Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Early New Year!

So, I'm still in the midst of holiday company (hence the tardiness of this post). I really don't have time for a big lengthy anything at the moment (what with packing for our trip and dealing with people), but I wanted to wish everyone a fabulous 2012!

An extra special shout out to the OWG Rebels and those who hang with me at the Rebel Outpost. Your love, support, and encouragement have kept me going. I adore each and every one of you. Last year I dubbed 2011 the year of the Rebel. For 2012, the Outpost is staging a worldwide takeover. A year of releases, a year of firsts, and a year full of awesome!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

This post is going live at 12:30 am, the time of the winter solstice where I live. So from me to you: Yuletide Greetings!

For those who don't know, in many Pagan traditions, Yule marks the birth of the sun god (or the victory of the god of the "light" half of the year). While Samhain (Halloween) is the Pagan New Year, for me Yule and its bringing of the light is more of a time of renewal. I find the weeks between Samhain and Yule to be a time of reflection (which often, when combined with other aspects of the coming winter holidays leads to stress). Yule is one of the times when I seek to find an inner calm. I've already spent almost two months in self-examination, and this is the time when I make decisions about where I want my life to go in the coming year.

2011 has been a... a hell of a ride. Like all the best roller coasters, it was filled with ups and downs and even threw me for a loop more than once. As the ride's about to end, I can either get right back on or I can look for a different ride. The thing is, life isn't like an amusement park. When you get off one ride and head to the next at Cedar Point or Disney or wherever, you generally know what you're going to next. You get to choose if you want more thrills and madness or if you're ready for something a little more sedate. Life's more like going to an amusement park, drawing your next ride out of a hat, and having to go on it regardless of if you're... afraid of heights, or can't swim, or even have a heart condition.

And that's what happens when you decide to make changes in your life. You're throwing away the roller coaster, and hoping that when you walk away, it's to find yourself on an even better ride (whatever that "better" is for you).

If you've ever been to an amusement park with me, you know there are usually a handful of rides that, if given the choice, I'd spend all day riding over and over again. The funny part is, if you know me, you know I'm not like that with life. No matter how good the status quo might be, I get... antsy. I want the surprises and the new challenges and all the ups and downs that will come with them. With that in mind, with the coming of the light, I'm letting it shine into the dark corners of me and clearing out what doesn't work as well as I want it to and making room for new (hopefully better) stuff.

And no matter what else, I hope it's an awesome ride.

No matter what you celebrate, I hope you have a happy and blessed holiday!

**Blogging will be minimal for the next two weeks**

Thursday, December 15, 2011

There’s Always Room for Magic

This is the year I broke down and told my kids that the reindeer pulling the sleigh aren’t real. That the jolly fat man in the red suit is really Mom and Dad hanging out in their pajamas, drinking, watching non-kid-friendly holiday movies and wrapping gifts. The thing is… they’ve known for years.
My son has played along so his sister would believe, but she ditched the tooth fairy in favor of keeping her teeth to show off (why—I don’t know) after she lost the first one. She’s six.

I’m not sure what happened that made them stop believing in magic, but it makes me sad. Not that I want them to be made fun of at school or anything, but that loss of innocence is a big deal. Often, teachers and friends and television dictate what kids think is cool or right. Most of the time it’s a good thing, but I believe in embracing the imagination, so when we had our talk, that was a big part of it. Holding on to what’s worth keeping while letting go of the rest.

I also made sure to remind them that just because one bit of magic isn’t what they thought, it doesn’t mean magic isn’t real. We spent some time talking about miracles and things that defy explanation. We even talked about the religious significance of both Christmas and Yule and the magic inherent in both. And we talked about how people can make magic every day by the things we do.
And we discussed a way for us to create some magic next Christmas for someone. (Surprisingly, they didn’t pick the dogs first, but I would’ve been okay with that. To the dogs, everything is magic.) They decided to make a Build-A-Bear for a kid from the giving tree at their favorite restaurant. Total proud-mom moment right there, and I’ve never seen them as excited to be at Build-A-Bear.
When I tuck them in that night, one of them (because they always do) will ask me if I believe in magic. I’ll do what I always do. I’ll tell them the truth—I do. I always have. Then I’ll remind them that what I believe in my heart doesn’t matter as much as what they believe in theirs. And I’ll kiss them goodnight and tell them to sleep sweet.We celebrate our little family Christmas on Saturday. Friday night before bed, we’ll sit back, and I’ll read the holiday story I wrote for the PRT series. It’s one of those stories that I love and wish I could share with the world, but it has so many spoilers it has to stay hidden (basically until the series is done). But since the kids hear me brainstorming, they already know all the spoilers, so I can share it with them.
And I’ll rely on faith, trust and pixie dust that in the morning, my kids’ worlds will miraculously be a more magical place than it was when they believed in the man in the red suit and elves and flying reindeer…because they’ll believe in possibility.
That is my holiday wish to my children and every one of my readers. Whatever your faith or celebration, Happy Holidays from me and the PRT.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Doing the Right Thing This Holiday Season

Every year, the time around the holidays seems to get more and more crowded. Things to do, people to see, even with fewer people to buy for this year, there's still a lot of shopping. One thing hasn't changed this year--I have to pick and choose what's most important.

Decorations are slowly going up. Shopping is 99% done and what's left is relatively painless (gift cards for teachers, that sort of thing). But, I have a manuscript I want to finish drafting before we start visiting people and having company all the time. Really? I'd like to get edits on PRT 2 done as well so I can send it off. But I'll settle for the draft.

What that means is, time is precious. I let the blog slide during NaNo, so I don't really want to skip it this month (plus, really, blogging doesn't take that long as long as I know what to write about). I haven't done cards yet and I really should. I always do cards, but if I don't get them out soon, they may not get where they need to be.

On the other hand, the extended family Christmas party is this weekend. My grandfather turns 100 in March. He's almost a freaking century old. My mind still boggles when I consider it. But, I'm also a realist. Anything could happen between now and March. So... cards are taking a backseat to something more important.

You see, my grandmother used to make these cookies. They were really the only kind she ever made, and they are... an acquired taste (most of the kids in the family acquired it because... hello? Only option at grandma's house). My grandmother died quite a while ago, and no one in the family could duplicate her cookies. Truth is I'm not sure how many people bothered trying. You see? They are a pain in the ass. Your kitchen is devoted to those cookies for two days. Might as well not plan on doing anything else in there. And, if you don't do it just right... they don't turn out. Easy to burn. Easy to under mix. Easy to over flour. There are so many ways to screw them up.

A few years back, I decided I wanted to surprise my grandfather and I made them. That year I discovered that the special flour on the recipe? Yeah. It doesn't exist anymore. So... I tried with the closest I could find. The cookies didn't look quite right, but they tasted okay, if a little bland. (It was also the year I found out that you need 4-5x as much extract as you need if you use essential oil instead.)

Then I made them the next year. They still didn't look quite right (the flour I found was more yellow than the special flour), but by cutting them the night before, the edges baked better. Plus, I used the right amount of extract. Now, they still didn't taste exactly right (the flour problem), but damn... they're close. And grandpa asked about them the moment I walked in the door that year.

I've made them for every party since. Last year, (in addition to the special box for Grandpa) I packaged up the leftovers for my dad... and my cousin took them. That boy is going to get an earful this year. Anyway... Cards? Or cookies for my almost-100-year-old grandpa? That's a no brainer.

Maybe I'll find time for cards next week. Maybe not. I hope if you expected one from me and don't get it, you'll understand that I had to make a choice... and agree I made the right one.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ding Dong, NaNo's Dead, and the Rebel Outpost is Born

By the time you read this, the clock has likely chimed midnight on your National Novel Writing Month quest. Whether you shot for the 50k or had some other goal for the month (as many of the NaNoRebs did), NaNo is over for another year.
For those who didn't see the other me tweet with glee about it, I finished my 50k on November 23... and then promptly died (or at least my productivity did). Holiday preparations started to take over, and stress set in, and writing suffered the consequences. But today I say "No more!" Several people want to finish their NaNo novels in December, me among them. So, I'm going to be participating in #30k30 on Twitter. Really, I'm hoping for more like #30k10 or #30k15, but just to not confuse the hashtag, I'm going to try to add at least 30k to the novel in thirty days in December (I guess we get to take one off?).

With that in mind, but not just because of it, the NaNoRebs chatroom that we've used for write-ins is going to stay open and active. We're still hashing out details, but too many of us find it fun and motivating to just let it fade away. But, since NaNo is over, it needs a new name. The chatroom will now be known as The Rebel Outpost. It *is* password protected, so if you're planning to hang out there, please make sure I have your name on my handy-dandy list. That way if we need to change the password, I can let you know.
Also, even if you didn't participate with us during NaNo, you can join The Rebel Outpost too. We goof around a lot, but generally we also get a lot of writing done (non-writers, I adore you too, but it's not a chatroom just to chat, it's a chatroom to work). If you decide you want to join us, please let me know so I can get you the password (honestly, Twitter is still probably the easiest way. Either @Selestial or @Selestedelaney)

I hope you had a great NaNo, and please let the rest of the Rebels know if you hit your personal goal :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Literary Agent to the Rescue!

Sorry about no post last week. NaNo is eating my brain.

That's a lie.

Truth is, I've seen so many instances of authors behaving badly of late that the only thing I want to do is post ranty stuff, which I try really hard to relegate to other blogs that encourage ranting. I want this to be a positive place (or at least a happy-for-now, even if I can't swing a happily-ever-after, if you know what I mean).

Into this black cloud of irritation blew a breath of fresh air in the form of a literary agent. Laura Bradford hit 9000 followers on Twitter and randomly drew one for a prize. I won! After doing a little dance of glee, I panicked. I had to choose between a box of books (*drool*) and a fifteen-minute phone call with her (*gasp*). Now, this should have been a no brainer, but I tend to be really shy around people I don't know, especially on the phone. So, I went to her website and checked out what books I could get if I chose option A. And uh... yeah. I already own a lot of them. It was like fate was kicking me in the ass and saying "Hello? Career? You want one, right?"

So, we set up the call and I organized a list of questions. I'm not going to share everything, but she agreed to let me give you some details on what we talked about. AND, she was so awesome she willingly went over the fifteen minutes without blinking. We covered my whole list of questions. <3

First, there have been stories flying that if you go digital first, you may as well kiss your chances of a New York contract goodbye. No, you won't get one for the book you already published, but as a general rule, unless you are selling huge numbers, New York doesn't care about your digital sales. This attitude is shifting a bit, but toward the positive. A digital career isn't likely to hurt you, and publishing with some places might even make them sit up and take notice. (Samhain was mentioned specifically due to their high sales figures.)

Book promotion is important as anyone with a book out knows, and though it sometimes feels like you're talking into the ether, social media is a key factor in that. She mentioned specifically not posting about your book and nothing else (but we already knew that). One important thing she brought up was creating a circle of influence. Find people who like what your write, tweet, blog about enough that they will retweet it and get word spread around. The important thing to remember here is these need to be real relationships. Don't follow someone just because they have thirty thousand followers and you think they'll retweet you. Build relationships and create content people care about. That will drive them to your website/blog/books.

As for Laura specifically, I asked a couple questions about her likes/dislikes. Some of it is pretty basic stuff. She will auto-reject for pitching things she doesn't rep and crazy word counts, but there are no thematic things that make her automatically say no (like anything else, it just has to be an amazing story). She is fond of genre mash-ups (paranormal steampunk dystopian, anyone?) and she often tweets about specific things she'd love to see in her slush. So make sure you're paying attention. You might just have something she really wants.

That's about it (obviously there was more to the conversation, but some was me-specific, so I'm not going to share :P). Thank you, Laura, for being awesome and easy to talk to. I hope you don't mind if I hunt you up at RT to say hello.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoReb(el)s: Party's Started, You Coming?

So, the first write-ins went well (I think 6 people the first night, and maybe 8 last night). We even had a couple visitors last night (the dynamic duo of Skyla Dawn Cameron and Dina James). If you haven't heard, the chatzy write-ins are going to be a nightly thing. If you can join us, keep an eye on Twitter (remember, OUR hashtag is #NaNoRebs) or Facebook. There will probably be some nights I won't be around to start things, which means the link to the room won't be on my feed/page, so please plan accordingly.
Chrissey expressed interest last week about doing some write-ins timed better for our European Rebels. I'm in for this (as long as it isn't when I have to pick up my kids), but a lot of people on this side of the big water can only do daytime write-ins on the weekend. Here's the thing. You do NOT need to have some weird sort of approval for a #NaNoRebs write-in. Post about it on Twitter (with the hashtag so we can find it) a day or two in advance and then whack those of us who look like we might be around with a shovel once you open the chatzy room. (Doing that is easy. Go to, type in the name you're using and name it NaNoRebs Write-In. Once you're in, you have a direct link to share.)

Also, I might, once I'm on a normal-ish daytime schedule, start doing word sprints throughout the day. These are going to be when I have time (aka unplanned). You can start these too.

Basically I'm doing what I can, but I'm just me. Be a Rebel and throw something out there for us *gasp* without my say-so. You can do it. It's fun. Then point and laugh as I sit in the corner crying because your thing was bigger and better than my thing. *sniff* ;-)

The long and short of it is, we've made a good start, but I need people on board so we can get the most out of this. Follow each other on Twitter so you can see who might be in your timezone and able to do sprints and word wars and write-ins on your schedule. The party's started. Let's see if we can keep it going strong all month :)
Our list of #NaNoRebels:
Julie Particka(Seleste deLaney) / @Selestedelaney / eastern
Gareth / @FalcataTimes
Noelle Pierce / @NoellePierce
Danielle LaPaglia / @Dannigrrl5 / pacific
J.A. Campbell / @PFirewolf / mountain
Terri / @Angbuf / central
Tammy Crosby / @CrosbyWrites
Misha (CanadianSportsChick) / ? / eastern
Katee Robert / @Katee_Robert / pacific
Kelly Metz / @bwlrgrl300 / eastern
Rae Lori / @RaeLori
Chrissey / @ArcadeStarlet / eastern +5 (not sure what it's called...)
Donna / @DBReynoldswrite / pacific
Todd DeSilva / @todddesilva
Janelle Alexander / @Janellealexandr / pacific
Jennifer Baker / @BronwynK / eastern
Sean Hayden / @ShaydenFl / eastern

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scheduling for NaNo!

For those NaNo Rebels who missed it, I posted about our new hashtag over at my other blog, along with asking what your goals were for NaNovember. Get your butt over there and deal with that. Then come back. I'll wait.

Done? Good.

Okay, so one of the things we talked about doing was virtual write-ins. My plan is to do them on Chatzy because it's easy, but that means we won't be able to have a link until close to doing it.'ll have to check the blogs and/or facebook/twitter. However, you don't need me to lead these things. I'm here as a facilitator mainly. If I can't do a write-in when a bunch of you want to, let me know and I'll still post it on the schedule along with who's leading that puppy.

But... if we want to schedule them in advance, we need an idea of when people are available. I'm in Michigan, so eastern time, but I know other people are elsewhere. In order to get our butts organized, I'd like everyone to give a general idea of where they are state/province/country if not US/Canada, timezone, and a rough idea of when you are most available for writing/write-ins.

Also, make sure we have your twitter handle if you're on twitter so we can follow each other. Most people that I follow already, I'm following as @Selestedelaney, so if you haven't followed me yet, follow that me (or both of me if you want, but that's where I'll follow back from). And feel free to poke me with an @mention if I haven't followed you yet.
To kick things off, I'd like to do a Nov. 1 write-in. I'd say do a midnight est one on Halloween, but timezones make that unworkable. My unavailable times are before noon and between about 4-10 pm. 10pm-2am are my prime writing hours. Let me know who could make it sometime on Tuesday and we'll set it up. :)

Our list of #NaNoRebels:
(Name/Twitter Handle/Timezone/best availability)
Julie Particka(Seleste deLaney) / @Selestedelaney / eastern / 12-3:30pm & 10pm-2am
Gareth / @FalcataTimes
Noelle Pierce / @NoellePierce
Danielle LaPaglia / @Dannigrrl5
J.A. Campbell / @PFirewolf
Terri / @Angbuf
Tammy Crosby / @CrosbyWrites
Misha (CanadianSportsChick) / ?
Katee Robert / @Katee_Robert
Kelly Metz / @bwlrgrl300
Rae Lori / @RaeLori
Chrissey / @ArcadeStarlet
Donna / @DBReynoldswrite
Todd DeSilva / @todddesilva
Janelle Alexander / @Janellealexandr
Sean Hayden / @ShaydenFl / eastern

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NaNo Rebels and Team Purple

I'll get to the NaNoRebels stuff at the end. First, though, I want to talk about something more important. What's more important than NaNo, you ask?


That's right. Last year on 10/20, people wore purple in support of the It Gets Better Project. I'm wearing my purple now, are you? If not, you should be, because there's a damn good chance bullying touched your life in some way. Were you the bully? Were you the one on the receiving end of the beat-downs (mental, emotional or physical)? Was someone you loved?

It Gets Better is a program aimed specifically to LGBT youth, but the problem of bullying is so pervasive that none of it should be ignored. In some ways, we've made strides and certain things that were once commonly used insults have--at least among most young people--have fallen out of fashion. It's no longer "cool" to call someone a fag or a retard or numerous other things. But bullying still exists and it's not okay.

When I used to teach high school, there were teachers who were incensed at the idea of their students using certain words (nigger, fag, dyke, retard...the list goes on) because they saw it as a form of bullying. But the openly gay student whose locker was broken into? He was the one fined for the damage. The chubby girl? It was perfectly acceptable in their minds for insults to be hurled her way. Apparently those were descriptive. Pardon me while I throw up all over again. These teachers even went so far as to make snide comments about a parent after conferences because the woman had the gaul to wear a leather skirt to conferences--the tramp.

This tramp made sure to wear leather to school every day for the rest of the semester.

The fact of the matter is, bullying doesn't stop once you're out of your teens. But it does get better, because the people who aren't assholes grow up and are against bullying. They stand in the corners of the people being mis-treated. It gets better because you know you aren't alone.

I told a friend today that I hope a time comes when we don't need to wear purple on 10/20. When bullying in all its forms disappears because the bullies no longer get the attention they crave. But until that time comes, I am Team Purple. Are you?

As for my NaNoRebels. Last week's post has a list of people participating. If you want to pimp this out and get a bigger group, please do. The more the merrier. In the meantime, the lovely Tammy Crosby has made us a little thing to put on our blogs (button? avatar? picture square?). I love it and I hope you do too. I might even use it as my twitter pic in November :) Grab it and help promote the cause. Mine in the sidebar will link back to the sign-up post. If you want to do the same, here's the linky for that:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome #NaNoRebels!

As many of you know, I have an unhealthy love for NaNoWriMo (if you don't know what that is, check out their site here). This year I'm faced with a November full of what if. There are a number of things going on right now, and any or all of them could come to fruition in November, which will alter my 50k words plan. (To put it in perspective, any of them would befabulous things, so I'm not complaining.)

What that means is, my NaNo is potentially going to be an exercise in change where I jump from one project to another to another. And I'm not the only one. My writing group (the Rebels), has some people who are spending November on heavy-duty revisions, some who are writing the 50k, some that are doing a bunch of smaller projects, and some who are determined to finish a project without worrying about that blasted 50k. Add to that the fact that my local NaNo group doesn't work for me, and...

it's time for #NaNoRebels.

This is not limited to my writing group. We stuck with Rebels because we're not necessarily worrying about the official rules. You already started your project? Awesome. You're a Rebel and can join us too. This project will be running on both this blog (YA) and my adult blog in tandem. On Tuesdays, I'll post there with an updated list of when we have scheduled virtual write-ins (I will probably set up a lot of them, but other people can do this too, just make sure I have the time and URL and I'll get it on the list.) On Thursdays, I'll post here and we'll all do status updates and commiserate with stories and rants from the previous week. (Feel free to rant at the other blog too, but just to give a basic idea of what's where.)

In addition, we're going to use the hashtag #NaNoRebels on Twitter for whatever chitchat we want as well as reminders about upcoming virtual write-ins.

What I want from you. Let me know if you want to play along. I'd really like it if you followed/joined/GFCd the blog (one or both, you know, just to make me happy) and put something in the comments that lets me know you're going to be a Rebel too. The last Thursday of this month, there will be a post where you respond with your goals for NaNo.

So please, join in, tell your friends, and get your fingers warmed up. It's going to be an interesting November.

Our list of #NaNoRebels:
Julie Particka/Seleste deLaney
Gareth/Falcata Times
Noelle Pierce
Danielle LaPaglia/Dannigrrl5
J.A. Campbell/PFirewolf
Tammy Crosby/CrosbyWrites
Katee Robert
Kelly Metz/bwlrgrl300
Rae Lori
Todd DeSilva / @todddesilva
Janelle Alexander / @Janellealexandr
Jennifer Baker / @BronwynK
Sean Hayden / @ShaydenFl

Update: the blog follow thing is fubar. I'm getting on fixing it now. Please follow when you can!