his face mere centimeters from mine.

Damn. I was like putty in his hands. There was no denying that.

Before I could make a mad dash and never look back, he made his move. It was so unlike me to even be in a situation like this, but I felt frozen, completely unable to break away from the unexplainable magnetic pull our bodies seemed to radiate when we were around each other. It was all over now. I had no fight left in me.

Everything in me melted, and I became his to do whatever he pleased. He took both of my hands with one, and placed his other gently under my chin so that he could put me into another one of his trances with his eyes. Sliding his hand up to my cheek, he held my face so affectionately; it evoked an array of emotions throughout my whole body. Emotions I had never experienced but felt so desperate to continue to feel. He stared into my eyes as he leaned down, letting his cold nose brush up against mine and then parted my lips with his and kissed me.

Oh. My. God. Was this really happening? The chill in the air was quickly replaced by a sudden warmth that ignited within me, seeping through my pores and covering my skin. It was definitely not cold anymore. At all. My cheeks flushed and I felt the need to dump a bottle of water over my head to cool myself down. But that would mean that I would have to pull away from him and there was no way I was about to do that. I never wanted it to end. It was the most amazing kiss, and I'm talking the heart-stopping, head-spinning kind. The vision did not prepare me for this. It was so much better.

And so much worse. Because it was real. Breaking the spell, I jumped up off of the bench, knocking over the hot chocolate.

“I…I have to go,” I stammered as I took one last look at his face, hurt and baffled, over my sudden disinterest. I didn’t have time to worry about his feelings. I would only end up hurting him more in the long run, so it was better for me to just get it over with. The chocolaty liquid formed a pool around my boots.

And if it wasn’t enough that I had already pulled his heart out of his chest and stomped on it, I added, “This was a mistake. I don’t want this, so just do me a favor and stay away.”

I forced myself to turn away from him and took off running, with tears streaming from my face as soon as he was no longer able to see me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

I found myself in some very interesting conversations this week and thought I'd share.

Convo #1: 12:17 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back story: Car had just been broken into and I was driving home with a window COMPLETELY open and freezing cold air blasting me the entire way. Now if you know me, then you'd know that I have a slight tendency to be lead footed. I have gone to Anonym groups to help with my problem, none have seemed to help. Not even the time that I received speeding tickets within 23 minutes of each other in the same jurisdiction. But, you gotta understand. It was frickin' cold. And I wanted to be home, like 3 hours ago. Cue police sirens and lights.

PO: M'am, did you know you were speeding?
Me: Yes. Yes I did.
PO: (Dumbfounded expression) I'll need your driver's licence and insurance. (Looks into backseat, still oblivious to the shattered glass and OPEN window) Where are your kids, m'am.
Me: (In my head: Bed, idiot. It's in the middle of the night.) *Calm and sweet voice* At home with my husband.
PO: Hmmm. Where have you been tonight?
Me: At a Writer's Workshop.
(Pause and my longing for my warm bed growing stronger by the second)
PO: (Hands me back my DL and insurance)
Me: Look. I just walked out to my car to find my window shattered, my school-issued laptop stolen, along with my laptop bag and my pin drives with a completed manuscript and 32 versions of the query that go along with it, not that you know what a query is, but if you did, you'd totally understand my pain. It's after midnight. I'm a school teacher, and by the time I get home, I'll get a total of 4 hours of sleep. Then, I'm going to have to go to school and inform my principal that my laptop is gone and deal with the repercussions of that. Then, after that I am going to have to be coherent enough to deal with 44 crazy 4th graders. I'm tired. I'm grumpy. And I just want to go home. If there's any way you could speed up the process of writing my ticket, that'd be dandy.
PO: Um. You don't have a window, do you?
Me: (DUH!)
PO: Did you report it to the police?
Me: (DUH!) Yes sir.
PO: Well, hon (hon????) I won't kick you while you're down. You be on your way. And don't speed.
Me: (Exasperated breath) Yes sir. Thank you. Very much.

And that's how you do it ladies and gentleman. My new idea: Anytime I get pulled over, I'll just roll down my passenger window and say it's been broken in. Genius.

Convo #2: 7:18 am Saturday, February 13

Back story: I'm sleeping and Middle Child (K2) comes wandering in with blood pouring down her face. Trailing behind is First Born (K1).

K2: Momma! My nose is bleeding again!
Me: Quit pickin' your nose and you won't have that problem.
K1: Mom! It's bleeding bad. You gotta see.
Me: (Opening my eyes slightly) Yes. I see. Get a tissue. And go wash your hands. And quit picking your nose.
K1: Yeah. From the looks of it, I'm the only one in this family that can get away with picking my nose without making it bleed.
K2: I can pick my nose sometimes without making it bleed.
K1: Maybe it's how you're picking it that's making it bleed.
K2: I just stick it up here like this. (Proceeds to shove her finger up the same nose that is still bleeding)
K1: OH! That's your problem. You're not picking your nose right. You need to stick it up there and to the left. (Now demonstrating as K2 follows suit) YEAH! Now you got it. See? And it's not bleeding!!
Me: Oh. My. God. Please. We don't pick our noses. It's nasty. So STOP!

Hmmmm...yeah. Interesting, eh?
And with that, I hope you PICK a fabulous place to celebrate Valentine's Day. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

And, Here's What Happens When It Snows And I Have To Be At School

And this year's teacher of the year award goes to...ME! This is about the extent of what the day held yesterday.

Don't you wish I was your 4th grade teacher??

So, I have been working on the evolution of my query letter. I honestly thought it was done, but much to my regret, the one I thought was great, actually sucked. Now, I've scrapped it and restarted. To add to the confusion of my mind that feels like it's spinning and my eyes that are bleeding from looking at the dang thing for so long, I'd love if you'd stop by either forum and give any suggestions. :)

It's posted on Nathan Bransford's forum site, here and on Absolute Write's Query Hell, here.

If you're working on your query letter, I'd suggest, if you haven't already, to go to Elana Johnson. She's posted some excellent resources about your first sentence and last, first paragraph and last, and what to put in the middle. I also bought her book online, and am perusing that to get some ideas.

If the query letter isn't my death, I don't know what will be!! It's hysterical to look back at my original one (that I will not show ANYONE) and see where it has come, but it still has a ton of work.

What resources have you used to write your query? How many times have you re-written it? Will I survive query hell???

Top Ten Reasons Why I Shouldn't Be At Work Today

10. I have a cold, the kind where your head pounds from the amount of snot and pressure inside your head and you'd actually consider someone drilling a hole through your skull to allow a leakage and a little relief. Hopefully that's not TMI.

9. I have a creative spark from being at DFW's Writer Workshop (it was my first time going and it was great and I will be returning). Must write. Now. Can't keep thoughts contained...

8. It's snowing. In Texas. How am I supposed to be the main focus of my students' attention when there a little fluffy flakes falling from the sky whispering their names to come out and play? Scrap that. How am I supposed to focus when there are little flakes floating from the sky?

7. I was pulled over last night for speeding, on my way home from the workshop.

6. I am tired. I didn't get home from the workshop until 1:00. AM. Yes. You are reading this right. And, yes. I wake up at 5:00. AM. The police officer interrupting my speeding is a part of why I was home so late.

5. ...I don't feel like being here...

4. *Wasting time, because I really don't have 10 reasons*

3. After the workshop the group goes to IHOP, so I joined them. At 11:00, I stepped out to my car to see my front right window smashed in and broken.

2. I peered inside my car and my school issued laptop guessed it, GONE.

And, drumroll please.

1. I am grieving the loss of two, beautiful, precious, wonderful, pindrives that were in my laptop bag. They contained my life. My manuscript. My ideas. My queries. The good. The bad. The ugly. My heart. *Dabs at eyes* Today, I am mourning their loss.

Someone, please, remind me why I didn't call in a sub last night??

Okay, so before I go all off on how life-sucks-and-then-you-die on you. I will give you some reasons as to why I can only laugh at what happened. If you haven't read from the beginning of the blog (And why haven't you? I just started blogging last week you lazy people), my first blog described how crazy things happen in my life. Much like last night. This is the third week in a row that a window of some sort has been broken in to, by some no-good-dirty scoundrel, in order to obtain something. Post-It Notes?? If I'd just stop storing such things as diamonds and gold bars on me at all times, these things probably come to an end, but I refuse to leave home without my gold bars. Ever. Read here, if you want to know more.

So to walk out to my car and see glass shattered everywhere was shocking, but not so much considering that this had been happening to me often. Plus, it will really be a great addition to my book, The Post-It Bandits. The whole writing group stood around in the dark, cold parking lot, as we joked about how there was nothing I could do, and how there was no use in being upset, someone chimed in and said, "It's not like they're going to call out CSI." We all laughed, until who rolls up? None other than the Crime Scene Investigator, himself. We all watched on, mouths dropped open, enthralled to see a real CSI dude at work. It was like watching the TV show, but better and in real life HD. And no. I am not giving you the details. You can read about it when you buy my book. That hasn't been published yet. Or written yet. But, it will be damn good when it's done.

I guess I'll go back to staring out the window with my students, interjecting every few minutes, screaming, "Holy Cow! Did you see the size of that snowflake??"

Oh. Wait!!! Breaking News!!! Here's why I came today...It was just announced that school is closing early today and there is NOOOO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is It Just Me?

Because it is highly unlikely I will ever keep a blog short, quick, and to the point, I am going to start off with a comic I received from a friend today.
How Dinosaurs Became Extinct:

The reason this is so significant is because yesterday I woke up late for work (not 15 minutes late, but 2 hours and 15 minutes late) and rushed around like a crazy lady with her head cut off screaming at the kids to do what they're told and get in the car and buckle themselves up and quit whining and why are you hitting each other? all the while unsure if I remembered to even put deodorant on or God forbid, brush my teeth.

I flew through the doors of the daycare, ran into my youngest's class only to see them standing there with grins on their faces. What now? Out of nowhere, they burst into song and start singing "Happy Birthday." HOLY !@#*^%#! Did I forget my child's birthday? Forget middle child syndrome. How about third child syndrome where your mom forgets you even exist??? I'm on the verge of bursting into tears when they see the look on my face and stop.

Me: "Are you sure it's Karter's birthday today?"
Them: "Umm. Yes. Look, I even made a crown for her to wear today."
Me (holding back tears that are ready to explode and flood the room): Is today really the 15th?
Them: "Oh. No. It's the 8th."

Needless to say, it would have made a great April Fools' Joke had it been April Fools. The whole incident, however, did make me look at and evaluate my life recently. I've been so wrapped up in ME that I actually thought it was possible that I had missed my own child's birthday. Coupled with the fact that my IPhone has a mind of its own and rebooted in the middle of the night, causing my alarm to be erased, thus me being woken up by my oldest saying, "Mommy, You're boss is going to be mad at you because you're late," made for an interesting start to the day. Note to Self #348: Slow Down. Breathe. And, don't forget Karter's birthday is next Monday.

Last night, I stared at the new YA MS I started, knowing what I wanted to write, but caught up in the post from yesterday about beginnings. And what to name my character. And if I should write in 1st person or 3rd. Let's just say, I was caught up on everything. I think after only one night of working on it, we are already heading into "non-speaking" terms and I've told it that we needed a little time apart. To figure things out.

To keep my mind off of that, I plan on going to buy a book tonight. Lisa McMann's 3rd book, Gone, is being released today. I loved Wake and Fade, so I plan on going out and finding it today. If you haven't read her books, they are a must! They are really quick reads and actually, I randomly found her query letter online for Wake and it said it was only 33,000 words! (Can't find it now after searching for way too long...)Her style of writing is different. But, different in a good way. And I have a crush on one of her characters, which never hurts.

Speaking of which. Is it wrong to have a crush on fictional characters? I mean, I think after reading the Twilight series, I had grown to believe that a sparkly, vampire, Edward was going to come to my front door and bite me, taking me to the dark side. Seriously. I spent a good month in Edward fantasy land and then I tried to snap out of it when my middle child saw Robert Patterson on TV and said, "Mommy! Look it's your boyfriend, Eggward!!" The dreamy look that came over my face led her to say, "Do you wish Daddy was a vampire like Eggward??" Hmmmm...maybe I should put away my Edward bookmark, life size poster, t-shirt I wear to bed, and quit mumbling his name in my sleep, so that my kids don't have a complex when they get older.

Close to how I feel about Edward and his glorious, sparkly goodness and cold-to-the-touch rock hard body, I fell in love with bad boy, Patch, from Hush, Hush. Gah! What is it about the dark, stalker-like, creepy boys that I love?

A close runner up from Patch is Cabe from the Wake series. But Edward is the one I'm still holding out for. Errr...I mean, my favorite fictional, not from real-life, book character.

Why do I fall in love with fictional characters so easily??? I don't know. But, I hope that someday many will fall in love with my new obsession, Reed, from the MS I just finished. He's not so much a bad boy, and he certainly doesn't sparkle or have any out of this world, supernatural abilities, but I love him just the same.

Questions ponder...
What fictional character(s) have you fallen in love with?
What makes you connect to the character (and believe that they might just show up in real life, even though they're a vampire and they don't exist)?
Can I fall in love with your hunk in your WIP? Please??

Monday, February 8, 2010


Last night after finally realizing that there was nothing more I could do but sit back and relax (yeah, right), I prepared my email for Miss Snark's February Secret Agent. I read the rules and requirements 32 times, because if you don't know me, I am a major rule follower. I could go off on a tangent about that, but I'll spare you and save it for another post. I saved the draft into my mailbox and even went to the extent of setting my Outlook calendar to remind me when I was supposed to hit send. I've never done one of her contests before, but knowing how many aspiring authors are out there, I knew I wanted to be ready. The contest was going to be open for 24 hours or until the first 50 submissions were received.

I had my students in the computer lab, working on goodreads when my timer on my laptop went off to remind me to send off the email. I hovered over the send button, not wanting to look extremely desperate, or more likely because I was worried that my clock could be off by a few minutes and I didn't want to be disqualified for sending it a minute early, and finally pressed send at 11:02.

The little circular wheel of sending hell, spun repeatedly and displayed a disturbing message that said something to the effect of, "Sending is taking longer than expected." I watched the clock as time ticked on. 11:03, 11:04...Finally at 11:05 my email was posted as sent. I was so consumed with the frustration of the how long it took and still having my mind unnaturally wrapped up with the Amazon contest, that I didn't even take time to think about how I would feel if, ahem, I mean, when I would come face to face with rejection.

Now, I am not a stranger to rejection. I've faced it plenty of times. It always stings at first, but I am a pretty determined person. Once my mind is set on something, I, in some way, shape, or form make it happen. I prepared myself for the possibility of a no, because in this world of writing it is inevitable to recieve a no. The crazy thing is that I was sort of hoping for a no. Weird. I know. But here's my logic. The first time you get the no has to hurt the hardest, right? So, I was just ready to get the first no over with. Logical, right?

Well, I'm sure you can imagine my shock and astonishment when I opened up my confirmation email saying, "I'm sorry, but the 50 submissions have already been reached." GAH!!! That's worse than rejection!! Ugghhh. But, I'm over it. It wasn't meant to be. (This is how I have to reason with myself.) No use dwelling over it. You pick up and keep going.

Keep going right into the next contest. To the Dear Lucky Agent Contest, to be exact. You should check it out! The short sting of disappointment was quickly replaced with the reminder that we authors are given so many great oppurtunities to shine and show our stuff! I'm glad to be a writer right now.

Also other inspiring news is that I'm starting YA MS number 2. The idea has been eating away at my mind for almost a month and I am very excited to get it started. It kind of reminds me of the beginning stages of a relationship. So fresh and new and euphoric. We haven't had our first fight yet and we still love eachother. Best. Feeling. Ever. Mary at Kidlit had a great post today talking about beginnings. It's definitely food for thought. *Note to self: Don't start with, "One stormy night..."

Questions to all of you writers for tonight:
How have you prepared yourself for rejection?
How have you started your novels? What techniques have worked for you? Which haven't? I am constantly telling my students during writing class that I can grade their papers from the first line they write. And, "Hi, my name is..." and "Once upon a time..." aren't gonna cut it. How are you going to get that agent to keep wanting to read past your first sentence?
Oooh and should I write in first person or third person??

Other VERY cool news! I'm over the top and a good friend, and by golly, people like me. HeeHee. I got two awards today from some other awesome writers. First, I recieved the Over the Top Award, which suits me fabulously. Thanks Kimberly! :) Now I must answer these questions with one word answers. Since this isn't the honesty award, my answers may or may not be true...

Your Cell Phone? IPhone
Your Hair? thick
Your Mother? Supportive
Your Father? Kind
Your Favorite Food? Everything
Your Dream Last Night? Aliens
Your Favorite Drink? Coffee
Your Dream/Goal? Published
What Room Are You In? Living Room
Your Hobby? Duh..
Your Fear? Heights
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Older
Where Were You Last Night? Mars
Something That You Aren't? Ordinary
Muffin? Top
Wish List Item? Success
Where Did You Grow Up? Jersey
Last Thing You Did? Ramble
What Are You Wearing? Socks
Your TV? Big
Your Pets? Dexter
Friends? Fabulous
Your Life? Chaotic
Your Mood? Optimistic
Missing Someone? Always
Vehicle? Pathfinder
Something You Aren't Wearing? Glasses
Your Favorite Store? B&N
Your Favorite Color? Purple
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Today
Last Time You Cried? Today
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Work
Facebook? Yup
Favorite Place To Eat? PF Changs

I pass the Over The Top Award to:
Andrea at You Live and Learn. At Any Rate, You Live.
Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
Jade at Jade Hears Voices

I also received The Circle of Friends award from Nicole at One Significant Moment at a Time. Thanks Nicole!! I was totally flattered that you said I inspired you because that is something that I find to be the most important thing about being a writer. To inspire. Thank you!

I shall pass this award over to:
ChristaCarol Jones for helping me way more than she should!
Chelsea who has read my MS too many times to count
and Anissa at Anissa off the Record a new writer friend!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


In exactly 21 minutes and 33 seconds, my entry for the Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest will be locked and vaulted away. No more editing. No more fixing. No more worrying. Well, maybe not the last.

And then. I. Have. To. Wait. For. Four Hundred and Thirty Two excruciating hours. To. Find. Out. If. I. Make. It. Past. Round. One.

On the bright side, I was awarded this fantabulous award from Michele. Check out her blog if you haven't already!

Also, a fellow friend/author/I-don't-really-know-her-personally-but-we-met-online-and-found-out-we-practically-live-next-door-to-eachother...(Okay, that was ridiculous) ChristaCarol found out that her novel is a finalist in a contest. Stop by and tell her CONGRATS! :) Her Teaser Tuesdays are awesome!

Oh, and by the time I post this, the 21 minutes and 33 seconds will have dwindled down to 11 minutes and 41 seconds...

Nervous energy. Go away.

For those of you with a finished MS, what do you do to keep the insane thoughts and nervous energy from taking over your life while you wait? I am not a patient person. I must be doing something at all times. Hurry up and wait is totally not my style. Should I send out a few queries? Maybe I'll start writing a new book. Or maybe I'll read a few books. Or better yet, I can continue to blogstalk. Yes, that's what I'll do...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Procrastinationitis, Oreo Balls, and Zombies

What a fabulous concoction of greatness. Don't you think? You might be thinking to yourself, "What in the world do these three things have to do with one another?" Sit back and relax as I intertwine these three seemingly unrelated items.

I shall begin with procrastinationitis, which is the new disease that I've recently been diagnosed with. There is no cure. Except for smashing my laptop into ten million pieces. I can't get over the world of writers out there. I mean, I knew there were tons of aspiring authors. Agent's query stats showed me that, but who knew there were so many of you with all of your awesome-ness supporting one another on your endeavors. You are all ridiculously remarkable. Although, I do have to say that I am glad that I just found this world of blogging because if I had been a part of this while trying to write my MS, I'd still be on page 5.

Onto Oreo Balls. Procrastination Tactic #45: Make dessert. My dear friend, Chelsea, forced an Oreo Ball down my throat. It was God-awful. No, not really. It was just the opposite. She told me about how stupid-easy it was to make them. So, I decided, why not? I don't have anything better to be doing. First of all, buying the Almond Bark, was an all day adventure. I couldn't find the stuff anywhere. Finally after traveling to 600 (slight exaggeration) grocery stores, I found some. I came home ready to make me some yummy balls. Gross. Get mind out of gutter. Okay, to make a long story less long since I have a tendency to write novels instead of blogs, my cake balls sucked. They were horrible. I didn't follow the directions. My melted Almond Bark turned into a chunky mess. All around disaster.

So, I made some more the other night. I used the leftover batch from the first disastrous attempt and used white chocolate to coat them since I didn't have any Almond Bark handy. Better. But not great.

Today, I attempted this impossible feat yet again. In the process, my husband who is always wary of my cooking ventures, says, "Is it just me or is that flame in that candle behind you a little tall?" Um. Yeah. That was an understatement. The flame was practically licking the cabinets in our kitchen, potentially setting our whole house on fire. Since I didn't have time to take a picture of the fire, I took a picture of the candle gone psycho, after I made sure the fire was out.

Meanwhile, two other great things were happening. Karter ate an entire bottle of sprinkles.

And Kennedy was watching some quality TV show with the hubs about aliens taking over the world. She proceeds to tell us that she knows exactly what an alien looks like. She's seen one before. So she draws us a picture. Um. Scary.

Kambry has absolutely nothing to do with this, but I decided to post her picture as to not add to her middle child syndrome.

Back to the balls. So, even in the midst of all this chaos, they actually turned out good. Impressive, I know. Third times a charm. I am an Oreo Ball Pro. Take a lookie:

This is the recipe I used, substituting the Baker's chocolate for the Almond Bark. (I used white and chocolate Almond Bark to spice things up this time and yes, I know, it is stupid-easy to make. I never said I was a baker or a cook. I am a writer, people.)

I don't see a future in Oreo Ball making, about as much as I don't see a future in acting for me. Cue zombies. I was asked by a fan to blog about a movie called Zombie Campout. Once upon a time, I was going to be an actress. During my short-lived stint in acting, I was cast for a music video for a band called Dolly Braid and produced this award winning masterpiece. It is very fuzzy, but it was done long before the days of digital video.

I then moved on to bigger and better things. Zombie Campout. Best. Movie. Ever.

Don't get me wrong. I had a blast (most of the time) filming this and I still keep in semi-touch with the main people from the film. We even had a premier for the movie at a theater in Dallas. Let's just say, the movie was a turning point in my acting career and leave it at that. I will leave you today with the trailer for the Emmy Award Winning movie, Zombie Campout.

Wasn't the sound and quality awesome? Thank God my acting days are over. I do much better behind the scenes.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Hallelujah because it's Friday. Hallelujah because it's an early release day. Hallelujah because I have a window in my classroom and no longer a flimsy wooden board that practically flashed with large neon letters, "WELCOME. ENTER ME!" Hallelujah because they fenced off the roof where the little suckers climbed up in the first place. (I suggested putting some sort of electrical current through the fence, just in case. They did not follow my advice.) Hallelujah because I say so. Oh, yeah and hallelujah because I AM FINISHED WITH MY MANUSCRIPT!! Which is relative, because is it ever finished? I mean, I have written, edited, revised, added, deleted, rinsed, and repeated a trillion times and I'm sure before it's all said and done, it'll be through that process another trillion times.

The great news about being "done" is that I will be hitting the submit button on Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Competition tomorrow. (Because, let's face it, I plan on spending every spare second reviewing it again, just to make sure it's for sure, 100% ready to go. And even then, it won't be.)

This is the first year that the competition has been opened up to YA novels, so I am super stoked. If I make it through the first round, which would mean that I would have to WOW the judges with my pitch, which I am not sure if I will be successful or not considering it's the first pitch I've ever written, then I will be notified on February 25. I'm already having heart palpitations and sweating bullets as the sharks swim in my stomach gnawing at my intestines. But, I'm only a little nervous. A little nervous energy never hurt anyone, right? Right? Right. Thanks for the support! (As I bite off my bottom lip)

This also means that I am "ready" to start sending out query letters. While I've been on a one track mind of writing, I've also been doing tons of research on who I will send a query to. Also, so that it wouldn't seem so horrible once I was done with the manuscript, I began writing my query letter a while back. I think it's done. I hope it's done. I mean, it IS done. So, this also marks the moment in time, where I will be embarking on the journey to find an awesome agent to represent my work. It is not an easy process and it's one that is full of rejection and heart break. But, I'm up for it. I'm ready to see where it leads me.

So, since I am entering this in, I figured I would post an excerpt from the beginning of my novel. It is titled VISIONS and is completed at 65,219 words. Not that I'm counting. Enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Please, I'm begging you.)


The first memory of it happening to me was when I was eleven years old. I will never forget the date. It was December 4, 2001. My family all relaxed in the living room watching a bizarre movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The fireplace was blazing in the background and the Christmas tree lights twinkled. It was during the good ole’ days, back when my family was complete and everything made sense. My brother, Barret, watched eagerly to see what was going to happen next and Emerson kept burying her face in Dad’s shirt any time a scary part (to a six year old) came on. I leaned up against my mother and laid my head down on her shoulder as she began carefully stroking my hair. Unexpectedly, I fell into a strong and vivid dream.

All of the sudden it was Christmas Day. Red and green wrapping paper flew all over the room, littering the wood floors as Winter Wonderland played softly in the background.

There was Barret, smiling a big goofy grin, clutching Combat Mission: Beyond, a video game he had been holding out for. Dork.

Emerson was jumping up and down after receiving Holiday Barbie which she’d thrown countless temper tantrums over all year long.

Then, I saw myself carefully unwrapping a small box wrapped in red shiny paper flecked with gold speckles. Lifting the lid to the box slowly, I peered inside and pulled out a sterling silver James Avery necklace with a small cross hanging from the end of the chain. I watched myself as I looked up to my mom and dad beaming, knowing they had given me the perfect gift. I looked back over to myself and noticed my eyes beginning to water as my mouth formed a small smile. The smile was a sincere one, showing that there was nothing I wanted more in the world.

Without warning, my eyes opened and I was back on the couch in the living room. The dream had been so clear, like it had really happened. It was the weirdest sensation. Honestly, I believed that it was a half dream, half will of power, trying to imagine myself opening up the exact present I had so badly wanted that year.

But then, when Christmas day came, and the exact moment happened again, almost in slow motion, the scene unfolding exactly as it had in my mind weeks before, it was a little harder to ignore. It was eerie knowing what was about to happen; like an out of body experience.

Still, I tried to disregard it and didn’t tell anyone about it, thinking that if I did, they might think I was crazy or just making it up. That’s what was so hard about being a middle child. Everything I did or said was constantly being scrutinized and blamed on the fact that I was the deprived middle child, begging for attention. So instead, I wrote it off as déjà vu. It seemed to be a pretty close match anyway.

As the years passed, it seemed that the visions, or whatever they were, grew more and more frequent. And now, in high school, it seemed like they were impossible to escape. Not that any of the visions were anything life changing. Most of them included things like who was going to win the football game on Friday or who would become homecoming queen, or the best ones for me, what the questions were going to be on a history test. But most of the time, they are completely useless pieces of information that for some reason I manage to get a pre-recording of. Never do I ask for these visions to come to me. Most of the time now, it happens when I am not paying attention and I accidentally bump into someone in the line at lunch or brush shoulders with a friend in the hallway. They always come into my mind and play like a murky movie in my head, usually only for a few moments, until I can shake it off. And with nearly 1,400 students attending my school, it is practically unavoidable to not run into someone at least once a day and get a glimpse of their future.

I guess when I am trying to keep a positive attitude on my annoying secret, I look at a couple of positives. Number one: It only happens when I make physical contact with someone. Number two: It doesn’t happen every time I touch someone, just when the vision decides to show itself to me. The thing that’s the worst for me though, is that depending on the strength of the vision, I end up with a head splitting migraine afterwards.

After my first vision, I started keeping track of them in a journal. I took comfort in storing the information and tracking how long it took from having the vision, to it actually happening. It was a way for me to express myself without ever having to tell a soul. I would write the date and the vision and then leave a couple of blank pages behind it in order to find out when the visions actually happened. Usually, I'd find a lesson of some sort and jot that down as well. The paper listened and absorbed my words without ever judging or criticizing me. The journal was my confidant which allowed me to feel like I wasn’t completely holding secrets from all of the people who loved me.

But like I said, none of my visions are monumental and most of the time they are just bothersome, especially since I made the decision to neither alter or fix the future. And usually the pettiness of the visions I receive only land me with a mild headache that can generally be warded off with a couple Ibuprofen and butt-load of caffeine. There’s only been one time that the vision was so strong, it caused me to go back to bed, in my dark cave of a room, allowing no sound, smells, or lights to intrude. That same vision is also the one and only time I tried to change things, in which I was utterly unsuccessful.

It was the one time that it had been life changing and I was unable to stop the outcome from happening. And now, my whole family suffers because of it. To say I feel guilty is an understatement. And carrying the burden with me is completely unbearable.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Voices In My Head Tell Me What To Write

Seriously. I risk putting myself into the category of the certifiably insane by admitting to this publicly. The first step to getting help is to admit that I am powerless over the voices in my head and that my life has become unmanageable because of it. But like many Twelve-Steppers, I am 100% not in denial because I am fully aware of my problem, I just choose not to change it. So there.

I wake up at 4am most mornings to my characters talking to me and telling me what to write. They have full blown conversations in my head. While I'm trying to sleep. If the stuff they had to tell me wasn't the core of my writing, then I'd be perturbed to have to wake up to made-up, fictional characters screaming at me at the top of their lungs to get it written down. And that's not the half of it. Recently, I've been bombarded in my sleep with several more book ideas. Four to be exact. So between the manuscript I'm working on right now and those four other ideas, my sleep has been minimal to say the least.

One of my dear friends and future travel companions (for when I go on tour, of course) mentioned to me that it looks like I'm not getting enough sleep or food. This is somewhat true. The food part is never a problem for me. I eat like no other. (Someone, please vouch for me) Although I do eat, I have been sleeping, eating, dreaming, walking, breathing, whatever-ing words since I started writing this manuscript, especially since I found out about a contest that recently opened that I want to enter my book into that requires a finished, edited, and well polished final copy by February 7. Much like my OCD tendencies with things being in order and in their place, I steer towards becoming strangely obsessed with things. Right now writing is my addiction. And reading. The bad thing is that I have neglected many things in the process. Like laundry, dishes, cleaning, and *winces* my kids. I can't help it though. There is so much to be written and there is a constant feed into my brain, not unlike Facebook status updates, that just pop up into my brain out of nowhere. It's crazy.

If the writing wasn't enough, I have a mountain of books that have taken over my bedside table. And for some unknown reason I am reading five books right now that I am completely engrossed in. My currently reading list includes: The Schwa Was Here (Neal Shusterman is a freakin' rockstar writer), The House on Mango Street, Same Kind of Different as Me, Where the Red Fern Grows (this is my fifth time reading this and if you've never read this, YOU are certifiably insane, no questions asked), and Handle With Care. I can usually keep up with three books at a time, but this, this pile of ridiculous-ness, is out of control.

Once again, I admit, I have a problem. One day, I hope the chaos of my life at this particular moment pays off. Until then, I will work on moving on to Step 2: To come to a belief that a Power greater than myself can restore my sanity. (Highly unlikely I'd ever be considered sane, but if you say so, Step 2)

Monday, February 1, 2010

2010 Brings Some New-Fangled Technology Along With It

Welcome to the 21st century. Oh wait. We've been here. For ten years already. And, yes, I am just now making a blog. It took me years to do the Myspace thing and then by the time I set it up along with my pretty background and glittery letters and all, everyone moved on to Facebook. I refused to set up a Facebook. All the hard work and time that it took me to set up Myspace was wasted and it, well, irritated me. Months of friends' peer pressure finally forced me to set up a Facebook. And now that I'm on there, I recieve constant notifications about people's farms being harvested, how their fish need fed, and how someone's mob boss needs to borrow a gun from me. (Sorry to all my Mafia peeps)

So, now here I am, setting up a blog. No one is forcing me to set up a blog, but I guessed it was due time. If I want to be in the business of writing for a living and every author, agent, editor, publisher, and wanna-be have blogs, I figured that I should join the ranks. I do have to say, though, that it makes me a little nervous. See, I know that if I intend to be a world famous author one day, I need to have a blog and a website, and I'm sure many other things that I'm completely unaware of. But...putting up the blog before becoming the world famous author that I aspire to be has striking similarities to those who pack their suitcases a month before their due date when they're pregnant, in hopes that a packed bag would make the baby come that much faster. It never happens that way. Which is precisely why I almost had my babies on the car trip to the hospital - since I was packing my bags when I was in labor. Anyway, my point is that I hope I'm not jumping the gun here.

Also, I can't promise that I will be able to keep up with this as well as some of you do. Some of you are like rock-star bloggers that I could only hope and dream to be one day. Not mentioning any names, ahem, *Salomone*. What I do hope to do is keep you updated on my writing woes (and hopefully one day some really fabulous news that I've been picked up by an awesome agent and my book has been published and on the shelves at Barnes and Nobles), the books I'm reading, and any other interesting events that pop up. If you don't know me well, totally-unbelievable-it-has-to-be-made-up things are FOREVER happening to me and my family.

For instance, The Post-It Bandits. (I'm hoping to use this for a future MG title, by the way) I branded the thieves, who smashed my classroom window open last weekend, with this name because the only thing they stole from my room was, quite obviously, Post-It Notes. How, you might ask, did I know that they were stolen? Some, may or may not have said a time or two that I display OCD tendencies. I'll leave you to be the judge of that. My sticky notes were color-coded and neatly placed into a super cute red and black container that matches the magazine holder on that same table. I'm actually quite miffed that they decided to take the container with them because now the magazine holder is quite lonely on the table without its matching partner. I could care less about the sticky notes. I have a bazillion of them. However, if they really needed them that badly, I would have been more than happy to supply them with some.

Well, they came back. This time they weren't so innocent. They were like professionals this time and stole some pretty important things. I believe in karma though. Or maybe I believe in the police officers that will find the little thugs and teach them a thing or two. I'll be happy with either, as long as they quit using my window as a portal to commit illegal activities.

Wow. So this blogging this isn't so difficult after all. I've already managed to ramble on for a ridiculous amount of time. And. I'm. Done.
Give the newbie some love! A shout out, a comment, a pat on the back. I set up a blog for goodness sakes!