Friday, December 31, 2010

Goals for the New Year:

I must preface this with the statement that I am noctoriously BAD at keeping New Year's Resolutions. However, I think this is partially because I made a goal of what I knew I should want, rather than what actually meant something to me. This time last year I made a commitment to read the entire Narnia series by C.S. Lewis under my firm belief that you can't criticize until you've read the ENTIRE thing. Not that I was citicizing it, but everyone talks about Narnia, except for me and I felt out of the loop. So, I bought myself the HUGE master collection this summer and got to work. I finished just a few days before Christmas. My thoughts on it later. Why am I telling you this? Because it was the changing moment in what I thought a resolution should be. It's about what I've wanted to do with my life and haven't yet, not about what other people would do with my life if I was an automatronic (is that a real word?) robot that could be programed to do their will. After all this is my life and I choose how I want to live it.

Now, without further adou and blubbering, my goals for the new year:
Writing/Reading Goals:
1. Finish and begin submitting my WIP that was supposed to be finished by Jan. 1....whoops.
2. Create a list of agents (numbering at least 20) that I would like to represent my book and add to that list as each reection comes my way.
3. Begin and finish writing another book, but not in the same series as the WIP.
4. Begin book 2 of the WIP and begin making a more detailed plan of book 3. (I'm thinking of you should be afraid, very afraid.)
5. Read. I'm not putting a number to this because I don't have an idea of how I can do. I know I can read at least fifty. I've read 8 in the past week and a half and read 0 the week and a half before that. My schedule's too nutsy to figure out how many I can read that would actually be a challenge. Commiting to read is more of a think about it more than I am now kinda thing.
6. Make more of a commitment to my blog. I've fallen WAY off the wagon, so far that the wagon train left me ten miles west of St. Louis and are already near Oregan. This is partially because of laptop issues, but also due to bad time management.
7. Read a book that I am not interested in. i.e. like Narnia. I didn't have much use for reading it and didn't care that much, but I gained way, WAY more than I thought was possible. So, I'm doing it again.

Family/Friends/Life Goals:
1. Call my family more often. I've seriously lagged in this dept. and there aren't really any excuses other than my life isn't that interesting. The thing is....while my life isn't, that doesn't mean that someone else's life hasn't changed for some reason and I should, as a person with feelings, care when my family members of friends have something new even though the phone works both ways.
2. Keep my desk clean so that I can actually use it. I think that says it all.
3. Get a chair cushion for my terrible desk chair in the hope that I will use it more often.
4. Do at least two things that I've wanted to do in my college town or near abouts.
5. Work really hard in my classes. I'm a good student by habit, but I can be a great student by trying. (<-- made that up by myself, aren't you proud?)

Well, that's my list. I challenge you to read, write, and make your own goals for the new year. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reaching for the Stars

My 2011 goals:

1. Graduate. This is more of a long term goal because my set graduation date is next December, so it should probably go at the end of the list (if it even deserves to be on the list at all). However, it’s the most important of my goals, so in my eyes it’s earned its place at the top of the list.

2. Completely finish a book. So I either have to edit The Tiger (and come up with a better name, possible Entwined not sure though), or I have to finish writing and then edit Monstrous. I’m not sure which is less intimidating to me at the moment.

3. Spend more time with my nephew. I spend no time with my nephew as is, so spending any time with him will be an improvement.

4. Exercise an hour a day 4 times a week. Yeah... being pure muscle has been a life long goal of mine, and it's time I get back to work on it.

5. Pick up at least five new skills. I never commit to what I want to learn in the New Year, but every year I set out with the intention to learn something. Last year it was cross stitch, driving, and how to make enchiladas. This year I’m feeling the urge to learn how to weave, and who knows where I’ll go from there.


Confessional: 2011 New Years Goals

This week I've decided to take a leaf out of Bethany R.'s book and confess my New Years Goals ("Resolutions" sounds too final and intimidating!) for the fast approaching 2011! (Crazy how time flies, huh? I still can't believe 2010 is just mere days away from being a thing of the past, I can still remember ringing it in at midnight last New Year's Eve!) Anywho, for my New Years Goals this year, I'm attempting to be more realistic and choose goals that are still challenging, yet also doable and (heaven forbid) FUN! :)

*Exercise at least three times a week (2 times a week on the Nu Step, 1 time a week in the swimming pool)

*Attempt to do a liver cleanse (I'll keep you posted on this one, 3 weeks of eating nothing but fruits and vegetables is SO not my idea of fun, but lately I've been feeling really icky physically and mentally and have no confidence in the way I look, so at this point, I'm willing to try anything to get me feeling healthy and full of life and energy! Let's just hope I survive...)

*Get out of the house at least once a week (Doing school online doesn't always leave me a lot of free time or energy to get out and do things away from my computer, plus, it doesn't help that I live in Alaska, where it snows for freaking half the year, making it almost impossible for me to get outside safely, but for my sanity and the sanity of others around me, I'm hoping to change that this year!)

*Worry less, live more (In addition to being a homebody, I'm also a big worry-wart, always fretting about the safety of my family and friends, the past, the future, what I did or didn't say/do, you name it, I'm probably worrying about it. But I know that not all of the things I worry about are in my control, so I really have to train myself to just get out into the world more and experience the things it has to offer, and try not to worry as much about what might/will/won't happen and just learn to love life and to live in the NOW! Any tips you have on how to worry less would be awesome!)

*Write-and for the love of God, FINISH-a 50,000 word, craptastic first draft of a story and have FUN doing it, perfection be damned! (Yeah, I'll be sure to keep you updated on this one, should be interesting, lol! That is, if I don't pull out all my hair first! :P)

*Attend a writer's retreat (I've always wanted to attend one of these, some retreat locations and houses I've seen are so amazing I practically salivate with longing at the sight of them! But retreats out of state are so expensive! Oh, how I wish money really did grow on trees! But we shall see, we shall see...)

*Attend a writing conference (I actually attended my first local writing conference this summer when a group of Alaskan mystery writers came to town. That was fun, especially when I walked in and realized I was the only under-50-year-old writer there, lol, but all the women were really welcoming and informative, so I got over it after a little while! The best part though was when an agent from New York got up to speak and I didn't realize she had been the same woman that had been sitting in front of me the whole time! Then I was lucky enough to be able to work with her when she was in my group when we did a group writing session, and then at the end of the day, as I got into the elevator to leave she said bye and then wished me good luck with my writing and...I didn't say anything back! I must've still been in shock that an actual agent was even talking to me, let alone wishing me good luck, but OMG, was I embarrassed!

*Attend a book signing (This is a goal that I've wanted to accomplish for a long time. I've read blogs where people recount their experience at a book signing and even watched bits of different book signings on Youtube, but it doesn't even come close to the real thing! The top 5 authors whose book signings I would just DIE to attend? Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder), Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red), Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush), Kamie Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) and Maggie Stievater (Shiver), even though I haven't finished reading Shiver yet and have not read any of her other books (I know, I know, the horror!) from what I've seen of her signings online, she's a very entertaining speaker and had me in stitches, so either way, I bet I'd have a ball! :)

Now, it's your turn! What are your New Years Resolutions/Goals this year?


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From all of us at Ink Slingers
to all of you out there...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gifts for Writers.

I wont lie, every Christmas my entire family asks me what I want. And every year my response is the same. I will give you a second to guess...


Ready? Well you guessed it. Or at least I hope you did. BOOKS!! Hehe, that's all I ever want, I compile a huge list of books, deliver it to my parental units and they distribute it through the rest of my family. They both are from large broods so it gets spread out pretty well.

Any-who so I had to think of some things that writers, like my lovely partners and hopefully our commendable readers (especially those who put up with my scatterbrain syndrome and inconsistent posting), would appreciate.

1) A snuggie. (I know, what a loser, no wonder she doesn't go out Friday nights, she has a snuggie, all the mysteries of the universe have been solved!) But seriously, they are warm. You don't even have to get a real snuggie, just get a knock off. I know that late at night, when my parents are under the impression I am in bed, I like to curl up with my snuggie, a mug of tea, a bar of chocolate, my outline and my laptop or a book, and lose myself to another world. It is especially good for the New England Winters I tolerate so that may be why.

2) A cute personal mug. I won a mug from my friend K.M., it is this cute mug with a bunch of stripes and I LOVE it. It is MY mug my personal mug, I use it for my coffee, tea, hot chocolate. And let me tell you, those all nighters I sometimes pull, that mug is by my side providing me with encouragement and nourishment, not to mention tasty goodness, all night long. It also would go well with that mug warmer, that Emery suggested (BTW Em, I totally saw your post and asked for it, with the tag line "It will be SO helpful in college...":).

3)Chocolate. Okay so I work in a chocolate store, and so I kind of am a chocolate know-it-all, not a snob, or anything I just know a lot about it. Like that an allergy to actually chocolate, as in the cocoa bean, is really quite rare and normally people are just allergic to the ingredients in chocolate, and dark chocolate stimulates creativity. So I always appreciate a nice big bar of dark chocolate, or a box of assorted dark chocolates. Or even milk or white chocolate, I do not discriminate, dark just holds a special place in my heart (an organ that it is subsequently GOOD for. Seriously it's true. I'm not lying!).

4) iTunes gift card. I listen to music a lot. If it be on CDs, or cassettes (YES I still own those. Back off my geekiness is not here for your gawking pleasure.) or my iPod, it is still something that is just nice. And they can get movies with it too, and TV shows and a load of other things as well. So yeah.

5)Notebooks. Tiny notebooks, big notebooks, notebooks with no lines...etc. I get a load of them every year, (for example today, literally today in school, one of my friends gave me a HARRY POTTER DESIRABLE NO. 1 notebook!!!! I flailed.) and every year they do not get old. They get used. Even if it isn't right away, eventually a writer will crack open that spine and cover the page in pretty, and sometimes not pretty, words. Obviously I shouldn't have to say this but pens should be attached to this as well, not pencils, those get dull and make obnoxious noises, multi-color pens, fancy-smancy pens, no matter the design it will eventually be utilized.

6) Writer related reading material. Not just books, but magazines, articles, anything that could help a writer improve their craft, hone their skills and take one more step towards publication. They will be used and appreciated, because it shows that you have faith in what they're doing, and that you are going to do nothing but encourage them and help them along the way.

7) Love and understanding. Honestly I have friends whose parents do not respect their love of writing, I am blessed that my parents and my family do support me. I believe that the one thing you can give an author, the BEST thing, Is your love, understanding and respect of their craft. I can say that if my parents didn't support me, I would not be where I am today. And just taking a moment to read something they've written and give them feedback, or just tell them you love them, or show them you love them and support them, is the best gift in the world.

So there we go. Happy Christmas, I hope everyone has a good winter break, for those of you who get it, and a nice writer-ly Christmas. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Little Things, Big Impact

There are a few writerly things on my Christmas list this year, but for my list I thought I'd stick with things that I use daily as a writer and that have really made the difference for me.

10. Wall Sized World Map. This is something every writer should have, even if they don’t realize it yet. When you’re writing a story with multiple locations it can sometimes be hard to visualize one location in relation to another, and it can help to . It’s also fun to stick another pushpin in the map, I have no idea why.

11. Write or Die. There is now a desktop version of Write or Die, and if your writer is the type of person who likes things to be quantified or writes best on a deadline this is the gift for them. If they aren’t that type of person then stay away from this like it’s the plague because they’ll probably hate it.

12. Research Books. Just because they’ve chosen to write a book including a particular subject doesn’t mean they actually know anything about that subject, so nonfiction books on topics that occur in your writer’s story can come in very handy down the road. Besides it’s also a nice subtle way of saying “you know all those times you were talking about your book and thought I wasn’t listening? I really was and this proves it.”

13. Info on a story posting website. This is a pretty small gift, but it really speaks volumes. If left to their own devices some writers would never even think of posting their stories on websites like fiction press, and some have absolutely no desire to post on this type of website. However, that really isn’t important. It’s the fact that you think their writing is good enough to share with the world, and for a writer who’s never had the courage to share their talents with the world or who secretly thinks their work isn’t good enough a gesture like this can make a world of difference.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Comfort LIFE

I have comfort books for different aspects of my life. What I'm feeling changes what kind of book related comfort I want. Here's a better idea of what I mean:

Bad day at school: Give me any book with adventure and excitement. I need to escape LIFE therefore, give me another's life that is both more complicated and more exciting than my own. Before I know it I'm swimming oceans (ha, I wish), climbing mountains (yeah, right), fighting bad guys (do professors count?), freeing the prince (yeah...haven't even found him yet), and all sorts of other things that really can take my mind out of what I'm doing. As long as it's a book and it's not anything close to my life, I'm good to go.

Doubting my career choice: This doesn't really happen that often, but when it does I need research. No escape is satisfactory to me. Give me journal articles, real life stories (that pertain to my career), or anything with a statistic showing that not only are employers looking for people with my future degree, they are also paying well for someone with my degree AND I have options with my degree in the chance that there isn't a job open. I need reassurance here and only facts can give that to me.

Doubting my writing ability: Give me J.K. Rowling and her land of awesomeness. You'd think by being surrounded my so much awesome this would lower my self-confidence but funny enough, it doesn't. It reminds me of this quote that Harry said in Order of the Pheonix: (I might be a little incorrect in the wording because I'm doing this from memory and don't have my OOTP with me, but here's the jist)

"Every great witch or wizard (or author in this case) started out just where we are now. 
If they can do it why not us (me)."
This quote will kind of hover over me while I read any of her books. It gives me the va-va-voom to get up and start writing/editing/whatever again. In the end the only thing stopping me from what I want is me and my own doubts. In the end. Doubts are not worth the time or energy that they consume. Everyone has a starting point and eventually I will get to where I want to go. This is what calms and comforts me the most. 

So, now that you know what makes me take a chill pill, what books give you that needed calm down factor? I'd love any references you can give me in the comments :) Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Comfort Food... er... Books

Although it’s short my list of “comfort books” is one that I’ve been steadily building up over time, and here it is.

Oliver and Amanda's Christmas: My mom made the mistake of reading this to me and my brothers one Christmas when I was four, and I’ve read it to my brothers every Christmas since then. Even now I read it to my nephew while my brothers pretend not to be listening, but they always end up curled up with my nephew and I on the living room couch begging to hear it one more time.

Agnes and the Hitman: I picked this book up in Wal-Mart one night while I was shopping for snacks to stick in my backpack before catching the red-eye to Texas to visit family. I stayed up for the whole flight reading Agnes and the Hitman, and the woman sitting next to me kept shooting me suspicious glances because of the strange expressions I kept making as I desperately tried not to burst out laughing.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax: Long before I ever read The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax I saw the movie staring Angela Lansbury. I never forgot that movie, but it never came on again. One night while I was looking for a book to read I came across a Reader’s Digest Condensed book, and one of the books it contained was The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. The book was so different from the movie, but I inhaled it anyway. I’ve read it so many times since that my parents bought me a new copy for Christmas a few years ago because the old copy was falling apart.

Cream Puff Murder: Not that I don’t love the whole book, but there is one scene that have bookmarked that I keep going back to over and over. It’s the one where Hannah spends the night at Norman’s place, and when she wakes up in the morning she realizes that he truly had build the house for the two of them to live in together. It was just so sweet. I thought she was going to propose to him on the spot.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tough Stuff

I struggle with many things throughout the writing process, but recently, the things I've been struggling with the most are fear, lack of motivation and finishing.

Fear has always been a big part of my writing process, unfortunately. I'm fearful that I'll never finish a book, that people will hate my work, that I'll never be published, etc. the fears are endless and I've had to work really hard to ignore them and just keep writing, but sometimes, against all odds, they still manage to get the best of me and leave me shaking in my boots, terrified to set pen to the page (or finger to the keyboard).

Lack of motivation has been plaguing me a lot lately. I'm a college student, so my days are filled with school, school, school and that leaves me very little time (and energy) to do anything else. So by the time I fall into bed at night, the last thing I feel like doing is writing and instead I just want to do something that requires very little energy, like surfing the net, watching, T.V., or ha, you know, actually sleeping *gasp*! I've tried setting aside time during the day to write, but, of course, whenever I'm writing I feel guilty for not focusing on school and whenever I'm working on school I feel guilty for not focusing on writing! It's a constant tug-of-war between what I know I should be doing (school) and what I want to be doing (writing), makes me tired even thinking about it!

And finally, finishing. Ah, finishing. Finishing and I have a bit of a l0ve-hate relationship. On one hand, I've finished writing a book before and the feeling was unlike any other I've experienced before: a mixture of holycrapIjustfinishedwritingafreakingBOOKYAY!!! (aka "OMG, I am BRILLIANT!") to holycrapIjustfinishedwritingafreakingBOOKAHHH!!! (aka "OMG, this book SUCKS! What was I THINKING?!"). So I know what I'd get to look forward to if I were to finish writing a book, that, plus being one step closer to being PUBLISHED but on the other hand...It's just so darn HARD! It's been years since I've finished writing a book (I wrote-and finished-my first book when I was 14) and I'm not sure why, I think it has to with a combination of things, like fear, lack of motivation, being way too easily wooed away from working on my WIPs by evil, evil, SNIs (Shiny New Ideas), not being sure what ideas to choose to work on, and a ton of other things, but, obviously, I know that if I want to have a shot in Hell at getting published then I need to figure out how to get over all of these issues, so, that's where you come in: Do you have any tips on how to overcome any of the issues I've mentioned so that I can finally get past them all in order to write-and finish!-a first draft? I'd really appreciate your help! :)


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Issues I Deal With

Sorry late post. Work has taken over my life. Literally. Well not literally but almost.

Anywho I was not forgetting this post this week. Just sayin’ I’ve been falling behind, but I think my good news is a pretty good excuse for it. I was applying to all my lovely schools *cough**fourteen**cough*, and so far I have been accepted into four!! Yay! I will for sure be going to school now!! Celebrate good times come one! Do do do do do do do do….

Sorry I had to burst into song. My apologies.

My biggest challenge is the block. And the doubt. I’m a kid, people do not expect me to want to do what I want to do, to love it appreciate it. I’ve been told, by multiple people that I should wait. But that’s not what I want. So as a writer those are the two things I struggle with.

Alright when I am plagued by the “this blank document makes me want to gouge my eyes out” fairy or “the evil word splicing, sentence snapping, paragraph vivisecting, page defenestrating,” elf, “who does not allow one fine word to spew from my racing fingertips and makes me want to, for all intensive purposes cut my own head off.” Not that I have violent thoughts or anything

I drink tea. Lots and lots of chamomile tea; and each chocolate, lots and lots of dark chocolate. Both are known for stimulating creativity. I also go through iTunes creating random play lists depending on whatever songs I’d like to hear, and then place those play lists on repeat while sitting in front of the computer. I also doodle, endlessly. I pick fights with my sister. Trust me the arguing gets the adrenaline pumping and then the writing just flows. I call my friends and info dump on them over the phone, bouncing ideas off of them until their ears bleed from my incessant babbling. I read. Also watching TV or old movies sometimes helps, listening to the radio too. Or laying upside down on the couch letting the blood rush to your head. I mean the oxygen has got to do something for those creative brain cells up there right?

But when I’m plagued with the “You suck find something else to do with your life” troll, I read Harry Potter because it reminds me why I wanted to do this in the first place why I started. And I sleep. Like curl up in bed for a day sleep. When I’m super stressed and run real thin, sleep is just what I need.

And then, when the block breaks, and the doubt dissipates, I write a sentence that makes me sit back and think, “Wow I can do this.” And I know it to be true.

Okay, sleep, sounds good. Glad I got this post done, sorry about my sketchy not regular-ness, that is going to stop. AS soon as the holidays are over and I can finally catch my breath. Senior-it is set in four years ago and now, thanks to those four little letters, I can allow the disease to spread to its fullest and consume me. SCORE!!! Which means more time for posting, bopin’ around the blogsphere, reading, and virtually stalking all my favorite authors/people. Till next time.

Xoxo Hayley

Yes I was pretending to be gossip girl. No I do not watch the show, or read the books, but the announcer at school awhile ago signed off like that, and I wanted to mimic him, it was cute.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Writing Challenge, Test, Trial, Task, Ect...

I’m pretty much good to go on the prewriting stuff and the post writing stuff. I’m a list person, so outlining and mapping is something I enjoy. I tend to base most of my characters on people I meet in real life (you have been warned), and the only time I can get any writing done is when I don’t have enough time to write.

For me the biggest challenge in the writing process is editing. In fact until last year I’d never really edited anything. I just write my paper it, skim over it quick to make sure there aren’t any spelling errors, and send it off to its final destination. I never really saw the point of editing a five page college paper. I’d meant what I’d said, my paper was only one in a stack of at least thirty, and I got A’s regardless of if I hard core edited it or not. Now that I’m writing more than five pages I’ve some how managed to carry this bad habit over with me. The bright side is that it’s easier for me to grasp the concept of editing hundred page stories than the concept of editing college paper.

The problem is that I honestly had no idea how to do it, but after studying the comments the other Ink Slingers have made about my stories it’s gotten a lot easier. I’m able to look at my work with more of an objective eye and accept that it’s just a first draft and changing it is a good thing. If I left it how it was then it would be messy and raw, so in this case admitting it isn’t perfect is a good thing.

Finding the time to edit is also a problem for me, and I’ll let you know how I cope with that part of the problem once I successfully find the time to edit anything the whole way through.


Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm Late!

For a very important date!!! What date? This date: Friday December 3, my date for my blog post. So why? Well, I kinda sorta, just....forgot?? I know, it's terrible. I could list several reasonable excuses, but I doubt you care, you're here for a book review and a book of the month you shall get. AND because I'm late, I'll do ya better. I'm doing a quick review to TWO books :) So, here it goes.

Book 1: Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Falling. Yikes! Captured and Entranced. Friends. Wow details. Escape and Adventure. Va-va-voom, bring me more.

Thumbs up. This would rate in my "good book" category. I'm entranced enough to want to read the next book and this one was really good. I think for people younger than 6th grade it would be a great read. (though on amazon, it's recommended for grades 4-8) You can really get in Soren's head and feel what he's feeling regardless that he's upchucking parts of his food and talks about growing his flight feathers. 

Here's the thing. This isn't just a story about an owl's life, it's adventure and it shows the importance of believing in something more important than just yourself. The descriptions are INCREDIBLE and the society of owls is completely believable. It sets up a great world and storyline for the rest of the books in the series. Overall, I'd recommend it to anyone regardless of age because it's good, but I'd really recommended it middle grade writers and middle grade/ young adult readers. 
Book 2: Wolves of the Beyond: Lone Wolf
Author: Kathryn Lasky
OMG it's adorable! Oh no! Whew, okay, he's good. There's more to this. The end?

Thumbs up, like Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture, this books sets up an excellent premise for the books that follow. It's a great tale of working through adversity and not giving up because things aren't perfect or the way they're supposed to go.  The entire novel I was rooting for Faolan. It's hard not to get a connection with this young wolf when he's going through so much to just survive. You really want him to succeed and that is what keeps the pages turning. At the same time, you get the sense that he's not going to end up like his typical kind do, there's something special about him and it's only a matter of times before he starts to shine. This is what's driving me to the next books in the series. 

I'd definitely put this in my "good book" category. It was worth the read and even worth re-reading AND I kinda can't wait to read the rest of the series. I'd highly recommend this book to 5-6th graders or middle grade writers. 

So, what about you? What's your best book from November?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Best Cookbook I Read in November

As a testament to the type of month I’ve had the only books I’ve read in November were cookbooks. I think that the best book I read in November was Taste of Home: More Fast Fixes With Mixes.

I’m not big on using mixes in cooking, and the only reason I bought this particular cookbook was because I didn’t notice the “with mixes” part of the title until I was already in the check out line. But once I got it home and tried out a few of the recipes I was actually really glad I got it.

Some of the desserts were pretty disgusting, although incredibly good, but all of the other recipes I’ve tried so far are great. A lot of them involve refrigerated crescent roles, which I normally don’t like the taste of, but all of the other ingredients in the recipe really did wonders for the taste. I’d recommend this cookbook to anyone with one small piece of advice, use your own brownie recipe as opposed to a mix whenever possible.


P.S. Oh and...