Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

     Here's my Teaser for this week. Check out the other teasers over at Should Be Reading. And can I just say I love Crossed! Ally Condie does such a beautiful thing with words. I'm not disappointed at all with the sequel so far.

And it is strange that absence can feel like presence. A missing so complete that if it were to go away, I would turn around, stunned, to see that the room is empty after all, when before it at least had something, if not him. (Crossed, page 6)

When I see Cassia dancing without knowing she's doing it- turning and turning in delight as she looks at the paintings and carvings in the cave- I understand why my parents both believed as they did. (Crossed, page 210)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog Funk

     Ever go through a blog funk? I used to have ideas on top of ideas of things to post about. Today I'm watching the little line blink on and off on my non-existent post just waiting for words to appear.
     I think one of the reasons is that I haven't been writing. Since I finished Sway last November I really haven't written anything except a scene from my Daze sequel. That's not to say I've done NOTHING. Besides keeping up with my reading, I edited Sway once and finished beta-ing for someone else. But it almost feels like without the actual writing, I've lost touch a little with the writing world.
     Not good.
     I've got to finish my new edits on Sway so I can send it out to Betas. I really need to focus and work hard on that so I can get back to writing something, anything. And maybe then those writing-creative-juices will start flowing once again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crush of the Week

     I spoke yesterday about the book One Day. Yesterday afternoon, I watched the movie One Day. This was one of those rare instances where I liked the movie better than the book.
     *Note: I still liked the book. I cringe over too much negative.*
     I think I liked the movie better because you're not inside the characters heads. You don't hear all of the despicable things they sometimes think. Also, they cut out a lot of the worser (like that?) qualities of the characters. While you sort of know that Dexter is a drunk in the movie, it's not nearly as bad as it is in the book (not to mention the drugs). Emma has an affair with a married man during the book, they cut that out in the movie.
      I really liked the movie. I've read mixed reviews about it but I enjoyed it, and it made me love the characters more than I did while reading the book.
     It helps that I've been an Anne Hathaway fan since The Princess Diaries. Know what else helps? This guy, who made an excellent Dexter.

     And I have to give a major shout out to how amazing the two actors looked during the movie, pulling off the looks of the late-80s, 90s, and 2000s so well. Check it out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Likeable Characters

     Our characters are supposed to have flaws, right? They can't be perfect or people wouldn't identify with them. They'd be annoyed by their unrealistic perfection.
     But on the flip side, I'd watch out for too much imperfection.
     I recently finished One Day by David Nicholls. It's about the relationship between Emma and Dexter. Each chapter takes place on July 15th of different years. You get glimpses of their lives over 20+ years. The format was new and different for me and I thought it worked well. The story was sometimes funny, sometimes smart, sometimes heartbreaking.
     I hesitate saying anything negative, but this has been on my mind since I finished the book. My only problem with this book? Emma and Dexter are not likeable. Dexter is annoying, selfish, stupid (in his choices), egotistical, and vain. About the only thing going for him is that he's handsome. Emma is a little more likeable- she's funny and witty- but she also has many annoying qualities like always putting herself down and yet acting all high and mighty with her opinions.
     Now I know people make mistakes, they're not perfect. Our characters should be the same. But we need to watch out how awful/annoying we actually make them. They need some redeeming qualities or moments that make up for the stupid ones. Dexter and Emma both had these moments, but they were very few and far between.
     Of course others who have read this book might not feel the same way I do. But what I learned from reading this book is to watch out. If a beta or critique partner tells you your character is annoying because of this or that- take note.
     Or maybe what I learned is that I'm more into books that don't display quite so much how awful/annoying human beings can be.
     What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


     I'm forgoing Road Trip Wednesday this week. I simply do not have the brain power today. I've been in Ottawa since last Thursday and arrived home last night. My older sister got married and it was a great weekend. I got to see most of my family except one brother who couldn't attend.

(the most recent photo I could find with all of us in it!)

     I know this is so not writing related, but I have to take a moment and say how thankful I am for such an awesome family. I'm the youngest of seven kids, with two older sisters and four older brothers. The closest in age to me is four years. I didn't spend a lot of time with my siblings growing up since they were so much older. I started High School just as my sister had graduated from it. But in a way, I'm very very lucky. I don't have any kind of awful memories of my siblings being horrible to me. Things definitely weren't all peachy (I remember fighting with my sisters), but I never had anything bad to get over, know what I mean? I know lots of people who had at least one sib who was so rotten to them it took until they were adults to actually like that person. Not me. My sibs were so good to me, even allowing me- the annoying younger sister- to hang out with their friends.
     I don't see my family much- we're very spread out through Canada and the US. But I love them so much. They are awesome. And I am blessed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Future of Us

     Road Trip Wednesday has been put off this week. Head over to YA Highway to find out why- they did a good post on censorship on the internet.
     I'm not going to say much except goodbye for the weekend. I hop on a plane early tomorrow morning heading to Ottawa, ON. My sister is getting married and I'm super excited. My family lives all over Canada and the US so I don't get to see them often. This weekend will be one of those rare reunions. Also, I love Ottawa, having lived there from grade 5 to grade 10. It's my favorite Canadian city and I get to see some old friends I haven't seen since high school (way back when).

     Since I'll probably finish this book sometime on my trip and won't get a chance to blog about it, I have to say how much I'm loving The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. I haven't been able to put it down. The characters have totally taken me in. Plus, it's fun to read about teenagers in a time where I was a teen. (Josh and I would be the same age- he graduates in '98) I laugh and say, I remember that! or I used to love that! Examples: Crash Into Me by The Dave Matthews Band, dying my hair (aka: turning it orange) with Sun-In, and getting email for the first time (I was 16 and I can't even remember the program I used but I do remember it was free). This is definitely a great read, I'd recommend it to all, but anyone around their 30s will especially love it!
     See you all next week!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Almost Lover

     I just have to share this new song I heard last week. I found this song when I was looking up YouTube videos for Marie Antoinette (don't ask). Love it love it love it. I chose the Marie Antoinette video because the official music video is a little boring (no offence to A Fine Frenzy).

Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy

     On to Teaser Tuesday. This week I'm pulling my teaser from The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (love this book by the way).

pg 58: After she passes, a backdraft of coconut floats by my nose, snipping the threads holding my heart in my chest.
pg 100: During first period, I began a list called "I wonder what becomes of...?" So far I've written the names of eighteen people I want to search for on Emma's computer. The list includes a few of the smartest people in my grade. Maybe one of them finds a cure for AIDS or designs a car that doesn't run on gas. Maybe the president of drama club makes it to Broadway. And my first girlfriend, Rebecca Alvarez. What's she doing fifteen years from now?
     There are also the people too bizarre to ignore, like Kyle Simpson. Future male stripper.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Computer Dependency

So last Friday night, I shut down my computer- something I rarely do. When I went to start it up on Saturday morning, nothing. A big, fat, NOTHING. Crap.
My husband took it in and they said it wouldn't be looked at for at least a week.
Bigger crap.
But then... we got a call on Sunday of all days (who works on sundays???) and the guy said not only is the problem teeny, and inexpensive, and easily fixed, but we can pick the computer up... TODAY!!!
Calming down a little...
It's kinda ridiculous how much we depend on computers. I mean, I have most of my writing backed up (except for the editing I did last week), I have an iPad- what i'm using right this second, and really, I should be able to survive without a computer. Knowing that my computer can be fixed fast shouldn't be the best news I've heard since my last child was born. (Joking... sort of.) It's just plain ridiculous. But also inevitable.
Unless I start writing with pens and paper.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random Thought Thursday

1. Watching Peter Firth in Northanger Abbey after seeing him in Spooks was just plain weird.

2. Hourlgass by Myra McEntire was an AWESOME book. Loved the time-travel twist (of course I would), loved the oh-so-handsome Michael, and loved how much Emerson kicked complete butt. Can't wait for the sequel! Why didn't I post about this?! The book deserves raves!

3. I'm not going to qualify this guy as crush of the week because I actually saw the movie last weekend, but I loved Jeremy Renner in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. There's something about that guy... Can't wait to see him in The Avengers.

4. Zombies are NOT sexy. Why are people trying to make them so? Yuck. Just yuck.

5. I CANNOT get my eating under control. It's not like I'm pigging out like a maniac or anything, but I want so much more than 1000 calories a day (or 20 weight watchers points).

6. After a break, I'm going back to Sway for some editing from my first reader (thanks Emily!).

7. I'll admit I first heard of the Vitamin String Quartet from Vampire Diaries, but I think they're awesome. Check them out doing Coldplay's Clocks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's In A Name

     Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic

If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or penname be?
     Um, no idea. Really. No. Idea. I've toyed with using my first initials before like M. M. Stanford. Or just Mel Stanford. But picking a whole new name? Not a clue. I actually like my name. I hated it when I was younger, I wanted to be named something pretty like Ariel or Arianna. And my (maiden) last name wasn't so hot either. "Burt" is an easy target for kids.
     So anyway, since I've never chosen my own pseudonym (if it weren't for the word above, I'd never be able to spell that myself), I'm going to let the Fake Name Generator do it for me. So here's my new pseudonym:
Ivy A. Naylor
      So that's me. Ivy Naylor. Do you have any pennames picked out?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

RAH for YA

     There's a lot of buzz and this and that going on through the blogosphere and the internet. People hating on YA, people defending YA... I was going to write my own long post about it but I decided not to.
     Instead, I just want to say,
     Can't we all just get along?
     Haha. Seriously, I've written about four different posts and then deleted them because I just don't think I want to go there.
     Instead, I will officially and loudly declare my LOVE for YA books of all shapes, sizes, kinds, and genres. YA is awesome, YA writers are awesome, and the YA part of me wants to cheerleader shout a loud "rah" for all things YA. RAH! (Can you tell I was never a cheerleader?)
     And that's all I'm going to say about that.
     Except that I'm going to further show my YA love, by doing Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Should Be Reading. This week's book: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. (pg 30)

     "Tell me you didn't feel a rush when we carried those paintings out of the museum's front door... Tell me there wasn't a high when you swiped a Cezanne under the noses of half the KGB... No wonder you aren't taking Hale with you." She shook her head. "Sometimes boys are far easier to deal with when they're on the other side of the world."

Monday, January 9, 2012

On Beta-ing

     Yesterday I was asked by someone at church if I did any writing over Christmas and my answer was, "actually, no."
     Did I feel guilty about this response?
     Actually, no.
     Why? Because I've been busy beta-ing for someone else. I know many people out there can write and beta at the same time. I can too except that I tend to be a slow beta-er. If I feel any guilt at all its because of that and not because I haven't been writing.
     I strongly advise not only to get your own stuff read by others (preferably strangers) but to read for others yourself. Beta-ing is like teaching. The teacher gets as much, sometimes more, than the student. I notice things when I beta and then say to myself, I've got to watch out for that in my own MS. These are things I probably wouldn't notice in my own MS in the first place.
     My point here (since I can't seem to find the right words this Monday morning) is that beta-ing helps teach you the craft of writing. It's helpful to a writer in all the right ways. So take the time and do it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Please Advise Me, Oh Smarty-Pantsers Out There

     Here's a question for all those smarter and/or more experienced writers than me, or for those who have just gone through this particular problem before.
     I sent a query to a specific agent, followed all the guidelines, and never got a response. On their website it says that if you don't hear from them after eight weeks, you can resend. So I did. Again- after eight weeks- no response.
     What do I do? Do I send it for a third time? That seems almost pushy to me. Or, do I try a different agent within the agency? Or is that bad form. I don't know what to do and I don't want to be a pest.
     Any advice?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Random Thought Thursday

1. I wanted to read 100 books in 2011. I only made it to 89. Sigh.
2. Goal for 2012: Read 100 books. :)

3. I LOVE period movies (and no, I don't mean movies about feminine issues). Most recent love affair? North and South starring Richard Armitage and... you know, a bunch of other people. (FYI- this isn't a movie about the civil war.)

4. With the above love comes the wish that I could wear dresses that look like this:
It's no wonder I like to write time-travel novels
5. Just Dance is a great workout. And fun too! I totally rocked the Bollywood number this morning.
6. My mom makes the BEST chocolates in the world. Her fondant is AMAZING. Since I ate a bazillion of them over the holidays, it's a good thing I'm back to working out every day.

7. The Liar Society is an AWESOME book so far. Lisa and Laura Roecker- can I be your friend?

8. Another AMAZING thing? The new Sherlock Holmes movie. Just as good as the first. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have excellent chemistry together.

9.  I have an unnatural chipperness going on with me this morning. Who knows why. Or how long it will last.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing Retreat of Dreams

     This week's Road Trip Wednesday prompt:

Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?

     Aaahhh, I'm already there in my mind. My writing retreat would look something like this:

(I was here just over a month ago)

     Warm, white sandy beaches, a cloudless sky, clear turquoise water sparkling in the sun, and a slight breeze blowing across my face. I don't even care what part of the world it would be, as long as it's quiet. Not a lot of tourists. I wouldn't bring anyone (sorry fam-damily but I can't get any writing done with you around). I would just bring my iPad to write on, my earphones (plugged into my iPad) to listen to music, and lots and lots of water. Oh and I'd probably need sunscreen.
     Please, can I go there now?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

     Do you ever watch a movie, or hear a song, or even just see someone on the street and think, I could write a whole book right around that person or that one line?
     I get that all the time. Of course those teeny ideas don't usually translate into anything. I'm not the type who can write five books at once. And it's not like I see/hear these things and have an automatic plot. Mostly it's just the thought of that one line would make a really great scene or that person would make an awesome character. Sometimes, they already are characters but I want to remake them for my own.

     Like yesterday, I watched a Brit teen movie called Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (what a title, right?). The love interest in this movie, one Aaron Johnson, was just oozing teen dreaminess. I wanted to immediately sit down and write his story- but my way. Not the movie way, and not his real life way, my way. Dream up my own teen love story full of angst and mishaps and craziness but where the girl gets the boy in the end.

     The point here is to always keep your eyes open for ideas. Watch the world around you, read like crazy, and even movies can give you inspiration for your own stories. Even though a lot of these ideas haven't translated into stories for me- yet- I know they will one day. Or at least bits of stories, ideas for stories, and characters for stories. So the next time you walk by someone and think, wow that person has some very interesting features... take notes. Because you might want to use them one day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winner Change and Crush of the Week

     I hereby officially change one of my faves from my last post. My eight-year-old daughter Jade got the movie Monte Carlo for Christmas and yesterday I watched it with her. So, sorry to the movie Prom, but Monte Carlo beats you out in my view. Mostly because it takes place in Europe (please please please can I go to Paris one day?!) and because the guys are way cuter than the ones in Prom (accents are way cuter than long hair any day). If you've got any tween girls, let them watch this movie because it's fun and supercute. And so is he:

Pierre Boulanger