Saturday, March 31, 2012

March recap and the other kind of plotting

March was an exciting, productive month. Despite watching an absurd amount of college basketball, I exceeded my W1S1 goals and sent out more stories than normal (four, counting resubs) and read thirteen books, six of them from the Off the Shelves challenge (and yet somehow I’m still 5 books behind. Hmmm.). And of course I’m excited to see my story go up on Kazka. It will probably be tomorrow, April 1st, which is fitting since I might have trouble believing it. :-P

I don’t plan to pull any pranks tomorrow (or do I? Bwahah – No, actually, I really have no plans). I will be vigilant though, since my husband is a prime prankster. In college he had me and most of the freshmen frisbee players believing in the existence of an imaginary housemate for several months. It’s still a bit of a sore subject.

How was your March? And do you have any nefarious pranks planned for April Fools' Day?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So, that news I promised...

A few days ago, I made my first sale!

I love Hyperbole and a Half
In just a few days, my story “Bone Joiners” will appear on Kazka Press!

Among other exciting ventures, each month Kazka Press runs a flash fiction call with very specific rules. The stories always have to be exactly 713 words, and for March they asked for a sword and sorcery story involving a young woman who finds three chairs carved of bone in a broken forest.

The prompt was right up my alley, even though my fantasy stories aren't usually sword and sorcery. But man, that brutally exact word count… I have to be honest: there was a point when I was ready to give up. I enjoyed my concept, but my original draft was over 1200 words, so I had to kill A LOT of darlings, and the more I cut, the harder it was for me to see the world, characters, and story. Fortunately, my picky-reader husband believed in the story and flat out ordered me to keep going and find a way to cut and polish it in time for the deadline. So I absorbed his confidence and his editing suggestions, put on my Tim Gunn spectacles, and did my best to Make It Work. It felt great to push through the doubt and mold the story back into something I could be proud of, and it felt even better to have others like it too. I am very grateful to Kyle and Kazka for believing in my delightfully creepy bone joiners. The story should go live at the very end of this month, and I hope you'll check it out! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RTW: Best Book of March

I had a different post planned for today, but then I realized that it was the last YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday of the month and I already had an answer ready for their question:

What was the best book you read in March? 

So that other post will have to wait a day or two. (I love how I decided the A-Z Blog Challenge seemed awesome but too intense for me, yet here I am subjecting you to a string of daily blog posts anyway. Hehe.)

I mentioned When She Woke yesterday, but it deserves a longer mention, and it was definitely the best book I read in March. 
Read Me
When She Woke is (among many other things) a reimagining of The Scarlet Letter set in a dystopian near future. Technology serves the increasingly theocratic government, enforcing its conservative moral codes. The corrections system has undergone a radical shift: all but the most dangerous criminals are color-coded, their skin pigment genetically altered for the period of their sentence, and then released into a society that scorns and persecutes them.

The story is thrilling, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking all at once. Hillary Jordan writes beautifully and deftly develops both the dystopian world and its characters. The comparisons to Margaret Atwood are completely accurate, and I can’t think of much higher praise.

I also want to include my runner-up for March, a book as beautiful and breathtaking as its cover:
Read me too
Sisterhood, small towns, power, trust, loyalty, disappearance... all with gorgeous prose and an eerie magical realism twist. 

And even before I read Imaginary Girls, I was a fan of Nova Ren Suma for her excellent blog. I highly recommend checking it out, too, especially these great series

What were your favorite reads this month? Feel free to comment here or on YA Highway. :-D

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Feeling Lucky

When my husband returned from his conference last week, he presented me with an early birthday present. “If you really don’t like it, we don’t have to keep it,” he said. “But I got it for free and I think it’s pretty awesome.”

That’s right: I am the conflicted excited owner of a Kindle 3!

It turns out a number of the companies at the conference were giving away big prizes – all you had to do to enter was visit their booths and chat about their products. Thanks to my husband being (1) his friendly, networking self and (2) very lucky, he ended up winning this Kindle from Oracle. (Thanks, Oracle!)

At least, he SAYS he won the Kindle for free. This could all be an elaborate scheme to convert me to ebooks (e-books? eBooks?), which my husband has been trying to do for a while. He’s helped me move my boxes and boxes and boxes of books half a dozen times over our nine years together, so I can’t say I blame him.

It’s not that I was ever against ebooks, exactly. I definitely appreciate their compactness and convenience. It’s just that I’m so very strongly in favor of real books. I appreciate them as physical objects with their own unique size, texture, scent, and heft. I like flipping through actual pages, knowing how far I am by the weight. I love beautiful editions with deckle edged pages and embossed covers. And I enjoy writing in my office surrounded by overflowing bookshelves, even if I'm always running out of room.

But you know what? I am stoked about this Kindle, especially since it came at the perfect time. In a few weeks we’ll be traveling to a destination wedding involving a looong flight and a brutal ten hour layover on the way back. I was trying to figure out how I would ever find the baggage space to bring enough books, and now I don’t have to! Especially since I’ve already picked up a long list of free ebooks thanks to my library website and Project Gutenberg ( I still anticipate the majority of my book ownership always being in print form, but I'm really interested to see how this Kindle changes my buying and reading habits.

The day I got the Kindle, I just kept wandering around the house saying “I can’t believe it! We never win things like this!” And then, a day later, I won a book giveaway at Madeline’s The Shellshank Redemption: a signed copy of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. Holy lucky leprechauns! I told my husband that it was a sign from the universe that I didn’t have to give up my obsession with paper and ink books just because it dropped a Kindle in my lap :-D. 

I also figured I should show some gratitude for my crazy double windfall, so I hereby promise to donate a few books to the local library sale (where I plan to shop too, Kindle or no Kindle) and some money to SMART, where I volunteer with the cutest readers ever.

Has anyone else out there reluctantly (or eagerly) taken the Kindle or Nook leap? Any opinions or advice on ebooks to share?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wide Open Week of Work Recap

It's accountability time! Here's how I did on my overly ambitious goals for last week:
Finish five books. Almost. I got through four: Blue Fire; Henry V, War Criminal?; When She Woke; and Imaginary Girls. I enjoyed all of them, and was completely blown away by the last two. Thank you fellow bloggers who recommended When She Woke wow!

Read Me
Polish and submit my story for Kazka’s 713 Flash Call. Yes! By “polish” it turns out I meant “fight the thing tooth and nail to bring down the word count while keeping the story,” but it all worked out by submission time.
Finish editing another story. Yes, though not the one I was expecting.

Start a story for Shakespeare Unfettered. No, but I have a running list of ideas now.  

Write two blog posts. Only if this one counts. ;-)

Outline the freaking WIP already. Errrmm, no. Haven’t even started. Sigh.  

Do some scrapbooking. Yes. There was much cutting, pasting, and reminiscing this week.
Do something fun and active every day. Almost. I need to break out my basketball and hula hoop more often though. (Probably not at the same time, but who knows?)

Remain a functioning adult who keeps reasonable hours and meals. Yes to the meals, but I don’t know what time zone I thought I was on. My inner night owl went a bit crazy without my early bird husband around.
What's next?
I should have a good deal of time this week as well, so I'm hoping to read at least two books and work on the writing goals I didn't accomplish last week. I also have several pieces of news to share in upcoming posts, so stay tuned! And best of luck with whatever goals you want to meet this week!