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Friday, January 25, 2013

Battling overused words

We all have our pet words. Words we either can't help using, or words we don't even notice we're using over...and over...and over again. My worst offenders are usually "just" and "somehow," to name a couple. To find my overused words, I pasted the first chapter of my MS into Wordle:

Wordle word map

And voilĂ ! This is a great visual way to find overused words in your writing. From this exercise, I figured out that I was using the word "like" way too often. Also, "just" (which I should have known!) I made some changes. After making some wording adjustments, my new word map looked like this:



I might make a couple more adjustments. Apparently, Mr. Shepherd is an important character in this scene, but I might be overusing his name a tad...

Want to try it? Visit Wordle!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Revision trick experiment

Revisions on paper

I do all of my editing online, but it seems like everyone I know was telling me to go old school. The collective advice seemed to be "print out your MS in a different font and size and suddenly you'll see everything in a whole new light."

I was skeptical (plus, going paperless is cool), but I decided to give it a try. And the results were...


Drum roll please...



Suspense!



Keep scrolling...



Almost there!



MAGIC. Wow, it actually worked. Suddenly everything sounded wrong. The parts that seemed fine before were gushing blood. I'm calling this experiment a success.

Have you ever tried this method? What did you think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting your bookshelf porn fix

my bookshelf

Do images of row upon row of books get you hot and bothered? Ok, so a blurry picture of my personal bookshelf might not do it for you...BUT you may want to checkout:

BOOKSHELF PORN, THE BLOG
(addicting, no?)

Also,

MY BOOKSHELF PORN PINTEREST BOARD (because I'm obsessed with scouting out these images)

And if you're ready to trick-out your own bookshelf, I encourage you to read over:

CENTSATIONAL GIRL'S TIPS ON BOOKSHELF STYLING

Yes, I have an e-reader, but that doesn't mean I don't like to buy books too. "Real" books will never go out of style; they're too pretty.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on San Fran

San Francisco Bridge
Image from my last visit to the city in 2005.
So I'm heading on a jet plane to San Francisco tomorrow. The last time I was there was in 2005.

Since then, I've written three novels, given birth to the best person on earth, celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary, bought a house and turned 30. The first time I went there in 2002, I was a newlywed.

I wish I was heading there under different circumstances, but I can't help thinking about what I might accomplish before I go back again. It's starting to be my marker city, meaning I can mark the milestones of my life around my visits there.

P.S. I'm secretly hoping I run into Lizzie Bennet! Ha!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New revision toolkit

Revision sucks. Yes, I know some of you like it. You think that's where the magic happens. Ya da ya da ya da. But some people like being pregnant. Some people like egg nog. And running laps.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. I really really wish I was. I have three novels completed that need revisions. So anyway, in an effort to make this as painless as possible, I made a revision toolkit! It's my go-to box of things for when revisions get...uncomfortable and I need to comfort myself.


So far, I've included:

1) Chocolate (obvious choice, but a staple nonetheless). I chose this Oaxaca bar by Vosges with guajillo & pasilla chilles, courtesy of Santa.

2) An orange Sicilian candle (because I'm Italian and I might need some aromatherapy)

3) Ultra soft socks

4) Music! I chose Ingrid Michaelson's Human Again CD. Plus, I created a revision playlist on Spotify.

5) The Elements of Style Illustrated (because grammar is more fun with pretty pictures)


And finally...

6) A knitted gnome for good luck!


Now I'm prepared so I have no more excuses. I better just suck it up now.

Ok, here I go...

Yup. I'm going to start revising now.

La la la la.

This blog post is really over, isn't it?

What would you put in your revision toolkit? Or are you one of those lucky ones who loves revisions?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My New Ruby Slippers!

My ruby red slippers

When I wear my new ruby slippers to work, I'm secretly saying "I want to go home!"

Patent leather red slippers = $20 on sale

Subtle literary reference = priceless

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The 2013 Book List

2013 To-Read Pile
My actual bedroom bookshelf featuring mainly books
I haven't read, most of which didn't make this list.
But I plan to read some of these too!
So many great books are coming out in 2013! I can't wait to get started, so much so that I had to take a book off this list because I jumped the gun and read it in 2012. After making many ho hum selections over the past few months, I'm determined to make this year an awesome reading year. My goal is only 40 books since I plan to write a lot too. I've listed the first 17 here. Why 17? Even numbers are overrated.

So without further ado, my first pass at the 2013 book list...

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I've endured acute torture ever since I finished the last page of Clockwork Prince, so this selection tops the list. I will be devouring this book, starting midnight March 19, the second it's available.

2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Girl watches loud messy boys next door and wants to be a part of their lives. I need to read more contemporary YA because I write it and this one is quietly calling me. The gorgeous cover doesn't hurt.

3. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting
I love this series and I can't wait to read this latest installment when it comes out in April. She senses dead people, people!

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Two cancer patients fall in love. I must be the only person on the planet who hasn't read this, so I'm giving it a shot. Apparently, I better get my tissues.

5. Linked by Imogen Howson
The twin she never knew existed! This book looks incredible. I'm reading it when it comes out in June.

5. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This must be the most talked about book on Twitter. It doesn't seem like something I'd normally pick, but I haven't read one bad review so it makes the list.

6. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
I wanted to read this before it came out because I heard it was dystopian with a vintage feel. But I was BURNED OUT ON DYSTOPIA in 2012. Here's hoping I'll be in the mood soon.

7. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Is there a nicer author on Twitter? No. Shannon is totally down to earth and awesome and I can't wait to read this book in March.

8. And, Also, My Palms are Sweaty: A memoir in sixty-four men by Gigi Griffis
I'm going to make a point to start reading more self-published works. This one about a woman's adventures in dating looks hilarious. Plus, I know the author!

9. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
A girl named Ruby survives a mysterious disease and ends up with crazy powers. I've been following this author on Twitter forever and this book looks fabulous.

10. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I love Stephanie's books and I can't wait to read the finale in this companion series. The only question is, will this book ever get a cover? Come on already!

11. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
So many reasons to read this book. There's a movie coming out. It takes place in the south (love). And it's written jointly by two authors. How awesome is that?

12. It Takes a Village to Kill Your Husband by Jethro Collins
Another self-published book by an author I know and I can't wait to read it! "A moving story about long-lost love, finding yourself, onions rings and the importance of pink." Does it get better than that? Plus, there's a trailer.

13. Finale (Hush, Hush #4) by Becca Fitzpatrick
I read the first three, so I feel sort of invested. But I have to be in the mood to read something fluffy.

14. Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
I'm OBSESSED with Jennifer Echols as of last week, during which I read two of her books. I haven't even read the synopsis of this one. Just reading it because it's her.

15. The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols
I don't take my obsessions lightly. I may read everything she wrote before the end of 2013, who knows.

16. Harken by Kaleb Nation
I'm swooning over this cover. Conspiracy theories! Supernatural organizations! Yes, please!

17. Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #4)
Ok, this series isn't for everyone. But it's definitely for me! The first in the series was probably the funniest book I've ever read.

That's all I've got so far. Do you plan to read any of these? Have you already? Feel free to warn me against any of these selections...or suggest what else I should add to this list since I'm always looking for suggestions! See also the links to my to-read lists on Pinterest and Goodreads.