Top 5 Tips for Reading in Summer

There are so many wonderful blogs listing the best summer reads, so I thought I’d go in a different direction and give you guys some tips on HOW to read those great summer books while enjoying the beautiful weather.

Sure, time-wise it’s easier to read in summer, because we have longer, lazy days, and nights that seem to stretch into infinity. But think about it: you’re outside all the time, your hands are all sunscreen-y, and the whole constantly-on-the-look-out-for-bugs gets to be a real drag.

Trust me. I’ve been there, and I’m here to help you. Here are my top 5 tips for reading outside.

1. Always secure your page with a paper clip when reading outside!! Not a bookmark.

Because if you’re anything like me, you’re relaxing, absorbed in the story when all of a sudden there’s a tickle on your arm and you look down and it’s totally a wasp crawling on you and you’re all

And the book is in the pool and the bookmark is probably in the bushes and you’ve lost your place.

Did I say wasp? Okay, it might have been a ladybug.

All right, fine. Nine out of ten times it’s a strand of my own hair.

2. Don’t be complacent.

The biggest mistake you can make is to assume your time outside will be relaxing. Know it upfront: you won’t be absorbed in your book for more than a few minutes before an actual bee (not your own hair) attacks you, or you discover that the specific patch of sky over your yard has been deemed a prime flight pattern for flight school training, or the soothing sounds of your neighbor’s hedge trimmers WHILE HE BLASTS COUNTRY MUSIC, POWER WASHES HIS HOUSE, AND BARBECUES STEAKS ALL AT ONCE will rattle your reading zen.

3. Get to know your friendly neighborhood ice cream man, so you can tell him to GTFO.

I have a heart. I love the ice cream truck. The ice cream truck with its tinkling music means summer and freedom and joy, and cool, creamy, sugary happiness.

But I’m pretty damn sure my local ice cream man is having an affair with someone on my block and/or selling drugs, because he spends hours outside one house with the “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” song on a constant loop over and over and over and ….

4. If you’re reading on your e-reader, for the love of God make sure it’s fully charged before bringing it outside for your day of relaxation.

Because when this happens:


THIS HAPPENS:

5. If you’re spending the day reading at the beach, set aside separate snack time from your reading time. Otherwise, you’ll glance up from your book, mid-bite, and find this:

 

Do you have your own reading outside disaster story? Or have some tips for me? Let me know!

Happy reading, and happy summertime! 🙂

Movies and Chit-Chat and Blogs! (oh my!)

I hung out with Leandra Wallace on her blog today! We talked about the movie Authors Anonymous (a must-see if you’re a writer or, honestly, just in the publishing business in any capacity.) It’s hilarious and the cast is AMAZING. Check out our chat right here! (there are spoilers though–be warned 😉

Leandra is amazing so make sure you’re subbed to her!

It’s my Blog Birthday!!!

My blog is one year old!!!!!!! And I agree with Liz Lemon, we NEED cake.

Much better!

This blog officially turns 1 on Monday, but since I blog every Friday I’m celebrating today. Over the past 12 months it’s undergone lots of design/content changes, but I’m super happy with the way it is right now!

Here is a link to my very first blog!

How funny, right?! It is kind of weird to read a post of mine sans gifs though. As you all know by now, I do love my gifs! I definitely have a teeny, tiny obsession with them.

In fact, I think it’s time I let you all in on a little secret:

I write my blogs around the gifs I find on the internet.

Is this weird? I feel like this is weird.

I don’t do this all the time. But more often than not, when I’m searching around for gifs, one gif leads to another and I’m like “I HAVE TO USE THIS! I HAVE TO!!!!!!!!!” So I’ll re-write a portion of a blog just to be able to use the gif.

I consider it the ultimate challenge: “How can I work this into my blog???” And when I manage it, it feels so good.

Of course, I always stumble on tons of gifs I am absolutely dying to use, but can’t since there’s really, truly no reason whatsoever. Which results in a folder specifically for all my gif scraps.

Since it’s my blog birthday, please indulge me while I pull out my all-time favorite gifs that never had and never will have a place in my blog.

 

1. classic Friends moments that are really funny, but totally unrelated to writing.

(on second thought, I could have totally used this pivot one as an example of how you should never try to force a scene into your MS that doesn’t fit, just because you really love the writing. Oh well. Consider this a bonus blog within a blog: Never try to force a scene into your MS just because you love the writing. It might not fit, and then you’re stuck, crushed under a couch on the stairs.)


2. Fun Fact: gif searches for any and all emotions will somehow always lead you to images of Zac Efron, windswept and crying, in Charlie St. Cloud.

I haven’t figured out why this phenomenon occurs, but it does make it extremely easy to get sucked down an internet rabbit hole of Zefron prettiness. Which leads me to the following gifs. I’ve wanted to use each of these at some time or another, but since no one ever captioned them, it would have been difficult to drive my point home.

 

Amusement + Humility = Embarrassed laughter. This was going to be used in a blog about how awkward I feel when people call me an author. But it needed a caption of, say, “I’m so embarrassed right now, you guys,” to really work.

I thought this would depict typing quite well, and wanted to use it in my writing style blog, until I took a closer look and realized he’s basically saying “The peaches looked ripe. But then I checked, and they weren’t.”

 

This was in my folder with a note to myself that said “he’s EMOTING.” …and I can’t for the life of me figure out why, so…I’m posting it, just because.

3. Classic catchphrases that, try as I might, I can’t pretend would roll off my tongue in a natural way.

 

 

Thanks so much for readng my blog for a whole year! Hope you liked these gif scraps, and I promise to have more (relevant) gifs for years to come!

Be Clear…Really, Really Clear. Please.

 

One of my biggest challenges in the revision stages is BEING CLEAR. It all makes so much sense in my head, but it’s kind of amazing how getting my point across can be such a challenge. Obviously as authors, we want the reader to feel the exact emotion we’re hoping to convey, but think of what a muddled mess it can all become if you’re not clear.

Since I love music as much as I love books, I thought it would be fun to use songs as an example.

We’ve all experienced it: we listen to a song we love but CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF US FIGURE OUT WHAT THE SINGER IS SAYING. It’s so common that Jimmy Fallon has a bit where he reads people’s worst misheard lyrics on his show. As a lover of all kinds of music, I’ve made some fairly disastrous blunders that completely changed the context of the song.

I always pray the CD will come with a lyric booklet to avoid the following confusions. Below are my all-time weirdest misheard lyrics (My brother, Scott, has some pretty epic ones that I have to include. I could never unhear them once he told them to me!)

K.D. Lang’s “Constant Craving”

Actual lyrics: “Constant craving”

Scott’s misheard lyrics: “Don’t strain gravy.”

 

Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter

Actual lyrics: “Doesn’t really matter what the eye is seeing, cause I’m in love with the inner being.”

Scott’s misheard lyrics: “Doesn’t really matter what the audience sees, cause I’m in love with the A&P.”

 (side note: A&P is a grocery store, if you’re not from round these parts)

Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”

Actual lyrics: “Billy Jean is not my lover.”

Scott’s misheard lyrics: “Levi jeans for my son.”

 

Macy Gray’s “I Try”

Actual lyrics: “My world crumbles when you are not near.”

Scott’s misheard lyrics: “I blow bubbles when you are not here.”

 

Sting’s “Every Breath You Take”

Actual lyrics: “How my poor heart aches.”

Scott’s misheard lyrics: “I’m a pool hall ace.”

 

Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love”

Actual lyrics: “Tennis shoes, don’t even need to buy a new dress. If you aint there, aint nobody else to impress.”

My misheard lyrics: “Dennis shoots, Tony need to buy a new dress. A few have hair and nobody else is Empress.”

 

Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”

Actual lyrics: “To my homegirls here with the big butts, shaking it like we at a strip club. Remember only God can judge us, forget the haters, ’cause somebody loves ya. Everyone in line in the bathroom, tryna get a line in the bathroom…”

My misheard lyrics: “Do my own curls here with the big pups, shaping it like we at a strict club. Members only cod can juggle, protect the gators, ’cause somebody loves ya. Everyone in line in the bathroom, tryna get online in the bathroom…”

 

Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River”

Actual lyrics: “You don’t have to say what you did. I already know. I found out from him.”

My misheard lyrics: “You don’t have to say what you hid. At Autobarn. I found out from Jim.”

 

John Legend’s “All of Me”

Actual lyrics: “Love your curves and all your edges.”

My misheard lyrics: “Love your cursives and your etches.”

 

Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass” 

Actual lyrics: “And he ill, he real, he might got a deal. He pop bottles and he got the right kind of build. He cold, he dope, he might sell coke. He always in the air but he never fly coach.”

My misheard lyrics: “And he ill, he grill, hell, Mike gotta eel. He pop buttons and he got the right kind of dill. He old, he dough, he might spill coke, he always in my hair but he never life coach.”

“It’s Raining Men” by…(oh honestly. Does anyone actually know who sings that stupid song? I’m too lazy to Google it…)

Actual lyrics: “It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men! Amen!”

My misheard lyrics: “It’s Raymond Ben! Hallelujah! It’s Raymond Ben! Amen!”

(for years, I wondered who this elusive Raymond Ben was, and what he did to deserve his own song.)

And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate misheard lyric.

 

Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”

Actual lyrics: “Hold me closer tiny dancer.”

Phoebe Buffay’s misheard lyrics:

 

See what happens when you’re not clear?? Verrryyyy different emotions are felt in each version of these lyrics.

It dawned on me that I’ve misheard SO MANY lyrics in my life that this isn’t even the half of it. Maybe I’ll do a part 2 one day.

What’s your absolute worst/funniest misheard lyric???

Don’t Take it Personally!

Before I start I just have to say that when I wrote the title to this post I instantly remembered the Monica song, “Don’t Take it Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” ! Anyone remember it?! Anyone also own the single back in the day??! I LOVED THIS SONG.

then thinking about this song reminded me of that duet Monica and Brandy did together, “The Boy Is Mine”!

And I really really liked this song for a while, and I loved this video! until it won the number one spot on MTV’s Total Request Live EVERY DAY FOR MONTHS even though I voted for Hanson’s “River” EVERY DAY FOR MONTHS.

River was such an adorable video!! The whole Titanic parody…

Where the hell was I going with all this??

oh yeah.

one thing that kind of surprised me when I first wrote a MS was how people assumed a character was about them. If I write about a brother or a mom or dad, a best friend, a grandparent or a boy band it doesn’t mean I’m writing about MY brother or mom or dad, my best friend, grandparent or favorite boy band.

No. On all counts! It’s one of those unexpected author things I never saw coming. One crazy line, one bad character habit and I’d have a very insulted person to explain myself to. Sometimes I’ll take a significant trait and place it in a completely different character (ex: a habit from a friend might wind up as something the mother does), but besides, that everyone I write about is totally made up.

So, um, despite my horrible digressions in today’s blog, has anyone else experienced this? Where a family member/friend takes things way too personally in your MS??

The Liebster Award!

A bonus second blog this week 🙂  I love these kinds of tags, so here we go!

There are a few rules for accepting the Liebster Award, they are: thank your nominator and link back to their website, answer your nominator’s questions, leave 11 facts about yourself, nominate 5 or more blogs with under 200 followers and give them 11 questions to answer.
I was nominated by Michael, aka Mooky, aka an awesome blogger and fellow QTer. Thanks so much, Mooky!

If you like wit, wisdom, and Scotch I suggest you head on over here, and thank me later: http://michaeljmcdonagh.wordpress.com/

 

MOOKY’S QUESTIONS:

 

  1. Do you have a regular writing goal? If so, what is it? (Words or hours per day or week? Anything else?)

    A thousand words a day when I have a WIP going (which is almost always). I try not to worry about the quality of those words when I’m first drafting. Once I’m in the revising stages I try to get at least 10 pages a day revised.

  2. How far ahead do you plan or plot and how? (Seat of the pants? Detailed outline? Somewhere between?)

    I’m a hard-core pantser. I really want to try plotting because it sounds like it makes revising a little easier.

  3. Describe your most important writing relationship (A beta? CP? Your sister or mom, who reads your stuff? A spouse who’s brutally honest?)

    I have some betas, and my parents and brother read it (my mom can be more honest because she reads YA too!) but I think my agent is the most important. She always pin-points exactly what I need pin-pointed.

  4. When did you start writing fiction and how long have you been doing it?

    As long as I can remember. I think around second grade when I started learning how to string sentences together. But seriously realized it’s something I wanted to do when I was a sophomore in high school, when my English teacher told me he knew he’d walk into a bookstore someday and find my book.

  5. What are the last three books you read?

    STAY by Allie Larkin, TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han, and THE ONE by Kiera Cass

  6. What was your favorite book from childhood?

    THE MYSTERY AT LILAC INN, a Nancy Drew book. Read that one about fifty times, no joke! And I always got so nervous she wouldn’t get off the boat (spoiler alert: she always did)

  7. What is your biggest weakness as a writer?

    I tend to make some back characters too “cartoonish” or one-dimensional. It takes me a while to fully develop those secondary characters.

  8. What is your greatest strength as a writer?

    I really like my dialogue, and I think I’m pretty good at giving each character their own unique trait.

  9. What’s the best line you’ve written?

    this is tough because lines don’t make much sense out of context. My all time favorite comes at the end of the book, so I’ll hold off on posting it since it reveals what happens, but here’s a close second…but first the setup:

    The love interest in my novel is a rock star who’s spent his life answering ridiculous questions from the press, so, as a result, he doesn’t ask questions. Ever. He doesn’t avoid asking them intentionally, he just doesn’t feel the need to question things. At one point, he’s taking my MC someplace, but it’s a surprise and he tells her to keep guessing where they’re going till she figures it out, so she thinks to herself:

    I can’t believe it. I’m playing Twenty Questions with the boy who has never asked one

    Again, out of context it isn’t a big deal but I like it.

  10. What are some of the most embarrassing things someone else has pointed out to you in your writing? (List your face/palm moments here)

    Oh boy. I’ve had a few disastrous homonym moments. My worst? “run the gamete” when I, of course, meant “gamut” (kill me now) and the horrible part is that I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, my brain just got fried.

  11. If you could choose between writing a great novel that stood the test of time (but didn’t return significant financial gain during your lifetime) or making a boatload of money on a novel that would soon be forgotten, which would you choose and why?

    absolutely one that stands the test of time, because I want to write characters and stories that stick with people forever. Though I hope it’d earn me enough to eat, like, a PB&J or something.


ELEVEN FACTS ABOUT ME:

1. I can wiggle my ears. Both at once, and one at a time. And when I move my right ear it goes more up than back, and my right eyebrow goes up with it. Which means when I try to give someone a skeptical look, my ear has to move for that to happen.

2. I was 13 for my first concert (No Doubt) and I’d rather be at a concert than most places…I think they’re addicting, and I’ll take a good concert over a Broadway show or a movie or a sporting event any day.

3. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d probably be a good detective, because I love observing people and situations.

4. I’ve been getting my hair cut by the same person for over ten years.

5. I had the chance to meet Macaulay Culkin (my very first crush!) at the Conan wrap party. I helped work coat check before the party started, so I took his and his brother’s coats and gave Macaulay his wristband. It was surreal and weird and awesome all at once. Also kind of sad, since he clearly has some issues. (side note: honestly, not a single person knew what on earth he and his bro were doing there. Apparently, they just felt like going, so they went.)

6. I swam with dolphins in Hawaii.

7. I don’t know how to ride a bike.

8. I watch a lot of TV. A lotttt. I love TV and for a long while I thought I wanted to be a TV comedy writer.

9. In 7th grade home ec, we were practicing sewing buttons and I somehow managed to sew the swatch with the button onto my jeans. I tied my jacket around my waist for the remainder of the day and no one noticed.

10. Even though my book is about a YouTube makeup guru, I actually hated makeup up until a few years ago. And even though I love it now, I don’t wear it often.

11. On a trip to Maui when I was 13, my Hanson “Middle of Nowhere” CD broke. I think my parents spent an entire day driving us around the island searching for a record store that sold it, and all we found was a cassette tape. It was an interesting way to actually see the island, I guess…(and hey, I still have the cassette somewhere so it wasn’t a total waste).

 

BETH’S QUESTIONS:

1. How do you come up with character names?

2. Do you have a special place you have to write, or can you write anywhere?

3. Have you ever been to a writing conference, if so which one(s) and what did you think? If not would you like to go to one someday?

4. Which book do you wish you wrote yourself?

5. Most underrated book?

6. Most overrated book?

7. What’s your all time favorite word?

8. Be honest: do you ever practice your autograph for future book signings???

9. What cures writer’s block for you?

10. Who’s your favorite book boyfriend/girlfriend?

11. Not writing related: What’s your favorite food??

I’ll take a page out of Mooky’s book, (pun intended), and I won’t tag anyone personally, so if you’d like to do this tag just let me know in the comments and I’ll “nominate” you, then go ahead and do it on your own blog 🙂  if not, no worries, I got to post a bonus blog for the week and hopefully you learned some new and embarrassing things about me!