Friday, February 28, 2014

February Wrap-Up

February was a short and uneventful month. 


I'm still revising my Highlander novella, Wild Highland Bride. I'm still obsessed with Pinterest. I'm still trying to think positively and eat healthier. Avoiding sweet treats this month was no easy feat. I caved and ate some candy hearts around Valentine's Day. Several times. Hey, they're addictive! Darn those candy hearts! Grrr.

I'm pleased to report that I swapped more than one PB and J for an apple. Guess what...an apple a day actually does a body good. So does an hour of cardio dance.


Writing


1) Researched France. Last month I discovered my writing niche is France. I'm super excited about the idea of writing medievals set in a country I've been fascinated by since I was a tween. France and Scotland. They go together like Dachshunds and kisses. Every time I think about my new niche, I'm like:


So this month I began researching medieval France. I came across some info that made me seriously consider setting Her Heart's Desire (my full-length medieval) in France. It will require some tweaking, but not a massive rewrite since the book is still in the first draft stage.  

2) Watched a documentary. Ages ago, I recorded the PBS documentary Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace: Hampton Court. I finally got around to watching it this month.
 

I loved it! Not only for the wealth of information provided, but also for the behind-the-scenes look at the palace. I took copious notes while I watched it, of course. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the show from my DVR before my hubby had a chance to see it. Ooops.


Smart girl that I am, I checked with my local library and, lo and behold, they have the documentary on DVD. I placed a copy on hold, which I'll be picking up later today. See, I'm not such a bad wife after all. ;)

3) Began a new writing schedule. Normally I'm a nighttime writer. I prefer to wait until the house is dark and my hubby is in bed before I escape into my fictional world. 

Regrettably, that wasn't happening much after the first of the year. Or the first of the month. *hangs head* I wasn't as productive as I should've been in January or early February. The unthinkable had happened...I'd found a dozen plus different excuses not to write late at night. 


I was still writing. Honest *crosses heart* I participated in the Celtic Hearts January sprint (working on various stories) and I wrote in small bursts every now and again. But I wasn't setting aside any significant chunk of time in which to write. Hi, my name is Jena. I'm a procrastinator. *smiles sheepishly* For some inexplicable reason, I couldn't haul myself over the hurdle of procrastination. And I was like...



I was like a Real Housewives of Wherever with a dirty little secret. Quelle horreur.

Brick (aka my WIP) and I were in the throes of a desperate battle. 

And he was winning. 

Ack!


Endless weeks later, I realized I had to adopt a new writing schedule if I wanted to make any progress on my WIP. Being the night owl wasn't working anymore and, frankly, I was sick of myself and my excuses.

I wasn't writing enough. Plain and simple.

What about my self-imposed deadline? What about my CP, the one person I'm accountable to? I couldn't bear to disappoint Nat. Or myself, for that matter. It was time to start popping anti-procrastination pills and face facts: I wasn't watching The Originals for inspiration. I was watching it to avoid writing. Also, Joseph Morgan as Klaus is hecka hot.

But that's beside the point. It was well past time I chuck the TV remote and get serious. Klaus could wait. If I didn't kick my bad habits to the curb, it would all be too shameful, too tragic. Although not as tragic as this...


Decision made, I got to work. I altered my writing schedule. I made writing my first priority of the day. No. Matter. What.

Now, I don't log onto the Internet before I toast my breakfast. I don't check Facebook, or Twitter, or my email before I brush my teeth. I don't put my TV boyfriend (Klaus) before my book boyfriend (my story's hero). Those bad habits are done and gone. Sayonara!

These days, I wake up, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and then write before I tackle the rest of my day.  



The crazy thing is...it's working. Beautifully.


It's rather surprising, considering I'm not a morning person. At all. Yet this new a.m. writing schedule is really working!! I feel more focused and motivated than ever. I'm not avoiding my WIP anymore. I'm not plagued by guilt. I'm revising and editing and rewriting my way through the first half of WHB. It feels wonderful.


Personal

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this month has been short and uneventful. Life has been dull. So much more now that the Winter Olympics (my favorite Games) are over.



Oh well. Such is life. My lackluster social calender means I have more time to write, research, plot, exercise, catch up on my favorite shows, read, and watch movies (in that order, because I write now before I do anything else!). How's that for a silver lining?

How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Source: tumblr
Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: English Idioms (Part III)

Research is fun. It's one of the many reasons I love writing historical romance. Sometimes you go in search of a historical fact and stumble across something interesting, such as the meaning and origin of some common English idioms. Here are the final ones from my discovered list:



  COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS AND THE MEANING BEHIND THEM
Part III
 
1) Let the Cat Out of the Bag.The most reasonable of the two historical explanations for this phrase actually ties into another one involving mammals and bagging -- "a pig in a poke". Dating back to around 1530, cats often served as sneaky substitutes for their porcine peers when shady businesspeople tricked their customers. Clever consumers who exposed their deception eventually spawned the familiar idiom, which retains a similar, albeit broader, meaning today.

2) Fly Off the Handle. Handmade axes in the United States' pioneer days weren't always the crowning achievements of technology and craftsmanship. Occasionally, a particularly poor design would result in the head unexpectedly zooming off its handle. Many people found this an apt metaphor for passionate bursts of rage, eventually birthing the phrase still in use centuries later.
 
Chris Hemsworth, Snow White & the Huntsman (2012)
 
3) Ballpark Estimate. Etymologists and word junkies alike attribute America's allegedly favorite pastime to the creation of this idiom. Similar to "in the same ballpark", it means an approximation rather than a definitive answer. The phrase refers to an outdated newspaper strategy used to guage the number of attendants at a baseball game when nothing existed to measure it exactly.
 
Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011)
 
4) Kick the Bucket. One of the more bizarre metaphors in the English language likens death to a bucket understandably confuses even the most eloquent and learned speakers. Probably the most likely explanation refers to a now-obsolete method of slaughtering animals for food. A "bucket" consisted of a wooden frame, from which the pigs or sheep or other livestock were hung, and the "kicking" element comes in when the expected neurological struggles ensue after death.

5) Lunatic Fringe. During the Roman Empire, moon goddess Luna was thought to influence one's mental health with her moody tendencies. Millennia later, President Teddy Roosevelt allegedly co-opted the word in order to best describe his opinions regarding Anarchists on the outer edges of the political spectrum. Although still largely used when referring to one's opinions on government systems, like many other idioms this one gradually expanded to include other subjects as well.

6) Bite the Bullet. This idiom boasts a literal, straightforward history. As with its later metaphorical use, chomping down on ammunition meant one needed to face down his or her physical turmoil. Prior to the invention of anesthesia, the only respite surgeons could offer was a bit of liquor (usually whisky) and a lead bullet or stick to chew.

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
Supernatural (2005-)
 
7) Back to Square One. Several different possible histories of this curious idiom exist, though only one from 1952 seems most likely. Snakes and Ladders, known as Chutes and Ladders in the U.S., may not have sent unlucky players straight to the first square. But this did not stop an Economic Journal article from wielding it as a metaphor for having to start over from the very beginning.

8) Extend the Olive Branch. Many Western idioms come straight from the Bible, and the one referencing a familiar Genesis tale remains one of the most popular and easily recognizable. When Noah allegedly sent a dove to check for dry land, she eventually returned with a sprig from an olive tree. The association with the cross-cultural avian symbol of peace imbued the plant with an identical association.
 
Russell Crowe, Noah (2014)
 
 9) Out of Line. Another simple idiom with a simple history. In the military, falling out of line meant compromising the unit's integrity and efficiency. The specialized terminology eventually enterned into the mainstream lexicon, retaining the same connotations.

Courtesy of bachelorsdegree.org
Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day. Why? Because it's a holiday about hearts, chocolate, the color pink, and romance. Hey, I'm a romance writer. I swoon over juicy sexual tension scenes and HEA endings. And my hubby proposed to me on Valentine's. So the day is extra special to me. 

Valentine's is also the perfect excuse to watch a period drama chick flick. Do you have a favorite? Mine is Titanic. I adore Pride & Prejudice as well. But what about Sense & Sensibility, Moulin Rouge, The Notebook, Memoirs of a Geisha... Egads! Just like potato chips, one just isn't enough!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

50 Awesome Moments Only Writers Would Understand

Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane (2007)
 
50. That awesome writer moment when you type “The End.”

49. That awesome writer moment when you reread something you just wrote and it’s like reading something somebody else wrote, and you wonder where the hell it came from.

48. That thankful writer moment when you get the kids to bed and you FINALLY get to sit your ass down and write.

47. That sad writer moment when you discover that a character you’ve grown to really like/love . . . has to die.

46. That awesome writer moment when you realize that what you are writing is bigger than you, is coming from some place beyond you, and you are but a vestibule for the creative workings of the Universe to materialize. . . . When that Universal truth comes to you as a gift to be shared through your talent, humbly, a light for others to see themselves and the world by.

45. That moment when you realize you need to kill your darlings. (See above)

44. When you realize you are narrating your life in third person again.

43. That awesome writer moment when you’re writing a creepy scene and you keep looking over your shoulder, making sure no one’s behind you. In your own house. In daylight.

42. That moment when an idea to do something perfectly horrible to your characters creeps up on you and makes you smile, evilly.

41. When you are losing an argument so you start correcting their grammar.

40. When your back is killing you, your eyes are buggin’, your legs have lost all their sensation, your forearms, wrists, and elbows are achy and sore, but still you write on like the badass word-slinger that you are.

39. That awkward writer moment when you start talking to a non-reader/writer passionately about your book and they pretend like they care but it’s obvious they are more interested in the activities of a nearby Porta Potty than your book.

38. That Halleluiah! writer moment when you’ve been querying agents/publishers for eons, and you finally get that “yes.”

37. When you get a brilliant idea in the shower and you hop out with soap still on your body to scribble it down on a paper plate with a crayon (or something like that ;) )

36. When you’re on a road trip and you put on your headphones and listen to inspiring music while working out plot details in your head the whole way.

35. That awesome writer moment when you have to pull over to write something down.
34. That moment when the best thing you ever wrote was born on a napkin.

33. That moment when your “emergency fire rescue” box in your house is too full of your writing stuff to fit any family photos, baby keepsakes, important paperwork, etc.

32. When you are constantly catching typos in places they shouldn’t be; cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, text books, signs, and your kid’s printed homework pages . . . . and you make a big deal out of it. And no one else cares.

31. When one kind comment or note of encouragement from a reader/fellow writer can pull you out of that mucky bog of motivation-less self-pity and disenchantment.

30. That sweet moment when someone you know and love reads your book and you feel closer to them.

29. When you have a child within the age bracket of your YA book. (Yes! Priceless input!)

28. When that child doesn’t want to read your book because it doesn’t have vampires in it. (Seriously?)

27. When you read a really awesome book and you have to read it again so you can pick it apart and see exactly how the author made it so freakin’ awesome.

26. When you’re talking with another writer in front of a non-writer and they are awkwardly standing there like, “huh?”

25. That inspiring moment when a big storm comes and you start plotting end of the world weather scenarios and storylines in your head.

24. That awkward moment when you meet someone who reminds you of one of your characters and you’re like, “WTF?”

23. When that plot kink works itself out in a dream, after stressing all day/week/month about it.

22. When you write your first novel and are in love with it . . . .

21. When you look at your first novel a year later and realize what a POS it is . . . .

20. When you see how necessary it was that your first novel be a POS, because you learned so much in the process of writing it.

19. When you would rather write than go out and “party.”

18. When you would rather write than sleep.

17. When you would rather write than do most things.

16. When you’re having an “off” day, and someone gives you unwarranted constructive criticism . . . and you want to tell them what they can do with their unwarranted constructive criticism.

15. When you write drunk and think it’s the best thing you ever wrote . . . .

14. That moment when you look at your drunken mumbo jumbo the next day.

13. When you have more books on your kindle than your local public library has on its shelves.

12. That amazing moment when what you are writing makes you laugh . . . . or cry.

11. That awkward moment when seeing an old typewriter is an aphrodisiac.

10. When you develop a crush on a fictional character . . . . (Hey, he’s eighteen, it’s legal, right?)

9. That moment when a blog post you wrote goes “viral.”

8. That crappy feeling two days after your post went viral when people are so “over it” already.

7. That ancient writer memory of always having ink-stained hands.

6. When you have an elevator-pitch moment with a chance-encounter, and you totally forget what your book is about, how to speak, and that you are even an author in the first place.

5. When you base a character on someone that pisses you off . . . and they just have to die. (hehehe)

4. When you take your shitty day out on your characters . . . and it works . . . and it’s awesome.

3. When you finally meet that special person who “gets” you, and appreciates your word-nerdiness in all its glory.

2. When you light your keyboard on fire because you’re on a roll and the thoughts are flowing and the story has begun writing itself and you can barely keep up.

1. When your characters tell you exactly what they want you to do next . . . or else.

And one to grow on:

The realization that you cannot not write, even if you are not getting paid enough, or at all; because it is who you are. It is your gift.

~ Courtesy of clrozelle.wordpress.com ~
Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: English Idioms (Part II)

I chose not to post this last Saturday in order to spotlight the February releases I'm anxious to read. So, without further ado, here is part two of the common English idioms.


TEN COMMON ENGLISH IDIOMS AND THE MEANING BEHIND THEM
Part II


1) On Cloud Nine. The who's and what's behind the creation of "on cloud nine" remain largely obscured, but it burst onto the scene sometime around the 1950's and spread through its use on a popular radio program. Whenever eponymous protagonist Johnny Dollar wound up unconscious, he found himself floating about the popular atmospheric locale. Although it likely existed in some form or another prior to the show, it caught on as slang for ecstasy induced by intoxicating substances -- before undergoing the usual broadening to encompass any sort of profound happiness.

2) Skeleton in the Closet. In the United Kingdom, one's shameful secrets are kept in the cupboard rather than the closet, though the origins of the near-identical idioms stem from the same exact source. Both literal and figurative skeletons factored into its popularity, the former when William Hendry Stowell likened one's wish to hide genetic diseases to shoving bones into closets. In fictional narratives, a murderer hiding corporeal evidence oftentimes utilized out-of-the-way areas, subsequently turning safe, domestic scenes into grisly torrents of terror.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
 
3)  Talking Up a Blue Streak. 18th Century America birthed this humorous little phrase used to describe incredibly quick speech patterns. Most etymologists and word geeks tend to think the "blue" refers to lightening tinged with the specific color. So the idiom's original metaphorical intent has stayed pretty much the exact same throughout the centuries.

4) Up to Snuff. Chewing tobacco once enjoyed immense popularity, but owing to its great expense was only afforded by the upper casts. Its original meaning shares similarities with today's, referring to one's financial and intellectual status. A man who was considered "up to snuff" possessed the money, smarts, and sophistication necessary to fully enjoy and appreciate fine tobacco and tobacco products.

Keeley Hawes and Ed Stoppard
Upstairs, Downstairs. (2010-)

5) Lowbrow, Middlebrow, and Highbrow. Despite these idioms' vastly different meanings, all of them share the same pseudo-scientific roots. The once-accepted field of phrenology, which enjoyed popularity in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, wrongly posited that the size of one's forehead indicated the size of one's brain. "Highbrow", of course, was thought to indicate the most intelligent, and 1875 marked its first appearance in English vernacular.

6) Bitter End. English speakers with a fondness for military vocabulary know that a "bitter" is the term for a line wound around an iron and wooden pike on a seafaring vessel's deck (also known as a "bit"). These days, Navy professionals refer to the final portions of the lines as "the bitter end" regardless of whether or not it's attached to the eponymous post. And sailors and mainstream speakers alike all use the term to mean extreme loyalty to an individual, event or cause.

Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

7) Blacklist. To blacklist someone always held the same definition and connotation, though modern parlance does not usually mean a literal black list. During King Charles II's reign, however, it involved black books where he kept the names of those involved with his father's murder. "Black book" can be used interchangeably with "blacklist", but the latter is far more popular.

8) Flash in the Pan. Like plenty of other idioms out there, "flash in the pan" could have easily stemmed from multiple sources. The most commonly accepted history, however, involves flintlock rifles and their occasional failures to light powder and send a bullet flying. Quick-burning fads have plenty in common with bright, burning sparks the guns created, lasting only seconds before dispersing back into nothingness.

Hailee Steinfeld and Matt Damon in True Grit (2010)

9) Selling Like Hotcakes. Around 1839, this tasty term likened anything that sold out quickly to one of America's most popular foodstuffs. Hotcakes and pancakes have always enjoyed a beloved spot in the nation's culinary heart, and serve as some of the best metaphors for anything that flies off the shelves. They never blew up as one major "flash in the pan" fad, but rather endured as a classic, reliable comfort food.

The Paradise (2012-)

10) Funny Bone. Here, "funny" actually refers to the word's "strange" rather than "hilarious" connotation. The ulnar nerve in the elbow creates a very bizarre, tingling sensation when the surrounding bone experiences a strike. Considering the fact that it does (appropriately enough) run past the humerus in the upper arm, this idiom could still compellingly hail from elsewhere.



Check back next Saturday for part III!
Courtesy of bachelorsdegree.org
Saturday, February 1, 2014

February Releases

Ah, February. The month of love, candy, and kisses. It's the perfect month for a romance writer. And for book addicts who love happily-ever-after stories.  

Here are the new releases I want to read:

  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
 

The Raider
by Monica McCarty
February 25
Lord of the Rakes
by Darcie Wilde
February 4
To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham
February 1


Highlanders, Rakes, and Vikings, Oh My! 


  NEW ADULT
  
  
 Be With Me by J. Lynn February 4

I have the first book in this series loaded on my Kindle. I need to read it ASAP!

 
  YOUNG ADULT
  

  Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine February 4

I feel in love with this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel after reading a snippet. 
I hope it lives up to my expectations.



What's on your must-read list?