Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I wasn't going to do it. I was going to resist the urge. Deny the chance to set myself up for failure. What can I say? I'm a sucker for tradition. I always make New Years resolutions and even if I don't always follow through I do try. I have to give myself credit for trying. I feel like if I list my resolutions on my blog, the world will know, and that gives me a little more motivation to accomplish and achieve.

Here goes nothing:

1) Start a new WIP
2) Get an agent (2012 is my year. I can feel it.)
3) Read a classic every two months (Yes I went there)
4) Head back to the gym (I did feel amazing when I was going every day)
5) Stop eating cookies and start eating real meals
6) Go through my clothes and get rid of some (I still have jeans I wear from 7th grade. I'm 27)
7) Read at least one book a week
8) Write 1,000 words a day
9) Find a job I love
10) Get off the couch and use the desk I had to have
11) Spend more time with my Grandma
12) Finish the Hunger Games trilogy
13) Make time to see my friends
14) Mountain bike more (After a bad fall last summer I've been avoiding it. My BF has been trying his hardest to get me back on my bike and I think it's time I hit the trails again)
15) Learn to drive stick

I'm sure I could keep going. I won't. I'll keep those in my mind. It's funny how it takes a new year for me to commit to the things I should have been doing all along. While many fear 2012, I welcome it with open arms. 2011 was not the best year for me, but I have a feeling 2012 may just be my year.

So all I have to say is:
Happy New Years Everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

To Read Or Not To Read: The Classics

Every New Years I make resolutions like every other person, like most people I follow through with it for about a month, and then I let it go as if it was never a thought in my mind. One of the resolutions that I have been making for the past four years is, reading the classics. As a writer I feel it is my obligation to read the classics, but honestly I'm not a fan. I try to convince myself, try to get through them, but it's like pulling teeth. I have so many classics ranging from Dracula to Uncle Tom's Cabin to Wuthering Heights, sitting on my bookshelf unread. Am I alone?

Right now I am attempting to read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. It's going, not well, but it's going. I'm determined to finish it. Though I admit when I finish I may need to watch the movie just to fully grasp it. I'm on chapter four and I don't get it. It's still early and I'm a smart girl (not to toot my own horn or anything) so I'm hoping that within the next few chapters it clicks.

I am fully aware that the classics are not for everybody, but can you blame me for trying? Are you a fan of the classics? If so what are your favorites? If not, what books have you tried to read or forced yourself to get through?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday and New Years Plans

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

Today's Topic: What were your top five favorite books of 2011?
I already did a post about this last week, (well top ten. How can I only pick five?) and you can read it here.

In other news, I love waking up to no water. The management company is always really good with putting a flyer in our mailbox for every little event taking place within the community. Somehow this particular event slipped through the cracks. All I have to say is, thank God I had water in my Keurig machine. Anywho....

New Year's is only days away.  I'm staying in and my cousins and their significant others are coming over. I'll make way too many hors devours and we'll play board games until Dick Clark comes on to count down the ball. For me it's the perfect way to ring in the New Year. What about you? Any big plans?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No Special Effects Needed Here

Yesterday as Christmas was officially over I watched something other than a holiday related movie. I watched Empire Records, one of my all time favorites. If you haven't seen it, stop reading and go get it. Now! If that isn't enough to entice you then let me just say, Renee Zellweger before she discovered weights and Liv Tyler pre motherhood are only two of the actors that make up the great cast. After watching I began to think. They really don't make great movies like that anymore. Movies that grasp the essence of teenage life and all the hardships that go with it as well as the fun.

When I was a teen my favorite movies about teens were: Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Empire Records (of course), Dazed and Confused, Clueless, Can't Hardly Wait and She's All That. Which, by the way I have every one on VHS tape. There were no special effects, no big action scenes, no overacting, just teens and their reality.

Now what I am getting to is the fact that in the past few years, they have not come out with a movie like the great movies of the eighties and the nineties. The only three, for me at least, that even come close to making cult status like the ones I mentioned above are Superbad, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Easy A. Three from the past ten years. Three. That's it.

Have I missed any good teen movies in the past ten years? Movies that will be considered a classic one day. Please let me know if I have. Also do you agree that they just don't make movies like they used to or disagree with me? What is your favorite teen movie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. 
To those that do not celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays.  
Stay safe and I will be back next week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I just want to say hello to all my new followers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Where Do You Buy Your Books?

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

Topic of the Week:  Where do you buy your books?

I used to buy my books at Border's. It was right up the road from my house, so I was extremely upset when they closed. However, there is a bookstore right down the road from my parent's house called Best Bargain Books. In the summer my mom and I usually walk there. The best part: they let us bring Frank (my dog) in. They have a combination of used books and new books and you can always find a great deal. My only complaint is their YA section is very small.

Barnes and Nobles is my other go to store. It's convenient. Though, I always check Best Bargain Books first if I have a specific book in mind since they tend to be three to five dollars cheaper.

Other places I buy books:
Ebay (I'm on a tight budget and you can buy in bulk. I got all the books in the Harry Potter series, hardcovers, for $20 bucks total.) 
My Mom (I don't have to pay for those though)

Where do you buy books?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Send Me on A Blog Hop

I love to blog hop and see what other writers are blogging about. There are so many great blogs out there and I always feel like I'm following all of them, but then I get an email from Kelley (my critique partner) and realize I'm not. You can find her blog here. She has a great contest going on right now.

I also try to follow back all of my followers. It's a community after all and we need to support each other. So today I am asking all of my followers to post the link to their blogs, so I can make sure I am following you and also list blogs that you follow and love.

The blogs that I check every day are:

Though, I'm sure if you are a YA writer you are already a follower. I feel my choices are the obvious. I need help. Who else should I be following?

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Favs of 2011: Books I read that are not YA

Most of you know by now, if I'm not reading YA then I'm reading romance. I try to mix it up by going back and forth.

My top ten favorite books read in 2011 that are not YA are:

1) My One and Only by Kristan Higgins ( I loved the ending so much, I reread it four times)
2) Letters to a Secret Lover by Toni Blake (Amazing)
3) Bride Quartet Series by Nora Roberts (My first time reading Nora Roberts and I devoured them)
4) Whisper Falls (Destiny Series) by Toni Blake (My favorite of the series so far)
5) Sugar Creek (Destiny Series) by Toni Blake
6) Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
7) Holly Lane (Destiny Series) by Toni Blake
8) Just One of The Guys Kristan Higgins
9) Lone Star Sisters Series by Susan Mallery
10) Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie

The reason I have three Destiny Series books on here and don't have them lumped together is because the first book in the series I read two years ago, and the rest of the series still isn't out, so I didn't feel like I could count the series as a whole. If that makes sense.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Favs of 2011: YA Books I read

In the beginning of 2011 I always had a book in my hand. My boyfriend would get annoyed but I always told him I was working. A great excuse for a writer. I discovered so many awesome authors and books this year. And though I didn't reach my original goal of reading 225 books nor my revised, more realistic goal of 125 I still got to the high 80's. And hey I still have several days left until 2012.

My top 10 favorite YA books read in 2011 (in no particular order) are:

1) Perfect Chemistry Series by Simone Elkeles (As soon as I read the first book in the series, I had to buy every book she ever wrote. The first book with Alex and Brittney is still my favorite.)

2) Anna and The French Kiss Stephanie Perkins (Swoon. Etienne. That is all I am saying. Okay I'll say a little more. This is probably the most realistic YA book as far as voice is concerned that I have read. I loved it.

3) Forget You by Jennifer Echols (Loved it, but not as much as the first Jennifer Echols book I read, Going Too Far)

4) Ruined Series by Simone Elkeles (Oh my God I couldn't stop laughing. Amy is friggin hysterical.)

5) What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (Sarah Dessen doesn't disappoint at all with her newest book. What I love about her books is that not only do you feel like you know the main character, you feel like you know every single character. The way she brings them to life is amazing.)

6) Leaving Paradise Series by Simone Elkeles (There are 2 books in this series and loved both of them.)

7) Love Story Jennifer Echols (Even though I didn't love the ending. It's so left open for a sequel, except she wrote on her website she doesn't want to write a sequel *insert sad face*)

8) Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (It took me forever to read this book, but the characters stuck with me long after I finished.)

9) So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti (Probably my favorite of hers so far)

10) Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (The first and only book I have read by her. I know I should hang my head in shame. After reading this one the rest are on m TBR list. And my mom just bought me Wintergirls yesterday. She told me I can't have it until Christmas.)

Okay so it's a little more than ten since I counted all the books in series, but in the series listed, I loved all the books.

What was your favorite YA Book read in 2011?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Favs of 2011: TV Shows

Christmas is 11 days away! Not to panic anyone. I think I'm panicking enough for all of us. Anyway with Christmas talk comes talk of the new year. Around this time you always begin to reflect on the past year. I decided to do a few posts on my favorites of 2011. I'm going to list between 5-10 of my favorites.

Today's subject: TV Shows. When it comes to new TV shows, 2011 and got it right.

1) Once Upon A Time. I am in love. The last episode had me on the edge of my seat and then in tears. If you have yet to jump on the bandwagon, don't wait a minute more. All of your favorite fairytales from when you were younger are brought into a new and interesting light. I love to see how each story is woven together and can't wait for more.

2) Hart of Dixie. I wanted to like this show because I adore Rachel Bilson. Huge OC fan. I was a little skeptical at first, but now I can't miss an episode. It is so good. The cast is amazing and I can't wait to see who Rachel Bilson's character, Zoe, winds up with. And if Lemon and Lavon will ever hookup *Spoiler alert*again.

3) The Lying Game. First off it is based on Sara Shepard's books so you know you can't go wrong. (Though, I have to admit I have not read this particular series.) The whole concept of having a twin and switching places is awesome. The only thing I don't like is sometimes they seem a little too mature for teenagers, than again so did the entire cast of Dawson's Creek. Also their outfits. I don't know, maybe it's because my parents weren't loaded, but they look like they stepped off a page of Vogue. I wore heels every now again, but when I did my mom used to say to me: "You're going to school not a runway show."

4) New Girl. Another show I am absolutely in love with. Zooey Deschanel cannot get any cuter. I love her awkwardness and the other bizarre qualities that she brings to the character. I don't think I've watched a single episode where I didn't have to rewind because my boyfriend and I were laughing so hard we couldn't hear. The Thanksgiving episode was classic. I DVR'ed it and anybody that came over my place had to sit down and watch it. I love Nick actually I love all the characters. Schmidt, Winston, CeCe and Justin Long's character, Paul are all amazing and all bring something different. If you love to laugh, you need to watch this show.

5) X-Factor. Probably my most anticipated and biggest let down. I watch it. I like it. It's not American Idol. I know it's not supposed to be, but it is so similar that I can't help but compare it. Also the host is no Ryan Seacrest. I don't even know his name. Let's just say if it wasn't for Josh Krajcik I probably would have stopped watching weeks ago.

So that's my list. Are any of these on your favorites of 2011? Any shows I'm missing out on?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reading Funk

I have no desire to read. Can you believe it? I sure as heck can't. I went from reading 2-3 books a week to not reading a single book since November. I blame it on NaNo. I got so consumed in my new WIP that I didn't have time for anything else. But since NaNo is over, revisions are done and I'm letting my WIP sit until I pick it up again, I should be reading. There's just one problem. I don't want to. I feel like I need a really good book to pull me in and get me back on track. Any suggestions?

I have a bookshelf FULL of books I have yet to read. I'll list ten of the hundreds I have. If there is a must read in there PLEASE let me know. Thanks.

1) Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
2) Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
3) Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
4) Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
5) Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
6) Girl Parts by John Cusick
7) Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
8) Fixing Delilah Sarah Ockler
9) Delrium Lauren Oliver
10) Across the Universe Beth Revis

Have you ever got in a reading funk?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. Everything about it. The smell, the lights, the colors, the bows, everything. I'm also very big on tradition. I thought today I would share a few of my Christmas traditions with you.

1) Decorating my parent's house. My dad has always been a kid at heart and Christmas just brings that kid in him front and center. The brighter the better. Let's just say you can see my parent's house from a mile down the road. This year my dad told me he didn't want to do a lot. My mom told me they're getting too old for it. Um. Hello. You're in your fifties not your eighties. So I decided to take on the outside display this year while my dad stayed warm inside. It wouldn't be Christmas without it. I had to. So my boyfriend and I spent a day bringing the decorations up from the basement, staking them into place and hooking them up to the electric. My dad has two breakers for Christmas lights alone. We didn't put every single inflatable (my dad has 10 no joke, I counted) but I'm happy with the result. I'll be sure to post a picture as soon as I take one. For now I have an old picture of when we were setting up. It's actually really old, my parent's have had vinyl siding for years now.

2) Going to get a tree. I don't do fake. I grew up with a real tree and I have to have a real tree. My mom tried so many times to crossover to the dark side and buy a fake tree, but me and my dad always won that fight, even now and I don't even live home anymore. We used to actually go and cut our tree down, but now that I'm in my late 20's we gave that up and go to a place where they are already cut. I should say places. It wouldn't be tradition if we didn't go to 500 places.(Though, this year it was only one) My mom is picky. Even now at 27 my boyfriend and I usually go with my parents to get a tree, they have an SUV that can accommodate them and they usually pay. I fight them every time but that's another fight my day always wins. It's always an adventure. I also always help my mom decorate her tree. She still puts ornaments on it my brother and I made when we were four. I'm 27 and my brother is 29. My favorite is a Santa that I colored in. cut out and stapled to a straw. The xeroxed fax doesn't even exist anymore, yet it still goes on the tree.

3) NYC at Christmas is a must. I'm lucky to live an hour and a half outside of the city. I just have to jump in the car or catch a train and in a short time I'm standing at Rockefeller Center looking up at the most famous Christmas tree. It's been a tradition since I was a little kid. My parents always made sure to bring me in to see the tree and the windows. People get so excited about the tree they forget to mention the window displays. All the major department stores deck their windows out in holiday decor. Every year they have a different theme and every year I gaze at them like a wide eyed child. Rockefeller Center and the major department stores aren't the only places that show off for the holiday. All over the city you will find life size displays and gorgeous lights. I love to go in early and walk around for hours until the sun sets and then head to Rockefeller Center. Other stops: FAO Schwartz, Toys R Us in Times Square and Central Park.

4) Christmas Movies. All kinds. Big Blockbusters and made for TV movies. My DVR is smoking from all the recording it has been doing for the past couple of weeks. If it is about Christmas then it is for me. ABC Family, The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime are pretty much the only channels my TV are on through the month of December. A few of my favorites:

5) Christmas Eve. I'm Italian and in my family Christmas Eve is bigger than Christmas day. Christmas Eve the entire family gets together. We used to celebrate at my grandparent's house, but as my grandma got older it was too much for her, so my mom took over. Now every year Christmas Eve is at my parent's house. Italian tradition calls for fish on Christmas Eve, some people know it as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My mom cooks for hours. Making tilapia, lobster tails, scallops, baked clams, shrimp and someone usually brings baccala, and some type of octopus salad (I won't eat either). Other food we have on the table for Christmas Eve: eggplant parm, vegetables, potato croquettes, stuffed artichokes and I know I am missing so much more. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

So what traditions do you have?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

That. That. That.

Today I am spending the day going over my critique partner's notes. Thanks Kelley *waves*. As usual she is spot on. Her notes are invaluable. I have noticed in every one of my first drafts I either have a word or phrase that I use in excess. I'm up to chapter 5 in this particular WIP and I am noticing the word of this manuscript is: That. I swear wherever I could put it I did. Luckily, Kelley took the time to red line every single unnecessary that. Last manuscript I think my favorite word was smile. I also have a habit of writing in passive voice. But that is what editing is for. To delete those pesky words and to find better words for smile and so on. I also went from never using dialogue tags to abusing those as well. In my defense I did write this in 30 days for NaNo. Then again after reading Kelley's I can't really use that as an excuse.

My question today, is there a word or phrase that you overuse?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I always shared my birthday with my grandfather. I am the fourth and he was the seventh. We always had a cake (cannoli) together, both our names written in script between the flowers, and we blew out the candles in a team effort. It's been three years now that he wasn't there to blow out the candles with me, though, I like to believe he was there in spirit. They say it gets easier and in a way it does because the pain I felt when he was gone has lessened. It has become a distant memory. But when I take a moment to think about him and about all the times we shared that pain returns front and center. So I guess it doesn't actually get easier it just gets pushed to the back of your mind, your bodies way of protecting you from the hurt.

I just wanted to take today and say Happy Birthday Grandpa. I hope you are having a glass of Chianti, a cigar smoking in your hand while you listen to Frank Sinatra.

I wrote a poem the first December he was gone. I wasn't going to post it. I am terrible when it comes to writing poetry. But what the hey. It's for him after all. 

I decorated my tree today
And I thought of you underneath the ground where you lay
The heartache started as the tears began to brew
Then I turned and was greeted by your smile as if on cue
Your picture sitting on top of my wine rack
Facing my tree, facing me, bringing me back
Back to a time when you were here
The burn in my eyes grew and I dropped a single tear
I wiped it from my cheek with my finger tip
Walked to my glass and took a sip
I hoped it would make the pain go away
Or at least numb the pain that was caused by that day
It made it worse causing tears to spill down my cheek
I wanted to look at you again even if it was just a peek
I mustered the courage since for you I could never deny
And there you were staring at me with your baby blue eyes
I took a deep breathe and this is what I had to say
I miss you on this day and I hope you are in heaven enjoying your birthday
Happy Birthday Grandpa I love you and Miss you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Light Show

I did more than get my tree on my birthday. I also went to a drive-thru light show. It is sponsored by our local Girl Scouts as well as several other local businesses. It is fifteen dollars a carload and it is only open for the month of December. This is my second time going. The first time I went it was its first year and I'll just say it was less than stellar. This year amazing! They even gave us these glasses to put on that created a kaleidoscope effect. I had to insist my dad take them off why he was driving. It was trippy and even made me nauseous so eventually I had to take them off as well. I tried to get pictures, some are blurry but I tried. Enjoy.

And this is a picture through the glasses that they provided. Imagine going through a tunnel of lights with these babies on.

Have you done any fun Holiday activities (Couldn't think of a better word)?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Yesterday for my birthday I went out to get my Christmas Tree. I went with my parents because they have an SUV and the fact that my dad never lets me pay for anything doesn't hurt. Usually going to get a tree turns into an all day affair. My mom is picky. Beyond picky. She once told a guy at a tree farm that if she got it home and didn't like it, she would return it. True story. My mom is a sweetheart, but don't mess with her Christmas tree.

Yesterday I got in the back seat with my boyfriend, mom and dad in front and we headed out. We went to a place where we got our trees last year and this year in ten minutes we had our trees. When I say this never happens, I mean this never happens. My boyfriend kept saying something's going to happen. The trees are going to fly off the roof on the highway or a squirrel is going to jump out when we have it in the house. We all agreed. But nothing went wrong. My tree is up and ready for decorations as is my parents.

I can't wait to decorate it. My boyfriend bought me adorable ornaments for my birthday. A couple of years ago we had a mishap when the tree fell over. I lost a lot of ornaments. Some very special ornaments and while they cannot be replaced, I actually still hang some of the broken ones, I can add new ones with new memories.

Now the question of the day: Real or Fake? What type of tree do you have? I refuse to buy a fake tree, but that's just me. Almost everyone I know has a fake tree. I grew up with real and I'm a creature of habit. And if you don't celebrate Christmas and you celebrate another holiday I would love to hear about your own traditions.
Putting the tree up at my parents house = 20 minutes of Is it straight?
 Bringing the tree into our apartment.
It's a little thin compared to the monsters we've had in the past but at least we can get into the bathroom this year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Another year has come and gone. I'm past my mid twenties and am in my late twenties. Twenty seven to be exact. Excuse me while I go hide and scream. I don't feel twenty seven. I still feel like I'm eighteen to be honest. Most of my friends have careers, are married with kids and me, well, I'm the eternal teenager and the older I get, the more I realize it's something I don't want to change. I like feeling young and still thinking I have an eternity in front of me. Is there really a better way of thinking? For me it's the only way.

This hasn't exactly been the best year for me. I lost a dear friend, my job, my boyfriend lost a finger tip, but still I'm here to remember the memories, talk of the experiences and that makes it a little better. I've feared twenty seven for the last few months and now I can't help but think that twenty seven just might be my year.