Listen to the Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.

Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

Friday, June 29, 2012

What I learned during my hiatus

Greetings everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I apologize for my absence, although I’m sure you haven’t missed me a bit! A lot has happened since my last blog post. We went camping, I attended WIFYR and met a ton of great new writing friends, I continued training for my ½ marathon and my dad had a bit of an accident.

Allow me to catch you up.

Top 10 Things I learned during my Hiatus

10. Sleeping bags shrink. Okay, maybe they don’t shrink in the I-Washed-It-In-Hot-Water kind of shrink. More of a Hey-I’ve-Gotten-Fatter-Since-We-Did-This-Last kind of way.

9. Quitting Diet Pepsi hasn’t helped me lose any weight but I’m holding strong. I will be reunited with the Dark Mother in T-Minus 9 Days. I’m still struggling to drop some poundage before the race next Saturday. But, according to my husband, “You may not have lost any weight—but at least your legs don’t look like they are choking in your pants.”

8. Running 11 miles along the beautiful Snake River doesn’t make running 11 miles any easier. You just smell worse because you can’t shower afterwards when you’re camping.

7. Dogs are a lot more fun outside—on account of there’s no carpet to chew.

6. 72-year old men should not be climbing 20-ft ladders to prune trees with chainsaws. I’m just saying.

5. Get a good job and be very grateful for health insurance—because one day you might need it in a big, big way.

4. My first novel is dead, I’m afraid. I received my 8th rejection, which I’m okay with. But I realized the story is so flawed that I either need to start over or put it in a drawer. I’m opting for the drawer. I’m going to give my new manuscript a chance to get finished.

3. I don’t know the first thing about writing, and yet, I know a little more than I thought.

2. The main character in my new novel has no motivation and the world I built didn’t make any sense and needs to be revamped. Easy-Peasy. Right? #pullshair

1. WIFYR is still the best week of my year. I love meeting writers and learning more about the craft.

Here’s hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend. I will be spending mine learning how to be a farmer. Don’t be jealous! I’ll send pictures.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ode to the Dark Mother

This week I read LOVE AND LEFTOVERS by Sarah Tregay.

It was a great book comprised entirely of poems. I loved everything about it so I started thinking, as I usually do when I read someone elses great works, "Hey, maybe I could do that!?"

Have I mentioned I am delusional?

In order to write an entire novel of poetry, I figured I should start small.

But what to write about?

They say to write what you know.

But what if you don't know anything?

And then it hit me. Diet Pepsi! I have gone 72 very loooooong hours without my Dark Aspartame Mother in an effort to train for my half marathon so its been on my mind lately.

So, without further ado...

Ode to the Dark Mother:
Oh Dark Mother, how do I love you?
In ways I cannot count with fingers of five.
You served me well, like morning dew,
You kept me going, you kept my soul alive.
Though others have tempted, my love for you is true.
Alas, I have foresaken you to be a running-whore,
But do not doubt-
The days will run out-
And You and I will be reunited once more.

What say you? Do you think I have a shot at writing a Novel In Verse?

Maybe not.

On the WIFYR front, I received my pages for the conference. I have 173 pages to critique by next Monday. It's a good thing I am going to Canada again next week so I will have time in the evenings to work on them.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Train for a Half Marathon

I know you are all dying to know how to train for a Half Marathon. Today I would like to impart my extensive wisdom on the subject in this simple 10-Step Investment Approach.

10. Invest in “Born to Run”

All of you should have a sister like mine. For Christmas, instead of knitting me a sweater with jingle bells on it, she threw down a challenge—to run a Half Marathon in July. She gave me the book “Born to Run” which I promptly read cover to cover and became brainwashed into thinking that, not only could I run, but I could run barefoot.

9. Invest in a Dog

Every good runner needs a dog. Because a dog will wake you up at six AM every day of your life to go to the bathroom and then jump all over and lick you. This is far better than any alarm clock on the market because there is no “Snooze” button. Trust me. Get a dog. You’ll never regret it.

8. Invest in Extra Leashes

Said dog will be difficult to control and will chew through several leashes so make sure you always have a spare on hand. In case you aren’t a dog person, evidently they are easily distracted.


7. Invest in a GPS watch

Just because you own a Smart Phone doesn’t make you Smart. There is a FREE APP, yes FREE, with GPS tracking, timers, route mappers, anything you could ever want in a Sports Watch. But, if you are *Smart* like me, you will ignore this APP and drop a few bones on an official GPS Watch. Just because you are smart.

6. Invest in a new pair of kicks

A new shiny pair of kicks will make you forget that you are pounding the pavement over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. It will feel like you are walking on clouds. You will be able to run forever because, like I keep telling my husband, new shoes have magical powers.

5. Invest in Orthotics

Once you realize that taking the advice in Step 10 to run barefoot has backfired because a human that is 100 lbs overweight and has lived a sedentary lifestyle for the last 3 years cannot in fact run down the street barefoot, you will need to drop a few bones on some custom orthotics. No biggie.

4. Invest in Groceries

Evidently Oreos and Mac and Cheese are not “Fuel” for your body. So, invest in some groceries that are high in protein, good fats and most importantly…FIBER!!

3. Invest in Underwear

After Step 4, you will need to invest in some new underwear. I’m just saying.

2. Invest in an iPod arm holder

When the weather turns warm and you don’t have a jacket with pockets to hold your iPod/iPhone you will need to invest in an arm holder gizzy because evidently cleavage sweat will short-out your very expensive, beloved Apple Product. (See...now I don't look so dumb for buying a GPS watch, do I?)

1. Invest the time

All that is left is to invest the time. Get out there and run, run, run!!

See you at the finish line.

Friday, June 1, 2012

That X-Chromosome Will Getcha

Well, we survived (I use that term loosely) another birthday at our house. Thing 1 turned 10 in human years—17 in girl years.

Someone help me understand when, exactly, I lost control as a parent…

Could it have been when I agreed to let her make her own birthday cake and she decided it needed to be frosted OUT of the pan while it was still hot so she dumped it on the counter and it crumbled into a thousand pieces all over my kitchen and floor?

Could it have been when I told her she could invite a few friends over for cake and ice cream and it turned into a free-for-all, you know, since she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings?

Could it have been when all her friends helped her decide the party should start right after school instead of a reasonable hour when I could be home from work and so therefore I had to take a half day off work?

Could it have been when I told her we could have pizza for dinner but her friends decided they were hungry NOW so I was sent off to Little Caesars with a list of special requests?

Could it have been when her grandpa called to wish her a happy birthday and all of her friends passed the phone around the room and acted like ninnies?

Could it have been when I made the mistake of letting her pick out some clothes for her birthday and she decided she needed to wear all of them at once to show off to her friends?

Could it have been when the neon pink lipstick made its first appearance?

Could it have been when we decided having a baby sounded like fun and that bloody X-chromosome fought its way to the front of the line?

Yeah. I think that was where it all went awry.

Se la vi! We are stuck with her. Good thing we love her so much!

On the writing front, I have about 72 hours till my pages are due for the conference. I will be locked in my room, showerless and braless donning PJs while I complete my revisions. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dives and Diners of Lehi

We moved to Lehi about 6 months ago. We are only 20 miles from our old house but we may as well be half way around the world.

Nothing is the same around here. And I mean nothing. Sure, there is an Olive Garden but the bathrooms are on the left of the lobby instead of the right and their booths are green instead of brown. Its all very disorienting. It makes me homesick.

So, being a three-day weekend we decided to have a "Stay-cation" and visit a few new restraunts we have seen around town. We tried 3 places and all three were colossal disappointments. Our Dine Around Lehi felt a little something like this...

Delicious, right? I only wish I were joking.

Anyway, despite the bad food and ambiance we had a great time with our family.

I spent some time writing my synopsis and working on my 15 pages for the upcoming WIFYR Conference. My synopsis looks and feels a little like this...

But at least I got some words on the page and that is half the battle. Synopsis are hard. You have to give a summary of your entire book in 1 to 3 pages. Which wouldn't be that hard if you had already written the book and knew how it ended. But trying to work out the entire book in your head and write an interesting summary can be hard. But I managed.

Now...for the revisions! Revision is a glorious thing. Nothing is ever beyond fixing. There is always a chance to delete, improve and embellish. I only wish life were that forgiving!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Censorship Sucks

I received an email this week that the 15 pages of my new novel are due June 4th. PLUS...a 1 page and a 3 page synopsis of the novel. I am a little freaked out by the synopsis part. I've never written a synopsis, let alone a 3 page one that is interesting.

Guess what I will be doing with my Memorial Day weekend? It should be a nice break from cleaning my doggie-floors!

This week I have been thinking a lot about censorship.

I used to be very open, bold even, in my blogging. I used to LOVE blogging. But I received a lot of criticism, enough that I stopped blogging altogether for a few years because, if I couldn't say what I really thought/meant/wanted...what was the point?

I am finding that is true with my writing as well. I am worried about who will read it and what they will think, that they will frown upon me because I am too...me. Because "Me" is not like anyone else around. Not even close.

I have wanted to quit writing altogether because of self-censorship. It is hard to hang one's metaphorical heart on one's sleeve and keep from being made a fool in the process. In fact, I daresay it's impossible. I am trying to write my entire new manuscript without using one swear word or edgy, inappropriate theme. And I'll be honest. It ain't easy.

The real question is--am I brave enough to keep writing AND stop the self-censorship?

I don't know if I am. I can see myself getting published and then being ridiculed beyond what I can handle. How dare I write books for young adults that are truthful and raw and still call myself a "good person"?

They tell me to change what I think, say and write and then they will accept me. Did they ever think that perhaps it's not me that has the problem? But it doesn't matter. I'm still the one that has to live with it.

Censorship sucks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Birthday Dilemmas

I am blogging from Ontario, Canada. I will be traveling here two or three more times this summer so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

This week I am having a motherly dilemma. Thing 1 is having a birthday next week. Want to know what she has asked for?

1. An iPhone
2. A plane ticket to Austin Texas to visit her cousins
3. A pair of roller-skate shoes
4. A disco light
5. A razor and shaving cream

We usually keep birthdays very small—just a small gift from each member of the family. Most of you would look at this list and laugh at me, as you should, and tell me the answer is simple.

But let me explain my dilemma...
1. I want her to have an iPhone so she will STOP using mine! And, we are in the process of renegotiating our contracts so it would be relatively feasible to get her one. Except Daddy has insisted he is higher up the iPhone food-chain than she is so Option 1 is out.
Plus. Come on. An iPhone for a 10 year old? I can’t bring myself to do it.
2. I would love to send her to visit my sister. In fact, I would love to go with her. I think that is an awesome birthday present. And, thanks to my travel for work, I have enough frequent flyer miles to buy her a ticket.
But just because I have enough miles…should I? Is that too extravagant? Shouldn’t I save those miles for a family vacation instead?
3. I hate roller-skate shoes. The dog running around my hardwood floors is bad enough. Roller-skates? No.
4. A disco light? Seriously? Where am I supposed to get one of those? And…ew.
5. A razor? Heaven help me. She needs to, don’t get me wrong. She is starting to notice and getting self conscious so I can’t put it off much longer.
What is a mother to do? I have a bad habit of overindulging my children. I want them to have things. I do. But I’m afraid this time it’s gone too far.

I think we will end up with a razor, shaving cream and…WHAT?

Please give me some ideas!

I know. How about a Diet Pepsi and a kick in the butt?
There. It’s settled.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dog Dayz

Several months ago my kids suckered me into getting a puppy. My husband and I hate dogs. We vowed, at the alter, we would never have a pet.


And yet, somehow there is a mangy dog living in my brand new house.

I overlooked the accidents, because she was a baby.
I overlooked the chewing, because she was teething.
I overlooked a lot of things, because.

Ben keeps asking me what she gives in return. To which, I answer...

Um. She's cute? And she stink? And she has nasty dog breath and jumps all over me? She is always in the way? She costs lots of money? She gets my floors all dirty?

Yeah. That's what she gives in return.

So far, the only benefit I can see is that my yard is going in much faster because of her.

Today she crossed a line. Today she chewed a hole through my very best, my very expensive area rug.

So, she is grounded today while we debate her future. I am hiding in my room, enjoying a dog free morning, working in my warm cozy bed, watching daytime television, listining to the rain, and writing.

What could be finer?

Oh yeah, not having a dog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Discouragement and Perspective

Discouragement is a disease that has touched all of us at one time or another. For me, it takes many forms…

It’s a rejection letter

It’s a bad day at work

It’s a harsh word from a loved one

It’s an ungrateful child

It’s a pair of running shoes sitting in the bottom of a closet, taunting you

It’s bad things that happen to good people

It’s bad things that happen to you

It’s a pair of jeans that are just a little too tight

It’s a sleeve of Oreo’s and a half gallon of ice cream

It’s a dirty house

It’s a sink full of dishes

It’s a dirty dog

It’s an unfinished project

It’s an empty bank account

It’s an unwritten story

How do we overcome discouragement when it’s so prevalent, up in our grills 24/7/365? I believe who we are as a person is a function of what we do in the face of discouragement. Life will never change, it’s our perspective when life happens that defines us.

Last night, I came home from work and felt sorry for myself. I stuffed my face with comfort foods, laid on my bed and watched TV, slept, left the house, children and dog to themselves, and wallowed.

Today, I am ashamed that I let the little things in life get the best of me.

Today, I won’t let that happen again.
Will you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Creating Things...It's How We Roll

After following my own advice, I finally finished my retaining wall.

Isn't it beautiful? There is something to be said for creating something yourself, with your own hands. Thing 2, my 8 year-old, decided she wanted to learn how to create pancakes all by herself. So, with a sophisticated recipe in hand, she did just that.

That's how we roll at our house. We create things. Now, keep in mind--we aren't creative, but with a good formula and a little instruction, we know how to create.

The same can be said of writing. Most people are crippled with the idea of writing because they don't feel creative. You don't have to be creative to write, you simply need to have a desire to create.

If you have ever thought of writing, open that blank Word Doc on your computer, dust off that journal and start. There are many great books and websites available to help you along your journey if that's your thing. But it's not necessary. The most important part of the creation formula is merely to do it. To start.

Here's to pancakes and brick walls. Here's to writing a novel.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Building a Wall is Like Writing

I tried to build a retaining wall in my backyard yesterday. It took me about fourty-five minutes and looked something like this…

I realized I don’t know the first thing about retaining walls. Just like I don’t know the first thing about writing a book! But, here are five things I have learned about writing, as taught by Amateur Landscape Hour.

The Foundation is the Most Important Part

I couldn’t even begin to start on the rest of the wall until I had the foundation blocks in place. The foundation of your story is the beginning, middle and end, the Conflict, the Character’s Emotional Arc. All those components must be thought out and solidified before you can even begin to write your story. Some people can vomit words on a page, one after another, and have a book at the end of it. I don’t operate that way. I have to think out the basic core foundation of my story before I begin the word vomit.

Take Your Time

I was in too big of a hurry with my wall and as a result, it was crooked and uneven with gaps all over the place. As with writing, I have learned if you are too rushed, too worried about your word or page count, too worried about finishing to care about what you put into it, the finished product will suffer. It will be very evident that you didn’t take time along the way where it mattered.

Do Your Homework

You can save yourself a lot of rework if you simply do a little leg work to begin with. If I had asked some questions, if I had taken accurate measurements, if I had bothered to check my work along the way I wouldn’t have ended up with a wall that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Tear it Down and Start Over If Needed

Because I didn’t take my time. Because I didn’t focus on the foundation. Because I didn’t do my homework, I now have to tear down my wall and start over. And you know what? That’s okay. Rework is an important part of getting things right. I am learning that with INSIDIOUS, thanks to the agent critique I received a few weeks ago. Sometimes starting over is the best solution. You can never, never, never be so attached to something you’ve written that you aren’t willing to scrap it and start over.

Don’t Give Up

I could leave my wall the way it is and live with mediocrity because it’s okay. It’s not great, but it’s okay. I don’t know about you—but I don’t want my work to be just okay. I want it to be great. Something I am proud of. And because of that, I can’t give up. You can never give up improving; trying to build your story and make it the best, strongest story you can write. Just like I can’t give up on my sad little wall, I can’t give up on my sad little book.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Last year, when we decided to move, I spent weeks I decluttering our old house and packing boxes. Then I settled us into our temporary house in about 24 hours flat. Then I spent 6 months meeting with contractors, running errands, checking on the job, picking out colors—everything that goes into building a new house. When the construction was finished, we spent several more weeks getting settled. I wouldn’t let a soul rest until everything, even the garage, was put away and every last picture was hung.

I was a woman possessed.

Before I changed jobs last May, I was working 80-100 hours a week and I was on the road about half of my life. I thrived on the deadlines and the work. You know…until I had a mental breakdown.

Last November, I got a burr up my kiester and decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I finished the book that I had been working on for the prior 22 months. It was incredible.

How did I do all that? How did was I so busy and yet utterly happy with it all? How was I able to accomplish so much?


That’s how.

And now? The house is settled, I have a new job that barely requires a solid 40 hours a week and I am completely and utterly bored. I can’t seem to find my MOTIVATION.

I need my motivation more than ever right now. I have committed to write a second book and run a half marathon with my sister.

But alas, I am finding it hard to train.
I am finding it hard to write.
I am finding it hard to go to work.
I am finding it hard to clean the house.
I am finding it hard just to get out of bed in the morning.

Do any of you ever feel that way? Of course you do. I know I’m not alone in this. What do you do to stay motivated? I’m the kind of person that requires a life event, some kind of drama or goal, to motivate me. I’m a sprinter. I sprint for a short period of time and then fizzle out. The problem is, life isn’t always full of drama or big events. Sometimes it’s the same thing, over and over, for weeks, months, even years!

How blah.

I feel like an old man looking forward to the mailman each day so he has a reason to get out of his chair, walk to the mailbox, and hope for something exciting only to be disappointed with a pile of “Resident” mail and bills.

So how? HOW do we find motivation when there is no external force pushing us? How do we create motivation out of nothing other than what we have inside?

Here’s how. We get over ourselves, pull up our big girl panties and just do it.

Shel Silverstein, my favorite poet, said…

All the woulda-coulda-shouldas
Layin’ in the sun,
Talkin’ bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those woulda-coulda-shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a woulda-coulda-shoulda.

I’m a DID.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Writer's Block

I have been suffering from writer’s block since last November when I finished INSIDIOUS. Today I finally Googled writers block and found some helpful information from About.Com “Getting the Best of your Writers Block” by Ginny Wienhardt.

Ginny suggested a way to overcome writers block was to think of writing as a regular job, and less of an art. If she only knew what kind of an artist I am…

Wienhardt had a few other suggestions, which I have decided to try.

1. Have a schedule, and stick to it.

I will write sometime between sun-up and sun-down on someday of the week.


2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Camille Ballou, you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggonnit, people like you. You don’t in fact suck rotten eggs.


3. Don’t panic.

Oh no! Oh no! Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! I can’t think of anything to write. My mind is blank, my creativity is goo and has leaked out of my ear and into my hair. Ew! Ew! Ew! Get it off of me!!


4. Take time off

Uhhh, yeah. Check, check and check.

5. Set deadlines and keep them.

During said hours of sun-up and sun-down I will write 1,000 words a day on some 5 days a week.


6. Examine any deep-seated issues

Made an appointment with a therapist.


7. Work on more than one project at a time.

Putting in a yard. Training a new puppy. Mopping.


8. Try writing exercises.

There once was a girl from Nantucket...


9. Get away from the desk for a while.

Desk? What desk? I write in my lap. Can I get away from my lap for awhile? I’d love to. Does that mean liposuction can now be a write off?


10. Remember why you started to write in the first place.
Because I’m an idiot and wanted to prove something to myself.
 And now…I am proud to say my writer’s block is cured. You should try this, it’s better than chocolate. 
Here’s to 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Meaning of a Word

Last night, rain beat incessantly on my bedroom window. I love rain because it makes you feel like curling up with a blanket and hot cocoa or running naked through the streets. It is nature’s gift that brings spring flowers and green grass.

For those of us who own a dog and don’t have any grass to appreciate said gifts, it means this…

Guess what I will be doing today? If you said mopping, you were right! But not because my floors are a disgrace—I will be mopping because it will keep me from having to write.


I guess six days wasn’t long enough to make everything roses again. I have decided to give INSIDIOUS a break while I finish the first 25 pages of my new book. I have a conference in June I need to prepare for so I figured it was a good way to get some distance. Maybe in a few weeks I will be ready.

I did receive two more rejections—one from the full manuscript and one from a query. So, I am still waiting to hear back on three plus the one agent that has my full manuscript.

I wish I had more to blog about today but I’m not in a jovial kind of mood. I received word this morning that last night a dear, sweet man died after a long battle with cancer. His story is one I have followed for years, watching the triumphs and setbacks, the happiness and the heartbreaks. He defied all odds and his family taught me so much about holding strong, being positive and never, never, never giving up.

Cancer is an insidious disease. My grandmother—who died of it thirteen years ago—taught me that. She taught me the meaning of the word and so, even though it’s a silly book about teenage boys and demons, I named it INSIDIOUS for her.

May God be with this man and his sweet family at this difficult time, we love them more than they will know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Private Humiliation

The SCBWI conference in Boise, Idaho did not go as planned. I had hoped to return with tales of rainbows and pots of gold.

But alas, it was a dark cloud of discouragement with a thick, black, humiliated lining.

The agent critique I signed up for was painful at best. I am grateful for the honest feedback I received, but that doesn’t make the medicine any easier to swallow. Basically, it was like being in labor for 72-hours only to have the nurse come in and tell you your baby was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen.

I learned 10 very important things:

1) My main character is a jerk

2) There is no market for yet another book about…heaven forbid… demons!

3) My word choice was offensive, despite the context with which it was intended

4) My fight scene was unrealistic and stupid

5) My characters attempt at gallantry backfired

6) I started the book in the wrong place

7) I had food in my teeth

8) My shirt was ugly

9) My pants made me look fat

10) I am fundamentally flawed

…But despite all that, the writing itself was okay.

Um, thank you?

I spent the weekend wanting to give up. And not just give up—I'm talking take my computer and throw it out the window of a 100 story building kind of giving up.

But, I have to keep reminding myself that even though she thought my baby was hideous and should be burned at the stake; there are others who sort of dig my baby. I kind of dig my baby.

So here I sit at a very important crossroads. If I want to continue to query my book to agents and try and actually get the ugly thing published I have a lot of rework to do. My first two chapters need to be completely rewritten and I need to take a long, long, long and hard look at the rest of it. My other choice is to give up on this book and keep working on my new book, hoping that I can get it right the second time around. My third choice is to turn around, go back the way I came, and quit.

I am not a quitter by nature. Unfortunately, part of writing, part of putting yourself out there to the world and being open for attack, part of trying to achieve your dreams is being disappointed and humiliated along the way. I know that in my brain. It’s my heart that doesn’t understand.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I really don’t. But here’s hoping time will heal and I will be back to writing offensive, unreadable drivel in no time!

Friday, April 20, 2012

World Tour: Toronto, Niagara, Pepsico, Boise

I have returned from my ventures in Canada. I was able to sneak away from work for a quick jaunt to a little place the locals like to call Niagara Falls.

Now…I know. Niagara Falls is…like…one of the 7 Deadly Sins, or 7 Dwarfs or 7 something or other but it doesn’t even compare to the miracle that awaited me when I arrived at our offices in Toronto. That’s right, we were on the same floor as PEPSICO! Can you believe it? That means in the ladies room, I wasn’t just making water and reminiscing about last night’s asparagus, it means I was sharing a toilet seat with some of the greatest bottoms of our generation. A moment of silence for the dark mother, if you please.

To top off my wonderful week, we are leaving for Boise today. I get to see some of my favorite people and catch the SCBWI Read, wRite, Revise Conference. Is anyone else coming? I have a one-on-one with an agent to discuss INDISIOUS. I am so excited to get some professional feedback! I’ll blog all about the conference when I get back.

Until then…everyone have an amazing weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GoldiBen and the Three Fish, Eh

Today’s blog comes to you from the windy city of Toronto, Ontario, eh. I don’t have the best internet access so this will be short and sweet, eh. I am hoping to make it to Niagra Falls while I am here so here’s looking forward to some pictures on Friday’s Blog, eh.

GoldiBen decided while the cat was away, he would take Thing 1 and Thing 2 fishing. They caught a Papa, a Momma and a Baby. Aren't they cute?

Now onto my discovery in the wonderful world of writing. This weekend I read SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. I am beyond excited about the advice he gave on screenwriting. I worked furiously today getting my storyboard put together for my latest book. If you are struggling with putting your scenes together for your book, this is a must read!

Also, is anyone going to the Annual August conference for SCBWI in LA? Let me know if you’re going. I am trying to decide whether I can justify the cost and I want to know if 1) It is worth it and 2) is anyone going to be there I can hang out with.

Let me know!!! Do I hear a road trip coming on?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leering and Plotting

Today I am reading the book SCENE AND STRUCTURE by Jack M. Bickham while watching three strapping young men dig post holes in my backyard. They keep adding and removing articles of clothing thanks to this warm, yet rainy weather. But sadly—I don’t think the naval is going to make an appearance. I will have to find solace in the fact that yesterday I received my second request for a full manuscript. Granted, I also got my second rejection but who’s counting. Certainly not me!

I have been grappling with my latest manuscript, THE ROOST. I am trying to prepare for the June 2012 WIFYR conference and am hoping to find nuggets of inspiration in Mr. Bickham’s book. So far, I have learned 1) that I don’t know the first thing about writing a book and 2) the first book I wrote wasn’t nearly long enough to be considered a novel! How encouraging for me.

Nevertheless, I am enjoying Bickham’s advice on scene writing.

The first point Bickham makes is that fiction must make more sense than real life. Effects must have causes; and causes must have effects. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately in my own writing, I can always think of effects, but never causes. Because the causes require creativity and planning, something I struggle with. They have to be believable. They have to be logical while still being unpredictable. That is a tall order.

Bickham recommends three components of a good scene.

The Goal:

Tarzan loves Jane and wants her to come back to his tree house.

The Conflict:

Tarzan is dumber than a monkey’s butt

And Jane doesn’t know how to swing on trees

The Disaster:

Jane falls out of the tree and blames Tarzan. She files charges of neglect and stupidity and Tarzan is thrown in jail for 7 to 10 years…which is like 8 months in human time or something.

Jane is a player and refuses to wait. She breaks up with Tarzan.

Now, according to Bickham I have just propelled my story forward with this scene, leading you to wonder about the bigger question…will Tarzan and Jane live happily ever after? Can they overcome this obstacle?

In theory, I get it. In practice, it eludes me. My current manuscript reads like a travel log (as my dear and brilliant writer friend helped me to see). Tarzan woke up. Tarzan ate bugs. Tarzan saw Jane. Tarzan liked Jane. Tarzan wants Jane. Tarzan fails. So, I am dusting off my spreadsheets this weekend and I am going to try to implement Bickham’s advice and plan a Goal, Conflict, and Disaster for every scene within the book. That’s a lot of plotting and planning to get done before I can start to rewrite my first 25 pages for the conference.

*Sighs to self*

So what will all of you be doing this weekend?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Query Score Tied at 1!

First, the housekeeping issue of the day. The winner of the Easter Egg contest is…

Brenda Fisher!

Email me your book of choice and your address and I will have Amazon run it on over to you.

Now, onto today’s post. I am happy to update you on the 8 queries I sent out. As of today the score is tied at one rejection and one “Gee I didn’t run screaming in the other direction after Chapter 1 so please send me the entire book and then I’ll reject you.” That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I was asked for a full manuscript. Yippee!!! I was so shaky after the request that I went and ran 4 miles just to calm down. It’s a small step, but it’s a step. I only have 6 more to go…

On the reading front, this weekend I finished Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT.

It was incredible. I highly recommend this one if you liked Hunger Games…or if you just like a good book. I really must stop falling in love with so many fictional characters. The least someone could do is name them all "Ben" so I don’t get so confused all the time. I feel like Cybil. You know…if Cybil were a chubby little accountant wannabe writer.

Well, I’m off to have lunch with fabulous writer/blogger Brodi Ashton to talk about the wonderful world of writing. SO much better than work! What is everyone else up to?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pirate Booty and Bedazzled Eggs

At the beginning of the school year, Thing 2 came home and asked if I could help in her classroom as a “Shopping Mom” one day. I hate other people’s sticky, snot-nosed, whiney children but the teacher was offering Pirate Booty for the kid’s prize bags. So, begrudgingly, I acquiesced to her request.

What Thing 2 forgot to communicate to me was that this was a weekly gig.

So here I am, 8 months later, still volunteering at the school 1 day a week just so my daughter could have some loot for her Booty Bag. Every Friday I go to the school and help the children shop for books.

Guess what I have learned? Other people’s kids aren’t so bad once you get to know them and...reading excites kids. They are so excited each week to pick out a new story to read, they handle their books like treasures. They laugh out loud during the funny parts. They get engrossed in mysteries and suspense. They love to read and I am glad to have had the opportunity to help them discover the amazing world of books.

I just hope they remember it as they grow older. All those feelings that a book can bring to the surface, the world it can create for you to get lost in. That is what reading…and writing…is all about.

Which brings me to my version of Pirate Booty. Amazon.com. Ahhhh….Amazon.

It was like Christmas morning when I opened my email and realized that my long awaited copy of Holly Black’s BLACK HEART had indeed been released and is on its way to my doorstep as we speak. Yeah me! Sequel’s are the gift that keeps on giving.

If any of you haven’t read the Curse Worker Trilogy, I highly recommend them. Holly has created a fantastic world of magic based on the mafia that is completely new—a refreshing break from the norm. Go team Cassel!

Until my book arrives, I am keeping myself busy with Gayle Forman’s WHERE SHE WENT, the sequel to IF I STAY, which is gut wrenching. Ben even loves these books. And, now that I have pried my copy of WHERE SHE WENT out of his hands, I am happily engrossed in the world of Adam Wilde and my heart hurts for him.

Has anyone out there read any of these books? What did you think?

Well, this weekend is a big one with Easter and all. Our rotten eggs have been dyed and bedazzled beyond repair so we are ready!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget about the Easter Contest for a free book of your choice!! There is still time to enter. Just. Click. HERE.

Have an amazing weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Free Books for Easter!

In the spirit of the upcoming Easter Holiday, today’s blog will be an egg hunt.

Here's how it works. You get your name in the hat once or twice for each of the following to win a free book of your choice...

1 for each of the 5 questions you get right
2 for each referral you give me on your own Facebook, Twitter or Blog.
2 for each friend request on Facebook (Camille Andersen Ballou) or follow on Twitter (CamBallou) or on the Blog.

The goal is to double the number of followers I have. I need 10 more! If we reach this goal,  I will give away 2 books! But only if I can get 10 NEW friends! Winners will be announced a week from today.

Also, don’t forget the REJECTION CONTEST. A signed copy of Bree Despain’s THE SAVAGE GRACE is still up for grabs.

And now, without further ado, here are the five questions…

1) How many agent queries have I sent out?
2) What is the title of my book?
3) How many mistakes did my mom find in the first chapter?
4) What is my favorite/most influential book?
5) What is my favorite drink?

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor! (Bonus: Name that book)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Warning: Not Sunday Approved

All is quiet on the rejection front...in case you wondered. What can that mean? Dare I dream?

My mother (who you would have to know to appreciate the fact that she even read my book in the first place) finished reading my book in three days and took me to lunch to discuss it. The first thing she told me is that--even though she couldn't put the book down, she couldn't bring herself to read it on the Lord's day because of the...salty content. Um...thank you? Ha, ha, ha. The sad thing is, I worked really hard to clean it up. I guess you can take the girl out of the Navy but you can't take the sailor out of the girl!

The second thing she did was sympathize with my characters and discuss the controversial ending of the book. Score! In a big way.

Needless to say, I am very happy with the feedback. Now that she is done, I have turned the book over to Ben for a read. I saved him for last because, as my husband, what he thinks matters the most to me. After one chapter, he doesn't think it's salty enough. Hmph. You can't please them all.

Today I am going to be getting our yard ready for grass seed and attending a home party for some sort of essential oils. I'm hoping I can score some oils that will help me drop 50 lbs, de-salt and win the lottery. What say you? Is there such an oil? I hear it's called frankincense.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Survived My First Rejection

My blog today comes to you from the heart of Zion, Illinois, where the gas stations have never heard of a “Big Gulp.” I am literally in hell—my dark, aspartame mother and I have been forced apart. I think I might die.

But, nevertheless, today is a glorious day! I am proud (honestly) to have received my first rejection. I am happy about this because I survived it, unscathed. When I told Ben, he said, “Gee, I would say I’m sorry but I’m sure it won’t be the last one you get.” Now, you in bloggerland might think that wasn’t a very nice response but it was exactly what I needed to hear. We are keeping it real, yo. However, when he asked if I was rejected because of the two errors in the first chapter that my mom found AFTER I sent the pages off…well, that was a little uncalled for.

**Said errors have since been fixed and will no longer be a factor in said rejections here forth **

I have 7 more to go with this round of submissions. But alas, I am disappointed that none of you have participated in my CONTEST from Friday. I will still accept entries!

I must go, I have a full day of boring meetings but leave me a note and let me know how you are doing, say hi, let me know what kind of contests you would like to see, what kind of blog topics interest you and I will try to accommodate. Share the love.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rejection Contest…Let it Begin!

On Wednesday I submitted my first 8 agent queries. And then I threw up a little. And then I created a Pintrest account. Although I can sort of write a book and kind of figure out how to embark on the road to publication—I am NOT smart enough to figure out Pintrest. Would anyone care to elaborate and explain it to me?

I digress. I want to celebrate the next step I have taken. When trying to get published, you hear horror stories of the number of rejections you no doubt will receive before anyone takes your book seriously. How long did Stephanie Meyer’s TWILIGHT sit on someone’s desk? Or Stephen King?

It is depressing.

On the flip side, you hear about those lucky suckers that get picked up overnight. I have a feeling I will be in the category of those that sit on people’s desks and still never get published. I don’t have any delusions that my book is so wonderful that people are going to be pounding down my door for it. But, I am excited to take the journey and see if I can make it to the other side one day. That’s all I’m after.

So, I have decided to celebrate my rejections with book give-a-ways. Who’s with me? Leave a comment and place your bets:

1) How many of the 8 queries I sent out will reject me?

2) How many requests for full manuscripts will I get from the 8 I sent?

*hint—8 and 0*

The closest to the number on both questions without going over will win a signed copy of THE SAVAGE GRACE by Bree Despain. Spread the word to all your friends and relatives who love books as much as you do!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Thing-2 turned 8 years-old yesterday. She had an amazing birthday party on Saturday, much to the torment of her mother. The chocolate cake was sinful--the one from Costco, you know which one I’m talking about. Don’t pretend you don’t. (And no, I didn’t hide it in the trunk of my car, and eat it in a closet—it’s not like it was CUPCAKES!)

Anyway, the cake looked great going down.

Not so much when it was puked onto my brand-new carpet 6-hours later *sighs*

Se la vi.

I had to run 4 miles yesterday to work off the cake chubbies. Was it worth it? Ohhhh yeah.

Does anyone else out there run? Do you have any tips for me? My sister Tara has thrown down the gauntlet and I am trying to train for a Half Marathon in July. What a joke, right? That’s what I thought. The only way the race would be fair is if all the other runners had to strap a 100-lb bags of flour on their backs and run alongside me.

Being fat is so unfair sometimes.

But look at the bright side—no one expects much of you so you can hide cupcakes in your car and eat a Costco sheet cake and order the Super-Size combo meal with the Diet Coke and all people will do is roll their eyes and say, “Figures.”

Ain’t life grand?

Happy Eating and Running Everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Winners and a Sneak Peek

The moment of truth has arrived!

And the winners, selected by random drawing out of Thing 2’s homemade pottery bowl/mug/paperclip holder gizzy…

Jonni – signed copy of EVERNEATH
Tara - $15 Amazon Gift Card
Brenda - $10 Amazon Gift Card

Tara and Brenda, watch your email accounts for the Gift Certificates. Don’t delete them!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered and are now my new friends! I’m so glad to have you along this journey with me. And never fear, I will have a lot more give-a-ways coming up…including a signed copy of Bree Despain’s THE SAVAGE GRACE, her final book in the DARK DIVINE TRILOGY.

So, my friend Kaylie (who I am totally crushing on in a completely plutonic way at the moment) reviewed my manuscript and got her comments back to me this week. I am so excited to start working on my revisions. But I’m also overwhelmed. It’s hard to put work into something so massive and then have to go back and fix all your weak points because guess what…they are weak points for a reason. Because, um, if I didn’t suck at certain things I would have done it right the first time, no? Exactly. Nevertheless, I printed off my book and I’m digging in.

Someone tell me again why I thought this would be fun?

I thought I would leave you with a section of the book that I read last night and thought to myself—hey, that wasn’t total crap! So, here it is, hope you enjoy it…

He last saw her the day of the funeral, and it unnerved him how much she’d changed. The scene at the cemetery never left him—Austin letting Cameryn sob into his shirt, Dayne’s dad keeping his wife upright, people gossiping and jockeying for position. Macoy could count on one hand the number of people who loved Dayne enough to be there. Everyone else just wanted a front row seat to the Greek Tragedy of a Young and Untimely Death. The wailing, the grief, the god-awful smell of lilies and roses, heat beating down on the casket, the 8 x 3 cement prison hidden with crappy synthetic grass. Alone, those things were bad enough. Together, they crushed him. He found a tree to lean against for support. Survival. The tree would get him through. Even after everyone but the family had gone, he stayed melded against the bark, unable to move. Cameryn saw him then. She marched over, pausing just long enough to narrow her eyes before her hand struck his face.

“Couldn’t you at least pretend to cry? This is all your fault!”

Long brown hair whipped him in the face as she turned on her heel and stormed to the mortuary limousine. The accusation, finally verbalized, echoed through the hallowed grounds. Her black-nylon clad leg tucking itself inside the car was the last thing he saw of her.

Until tonight.

Have a great St. Patty's Day Weekend everyone. I will be hosting Thing 2's birthday party so I'm sure whatever you're doing will be better than that!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sprinklers and Attempted Murder

How was everyone’s weekend? Ours was eventful. Saturday my awesome family helped us to install our sprinkling system, which may or may not have involved 2 quarts of Coleman Fuel and a small fire. We aren’t completely done, but its progress toward having a yard and feeling civilized again.

Then, on Sunday, Ben almost killed our little doggie with a rock to the head but, much to his chagrin, she is doing fine. Thanks for all the well wishes and casseroles.

What did everyone else do this weekend?

Tonight is the launch party for Bree Despain’s THE SAVAGE GRACE at Kings English Bookstore…don’t forget! Also, there are only four days left to enter the contest. Find out how to enter HERE

Have a Happy Tuesday everyone!