June 25, 2011

Who in the Heck is Amanda Hocking?!

Who in the heck is Amanda Hocking? I had never heard of her until the other day when a friend referred me to an article written about her in The New York Times Magazine. This is a 26 year old young woman who sent out a few query letters and said to heck with it, and self-published over at Amazon.

Last year, Hocking downloaded and sold five books the first day, five books the second day, 6,000 books in June, 10,000 in July and now she sells 9,000 books per day. Per Day!! And then she was approached by St. Martin’s Press and now has a $2 million contract for her next four-book series called “Watersong.” What an amazing and enterprising young woman. I’m really happy for her and her success. We all hope and pray that things will go that way for us.

But what really blows me away?! She says it takes her two to four intensive weeks to complete a book! Granted, she says that she’s really been working on it in her head for over a year, so that by the time she sits down to write, it’s basically already written – her words, not mine. So she basically already has the outline in her head, but even so, that is amazing! I don’t even think GOD can write that fast!

It’s taken me the best part of a year to complete seven chapters of my first novel. One year! Fifty-Two weeks! Why can’t I write a book in two to four weeks like Amanda Hocking? Clearly, I’m struggling. My problem is that I think I need to be perfect, and if my writing isn’t good enough for me, then I just don’t write. If I don’t write, then I can’t fail, right? Conversely, I have next to nothing to show for my year of writing. I finally made some level of progress when someone told me that I need to lower my standards. I know this sounds like pure craziness...

So now I’m wondering what would happen if I just committed myself to some intensive writing over the next couple of months. To make writing my priority, to give up everything else, to not over-think what I’m writing and just write, write, write, even if I’m not happy with what I’m writing. It seems to me that at least I would have a foundation to be going on with, something to rewrite and edit.

What do you think? Does this sound like a good idea? How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have any kooky quirks?

June 23, 2011

Tag, I'm It!

Tag, I’m it! I’ve been tagged in a game of Blog Tag by Rachel Morgan. The rules are easy. Answer six questions about myself on my blog and then tag eight of my blogger friends.

So here it goes:

1.   Do you think you’re hot?
Let’s put it this way: Inside every old person is a young person screaming, “What the hell happened?”

2.   Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.

In honor of summer, this is my current wallpaper.

3.         When was the last time you ate chicken?
Yesterday and the day before...probably today. My husband thinks I only make chicken breast, but it’s not true. I make...other stuff, too. For an explanation, read this:  Are You There God? It's Me, Gwen.

4.         The song(s) you listened to recently.

When I went running yesterday, I listened to my ipod. The song I finished with was "All These Things That I’ve Done" by the Killers. I love this video! 

5.         What were you thinking while doing this?
I’d better finish this before Rachel thinks I forgot or refused to participate.
I’d better finish this so I can get down to a day of serious writing.
How do I download a song/video from YouTube?

6.         Do you have nicknames? What are they?

7.         Tag 8 blogger friends.

June 20, 2011

The Favorite Book Challenge Blogfest!

I am taking part in a blogfest in which you must pick five of your favorite books, write one line about what each book is about and then write one line about why you liked the book. Semi-colons are cheating, but you can use them anyway (I didn't use any but probably should have, lol!).  Then, go to other participants blogs (find the list at A Writer's Journey) to discuss the books. 
The Favorite Book Challenge Blogfest is being hosted by Teralyn Rose Pilgrim at A Writer's Journey, so please be sure to go by her blog to find the links to the other entries. I'm sure you'll find some pretty interesting books to read!
Since I read so many books, I chose books that I have read more than once. My entries are a mixture of some old and some new favorites. Without further ado, here they are!

Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The “chick flick” of books where inextricably unhappy Liz divorces her husband and gives up everything in order to go on a spiritual journey to find herself, and ends up meeting a cast of unforgettable characters who help her along the way. I love this book because it sends the message to women that they don’t have to settle and do what is traditionally expected of them.

Living, Loving, & Learning by Leo F. Buscaglia, Ph.D
Possibly the only professor in the world who was kooky enough to teach a class called Love 1A, Leo entertains us through stories of learning to love while growing up in a traditional Italian family. From reading Leo’s lectures, I get a strong sense of what type of person he was and it inspires me to try harder to be a kinder person.   

The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale introduced a new way of thinking to the world when he wrote this book about finding happiness, self-confidence and how to achieve your goals through the power of positive thoughts. This is my go-to book when I need a reminder of how much my own happiness is directly up to me.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-To-Come teach Ebeneezer Scrooge how to love his fellow man through a series of nightly hauntings in which they show him where things went wrong in his life and remind him that there are more important things outside his counting-house. Scrooge’s transformation never fails to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling every Christmas when I read this book.

The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young
Mack Philips receives a note from God (who appears in the guise of a black woman called Papa, who cooks, no less) with an invitation for him to meet her at The Shack where his daughter died, in order to help him understand the horror of her death. I liked this book because it shows that God can be whoever we perceive him/her to be, and it explains some of the questions we have about why things like death happen.  

June 13, 2011

I Did The Rock 'n' Roll!

I did it!
I did it! I finished my first half-marathon at the Dodge San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & 1/2. Mostly, I just wanted to finish, and to accomplish the goal that I had set for myself.

I was feeling really good for what I thought was the first five miles... and then I saw the freakin’ three-mile marker! I hate when that happens.

32,000 Runners
The run was absolutely gorgeous, though, which helps a lot when you’re tired. I think miles 8 – 9 were the hardest, but I knew I was going to finish when I hit the ten mile marker. Somehow, knowing there are only three miles to go helps a lot. I tell myself that I’ve just done ten miles, so I can certainly do three more.

I’ve heard runners talk about the proverbial wall that you hit at some point during a long run. When I saw the mile twelve marker and looked over toward Sea World where the finish line was, and I hoped against hope that somehow I really wouldn’t have to run ALL the way over there, that’s when I hit the wall.

But real runners don’t give up, I reminded myself. I even told myself that I could walk the last mile if I wanted to – a lot of people were walking that last mile. But I was really just ready for the “race” to be over, and so I kept on running!

And the cheerleaders lined along the road are AWESOME! Here are some of the signs they held up to encourage us to keep going:

·         Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot (very helpful, in case you somehow forgot what you were doing! I can see how that can happen).
·         Run like you just stole something.
·         Why are all those people following you? (When you’re my age, knowing that people are actually behind you – which means you’re in front of them...yeah, that helps).
·         Run like a Kenyan (I Wish).
·         Mortuary ahead, look alive! (probably the best advice I saw).
·         The end is near (when someone dressed as the grim reaper is holding this sign...).
·         Your feet are hurting because you’re kicking so much ass.
·         That’s not sweat, those are your fat cells crying.
·         Great stamina, call me (for those singles out there).

AND they clap and yell cheers for you as you’re going by.

But the best part of the whole thing? The incredible support I’ve received! My sister Donna carted me all over San Diego. Friends and family tracked my progress on Competitor Wireless, three of my friends (Kirk, Jayme, Angie) say that I’ve inspired them to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll next year!

And I can’t forget the awesome cake. My niece Alyssa spent four hours making a cake from scratch, just for me – isn’t it awesome?! And totally yummy!

June 3, 2011

Naming Crystal's Abode - I Won!

I'm the winner! Me!! I took part in Crystal Cheverie's blogfest for the naming of her new bachelorette pad, and I actually won!!! Crystal is 35,000 words into her WIP and will be finished in July, before she starts her revisions. She just HAD to name her writing space before she finishes, right?.

And the new name, you ask???? *drumroll please*  The Chronicler Cave. She tends to choose basement type dwellings, for which you can come up with some awesome names for. Some of the initial names I came up with, well.....never mind. And, uh, it didn't really mean that I picked the best name, because she actually picked the name out of a hat.  BUT I WON!! Now I have to choose my prize: $10 Amazon card, $10 itunes card, or the book Naming the World. Is that your book Crystal? If so, I'll take an autographed copy of that!

If you get a chance, check out Crystal's awesome blog at Little Bundle of Contradictions.

Thank you, Crystal. It was totally fun thinking up names for you.

June 1, 2011

On Vacation - Gone Running!

Whew! It’s been a marathon just training for the marathon!! But the time is finally here. I’m leaving tomorrow (Thursday), June 2nd and returning on June 16th.

I had hoped to be further along in my fitness, aka Wish-I-Was-Doing-The-Full-Marathon, but at this point I’m happy enough doing the half (13.1 miles).

My main concern is shin splints. Other than that, I’m pretty sure I can drag my butt across the finish line, no matter what. I have four hours to complete it, but I’m hoping I can do it in three. I’m counting on training at 9000 feet to help me run at sea level.

With 30,000 people signed up, you probably won’t see me in the crowd, but I’ll be the one in the green tank top that says, Does This Shirt Make My Butt Look Fast?

I will be checking in, but I am on vacation, so if I don’t respond quickly, I’ll be at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, or Disney Land, or Sea World, or the San Diego Zoo, or the San Diego Wild Animal Park, or at the beach hanging ten, or at the Colorado River in Yuma laying on a raft with a margarita in my hand.

Wish me luck!

San Diego, here I come!!