August 30, 2011

Book Review: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

I must admit, I was intrigued by the premise of this book. I'd heard around the writing block that arcs of it went quickly at Book Expo and that there was a lot of buzz about it. So, this weekend, after reading an adult vampire novel, I decided to continue with the dark and twisty theme and read Possess next. And I'm so glad I did. I read it in one day-not one sitting, although I would have if not for my small people and their ever long list of wants and needs. It was a fast read with a strong YA voice and a plot that successfully mixed mystery, horror and romance. Right down my proverbial alley. The biggest plus of all was that it managed to be creepy, but not over the top scary, so I didn't terrorize my hubbie afterwards with crazy nightmares.

In a nutshell the book is about a girl with the ability to excorcise demons. Her name is Bridget and she discovered her special abilities not long after her father seemingly dies at the hands of a mental patient he was evaluating. She begins training with a priest at her Catholic school, learning his five rules of banishments(what he calls exorcisms), which is a good thing because cases of possession are cropping up all over town and Bridget is their best hope for release. But Bridget isn't sure she wants this new ability of hers or the addictive rush of power and exhilaration she feels while banishing the demons. She isn't sure she wants to know why she's so connected to the dark side. Bridget has to find a way to come to terms with her powers and figure out why the town is becoming overrun with evil before that evil comes after her and the ones she loves.

This book was wholly original in how it presented the whole topic of exorcims while still maintaining the same foggy eeriness of the stories that came before it, like The Exorcist. I liked how real and genuine Bridget seemed, how confilicted she was about what she could do, and how she managed to be both kick butt and girlishly vulerable at the same time. Clear an afternoon sometime soon and spend a little time in her world...just lock away any china dolls you may have first...and carry a crucifix, just in case.

August 28, 2011

Writing Full Time: Week One

Okay, so my youngest started kindergarten last week. Which means I now have about six hours of time in the day to myself. SIX HOURS!!! It's like winning the time lottery. I had to literally cover my mouth as I left the school last Monday to keep my maniacal giggles under wraps. I've been waiting for this week for the past two years-ever since I started seriously writing. I've been plotting and planning each of these daily hours for so long that now that they are actually here in front of me, I'm practically drunk on all the possiblilities. My goal is to write at least two books this year and to learn as much as I can about the writing process. I want to make giant strides, perfect my craft. GET PUBLISHED. There is so much that I want to accomplish. Part of me is exhilarated...but part of me is scared to death. After all, my hubbie is making sacrifices so that I can do this-he's working lots of hours-two jobs, in fact, while I work one-that doesn't even pay. And I want to make his sacrifice worthwhile. I want to manage to get paid enough so that he can focus on only one job and let the other one go. I want him to be able to have the time to pursue his small business dream while I help support us too. But writing novels is shaky business...there are no guarrantees and it terrifies me. So this year is my equivalent of jumping off a cliff and trying to land in a very small, very shallow wading pool already crowded with other authors. I'm doing everything I can to land well, including praying. My eyes are glued to that little circle of water, my arms outstretched, my heart and mind-open. Wish me luck:)

August 16, 2011

Write On Conference: Day One-Heavy on the awesome!

I think my contacts must be fused to my eyeballs right now. I've just spent almost the entire day glued to my computer screen soaking in the Write On Conference. My brain is so full it feels like one of those super soaker buckets at a water park right before it tips over. There were so many good tips, comments, writing samples, etc. I especially enjoyed Jessica Sinsheimer's live forum event. She answered questions about the querying process and all things agenty-live-for hours!  It made it so much easier to get a handle on what her preferences might be and what she's looking for.

If you haven't checked out yet, you should in the next two days. So many great events are planned. Even if you just go to check out what other writers are working on it'll be well worth your time. It's a great way to see what's already out there, what's maybe overdone, what's a little generic, and what's completely brilliant. It's like gettting a peek at an agent's slush pile. Invaluable, really.

August 15, 2011

Gearing Up For the Write On Conference

In about five hours the completely free and very cool online writers conference at will begin. I am more than a little excited and yes, a lot crazy since I stayed up this late the night before (1am to be precise). I've even taken time today to prepare my small people so that they will have lots to occupy themselves with while I soak up  all of the awesomeness that is this year's conference.

Stash of rented kiddie movies: check.
Assortment of healthy snacks: check.
Assortment of unhealthy snacks for later when everyone gets restless: check.
Emergency box of crafts: double check.
Last ditch manicure bribe for both of them during first downtime from conference: you betcha!

Now here's hoping that it's all enough.

August 5, 2011

Key Largo, Montego...and Shark Attacks

It's official. Summer time has taken over here as evidenced by my total lack of blog posts lately. I am knee deep in water and children and way more than shoulder high in sunshine. What I'm not immersed in at the moment is my writing. I'm trying not to freak out...although every other minute my body shudders with the aftershocks of my decision to slack.

The thing is, this is the last summer before both kids are in school. The last few weeks I'll have a "baby" in the house before we all go our seperate ways for six-eight hours a day. I'm feeling the need to savor it, to drink in the small stuff and pack as many cool experiences in as I can so that the summer will be as memorable for my children as it is for me. So when we went down to Miami recently, I spent one night checking out the This Is Teen Event and the rest of the time gallavanting with the family. We took an airboat ride, held a rooster, ate at the pinkest restaurant ever, and took a spontaneous trip to Key Largo...where my children got to see a fight first hand when two guys near our dinner table swapped testosterone-laden insults and one threw a chair over to go after the other guy. Who needs action movies when you have drunk idiots with thong wearing girlfriends?  Unforgettable summer memories? Check and check.

And just today I spent the better part of the morning watching Soul Surfer with both girls. Now as I write this they are playing with surfboards that they made out of styrofoam in the bathroom sink. Their Littlest Pet Shop figurines are undergoing multiple shark attacks and my oldest is using tabasco in the water to simulate the blood. As gross as this may sound, they are having the time of their lives. So the summer memories may be a little weird and slightly twisted? Aren't all family memories at least a little bit that way? What I know with a hundred percent certainty is that we used this summer to go out and live a little. We saw things we wanted to...and things we didn't, but both have changed our perspectives just a little and now I have a richer well, a deeper source for my stories. So even though I haven't written every day, my writing will ultimately be better once I pick the pen up again in the coming weeks. Part of being a writer is soaking up the world around us and that's what I've been doing. And I wouldn't change a thing.