Thursday, December 31, 2009

What A Year!

I must've blinked too fast because I swear 2009 has just begun. It's been a wonderful year, but I will miss it once the clock strikes 12:00 tonight!

Let's go over the highlights of this year, shall we?

1) I started this blog on January 1, 2009. That was a huge step within itself. I had no idea what the blogosphere held for me, but I'm glad I took the chance to find out!

2) I've made bloggy friends! You guys are awesome!

3) I graduated from high school and survived my first semester of college.

4) The Not-So Meet Cute was finally finished and I wrote another book (and finished it!) during National Novel Writing Month.

5) My blog reached 200 posts!

6) I held two contests (speaking of which, your vlog is coming soon, Sara, I promise!).

7) I announced, in public, that I am a writer. Humongous step. This means I won't quit writing any time soon.



Wow! Looking at that list makes me smile soooooo big. I'm glad I've been able to share these things with all of you, gain your support and trust, and follow your hilarious and helpful blogs! Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

See you in 2010, when I'll announce things to come in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And... Break!

I need a bloggy break guys. I made it home for Christmas break on Saturday and have been enjoying my time away from the internet.

Well, I have been watching this:



Awesome!

Anyways, I'll probably be back the week after Christmas so I can spend time with my family and work on my novel.

*Gasp*

This thing is gonna be the death of me.

Once I come back from my break, I should have my new vlog ready to go!

Happy holidays everybody! I'll see ya'll soon enough!

Friday, December 11, 2009

200th Post and Contest Winner!

It's my 200th post! Huzzah!

Wow. I feel so accomplished right now. Is it weird to feel accomplished because you babble about yourself on a daily basis on the internet? I don't think so.

James even showed up for the event wearing a cravat (because he knows how I dig cravats).



Now if I could only put him in a cowboy hat, he would be ICAW ready!



No, James! Come back! I love you without cowboy hats!

Well, I guess while we wait for him to come back I'll announce the contest results.

*sniff*

I'd like to send a big thank you to everybody who entered my NaNoWriMo/200th post/holiday/almost one year blogaversary title contest! Some of you were really, really persistent!

Ooh, the anticipation. It's killing you, I know.

Here it comes.

The runner-up is...

wait for it...

waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit for it...

...

Southern Princess with the title Battle Cries of the Broken.

Dude. I loved this! She took the title from the lyrics of one of my favorite songs! She wins a photo album and a poem about her awesomeness (which will be completely dasaloff).

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for. At least, I hope you've been waiting for it. I hope you've been pining for it all week.

The winning title is Jane's Air, which was submitted by Sara Raasch! Yay Sara!

This title was clever with a capital EV. Plus, it sounds way better than Jane's Hair or Jane's Pear.

Sara can look forward to a song in vlog form about her awesomeness, as well as a book of her choice and a photo album! I can't wait to start on the vlog.

Both ladies can contact me at natalia dot 165 at gmail dot com for more specifics. Congrats again and thanks to everybody who entered the contest!


"I came back without my shirt on. How many cowboys do that? Huh?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ICAW Music

Today is the last day for the contest! All entries are due by twelve midnight EASTERN time.

Music has always been a big part of my writing process, so I thought I should share music I listened to during NaNoWriMo.

The first song I became addicted to was from Last of the Mohicans. Listening to it sends shivers down my spine... it's sooooo perfect for my book. I can feel the emotional tension.



I tried to make a radio station on Pandora for this kind of music, but it was all too Celtic. Naturally, I fell to my usual Regina Spektor.

"Samson" is a beautiful piano song and story. The way Regina says "Samson" oozes love and affection.



Then came the chillingly gorgeous "Breathe Me" by Sia.

I've fallen deeper into love with Ingrid Michaelson. Out of all of her songs, this one relates to the book best.



Also, The Beatles are pure genius. I can see "Hey Jude" fitting in perfectly with a scene in my book. So much so, I almost cry.




Finally (well, not really, but I feel bad for posting all these videos) is "The Call" by Regina Spektor.



If anyone happened to make a title from the lyrics of these songs, specifically:

"It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry"

... I might love you forever. Good luck!

Oh, and FYI, the winners of the contest probably won't be posted until tomorrow evening-ish because I'll be taking finals.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Excerpt!

Before we get to the excerpt, let me plug my contest.

Plug plug plug.

You guys have been coming up with some good titles! Looks like a close contest so far.

So today comes the beginning of my book. The very first paragraphs. Let's go about this in Miss Snark Secret Agent fashion. You'll read the beginning (but over 250 words 'cuz I say I can) and tell me if you are hooked or not.

Remember that this is the very first draft, meaning it is very far from perfection. Also, this is MINE, so it would totally suck if you stole it.



Jane urged her horse to gallop faster for two reasons: one, it was a stolen horse, and two, she was trying to escape. The desire to flee had shaken her bones until finally, fearing neither consequence nor death, she strode out onto open plains under a sliver of moonlight, hoping sleep would be her ally.

Ground flew underneath the mare in a fluid movement, her swift legs carrying both her and her rider into a newborn dawn. The beat of hooves reassured Jane that she was farther and farther away from her broken home. The expanse of freedom before her lifted worry from her shoulders. The confidence that swelled in her chest invigorated her to keep riding towards an unknown future.

She wasn’t running from the law, rather, from her home. Now her unsteady lifestyle was in her past and she hoped nobody would make her go back. Optimism was her guide on this new journey; Jane wouldn’t stop to let fear settle in, lest it impede her progress.

Many miles away, a small farm came to life with the bustle of morning activity. Jane’s presence wasn’t missed, at least not at the moment. A mother woke up a small girl, Clementine, and reminded her to collect the eggs for their morning breakfast. An older son, Luke, already sat at the kitchen table waiting for coffee with his stepfather, Carson.

Clementine clutched a basket to her chest as she walked to the chicken coop. As she was only seven, she was still excited to inspect under every chicken for new life. Once her task was complete, she took the eggs to her mother with utmost care, worrying that the delicate shells would crack. After they were in the hands of her mother, however, Clementine ran outside to the barn, forgetting her earlier patience. Visiting with the animals as they woke was her morning joy; she tapped a lamb until it opened its eyes so she might hear it baa. She then walked up and down the narrow aisle of the barn, inspecting each animal, until she discerned a change. Backing up slowly to the stall she had passed, she noticed something was missing. A very big something. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, just to be absolutely positive, before running back to the house as fast as she could.



390 words. Not bad.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Characters of My Titleless Book

Happy Tuesday during this lovely ICAW!

First, I must show this video, simply because the animation is awesome.



It's about the west, so I suppose it could be considered related to ICAW.

I proclaim it to be so!

Which reminds me, have you entered the title contest yet? Do it!

Or, wait until I tell you some more about my book.

Yeah, that could work, too.

Today, I am going to discuss the main-est of the main characters. I like to call them "The Big Three", then imagine them at Yalta conferences (sorry, my history nerd is showing).

Ready? Let's go!



Jane Hawkes: She's the main character of the book (even though it's written in third person) and she's loosely modeled after Jane Eyre. At seventeen years old, she's hardly known any happiness in her life, so she runs away from her abusive family, hoping she'll find something great. Without giving too much away, I'll say that when she gets into trouble, Jane is pretty fierce. She's doesn't look for help with her problems, she wants to get things done quickly and efficiently. If you didn't already notice, she's extremely stubborn, but also fragile and unsure of herself sometimes. When things don't go the way she plans with her love interest, she gives up on love almost altogether. She's ashamed she even had feelings for the boy in question because she thinks it makes her weak. By the end of the book, though, she realizes how much she wants and needs to be loved because it was what she subconsciously went looking for when she ran away from home. Jane won't admit to all this until she's the independent woman she planned on becoming, however.

August Phoenix: He is Jane's love interest, but neither of them know that at first meeting (which you can read here). He's nineteen and works as a doctor's apprentice for his uncle. August also has a past, but he refuses to reveal it to anybody for fear of shaming his family. He's deeply committed to helping the nearby Indian tribe protect itself from white settlers because of the family it offered him when he felt isolated with his secrets. August is still finding where he fits into the world when Jane comes into his life; after that, the rest is history. There's some male superiority issues he has to overcome first, though.

Isaac Strickland: Ahh, the bad guy. I talked about him a little bit earlier and how I'm in love with his delicious wickedness. To quote myself:

"Strickland is originally introduced as the charming guy that Jane might have to marry. He's easy on the eyes, and Jane's looking for an escape, so she lets herself be smitten. Later, August reveals some information that stains the way she sees him, but the reader still doesn't know what to think about him. Then comes the scenes where he is revealed for the dastardly evil guy he is."



I hope this is helpful for all my little contest participants! Hopefully I will post a excerpt tomorrow and some inspiring music the day after that.

Yay ICAW!

Monday, December 7, 2009

CONTEST CONTEST CONTEST!!!

To introduce my contest, I made my first vlog ever! Do not mock.

video


I promise I'll look at the camera more next time.

Squee! It's a contest!

Like I said, today marks the beginning of International Cowboy Appreciation Week (ICAW). This Friday will be my 200th post, so I thought it would be awesome to have a contest for my recently finished NaNoWriMo novel.

Here be the rules:

1) Be a follower. When I'm a famous published author someday and I'm asked how I came up with the title of my book, I don't want to have to say "Oh, a random person on the internet gave me the idea." That's not cool. Also, if you mention it on your blog, you will definitely get brownie points.

2) Leave your title ideas in the comment section of THIS post. Please.

That comment should include your title (or titles, multiple entries allowed) and the title of the book you want to win should your title be chosen (hold on, I'm getting to the title thing in a second).

3) All submissions must be turned in by midnight on Thursday, November 10th, Eastern time. I will announce the winner and the runner-up on Friday, DECEMBER 11th. To make sure the contest is fair, I will have some friends of mine give me their opinions of the titles as well.*



PRIZES:

The first place winner will win three separate items:

1) A book from my TBR list:
Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

If you've read or have all of these books, you can also pick one from my Shelfari side bar. There are more classics in that pile if you're not a fan of YA.

2) I'm making photo books with the pictures I took in Italy this summer. As the first place winner, you will not only receive one, but you can also pick some of the pictures that you want to go in the book. You can look at my Flikr page as a reference.

3) I will write and sing a song of your awesomeness on a vlog.


The runner up will win:

1) The aforementioned photo book.

2) A poem about their awesomeness.



I better get more than two entries in this contest, guys. Don't disappoint me!

To make this post even more epically long, I'm going to post the synopsis of my novel so you can begin thinking of titles.



When Jane Hawkes, seventeen, runs away from her morally corrupt and abusive family, she ends up running towards the dangers and deadly secrets the west holds. Set in the wild west, this YA fiction features gun fights, Native Americans, wild horses, saloons, a doctor's apprentice, romance, and a girl trying to live her life on her own terms.



That's probably the shortest description I've ever given. What a good time to practice your brevity, Mariah *rolls eyes*

Also, here's a previously posted excerpt.

There shall be excerpts and other such things throughout the rest of the week, so stay tuned!

Let the titling commence!



*Even though a title will win, I will not necessarily end up using it. Just thought you should know.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Resident Expert: Brad Pitt

Before our weekly drool-fest, a few quick things:

A big thank you and numerous cyber hugs to everybody who supported me during NaNo! I couldn't have done it without you all! I've been blessed to make friends with a lot of you this year, and NaNo exemplified how amazing everyone is! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Also, I swear I haven't abandoned my blog. Things have been crazy hectic this week as finals approach so I've taken a few days off to recuperate from November and prepare for the onslaught. Plus, I've perfectly planned out next Friday to be my 200th post, making all of next week International Cowboy Appreciation Week (ICAW), a la ISPAW*.

I am very, VERY excited for next week because it will feature the big title contest I've been talking about for so long. Yay!

There will be prizes! Excerpts! Music videos! Pictures! And much, much more.



Anywho, here comes the post (finally):

BRAD PITT.



He's his younger self in this picture, but I find it glorious.

This is him now:



I still think he's pretty hawt. Some guys are a "cute" kind of hot when they're younger, and as they age they become a more "mature" and refined hot. Brad Pitt is one of those men.

The first movie I remember seeing him in was "Meet Joe Black".



He was certainly swoon-worthy in this movie, but he was almost too pretty. I mean, I'm all for pretty guys...

*ahem*

...but Brad Pitt needs to be a little rougher looking in my opinion.

Like in this picture, when he was finished with "Legends of the Fall" (great movie, by the way).



And let's not forget "Troy". *shiver*



"Troy" came out on my birthday. I was the happiest girl in the world.



Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Did I mention that he's a great actor? I think I forgot to throw that in there.

Ah, Fridays are my favorites. Have a good weekend, everyone, and see you for ICAW!



*ISPAW sounds cooler than ICAW :(

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December

*Mariah stumbles across the finish line, incredibly dirty and asleep*

I think... I think I did it.

I DID IT!!! I FINISHED NANOWRIMO!!!

OH NO, NOW I CAN'T TURN OFF CAPS LOCK! IT SOUNDS LIKE I'M YELLING AT YOU!!!

Whoa, I fixed it.

*sobs* December, you are so glorious! Let's be friends forever, okay?

I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really tired from last night. I mean, look at this. That's total proof of my craziness right there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pretend I'm Rip Van Winkle. Good night.