Dec 02


I’m having technical difficulties w/my blog, so I apologize if the home page looks weird. Waiting for support to return my e-mail.
 
I thought this Pitch Wars Mentee Bio Bloghop thing looked kinda fun, so I figured I’d better jump right in. Check out Dannie Morin’s site for the linky list of other participants.

For Pitch Wars I submitted my young adult novel, VARYING DEGREES OF BLAME. And yes, it is complete, around 56,000 words. It’s a dual point of view, told by a boy and a girl. There’s some romance, but that’s not the story. There’s bad parents… and there’s good parents. There’s a girl who is motivated to avoid the mistakes of her mother. And there’s a boy who grows and learns how to forgive.
 
So if any of the mentors I submitted to stop by, here is why you should pick me.
 
1. I picked you, so obviously I have good taste.
 
2. I wrote my story for NaNo. That’d be NaNo 2012, so don’t worry, it’s been critiqued and revised before you. And I so want to add my name to that NaNo page where it shows published NaNo books.
 
3. I’ve written more than 1.4 million words (in novels) and I’m ready for that next step. (Agent. Publisher. Movie Rights. Becoming the next JK Rowling, except for contemporary young adult.)
 
4. I am very open to hearing all your comments and suggestions. Even though I’ve written a bunch and have queried 2 other novels, I am quite aware that I do NOT know it ALL. And I’m always wanting to learn more.
 
5. I hate querying, and I would be forever thankful to you if you help me find an agent via this contest so I don’t have to query.
 
6. I think it’d be so cool to be a Pitch Wars Mentor. And being chosen by you, and then picked up by an agent and publisher would be the best way to assure an invite for me to be a mentor for Pitch Wars next year.
 
7. And last but not least, I’ve got a terrific story with characters I love, and I want the world to love them too.
 
So those are a few reasons why you should pick me.
 
Now on to the more boring stuff which you can probably find on other pages of my site, but I’ll summarize right here.
 
-I mostly write contemporary young adult. I’ve also done some new adult/adult, but have always stuck to contemporary.
 
-I like writing about people with problems. But I like happy endings too.
 
-I am also a mom.
 
-I am also a civil engineer. (Hence the Literary Engineer title)
 
-I have a husband, a dog, and 2 kids.
 
-I love to write. (Yes, big surprise.)
 
Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to check out some of the other mentees by clicking on the link above.

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Oct 27


First, I’d like to say thank you to YA Fusion. I won a copy of Ellen Hopkins new novel Smoke. I’ve read several of hers and really liked them, and I look forward to this one too.
 
So, for those who don’t know, I mostly read contemporary young adult. And I didn’t start reading it until a few years ago when I started writing it. Since then I’ve kinda fallen away from the classics, horrors and thrillers that I’d mostly read before that.
 
During the month of October, I hardly read anything, and finally jumped back into reading this last week. Christa Desir just released her new YA novel, Fault Line and I’d been waiting a long time to read it. It’s a powerful book, and I’d definitely recommend it. And it got me excited about reading again.
 
After finishing, I decided to go through my Kindle and clean up: remove books I won’t get to and do some other organizing. Since I have hundreds of books on the Kindle, and haven’t read probably ½ of them, I had a lot to go through.
 
And I found many interesting books I’d forgotten about. One is Night of Knives by Jon Evans:
 
Veronica Kelly came to Africa to start her life over. Still reeling from her divorce, she is grateful when a handsome stranger invites her to join a tour to visit gorillas in Uganda’s wild Impenetrable Forest. A trip that goes desperately wrong when their group is captured by brutal gunmen.
 Then one tourist is executed.
 And then another.
 This is no random kidnapping: their abduction is only the first move in a deadly strategic game. A game in which Veronica’s ex-husband is somehow involved. Now she must embark on a wild journey across Africa, to unveil a malignant conspiracy before it consumes entire nations – and thousands of lives…

 
The Congo. Deception. Murder. Doesn’t that sound cool? And I’ve got many others like that I discovered once again. I definitely need to go through my Kindle more often. Or maybe Goodreads. I mean, hello, I can rate my to-read books by number. Usually I just add books to my to-read list and then forget about them.
 
I really need to be more organized.
 
So if you’re a Kindle or a Nook reader, do you have way too many books waiting to be read? Do you forget what books you have and then get a nice surprise when looking for something new to read?

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Oct 20


So I’ve talked about the writer Jolene Perry before, but just in case you missed those posts, she’s a terrific author. Which means not only is she a great writer, but also a wonderful person. Always willing to answer questions and help others.
 
She has a fantastic giveaway going now for her new release (the rafflecopter is at the end of the post) and it kind of got me thinking again about the whole name thing.

Jolene’s Giveaway


I watched Jolene as she sorted out through the pen name issues. Recently she got all her different books separated out so that different categories are under different names.
 
She writes under Jolene Betty Perry for her LDS fiction. Click here
 
Then she writes under Jolene Perry for her YA fiction. Click here
 
And lastly (I think), she writes under Mia Josephs for her NA fiction. Click here
 
I’ve pretty much figured I’d use Suzi Retzlaff as my author name. Which is my married name. The stories I’m actively working on now are mostly young adult. But I just started an adult contemporary too. And I’ve got about 7 others written that are temporarily shelved due to time constraints. But I’m excited about my current adult WIP, and since I feel like it’s got some unique aspects to it (don’t we all think that though :) ), I’d really like to pursue publishing for this one when it’s finished.
 
Since I’m unpublished as of yet, I don’t need to have the pen name thing figured out now, but I should be thinking of it. Would I use my maiden name? Would I use a whole new name?
 
Luckily for me, both my maiden and current names are uncommon enough that there won’t be any author confusion, but I just haven’t decided what to do. I’ve got kind of a funny issue with the name thing, but I think I’ll post that next week.
 
So, I’m curious if any other unpublished authors have thought about this—using different pen names for different types of stories. Or with published authors, how they came up with their pen names.
 
And now, make sure you enter Jolene’s giveaway because she’s generously offering the three books in The Next Door Boys series and The Weight of Love… all in paperback (plus some Amazon buck.). So register through the rafflecopter and go check out her site too.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Oct 15

As many of you know, today is the release day of (Never) Again by the fabulous Theresa Paolo. And to celebrate, she’s doing a blog hop where you share something that you swore you’d never do again, but did.
 
But first. If you’d like to see how I first met Theresa and all the fun things we have in common, go here.
 
Now on to the blog hop.
 
Well, I hope I don’t disappoint anyone today because I have nothing shameless or salacious to share. Instead, my example is rather innocuous, perhaps mundane. (Can you tell I went to the thesaurus for interesting words?) But hey, when I try come up with examples to questions like this, my mind always goes blank.
 
First: I am not a slave to fashion. I prefer comfort over style.
 
So back in the 80s, clogs were the in thing. I had one pair. I hated them. They were big and stiff. Clunky—wasn’t clog just the perfect name for them? Kinda ugly. And they didn’t like to stay on my feet.

I said I’d never wear them again.

But then a few years back, my mom gave me a pair of hers she didn’t want anymore. And because she doesn’t buy Payless Shoes like me, the black pair she gave me lasted over three years of regular use. And I loved them. So now I’ve even bought my own. Something more like this.

From Zappos.com


These shoes from Zappos.com are cute. Their $150 price tag, not so much. Oh, and when I said I’d buy something more like this, I meant style wise. I’d choke over paying $150 for shoes. (Remember, I like Payless.)
 
So even though they’re not the most stable shoe, I now like them. And there are so many cute styles.
 
Even though I gave in to the clog, I will never… never wear flip flops. I’ve weathered through this fad for the second time without giving in, so I’m fairly confident I’ll keep my word. Flip flops suck.
 
So check Theresa’s site to see the other blog hop participants.
 
And congratulations to Theresa on your big debut!

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Oct 13

As a fairly new blogger in May 2012, I participated in the Dust if Off Blog Hop. One of the hosts was Theresa. After the blog hop ended, I went to her blog and looked through her WIP list, and I’m like… I want to read that, and that, and that, and that.
 
And it’s like OMG, I need to be friends with this woman. And since she was the host of the blog hop, I had the perfect opportunity to stalk her without appearing so stalkerish.
 
So I buttered her up a bit until she tossed out the offer to exchange manuscripts. (Honestly, I don’t remember how it went down, but I think she was the one to offer first because I tend to be a little shy.)
 
I read one manuscript of hers (loved it) and then not long after got to read the one that is being published in 2 days. And fast forward to today where I know her now. Our friendship was totally meant to be because I’ve discovered all these things (other than writing) that we have in common too.
 
-We have the same middle name: Marie
 
-We both have difficult to pronounce (maiden) last names
 
-We both love of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (is there anything better than chocolate & peanut butter?)
 
-We both like learning about history (like the really old stuff, not just the 200 years ago stuff.)
 
-We both love of spicy tuna sushi–yum yum
 
-We both love photography Okay, I’m not a great photographer, but I wish I was. It’s one of those things that’s been on my bucket list. But she’s a photographer, and you need to go here to see some of her amazing pictures.
 
-And get this. I first read her debut novel in the summer 2012 when it had a different name. In November 2012, I completed my NaNo project, which I was calling Never Again—although it was only the working title. And then in April 2013, her publisher suggested (Never) Again. What a weird freaking coincidence, huh.
 
From Theresa: The name (Never) Again came from the publisher. The original title for the book was Displaced Hearts and my Dad actually came up with it, so when I was approached about coming up with a new title, I wasn’t budging. But after a week or two going back and forth with my editor, throwing out random words I settled on the original suggestion of (Never) Again. I’m actually really happy with it now, but it will always be Displaced Hearts to me.
 
So with all that we have in comment, it was definitely a friendship that was meant to be. And I am soooooooooooo excited to see her very first book being released.
 
If you have not checked her out, make sure you do, because you will be seeing more from Theresa because she’s got so many great stories written and even more ideas stored in her head.
 
Barnes and Noble | Amazon


By the way, she’s got a totally fun blog hop coming up this week that you can’t miss. See here. We’ll get to hear what others said they’d never again do, but then did.
 

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Sep 08

This summer I got the Liebster Blog Award from Hope Roberson, (Thanks again, Hope) and I finally had the chance to post. If you’d like to learn more about Hope, click on the link to see her answers.
 

 
So there’s three parts of this award: sharing eleven things about myself, answering eleven questions, and nominating eleven people.
 
And since when I try think of random things about myself, my mind goes blank. So I like to take the previous person’s statements and use them, about me though.
 
Part One: Eleven Things About Me
 
1. I freeze all winter long, so I love summer. But I can’t stand 90 degree heat and the hot sun, so I sit in the shade a lot.
 
2. I love to swim, but I can’t dive because I’m too chicken.
 
3. I can’t wiggle my ears.
 
4. Fireworks shows are super cool, and every few years our town hosts a week long fireworks conference, which includes nightly shows. Love to watch but I’m glad I don’t live next to the fairgrounds.
 
5. I love to read in the car, and luckily, my husband prefers to do the driving.
 
6. I used to love upside down rides at amusement parks. I haven’t been on one for a while, so I don’t know if that’s changed.
 
7. My garden is pathetic. I’m not very good at it.
 
8. I’ve never had a cat. I grew up with dog people. I married a dog person. And I am a dog person.
 
9. One of my favorite shows is Law and Order SVU.
 
10. I’m pathetic because I haven’t read anything in about a week.
 
11. Pinterest is fun, but I don’t get on very often.
 
Part Two: Eleven Questions
 
1. Favorite color? Blue
 
2. If I could change or make a law, what would it be? Children are not allowed to speak until being called on after raising their hand. (Yeah, right . That’d never happen.)
 
3. Do you believe individual personality characteristics have more impact from environment or genetics? Environment.
 
4. Do you believe there are other life forms in the universe? Sure.
 
5. Can you remember your last dream? What was it? Being late to my high school class because I couldn’t find the room.
 
6. What movie most impacted your childhood? Goonies or Star Wars
 
7. What is your fear? Losing my children
 
8. If you were granted one wish, what would it be? To meet my husband’s mother who died when he was a kid.
 
9. What was the last song you listened to? No clue.
 
10. Who is the one person I would want to spend eternity with? I suppose I should say my husband. :)
 
11. When was the last time you smiled? When I typed the answer to my last question.
 
Part Three: Nominate eleven others
 
So, this is the part that I usually skip, and I will do it once again.
 
Thanks, Hope for the award, and now please tell me something random about yourself.

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Aug 04

 
Last week, I mentioned that I’d decided to stop doing one of my blog features: Sloppy Writing. If you want to find out why, just go back to last Sunday’s post.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


So then I started thinking about what direction I’d like my blog to go, and I asked myself what I like best about other blogs. There are tons that have great writing information, and often times, I don’t even read those author’s books, but I love their blogs.
 
And of course, a lot of blogs I read are my writer friends, and it’s a great way to keep up with what they’re doing.
 
But what I figured out was, that some of my favorite blogs are the ones that make me laugh. And they’re usually writers because those are the blogs I frequent the most.
 
Anyways, here are a few that give me many laughs.
 
Cassie Mae: She is so open and silly and fun, how can you not love her and her posts?
 
Kellie at Delightfully Ludicrous: She takes articles from around the world and humorously points out the ludicrousity (I like that better than ludicrousness) of things people do and say.
 
Eileen Cook: I love her blog. Whether it’s the little cartoons or posts about her writing life, the always make me laugh.
 
AuthorLife: Okay, this is tumblr, and I’m not sure if tumblr is really considered a blog, but this writer posts gifs with their added caption and not only does she make me laugh, but I can also often relate. (Although not always, because obviously this author is published, but I still get it.)
 
Andrea at Maybe It’s Just Me: She does these random posts about her life and family and they always make me laugh. And I love her title because I have that thought often: maybe it is just me.
 
To sum things up, I would like to write funny things and make people laugh. But this puts a lot of pressure on me, because what if people don’t think I’m as funny as I think I am. I mean, that’s totally possible.
 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


So maybe I’ll try something like the writer Mindy McGinnis, who was one of the first writerly blogs I started to followed. Her Thursday Thoughts are small random musings about whatever, but once again, they make me laugh. And maybe if I just try go for that once a month, that’d be a good way to test the waters and see how funny I really am. I will not put pressure on myself, so if I don’t have any funny thoughts, I won’t worry about it.
 
What do you prefer to read on blogs? Funny? Serious? Writerly tips? Politics? Personal stories? Anything? Everything?

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Jul 28

 
I don’t know if you noticed, but I stopped doing my Sloppy Writing posts.
 
I’ve watched a lot of blogger friends go through times where they step back from their blog and cut way back on their posts. Sometimes it’s just a few week or month break, sometimes they cut back permanently.
 
This is totally understandable because so many of the people I follow are getting published or getting agents, and their lives become busier. Or they just burn out on blogging.
 
I don’t have the agent/publisher-I’m too busy thing yet, but I hit the point where I was just tired of doing three posts a week. And I was always scrambling Thursday night to get my Sloppy Writing posts done for Friday morning. Then a few days later, it’s my Sunday post. Then 3 days later is The Big Reveal post, which is the easiest of them all.
 
It just wasn’t fun anymore, so that’s why I cut out Sloppy Writing, and it feels nice to have that big break in between the other two. I don’t feel rushed, and I don’t feel like I want to completely step away from my blog.
 
One of the other reasons that helped me decide to quit those posts was that sometimes I struggled to find something to write about. Yeah, I could keep going with adverbs, but often times I didn’t have that problem in my writing, so I had no examples. I know there are more words out there that I could clean up out of my manuscripts, but for now, I’m done.
 
So that’s why it’s not up anymore, in case you were wondering.
 
Have you ever cut back on your blogging? Or dropped a feature that you’d been doing for a while it wasn’t fun anymore?
 

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Jul 21

 
Last weekend I went on my first writers’ retreat. It was just so much fun, and yes, I got a lot of writing (actually editing) done, but more importantly I finally got to meet (in person) so many terrific ladies: Rachel, who put the whole weekend together, Theresa, who drove all the way from New York City to Minnesota with Cassie Mae, Jessica, who along with Rachel lives within a reasonable driving distance so there’s a good chance I’ll see her at a conference or something sometime, and Mandy, who I’d never met before, but who gave us some terrific insight on being an editor.
 
One other very important thing we did that weekend was to learn how to pronounce everybody’s last names, because a few of us have names that could be pronounced multiple ways. For instance, none of us knew how to say Rachel Schieffelbein’s name. Now I know, (shuffle-bine), thanks to the suggestion (sorry, I can’t remember whose) of linking it to shuffleboard.
 
So you know how we (society) complain about teens today and how they’re so immersed in the digital age they don’t know how to have regular conversations? Well it’s kind of funny to be sitting in the same room with someone and talking through e-mail or Twitter or Facebook and not saying a word to them aloud.
 
Now I wouldn’t do that that all the time, but trust me, we got plenty of regular talking in too.
 
And it was so nice not to listen to any children complain that I was on the computer too long. Or hear the line, well if you’re on the computer I can play my video games too. You know, cause to children, everything should be equal and it doesn’t matter that you’re an adult and they’re a child.
 
But that’s a totally different post.
 
And I never got a sore butt even though I was sitting on it most of the day. Must’ve been the comfy couch.
 
Anyways, I wish I could’ve extended the weekend, but alas, everybody had to go home, and well… it wasn’t my house. And now I can’t wait to see everybody again, and I hope we can make this a yearly thing.
 
Have you ever done the writers’ retreat thing?

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Jun 30

 
So I have this little thing I do, and I’ve often wondered if it’s just me, but before I get to it, I’d better give the background.
 
(FYI: If you’re a speech therapist, please read this and tell me if you have any insight into this odd problem.)
 
Back when my son was little, I read him this book over and over—as usually happens with children. Thomas and the Big Big Bridge. One time I was reading the story to him, I realized there’s this line where I transposed one word. I didn’t skip it, but I moved it to another place in the sentence.
 
The next time I’m reading, I noticed I did the same thing again. And it happens again and again. Almost every time I read that sentence, I automatically moved that word.
 
Since I was reading aloud a lot, I noticed I did this in other books too. It’s like I move a word to another spot, where obviously it sounds/flows better. While I’m reading, I’m completely conscious of the fact I move words, but I’m not moving them on purpose. It just comes out of my mouth that way. (This might happen once per book on average.)
 

Image courtesy of Master isolated / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


What is wrong with my brain? Is this why I hated reading aloud in high school? Do I have some weird dyslexic-type thing where people do this? Am I the only one?
 
Now I know I’m not really dyslexic cause I’ve always been a good reader/writer, and I loved English classes and generally did well in school.
 
And now that I’ve become a writer and have found I love critiquing, I’m starting to wonder if my brain is so smart and advanced that it’s automatically editing the text before it passes them along to my mouth. I mean, that makes perfect sense, right?
 
No, but seriously, it’s the weirdest thing, and I have no clue why it happens? Do you ever do this?
 

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