Observations, personal

Back from Maryland…

*Waves*

The Chemical Engineer and I came back from 10 days in Maryland yesterday. As always when we go there, time flies and at the same time doesn´t move.

Maryland is one of those places we called home. We lived there for about 6/7 years and we built a life there during that time. We have people we consider family, and a lot of close friends. We have habits, places we like to go to and a lot of memories.

We´re lucky.

Yes, when leaving, I may always shed a tear. Leaving is tough, no matter if I leave France, the US or Germany. It´s never easy. But at the end of the day, we´re lucky to have so many wonderful people in our life…I can see my dear hubby rolling his eyes – but I know he feels the same. (stop rolling your eyes!)

So we had a great time…

We celebrated birthdays.

Someone turned 18.

We had issues with the P...:P
We had issues with the P…:P

Someone turned 50.

Happy 50

We met with wonderful friends.

We spent time with people we consider family.

We celebrated honorary degrees and graduations.

We cuddled with this cutie. Or I did. The Chemical Engineer won´t admit to it.

Friday

We had brunch.

Brunch

We ate a lot.

hmmm crab...
hmmm crab…

We laughed a lot.

We (I) spent a lot of time at Barnes & Noble.

Some of the books I bought...
Some of the books I bought…

We took trips down memory lane.

University of Maryland
Go Terps!

We created new memories…

Until next time.

Observations, personal, SCBWI

Recap from the Book Fair, SCBWI evening and congrats to Rebecca!

On Friday, I went to the book fair with Carolin (if you don´t know her, you should totally follow her on Twitter). The goal was to roam the Frankfurt Book Fair before our SCBWI reception.

And wow…The amount of people at the Book Fair, the atmosphere, the books everywhere: impressive…Here is a recap of my afternoon/evening in pictures:

Arriving at the fair

The Book Fair also happened outside

Look at this display of Across the Universe in German…

 

That´s where the agents hang out and work

Some facts

  • The amount of foreign publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair is amazing, ranging from Mexico, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey…the stands of the French publishers is biiiiig and I loved cruising through them. There was a lot of daydreaming going on that afternoon on where my books could end up one day.
  • Not everything around the Children/YA books is Children/YA related…I ended up with a condom which said “Save the bitch” as someone handed me a goodie and I thought it was some candy 🙂 I´m still laughing about it.
  • Being around that many books and professionals is humbling.
  • Some books only had covers. Carolin and I thought we had a scoop with the sequel of Veronica Rossi but nope, there was a cover and blank pages.

After strolling around and taking some breaks for fresh air (it was hot in there) talking about books and writing, Carolin and I headed to the SCBWI reception, where apparently I proved that my clumsiness can show up at the most random places. (Kirsten, if you´re reading this, I´ll take the sippy cup for my wine next time :-)).

There, I got to talk to fellow writers, re-connect with the people from the area of Frankfurt and meet new people. It was great. It´s really wonderful to just be around other writers/illustrators. The energy, the discussions, it´s a lot of fun and I learned a lot.

Plus, I got to see and hold an ARC of Level 2 (and didn´t even put it in my bag :D), no really Lenore´s book sounds amazing. And yes, I may have gaped while listening to her experience with publishing in a restaurant after the reception.

The ARC and a magnet (I got to keep the magnet :D)
Gaping at Lenore….

So yes, basically, it was an AMAZING afternoon and evening…

And…something else which made me VERY happy last week was to read Rebecca´s announcement about her book selling . The story sounds wonderful and Rebecca is amazing, sweet and talented.  You can read all about her and her writing here (and if you haven´t yet, maybe you can pass by to congratulate her :-))

 

Tell me, how was your week? How about your weekend?

Observations, personal, reading, revising, writing

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

                                                                                                  Source: guidetomenhattan.com via Rachel on Pinterest

When one thinks about artists in the spotlight, very rarely will the word “writer” come up. And sure, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and others do not grace the pages of US Weekly or People Magazine every week. TV channels may not discuss their latest book at length like they may do with the latest performance of whatever actor…but writers like any other artists put their souls out there.

Reviews.

They´re everywhere.

You cannot entirely hide from them.

                                                                                                                                      Source: xkcd.com via Michael on Pinterest

They come from within, from our wonderful critique partners, our great beta-readers. Then, from agents, possible editors and then from the readers themselves.

After reading this post by Shannon (if you haven´t read it, you definitely take a look :D, I´ll wait) and a comment by Christa on my post from last week, it hit me both as a writer and as a reader: Not everyone will like my work. Not everyone likes the books I could not put down. Of course we know it but there is a moment where it seems to become more real.

And then, I remembered that old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…readers bring their own baggage, past and taste to the books they read just like writers laugh or cry words on paper.

Getting published is really putting yourself out there, in the big big, sometimes scary world. There is no “Dealing with reviews for dummies”.

I checked one of my favorite books on Goodreads.com, The Ripening Seed by Colette and it has quite a bit of bad reviews. At the beginning I got a bit distracted thinking how is it possible? Can´t people see the art? The beauty of her words? The cynical look at the bourgeoisie world while still going through the motions of growing up? There are also great reviews of this story but usually the eye has a tendency to focus on the negative. But all the negative reviews of the world will not take away the feeling of awe I had while reading my mother´s copy of this book as a teenager or the flutters in my heart as I reread it years later. What should matter to me the most is how I felt about something.

As writers, we owe it to ourselves to go the extra-step, the scary step in our writing (like I mentioned in my Monday post last week) but then we´re standing out there naked. And let´s face it, being naked in front of possibly millions of people reading your words is SCARY.
So, I think we also need to protect ourselves once our words are out there. We need to have a safe place we can go to and need to know that yes we may be awkward in dealing with all this but what is important is that at the end of the day, we remember that we had the courage to go in the big scary world, that some did love our words and that, sometimes as a reader and as a writer, it is ok to just do that:

….as long as we walk with our heads high the next day and continue to be happy with our tastes as readers and proud of our words as writers.

Oh and if I ever get published and start freaking out, can someone remind me of this post? 😀

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this!

Blogme MAYbe, Observations, personal, writing

Your significant other is a writer? Don´t panic! 10 rules to follow…

This month (well until my honeymoon :D), I will be participating in Blogme MAYbe. This wonderful idea is the brainchild of SaraMcClung and is a weekly blog format with an easy schedule to follow. For more information and join the fun (you can at any time!), simply click on the banner created by the super-duper-talented Tracey. On Thursdays (yes it is already Thursday on my side of the world), the prompt is: May I tell you something about someone else...

Enter my husband aka The Chemical Engineering. He already wrote a guest post with his review of The Hunger Games and he´s back with wonderful advice 😀

Your significant other is a writer?



Don´t panic! 10 rules to follow…

First I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who commented on my last guest post. I meant to answer to everyone, but I am just a very lazy and inexperienced blogger. So please accept my apologies. Despite my bad blog etiquette my wife let me do another guest blog entry. Thank you!

Today I would like to share the ten ground rules that should not be broken when your significant other is a writer:

1. Don’t criticize the Twitter usage

Even though it might seem like Twitter is taking over all aspects of life, for some reason it seems to be an important tool for all of the writers who like to share short messages about everyday tasks and events.

2. Make sure to read new blog entries

You might not care about monthly book reviews, but you better know if he/she mentioned you in a blog post. I suggest to quickly fly over the post and look for some key words (Ctrl+F). I look for “Hubby” and “Chemical Engineer”.

3. Make educated comments about their WIP

First you needed to figure out what WIP stands for, but that is not the end of it. When reading two (very similar) versions of the same paragraph you better decide which one sounds better. Comments like “They are good” will not be accepted. A literary analysis (like back in the school days) is the least a writer would expect from their significant other.

4. Blogging takes time so just accept it

Blogging entries have to be done at a particular time. Wether it is Road Trip Wednesday or Happy Friday Posts. They are all important and have to be done at the planned time no matter what happens (yes, this article had to be writtenon a Sunday). All comments have to be addressed as well. The 24 hours in a day should be enough time for this.

5. Buying more books is essential

A writer can never have enough books after all they are “research” and will help in refine the writing style. Room for storing the books can be found anywhere even if it means double stacking the books in the book shelf. Next apartment/house will have to have a room just for books.

6. Don’t make fun of the way he/she talks to other writers

It doesn’t matter if it sounds silly and is absolutely not how grown-ups are meant to interact, this is how they tick. After all they are writers and should know much more about communication than anyone else.

7. Learn how to spell correctly

I don’t know how to spell in any of the three languages that I know. I am so happy that some programmer came out with spell check. I don’t know how I would do without it. When I write an e-mail to my wife I really don’t even run spell check. She takes my misspelling almost as an insult and does makes fun of my spelling at any opportunity that she gets (and there are many opportunities).

8. Don’t bore a writer with technical things (at least not my writer)

As a good wife, mine of course asks me about my work day. I know that if I want to keep her attention I only have about 15 seconds to explain anything technical about my work and most importantly I need to keep it simple. That is also true if we talk about anything else technology related. I guess fictional writers (maybe except science-fiction writers and again this only applies to my writer) are just more into interpersonal relationships and stories and can’t be bothered with the little things like science.

9. Try not to argue that characters in a book/film are fictional

In the mind of a writer characters become almost as alive as any other real person. There is no point in explaining that a character that died, didn’t really die, but just acted out a role. It’s like explaining a child that Bambi’s mother wasn’t shot by hunters.

10. Don’t think that your guest entries in the blog are just as good and/or funny as his/hers

This one is pretty straight forward. You are the engineer (or non-writer) and she is the writer; deal with it.

I was able to come up with these rules only because I have broken them many times. I hope you can agree with some of them. I am going to continue and break them from time to time. It is good to remember them in certain situations, like when you annoyed her and can turn to her with a smile “thanks for the mention on the blog today”, but following them all of the time would just be a bit boring and practically impossible.

Happy Friday, Observations, reading, revising, writing

Happy Friday #14: Popping the question, Pelmeni and other stories…

Yay! It´s time again for Happy Friday!

I would love to know what made YOU smile this week 😀

Popped the question: Since I started this new WiP, currently very wisely called UNTITLED, I have been thinking that I probably should snag one of those wonderful Critique Partners everybody is talking about. I have great beta readers for my work PLAYING THE FIRE but who wouldn´t want someone along the way? And I thought about Jaime right away. We have the same taste in books, we both haven’t started the querying process, I really enjoy her blog (she’s funny, insightful and inspirational) and the interaction we’ve been having and I knew that she didn’t have a CP. So, after typing several drafts of an email, I finally sent one with this title:

And she said yes 😀 My hubby made fun of me but I don’t think he understands how nervous we can get when it comes to our writing! I’m so very excited to start this process (and quite lucky because what I’ve read so far makes me want to read more, more, more!)

Writing: This week, I’ve been quite productive when it comes to this new WiP. I love being in Natalja’s head even though she’s dealing with a lot and I’ve managed to write almost 1000 words per day during my commute!

Reading: I finished reading COLD KISS and let me tell you, Erin Bowman was RIGHT! Danny is quite a wonderful boy to have a crush on…he’s dead but the way Wren describes the moments spent with him are enough to have him alive in our minds. There are many times, I wanted to reach out and give Wren a big hug! Plus, Erin mentioned to me yesterday on Twitter that there will be a Sequel! Yay!

Revising: Last weekend, I finished the second round of revisions on PLAYING WITH FIRE and I have one more segment to revise before I go through an editing round.

Cooking: So, my hubby is originally from the Ukraine…his family is Russian/Ukrainian and his mom makes the best pelmeni…plus there is that book I really love taking place in Russia where food plays a big role and I had gotten the cooking book based on it for Christmas last year. So, I finally tried (again) to make pelmeni. And while it does take forever, the result was quite good! Yummy! 😀

 So tell me, what made YOU smile this week?

 

Observations, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tips For New Bloggers

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they  post the topics way in advance!

This week´s topic: Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers…which I am twisting to Top Ten Tips For New Bloggers 😀

                                                                                                                                                    Source: vetsforpets.net via Vera on Pinterest

 

So, I have been blogging for less than a year. When is the status of “new blogger” over? 😀

From a newbie to another one, or from a somewhat less new blogger to another one…here are my Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers:

1. Choose what you want to blog about: This may come naturally. Right now you may be thinking: I already know what I want to blog about (e.g. books) but it may take awhile to actually get your groove. When I look back at my first posts, it seems that I thought I´d write much more about my commuting than what I do. Plus there are many ways to write about books: Do you want to only write reviews about books you really enjoyed? (this is what I do :D) or do you want to have a point system? or talk about covers, about characters, about the swoon-factor? about the plot? do you want to organize them per topics? do you want to talk about everything?

2. Choose the format: Do you want a recurring theme? Do you sometimes want to do a vlog? Do you want to link your posts to any of your other “online” persona aka Twitter, Facebook, Google +?

3. Check the platform you want to use: There are many choices out there. Personally, I like WordPress but it was more of a “lucky” moment than anything else. If you´re more peculiar about the features/style you want to have, I think it could be useful to check out which one you really prefer before spending too much time of your blog.

4. Stick to a schedule (especially at the beginning): It helps you to know what works and what doesn´t work for you and it helps for people to know that you´re a regular blogger.

5. Make sure people can “follow” you: See on my right? You can follow me by email, via google reader, via RSS feed, via WordPress…When I travel the blogosphere, it happens that I cannot find a way to easily get updated. Sure I could always copy the link and add it to my Google Reader but I don´t necessarily have the reflex or I am not on my computer but on my phone…

6. Use visuals: I always find it enticing when there is at least one picture/gif in the post.

7. Be yourself: There are blogs where you really have the feeling you get to know the person because their voice and spirit jump out of the page.

                                                                                              Source: Uploaded by user via Bernadette on Pinterest

8. Discuss, connect, make friends:  Leave comments  on other people´s blogs, try to reply to the ones you get (I for example now send an email to the person on top of the comment if they´re not on WordPress.) What I found also helped greatly along the way was connecting with bloggers/writers on Twitter. Don´t be shy! People do love to get comments on their blogs, especially ones where you also share your views, your experience…

9. Participate in blog fests, in challenges, in online book clubs: It is another way to connect and to have a blast along the way. If you´re active in forums, let people know that you created a blog…

and……another very important point:

10. Have fun with it!: You´ll get to discuss topics you love with wonderful people from all around the world, you´ll learn a lot from them and from writing your own blog and maybe make long lasting connections along the way!

Observations, reading, writing

The Balancing Act

We all juggle. We all have responsibilities. No matter what they are and while sometimes I wonder why I didn´t decide I wanted to take writing seriously when I had less on my plate, I do find time to write now. We all do. More or less but we still do. We also find the time to read. We go through the balancing act.

My time is my commute. However, my commute does take a toll on me. The train gets late, cancelled. I also have to take the bus to the to the train so I rush between the bus and the train. I run. I curse. I get annoyed. I don´t always find the silver lining. So this week I am renting a car to see how long it would actually take me to drive to work instead of taking public transportation, to see if I can gain time. According to my friend Google Map which includes Traffic estimation, I could gain 30 to 45 minutes each way. Crazy.

My day currently looks like this:

  • 5am: Wake up
  • 5am-5.30am: work out in front of Friends (this gets me going and makes me laugh – always a plus)
  • 5.30-6.42: get ready (breakfast, shower, coffee, get snacks, kindle, ipod, netbook ready) and leave the house
  • 6.42am: walk to bus station (or be driven by hubby – if he´s not already gone working out)
  • 6.52am: Bus
  • 7.06am: Train (aka writing + reading time)
  • 7.47am: Metro
  • 8.00am: At my desk at work
  • 5.30pm or 6pm (sometimes later): leave office – train – bus (writing and reading in the train again)
  • Get home between 6.45pm and 7.45pm and then dinner, time with hubby and sleep…

Yes, it is busy but on most days, the train time gets me about 1 hour of writing/revising or undivided reading time. Soon, I may decide that driving does get me more time at home, aka more time with the hubby…I can rearrange my schedule to write more in the morning before leaving, or during my lunch break or I could write in bed.

But I know that I will find the time to write because, really, I just don´t see myself not writing or revising…Writing/Revising/Reading is part of my balancing act. It´s part of who I am.

How do you balance everything? Anybody else tried to write in bed?