Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Up Wednesday- the "Oh Lordy, Jury Duty" Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 
I'm finishing up "With All My Soul," the last Soul Screamers book that I kind-of, sort-of started about a month ago, but then put it aside for a bit as I went on a contemporary binge. The book is awesome-- I just think I was overloaded just a tiny bit with heavier reads and I needed to move to something lighter at the time!

Now that I'm ready for the tears I'm sure Rachel Vincent has planned for me, I'm all in. She is an author who is not afraid to take her characters and story where it needs to go--and loved characters are sacrificed or changed along the way. I recommend the series for anyone who a) loves fictional dead boys, b) wants to learn how to torture their characters c) loves a great paranormal story about bean-sidhes, reapers, and hellions. With kissing. And hot fictional boys (dead and alive.) d) TOD (whatever, that's a reason)

What I'm Writing: 
16K into the WIP. I've already skipped ahead to play with select future scenes and figure out the interactions between my MC and her love interest. I keep a little "slush" file where these scenes sit to either never see the light of day or to get popped in later (that's where deleted scenes go, too.)

Em is fun... and definitely not Phoebe. Feebs would probably spend half this story blushing, which is why it's so much fun to write after Bookishly. I think I'm going to crave a slightly more serious MC after finishing this WIP!

What Inspires Me Right Now: 

News. Passion--whether during the protests in Brazil or the filibuster in Texas or the discussion around the Supreme Court rulings. Whatever you believe or support, if you're passionate about something, get involved and raise your voice.

What Else I've Been Up To: 

Jury duty last Thursday, where I spent my day in the hall of Justice in Camden, waiting for my number to be called. The adventure, though, was picking up lunch from a restaurant with bars and bulletproof glass, watching people in line for plates of donated food, and being asked if I was going to the meth clinic while walking to the train station.

I am so freaking lucky and spoiled. I'm lucky that I grew up in a nice house in the suburbs, went through a fantastic public school system, and was able to go to university. I'm lucky that I can spend my money on Chinese food and cute shoes and figure skating lessons. I'm lucky that I never felt the need to drink or do drugs.

I'm lucky that I can complain when I don't have enough time to write or blog--because, on the flip side, at least I have that luxury available.
I've been busy being thankful after that day. Next up: asking myself how I can make a difference and put that passion where it's needed the most.

That was my week. What have you been up to lately?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bonfires and Visions (Repost!)

Reposting my midsummer post from last year, though this time I'm actually posting it on the solstice (the actual date of Midsummer, though in Portugal it's celebrated on St. John's eve/day... two days from now.) Still, this is one of my favorite times of the year for all the old Celtic and Ibero-celtic traditions my grandmother used to tell me about:

There's magic in the simple fountain* in my family's village. According to legend, if a girl drinks its water in the middle of the night on Midsummer's eve, she will dream of the man she is meant to marry.

If you believe in the old traditions, that is.

And if you believe in these traditions, you probably would have already jumped the midsummer bonfires, maybe while holding hands with the boy in town who had stolen your heart. Because, you know, jumping the bonfire means that you will stay together.  And, of course, you would also have devoted a few minutes to setting out a glass filled with water and an egg for another 'bout of pre-sunrise fortune telling.

Anything is possible on Midsummer.

A lot of this folklore is amazingly similar to Midsummer traditions throughout Europe. Generation upon generation of girls dreamed of the boys they would love. Will o' the wisps were chased through forests. Magic and wonder wove into the everyday for just one night a year.

These customs are dying out with my grandparents' generation as young people move overseas or to the city, or push away "silly old superstitions." Sadly, because they stretch back centuries, back to before Christianity replaced "Midsummer" with the feast of St. John. I still think the magic is there, waiting. All you need to do is take a sip and believe.

*These aren't the jumping water kind-of fountains, but usually just spigots of continuously running spring water from the mountains or faucets connected to a communal well. Before modern water towers and plumbing, families who didn't have their own wells were dependent on the town fountain for their drinking/cleaning/bathing water. Many towns still test the water to make sure it's drinkable, and many fountains still run to this day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm Afraid

I'm an optimist, a Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables-loving (well, Emily of New Moon is my favorite but she's not as positive, so let's just roll with the Anne thing, okay?,) twirl-y skirt-wearing glitter addict who sees the glass not only half full, but that it's full of teal glitter.

I'm not saying I don't have bad days or lose my energy sometimes. But, in general, I see life as this short journey and we can't waste it looking for the dirt and shadows when there's so much joy and sunshine around us. This past week, though, I had a few 3 a.m. moments that so many of you pulled me through, like little text and twitter rays of sunshine (cue quote I've put on this blog before:)

"...she knew that there would be days when she would feel desparingly that she could not write and that it was of no use to try; days when the editorial phrase 'not necessarily a reflection on its merits,' would get on her nerves to such an extent that she would feel like imitating Marie Bashkirtseff and hurling the taunting, ticking, remorseless sitting room clock out the window; days when everything she'd done or would try to do would slump-- become mediocre and despicable; days when she would be tempted to bitter disbelief in her fundamental conviction that there was as much truth in the poetry of life as in the prose; days when the echo of that 'random word' of the gods, for which she so avidly listened, would only seem to taunt her with its suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness beyond the reach of mortal ear or pen." -L. M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

I wanted to post this in the beginning of the query stage before waves of rejections start rolling in, because I still believe very firmly in what I wrote in my product development post. I'm not afraid of rejection, but I'm so, so, so afraid that I'm deluding myself into thinking I can write well enough to even try. I'm afraid of being like those dancers in the audition episodes of So You Think You Can Dance who are not awful, but nowhere near good enough to compete with the good dancers. The ones who probably are in the Intermediate-Advanced classes in their little dance schools, but would only qualify for Advanced Beginner in the NYC schools (This, I know from my years of taking class in suburbia and Broadway Dance Center.) They're unable to see that they'll never be as good as the people who do make it on the show.

Worse, I'm afraid that I might be equivalent of one of the delusional awful dancers.

I'm afraid of dreaming about yet one more thing and having that hope crushed--I have enough of that in my non-writing life as it is. (note: here was where I wrote stuff about family, being single, career... but it became rather depressing, so *delete*)

In a little bit, I'll be back to sunshine and rainbows, but I needed to write out this fear. Because, honestly, I'm terrified.

What are you afraid of?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Makeup, Skating, and What's Up?

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

Beta and CPing, still. I haven't had much free time this week, so reading has fallen by the wayside.
But I'm so lucky to be able to read these-- my friends are so incredibly talented, I'm blown away by their awesomeness.

What I'm Writing: 
10K! Yay! *collapses*
translation: I'm at 10K words on my WIP and it's starting to look like a book-shaped thing with an actual plot. Weird how that happens right after I outline.


What Inspires Me Right Now: 

Let's talk about skating. As we got to the end of my lesson this past weekend, my coach asked me to go into a scratch spin. I'd been skating for over an hour at that point, including so many jumps that my leg muscles were jelly. Even though I hadn't had a decent spin day in three lessons, I'd been improving overall in making micro adjustments with my ankle, leg, or arms to save spins that I wouldn't have been able to save a few months ago. You'd be surprised how much a tiny detail, like a shoulder, can throw off an entire spin (or jump.)

Right before I could start my spin entry, Coach stopped me and reminded me that, even though I was at the end of my lesson, I needed to stay mindful of those details. "Never relax. Professionals focus 100% of the time, even on the tiniest movement of their little finger. It's hard work to make something look easy..."
A good spin might look effortless, but there are so many tiny details that need to come together to make it fast and centered and amazing. But coming out of a perfectly centered spin or landing a high jump is worth all the focus and hard work in the world. I'm inspired by hard work made to look effortless and by sweat that turns into magic.

What Else I've Been Up To: 

Going to work with my mini-moons holding my hair in the cutest mini-buns ever:

Bought and played with the NYX Mortal Instruments Parallel Worlds makeup collection. A makeup collection inspired by a YA series I love? Yes, please. While I understand that the NYX price point is better for the target demographic (listen to that marketing speak,) the makeup junkie part of me wished that Urban Decay had created the collection. Still, this is a pretty decent smokey eye kit:

Following the kit lookbook, I tried a Clary "day" look (since the eyeshadow didn't show up decently in any of my pics thanks to my apartment lighting, you'll have to take my word for it,) and an "Isabelle" night look:

Commentary: The shadows are nice with okay color payoff. The shadow pencil is great, and the liquid liner is fine. Since I'm pale, the blush is a bit bright for me and the pink lipstick clashes slightly with my faux red hair. The consistency of the blush and lipstick are both nice, though. Overall, nothing unique or special about this kit, but it's nice for a smokey eye if you don't have similar shadows already. I also wish that NYC had carried the TMI theme throughout the packaging-- I would have loved runes on the lipstick tube, for example.

Enough babbling about makeup, though. That was my week. What have you been up to lately? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013


About a year ago, I wrote this post "about two wonderful, magical moments I glimpsed while on the ice this weekend for my skating lesson. Both involving teens. And "liking"/"crushing"/"love." They were adorable and wonderful and reminded me why I love writing for and about these amazing not-kids but not-yet-adults." (Hey, why reinvent the wheel with a new description when the old one worked so well?)

I'm in the mood to share more captured moments. Some are just snapshots, others mini videos. Maybe they'll be great story prompts, or get filed away mentally for imagery. All of them made me smile:

1) A group of boys in prep school uniforms lounging on a grassy slope on the first decently warm and sunny day of the year.

2) Two girls in a convertible, rocking out to a song only they could hear. Their hair was loose and whipping around in the wind. (Voice of experience: when you ride in a convertible or similar vehicle, the 40's starlets totally had it right with wrapping your hair in a scarf. It only takes one night of trying to untangle a mess of waist-length hair to learn to tie it back securely!)

Since I'm a rink rat and public session is a great place for a date when you're a teen (and when you're an adult, though I think I'm in the minority thinking that,) half of these happened out of the corner of my eye while my coach was working on turning me into a puddle of exhausted skater goo:

3) Hockey boy showing off to a girl he likes: when she was on the ice, he held her up gently and, except for the usual skating backwards while holding her hands so that she squeals so loudly the whole rink is like, 'not again',* was sweet and patient while trying to teach her to skate. When she decided to sit behind the boards for a few minutes, he then stayed on that side of the rink, doing a ton of fancy hockey footwork and zipping around the rink at top speed, ending with hockey stops that kicked ice "snow" up against the boards.

4) The most adorable teen couple in the world out on a date during public session today. They looked about fifteen years old, and while the girl seemed semi-comfortable in her rental skates, the boy couldn't skate at all. *cue the cutest falls on the planet* They spent the entire session skating close to the boards (so he could periodically clutch them!**) and this time, it was the girl's turn to patiently try to teach him to skate while he found excuses to hold her hand or clutch at her waist. She kept stealing his hoodie, he took a moment when she stretched her arms and let a little bit of skin show at her waist to show her how cold his hand was (cue screech we heard across the rink.) And then, in one of those moments where she coyly skated closer and away from him a few times before he could wrap his arms around her, they kissed. And my little Grinch "I hate writing kissy scenes" heart grew ten times its size.
I saw them after I got off the ice-- the boy was getting them food from the rink café, the girl was watching him with a goofy smile, like they were the only two people in the rink. And it was awesome.

Do you have any captured moments that made your little Grinch hearts grow?

*seriously, guys, everybody does this. Is it bandied about the hockey locker rooms or something? "Hey, you know, I got Ashley to hold on to me really tight after I did that." ???? Because I see this every other week. Just sayin'. Oh, and if you do decide to drag your crush around the rink, make sure you look over your shoulder when you skate backwards, okay? I know you want to look in her eyes, but there are toddlers on the ice on the sleds of death who just zip underfoot. You definitely won't impress the girl when you're on your butt and a four year old is crying to his mommy that you squished him.

**He did fall on his knees, which made my coach cringe and looked extra painful, but pretended he was okay. I promise you, that's going to bruise...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Up Wednesday and post-BEA Breather

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

I'm currently beta-ing and CPing, so published books will have to wait. I did break my focus for a little novella break- Camp Kiss by JK Rock. It's the prequel(kind-of) for Camp Boyfriend. Since I've been on a contemporary kick lately and love, love, love camp, this just sounds like a perfect read.

Plus, uhm, cute but slightly geeky boy (at least in the novella.) These boys might be giving my fictional dead boys a bit of work to stay closest to my heart.

What I'm Writing: 

WIP is happily churning along at around 7K. I had a massive planning-outlining session the weekend before last because my outline was just a little too nebulous and I was starting to wander. I'm definitely a planner!

I'm having fun being in Em's head. She's so dramatic and very different from Phoebe (Bookishly's MC.)

What Inspires Me Right Now: 
I've been on a pinterest kick lately. Dramatically Ever After has its own board where I get to be all OCD and plan some more.

What Else I've Been Up To:

BEA. This was my second year as a Power Reader, and while I stood in a LOT of lines, I also took the time to cover the whole floor (except the remnant bookseller section.) As a reader, it was great to pic up a few ARCs and books and meet fave authors and TWEEPS (translation: twitter friends)!!! As a writer, I made sure to pay attention to the industry part of the conference-- meaning, I absorbed the displays, paying attention to what was being promoted and how. I listened to bloggers and other readers in line complain about their pet peeves and gush over what they loved in recent books. I don't know when or how that information might be useful, but I filed it all in the back of my brain.

First stop! Standing on line for Harlequin's signing. Of course, I was there for the HarlequinTeen titles!

HarperTeen and their Epic Reads ladies had a WHEEL where you could win books or an epic t-shirt. Thanks to the luck of King Snarkles (if you don't know who Snarkles is, I'm very disappointed in you,) I actually won a *book shimmy* t-shirt!!!

SFWA Panel with Jeri Smith-Ready!

 BEA kitty followed me around and is now an occasional plaything for baby nephew.

I met (and fangirled) Karen Rock, one of the authors of Camp Boyfriend!!! And now I have a signed bookmark *squeee*

Minus the books that have already been handed to coworkers or family, here's what I brought back:

Finally, I came home and ate a custard mint-chocolate chip custard blizzard from Masso's. Because life is awesome.

That was my insane week. What have you been up to lately?