Thursday, May 24, 2012

May I tell you something about someone else?

I recently had pretty much the worst job interview ever. The position was described as "marketing specialist." Turns out, it was selling knives at Sam's Club. For less money than I make now. (Which I didn't think was possible.) Obviously, the job was not for me. Not to mention, I failed every single question.

One of the questions he asked me was: "Who is your professional hero?" I answered Jodi Picoult, because she is a successful published author, with several books that have been made into movies/tv movies (and because I knew I didn't want the job and didn't have to pick some marketing guru or something). 

I wouldn't say Jodi Picoult is my most favorite author, but I do admire her a lot. Well it didn't matter anyway because the guy had no idea who she was.

By the way, then he asked me: "What book are you reading now?" Finally! A question I like to hear. :) I told him I was reading IN HONOR. Obviously he had never heard of that, either. Oh well!

Anyway, what is the point of all this? Well, it got me thinking... who really is my professional hero? I wouldn't say I really have any heroes in the advertising world. So I decided to stick with an author. 

The author whose career I admire the most is Sarah Mlynowski. I love that she has had success in multiple genres. The strange thing is, she is the author who got me hooked on chick lit, and then later when I started reading more YA, she came out with YA books. Crazy.

I got hooked on chick lit thanks to a friend who recommended SEE JANE DATE (by Melissa Senate, the best chick lit book ever) and MILKRUN (by Sarah Mlynowski). I decided I wanted to write my own chick lit book! This was after I graduated college and I was feeling very ambitious and like anything was possible. (Oh, to have those days back again.) Sarah even came out with a book on how to write a chick lit novel: SEE JANE WRITE.

Well, I never found my Mr. Right, never had my happy ending. So I decided chick lit was not for me after all. I switched to YA. And I was so excited to find that Sarah wrote YA books!

If you are not familiar with Sarah Mlynowski's books, I highly recommend checking them out!

I actually had a chance to meet her, and she was so incredibly nice and friendly. The book signing was so much fun. Look:
Susane Colasanti, Sarah Mlynowski and Maureen Johnson. Best book signing ever.

What author do you most admire? Or, who is your professional hero?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May I tell you something about myself?

Aside from reading and writing, another one of my hobbies is dancing. In particular, tap dancing.

During my senior year of college, I had one more class I needed to take for my last semester. I already had everything I needed for my major, so I decided to take something for fun: jazz dance. I had wanted to take dance classes for years, but never had the opportunity. Well, on the first day, I quickly realized this class was completely out of my league. We had to go around the class and introduce ourselves, including what kind of dance experience we had. My class was full of music theater students and a girl who was on poms. Then there was me. I took ballet when I was about five years old, and I took some kind of summer class in Scottish Highland dancing once. I was in poms in junior high. Aside from that, my dance experience was limited to a "Dance Funk Workout" VHS tape and episodes of MTV's "The Daily Burn," which my sister and I would do in our parents' living room.

I had to work harder than everyone else in the class just to keep up with them, but I absolutely loved it. I even got an A in the class! I like to think this means I must have some natural dance ability.

Unfortunately, after graduation, it was back to the VHS tapes.

Then, in 2004, I was out at a bar with some friends. One of my friends invited a friend of hers that I had never met. She left early, explaining that she had to go to her tap dance class. I had seen the movie "Chicago" and thought tap looked really cool, but I had no idea where to take classes. So I asked her and it turned out she went to this studio right by my house AND I knew the owner! I signed up for tap that summer and I've been dancing ever since. Over the years, I've also taken jazz, ballet and hip hop. Tap is my favorite though, and the only one I've stuck with over the years. Side note: I also do Zumba now, but I can't say I really love it. I like it. Some days it's really fun. Other days it kind of sucks. It doesn't help that our class is so packed you can barely move.

I'm currently taking classes through the park district. It's a great class and our instructor is so talented and fun. We had our recital last week. It was a blast. We performed twice, on Tuesday and Friday nights. Here's the costume we had to wear... (no, I am not posting a picture of ME wearing it!)
(We wore the black version, and added a silver sequin cummerbund.)
The recital was SO much fun and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Have you ever taken dance? Ever tried tap? What is one of your hobbies?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday: May I tell you something about writing?

I am a procrastinator. I'll admit I'm lazy. And I have four jobs. This is not a good combination. This is also why I never get any writing done.

But it's time to stop making excuses. This novel isn't going to write itself.

I set a deadline to be done with my first draft by my birthday. That was two weeks ago. Obviously that didn't happen.

So I've set a new deadline: Father's Day. It will be my gift to my dad. Don't worry, I also plan to take him out to breakfast. But finishing my novel would be the best Father's Day gift I could give my dad. He wants it almost as much as I do. Besides, he doesn't like actual gifts anyway.

There's really no reason why I can't finish by Father's Day. I have time. I believe in this story. I have the added motivation of it being a gift. And of course, since I've posted it on my blog, it's official now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 8 - May I ask something about you?

I keep hearing about these writing retreats and I love the idea. I mean, it's two of my favorite things: traveling and writing. What's not to like? So my question for you today is: 
Have you ever attended a writing retreat? If so, tell me about it! 

If not, what would be your ideal writing retreat?

I have never attended one, but I'd love to. My ideal retreat would be somewhere with a beach. Maybe San Diego, which is my favorite place. Ideally, it would rain one day so we would be forced to stay inside and not feel bad about it, and also to be sure we'd get some work done. Also, I'd like to keep the group around 4-5 people, because I think that is a good number.

So who wants to join me? ;)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May I tell you something about myself?

I received an award from my awesome writer friend Kelsey! Thank you Kelsey!

As a recipient of this award, I am supposed to tell you 10 things about myself. This works out perfectly, since today's theme for Blog Me MAYbe is May I tell you something about myself?

I'm going to steal Kelsey's idea and try to make these all about writing.

1. I like the idea of going to Panera/Starbucks/etc to get some writing done, but I just always end up staying home.

2. However, I REALLY want to get a group of writer friends together and do a writing retreat! Who wants to join me??

3. I got an awesome new laptop back around Christmas, but it doesn't have Word on it. Right now I'm using Microsoft Office Starter, which kind of sucks. Should I get Word? Or Scrivener? Help me!

4. I've found that I've been listening to a lot of country music while working on my WIP.

5. My grandma wrote a book and got it published.

6. I currently have 5 books in mind that I want to write: my WIP, 2 companion novels, a chick lit book and a middle grade book with a coworker. Dream big, right?! haha. I think I should try to finish ONE first.

7. If I could have any job in the world, besides being a highly successful published author of course, I would be an actress. Just kidding (kind of). Realistically, I'd be a French teacher.

8. I am running out of things to say.

9. I really want one of my books made into a tv movie. And I'd like to make a cameo in it. Again, dream big!

10. Back when I took that writing class last year, one of our in class assignments was to write a scene that involved a confrontation. I wrote about the falling out I had with my three (former) best friends. The class loved it, but they thought it was FUNNY. Seriously, the hardest thing that I've ever been through (we still aren't friends...) and my classmates found it hilarious and said I should submit it for short story contests. Even now, after all these years, I still can't look back at it and laugh. But it's probably because I actually went through it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7 - May I tell you something about writing?

Today is my birthday! But I should probably save that for tomorrow, when I'm supposed to tell you something about myself. Today's post is supposed to be something about writing.

I don't have any writing advice, and it's too soon to really say much about my WIP. So, I decided to tell you all how I got interested in writing.

I've always loved reading, ever since I was a little kid. For the most part, I also enjoyed writing. However, I never, ever thought of it as something I was good at or something I could pursue as a hobby or career. I wasn't on the newspaper staff in high school (or even college), and I never submitted a poem or short story to the literary magazine. I changed my mind every week about what I wanted to study in college and what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I never even considered writing.

I finally decided on majoring in communications in college, focusing on public relations. Why? I don't know. It seemed fun. During junior year, I had to take a news writing class as part of my major. One day in class, my instructor came over and asked me if I'd found an internship for the summer yet. I had not. I had interviewed at one place for a PR internship and never heard back, and I was having trouble finding something. My instructor said he'd get me an internship at the newspaper where he worked, the Post-Tribune. It's a pretty big daily newspaper in Northwest Indiana. I couldn't believe it!

I've always wondered about this but never asked him...Why me? Was I really that good? He didn't offer internships to anyone else in the class. Well, whatever it was, I'm so glad he gave me that chance!

Of course, I hadn't planned on staying in Indiana for the summer, so that was a bit of a problem, but it all worked out. My internship went really well, and I loved it. I learned so much. I studied abroad in England the fall of my senior year, but when I got back to school in January, the newspaper let me write for them again. Plus, they gave me my own column about events and activities on campus.

After graduation, I moved back home to Illinois, so I wasn't able to continue writing for the newspaper. However, I got a job as a copywriter, working at the corporate office of the pharmacy America trusts (you can google that if you're curious). Then I saw a job posting in my hometown's local newspaper. They were looking for someone to cover school board meetings. I got the job and I did that part-time, and after covering the (boring) board meetings for awhile, approached my boss with an idea I had for a feature story. A girl I went to high school with was in the (awesome) movie Center Stage and was dancing on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera. I got the go-ahead from my boss to write the story, and I've been writing feature stories ever since. Of all the jobs I have/had, this has always been my favorite.

I've always wanted to thank my news writing instructor for getting me that internship and sparking my interest in writing, but I have no idea how to get ahold of him. He stopped teaching at my college and doesn't work at the newspaper anymore, and now it's been over 10 years, so I really have no idea how to track him down.

So how does this all relate to my WIP and my desire to be an author? Well, apparently at some point after college, I told my dad that I wanted to write a book. He's never forgotten that. I am pretty sure it was around the time I discovered chick lit (more about that in a future post). Over the years I have thought about writing a book, but never really did anything about it. Until I started reading YA. Then I came up with an idea for a story, and started reading more books, and blogs, and talking to other writers. And now here we are!

I'll finish this post with the best writing advice I have ever gotten: "The worst thing you write is still better than the best thing you didn't."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Five - May I share something funny?

Friday: May I share something funny? 
Well, I am going to be lazy here and just post five funny things I have on my cleverly named 
"Funny" Pinterest board.

For me, it's Criminal Minds.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2 - May I ask something about you?

First of all, doesn't my blog look cute now? One of my friends helped me out. I really wanted a star background. I love it! My friend has a blog of her own, where she posts swatches of makeup and nail polish. So go check it out here!

Inspired by my friend's blog, my question for today is about makeup and other beauty products.

What are some of your favorite beauty products? 
And to keep this related to YA, any bad makeup choices you remember making as a teen?

Some of my favorite products are: lip gloss (anything & everything! I love it all), nail polish (mostly OPI and China Glaze, any & all colors), Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara, those makeup remover wipes (since I'm too lazy to wash my face before bed), and Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner.

As far as bad makeup choices... I remember wearing coral lipstick. Yuck! I read in a magazine that it was the best color for me, so of course I had to wear it. I also remember wearing navy blue eyeliner, as recommended by Mary Kay, and also believing that lip gloss could be used as eye shadow in a pinch. (I swear it looked good!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1

Today is May 1, the beginning of my birthday month, AND the first day of Blog Me MAYbe! I read about it on a few blogs and decided to try it out. I would really like to be more consistent about blogging, and I'd love to meet some new people. So what is Blog Me MAYbe? Well, here you go:

The brainchild of writer/blogger/all-around-awesome-person Sara McClung, Blog Me MAYbe is a weekly blog format for the month of May, an easy schedule to follow with topics built right in. Of course, if posting every day sounds like too much, or if you miss a few days, or only do a couple posts a week, no biggie. Blog Me MAYbe is all about ease and fun! You don’t have to worry about following every blogger who participates or commenting on everyone’s daily posts (though if you want to do that, feel free!). The intent of Blog Me MAYbe isn’t to gain followers — although that could very well happen – but to branch out, make a few new friends, share information, and get into the head space where ideas for blog posts flow freely.
And here’s the schedule:
  • Mondays: May I tell you something about writing?
    • This can be anything writing-related. A post on craft. A post on your process. A snippet of your WIP, if you like to share. A book on craft that you want to recommend. Things you struggle with. Things you rock at. ANYTHING at all!
  • Tuesdays: May I tell you something about myself?
    • Pretty self-explanatory… Share something about yourself that your followers might not know. Or, maybe they do. It doesn’t matter–this is just so people who read your blog can get to know you a little better. 
  • Wednesdays: May I ask something about you?
    • Ask your followers something about themselves.
  • Thursdays: May I tell you something about someone else?
    • Make this post about someone else. A writing friend. A critique partner. A person from history who’s fascinating. A character from a book. Have a guest poster. Give an interview. Get creative, but let the spotlight shine on someone else!
  • Fridays: May I share something funny?
    • Fridays = The start of the weekend… BOOYA! A reason to celebrate and laugh on its own — plus, who doesn’t want to see something amusing after a long week?
So, here is my first attempt!
I decided to steal this fun music survey from Katy. Thank you Katy! :)

1. What are your three favorite songs right now? Payphone by Maroon 5, Mr. Know It All by Kelly Clarkson, and Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye (although I also love the Glee version!)

2. What is the most played song on your iTunes? I have no idea, but if I had to guess, I am pretty sure it's a Taylor Swift song.

3. What song are you listening to right now? Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? by Thompson Square

4. What was the last album you bought? Lady Antebellum's Own the Night

5. What was the last concert you went to? It's been awhile. I used to go to concerts and shows all the time, but I'm too broke now.

6. What was the first album you ever bought? The first cd I ever bought was Bryan Adams' Waking Up the Neighbours. I don't remember what my first cassette was. Probably New Kids on the Block or Debbie Gibson.

7. What was the last single you downloaded? Tony Lucca's Baby One More Time from the Voice, obviously. ;) Have I mentioned how much I love that song? Oh, just a few times.

8. Favorite artist or band? Michelle Branch

9. What’s your favorite musical genre? Probably country.

10. Quote one of your favorite lyrics: "I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you" - Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts