December 23, 2010 | By: Tracy

Feliz Navidad -- I'm Outtie, Yo!

Alright you guys, I'm done blogging until the first Monday of the new year -- though I'll likely be lurking for the rest of the week (still have more of the Be Jolly blogfesters to get around to!)

In case I don't get around to you sometime in the next couple of days (and you haven't already hit the eggnog a little heavy yourself) I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy, happy new year. I know for some of you this is a difficult time, and I truly hope you're able to find some strength and good times even through the bad stuff!

As for me, I'm going to eat lots of food, read lots of books and send Santa Claus a reminder text message about my Christmas Wish List.

I'm really hoping he leaves me one of these under my tree.

That way, maybe in a few years time I can have my very own one of these.

But if that isn't possible at this time, I'm more than willing to settle for one of these.

Until next year, folks!!

December 22, 2010 | By: Tracy

"Would You Rather" Wednesday -- Christmas Edition

Check out my Be Jolly By Golly entry here

Now, on to today's bizniss...

Would You Rather Wednesday Quickie -- The Rules are simple. I ask a "Would you Rather" style question with two options, throw in my two cents and then you all do the same. The answers are our opinions, which means. . . there are no right or wrong answers! 

Would you rather be given the opportunity to relive the best Christmas/holiday from your past all over again OR would you prefer to have an advanced screening of your best Christmas/holiday yet to come? 

My two cents:
December 20, 2010 | By: Tracy

Time to put the writing aside for a bit and have a little fun with the upcoming holidays. You can check out the rest of the gang participating in the  Be Jolly By Golly Blogefest!

Though room is limited this year, I've managed to find a spot to squeeze in a little Christmas Tree love.

Though summer is months away, it wouldn't be my tree without...

I was hoping to rent a real-life reindeer to help add a little authenticity to the decorations, but with the economy the way it is this was all I could afford.

Cannolis aren't typically considered a treat reserved solely for Christmastime in Italian culture . . . unless you live in my family. We're lazy, and cannolis take a LOT of work to make!  So, needless to say, they don't last long!!

And last, but not least. . .  

No one will ever be able to convince me that "A Christmas Story" isn't the best. Christmas. Movie. Ever. 

Even if Ralphie is all growed up now.

So there you have it folks! I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful time for the holidays!! (No matter what holiday you celebrate)

To all my fellow Blogfesters, can't wait to get around this week and check out your entries!!

December 17, 2010 | By: Tracy

So You Want To Write a Novel

"I've been living my life, not wasting my time reading. What do you think I am, some kind of dork?"

We've all seen the videos with the computer characters. The ones where the in-depth conversations are made humorous by the overall lack of emotion in the voices and expressions. 

Well, here's one making its way around the writing community this week (I've seen it in three different blogs already), and I'm going to add to the hype because I enjoyed it that much. 

It's a video I think we can all relate to. 

If you've been writing for any length of time you've probably come across at least one person who's sprung a couple of these on you. Those wildly incorrect assumptions about the writing industry that makes you unsure whether they're just pulling your leg or totally serious.

And if you happen to hear something that sounds suspiciously like something you've said. . . stop. Just stop. We'll pretend like we didn't hear you say it, so long as you promise never to say it again.

(Video courtesy of David Kazzie)

Contest Quickie: Hop on over to check out lexcade's blog. She's giving away a $50 gift card to B&N to one of her followers on Monday. All you have to do is just leave her a comment on this post (follow her too, don't cheat) and you're entered!

Happy Friday, All!! Please check in Monday for my "By Golly Be Jolly" BlogFest entry (no writing, but lots of fun pictures!!)
December 16, 2010 | By: Tracy

Starved for Writerly Attention

***Query BlogFest entry***

Side note: Crystal Meth makers are the worst! Last night I bought two bottles each of NyQuil & DayQuil. Got that many because 1) I was all out of meds & still dealing with the fever/cold that tried to take me out last week and 2) My Flex Spending benefits for the year are about to expire. They had to scan my license, before they'd sell it to me!! Damn illegal drug engineers have to go and make life difficult for the rest of us.

Anyway. . .

I posted last week about my experience with attending my first real book signing.

What I didn't mention was that day, Misty and I spent more than 5 hours together in my car, plus another two hours at Starbucks prior to the signing. Though we've been blogging buddies for a few months, it was the first time we met in person. With all that time to kill you'd expect there to be a little getting-to-know-you awkwardness, right?

We didn't shut up once.

Seriously, from the moment she hopped in my car one or the other of us had something to say. (I'm chatty and don't apologize for that, btw) Now, you'd think since we were going to a book signing for an author we both absolutely adore, for a book series we love, we would have talked non-stop about those things.

We didn't.  

Instead, we spent pretty much the entire time gabbing about . . . writing!  Stories. Queries. Agents. Betas. Hopes. Fears. Annoyances. You name a topic, we probably covered it.

Good thing too, because we don't do nearly enough of that stuff on our blogs. ;o)

I'm guessing this is pretty normal for writers. Most of us are probably starved to be able to sit down and talk about something we love--for better or worse--with someone who "gets" it.

Do any of you have a writing buddy that you know in in real life?

I'm discovering it's a ton of fun to meet fellow writers in person. Now, I'm actually thinking about joinging an association just so I can find more writerly people who have to talk with me. God help them!

**Weekly reminder to check out Shannon McMahon's Anonymous Critique, if you're so inclined.**
December 15, 2010 | By: Tracy

"Would You Rather" Wednesday

**Looking for my Query BlogFest Entry?**

Now, I've never previously been a big fan of locking myself into a blog feature for any particular day of the week. But now I want one. Just one day every week where I know what I'm going to post without having to wrack my brain in advance. (Not that I do a tremendous amount of brain wracking now, but whatever) 

I also want to know a little more about the kind of people I chat with in this here blogosphere.

So, from here on out I dub every Hump Day as "Would You Rather" Wednesday.

The premise is simple, I ask a "Would you rather A or B?" question, put in my two cents & then let everyone answer for themselves.

Sometimes the questions will be writing related, sometimes just random wonderings on my part.

So without further ado, let's get down to this week's edition:

Would you rather write a handful of best-sellers, makes millions and eventually move on to other pursuits while still writing the occasional novel OR have steady, moderate sales & recognition over a long span and spend the rest of your life as a full-time writer?

My answer: I'll never turn down millions of dollars and phenomenal success, but personally, I think I'd choose the moderate sales over the long haul. I've already accepted that my chances of getting rich via this profession are pretty darn slim. But if I ever got to a point where I could sell enough to be able to comfortably support myself as a full-time writer...that would be ideal for me. Lot less stress than the writing rock stars put up with too!

December 14, 2010 | By: Tracy

Oh Wow, Talk About Embarrassing

Looking for my Query BlogFest Entry? Go here.

(Quick Public Service Announcement:  I seem to have an abundance of friends looking to submit their manuscripts to free lance editors for fine tuning. So, I wanted to pass along information for Jessica Bell. Jessica is a writer, but she also has a strong editorial background. Just relaying for anyone interested in going this route, since I know Jess is good people and will stand behind her services.)

Sometimes I get introspective and spend time imagining what the future will be like.

Granted, after a while, my mind tends to wander and I envision a world in which I'm such a renowned best-selling author, I loan J.K. Rowling some money when she lands on hard times. World hunger is ended. The Baltimore Orioles win 10 straight World Series titles. And I've dated every male cast member on the Vampire Diaries (especially Taylor Kinney)

Screw the rest of the stuff. If only the last one came true I could die a happy woman. *sigh*

Anyway, eventually, I come back to reality and get a little more realistic in my wonderings. And every now and again when I think about my writing and the efforts I'm going through to get published, I wonder if I might one day regret some things.

Right now, I LOVE my stories (both the completed one and the new bun in my writerly oven). But will I still feel the same in 15-20 years? Because the one thing about being published, regardless of paper copy or ebook, etc. Once your words are out there, released to the public, you can't ever take them back.

I know, I'll never regret my stories...but will I one day be slightly embarrassed by the juvenile versions of my writing?

I ask, because there was a time when I actually thought this was cool.

This picture is late 80's, back when we thought we were the 8th grade "ish". (Don't recall when putt-putt golf was the "in" thing to do, but whatever.) We were rocking the cheese. This was apparently before I discovered make-up and please don't ask me about the hair. I'm well aware that I look like a poor man's Molly Ringwald.

Anyway, as you can tell by the I'm-so-cool-look-at-me-leaning pose, I apparently felt pretty good about myself when this picture was taken. Now, I look back and cringe at this child and wonder why no one stopped her when she tried leaving the house like that. (My friend Kim doesn't count as a judge, she's wearing boxer shorts over her leggings for crying out loud)

I just hope and pray, that twenty years after my first manuscript is published I don't look back and cringe the way I did when I first stumbled across this picture!!
December 13, 2010 | By: Tracy

Query BlogFest Entry

Okay, folks, here is my entry for Jodi Henry's Query BlogFest taking place this week. 

Whether you're participating or not, feel free to stop by and visit some of the other brave souls who are putting their queries out there for tweaking and feel free to add your input. 

(Please note: I'm only including the story blurb -- no personalization or background info)

GEMINI CURSED - 83,000 word paranormal fiction

Dear Wonderful Agent:

Centuries ago, Anna Rodwen had no intention of standing idly aside while another woman plotted to steal the love of her life. She fought for her man, and refused to abandon Thomas despite learning his not-so-secret admirer was a witch. Anna thought she understood the dangers of opposing an enemy who could wield magic, but the actual repercussions were beyond her imagining.

The worst part of being cursed to live for eternity was witnessing the death of the one person she’d risked everything for.

Decades later and a country away, Anna crosses paths with a young man identical—in every way—to her long-lost Thomas. While he has no recollection of the lifetime they once shared, Anna’s convinced her soulmate has come back to her. Just when it looks as though fate has given its blessing for a second chance, she discovers her newfound happiness comes with a curse of its own.  

Anna once sacrificed her mortality in an attempt to secure a life with the man she loved. This time she may be asked to pay a far steeper price.

To my fellow blogfesters, I promise I will be getting around to all of you at some point this week!
December 9, 2010 | By: Tracy

Meeting Richelle Mead

I'm back!  Sort of.

My internet at home is still acting highly sketchy. The cable man confirmed yesterday that it was a problem on their end (thank you for telling me what I already knew, Mr. Cable Man).  That being said, when I tried to get on this morning I still couldn't. Thank goodness for work internet!

Anyway, on to the good stuff. 

My mood and outlook, on the week, took a drastic turn for the better when Misty Waters (yes, that's her real name) and I made a road trip to Pennsylvania to meet one of our favorite authors, Richelle Mead for the Last Sacrifice tour. (LOVED the book, btw)

I won't bore you with gushing about how much I love Richelle's books. That would just make me sound like a teenybopper wannabe . . . and just because I am one, doesn't mean I have to go making it uber obvious. Though Misty did occasionally throw the "stalker" term my way when I mentioned fun and interesting little tidbits about Richelle, I swear I know nothing she hasn't volunteered on her blog or twitter. Promise. I never went through with my plan to hire a private investigator. . . he was too expensive. ;o)

Last night turned out to be wicked cool on two levels.

First we got to meet and talk with Richelle. Who, by the way, despite her success is surprisingly down-to-earth and personable. You can tell she genuinely enjoys interacting with her fans. . .  sadly, I've heard horror stories about other authors. So, I'm highly relieved to like one of the Good Guys, er, gals.

Secondly, as future hopefuls ourselves, it was a lot of fun to see how an actual book signing is done. It was so much fun and a lot less intimidating than I thought it would be. I've decided I totally want to do one now.

Yeah, that's right. I want to do a book signing. As if trying to perfect a query letter, land an agent, secure a book deal and publish with a debut on the NYT Bestseller's list isn't enough to put on my plate of dreams. I now want to add a book signing tour to that list. 

Anyway, all of that to say. If you've never been to a book signing before and you get the chance to see a writer whose work you enjoy, do it! We drove more than 5 hours round-trip yesterday, and it was worth every minute!! Not only did I meet one of the writers I look up to, but Misty and I totally bonded. We're major BFF's now.

Also, Shannon McMahon has another Anonymous Critique up on her blog today. So if you have time, please stop by, read the brief writing sample and feel free to give your critique, words of encouragement, etc.
December 7, 2010 | By: Tracy

Adventures in Tracyland

Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you do some weeks just aren't going to go your way?

*raises hand*  <---- That's me.

I was trying to be cutesy about my internet problems yesterday, but it's now gotten to epic pain-in-ass proportions. I've been without internet since Saturday morning & I'm about to go homicidal (I originally typed homocidal, which is an entirely different way of going about things) on the people at my cable company.

They say they'll send someone out to fix it Wednesday, which of course means Thursday or Friday. Totally screws up my blog schedule this week, and I'm not happy about it. *mean face*

So right now, I've snuck onto someone else's internet. Seriously, I feel very James Bond. Except. . . James Bond has way more dangerous things to do than steal internet access to make a blog post, but let me have my fantasy. At this point, it's all I have left.

To add insult to injury, I've finally succumbed to the germs my co-workers with small children kept bringing into the office. In fact, I have an uneasy feeling there is a massive inner-ear infection in my future. This is one instance where I will say dogs > children. They may occasionally poop on the floor, but you can't catch their germs.

Then, to put the icing on the cake, last night I downloaded LAST SACRIFICE only to find there's a programming error that B&N is trying to fix. In the meantime, I have to work my way through a novel where every apostrophe and quotation mark has been replaced with a question mark.

?Try reading a book that?s formatted like this? she said, shaking her head. ?After nine or so chapters you would think you?d get accustomed to it?

I swear, if there is a brutal snowstorm in Pennsylvania tomorrow that cancels the book signing Misty and I are driving 4-ish hours to attend, I may have a cow. I shouldn't say that, because with the way my week's been going I probably would have a cow pop out of my uterus.

Thanks for letting me vent you guys!  I'm probably not going to get around to comment on a lot of blogs, check out my new peeps, reply to contest wins and awards for the next couple of days. (stupid internet!!) Bear with me. I may have a lot of catching up to do come Friday, but I'll Get-R-Done.
December 6, 2010 | By: Tracy

To Be Continued...

Due to a weekend filled with internet connectivity issues and a Monday filled with the flu, this show is being taken off the air today. We'll resume with our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

December 3, 2010 | By: Tracy

Timeless Teens?

My current WIP (whose rough draft I vow to have completed by the 15th even if it kills me) is my first attempt at YA. I read both adult fiction and YA, so it’s only natural my story ideas would cross between the two. 

Writing for teens and for adults are two different beasts entirely, I'm learning. It's not so much HOW you write or WHAT you write about. I think the main divider is the extent of the importance adults place on certain matters versus their teen counterparts. Since I'm a bit of a Peter Pan type myself that part isn't so hard for me to tap into.

The real problem I'm having is figuring out what cultural reference are still relevant to teens, even those they haven't necessarily lived through. Elvis Presley for instance. The man died before I was born, but I still know exactly who he is and I'm willing to bet most teens have heard of him before. But not all cultural references are quite so timeless.

For instance, In my story there's a constant bantering that takes place between two characters. He likes to pick on her because she's short. She teases him because his hair is a bit on the longish side. They do this by greeting each other with ever-changing snarky nicknames.

Even if this story were to be published four years from now, I'm pretty sure most readers would still get a Justin Bieber dig...

<---- For the record, Carter looks more like this. No offense, Beebs, but you can't compete.

(I must stop staring at the picture. Back on track)

So I know the Bieber deal is fine, but would a sixteen year old girl think to use a Beatles reference?

And the one I'm really iffy on is when he refers to her as Frodo.  Now several years back I wouldn't have questioned it, because the movies were huge, and there were plenty of teenage girls (and those of us a tad bit older) who were all kinds of googly-eyed over Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood. But is it a reference they'd still get now? Do teen boys still tackle books like LOTR?

I guess what I'm asking of my other YA writing friends, what do you do to verify whether a particular reference makes sense to today's teens?  And/or does anyone know of a teen I can borrow for questioning?  :D

December 2, 2010 | By: Tracy

What Your Blog Says About You

And I don't mean what our blogs talk about behind our backs.

I'm sure most of us have heard about personality tests. Introvert. Extrovert. Artist. Analytical. So on and so forth. But now someone's put together a nifty little site that attempts to decipher our personality types by analyzing our blogs. (I totally stole this idea & site from Adam Purple, btw)

The best part is, it's super fast . . . and from what I can tell, fairly accurate.

Here's what the type analyzer site had to say about the creator of Forever Endeavor (that's me!!)

ISFP - The Artists

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.

What did everyone else get?

Two other things real quick:

1)  If you have a few minutes to kill hop on over to Shannon McMahon's blog. Shannon has decided to open her blog up to anonymous critiques. Want others to give you their opinion on your first 250-500 words? Have a certain trying scene you want feedback on? Shannon is offering her blog as a place to do it anonymously. People are more apt to honestly critique an anonymous stranger, than a friend. So stop by, lend your thoughts, and don't forget to mention to Shannon if you'd like to  take a shot!

2) Check out the couple of blogfests I'm partaking in this month. One to spread the holiday fun and one to spread the query fu. . . well, one for those of us who are looking to strengthen our query letters. And hey if an agent or two happen along to read a few, we're not gonna complain, right?
December 1, 2010 | By: Tracy

When Fiction Gets Real

This past weekend I read "The Mockingbirds" by Daisy Whitney

I know this debut has been making its way around the blogosphere, because that's how I heard about it.

The Mockingbirds is the story about a junior at a prestigious private high school who wakes up the morning after she's just been date raped, and has to come to grips with what happened and how she's going to deal with it.

Pretty heavy topic for a YA, right? It is and yet it isn't, because it's a very real problem for adolescent females out there.

In fact, statistics show that young women between the ages of 16-24 are more than four times as likely to become victims of date rape. And in 90% of those cases alcohol was involved.

The Mockingbirds is wonderfully written. The novel is gripping, because it's more than just the story of a young woman falling victim to a sexual assault. Yes, we do follow along on Alex's journey to recall and process exactly what happened to her that night (as she refers to it). But it's also the story of a secret students' society which doles out the justice the adults at the school can't. Think Dead Poet's Society meets high school Law Club.

It's one of those rare books where fiction tackles a serious issue without making it sound preachy or judgmental. If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it!! I'd also urge parents of teens & pre-teens to think about putting this story in front of them. Girls and boys.

Has anyone else read this or another Young Adult book that deals with a much heavier topic than first loves and broken families?