Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy New Year

I hope everyone has great plans for the upcoming year.
Regretfully, it will be a struggle to get the book done by January. Although it's complete I've had some revelations about the rewriting. I don't plan to change plot but would like the words to flow better.
I got the idea from Justin Cronin's The Passage. I like his writing. I'm on Chapter 8 of the book and it drags a bit because it's laden with scene setup and lots of description but he makes the words flow. I'm finding the book a little perplexing right now but I admire the writing.

I'm also a bit tied down with family crisis. My father is in the hospital and I'm finding it very distracting. I have already travelled to Toronto once and might go again in the next few days. I will get this book finished and published over the next month or so. I'm setting a goal and I'll make it work. It's just going to be a struggle. I guess I'll have to start treating it like half-marathon training and reserve several nights a week to rewriting.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great holidays. I plan to perk up when I can.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I've got to change the title of my book. Virus just doesn't do it for me.
It makes me think of a Michael Crichton book. My book is not about the science of the virus nor about it as a medical device. It's more about what it does, who released it and why.
The virus is just a device to get me where I want to be.
I have never liked Virus as a title and always leaned toward other more accurate phrases like Polluted Blood. That title brings to mind a medical Stephen King, which the story isn't either.
There is nothing medical in the book. In fact there isn't a doctor to be found.
Its' a story of survival, friendship, family. The series is to be called Remakables.
Need title ideas.....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book release delayed

Unfortunately, I haven't had the time or enough sleep to finish the edits yet. Soon. I've had a rough two weeks and took time off when I did have some free moments.
I gotta have a life, otherwise I'd be a zombie. I don't know how others do it. It's so time consuming to write the book, take care of my daughter, occasionally exercise, cook meals, periodically talk to my husband and go to work every day.
I have no life outside of those few tasks. Sometimes I think that's just not much of a life.
Except, every day I get book ideas. I get excited about the stories I want to write. It's a compulsion. I can't wait for others to read the stories and be entertained.
How sick is that?
My hope now is for the book to be done by the end of December. A mid-January release is now in the works.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting a Vampire Diaries surprise

I have been super sick for the past week requiring time off work, lots of time in bed, sipping tea and watching three seasons of the Vampire Diaries.

I was never tempted to watch the show. I read one of the L.J. Smith books and thought it was horrible. The Elena character was very unsympathetic and I did not follow the series.

I watched my first episode a week or two ago and was surprised at how good the show was. I chalk that up to Kevin Williamson's involvement. The book series gave them the idea and since I never read past the first book, I'm not sure how much the books have influenced the  television show.

I figure it's probably like True Blood. The television writers draw the characters from the books but don't follow the book plots too closely.

Anyway, I was happily impressed. It's probably not a good idea to watch 60 episodes in a week because after a while the story lines blend into each other and it seems that every other minute Elena is being kidnapped and Jeremy and Alaric are getting killed and coming back to life.

I hate to say this but I'm glad Klaus is still alive. He's the love to hate character. You love the evil thrills he provides but don't like him because he's evil.

I also like him because his negatives allowed Damon to humanize and he's a much more enjoyable character as a good/bad guy rather than just bad.

I did not enjoy Stefan's return to being the Ripper. It was just too gory for me and made it hard for me to see him as the gentle, bunny-blood loving soul as he started out. As a plot device, separating Elena and Stefan for almost an entire season gave the writers the opportunity to explore the Elena/Damon connection.

It's funny how movies and television can grow from pretty bad books. Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books aren't all bad but some of them are very poorly plotted and organized and have utterly silly stories that never made it to screen.

It's probably easier to come up with clever plot points with a team of writers. I did notice that Williamson and co-creator Julie Plec together wrote a slew of the scripts in season one. It was only in the later part of the season and into season two and three that other writers have appeared.

Then again, the stories in season two and three were more sophisticated and had more complex plots. At one point every episode ended on a cliff hanger (ala J.J. Abrams in Alias) and every attempt to isolate and kill Klaus was defeated.

This show has very good writing.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Great news. I have about 10 pages left to edit. Then I have to make the changes and do some more rewriting.
I'm on track for a late November publishing if I can get this draft finished in the next week, which should be possible. I have to send it to my copy editor, make more changes and then it should be ready.
I'm not sure what kind of turnover I can get out of the copy editing. I'm hoping less than two weeks.
As I am nearing the end of editing, I have to say, I have surprised myself.
Remember, I wrote the bulk of the book a few years ago. I am surprised at some of the clever plot turns I have. I need to make note of some of the characters I've hinted that will play a future role in the second or third and last book. I introduced these people on the fly and must have had a future role intended for them that I have since forgotten.
Don't worry. I will be back on top of my game. It's just been hard carving out time for the book.
I am still trying to get in three to four hours of running a week. It's the only way to keep up my fitness level. I have my little girl and husband and frankly, I'm tired.
Some nights I just want to lie on the couch and flake out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Detroit half marathon recap: sad reading

Yesterday I ran the Detroit Free Press half-marathon. This was my first race since running a marathon in 2007. Sheesh. It’s been 5.5 years and that’s just embarrassing.






It’s not that I stopped running. I ran when I was four-months pregnant in 2009. I laced up my running shoes when my daughter was four weeks old. I was in better shape during my year-long maternity than now because I went back to my long commute and work. Until June, it was a struggle. I had gained weight and found it hard to run once or even twice a week. I hit bottom and then I set a goal.



At some point early this summer, I decided to run the half-marathon. I figured I had four months to train, more than enough time. And it was. I used a training schedule out of my issue of Runner's World that only required three days a week of running until a month before the race when I had to run four days a week.



But for whatever reason, this half-marathon was harder than the full marathon I ran in 2007. It was harder than the other two half marathons I've run. It's possible I didn't have the same amount of base running that I did in previous years. I was sick and unable to run for two of my 12 weeks of training.



I also feel like I messed up on race day. I ate breakfast at 9 a.m. Although my run started at 11 a.m. I had planned to eat a bowl of oatmeal in the car on the way to Detroit but instead split a granola bar with my daughter. I needed that food. I’ve never had a problem running within an hour of eating and I should have stuck with my original plan.



I wish I had seen this guy. It might have made me feel better if I had. Anyway, the biggest mistakes I made yesterday were not eating enough before the race, not bringing enough gels( I had two but needed three to four considering how energy depleted I was), obsessing over my time to the point where I nearly drove myself crazy. I found myself disappointed in my race performance so much so that I wasn’t having a good time.



There were high points; I really appreciated the wonderful residents in Indian Village who gave out beer and jelly beans and serenaded us.



Still, it wasn’t until there were three miles to go and I was completely out of gas that I admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to finish in the desired time. I had previously run two half marathons in 2:25.



It was like a switch getting turned off. That critical voice telling me I’d failed was shut down and I gave myself permission to relax. My goal then was just to finish the race. That’s when I looked around and smiled at people; the cops holding back cars, the other suffering runners. I started to appreciate the breeze from the Detroit River and the view from the waterfront east of GM headquarters.



I shortened my steps and was able to keep running comfortably without stopping. I even ran up that last hill, the one that is 500 feet from the finish line. The one that the event organizers put in just to torture the runners.



When I rounded the corner toward the finish line I saw my husband and three-year-old daughter. I gave my husband a hug and he whispered in my year, "finish strong."



And I thought, what? Do I have anything left? And I did. The announcer called my name after he said the name of someone else, someone who finished the marathon in six hours and 20 minutes. My only thought was, poor woman. She had to suffer for six hours and I only did 2:45.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jaded reader

I think I read too much.
Lately I've read so many books that I can't believe got published. The publishing industry is supposed to be in such turmoil and being even more selective about the titles it publishes. But it seems to have the time and space for drivel.

I've stopped reading several books that I can't bring myself to finish because they have lost my interest. I have not finished Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs, Necromancer by Michael Scott and The Broker by John Grisham. I listened to each on audiobook and stopped and started. I am especially disappointed in the Reichs book.  I've read most of her books and been at least entertained. My issue might be with the audiobook, but every single character sounds the same in tone, language and attitude. The story isn't even very interesting which makes it easy to stop reading.

I'm in the midst of reading Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks and last week finished Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I read a lot of books via audiobooks because I commute two hours a day and I like to listen to books while I run. I have a large selection of podcasts I also follow but I do need a lot of audio reading material to fill my day.

I do listen to NPR but sometimes the content is repetitive and contains nothing new.

Back to books: Life As We Knew It was one of those empty books. It starts with an interesting yet improbable premise that an asteroid hits the moon and brings it very close to earth. The gravitational field is messed with throwing mother nature into a tizzy. There are tsunamis on all the U.S. coasts, earthquakes and volcanoes where none existed before. This would be an interesting story especially if the characters in the book had a bigger challenge than making dinner every night.
While the characters fight a lot, probably due to living in cramped living quarters, nothing much happens as they slowly run out of food. The brother chops a lot of wood, while the main character skates, swims and generally moans about a restricted life of no friends and a limited diet. I give this book five big yawns.

Safe Haven isn't as bad as the other books and I'm still reading it but holy predictable. Nobody has a personality that is unexpected. Everyone seems to be cardboard cutouts of typical people. I'm three-quarters done and sort of wanting to ditch it. I know the husband is going to find her and try and kill her and the boyfriend. How is this interesting when I already know what will happen?

Arrrr. My time is precious. I at least feel the stories I write, while not smooth or masterful, are not predictable. I prefer a creative story over super smooth writing any day.





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Editing is chugging along. I made some changes to chapters one and two that are posted. The changes aren't too significant.
I did the rewrites I needed to do on the mid-book chapters. I have more work to do but it's manageable. I'm still set to finish by the end of next month.
It's been super hard to juggle everything with training for the half marathon, which is Sunday.
Being sick and then the back pain really set me back but I seemed caught up last weekend and had a great 10-mile run on Saturday.
Now I have a seven miles to get in before Friday.  I was supposed to run today but the husband called me at work to nix my plans because he had to work late and I had to take care of the bambino, who was in a surprising good mood when I picked her up from daycare.
I also had to feed the family, a chore that is time consuming. I made Cincinnati chili last night and gave half away to a friend of mine who had a baby two weeks ago.
A couple of my friends brought over dinner for me after I had Chloe and it made such a difference.
What's it called? Paying it forward?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My baby says her back hurts

With my sore back, I was apprehensive when I did my 10-mile run yesterday. It was super slow because I was so focused on keeping my back straight so that I didn't damage it further.

Tonight I went out for a blistering three-mile run that was the fastest I've run in months!! Funny how things work out.

My back is still sore but I'll survive. Since I've been complaining of back pain, my three-year-old daughter told me her back hurts too. I'm not sure if it's like the sympathetic pregnancy where the husband feels like he's pregnant too or my little girl being super silly. I'm leaning toward the goofy side because my daughter is definitely got a sense of humor.

video

Case in point this dance routine.
The editing is chugging along. One of my chapters got way too long so I've split it in two. I'm just fleshing it out more tonight.

While my husband and I are big fans of The Closer that's about where our tastes end in TV. I just finished episode two of One Upon a Time. One of my must-see TV shows. My husband hates it.
I know he doesn't have any TV taste. He likes Two and a Half Men. Enough said.

Friday, October 5, 2012

When I got home it was pouring rain and in the 40s. I'm still recovering from a cold I got a month ago, so I blew off the run. Arrg.

I just finished the second episode of Fox's Fringe and I can't say I'm liking this season. I used to love this show.

I also purged my personal Twitter account. I have one for work and one of my own. I noticed a lot of people I meet  through my job were following me. I dropped them. I don't want them knowing what I really think.

Must sleep.
I finished Insurgent by Veronica Roth within two days. It was an excellent sequel and I look forward to the last installment.

I read so much YA and have not found a series that I really liked in a while.

I have not run in six days because of my hip and back pain. I casually consulted two exercise gurus and both said I must have been hunched over when I ran the 10 miles.

The back feels better so I'm going to try and get 7 miles in tonight and 11 on Sunday. I'll try and sneak in 2 miles on Saturday but no guarantee. I have to look after the little one because my husband is going biking.

This week I've felt like signing up for the half marathon was a bad idea. It takes about 4 hours a week of running. I've been super busy and haven't had the free time.

Then again, I'm always busy.

I'm starting to panic over my book deadline. I am only halfway through the edits and found that I need to do more rewrites. Arrrrrr.

Here is my night schedule. Go for run @ 8 p.m. Start editing @ 10 p.m. I can't wait. Don't you envy me?


Sunday, September 30, 2012

I have to hand it to Harper Collins. I got a replacement copy of Divergent couriered to the house on Friday. I finished the book today and enjoyed it. It wasn't as exciting as Hunger Games or as momentus but definitely an entertaining read.
I think it had a bit of a slow start or maybe I was just distracted by the defective pages that I couldn't read. Once the action picks up, it's hard to put the book down. I stayed up late reading it not wanting to stop. I bought a digital copy of the sequel and I hope it's as good as the first book.

I write this as my body aches. My hips are killing me as is my foot. I ran 10 miles yesterday and am paying for it. I'm not sure I'm up for doing the half marathon in three weeks. I'm so tired. I don't remember being this exhausted training for my last half.

I love six or seven mile runs. They take more than an hour, but they aren't so long that I feel like the day has disappeared. Yesterday's run took me two hours and four minute. I am so freaking slow now. I was at least 20 minutes faster during my last half. I guess that's what happens when you don't train for a really long time.

While the training schedule has me doing two miles today, I'm blowing it off. I'll do it tomorrow before I go to work.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I started reading Divergent by Vernonica Roth a few days ago and was confused when I got to page 25. It was all black. I didn't know what to think so I pushed on even though I was missing a page of the book. Then I got to page 48. Beatrice had just cut her palm and picked a new faction and Bang. Black page.
Arrrr. It just ruined my reading momentum.
It didn't even occur to me to return the book to the store because I have no idea where I bought it. I've had it a couple of months and only started reading it this weekend.
So, I decided to write the publisher and ask for pdf files of the missing pages. After an email exchange where I had to impart with personal information, the publisher promised to mail me a new book to replace the defective one.
So, now I am waiting for the new book.
It's Ok because I'm in the middle of reading The Hour I First Believed on audio by Wally Lamb. I tend to read two books simultaneously because I have the two-hour commute and need to occupy my time in the car. I usually alternate between podcasts and books with a bit of music thrown in when I'm thinking about something.
I have a 10-mile run on Saturday to do for my half-marathon training. I'm hoping Wally Lamb will keep me entertained enough for the two hour plus run.
I spend my evenings editing my book. I realized last night, I have some rewrites to do on chapter seven. I still plan a mid to late November e-book launch.
It is super hard to juggle book writing/newspaper career/mother of three-year-old/wife of British husband/running training.
The running, writing and toddler eat up all of my spare time. Actually, my toddler eats up the vast majority of my free time. I can't resist her. She's is so darn cute.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My sister's partial review

One of my two sisters is reading Virus as I edit the book. She lives in California, so it's hard to communicate because of the time difference as I'm in Michigan.  I know that sounds weird. It's only three hours you say. Yeah, well, I have a three-year-old daughter. By the time she goes to bed, I'm headed there myself.
Anyway, on the days I work nights I call her while I'm driving home. Last week, she gave me some of her feedback and one comment startled me. Please keep in mind, my sister doesn't read YA books.
Anyway, she said the book was gory. Definitely the book has violence, but no one loses a limb. There's no blood spurting. Ok, there is a beheading, but it's a corpse, not a live person.
So, my question is, so far from what you've read, do you think it's gory?
Thanks for reading,

Monica

Sunday, September 23, 2012

VIRUS sample chapters are now available for reading. Get your fill of the beginning of my new book and post a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Monica

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Virus is almost done

Virus, the young adult book I've been working on for five years, is almost done.
I have some editing to do, some reader feedback to input before I send it off to copy editors. I hope to have it published by mid to late November 2012.
I plan to post the cover and a book blurb on Good Reads to start promoting the book. If you would like an advance copy, post a message here with contact info and I'll be in touch. I will send out 20 advanced copies. The only stipulation is that I need readers to write reviews and post them on e-retail web sites like Amazon and on Good Reads.
I'll be publishing the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-book web sites. A complete list will be posted once the book is set to go.
Virus is an end of world type story about a virus that is unleashed on the U.S. The survivors are mostly young adults who were either immune to the virus or got sick and survived and developed "special skills" when the virus altered their DNA. I think of the book as a cross between The Stand and the NBC television show Heroes. Book one is the story of survival and travel to Florida where most of the population is gathering to live out the winter.
There is a bigger broader story about a  "big bad" that will stretch out over the three-edition series called Remarkables.  Because I work full time, I won't be able to complete book two until late 2013 and book three until 2014. I have most of book two and three outlined and just need to fill in the blanks.
Here is a sample of the cover:


Before I start book two though, I plan to release the first book in my Fairy Tale series called Cursed. It's about a young woman who is cursed to die at 17 by her grandmother. The book is half written and I have a goal of publishing it in late February 2013.
I'm excited about this series. Unlike Remarkables, it's only been percolating in my brain since May. I have a seven-part story to tell. Each book is an independent story, although characters will bleed over from book to book. I think of it more in the vain of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld. She had characters make guest appearances in books, which all revolved around supernatural themes.
All of my young adult books have supernatural, science fiction type elements. I don't write about vampires or werewolves, but my characters have powers, much like in Harry Potter without reciting spells.
Chapters one and two of Virus will be posted here soon. Come back to check it out.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taking a leap

For years I'd write books, not quite finishing them all, and wonder sometimes, why am I doing this?
I have so many demands for my time. I'm desperate to find four hours a week to go running and start training for some goals. I need to spend more quality time with my daughter without it always being about dressing, undressing, bathing and eating.
My recent issue of Writer's Digest finally paid for its subscription price. I'm going to self publishing an ebook.
I don't know why I didn't think of it before. It's kind of sad it's taken me this long to realize the potential. I have friends who are competent editors. I know graphic artists to do a book cover. Darn, why didn't I think of this before now?
Anyway, the plan I have calls for a revision of the stories I've been writing. I'm outlining a series that will start as a three-parter but have the option of a fourth or fifth installment. The books will be about half the length of Polluted Blood, the young adult trilogy I've been working on for four years. Book one of Polluted Blood is almost done but it will take a year or more to finish book two.
The first three books of my new series will be released over three or four months starting this fall. I'll post some chapters here soon to see what ya'll think.
Gotta go write. Later.

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