Friday, January 31, 2014

January Wrap-Up

It's time to say goodbye to another month! Surprisingly, I did not fall victim to the January blues. My efforts to think positively even on gloomy days has paid off. I've felt nothing but motivated to cross items off my New Year goal list this month. I didn't write every single day -- that's a task I'm still trying to master. However, if I wasn't writing I was doing something related to writing, such as plotting, researching, or blogging. So that counts, right?


Writing


1) Semi-plotted two novels of my Celtic Warriors series. I say semi-plotted because rather than create a vague or complete outline, I instead chose the characters' names, clans, and figured out exactly how the heroes in each of the books will be connected to each other. Now, I can begin to jot down the bones of the stories -- including GMC, plot twists, black moments, etc -- and create a basic timeline of events in my writing notebook.

2) Brainstormed with my awesome critique partner, Natalie. So. Much Fun.

3) Decided on an author tagline.



3) Participated in the Celtic Hearts Sprint Challenge. Today is the final day of the sprint. So far, I've written 30k+ words on various WIPs. =) I really love these sprint challenges. They're training me to write with abandon, something that is remarkably easy to do when I work on stories other than my current WIP.

4) Speaking of my current WIP...I've accomplished some revisions, although not nearly as much as I wanted to by the end of January. I plan to make more progress in February. I need to meet my deadline. I know I can do it if I stay focused and silence my internal editor.

5) Updated my author bio.

6) Bought a new research book on Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser. I've been wanting to read the book for ages. I squeed when I found a pristine copy at my local used bookstore.

7) Discovered my writing niche: France!


I've always intended to write about France, my dream destination. But the majority of my Paris-themed ideas are set during the 18th century. What about my medievals?

When Nat (who is a totes brilliant CP!) posed this question to me, I thought "French medievals?! Why the heck not?!" After all, Scotland had a longstanding alliance with France during medieval times. I love both countries. I'm a self-professed Francophile. *palm-to-forehead* Doh! France could easily play a major role in many of my medievals. So it's about time I added some French flavor to my medievals.


Personal


1) It's been a quiet month with a few family birthday celebrations, which included a Mile High Mud Pie, ravioli, and the best bread sticks I've ever eaten.

2) Read three books.

3) Almost caught up on my TV viewing. I was woefully behind on all of my favorite shows, so I've been binge watching them like crazy these past two weeks. Once the Winter Olympic Games begin, I won't much care about Damon and Elena or the southern-fried scandals happening on Nashville. Hence, the binge fests. Anyway, the notable mentions that rocked my world are as follows:

 Flowers in the Attic


Even though this Lifetime remake didn't live up to all of my expectations, I enjoyed watching it immensely. I was obsessed with this book growing up. Why? Because it's awesomesauce! Don't believe me? Well, then I say...



 Klaroline


The 100th episode of The Vampire Diaries was worth the watch just to see the return of old friends and the sneaky Katherine twist. But the best OMG moment was - spoiler alert! - when Caroline and Klaus had sex! In the woods!! Finally. And it. Was. Hot.




Caroline needs get herself to New Orleans, where The Originals reign supreme, ASAP. Do not pass Go. Do not walk. Run, girl, run. Get thee to Klaus! Seriously, why is Caroline still in Mystic Falls? There's a hot narcissistic bad boy vamp waiting for her in the Big Easy. And he wants her. Badly. *swoon* It's well past time for Klaroline to embark on a sexy long-term love affair.

How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!

Source: tumblr
Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: English Idioms (Part I)

I've been doing loads of research lately, on everything from Highland clans to medieval daggers to Elizabethan Christmas traditions. During one of my Internet searches, I came across the meaning and origin of some common English idioms that I thought might be of interest to my fellow writers. Here are the first ten...


TEN COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS AND THE MEANING BEHIND THEM
Part I

1) Read the Riot Act. While the idiom references "the riot act" in the abstract, such a legal proclamation did, in fact, exist. Under King George I, the real Riot Act was passed in 1714, enforced a year later and read out loud in order to quell gatherings of subjects the throne considered potentially threatening. Once concluded the "rioters" were given one hour to disperse before getting slapped with penal servitude and imprisonment sentences.

2) By the Skin of My Teeth. This incredibly common, yet bizarre, phrase obviously has no physiological origin, but most English-speaking peoples have access to its very first use. The Geneva Bible, first published in 1560, translated Job 19:20 as such, and the idiom's meaning was used in much the same as it is now. Subsequent English bibles related it as either something very similar or hewing closer to referencing gums rather than literally skinned teeth.

Geneva Bible
Image: commons.wikimedia.org

3) White Elephant. This term has morphed into a phrase associated with intentionally tacky gift swaps, but its original usage still gets thrown about on occasion. It originally stemmed from literal white elephants, which South Asian royalty oftentimes kept as vanity pets. In contemporary parlance, it broadened the definition to encompassing anything huge and expensive that required more money that its actual value to maintain.

4) Green-Eyed Monster. Unsurprisingly, William Shakespeare coined a bounty of idioms and expressions still used by English speakers today. His tragic drama Othello first referenced a "green-eyed monster", alluding to the jealousy and betrayal at the narrative's center. But rather than the expected vision of toothy viridian terror most people conjure up, the Bard actually used a cat seemingly playing with its captured meal before consumption.

Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in Othello (1995)

5) Apple of My Eye. The Book of Deuteronomy first used this phrase in Hebrew, and Shakespeare popularized its English use in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In spite of the millennia between them, both eras believed the human pupil to be a solid, apple-like construct. This idiom was originally used in a literal sense, but over time metamorphosed into a term of endearment.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

6) Bring Home the Bacon. Etymologists remain unsure as to where exactly this particularly tasty idiom came from, though many trace it back to a Great Dunmow tradition that began in 1104. Apparently the Prior of Little Dunmow awarded a particularly dedicated married couple with an entire side of bacon as a reward for their virtue. Such practices continue in the region, occurring every four years, and even found its way into Chaucer's 1395 The Wife of Bath's Tale and Prologue.

7) Heard Through the Grapevine. The wires utilized in America's first telegraph stations oftentimes swooped and draped in twisted, random patterns. Professionals and onlookers alike believed the tangled masses resembled grapevines somewhat, eventually birthing a common idiom still used today. Especially in catchy songs by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.

8) Diddly-Squat. This idiom originated amongst carnival professionals, and the meaning largely stayed the same once it hit the mainstream. Workers oftentimes used their own slang in order to communicate with one another in front of visitors without letting them onto what all was going on. The term apparently referred to small amounts of change proffered by gamblers, usually nickles or dimes, and nobody really seems to know how it entered into the common English vernacular.

Robert Pattinson in Water for Elephants (2011)

9) Screaming Meemies. At least two possible origins for this bizarre phrase exist, one as 1920's slang term for intoxication, the other an onomatopoeia describing German artillery shells used during WWI. With the latter, soldiers coming home with an unfortunate case of PTSD were often referred to as suffering the "screeming meemies". From there, the idiom eventually swelled to include anyone who felt afraid or traumatized by a scary situation.

Downtown Abbey (2013)

10) Riding Shotgun. Back when stagecoaches existed as the pinnacle of transport, the seat immediately next to the driver was reserved for individuals holding (or course) a shotgun. Such a strategic spot allowed the protectors to better ward off any bandits attempting to loot passengers. As engineering marched on into motor vehicles, the vernacular designation for the coveted spot stayed the same.


Check back next Saturday for part II!
Courtesy of bachelorsdegree.org
Friday, January 24, 2014

My Friday Love (14)

 

My Friday Love is a weekly meme, which spotlights the things you loved during the past week.

  ----------------------------------------------  

It's been too long since my last My Friday Love post. My apologies. It's not that I haven't been loving things these past few months. Au contraire. The simple truth: the holidays kept me busy. Plus, I've made writing my focus instead of blogging. But I miss sharing. So I plan to get back on track and write more than one post a month.

As I said, I'm loving plenty of things this week. Here they are...
 

Brainstorming. Good things happen when writers get together and brainstorm.


This week my CP, Natalie, and I participated in several brainstorming sessions. First, we pondered book and series titles. Then we put our heads together to critique Nat's logline for her Highlander WIP. Lastly, we mulled over our author taglines -- how we want to brand ourselves. These discussions were not only productive, but fun.

As any writer knows, writing is a solitary profession. I don't mind the quiet environment. In truth, it suits my personality quite nicely. However, every good writer should have a critique partner. I always hoped I'd find someone who would share my publishing thrills and woes with me. When Natalie agreed to be my CP, I felt like I'd struck gold. I can't wait until the day when we're in the same time zone, in the same state, for a face-to-face brainstorming weekend. Oh, the power of two brains on a chocolate high. It will be epic!



Seattle Seahawks. My Hawks are Super Bowl bound!!! Whoo-hoo!!! 


There is a reason the Hawks and the 49ers are rivals. San Fransisco is a great football team. So I knew the battle for the NFC Championship was going to a nail-biter. I was not wrong. The last two minutes of the game were pure agony. But once again, the Legion of Boom came through -- thank heavens for Richard Sherman and his magic hands.


My hubby and I went wild with excitement at the end of the game. So did Sawyer. While we cheered and waved our arms around, he jumped at my legs -- something that is frowned upon in our house -- and then he bit me on my thigh. He tore a hole in my sweat pants and my skin. I did not love that. At all. It really hurt. But I was more shocked than upset. I never would've guessed my boy is a closet 49 fan. ;) Clearly, he also dislikes my Seahawk pom-poms. Silly Doxie.
 
The Raven Boys. I'm halfway through this book. Why on earth did I wait so long to read it? It is... Perfect. Awesome. Unique. Brilliant.


I love everything Maggie Stiefvater writes. She's a creative genius.

 What are you loving this week? 
 Source: Tumblr
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Deeper

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...


DEEPER
Caroline & West, Part 1

Author - Robin York

Genre - New Adult
Publisher - Bantam
Release Date - January 28, 2014




When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend.


The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.



I think I'm going to like this book. A lot.
-- Book blurb from author's website --
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cover Swoon Sunday: Princess Ever After

The cover for Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck is lovely.

 
I'm swooning over the pale blue gown and sparkly tiara. 
The artwork and font are quite pretty, too. 
 

What do you think? Does this cover make you swoon?

Friday, January 10, 2014

First Line Friday: The Raven Boys

I love to pick up a book and read the first line. It gives me a big thrill when I open up a book and the very first sentence hooks me. It's been awhile since I've read a first line that made me go all...


This week I finally started reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I love her books. Her prose is exquisite. Her stories are unique and captivating. And her first lines are awesome. 
 
Here's the first line of The Raven Boys:
 
 
 

"Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love."

 
Yowza! This first line is terrific! It immediately pulls me into the story and makes me want to keep reading. And that's precisely what a great first line should do. 
 
Well done, Ms. Stiefvater. Well done.
 

What do you think?  Does this first line hook you?  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Romancing the Duke

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

ROMANCING THE DUKE
Castles Ever After, Book 1

Author - Tessa Dare
Genre
- Historical Romance
Publisher - Avon Books
Release Date - January 28, 2014




As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens.  She never doubted romance would be in her future, too.  The storybooks offered endless possibilities.
And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off.  One by one by one.
  • Ugly duckling turned swan?
  • Abducted by handsome highwayman?
  • Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?
No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head.  What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.



I love, love, love Tessa Dare's books!

-- Book blurb from author's website --
Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Goals

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I don't like making promises I can't keep. So instead I set goals. Here are the things I hope to accomplish this year:

 

Writing


~ Finish Wild Highland Bride. Write the synopsis and query. This is my top priority. I will do it!

~ Write detailed outlines for the next two novellas in the Wild Highlands trilogy.

~ Start writing another novella.

~ Write every day. One of my biggest weakness -- besides self-doubt -- is my inability to write every day. I need to do this in 2014. I don't even care how many words I write. Seriously. I'm not one to go crazy over daily word count goals. I just need to write every day.

~ Earn RWA Pro status.

~ Finish first draft of my medieval -- either Her Heart's Desire or A Warrior's Crusade.

~ Revamp my blog and create a website.

~ Come up with a tagline.

~ Continue to critique for my CP, Natalie Murphy.

~ Research Marie Antoinette and the Elizabethan era.

~ Buy more cool research books.

~ Continue to network with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter.


"No Excuses. No Regrets. Never give up. Never surrender."
-Natalie Murphy & Jena Lang


Personal


~ Get a new puppy this summer.

~ Read at least 50 books.

~ Earn some money.

~ Start a vacation savings account.

~ Continue to exercise regularly.

~ Attend my nephew's high school graduation in June.

~ Think positively.


I'm sure I'll think of more goals to add to this list. For now, these are the things I want to accomplish in 2014.

What about you? What are your goals for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Releases

Happy New Year! 

It's 2014! Time to get started on those New Year's resolutions (drinking more water, writing every day, working out a minimum of 3x a week, thinking positively...blech). There's something about starting a new year that makes me want to hop on a jet plane and go live in Paris. Since that dream is highly unlikely to come true anytime soon, I will instead focus extra hard on achieving all of my writing goals and reading more books this year.  

Here are the new reads I can't wait to get my hands on:
 

  HISTORICAL ROMANCE

 

The Lone Warrior 
by Lori Austin
January 7
The Smuggler Wore Silk by Alyssa Alexander
January 7

The Magic Between Us
by Tammy Falkner
January 7
Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard
by Vanessa Kelly
January 7


Wow, January 7th seems to be the day to buy a book. =D


  YOUNG ADULT
  

  No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale January 7
Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore January 28


Two books I cannot wait to devour.

What's on your must-read list in the New Year?