Mar 26, 2015

The Book Chat that refuses to die

So, I've been trying to revive this blog for a year now.  But every blog post feels like the last, and it occurred to me recently that something was missing.

Bam.



Just like that, the Book Chat is back.

Because I figure, why the $%#@ not?

So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to recycle old Book Chat topics because it's been that long.  Surely, you've read new stuff since then and you have new thoughts and opinions.  And if not, we'll come up with new topics and ideas.  Either way, I will be here posting about books on Thursdays.
And I'm inviting you over.

If I were really inviting you over, there would be coffee or wine or beer (depending on time zones) and cake or pizza, maybe a cheese tray…I'm rambling.   Point is…I miss you, and I'd like to get the gang back together.

And if you've never done the book chat before…get in here!

Basically, the book chat is just what it sounds like.  A weekly link-up where we discuss books using a weekly prompt.  That simple.  You don't have to be a book blogger, in fact, most of us aren't.  You really don't even have to be a blogger.  Be a tumblr.  Or Facebooker.  Or Instagrammer.  Times are a'changin.
The only rules are that you have to follow the host(s) via something like Twitter or Bloglovin.  Then, go around the link-ups and chat with others about the topic d'jour.


So, here you have it.  I'm in if you're in.

April 2 - What are you currently reading?
April 9 - Setting you wish you could travel to (real or fictional)
April 16 - Self-Published Books - Do you read them?  What are your favorites?
April 23 - It's my Birthday!  For my birthday, I want the gift of an excellent book recommendation.  Tell me what to read!  and why, of course.
April 30 - Film to Movie adaptations.  Your thoughts and favorites?


Won't you join us?


Mar 25, 2015

A Day in the Life

A day in the life of a writer/yoga teacher/army wife/mom …and more!

I haven't done one of these posts in FOREVER and I've been meaning to for so long.  Thankfully, I saw that this happens to be the topic of today's Write or Die Wednesday!  So here you have it.  A "typical" day for me.

6am
Alarm goes off.  Hit snooze. (repeat 4-5 times).
On a good day, I'll get some writing/revising done while the house is still quiet and the coffee is still hot.  My brain isn't completely awake, but sometimes the product is better this way.  Writers are weird.

7am
Make breakfast for the monsters. (It's usually cereal.  I'm just showing off the one day I put real breakfast effort in.)

8am
Put one kiddo on the bus and shuttle the other to Kita (German kindergarten).

9am
Teach a little yoga (or do a little Spin or if I'm feeling super ambitious, go for a little run)

10am
This is usually the start of my "work day."  There are just not enough hours in the day, so if I'm feeling terribly behind on my manuscript, I'll skip the morning workout and get butt in chair by 9am.  This is when I try to cram a profession's worth of work into three hours.  And I'm lucky that I have these three hours, when so many others spend their days at a paycheck-kind of job.  I'm not ignorant of my blessings.

Currently, I'm also committed to a major position at my son's school as the PTA President.  It's been a rewarding and challenging position and one I'm glad I stepped up for.  I believe everyone should at least once in their life, so they understand what goes into these school programs.
So yes, a lot of my "work days" are spent emailing principals, making copies and planning events.  What is this life?

1pm
Pick up my little preschooler and kick back with some quality cartoon time.  Maybe clean if I'm so inclined.
I try to avoid the computer for these few precious hours.  I want my kids to remember me next to them on the couch, not the back of my head staring at a computer screen.

3pm
The big kid comes home which means chores, family time, dinner prep and all that suburban stuff.

6pm
We make it a point to sit down for dinner together every night no matter what.  It's an important part of our daily lives.  Even when it feels like a battle to get the little one to JUST EAT, I still cherish these fleeting moments when we're all just sitting at the same table.  Can't take this stuff for granted.

7pm
Baths // homework // PJ's // A Curious George book or two and it's time to tuck the monsters in.  By this point in the day, it feels like that scene in I Love Lucy where she puts too much flour in the cake and it's exploding out of the oven and she's just trying to cram it back in.  Putting kids to bed after a long, crazy day (every day) can feel like shoving that exploding cake back into the oven.

8pm
I try very hard to use the rest of my evening for relaxation and kicking back with Netflix or the hubby, depending on his location.

Sometimes, like an addict, I can't keep myself from my desk.  As much as I wish my days were always free of commitments, more often than not, this is the first chance I have to be alone with my work-in-progress.  I want to put my writing first.  I want to have a solid 8-hour day to spend writing, writing, writing.  But this is life.  So, there are days that my writing happens from bedtime to midnight.
Sherlock and Downton Abbey can wait.


10pm
My brain turns into a pumpkin around 11pm, so I have to budget in an hour's worth of reading every night.  This is normal behavior, right?


So, that is my day.  It's never the same, and always busy.  But I'm one of those strange beings who loves busy.  I love feeling like I have purpose.  I love the feeling of a day spent well where every minute is filled to capacity with to-do list crossing and encounters with friends.

And if it includes writing a blog post, then it was definitely a GOOD day.


Thanks to Vashelle and Mia for another excellent writing prompt!  Check out more WODW posts here:
Write or Die Wednesdays



Mar 4, 2015

Let's Go on Adventure

Adventure.  I love that word.  It reminds me of books I used to read as a kid and my favorite movies.  Adventure makes me feel young again.  Why don't we go on adventures anymore?  Why don't we use that phrase?
Let's go on an adventure.


I often wonder what my kids would think if I woke them up one day and said those words.  Let's go on an adventure.  Would they think of traipsing through the woods?  Traveling somewhere far?  Would it involve something dangerous, funny or scary?  I'm so afraid that they would pass on my suggestion and opt for staying home instead.

Everyone loves adventure.  I truly believe that, but I know too many who would rather steer clear of the unknown and stick with what's comfortable.  Perhaps, that's what books and movies are for.  We don't need to put ourselves at risk if Indiana Jones/Harry Potter/Dr. Who are willing to do it for us.  But if we don't adventure, who will tell the stories?

Adventure is often an euphemism in our family.  When we're traveling and things don't turn out right or the trip takes a strange turn, you'll hear us say: well that was an adventure.  It often means that whatever happened was not what we wanted or expected.  Getting lost in a big, foreign city.  Adventure.  Albeit, not one we wish to experience.  Still exciting, still new, still something that makes us feel alive.  And what could be better than that?

Living abroad, the sense of adventure is always there, lurking around every trip.  With every new place we see, we shed another layer of fear of the unknown.  We get a little bit more adventurous.


And what we want most for our kids to gain from this experience is that being adventurous doesn't always mean jumping out of an airplane (please don't) or hiking to a mountain peak.  Adventure can mean trying new foods you've never tried, speaking with locals in cultures you've never spoken with before, making a new friend, being open minded and level-headed. But mostly, it's about creating new memories.

It keeps the soul fresh.  It builds character.  It adds to the layers of who we are.

So, whether it be traveling, falling in love, making a change in your life or having children of your own, please just go on an adventure.
--

Thank you to Mia and Vashelle for the excellent prompt today!  Read the rest of the Write or Die posts at the link up here.



Write or Die Wednesdays



Mar 3, 2015

Query Letter Support Group: Organization

Hey query writers!  How's it going out there?

Hang in there, friends, because today I want to talk about keeping your sanity during the query process with a little organization.
Keeping the process of query letter writing organized has helped me tremendously with tracking when, where and to whom I am sending out my requests to be sure that I don't send to the same agent twice, and so on.
As always, go with what works for you, but I wanted to show you what has kept me sane.  At least I'm told I haven't completely lost my mind yet.  Hopefully. *eye twitch*

First things first.  You're going to write a lot of query letters.  A lot.  Probably not single digits, and maybe not even double digits.  Yes, it's possible you will send over a hundred query letters.
Enough to want to keep track.

What you want to track is the date you sent the letter, the agent's name, and the agency.
On top of that, I want to know if they requested a full or if they respectfully declined.

Enter Spreadsheet.

So, this is basically what my process looks like.  As I add the agents to the list, I leave them white. (Unless it's a press or imprint, in which case I'd like to know that)  If I receive a rejection letter, I change it to pink.  If they request a full, I change it to blue.

Why is this handy?

Well, a simple sorting trick will allow you to alphabetize the list be either agent name or agency.  Say you got a rejection from one agent in the agency, now you can query another agent in the same agency.   Don't query two agents in the same agency until you get a no-thanks from one.

Also, if you get a request for full, this system allows you to see if you have any other requests out there.  (Not that you're likely to forget such joyous news, but you get it).  If this happens, you should always notify the first agent who requested the full and let them know another agent has requested one too.

I'll tell you now, my tracker has many more than four on the list. So many more.  Every time I see a new agent pop up somewhere, I have handy place to turn to to see if I've already sent them my stuff.  I can't imagine what a mess my brain and desk would be without this system. I hope it helps you!

Tell me: Do you have a system for tracking QL's?


Feb 28, 2015

Reading Playlist: We Were Liars

I'm currently reading this little gem.  I'll have my review ready next week, but reading today inspired me to mix up a reading playlist, something I haven't done in ages.

This book is so mysterious, creepy, tortured, lonely and bitterly beautiful.  These are the sounds inspired by my reading…



Have you read this book? (Don't tell me how it ends)  I already know I will have so many things to say about it when it comes time to review.

Hope you're having a fantastic weekend!