Friday, November 25, 2011

12 Favorite Things of Christmas

I told you to expect some Christmas-solstice-holiday themed posts! So here’s the first one! Twelve of my favorite things about Christmas (though there are many more than 12):

1. Favorite Christmas Carol: Carol of the Bells – I especially love The Trans-Siberian Orchestra rendition
2. Favorite Christmas Movie: Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara
3. Favorite Christmas Comedy Movie: Christmas With the Kranks (yeah I know)
4. Favorite Christmas Animated Movie: All of them.
5. Favorite Christmas Gift my Hubs has Given Me: Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set in the nifty steam trunk
6. Favorite Christmas Activity: Decorating the tree
7. Favorite Christmas Tradition: Stocking Stuffers
8. Favorite Christmas Family Tradition: Christmas Eve presents. When I was growing up it was so hard to watch the presents under the tree that my mom would let me open one small present on Christmas Eve. Now my husband and I do it for each other.
9. Favorite Christmas Story: A Christmas Carol
10. Favorite Christmas Album: “Everything You Want For Christmas” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
11. Favorite Christmas Starbucks Drink: Peppermint Mocha (yes, I tried the “Skinny” version. It’s just not the same).
12. Favorite Christmas Decoration: My Nightmare Before Christmas advent calendar

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Love Christmastime!

I absolutely love this time of year. People get so angry when the Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier, edging closer to Halloween, but I love it. I love the anticipation, the buildup, the music, the movies and television specials, the gift giving and how much nicer we all are to each other. Of course, I’m excluding the Black Friday tramplings.

I’m a Christmas baby; I was actually two weeks late, forcing my mom to be rushed to the hospital Christmas Eve to deliver me in the small dark hours of Christmas morning. So really, I’m supposed to hate Christmas and be bitter about it, but I love this holiday. I will be honest with you, I hate the people who either forget my birthday or try to lump my birthday in with Christmas, but I do not hate the actual holiday. So take that as a lesson if you have any friends or family with Christmas birthdays or near-Christmas birthdays, stop forgetting them, oh, and combining birthday and Christmas presents? Bad form. If it’s okay for you to do that to us, then that birthday present I got you back in May? Yeah, that was for both, jackass.

But I digress.

Every year I find at least one person I can make a present for and this year I was able to make presents for six people! I can’t say what I made here (one of those people may be reading this), but I am so proud of them, they’re all beautiful and look store bought, if I do say so myself, and I do.

And I’m happy to announce that my husband has agreed to let me decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so come November 25th there will be a decorated tree in my house! And I’ve already got a lot of family gifts out of the way so there will be presents wrapped under it.

Also the amazing Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews is hosting a second blog tour for me and it will be posting during the middle of December, just in time for me to put together a nifty present for my grand prize winner! Oh the wonderment!

So be prepared for some Christmas-solstice-holiday cheer! I’ll be posting some holiday themed posts, hopefully you won’t go all Grinch on me and will enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yeah, I saw Breaking Dawn

Yes, I saw Breaking Dawn. I even saw it on opening day, but no, not at midnight. I’m very lucky that there is a theater nearby that offers 21 and older screens. Oh yes, that means no screaming teens anywhere near you. The chairs are huge and plush and if you want you can even enjoy an adult beverage. Oh and the best part? Reserved seating, so no lining up. This is the only way to see one of these movies.

I was really surprised at how many men were at that showing, I think there had to be something like 1 man for every 4 women. Impressive, really. Anyway, that’s not the point of my post.

So yes, I’ve read all four Twilight books and when I read them, I really enjoyed them. I was totally Team Edward and full out hated both Bella and Jacob. But then, after the glow of the fantasies wore off, I started to really think about the books. Yes, they’re kinda bad. I won’t get down on the writing because I had a good time reading them and I liken them to a fast food meal. We all know it’s bad for us, but every once in a while that’s what you want. What I had a problem with was the type of “heroine” Bella was.

Bella wasn’t endearingly clumsy, she was stupid clumsy. Bella wasn’t attracted to Jacob, but that didn’t stop her from leading him on or letting him manipulate her. Bella was fully in love with Edward, but that didn’t stop her from throwing Jacob in his face over and over again. I’m sorry, but if the guy in the story did the same thing to his girlfriend we would all hate him with the heat of a thousand suns. Don’t act like that isn’t true. And Breaking Dawn did a fabulous job of reminding me why I hate Bella so much.

I’m a married woman. My wedding day went by in a blur, especially the ceremony. I remember standing with my dad, holding onto his arm and saying, “Wait, are we going right now? Already?!” But when you look at the pictures of me walking down the aisle, do you know what I’m doing? I’m smiling. I’m looking at my husband-to-be and smiling. My mother whispered to me, “You look so beautiful” as I passed her and I smiled at her. I smiled at my dad and gave him a kiss when he gave me away. I smiled at my bridesmaids. I smiled at the minister. I smiled. What did Bella do? She looked like she was going to be sick, she looked like she couldn’t be more angry to be walking down the aisle, she looked like her father was dragging her down the aisle and forcing her into an arranged marriage. And when did Bella finally smile? Oh right, when the guy who has been trying to break up her relationship for the last couple of years finally shows up. Not only does she smile but she runs to him and jumps into his arms and clings to him.

Really? I know my husband would’ve been okay with that behavior.

I know, I know, it’s just a movie, it’s just a book, it’s just a fantasy. I know that. But fantasy or not, they are asking us to believe that this girl is madly in love with this guy and that if he ever died, left her or rejected her she would die. Point blank. But she can’t smile on her wedding day? Really?

It’s bad enough this saga has sent the message to girls that you should get married one week out of graduating high school, but then to tell them that it’s okay to act this way between two guys when you’re doing it? Yeah, no. I just hope the mothers out there are talking to their daughters about this. And I know we’re not supposed to hold up the morality mirror to this story, but when I hear about teenagers biting each other trying to emulate this stuff, you can’t help but flash that mirror.

Anyway. It wasn’t quite as bad as the first two movies, I have to admit. And occasionally the acting wasn’t quite as wooden and wax figure-ish. But I just know the second part (yeah still annoyed that they felt the need to split this book into two movies) is going to be so much worse and pointless. Nothing freaking happens in the second half of the book! It is completely anticlimactic, people! But whatever; we’ll all go see that one too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finally Finished the Fourth Book

Today I finished the first draft of the fourth installment in my Elemental Series: Fire. As a matter of fact I just finished it about fifteen minutes ago. When I finished I found my husband and held onto him as I cried. This was the hardest book for me to write. It took me the longest amount of time to write of all the other books and it was the most emotionally intense. I’m not sure my imaginary friends will ever speak to me again after what I’ve done to them. My husband hugged me back and asked me if I killed someone and I told him, yes, yes I did.

It seems strange to cry over the death of an imaginary person, but these characters have been a major part of my life for the last four years. I know every minute detail about them. I have been with them through everything, watching them grow, watching them make stupid mistakes. I’ve bled with them and cried with them. I’ve laughed with them and loved with them. To lose one of these characters is really like losing a friend.

I remember reading Laurell K Hamilton’s blog a couple of years ago as she talked about writing through the killing scene of one of her major characters and how she felt like she’d watched a friend die. She walked around in a blue funk for days as she mourned that character. I didn’t really understand it. I understand it now.

I am thrilled the book is done. Part of me laughed as I cried, feeling the joy bubbling inside of me that I finally, finally finished it. But that doesn’t take the shock of the pain away. I knew it was coming, I thought of it, I saw it in my mind, I walked through the details, making sure I knew exactly how and what was going to happen. But it didn’t take the sting away when I typed that last heart breaking word.

I started writing this book last year and I took a break about two-thirds of the way through to go back and work on and edit the earlier books in the series and only came back to writing this book last month. So while there was a long period of time where I didn’t write one word on this book, I still count that time in how long it took to finish. I wasn’t ready to write this ending until now. I almost wish I hadn’t been ready now. But this is writing. It isn’t pretty and it’s incredibly bloody.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cutest Puppy Ever

Yeah. I got nothing tonight. I was gonna write you this whole love letter about how amazing the writing went today but I don't want to jinx anything for tomorrow. So with that I leave you with an adorable picture of my puppy. He's much bigger now but this is my favorite picture of him so I wanted to share it with you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Writing Was So Damn Hard Today

Some days are just harder than others. Right now I am thisclose to finishing the first draft of Fire, the fourth book in my Elemental Series. All off my books range in the 100k word mark. Today I passed 91k words. The end is near! So freaking near! And yet… so far away. I only wrote about 1k words today – my bare minimum self-imposed daily requirement – and for some reason those 1k words took me around three hours to write today. Usually in three hours I can write around 3-4k words.

So what went wrong today, Shauna? You ask. Well, I’ll tell ya. I have no idea. Yep, that’s the big secret. Sometimes the words rush forth like a broken faucet and it’s all you can do to type fast enough to keep up. I love those days. They’re exhausting and cathartic and usually the end writes like that, but not today and not this ending.

I know what is going to happen in the end of this book and maybe I’m a little afraid of it. I think maybe I’m scared to put my imaginary friends in this particular predicament. Maybe I’m afraid that the story won’t turn out the way I expect it to and something terrible will happen to one or more of them. This has been a particularly violent and emotional book and the end will be no different, I knew that coming into this but I didn’t realize what an uphill battle it was going to be to get it out of my head and onto paper.

Today just concentrating on the page was a battle. I found myself adjusting the music settings on Pandora, checking and rechecking twitter, checking sales and stats, just goofing off to be honest with you. And then when I buckled down I decided I needed to reach the chapter I was in the middle of writing before I could continue writing even though I knew exactly where I was and what was going on. Yes, reading the last few pages before I jump back in is helpful and will put me back in the mood of the moment, but I didn’t need to read as much as I did.

This is what writing is though, its work, hard work. I will get this sucker done, maybe even this week I dare say. But I’m not going to swear to that last, lol. I know it will be done before the end of the month, that much I can promise you and myself.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dream Cast: Who Would I have Play My Characters?

One of the blogs on my blog tour for Earth posted these pictures, but I'm sure not everyone saw that post and well, I thought you might like to know who I would have play my characters if it were ever made into a movie.

First: Shayna, my main character and narrator. I have always like Emily Browning ever since I first saw her as Violet in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and I loved her in Suckerpunch even though a lot of people had negative things to say about that last. Emily has the almost the exact facial structure that I see when I think of Shayna and let's face it, her hair here is perfect. Shayna means to do the right thing and tries to be confident but she worries a lot and Emily could totally pull off that juxtaposition.

Next up: Jodi, Shayna's oldest friend and first partner in magic. Jodi is hard-headed and has a little bit of a snide streak in her. She wants to be your best friend, she wants to be a good person but her self esteem issues get in her way. Jodi will always trip Jodi up. Until Jodi can accept her own flaws and the idea that someone can have more than one important person in their life, she'll always have trouble. AnnaSophia Robb just screams Jodi to me. Her face is perfect, her stature is perfect and I think she would do well with this roll.

Third is my favorite character: Steven. Steven is the best friend we always wanted in high school. Steven will tell you how it is without shame because there is no reason to lie. Steven has a kind heart and a young soul but he has so many issues he's dealing with. He's half Mexican and half Caucasian, homosexual and a teenager. The poor thing. But whatever his problems, he puts his friends first, sometimes too much, if you ask me. I just want to wrap him up in a Snuggie and drink hot chocolate with him. I'll admit, I don't know Tyler Posey that well. Yes, I saw him in Maid in Manhattan forever ago (stop judging me, yes I watched it!) but just look at him! He's adorable! And his heritage is spot on for Steven! Of course Tyler is Steven!

Finally we have Jensen and Ian, the twins. No, I never saw I Am Number Four because of my personal dislike for James Frey, and I still refuse to see it, but when I saw Alex Pettyfer's face, I saw Jensen. One of the first things Shayna notices about Jensen is his cheekbones and how can you not notice Alex's? Sharp and beautiful. Also, I really think his eyes hit the mark. The only thing wrong is the hair, but that is fixable. But this dude has the height, the eyes, the cheekbones and I think he could pull of both Jensen and Ian's crazy quite well.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First blogaversary!

It’s my Blogaversary! I have no idea what to say other than… thanks for reading for the last year! Sadly, I am still working on that 4th book in my series just like I was this time last year. I have almost 20k words more than I did, so that’s something! I am resolved to have it done by the end of the year though due to the recent, near catastrophic loss of my data this week. I want the book done and backed up on a thumb drive! I’ve been working on so many other projects in the last 12 months so the fourth book took a back seat for a while.

In May I released my first book, Earth, on Halloween I released the sequel, Air. In between there I finished the third book, Water, and got it off to my editor. I’ve churned out a number of short stories under my penname. And I managed to discover a whole new cast of characters and their world, just waiting to be given a story and a life once I finish this fourth book in my Elemental Series. I would like to start working on that project in January but in order to do that I have to have Fire finished.

So I guess I have accomplished some things since that first post. I was published, even though it wasn’t traditionally published, my book is out there and people are reading it and enjoying it. I said I wanted to go to a book signing with people excited to see me, well I had many people vying to win autographed copies of my books and those that won were thrilled, so that was amazing for me! On Goodreads I have 26 ratings, 10 of which are 5 stars and 11 are 4 stars and just the other day I saw a post where a girl was asking for some book recommendations and she listed my book as one of her favorites, MY BOOK! So I think it’s safe to say that I accomplished my last goal of my book being important to other people.

I was kind of afraid to write this post since I knew I hadn’t finished my fourth book like I set out to do when I first started this blog… but now? Now that I’ve looked at my list of goals and how many I managed to accomplish in 12 months... I feel amazing! So! Happy blogaversary to me!

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Air Tour - Open to Bloggers!

Alright my lovelies! The amazing Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews is hosting another tour for me! This time we will be promoting my new release: Air Book Two in the Elemental Series. I am so excited to see some repeat bloggers joining me, but the sign up is still open. If you have read Earth (or want to, or plan to) and enjoyed it and would like to read Air and join me on this tour with a review or guest post, please click here and join in!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One of the Worst Days Ever

Here we are for another entry into my blog. I try to keep most of my entries light and save any anger or frustration for my “You Know Why Wednesday” posts. But Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

As most people know, writers are very rarely working on just one project once they start to publish, especially if they are working on a series. Not to mention personal blogs, guest posts, notes for other projects, notes on your work in progress, writing exercises, poetry, grocery lists, Christmas shopping lists, you know, just everything we put to paper. Nowadays, most of our things on paper are actually on screen.

At this moment I am working on two major manuscripts after having JUST published the second book in my series on Monday. Then Tuesday came. My dad had called me in the middle of the afternoon and I was standing in my office chatting with him, my desktop computer – my main work computer – was running quietly and happily next to me. I had four internet windows open and no docs, so definitely not overloading it by any means. Then I hung up with my dad and went to check something on the computer and when I touched the mouse it froze. I stood there for a moment wondering, “What the hell?” And then the worst thing happened. The Blue Screen of Death.

Now, at this point, I did not panic; I’ve seen The Blue Screen of Death before, we all have, right? I did worry that maybe I had a virus but I would deal with it. So I shut down the computer and then went to start it back up again and once past the very first screen that tells me what kind of computer I have came up, it went black and I realized my computer was clicking. Yes, clicking. So like an idiot I shut it down and tried again and again. Then I went for my laptop and searched for a reason or a cure and found that most thought it was my power supply dying. Sucks, yes, but no hard drive damage, right? So I found a local tech who promised to come out the next afternoon to see what was wrong and if he could fix it, at the very least he would retrieve my data for me. So I stopped panicking.

Why would I be panicking, you ask? Well, my lovelies, my 90k+, unfinished manuscript of Fire is on that hard drive. And nowhere else. Yeah. You get it now. There was a copy in my email, but it was only about 80k words, so I would’ve lost over 10k words. Not as bad as losing the whole thing, but those 10k words have so much action and tension and build up in them… I could follow the path of those words, but my footsteps would never be identical again.

So the tech comes the next day. He tells me a power supply replacement is only $20-30 and would take him like 10 mins max. So I jumped for joy. But very shortly after the first attempt to fix that problem we realized it was not my power supply clicking, but rather my hard drive. At this point I realized how many times I had tried to start it up and how many times this tech had tried and all I could think of was how much damage we may have caused. So I cried. Oh yes, for the fifth or sixth time.

Then I started calling specialists with the tech sitting next to me to make sure no one steamrolled me. Finally I got a local, independent guy, Scott, who said I could bring him my computer within the hour. When I got to him he seemed confident that he could simply lift an image of my entire hard drive and put it on a new one and be done in a day or so and would only charge me for the cost of the hard drive. I was so relieved. The people I had been calling were quoting me prices that would cover the cost of my rent and that my computer would end up in Northern California and be gone for possibly 3 weeks with no guarantees.

So I went home feeling great. I would not only get my work in progress but probably everything else! YAY! Confetti! Cupcakes! Woohoo!

And then Scott called.

The hard drive was so corrupted that there was no way he could lift an image of it. In fact, he said, to get anything he would need to know exact file names and locations so he could retrieve individual files. What was worse, he told me to be prepared for the fact that he would try to get my important files, but he couldn’t promise it. I could’ve been sick. I begged him to find the final draft of Fire. I would give up everything else, just not that. I knew what I was saying, but I knew there was a copy of Water in my email that my editor has and really, I could, in time, probably replace everything else.

I did not sleep Wednesday night.

Scott called early in the morning and told me that after 7 hours he had lifted over 11 GBs of data. I know little about computers but that sounded promising! But then he told me that we were up into the few hundreds of dollars in time and work and if I wanted he could order the drivers needed to get into the rest of the data. Already, this was financially damaging so I told him no, no drivers. Then I asked, “Did you get Fire?” He said he would check and call me back.

I sat and waited for almost forty minutes on the verge of tears and vomiting.
Then he called back. He had a copy of Fire. He started to read it to me and I quickly cut him off and nearly screamed, “No, no, no! I need a word count, Scott! Word count!”

He had the full manuscript.

I cried again.

I raced to his office and sat at his computer and found that he had managed to save a large chunk of my files and a few pics and a few songs that were not also on my laptop. But there was every final copy of my manuscripts and notes and so many other things. Yes, some things were lost and corrupted. But the irreplaceable things were there.

When I worked at an office and stole writing time at lunch and coffee breaks, I emailed myself every single day the current manuscript I was working on. I probably have over 100 copies of Earth in my email in various stages of completion. But at about 80k words of Fire, I started working from home. Why email myself now? Well, this is why.

Back your shit up, people.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day After Release - Sending Some Love

So my second novel, Air, dropped yesterday. It was kinda weird releasing on a holiday, and yes, I think of Halloween as a real holiday. The hobbits had second breakfast; well Halloween is my second Christmas, and it is Shayna’s birthday! So of course Air had to be released on Halloween!

I have no idea who was the first person to buy a copy of Air, but just like whomever that first person was to buy Earth, I love you. I’m sending you cosmic hugs and love for what you’ve done for me.

Speaking of sending out love to people, I cannot tell you how amazing this tour was for me. Julie, of A Tale of Many Reviews, is an amazing, helpful person. She has so much going on and yet she is still happy to help indies like me. I am so grateful for what she’s done for me and is continuing to do. She’s even offered to host a second tour for me for Air. The tour will run December 12-16 so keep an eye out for special prizes again! I will personally be putting together a special Solstice-Christmas gift package for the winner!

I have to say another thank you to some of the most amazing bloggers who joined my tour. You all had some of the nicest, most amazing things to say about my book. Every day of the tour I woke up terrified I’d see something that would shatter my world, but every day there was nothing but fabulous, validating things for me to read about my book! Yes, there were honest criticisms, but that means just as much to me. That tells me they read my book and really thought about it. Someone’s time is incredibly important, and I know that, so thank you for spending some of it with me and my imaginary friends. I really hope you all will join me on the second tour!