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Alaska?

This weather in Colorado (which is totally the coldest I’ve ever experienced) is making me rethink a dream I have.

There are two things that you should know about me if you don’t already: someday I WILL live by the ocean and I HATE hot weather.

So, I thought, what better place for me than Alaska? I was so convinced of this years ago that I made a small town in that state the setting to my novel, THAW. Well, my town (Putnam) is loosely based on this other, real town – Cordova:

I know, right? Is it just the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen? I’m totally a clouded-over-day-with-cold-temperatures kind of girl and I was thrilled to be researching about this place because at times I felt I was really living there. Fishing for salmon, hiking the many trails, enjoying the temperatures that don’t usually climb past sixty in the summer time.

But now that Pueblo has been so cold the last few days, I’m wondering, Could I handle this weather ALL the time?

Maybe.

If it looked like this. Pueblo, on the other hand, does not. And there is no way that I’d be able to see moose and whales and seals and a gazillion beautiful birds here like I would there. I wouldn’t be able to scale a glacier (which is one of my other dreams) or know what it felt like to be so cut-off from “reality.”

See, Cordova is cut-off from the Alaskan road system. The only way out of town is by air or water. Yeah, you can drive around town, but there is no road to the interior. How cool is that! Plus, it is in the more southern part of Alaska, so maybe it wouldn’t be that cold all the time.

Looking it up, I found that the high today in Cordova is 33 and the low is 16. That’s warmer than it is here! To top that all off, I’d get all the rain and moisture in the air that I LOVE with the 89% humidity.

The record lows, historically, that I looked up for Cordova were -13 and -23. But these only happened once, about fifty years ago. Most of the record lows were like 20 degrees.

Not too bad.

The record lows for Pueblo are mostly in the negatives, so really, moving to Cordova wouldn’t only be prettier, but also warmer, without going over sixty degrees too often. Pueblo highs are well past 100. After seventy, I get migraines, so it all works out!

I mean, really, what more is there to say?

North! To Alaska!

More about coupons

So I tried to get groceries for little to nothing again. It didn’t really work.

King Soopers – as I mentioned in my previous post – is having a ten for five sale. If you buy ten of the items, you get five bucks off of your ticket. So I went in with a slew of coupons and compared the ten for five items with my coupons and even found some items on closeout, so that’s a triple discount.

So here’s what I got:

Ten cans of pringles: closeout price was $1.46, coupon for $1.00 off two, so I got them for about a dollar a piece. Two Bounty towels fifty cents off with coupon, so about eighty cents a piece.

 Cookie dough was part of the ten for five and I had a coupon for $1.00 off one. So they were .99 cents. Salsa was about the same. Now, what ticks me off is that the salsa was ten for five but for some reason I got eight (miscounted?) and I didn’t get the store deal, but I did get my .50 cents off for two, so they ended up about $1.20 when they could’ve been .90 cents. If I would’ve counted better, I’d have two more salsas and paid two dollars less. ARG!

Now, the chips were ten for five and closeout, plus I had a coupon for a dollar off of one, so after everything was said and done on them, I got them for .29 cents each, down from almost three dollars.

The rice cakes were .99 cents on sale.

The total price for these groceries (before the deals and coupons) was well over sixty bucks. But I got them for thirty.

Good deal, but not great. I’m definitely NOT the coupon diva. She gets hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for under twenty bucks most of the time, if not for free.

But something else nags be about this coupon business: would I have gotten this stuff anyway? Did I NEED this stuff? No, not even close. So I’m thinking I just spent thirty bucks on stuff I don’t need and I could’ve saved thrity bucks if I didn’t go to the store at all.

Well, if I have a superbowl party (which I HIGHLY doubt), at least I’ll have plenty of chips and salsa.

Coupons

I don’t know if anyone out there is into coupons. I mean, I’m sure there are people that use a coupon every now and then. But do you clip coupons for hours on end and match them against local sales to pay little-to-nothing for your groceries?

Have you seen the people that are professional coupon-clippers?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfjNPvwKfoY

Well, my husband thought this was a genius idea and wanted to try it. So we’ve been cutting masses of coupons from Sunday papers:

And if you haven’t actually done this before, it’s not that easy. You get a bunch of papers, pull out the P&Gs, the RedPlums and the…Super Savers I think they’re called. Then you separate them into piles, cut them out and organize them into a notebook.

Easy, right?

Yeah, not really. I started out with a bucketful (after spending an hour just getting them out of the newspapers):

And THREE hours later…

Made a bit of a dent. (Sigh.) But it IS kind of fun if you don’t push yourself to finish in one night.

I just hope this saves us a huge amount of money.

I grabbed a couple of coupons I had from a few weeks ago and noticed there was a sale going on at King Soopers. After all was said and done (and after buying produce and meat that weren’t discounted with a coupon) I saved nearly 40 bucks.

I just recently learned that King Soopers doubles coupons up to a dollar. So say, for instance, that you have a fifty-cent coupon on noodles. You buy the noodles (on sale for $1.50) and use your coupon. Usually, you’d pay $1.00 but with KS doubling it, you’d pay $.50.

Now, if you’ve cut a large amount of these coupons, you could be stockpiled with noodles for years at a super discounted price.

This is what I’m attempting to do.

Well…

I got a nibble, today. On my manuscript, I mean. After about ten rejections (without one helpful criticism, I might add) I woke up today to a letter from an agent who says she wants to see the FULL manuscript. She said it sounds like a great concept.

Now, if you are a writer, you know. You know what a dream it is for an agent to notice you enough to ask for even a partial, but a full is a dream come true (well, second to being published, of course.)

So all day today, I took just one more “look” at my manuscript, making quadruple sure that it was polished and professional. So…wish me luck. I’ll keep you updated.

The Day of New

I’ve been renting television series DVDs from the library. The first one I think that I ever got was Northern Exposure.

I never did watch it when it came on television and when I started watching it, I instantly fell in love with the characters and the town. This series helped me choose my setting for my first novel. (Set in a small town in Alaska).

Then my husband got into some that I didn’t: Stargate Atlantis (or whatever it’s called), The Unit and a couple of others I can’t recall. I didn’t really enjoy any of them.

Recently, I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother:

And I died laughing. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Northern Exposure. Ted is A LOT like Dr. Fleishman…

 

…in that they are both equally whiney but endearing in their sweetness.

But now I decided to get some others I’ve heard about. I’ve tried to watch The Office on TV and usually it annoys me so bad I turn it within the first ten seconds, but then I thought, What if this is like How I Met Your Mother and it has hidden jokes that one would only pick up on if they watched the thing from the beginning?

So I got it. And one called The Big Bang Theory that got major good reviews.

And while I was at the library, I decided I need to pick up some more books to add to the growing pile next to my bed. These are just the ones I got today:

As a former teacher, I feel ashamed that there are so many classics out there that I haven’t read. But I HATE most of them. How horrible. I can’t stand the old language and stiff characters (in my VERY humble opinion) and I’d much rather read something fresh, new and funny.

But I saw Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl so I picked that up and will force myself to read at least a third of it. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also caught my eye and I figured that HAD to be close enough to the original so I picked that up too.

Of course, I had to pick up a couple more Meg Cabot books because she has millions and she is fantastic and then one SCI-FI one about the something hitting the moon and pushing it closer to earth.

We’ll see how it goes! More later…

Naptime Interrupted

I should preface this post by saying that if any of this doesn’t make any sense or sounds a bit off, it’s because I’m soooooo sleeeepy. For only the second time in my life, I had to take a Tylenol PM because even past midnight last night I was wide awake.

Now some of you might think, “That’s not too bad, I stay up past midnight EVERY night.” Well, I don’t. I need sleep and usually my day starts at six so I have to be asleep – at the very latest – by ten thirty.

So I took the pill, fell asleep fairly quickly, slept through my alarm but was still able to get the chipmunks off to school on time. I thought, “I can just take a little nap when I get home. A half hour – max.” But when I came home and wrapped myself up on the couch and closed my eyes, lines for my new book kept popping into my head along with everything that I wanted to write down on my blog.

I’ve programmed my brain to be creative first thing in the morning and fighting it and ignoring it just kept me awake. So now I’m writing and trying not to fall asleep at the computer. Plus, this is – technically – my job and I can’t really fall asleep on the job.

So this post is going to be SUPER random. Let’s just shoot for five random bits o’ information:

1. I will never take Tylenol PM again,

2. I’m writing this new book and struggling to find the voice of a fifteen year old zombie girl. I wrote almost all day on it yesterday and then got stuck around five last night. Deciding to take a break, I whipped out Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries to get my creative juices flowing again. But instead, it depressed me. She is so uber creative and uniquely amazing in her writing that I KNOW I could never compare. So I didn’t get anymore writing accomplished yesterday.

3. My sister asked me to compile a list of good books she hasn’t read yet but I think that I’ve told her all my favorites and she has read them. But just in case here’s my list (not necessarily in any order – too tired to attempt that this morning):

Twilight – yes I know, cliché, but there is a reason it’s so popular, okay?

The Hunger Games.

Birthmarked. (check out the website on the right –>)

Matched by Allyson Condie. (–>)

Tully.

Summer Sisters.

She’s Come Undone.

Dolores Claiborne (I have to put this one in because in high school I was a non-reader until my friend introduced me to Stephen King. It was all over after that).

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen or ANYTHING by her. Her new book comes out in May -I think – and I cannot wait! She is my (hands-down) favorite author.

Water for Elephants.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot. Now, I really want to make a note here. First of all, I love Meg. Her books are creative and cute. They are quick reads that are super interesting without any lulls. If you are looking for a book that is light and fresh, pick her. If you would rather have more of a relationship with a book instead of a one-night stand, go for Sarah Dessen.

Wake series.

The two books my Lolly Winston.

Lightening Thief.

Harry Potter, of course.

Okay. That should be enough for now. I think there might be a couple of them in there that my sister hasn’t read and my brain is beginning to overheat. Now, there are no non-fiction books in there. Maybe that list will come later.

4. I tried to cook cinnamon rolls on the stove top, like I did the pizza, and they turned out crunchy. Yuck!

5. I blame my not sleeping last night on Neil Patrick Harris:

He is absolutely the funniest thing on two legs and I got obsessed with the How I Met Your Mother series recently and had to get the first season at the library a few weeks ago. Now I’m mostly caught up. But last night, I was trying to watch Season 6 Episode one on the computer, when CBS.com said it couldn’t play the first six episodes. So I had to start on episode 7, which I wasn’t too happy about.

Who knows what I missed? The show also drives me nuts because – dammit – I need to know who the freaking mother is! It’s like a murder mystery drawn out six years.

So, thanks a lot Barney Stinson for messing up my sleep patterns.

A Need for Pizza

I’m not sure if I mentioned that my oven is broken. Well, not the whole thing. The broil works and – thank heavens – the stove top works fine. Only the baking element seems to not get more than warm to the touch.

I’m not much of a handy person but I have on occasion fixed things in my car (thank you Google). So I know if I really applied myself, I could figure out what is wrong with my oven and fix it. It’s probably so simple, like replacing the bottom element.

But I just haven’t gotten to that level of motivation yet. So my oven continues to be broken.

Problem is, I was grocery shopping the other day and had a MAJOR craving for those cheap, nasty Totino’s party pizzas that cost like a dollar. Without thinking, I stocked up on them and then came home and stared at the oven that wasn’t able to preheat.

Don’t judge me, but there was a threat of tears. Along with a bunch of other things that seemed to go wrong that day,the oven not getting warm was the icing on the unstable cake. Simply, I wanted to eat my pizza.

Now, my husband has claimed to have been in a similar pickle and used the microwave as a last resort to cook the pizza. But it came out soggy and I really didn’t want to go there. So I got inventive and cooked it on the stove top:

And it totally worked!

Using a lid and keeping it at a very low temperature, the pizza cooked all the way through and left the crust a medium brown…and so crisp!

It was truly better than when I usually cook it in the oven (no burn marks). The downside, though, is having to cook only one pizza at a time. My chipmunks got pretty annoyed with the wait!

I was watching American Idol last night and it was hilarious. I really didn’t miss Simon’s witty bitterness one little bit. I loved the fact that Jennifer Lopez couldn’t tell even the wretched ones “no” and I loved that Steven Tyler brought his rock star style and favored the singers that seemed to have a similar quality.

But partway through the show, laughing at one of the many rejects, I stopped to wonder, “Holy crap…is that me?”

You know those people who think they are good at singing/dancing/jamming on a fiddle/writing but really, truly are not? But they keep at it because they think that they really have something and seem to be missing a part of the brain that hints that they might not be. That in all actuality they SUCK.

I wondered, “Am I that way, with my writing?” Am I forcing down this horribly written crap to all the people I know and love?

Am I this guy?

clueless (click to watch video)

But you know, I really don’t know HOW MUCH I want that question answered. Maybe by a panel of literary Jennifer Lopezes(ones that have trouble saying “you stink”), but definitely not by a bunch of Simons. Or that could be just what I need.

On the positive flip…

I’ve had three more rejections today. Two of them were simple enough: This is not for me, thanks. Then there was another form letter.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve been through the rejection process; I queried a lot of agents before with a very bad first draft. A mistake I know that first time writers make. So I did a second, a third and a fourth draft and I’m glad that I did. The manuscript just shines now.

And I guess that I thought when I sent it out this time that there would be a greater interested in it. I really thought the first five I queried, one would ask for a partial. But, alas, there are too many people out there writing young adult novels nowadays…

On a positive flip, I’m ABSOLUTELY crazy for American Idol. And it’s coming on…tonight! Usually the people I pick out in the beginning to win become one of the top ten. Like…

Chris Daughtry…HELLO! He totally should have won!

David Cook and my absolute favorite…

Lee Dewyze. For some reason I’m not as good as picking out the girl winners…hmmmm…wonder what that’s all about. Tonight, it’s just me, a bowl of buttered popcorn and my American Idol tryouts. Watch it and tell me who you are going for…or who you thought was so awful you’ll never forget.

Okay, so I’ve told everybody that I’ve finished my book and that I’ve scouted out five agents, carefully selecting among the masses to find that particular somebody to represent my very “unique” manuscript.

I sent out query letters – very professional ones – and attached a chapter or so (depending on their submission guidelines).

It’s been just a few days and I’ve already received two responses. But they aren’t good. They are both form letters. For those of you who don’t know what those are, I feel they are the worst kind of rejection. You have agents that just won’t get back to you which I don’t mind, I tend to just move along after about six weeks and then there are these agents (or agent assistants) that send out these horribly generic letters. They can go to anyone, under any genre, and pretty much tell you that they are COMPLETELY not interested.

These are the ones I got:

From agent “C”:

I greatly appreciate having been given the opportunity to review your work. Regrettably, I feel we are unable to offer you representation. 

Sometimes we must pass on books, even very good books, which are either out of our range or require an amount of attention we feel unable to provide.  In addition, we cannot afford to take on projects which we’re not absolutely confident we will be able to sell.  But we do very much hope that you will find an agent with the right enthusiasm for your work.

 Because our staff is small, and the volume of submissions we receive so high, we cannot issue a personal response to every query or submission.  But please know that each is reviewed with great attention and care.

And then a similar one from agent “E”:

Many thanks for your submission – I do appreciate you thinking of me and the Greenhouse.

 I’m sorry to say that in this instance I am going to pass on your work. The children’s and YA market is very competitive, as you may well know, and I’m afraid I don’t feel your story is quite standout enough for me to be confident of placing it for you at this time.

 Another agent may well, of course, feel differently – this remains a very subjective business.

 Wishing you all the very best and thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to consider your work.

These form letters are the WORST in my opinion because you see them in your inbox and you get all excited and then you take the time to open and read it and you begin to feel like you just got dumped.

Super sucky! Well, I now have two spots to fill. Here goes the continuation of the agent search…