Monday, February 27, 2012

Oh, Look, Another Award!

Thanks to Liam, Head Phil, and Erin, I have received another award.  Thank you, guys!  And this one doesn't have a freaky picture!
Here are the rules:
  1. Link to the blogger that gave you the award.  Or bloggers, in my case.  Their links are up in the first sentence of this post (words 3, 4, 5 and 7). 
  2. Share seven things about yourself. Okay, umm.... I like to sing, I like to draw, I like to take pictures of flowers, I like to read, I like peacocks, I like dragons, and even though dragons are my favorite animal I have yet to come up with a story that involves some.  Weird, I know. 
  3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers recently discovered. 15?  Well, I can do 2.
Ivy The Page Turner

Step 4, (which would be lined up with the other steps, but Blogger is being contrary): Notify blogger recipients:  I'll get to that as soon as I'm done with this post, which is in 5...4...3...2...1... 1/2 ...0!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Sister's Reading Requirements

In the past couple days, I've come to realize that my sister has some very strict reading policies.  They're not ridiculous, but when you put them in a list together, they're hilarious. 
  1. There has to be a cat.  Period.  A dog will suffice, and maybe the occasional ostrich, but there really needs to be a cat. 
  2. Don't kill, maim, injure, or lose the cat (or any other animals, unless it's an alligator).  If you so much as drop the cat in a crowd of people, she'll stop reading.  I'm serious.  That actually happened. 
  3. The more explosives you use, the better.  I'm participating in the Go Teen Writers 100 word challenge and I was able to predict which of the paragraphs I wrote she would like the best by the fact that I used explosives. 
  4. Use as many pretty ballgowns as possible.  Describe them all.  And they have to be interesting.  For instance: "Cynthia wore a violet ballgown of spider's silk. As she spun through the room, her skirts caught the light, making it look like it was lightning flashing with every dosey-doe." would make her happy.  I think....
  5. Use classic cars (her favorite is the 1954 Corvette).  She loves old cars.  
  6. Don't hurt the car. 
  7. Use lots of duct tape.
That's all I can think of at the minute.  While I'm on the subject of my sister, go check out this blog post of my mom's.  The three of us (well, mostly Mom) are going to be on a local TV show called The Friday Zone, and the post has behind the scene pictures from the filming session.  It's really cool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2+2 = Awards

Last night I was nominated for 4 very odd blogging awards by the same person, and before I get to the awards, I will thank him.  Thanks, Liam. 

The first is Mrs. Sparkly's Ten Commandments Award.  I have no idea who Mrs. Sparkly is or what her commandments are, but I know she has weird taste.  The picture below is the thumbnail for this award.
Since I was nominated for this award, I have to answer a few questions/adhere to a few statments:
Describe yourself in seven words: Creative, crazy, writer, Wii-sword-fighting-extrodinaire, book-lover, chocolate-lover, homework-burdened.

What keeps you up at night?: Ideas, and characters that won't keep their mouths shut.

Whom would you like to be?: Myself without all the homework.

What are you wearing now: Jeans, t-shirt, and my pocket knife. Yes, the knife counts. I don't get dressed without it.

What scares you?: The picture this award came with, and these weird questions.

What are the best and worst things about blogging?: The best thing is connecting with fellow teen writers and reading their blogs.  The worst thing is that Blogger tends to throw temper fits and be really annoying.

What was the last website you looked at?: This Page Intentionally Left Blank. Liam's blog, which I am copying these questions from.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?: My homework schedule.

Slankets, yes or no?: I have no opinion on this matter, since I didn't know what a Slanket was until I looked it up a few seconds ago.

Tell us something about the person who nominated you: Liam is the one who nominated me, and I know that he writes really funny blog posts.

Okay, that takes care of Mrs. Sparkly.  I'll do one giant nomination to pass all 4 awards on at the end of this post.

The next award is The Sunshine Award:

The rules for this award are as follows:
Thank the person who gave you the award.  Done.
Write a post about it. Working on it...
Answer the questions that come with it.  More questions? Ack!
Pass it along to ten people and let them know they've received the award. You'll see my list at the end of this post.

Favorite color: Blue or purple
Favorite animal: Dragon
Favorite number: 42 (no, I have not read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Favorite drink: Really dark hot chocolate
Facebook or Twitter: I don't care.  If you want to follow me I have links to my FB author page and my Twitter on my side bar, under my picture.
My passion: Writing. 
Getting or giving presents: This isn't a question. But since I have to answer it, I like getting presents better than giving them, but giving presents makes other people happy, so it makes me happy too.
Favorite pattern: Anything that isn't plain stripes. (plaid is okay)
Favorite day of the week: I don't have one.
Favorite flower: I can't pick one.

Okay, another one done. Next up is the Candle Lighter Award:
Thankfully, this one doesn't require anything I haven't done already.  Again, my nominations will be at the end of this post.

And last of all, the Leibster Blog Award:
Rules for the Leibster:
  1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
  2. Link back to that person. (I did that up post)
  3. Copy and paste the award onto you blog.
  4. Present the award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less.
  5. Let them know they've been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog.
Okay, now for my nominations:

The Word Asylum
Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish
Oh Yeah, Write!

Hmm. Those seem to be the only other blogs I read that are eligible, and two have already been nominated. Oh well, maybe I'll think of more later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Worth Saving

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.   

This week's topic is: top ten books I would save if my house was about to be destroyed by dragons.

Here's my list:

1. The Trixie Belden books, by Julie Campbell and Kathryn Kenny.  I know, this one is cheating, since there are almost 40 of them, and I own the first 34, but they're books my mom bought when she was my age, and you can't buy them anymore.  Trixie is what got me hooked on mysteries, which are what I currently write. I wouldn't leave them behind.

2. All 7 of the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling.  Again, it's cheating, but those books are what got me thinking about being an writer.  They're so good.  The movies are shameful.  I'll save my rant on them for a later post.

3. Gone Away Lake and Return to Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright.  I'm not even going to bother saying "it's cheating" anymore.  These books are charming, hilarious, adorable, and I could go on, but I'm going to stop here. 

4. Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter.  Another childhood favorite. And it takes place here in Indiana, how cool is that?

5. All the Rick Riordan I own.  I love his writing. Plus any books with chapter titles like "I Drive My Dog into a Tree" and "The Vice-principle Gets a Missile Launcher" are well worth saving.

6.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Again, a childhood favorite. 

7.  The Keeper of the Bees, also by Gene Stratton Porter.  Another good one by that author.

8.  The one I'm writing, The Black Cat Diamond: A Lizzie Evans Mystery.  For obvious reasons.

9.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Best assigned reading book ever.  The story is amazing.

10.  My sister's Kindle, since it has lots of books on it, and only takes up the space of one.

This one was harder than I thought.  Be sure to check out the Broke and the Bookish to see more TTT posts!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Broke Your Heart a Little

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's topic is a bit tricky for me, since I have a strict happy ending policy.  If it ends unhappily, I don't want to read it.  However, there are books that end happily and have sad parts, which are what I listed below.

WARNING:  This post contains spoilers!

1. Most of the Harry Potter books, especially Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.  So many great characters die.  But, that made it realistic.  They were fighting a war after all.  It would have been extremely unbelievable if all the good characters had lived.

2. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.  This one was disappointing since it broke my happy ending policy, and I hadn't expected it.   Every character that I liked was in tears for the last few pages.  I think I would have liked it better if after Eragon's final sob he had said something better than "We are not alone."  However, that really was the only good thing in his life right then, so it was really the only thing he could say.

3. Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham. Every time I got attached to a character, they died.  All but one of the good female characters died.  It was a good book, and I liked it despite all the deaths.

4.  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  Okay, I'm still reading this one, but Fantine dies without getting to see Cosette one last time. So sad.

5. ..... Um.......hmm.... I seem to have run out of books, or at least the memory of them.  If I come up with more books later, I'll update this post.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!  

Sunday, February 12, 2012


In my Lizzie Evans series, Lizzie's brother, Tyler, is in a band.  I spent hours (okay, maybe not quite that long) trying to come up with a name for them, be it by playing on a band name generator or by coming up with something on my own.  (Here's my favorite band name generator, it has this box where you can insert a word that you know you want in your band name, and it will create a name that uses that word.  I used the word 'sonic' a lot.)   Here are some of the names I found on the generator:

Charming Fractured
Snapped Celluloid
Redefined December
Defunct Intermission and the Daddies
Starry Cheese
Cobalt on the Voltage
Fellow Envelope
Noodle Mirror
Insane Blimp of the Stuck Wallet
Swollen Sonic and the Bladder Marshmallow
Sonic of the Refried Trial
Sonic Analogy of the Starry Country
Sonic of the Timely Cannibal
Evidence Buzz
Opposition Obvious
The Alloy Havoc
Missile of the Advancing Tenderloin
Flamboyant Newcomer Of The Self-inflicted Tofu
Glazed Sonic Doughnuts (Actually, this one was just 'Glazed Sonic', and I added 'Doughnuts')

Yeah.  Weird.  In some cases hilarious.  And those were just an example.
Then I found a name, and I fell in love with it.  It was Sonic Aftermath.  I know, it's weird, but go do a Google search for the top 40 new bands of 2011 and take a gander at those names.

[insert you doing said Google search here]

Yeah, there's seriously a band called Yuck. 
However, my time with Sonic Aftermath was short lived.  I did a Google search for it and found out that there's already something called Sonic Aftermath; an RPG website forum thing.  I was bummed.  I had thought that was the perfect name, and I couldn't use it.  (The same thing happened to me with Lizzie's favorite ice cream parlor and chocolate shop. I'll have blog posts about my naming adventures with them sometime soonish.)  Here are some of the results I got from the generator while looking for a replacement:

Sonic Chronic
Large Sonic Of The Ice-cold Vanity
Sonic Pumpkin
Sonic Howdy
Seashell Of Sonic
Lethal Sonic
Recycled Sonic
Sonic pasta sauce
Shutdown Of The Sonic Coconut
Sonic Hologram
Weathered Exhaust Of The Bound Scum
Jugs Before Explosion
Jingle Gateway
Proactive Feather
Cheese Of The Minority
Skillet Of The Tired Resin
Exploding Bungle
Ravioli Square
Fifteen Fuzz
Cohesive Grimace
Poisonous Foil
Quasi Smack And The Primary Talk
Frisky Crow And The Ethereal Management

In the end, the replacement I got was not one suggested by the generator.  I Googled lists of cool words, and found the perfect word to pair with 'sonic': Sardoodledom.  Sonic Sardoodledom.  Sardoodledom refers to a play that has an overly contrived and melodramatic plot.  It doesn't really fit with 'sonic', but it sounds great, and it's a lot better than some of those real band's names.  Now I just have to go back through my manuscript and add or change a scene so that it says that Sonic Sardoodledom is Tyler's band's name.

One band name idea I didn't mention earlier was acronyms.  There's an acronym generator made by the same people who made that band name generator.  I have a ton of acronyms for the word 'sonic'.  I may do a post on them later.

(Just out of curiosity, did any of you see the title of this post and automatically insert the word "screwdriver"?)

Monday, February 6, 2012

TCWT! February Blog Chain: Ramblings on Romance

Today is my turn to post for the Teens Can Write Too! monthly blog chain.  This month's question is:  What are your thoughts on romance for your particular genre?  Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?  Perfect for Valentine's day!

First off, let me define the kind of romance I like and write:  The clean kind that makes your heart do pirouettes and makes you say "AWW!", where all parties are honorable and well behaved, but not cheesy.   I don't like the icky physical attraction kind where both parties can't keep their hands off of each other, or the super dramatic kind worthy of Katherine and Heathcliff or Romeo and Juliet.  We all know how those ended.  My feelings for romance covers all genres. 

When I read, I prefer romance and mystery/adventure in a 1:2 ratio, so that's how I write it.  The majority of the story is centered on the mystery, with a few sweet spots in between.  In my Lizzie Evans series there is only a little romance.  Lizzie's boyfriend, Jim, is such a gentleman. *sigh*   I have three couples and only a little romance between them.  Not enough to overwhelm the mystery, but enough to be realistic and charming.  I think the most romantic thing that happens in The Black Cat Diamond (the first Lizzie book) is Jim going with Lizzie to eavesdrop on a black market meeting.  No dramatic rescues, no messy get-together-break-up-get-together-again cycles, just my characters being themselves and loving each other for it.

In my opinion, romance can be overdone.  For instance, the following scene is overdoing it:

"My Darling, Patricia, I love you more than my house in Paris!"
"Oh, Baron, you know my heart belongs only to you!"
"How long we have waited for this!  But please, call me Pollard.  Your Pollard."
"Oh, Pollard!"
"We shall ride into the sunset, ours souls harmonizing with the song in our hearts!"
"Oh, Pollard!"
"We shall live in my mansion, and your presence, the presence of my angel, will dispel the evil presence my father left behind!"
"Oh, Pollard!"
"Our love will seep into the walls and create a paradise of warmth and happiness!"
"Kiss me Pollard!"
The couple kissed.  All the love they had ever felt was there at their lips.  They lived happily ever after blah blah blah.

Ick.  I apologize if that made you throw up.  This is overly sweet.  Like rotten fruit.  Or anything made by Little Debbie.  A good romance should be like a good curry or red bean ice cream.  There has to be flavor, the more complex the better, and not just sugar.  The lovers have to be compatible and complicated, like red curry with cilantro and pineapple, not just a waxy chocolate icing over a sawdust-like cake.
Okay, enough with weird food analogies.  This is what good romance looks like in my eyes:

I blinked.  I was free.  Free to run away.  Free to live my life with the one I loved.
It had worked.  The court had found Prince Jack guilty.  I didn't have to marry him, and there was no potential war hanging over my head.  I could marry George with a clean conscience.
My parents had lost.  I was sad for them.  They were losing their youngest daughter, a princess, to a gardener.
I caught sight of George, and the smile on his face clearly expressed his happiness.
As soon as I got back to the palace, I met him in the gazebo.  He was still smiling.
"We did it.  We can marry."  His smile fell.  I let mine drop.  "What's the matter?"
"I want to marry you, but I do not want to force you to live a life as a peasant. You have been royalty all your life. If you marry me, you'll have to give it all up, and I don't want you to be miserable. I won't sacrifice your happiness for mine."
"What makes you think I'll be miserable?  I'd rather be a chambermaid and married to you than be forced to marry someone of my parent's choice and be a queen.  It will be a learning curve and take some getting used to, certainly, but I will do it.  I will only be under the tyranny of my parents as a subject, not a daughter.  I will be free to make my own decisions and choices.  And my first choice is you."
His smile returned, making his eyes shine.  "And my choice is you, Princess."
"Do not call me Princess.  From now on I am simply Odessia, your Odessia."
We were married that fall.  It did take me a while to get used to life as a peasant, but I got it.  My sisters may look down on me now, and I may no longer be glamorous, but I am happy, and free.  We have lived happily ever after, so far.

Still a bit sappy and cliche, but also adorable and charming, and the message of freedom and happiness makes the sappiness more tolerable.  Notice how both the upper-class lovers in each scene ditch their titles, but Odessia doesn't sound nearly as pompous as Pollard.

So that's my two cents worth.  Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

February 5-- --Novel Journeys
February 6-- --Lily's Notes in the Margins
February 7-- --Kirsten Writes!
February 8-- -- Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
February 9-- --A Farewell to Sanity
February 10-- --The Word Asylum
February 11-- --From My Head
February 12-- --Esther Victoria1996
February 13-- --Embracing Insanity
February 14-- --Red Herring Online
February 15-- --Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)
February 16-- --This Page Intentionally Left Blank
February 17-- --Oh Yeah, Write!
February 18-- --The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
February 19-- --Here's To Us
February 20-- --Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month's chain)