Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carrie Ryan isn't as dark or hollow as you might think...

Okay, so I honestly knew she wasn't dark or hollow, but since her book is called THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES, well... I was glad to know for certain that she is actually funny, and smart (a former lawyer!), and inspiring. I was lucky enough to go with Natalie Whipple to see her and get her new book signed last night. I'm so excited that more and more YA authors are coming to SLC to do signings! It is so fun to get out, meet new authors, and see all of my author/writer/book blogging friends in the community.
James Dashner (not only are they friends, they share the same editor), Carrie Ryan, Me, Natalie Whipple

Like I said, I adore going to author signings. I love meeting them, learning about their journeys--well, just learning from them period. Carrie was so inspiring. (Plus she is an absolutely amazing author. Her way with words is absolutely breathtaking. Who else could make a book about zombies into something so beautiful?)

She has an amazing story, but I won't give you all the details here. One of the biggest points she made that stuck with me is to make a plan, and stick with it. She made a ten year plan: she told herself she was going to write a book a year, and revise it, and submit it (be it to agents or editors) every year for ten years. Her goal was to be a full time author by year ten. She reached her goal around year six or seven. (hopefully I got the details right, I'm going off memory.) She (and I) firmly believe in the power of writing goals down, and doing what it takes to make them reality. If you haven't yet, go make some short and long term goals, and write them down. Then do what it takes to make it happen.

Beyond being smart and inspiring, she really lived up to Kiersten White's claim that she's funny. We were laughing the whole time. If you have the chance to see her, I highly recommend it.

Also, she may burn a book and then give it away.

Huh? Yeah, she used I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER by Dan Wells to block the projector while she was talking, and when she picked it back up she'd burned the cover a little bit. I ended up winning it (woohoo!) and Dan was there, so he personalized it for me. Here's what he wrote:

"Sara - this book was personally burned by Carrie Ryan. Dan Wells."

I love book signings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Madness

Guess what I typed on Friday night?


WOOHOO! I've already begun the first revision, just going through it for major mistakes and stuff like that. Then it will be time for feedback and a little break to get some perspective.

So, you would think my week should be starting off great, right? I mean, I finished my goal almost an entire week early, and will have time to *hopefully* finish this run through before the end of the month and get it sent off. But...

"A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don't have a top for it." - Jerry Seinfeld

That is the morning I've been having already. I went to the bathroom and came out to find my two-year-old on the counter, dumping all the fish food down the drain. At least he wasn't trying to get the fish out of his bowl, or dumping the food in the bowl, (both things he's done before), but yeah. I love that kid, but holy smokes is he ever, um, precocious. Anyone who knows him knows what I mean. I'm not sure I've ever met a more independent toddler in my life. He has to do EVERYTHING himself. And I mean absolutely, postively everything. How do you explain to a two-year-old that he can't make himself toast? Or cook his own eggs? Or that he doesn't need to flush the toilet for me when I go to the bathroom? Or change his own diaper? Or take the fish out of the bowl? Or run his own bath? This list could go on and on and on. The point is.... he is too fun but what a handful! Good thing he is so dang cute.

My little monster showing me his green milk on St. Patty's day.

Son A and Son B playing on the swings the one nice day we've had since October.

I'm really hoping warm weather decides to come around soon. I'm thinking these boys need some more outside play time. (And so does their mom!)

How's your Monday going?

p.s. I just made my bed, and heard him start to cry... (two seconds ago when I came in to make my bed, he was sitting on the couch, eating a bag of crackers, watching Dinosaur Train). I go out and he's in the fridge, somehow has gotten a package of crescent rolls open (how does a two-year-old do that? I can barely get those stupid things open!), and sliced his finger on it. He wants me to make orange rolls. He's crying now because he doesn't understand why the crescent rolls aren't orange rolls. Oh that kid. You just have to laugh sometimes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five: short and sweet

1. My brain is quite literally on the verge of reaching fried status, so that is a big reason why this is going to be short and sweet. But the great news is that I'm definitely going to meet my goal of finishing the first draft of my WIP by the end of the month! Possibly this weekend. Yay! *tosses confetti at myself* *sneezes and wonders why I just did that*

2. I'm almost to 300 followers (just one away!) and I'm wondering if I should do a giveaway to celebrate. Or maybe I should wait (since I did a 200 followers one not too long ago), until I hit a bigger number, like 500... hmm... what do you think? And if I did get convinced to do a giveaway, what would you prefer this time: books or critiques?

3. The weather is driving me nuts. I want it to be WARM. No more blizzards. NO MORE.

4. You know what is not fun? Asking someone when they're due (because they're obviously pregnant), and thinking "she's totally due after me because she's way smaller than I am" and then they tell you they're due a month before you. BEFORE. Did I mention her baby belly was smaller than mine? AND I was taller than her. Isn't there supposed to be some rule that tall people get to have smaller baby bumps because there's more space for the baby? So not true for me. Ah, well. What can you do?

5. I love listening to SonA read. To see him putting concepts together, and pointing out "silent 'e' words" to me, and finding joy in understanding the world around him on a new level. I hope I can help instill a true love of reading in him.

Bonus thought: I have to give a shout out to my wonderful friend Carolina Valdez Miller who signed with an agent last week. (If you aren't already, make sure and go follow her. She seriously rocks you guys.)

WOOHOO!!! *throws confetti at her* *hopes she doesn't sneeze too*

She is the one of the kindest, most caring, hard working people I've "met" (not in person yet unfortunately, though I hope sometime soon to change that!), and I couldn't be more thrilled for her. Her book sounds amazing, and I'm beyond excited to see what happens next. Congrats again Carol, you deserve it! :)

Maybe I also should have titled this post "random." Whatevs, remember how I said my brain is nearly fried? Yeah. It is.

So, what's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Speaking at a Writing Conference and stuff

Yep, for those of you who didn't already see my announcement on FB or Twitter, I am going to be speaking/presenting at the American Fork Arts Council Spring Conference for Writers on April 30th. It really is a great conference for any local writers looking for an affordable, shorter option. It's only one day (unless you do the friday night intensive), and has some fun, diverse classes planned. I will be speaking/teaching about getting an agent, blogging, taking feedback, and more. Quite a range of topics! I just hope I can do a good job. I'm very excited for this opportunity, and hope to see many of you there! If nothing else, you can come to witness me attempting to look professional, put-together, cute and knowledgeable while extremely pregnant. Your excitement level just went up ten degrees, I know it. I mean, if that's not a reason to come, I don't know what is. (I'm totally kidding. If you do come, just pretend I'm one of those tiny pregnant girls who look like they should barely be finding out the gender when they're actually due. Because I'm not one of them. Not even close. Have I mentioned that I'm measuring an entire week AHEAD of where I should be as of my last appointment?)

Anyway, for details be sure to contact Caleb Warnock, the head honcho in charge of the whole thing. (If you don't know who he is, one way to find out is to read the acknowledgements in HUSH, HUSH.) Here are the official details:

The Spring Writer's Conference is on Friday, April 29 & Saturday, April 30 at the Historic City Hall, 31 N. Church St., American Fork. Time: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
For more information call Caleb Warnock 801-592-3136 or

In other news, I broke 60k on my WIP. My goal is to be done by the end of the month. That gives me just over a week. I think I can do it, but we have a few busy nights this week with the soccer season starting up again. (SonA plays and SHH is the coach, so it can get pretty busy!) Not to mention deadlines looming on the other part time job, meaning valuable writing time has to get sucked away by work. Hoping I can somehow eke out enough good writing time without having to try and think coherent thoughts at 2 am to make my goal. We'll see.

Just so you know, I actually did have a topic I was intending to blog about today, other than the conference and the writing update. But for some reason, I've sat here staring at the computer for ten minutes trying to remember what it was with no luck. Since it's getting late, and I still have to write at least 2-3 more pages to make my minimum page per day goal, I guess we'll just call this good. (I write my posts the night before for the most part, in case you didn't know.)

How are your goals coming? Are you planning on going to any fun conferences this year?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A little Shakespeare to start the week

This quote stuck with me when I read it, and thought it would be a good way to start off the week:

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." -- William Shakespeare

Don't you just love Shakespeare? Doubts really can be stinkers, can't they? I know they can for me. Even with how much I love my new WIP, doubt is hanging in there every step of the way, with every word I write. "Is this actually a good idea?"... "Am I getting any better as an author?" ... "Does this actually totally and completely suck?" You know, minor stuff. Ha ha.

But I have to shove those doubts away, and keep on keeping on. I'm never going to "win any good" if I let my doubts drive me rather than my hopes, dreams, and ultimately my belief in myself. The ironic thing is that no matter how bad I think I may doing while I'm writing something, I inevitably realize it's much better than I thought when I go back to edit it later. Interesting, isn't it? Sometimes I think doubt is a type of self-sabotage to keep us from achieving something really amazing. Our worst doubts seem to attack at the moments when we are actually creating something that exceeds anything we have created before. Maybe it's because we have to stretch to do it--to get to that next level. So, what do you choose to believe in: the doubts? Or the belief that you ARE talented and worthy and able to create something beautiful/amazing/awe-inspiring/or that-at-least-doesn't-suck?

Doubt or belief, which one do you let drive you? What are your deep thoughts for this Monday morning?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Five

1. Going back to my wednesday post, I realized another movie I watched all the time as a teen (and could quote almost the whole thing from) was Maverick. "If I can't touch you, I can touch your shirt and dream." It's where I learned a proper southern accent from. ;) Just a random thought I had.

2. I am happy and sad. Happy because my migraines have been almost nonexistent since I scaled back on my internet time and tried to limit most of my computer use to just writing time. But I'm sad because I'm missing out on so many of your blogs. :( Will you comment and tell me how you are doing? What's new? What's exciting or boring in your life right now? Because I'm bummed I can't keep up on everyone like I used to. Maybe I can try again soon and see if the migraines stay away this time. Maybe it was just a phase. One can hope, right?

3. My goal right now is to write at least ten pages a day, and I'm crossing my fingers that will equate to this rough draft being done by the end of my month. So far, I've achieved that goal or surpassed it every day. But for some reason, actually telling myself I want to write that many pages seems to make it harder to get there some nights. Weird how that works. But I force myself on, and will continue to do so. Usually the times when I force myself to keep writing, even when I feel like quitting, is when I end up writing the most!

4. I can't seem to stop eating sugar in all its varieties. Cake, candy, juice, brownies, fruit, cake, you name it. I don't make it for myself, but I keep having "opportunities" to eat it, or have it given to me, and I just can't say no. Usually, I'm able to limit myself to once a week and keep it to small servings. But with this pregnancy, I'm all about the sugar baby. Is it a girl thing?

5. We had a traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner last night, with corned beef and cabbage and a bunch of green food. My mom usually makes the beef and my sisters and I pitch in on the rest. This year, my mom is in NYC, so I decided to keep the tradition alive and offered to make the main dish. It was my first time, but I think it turned out well. My sisters brought their husbands, a beautiful baby girl all dressed in green, yummy salad and dessert and we watched Jimmer make a bunch of incredible shots. We had a great time. However, I didn't get any writing done after dinner. Luckily, I did get eight pages written during SonB's nap (and SonA was at a play group) earlier, but that is still two pages short of my goal. I'm exhausted, and unfortunately have a headache. Do I make myself stay up and write? Or go to bed and call it good? Hmmm....

What's on your mind today? Did you do anything fun for St. Patty's Day? Am I the only person who can't find the will power to "just say no!" to dessert??

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LIKE MANDARIN non-blog fest

Okay, I have been wracking my brain all week, trying to come up with my Mandarin. Who did I want to be like as a teen? I don't think I had one particular person. I was the oldest, so I didn't have older siblings to idolize. I loved my mom, but wasn't old enough yet to want to be like her. I loved movies, and books, and wanted to live portions of the character's lives. (Usually the parts where they kissed hot boys. I was all about daydreaming of kissing hot boys when I was a teen.) Luckily I married a hot boy, so I get to live that particular dream whenever I want. But I didn't have ONE that I wanted to be. I wanted to be too many things:

I wanted to be the ugly duckling (who was actually gorgeous but just needed contacts) that the hot boy would fall in love with. [I had the ugly duckling who needed contacts part--particularly in middle school--just not the rest of it...]

I apparently wanted to live in the 1800s and marry a man with a british accent.

I also wanted to be famous and have someone love me for who I really was.

I wanted to be kissed for the first time in a truly spectacular, Michael Vartanian way. (Totally didn't happen btw, my first kiss was horrible. Stupid boy.)

Again, with the accent. And also, wanting a boy to "get" me and love me despite my, um, eccentricities.

(I did love movies, particularly chick flicks, if you couldn't tell. I could have kept going, but don't want to bore you. This is just a small sampling of what I could remember loving in my high school years.)

So, where does that leave me?

I don't know. I guess that's why I became a writer. Because I couldn't find the one perfect person/character I wanted to be. I liked pieces of them, parts of their stories... so I'd take those pieces and parts and come up with my own stories where I could live out my fantasies of what I wish my life could be like. Many of the books I wrote as a teen were quite similar to other books I'd read, or movies I'd seen, for that very reason. Luckily, I eventually learned how to come up with my own characters and ideas.

So, tell me, who is/was your Mandarin?
I've heard so many great things about Kirsten's book, and I can't wait to read it. Check out her blog for more. Maybe once I read it, I'll have a better answer to this question!!

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm sure everyone has seen the pictures of the devastation in Japan by now. And how could we forget what just happened in New Zealand? Or Haiti? Or, or, or... The list keeps going on and on. Natural disasters are becoming more common than, well, I'm not sure what. They just keep happening. Massive destruction and death tolls in the thousands seem to splash across the news every few months. Is anyone else nervous about who and where is next?

So what does this have to do with writing? Nothing. Except that maybe, just maybe, a book you or I write that gets published could be the means of escape for someone, somewhere, someday. Reading can take you away from the troubles in your life, and transport you into another place with another person (the main character of the book). At least it can for me. And I imagine there are millions of people who could use an escape right now all across the world.

And has anyone else noticed how amazing the author community is? How they band together to donate signed books and services and anything and everything they can think of to raise money and help out all the people and countries who are suffering? I am in awe. Maybe someday I'll have a book that is in enough demand to offer for auction. For now, I can only offer my prayers on behalf of the people of Japan and all those around the world suffering, dying, or struggling to survive.

If you want to see a truly chilling video of the true power of a tsunami, look at the link I posted on my FB page. I guess this is one reason to be glad I don't leave anywhere near a beach.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Five

1. I'm just over 40k into my new WIP. It's an interesting place to be--I am excited to be that far, but also wishing I were further. (As in DONE.) Yes, for those of you wondering (or who know), I am able to write fast. But honestly, I almost have to. If I don't, it seems like my idea(s) start to drift off and I can't get them back. I have to get the words and plots out as fast as I can so they don't disappear on me. Also, I start to doubt myself when it takes longer. For some reason, even though I'm super excited about this idea, and I want and need to get it done, sometimes I just have a hard time concentrating. I didn't have that problem the last time I was pregnant. But maybe since I'm having a girl this time, she's making my brain react differently. Who knows.

2. Sometimes recently, I lose my train of thought. Or worse, I forget major events. Like SonA's parent-teacher conferences. Yeah, my appointment was at 4. I remembered when I saw a flashing light on my phone around 4:30, checked my phone, and saw the reminder on my calendar. Thankfully she still squeezed us in, but seriously! What is my problem? I've never been this spacey in my life. I think we sacrifice more than our bodies when we have babies. Just sayin'. The good news is that he is doing awesome, even if I'm losing my mind. He doesn't always do his "centers" apparently (the kid does have a pretty short attention span sometimes), but he scored above average or well above average (aka off the chart) on all of his tests. Way to go, buddy!

3. I'm taking SonA skiing for the first time today. And by "taking him skiing," I mean enrolling him in ski school while I sit and watch, since pregnancy + skiing = no bueno. I'm taking the laptop in hopes of getting some good #amwriting time in. Hopefully the beautiful mountains will be the perfect setting to help me focus. Except I have this feeling I'm going to want to watch his attempts to ski the whole time. So we'll see...

4. In case you were wondering, my (early) birthday dinner at Benihana was Ah-MAZE-ing. Yummy, yum, yum. I could eat there every night. Or at least once a week. Okay, once a month?

Ready to start gorging ourselves on a plethora of amazing food.

5. I have a lot of books calling my name right now, begging to be read. I want to read them. I yearn to read them. But remember #1? Yeah, I have got to stop getting distracted!

What's on your mind today?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What day is it again?

So, I'm going along, la la la. Go to the gym, showering before 11 am (woohoo! major accomplishment!), making lunch, cleaning the kitchen, entertaining my kids, thinking about my WIP. Obsessing over how much I wrote yesterday (1500 words for an outline to map out the rest of the book since I was on page 135 and thinking, "um, what should happen next to get me to _____?"; and between 3-4k words on the mss). I am happy about that, but at the same time want it to go even faster. Also, I've spent a good chunk of my day daydreaming of the amazing dinner I get to have tonight. Free meal at Benihana (my FAVE restaurant) for my birthday! But my birthday isn't until Saturday you say? I know, but they changed their policy and now their free birthday meal certificates are only valid Mon-Thurs. Stinketh, but what can I do? So we're going tonight.

And then it dawns on me. Today is Wednesday. Last night I was supposed to do my blog post for today. But in the midst of trying to write and then falling asleep out of pure exhaustion a quarter to who-knows-when, I FORGOT.

Hence, in place of a real post, you get this. A strange, rambling recap of why there wasn't a real post. But may I direct you to a few other amazing posts that are more worthy of your time? Kiersten White's last two posts have been incredible, and worth reading over and over. Check them out here. Also, Brodi Ashton also has a great post you should check out on writing what you DON'T know. And as always, Natalie Whipple's post today is super amazing.

Have a great Wednesday, and don't salivate too much thinking of all the amazing food I'm going to be gorging myself on--I mean, eating--tonight.

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's Vlog Time - With LiLa!!

I am so excited to have LiLa on my blog today! I had the chance to read an ARC of their debut The Liar Society, and let me tell you--it is AWESOME. You have to go get this book. I just adore Lisa and Laura, and couldn't be more thrilled to take part in their blog tour. I, for one, couldn't stop laughing when I watched this video. I gave you a hint of what was to come in their vlog interview last Friday, so instead of teasing you some more, let's just get to it, shall we?

And now a message from Lisa and Laura:

Thanks for putting up with us, everyone! If you want to enter The Liar Society Blog Tour of Awesome contest, and really, who wouldn't want to enter!?! There's a $100 Amazon gift card up for grabs! Just click here and enter the super secret password, PINK, for an entry. Remember you can enter one time for each stop on our blog tour, so be sure to click here and see where else we're visiting this month to maximize your chances of winning.

Thanks again ladies! Wasn't that hysterical? Oh, how I love them. Remember to enter their awesome contest, and go get your copy of The Liar Society right now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Five

1. This pregnancy has been giving me migraines. I've never had them consistently before. Random ones, maybe once every year or two, yes. Migraines almost every day? Not so much. And unfortunately, being on the computer is one of the triggers. Because of this, I have had to limit how much time I spend on the computer. Since I'm a writer I have to spend at least a few hours on it every day to write (although some days it just hurts too much and I can't). Why am I sharing this with you? Because unfortunately it means I have to severely limit my internet time, which means I haven't been able to keep on everyone's blogs like I'd hope to. Sometimes I read and just don't comment so I can get through them faster (before the headache hits). Please know that I am trying to read, and I still care about you all A LOT, but if I don't comment as much (and if you've noticed that I haven't been for the last few weeks), that is why. I hope this migraine thing is just a phase and will pass, but we'll see. At least I know there is a for sure deadline this summer...

2. Migraines suck. I have much more empathy for SHH who used to get chronic migraines. (He's since learned what his triggers are and rarely gets them now, hurray!)

3. The Liar Society (which just got released!!) is totally made of awesome and so are the authors (Lisa and Laura Roecker). If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of it (or them), be sure and check back on Monday for a totally hysterical vlog interview they did for my blog. Trust me when I tell you that you don't want to miss it. There's one part in particular when one of them (I won't say who, you'll have to watch to find out) makes the most hysterical mistake. I laughed so hard I may have snorted. And so did they. Luckily for me, I wasn't on video when I did--but they were. Make sure and tune in!

4. I'm still in love with my new WIP, and I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the month. That would normally be an easy goal for me, but with the migraines, the sick kids, the local play I (and my whole family) are in, my part time job, and everything else... we'll, I've got my fingers crossed, but we'll see. Once I set a goal though (especially in a public forum like this), I tend to do whatever it takes to meet it. So there you have it. WIP done by April 1st (if not earlier). No fooling.

5. I'm going to be another year older in just over a week. Not sure how I feel about that. I used to LOVE birthdays, I couldn't wait until I got older. That is, until I turned 21. Then I started to wish that I could just keep turning 21. I still love celebrating, and getting to be a little bit spoiled for a day (one can hope anyway!), but the age part kind of stinks these days. Not too bad yet, but it's starting to get scary. The years seem to go by faster and faster the older I get. What's up with that? Do you remember being a teen and every year seemed to take forever?

So, what's on your mind today? Have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget the hysterical vlog coming your way on Monday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In which I love Despicable Me and Castle

I finally got to watch Despicable Me and catch up on the last two (whoa!) episodes of Castle. They were both amazing, in completely different ways.

(Beckett and Castle... she needs to figure out that authors are way cooler than doctors, asap! Especially when the author is Nathan Fillion... I mean, Castle. Unless you're sick or dying, in which case, yay doctors! But in this fictional world of TV...)

I love both shows for completely different reasons, but the two things that were the same across the board were interesting characters and awesome dialogue. Both shows have excellent examples of each.
Hmmm... wonder if the same could be said for books? I'm going to go with YES. Truly interesting characters and really great dialogue don't just suck me into movies or TV shows. If a book has both of those elements, I just can't put it down.
I think there's a word for it; one word that encompasses both of those elements (and even a little bit more). Hmm, what was it again... oh, right. VOICE. Ever heard of that? Ever heard any agents or editors say that above all else, a truly great voice is what grabs their attention? I know I have.
So tell me, what are some of your favorite characters and why? What "voices" have you read recently (or in the past) that you just can't forget and wish could go on and on? And how do you find and show a really great, unique voice in your characters?