Made of Win Monday and Last Chance to Enter My Contest

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Today I have a bit of a Made of Win Monday round up.

First, today is the LAST DAY you can enter my STILL INTO YOU contest where you can win a box of awesome, a gift card, or a 20 page critique from me. Contest ends at midnight central time.

A few guest posts...

I'm over at Tory Michael's blog with an interview where I answer questions such as how I balance writing and blogging with the rest of my life and why I like writing BDSM.

I'm also on Peanut Butter on the Keyboard talking On Milk Allergies and Trusting Your Mommy Gut.

 

Now a few things Made of Win...

  • I finished writing NOT UNTIL YOU over the weekend, which is Ian's story (yes, the Ian in STILL INTO YOU.) So I managed to write and revise a 40k novella in 6 weeks. Yay! Now I know that's probably nothing to you speed writers, but that's a much improved pace for me. Now it's on to Kelsey's story, CAUGHT UP IN YOU.

 

 

  • Saw Snow White and The Huntsman this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. I'm not usually a fairy tale person, but I really enjoyed the movie. Now, I would've loved to see a little more romance-y stuff wrapped up, but I have a feeling they left things a little open with hopes for a sequel. I'm all for more Chris Hemsworth regardless. :) Two thumbs up.

 

 

  • I've been in the mood for a good horror story lately and wanted to try an indie one. After a few failed attempts at finding one whose sample pages didn't make me cringe, I ended up with Alexandra Sokoloff's The Harrowing . (I realized afterwards that though this one is indie now, it's her backlist and was orginally published by St. Martins. So oh well on my attempt to find a truly self-pubbed one, lol. But hey, the effort was there.) And I really enjoyed the story. It was creepy and had me leaving lights on when I was alone in the house at night. You can definitely tell that the author is a screenwriter because I could easily picture this story like it was playing on a screen. Someone on Goodreads described it as Scream meets The Exorcist. I think that's a pretty good description, though there was no humor like in Scream. Anyway, I enjoyed it and if you have Amazon Prime, it's free in the lending library.

Here's the blurb:

Baird College's Mendenhall echoes with the footsteps of the last home-bound students heading off for Thanksgiving break, and Robin Stone swears she can feel the creepy, hundred-year-old residence hall breathe a sigh of relief for its long-awaited solitude. Or perhaps it's only gathering itself for the coming weekend.

As a massive storm dumps rain on the isolated campus, four other lonely students reveal themselves: Patrick, a handsome jock; Lisa, a manipulative tease; Cain, a brooding musician; and finally Martin, a scholarly eccentric. Each has forsaken a long weekend at home for their own secret reasons.

The five unlikely companions establish a tentative rapport, but they soon become aware of a sixth presence disturbing the ominous silence that pervades the building. Are they the victims of a simple college prank taken way too far, or is the unusual energy evidence of something genuine---and intent on using the five students for its own terrifying ends? It's only Thursday afternoon, and they have three long days and dark nights before the rest of the world returns to find out what's become of them. But for now it's just the darkness keeping company with five students nobody wants and no one will miss.

 

All right, that was my Made of Win weekend, how was yours? Anyone else see Snow White? Anybody have any good horror recommendations for me (prefer creepy/scary to all out gore)?

 

Made of Win Monday: Reading Binges

This is going to be a quick post since it's Memorial Day and I know many of you are out eating barbecue and hanging out by the pool. But yesterday I had a glorious day of doing nothing but reading. I read an entire novel and a novella. I binged. And it was lovely and totally made of win.

I knew RT Magazine's list of 50 books for 50 Shades alternatives was going to get me in trouble. :) (Here's the list if you're interested. Crash made it on there too!)

And in case you want to know what books had me glued to my Kindle, here you go. These were both new to me authors. Both were fab...

Sheltered by Charlotte Stein

Adored this story. Such a sweet hero and sexual tension that will melt your e-reader. Ignore the cover, that's not how the characters were described. 

Evie has lived her entire life under her abusive father’s thumb. He controls everything. Where she goes to college, who she sees, what she does. But when she meets Van—a punk who shows her how different life could be—she realizes how much she’s been missing.Van offers her excitement, protection, love…and most of all, sex—even if he’s at first reluctant to give her all the things she’s been craving. She wants to explore this new world of arousal and desire, but Van is only too aware of how fragile she is, how innocent…And how much is at stake, when their love is forbidden.

 

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

For the past couple years Laurel’s been coasting, hiding in the backseat while her life drifts off course. Then one summer afternoon a tall, built bruiser named Flynn strides in and steers her straight into an infatuation she never saw coming.Flynn introduces Laurel to things she’s never imagined—to the violent but exciting realm of the underground boxing circuit, to rough sex and even rougher role-playing, and to an attraction she craves even as it intimidates her. As Flynn invites her deeper into his world and his life, Laurel has to make a choice—let fear keep her holed up where it’s safe, or take a chance and fight for the man who makes her feel more alive than she’d dreamed possible. Reader Advisory: Although all sex acts are 100-percent consensual, Willing Victim contains role-playing scenarios that may upset some readers who are sensitive about rape, even in a simulated capacity.

 

So here's to days where you get so lost in a book you can't stop...and don't have to!

Anyone have a book binge lately?

From Terrified to Teaching: My Writer's Con Journey

Apparently, I'm a hand talkerThis weekend I had the privilege of attending the DFW Writer's Conference. It's a fabulous con and one of the biggest in the area, so if you ever have a chance to come, I suggest you do. 

Three years ago DFW Con was the very first writer's conference I ever attended. I was a brand spanking new writer. I had just finished my first manuscript (the YA that now has permanent residence in the depths of my hard drive) and I was ready to absorb every ounce of information I could.

And I was freaking terrified. 

I'm an introvert and was still coming to terms with calling myself a "writer" out loud. So walking into a room with hundreds of people, some who REALLY knew what they were doing and were already published, was one of the most intimidating situations I'd ever been in. So I went into recluse mode, sitting at a table, simultaneously hoping someone would talk to me and worrying about what I would say if they did.

And of course, I quickly discovered that though we're often the "quiet ones", writers are some of the friendliest people out there. Plus, get us talking about books or writing and we don't shut up. So I ended up managing a few conversations and met some other people. Apparently, I wasn't going to be allowed to survive in "just go to the classes and not socialize mode". :)

I also remember being completely in awe of the published authors and the people teaching the classes. I was too nervous to talk to them. I mean--hell, they had actual books in actual stores. But I sat there like a sponge, absorbing all the fabulous info (and realizing--oh crap, I have done a lot wrong with my book, lol.)

I left that conference completely overwhelmed and totally inspired. (And it turned me into a total confernce junkie.)

So fast forward to this year and I found myself at DFW Con for the third time. But this time, instead of being the girl who was afraid to talk to a published author, I was a published author. And instead of the shy girl who was freaked out by a crowd, I was the one in front of all those people, teaching. (And enjoying it--imagine that, lol.)

Total outer body experience. 

I know I'm still at the beginning of my publishing journey, but having that kind of full circle moment was pretty amazing. 

So thank you to DFW Con for inspiring me three years ago and making me feel welcome. And thank you for inviting me this year to teach a few classes.

And most of all, thank you to every writer who came to my classes, asked great questions, and made this shy girl feel at ease in front of a group. You rock. :)

(Oh, and for those of you who bought my book: *tackle hug*)

Have you ever had a full circle moment? Have you ever been the shy guy/girl at a conference? What was your first writer's conference experience like? 

Made of Win Monday: People Who Can Laugh At Themselves

Photo by Mark Evans

In general, I'm pretty easy to get along with. I'm not high maintenance, I don't anger easily, and I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person. But one thing I can't handle is someone who can't laugh or make fun of himself (or herself.) If you take yourself too seriously, we probably wouldn't make great friends. Because the more serious you take yourself, the more it's going to stir up my sarcastic side.

So when I see an actor who I've always liked being self-deprecating, it gives me the happys. If you've hung around here long enough, you know I'm a Dawson's Creek fan from way back. And though I've always been Team Pacey, I always had a soft spot for Dawson too. 

And now James Van Der Beek is playing himself on the new TV show Don't Trust the B In Apartment 23  (how freaking long is that title?). But anyway, here is James reenacting a Dawson moment. Pretty funny. And James, this self-deprecating side only makes me like you more.


Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

 

And just for old time's sake, here's the infamous ugly cry from Dawson...

 

So do you have any people in your life who take themselves too seriously? Can you laugh at yourself? Am I the only one who had this as a "must have" quality in a husband and/or friend?

Made of Win Monday: Summer TV Shows


 I'm not going to pretend summer is my favorite season. It's actually my least favorite. I live in Texas so it's soul-scorching hot, my kidlet is out of school so it becomes a juggling act trying to find care for him so I can write, and I have to get in a bathing suit, like, in front of people. *shudders*

However, there is one bright spot in this hated season...summer only TV shows. Some of my favorite shows come on only in the summer. And watching them is almost enjoyable enough to distract me from the fact that I can't go outside for five minutes without wanting to do what this kid is doing with the hose.

So here are the ones I'm looking forward to the most...

 

 

True Blood

Oh Eric and Alicide, how I've missed you.

 

Big Brother

I think of all the reality competition shows this one is right up there with American Idol for me. This may be because it's the only show I imagine I could actually survive. But also, I'm fascinated by how trapped people manipulate and align themselves.

 

The Next Food Network Star

I'm a food reality show whore.

 

So You Think You Can Dance

It's like a methadone clinic to ease your American Idol withdrawals.

 

 

The Bachelorette

I know, I know, none of the relationships last. But I always have hope for the Bachelorette because the women typically choose their partners based on more well-rounded information. Unlike the Bachelors who pick women based on who will get naked for them first.

 

 

 

And a new one I'm looking forward to...

Around the World in 80 Plates

Did you miss the part above about my feelings on cooking competition shows? This one starts Wednesday.

 

So those are some I'm counting down to, how about you? What shows do you look forward to in summer? Or in general, what do you love about summer?

Made of Win Monday: Movies That TRULY Make You LOL

We throw around the slang "LOL" a lot these days. If we were using it true to form, half the world would be obnoxiously laughing at any given moment. But, of course, usually when we use it, we're exaggerating. It just means we found something funny, maybe it made us smile. Most of us aren't truly laughing out loud eighty times a day. They may lock us up if that were the case.

So it's always a treat when something really brings forth a good old-fashioned honest laugh. If you laugh so hard, you cry--even better. And one of the best places to get those kinds of real laughs is by going to the movies. Unfortunately, movies can be hit or miss, so finding one that really brings on the funny is always made of win.

This weekend hubs and I saw This Means War and, though I had to suspend disbelief dramatically for some parts, I really ended up enjoying the movie. AND I LOLed more than once. I actually had to use a napkin to blot my eyes because I started to tear up. And it reminded me how long it had been since I'd really laughed in a movie.

So when you find those movies, appreciate them. They're sometimes hard to come by.  Here are some other movies I can remember that made me laugh hard in the theatre.
 

Nine Months - The first time I saw this, the trip to the hospital and the birth scene sent me into one of those laughing fits where I started to gasp for breath.

 

40 Year Old Virgin - I still want to yell out "Kelly Clarkson!" at random times because of this movie.

 

Wayne's World - A classic. I mean, if you didn't laugh the first time you saw the Bohemian Rhapsody scene, you might be dead inside. : )

 

Bridesmaids - The scene in the bridal shop...come on. That's just pure comic genius there.


The Hangover - Too many scenes to pick just one.

Sixteen Candles - Admittedly, I didn't see this one in the theatre, but it never fails to make me laugh.

So I'm interested to hear, what movies have made you really, truly laugh? Which old ones do you go to when you need a pick-me-up?

Made of Win Monday: The Concert Rush

Photo by Incase (click pic for link)So hubs and I have an addiction. For most couples, a romantic evening would entail a nice quiet dinner and maybe a movie out. Now, I can appreciate that kind of night like anyone else. But my ideal romantic evening is heading out to a crowded, dark place and screaming at strangers with thousands of our newest friends. In other words, a concert. : )

(If you want to see who I've seen live, I've made a Pinterest board. I realized as I was putting it together that I think I may be nearing 100 concerts. No, I don't have a problem, not at all. *cough*) 

I was introduced to concerts at a pretty young age. My parents have always been music lovers and started taking me along when I was about ten. I also dragged them to a few New Kids on the Block concerts before that. : ) But as soon as I started going, I was hooked.

There's something about that rush of shared excitement. How often do you get to be somewhere with thousands of people who are all happy and having fun at the same time? In a world where we exist amongst so much day to day grumpiness, it's a huge rush to be in the middle of all that positive energy, singing your favorite songs with others who love them as much as you do.

That rush is made of pure win, y'all.

So are you a concert person? What's the best concert you've ever been to? The worse? Who is on your bucket list of bands/singers you want to see? 

Made of Win Monday: Local Dive Restaurants

It's time for Made of Win Monday, where I feature simple things that rock. 

 

I love to eat and consider myself a bit of a foodie, so one of my favorite things to do is go out to eat at a restaurant. But much of the time, the most obvious choices are the big name corporate restaurants that are ubiquitous in every decent sized city in America. And sure, the food at many of those places can be good--in that generic, this-taste-the-same-at-all-300-of-our-locations kind of way. But it also is usually kind of...soulless.

 

I grew up in New Orleans, arguably one of the best food cities in the country. And I can tell you that the tastiest eats in town are always at the dives. You walk in and the place looks like it hasn't been updated in three decades. On the tables, rolls of paper towels and two kinds of hot sauce (Crystal and Tabasco) and not much else. The people? They'll call you baby or cher (pronounced "sha" for you non-Cajuns) and treat you like you're long lost family. Then they'll serve you food so good, it'll knock you right off that picnic bench they're using for chairs. It's amazing. 

 

Want the best shrimp po-boy in New Orleans? You can find it at Danny and Clyde's which is...a gas station. Yep. Get your tank and belly filled at the same time. Oh, and the shrimp are fresh from the Gulf and that French bread is fresh baked. Cost? 4.99 I still dream of those sandwiches. Texas, I love you for your Mexican food, but damn you don't know what to do with shrimp.

 

And though New Orleans is always doing its own thing, every city around the world has its own gems. Those little hole in the wall restaurants that serve real food made from recipes handed down through generations. No pretensions. No apologies. Just damn good food.

 

Hubs and I found one this weekend in our neck of the woods. This place looked like even its better days had seen better days, but oh my did they have a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich that made me want to weep. I'm hungry just thinking about it. But it's totally a place you would pass a thousand times and never think to go in. It's in a questionable area (what real estate agents would call a "transitional neighborhood") and is tucked away in the corner where you barely can see a sign. But the people were super nice and the food was awesome.

 

So next time you want to go out and eat, try looking past the bright neon signs of the big restaurants and look for the places that have been around a while. If they've been there long enough to look that dive-y, there's probably a reason.

 

So how about you? Do you have any dives in your town that serve five-star food? What's the best thing you ever ate at at dive?

**Also, just FYI, I'm giving away a copy of CRASH INTO YOU today over at the Bandit Creek blog. I'm also talking about my big secret. ;) Would love if you stopped by.**

 

Made of Win Monday: Shows That Bring You Back

Image by Brian Gurralo (click pic for link)

Welcome to the very first Made of Win Monday. This day is going to be reserved for simple things that are awesome because sometimes it's easy to forget to appreciate the little things.

Now, I'm a sentimental person by nature. I hold on to way too much, and I love things that drag me back to good memories. Music would be the obvious one, but another thing that does this for me is watching old TV shows. If I'm feeling out of sorts or down, nothing can cheer me up quicker than pulling out old episodes of a show that flips that sentimental switch inside me.

And those are also the shows that I tend to buy box sets of on DVD. So what are my shows?

 

To bring me back to high school...

My So-Called Life

 

 

 

 

 

Dude, I was DEVASTATED when this show was cancelled after one season. I actually wrote a letter to the network. I think that may have been my first act of "activism" in my life, lol. Beyond the fact that Jared Leto was the hottest thing I'd ever seen on TV, the show spoke to me in a way nothing else did at the time. (I was 15 when the show aired.) I've since heard that it would've been renewed but Claire Danes didn't want to do another season. (Claire, you wound me.) But anytime I want to be brought back to my innocent, angsty teenage years, I break out My So-Called Life.

 

College

Dawson's Creek

This show started during my first year of college. I remember me and my college roommates gathering around the TV on Dawson's Creek night eating french bread pizza (about as gourmet as our cooking got back then.) This show had everything I could want--angst, love triangles, romance, and teenagers who used big words like I did. I own all the seasons on DVD and every few years I break them out and go all the way from season 1 through 6. It makes me all warm and fuzzy just thinking about Joey and Pacey. Hmm, maybe I'm due for some reruns again.

 

The Show I Grew Up With

Friends

 

 

Ah, Friends. This show was on from the time I was 14 until I was 24. That's a huge portion of my formative years and part of me feels like this show is part of my DNA. Quotes still come to my head on a regular basis. (Does "I didn't get a cat" mean anything to you? Here's my fave scene of all time.) I also had the Rachel haircut (bad decision) and one of those huge coffee mugs even though I didn't drink coffee. Maybe I should seek therapy. I do resemble Chandler a bit too much I fear. But I have the box set of this one too. It's like balm for my soul.

All right, so those are my shows that can bring me back in time. What are yours? Do you have any shows you just HAD to own so you can access them anytime you want?