Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Up Wednesday and A-Z Challenge: Z!

It's the last day of A-Z. I can't believe I made it through the entire month. Note to self: if you ever try it again, pick a theme. My Z post for today is simply this:

Zut Alors! I'm done.

And now for What's Up Wednesday:
What I'm Reading
I finished The Unbound by Victoria Schwab which is the sequel to The Archived. I think I liked this book better (which is totally unusual for me to like a sequel better than the first book) but I'm also thinking I might have been in a bit of a book funk when I read The Archived. Now I'm reading Bunheads by Sophie Flack (nothing to do with that one-season TV show BTW) and I'm really enjoying it. I used to dance so reading about anything dance automatically grabs me.
What I'm Writing
I need to focus on my EPONINE query. Focus, Melanie, focus. I'm also going to start a revision on an ms I'm currently querying before I send it out one last time.
What Inspires Me Right Now
I've beta'd four manuscripts in the past month. The great thing about beta-ing is that I end up learning a ton. I probably get more out of it than I give. It's really inspiring to read other writers works and to be part of this small world of people trying to write the best book possible. Writing is lonely, people say it all the time, but sometimes it has a team feel where we're all cheering each other on and I love that.
What Else I've Been Up To
The A-Z challenge. Which I've finished! Hallelujah! I'm probably going to take a bit of a blog break for a bit, aside from WUW posts.

And as my final A-Z act, I give you my Z song:
Actually, I decided to cheat, because I had no Z song and I love this song like crazy.
All of Me by John Legend ft. Lindsey Stirling
*Actually, I did have a Z song- Zorba's dance by Mikis Theodorakis, but I like this one better :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Challenge: Y is for YA

I started out writing fantasy short stories when I was twelve or so. Eventually, I graduated to fantasy novels, or rather one novel that I never did finish. It was adult fantasy, going to be a trilogy, and completely fantasy-cliched. Prophecy, long journey, normal girl realizing she's someone IMPORTANT. You get the (lame) idea.

Then one day I was listening to this song and suddenly I had a SHINY NEW IDEA:
You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift. My Y song for the day
This idea wouldn't leave me, even though I tried to ignore it. I kept telling myself, I'm TRYING to write a fantasy novel. Why don't I finish that one first instead of starting something new and just failing again.
But this idea wouldn't SHUT UP so I gave in. And I wrote it in five months. Looking back, it was total and utter crap. But I did it. I wrote my first novel. I was on top of the world. Five years later, that novel has been queried, requested, R&R'd and finally shelved, but it still sings to me. One day I will dust that novel off and start fresh.
That manuscript was my first attempt at Young Adult and it taught me a lot. How hard writing is. How much I needed to learn and am still learning. All those stupid newbie writer mistakes that I had to stop making. And most importantly, I learned how much I LOVE YA.
I never even thought about writing YA until that day in the car when You Belong With Me came on the radio. Since then, I've become obsessed. YA is the best. I read it like crazy. There are so many possibilities. So much excitement and fun and newness that comes with reading and writing YA. So many feels. YA sings to me. I feel it in my bones and my fingertips and in the way it pours onto the computer screen.
I heart YA. And that's all there is to it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A-Z Challenge: X is for X-Men and Other Superheroes

I didn't grow up reading superhero comics- I was more into novels. I remember watching Lois & Clark sporadically (my best friend had a crush on Dean Cain) and seeing Batman and Robin in the theatre (I had a crush on Chris O'Donnell). And then 2000 hit and suddenly it was the start of the age of superheroes. X-Men came out that year and even though I didn't know anything about them, I saw the movie in theatres and loved it. Then came Smallville. And the Spiderman movies. Iron Man. Fast forward more than ten years later and we've got the awesomeness that is Marvel, and DC trying to keep up with their upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie.

Superhero movies to me are the perfect blend of action, comedy, and romance. They're the kind of movies I want to spend the big bucks on so I can see them on the big screen. They're the movies that get me excited, get my blood tingling and my heart pumping and my legs jumping.

Isn't it awesome? I love how this has all become a THING. How it's okay to be excited and even obsessive about comic books and superheroes and everything that goes with it. How superhero fever has swept the world. I know I sound cheesy right now, and maybe it's my inner nerd coming out, but superheroes are the best! I just hope that Marvel and DC and everyone else making books and movies keep up the quality we've come to expect.

What do you think about superhero comics/movies? Fan or not so much?

Oh, and an X song for the day which has nothing to do with comic book heroes, but comes from a superstar for sure:
XO by Beyonce

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z Challenge: Writing and Why I Love It

So I started this post a couple of days ago and I sat there tap-tapping on my computer desk and eating cadbury mini eggs and wondering why in heck do I love writing? And why don't I know why?

Now I'm back at it today- trying to figure out WHY I love to write. It could be that writing allows me to play God. I get to create my own world and my own characters who do whatever I tell them to. I can kill off anyone I like. I can make romance come true. I can laugh and cry, all from a few touches of the keyboard.

But is that really why I love writing? As egotistical or self-absorbed as I can be sometimes, I really don't think that's the answer. Mostly because I know that no matter how much I control my first draft, later drafts are never completely in my own hands. I go from playing God to being the peon- at the mercy of smarter and savvy readers who tell me (rightfully) that my characters and setting are crap and that I need to make them better.

So why do I love writing? Because it's a release in a way? A way to let those stories and characters in my head OUT so that I don't die from head-explosion? Sure. Or how about because writing helps me to actually accomplish something other than getting my bathrooms cleaned or my kids to school on time. Sure, that's great too.

But it's still not why I love to write. I think the biggest reason why I love it is because it MAKES ME HAPPY. I write and I smile. It puts me in a good mood. It gives me that whole on-top-of-the-world feeling. I write and I love it and that's that. Who really cares why. Just that I do.

Another thing I love? This song:
What I Wouldn't Do by Serena Ryder

Friday, April 25, 2014

A-Z Challenge: V is for Very Hot GIFs

Early on in the challenge, a couple of blogs I visited did Celebrity Crushes for letter C. I've totally stolen that idea, but for V since my C post was already done.

So here are five celebrity crushes, AKA: V for Very Hot Men, presented to you in GIF form. Because who doesn't love GIFs?

And I'm not gonna lie, finding GIFs for this post was the funnest time waster ever. ;)

Richard Armitage (Robin Hood and a photo shoot maybe)
Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion and Spooks)
Tom Hardy (This Means War)
Martin Johnson (lead singer Boys Like Girls)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
So if you could waste time searching out Very Hot GIFs, who would be your top five?
And I was so distacted by these GIFs that I almost forgot my V song for the day:

Viva La Vida by the Vitamin String Quartet

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A-Z Challenge: U is for Uhhhhh...

A few days into April, I decided to get organized and plan my post subjects for the rest of the month and what songs I was going to feature. When I got to U, I easily found a song, but no topic.

And now? I still got nothing. Sure I could post about Underwear. Umbrellas. Uber-cool things (or anything with the word Uber in it). What about Ugly or Ugh or Unicorns? Undivided, Unimportant, Unbound (the book I'm reading right now)?

None of those really sing to me. So for today, all you get is a whole lot of Uhhhhhhh. Because that's pretty much how I feel at this point. This A-Z thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be!

What have you got for U? I'll be blog hopping to see what interesting things you guys have done for U (and most likely going, ah, I should've posted about THAT).

Meanwhile, enjoy my U song for the day, as well as the T song I didn't post yesterday:
Unchained Melody sung by Il Divo
(I know it's by The Righteous Brothers, but I really like this version)

Tattooed Heart by Ariana Grande, one of my all-time favorite songs!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Up Wednesday and A-Z Challenge: T is for TV

What I'm Reading
I finished Inheritance by Christopher Paolini which was okay. Then I read Perfect Lies by Kiersten White who is one of my fave authors. Her books are quick and enjoyable reads and I love that about them. Perfect Lies was an excellent sequel to Mind Games. Up next, The Unbound by Victoria Schwab.

What I'm Writing
Working on my query (see Saturday's post if you want to tell me how bad my query sucks right now! ;) ), and beta reading a great MS!

What Inspires Me Right Now
I just barely watched Marvel: Assembling the Universe, which was on my PVR for a few weeks. I'm totally amazed by how massively popular they've become, how it started with Iron Man- a supposedly B superhero, how they've managed to make ties between each of the movies, and how nerd culture is taking over pop culture. Love it!

What Else I've Been Up To
So here's my T post now for the A-Z Challenge. I haven't really been up to much, but as always there's a lot of TV on my roster. So T is for TV. Here are some of my favorite shows on TV right now:
As you can see, I kinda have a thing for the CW.
What have you been up to this week? What are you watching on TV right now?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A-Z Challenge: S is for SWAY

I'm not gonna say much about it, but Sway is the manuscript I'm currently querying. It's Adult contemp romance- a modern redo of Persuasion by Jane Austen. My MC (the Anne Elliot character) is a Juilliard graduate searching for a job and her ex-love (the Captain Wentworth character) is a famous singer/songwriter along the lines of Michael Buble. It takes place in LA and Las Vegas and there's drama and regret, beautiful clothes, parties, and of course, lots of music. Or rather, writing about music. ;)

A song that totally describes the feelings of my MC and how she feels when her ex comes back into her life, is my first S song for the day:
The Story of Us by Taylor Swift

One of the songs my MC plays at a particular heart-wrenching moment for her is this one, my second S song for the day:
Serenade by Schubert
Imagine this was a girl playing, and this would be my MC

If you could rewrite a favorite story, what would it be?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A-Z Challenge: R is for Reality TV

My husband watches a lot of reality TV. Shows like Wheeler Dealers and Pawn Stars and Duck Dynasty. I'm not really into that kind of stuff, nor have I ever gotten into the shows like Real Housewives or KUWTK.

I'm not totally immune to reality TV though. First off, I'm a sucker for The Bachelor/Bachelorette. It's true. I know the show is so stupid and really does nothing to promote love or real relationships, but still, the drama, the dates, the roses. I can't help myself. Guilty pleasure? Yuh-huh.

Another reality show my husband and I usually watch together is The Amazing Race. Out of any reality show out there, this is the one I'd like to be on. I love seeing all the interesting places they visit throughout the world. (We missed the one airing right now though and haven't bothered to start watching from the middle.)

The one other reality show that I LOVE LOVE LOVE (it's probably my fave show ev-ah) is So You Think You Can Dance. Augh, I love it so much. The dancing, oh the dancing. I want to be on this show soooo bad, but I can't because even though I took dance for more than ten years, I'm not (nor have I ever been) that quality of dancer. And also I'm too old. Boo. But still. The show and the dancing is amazing and I can't wait until the next season comes on.

There are so many dances that I've loved in the past, but these two are the first that came to mind, funny enough both danced by Melanie:
Total Eclipse of the Heart danced by Melanie and Neil
(I love when she just throws herself at him! Amazing!)
I Got You danced by Melanie and Marko
And my R song for the day:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A-Z Challenge: Q is for QUERIES

Duh. I'm a writer. How could I not pick queries for Q day?!

Soon I will enter the query trenches yet again. Querying is hard. Writing queries is hard. Being in the query trenches is hard. Getting rejections on queries is hard. It's the truth. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.*

But you know what? This won't be my first time, so it's actually not that bad. Maybe it's like having a baby. Like how you forget all about how painful the whole thing was so you get pregnant again because all you care about is the end result. I remember how crappy querying can be, and yet, it's the end result that matters. I believe in my writing. I believe that someday I will get it out there. And the way to do that? Queries.

So, I hesitate to put this here because right now it's a big 'ole mess. But here's my first draft of the query I'll be sending out soon, once it (hopefully) doesn't suck and the MS is ready. It's YA Urban Fantasy.

Eponine Thorpe doesn’t care about high school, her alcoholic parents and their petty crime sprees, or even her User abilities. All she cares about is her best friend Mark. He’s the only one who can keep the rot from her soul, the only reason she Uses her magic at all.
When Cassie Vandenberg moves to town, Poni thinks nothing could be worse than a girl who’s going to take Mark away from her. Then Poni’s parents ask for her help on a job. Upset over Mark and Cassie’s new relationship, she agrees to help even though she swore she would never go back to that life. When the mark turns out to be Cassie, Poni knows she’s made a big mistake.
Now her parents are hell bent on revenge for screwing with their plans and Mark will never forgive her when he finds out the truth. Determined to keep herself and Mark safe, and hoping to win him back somehow, Poni searches out the truth about her parents and their connection to the Vandenberg’s. But Poni uncovers deeper secrets than she ever thought possible. Secrets about the Vandenberg’s, about her parents, and about the User society she was born into. Poni must decide whether saving herself is worth more than Mark’s love, or whether saving Mark is worth becoming the person she always tried to hide from him.
So. On a scale of 1-10, how bad does it suck? Any advice or critique?
*Bonus points if you know what movie that's from

And my Q songs for the day (that's right, I got two!):
Quando Me'n Vo' sung by Anna Netrebko from La Boheme by Puccini
Quidditch World Cup by Patrick Doyle from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Friday, April 18, 2014

A-Z Challenge: P is for Previews

Previews. Or as they are also called: Trailers. Yep, I like 'em. I get cranky if I miss them. I also get cranky if I've seen the same one over and over. Unless it's a gooder and then I just get excited.

The best thing is when I'm so caught up in an awesome preview that when the opening credits on the actual movie start to roll, I'm like, what movie am I seeing again? If it's a movie I'm excited to see, in that moment I get excited all over again.

Here's some great previews from movies that I can't wait to see!

And my P song for the day from the Catching Fire soundtrack:
This is a really great fan made video, but it features the song Place For Us by Mikky Ekko
It also has clips from Catching Fire and they do give a spoiler warning in case you haven't seen the movie. (and if you haven't, why not???)
*I've provided links for all the videos in case they don't work

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A-Z Challenge: O is for Organization

I'm a pretty organized person. I have to have a schedule for the day or else I'd go crazy and probably never get anything done. I blame my mom. She's super organized, way more than I will ever be, but some of it definitely rubbed off. For example, she had a daily cleaning schedule, I have a daily cleaning schedule, one that I tweaked a bit to better suit me.

Monday- groceries
Tuesday- all bathrooms, laundry
Wednesday- the upstairs, plus sheets and towels laundry
Thursday- the main floor plus kitchen
Friday- the basement

Not only that, but once I'm done my cleaning for the morning, I exercise, shower, then blog if I have time. After lunch is my writing time, usually until the kids get home from school and then I become chauffeur. I started seriously writing while my oldest was in preschool from 1-3 and the younger ones had nap time. Since then, it's been my go-to time. Every day is mostly the same, and I like it like that. In fact, I get a touch cranky when other things creep into my schedule and mess it all up. ;)

What about you? Organized, or not so much?

I didn't do an N song for yesterday because I had so much other stuff going on in that post. This is what it would have been: No Matter What by Boyzone, an oldie but goodie. (Okay, it's not THAT old.)

Today's O song has nothing to do with being organized but it is my "happy place" song in case I'm stressed out to the max.

Over the Rainbow the Glee Cast version
(I may be cheating a bit here by not calling it Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Oh well)
I also like the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday and A-Z Challenge: N

Today I'm going to split up my two posts, but try to keep them both as brief as possible.
 A-Z Challenge: N is for North and South (and Other Period Films)
I heart historical movies as much as historical books. North and South is one of my favorites. When I first heard of it, I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't all that interested. Industrial age? Cotton-mill workers? A strike? A vicar's daughter? Meh. I'm more into Jane Austen's love stories than  strikes and dreary industrial towns.

WRONG WRONG WRONG. It is sooo good. If you're a fan of period films, definitely watch this one if you haven't. I'm not going to go on anymore about it because I've already waxed obsessive about it in the past. Watch a clip instead:
This is a pretty awesome fan-made trailer
What I'm Reading
I finished The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier which was awesome! And now I'm reading Inheritance, the final book in the Eragon series. I will be happy when I've finally finished and know how it ends and can move on.
What I'm Writing
No writing this week. I finished beta-ing one manuscript and did some work on another.
What Inspires Me Right Now
See above movie clip!
What Else I've Been Up To
It was my birthday on Sunday. Woo-hoo, she said droopily. I usually get kinda depressed on my birthday. Coming up to this one, I was perfectly fine. But then Sunday hit. Boo. It's not just the getting older part, it's the getting older and still not accomplishing my goals that sucks. Ah well. There were some great things about the weekend. I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier which was awesome. (Steve Rogers and his muscles make up for anything sucky, IMO). And I ate at East Side Mario's, one of my fave restaurants. So yay for that!
What have you been up to?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A-Z Challenge: M is for Music

M is for music because I just couldn't live without it. If I was stuck on an island and I could only have one thing with me... yep, music. Specifically, my playlist and a never ending battery. I listen to music ALL THE TIME. I listen when I cook, clean, write, shower, drive, blog... I listen to music a lot and I listen to it LOUD. And I sing loud too. And badly.

Someone was telling me the other day that they've started using a diffuser to help relieve stress. I sat there and thought, I don't need that, because I have music. I listen to Somewhere Over The Rainbow when I want to go to my "happy place." I listen to upbeat pop tunes when I want to dance around. I listen to quieter alternative type songs when I'm in a thinking mood. And I listen to classical when I write. Musicals when I feel like singing. Punk rock when I want to jam. And the radio when I feel like listening to whatever. I definitely couldn't live without music.

Some M songs for you, from different types of music I like:
Moments by One Direction. A Song from my current WIP

Mean  by Taylor Swift, one of my favorite singers

Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. I've loved Mozart ever since the movie Amadeus came out

What's your favorite M song?

Monday, April 14, 2014

A-Z Challenge: L is for LOVE

Love. Looooove. Lurve. Who doesn't love to write about love? I don't think I could write a manuscript without it. And my favorite books to read are ones with love in them. Surprisingly, I'm not a straight-up romance reader. I've tried three romance novels in the past- one was good, one was okay, and the third I quit after a couple of chapters. But even with the good one, I still don't pick up romance books. I love to have romance in my stories, but category romance isn't really my thing. I do read books without romance... sometimes. Code Name Verity is an amazing book with no romance at all. But in general, I love me the love storyline, even if it's just a tiny subplot.

Here are some of my favorite literary love quotes:

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
~John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
~XVII from Manana by Pablo Neruda

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
~Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
~Persuasion by Jane Austen

The course of true love never did run smooth.
~A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

You have bewitched me, body and soul.
~Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Thou art to me a delicious torment.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

You love me. Real or not real?
~Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
~The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula L. Le Guin

It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the thing you do with it. You are beautiful.
~The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.
~Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

And my L song for the day which I really love and it's about love and maybe a little cheesy but still so sweet.
Little Things by One Direction

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A-Z Challenge: K is for Kissing!

I love to write kissing scenes and almost kissing scenes and awkward kissing scenes and lead up to the kissing scenes and I wish they would kiss already scenes and anything to do with kissing really. You can usually tell when I'm writing the kissing scenes because I blush and giggle and smile and all around act like a twelve-year-old and my kissing scenes aren't even all that racy. PG, PG-13 at most.                                                                                 
So I thought I'd post a short kissing scene excerpt. This comes from a sequel I wrote to a book I ended up shelving so this sequel has never passed the 1st draft stage.
“Jessica,” he whispered. I smiled at the sound of his voice and let out a little moan. “Jessica, open your eyes.”
     I opened my eyes. His face was before mine. I grabbed his head, curling my fingers in his hair and pulled his lips towards mine. I kissed him hungrily, as if he could somehow quench this thirst I had. A thirst for him.
     His lips had never felt so warm against mine. But they were slow, hesitant. So I pulled him closer, wanting more. My tongue slipped inside his mouth and he let out a gasp. I could feel his arms braced on either side of me. I wanted him to touch me. I wanted to feel his need for me like I had for him. I pulled back and opened my eyes.
     Alric squatted in front of me, his face a mixture of shock and distress. Not the Lord Alric of my dreams.
     “Oh, it’s you.”
Ah, I miss this story and characters something fierce. Anyway, I've got three K songs because I couldn't pick, all to do with kissing.
Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran. This song is super smoldery. Ed Sheeran doesn't have an "official music video" so I picked this one because I love the pictures.
Kiss You by One Direction. This song is super fun and so is the video! I'm not ashamed to say that I like to sing along at the TOP OF MY LUNGS.
Kiss You Inside Out by Hedley. This song is super sexy. Enough said.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A-Z Challenge: J is for Jar of Hearts


Last November, I did my first ever NaNoWriMo. Like, actually did it (won) even when I never thought I'd be able to. The manuscript I wrote is YA Magical Realism and, yep, it's called Jar of Hearts.
I haven't even glanced at it since typing "the end" but I've thought about it lots since. The whole thing is probably a big time mess, but one of these days I'm going to go back to it and REVISE REVISE REVISE. I have a few ideas that I want to incorporate when I do, exciting ideas.
And my J song for the day is obviously Jar of Hearts, the song that inspired the story idea in the first place.
Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri.
And if you haven't seen this video, WATCH IT. It's GORGEOUS.
(Click on the title link if the video doesn't work)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Challenge: I is for I Like To Dream Cast

Okay, my I is a bit of a stretch, I know. (I was going to do I is for Ice Cream and Other Desserts, but I'm trying to eat healthy and posting pics or even talking about yummy desserts is just going to make me hungry.)

Soooo, I is for I LIKE TO DREAM CAST. And you can't stop me! No matter what I write, I always like to find actors and actresses who I think would be best in the role. Someone who looks like the character does in my head and/or who would be able to pull of all the traits of my character. Sometimes I even base a character around an actor, or rather, an actor playing a specific character. For example...

Rupert Penry-Jones played Captain Wentworth in Persuasion (2007) so of course, who else could I imagine as my Eric in SWAY. And Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was total inspiration for my character Mark in EPONINE.

And some of the other actors/actresses I've cast in my three most recent books...
Yep, those are some of my characters. And now, my I songs for the day. A new(er) song I love and an old(er) song that I still love!

It's Time by Imagine Dragons