“Z” is for Zombie!

The zombie apocalypse is upon us!  RUN! Okay, not really, but it's fun to pretend.http://www.zombieevacuation.com/At the end of October, right before Halloween, there will be the best 5K race in the history of running.  Okay, probably not really that either, but I've never been so excited about anything exercise related before.The premise is that we're all evacuees, and we need to navigate our way through a zombie-infested forest.  It's a 5K race with twenty obstacles--man-made and naturally occurring--to slow us down.  We'll get health flags, and the zombies, which can crawl, walk, run, etc., will take them from us.  The objective is to get through to the finish line "alive" (with, I'd guess, at least one health flag).  There are even different routes to take to get to the end!It'll be my first 5K ever, and that in itself will be a big accomplishment because I'm not much of a runner.  And though I know that this race will undoubtedly take longer than...
Read More

“Y” is for Yankee English

One of the reasons we're so happy to be living in the U.K. is that they speak the same language we do.  But that's not entirely true.  And this isn't even counting the extra "u"s in words, like "favourite." But an extra "u" here and there never hurt anyone, and only makes my spell-check go crazy. Since we've been here, we've definitely noticed a language barrier...though at least it's small enough so that we can explain what we really mean in case of any misunderstandings. Some differences are slight, and some are major.  Some can cause embarrassment, and others are no big deal.  Here are a bunch that I've noticed, and because I had trouble remembering more, I had a little help from my Facebook friends.  I'll list the Britishisms first, then the Yankee ones.Brits will often say, "Can I help?" instead of, "Can I help you?" "Cheers!" is often used as a "thank you" or "goodbye," though sometimes it's said...
Read More

“X” is for X-Rated

Unless you live under a rock, you've undoubtedly heard of a book called Fifty Shades of Grey.  If you haven't, Google it.  But I'll provide an extremely abbreviated summary: an erotic novel has made mainstream best-seller lists.  Like, the New York Times best-seller list among others.  It's also gained popularity in many other countries...I've seen displays of it at the Tesco I often go to.  Oh, and people are surprised that women read sexy books.  That part makes me scratch my head...how is that a surprise?  Oh well.But this post isn't about Fifty Shades of Grey.  It's not a book review.  I'm not sharing my thoughts (good or bad) on Fifty.  Nope.  Sorry to disappoint.  So if you're looking for one of those blog posts with those things called opinions, or are looking to share your own on Fifty, too bad. Instead, this post is about a common theme in news and articles I've been seeing, often in conjunction with...
Read More

“W” is for Writer’s Block

As I alluded to in yesterday's V post, I sometimes get writer's block.  I also call it word constipation.  There's something in there that needs to come out, but goddammit, it's not going to when you want it to. If only it was this simple...I know there's a lot of people who just assume that we can crank out words on demand.  "What's the big deal?  You have to get this manuscript done by the end of June, so you do it, right?"  Um, yes, but it's a bit more complicated than that.  Writer's block can come on for a number of reasons, and it's like someone has sucked the creativity right out of you.  Your characters can clam up, stress can take over your life, you reach some kind of plot roadblock, etc. But there are ways around it.  There was a pretty good workshop on writer's block at the RWA conference last year, and while I don't have my notes...
Read More

“V” is for Voices in my Head

Before you go thinking I'm a crazy person (I'm not saying I am, I'm not saying I'm not), I wanted to take this opportunity to give you all a little peek into my writing method.Each author writes differently.  Some write by the seat of their pants and put down whatever comes to mind; others plan out every inch of their stories in outlines so detailed they're practically already the manuscript.  But no matter what you do, you'll have to hear the characters so you can tell their story.As for me, I hear two versions of the characters.  One version sits on my desk or shoulder and tells me everything about them, their motivations, etc.  If this version doesn't talk to me or withholds information, I get writer's block.  Also, if I try to make a character act against some core element that they have, even unbeknownst to me, it doesn't work.  The second version is the one that appears in...
Read More

“U” is for Unsolicited Manuscript

An unsolicited manuscript is a manuscript that's sent out to an agent or publisher that they haven't requested. Why am I clarifying this? Something people assume writers do, is that we finish our manuscripts and send them off in the mail to some big New York publisher, hoping to hear good news.  That's far from accurate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that most of that is now done electronically.  Nowadays, a lot of publishers--especially the Big Six and other NY-based publishing houses--won't accept something they haven't requested to see themselves, or something someone other than an industry professional, i.e. an agent or perhaps one of their editors, hasn't pitched to them."And let me mail this off to someone who won't even read it!"In other words, the average writer isn't going to hit up the post office and send mass amounts of paper to someone who will instantly send it back (if they're that lucky).  They'd...
Read More

“T” is for Tea

I've always been a tea drinker more than a coffee drinker.  Don't get me wrong...I love a good cup of coffee, but someone else has to make it.  Or I'll buy it.  But there's just something about a nice hot cup of tea that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.Since moving to the UK, I've been drinking more tea than before.  When I grew up in the northeast, I'd occasionally have hot or iced tea.  When I lived in the south, it was almost exclusively iced tea, and boy did we go through a lot of it.  I would brew it myself and everything...not powdered Lipton crap for this gal.One thing they have over here that I've fallen in love with is tearooms.  My favorite is Peacocks Tearoom in Ely, which consistently appears on ranked tearoom lists.  You can get the same experience here as going to Harrods, for a fraction of the price.  Not only is their...
Read More

“S” is for Stress

Stress.  We all have it.  And it's hard to define.But you know it when you see it.Not too many people know this, but there's both good stress and bad stress.  You can experience good stress when getting excited for a vacation, or waiting for contest results, or during any other positive event.  Bad stress...well, everyone's experienced that. Bad stress makes you hungry for expensive electronics.The physical effects are similar, though.  There are all kinds of crazy biological processes that go on during times of stress, but most people are familiar with fight-or-flight responses, sleeplessness, higher blood pressure, and the release of cortisol (a stress hormone) into their bodies.  A lot of people either lose or gain weight from times of stress, from not eating enough, to eating too much, to that pesky cortisol. Either way, stress needs to be managed or else our bodies wear down.  Ever crash after a particularly stressful event?  Maybe during a finals week?  After a big...
Read More

“R” is for Recipe

Doing something a little different today, because I want to shake things up a bit! I love my crock pot/slow cooker, and I love new recipes for it.  I thought we could do a little trade... I'll share one of my favorites, and you post a comment with one of your favorite slow cooker recipes (or a link to it).  That would make me a very happy gal!I figured this one out by tweaking a recipe a friend gave me. I added the mushrooms and onion, and loved it.  This recipe would work best with a 4 1/2-6 quart crock pot.Creamy Mushroom Pork Roast1 pork loin roast (between 2-5 pounds), trimmed of fat and cut into 3-4 big pieces to fit in cooker2 cans cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounces each) OR 1 family-size can2 cans cream of mushroom soup (10 3/4 ounces each) OR 1 family-size can2 (8 ounces each) packages fresh mushrooms (white button, baby bella, etc),...
Read More

“Q” is for Query

Querying. This is NOT something I'm looking forward to, but it's a necessary evil. It's a short letter written to an agent or publisher/acquisitions editor to highlight and sell your book.Writers can query both written and unwritten material; it can be used to sell an idea for a book that an author will write if contracted by the publisher, but most commonly is used to sell a finished written manuscript. It's the first impression someone who may buy your work gets of your MS, and it's critical.  You don't get to query again with that person or company if they reject (although there are extenuating circumstances).  It may also lead to an agent or publisher requesting to see your actual MS, or a partial example of it like the first three chapters or so.  That's why this is such a big deal...if you screw it up, you won't make a sale. Even though they're not long, query letters can be hard to...
Read More