Monday, January 31, 2011

Pet Wish List

Last weekend I watched Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy again. I giggled. I laughed. I chuckled. And I fell in love with Marvin again. I fall in love with him every time I watch the random, quirky movie. I don't know if it's because of his ridiculously adorable looks, or if it is the unforgettable, dynamic voice of Alan Rickman, but I love the melancholy robot. It got me thinking, which TV or movie characters would I like to have as a pet?  Here are my picks:
Marvin the incredibly depressed robot.
Wishbone, our book loving, furry friend.
Thor, the alien life-form who saves the universe many times in Stargate SG-1.
A minion from Despicable Me--I love this movie a little bit too much. 
Don't remember what this one's name is, maybe Dave or Steve.
And of course, I really want a miniature beagle.
I know, I know it's not a TV or movie character, just have to throw it in here!

Which TV, movie, or fictional character(s) would you like to have as a pet? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Haps

What have I been up to lately?

• On Tuesday night, I did my first EVER book reading. I read the first chapter of my manuscript. I was so nervous, but it was well received. For some reason all the pics I put on here look crappy. I deal with the agonizing pain of grainy photos by going to the therapist once a week. :)
• I must get over my double spacing habit. I heard single spaced is standard, so I must stop my thumb from doing the habitual double tap. When I was in elementary school they told us to do double. They have ruined my life FOREVER. Darn the double. It’s gonna be tough. Wish me luck.
• Slowly I’m making a small dent in the Off the Shelf Reading Challenge. Almost finished with the second book on my list. I will write a review on my blog coming soon. For more information check out BA Reading Challenges: Off The Shelf Challenge
• With all my heart, I want to start writing my next book. It’s a YA Urban Fantasy. I desperately want to get to know my characters better by writing them into reality. I will wait though because I don’t think I can handle working on two projects at once.
• While my editors are working on my manuscript, I’m taking a sabbatical from writing. I need a break before I start another all-I-can-think-about-is-the-revision-of-my-manuscript-zippy-craziness. One of my editors, Robin, had this to say about my manuscript, “Finished your book. Very impressed! You are a great writer. My initial reactions are: inventive, unique, clever, interesting. I felt like I wanted to keep reading to find out more. Way to go girl! You make me proud. I think you could be successful with this.”
• Funny story: On Monday, my work did a model search for marketing materials. I joined in on the recruiting efforts. After a while, I saw this tall, desperately handsome guy with a baseball cap on. I nonchalantly stepped to his side and said, “You want to be a model, don’t you?”
He responded, “You think I’m cute, don’t you?”
Inching closer to his side, I admitted flirtatiously, “Yes, I do.”
“It won’t be the first time I’ve heard that,” he said, chuckling.
“I’m sure about that.” I was pretty much smitten by now. I figured out his name—a pretty boy, yet, still manly one syllable name. “You want to be a model though, right?” I proceeded to explain what he would be modeling for, and we would need to take a face shot of him too.
“But I didn’t do my hair today,” he dodged.
“You look just fine to me,” I said, wondering where this insane flirting was coming from.
“Alright, I’ll do it.” He shrugged. I walked him to the sign-in desk and I took his baseball cap off. His hair didn’t look that bad.
He had his pic taken and walked in my direction. Something inside me spewed these words out of my mouth before I could think about what I was saying. “I forgot to tell you there’s a pre-requisite for being a model for us.”
Somehow, I was standing within inches of him. He stared into my eyes and responded, “Really, what?” With a dazzling smile, he waited for my response.
“You have to go on a date with me.” I think I flushed because my heart was racing so fast. Was I sweating? Luckily, I put on perfume that morning. I thought I might die any minute for having been so blunt, but I was proud of myself.
“Sure,” he said. Really? He just said sure to me. My heart was about to force itself out of my chest and slither away from me like a snake.
I got his digits and he walked away. Wow, I did it. And I called him on Wednesday to ask him out. We will be doing something next week. Sometimes a little boldness goes a long way. Now everyone please applaud my brilliant methodical way of getting a date!
*Clap Clap Clap*
• Last night I played Pop Culture Trivia at one of my friend's pizza places. We ate pizza while the MC asked the trivia questions. My team won by a close . . . last. Yep, we lost. It was fun though.

Anyway, what has been filling your time lately? Have you read any good books? Any fun trips planned?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I've Learned Wednesday Begins!

Over the past year, I’ve learned loads about writing and the publishing industry. I would like to hand off a bit of my “tip of the iceberg” knowledge to you. Plus, writing and the publishing industry are fascinating to me, so why not blab on about something I love, right?
Today, for the first “What I’ve Learned Wednesday”, I want to share about the infamous phenomena called “Social Networking.” I started writing my novel in December 2009. It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that I became obsessed with getting it published. With talking to a few people, they told me a piece of WAY important advice. Social Network. Social NETWORK. SOCIAL NETWORK. Being an aspiring author, no one knows you at all—at least in the publishing industry. Even though I don't have a finished manuscript yet, I can be doing something incredibly important to get my name out there, right now and not later. Therefore when I have a finished manuscript, more people will know who I am than would have otherwise.
I already had a blog that I randomly posted on about my book, but was not consistent with posting. I decided then and there that my book is important enough to take on social networking. I WANT people to read my story, and NEED it to be published, therefore I had to place myself into the industry. I started blogging on a consistent basis, loving every minute of it. I found myself thinking of new things I could post—funny stuff, writing related stuff, etc. Be prepared because you’ll become obsessed with it.
In the process of social networking, you’ll eventually fall into a routine and be thinking of new ways to attract people to your blog. I share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and via email. You’ll find yourself revamping your blog to make it attractive and user-friendly. Make sure it screams YOU! You are selling yourself, so be yourself.
But. The key to my social networking absolutely was joining Twitter (emphasis added to express major I-can’t-control-myself enthusiasm). Twitter developed into a writing forum for me. Within a short period of time, I was chatting with people I didn’t even know. We discussed our love of writing and reading, even stuff not related to writing. At the beginning, I was given some valuable advice from one of my “Tweeps.” She said, “Don’t just talk to people, talk with people.” I have tried to implement that advice into my networking, especially on Twitter. Start a conversation, open up dialogue, and be yourself in the process.
If there is one piece of advice I can offer any aspiring author, it is to social network. NOW! Don’t wait. It takes some time to get into the swing of things. You may not have many people follow your blog at first. I am still working on a consistent following. You may not have people commenting on your posts, but keep going! Be persistent. Have patience. And be consistent. If you are consistent, people will wonder what you are going to post next on your blog, or say on Twitter. They’ll be expecting it. Once you have a following, you owe it to them to post, to tweet, and—in the end, have a book people want to read. Social networking has pushed me to get to the point that I’m at now—almost having a finished manuscript in hand.
Last tid-bit of advice from me to you is: Follow. Other. People’s. Blogs. You will learn an amazing amount of knowledge from them about writing and how to present your blog. Make sure that you comment on their posts. This will get your name out to people who follow the blogs you comment on. Comment on other people’s tweets as well.
Social Networking is the way I hope to get my baby—my novel—published, and it’s way fun too!
PS: This can be useful for other things you are trying to promote. It’s not just for writers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Made it to 1000

I thought it would be cool to document--with a really crappy picture--that I've had 1000 people view my blog. It was a happy moment for me.  I can't believe I have made it to 1000. I feel like there should be confetti thrown and a band marching down the street in my honor! 
Or better yet, in Taiwan, when there are festivals or the such, they drive down the small roads lighting off fireworks from the back of a truck and play strange clanking music.  I love the music. Bring on the Taiwanese fireworks baby.  Note: I lived in Taiwan for 13 months and loved it. I appreciate your following so much. Happy blogging from me to you!

FYI: I will be started something called "What I've Learned Wednesday." Obviously, this will be a weekly event taking place on Wednesday.  Yep, I'm always the one to state the obvious. I will be blogging about what I've learned thus far in my adventure in writing. I hope to share any bits of wisdom that I wish I would have known before I started writing.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writer's Solitude

I was thinking about the last three weeks of my life. And. The last year of my life since I’ve started writing my novel. Alright, I'll admit, I'm a homebody. Since, I have started writing, it seems like solitude has become a feature of my life. I escape down to my "office"—the basement couch, and there I spend countless hours typing, typing more, and typing A LOT more. During which time, the cell phone sits by my side (yep, it's my extra appendage). Will I answer it while writing/revising/editing? ABSOLUTELY NO! I will answer texts because at least that doesn’t require a full conversation commitment. Mean, I know! When I am in my writing zone, I am in my zone. And. Nothing should tear me away from the glorified zone.
The cartoon "Emperor’s New Groove" expresses  well how I feel when I'm in my zone:
Pacha: What happened?
Old Man: Well, I threw off the Emperor's groove.
Pacha: What?
Old Man: His groove! The rhythm in which he lives his life. His pattern of behavior. I threw it off. And the Emperor had me thrown out the window.
Pacha: Oh, really? I'm supposed to see him today.
Old Man: Don't throw off his groove!
Pacha: Oh, okay.
Old Man: Bewaaare, the grooove.
Pacha: Hey, are you gonna be all right?
Old Man: Grooove...
My groove can’t be thrown off during this time. My poor parents have been placed on the back-burner. A lot. They come down to talk to me, and I half listen/half type.
I read a post by Kiersten White today discussing the craziness that happens in a writer's life.  IE: How many days has it been since we've showered? Personally, I have a hard time not showering every day—perhaps I'll miss one day, but for the most part I am a daily showered writer. Maybe the writer’s solitude is not a good thing, but we get the happy job of writing done. Seriously, over the last three weeks, I haven’t socialized very much outside of work. This weekend I am determined to hang out with friends—my treat for a long three weeks of getting another edit/revision done. I must apologize for the solitude that tends to infiltrate my life, but it is a consequence of being a writer. We have this intense desire to write our story, so we often sacrifice other important things.
Writers, how do you cope with the solitude? Do you skip showering? Do you force yourself to get out in the social scene? Do you lock yourself in your "office" for days or weeks at a time? Non-writers, what do you think about this post? Would you be able sacrifice so much to write?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poor Little Bunny

"The Man Cold"
I thought this poor little bunny was funny enough to make it on my blog. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think of it, or send me links to other funny videos.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Manuscript Fresh from the Printers

On Saturday, I printed my complete manuscript for the very first time. Printing it made the whole writing experience more real than I would have expected.  It's one thing to view your story on the computer, but when it's hundreds of pages printed out in a huge stack, it makes it more tangible—more real. Printing it made me feel like my thousands of hours plucking away at the computer wasn't for nothing. I couldn't believe that I actually made it this far with my book. The smile couldn't be wiped off my face for hours after the said printing. The poor girls working at the print shop probably thought I was going to pass out due to the thrill of the adrenaline punched excitement that was rushing through my veins. 
Of course, I captured the moment with some pics for a blog post.  Just wait until it is my very own ARC, or better yet, the published book.  It'll probably look like my head is about to pop off.
My weekend consisted of a mad 500-yard dash of revising. Saturday was my deadline to release it for the first time in its entirety to a couple people to edit/critique it for me.  Before that, I only had a critique partner work on a few chapters at a time. Anyway, I stayed up late on Friday until I was about to drop dead of exhaustion, and awoke early on Saturday and finished another edit.  Tehehe!  Plus, I wrote the book's ending which has been stashed away in my head for months now.  I finally wrote it.  And. It. Is. Beautiful. 
All you writers out there, how did you feel the first time you printed off your manuscript?  Were you as jubilant as I was, speechless, or did you really pass out?  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Inspired Me to Write?

When I was growing up, to be honest, I didn’t like reading. My favorite book was The Plant that Ate the Dirty Socks. Yep, you got it! And I especially liked The Return of the Plant that Ate the Dirty Socks. Still love ‘em too. I read what I had to during school, but that was as far as it went. You may wonder how I am a writer if I never enjoyed reading while I grew up? Here’s your answer: I worked in the music department of a store all throughout high school. The book department manager encouraged me to read the Harry Potter books. At that time, the Goblet of Fire had just been released. I promised her I would read them and bought all four books.
Soon after the purchase, I started college. I don’t remember much of that first semester because my nose was stuck more in the Harry Potter books than my textbooks. I fell in love with the story and its characters.
Now you probably think that I gobbled up books from that point on. Wrong. I only read the 5th, 6th, and 7th HP books. The pivotal point of my writing life and steppingstone to my hopeful (crossing fingers) career as a writer occurred during the summer of 2007. I was bored and really needed something to do. While at Target, I walked passed the book section, and thought maybe I would get a book to read away my boredom. I remembered a book one of my old roommates had discussed with me a year prior—Twilight.
I purchased it, not really expecting much of it. I read the first three books within a couple weeks. I had to wait impatiently for Eclipse to come out, otherwise, I would have finished them in a week. From that moment on, I was a bookworm. I couldn’t get enough of them. Two and a half years later and a slew of books on my reading resume, I had a dream that was the catalyst for my novel. It stuck with me for weeks until one sleepless night I finally plotted out the book. The next day, I started typing away and have been ever since.
I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t for the Harry Potter books opening up the world of reading to me, or Stephenie Meyer inspiring me to read. It was my love of reading that brought me from being a reader to a writer. I thank all you who write for inspiring me and helping me learn more about writing through reading your stories.
I love writing now and it is what I want to do for the rest of my life. My advice to anyone who desires to write is to read. A lot. And I hope that one day, my works will inspire others to read (or to write) as what happened to me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Healthy Food Diet

I started a healthy food diet last week. I did pretty well except for Friday. I blame that on my old boss who was having a going away party. JK  Kirk you will be missed. Plus, how can I pass up peanut butter bars. Seriously.  Mmm, just thinking about them makes me hungry for the sweet taste and textured goodness. Back to the point, the diet is a 12 week program that includes menus for meals and an exercise program. I'm sort of excluding the exercise program because I don’t have time, and I feel that my three times a week doing the elliptical at the gym is sufficient. Could probably see better results if I went all the way and did the weights, but alas, I choose not to.
Note: I’ll be the first to admit that I eat really bad. Therefore, I am doing this diet in hopes that I can shape up my eating habits, thus becoming HEALTHIER. Plus, the loss of weight will be an added bonus.
The diet has you eat 6 small meals a day, and every week has a different set of meals for that particular week. At the end of the 12 weeks, you have a whole heap of healthy meals that you can eat thereafter. It’s AWESOME!
This week’s dinner is AMAZINGNESS! Here is the recipe--I altered the recipe slightly to my taste.
Picture of Couscous--it's a food of the gods.
4 oz cooked chicken
2 ½ TB Couscous (I put in a bit more cause I love this stuff)
¼ cup onions
½ cup bell peppers
Spice to taste
Add some Dole cole slaw mix for added veges.
Cook with some olive oil.
Layer the chicken and vegetable mix on top of couscous and enjoy.
Mmm, I loved it enough to write a blog post about it. Try it and let me know what you think.
Have a Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Birthday Surprise

At little background about Julia: I live with my parents, have for two and a half years. I'm 28--29 in four months from today. Yep, I'm mooching off my parents, but they love having me there.  I'm a live in maid--what more could you ask for?  The best part of living with my parents is it's free free free.
Anyway, I was at home alone last night editing/revising my WIP, and I heard the doorbell ring.  *Ding Dong*  Setting my lime green Dell laptop on the couch, I answered the door.  There were two young teenage girls at the door holding a plate of cupcakes.  Picture below:
The young girls said in super shy and quiet voices, "This is for Brother King (my dad) for his birthday."  Side note: The girls are from the church group that my parents attend, and I assume they do this once a month for all the "old folks" in the group. 
I was somewhat confused and hoped I hadn't forgotten it was my dad's birthday. "Oh, yeah his birthday is coming up," I said as the gears in my head caught up with me reminding me that his birthday was not today but in a couple weeks. 
As I took the cupcakes from the two young girls, I said, "Thank you."  And I closed the door, giggling at how adorable and nice they were to do that for him.  The funny part is I didn't think to tell them he wasn't even home.  They probably were confused and thought I was going to eat them myself, destroying the evidence in a huge bonfire in the backyard.  Nope, I didn't eat one of the chocolaty goodnesses.  Amazing, I resisted chocolate.  The world must be ending. 
Anyway, I chuckled at the cuteness of their gesture for at least an hour.  I texted my brother and sister and their spouses to tell them.  I even took a pic of the cupcakes to send them and for this blog post too.  
Isn't that the cutest thing ever?  
My dad saw the cupcakes when he got home and felt very special.  Thank you dear girls for thinking about my dadio.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Neglected Blog: Feed Me

Dearest all.  I have to admit, I feel like I've neglected my poor Writing Jewels blog over the past couple weeks.  Usually I try to post 3 - 4 times a week.  I tweeted yesterday that my blog is lonely and it's mommy (me) is not feeding it enough, especially since during Christmas, I fed it every day for my 13 days of Christmas.  I'll be better my poor starving blog.  Here's some food to fill your beautiful little tummy.

My haps during the holidays:
  • I deleted  about 12,000 words from my WIP
  • I almost went through a whole edit/revision of my WIP - I'll be done this weekend and then will hand it off to 2 of my peeps to edit/critique. Thanks Robin and Sarah. 
  • I read two books - Matched by Ally Condie and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  GREAT books.  Highly recommend.
  • I ate lots of candy, especially Peppermint Bark and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (my fav)
  • I had a great time with my family.  Love them dearly.
  • I slipped into the snow outside of work which made me giggle wildly.  I wish someone could have seen it.  If I can make someone laugh then the fall was well worth it.
  • I ate MORE sweets.
  • Typically, I slept in until 10 a.m.  I love sleep!
  • I worked 3.5 days total during the holidays (makes for a hard week knowing I have to work 5 days in a row now--insanity I say)
  • Two cute stories about two of my nephews, written below:
Nephew (4yo) - During the day on Christmas Eve, he grabbed a suitcase on wheels, put a pillow and blanket inside, and proceeded to walk door to door to see if the neighbors would let him sleepover--he had no takers.  He ended up almost going door to door again that evening after we opened presents.  We stopped him before he could get out of the yard. We wonder what is going on inside that cute little guys head.  He's beyond hilarious.  Plus, when he opened his presents he said, "I totally want that!" 
Nephew (2yo) - Bless the little boys heart or should I say head.  Well, with two older brothers, you can believe that they like to rough house.  They were running around on Christmas Eve.  2yo nephew runs into the kitchen counter.  His face puffs up by his right eye.  My sister-in-law, his mom, was consoling him on her lap while holding some ice on the swelling bump.  And then it happened: he gets off of her lap and onto mine.  I console the cutie for almost 20 minutes.  No offense sister-in-law, I think your son loves me more than you. :)  Just kidding.  I was sad he got hurt, but his coming to me made my heart scream with joy.  He loves me.

Alright, bloggy, do you feel fed?  I hope! 

Anyway, do tell me something fun that happened to you over the holidays.  Make me laugh and snort (sometimes when I laugh REALLY hard, I snort.