Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalm 23

One of my favorite Psalms.

 Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Top Five Procrastinations

For Top Five this week, I decided that it would be a really great idea to get my procrastinations down in writing, so that I can be sure to not commit to them. I typically don't do the tasks that I put down on paper, unless I'm forced to do them.

So, with that logic, typing out my procrastinations must drain them of their power. I'm gearing up for NaNoReMo, starting on Monday. I'm giving myself one month to turn 29,000 words into 50,000 words or more!

With no further introduction, here are my top five procrastinations, in no particular order.

--I'm too (tired/hungry/frazzled)!
--The (insert room or item here) needs (cleaning/folding/fixing).
--It's too noisy!
--I have to finsh X Project or Y task for work.
--My (pet, child, Dear Hubby) wants to play.

Hmmm, maybe I won't ignore Dear Hubby on that last one. ;-)

Are you ready for November?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hi, I'm taking a blog-cation this week.  Have a great week and see (some of) y'all for NaNoReMo next week!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 3:5-8

This week's selection is beautiful, and speaks for itself.

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Little-known Talents

We all have our little-known talents, the ones that we keep mostly to ourselves and never ever share, unless hard-pressed to tell. Sometimes these talents are unexpected gifts, and sometimes we work very hard at them. Today's the day to share those talents, tell the world, or at least the dozen or so readers of my blog.

My unexpected gift talent: curly hair. My hair was wavy until I had my sons. Now it's curly. In rainy weather, it's frizzy. The up-side is that my hair is never, ever flat.

My talent that took many years of practice: veggie stir-fry. I can chop and fry up a yummy set of veggies. Took years to develop good knife skills, and years longer to not over-season the mix. Today's lunch was a stir-fry in light olive oil of portabella mushrooms, yellow peppers, celery, and carrot, seasoned with lite soy sauce and ume plum vinegar, and finished with sliced garlic, sliced green olives, and fresh lime juice, all served over a bed of baby field greens.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been Shot!

Yes, I received my flu shot today. Have you gotten yours?

Also, since I have asthma, I get the pneumonia vaccine every five years. Guess what? Today, I won the prize. My right shoulder is hurting, too. A shot in each arm. Don't know how I'm ever going to get to sleep tonight.

In other news... Who's doing either NaNoWriMo, NaNoReMo, or NaNoReaMo? That's writing, revising, and reading in November. I think the only officially-recognized activity is writing a novel in a month. It has it's own website and local groups, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course. Kiersten White's blog entry today reminded me of how hard we work to write and rewrite and rewrite just one book. And we do this over and over again. Kiersten asks about how we do it.

I know that writing isn't easy for me--I'm not an English major and I haven't written stories my entire life. I dream them, but write them down? Only in poetry and songs. Until now, that is.

Another way to look at this... My family and I have read our entire set of scriptures, at about 5 pages a sitting. Amazing, isn't it? One small bite at a time, we've accomplished more reading of the Holy Word than many people do in a lifetime. Now that our dear children are a little older, we read a little less and discuss a little more.

This is a good pattern for revisions. Write a little less and discuss or listen, more. I want the essence of the main character to speak through me. I want to hear the river from far off, as was discussed in Bryan Russell's blog post:

I want to close in on the river, zero in on the dragonfly, and make ripples in the stream, feeling the water move gently through my fingers. I need to tune my listening ear, and send that through my fingers to the keyboard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stretch Goals

Last week, I set a goal for myself to query one agent per day.  That lasted precisely 4 days.   (In case anyone's wondering, yes, I did receive a rejection...haven't heard from the rest, yet).

Agent #5 asks for complicated details...I just can't whip this one together, nor do I want to.  Based on the feedback from lots of folks at the First 250 Words blogfest (Thank you Elle Strauss), I need to rewrite the beginning just a little.

So...there will be a slight delay on Agent Query #5, while I do a minor rewrite of the first 10 pages, and also shrink the synopsis into a single page.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 19:22

This one is food for thought, to ponder and understand.

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

When I read this verse, I think of the qualities of a liar, and also the many possible qualities of one who considers himself to be poor. If a man is full of kindness, that man should never be poor in spirit or alone in the world.

First 250 Words Blogfest

My contribution to Elle Strauss' first 250 words blogfest...has been removed for revisions.  Thank you for your input, everyone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Top Five - Things I Collect

We all collect something. Here are the top five things that I collect, in no particular order.

-- Pens, Pencils, Highlighter Pens. My fave pencil has pre-sharpened push-up lead, and smells like fruit and vanilla.

-- Ology Books. Egyptology, Monsterology, Alienology, etc. These are super-cool books with lots of flaps to lift, pockets of stuff, stories.

-- Sparklies! (Need I say more?)

-- Twilight Saga Movie Books. These are a great "making of" memoir.

-- Quick & Easy Recipes. Never enough hours in the day!

What things do you collect?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just an Ordinary Day

Just an Ordinary Day

Just an ordinary day, she says,
as she looks at stacks of dishes,
picturing feather-soft pillows beckoning.

A crisis-free day so rarely occurs,
in the life of a mother, wife,
co-worker, daughter, and friend.

Dishes washed, she sighs,
at the quiet house, all asleep,
at the end of this ordinary day.

Copyright 2010 by Michelle Sue Vann
permission granted to link or reprint,
as long as credit is given to the author.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have you got your copy?

Latest additions to my library that I'm looking forward to reading:

The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel to James Dashner's The Maze Runner.  This is an upper-middle-grade save-the-world story with a twist.  (not to give the plot away).  Not for the faint of stomach.

Scumble, which is the companion book to Ingrid Law's Savvy.  This is a young middle-grade fantasy that shows key interpersonal relationships. 

War of the Worlds interactive iPAD storybook app, presented by Smashing Ideas, Inc.  I read about this in USA Today and just had to give it a try!  I haven't read WotW yet, anyways.  It was on my list of must-read someday.  I look forward to being amazed at the awesomeness of an interactive book.

These should keep me busy for awhile!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm So Brave That...

...I sent a query to an agent who is on vacation! Imagine that?

Truly, I'm thinking about all the revisions I could make to bring my book up to YA status, and I keep thinking about my 8-year-old beta reader who absolutely loves my book, and wouldn't be allowed to read it if I went with YA themes.

Somehow, I just can't disappoint her, yet, so I'm going to try to find an agent who'll rep a Middle Grade fantasy sci-fi.

Would appreciate suggestions on agents to query, even if it's just to tally-up my rejections for a month or two. :O}

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Proverbs 6:16-19

I'm choosing these verses in Proverbs as an example of how not to be. We should be just the opposite, but wouldn't it be interesting to start a fictional character on this path and see what happens to her as she learns the errors of her ways?

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

My Badge of Honor

I'm wearing my first rejection as a badge of honor. I feel like I've passed through a doorway that was previously closed to me.

I have choices now. I choose to do a commercialized rewrite of my story and to bring it up to par with the expectations of a YA novel. More at stake, more romance, more conflict, more competition, just more. I have a lot of personal experiences to pull from, come to think of it. :-)

It's a whole new ballgame, baby!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Top Five - Things That I do to Procrastinate

I am a professional procrastinator. Here are my top five reasons (excuses!)to not do anything, in no particular order:

--I have to work / do something else first
--My (blank) hurts
--I'm too tired
--(favorite show) is on TV
--It's too noisy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Write a Synopsis

What? You believed the title line of this post? Truly, I haven't written one since I wrote my last book report in about 9th grade. Yes, I am an engineer, not an English major. Please forgive my misuse of all past-tense verbs...there appears to be several past-tenses in English that I never studied. I go with what sounds right, which is probably wrong, but I digress.

Synopsis! That's what I was talking about.

For Book One, I finally figured out that I should write my first pass through the synopsis "in character," to retain the flavor of the story. I could downgrade to 3rd-person later, if needed.

The advice that I've read in the blogs for how to write a synopsis, is to craft a mid-level, blow-by-blow account of the story, leaving out characters who are not critical to the plot-lines. This should be 2-3 pages, either single-spaced or double-spaced, depending on the recipient's preference. It should have some of the flavor of the story, but should not be literary (overly prettied-up). It should flow when read aloud. It should be able to be extracted to a dust-cover. It should include the ending, hiding nothing.

Did I get that right? For those of you with experience in writing a synopsis, is there anything else that I should include or not include?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ode to Fair Weather

Sunny sky, smiling at me,
Beckoning me to
leave my desk, and
run, as fast as I can.

Outside, away from
keyboards and
towards fresh air
and sunlight.

Monday, October 4, 2010

General impressions of Author panel

Following Saturday's author panel, I'm left with general impressions, rather than distinct memories. Here are some that stuck in my rather permeable mind.

There are many different approaches to writing, almost as varied as the snacks that we eat while writing. My snack is peppermint tictacs, by the way.

There are differing book lengths, starting at about 50,000 words.

Fantasy elements are only consistent within the same author's books. Each author creates their own world.

Some authors focus more on romance, and others focus on non-romantic interpersonal relationships.

Even published authors struggle sometimes.

The multi-book series is very popular right now. I liked learning that one!

The road to publication differs, too.

Some authors struggled for years before getting published.

Authors are very giving, sharing, kind people.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Scripture Sunday - Psalms 118:24

 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Austin Teen Book Festival

Something happened today that I never expected. I heard several published authors answer questions in a panel discussion. Words cannot express my joy!

More on this next week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eureka! and Top Five--Things to do while traveling

The lightbulb finally clicked!!!  I figured out the backstory behind a complex plot point in Book Two.   Let the mountains shout for joy! 

For those lonely folks on book tour, outside of your fabulous meet-n-greets, book signings, and pre-arranged meals, I'm listing my top five favorite things to do when traveling without my family.  Here they are, in no particular order:

-- Get extra sleep

-- Take a long bath without interruptions!

-- Hold the TV controller to surf channels (or not surf, your choice)

-- Phone friends or family without interruptions (on your side, at least)

-- Sleep in the middle of the bed.  Yes, the middle!