Archive for May, 2012

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome C. Lee McKenzie, author of awesome Middle Grade and Young Adult Books.

You can also find her blogging at The Write Game

Welcome, Lee!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

I can’t say this a favorite picture, but it’s a picture that brings back a lot of memories.

I hated that cast. It itched like crazy!

Ah the hidden talent. Some would say my writing is just that. Little did my family and friends know that I was a closet author, then one day I said, “I have a little surprise. I have a book being published next year.” It took a while to convince them that I really did.

As to what I write . . . I’ve enjoyed the young adult category of fiction a lot, and then this year I thought I’d like to take on middle grade. For me it’s a challenge to write for younger readers, and don’t even mention picture books when I’m in the room. I cannot do those, but I admire the picture book writers so much. A whole story in thirty-eight pages! Wow!

About me: Before I started writing, I spent a lot of time in the university classroom, doing what is called “teaching.” I loved it and I did it long enough to learn a few things. I’m also a hiker. I’m kind of missing that these days, especially when I’m sitting at my computer with characters demanding that I write something brilliant about them. I practice yoga and I love digging in the dirt. Therefore, you never want to see my nails. Not a pretty sight. I have one husband, two sons and one cat. That seems like enough.

On Workspace

Where do you do most of your writing?

Right there in that chair.

My desk is one of my favorite pieces for furniture in the house.

I splurged on it and I’ve never regretted it one moment.

Sometimes I go to the garden, but that’s usually for editing and tearing out my hair when I stall.

My editing chair next to the pond in the garden is where a lot of changes happen

and where I read other people’s work.

Where did you get your desk?

I can’t remember the name of the store where I bought it, but it caused some “discussion” when it arrived. It’s 15′ long. My family wanted to know if I planned to go into politics and that’s why I needed such a big desk.

How did you go about arranging your work area?

I don’t arrange it. It arranges itself . . . usually into piles that eventually topple and require neatening.

What are some important things on your desk?

My computer? That’s become essential. My phone, not so much because it interrupts me when I’m writing. I disconnect. My cell I turn off.

Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My keyboard is a good tool. I’ve noticed that I’ve worn off the e almost entirely. I guess I use more “e” words than any others.

What do you love most about your workspace?

It’s spacious. I was so tired of stacking papers and books on the floor next to me that I wanted a desk that could hold everything and let me put things out in some kind of order. Next is my view. I look out onto a redwood forest. There’s nothing I enjoy better than staring at those trees, especially when the words aren’t coming.

Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I’ve attached the image of my muse in training. He’s a very favorite guy and a gift from someone I love dearly.

Here’s my favorite desk item.When the muse sees him, she sticks around.

She’d better because this guy has applied for her job.

What’s your writing beverage?

Coffee. Absolutely. I have one caffeinated cup in the morning and then switch to decaf, but it’s specially ground and I only make one cup in my espresso maker at a time. I’ve become very snobby about my coffee.

On Writing

Who is your favorite author?

Well, that’s hard to answer. I love many different authors because I love many different kinds of books. On the literary side, I’m an F. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Kingsolver, Atwood fan.  When it comes to YA, I think Suzanne Collins is my favorite at the moment. In MG, Nan Marino wins my heart every time.

Who inspired you to write?

It wasn’t who; it was what. When I learned about the widespread practice of cutting and other self-abuse, I had to write about it. I was surprised that what I wrote turned out to be a novel.

What’s your typical day as a writer like?

I write early in the morning before anyone else is up and before the sun comes to make me want to go outside. I like the dark quiet of predawn; it inspires a lot of what I write.

Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

My hoodie is about as much of a ritual as I have. When it’s up, my family knows not to disturb me unless the house is on fire. When the hoodie isn’t on my head, that’s my signal that I’m catching up on email. They can come in and ask me anything.

Do you write everyday?

I wish I could, and I do try. Family and friends often get my writing time, but I’ve learned to accept  and enjoy the time I can’t get to my WIP.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Some days it’s 4-5. Others just a couple.

What are some of your worst writing distractions?

That horrible phone is the worst distraction, so that’s why it’s disconnected during any writing time I have. I put the cat outside while I’m writing. That started happening after she walked across my keyboard and produce better prose than I had.

Why do you write?

The same reason that I read. I love it.

Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?

Don’t give up unless you want to guarantee failure. I have to tell myself that all the time.

How about a favorite writing quote?

This one made me laugh:

“The editor is always right.” OR “To write is human, to edit is divine.” Thanks to Steven KIng in On Writing.

Any favorite pictures you want to share?

I’d love to show my book covers. Here they are.

The last one is an anthology of YA short stories. Mine is called Premeditated Cat.

By the end of 2012, I’ll have another short story out in another anthology (Two and Twenty Dark Tales), and I’ll have a middle grade book titled, Alligators Overhead.


Thanks, Lee, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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Struck! Jennifer Bosworth’s Book Launch

Last May 12th (Saturday), I had the great pleasure of attending yet another amazing book launch.

Debut YA Author Jennifer Bosworth celebrated the release of STRUCK, her first YA Dystopian novel. To celebrate, she invited about a hundred folks to the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A.

Jennifer was radiant as she stepped onto the podium to introduce herself and talk a little bit about how STRUCK came about.

Author Jennifer Bosworth, photo by Lena

She spoke of her journey to publication, and all the pitfalls she encountered before Struck was born. The audience laughed when she related the story of how her first novel was an 800 page epic fantasy where she put every single story idea she had. (I’m sure all writers can relate to this)

YA Author Jennifer Bosworth at the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A.

After her talk, Jennifer read from her book. We were surprised to discover that the scene, which was somewhere in the middle of the story, had originally been her Chapter One.

The biggest treat of the book launch was watching Jennifer’s book trailer, along with her comments and a scene from the book played out by some wonderful young actors.

The trailer was cinematic and so brilliantly made (thanks to Jennifer’s husband film maker Ryan).  I loved it so much I wished it was a real, full length movie instead of a book trailer.

Jennifer came back on the podium after the trailer and answered questions from the audience. She ended her talk by thanking everyone who made the book possible–her final (and most heartwarming) thank you went out to her husband.

After giving Jennifer a well-deserved round of applause, we all filed toward the back of the bookstore to get our books signed.

Author Jennifer Bosworth signing STRUCK, photo by Maiko

When I first met Jennifer at the SCBWI-L.A. Westside Schmooze , STRUCK had just been picked up by a publisher and was scheduled for release. As I stood there waiting for my turn to get the book signed, I was amazed at how quickly the time flew–and now I was holding an actual copy of her book in my hands. It’s always a great feeling to witness the success of writer friends.

Jennifer gave us attendees some awesome treats. Aside from some free drinks, she also gave out some N’ice cream, with some custom STRUCK flavors. We got to pick whether we were Followers or Seekers.

Struck N’ice Cream flavors, photo by Lena

Finally it was my turn to get my book signed. I congratulated Jenn on her book birthday and told her how awesome her book launch was.

With Author Jennifer Bosworth, photo by Maiko

She thanked me and my friends Lena and Maiko for attending the launch, and I moved ahead to let the people behind me get their books signed.

Maiko, Lena and I picked our ice cream and listened to the band Jennifer had asked to come play at her launch. We  listened to their emergency songs (songs for before, during and after a quake!) while we enjoyed our ice cream.

It was an amazing book launch, and I had fun seeing another writer friend see success and enjoy the fruits of her labor.

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This week we trained the Spotlight on YA Author Lissa Price and her awesome debut novel, STARTERS.

STARTERS has spent many weeks in both the Pacific Northwest Indie Bestseller List, and the top 10 SoCal Indie Next Bestseller, and is also now an International Bestseller.

Check out my review of STARTERS here.

This week, we also featured an INTERVIEW with Starters’ Author LISSA PRICE.

Last Saturday, May 19, 2012, Lissa had her first ever signing at COSTCO in L.A. You can check out her blog post about the event here.

Author Lissa Price signing books at Costco

Of course, Maiko, Lena and I tagged along as usual. We  had nice surprise when one of Lissa’s friends, noted Film Critic and Author Leonard Maltin dropped by to show his support. Naturally, we three posed for a photo op.

Myself, Maiko and Lena with Film Critic Leonard Maltin

Lissa did special sketches for people who bought the books at Costco, and gave out some really cool swag.

The great thing about the swag and the book signed with the special sketch? Well, you get  a chance to win them too!

Because now that we’ve come to the end of another Spotlight Week, it’s time for another GIVEAWAY.

Here’s what you’ll win:

1. A SIGNED Copy of STARTERS, complete with a special sketch by author Lissa Price

2. A special Starters button, and

3. A Starters LED necklace, with three modes of lighting, which will provide hours of entertainment for you, your child or your cat.

Starters Giveaway

To win this awesome package, enter the Rafflecopter form below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will run from today May 25th, 2012 to June 10th, 2012, and is open to everyone. Good luck!


And in case you want to meet Lissa Price, here are her upcoming events:

Saturday, June 2, 11:00- 3:00 pm Klindt’s Bookstore in The Dalles, OR, special YA genre signing with M.T. Anderson, Brodi Ashton and many more. BBQ, prizes.
Saturday, June 16, 1-3 pm. Costco Westlake Village (Thousand Oaks).
We can get you in as a guest if you don’t have a card.
Thursday, July 12, 2012 through Sunday, July 15, 2012
Comic-Con – San Diego, CA TBA
Friday, August 3, 2012 through Monday, August 6, 2012
SCBWI Summer Conference – Los Angeles, CA

How to Apply Screenwriting Techniques to Make Any YA Book Better  (Friday 11:45am)

Publishing is Not Dead — the Roller-Coaster Ride of the Really Big Sale (Saturday 3:15pm)
Success Stories Panel (Sunday 10:45 am)

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My friendship with author Lissa Price began a year and a half ago, when joined CBW-LA), and attended one of our meetups.

After the session, we found ourselves chatting as we wandered the aisles at Borders. We bonded over common interests and shared philosophies and became fast friends. We kept in touch, emailing each other writing tips and publishing news.

I knew her, then, as a fellow writer on the same journey to publication as myself. A few months later, when we attended an event together, she broke the amazing news of the publishing success of STARTERS. (Check out this link for a review of the book)

From then on, I’ve seen her success rise to meteoric proportions. I often tell her how grateful I am that I met her before she became Lissa Price, star author.

And now, I am proud to present my dear friend, amazing author Lissa Price.


Authors Bio from her website,

Lissa studied with Caroline Leavitt, Donald Maass and Janet Fitch, and read at the Iowa Summer Workshop. She’s a member of SCBWI, SFWA, ITW, as well as one of the Apocalypsies, a group of 2012 debut YA authors. In 2012 she joined Beth Revis and the talented gang of ten YA dystopian and science fiction authors at The League of Extraordinary Writers . Lissa is hard at work finishing the sequel, ENDERS, due out in December.

The Amazing Lissa Price, author of STARTERS

(photo by Paul Gregory Photography)

1. What were some of your favorite books growing up?

My favorite was THE HOBBIT. I also read a lot of fairy tales, myths and folklore.

2. What do you think makes a good story?

When a writer has listened to the truth of the story and has let that be the driving force, rather than some external motives, the result is going to move the reader.  I know right away if a story moves me, pretty much the way most people know within a few minutes if they’re going to like a movie. I want to feel transported, I want fresh writing.

3. What inspired you to write STARTERS?

I tried to get a flu shot and found that they were only giving them to the very young, the very old and the infirm, due to a shortage. I thought – what if this was a killer flu?  Then the only remaining people would be the very young, the very old and the infirm. What would that world look like?  And I built it from there.

4. How long did you work on this book? How many rewrites did you do before you finally felt it was ready?

It took about a year total. I got the draft down so it was pretty solid in nine months. Then I rewrote for about three months. I don’t know the exact number of rewrites but it wasn’t that many.  But when you’re unpublished, you take much longer to write than when you’re published and you have deadlines. You learn to write faster.

5. Tell us about your path to publication.

Do you have all night? The short version is that my agent offered in less than one day and the manuscript was sold in six days, with a pre-emptive bid that came in from Random House at 8:30 pm, the night before the auction between ten houses. It was so fast and the speed didn’t let up. Random House launched it within 10 months and will publish the sequel, ENDERS, nine months after that. Also part of the plan was three e-shorts set in the world of STARTERS, of which one is already published (Portrait of a Starter, from Michael’s POV).

6. Starters is such a thrilling, heart-pounding, action-packed story. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Thank you!  I suppose being in the African bush walking with elephants for four hours. I had a team of guides with rifles in case of an emergency (being attacked). On another trip, in a different African country, I was in a vehicle and was charged by a line of elephants.

7. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

Every minute is accounted for now that I have so much to do. I try to do the bulk of my social media in the morning – tweeting for my fellow Apocalypsies and author friends as well as myself, updating my fb page (LissaPriceAuthor), my website ( and answering email which consists of invitations to appear or be interviewed, email from fans. Then I try to start writing as early as I can and go until late at night. I like to have some charms around my desk, things that make me happy, actual charm bracelets or things that relate to my current project.

8. What genre do you love to write (fantasy, historical fiction, romance, etc) Why?

My publisher calls my genre “futuristic thriller.” It also could be called science fiction. But when some people hear that term, they think of spaceships or heavy machinery, special jargon, etc. I’ve spoken now on several panels on YA dystopian fiction and that does apply to STARTERS. But some people have said they have certain associations with dystopian, that it’s sometimes slow, so the term “dystopian thriller” has been applied to my book.

Whatever you call it, I love working this way where I can create a vision of a world that is specific to my story. I personally prefer to read the kind of stories that I write.

9. Are you currently working on any other projects?

Right now I am working on the second draft of ENDERS as well as writing the second e-short set in the world of STARTERS. I don’t have time to do anything else, but as soon as I do, I have an idea that has been nagging at me.

10. Why do you think YA is so popular?

For some reason, and maybe it all goes back to J.K. Rowling, YA allows the writer to explore a wide range of fantasy and science fiction. The main character is in that crucial period where what happens will affect the rest of their lives. This situation makes for great drama. I found myself most interested in reading YA because the most exciting writing was taking place there – THE HUNGER GAMES, UGLIES, INCARCERON, SKINNED, THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, and many more.

11. What advice would you give writers who are writing YA?

Write smart and write from the heart. Do your homework – this is a time when all the information is there on the internet. Read a lot, write a lot, join an in-person writer’s group, if you cannot, then find an online group. Take classes and workshops and attend conferences. Be patient with yourself because the process takes time. And the more you live and have a variety of experiences, the more it will deepen your writing.

12. What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

Be kind to others because then you’ll be kind to yourself. Always have dreams and reach for them. Whatever it is that you want to do, someone is doing it.


Thank you, Lissa for sharing your wisdom with us

Tune in Friday, May 25th, as we end our Spotlight Week with a STARTERS GIVEAWAY!

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Today, we begin my first Spotlight Week Series for 2012, and boy am I excited!

This week, the spotlight is on one of my favorite YA authors, and one of my dearest friends, Lissa Price.

Her book, STARTERS, a YA Futuristic Thriller, came out this March.

I am so thrilled that I finally get the chance to review her book!


In a future Los Angeles, becoming someone else is now possible. Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. But when her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.

My Review

When I first read STARTERS, it wasn’t even in stores yet. Lissa was kind enough to give me a copy of the chapter sample they were giving away as promotional tools.

I had two thoughts when I finished reading the chapter sample.

  1. Holy cow! This is amazing!
  2. When can I get my hands on the whole book?

When I finally got my hands on a copy I didn’t want to sit down and read it until I knew I could devote a few hours of my time to it. And I’m glad I waited—because I read the story in one sitting.

I just could not put it down. STARTERS reeled me in at the first sentence and didn’t let go until the end.

Of course, I’m not just saying this because Lissa is a friend. I take my blogging duties seriously and I fully believe in the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I will never review a book unless I have positive things to say about it. Luckily, I have a lot of good things to say about STARTERS.

Author Lissa Price accomplishes several things in the first few pages alone. First, she  introduces readers to a post-apocalyptic world, in which almost everyone aged 20-60 has died from the Spore wars.

How would a world populated by only the very young (Starters) and the very old (Enders), survive? The author paints a dire picture of this kind of society where the word “old” has become relative. Readers are at once sucked into a world where older generations are now able to live past 100, and where they now have the option to recapture their youth—through someone else’s body.

Second, author Lissa Price introduces us to a whole new concept with two words alone: Body Bank.

The premise is both intriguing and chilling, and Prime Destination raises the bar on creepy. This company, led by a nameless and faceless Old Man, has created technology that allows old people to hijack the minds of teenagers. These hapless Starters have no idea where their bodies have been, or how their bodies are used by the Enders who rent them.

Third, Lissa Price creates a compelling main character in Callie whom we absolutely root for. Callie’s answer to the question “why would you rent your body to creepy old people”, is heartbreaking in its simplicity. Her younger brother is ill, and she needs the money to take care of him.

Callie’s parents are dead, and she and her brother live in the dangerous streets of dystopian Beverly Hills. What makes her such a sympathetic and likable character is that she would do anything for her little brother.

Lastly, in the first few pages alone, Lissa Price also gives her readers a taste of what the entire book will be like—action-packed, thrilling and fast-paced.

Callie’s story is not just one of self-sacrifice, but one of self-preservation as well. She must stop her renter, Helena, from using her body to commit a murder.

Another major selling point of STARTERS is its curious love triangle. Callie is essentially torn between two boys, and two worlds. Michael is comforting in his familiarity. He is her childhood friend and one she can count on to take care of her brother in her absence. Blake, is exciting and new. The grandson of a senator, he has everything Callie hopes to find in boyfriend—good looks, good breeding, and good money.

To top off all these incredible story turns, author Lissa Price has managed to create a  twist toward the end of the story that leaves  her readers breathless and wanting more.

It’s a good thing we don’t have too long to wait, as the sequel, ENDERS, will be released sometime this year.


Tune in on Wednesday, May 23, as Spotlight Week continues with an interview with amazing author Lissa Price.

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Renaissance Faire Routines and Rituals

I started going to the Renaissance Faire by accident four years ago.

I had bought a book at Borders Bookstore, and the lady at the counter offered me about 16 free tickets to the Renfair, which up until then, I had never heard of.

At the time I had no idea the tickets actually cost $25, but when I found out, I naturally decided to take advantage of it.

After inviting all the friends I could find, I still had some tickets left over. On the day we went there, I sold the extra tickets for $10. My friends and I used the money to buy food at the renfair, which we all shared.

I went every year, knowing Borders would give away free tickets if I bought a book. (It was a great excuse to buy myself a new book, too).

This year was actually the first time I had ever paid for tickets, but I still got it at a discount (thanks to their early bird price).

Going to the Renfair became a yearly ritual for me and my friends, and I always bought some cool (geeky) trinket as a souvenir.

This year was actually the first time I had ever paid for tickets, but I still got it at a discount (thanks to their early bird price).

Going to the Renfair became a yearly ritual for me and aside from Lena and Maiko, I always manage to drag a new friend to accompany me.

This year, friends Jen and Eric joined us at the Renfair

Lena, Maiko and I were particularly eager to try out the techniques we had learned from the one day Introduction to Digital Photography Class we had taken last April 28th. The class was offered by Nikon School. We paid $129 for the class, which ran from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The fee not only included the classes, but a good lunch, handouts and certificates as well.

With my two best buds Lena and Maiko

I was also excited to try out the new camera I had gotten for my birthday.

The Renfair  had a new layout this year, and a lot of new vendors–including who sold some cool steampunk hats.

Cool Steampunk hats

We also saw the usual cast of characters and performers–

Belly dancers

peasants and soldiers (Sparkles, one of my camera’s effects)


The Queen

My friends and I have a renaissance faire routine. We do the same thing every year:

1. Walk around and explore the various shops

2. Stop to watch a few shows.

3. Spend minutes looking for a shady spot to open up so we can have lunch.

4. Spend minutes figuring out what to have for lunch.

5. Wait in line to buy lunch.

6. Have lunch. (No turkey legs this year)

7. Walk around some more, and try not to get run over during the queen’s parade.

Aside from the usual routine, however, I have a personal ritual which I developed during my first Renfair: I always buy a cool trinket as a souvenir.

My Renfair Souvenirs

Brass key, 2009

Compass, 2010

Staff, 2011

My latest souvenir is a cool steampunk watch piece.

Watch piece (Front), 2012

Watch piece (Back), 2012

I don’t know if I’ll go again next year (my friends are probably sick and tired of getting dragged there), but I will certainly try. After all, next year the Renfair is celebrating 50 years and there are bound to be more things to see, and another new trinket to collect.

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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome M.J. Fifield, author of that fun blog My Pet Blog

Welcome, M.J.!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

M.J. Fitfield

Hi.  My name’s M.J. and I live in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley.  I work in retail by day and write by night.  My main genre has been epic fantasy for quite a long time now but I also like to write literary, YA, and chick lit.  I also dabble in poetry when the mood strikes me.  Outside of reading and writing, I enjoy hiking, kayaking and Boston sports.  And if I told you what my hidden talents were, they wouldn’t be hidden anymore, would they?  But don’t worry… I don’t really have any.

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I am fortunate enough to have an office in my house— an entire room devoted to my writing— so it’s there where I do the majority of my work.  On certain occasions, I also will work on the living room sofa or at the public library (even though I do tend to do too much people watching there).

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk came from my local office supply store.  I picked it out because I thought it to be well suited for the corner of the room in which I wanted it to live.

M.J.’s desk

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

In addition to all the technology, writing utensils (I am addicted to pens) and spiral bound notebooks, I have a pair of goblets my artistically inclined sister made for me.  They don’t hold mead but rather my indispensable supply of smarties and fun sized chocolate bars.

goblets of goodies

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

The thing I love most about my workspace is that it’s my workspace.  I love having a space specifically dedicated to writing.  My favorite objects are my mini bulletin board of flair (I love flair. Especially when it says something rude) and my giant six foot storyboard on which I lay out my story maps, calendars and other novel related whatevers.

M.J.’s Bulletin Board

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Water.  Always water.  I find it helps to counteract all the sugar.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

In the seventh grade, I stumbled across Ellen Emerson White in the school library.  Well, all right, I stumbled across her books in the school library, although it would’ve been so awesome to stumble across her (it would still be so awesome, even if I’d gush over her and make a terrible fool of myself).  She wrote a series of YA novels that affected me as both a reader and a writer.  She really helped me figure out the notion of character and voice and for that, I will be forever grateful.  I am also rather obsessed with Joss Whedon.  The way that man tells a story is brilliant and if I could one day have a fraction of the talent that he has, I’ll die happy.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

When I first sit down at the computer, I check my email, Facebook and Twitter (yes, I might be a slight social media addict).  Sometimes I blog and read others’ blogs (never as often as I’d like).  Then, if I haven’t wasted all my time, I might actually do some writing.

3.  Do you write everyday?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I try to write every day.  Some days are more successful than others.  I don’t have a set number of hours; I just devote whatever time I can to it.  Some of my worst writing distractions are my day job, solitaire and/or Minesweeper, impromptu Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or Firefly and/or Veronica Mars marathons, housework (why is the laundry never done?) and of course my two very mommy centric dogs.  They’re adorable so I let it slide.

M.J.’s doggy distractions

4. Why do you write?

I write; therefore I am.  I write because I am driven to do it.  Even when I hate it (and there are many days when I do), I still write because it’s in my blood.  It’s what I have to do and it’s what makes me me.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Well, since I’m an unpublished nobody who can’t get her act together, I really don’t think I should be dispensing any wisdom but I’m going to do it anyway…  Editing/Proofreading is important.  If you don’t know the difference between “they’re, their, and there”, you should make the effort to find out.  But overall, I think if you want to be successful as a writer, you should probably do the exact opposite of everything I’ve ever done.  You’ll be a best selling millionaire in no time.

My favorite writing quote comes from Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586): “‘Fool,’ my Muse said to me, ‘look in thy heart and write.’”


Thanks, M.J., for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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L.A. Times Festival of Books in April

Last April 22nd, 2012, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books with my family and friends in tow.

With family members on our way to USC

For the second year, the Festival of Books was held at USC (University of Southern California). After we parked the car, we headed straight for the Target Children’s Stage for our first event.

Target Children’s Stage at USC

We got a glimpse of some celebrities that day, and heard a little bit of their talks before moving on.

Julie Andrews on the Target Children’s Stage

We were all thrilled to see Julie Andrews on stage.  (Loved her in the Sound of Music!) She read from the book she co-wrote with her daughter, A Very Fairy Princess

Julie Andrews reading from her book

I was also happy to see some of my favorite local TV reporters in their booth. I watch KTLA every morning as I get ready for work, so it was a thrill to see some of the anchors in person. I still regret not chatting with them and getting a signed picture. Next year, I vow to hunt them down again:)

Wendy and Eric, KTLA news anchors signing pictures

We also saw Betty White!

Betty White at the Los Angeles Times Stage

Betty White getting interviewed

I couldn’t really hear much of her talk, but it was enough to see her–and Maiko got some really good pictures, too.

After saying goodbye to my Mom, Sis and Aunt, Lena, Maiko and I headed back to the Festival for the main event:

the YA Stage: Future Tense Panel featuring our good friend Lissa Price and other favorite authors Marie Lu and Cecil Castellucci.

YA Future Tense Panel: Marie Lu, Lissa Price and Cecil Castellucci

Moderated by fellow author Aaron Hartzler, the panel discussed the various highs and lows of writing futuristic thrillers. They also discussed young adult literature in general, and what makes it so popular.

Moderator Aaron Hartzler gets ready for the Q & A with authors Marie Lu, Lissa Price & Cecil Castellucci

Many of the audience asked questions and before we knew it, time was up and the authors had to go to their assigned booth for the signing.

Amazingly enough, I only bought 1 book the whole day. Since I already had Marie and Lissa’s books, I only bought Cecil Castellucci’s First Day on Earth. After purchasing the book, I headed to the signing line .

The authors’ signing booth was right beside the Scooby Doo booth. So while waiting my turn, Maiko and I passed the time by checking out the Mystery Van.

The Scooby Doo Mystery Van

I finally got my turn and was thrilled to have a few moments to chit chat with Cecil and have her sign my book.

with YA author Cecil Castellucci

After the book signing, we ended the day by having dinner with Lissa, her hubby and another writer friend. It was a wonderful way to end an already wonderful day.

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An Award and a Long Awaited Haircut

Before anything else, have you checked out my Blogaversary giveaway yet? I’m giving away a couple of awesome SIGNED books. Check it out HERE.


Last Saturday, May 5, 2012, new bloggy friend M.J. Joachim shared her very first blog award with me.

Thanks, M.J.!

I’m supposed to write 10 Little known facts about myself. You can read the list in my About Me page.

I’m sharing this award with my some bloggy friends:

Damyanti at Writing on Writing

Jenn at Jenn’s Scribbles

Theresa at Theresa’s Tales

Lydia at The Word is My Oyster

Ann at Inkpots n’ Quills

Susan at Susan Oloier, Author

Crystal at Crystal Collier

Sharon at Random Thoughts

Robyn at Putting Pen to Paper

Jay Noel at Jay

Beck Doughty at Braveheart

And in other news—

After two years of growing my hair, I finally got a haircut last May 2nd!

And it’s a haircut for a good cause, too. My long ponytail is going to Locks of Love a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

Long hair

So long, hair!

Not so long hair :)

This is my 2nd time donating to them, and though I look like a little boy now—it feels great to finally get a haircut after two years.  I get to help some kids and I also get to wear my hair short for the coming summer months.

With my hair short, I’ve certainly cut down the time I prepare for work each day–and I’m able to move with more ease. This’ll be a great advantage when I take my belt test this month.

Have any of you ever donated your hair?


Special thanks to Lena and Maiko for taking pictures.

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Every Wednesday, I feature a writer/blogger and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow bloggers/writers better through their workspace and writing habits. I also wanted my bloggy friends to share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Golden Eagle, author of that information-packed blog The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

Welcome, Golden Eagle!


Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

My favorite genre to write is Science Fiction, because it gives you the opportunity to create a range of worlds and characters; I also enjoy Fantasy for the same reasons. Some of my hobbies or interests include writing—I suppose that one’s a little obvious? 😉 –reading, science, fiber art, and I’ve always loved collecting rocks. I don’t really do anything for a living at the moment—unless you count being a teenager.

On Workspace

1. Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing at the desk in the image. Occasionally I’ll write down ideas or a certain phrase if they come to me somewhere else, but the majority is typed into the computer.

2. Where did you get your desk? How did you go about arranging your work area?

It used to be my grandmother’s, I believe—my mom inherited it and now we both use it. I don’t really do much arranging of the work area, since most of the files I use (for writing, schoolwork, and just general stuff) are in Word, Excel, OneNote, or online. Except for the white paper you see on the second level down, above the printer; those are cluster diagrams which I do on paper, since it’s hard to do them in any program.

Golden Eagle’s Desk

3. What are some important things on your desk? Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Just the computer, and the modem for the ever-important internet. I don’t tend to need certain objects to work; I figure so long as I have my brain, I can’t go seriously wrong. 😛

4. What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I like the fact there’s a lot of light, as you can sort of see in the picture. There are a series of five windows to the left shaped a bit like a bay window and a large one to the right, so there’s sunlight throughout the day. There aren’t really any favorite objects on the desk right now, though there is a book—and I love books. :)

5. What’s your writing beverage? What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I always feel a bit nervous handling fluids around a computer, so I don’t tend to keep drink while I’m writing. I’d be too distracted about making sure I didn’t spill it on the keyboard or screen to get any words out. LOL.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you to write?

Not just one! That’s such a hard choice. But if I had to pick . . . Isaac Asimov.

Glen Cook inspired me to write; not because I fell completely in love with his book The Dragon Never Sleeps, (which also introduced me to Space Opera/Science Fiction) but because I wanted to see more of that kind of world. So I got up and started writing a story with a setting similar to it.

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

My typical day—not sure if I have one, really. I tend to write when the mood strikes me, though I do find that writing in the early/late afternoon causes me to be more productive.

As for quirks, I go through a long and arduous process of choosing a font and page size whenever I start a new project. A3, A4, A5? Calibri, Eurostile, Georgia, Times New Roman? To me, each has their own feel, and if I don’t match them up properly with the project I’ll get distracted and bothered by it.

3. Do you write everyday? How many hours a day do you spend writing? What are some of your worst writing distractions?

No, I don’t write every day. I try to work on my WIP/writing every day (even if that’s just brainstorming or reading a book on writing) but I don’t tend to write daily. I don’t think it’s a bad idea; I just don’t think it would work for me very well.

I’m always distracted by Entanglement. I’m not sure why, but if I start playing that game I could do so for an hour or two . . .

4. Why do you write?

Because it’s a way for me to create and express myself.

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? How about a favorite writing quote?

I’m not sure where I originally heard it, but the advice to just put your butt in your chair and start writing often helps get me over a writing slump or moving when I don’t really feel like churning out any words.

I’m terrible when it comes to remembering quotes (much less who said them), so I don’t have a favorite writing quote, though on a literary note—

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”—Groucho Marx

—always cracks me up. :)


Thanks, Golden Eagle, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life.

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

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