Monday, February 27, 2012

The Evil Genius Blogfest

The Golden Eagle over at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective is hosting "The Evil Genius Blogfest" in honor of her second blog anniversary!  The rules are simple: create a story,or non-fiction piece, in any format about an evil genius. It can be an already existing person from history or literature or you could, as I have done, create your own.  The entry should be 400 words or less.  Mine is exactly 300 words! :)

Sounds like fun!  I thought I would try it out!  I decided to write about my evil villain - Everett Schnitker from my novel, "To Love Without Hope".  This is just a little snapshot of his beginning as a creepy evil genius.  Hope you like it!


The face of the tormented young man, forever captured in black and white, stared up from the first page of the scrapbook.  His eyes were fixed on the unseen photographer and they were wide with fear.  His hands were chained, hanging from a cement wall, and there was a dark trail of liquid down his face from an open wound.   Words were scrawled beneath the photo in an uneven handwriting.

Peter
June 15, 1972
June 18, 1972

Everett flipped to a clean page, holding the new photograph in his shaking hands.  He dabbed the glue on the fresh page, pressing down the picture and being careful not to leave smudgy fingerprints that would ruin it.  Black and white photos were best, but he could change.  The boy’s eyes were bright blue, staring back at him.  He had fought harder than Peter and his face was bruised.  Imperfect, but it would heal.  Blood was in his brown hair and it was messy.  Maybe this one would be more appreciative and a better companion.  Everett quickly wrote a name beneath the picture.

Ryan
October 1, 1972

He had stalked the boy for two weeks, watching him walk to school, getting dressed through his bedroom window, and talking to his mother on the front porch.  Always yelling.  This would be better for him.  Taking him from his family meant nothing.  Easy.  Everett smiled to himself, brushing the greasy hair from falling in his eyes.

“This one will be better.  I will not be forced to kill him as long as he obeys,” he whispered, caressing the picture.

So many empty pages… Everett closed the scrapbook as he listened to the sound of Ryan’s screams, echoing up the basement stairs.  Time to begin again.  He wouldn’t give up until he found the perfect companion. 

Creepy, right?  He has me locking my door at night.  Go check out some of the other entries and be sure to vote! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Author Bio / I am not a Robot

Since I am going to start querying agents again soon, I decided to work on my author bio for submissions.  Some agents require an author bio or resume to be included with a submission.  I did a little search and discovered Rachelle Gardner's post on "How to Write a Terrific Author Bio" and decided to give it a try.


Krista McLaughlin graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services, and a minor in English.  She was born and raised in the Midwest with her nose stuck in a book and her hand smeared in pencil lead.  When Krista is not serving copious amounts of coffee, she is writing, blogging, or cross-stitching.  Krista writes young adult Christian fiction; stories that generally have a strong emotional subject and dabbles in fantasy.  She currently resides in Iowa with her stuffed puppy, Porthos. 

Her full bibliography is available on her website:  www.thejellybeansofwriting.blogspot.com.


What do you think?  Is the last line a little much?  I've noticed that a lot of bios say where the author lives and that they live with their husband (or wife), kids, and random pet.  I have none of those... so I thought I would add a little humor to the end. Does it work?  I would love your input! :)

AND...

I need to put in my two cents here.  I am NOT a robot and the new Blogger verification is very annoying if you still have it on your blog.  I love to leave comments, but I do not like interpreting the words.  It always takes me two tries to get it and it is frustrating.  Blogger is very good about catching spam, so you should join us and turn it off!  Go to settings, comments, and scroll down to turn verification off.  You won't regret it. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And.... CUT!

The Second Round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was announced today and I have to say that I didn't make it.  My pitch was cut.  Last year I made it through to the second round with the same book, but a different pitch.  Maybe that pitch was better or there are better pitches this year.  Either way, my journey towards winning is over. 

At least I know that 4,000 other people are feeling disappointed like me.  Only 1,000 moved on and only 1 of them will win.  4,999 people will be disappointed. 

I won't deny that I'm disappointed in myself and feel that I wasn't good enough.  Three years of this and I've been cut at the first round (twice) and at the second round (once).  I can say that I've tried and that makes me proud, but it still makes me a little sad.  It was a good opportunity, but not the one that God wanted me to have.  I'll keep trying.

Now I have to decide if I want to keep querying this book or self-publish...

Good luck to anyone that is still in!

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Campaign Challenge

It's time for the First Campaign Challenge of the 4th campaign!  The challenge is:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!

Here is my entry:

No Escape

Shadows crept across the wall, blurring as they moved quickly.  Screaming.  Aaron pulled his knees to his chest, and attempted to block out the sounds of his mother’s screams.  Desperate, pleading.  He clutched the little orange bear to his chest as tears trickled down his cheeks.  A sob threatened to escape from his lips as his mother’s screams ceased.  She was gone. 

“Find him!” the Guard yelled into the cold night.  “He will not escape.”

Rocking back and forth in his hiding place, Aaron waited all night.  The rusted smell of blood reached his nose and his veins heated with anger, but he stayed.  A pale sun rose that morning; red as the blood that had been spilled in the night.  Aaron crept from his hiding place, stepping into his nightmare.  No surface was untouched by the crimson liquid or the scent of death.  His father, mother, and even his twin sister, Ariela.  Their eyes were vacant, forever staring at their own fate.  Aaron knelt down by Ariela, holding her cold hand in his.  A tear dropped onto her cheek as he brushed his lips across her forehead.

“I love you,” he whispered.

At five years old, Aaron was alone.


200 words exactly!  I decided to do a little background story for one of my minor characters in my WIP "Nameless".  If you liked it, please go vote for me here!  I am entry #38.  Thank you!

Hope you liked it! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I am From

Normally, I hate poetry, but I wanted to share something that I wrote during my sophomore year of college and I've added to it.  It was an assignment for one of my teaching classes and I loved it.

I am From


Yes, I am odd :)
I am from dust, spiritual dust and industrial gravel dust.
I am from a park with no toys, only small trailers with small children inside wire fences.
I am from flowers, which I would string through my hair, with my older sister on the hill behind our first real house.
I am from the third tree outside my elementary school that was my only friend for a year until I made three best friends.
I am from kissing boys behind trashcans and hearts doting my i's.
I am from a moving truck, during the first year of high school and the stubborn attitude that left me friendless for another year of my life.
I am from a group of friends that I love as my brothers and sisters.
I am from three separate rides on Disney dreams near the ocean touching the coast of Florida.
I am from the graveside of eight loved ones, six that went long before it was their time.
I am from a youth conference, a man who was a missionary, and a song that says "Take, take, take it all."
I am from black ink pens and white paper, which will tell my story and all the stories that roll around in my head.
I am from a loving family, unbeatable friends, and an all-powerful God.
I am from a tub of warm water, submerging me and rising me again like my Lord.
I am from two hands and feet nailed to a cross, a sacrifice and acceptance of forgiveness.

I will go to the ends of the earth to love an orphan in a penny-less world.
I will go to serve and give as much as my heart allows.
I will go as long as I can or until God calls me home.
I will never give up on my dreams and I will never back down.
I will go because of what I am from.

I am who I am and I’m happy being me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Job & Giveaway!

Hi all!  I have some exciting news!  After almost two months of searching, I finally have a new job and I start next week on Wednesday or Thursday.  I am going to be *drum roll* a BARISTA!

Coffee barista by day and a writer by night... it's a little cliche, but I'm excited all the same!  I can't wait to have income again, that will be quite nice.  Rent, food, and... just in time to Easter speckled jelly beans. :)

If you haven't be sure to comment on my entry from yesterday to be entered in my drawing for a $5 Amazon gift card in honor of having 100 followers!!  You guys are awesome!!

Make sure to leave a comment before midnight!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One Week Left

First, I want to thank all of you for the wonderful responses to my "Is It HOT in here? Blog Hop" and the romance scene that I posted!  I am overjoyed that you liked it. :)

It's an excerpt from my novel, "To Love Without Hope", which is currently entered in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and there's only one more week until I find out if my novel made it through the first round!  So hopefully, next Thursday I will be celebrating with my pitch and all of you.  But even if I don't make it, we can celebrate that I am going to start querying again.  I haven't done any querying since last July and I took a break to write "The Secret".  I really would like to get "To Love Without Hope" published this year, with an agent or at least self-published. :)

AND I now have over 100 followers!!  Thank you all!  I am overjoyed to have so many followers.  When I started this blog in 2009, I only had 2 followers and now I have 107!  As a reward to you, I am going to give one of my luck followers an Amazon gift card for $5!  If you would like to be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment below! Just make sure to comment before tomorrow at 11:59 pm.

Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is it getting HOT in here! Blog Hop

Happy Valentine's day!  Or if you prefer... Happy Single's Awareness Day!

I decided to join the "Is it Getting HOT in here?" Blog Hop, put on by Hope and Cassie Mae!  What a better way to celebrate Valentine's day than with a hot, steamy kiss scene?

I decided to choose a scene from my novel, "To Love Without Hope".  The scene takes place near the climax of the story (no pun intended); I'll give you a little background to understand it.  Jordan, Sophie, and Matt have been kidnapped and locked in a basement for two months.  Sophie and Matt were previously interested in each other before the kidnapping.  Jordan is another romantic interest for her.  This scene is where Jordan has fallen ill and their captor has decided to kill him.  Hope you like it!!


“I can’t do it,” I sobbed.  “I can’t let you go.”
“Sophie, you have to let me go… fighting him will only hurt you more.”
“Jordan, I can’t let you die!  I have to save you.”
He paused for a moment, looking into my eyes.  “You can’t keep this promise.  You’re just one person, trapped and unable to save yourself.  How can you save me?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something…. I’ll kill Everett before he can get to you!”
“You can’t do that.  It would destroy you.”
“And you don’t think that your death won’t hurt me?  Jordan, I… I love you.  It’s not that romantic love, but I love you as if you were the brother that I never had.  I can’t give you up to a murderer to be killed.”
“Sophie, I love you too.  You remind me so much of my sister.  I don’t want to let you go either, but I can’t keep fighting.  I feel like we’ve already had part of this conversation today.”
I nodded once, remembering our conversation before Everett came downstairs and ruined everything.  But that didn’t make it any easier.  Jordan took a few uneasy breaths and I watched a drop of sweat slide down his nose and fall to the floor.  I put my hand below his chin and leaned in close, feeling his warm breathe tickle my lips.  He opened his mouth to protest, but I quickly put a finger on his mouth.
“Please,” I whispered.
We needed each other right now.  I dropped my hand to my side and moved until my face was inches from his.  Jordan’s eyes closed.  I did the same as I leaned in and my lip brushed his bottom lip as I kissed him.  Within seconds, his hands were behind my back and my hands were in his hair.  I could feel the heat of his fever through his touch, but I didn’t pull back.  Neither did Jordan.  Our lips parted as we tried to catch our breath.  We rested our foreheads together, opening our eyes slowly.
“Is this wrong?” Jordan whispered.
“No…”
“But Matt…”
“He wouldn’t understand, but it’s okay…” I kissed him again, putting my hand on his cheek, ignoring the tears that fell from my eyes.  I had to give him this.
Jordan’s tears mixed with mine as we broke the kiss.  I didn’t think about what I had done.  It was my choice to kiss him and give him a part of my heart.  He pushed himself backwards as he began coughing, placing a hand on his ribs.  I comforted him until he was done and he rested back against the wall.  My heart was torn and breaking into pieces that I couldn’t put back together and I didn’t know how to mend them.  But at that moment, I didn’t care. 

Hope you liked it!  And have a great Valentine's day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eleven Questions

In the spirit of a successful day (getting my taxes filed and applying for another job), I have been tagged TWICE to answer 11 questions about myself.  Since there are so many new followers, I thought I would participate!


My first eleven questions come from Avery Marsh:
1. Who was your favorite author when you were a child?
Roald Dahl - who wrote "The BFG"
2. If you could put yourself in any book, what would it be?
Easy question!  I would put myself in "The Lord of the Rings" and I would be a lovely elf!  I've always wanted pointy ears and to wear such beautiful clothing. 
3. What is the best writing advice you ever read/received?
Never give up writing what you dream about.
4. If you were a prescription drug, what would your list of side effects include?
Laughter, tickling, optimism and lots of day dreams.
5. Name an interesting trait you've given one of your characters.
 Well, I'm not sure if this counts as an interesting trait, but I created a character that is beautiful and smart, but she works as a pole dancer with very low self-esteem
6. Edit as you go or edit by the draft?
Edit by the draft - each novel that I have written was first finished before I even began to edit
7. If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?
Wherever Dreams May Go
8. Introduce us to one of your villains.
Everett Snitcker - a man with wild eyes, an obsession with even numbers, long hair that covers his face, never wears shoes, and a tendency to kidnap young men, he kills without thought and has to be in control- Honestly, he creeps me out
9. How many novels have you written?
4 - "Falling Star", "Down in the Creek", "To Love without Hope", "The Secret" and my current one "Nameless" -- you can find a description of them under the "Novels" tab above
10. What is your favorite writing related website?
Fanfiction.net - lame, but I love getting a little writing practice with some of my favorite characters!
11. What other secret talents do you have?
It wouldn't be a secret if I told you, but I scream without opening my mouth (very loudly)... :) 
 
 
My next eleven questions are from Julia King:
1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
Having a grass war with my siblings and getting rashes because we didn’t know the grass had been chemically treated – not fun then, but funny now!
2. Who is your hero?
My dad
3. What is the first thing that pops into your mind right now?
Muppet Treasure Island… I’m watching it with my little brother and sister right now
4. What is your favorite food?
Spaghetti, yum!
5. If you were stuck in a "Groundhog Day" type experience, what crazy things would you do to shake up the day?
Umm… I have no clue
6. If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
I would be a kitten because they are so cute and let’s face it, cats own their people not the other way around
7. Why did you start writing?
My older sister used to leave chunks of stories around and I wanted to be just like her, so I started writing and I kept with it because I love writing!
8. Where is your favorite place to read?
My bed, flopped on my stomach – very comfortable!
9. What is your favorite book?
That is a tough question… but I would have to say “The Lord of the Rings”
10. What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween!  I love getting dressed up in costumes and decorating with spiders (though I hate real spiders) and I like handing out candy.
11. If you could go anywhere in the world (paid in full), where would it be?
New Zealand – it’s my dream place to travel!

I am no good at making up questions, so you are welcome to take one set of these questions and answer them on their own blog!  

Hope you had a good Monday! :) 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How a Book Should have Gone

I just found this and I had to share it with you guys.  It's hilarious!  Hope you had a good weekend!


I myself actually got some writing done, even if it was only a little under a 1,000 words - this is the most progress that I've made on my WIP in several months.  I had half of a post written about when it is okay to retire a book when I suddenly got inspired and managed to write a little.  Yay! 

Do you ever find that when you are about to give up - something happens?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Open Minds: A Review

This book is self-published by another of my blogging friends, Susan!  I had heard a lot of great things about her book, so I decided to give it a read! :)

Title: Open Minds (Book One of Mindjack Trilogy)
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Publisher: Kindle
Publication Date: November 1, 2011

Genre: Young Adult - Science Fiction

Plot: First, here is the summary of "Open Minds" from Amazon -When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.  Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

My first impressions of the book were the fact that I couldn't put it down!  The main character, Kira just leaps off the page and the reader is drawn into her story.  It has such an interesting premise about not being able to read minds being seen as a defect.  I started the book last night and woke up early this morning to finish it.  It's a fast paced story and the plot kept twisting.  Just as I thought I could guess what was going to happen next, nope - something unexpected happened!  I have a strong interest in WWII and the references towards a similar thing happening with the mindjackers (I won't spoil it) was very captivating!

Romantic Element:  The love triangle between the forbidden love of Kira and Raf, and the dangerous affection towards Simon was interesting, but I didn't really buy it at times.  Granted it is supposed to be a young romantic relationship, but it was a little hard to believe that Kira had a strong interest in either of them.  She seemed more independent and not "boy crazy" as girls are at this age.  It was a big part of the story, but the story was more plot driven than love driven.

Overall:  In my opinion, this is definitely a wonderful book!  Full of excitement, danger, plot twists, crazy FBI agents, evil clans, and a little bit of love - it's a story about growing up in a different world.  It is the first in the trilogy and I'm very much excited for the next one to come out this year.  I would recommend it to anyone! :)


Now, I am off to hopefully get some writing done today!  *crosses fingers*  Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Creative Tuesday #5

Each week on Tuesday, I post a creative writing prompt and my response to it.  The best way to get better at writing is to practice.  It gives me a chance to write a little flash fiction and spend some time writing outside of my WIP. :)  You are welcome to do the same and post your response in the comments!

Creative Prompt #60
Write about the biggest lie you've ever told.

I was six years old and it has just been the first ice storm of the year.  The ground was slick with black-ice.  My sister, Stephanie, who was eight at the time, and I went outside to play.  We wanted to play with our Fisher Price roller skates, but Mom told us "No way".  We took the sidewalk chalk out of the bushes where we'd hidden it and colored for a few minutes, but we really wanted to try those skates.  Stephanie made me go first and it would be just like ice skating. 

Let's just say that it didn't.  I fell down.  Stephanie convinced me that we couldn't tell Mom or I would get in trouble, though in retrospect it was her idea.  We told Mom that I fell on the ice doing sidewalk chalk, but I hid my arm from her.  I hid my arm from my mom for two days before she finally took me to the doctor and we found out that I broke my wrist.

15 years passed... Stephanie and I were telling the story to a friend while my mom was listening.  She finally found out that I hadn't been ice skating!  We laughed so hard.  That was the longest lie we ever kept.  But next time, Stephanie gets to have the broken arm, not me.

Did you ever tell any good lies as a kid?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fourth Writer's Platform-Building Campaign

Rachael Harris is again, hosting another writer's platform-building campaign and I thought that I would join again this year!  I gained some wonderful new followers and had a great experience! 

When trying to become an author, having a platform is very important!  It's also great to find out what you have a community of writers that are experiencing the same rejections and can teach you new things about writing or just life in general.  They also celebrate your triumphs with you or give an encouraging word. 

You should definitely check it out! 

There are fun little challenges, only two since this is a min-campaign, and you have a chance to win some great prizes!

Hope to see you there! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why do this crazy thing?

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest is now closed and all the entries are locked... 10,000 entries and only 2,000 will move on to the next round, which will be revealed on Thursday, February 23rd.

Why do I do this crazy thing? 

My novel is in the Young Adult Fiction category, so I have only do to better than 4,999 novels.  I only have a 0.02% chance of winning.  I couldn't even get an OWI (operating while intoxicated) in Iowa with that percentage... I'd need a 0.08% blood alcohol level. (Not that I would ever want an OWI.  It was just an example.)

4,000 novels will be cut from the first round in the YA category, based on the 300 word pitch.  If you do the math, the pitches total up to 1,500,000 words.  That's a lot of words!  But - 1,200,000 of those words will be tossed out!  The remaining 1,000 novels will then be judged on the 5,000 excerpt, which totals 5,000,000 words to be read!  But 3,750,000 words won't move on.  THEN -- those 250 novels (with an average of 75,000 words per book) will amount to over 18 million words!!  Eventually, it comes down to one person and one novel.  Gah, my head is spinning with those numbers!

Why?  Why would you even try Krista?

Dr. Daniel Jackson... yum!
Because someone has to win.  Even though I may have a greater chance of marrying a doctor, swimming with dolphins, and going horse-back riding naked with Michael Shanks (Doctor Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG1)... well, maybe not that last one... I still wanna try!

Writing and publishing is not without risk of rejection.  Writers... have to be a little crazy by nature to try this crazy thing called traditionally publishing.  I may not be good enough, but I love trying!

"Life is a journey, not a destination."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why do you try to be a writer?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Novels I wish I had written...

A Friday prompt from over at Paper Hangover - What are FIVE novels you wish that you had written?

1.  "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien - His story is simply amazing and wow, parts of it are complex!  He has such beautiful descriptions and powerful scenes that have touched my heart.  I only wish that I could write fantasy as wonderful as his!







2.  "The Giver" by Lois Lowry - It might not be many people's choice, but I absolutely loved the story.  A society where they don't have the memories of pain or color or love.  I remember reading this story in elementary school and I couldn't put the book down!  I finished after two days.  It's such a unique story about what our world could become.  Jonas is a great character and I love that he saves the little baby in the end.





3.  "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee - Amazing!  Scout is such an adorable and curious little girl!  We read this story in ninth grade and I finished before everyone else.  The title of the story is perfect.  I wish I could think of a title so clever.  I love how the author incorporated that conversation with Scout and her father.  I actually wanted to have a daughter and name her Scout. 






4.  "The BFG" by Roald Dahl - One of my favorite childhood books about a little orphan named Sophie that meets the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and they have a great adventure!  My teacher read me this book in second grade and I've loved it ever since.  My copy of the book is actually quite worn out.







5.  "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks - No, not the movie with Miley Cyrus, because that focused way too much on the romance and not the relationship between a rebellious teen and her dying father.  I can't tell you how many times I cried while reading this book.  It was such an emotional journey for Ronnie and her father.  I can only hope that I can write such an emotional story someday!  If you haven't read this one, I really suggest that you do.  It's my favorite Nicholas Sparks' book.






What are five books that you wish you had written?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Goals

Goals for February

* Write to 10,000 words on my WIP - "Nameless" 
 (I admit that I haven't worked on this since December and I've had plenty of time to write... I just haven't been motivated to do it.  Admittedly, I have no really felt like writing for several weeks.  I've been a little depressed and though I'm still not feeling my best, I really need to get back to writing.  It makes me feel better.)

* Find a job!

* Read "Open Minds" by Susan Kaye Quinn  (Really excited about this one, I've heard a lot of great things about her book!)

* Hear back about "To Love Without Hope" pitch in ABNA (February 23, 2012)


Not a lot of goals, but I think this is a good amount to start with.  It is a shorter month, though it's a leap year! 

How are your goals going?