Thursday, March 31, 2011

Computer Problems

All of you who read my last blog and stopped by the Writers Cubed blog to join the i-tune gift card contest, you may have noticed you couldn't comment. Ahhh! We've run into a big technical difficulty and we'll have to postpone the contest. But, we'll be back up and running soon!!!

Peace out!
Monday, March 28, 2011

Wolves, Boys and Other Things . . .

     The first time I tried Thai food, my taste buds thought they'd died and gone to heaven. To me, reading Kristen Chandler's book WOLVES, BOYS, AND OTHER THINGS THAT MIGHT KILL ME was a lot like that. I found it a delicious new flavor in the current smorgasbord of YA literature.

    Don't be fooled by the title. This book has nothing to do with vampires and werewolves. Instead, it is a serious yet entertaining look at the ramifications of re-introducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park, a government program that began in the mid 1990s. (However, if you are looking a for a good paranormal read, I recommend the book PARANORMALCY.)

     What could have been a dull, simply informational read is transformed by Kristen into a story that skillfully blends fact with excitement, intrigue, and, oh yes, teenage love.

     It all begins when 16-year-old KJ is cajoled into writing a column about the Yellowstone wolves for her high school newspaper. She's to work side-by-side with Virgil, and expert photographer and the new kid at school. As luck would have it, he's a good-looking vegetarian whose mother is a passionate environmentalist.
   
     As KJ learns more about the plight of the gray wolf in the United Sates, she gains an appreciation for an animal that most people in her rural community would prefer dead.

     Her newspaper articles cause enough of a stir in town that the lives of those who are sympathetic to her cause are threatened. It's up to KJ to protect the wolves, keep ranchers' livestock safe, and to heal relationships gone bad.

     Thanks Kristen for adding some spice to my reading list!

     Kristen will be presenting a class on Dialog: Give your characters a voice that readers will love at the Teen Writers Boot Camp in Orem, Utah at the Utah Valley University campus on Saturday, April 23, 2011. The boot camps is for teens ages 13-19. Cost is $39 before April 9th. For more information, visit www.writerscubed.com
Friday, March 25, 2011

Anyone up for a query letter exchange critique?

I'm about to send out a query letter for a middle grade mystery to the agent that I really, really want to represent my work. I've had some friends and writing group partners give me feedback on my letter, but I'd love a totally new set of eyes to look it over, AND I'll return the favor. So, if you've got a query letter you'd like reviewed, either leave a comment or email me directly.
Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Yourself a Blog Education

One year ago I started blogging. Since then, I have learned more than I ever would have going to school in that same amount of time. 
 
My experience in the blog-o-sphere reminds me of an old Hassidic story.

Heaven,” says the Rabbi, “is like sitting at a large table, surrounded by people you know, with every kind of food you love on the table. However, your elbows won’t bend.”

Hell,” he continues, “is also like sitting at a large table, surrounded by people you know, with every kind of food you love on the table. Once again, your elbows can’t bend.”

So what is the difference between heaven and hell?” asks the Rabbi's friend.

In heaven,” the Rabbi answers, “the people feed each other.”

My teachers (all of you) have fed me well.

Here is my list of the top five things I've learned:

  1. Write, write and write some more. Experiment with voice, tense, genre, humor, romance, and emotion.
  2. I've got a fighting chance. There was a time in my life when publishing a novel seemed like an unattainable goal. Now I know it will take hard work, but it can happen.
  3. The big three e-publishers: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Pub it, and Smashwords.com. I've learned how to write, format, design and publish e-books.
  4. Numbers in social media aren't as important and the relationships formed. It's the people you meet online who will support you in a publishing career, not blog follower #77.
  5. Writing is part science, part magic.

What have you learned in Blog-Ed?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Teenagers at a mall--their thoughts on books and writing



If you know a teenager who lives in Utah, chances are they will have an amazing time at a writers conference just for them. Register at www.writerscubed.com

Information in a nutshell:

Teen Author Boot Camp
Where: Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah
When: Saturday, April 23rd from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
(Lunch and parking voucher provided)
Who: Teens ages 13-19
Cost: Before April 9th $39, After April 9th $49


At the conference there will be more than ten different published authors teaching classes that center on creative writing skills such as: plotting, dialog, creating realistic characters, writing with voice, etc.

In conjunction with the conference is a first chapter writing contest. Every teenager can submit the first chapter or first ten pages of a book they are working on or have written. First prize is a $100 gift certificate to University Mall in Orem, Utah.

Cure teenage boredom and pass the good news along!
Monday, March 7, 2011

Is Your Manuscript Safe?

Two weeks ago my friend's house burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was hurt. My friend is a writer, and I was so worried that she had lost all of her computer files. Thank goodness she is much smarter than me and had all of her work backed up online.

This got me thinking? Just how safe are my manuscripts? What would I do if my computer and jump drive (where I currently back up my work) was lost in a fire? I'll tell you where I would be . . . booked into a hospital psych ward from a massive mental breakdown!

The realization made me get on the ball and research the best price for on an online back-up provider and the best price on a good-quality fireproof safe.

I'm passing the information on to you, with the reminder that my friend never expected to lose her home. And for the record, I have no affiliation with any of these services or products. I'm just a savvy consumer.

By far, I found Mozy to be the provider of choice for online storage for home computer users who don't have a ton of money. I signed up on Mozy.com for 2 years of service, which gave me three months free. I also found a coupon code that gave me an extra 15 percent off the total price. The code is “BESTOFMONTH.” All in all it cost me $106 to have continuous back up for 50 GB of documents, pictures, and videos for the next 24 months. That's $4.42 a month. I did learn that videos take up a ton of storage. The videos on my computer were almost 50 GB themselves, so I also decided to purchase a fireproof safe where I could store a jump drive with my videos on it. 

Researching a fireproof safe was a pain. There are so many choices. Here is what I found. You can pay anywhere from $25 to more than $1,000 on a fireproof container. The differences are size, ease of use, length of time it will survive in a fire, and temperatures it can withstand.

Like most of you (I assume), I don't have $1,000 to spend on a safe right now. In fact, I ended up paying a little more than I wanted to, but I feel I got the best deal for my money. There are two main brands: Fist Alert and Sentry. One big difference is that First Alert's warranty is for five years. Sentry's is for one year.

You can get a safe that is proven to last a half hour, one hour, or two hours in a hot fire. Something that lasts ½ hour can cost less than $100. Something that withstands fire for one hour costs from $150 to $300. If you want something that is safe for two hours, you'll spend at least $350 on up. I live in an area with lots of trees, so this was an important factor to me.

After reading the reviews, I finally decided on a First Alert .94 Cu. Ft. Waterproof Firesafe that lasts one hour in a fire--a middle of the road option. It cost me about $150 dollars at Walmart.com, and I had it shipped to my house for .97 cents. A bargain, I thought, considering it weighs 80 pounds. I plan on keeping hard copies of my most important work in it as well as a list of all the expensive items in my house—not that there are that many. :)

Dropping $250 on Mozy and a safe in one week was not easy on the budget, but it felt great after seeing how quickly a person can lose a lifetime of work and memories. One benefit is that both are potential tax write-offs for my writing business.

Moral of this blog is . . . and you've heard it before . . . back up your work and keep your important documents safe. It really doesn't take that long to do. Here's to a worry-free week!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What’s your favorite paranormal?


    Vampires, werewolves, zombies, or how about mermaids?

     If you can’t decide, then PARANORMALCY, a New York Times best-selling young adult novel, is right up your alley. The author, Kiersten White, skillfully weaves a swarm of different creatures together in a story that feels much more human than not. 

     I immediately liked PARANORMALCY's main character, Evie. She has spunk, attitude, and the talent of seeing through a parnanormal’s glamour—a beautiful exterior that hides what is really underneath. Evie’s job is to round up these monsters and have them tagged by the International Paranormal Containment Agency. 

     Things begin to go awry, however, when Evie learns she is being watched by the IPCA because they believe she too is a paranormal--one of unknown origin.

     Add a cute boy, a devious fairy, and a mysterious ruthless killer to the plot, and you have the makings for a great story. 

     I finished the book and handed it to my 14-year-old daughter. She confirmed my opinion when she couldn’t put the book down to come eat dinner. Just so you know, it's not like we were having split pea soup or anything gross like that. It was a tasty meal I'd made. (grin)

     A sequel is coming out soon, and I look forward to reading it. 

     Kiersten is going to be the keynote speaker for a teen writing conference in Utah. If you know a teen who likes to read/write books, and if you live in Utah, check it out at www.writerscubed.com.

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.

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