Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas... Miracles CAN happen!

Christmas is such a magical time around my house. We make cookies, wrap presents, decorate gingerbread houses. We spend time watching movies and playing games around our lighted tree. And we watch a lot of Elf. As in Buddy the Elf. And while a lot of other people call Miracle on 34th Street a timeless classic, Elf will always serve as mine.

When I watch Elf, I’m filled with the magic of Christmas. I want to make gingerbread houses and go ice skating. And eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough as fast as I can. And snuggle. With my family. The movie restores my belief that miracles can happen. And that they do. All. The. Time.

And they don’t have to be the break-through impossible barriers miracles like the Bad News Bears or Jaime Escalante’s uncanny batch of AP Calculus students.

Or the Philadelphia Eagles who scored four touchdowns in eight minutes (sorry my Giants friends – couldn’t resist).

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places. Like in a tiny stable outside a very full inn in a who's heard of that place town like Bethlehem.

Sometimes they happen and we don’t even know it. Like in the love of two sixteen year olds when one's battling ALS. Or in the heart of high school football players, when they seemed doomed to lose, yet they never give up.

Sometimes miracles can happen in an unexpected letter. Or a soul-mending embrace. Or a smile when you've had the worst day ever.

The other day I wrote about what I’d give my favorite characters for Christmas. Well, today, I wanted to let you know the miracles I wish for you.

For my writer friends - I wish you endurance to finish that current project. Or experience the epiphany that leads to a new one. Or that you find an agent. Or a publisher. And more importantly, that you continue to write because you love to write, that writing still fuels a fire burning within you.

For my book blogger friends - I wish you a gihugic pile of really awesome books to read and review. Or even that amazeballs one that keeps your head spinning for days.

For my former students - For years you were all my success and happiness – and I wish the same to you – a million, katrillion times over.

For my colleagues – a chance to catch your breath, to ride the waves instead of treading a fathomless ocean. To be appreciated. And to feel confident you’re making a difference. Because you are.

For my friends who have lost a special someone - I wish you comfort. A warm embrace. A plethora of fond memories to fog any despair.

For my friends with children – time. A baby’s birth jets your fast-forward button into hyperdrive and before you know it – your kids are in kindergarten. Or driving. Or going to college. Relish the daily miracles a child brings into your life. Mine has been chock-full of them.

For my dearest friends – I wish you more of them. I don’t know what I’d do without the Ambers and Rickis in my life.

For my family – I wish you more of me. Not because I’m clone-worthy, but because I want to be with you whenever you need me. Or when I want to be with you.

And my wish for all of you...

Relish the miracles all around you. Your sick toddler's dream-induced smile or your teenager actually saying she loves you. Savor coming home to clean dishes. Or just being able to have dishes. Or food on them. Appreciate the aha moment after a mind-boggling math problem. Or discovering that one nuance in your novel that explains EVERYTHING.

Relish your passions… about anything. A chance for two seconds of fame. Or an hour of uninterrupted quiet.

Enjoy that home-cooked meal. A home to go home to.

Permission to leave work five minutes early when you have a katrillion places to go. A job you enjoy. Or just having a job.

Sooo if you’re feeling like George Bailey or Doris Walker. When it seems everything’s going wrong and the world’s conspiring against you. When you want to scream, “Can I please just throw a big pity party for myself because life freaking SUCKS?!” Or it seems there can't possibly be a Santa Claus. Know. Know that miracles do happen. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes to them.

Okay – I’m done now. Merry Christmas, my friends. I treasure each and every one of you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Would You Give YOUR Favorite Characters for Christmas?

Over at YA Highway there's this little thing called "Road Trip Wednesday." It's a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

Yes - I did say, "Road Trip Wednesday." And yes - today is Thursday. Alison was a little behind on her blogs this week. Imagine that.

However, I couldn't resist this week's topic:

What would you give your favorite characters for Christmas? And why?

Hehe. I get to play Santa to some of my faves. Fun!

To Iggy of Maximum Ride fame - I would give the gift of sight. I think you can figure out the why on that one.

For Eeyore - a tail that doesn't ever fall off. And a hearty dose of optimism.

To Detective Lindsay Boxer - some balls - so she can take a few more risks in love than she does on the streets of San Francisco.

For Will Schuster and the rest of the GLEE club - a chance at Nationals. And no more slushies.

To Lena (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) - a free spirit. And a ring from one hunk of a Greek.

To Jacob - a copy of SHE'S Just Not That Into You (okay we all know he is my antithesis of favorite, but I couldn't resist. PS - totally YA Highway inspired)

And to one of my absolute faves, Heath Luck - I wish a second chance. (Read the House of Night series - you'll know what I mean)

Finally, to Jamie Peters and Becky Snow - I wish you a chance to shine. Hmmmm. Maybe one day.

So, that's it. How 'bout you? What would you give your favorite characters for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keep me Hangin' on...

What compels you to stick with a book?

I’m a reader, so the book has to be pretty suck worthy to not get me to cross the finish line, but I’ll admit there are some books I just can’t finish.

Believe it or not (gasp), Harry Potter used to be one of them. My daughter and I, amidst the hype, made it to chapter three when she was in first grade. We tried again when she hit the third grade. Progress happened, but we still didn’t get past chapter ten. Finally I got tired of waiting for her and decided that I was going to read these books and I was going to like them – with or without her. Soooo the summer before she hit fifth grade I finished the Sorcerer’s Stone, devoured the next one, and the next one…. Series complete by mid-January. My daughter jumped on board shortly after me. Imagine that.

But what kept me hanging on, wanting to finish the first one? In fact, what keeps me turning the pages with any book?

1) Hype—I’ll admit it. I would’ve never finished Twilight had my students not been so heck bent on me reading the saga. I couldn’t get into that book until page one hundred, but I just had to see what the whole Edward craze was about—um, yeah… totally get it now.

Same reason I muddled through fifty plot threads with Dragon Tattoo, trying to keep track of everyone’s name and their connections to the story. Ditto for Harry Potter. With all three books – once I was sucked in… hoo boy.

2) TWISTS and TURNS - Can we say Ellen Hopkins? Or James Patterson? Yep - they RULE on the page-turner thing.

3) Intrigue/Compelling premise – I just finished the Uglies series - not the most compelling read and never fully invested in any of the characters, but the whole post-apocalyptic thing kept me going. Why do people have pretty-making surgery at age sixteen? What really happens to them? And what went wrong with the Rusties?

4) Characters – probably the most selling for me. If I can’t buy the characters. If they don’t do anything for me. If I can’t relate or fall in love with or get totally lost in them, forget it. It’s hard for me to finish the book.

5) VOICE –Okay forget everything I just said. Frankly, a book can have a crappy premise and the supporting cast can be total duds, but if the protag has this amazeball snarky voice that keeps me rolling and reading, dude, I’m HOOKED. Think Maximum Ride. Or House of Night’s Zoe Redbird. Or freaking Bianca Piper from The DUFF.

So, yeah... these are my endurance-fuelers. What are yours? What keeps you "hangin' on"?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life Lessons from Despicable Me

1) Everyone needs minions - not just to carry out your evil bidding (muwhahahaha) - but because a yellow pint of hilarity each day can chase all the blues away

2) Margo optimism is underrated

3) Holding your breath till you pass out CAN get you whatever you want

4) A vector has both direction and magnitude - okay, probably not a life lesson, but this math nerd liked it

5) Even the biggest baddies have a heart

6) Dance recitals and fluffy unicorns are waaaaayyyy more important than any work-related issue - like shrinking the moon

7) And dude, if Gru can publish a book...

well gosh darn it - so can I

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shock-a-zulu Happens

Whenever something bleep worthy happens, my friend Amber rips her best expletive. Like when some stupid head pulls out in front of her, she slams on the brakes and yells, “Shock-a-zulu!” Or when her keys lose themselves in her gigundo purse, she might let out a whiny “Oh, shock-a-zulu.”

Yep. Shock-a-zulu. It’s the cutesy word she coined so she doesn’t drop the S-bomb. "Fudgesicles!" “Son of a nutcracker!” We all have psuedo curse words. Or at least many of us did when we were little, right?

But seriously, people coin new words and expressions all the time. How else do we come up with new permanent Webster entries like phat or frenemy. How else would we know to get up at three a.m. and vulture the Target lot on Black Friday? Or what if you wanted to manify your den. Or sport a tramp stamp?

Maybe I just need to chillax with all this wordage.

But how can I? I’m an eighties girl. Things back then were gnarly and totally tubular. We had, like, this wicked way of talking about everything, dude.

Oh wait—that’s like every generation.

And hailing from the big hair era, I also grew up with all the cool sci-fi shows. One of my faves—Battle Star Galactica. Why?

a) I was a Star Wars geek and Star Trek did NOTHING for me

b) Dirk Benedict—need I say more

c) People said the coolest things, like Frak that. Or that's a bunch of felder carb!

Writers of science fiction and fantasy must be in neologism heaven (PS—neologism’s that fancy-schmancy word for “coining” new words). World building—even in reality-based fantasy—can involve evolving fantabulous names for people, creatures… even games (Quidditch anyone?)

I’ve been reading post-apocalyptic YA lately and I love, love, love how the authors breathe new life into mainstream vocabulary. The Uglies series—not missing on this at all. It’s totally bubbly that characters ping instead of text and call. Or get all kinds of cool surge to make their eyes totally pretty.

Coining new words in novels can be amazeballs fun. You could pen a whole book based on a neologism (use a Frindle much?) Or create an entire song that’s just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

And as I write novels for young adults, I find new words on Urban Dictionary all the time. I frequent the site probably more than I should. At times it’s nauseating, but mostly it’s entertaining. And quite the resource. I mean, now I can give one of my characters a dungeon tan. Or jet one my protag’s besties into hiberdating when she meets the love of her life—again. Shoot. How else would I myself know that I currently suffer from tanorexia?(blaming it on my ubiquitous midlife crisis—hee)

As a young adult writer with a most quirky voice, I don’t purposely set out to coin new words, but I find it happens. Mostly they’re combos of already existing words like gihugic or fabulicious. Others I think I made up and then realize they’re already in the dictionary. Wordage is a word? Really? Or I steal from my students. Teens have a whole vocab of their own. Chill with your boo lately?

And sometimes I enjoy using the same words my kids do. My characters beast a test or are totally boss at Black Ops. Yeah. It’s cool.

In my latest WIP, one of my favorite characters is a three hundred pound chunk of muscle. His brain is stuck in his pants, his antics transport him back to the sixth grade on a daily basis, leaving me to dub him The Incredible Hormone. But as one-dimensional as I may have just painted him, he’s really most endearing. And he says the stupidest, corniest things—verbage so dumb, it’s snort-worthy. Kinda like Marty the Zebra.

And I find that when I'm quirky or corny, the new lingo just seems to pop onto the page. And it's fun! Writing in the voice of a snarky protag or crafting dialogue for my "Incredible Hormone" - it's a good time. And if I happen to invent a fun new word along the way - bonus.

Now I don’t write sci-fi or fantasy, but in my books, shock-a-zulu happens and it’s fun finding a way to describe it that’s not totally cliché.

And who knows? Perhaps someday Shock-a-zulu will garner Webster status. Or maybe one of my neologisms.

And that, my friends, would send my bliss-o-meter off the chizzang.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

So I had lunch in a colleague’s classroom the other day and she had posted her “Wish List” for Christmas on her board. A list jokingly (maybe) telling her students she would love, love, love red pens, batteries, Kleenex—you know—essentials for the job.

I read it and re-read it and my mind smiled. Not because she also “requested” a Mr. Potato Head and Bath and Body Works, but because my list for Santa pretty much reflects essentials for my new line of “work” too.

You see, all I want for Christmas this year…

Yep. Books. A whole bleep load of them.

Okay - I would really like for my kids to have a nice Christmas—you know—get everything on their list. Hee. Especially since my eleven-year-old asked for an agent for Mommy (I know - awwwww!)

But some books might be nice. Oh yeah—and a little time to READ THEM.

Here are some on my list to Santa:

1) Hunger Games (yes, I am the only person that hasn’t read the trilogy)

2) Fallout (ugh—STILL haven’t read Ellen Hopkins latest!)

3) Paradise Lost (Epic poem by the fab John Milton? Uh-huh… let’s just call it research)

4) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Must. Finish. The series.)

5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Some of my kids rave about this one. I just want to know what IS the perk of being a wallflower?)

6) Looking for Alaska (recommended by one of my besties!)

7) Don’t Blink (I’m suffering JP withdrawals)

8) Kiss My Math (I may love to read and write, but I’m still a math nerd)

Gosh. That’s kind of a long list. I sure hope I’ve been a good girl this year.

Oh—and if you have any suggestions to add to the Alison’s Becoming a Permanent Hermit list, feel free to comment. Or send copies my way. Or donate money. That’d be cool.

I could probably check some of these out from the public library, but with my Christmas list I'm endeavoring to support the publishing industry. Considering Borders recently reported a loss of $74.4 million in their last quarter, I figure I'll contribute what I can. (See, Santa! I am a NICE person)

And reading helps me grow as a writer. Plus, I love losing myself in them.

So how 'bout it, folks. Any other recommendations for this book-loving recluse?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why Not?

It's Follow My Book Blog Friday - just FYI

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { and} and any one else you want to follow on the list

2. Follow our Featured Bloggers -

3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.

4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments

5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can

6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers

7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!

8. If you're new to the follow friday hop (don't worry - I am too), comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drum Roll Please...

And the winners of my Tis the Season Contest Giveaway are...

Lisa Potts
Annie Rains
Christina Finley
Alicia Caldwell
LM Stull

Yay! Congrats! And thanks to all of you who entered!

Winners - please email me ( your TOP THREE PRIZE CHOICES along with your address. Do this quickly. Prize choice is on a first come,first serve basis.

Happy Wednesday!