Wait, What's A Thesis Statement?

I would normally post tonight, it being Wednesday and all, but I am tied up with shrews. The northern short-tailed shrew to be exact, as my daughter failed to tell me she needed help with her research paper due Friday morning. Did I mention she hasn't started yet?

It's been a while since I had to write a research paper and I'm struggling just a little bit (a lot, actually). So I will be back on Friday with a hopefully wonderful post about my writing journey.  I would like to leave you with a picture of the subject of this research paper:
Oh sure, he's cute now. But I see nightmares about a giant version in my near future.
What's the last thing that yanked you away from your normal blogging or writing schedule?

Book To Movie Preview

I love movies almost as much as I love books, so when the two are combined, I just can't resist. Here are my most anticipated for 2011.

                                    Jane Eyre - release date March 11, 2011.
Jane is played by Mia Wasikowska who was also Alice in the most recent Wonderland.

               Beastly written by Alex Flinn due out March 18, 2011.

Water For Elephants written by Sara Gruen with a release date of April 15, 2011.
Starring Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski 

Winnie The Pooh written by A.A. Milne will be revamped and released in July, 2011.
Who can resist?

One For The Money written by Janet Evanovich will be released in movie form in July, 2011.
Starring Ana Reeder as Connie, Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum and Sherri Shepherd as Lula.

And last but not least, The Invention Of Hugo Cabret written by Brian Selznick
due out December, 2011.
Directed by the genius that is Martin Scorsese.

Of course, there are a few books to movies coming out before the end of the year I'm excited about also, including Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, just in time for my birthday in November.

Are there any books to movies you're looking forward to or books you've always wanted to see made into movies?

Writing Compelling Characters aka The Great Blogging Experiment

First, I would like to thank Elana, Jen and Alex for my blog topic today and also welcome all of you taking part in The Great Blogging Experiment. I'm stop 132 if you're following in numerical order.

When I sat down to write this post I expected it to be easy-peasy. After all, character development is my thing. I've got so many people in my head screaming at me on a daily basis to let them out onto the page that I sometimes talk to them more than my own family. (No, not out loud. Well, not lately.) But it really is difficult to describe what makes a character compelling.

A character's appeal is probably different for everyone, and dependent on each reader's life experiences. However, I find three things are critical when developing a memorable character:

      1. You must be able to put yourself in a character's shoes.

Whether your character is a pig living on a farm with a gifted spider, or the reclusive owner of a chocolate factory, a reader has to be able to relate to them. Everyone has problems and your characters should be no different.

      2. Your character has to want something so bad, they would do almost 
          anything to get it.

This doesn't have to be something physical, although that could be a starting point. More often it's emotionally driven: a desire for love, power, or simply acceptance.

      3. Give your character an arc.

Nobody wants to read about a character that never changes. Even the good girl who treats everyone like an angel, or the bad boy who would rather spit on you than look at you get BORING if they don't grow during the course of a story. This change can be subtle or dramatic, just make sure it's included.

For me, character is the best part of a story. It's what keeps me turning the pages into the wee hours even though I know I'll feel like crap the next day. It's what I remember about a book and hold within my heart like a good friend.

Thanks for stopping by my little piece of the blogosphere and don't forget to head over to the next stop. I'll be right behind you (not in a weird, creepy sort of way though).

I'm Down With ODE

The Oxford Dictionary of English has added a new list of words to its pages. My ten favorites are listed below. You can view the entire list here:

  1. BROMANCE - a close but non-sexual relationship between two men
  2. HATER - negative person
  3. DEFRIEND - another term for unfriend (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site)
  4. STEAMPUNK - a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advance technology
  5. FRENEMY - a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry
  6. DICTIONARY ATTACK - an attempt to gain illicit access to a computer system by using a very large set of words to generate potential passwords
  7. BUZZKILL - a person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect
  8. MICROBLOGGING - the posting of very short entries on a blog
  9. FREEMIUM - a business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for
  10. EXIT STRATEGY - a pre-planned means of extricating oneself from a situation
I was surprised that some of these words weren't already there (steampunk, bromance) but I guess that's because I use them so often. Keeping my fingers crossed for ASSHAT next year.

What words would you like to see added to the dictionary?

News and Happenings

Happy Friday! I never thought it would get here. So much great stuff going on around the blogosphere right now, I thought I would pass it along.

The wonderful Marieke is doing a new series of posts on her blog called How To Thursdays. Every two weeks she'll have a great industry professional over to talk about writing, editing, critting and literary theory. Her first interview with Leah Cypress (author of Mistwood, Greenwillow) is up, and there's a bonus giveaway too!

Everyone wants to increase followers and Rachel Harrie is going to help us do just that. She's kicking off a Writers' Platform Building Crusade on her blog. It's a great way to meet other writers.

Have you all congratulated the beautiful and talented Elana Johnson on the fantabulously gorgeous cover for her upcoming novel Possession? Yay Elana!

From the epic, epicness of WriteOnCon.com has sprung a new writer's group called The Voice. A place where some of us who met during that awesome online conference go to critique each other's work, provide support and encouragement, and sometimes just hang out. We are also planning to start live online group meetings which I'm particularly excited about since I haven't been able to find a writer's group in my area. We'd love to have you join us.

There are four writing blogfests upcoming that should each be a lot of fun:

  1. Blogfeast 9/23/10
  2. Mash-up Blogfest 10/1/10
  3. They're People Too Blogfest 10/2/10
  4. Bad News Blogfest 10/3/10
Do you have a contest or "fest" coming up that I missed? If so, please leave it in the comments.

Here's hoping your weekend is long and the writing comes easy! Ciao, my lovelies.

I Have To Do WHAT?

So I've been participating in a lot of blog hops lately and have found some really fantastic and interesting blogs out there. I've also found a surprising number of people with an unnatural attachment to cats(you know who you are).

Here's the thing. If you know people have a fixed amount of time to visit X number of blogs, do you have to make it so darn difficult to navigate yours? Some of the blogs made me feel like this guy,
and some of the blogs didn't even have anything posted about the "hop", leaving me feeling like I'd been taken advantage of(and not in a good way). If you know hundreds of people are going to be looking at your blog on a specific date, I think it's your obligation to at least let them know they're in the right place.

Don't get me wrong, there were some wonderful bloggers who acknowledged how valuable my time was and didn't even ask me to follow their blog in order to enter for prizes. I followed each and every one of them. Just so you don't think I'm a total fill in the blank, I also followed some of the more "difficult" blogs because the content was great, and others because OMG! I HAD TO HAVE THAT PRIZE!

I know the idea of hops are to increase your followers, I get it, but you shouldn't piss people off that are visiting for the first time, should you?

Readers, Unite!

In honor of Banned Books week which runs from September 25th through October 2nd, my daughter and I have decided to read three Judy Blume novels which are currently on the list of the Top 100 challenged/banned books of the last decade.

The three novels and where they rank:

43. Blubber
87. Tiger Eyes

99. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

You can view the entire list here.

I've read them and love each and every one of these books, and I look forward to sharing them with my daughter over the next month, now that she is old enough to appreciate them.

I have no problem with a parent deciding what is or isn't appropriate for their own children to read. It kinda comes with the job description. But I would never be so self-righteous as to tell someone else what their children should or shouldn't read; that's called censorship, boys and girls.

Steph Su is hosting a Banned Books Reading Challenge on her blog, as is Donna at litbites. There are a lot of great blogs taking part.

I hope you will check out the list and participate in your own way to bring awareness to this issue.

Awww, shucks!

The wonderful Tessa Quin made me all kinds of happy last week by awarding me the Versatile Blogger award. I had been having a pretty bad day until she swooped in and saved it. Thanks, Tessa!

As per the rules, here are seven things about me that you may or may not find interesting:
  1. I do website tech support for one of the largest short-run label manufacturers in the U.S. by day.
  2. I think pizza is a perfect food and try to eat it at least once per week.
  3. I have a brother, fifteen years my senior, currently living in Louisiana that I don't get to see nearly enough.
  4. I have never traveled West of New Orleans.(I know, it's kinda sad.)
  5. I am terrified of spiders but find myself feeding moths to big orb weavers that build their webs in the corner of our porch every fall.
  6. I am a paranormal romance junkie.
  7. I once ate 12 apples in a twenty-four hour period.
Now, I'm supposed to pass this award along to others, however, the bloggers I would have sent it to have already received it. Just know that I appreciate all of you that I follow. You make my life more interesting.

Under The Influence

I've been surfing the blogosphere today and have run across some really interesting posts regarding how the online adult YA community is influencing the books teens read, and not necessarily in a good way. If you haven't read Hannah Moskowitz's blog post on the subject, I suggest you do. It raises a lot of tough questions.

I understand where Hannah is coming from. Since most YA writers are not teens themselves, and I don't know of any teen agents, there is an inevitable adult influence on YA. Maybe that influence is drifting dangerously close to shoving things down teens' throats that they never would have decided to read on their own because it's just not interesting to them.

I love reading YA, but I also enjoy adult fiction, and honestly, if I didn't know I was reading YA, sometimes I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two until I'm well into the book. Of course, there's that whole "new adult" category, but we'll leave that discussion for another day.

I know my teenage son is old enough to decide what he wants to read, but does that mean that if I get my hands on a terrific YA novel I think he would like, I shouldn't suggest it to him? Of course, that very same novel was probably recommended to me on a blog or website piloted by an adult. So am I part of the problem? Are you?

Shout Outs!

This entry was going to be titled Sunday Shout Outs, but alas, Sunday came and went so fast, it was almost midnight before I remembered I was supposed to post it.

First, I would like to welcome all of my new followers from the BBQ, which brings me directly to my number one shout out. Let me introduce you to the fabulous Karen Gowen, who put together a wonderful Blog Party BBQ that runs through the end of today. I have found so many great new blogs through her! You should definitely hop on over there and join in on the fun.

Next, I would like to thank the talented and gorgeous Anne Riley, who has chosen my little entry as one of the winners of her AKA Flash Fiction blog contest. She is sending me an ARC and chocolate and fingernail polish, and did I mention chocolate? Thanks, Anne!

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to check out the always terrific Elana Johnson's blog posts this week, where she will be expounding wisdom on how to increase your online followers.

I hope you all enjoy your Labor Day. Fall will be here soon enough, so I'm going to enjoy this last holiday of Summer.

We'll be grilling burgers and hot dogs, then savoring my mom's homemade banana ice cream.

Where Have All The Bloggers Gone?

I recently joined a site for writers which includes an extensive blog listing for all its members. I began working my way through the sites, browsing posts, and found a staggering number of them abandoned or completely unreachable.

What happened to these people? It's as if a hole just opened up beneath them; one minute there, the next minute gone. Were they sucked into another dimension, abducted by aliens, off on an adventure (Eat, Pray, Love anyone?), or did life simply smack them in the face?

According to CyberJournalist.net, there are approximately 175,000 blogs created each day. Add that to the nearly 140 million already in existence and you have some idea of the number of  people blogging.   Conversely, a study by Technorati found upwards of 90% of blogs are abandoned (defined as not being updated in the past 120 days).

It's difficult to share parts of your life with strangers, which is what bloggers do on a daily basis (well, some of us not that often because OMG that's hard), but do you feel a responsibility to keep it up after you've connected with people through your blog? After you've shared the good and bad times with your followers, realizing these people regularly check in, don't you owe them something?

Please, will all of you bloggers out there with derelict sites drop someone a line so they know you're OK? Better yet, take the thing down altogether, because as a follower, not knowing is just plain awful.

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

There are just some terrific book giveaways going on now so I thought I would list them in one place. These are in the order of ending soonest:                                        

Shannon at Ramblings Of A Wannabe Scribe  is giving away books from the middle grade Grey Griffins series. Ends Sept. 5th.

Carolina at Carol's Prints is giving away eleven ARCs. Ends Sept. 6th.8th.

Sara at Babbling Flow is giving you a chance to win one of  nine ARCs. Ends Sept. 8th.

Meg at In Which A Girl Reads is giving away twenty-five YA books. Ends Sept. 19th.

The gals and guy at Reading Teen are offering one of  fifteen ARCs. Ends Sept. 24th.

You should click right over and enter so you don't miss out on all the awesomeness.

Are you a member of Goodreads?  If not, you should be. They have like a bazillion book giveaways you can enter and new ones are added daily. It's the best site I've found to catalog my books and discuss them with friends.

If you know of any other great contests or giveaways going on right now, or maybe have one of your own, feel free to list them in the comments.
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