Friday, December 30, 2011

Three completely unrelated things...

I'm up on Networked Blogs now, so you can follow me through them.  There's a widget in the right side bar.  I'm not sure what took me so damn long to sign up, but there you have it.

Also, a big "Happy Birthday" to my mother!  I wish I was there today to celebrate, but I know she'll have a lovely day regardless.

Finally, my CP, Shelley Greene, has placed in the top 6 of a contest, and I'm so proud of her!  The final round of judging is coming up soon, and I know she'll impress.

Okay, I lied...the title should be FOUR completely unrelated things.  I also want to wish all of my followers a very happy and prosperous new year!

Until next year...literally...

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Traditions...

I was wrapping presents for my husband this past weekend, and as I filled out the gift tags with the "To:" and "From:" sections, I paused to think about what I was writing on them.



In my family, my parents never just made out gifts to me (or to each other) from just them or Santa.  No...there was a whole array of people (characters?) who would give gifts, and specific ones at that.  Each one even had their own handwriting.  If you got a gift to you from the Reindeer, you were likely to open something with clothing in it.  The Elves would send something useful, like a requested tool.  Mrs. Claus was likely to give food (chocolate, specialty tea, etc), or kitchen gadgets.

I smiled as I finished writing out the tags, and found myself wondering what holiday traditions others carried with them when they left the nest, or if they had a favorite one they weren't able to do anymore for whatever reason.

Tell me!

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmahanakwanza!

I know it's been forever, but since we're getting settled, I wanted to make a short post to wish my lovely readers a very happy holiday season.  No matter what you celebrate, I hope you enjoy spending time with your families and friends, good food and drink, and health and happiness.

CHEERS!

On the note of my absolute fail to keep up this blog, that should be changing very soon.  I will aim to do at least a couple of posts per month, hopefully one a week if I can manage it with my other writing projects, once we get unpacked all the way and settled.  We're about 80% there, so it will be soon.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Article by Laura Kaye: Undressing a Bad-Ass Hero

Hello!  

We're (slowly...VERY slowly) getting settled here in the U.K.  Yep...our move was an overseas one, so not only do we have to contend with wonky sleep patterns, we have to basically learn a new monetary system and how to drive (on the other side of the road, that is).  But things are coming along.  We've even found a house to rent, and it's in a great little town!  That's encouraging to me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, yeah, we'll have somewhere to live, but that the sooner we get moved in and unpacked, the sooner I can get my ass back in my desk chair and finish my novella.  

To tide you over, I saw that one of my lovely author friends, Laura Kaye, wrote an article called Undressing a Bad Ass Hero.  Not only was it a good article, but it was about one of my very own favorite anti-heroes, Zsadist, from J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  Apparently, he's Laura's favorite, too, so things might get ugly.  Just kidding.  Laura also has a blog, so go check that out when you're done here.  


Until next time, my lovelies!

xoxo Sarah

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crazy life!

Hey!  More crazy to report.

I'm officially moving as of this coming Tuesday, so that should (hopefully) explain my absence and general lack of sanity lately.  Seriously...the sanity and all coherent thought, as well as any remnants of my poor, beat-up muse, have been leaking out of my ears over the past month.  I can only hope that things return to normal in a month or two.

I hope you'll stick with me, though I won't be groveling - I don't want to get my jeans dusty from all the kneeling, and all of my other pants are packed in our household goods.

In other random news, I'm officially a member of the Maryland Romance Writers!  No, I've never lived in Maryland (and I'm not moving there), but my critique partner, Shelley Greene (seriously, go follow her blog), lives there, and introduced me to some of the other lovely ladies in the chapter at RWA 2011.  I knew then that I'd found a great writing family.

So, I'll be on and off for the next couple of months until we get settled.  I hope to get some more writing done and finish my novella, but I'm not going to rush things; I know my muse will come out of hiding when we're situated.

Until then...Cheerio!

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A question for you! I need some input...

Okay, my lovelies.  I have a question to pose to you, and I'd love some feedback.

I've been thinking about having guest bloggers on my blog.  No, I don't know exactly how I'd go about getting them besides just asking, but this is something I'm considering.  It would just shake things up a bit and make the "voice" you hear a little more varied.  It would also help a great deal so this thing won't sit dead while we're moving or traveling.

I was thinking I'd have bloggers do a post on a topic of their choice, whether it be related to writing, or something else they're passionate about.  Still not sure yet.  Also, I was debating having authors on who are promoting a book they're launching...not just a "buy my book!" post, but talking a bit about the story, etc.

Thoughts?  Have any of you ever done a guest blog post for someone, or had them done for you?  Please leave a comment!  I'd love to get some feedback on this.

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dr. Who and Me. Sort of.

 My husband was out in New Mexico for training for close to half of the year.  In his free time -- the amount of which varied anywhere from having whole days with nothing to do to a precious few hours, plus I wasn't out there to keep him company -- he worked his way through movies and television series to help fill the time.  Streaming Netflix is a wonderful thing.  Having heard some good things about Dr. Who, he began working his way through the latest incarnation of the show.  

The TARDIS.
For those who are unfamiliar with Dr. Who, let me give you a brief overview without giving too much away.  I'm still a relative newbie to the fandom, so bear with me.  It's a BBC program (or programme as they like to say) and enormously popular in Britain.  It's practically an institution over there.  It also has a huge following here in the states as well, even having panels at Comic Con.  The Doctor -- yes, that's his name...just that -- is a Time Lord, and travels around in time and space in a craft called the TARDIS.  Yes, it looks like a police box, but it's much bigger inside than it looks from the outside, kind of like a wizarding tent in Harry Potter.  He's the last of his kind due to a terrible war, and typically takes a companion with him on his adventures.  Various worlds, aliens/creatures, technology, and alternate realities are encountered.  The special effects are reminiscent of something you'd see on the Syfy channel, but the acting is a million times better.  Even better, the series actually has an interesting way of keeping itself alive -- The Doctor regenerates into another form when he dies, or when his time is up.  The show is currently on its eleventh incarnation of The Doctor, because the series originally started in the mid-1960s and ran to the late 1980s.  The series as it currently is started up again in 2005.  

Yes, that's a lot of information, but I'm rambling for a reason.  Hang on.  This is relevant, I promise.

David Tennant as The Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose, his companion.
So, my husband came home and insisted that I needed to watch the show with him.  Most of the seasons are on Netflix, so we've worked our way through watching up through the second season together.  He's seen most of them, but that's where I've left off for now...writing has been my priority, so watching the show has been slow going.  The Doctor in the first season was okay, and the show was enjoyable, but the husband assured me that I'd like the one from season 2 even better.  

David Tennant.  Doctor #10.
The Doctor starting in season 2 is David Tennant.  He's been great to watch so far.  Not only is he adorably handsome, but his enthusiasm for the role is almost contagious.  You can just tell that he loves playing The Doctor.  His excitement for the part is so markedly different than the first season's Doctor that I had to look him up.  

It turns out that David Tennant, as a young child, loved the show Dr. Who and told his parents that he was going to play the role of The Doctor.  Yeah.  They probably had the same reaction upon hearing that as when a kid tells you they want to be an astronaut or President or Warren Buffet.  They probably stifled some laughter, patted him on the head and told him okay, but to have a contingency plan.  You know, in case things...didn't work out.  

But Tennant kept his dream in the back of his mind, taking parts in school stage productions.  He continued doing stage productions, including many Shakespearean plays, and yes, eventually won the role of the tenth Doctor.  He was inspired by the show to act in the first place, and finally the role of a lifetime was his.  

"I've wanted this since I was four!"
Sure, he's acted in other well-known roles, including playing Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  You're welcome, everyone who looked at him and wondered, "I know I've seen that guy somewhere!"  He's also currently doing stage work, and I would love to see him live someday.  

Oh fine. One more, if you insist.
The point of all of this, is we (myself included) as writers are often inspired as youngsters.  Maybe it's a favorite book or story that makes us want to tell our own.  Sadly, most of us give up on our dream, and let our contingency plans take over.  Many of us stop writing altogether.  But, even if that's happened, we can still give it our best shot.  Start again, and believe we can do it.  Like David Tennant, we need to believe that success will be ours, and that role of a lifetime -- our Dr. Who -- will be in our hands.  Whether your dream is to write something novel-length, a children's book, or a short story, don't give up.  I constantly have to tell myself this, because, yes, it's hard. 

But making yourself believe you can do it is half the battle.

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ten lashes with a wet noodle?


Oops. It's been a while.  Again.

Yep, I've been a bit of a blogging failure lately.  But I'm brushing myself off and continuing on.  

Just a quick update: sadly, I misread the rules for the writing contest I was going to enter and was unable to make a submission.  But no matter!  I've found another one...and even better, both Shelley and I are entering!  As two different people of course, but the same contest, different categories.  Mine will likely be an excerpt from The Curse (see the "Novellas and Short Stories" tab for more info!), and Shelley's will be in the contemporary romance category.


In case this one goes pear-shaped for unforeseen reason, I will be keeping this one on the down-low as well until all is said and done.  Suffice it to say, the deadline is October 1st, so I will be working my ass off on my entry from now until, hopefully, well before then.  Advance planning and all.  I'm greatly looking forward to reading and editing Shelley's entry as well.  There's nothing quite like a contest to get you motivated.

I'm super excited about this one, as I've never entered a contest before, and I'm looking forward to some feedback, even if I don't make it anywhere near the finals.  The Curse is nearing the end, as I think I'm on the last two chapters of writing.  Of course then there's the editing and all the ripping apart that must be done, but it will feel good to have a completed manuscript.

Off to get some more done!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My first interview EVER!

Okay, folks, here it is!  Here's my very first interview.  It's up on Elizabeth Sogard's blog, so I'd love it if you'd take the time to check it out.  It's about me, my writing, and other such things.  


*grins*  

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So excited!

Hey, everyone!

Long time, no post.  That's okay, though.  I've been busy, and I know a lot of you have been, too.

Just a quick update to say two things.  The "jump break" experiment works fine, but only "hides" part of the blog entry if you go to the main web address for the blog, not the specific entry.  For example, if you go to www.sarahallanauthor.blogspot.com and look at the entries on the main page, the jump break works and "hides" the part of the entry I've posted after the jump break.  If you go to a specific entry, i.e. clicking on the title so you can only see that entry, then the whole entry shows up.  If I post something that I think some might consider objectionable, I will also tag the title with NSFW or something like that, so in case you do click on the entry and see the whole thing, the title should clue you in that you should read it somewhere where your kids or boss is not, lol.

Thing #2: I've been told that tomorrow, 9/7/11, my first interview as a pre-published (I prefer that...unpublished sounds so negative) author will go up on a friend's blog.  The lovely Elizabeth Sogard was kind enough to interview me, so here's the link to her blog.  I'll post again when I have an actual blog entry link as well.

http://elizabethsogard.wordpress.com/

I hope you are all enjoying the start of fall!  I know I am finding the cooler weather to be great for my muse, and I hope to get my novella done ASAP.  :-)

xoxo Sarah

Monday, August 22, 2011

Testing, Testing...Blegh.

Hello, folks!  

I've been hard at work on The Curse, which I hope to enter in a contest soon (not saying which one, because I haven't read the rules in a while and I'm honestly can't remember if it's supposed to be an anonymous contest or not), so I haven't been blogging too much.  

That, and the 100+ degree heat and cut-the-air-with-a-knife humidity has nearly killed me.  This is what I feel  like when I go outside.  And a lot of the time when I'm indoors, too.  


Anyway, I wanted to test out a little feature that my technotarded little brain hasn't quite figured out yet, so I wanted to give it a shot.  

The jump break.

This, as I mentioned in my previous post on possible NSFW content, will be used when I want to post something that some people might consider objectionable.  Anywho, I wanted to try one out.  

After the inserted jump break will be two very safe for work Harry Potter pictures.  Please let me know via a lovely comment if the jump break works, because I'm not sure if, as the blog owner, I can see it from my end.

Thanks in advance for your help!  You are both helping me make my blog better and helping to assure that I won't make some of you run screaming.

Here we go! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New label for my titles...

I figured I'd better get this out of the way sooner rather than later, so consider yourselves informed.  I normally try to keep my blog at or around the PG-13 level, but I foresee that it may stray to higher levels at times, especially given what I write.

In case you haven't figured it out (not sure how that's happened if you've been reading my stuff all along), I write romance, and that also includes erotica.  My current work-in-progress is an erotic LGBT fantasy romance.  That equals sexytimes for my characters.

I would like to be able to post excerpts from my work (teasers, if you will) or whatnot without resorting to slapping this entire blog with a warning saying that there may be mature content.  I'd rather not have to go through that because, obviously, a lot of what I post here is perfectly suitable for most people, and many of the excerpts I will post will be suitable for all as well.  I'm not going to take a chunk out of a sex scene and say, "Here you go!  Surprise!"  I'd just like to have the option to post something a little more, uh, racy if you will, without anyone reacting like this poor lady, played by the incomparable Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live.  

Therefore, if a post of mine might have content I believe some might find objectionable, I will put a label of "NSFW" on it or in the entry title, which a lot of you may already know is shorthand for "Not Safe For Work."  It's a pretty standard internet content label, and just warns the reader/viewer that there may be something in this - email, website, blog entry, file, whatever - that you might not feel comfortable opening in front of your boss, or your kids for that matter.

I claim no responsibility if you're reading an excerpt of mine and you suddenly find yourself having to explain to your employer why you're reading about two people having sexytimes.  Or explaining the same sexytimes process to your kids, though I'd kind of like to be a fly on the wall for that terribly awkward conversation.  *snorts*

This will be you if you have to do either of those things.  

I'll also try to use a "jump" technique, where the entry will show the first couple of lines I wrote and then will likely say something like, "This post continued after the jump" or "Read more after the jump."  It will be a little link that you'd click on to enlarge the post, and read the rest of the entry.  I haven't figured out how to work this feature yet, but I'll do my best.

So, use your own judgement and consider yourself informed.  I can promise that things will continue on at the PG-13 level, but I will label a post NSFW if necessary.  I can't see it happening often, but I love my readers enough to let you know.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thank you, Deirdra!

The lovely Deirdra at A Storybook World saw my blog and gifted me with a "Best of Romance Blog" award.

Thank you so much, Deirdra!




xoxo Sarah

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Adult Read Blogfest hosted by Heroines With Hearts!



When I saw a few posts on my blog dashboard about this awesome little blogfest, I had to participate.  It's being run by the lovely ladies at Heroines With Hearts from July 24th /25th.  The rules for this blogfest are simple. All you have to do for this blogfest is fess up on the first adult book you picked up and read: whether a classic, a racy novel or that of unusual content, then post your entry on own blog July 24th/25th.  If you're interested in joining in the fun, please click the "Heroines with Hearts" link above.  

Let's see.  The first romance novel I read that had what could be considered "unusual content" would have to be Spoils of War by Kari Gregg.  The book involves a male/male pairing, so it won't be for everyone, but damn, is it hot!  I've read plenty of romance novels, but, despite writing my own M/M story, I wasn't sure which ones would make for good reading.  

I was lucky enough to meet Kari Gregg at the RWA 2011 conference at one of the workshops, and she not only gave me some fabulous recommendations but convinced me to check out her book as well.  I'm glad I did. 

The blurb is as follows: 

Enslaved during the invasion of the rival King of Herra, Micah cut off his emotions and adapted to his new life in servitude. Xerxes, the Herran King, abuses his captive to keep the neighboring kingdom of Alekia under his yoke, but after Micah nearly dies when plague sweeps Herra, the Alekian King sends Eli to bring his beloved son home. Institutionalized by his slavery, unable to cope with his freedom, Micah seeks to please the new master he's found in Eli throughout their harrowing journey to a homeland he no longer remembers. Eli protects the young man and introduces Micah to the pleasures denied him as a prisoner. Will Micah accept his noble birthright when they reach Alekia, and more importantly, can he accept Eli as the devoted slave his father has given him rather than the master he's come to love?

It's saved on my Kindle now, and though I'm sure I will enjoy reading many more romance novels of all kinds in the future, this one will likely remain a fun favorite.  

Do you remember your first romance novel?  Perhaps one that was racy, or had content a little out of your comfort zone?  Please share!

p.s. I suppose that if you define "adult reads" as any novel not geared specifically toward younger children or teenagers, then The Hobbit would likely take that prize.  I was about ten when I read that one.  

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parties and Cheesecake! Om nom nom... RWA Conference Pt. 4

Back to the conference!

In between workshops and (possibly) breaking delicate body parts, there was everything else.  

And this constituted a lot of socializing, eating, drinking, and dressing up.  Yeah.  It was awesome.  

Let me clarify...

"Partaaaay!"
Being my first RWA nationals conference and Shelley's second, we wanted to check out a lot of what was offered.  And since neither of us are published (preferring the title "PREpublished" instead of "UNpublished" because of the more positive connotations), there were certain things that we naturally wouldn't get invited to, but might possibly attend in the future.  Example: one of the publishers held a black-and-white ball at the Waldorf Astoria.  Yeah, that place in the picture.  I'm still jealous, and it's been nearly a month.  If we published with that particular publisher, then we'd be invited.  

The same goes for belonging to other chapters or specialty chapters of the RWA.  Example: the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal (FF&P) chapter held a party where the party-goers wore super-hero (or super-heroine) costumes.  Passionate Ink held one where a lot of dominatrix gear was worn.  I'm not sure what it was for, but it made for some interesting people-watching, I'll tell you that.  

Not too many looked like Angelina, but who cared!  It looked like a fun party!
So, we attended events that were open to all, such as a fun PJ party that Harlequin was throwing one night.  Sadly, neither of us brought PJ's we wanted to wear out of the room, so we just wore regular clothes.  It was a fun night, and we met a lot of wonderful people!  

Shelley and I also enjoyed the Atrium Lounge, where we were often joined by other writers and people we met along the way.  It was a great way to network, and I think I gave out more of my cards this way than through any other socializing I did at the whole conference.  It was great to meet other authors who were letting their hair down after a nice long day of workshops.  Conversations ranged from talking about the workshops we'd attended, to what our books were about, to where we were from and more.  I even had a chance to meet a couple that I'd met on Twitter.  That's kind of a surreal experience, meeting someone you've met only online, but I had a lot of that going on on this trip.  

The luncheons, of which there were two, were good as well.  The food was definitely good for the staff having to feed 2,000+ people, and the speakers were motivating, especially Sherrilyn Kenyon, who is a well-known author of many paranormal and fantasy romance novels.  

Yeah. She's that awesome.
The RITA and Golden Hearts ceremony which was held on the final night (Friday), was pretty interesting.  Normally I can't stand awards ceremonies.  They're boring, and the people who win go on and on and on and no one will shut them up, yadda yadda yadda.  But, I quickly discovered that if you get a bunch of writers in one spot, even if they suck at public speaking, the speeches will be interesting.  Because we're writers, bitches.  We can come up with something appropriate, be it short-and-sweet or funny and amazing at the drop of a hat.  Meg Cabot, the lovely writer of many novels, including The Princess Diaries, and who was wearing glasses at the ceremony and looked uncannily like Tina Fey, was the MC and hilarious.  I officially add her to my growing list of people I want to be when I grow up. 

Additionally, we ate mass quantities of cheesecake at Junior's, which was right across the street from the Marriott Marquis.  I'm surprised I didn't gain a ton of weight on the trip, because the cheesecake was to die for.  

I will end with a picture that will make you run to your refrigerator and sob because this is not in there on a shelf.  

Junior's Devil's Food Cheesecake. The white layer is regular cheesecake and the other parts are regular chocolate cake and thick chocolate frosting.  This was in my tummy.  You're welcome for the jealousy.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm a lazy ass...

Well, it's almost been a month, so I figured I'd better put up an album of pictures from the RWA conference.  If anyone is interested, you can check them out on my FaceBook author's page, which can be found under the "Contact Me" section.

Or on the right side of the screen in the side bar.

Or here, because I'm feeling benevolent today.  http://www.facebook.com/sarahallanauthor 

Kindly click "like" when you check out my page, and I just might love you forever!

p.s. I promise that there is a Pt. 4 to my RWA posts...I've been a lazy ass about getting that out, too.  Keep your pants on...it'll be up this week.  I think.

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lions and tigers and workshops, oh my! RWA Conference Pt. 3

First off, it's effing HOT out there.  So hot, in fact, that it required capital letters for me to properly emphasize the hotness.  But, it just makes me more thankful that I'm in here, in my air conditioned house with a fan on full-blast.

Now then.  Workshops.  A huge reason why we went to RWA11 in the first place.  Though some were two hours, most of the workshops ran about an hour each with a 15 minute break (or so) in between to get to your next one or use the bathroom (they actually converted some of the men's restrooms to women's using a high-tech sign...a sheet of paper labeled: "Ladies Room").  In each time slot, anywhere from, oh, seven to twelve workshops were going on at one time, more or less.  So there's no way a reasonable person would be able to get to them all and learn anything, or even half of them and learn anything, without having access to a time turner.  Don't know the reference?  Let's just say I have Harry Potter on the brain.  Look it up.
The Time Turner. The only way to see all of your workshops in person.

Workshops were categorized in the following areas: Career, Publishing, Writer's Life/Muse, Craft, Research, Special, Chat, and Spotlight.  Because we were worried about not getting seats, Shelley and I made first and second choices for each time slot, which worked out extremely well.  We also tried our best to take good notes; we sometimes went to the same ones as our interests were/are similar, but sometimes we'd each go to one and make sure we took down a lot of details for the other.  Copy machines are a wonderful invention.  We were also thrilled that the entire conference (minus the workshops that were not recorded, which were very few) will be available on DVD/CD to buy, which was great.  There isn't really a substitute for being present, because being there allowed you to participate and ask questions, but after hearing other attendees chatting about the awesome workshops they'd been to as well, it will be well worth the buy.

I'm not going to go into detail of all the workshops we went to...it would take up waaay too much time.  We attended some about the business of writing...contracts, e-books, and the like, because, as fledgling writers, this wasn't something with which we'd had a lot of experience.  One workshop, which was run by a couple of amazing agents, was particularly fascinating.  Brainstorming was another good one, as it's always a good idea how to work yourself out of writer's block or any tight spot your characters get themselves into.  Two more of my favorites were one on social networking and how to use it to your advantage as both a published and unpublished writer, and a workshop on character's point of view and creating a connection between them and your reader.  The speaker in this one was just so good that I can't wait to listen to that one again!

The Spotlight sessions were also good.  They were informal question and answer sessions about the publishers who were sponsoring the conference, many of which I was interested in.  The three I attended were Samhain, Ellora's Cave, and Pocket.  The latter two, Shelley went with me.  After all, when are you really going to interact with the higher-ups of a publishing company and have them answer the questions you want answers to?  Exactly.  I thought I'd better take advantage, especially because these three are among the 15+ I have on my list to query when the time comes.

That's about it for the workshops!  Next up...everything else.

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hold on, one more...

Two posts in one day?  What's gotten into me?!

Don't get too used to it, ladies and gents.  I don't have to be Ms. Cleo to know that a move will be in my very near future, and that will become an even bigger timesuck than it has been so far.  My hope is that Husband will be back to shoulder some of the stress.  Love you, honey.

I didn't want to squash this little post in with one of my RWA conference posts which are a bit wordy on their own, so I thought I'd do a completely separate one.

My critique partner, Shelley, has a new blog up!  I'd appreciate it if you took a few minutes to check it out, and to give her a follow.

In other news, I also wanted to pimp out a giveaway by another lovely lady, author Susan Kaye Quinn.  Her first novel, Life, Liberty, and Persuit, has been out for a while, and as a thank you to people with family members in the military, she wanted to say "thank you!"  The details of the giveaway can be found here, on her guest post on Lisa Sanchez's blog.  If you qualify for the giveaway, don't forget to comment on their blog so they enter you in the random drawing.

Hmm.  I think that's almost it for now.  Two little reminders:  as of very recently, I can be found on Facebook, so please stop by and give me a "like."   It's been giving me a little trouble this afternoon, and I can't see anything I've posted, but I hope that gets corrected soon.  I also joined Goodreads, and I'd love to see what you're reading and recommend, so send me a friend request over there, too!

xoxo Sarah

Thank God it's not a meat locker in here... RWA Conference Pt. 2

We checked into the conference the night before when we arrived, picking up our welcome packets and tote bags and thankfully avoiding the lines to do so the next morning.  We'd also attended a book signing, where all the proceeds went toward a literacy foundation.  I believe over $40,000 was raised, which was amazing.  I also got to meet another author I'd met online, Laura Kaye.  I picked up one of her books for my mother, and had Laura sign it to her.

The hotel was nicely laid out for conferences; several floors were dedicated to conference and meeting rooms, and they were connected by escalators, allowing us to avoid using the ridiculous elevators for the most part.  Also, I was thankful that, unlike most conferences/meetings I've been to in the past, the Marriott seemed to know their stuff when it came to climate control.  Layers were still necessary, but were limited to a light sweater, and I never regretted not bringing my heavy fur coat to wear over long underwear, tank tops, t-shirts, a long-sleeved tee, and a sweatshirt.

"Take a right at the ice burg. The Brainstorming workshop is on the left."

Just kidding. I don't wear fur.

On the first day, there wasn't much to do in the morning (besides inadvertently sleep through the welcome presentation), so we explored and drank coffee.  Shelley had mentioned that quite a few of the Maryland Romance Writers (their RWA chapter) would be there, and she was excited to introduce me.  For a variety of reasons, I don't belong to a local chapter, only the national RWA, though I would like to.  So, I wasn't sure what to expect, and though I knew Shelley would want to hang out with them as well as me, I didn't want to make myself an extra wheel.  But you know what they say...you can never have too many wheels.  Or maybe it's just me who says that.    

Anyway, it was just our luck that, while waiting for the welcome luncheon to begin, we ran into the amazing Sharon Buchbinder, the president of the MDRWA chapter.  She appeared to be a little younger than my parents, and was dressed in layers like Shelley and I were.  When we were introduced and she asked what I write, I responded a little more specifically than I usually do, given that this was a writer's conference.  "Hi, I'm Sarah, and I write contemporary romance and erotica."  She then asked me what my first book was going to be about and my stomach clenched, not sure how she'd take to hearing what my first WIP was about.  "Well," I said nervously, "it's a male/male erotic romance."  Instead of the worst-case-scenario responses I expected, which ranged anywhere from a polite raising-of-the-eyebrows to disgust, Sharon's face broke into a wide, genuine smile, and she congratulated me.  The three of us then chatted about my story and what each of us was writing until the ballroom opened for us to be seated for the lunch.  

"Your story is M/M and has sexytimes? High five!"
As a little side note, writers, particularly romance writers, appear to be some of the most tolerant people I've ever met.  I heard so many different story concepts and pairings while I was at the conference that I would imagine we'd have to be.  So, one thing I'm especially grateful for that I learned at the conference was to revel in your writing.  You write what you want to write, and there will be people who are enthusiastic and supportive of it, no matter what.  This was a big lesson for me, and I'm glad I figured it out. 

I think I'll stop here for today, and talk about the workshops in the next installment!    

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh, sh*t, I think I broke my toe! RWA Conference Pt. 1

Yep, I know how Neville feels.
I'm baaaack!  I spent the previous week at the lovely Marriott Marquis in New York City for the Romance Writers of America national conference, and I had an amazing time.  So amazing, in fact, that I'm still recovering; by the end of the trip, I felt like I'd been hit by a Petrificus Totalus and was ready to drop like a stone. But, several nights of 5-6 hours of sleep, plus amazing company, alcohol, a ton of walking, and so much information that Hermione Granger would die of jealousy will do that to a person.  So, I've been trying to catch up on some sleep while I figured out how to post about my experience.

Sorry about the Harry Potter references.  I'm just chomping at the bit for July 15th.

Anyway...

I'll be honest.  The conference was so busy that when I got home, I wasn't really sure where to start when it came to reviewing what went on.  Where to begin?  Should I start from day one and go through the whole thing, day by day?  Should I break it down into categories, like food, workshops, people I met, etc?  But then my inner Tina Fey rolled her eyes at me, and I figured I'd just wing it.

I'll post in a few parts, namely because my attention span rivals that of a toddler who's been given an espresso at the moment, so hang with me.

Last Monday, I was getting ready to fly to Baltimore to meet my lovely critique partner, Shelley, for the first time.  Wait, let me back up a little.  Before I even left, I was so overcome with excitement that I somehow managed to kick a door frame with my poor left foot, leading me to have some fascinating rainbow-colored bruises for the whole week.  For a good chunk of it (the week, not the foot), I was convinced that my poor little toe was broken, but because I can put weight on it, I think I just sprained it badly.  Still, I was pretty gimpy for most of the conference.  Anywho, meeting Shelley could have gone a couple of ways and been super awkward since, despite knowing each other since 2009, we'd never met in person.  What if we weren't compatible?  What if she was a serial killer and I willingly put myself in her path?  What if I annoyed the crap out of her and she couldn't wait to ship me back home on the first plane out?  But, Shelley and her amazing sister, Jen, were very sweet and wonderful hosts (hostesses? That's a lot of "Ss"...), and I'm so glad I did it.  I stayed over at their house on Monday night, and on Tuesday, Shelley and I drove up to Trenton to take the train into NYC.

New York Marriott Marquis
Everything went as planned; no problems or bumps in the way, minus some weird blockage of I-95, which only led us to take a detour of a very pretty, very scenic route.  So, in the late afternoon, we checked into this place.  The Marriott Marquis is right on Broadway in the Theater District, and extremely close to Times Square, so we were right in the thick of things.  It was too bad that we didn't get a chance to get out of the hotel much while at the conference, but next time, I think I will try to stay a few days before and/or after to enjoy the location where the conference is held.  After all, exploring different parts of the country is half the fun!

I'll pick up in the next post with more awesomeness!

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, June 25, 2011

T minus 2 days...

In the midst of all the crap I've had to do with organizing our move - which, both fortunately and unfortunately, might be getting more complicated - I've neglected this poor blog.

In between living a life where my iPhone should probably be renamed to earPhone it's up there so much (sorry for the terrible joke, my brain is fried), I've been organizing my trip to the RWA 2011 conference which takes place in New York City.  I'm leaving on Monday, flying to meet my lovely critique partner, Shelley, and then we will take the train into NYC.

This is me right now  ----------->

Why?

Because I've never met Shelley in person.  And I've never been to a writer's conference.  And I haven't been to NYC since I was in college.  Needless to say, I'm all sorts of excited right about now.

As a writer who doesn't quite have a finished product ready to query yet, I know I'll learn a lot from going to the conference.  I've decided to make a short list of goals so that I will be able to keep things in perspective, because I'm sure the sheer amount of information will make my head want to explode.  

So, first of all, my goal is to make friends.  WHAT?  Yeah, you heard right.  Friends.  You know, people with whom you share common interests...perhaps like writing?  I'm going to be nice to everyone.  Even if someone near me is very quiet, they're probably not snobby or stuck-up.  They're likely just shy.

That brings me to another goal: I'm not going to over-do it.

Great, now I see you looking at me like this and asking, "But, Sarah, you just said you wanted to get as much out of the conference as possible!  How can you do that if you're taking an afternoon nap?"

Well, let me put it this way.  If I don't have an afternoon nap or some downtime, I'll go crazy or fall asleep in a workshop and drool on an agent.  I don't think agents like being drooled on, though that would make one hell of a conversation starter.  Let me clarify.  I'm an introvert.  Let me clarify even further: an introvert, according to my psychology classes I took over six years ago, isn't someone who would rather hide in a corner or not interact with others, but someone who gets and takes most of their energy from INSIDE themselves.  They simply process a lot of things internally, and being in big groups and around lots of people can be incredibly draining.  It's not that I won't enjoy myself; I won't be anywhere near having a panic attack in the middle of a workshop, and as an author, I'm actually looking forward to a time when I get to do book signings or group discussions, but if I don't have that private time to recharge my batteries, I get grouchy and exhausted.  And because I know you're curious, extroverts are people who get their energy from outside...as in, other people.  They feed off of that energy, and thrive on it.  However, I'd be hard-pressed to say that there are a ton of extrovert authors given the amount of time we spend dwelling in our own heads.

I also have a goal to learn something new about writing.  At least one thing; maybe it will be about the business aspects, or characterization, or querying...I have no idea.  But I'm excited to find out.

Ideally, I'd also like to meet an agent or editor, strike up a nice conversation and have them fall in love with my stories, but my expectations are realistic.  I'd be happy just to meet one at this point.

Another goal: To give out a lot of business cards.  I had some great ones made up for the conference, and I can't wait to give my first ones out.  It's a great way to get your name out there to someone who's interested.  If I get one from other people, I will write where I met them on it, like, "elevator," or something similar, so that I'll remember them.  You never know who you might meet.

So, that's about it for now.  Hopefully, I will get some of my sanity back when this whole move thing is said and done, but for now, I will enjoy putting my "badass writer" hat on for a week.

I will definitely fill you in how it went, that's for sure!

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Better late than never....

In my excitement for setting up a new blog and the feverish blogging during the A-Z Challenge, I completely forgot to say "thank you" to Deirdra with A Storybook World for giving me a Powerful Woman Writer award!

 

So, THANK YOU!  I appreciate it, especially as a new blogger.

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crappy timing and learning...

Whoops.  I guess the Friday before Memorial Day weekend was the worst time ever to make a new post.  Frankly, I understand.  I'd rather be on the beach or out with the family than stuck at the computer reading blogs, too.  Ironically, I was going to schedule it for this past Monday, but that would probably have been just as bad.  I'll blame that terrible decision on the reverse jet lag from my trip.  Go read it if you have a chance, then come back here.  Don't worry, I'll wait.

I just got back from visiting my husband in Albuquerque (he's out there for training...less than two months to go, hopefully!), and I figured that the long weekend would be perfect for a visit.  What a great city!  And the dry heat...yeah.  I could get used to that.

Anyway, I'm back in the armpit that is Arkansas (feels like 95 degrees out, with 60% humidity and climbing).  "Real life" has kept me busy lately, posing things to consider like, "To rent out our house or not rent out our house, that is the question," and, "When is a good time to have the movers come and essentially make me homeless?"

So, it was a welcome distraction to find this little gem on Twitter today.  The timing was apt, because, as I've mentioned, I'm going to the RWA 2011 conference in New York City at the end of the month, and I'd love to be able to (nicely) corner an agent without making them fear for their life.  I'm a visual learner, too, so watching this video helped me a lot.


Yeah, some of the skits are exaggerated, but that's the idea.  I can easily see myself spewing word vomit all over some poor, trapped agent or editor, so methinks I need to step up my game.

I will be ready, I will be ready...

Thoughts on elevator pitches?  Have you had to use one?  How did it go?  If not, do you have one ready, just in case?

xoxo Sarah

Friday, May 27, 2011

WAHOO! A couple of hurdles down...

My new BFF.
Okay, I know I've been MIA, but I've had good reason.  We've (really, I've) been busy trying to sell our house (no takers yet...) and have spent my valuable free time making nice with my vacuum and Swiffer rather than blogging.  Believe me, I'd rather be blogging...cleaning is waaaay down on my list of ways I'd like to kill a few hours.

In an effort to get my act together before the RWA 2011 conference at the end of June in New York City, I've been hacking away at my writing-related "To Do" list, which included bullet points such as, "make website," and "make a Facebook author fan page".  Both of these were enough to give me hives (not really, only in the figurative sense...I remain itch-free), because I, (1), have no experience building anything web-related besides this blog, which still took me about 6 solid hours and an awful lot of loud expletives to set up in the first place, and (2) while I am not hesitant about promoting my own stories and work and have even fewer qualms about promoting other people's, I always feel weird when I'm pushing myself.  Even worse was the designation "fan page," which made me feel kind of fake, especially since I don't have anything published yet.  But, not one to turn down something to make inviting people to check out my page easier, I invited my whole FB friend list, but still felt it was like, "Hey, "LIKE" my page, even though you have no idea if I'm good at what I do!"   I mean, I'm assuming I am...I've had good feedback so far on my works in progress, but it still felt awkward.  This is something I'll definitely have to get over if I'm ever going to successfully promote both myself and my work.

So, here goes.  *Warning! Brief Shameless Self-Promotion Ahead!*

Check out my Facebook author page here, on which I will try my best to interact with you all and post updates, teasers (when I have more written), and links to these blog posts for your enjoyment.  Please click "Like" once you get on the page.  My fragile self-esteem depends on it.

Also, I did manage to make a website.  It actually came out pretty good, but it still says it's under construction because, let's face it, I probably forgot something major on there and will catch it in the next week or so.  But all the links on the left work and go somewhere, so check it out and kindly leave me some feedback on it here or on Twitter if you get a chance.

Aaaaaand for good measure, follow me on Twitter! Follow Sarah_Allan on Twitter

***End Shameless Self-Promotion***

Okay,  moving on.  One more hurdle I've jumped recently (since my last blog post, anyway) is that I crossed the 10,000 word-count mark on my novella, The Curse!  While the number itself isn't really significant and I still have at least another 10,000 words to go if the story gives me that much, just moving into the realm of five digits makes me feel better psychologically, like, "I can do this!"  When I tipped over that word count, I felt like dancing like Sue and Mr. Shue.

Well, that's about it for today.  Time to get some quality writing in.

As a side note to my American readers, please take time to enjoy your family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, but also remember the men and women in uniform who served bravely and are no longer with us.

xoxo Sarah

Monday, May 9, 2011

Titles and Such...

What's this?  A post?  Yes!  I have returned.  Sorry for my absence, even though it was only about a week.  I needed a sanity break to get myself back together after the A-Z Challenge, and I also wanted to take some time to get back into the mind of Jack, my protagonist in The Curse.  Want to know a little more?  Click above on "Novellas and Short Stories."  I'll add more in the future.  Our home is also on the market, as if I needed MORE stress.

Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk about.  Just so you know, I'll probably post something on this again when I actually have something ready to publish, but a little Amazon link recently found its way over to me on Facebook, and I couldn't stop smiling when I read the title.

Go the F**k to Sleep.


Yes, this is real.  Click on the title above for the link to the awesomeness.

A friend posted a link to this not-yet published "children's" book (I use the term very, very loosely, because it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that it's meant for the parents, not the kid) that's available for pre-order.  And, even though I don't have kids, just based on the title alone, I may be tempted to buy it.

What makes the title good?  Well, it's unexpected, for one. No one expects profanity in a "children's" book, much less the "F" word.  It also plays on the mildly taboo factor that, *gasp*, child-rearing isn't all bunnies, unicorns, rainbows and feetie pajamas.  No, sometimes parents want to have some time to themselves, and all they want is for their kid to, well, you know...this.  Just based on the title, I want to know more.  What the hell did this guy even write about?  Are the tigers on the cover going to wake up and eat the kid for breakfast?  Just from looking at the cover, I'm all kinds of curious.


Oh, and I tweeted the link out on Twitter late last week, and everyone who commented loved the title.  One writer even tweeted back that she (I'm paraphrasing), "Has said that title every single night for the past few years."  


My erotic novella is tentatively titled The Curse, but I have already resigned myself to the fact that it will likely be retitled if accepted for publication somewhere, likely by someone who knows better what will help the book sell, and hopefully to be given an awesome title like this one.  And what I mean by that is one that will grab your attention and make you want to buy the book, sight unseen (or pages unflipped.)  

Thoughts on titles? The book? Life in general? Want to buy a house?  Tell me!

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Z" is for Zenith

Yay, I did it!  This is the last day of the A-Z Challenge.  The culmination: the zenith, if you will.

I actually had most of the letters planned out before I started the A-Z Challenge, but most of them changed in the process, and always for the better.  Some of the topics I'd originally planned were downright boring to be honest.  But, Z was always blank.  I wasn't sure what to do for the last letter.  I mean, I like zebras, but not enough to write a whole blog post on them.

So, zenith it is.  The end of this wonderful madness.  I've had a great time doing this challenge.  I've met so many wonderful people, both through them coming to check out this newbie's blog and through working my way through the master list and reading theirs.

And the comments.  The comments.  My favorite part.  I loved going through each post and reading every single one, and every time I got am email notification that there was a new one I got excited.  What was most fascinating was reading people's differing opinions.  The number of points of view or thoughts on something was astounding, and it always made me think every time someone brought up a point that hadn't occurred to me.  I always tried to leave a comment if I checked out someone's blog as well, especially since I was so new to the blogging game, and I know that if they felt anything like I did when getting new comments, it was appreciated.

Reading other people's posts was also a lot of fun.  I read posts based on 80's television shows, movies, bits of written flash-fiction and poetry, books, food, and many, many others.  People were much more creative than I thought when it came to coming up with topics.

I hope that there's another A-Z Challenge next year, because this one was a blast.

How about you? What was your favorite part of the challenge?

xoxo Sarah

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Y" is for Yes

Yes.

This second-to-last post for the A-Z Challenge is a little convoluted, but bear with me.  I have a stormy relationship with this word, and it's partner, No. 

Yes is something we like to hear.  We like it when people agree with us, and when they will do things for us.  It can make us feel good.

"Yes, we loved your novella and would like to offer you a contract."

"Yes, I can give you a ride because your car is in the shop."

"Yes, I will marry you."

You get the idea.

Yes is also a word that we dread hearing.

"Yes, I lost my job."

"Yes, our accounts are overdrawn."

No one likes to hear bad news, even with a yes attached, because in this case, the yes confirms something we don't want to hear.

Saying yes a lot can also feel good.  If you say yes a lot, you're someone people can count on to be there for them.  You're someone who can be depended on.  You're also someone to be taken advantage of, or someone who's a kiss ass. The trick, as I've learned, or, more accurately, am learning, is to strike a happy medium.  Sure, go ahead and agree to do things.  It's neighborly, and helpful, even to yourself.

"Yes, I can finish this manuscript."


"Yes, I will watch your cat."

"Yes, I would like that delicious dessert you brought over, thank you."

"Yes, I can be here between noon and four."  

"Yes, I can bring you to the airport at some ungodly hour."

But, be careful not to yes too much.  When you say yes, you need to put yourself first.  This is something I'm working on, as well as saying yes to more things that I would have initially shot down for whatever reason.  Maybe it's a fear of trying new things, I don't know.  But I'm going to try to say it more for things I wouldn't have in the past.  But not bungee jumping.  I draw the line there.  Piggy-backing that, I'm also going to say no more.  I will say no more often when I would have yes, which goes along with the putting myself first thing.  

In short, I will no more when I would have yessed,  and yes more when I would have noed.  And I will be happier for it.  

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"X" is for Xhaustion

I'm taking a little literary license with the letter for today for a variety of reasons: there aren't many words that begin with X, and I didn't want to waste an entry on how I've had dental x-rays done on schedule since I've had teeth; also, I'm a writer and can strategically manipulate the English language any way I damn well please.

As a new blogger, I've found the A-Z Blogging Challenge to be life-changing.  Well, blog-wise, at least.  I've made so many new friends and checked out the blogs of some amazing people, including other writers like me.  I've had some great comments on my own posts and honed my craft by writing these miniature subject essays every day.  

But, I'm xhausted.  There's no possible way I will be able to keep up this daily posting schedule after the challenge is over.  Being so new to the blogging world, I didn't have an established pattern of "I post on X day" and "I read other blogs and comment on Y day" or anything like that, so it's been tough to work in both with the challenge.  I often ended up floundering around, either not reading any blogs or commenting for a few days, or reading waaaay too many all at once.  This is something I will have to figure out as I go along with this blog.  What day do I want to post on?  I'll obviously want to read the blogs I follow and comment on them, so when will I squeeze that in?  I'll need to balance all this with my original work, which, as enjoyable as the challenge has been, has suffered.  Quite frankly, I didn't feel like writing more stuff when I'd just cranked out a blog entry or three.  

So, my question is this:  for you established bloggers out there, what do you do?  Do you have a specific day you post on?  What's a good day?  How about for reading other blogs and comments?  Please share!

p.s. Kindly follow if you're enjoying my blog! I'd love to get to 100 followers by the end of the challenge, and I try my best to check out the blogs of my commenters/followers and follow back. Thank you!  

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bonus post! This rant brought to you by the letter "E"

Okay, not to go all Ranty McRantypants on you, but one thing (okay, a few things, really) that sets me off is bullying.  This is for a variety of reasons that I'm not going into, but here's what's up.

You all probably remember that my "E" entry was for "Erotica," right?  If you haven't read it, click here.  Okay, so you know writing smexy stories isn't anything to be ashamed of, but apparently, normal people aren't supposed to do that, or they get crucified in the media.

Here's the article: http://snydercounty.wnep.com/news/news/parents-english-teacher-writes-racy-novels/58743

In a nutshell, Judy Buranich has been a high school English teacher for 25 years in Pennsylvania.  She's also an author of erotic romance (again, read my "E" entry) with Ellora's Cave under the name Judy Mays.  One of her students' parents "somehow" came across her on the internet, and "outed" her to the community, calling what she does "disgusting."  This seasoned educator, who, by the way, is even called a "good teacher" in the article, could be in danger of losing her job for something that is no one's business but her own.

I am disgusted that they're even calling this news.  For one, what Judy does in her off hours and own time is her business.  She's not hurting anyone, and her ability to teach her students is unaffected.  So, where's the issue?  Are teachers supposed to be held to the ideal that they live at the school, live for their jobs, are chaste and virginal and don't have lives?  Apparently so.  It's not like she was teaching from her novels, or cranking out sex scenes on her laptop while her students were writing essays on The Scarlet Letter.  It's obvious she wanted to keep her writing separate from her school teaching, because she used a pseudonym.  Guess there's no need for that anymore.

But what I truly find "disgusting," to use the naive Ms. Apple's word, is that she and these other people have started a witch hunt and targeted a productive, well-liked member of their community.  Where I come from, that's called "bullying."  Clearly Apple and Co. want this woman out of their school system for whatever reason.  And if Ms. Apple thinks this is her 15 year old son's (I'm guessing on his age...Judy teaches 10th grade) first exposure to sex, she really needs a wake-up call.  I highly doubt he believes the stork story anymore, lady, and if he does, he's as delusional as you are.  You might want to start with, "When two people love each other very much..." and go from there.

Also, turn this around a bit.  Picture this same scenario, only the teacher is man, and he writes horror novels.  I have a feeling this news story would have been a "spotlight on a local author who also teaches at our high school" instead.  And that's sad.  

Now for what is good about the situation.  One, most of the comments in the comment section of the news article are in favor of Judy, as are the comments on WNEP 16s Facbook page.  Many comments point out common sense things that should have occurred to the people writing this drivel in the first place. Feel free to "like" them (more of a "dislike" for me, really, but there is no button for that), and comment as well.


Without good English teachers, you get shitty signs like this.
I've also heard that Judy's book sales have picked up, which is awesome, because she (possibly) might be out of a job she's had and loved for 25 years thanks to some nosy, naive busybodies.  And that's the nicest possible thing I could have called them.

If you're interested, here's the link to Judy Mays' author page.  Go buy her books and celebrate the written word, whatever its form.  http://www.jasminejade.com/m-114-judy-mays.aspx

Thoughts?

**Little extra note: I just discovered that WNEP actually DELETED all of the comments, which were mainly in support of Judy.  Interesting... **

Now, back to your regularly scheduled A-Z programming.

xoxo Sarah

"W" is for Words With Friends

Seriously?  She's writing an A-Z challenge entry about an iPhone/Android app?

Yep.

Bear with me.

Words With Friends.  After watching people tweet for the past month or so and keep mentioning this app, I had to see what it was.  From what I could gather, it was basically Scrabble, but you could play with anyone online.  I was right; you can even link the game to your Facebook profile and find friends to play with that way, too.

As a kid, I really enjoyed playing Scrabble.  Everything about it was awesome for someone who loved to read and write: I could show off my impressive vocabulary, expand said vocabulary, and even show up the adults around me.  

I think the only thing I hated was how the tiles would always be off-center whenever anyone bumped the board, setting off the OCD anal retentiveness in me that insisted that I played better when they were lined up.  This unfortunate aspect of playing was corrected in later versions of the game where the board had a grid-like pattern of ridges on it to hold the tiles in place.

Obviously you don't have to worry about your tiles being knocked all over the place with Words With Friends, but all the positives apply. As a writer, it's fun to see what you can make from the random letters you're given.  Will it be a simple word?  Something no one knows the meaning of?  For the record, the game doesn't accept proper nouns or gibberish words, and will tell you it's not valid if you try.  Strategy, too.  Will you try for more points using a small word to hit that triple word score, or use up more letters to get new ones on a longer one?

I love the connection aspect of it.  You can play with people you haven't seen in forever, or who don't live anywhere near you.  I have four games going on now, including one with a lovely writer friend who lives in Australia.  How amazing is that?  My husband compared it to when people used to play chess over the mail, sending their moves to each other.  I think that's an apt comparison, especially if you only check the game once or twice a day.

Do you play Words With Friends or Scrabble?  What are your favorite parts?

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"V" is for Verbosity

Ah, verbosity.  

A situation in which a writer, or author, if you will, expresses himself or herself in such a way that there may be a profound number of thoughts and representations throughout his or her work, and though it may be deemed eloquent, it may also, in some instances, but not all, be determined by some readers, but, as I mentioned, not all, to be distracting.

Did I lose you?  Sorry about that.  I think I gave myself a brain cramp.

Verbosity, in case you couldn't tell, refers to speech or writing with an excess of words.

It's true that, as a writer, word count is something that I am concerned with.  Each type of work, such as a novel or novella, has a word range that's more or less a sweet spot to strive for.  I need to reach these word counts, or at least the minimum required, to feel secure that the story will stand a good chance of being published in the category I meant for it to be published in.  After that, if it's above the word count, I don't mind.  To me, it's not a big deal, because some content will undoubtedly be cut in the editing process to streamline the story.  Some might be added, as well.

Basically, as long as I'm in the ballpark for a whatever type of work I'm doing, the story will be as long as it needs to be.  I'm not going to deliberately add words just to make something longer.  I guess, because of this, I'm not particularly verbose.  I like to add lots of detail and describe, but if I find myself getting lost in it, either when I'm actually writing it or when I'm reading it over later on, I'll cut it down.  I don't want my readers to get distracted or lost in a description, either.  I want to strike a happy medium so that I both reach my word count goals and have a descriptive piece, but not to be so wordy that I make poor Shelley fall asleep on her keyboard. 

I'm sure we've all read work by verbose authors.  Jane Austen comes to mind, as does Dickens, and even Tolkien.  They're all descriptive writers, but I think it's how they do it that makes or breaks their books.  I can't even get through a few pages of Austen's books without falling asleep, while Tolkien makes me hang on every word, envisioning Rivendell and Mordor in great detail.  Dickens is somewhere in between - he loses me, but then I get sucked back into the story.

How about you?  Do you tend more toward the wordy end of things?  Or are you a short and sweet writer?  Readers, which do you prefer to read?

xoxo Sarah


Monday, April 25, 2011

"U" is for Urban Dictionary

Ever walk by a group of teenagers (or anybody, really) and hear words that sound like English, but you know can't be, leaving you to wonder, "What the hell are they even talking about?  And get off my lawn, damn kids!"

Or ever hear someone use common words in a totally new and unusual way, making their original meaning irrelevant? Or hearing someone use an acronym and wondering if repeating it in front of your boss will get you fired or a promotion?

Yeah, it happens to all of us.

Enter Urban Dictionary, the every-person's personal Rosetta Stone for slang.  Just type in the word you're curious about (providing you know how to spell it, and have nerves of steel to find out what it actually means), and search.

Take nom for instance.  You might have heard someone say they were going to get noms or that they were in the middle of nomming when someone called them.  Curious, you'd just search, and find out that nom is an expression of eating, and derived from "om nom nom."  I use this word a lot myself.  I say that the cat was nomming on my shoelaces, or that something smells like delicious noms, or seems nommable.  There's even a little green monster in an app game for iPhone/Android who is named Om Nom.  The point of the game (which is called Cut the Rope) is that you feed Om Nom candy.  Makes sense, now that you know what nom means.

Since 1999 (so says their website), Urban Dictionary has helped millions define the world around them.  As a writer, I find the site to be fascinating.  I love learning new words, and you never know when using one might come in handy.  I strive to make my dialogue realistic when I write it, and for that, I often have to look things up.  Working with how real people speak adds realism to your stories and connects with your audience.

Any thoughts on Urban Dictionary?  Are you a fan?

xoxo Sarah