My mother's always taught me that service is a commendable thing. I've found through the years that whenever I become egocentric (me! me! me!), the cure is simply this: to take down the mirrors and look around me. These past few days we've had Hurricane Irene ran its destructive course through the East Coast, claiming lives in its wake. And what did I do? I bemoaned my writing funk.
While I am deeply grateful for all of your support, I also want to smack my head for being such a whiner. So to cure myself, and to show my appreciation, I am going to offer you this:
UPDATE: The First Chapter Crit slots are NOW FILLED!
FIRST CHAPTER CRITIQUES/EDITS/FEEDBACK TO THE FIRST 3 PEOPLE TO EMAIL ME AT writercherie [AT] gmail [DOT] com
FIRST PAGE CRITS TO THE NEXT 5. <-- And this one is CLOSED to new requests!
THANK YOU for participating!
That's it. Easy peasy.
After you scramble to open your emails and send me your lovely requests (I'm a fairly competent reader/editor, I think. At any rate, I'm a useful second pair of eyes.), come back here and check out the following links:
The Clothing NOT Optional contest hosted by J. Lea Lopez of Jello World is still looking for votes. One of the "steamy" short stories is mine, but I can't tell you which one it is. So go read the four entries and blush and then vote for your favorite. Hopefully, you end up voting for my story, even if you didn't know it. Voting is also anonymous. There's a poll on the left sidebar. Please and thank you!
Chapter 13 of the Skeleton Key blogvel is up! Over at Chelsea Rose's blog. This chica is also a very talented artist. Check out her artwork while you're there.
And last, but not least, I want to do a BIG SHOUT-OUT to my wonderful and generous friend JENNY PHRESH of The Party Pony for bringing a smile to my face. She'd heard of my library dilemma (it is closed for a whole month due to renovations *gasp!*) and decided to mail me books so I won't have reading withdrawals (my right eye was starting to twitch).
So please, please, please, go pay her blog a visit and show her some LOVE because she is just way too nice. And FUNNY. And awesomely talented. And did I mention, FUNNY? I must warn you though...do NOT drink anything while reading her blog posts. I don't want to be responsible for ruined suits or clothes, and I will certainly not accept your dry cleaning bill if you send it to me.
Have a great day, everyone!!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 | | 15 Comments
I'm overwhelmed by the support and love you guys have shown me.
You guys are the BEST!
I'm going to write now--a horror short story that I hope will haunt my dreams tonight. Because of your kind words and comments and cheerleading poms poms, this will be my reality soon:
|By Debbie Ridpath Ohi|
I wish you all a FABULOUS week! Happy writing! And if Mr. Doubt comes slinking around your corner, I'll be there to help you ward him off. <3 you all!
Monday, August 29, 2011 | | 15 Comments
I've been such a scattterbrain lately. I really thought life would resume normality once my little kiddo goes to school, but while this week has been a success for her (she LOVES her teacher, she's gotten a NEW BESTFRIEND on the very first day, and the school lunch menu has 3 meal choices now--and "Mommy, there is cake on Thursday!"), I've been lost in the wanderings of my own mind.
So. I haven't done any real writing, haven't been reading a lot of your wonderful blogs, and I've just been in a general sort of funk. Not the sad kind, more like the "What am I going to do and Where am I going next?" kind of a thing. Sounds like a midlife crisis, but no, it's not. Besides, I'm not THAT old. :D
I guess I'm just going to ramble now. Feel free to stop reading whenever you want--I promise I won't get offended. ;) Sometimes I feel like I have to do things--for instance, I've been thinking about how I haven't even blogged about writing tips, or anything remotely helpful or thought-provoking. Then I see all the other blogs in my RSS Feed and they've pretty much covered everything else I wanted to say or write about. I stare at my WIP and the old doubts rise up to attack me: You call yourself a writer? Do you even know what you're doing? And then the ever annoying chuckle, followed by: You dish out writing advice and you can't even follow your own advice?
Sigh. Get out of my head, you miserable Mr. Doubt! And take Ms. Self-Pity with you on your way out!
If only it were that easy, right?
To pass the time (who knew I had time to pass?), I've been doing some digital art work. It's my therapy. The interesting thing I've come to realize is that when I'm creating visual art, my writing gets stoppered with a cork, and vice versa. It's like I'm only allowed one creative outlet at one time. What's up with that? Maybe this is one of those conundrums: You draw, you can't write, OR you can't write, so you draw, OR you write, and you can't do anything else at all. HAHA!
Writing this post seems to help me rope my brain back into my noggin. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get some writing done today. Crossing my fingers now.
I wish you all a fabulous, productive weekend! May the MUSE be with you. :)
Because I'm a scatterbrain, I forgot to give you the link for this week's Skeleton Key blogvel Chapter 12 by the ever prolific writer, Michelle Simkins.
Also, J. Lea Lopez of Jello World hosted a sexy short story contest called Clothing NOT Optional. J. Lea writes romance and erotica, and her challenge was to come up with a sexy story where the characters steam up the page while keeping their clothes on. No nudity. I normally don't write sexy stories but peer pressure, and the challenge to write out of my comfort zone, made me cave in. There are four entries up on her blog, and the voting is now OPEN for readers to choose their favorite story. I won't tell you which one is my story so it will be a fair contest, as all entries are anonymous. So head over there to read and choose your favorite (hopefully, you'll like mine). You are allowed to blush, btw. It's ok, I won't tell anyone.
I picked up Matched by Ally Condie at the library based on a stranger's review--this guy (yes, he was MALE!) was a junior high teacher and he was really impressed with the book. So, out of curiosity (and this was back in the days when I was still living under a rock), I pulled out Matched from the bookshelf and took it home with me. I finished the book in one day.
So when Jenny Phresh of The Party Pony hosted a contest with YA ARCs, and among them Crossed, the sequel to Matched, I knew I had to go crazy and try to win it. By the miracles of the universe and possibly good karma, I won the book, along with The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (see my review here). You can't believe how much squealing and happy dancing took place in my humble abode. I believe the neighbors got together to plot my eviction...oh wait, they can't evict me, I own my house. Mwahaha!
Ally Condie is a former high school English teacher turned bestselling author. She lives just outside Salt Lake City, Utah with her family. (Yay, a fellow Utahn!) Her website can be found at http://www.allysoncondie.com/.
Here are the blurbs for her books, courtesy of Goodreads:
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.**********
Why I Recommend:
Though it's a typical dystopian, disguised as a utopia at first, I still enjoyed the elements of this dystopian society--a world where everything is controlled, from the amount of food one eats to what they dream at night. Think Big Brother of George Orwell's 1984. Anytime we have a government, fictional or not, that tries to suppress their people's right to choose and think for themselves, you know you want them to fail so bad you're willing to root for any sign of rebellion, however small. Needless to say, the novel's setting definitely set the tone for the entire book and made me immediately sympathize with the protagonists (I love me a rebel, you see.)
Cassia's excited to discover her match, as all the other girls are. Having lived within the Society's grip all her life, she didn't know any better...until an error in her Match card shows her an alternative life. A possible match with Ky, an Aberration, instead of the upstanding citizen and best friend, Xander, whom Society had intended for her all along. This "glitch" made Cassia take a better look at herself, her life, her family, and why did her Grandfather, who was dying, left her with a forbidden poem?
As Cassia tries to unravel the Society's secrets, as well as get to know Ky and his dreadful past, the Society keeps a closer watch on her and her family. Soon she begins to feel smothered, as her feelings for both Ky and Xander become complicated.
The writing is pretty solid, and the pace nicely done. I also liked the poem references in the book. There are so many dystopian novels out there right now, so as far as settings and politics go, this wasn't exceptionally original. Neither was the love triangle angle, which almost every YA book has anyway, BUT I still enjoyed this story. I liked Cassia and her determination. She isn't afraid to search for truth even when it meant risking her life and the people she loves. She's not afraid to pursue her heart either, which is always commendable. In a world that is tightly controlled, it takes courage to rise above the norm and stick out like a nail, even when Society tries to hammer it down. The romance angle is also sweet and not overly done. Plus Ky is an intriguing character.
Book 2 follows with Cassia looking for Ky, when Ky gets sent out to the Outer Provinces. So we get alternate POVs between Cassia and Ky with each chapter. There may or may not be a rebellion, but nevertheless, the idea of one gives Cassia hope that someday the world will be right once again. I won't say anything else to avoid dishing out spoilers by accident. But I just want to say that book 2 follows in the same vein with book 1 (pacing, writing, etc.), and the focus on Cassia's personal life is stretched out to include the bigger picture of the world around her. All in all an enjoyable read, and already, I am waiting for book 3. =)
If you want to check out other books I've read and reviewed, go here. As I've mentioned last week, I'm planning a future book giveaway so stay tuned for details.
So I'm NOT giving out books YET. But there are a lot of generous bloggers who are hosting wonderful book giveaways.
So, let's get on to business.
1) My Twitter friend Mandie Baxter, she-who-rocks-the-glasses and gives me wonderful medical advice every now and then (no, she's not a doctor, though I call her Doc Mandie), is having her FIRST EVER BOOK GIVEAWAY! You have the opportunity to win a paperback copy of Love Story by Jennifer Echols (with a really pretty bookmark, so she says), OR two e-books by Amanda Hocking: Hollows, the first book in the Hollows series, and Switched, the first book in the Trylle Trilogy. So go check out the deets for a chance to win!
2) You can win a SIGNED copy of Maggie Stiefvater's FOREVER (the third book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy) at Pots & Pens. All you need to do is follow their blog and tweet about the contest. Easy peasy.
If you've been following my blog for sometime now, you would know that I'd won Michelle Simkins' contest with my short story entry "Beware the Bunny". The lovely prize was Ryan the Zombunny, who arrived on my doorstep one stormy night.
This is a story of how our first three days went....
Warning: There may or may not be truth in this story, but all I know is that it's NOT for the faint of heart.
Lightning whipped across the darkening sky, a silver lasso cackling with electricity. Black clouds had gathered unexpectedly this summer evening, and somewhere across the state, some unfortunate weatherman was getting fired for missing the signs of the impending storm. Thunder bellowed its presence and announced the onslaught of rain, which came hard and fast. Like tiny furious daggers going for the kill.
The doorbell rang. I wiped my hands on a dishtowel before pressing the start button on the dishwasher. Before I could get to the door, I heard the sound of tires screeching on the slick pavement, as if someone couldn't get out of here fast enough.
"Yes?" I said, opening the door a crack. There was no one. A chill shot up my spine, but I ignored the feeling and flung the door wide. This was what I saw:
It was Ryan the Zombunny! Yes, I saw the suspiciously lone shoe on the welcome mat, but Ryan was here, and I'd been waiting for his arrival.
"Hey there, little guy. You're an absolute cutie! I can't believe the Postal worker opened your box. I'll have to remember to report this to the Post Office tomorrow." I picked him up. "After all, it IS a crime to open other people's mail."
Ryan looked at me with eyes full of understanding. Well, with ONE eye since the other one was hanging off its socket and was gazing at the floor.
"Are you hungry?" I carried him to the kitchen. On the counter were the vegetables we had scored at the Farmer's Market the day before. "Oh crap!" I slapped my forehead. "I forgot to get you some cauliflower. Oh well, we have plenty of other things. What do you think? Would you like to try a tomato?"
But I wasn't playing detective. I was glad to welcome him into our family. Still, it was obvious we weren't off to a good start, and I wanted desperately to amend this.
So I showed him his bedroom.
|Strangely enough, no one has seen Mr. Octopus since then.|
"Okay," I said. "You can watch that but only when the kids are not home." He didn't answer.
The storm was finally dying down. Rain softly pitter-pattered on the rooftop. The children came home from visiting their Grampa and Nana, and there were ecstatic cries of joys at the sight of our newest "family member". Ryan had to endure cuddly hugs and tea parties with Tinkerbell, Buzz Lightyear, and the Elephant family. But he didn't complain. Not a word.
Later, I found out why.
|May the Force be with you, Obi Wan...NOT!|
That night, I tossed and turned in my bed and dreamt of being chased by zombies.
Six a.m. came fast enough, and I staggered down the stairs with bleary eyes and hair to rival my friend Bethany's afro. A little bird chirped happily just outside the window, singing Gisele's Happy Working Song (from the movie Enchanted), when suddenly there was a whoosh followed by complete silence.
His eye widened. Goosebumps prickled my arms. I had the strangest feeling that somehow he didn't break the rule at all.
Shaking off the chill, I ran back upstairs to get showered. Ryan followed behind me. "No, buddy, I have to get ready. Why don't you go and play?"
He stared at me from the bottom of the stairs.
Unnerved, I took Ryan outside to enjoy the summer's lovely (and rather scorching) sun.
Evening came and we had survived with hardly any injuries or more beheadings. (Mr. Gorilla underwent extensive sewing surgeries and though he'd have to live the rest of his life as a vegetable--he chose a rutabaga--he is thankful to have his head still attached to his body. Headless toys don't get second chances. *coughtrashbincough*)
The tension in the house had considerably lightened, and Ryan even conceded to try a tomato. After I read him and the children a bedtime story, Ryan asked to borrow my sparkly tiara.
|Yikes! My lips are NOT that red in real life. Silly iPhone camera app.|
I won an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler when my wonderful writer friend Jenny Phresh aka The Party Pony decided to clean out her BEA haul from her shelves and give away some prized titles. (People, this is one of the many reasons why you should follow her blog. Aside from randomly hilarious posts on galloping shopping carts and squirelly activities, this woman is GENEROUS! Plus when she's feeling sentimental, she writes beautiful, inspiring prose that'll make you want to wander around the subway sans contacts/half-blind.)
I finished reading this while on vacation--it is an easy, fast read. Here is the blurb for the book:
This lady is amazingly generous. Claire Legrand is doing a Suitcase Seven Giveaway, and we are currently on book 5, which happens to be an ARC of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I love Laini Taylor! So of course I had to blog about this and do some tweeting to win it.
*crossing fingers* Oh please, please, please, let me win!
And while you're checking out her giveaway, follow her blog too. She's an up and coming author about to debut her novel THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Fall 2012 (Simon and Shuster).
So, what are you still doing here? Go. Now.
I'm so glad to be home again. Vacations are fun, but there is no place like home (right, Dorothy of Kansas?) There's a lot of catching up to do and I'm sorry I haven't been able to read blogs. I'm excited to visit you guys and see what you've all been up to.
BUT before I wander around the blogosphere, the winner of the BOOK GIVEAWAY and soon-to-be proud owner of an autographed copy of THE FIFTH SPECTER by T.S. Welti is... (drumroll, please)
This is going to be quick and easy. I have recently gotten to know these bloggers and I thought they need acknowledgement for the work they put on making their blogs shiny and sparkly. And you know me, I like sparkly things! ;)
So I hereby award the BLOG ON FIRE award to the following ladies:
1. Jessie Humphries
3. Lisa Ann
4. Tracy Jorgensen
5. Rachel Brooks
6. Julie Fedderson
7. Jeana Watts
8. Christine Tyler
9. Madeline Bartos
10. Charissa Weaks
Tune in tomorrow for the winner of the BOOK GIVEAWAY: THE FIFTH SPECTER by T.S. Welti. You can still join! Contest ends at midnight, Mountain time.
Have a good day, everyone!
I won Michelle Simkins' Give Me Your Cute Evil Longing to Eat Brains with my illustrated short story entry "Beware the Bunny", so THANK YOU to all of you who voted for me! I really, really appreciate your support. My family is excited to welcome Ryan the Yarn Zombunny into our home. <3
Also, I am guest posting at A.M. Supinger's blog Inner Owlet with my MGish short story called "The Magic Pebble". It has a dragon, possibly. And a humongous fish. ;)
Okay, now back to our regular programming...don't forget to join the BOOK GIVEAWAY contest. The prize: T.S. Welti's debut MG novel "The Fifth Specter", book one of the Parker Chance series.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 | | 9 Comments
We are going to have a very exciting week! My friend and writer extraordinaire, T.S. Welti, is being featured here for the whole entire week. She is an amazingly talented woman and I'm very proud to present her awesomeness to you. Her debut novel, The Fifth Specter: Book One of the Parker Chance series is OUT and ready for your reading pleasure! I had the good fortune of snagging a signed copy from Ms. Welti herself, so I'll be sharing my review soon.
So! Let's get this started.
To start off, we have a BOOK GIVEAWAY, courtesy of Ms. Welti. All you need to do is answer this simple question:
If you could have a SUPERPOWER, what would it be?
Leave your answer in the comment section below. The contest runs for a week and will end on Monday, August 15th. After the contest ends, the winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, August 16th.
The prize? A COPY OF THE FIFTH SPECTER BY T.S. WELTI! So go wrack your brain for superpower ideas!
On Wednesday, I'll be posting my review of The Fifth Specter.
On Friday, Ms. Welti answers my prodding questions in an interview (ala Barbara Walters, or...possibly Rita Skeeter-style.)
So stay tuned and show some love!
Check out her blog The Smoking Quill. You can also follow her on Twitter: @TS_Welti.
Not a Twitterer? Check out her FB Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/tswelti.author
Also, her FB Book Page: http://www.facebook.com/TheFifthSpecter
Chapter 10 of the Skeleton Key Round Robin Blogvel is now up by Laura of Laura's Universe.
Have a great day, everyone!
I know most of you have seen The Breakfast Club, an 80's film by the late John Hughes (apparently, according to rookieriter, I'm the only person who hadn't seen any of John Hughes movies. If that assumption is correct, then you'd all should be able to follow this post with no deer-in-the-headlights moment.)
This is YA in a nutshell. I know it seems cliché when we talk about stereotyping in high school, but even though this movie is more than two decades old there is some truth to this story, a truth that still exists in our society today.
Labels. We're all fond of putting labels on each other.
I've read a lot of YA books--not as extensive as I would like, but enough to know that writers often box their characters into cliched labels. We have the girl who is beautiful but clueless, and is the quintessential damsel in distress albeit in modern surroundings. The brooding, unapproachable hero who has magical powers. The sidekick who buoys the hero's or heroine's self-esteem--a sort of comic relief at times, or possibly a foil for the main character. A villain who exists for the purpose of creating conflict. And many, many more....
In The Breakfast Club, these labels were clearly printed on these teens' foreheads, at least that's how they were seen by the principal who gave them detention. The kids themselves lived by these labels because it was what expected of them. When Brian asked the question (me paraphrasing it), After today, what happens next? Will you say hi to me if we see each other in the hallway? And the heartbreaking truth was that, neither one of them would. Claire aka the popular, rich girl responded: You don't understand. It's not that easy.
And why not? Why is it so hard to break the social barrier?
It's because real life is the way it is. We are simply too fond of labeling each other.
So you read a YA book and you see the peppy blond cheerleader giving the heroine a hard time...yes, it does happen. You see the good-looking quarterback going for the flat-chested nerdy sophomore...yes, it can happen.
The thing is, if we're going to write cliche characters, it's okay AS LONG AS THERE'S A REASON FOR IT. Why is peppy blond cheerleader mean to the heroine? What's in her background, her life story that accounts for the meanness?
Why is John Bender aka The Criminal so hateful? Because he's been physically abused by his father.
Why is Allison Reynolds a basketcase? Because her family ignores her.
How come nerdy Brian Johnson had a flare gun in his locker in the first place? Because he had contemplated suicide.
And so on, and so forth.
Give your characters depth because cliché or not, no one is one-dimensional. Do not put cheerleader in the path of your heroine just because. There has to be a reason for everything.
At the end of the movie, they all left Mr. Vernon, the principal, a letter or an essay, and it says:
- Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong...but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who (sic) we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...
- Andrew Clarke: ...and an athlete...
- Allison Reynolds: ...and a basket case...
- Claire Standish: ...a princess...
- John Bender: ...and a criminal...
- Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?
- Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club. (Source: Wikipedia)
Don't be a Mr. Vernon.