Monday, December 27, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--MadLib

How about a game of Monday MadLib. Before reading the blue paragraph below, first provide the following words to fill in the blanks.

Adjective:
Verb ending in -ing:
Adjective:
Adjective:
Noun:
Plural Noun:
Verb:

Now, take your words and fill in the story below.

Kasie the _________ has once again been _________ her blog. When she is away, her readers become very, very _________ . This makes her feel extremely _________ . How dare she have a _________ outside the virtual world. When gone, it's not just her posts that are missed but her snarky _________ that she leaves throughout the blogosphere. Please, Kasie, don't _________ for so long again.

I will leave you with the answers my husband gave when I tested out the MadLib on him. (Please note that the first answer, like all his answers, were given without having read the paragraph. It's just a very big coincidence that it fits perfectly.)

Kasie the super, super sexy has once again been flagellating her blog. When she is away, her readers become very, very brilliant. This makes her feel extremely smelly. How dare she have a pie outside the virtual world. When gone, it's not just her posts that are missed but her snarky horses that she leaves throughout the blogosphere. Please, Kasie, don't spring for so long again.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Shout Out

Happy Friday, everyone. This week got away from me. I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friend, Renee Collins for her success in acquiring an agent. She is pretty much awesome! And if you've had a rough road, her story will inspire you (so you should definitely go read it).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Dream Escapes


I have this irrational fear of alligators. Well, I mean, it's not irrational, they are obviously creatures to be feared. But I live in California. The only place I can see an alligator around here is the zoo. However, no matter my location, just the thought of them lurking, barely visible, in lakes and rivers scares me beyond belief (this is the irrational part). It's like when we're boating at the lake and my daughter gets scared that a shark might bite her. I tell her that sharks don't live in lakes (to which my brother unhelpfully adds, except the fresh-water shark) and in my head I think, only alligators live in lakes. I don't know how you people in Florida can walk around knowing that at any moment an alligator might walk up the street looking for a limb to bite off.

So last night I had this horrible dream that an alligator chomped down on my leg and, of course, wouldn't let go (because that's what alligators do) and it scared me so much that I woke up. But every time I tried to go back to sleep, the same image came back into my mind. Finally, I had to mentally come up with a way to free myself from the dumb alligator so that I could get on with my dream and get some sleep.

First, I had remembered seeing a news story where a girl who was in the clutches of an alligator, shoved her arm down its throat, opening it up for water to pour in. The alligator was forced to let her go because it was drowning. Smart girl. But I realized I couldn't do this because I was on dry land. Then I tried to punch it on the nose but remembered this was advice for sharks (which weirdly enough I don't fear). Prying it's jaws open with my bare hands didn't work. Finally, I found a large rock (that just happened to be within reach) and shoved it down the alligator's throat. My half-asleep brain must've found this a decent solution because the alligator let go of my leg and I was able to take my son to the lego horse so he could have a ride (my son got legos for his birthday yesterday). So I don't know if this would actually work should you find yourself in the clutches of an alligator when on dry land in real life, but at least in the dream realm, you should give it a try.

Happy Monday.

(P.S. I also decided when I was half-asleep and had just freed myself from the alligator that this would be my unhelpful advice for today. I have since decided that I should save decision making for when I'm fully awake.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Review

You should read this book:



No, really, I loved it. After reading so many books lately that have the same general feel, this book was refreshingly different. The main character was probably one of the most unique characters I've ever read. She made me laugh and did so many things that were so true to her character even if I wanted to shake my head in disbelief. This girl could've walked right off the page and I wouldn't have been surprised (well, maybe I would've been a little startled, but then I would've thought, 'that's so her to walk off the page like that.') It's very clean for those of you worried about your daughter's sensitive little eyes and minds. And it's rich with relationships, emotion, and intrigue. LOVED it.

Blurb:
"When KJ Carson is assigned to write a column for her school newspaper about the wolves in nearby Yellowstone National Park, she’s more interested in impressing Virgil Whitman, the new kid in school and the photographer assigned as her partner, than in investigative journalism. But before long, KJ has a face-to-face encounter with a wolf that changes her and the way she thinks about wolves. With her new found passion for protecting these controversial animals, KJ inadvertently ignites the fuse of the anti-wolf sentiment in the community. First Virgil is injured during a town parade, and then her father’s store is set on fire in retribution. To stop the escalating violence, KJ follows Virgil to the cattle ranch of the most outspoken anti-wolf activists in town, against her father’s will. What she discovers there threatens everything and everyone she cares about.

In KJ’s fierce and funny attempt to make peace between the wolves and the people that despise them, she must first face her own long-held fears. It’s terrifying, but then, finding yourself always is." (from Kristen Chandler's website)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you enjoy the holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Mind Power

So as you can see, I'm not doing so well on NaHoCleMo. But I am doing very well on what I like to call NaLoWhiMo. Yes, that's right, national loud whining month. It goes something like this, "Woe is me. Cleaning makes me whine. Why does everybody leave all their stuff everywhere for me to clean?" I am definitely wracking up the minutes on that goal.

But all this whining has reminded me of why I simplified after the third child (and even more after the fourth). Why I decided that if dishes and laundry were done then I was happy. And that is, because cleaning up after people makes me grumpy. It makes me think bad thoughts about my lovely children, like, 'Do they really have to leave the milk out every single morning? Why can't they remember this simple task?' Or, 'Seriously, they have to leave candy wrappers on the counter right above the trash?? How lazy does one have to be to not open the door and put the trash inside?' And I don't like thinking these thoughts about my children.

So I decided something last week. Instead of getting frustrated when I had to pick up a wet towel off the ground for the fiftieth time that week, I started saying, out loud: "That's so cute." As in, 'Oh, it's so cute when my kids can't remember to put the milk away. There's nothing like warm milk.' Or, 'Oh, isn't it adorable that their trail of open drawers and cupboards lets me know exactly what they did in the kitchen.' It seemed ridiculous at first, but it really works. Every time I said it, I really did think about how dang cute my kids are. All four of those adorable (somewhat lazy) little buggers. So my advice to you is, apply the phrase "that's so cute" more in your life. Try it when your significant other is making you angry, the lady checking out in front of you at the grocery store is irritating you, just whenever you're feeling some loud whining coming on. If nothing else, at least it stops the whining for a little while.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

Have I mentioned before that I have a huge crush on Sarah Dessen?? Yes? Okay, I won't talk about it again or you might think I'm obsessed. I mean, sure, I've read every book she's ever written, but that's not obsessive, is it? And she didn't disappoint in her latest book:



blurb:

"Riding a bike is only one of the many things Auden's missed out on. Even before her parents' divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother.

Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town of Colby with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen."

Sarah Dessen, curse you for being able to take a normal, everyday scenario and turn it into a compelling emotion-filled book. I mean, praise you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Excuses

From the girl who brought you top 10 reasons to avoid the gym and how to become the laziest person on earth in seven days (or less), I bring you: Top ten excuses to clean less. These excuses are specifically designed to help those participating in NaNo (national novel writing month) and the messy house that will follow. You may use these excuses on those around you who might be appalled or disgusted by extra dishes in the sink, or for yourself, to make sure that you don't touch those dishes in the sink until you get in your 2K words for the day.

So here they are, your excuses.

10. I hope to be a future hand model and can't risk callouses by doing house work. (Perhaps you've never considered this before, but take a good hard look at your hands. Are they hand model material? Yes, yes they are. Now preserve them, protect them.)

9. Why would I clean the house when by the end of the day it looks like I didn't touch it? (Also good, why would I make my bed when I'm just going to sleep in it again?)

8. It may look dirty, but I know where everything is. If I clean it, I wouldn't be able to find anything. There is a method to my madness. (Make sure to only use this excuse when someone isn't looking for something or you might immediately disprove this.)

7. I feel a cold coming on, I must rest. If I get sick then nothing will get done at all.

6. And while you're on the "guilt" excuses, how about: Since I'm the only one that cleans around here, I was waiting to see how long it would take before someone else would lift a finger to help.

5. That's why I had children, to help around the house. (My daughter swears the only reason I had kids is so I wouldn't have to clean, so I might as well just go with that excuse and validate her theory.)

4. Speaking of kids, how about: I can't do everything for my children or they will never learn responsibility. Teaching kids to work is the best gift I can give them. (That's a good one because then you sound loving and responsible.)

3. A layer of dust (or toys) protects the wood (or carpet).

2. For those of you who stress out about a messy house and find yourself tempted to clean (I do not fall in to this category), you should definitely have one room that must remain clean at all times. The kids (and spouse) should know they can not touch this room or some very serious, vague threat (that you must administer with a grave expression) will occur. If you don't have a whole room, just a cupboard or a shelf will do. Then when you feel the stress coming on, you stand in the room (or stare lovingly at the shelf) and know that at least you have managed to keep this one piece of the universe clean.

1. And the number one excuse that all those around you should not argue with is: I can't be bothered with housework, I'm writing.

Good luck to all those participating in NaNo. I can't wait to follow your progress. I will not be using any of the above excuses this month because I'm cleaning instead of obsessively writing. I need a set of excuses not to write. Please provide them for me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Review



I loved this book.

I'm a huge fan of the world Cassandra Clare has built in her Mortal Instruments series. The Shadowhunters and everything she created around them fascinates to me. And so when I heard she wrote a prequel, set in Victorian England (one of my favorite settings), I knew I had to read it. It was so awesome--detailed, tense, emotion-filled.

The one criticism I have heard about the book is that Jace (a character from the first series) and Will (a character from this one) are interchangeable. I would agree--they are similar. But, since I loved Jace (LOVED him), I was perfectly fine with an old-fashioned version of him. So bring on the rest of series, I'm ready.



blurb:
"Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ready, Set, Clean


For those of you who have been around since last year, you may remember that I didn't participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where writers everywhere dedicate the month of November to start and finish a novel. It's an exercise in obsessive behavior. But since I am obsessed every month, I take the month of November to try something called balance. To do something that I avoid the rest of the year.....

CLEAN.

Many of you may have gasped at that thought. Believe me, it's scary for me too. But, it must be done. I'm setting my goal at 2700 minutes this year. That is 90 minutes of cleaning a day. You can track my progress on the sidebar. And hey, if you want to participate, feel free to grab one of your own county things here and set your own realistic cleaning goal. This might be a good competition for all my non-writer friends out there to join. Although, you probably keep beautifully clean houses.

Either way, get ready because the cleaning will begin in 10 days.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Review



I had seen this book highlighted on several blogs over the last year or so and even had a friend tell me I should read it. But for some reason I still let it sit in my TBR pile for a long time. I think the reason I resisted reading this book was because I feared it would be similar to something I had written. After I finally read it, I was glad I gave in. One, it was so different than mine, and two, it was awesome. I loved this book. It was funny--I laughed out loud throughout. It was refreshing. And Janette Rallison had so many cute insights not only to her characters, but really to human nature that were so cleverly written. This is another book I enjoyed that I can also pass on to my 12 year old. I love books like that.

blurb:
"After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Pest Control

On my drive home the other night, I turned onto my street and saw a pair of glowing yellow eyes. As I got closer I realized they were attached to a rather large raccoon. Ah, country living, I thought. At the end of the street, I pulled into my driveway. As my headlights cut across the grass, a pair of rabbits ran through the light. How cute, I thought. Finally (and I'm not exaggerating, all three of these things happened in one night) I opened the garage and as I parked the car, a rat scampered out from behind some boxes. So not cool. This is when my husband and I decided we needed an outdoor cat. Preferably a big, ugly one who was on at least his seventh life and was appropriately named Bruiser or Killer.

Well, we couldn't find one of those. So we settled for these guys. They are going through the training program now (being pestered by a three year old). But I have high hopes that they will become the future pest control:

HUNTER:


SCOUT:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Review

It's possible I am the only person in the world who can spend a week in Mexico and come back whiter than when I left. This may be due to the fact that I like to spend a lot of my vacation reading. I read three great books while I was there. The first, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


SO. CUTE.

This book made me smile. And I would recommend it for all ages. In fact, I'm letting my twelve year old read it next.

The blurb:

"Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal."

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Cootie Catcher



I don't think that's what we called it in my day (we didn't need any fancy device to catch our cooties) but this is what my daughter came home with yesterday, spouting off "fortunes" for us all--after we worked for it, of course, by picking a color and 3 numbers. It made me wax nostalgic (I do that now and again, it's not as painful as those two words make it sound). But I was even able to make a few "cootie catchers" for my other daughter *ahem* FROM MEMORY. Can you tell I was pretty impressed with myself?

So do you want to hear my first 3 fortunes I received straight from my daughter's catcher?
-Fortune Number 1: You are deeply hated. (In actuality, I was deeply offended, but I'll save that discussion for my future therapist)

-Fortune Number 2: You will be in jail in five years. (What?!? "Does it say what I'm going to do to get there?" I asked her)

-Fortune Number 3: You will have 9 babies. ("How accurate is this particular catcher? Does it have a percentage of successful predictions?" I wanted to know because I could live with my first two fortunes, but 9 babies??!!!)

Finally, I asked my daughter if there were any good fortunes and she read me the rest which included:
-You are a tree hugger (??)
-You have powers (why couldn't I have gotten that one?)
-You are crazy (only sometimes)
-You are deeply loved (oh, good, my daughter has at least a little bit of humanity in her soul)

Have you gotten any good fortunes lately?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Review



Okay, so I've been reading a lot lately and have a lot of reviews to catch up on. The first book I read in this round was this amazing one by Sara Zarr. Sweethearts. It was refreshing to read a contemporary. I haven't read one in a while and it reminded me of why I like them so much. The emotion. And Sara Zarr is an expert at eliciting strong emotion. This book was heartfelt and honest. I adored it.

blurb:

"As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--An apology letter

Dear Blog,

Yes, I've been avoiding you lately. I'm sorry. But when you stare at me with those puppy dog eyes you make me feel guilty. I know that when I start to feel the least bit down you're the first thing I take it out on. And I shouldn't. It's not your fault. But since we're being honest, I almost quit you. I know, I know, it was a drastic measure. But I wanted to focus entirely on writing and editing and you were distracting me. If it makes you feel any better it wasn't just you I avoided, it was all blogs. Then I remembered that I actually like you and other blogs. That I enjoy reading about my friends and what they've been up to. So, I'm going to try harder to be less neglectful. Just don't give me that sad look if I miss a day here or there. My life is a little crazier than it used to be with my new responsibilities working with the young women at church and the kids starting school again. So just one more request....can you write yourself on the days I'm too busy?

Thanks,

Kasie

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--How to underperform at wasting time

I am unarguably the best player of bejeweled blitz ever. (Don't pay attention to all the people above me in the rankings. I just pretend they don't exist.)

Okay, so I'm not. And I think that's what makes my addiction to this game that much more pathetic. I am, at best, a mediocre player. So if you, too, want to be mediocre, just apply the following steps to your playing (I could compare them to writing too, but that might be too helpful).

1. Constantly get distracted by the shiny jewels. In fact, focus all your efforts into trying to get them and only them to explode.

2. When angry at your horrible performance, use phrases like, dag nabit. Then wonder where that phrase came from. Google its history. Find nothing even remotely useful but waste fifteen minutes on it anyway. Decide you are going to stop using the words dag nabit. Immediately use them again.

3. Hum a jeopardy type song while you play and then let the song start to cause feelings of anxiety because you've given yourself an earlier time limit than the game has given you. Panic.

4. Get a very bad score. Stare accusingly at all the profile pics of the people who have very good scores.

5. Compare bejeweled to writing and sink into a deep well of depression. Tell yourself if only you were better at bejeweled blitz you would succeed at writing.

6. Tell yourself this is the stupidest game ever invented.

7. Stare at the 'play again' button.

8. Push it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Give Me My Books

I ordered books over a week ago. Some really good books that I want to read really bad. Like Paranormalcy, Mockingjay, Clockwork Angel. And they are still not here. Doesn't Amazon know that I'm dying here? If I had these books in my greedy little hands, I would have a book review for you today because I'm sure I would have read all of them already. Now is the time when you can all gloat about the fact that you've read one (or, more likely, all) of these books. This will make me extremely jealous.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Winner

And the winner of a signed copy of Michelle Davidson Argyle's novella, CINDERS is: Briana, The Book Pixie!!!!! (love that screen name) Yay! Congrats Briana. I'll be emailing you to get your shipping info. Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest.

Now that I'm done editing my latest book, maybe I'll be more active in the blog world (she says, hanging her head in shame).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Review and giveaway-Cinders



“With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic.”

These intriguing lines drew me into Cinders, a debut novella by Michelle Davidson Argyle. Michelle had several challenges to overcome right from the start of this novel. One, she changed the tone of a much-beloved fairytale. Two, because it was a novella, she didn’t have a lot of time to delve into the intricacies of her world. And three, her main character had a flaw that made her hard to like. Now, if I stopped here, you might think, why would I ever buy that book? Which is why I’m not going to stop here. I’m going to tell you how Argyle overcame the challenges and won me over.

The tone: This isn't your daughter's Cinderella. If you're looking for a light fluffy fairytale, this isn't for you. This book is meant for a mature audience (no jokes about my maturity level). Because this book takes place after the “happily ever after” we get to see some doubts Cinderella is having. Cinderella having doubts about her prince? I know, that’s what I thought. But Michelle explained how the magic used to make the prince notice Cinderella made her question whether his love was real. That made sense to me and made it easier to understand her doubts. Plus, it added this darker undertone to the story of Cinderella that served as the backdrop for the entire novel and made some dark events that take place, not seem out of place.

The length: I would’ve loved to delve further into the world of the novel, but unfortunately, due to the brevity of a novella, it just wasn’t possible. The fact that I wanted more, though, is a good sign. What I did learn about the world and its history was unique and compelling.

Cinderella’s flaw: Cinderella was a bit selfish, which made her hard to like. Hard to like characters can sometimes lead to hard to like books. But not in this case. In order for the ending (which I LOVED) to take place, we needed to see Cinderella’s flaws.

These overcome challenges mixed with beautiful imagery made Cinders a novella that Argyle can be proud of.



To learn more about Michelle or to purchase a copy of Cinders, go here.

Good news! You have a chance to win a signed copy of your very own. Leave a comment on this post to be entered. Entries as follows: *comment +1pt *be/become a follower +2pts. *tweet or blog about this contest +3pts. Contest ends next Tuesday at midnight and winner will be announced next Wednesday. Good luck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--The key to a clean house

Send your kids to school. The end.

Okay, not the end. School starts today. Three of my four children will be gone all day. I usually celebrate this day as the day the fighting ceases, the day the teachers take over the title of tattle-tale referee, the day my house stays cleaner for longer periods of time. But today my oldest starts Junior High. When did that happen? And the me that normally dances around my house having a "my kids are back in school" party-for-one is suddenly quite somber. I'm trying to figure out why. Is it because:

a. I'm realizing that in order to have a child in Junior High I must be getting old.
b. My first born is about to start the two years of life that should be skipped over or repressed.
c. In two years I will have no children left at home.
d. All of the above.

Yes, I gave you a back to school quiz.

Hopefully by this time next week, I will have made it through the first week of Junior High and all will be well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Seeing Clearer

I'm getting Lasik surgery today. Wish me luck. Yesterday they dilated my pupils to.....uh......I'm really not sure why that was necessary. Maybe they wanted to see what I would look like as a creature of the night. The answer: Pretty awesome. The nurse said: Whoa! Your eyes reacted REALLY good to that medicine. It didn't feel so good though. Weird fact: When your pupils are dilated they can't focus so you actually see worse. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there but I'm too lazy to find it. I promise I'll visit blogs tomorrow.....if I can see.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice--I need some.

Last week I received a very exciting letter in the mail. Well, technically, I didn't receive it, my parents did. It was addressed to the parents of Kasie West (spelled right and everything). It was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to study abroad--in China--for one semester of high school. It promised to expand my awareness of cultures and places, broaden my learning experience, provide excitement and diversity in my life. The letter said I had been hand picked for this opportunity that is only available to a handful of students, that this letter was my ticket to a bright future. A future of visiting places like this:



Now, I'm sure you can see my dilemma. I graduated from high school 16 years ago. This is where you come in. I have been providing you with priceless advice for months. Now I need your help. I must study abroad in China for a semester. Help me figure out how I can either pass off as a high school student or create a time machine. If a time machine is successfully created, I also need to figure out how to change the date on the letter, because right now it reads August 3, 2010. That would be a dead give away that I'm from the future. Thank you for the unhelpful advice I am about to receive.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

San Francisco


I was going to write a cute and clever post about my time in San Francisco with my dear friend Natalie Whipple, but she went ahead and did the work for me. I second everything she said. So refer to this post for a report of my amazing time. And I will add that accompanying someone to the city where they based one of their books is almost as fun as visiting my own book cities. It's vicarious excitement.  (Plus, I have a vested interest in her book as well since I've read it so many times. I could see her characters as we walked through the city. It was so fun.)

Oh, and one more thing:

Dear San Francisco,

I love you. You are beautiful. Please lower your housing prices so I can afford to live in one of your colorful houses (preferably the purple one with blue trim). Also, please tell people not to honk at me so much when I'm driving. It's not my fault that other cars stop in front of me, put their hazards on, and get out of their car. (It may have been my fault when I pulled into the middle of the intersection, however, and had to wait there for three minutes because there was a car behind me and I couldn't back up. In my defense, I didn't realize it was a double intersection.) Please let me know when you have taken care of these two problems and I will grow out my bangs (I know you and bangs aren't friends) and pack.

Thanks,

Kasie

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-What makes a great movie

As mentioned in my last post, my husband recently signed us up for netflix and I've been obsessive. Take what you would normally consider "a lot" and then double it. That's how many movies I've watched in the last two weeks. (Yes, I have an addictive personality. It's a good thing I don't drink.) So, today I will answer the question: What makes a great movie (for me)??

To make it onto my husband's list of "best movies of all time" a movie has to have one of the following three plot devices (if it has all three it is epic): 1. Time Travel 2. Alien Presence 3. Underdog rising to the top (preferably in sports). Some of his favs: Back to the future, Rocky (all fifty of them), Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, Tron

Someone would just have to make a movie about a loser traveling back in time and saving the world from a hoard of aliens then coming home as the hero and my husband would love it.

And apparently these are the types of movies I like because I keep picking movie after movie with the following themes:

*Troubled teenager who has to learn something life changing in order to overcome angst (and get the guy).
*Young women from the 1800s who spend the whole movie fighting with and/or pining after the guy and the last five minutes finally telling him how she really feels.
*Young women from today who spend the whole movie fighting with and/or pining after the guy and the last five minutes finally telling him how she really feels.

Why must I torture my poor heart with so many coming-of-age/pining romances? Seriously, it's killing me to watch the guy my heroine likes frolic all around England (or high school) with the totally silly, shallow girl. Must stop watching movies and read more. I can read about teenagers pining after werewolves (I get Linger today--Yay) which is a totally different scenario.

What about you? What plot points make up some of your favorite movies?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Reviews



My husband decided to sign us up for Netflix and apparently I have decided that I will watch every single appropriate movie available for instant play in under a week because I CAN'T STOP. Somebody help me stop watching movies. They're taking over. :) But, in my new found obsession, I have discovered this gem--North & South. If you like Austen type movies, you will love this. And it doesn't hurt that Richard Armitage is in it (I didn't know he existed before this movie, but I'm sold). It is a BBC, which means it's about 4-5 hours long (divided between 4 episodes) but it was worth it. The story is set in the late eighteen hundreds and is about a girl who is moved from Southern England, with all its beauty, to the industrial North, with all its Richard Armitage beauty. Hmm, all this talk, I think I need to go watch the last episode of this series again. (Can't...stop...watching...movies...)

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Heart My Readers

Yes, I know I've said it before, but I'm feeling a lot of love for my readers right now. Not the I-want-to-make-out-with-every-last-one-of-them kind of love (even though I do) but the oh-my-goodness-I-forgot-how-important-readers-are-to-this-whole-writing-a-book-thing-and-I-appreciate-them-so-much kind of love.

They can see things I don't, they encourage me, they are the best. So, Candice, Natalie, Jenn, Linda, Tricia, Renee, Julie, Stephanie, Nicki, I love you guys. (Wow, I have a lot of readers--I obviously need lots of help) And don't worry, I won't try to make out with you (at least not today).

Feel free to gush about your readers in my comment section.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to Give Yourself a Mid-Summer Charge

We were at my mom's house last night for Sunday dinner and my 2 year old niece was playing with the light switch. My mom is getting some work done on her kitchen and this particular light switch is without a plate. So my niece is turning the switch on and off, on and off, when she starts crying and grabbing her finger.

"What happened?" my sister asked.

"I'm pretty sure she just scratched herself on the metal. I mean there's no way she shocked herself or anything. See..." I then proceeded to stick my finger INSIDE (like an idiot). Buzzing sensations radiated up my finger into my hand and arm. (It was rather unpleasant) "Yeah, never mind. She shocked herself."

Cue obnoxious laughter from entire family. I guess when people tell you not to stick your finger in a light socket, there is a reason. Fun times.

Also, if you want a good laugh, you must watch the double rainbow guy. He will give you a real charge for the week (if laughing until your stomach hurts constitutes a charge).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Editing is fun (insert sarcasm here)

So I just finished editing the first draft of a book I recently completed. I still like it, which means I have at least four or five edits to go. When I feel like I never want to see its ugly face again then I'll know it's ready.

I'm sore now. Okay, that has nothing to do with editing. I started working out again after taking a ..... let's just say "a long" break. I started off doing half as much as I was before and my body is mad at me. I had a dream that I got in a car crash and kept asking people for pain medication. So even my sleeping body was sore.

In more uplifting news, Candy over at The Misadventures In Candyland is doing an awesome fundraiser/contest/really-cool-prizes-that-you'll-totally-want for a great cause. So go check it out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm Feeling Lucky

So last month (before all my crazy busyness) I won two contests. It may seem like I'm bragging.....and I guess I am. :) The first one was Elizabeth Mueller's where I won the most amazing Avatar package ever. There was candy and the movie and this:



Do I make a cute Avatar or what? (Elizabeth, you're awesome) I'm pretty much already tall enough to be an Avatar so now I just need to work on that blue skin and perhaps my muscles. Then I need one of those cool braid things so I can talk to Crazy Horse for real, and I'll be set.

Next I won Guinevere's contest and a set of three YA books, which I'm so very happy about. Thanks, Guinevere. I'm feeling lucky. I better go enter some more contests.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to Frustrate Yourself

First of all, before I get into the advice I know you all came here for, I want to say: I'm back!! Yay. It's been so long. I've missed you. I started off with jury duty where I was selected to serve on a federal case: The United States Government was prosecuting a prison guard for beating an inmate. I now want to be a lawyer or write a book about lawyers. It was so interesting. We found him not guilty based on reasonable doubt. Also, side note, when being selected for a jury, do not smile at any time during the selection process or the defense attorney might ask you why you are smiling and when you say, "no reason," he might then say, "no, really, why are you smiling, what's going through your mind?" at which point you will become embarrassed and the answer, "I smile a lot, okay?" won't exactly work.

After that, I went to Utah for the fourth where I saw my awesome in-laws (and I totally mean that, I love my in-laws). We ate and ate and then ate some more. I wasn't there very long, but I also got to sneak in a visit with Natalie Whipple--I lost a bet and owed her lunch. If losing bets means I'm forced to eat amazing Chinese food with a great friend, I think I'll start losing more bets.

Next, I went to girls camp where I tested the theory that mosquito repellent doesn't actually work and proved this theory right by coming home with half a dozen mosquito bites. They still itch.

And now, onto your advice for the day: Frustration, a good way to achieve it. Because of our recent move, I've had to re-register my girls for school. As part of this, I have to supply the school with the usual: Social Security card, address verification, birth certificate, immunization records, a lock of hair, a vile of blood, my first born. You know, the usual. So of course, I can't find any of this stuff. File cabinet stuff is the last to be unpacked. It's not like any of these papers are important, right? But apparently every rejection letter I've ever received is VERY important, because those are perfectly in place. AHHHH!!! Yes, I'm frustrated. So if you want to be frustrated, too, make sure important papers are not organized correctly and nowhere to be found, but you have a place of honor for your rejection letters. Something's wrong here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unplugged

Well, y'all (yes, I think I can pull off the word y'all [it's what we country folk say]) between jury duty and vacation, I'm going to be super busy for the next 2.5 weeks. So I decided to go unplugged rather than try to fit blogging somewhere in the mix. I'm sure I'll have many blogging topics by the time these two weeks are up. :) I'll miss y'all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

Okay, so I'm all off schedule this week. And I would just wait until next week to review this book, but I loved it too much. I must do it now. Have I mentioned how much I love Sarah Dessen lately? No? I love her. Her books make me happy. She's a master of contemporary. I don't know how she makes these books with no fantastical creatures, sword fights, wizards, or magic so compelling, but she does. She takes normal, everyday, teen issues and keeps me up until 2am with them. She's really good at eliciting emotion in a reader.



The blurb:

"a long, hot summer...That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen--things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?"

(Kasie rating: PG 13 for language)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-From the next Horse Whisperer

What, it's not Monday? I'm a victim of what I call the "Summer Blur" where all the days start running together. So it still feels like Monday to me. Today's advice is priceless so you might want to take notes and bookmark this post for future reference (as you do all my Monday posts I'm sure).

I would like to give you some advice about horses, since I am a self proclaimed horse knower person. Horses love me. But, apparently there are two things horses don't like (or at least this specific horse [we'll call him Crazy Horse] one street over from ours). I wish I had known these things before The Incident, but I do now and I will share them with you so you can avoid a similar situation.

It was a nice evening and my daughter and I decided to go on a bike ride (mistake number one since Crazy Horse thinks bikes are the devil's transportation). We were enjoying the nice weather and the beautiful country scenery when I noticed Crazy horse in the distance. My daughter, who has an unfounded fear of horses (I should say 'had' because her fear was about to be justified) said, "Mom, don't call to it." She knows that I like to click at horses. Usually they come trotting over to the fence and I can pat their necks or just look at them. But this horse had a crazy look in its eye (hence the name). I am a horrible mother, though, and like to tease my daughter, so I did the cheek click thing anyway (mistake number two since Crazy Horse thinks cheek clicking is the devil's communication device).

This sent off the following series of events: Crazy Horse comes charging at the fence at a very fast speed. My daughter and I, who are now much closer, slow to a stop. Crazy Horse rams his shoulders into the fence and then turns and runs to the back of the pasture. My daughter and I exchange a look and turn our bikes around. Crazy Horse runs towards the fence again, faster this time. So fast that I know he is trying to jump it. I look at my daughter and yell, "Run!" (Which looking back, I should've yelled "Ride" but I was in panic mode). We ride back towards the way we came. I look over my shoulder to see Crazy Horse clear the fence (YES, JUMP OVER THE FENCE) I know that horse is about to chase me down and trample me to death. My life flashes before my eyes. My daughter says, "Mom, it ran the other way." I catch my breath and look to see it happily trotting up the street away from us. I reassess my life goal of becoming the next Horse Whisperer. The neighbors jump off their porch and hop in their car to chase down the horse. My daughter says, "If you ever click at a horse again, I will stop speaking to you."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summertime!

Sorry I've been so absent lately. This was my kids last week of school and considering they had nothing but parties and assemblies and "water fun" days, it sure was a busy week. My daughter graduated from the sixth grade yesterday. I now have a seventh grader. Weird. Middle School. I do not envy her the next two awkward years. At the same time, I look forward to all the stories she'll bring home (if she doesn't stop talking to me) they will be good study material for my writing. :)

In the mean time, it is officially summer! Wahoo! I sense lazy days ahead, which are my favorite kind. I know a lot of you started your summer a week ago (unfair) but happy summer, everyone.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Buy Cowboy Boots



Because then you can look as cool as me. The no make up, pajamas, and extremely white legs, are a must as well. They make the boots look even better.

Had the best weekend ever with one of my great friends. You know when you feel comfortable enough to be ridiculous around someone, that you've found someone special. Wait, I'm ridiculous all the time. So either I have lots of great friends or I need to find the filter I lost somewhere along my journey.

Okay, so new advice (to myself). Don't buy cowboy boots. Find filter.

Do your characters have filters? I'd say most of mine do and they think things that are sometimes the exact opposite of what they say. But sometimes it's fun to have a character who does (or says) everything s/he thinks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday Reviews



I was looking through my bookcase today to see if there were any books I had read recently that I haven't mentioned on my blog and I was surprised to see this one. I don't believe I forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed this book--Bree Despain's debut novel, The Dark Divine. It's a great read. The plot felt fresh and different (which is saying a lot considering how much YA I read) and I loved the relationships.

blurb from jacket flap:

"Grace Divine--daughter of the local pastor--always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi diappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood. Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother. AS Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul."

Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory

Today (well, everyday, but especially today) I'm remembering my father who passed away three years ago. He served in the Air National Guard. My father died unexpectedly of a disease called HCM. Never heard of it? Neither had we before his death. I would love to share a little bit about it with you since it is a completely treatable (but rarely tested for) disease if you know you have it.

From Wikepedia: "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM or HOCM, is a disease of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart) in which a portion of the myocardium is hypertrophied (thickened) without any obvious cause. It is perhaps most well-known as a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The occurrence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a significant cause of sudden unexpected cardiac death in any age group and as a cause of disabling cardiac symptoms.

HCM is frequently asymptomatic until sudden cardiac death; it can be detected with high accuracy (70%+) by screening via ECG or echocardiogram. Routine Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Screening of athletes in Italy since the 1970s has reduced sudden cardiac death by 89%; in the United States such screening is not routine and has consistently been opposed by the American Heart Association, presumably due to its rare incidence."

The above paragraph claims HCM as frequently asymptomatic, but it is my personal belief that because it is a rare disease, the symptoms that patients exhibit are often misdiagnosed and/or ignored as "not serious". My father presented the following symptoms that never led doctors to perform an ECG: Periods of rapid heartbeat, intense feelings of "heartburn" without cause, asthma.

After my father passed, my uncle, who realized he had all these symptoms, immediately went in to get tested and has HCM (it is genetic). He is being treated.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I also want to honor all the service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and those who continue to serve.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recommendations and Awards



This book, Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White, comes out September 21st and you should buy it because it's going to be all kinds of awesome. How do I know? Because Kiersten is all kinds of awesome. I'm so excited to read it.

In other news I won this award:



Apparently someone likes me. Thanks Medeia .

I think someone else might have given me an award recently, too, and I can't find it. So if you did and I didn't post it, it's not because I'm snubbing you, it's because I'm disorganized and lazy. Hopefully the award was for being the most disorganized and lazy person in the blogosphere and then it would be one I deserved. :)

Also, hop on over to Elizabeth Mueller's blog. She's having a really cool Avatar contest, with great prizes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-from a chocoholic

So I was telling a friend about the fact that even though I started my sugar detox with the intent of detoxing from sugar, I didn't really think it would work. I thought that after the five weeks I'd give myself a cheat day every now and again and still love the chocolate without have the intense need to keep eating it after a few bites. Well, it's only been 3 weeks, but I cheated. I had to have just one little taste of this chocolate cake that was sitting in my house for two days straight. And I did. And it tasted sooooo good. But after I ate it, something strange happened. It was like I had just eaten a bitter cotton ball. My mouth felt filmy and I had this acrid taste in the back of my throat for the next several hours. And then I was mad. How dare my detox diet actually work. I didn't want to hate chocolate. I just wanted to enjoy it occasionally.

So I was lamenting to a friend (yes, I'm a huge whiner) about how upset I was that I couldn't enjoy the benefit of sugar on occasion. That warm happy feeling it gave me without the nasty side effect of cotton-bitter mouth. And do you know what she said? She said, you can always inject it straight into your veins--it will give you the same feelings without the side effects. I told her she was going to be my maddeningly unhelpful advice today because that's just about the most unhelpful advice I've ever received. (But thanks for trying, Candi, you're the best)

Keep eating chocolate, it's good for you. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

What I Wish I Had Known--Agents

Even though I’ve been writing on and off since High School, I’m coming up on the three year mark of when I started writing “for realz”. In other words, when I decided I was going to pursue publication. I’m not saying I know everything now…far from it. But there are things I’ve learned over the past three years that I thought I could share. Since most of you have been in the business as long or longer than I have, I’m sure this series of posts will feel as maddeningly unhelpful as my Monday posts do, but maybe it will be helpful to someone. (btw, this is why I normally don’t give advice or claim to know anything on my blog—because I feel the need to write a paragraph of disclaimers about how I really don’t know anything and how you probably shouldn’t listen to me) So, here goes, my first post on ‘what I wish I had known’ three years ago.

Work pays off. Three years ago agents seemed like these mysterious, unreachable creatures who if I was lucky enough, one day I might be able to charm. Now, I realize how untrue that is. This business isn’t a magical creature that can only be tamed with luck. Putting yourself out there, learning all you can, meeting other writers, essentially immersing yourself in this world will all pay off in the end. And contrary to how it might feel when you’re in The Query War Zone, agents aren’t the enemy waiting to sniper you from their perch on the high tower. Now that I have an agent, I realize they don’t spend all day reading query letters and plotting how to ruin the lives of aspiring writers. They really do want you to succeed. That's not to say those who have agents have worked harder than those who don't, obviously that's not the case. I have a lot of good friends who have been working really hard for just as long as I have and it hasn't happened for them yet. But I do believe that it will. So don't give up.

Agents are real people. Sometimes because we communicate with them in such a distant, formal way, it feels like they’re the gatekeepers to the publishing world and if we don’t say things just right, they’ll lock us out forever. But I’ve had several friends who after doing some major edits have written to agents who had partials and fulls and admitted that their manuscript wasn’t perfect and that they have taken the advice of other agents and writers and fixed things. What? Someone admitted to being rejected by other agents to current agents looking at their work? Oh no! That’s suicide, right? No, it’s not. In this case, the agents asked for the more recent version. Because they know that manuscripts aren’t perfect and I think if they know you’re willing to take criticism and improve they know you’re not a diva about your work. So talk to them like they’re real people, be honest with them.

Perspective. We should be honest with them, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be polite and courteous to agents. They belong to a network and word can get around fast. Even though my agent has her own agency, she shares office space with a few other agents and an editor that also have their own agencies. So in her case, she would just have to talk really loud to share a story about a writer being a jerk with at least five other people. The whole reason you’re looking for an agent is because of their connections. So don’t let them use their connections against you by treating them badly if they reject you.

Agents are smart. They know this business. If you get a lot of agents telling you the same thing about your work, maybe an edit is in order. It’s so easy to say, “this is such a subjective industry” (and it is, I’m not denying that). But, if everyone is telling you something, maybe it has merit.

What about you? What have you learned about agents since you started your journey?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Reviews



This week I read another of my "debut author challenge" books: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis. It kept me entertained and reading, which in my opinion is always a good thing. It did feel the need to throw in a few "f" bombs, so if you have sensitive eyes like I do, beware of them burning. :) Other than that it was a clean, creative, fun read. I'm really glad I decided to do this debut author challenge because it's introducing me to books I might not have picked up otherwise.

blurb:
"Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Look First

Living out in the country now, I have learned many great things like, what stars actually look like, that crickets are really loud, and that coyotes actually exist (and that their sole purpose isn't to try to blow up road runners with faulty bombs). But one lesson I've learned is that when putting my hand into or under things, perhaps I should look first. Because while under one sprinkler box might live three cute little frogs:



Under the next one might be something like this:



So, always look first. Always. I'm still shuddering.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

Do you believe that before last week I had never read Ally Carter?!? I know, it's crazy. Well, thank goodness I alleviated my shame by reading the first book in The Gallagher Girls series: "I'd tell you I love you but then I'd have to kill you". And now I see why everybody has been telling me to read her (Ally, I mean [I don't assign genders to books, although, maybe I should]). It was super cute and funny and so squeaky clean I would even let my eleven year old read it.



Blurb:

"Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies.

Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”—but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she’s on her most dangerous mission—falling in love."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Put down the candy bar and back away slowly

Hi, my name is Kasie, I'm addicted to sugar. Proof: Last Sunday, my mom brought over some cookie dough to make cookies at my house (yes, I'm spoiled) and every five minutes, I snuck a glob of cookie dough. Every. Five. Minutes. Do you know how many cookie globs that equals??? A lot. I could go on and list several examples, but they all start to sound the same. So, I decided to do something drastic. I decided to quit sugar. I found a diet that is for this very problem and is supposed to cleanse my body of its sugar cravings. It lasts five weeks and restricts me from several things, including sugar. Today is day seven on my complete sugar detox and let me just share with you some excerpts from my food log to show you how well it's going.

Day 1: Whipped up some egg beaters for breakfast and topped them with sliced avacado. Yum. This is going to be easy.
5 hours later-- MUST EAT SUGAR. Why did I decide to do this? This is craziness. I love sugar. Sugar and I are good together.

Day 2: I was making the kids lunch this morning and some peanut butter got on my finger. Much like Stephan from The Vampire Diaries when he saw human blood, I stared at it longingly and then had to stop my shaking hand from closing the distance to my mouth. It was pathetic.

Day 3: My daughter offered me a piece of her candy bar today. Not good. I didn't eat it, but I did stare at it until my daughter had to say, "Are you going to take it, or not?"

Day 4: I had a dream last night that a skunk was clinging to the ceiling above my bed and that a talking dog was telling me how to move so I didn't make it angry. I'm convinced this non-sugar diet is making me even crazier than I already was.

Day 5: Why did I buy that Vanilla air freshener? My whole house smells like cookies. I need cookies. I might eat the glade plug in. Is this food log supposed to record what I did eat or what I didn't? I seem to be fixated on what I didn't.

Day 6: Daughter: "Ew, what's that smell? Is it your dinner." Me: "Probably."

Day 7: I woke up this morning feeling half way decent. Maybe I don't need sugar/chocolate after all. I'm suspicious. I think I may have gotten up in the middle of the night and gone on a chocolate binge. Must set up nighttime video recording device.

What's my advice? Eat chocolate. And if you're anywhere near me and you look, smell, or taste like chocolate, you may want to maintain eye contact and back away slowly.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Winner

I know you've all been holding your breath this week in hopes of winning my contest. :) But only one person had luck on their side. The name drawn from the completely random hat was RIVKIE RE. Congrats. I hope you enjoy this book. I know I did. I'll email you shortly to get your shipping information. You must've been crossing your fingers and pressing your thumbs. :) As for the rest of you, tune in Monday for an edition of Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice, which is just as good as winning a free book (the previous statement was not true at all, but let's all humor me and pretend it was).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to Win a Free Book

Elana Johnson has decided to "spread the awesome" and facilitate a book lovefest on her blog. If you click on the "recommended reads" link in her post today, it will take you to a list of all the bloggers participating and the books they'll be giving away!! Or just follow the path--At the bottom of Elana's post, she sends you to another post, at the bottom of that post they send you to another one, and so on, it's like a free book highway. There's like a hundred of them so your chances of winning a book in the coming week are amazingly high.

Just in case you need some extra luck try the following:

*Cross your fingers.
*Blow away lost eyelashes.
*While driving, hold your breath through tunnels (please don't pass out on long ones).
*Find some birthday candles to extinguish.
*Press your thumbs (I have no idea what this means, but our German foreign exchange student used to always tell us to do that for luck).


And for my part in the madness, may I recommend the debut author: Rachel Hawkins and her lovely book, "Hex Hall".

I've already reviewed the book on my blog, so click here if you want to know more about it. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and would love to give you a chance to win it! I'll make the rules simple: Leave a comment for one entry, become/be a follower for another entry. And even if you don't win it, you should read it, because it is awesome. I'll announce my winner on Friday.

And to continue on the "love highway" for another recommendation go see Valerie Kemp for a chance to win "Stolen" by Lucy Christopher.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Perhaps I should limit editing to my book only

I've decided that while editing, all mirrors should be removed from my house. When I get in a critical mode, nothing gets spared in the process. Oh, and maybe all scissors should be hidden as well. :) At least I didn't ruin my hair. It actually looks better. And my book's shaping up as well. So all is good. But in case you couldn't tell, I go into a semi-reclusive state when I edit, so sorry I've been absent. I promise I'll be back soon. In fact, I'm on schedule to finish on Monday. I'm so excited.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Patience

So I don't know if I can attribute the following story to my husband's patience or my obliviousness, but I'll go with patience to make myself feel better. Even if we took into account my obliviousness, my husband is the most patient man I know, especially if that patience will make his jokes that much better.

It was date night and I stood in front of the mirror straightening my unruly hair. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my husband poke his head out of the closet and give me the once over. Weird, I thought. A few moments later he emerged wearing a pair of dark jeans, the same shade as I was wearing, and a green shirt, which just so happened to be the same color as my shirt.

"Ha. Ha," I said, "very funny. Now go change."

He laughed and then laughed some more. I rolled my eyes. It wasn't that funny. When he finally stopped laughing he said, "It's about time you notice. I've only been dressing to match you for the last month or so."

"What??"

If I had been trying to pull off this joke, the second time I had done it, I would've been giggling and saying, "we match" thinking I was the funniest person in the universe. And that is why my husband wins the patience award and I win the oblivious award. But it did teach me that patience can make a good thing even better. So my advice about patience is very unhelpful because I can't tell you how to gain patience, just that's it's good. If someone knows how to become more patient (aside from becoming a writer and trying to get published), let me know.

Friday, April 23, 2010

That's Gross

Last week I'm standing in the kitchen doing dishes (yes, I know that's hard to imagine, but it does happen every now and again) and my son is eating a cookie (easier to imagine). When he is done, he has chocolate all around his mouth.

"Bubs," I say, "you have chocolate all over your mouth, you need a napkin."

"My tongue is a napkin," he says, sticking it out and proceeding to mop up the chocolate in big slobbery tongue rotations.

Cue me clasping my hands together in motherly adoration and laughing while I tell my son he is so stinking cute and funny. And then, of course, I tweet about my hilarious child comedian.

Fast forward to this week. My same adorable son has snot dripping out his nose and down his face. "Ew," I say, "You have snot. You need a tissue."

And, of course, he says, "My tongue is a tissue." After receiving such adoration for his previous performance why wouldn't he bring it back for another go?

Gross.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to be the best babysitter ever

As many of you know, I'm watching my sisters kids while she is away on a cruise. This ups the number of kids in my house from four to seven for the rest of the week. Ages: 2,3,4,6,6,9,&11. No, I'm not going crazy, why do you ask? In fact, since I've had them for the last three days, I feel like I am now an expert in child rearing (yes, that's how long it takes me to perfect any art--three days). So I am going to share some of my newfound wisdom with you, so you, too, will be cherished by children everywhere.

Step one: Start every day off with a good, healthy breakfast.

*6 year old nephew: "Wow, my mom never lets us eat brownies for breakfast."
*Me: "These aren't brownies. These are chocolate muffins, which are much healthier than brownies."

Step two: Play lots of fun games with the kids.

*Me: "This game is called The Quiet Game. Whoever can stay completely silent the longest, wins."
*4 year old niece: "That game doesn't sound very fun."
*Me: "It is lots of fun. And when we're done with this game, we'll play hide and seek. You guys can hide first."

Step three: Let the kids experience new and exciting things.

*6 year old nephew the morning after falling head first off the bunk bed: "Cool, Aunt Kasie, I have a black eye. I've never had one of those before. It's just like Spongebob's."
*Me: "Yes, it's so exciting. See, my house is lots of fun."

Who wouldn't want to leave their kids with you after such obvious displays of child watching genius. Wish me luck. I still have seven days left.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

One of my friends may or may not have informed me that even though I'm busy wallowing in self-pity, I'm not allowed to neglect my blog. I promptly told her where she could go. :) Just kidding, she's right (thank you, Julie). The real issue is that now I'm in the land of Edit-ville. And do you know what disease I get every time I go to that land? I-Suck-Itis. It's a very common disease in Edit-ville and no matter how hard I try to build up my immunity, I still manage to catch it. I want to go back to First Draft Land where I'm-a-Freaking-Genius-Itis runs rampant.

So, onto the promised review. Last week I got to read Kimberly Derting's debut novel "The Body Finder". I loved it. Can I just tell you that I'm digging on the best friend relationship dynamic and all the tension it brings when one starts liking the other. Derting pulled that off so well. If you liked the book "Shiver" I think you would like this book.



Blurb:

"Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to properly pout

CAUTION: Extreme Drama Ahead!

The first thing you'll want to do when feeling sorry for yourself is to pull up your iPod playlist labeled: Pity Party for One. In fact, if you want to listen to that playlist while reading my post, that would be great. The list should include songs such as "My Heart Will Go On" where memories of Leonardo DiCaprio reaching out for Kate Winslet right before he sinks beneath the icy water will play through your mind, setting the proper mood. And don't forget "Send in the Clowns" because any song involving clowns should immediately bring tears to your eyes. And we all know when feeling sorry for yourself, more tears equals more success.

See, you're already well on your way to getting the most out of your sorrow.

Next, make sure you capitalize on whatever event triggered your sadness by calling your significant other right before he's coming home, telling him what happened, and hinting to him what food item might bring you out of your grief. Don't be too vague or he might not pick up on the hint. You might say something like, "I looooove see's candy mint truffles. They are so good. If I don't get one, my extreme sadness might crush us both upon your arrival." In response, he might say something like, "So did you want me to bring you home some truffles?" Then say, "Only if it's on your way home. Or if it's sort of on your way home. Or if it takes you an extra thirty minutes to get home. Otherwise, I'll probably be okay." Make sure your Pity Party playlist is playing loudly in the background so that he knows you're serious.

Next, you should write a blog post about how tragic your life is so that all your friends will leave comments telling you how awesome you are and that you will be okay. And that even though your submission was an utter failure (aside from all the awesome, encouraging, personalized rejections) that your next book (which you now have to edit the crap out of) will do so much better. Besides, there are a lot of writers that don't sell the first book they try with, but go on to sell subsequent ones, right? Right???

Excuse me while I crank up "Fire and Rain" and sob onto my mint truffles. Mmmmm truffles.

(Now, before anyone calls the depression hotline and submits my name for suicide watch, I want you to know, I'm totally okay. This happened on Friday and after a successful Pity Party, I'm so excited to get another one of my projects ready for submission. I thought about just letting the whole thing fly under the radar, but then I thought, you know, hearing about other writers' journeys--successes and failures--has really helped me along in this process so why should I try to hide one of the heartaches of this industry? It happens. So there you have it. Now, just because I'm feeling better doesn't mean you don't have to complete the last step in my pouting process and leave me an encouraging comment. They always help.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Reviews




A few months back I signed up for that debut author challenge thingy (the official title) and I've been slacking. So last week I bought the first three books on my list and got to work. I'm usually not a "blurb" reader. In other words, I usually buy a book based on a recommendation or the pretty cover (ooh, shiny. Yes, I'm that persuadable...and lazy). But for the debut author thing-a-ma-bob, I couldn't rely on recommendations. So, I decided to read blurbs to pick the books I wanted to read for this challenge. And guess what? Blurbs actually tell you what a book is going to be about and help you pick the ones you might like!! Who knew? So far I've been very happy with my picks. The first one I'll review is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. Adorable.

Its fun, funny, and creative. Sophie (the MC) is instantly likeable and relatable and quirky.

Since I'm a reformed non-blurb reader, I'm going to share with you the blurb that won me over:

"Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sopie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium especailly her."

The humor is a little over the top at times, I usually like a more subtle humor, but Rachel Hawkins made it work. Also, some minor bad language.

So for those of you who, like me, read books based on recommendations. I recommend this one. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-A Guide to San Francisco

My husband, in-laws, and I took a trip to San Francisco on Saturday and I thought I should pass along some advice on traversing the city.

*If you remember from the last time you went to the city that your destination was on the "other side of a big hill"......um.....those aren't good directions. Everything is "a big hill" in San Fran.

*There are two Pier 39s and your GPS will only know about the one in a really scary-looking, abandoned industrial dock section of town not the highly-populated, touristy pier otherwise known as Fisherman's Wharf.

*Which, if you put Fisherman's Wharf into your GPS, make sure you spell it correctly. It is ONE FisherMAN not several FisherMEN. Apparently only one Fisherman at a time is welcome on that wharf.

*When walking along the highly-populated Wharf and you see a shop up ahead on the second level called "Fairyland" (with a painted Fairy and flower next to the words) don't yell out while clapping your hands: "I want to go to Fairyland." That is not necessarily something you want to scream out in San Francisco no matter how happy you are to see a fairy shop (it was closed, by the way-boo!). You might get funny looks.

*And finally, know that people LOVE to honk their horns in San Francisco. We figured it was just people telling us hello and how happy they were to see us.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Fever

Sorry I've been absent this week. It's Spring Break here. We have family in town. Yesterday we saw "How to Train Your Dragon"--so adorable. I highly recommend it. Today we're going to see the big Sequoia trees. Tomorrow we're going to San Francisco. It's been a fun, but busy, week. I promise next week I'll be visiting all your blogs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-How to write a helpless girl

I know a lot of you are writers who write female protagonists. I'm sure most of you woke up this morning and thought to yourself, 'How can I make my main character more needy?' Well, thank goodness you're reading this because I just happened to watch a movie last night that helped me immensely in this area. I thought I would share the wisdom.

1. Make sure your MC is constantly just a step behind her love interest and when possible he is shielding her with his body from whatever threat is present.

2. Make sure she knows how to scream really loud because it's all she can do to protect herself when he is fighting his own enemy and another one comes charging at her.

3. When he is fighting, preferably on the ground with hideous, scary monster on top of him, instead of having her try to help, have her stand there with a horrified look on her face.

4. If she ever does pick up some sort of weapon, she should be completely useless with it.

5. When she is captured (because let's face it, if she's this helpless she will be [probably multiple times]) have her not do a thing but continually say, 'My love is going to come rescue me.'

I actually love the movie that prompted this post, but hadn't watched it in years, and the fact that the girl was a total wimp stood out to me a lot this time. It could be because on Saturday night I saw "Alice in Wonderland" in the theater and walked away saying, "Girl power! Alice was awesome."

What about you? I'm sure you can add a few numbers to my list. How else can a girl show her obvious helplessness?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fortune=Destiny≠Lame Advice

There has been a new trend in the fortune cookie industry that I am none too fond of. Somebody has been getting stingy with my unrealistic, timely, magical promises and I'm not happy about it. My last two fortune cookies have read as follows:

"Your compassion makes you an invaluable friend."

"Be willing to admit you may be be wrong you're only human"

What the--?? My compassion? Be willing to admit I may be wrong?! What kind of fortune is that? I opened that cookie looking for hope, not observations or advice. The next one I open will probably tell me: "That last five pounds you gained was from all the time you spend on the internet." OR "Your laundry isn't going to do itself." Have fortune cookie makers decided to take responsibility and stop giving the world false hope?

Well, I have some of my own advice for the fortune cookie makers of the world. If you want to go all "realistic" on me, the least you can do is still make it a "fortune". For example: "Your compassion will earn you a semi-valuable friend." OR "When you admit you are wrong, the world will explode."

But, come on, what's wrong with the good old fashioned fortune cookie? One like this will do:

"All your books will sell and flowers will grow beneath your feet." I don't see anything irresponsible about giving that kind of hope.

Have you received any good and/or lame advice or fortunes lately?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Reviews

Well, if I may quote myself, I believe last week I said something to the effect of: "I will read a book this week. Just you wait and see." I may have even been shaking my fist as I said it. *Ahem* I didn't read a book this week. I apologize. But, I will say that I'm so excited because in just two short weeks, a book I've been waiting to get my hands on for several months now, is coming out.

On April 6th Kelley Armstrong's "The Reckoning" comes out. Yay!


If you haven't read the first two books, now is the time to do it because then you won't have to wait around like the rest of us suckers did for the third and final book in the series. These books are about a teenaged girl who after discovering she can see dead people, discovers she's not alone in her paranormal abilities. And the world she thought she knew is full of secrets and lies. (That was the briefest most vague summary ever, but I don't want to spoil it for you.)

Yes, I'm so excited about reading the third book that I'm putting my backing behind it before it's even in my hands. Hopefully I won't have to take back my enthusiasm later. So happy reading. I may or may not read a book this week (I say, after learning my lesson from last week).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maddeningly Unhelpful Advice-Lying

I'm glad you all think my life is a walking comic strip. I wish all of those things were true. In reality, my life is pretty uneventful. But you know you've told a pretty good lie when even your sister and best friend can't guess which one is true. I think that has more to do with the randomness of my stories than my talent in lying. But, considering I write fiction, which is all a pack of lies :), I'm glad that you all had a hard time guessing. It got me thinking, actually, what makes a good "lie"?

1. The best lies are based on some truth. The first story about standing up at the beginning of Twilight and shushing the audience actually happened, but I didn't do it. My sister witnessed another lady do this. Now, this is so not me. I'm very non-confrontational. So at the end of the story I added the part about having a smile on my face to make it more true to character (the real lady that did this was not smiling). So number one was a lie.

2. The more details you have in a lie, the more believable. In the second story about the Edward Sparkly Barbie, I had myself looking at a magazine, I had the specific conversation I had with the boys in front of me. I even had myself thinking that they had read the Twilight books. This story was true in that I did buy my daughter the Edward doll for her birthday, but everything that followed me putting Edward in the cart was my fear of what was going to happen once I got to the register, not what actually did.

3. Adding emotions into a lie make it seem more real. I am terrified of heights. Heights really do bring me to my knees in frozen panic. But, I never went to a suspension bridge with a boy in college.

4. Good lies throw in something unexpected. I think number four about using smashed Junior Mints to wrap a present is so ridiculous that you think it just might be true. But, you have to know that I would never waste my precious Junior Mints to wrap a gift. Come on, now. :)

5. Staying true to character is key in fiction writing. Throughout my blog, I've made it clear that I love Junior Mints. So you all know how obsessed I am with them. If you're new to my blog, the fact that I had two stories that included Junior Mints, probably made it obvious as well. So number five, me begging the store clerk to sell me some, rings true because it sounds like something I would do. But alas, I didn't. I'm generally prepared in advance for Junior Mint cravings, so a crisis like this can be avoided. On the phone this morning, my bff Candi pointed out that she guessed this number was true because it is going to happen in the future. It was a prediction of what's to come. I guess, in an emergency, it could be true. :) But it hasn't happened yet.

6. The truth! For those of you who guessed the Super Man virtual reality video was true, you were right. That lady told me she couldn't see down my shirt!! Who's the liar now?? Why did I believe her lie? Because, hello, girl code. :) Good fiction plays on human nature--characters reacting emotionally in predictable ways. That's why I believed her lie. Because why wouldn't she tell me? When characters don't act predictably, tension is brought into the story.

7. Okay, so obviously seven is a lie, I haven't based a character on the mage, robe-wearing Gary. But, man, do I love him. He makes me laugh every time. If you haven't seen that episode (Spongebob invading his friends' dreams) you totally should.


Well, that is my unhelpful advice about lying. Seeing as how a lot of you are writers, I'm sure you're all experts at lying, I mean, writing fiction.