So some of you may know that I've been working really hard all month on a lovely little project. (Sorry if I haven't been commenting as often on your blogs!) I've been a little busy writing a book.
One of my favorite things about working on NaNoWriMo was the impromptu meetups (called write-ins) of fellow writers. Making new friends and realizing just how many people there are out there, in my own little neck of the woods trying to do the same awesome thing!
The other thing I loved was the handy little word counter bar graph. It was nice to see my progress and watch the visual of my word count grow.
So did you see it?
Looky Looky!! I'm a winner! I did it!
50,000 words in 30 days.
Like the NaNoWriMo website baosts "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!
I did it. A big sigh of completion, happiness, and joy!
I submitted my story and look what they did.
I gotta tell you, I wasn't sure I could do it. I decided on the last day that I'd enter this competition.
I had to come to grips with the idea that it was a distinct possibility that I may not be able to finish but I realized for me it was more the act of trying to accomplish something bigger than I thought I could do. But when I got further into the month I realized I had a fighting chance. So I pushed on and pushed through. I'm so happy.
Took my oldest kidlet on a date tonight. My daughters first football game and I expected she'd last till half time. We stayed the whole game! Last home game of my alma mater and they wiped the floor with the other team (40-7).
I got a new hat and when I asked my husband if he liked it he turned around and went back to work. I guess thats one of those "I'm not gonna lie" things. I thought it was cute so I wore it anyway. So there. :)
(And just for the record those two men were not there with us. Isn't it funny though how they both look like they're supposed to be posing in the picture?)
I'd like to introduce you all to my friend, author Sydney Salter. I'm thrilled she could stop by the blog today. I love hanging out over on her blog also (she's always having fun interviews, giveaways and vlog posts) so if you get a chance stop by there too and check it out!
I read Sydney's first book, My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters (Harcourt/Graphia), which I adored and shortly after I met her at a book event where I first heard about her next book Jungle Crossing (Harcourt Children's Books). I asked Sydney to come to my book club with me as our feature author and we had a lot of fun playing a "who's who in high school" game, laughing about fungus toes and eating wedding cake (you'll have to read My Big Nose to understand). Her third book, Swoon At Your Own Risk (Harcourt/Graphia) had me at the title (and really it's an adorably fun book!).
So on with our questions then!
• What was the best advice you got before you were published (or on your writing journey)?
At my first SCBWI conference in New York, Linda Sue Park told us to read 100 books in our genre. Reading has taught me a lot about writing!
• If you could be one of your characters for a day who would you be and why?
I’d be Muluc from Jungle Crossing. I would LOVE to see how the ancient Mayans lived!
• If you could meet one of your characters for lunch who would it be and what would you talk to them about?
I’d love to dish with Jory (My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters) about body image issues. It would be a little like hanging out with my seventeen-year-old self!
• What’s been a fun perk of being published?
• Looking forward to anything in the future?
I have a manuscript out on submission right now, so please cross your fingers, toes, do your favorite voodoo spell… I hope to hear good news soon!
• Any upcoming events I can tell my readers about?
Happily I have some quiet time between now & the end of January. I’ve been traveling a lot!
• Biggest/hardest change since being published? (in writing or life, etc)
Learning to balance writing time, publicity, and family challenged me! I got more than a little stressed after my first book hit the shelves last year—and everyone around me suffered. Now I make my family the number one priority. Everything else can wait!
• What’s a good book you’ve read this year that you’d recommend to others?
I recently finished You by Charles Benoit. It’s written in the 2nd person point-of-view. Wow! I couldn’t put it down—incredibly compelling story and so well-crafted.
• People always get to ask Q&A’s when they go to author events. What’s the best question you’ve been asked? (What was your answer?)
I can’t think of a truly stand-out question—but every time I have a book signing I’ve been asked about the location of the bathroom!
• If your load was lightened what is a guilty pleasure you would partake in?
Many more massages!
• Have you gotten to travel anywhere fun/different because of your book(s)?
I love to travel—anywhere, anytime! I’ve researched stories in Mexico and Alaska. And I’ve done author visits everywhere from Las Vegas to New York, Kansas City to Orlando.
• You create little bios on your characters in the front of your notebook. Pictures of what they’d look like or where they’d live. Do you do this before you start the story or as you’re realizing their character? Do you do this for all of your WIPs?
I create my writing notebooks before I begin writing the actual story. Blank pages terrify me, so I like having a synopsis to follow and a notebook full of research notes, character profiles, and pictures of everything. My notebooks are my security blankets while creating my WIP. All of my stories have their own notebooks
• I saw you participated in Operation Teen Drop, did you put any contact info in there so they could write back to you? Tell me a little about that. Are you going to do it again?
I didn’t leave contact information. I considered the book drop an anonymous gift. I frequently leave anonymous gifts—sometimes lucky pennies to be found later, treats in vending machines, or lately, silly band bracelets. It wasn’t a stretch to leave a book. I will definitely do it again!
• I love your vlog posts. What made you decide to start doing those?
I’m quite camera shy, actually. (It’s that Big Nose thing.) When I received a Flip video recorder as a gift, I figured it was an opportunity to work through some of my own fears about being on camera. I figured short videos might make my blog more interesting. Blogging didn’t come naturally to me, but now I’m really enjoying it.
• You collect stuffed animals (is that right? Or animal trinkets?) How did that start?
I think it’s more like it never stopped… I’ve always loved toys. Now I collect little trinkets to inspire me as I draft my WIP. And I’m always a sucker for something cute. The Community Relations Manager at my local B&N does amazing crochet work, so, you know, I had to have an owl of my own… I’m worse than my daughters!
• I’ve loved all your books! Jungle Crossing was your 2nd book and a middle grade, did you find it harder to write for that age groups since your other two are YA?
Jungle Crossing is the story that—finally—got me to sit down and write a novel. I love writing both middle-grade and YA, but I’ve had an easier time selling YA (it’s more marketable right now). I hope to continue to write in both genres. As much as I love teenagers, I hope to always have ten year olds in my life. Middle-graders are simply nice people.
Thank you so much for stopping by. It was a lot of fun to learn more about you.
Below I've included the book trailers for the books, they're a lot fun.
Don't you want to run out right now and pick up one of these books?
You could win!
Sydney has kindly offered to let the winner choose their favorite book and she'll send it to you! Just leave a comment on this post by Nov 26th and I'll draw a winner.
My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters (book trailer):
TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.
1. What is your holiday wish for your family? For hubby to get a good job next year (when he's done with school)
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition? Gather on the stairs, run down to see the loot, open presents, eat breakfast, open stockings (if of course we were able to wait, otherwise this sometimes goes before breakfast).
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? A smartphone. I still don't have one :(
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? All the traditions. We love to drive around several times during the season to look at the Christmas lights (one year we were helping my daughter to count so we tried to get to 100-it took us a few nights because not many people had their lights up yet).
5. What games did you play with your family growing up? All sorts of board games and card games. Pictionary was always my favorite.
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? Opening one gift Christmas Even and the breakfast menu (orange julius and cinnamon rolls)
7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip? New York, New England or Florida
8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? I'm going to go with three Kinect games Dance Central, Biggest Loser Workout and Zumba Fitness
I've been following Mainstay Productions on Facebook and noticed they were posting some incredible shots of their latest project The Hunger Games: Katniss and Rue*. They were so amazing I immediately showed them to my book club, already getting excited about how cool it was looking.
Then tonight, the director John Lyde, posted the short up on youtube. These actors, this music, the film! Oh. My. Goodness. I'll let you enjoy it for yourself.
I first ran across Becca when I found her book at the bookstore. I read the synopsis and thought it was a sounded like a fun book. I wasn't disappointed. I loved the characters and the humor. Later I had the chance to sit in on a class Becca taught at the UVU Conference I blogged about earlier. It was there that I saw she had another book, and you know me, I had to buy it and get it signed so I could add it to my collection.
I asked Becca if I could spotlight her and her great books on my blog and she kindly agreed. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!
• What was the best advice you got before you were published (or on your writing journey) ? The best advice I've been given on writing is to write. Writers write. Every day, if they have any sort of character whatsoever. Write while you're waiting for acceptance or rejection. Write in the fifteen unscheduled minutes you have. Write about what you love.
• If you could be one of your characters for a day who would you be and why? I think I'd like to be Betsy from Bright Blue Miracle. I've always wondered what it would feel like to live inside a beauty's head. What is she really afraid of? What are her insecurities? (And, you know, so people look twice.)
• If you could meet one of your characters for lunch who would it be and what would you talk to them about? I'd meet Sarah from My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. We'd eat something on white bread and I'd listen to her recount the voices in her head. We'd laugh a lot, and then we'd order ice cream. Lots of ice cream.
• What’s been a fun perk of being published? I get to teach at writer's conferences and visit classrooms to talk about writing. I love to teach (just not every day) and it is so fun for me to hang with writers and students.
• Looking forward to anything in the future? I'm looking forward to everything in the future. :) I have a manuscript out right now with a publisher, and we'll see if it turns into a Real Live Book.
• Any upcoming events I can tell my readers about? I'm teaching a class on truth and Fiction at the LDS Storymaker's conference in May. If you come, you will laugh. *Unless you have no sense of humor, in which case I make no guarantees. And also, I'm sorry for you.
• Biggest/hardest change since being published (in writing or life, etc)? Reality is a little tough. I thought that being published meant making a great deal of money. It doesn't. But that's okay. I love to write and that's the best part.
• What's a good book you've read this year that you'd recommend to others? "Matched" by Ally Condie, "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin, and "Paranormalcy" by Kiersten White.
• If your load was lightened what is a guilty pleasure you would partake in? My load is so light. I love to read. And watch movies. I think if I could, I'd go to see a musical every week. How bout it? Want to join me?
• I’ve heard you read stories aloud and it was so enjoyable. Have you ever thought about doing voice acting?I love reading aloud. It is one of my favorite things. I read to all my kids way after they learned to read by themselves. I think I just enjoy the sound of my own voice... :) I also love to act, although I've never done any voice-talent stuff, I do get on stage once in a while.
• In your book My Ridiculous Romantic Obsession, Sarah’s a total romantic. Did you pull any of her personality traits from yourself (current or past) ?Pretty much all of Sarah's insecurities are mine. Also the British voices in her head. But I'm not so much a romance-novel reader. (As if I'd tell you if I were!)
• Do you wear a certain pair of shoes when you write? Do you have a favorite? I write in socks. I love socks. Cotton ones. Or wool. But I do love shoes. Someday, I'll own loads of them. Loads.
• Do your kids think you are as funny as I do? Aw, shucks. My kids think I have the capacity for funny. They're actually pretty fond of me (which is really saying something when you consider that two of them are teenage girls). We do have a lot of fun at our house. Come on over. We eat dinner every night at six.
• I heard you were working on a different kind of novel than you’ve done in the past. Are you enjoying the process so far?I've actually finished a draft (and a half) of an early-chapter reader. It's a blast, but in a way, a shorter book is harder to write. All the words count. I can't just write a thousand junk words, thinking I can always cut them later. A thousand words is ten percent of the finished product. So the process is different. Also, I get to read lots of that kind of books, which is way fun. Franny K. Stein, anyone? Oh, the wit.
Thank you, Debbie, for having me visit on Cranberry Fries!
I'm sure you figured out from my name that I adore french fries, but did you know what really started it? It was a fabulous place called Wendy's. (Someday I'll have to post my love affair with Wendys in general but today it's about the fries.)
Wendy's will now be making their fries thinner, crispier, saltier (using sea salt, which apparently is all the rage these days), and they're even going to leave a bit of skin left on.
I loved their fries before. I think a lot of people did. In fact this is the first time in 41 years they're doing this big of a change to their fries. And I gotta admit I'm curious to try the new thing. (Don't worry though, the price is still the same.)
You can bet I'll be reporting on what I think. I'm excited.
This totally got lost in the shuffle but I wanted to be sure to share about this fun event. Last year Olivia and I went to the first Readers and Writers Conference and had a blast.
This year the newly named Book Academy Conference (the end of September) was even better and Liv and I got our friends Meagan and Heather to join us for the day.
I'm just all sorts of impressed with this conference. The price, check in, class topics, teachers, food, it's all just very well put together. Brandon Sanderson gave the keynote address about key elements that make a great story.
We split off to check out our first class. Don't these all sound great? It's just the few I picked to go to.
If you haven't believed me yet, I'm telling you, people who read (and write) are fun! I had a great day and I love that my husband is super supportive of my reading hobby. Have you ever gone to a conference?
We all have a voice and a choice. Today I took my daughter along with me to vote. Even though she's four we had a good talk about what people in office do, why it's important to help them, vote for people we think will do good and learn about things happening in our community.
Then she even asked me questions. I'd call it a successful day!
We're going to hold our own family vote tonight when the older one gets home from school. I'm thinking perhaps we'll vote on our favorite Disney character or maybe what we'll have for breakfast tomorrow. Or who knows maybe we'll be really crazy and do a whole bunch.