Sucker Literary Blog Hop

To celebrate the Sucker Literary Volume 3 release, the writers, readers, and friends of those who worked on the volume are participating in a blog hop. A huge shout-out to Justine Manzano for tagging me in the hop!

As a reader, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed these stories. The creativity in this volume is amazing. You are going to love them!

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As a writer, I’m thrilled to share something about my own writing process. I’ve been enjoying the posts from other bloggers, and can’t wait to read the ones to come. We are all so similar and yet so unique! I’m convinced that even if two of us had the same pitch or story concept that we’d end up with two completely different stories in the end.

What am I working on?
Right now, I’m focusing on my YA LGBT historical that takes place in a cabaret in Berlin in 1930. However, I also have a draft of a short story to get back to, and–as always–several other shiny new ideas percolating. ūüôā

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
When I started to look up comp titles, I came across the fantastic mystery for adults. A TRACE OF SMOKE by Rebecca Cantrall takes place in Berlin in 1931, and I absolutely loved it. In spite of the very similar setting, there are many differences from my story of course. Most of all, I wrote mine for a teen audience with two teens as main characters.

 

Why do I write what I do?
I tend to write what I love, including German literature and history, ballet and yoga, and unique and interesting places and times. I find that I have to make a pretty huge commitment to any of my writing projects, so it’s really got to be something I love for me to want to stick with it.

 

How does my writing process work?
After brainstorming the who/when/where of the story (setting is hugely important to me), I like to write out a few scenes or chapters if I can before getting an outline down. I love outlining, and am positive my plotting improves with each outline I do, but I also really need a sense of the characters and their stories before deciding where to go with them.

Next up are the three writers I’m tagging! Check them out and get ready for their posts next week!

Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time).¬†She spent twelve years as a Girl Scout and six in the Army; that she wore a green uniform for both may not be a coincidence. These days, she writes fiction (long and short) and works as a technical writer for a software company in St. Paul.¬†Her novel, The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading (written with co-author Darcy Vance), is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick in the Get Your Geek On category. ¬†Find her on her blog¬†¬†and on twitter.

Michelle Mason is a full-time writer focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction, with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. When she’s not reading or writing, Michelle hangs with her husband and two kids, watches too much TV, cross-stitches, bakes amazing brownies, and plays the violin in her church orchestra. Find her on her blog and on¬†twitter.

Julie “J. C.” Phillipps is an author/illustrator who lives in West Hartford, CT with her husband, son, and an anxious cat that licks the fur off its belly.¬† Her books include¬†Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed, Monkey Ono, and¬†The Simples Love a Picnic.¬† Julie has a nice hot cup of cocoa every day while she sits down to work. Find her on her blog¬†and on twitter.

Road Trip Wednesday: Inspiring Author

This week’s topic over on Road Trip Wednesday¬†really spoke to me:

Tell us an author who inspires you.

On the one hand, this is a difficult question because there are so, so many authors who inspire me. Heck, most people who make it all the way through to get a book published inspire me.

But then I thought of an author I recently discovered after asking on twitter for recommendations for beautiful, literary YA, with bonus points if set in another country. From the responses to this call-out, I got a great stack of delicious books. This author’s book was one of those. Thanks again to Dahlia Adler for the recommendation!

SMALL DAMAGES by Beth Kephart was everything I had hoped for. It was gorgeous; it was moving; it was set in Spain. I highly recommend it. Beth has published many other books, and I’m looking forward to reading all of them someday.

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But on top of that, I began following Beth on twitter, and I have been so impressed by how kind and gracious she is, and yanno, that actually inspires me more than anything else. I want to be like that. I want to write gorgeous, moving books, and be nice.

So check out her work! You won’t be disappointed. And have a wonderful, uplifting day. ūüôā

ONE, TWO, THREE Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to participate in the cover reveal for ONE, TWO, THREE by Elodie¬†Nowodazkij today!

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Title: One, Two, Three

Author: Elodie Nowodazkij

Publication Date: June 26, 2014

Blurb: Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that‚ÄĒand Natalya can‚Äôt stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.

But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him‚ÄĒand destroys herself?

Definitely be sure to add ONE, TWO, THREE to your Goodreads list! And in the meantime, have a look at the full, gorgeous cover!

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About the Author:¬†Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she‚Äôd never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor‚Äôs degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master‚Äôs degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn‚Äôt seem to realize he‚Äôs not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She’s also a serial smiley user.¬†ONE, TWO, THREE is her first novel.

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Visit Elodie’s website and find her on Goodreads, and be sure to follow her on twitter!

Giveaway:

To celebrate the cover reveal, Elodie is giving away the following items via a Rafflecopter giveaway:

  • 3 gifts cards $15 to Amazon/Apple/B&N (your choice)
  • One autographed ARC of ONE, TWO, THREE…
  • 3 ARCS (ebook)
  • $25 donation to the classroom book project of your choice on DonorsChoose.org

Best of luck!

To Blog or to Website?

This is the question I asked myself before attending a great workshop at The Writer’s Loft in Sherborn, MA on Saturday. That, and, where the heck is Sherborn, MA?

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I admit I got a little worried as I passed 128 and started to see signs for Albany, NY, but I made it to the Loft in once piece and even found a handy eatery nearby to pick up a nice greasy sandwich and chocolate frappe. *thumbs up*

The workshop,¬†“Creating an Author Website,” was led by Ray Brierly, and was a great chance for me to find out what I wanted to know. I’ve been blogging here on WordPress since 2008, and I’ve gradually figured out lots of the bits and pieces that give my blog the look and feel I wanted. But yanno, what I’ve got isn’t a website; it’s a blog. Before the workshop, I was pretty sure I decided I wanted to convert to a website, once there, I realized it didn’t seem to be anything to be afraid of.

As Ray described the steps, one must:

  1. Get hosting
  2. Get a domain name
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Customize website

Since I’ve been blogging with a wordpress.com address, it turns out I’ve done the last step first–and it seems like this is the most time-consuming, complicated step, so yay, me! However, I still have to do steps 1-3 if I want an actual website. If I only had a few blog posts, it wouldn’t be a big deal to just start up a fresh website and copy the content over, but because I have six years of content (*gasp*), once I got home from the workshop, I decided to look up how it’s done, and luckily it doesn’t seem horribly complicated:

  1. WordPress has a nice how-to on the process that I plan to take for a spin in the near future: move to self-hosted.
  2. They also have a list of recommended hosts that are known to work well with WordPress.
  3. One of the hosts they list is the same one Ray mentioned in the workshop, and I found they’re running a¬†special!

Best of all, now that I realize I’ve been doing the more complicated part all along, I should be able to actually help friends and family members who’ve been asking how to set up a website who’ve been scoffing at my, “Get a free WordPress blog!” responses. Now I know exactly what to tell them and will even be able to walk them through it. Who knew making a website could be so much fun? ūüôā

#WriterRecharge Last Week!

All hail the last week of #WriterRecharge!

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Joining in for the month of February definitely made a cold, snowy month pass more quickly, so a huge thanks to the gang responsible: Sara Biren, Katy Upperman, Alison Miller, Liz Parker, and Elodie Nowodazkij,

I was so deep in the Revisions Cave that I only popped my head out for the Monday check-ins, but I’m grateful for the accountability nevertheless, and I promise I was hard at work and thinking of you all doing the same. ūüôā And thus, progress!

How did I do during the third week?

Writing:¬†I switched my goals/rules up a bit again (because I can), and it was just the thing I needed this week. My First Five Pages workshop finished up, and I tweaked the beginning of my WIP again based on the last fantastic feedback before taking another spin through its first 50 pages for big-picture issues. Not exactly what I’d intended to do, but I’m calling it a success!
 
Swimming: For the first time, I joined the snow instead of letting it beat me. I only got to swim twice this week, but I went cross-country skiiing once and ice skating once, and both of those were well worth getting out into the cold.
 
Reading:¬†I only read one book this week, but it was a great one: BECOMING JOSEPHINE by Heather Webb (about Napoleon’s wife, the Empress Josephine). I was lucky enough to win a copy of the book, and I also got to attend a reading/signing, so I couldn’t let this one sit on my TBR stack any longer. What fantastic details and what a compelling character!
 
Bonus Awesomeness: My six-year-old twins had school vacation this week, and one of the things they did was to prepare their submissions for their first writing contest (for children in Kindergarten through fifth grade). They each made a beautiful picture book with five illustrations and five pages of text. I am so proud of them! Take a look at their snazzy covers:

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What are my goals for this week?

I’ll be sticking with my same goals for the week with swimming (four times a week) and reading (one more book), but I’m planning on tackling the writing task I’ve been avoiding: taking a pass through the rest of the WIP and marking where I need to change or add the POV to the alternate POV character. I won’t actually be making any changes/writing new scenes, so just figuring it out should be totally doable, right? *blinks*
 
Hope the last week of #WriterRecharge treats you well!

#WriterRecharge Week Three

Welcome to Week Three of #WriterRecharge!

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If you want to learn more¬†about this month-long motivational writing challenge co-hosted by¬†Sara Biren,¬†Katy Upperman,¬†Alison Miller,¬†Liz Parker, and¬†Elodie Nowodazkij,¬†just click¬†here. And be sure to include the link to your update on Sara’s blog or tweet about it using hashtag¬†#Writer Recharge!
 
At the beginning of the month, I set my goals here.
 
How did I do during the second week?

  • Writing:¬†I met my goal, working through another round of great feedback from the mentors and participants from the¬†First Five Pages¬†workshop. My second revision goes up for review later today, and after one last revision round, those pages should be ready! I also revised my next five pages, taking that same feedback into account.
  • Swimming:¬†A repeat of last week: I only ended up swimming three days instead of four, because once again, I was thwarted by a snowstorm.
  • Reading:¬†I finished the next book in my stack of award-winners (YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina)–not surprised at all that it won the Pura Belpr√© award. I also finished a research-y book (BERLIN! BERLIN! by Kurt Tucholsky) and the Newbery honoree (DOLL BONES by Holly Black).

What are my goals for this week?

  • Writing:¬†Revise first five pages once more as part of the workshop and revise ten more pages in a similarly meticulous manner.
  • Swimming:¬†Swim or winter exercise four days!
  • Reading:¬†Read the next book in the award-winning stack (THE LIVING by Matt de la Pe√Īa).

Hope #WriterRecharge is going well and that you have another great week in store!

#WriterRecharge Week Two

Welcome to Week Two of #WriterRecharge!

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If you want to learn more¬†about this month-long motivational writing challenge co-hosted by Sara Biren,¬†Katy Upperman,¬†Alison Miller,¬†Liz Parker, and¬†Elodie Nowodazkij,¬†just click¬†here. And be sure to include the link to your update on Sara’s blog or tweet about it using hashtag¬†#Writer Recharge!
 
Last week, I set my monthly goals here.
 
How did I do during my first week?

  • Writing: Instead of plowing through my next 50 pages of draft two, which had been my plan for the week, I slowed down. Really slowed down. But that’s a good thing. I was lucky enough to get into one of the monthly First Five Pages workshops, so I spent the entire week on my first five pages: digesting comments from others, brainstorming solutions, researching (it’s a historical), and finally, revising.¬†By focusing on the tone and details of those first pages, I think I just saved myself a boatload of work down the road …
  • Swimming: I only ended up swimming three days instead of four this week, but in my defense, I was thwarted by a snowstorm. Hopefully the weather cooperates better this week. ūüôā
  • Reading: I read the next book in my stack of award-winners (THE NAZI HUNTERS by Neal Bascomb) and started the next (YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina). So good!

What are my goals for this week?

  • Writing:¬†Revise first five pages once more as part of the workshop and revise next five pages in a similarly meticulous manner.
  • Swimming:¬†Swim four days!
  • Reading:¬†Finish YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS and start the next book in the stack (THE LIVING).

Hope your first week of #WriterRecharge went well and that you have a great week in store!

Time for a #WriterRecharge!

Welcome to February! And welcome to a well-deserved #WriterRecharge! Brought to us by the same merry band of writers who sponsored #ReadySetWrite this past summer, #WriterRecharge is all about the following:
 
We’d like to invite you to join us for Writer Recharge 2014, a month-long motivational challenge similar to last summer’s Ready. Set. Write! So many of us benefited from setting goals, connecting with other writers, and social media-based accountability. So, hey, let’s do it again! Whether you’re delighting next to the crackling fireplace of a Shiny New Idea with a warm cup of tea and a sleepy puppy at your feet or spinning out on the ice-covered roads of revisions in an attempt to avoid the snow-packed ditch, we want to write with you! What do you want to accomplish this month? Hit a daily word count? Revise a certain number of pages or chapters each week? Complete a draft by the end of the month? Let’s get this party started!
 
Sounds pretty wonderful in the midst of winter, right? Check out more deets with the friendly hosts:¬†Katy Upperman,¬†Alison Miller,¬†Liz Parker,¬†Elodie Nowodazkij,¬†and¬†Sara Biren,¬†and sign up to play along on Sara’s blog here:

http://www.sarabiren.com/2014/02/writer-recharge-challenge.html
 
The timeline:

  • First week of February: Post your goals for the month on your blog, website, or Twitter. Use the hashtag #WriterRecharge. Link your blog post here (below)
  • Every¬†Monday¬†in February: Update your progress via your blog or twitter. Link your blog posts on myMonday¬†posts.
  • Throughout the month: Use the hashtag to connect with other writers, have writing parties, and cheer one another on!
  • February 28: Post your final update via your blog or twitter.
  • Anyone who uses the hashtag or links their blog posts will be entered to win one of five query or 3-chapter critiques.

My goals for February:

  • Finish the second draft of my WIP!
  • Swim four days a week. Swimming clears my head like nothing else.
  • Keep reading. I read 13 books in January, but since February is a shorter month, I’m going to at least commit to reading these seven award-winners. I started in on the stack on Saturday, and have already devoured the top two.

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That’s it! My goals are simple but huge for me, so I am really looking forward to cheering along with the rest of the group. My February just started looking a whole lot better!

Children’s Poetry Blog Hop

My amazing friend and soon-to-be debut young adult author¬†Jaye Robin Brown¬†tagged me to participate in a blog hop about children’s poetry. Thrilling! I adore poetry!

But, hmm, children’s poetry? I have to admit, I was never a fan of the typical happy, sing-songy poetry as a child, unless you count the craziness of Dr. Seuss, because crazy is pretty awesome.

However! As a linguist and trilingual mom, I’m going to pick one snippet from each language that together represent my poetic tastes for children.

First off, English. THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES by Edward Gorey is one of my favorite books because of the illustrations as much as the text. How can you not love something that begins like this?

A is for AMY who fell down the stairs.

B is for BORIS devoured by bears.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the book takes us through an alphabet of children who met their untimely demise by at least somewhat gruesome means. Well worth a read!

In German, my favorite is the classic DER STRUWELPETER by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann.

Filled with macabre tales of misbehaving children who suffer the consequences of their actions, these stories are filled with morals like, “Eat your soup, or you will die!” and “Don’t suck your thumbs, or the thumb-cutter will come and cut them off!” My favorite tells the story of Paulinchen, who decides to play with matches:

Paulinchen war allein zu Haus,
die Eltern waren beide aus.
Als sie nun durch das Zimmer sprang
mit leichtem Mut und Sing und Sang,
da sah sie plötzlich vor sich stehn
ein Feuerzeug, nett anzusehn.

Needless to say, things don’t end all that well for Paulinchen:

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Finally, Spanish. We have a wonderful book, FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA PARA NI√ĎOS, and interestingly, my girls’ favorite poem,¬†Muerte de Anto√Īito el Camborio, is about the murder of a young man, Anto√Īito, by his four cousins. But it’s such a gorgeous, haunting poem!

Voces de muerte sonaron
cerca de Guadalquivir.

Voces antiguas quecercan
voz de clavel varonil.

Hope these are some interesting examples! Now on to the interview questions:

1. Who was your favorite poet as a child?

Well, I didn’t much like traditional children’s poetry, and I didn’t discover any of the gems above until I was older, but I would have loved those three if I knew about them then.

2. Who is your favorite poet now?

Rainer Maria Rilke definitely gets top honors, but I have some other favorites, including Pablo Neruda and Sylvia Plath.

3. Is there a song you consider to be poetry?

I’d argue that most songs are in fact poetry, but arguments aside, I’ve been listening to Debussy’s Clair de Lune a lot recently, which was inspired by Paul Verlaine’s poem of the same name. It begins:

Votre √Ęme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Beautiful!

I’m tagging another poetry fan and writing buddy, Angelina Hansen. Hope you can post your favorite children’s poems (or one of your own!) and thoughts next Friday for the blog hop!

Inner Peace

Thanks to Patrice Caldwell for passing on the Inner Peace award to my blog!

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As part of the rules of the blog award, I’m sharing seven things about me that are hopefully new to my blog readers, so that means nothing about Boston, Rilke, Iceland, or my small twins. ūüôā

1. Besides being a mom to five-year-old twins, I’m also the mom of a recent college graduate. No joke. But the funniest thing about this is that I discovered from Patrice’s post that she goes to the same college my older daughter went to! Small world indeed.

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2. Both of my parents were chemists, and I’ve had a mental block against science for most of my life–until I started writing science fiction and realized how cool some of it is (sssshhh, don’t tell).

3. I studied ballet for years, but I really wish I knew how to tap dance. Might have to get on that soon.

4. I wish I had more time to read. When I was in grad school, all I did was read or write about reading, but since then, I only average about a book a week–somewhere around 60 a year. And there are so many good books out there!

5. I’ve never visited anywhere in Asia yet, and I really, really want to. Japan, Indonesia, Nepal. Gimme.

6. I could never choose between Star Wars and Star Trek. I love them both.

7. Among the many reasons I’m happy I married a Spaniard: tortilla espa√Īola, lomo, arroz a banda, pan bueno, chocolate con churros. Yes, they are all foodstuffs. And yes, I could go on …

Besides thanking Patrice for sharing the award, I’m now passing the award on to a batch of other great writing blogs. Hope you all get a chance to post soon!

Michelle Mason

Ghenet Myrthil

Angelina Hansen

MarcyKate Connolly

Lisa Ann O’Kane