Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wherefore Art Thou, Muse?

I love Stephen King's On Writing -- it's one of those rare craft books that is equally entertaining as it is informative. I actually think it's one of the few I'd recommend to non-writers because it explains some of our quirks/neuroses so well.

One of the things that resonated most with me was when King talked about the concept of the muse. King pictures his muse as a base, cigar-chomping fella who only shows up when he's least expected and won't ever deign to make an appearance when summoned. The rest of the time, when the muse isn't there throwing slivers of hope in the writer's direction, the only thing the writer can do is to have his nose to the grind, slaving away for hours on what is, probably, crap in the hopes that the muse will at some point make an appearance.

This is one of the things I need to remember right now. I started the first draft of a new WIP back in August. For various reasons (some include working on other projects and others include pure laziness/getting sucked into watching seven seasons of Doctor Who), I haven't looked at this WIP since then. When I opened it yesterday, I remembered that I was once excited about it. I even remembered some of the elements that made me excited. What I didn't remember was that the ten pages I had written weren't very good and that I was only three chapters in on my outline.


I don't think my muse is coming anytime soon (though I still have hope that, eventually, she will come). And I'm a little rusty on putting my head down and spending the time to write.

But my goal for the next week is to open up my Scrivener file every day, put my fingers on the keyboard and type -- even if I know what I'm writing isn't good. That small goal, I can handle.

And I hope that while I'm doing that, my muse will decide to visit me again someday. Soon.

For the record, my muse might wear a combination of Regency clothing and Quidditch robes. She definitely has a British accent. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is This a Wedding or a Crime Scene?

My life has totally changed since I got engaged. By which I, of course, mean that 6 out of 6 Facebook ads on my sidebar are now wedding-related at all times.

I also get dozens of emails and even stalkery phone calls chock full of deals on everything from bridal gowns to bridal favors. The word bridal is sorta haunting me.

And then, last week, I got this in the mail mail (remember that service?).

At first glance I thought, okay. A postcard for a florist.

At second glance I thought, hmmm, that's weird that they would choose this photo to display their wares as the picture completely blows out all of the details in the white flowers.

And at third glance, I realized...holy mother of Kate Middleton, that bride is wearing ginormous black gloves to hold that bouquet.

I am posting this again in case you are too lazy to scroll up. You're welcome.
To which I, of course, must come up with a compelling scenario, such as:

1. In a sinister twist of events, the bride already knows this wedding will turn into a crime scene.

2. It's a real DIY wedding and the bride must follow up this photo session by doing the dishes.

3. The bride is a germaphobe but white gloves are just so expected.
4. The rates for a January wedding by the lake were just much cheaper. Deal with it.

5. Vera introduced the driving gloves/wedding gown look at her last show, dahling. Don't you know anything?

What do you think is the story behind this baffling creative photo?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes

Update: The race is officially over but thank you SO MUCH to everyone who played (and especially everyone who entered my ARC contest. It was incredibly fun to "meet" so many new people and read your comments)! Winners for the big race will be announced soon and you can check out the winner of my contest below.

I am so excited to be part of the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes: a blog hop with 50+ debut authors involving a ton of prizes (including a signed ARC of The Mapmaker and the Ghost)!

How does it work, you might ask? Well, first, make sure you've gone here to the Apocalypsies blog for the complete rules. From there, you're going to be led to a series of our blogs where you'll learn a little bit about each of our books. File away the info in your head because you will then use it to take a short quiz. There will be five quizzes in all and you must complete all 5 to be eligible for a prize pack. Most right answers win (with a random selection in case of a tie)!

Got that?

So, without further ado, here's a little bit about my book:

The Mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash

Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest.

Think you're ready to take the first quiz? You're in luck, because that's exactly where my blog will lead you. Go here to take it.

Oh and guess what? I'm giving away another signed ARC of The Mapmaker and the Ghost and some swag right here on this blog! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below -- you'll see there are extra ways to get entries by leaving a comment, following me on Twitter, liking me on Facebook, following my blog or adding my book to your Goodreads shelf. My contest will be open until Sunday, January 22nd at 11: 59 PM EST.

Good luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

MG Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Interview with Jenny Lundquist

It's a brand new year and time to spotlight some more of my favorite middle grade authors!

For January, we have Jenny Lundquist whose sinfully adorable debut novel, Seeing Cinderella, comes out on March 20th. Got a girl with glasses in your life? How about any kid who's ever felt a little awkward? Alternately hilarious and sweet, this book is destined to be an instant favorite!

Jenny has also generously donated a signed ARC for me to give away in conjunction with this interview! Read on to find out how to win it.

Calliope Meadow Anderson is terrified to start seventh grade. Not that the summer has been so great— her overachieving best friend, Ellen, is slipping away, her parents’ marriage is falling apart, and to top it all off, she has to get glasses the day before school starts. Life isn’t going too smoothly.

But things get unexpectedly weird when Callie meets her wacky optometrist and receives a pair of glasses so ugly they make braces and headgear look cute. But pretty soon, Callie makes a freaky discovery. Her glasses have magic powers: they can read people’s thoughts (and she’s pretty sure they repel boys, too).

Callie uses her new glasses to navigate middle school life and learns things she never knew about the people around her. That overachieving Ellen isn’t so super confident, after all. That neither of her parents are who she thought they were. That it’s a good idea to make sure your crush Knows Your Name before you spy on his thoughts. But when the glasses show Callie that Ana Garcia—a new student from Mexico and Callie’s Spanish tutor—has become a real-life Cinderella in her uncle’s house, she has to make a choice. Will she stay in the shadows and hide behind her magic glasses, or step out of the background and stand up for her friend?

What's the first book that you remember LOVING as a child?J
Jenny Lundquist: As a child I loved the Trixie Belden series. She always seemed so brave and strong to me, and I wished I could become a member of the Bob-Whites of the Glen. And I kept waiting for her and Jim to get together already!

To borrow (and modify) a question from James Lipton, what’s your favorite middle-grade appropriate “curse word?”

JL: That's an easy one! Merlin's Beard, from Harry Potter, as I think it's by far the most creative.

If you had a pair of magic glasses, what one superpower would you wish they had?

JL: That would depend upon the day. Yesterday, I would've liked my magic glasses to tell me the exact location of my son's missing shoes. Today, I’d love a pair of glasses that can teleport chocolate cupcakes my way at the exact moment I require them. But for the record, I wouldn't actually want glasses that can read minds—when it comes to people's private thoughts I tend to think ignorance is bliss!

What’s your favorite version of Cinderella (book, movie, remake, adaptation) that you’ve ever read or seen?
JL: I would have to say Margaret Peterson Haddix's Just Ella. I loved her realistic take on the downside of happily-ever-after when you find yourself engaged to a dim-witted prince and spend your days learning embroidery and etiquette.

What are two MG books you'd recommend and why?
JL: Hmmm, that's a tough one. I mean, I could say your book, The Mapmaker and the Ghost [and...this is where I blush]. Or I could say, The Cabinet of Earths, by Anne Nesbet. Then again, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. But then there's always Thirteen by Candice Ransom—one of my personal favorites when I was in middle school. And who could forget Little Women? I mean, the possibilities are endless! (Do you like how I just cheated?)

Thanks so much, Jenny! For the record, I definitely don't mind cheating when it involves adding fabulous MG books to everyone's TBR piles.

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's Finally 2012!

I was really starting to think 2012 was a fantasy year: the kind filled with unicorns, centaurs and a magical, mystical being known as Lady Gaga. In fact, when I was renaming the latest draft of my WIP last week, I actually wrote: "1.1.13" by accident. Even my subconscious thought we were skipping over this year altogether.

It turns out: I was wrong! It's a real, live year. The clock struck midnight 5 days ago and it finally became this number I've had in my head for so long.

As for my New Year's resolution, it's pretty simple: be bolder and braver. In three and a half months my book goes out into the world (wow) and I know that's going to be a completely new and unexpected experience. How can something I've been anticipating for almost two years be unexpected, you might ask? Well, if there's one thing I've learned from the publication process it's that there are really nothing but surprises all along the way. Peter Jackson could make a movie about it: Getting Published: An Unexpected Journey.

As thrilling as finally having my book out there is, I know it also comes with the frightening thought that I will literally be putting a piece of me out there. For all to see. As a lifelong writer who has also been pretty private and guarded about my work, this is bound to be somewhat jarring.

Regardless, I'm determined to go into the unknown with courage, optimism and gratitude--no matter what has happened or will happen along the way, I get to realize a huge dream and that's nothing to sneer at.

Happy 2012 everyone! I'm so excited for this new beginning for all of us. What are some of your resolutions?