the writer's arsenal: the fly on the wall

Let your reader be a fly on the wall

Write what you know. It's one of the most common pieces of advice that writers are given. And no, it's not just meant to save you time on research. That's important too. Write what you know doesn't necessarily mean write your life story (though for some people it does, and those stories can be quite compelling). Authors write about all kinds of things that have never happened to them personally, but that doesn't mean they aren't writing with an authenticity that keeps the reader believing they could have. Write what you know simply means don't stray too far from yourself when you're writing. That thing everyone talks about called voice? That's actually just you. That's the authenticity you can bring to a story by putting a piece of yourself in the writing. The one thing you have as a writer that nobody else has is your unique perspective based on your lifetime of experiences. That's your advantage and it should be a part of everything you write. That's writing what you know. 

Regardless of how fantastical your plot may be, you want your reader to feel like a fly on a very real wall. You want them to feel like they're not just reading a story, they're stepping into a rich, colorful, fully-developed world and are spying on it for a while, if not stepping right into the shoes of your protagonist. I'm not a vampire, or an astronaut, or a twelve-year-old boy, and simply outlining what those beings are like isn't enough to grab my attention. What does is the magic that mixes our world and the other--the voice that connects "I know nothing about this" with "But I'd like to learn more" and "There's something about this that I can relate to". If an author doesn't put a piece of their own humanity into their story, doesn't "write what they know", it'll show and the story will be weaker for it. The plot will be there, but the life behind it will fall flat, lacking in the kind of compelling voice that engages us to keep turning the pages. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by other authors, but make sure your writing always comes from a place that's authentically you. Giving your story a real voice is the best thing you can do.

friday5 for November 8, 2013

Hello my bloggies! Welcome to November. November?!? Yes, November. I don't know how we got here either, but we need to accept it and move on. That said, there are a few snowflakes in the air toady and I'm kind of in denial about that... It's weird because I like Christmas and I like the first snowfall of the season, but then that's about it. Come January 1st I'm done with the whole winter thing and that's what I'm already not looking forward to. But there are lots of things to be excited about this week so let's get friday5ing:

1. I haven't blogged since Allegiant came out so I figure I really ought to say something about it. The truth is, I haven't finished reading it, but I do know what happens. I've started reading it slowly, but the husband and I listed to the first two books on audiobook together when we're in the car and I feel like I should experience the third one with him, even if I also read it on the side a bit. As for the ending, I'm reserving judgement until I actually read it. Despite my  best efforts to avoid spoilers, the ending was posted somewhere I wouldn't have expected to see it and I was kind of blindsided by the reveal. I won't ever know how I would have felt about the book without knowing the ending ahead of time, but I'm going to try and keep an open mind. I will probably share more thoughts down the road.

2. Speaking of books and book series that are headed for the big screen (which Allegiant eventually will), my fav go-to news site, Hypable, has compiled a great list of hot upcoming book to film adaptations so you can make sure you check out the books before you see the stories play out in the big screen. I for one am currently about halfway through my re-read of Catching Fire (my 4th read overall) and I'm loving it every bit as much as I did the first time. I'm definitely finding that for the most part I remember the plot and didn't need to re-read to enjoy the movie, but I like to re-read so that I can pick up on the little things that the movie might not capture. Not in an effort to then complain about it. I don't have unreasonable expectations when it comes to adaptations, but just so that I can fill in the gaps in my brain as I watch.

3. Maybe bit's just my highly sensitive Veronica Mars radar going off, but Rob Thomas is showing up all over the place these days. Most recently with the news that he'll be producing a new zombie series for the CW called iZombie. It's Rob Thomas so I kind of have to assume this will be amazing, even if the concept it a little out there. As much as I enjoyed Warm Bodies, both the book and the film, the concept of sentient zombies isn't one I have a lot of faith in, but if iZombie turns out to be anything--anything--like Veronica Mars then I'm on board.

And speaking of Veronica Mars, did you see this? If you're a fan, I promise you'll LoVe it :)

4.A Hunger Games theme park? It worked for Harry Potter. Looks like it's at least being discussed, but can we talk about the fact that there's a very big difference between a magical Wizarding World and the depressing post-apocalyptic setting of the Hunger Games? I could get behind this, but can we please stay away from rides that involve starving to death or having to throw knives at your enemies?

5. For this week's Noteworthy YA I want to take a look at Marie Lu's Champion. I'm yet to read any of the books in Marie's Legend series, but I've heard wonderful things and now that the trilogy is out in its entirely, it seems like a good time to give them a look:

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
(Summary from
I've never been a fan of the covers for this series. I think they're appropriate for the genre, but they don't blow me away. The stories on the other hand sound pretty compelling. Obviously, if this is your sort of thing, you should go back to the beginning and start with Legend, but the good news is, when book 1 leaves you salivating for more, there's no waiting for books 2 and 3. Gotta love that.

Happy weekend!

the nature of grief

This was meant to be little more than a bullet-point on today's Friday5, but I found I had so many thoughts about it that it was worth a post on its own. So in lieu of today's Friday5, I want to take this opportunity to be a bit serious and weepy about a show that's usually quite silly, on a blog that's usually lighthearted.

This both is and isn't a post about Glee and Cory Monteith and the tribute the former paid to the latter this week. It is about that because of obvious reasons, but it's not totally about that because I don't consider myself to be a huge fan of the show and it really doesn't mean much to me in the grand scheme of things so it's not like you have to be a fan to read this and hopefully relate.

For a little context, I remember watching the pilot for Glee online before it aired on TV. I thought it was good. It was fresh and original and yes, there's a place in my fangirly heart where musicals go to soar. Seeing Spring Awakening live on stage (though without Lea Michelle I should add, since we are talking a bit about Glee here) was one of the most stirring experiences I've ever had as a consumer of art. I just love the way music adds layers of emotion to story. It hits me in the gut every time. But I digress... I've watched Glee ever since, even though my interest in it has waned over the years. I don't even know or like much of the music that's featured on that show, but it's still easy to enjoy if you don't take it too seriously. It's popcorn entertainment. Something you can easily watch while you're also trying to fold laundry or manage any other task. So that's me and Glee. I watch, but I could just as easily not. It's not must-see-TV for me.

When I first heard of Cory's death, I was shocked, as I think many people were. He was so young. Sure he looked even younger than he was, but still, he was young. And I liked his character on Glee. He was definitely one of my favourites. There were moments when he felt like the only real person on that show, surrounded by caricatures who were constantly making bad decisions. Yes, he made bad decisions too, but they felt natural and real. And he was so very sweet. Plus, Cory was Canadian, something I've always noted with actors, being Canadian myself. He was very much so the boy next door.

Everything I knew about him from watching him on Glee seemed so distant from the news that he struggled with addiction. It seemed impossible. And then, even though I really had no specific/heavy attachment to him, the news broke that he'd died and I felt kinda heartbroken. Moreso than I would have thought, given my casual feelings about Glee. It was just so tragic. And there was just something about Cory. It didn't seem fair that someone who was working hard to better his life, both for himself and his loved ones--someone who had been to rehab and seemed to really be trying to turn things around--would have to die because of a bad choice he made one night. It wasn't an accident. Not really. Not in the car accident kinda way. But I guess in the way that I'm sure he was just trying to relax and have a fun night. He didn't know he was going to die. He should have realized. It makes me mad that he didn't. It was a sickness, but not in the way where you can tell someone's time is coming. If only he hadn't... yeah, it's easy to say that, but of course, he was struggling. And he lost. But I still find myself thinking about the what ifs and if onlys... because it feels like this shouldn't have happened. And that's what gets me. I think that's what gets a lot of people when someone young dies tragically. It hurts us, whether we know the person or not, because there's such a strong feeling of injustice that goes along with it. It shouldn't have happened. It didn't have to happen. And whether or not you actually know someone doesn't change the fact that a death such as this one makes you realize how unfair the world is. And that can be haunting.

When Cory died I didn't write about it here on the blog. I was taking a bit of a summer break from blogging and though it was big news, I just didn't know what to say about it. I was still sorting out my own grief I guess, which sounds silly because a) I didn't know him and b) again with the whole not a diehard Glee fan thing. But deaths of pop culture icons mean something to us because we feel like we do know them. And now that we've seen the show's tribute to their quarterback, I feel it's time to write about it. I didn't think I'd cry watching the show because I'm historically not a big crier. That's changed a bit since my daughter was born (hormones maybe or perhaps just the emotions of caring about someone else so ridiculously much more than you care about yourself), but in general, I don't cry much at fiction. I'm usually more thoughtful about it. I think on it and come close to crying, but don't weep. Glee's tribute episode had me crying at times. Finn's mother had me balling. I don't know if that's a mother thing or not. But I can tell you that the very thought of losing a child--of losing my child--is the worst kind of torture I can imagine. It makes me feel like I can't breathe. Like I have no control over anything and in the moment I consider it, I hate the world for even having the potential to take her from me. The place where a parent loses a child is a very, very dark place. Every news story I read about a parent's tragic loss makes me want to throw up and then hug my daughter in a way that would somehow shield her from the world forever. So yeah, there was that.

But the part I find myself musing on the most is the fact that it still feels unreal. While watching the episode, I kept finding myself convinced that it was a plot device, a ratings stunt, a "character building moment" for everyone else. That Finn was dead, but Cory wasn't. But at the same time, I really wasn't convinced because shows like Glee don't kill off characters like Finn. Finn was an endgame character. You could put him through a lot, but you couldn't kill him. Not unless you absolutely had to... which of course, they did. So it was this weird back and forth where it felt like dreamed-up fiction, but then I'd see the extreme grief on the faces of his castmates--the people who loved him terribly and miss him fiercely--and it would hit me. Yeah, he's gone. He's actually gone. And I'd look at his picture on the screen and try to see some sign that he knew this was coming. Because even though it's basically impossible, I want people to know if their time is short so they can live life to the fullest. But of course he didn't know. He didn't want to die. He didn't want to leave his loved ones behind. My heart breaks for Lea. And his family. It's not that I can't imagine, it's that I don't want to. My heart also breaks for the rest of us, because this whole thing is so tragic and sad and it really highlights all the things that make life both precious and terrifying.

Goodbye Cory. You are missed.

Photo credit: FOX

friday5 for October 4, 2013

1. Let's kick off this edition of the Friday5 with some match-made-in-heaven news--Nathan Fillion is going to guest star on Community! I can't think of any possible scenario in which that isn't going to be epic. Fandoms collide and my fangirl heart may not be able to take it. Dare we dream he become a recurring character (in my fantasy world where we get #sixseasonsandamovie)??

2. Last week, anticipation building up to the Breaking Bad finale was evident everywhere you looked. This week? It seems to be mostly sighs of content (and maybe some cheering). I watched the series in a very condensed amount of time so I'm not sure that I can fully grasp the gravity of the journey longtime fans have been on, but I greatly appreciated what a satisfying conclusion the series was given and I have nothing but praise for Vince Gilligan and his team for treating us to such a masterfully crafted series. (Oh, and for all the work he did on The X-Files too! Man, what a career!)

3. I recently started listening to a few of Kevin Smith's podcasts. Not sure what took me so long since I've always admired Kevin for his storytelling ability. Regardless of how you feel about his vulgarity, he's a smart guy with a lot of heart and man, does he ever spin a good tale! Anyway, this week I found myself absolutely immersed listening to him interview a young filmmaker (and fellow Canadian), Matt Johnson about his film, The Dirties, which tackles the issue of bullying in a realistic and effective light. I officially need to see this film. It sounds fantastic by any measure, but hearing Kevin and Matt talk about it, I couldn't imagine anyone not wanting to check it out. If you don't have time to listen to the interview, at least check out the trailer. This is one you probably shouldn't miss (despite the screenshot, this is not a "sexy" film--I think that was chosen solely for YouTube hits...):

4. And while we're viewing things, let's talk about the trailer for Ravenswood, which didn't come out this week, but I haven't mentioned it since it came out and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it, so here we go.

Sigh... I know. Hot Caleb, right? How can I say no to Hot Caleb? And yet, I feel like this is Angel all over again. Yes, I grew to love Angel, but I was not cool with one of my fav TV couples being split up for the sake of a spinoff! I've voiced my Haleb worries on here before in the Pretty Little Recap and I have to say, the pretty new girls in this trailer have me more worried than ever. How can Haleb survive this? They won't. Maybe I just need to accept that. And maybe I just need to accept that being on Team Hot Caleb isn't as good as Team Haleb, but it's better than nothing. Am I the only one with concerns? (...and yet am still totally planning on watching Ravenswood?)

5. Slight change to this section of the Friday5--The YA book rec of the week will henceforth be known as....Noteworthy YA (because rec implies I've already read all of these books but most of them are still on my to-read list and accuracy is important!). This week, I'm taking a look at Unbreakable by Kami Garcia, the first in her new series, The Legion.

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.
(Summary from
 I'm actually kind of on the fence with this cover. It's creepy for sure, but it almost seems more horror-ish than paranormal/fantasy. That said, the plot sounds twisty and chilling and I'm intrigued to see how Garcia reads as a solo author.

Happy weekend!

friday5 for September 13, 2013

It's baaaaack. The Friday5 took a little summer hiatus of sorts, but now it's back, and while my schedule will dictate whether or not it manages to be a weekly feature here on the blog, I have missed dishing on the latest news with you, my dear bloggies. There is so much I could catch up on from the past several weeks, but in an effort to keep things on track, I'm going to focus on recent news only. So let's get to it!

1. Is it even possible to start with any other news item when there is major Harry Potter film news to share? No, it's not. A Wizarding World spin-off movie is in the works, based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and holy crap, the internet hasn't been this excited since we found out that Queen Rowling is also King Galbraith. Though I'm a little sad we won't be seeing Harry, Ron and Hermy, the premise of this spin-off is truly worthy of our excitement. Plus. it will mean new characters for us to fall in love with, living in the HP universe. Excitement!!

2.So this is interesting. Tumblr has announced an official book club, aptly called the Reblog Book Club. I like the idea of this, but it does have me wondering (and maybe I just haven't done enough digging) if this is a genuine freestyle book club or are marketing dollars driving their selections? I don't really have a problem with it either way, but I like my book clubs to be transparent :) Regardless, I think it's a good platform for something like this and I'll definitely be watching to see where it goes!

3. Hooray! The Fall TV season is upon us! Maybe it's just because I was super busy all summer, but the annual hiatus didn't seem that long. Not nearly as long as it seemed when I was a teen, waiting for my favourite WB (now CW) shows to return. Plus, new shows, including one from Joss Whedon! Let's just assume that everyone is planning to watch Agents of SHIELD because, obviously, but what other debut shows are you planning to check out?

4. Speaking of fall...actual fall-ish weather is finally here! Okay, yes, this doesn't necessarily apply to you, depending on where you're located, but after a brief September heat wave, the usual beloved September cooling off is happening, making way for perfect weather to pop on a sweater and go for a stroll. I see leafy paths and pumpkin patches in my future. Give me a comfy sweater, a good book, a mug of cider and some country air and I'm a happy girl. I think my small town is showing...

5. YA book rec time! Ah, it's been so long since I've done one of these and there have been so many good books! But since we're keeping things timely, and since I already mentioned the Tumblr book club, let's take a look at its first pick, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

"Hey baby. That's a really strange position to be typing in..."

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
(Summary from
That was a long synopsis, right? But it definitely has my attention. Actually, the title itself is what first caught my attention because I consider myself to be a fangirl (as does everyone on Tumblr, which is why it's a good pick for them). Before I go any further, it's confession time. I have not (yet?) read Eleanor & Park, Rowell's NYT bestselling breakout title. The truth is, I've been avoiding it. It looks like the kind of book I usually hate. Cute, hipster cover. Cute, hipster title. And Rainbow Rowell? Doesn't that sound suspiciously like a pseudonym for someone who is actually James Frey running young creative minds through his fiction machine? (It's not, by the way. From what I've read, Rainbow Rowell is her real name.) Okay, so fine, I don't read E&P, despite the hype, but then along comes the synopsis for Fangirl and ugh, it sounds so good! And the reviews of Rowell's writing are so good. And she sounds like a genuinely nice and awesome person so I think I need to get past my own weird hang-ups about hipster covers and just read Fangirl because it sounds delightful. What are you reading this week?

Happy Friday the 13th and happy weekend!

pretty little recap: sleight of hAnd

4.12  Now You See Me, Now You Don't
LONG OVERDUE 4A finale recap! I had the best intentions to write this up BEFORE I went on vacation, but I seemed to have forgotten to factor in all that other stuff I needed to do before going on vacation. So oops. The good news is that though I've had too busy a summer to blog regularly, I have been keeping my blog idea file well stocked so I have lots of goodies to come as we head into what I hope is a slightly quieter fall.... A girl can hope, right? :) But that's for later. For now, let's discuss the season 4A finale of PLL!!!

Okay, you know you're in trouble when the town hobo is
better dressed than you and your friends combined.
Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. I actually kinda awwwed at the sweet couple snuggles in this episode. Awww, you guys! Too cute. Even with Creeper Toby involved--that's quite an accomplishment!

2. Speaking of Creeper Toby, Team Caloby lives! I don't know how I'm going to survive this show moving forward without Haleb or Caloby. I need these pairings in my life!

3. Hanna trying to do magic is priceless. In fact, all of the magic in this episode was entertaining. A's magic trick was creepy and I'm only a little ashamed to admit I didn't see the bait and switch coming.

4. Aria fighting Cece also made my life a little bit. And then the red coat being Cece's downfall? Love it. Though the fall did feel a little too Ian all over again.

5. Hooray for A (or an A-teamer at least) having a layer in Ravenswood! This raises my hope for crossover episodes! I refuse to accept that Hot Caleb is going to be gone from PLL proper.

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. Okay, girls? It's time to stop opening packages from A. I mean, really. It's clear that A craves the attention she/he/it gets from you opening her creepy obsessive little gifts. So why do you keep giving her the satisfaction? Okay, yeah, a lot of the time said gifts give you a decent heads up that nefarious tidings might be headed your way, but maybe, just once, try not opening one of her packages and see what happens. That's all I'm saying.

2. This is really picky and more an issue with high school dramas in general, but what's up with Teachers on TV introducing a topic only for the bell to ring a minute or two later? I know we the audience don't want/need to sit through an entire lecture, but can't they at least try and make it seem like we're catching the tail end of something instead of starting some new (coincidentally relevant to the storyline) discussion that instantly gets cut short? And then the teacher reminds the kids that their term papers are due or hands out essays or something and then asks one particular student to stay behind so that they can't talk about something slightly more personal? How many times do we have to see this same scene play out on our TVs?

3. Why are the liars leaving their creepy doll coffin just lying around? What if Ashely sees it? Or are the girls just assuming that after prison life, Ashley no longer questions stuff like that. Inquiring minds would like to know, liars. You're really not that good at keeping secrets.

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. A is a guy. And probably not Creeper Toby again. Maybe. Err, okay, at least one of the A team is a guy. This we kinda know. Is this really a WTF moment? Maybe.... Whoever this man-A is has been tracking Aly. Maybe.

2. A has a payroll. This explains so much. I feel like I can finally stop asking questions about the practicality of As many arbitrary stunts. That said, I can still question the time/money investment...

3. Ali is alive! And possibly a zombie. Or maybe not. The Halloween hand rising from the grave is real though! Or maybe not. Hmmm. Most of these ZOMG WTF moments are non-starters......

4. OR MAYBE NOT BECAUSE CREEPER TOBY IS A! I mean Ezra. Ezra is A. Okay. Alright. This feels like the Creeper Toby reveal, but it also feels different enough that I'll allow it. (Also, can we please go back to Creeper Toby being evil? That was so much more fun than Creeper Toby being mopey, though admittedly I wouldn't want to give up Caloby...) I guess we'll see where this whole EzrA thing goes. That's right, old Fitz has earned himself a capitol A. I'm intrigued and ready for more answers. And yet we must wait... Damn you PLL!

Until the Halloween Special!


pretty little recap: where my hoe down at?

4.11 Bring the Hoe Down
This post is a few days overdue. I spent last week working on revisions and synopses and blurbs (and real work) and then was all ready to get this up before the 4A finale aired last night, but then I got sick. Which really sucks when it's humid outside and you're trying to fly through a million things before going on vacation next week. But enough about that. I'm getting this recap up now so that I can continue to recover from illness and watch and recap last night's finale!
For the record, this might be my favourite episode title of PLL ever. Cause I'm mature like that.

Creeper Toby = Creeper Cowboy. Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. I think the biggest highlight of the episode is pretty obvious.... Hot Caleb dressing and speaking like a cowboy! Is this what Ravenswood has in store for us? Cause I'm starting to come around... except no! I want my Haleb. I'm not ready for change! And Hot Caleb just continues to be the most awesome boyfriend in the history of ever.

2. Is it just me or is Jake getting cuter? Or maybe he's just looking more put together next to Ezra, who is looking kinda rough, but in a still mostly hot kinda way.

3. I'm not a country music fan, but I love themed dance episodes so I can get behind it. Plus, the outfits are cute and again, Hot Caleb as a cowboy. You really can't go wrong.

4. Team Caloby for the win! Man, I am loving the Hot Caleb/Creeper Toby scenes we've been getting lately and this one was great too. Now Ravenswood is poised to ruin a romance and a bromance. Can't he just do double duty? Or get Ravenswood going and then return to PLL? PLEASE????

5. Though Hanna's, "Are you pregnant?" was a close second, the quote of the episode goes to Aria with "I told you she has the best flashlight." (about Spencer). Love it.

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. Detective Bitchface is really starting to get under my skin. And really, are detectives even allowed to just show up at a school and harass the students like that? Seems sketchy. She's probably A.

2. Okay, Mr Stare-y McStarerson needs to back off. Hanna is Hot Caleb's dude so stop it with your stalkeresque glares and secret information! Even if you are one of the interns from Bones. That charm isn't going to fly here, buddy so move it along!

3. Aria's wardrobe, which has been decent lately, was bound to make a comeback appearance in the PLM section. Tiger shirt + claw-like necklace = do not want.

4. Oh Creeper Toby. You're such a wreck. I'm starting to think nothing can be done to help you. I miss legit Creeper Toby. Weepy Toby is just... so weepy.

5. While I like the theme dance in general, the music at this hoe down is neither hoey nor downy. It's so somber. Aren't hoe downs supposed to be fun? Okay, yes, there was that terrible dance sequence, but can we please just pretend that never happened?

6. Pretty Little Almost-Mistake: Emily going after the suspect in the back of the truck with the intent to.. what? Murder her? Was Emily really going to beat Red Coat to death? That's suspicious Emily. And the last thing anyone in Rosewood needs to be is more suspicious.

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. Not sure of this is worth of a full ZOMG WTF or not cause I feel like we mostly already knew this, but are we officially allowed to say that Cece is Red Coat now? Can we just call her Red Cece?

2. Grand prize ZOMG moment goes to the stabbing through the floor holes. Holy crap did I jump. Not really a revealing moment, but definitely tense.

Finale time... Though it aired last night, I've remained unspoiled. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some big reveals + no death for Hot Caleb (as is being speculated elsewhere on the web) + some resolution to Creeper Toby's dead mother storyline so that we can move on already!


pretty little recap: someone is always watching

4.10 The Mirror has Three Faces
Whew! What a doozy of an episode! Lots of clues in this one, and a lot to fret about too... Let's dive in!

Go home, Spencer. Let Haleb make out in peace. Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. For me, the big highlight of this episode was getting to see Hanna and Hot Caleb actually acting like a couple (well, for the most part). I feel like it's been ages since we've seen that, despite their plan hatching and Hot Caleb's bamf protection of her. Sure, it took a bit of arguing to get there, but we got some street makeouts and that's not a bad thing. That said, I'm getting worried... I've been in denial over Ravenswood and all that spin-off implies for Haleb. I don't know how everything is going to go down, but dammit, I need there to be an open window for these two to be together again one day! I feel like this is Angel leaving Buffy all over again :(

2. Crazy Mona. I don't even think I need to elaborate on this. She's rocking the crazy and I'm totally digging it. I can't get a read on her motivation--could she actually be "doing the right thing"? Time will tell.

3.  Big Cece reveals! At least now we know she has a good reason to hate the liars (even if it's her misunderstanding the situation). If Mrs. D's story about Aly and Cece is true, then it sounds like the girls really did have a toxic relationship, one that leaked all over Rosewood...

4. Jake and Aria. I'm still digging this pairing. Not only has Aria's wardrobe been mysteriously decent since she started seeing Jake, but Jake himself is really likable. But here's the catch--good guy Ezra is clearly being left out in the cold. I definitely needed a break from Ezria, but I do still like Ezra so now I feel kinda torn. I'm cool with her going back to Ezra eventually, but maybe Jake could somehow be the one doing the dumping? Like, maybe have an ex show up with a child he never knew he didn't actually father? Oh, right...

5. Best quote of the episode goes to our dear Hot Caleb:
"It's a box at the post office, Hanna. She's not going to pop out like a girl in a birthday cake and yell 'boo'."

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. Not a lot to complain about in this episode. But I am still less than impressed with the amount of time being spent on Creeper Toby's dead mother. This storyline had better pay off big time... I did like the scene with Spencer on the piano though. Spencer redeems the storyline marginally...

2. Ezra's non-babymomma needs to go. But what will Ezra do about the relationship he's already developed with his non-son. I don't know if this storyline can possibly have a satisfying conclusion. 

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. A few big moments in this episode, but none made me ZOMG WTF?! like red coat appearing behind Hanna in Aly's room. I SO SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING! Mirrors and windows and cars and forests and closets and attics and basements (and this list goes on) never amount to anything good in this show!

2. Mrs. D and Emily have discovered the hidey-hole! Was anyone else on the edge of their seat waiting for someone to suddenly roll over in that sleeping bag, wearing one of the creepy Aly masks? In retrospect, that wouldn't have made any sense cause where would they escape to, but I was still waiting for it to happen. Or for Em to find some piece of evidence in the trespasser's slovenly pile. Oh well. There's always next week!

3. This isn't relates to this episode directly, but seeing Mrs. D made me think of Jason and his pouffy hair and why haven't we seen him in FOREVER? Also, did they ever explain why he suddenly disappeared from his hospital bed that one time and then was just casually mentioned off-screen as though disappearing from hospital beds is totally a normal thing to do? Weirdness.


pretty little recovery

I'm finally all caught up on PLL! And seriously, you guys, my head is spinning right now. I was going to break this recap down by episode, but then I accidentally marathoned all of the episodes I missed and they're like one big twisting PLL web in my brain right now. It's probably not healthy, but I'm okay with it. So let's do a jumblefest recap so that we're all up to speed for next week's episode, okay? OKAY!

Oh Hanna. Maybe you should stop talking for a while, mmmkay? Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. Team Hot Caleb/Creeper Toby left me feeling torn initially, but I think I ended up squarely on Team Caloby. While Creeper Toby is never aces in my book, Hot Caleb more than makes up for his creeperness and honestly, these two were just entertaining to watch. Okay, fine, we can call them Team Boyfriend.

2. I'm actually enjoying Fitz these days. I never really had a problem with him, but obviously his storyline with Aria needed a shake-up. I'm digging the tension. He's actually kinda interesting at the moment.

3. Jake is still all good in my books. I know he's received some criticism, but I'm cool with him. He somehow makes Aria less annoying, which is quite the feat.

4. I think my standout giggle moment from these episodes was definitely Hanna wanting Emily to cop a feel on her behalf (when Em is hanging out with Caleb in 4x06). Hee.

5. Hooray for Team Moms! (That's Team Moms, not Teen Moms) Mama Spencer is working her magic on Ashley's behalf and Emily's Mom is even getting way deep in the PLL action. I bet Mrs. Aria is wishing she didn't disappear to.. where did she go again?

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. So many missteps in these episodes so I'll try to keep this brief. Emily and Hanna BOTH need to start running every plan they come up with by Spencer first. These girls should not be allowed to scheme on their own! They do really dumb things and need to stop. Burying guns, confessing to murder, stealing keys, other evidence, etc etc is not smart, girls. Yes, Spencer is guilty of sneaky plotting on occasion too, but she's (mostly) smart about it.

2. Aria's little bro seriously needs to take a lesson from Steven R. McQueen on how to be an awesome younger brother on a hit teen show.

3. Hanna and Hot Caleb fighting. I can't even talk about it.

4. Oh Paige. Just stop trying to make everything you're trying to make happen happen. And yes, that makes sense. Just say it slowly.

5. Am I the only one who thinks Red Coat should probably stop wearing that Red Coat? It would be so easy to go into hiding at this point...

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. Obviously some of the cliffhangers experienced in these episodes are less dramatic than they would have been when they aired a week apart, but the car through Emily's house is deffo worth a ZOMG WTF?! The A teamers seem to commit a lot of crimes involving cars. Can't any of them be traced back to anything that might help? Seems odd.

2. Aly is alive? Again. Maybe. Probably not. But the question is still being asked.

3. Can we finally say that Red Coat is CeCe? Cause.....

4. Our anonymous A teamers' flare for the dramatic knows no bounds. And who knew A could play such delicate piano with those gloves on? That's talent! Maybe if somebody had encouraged A's art, he/she wouldn't feel the need to murder people? Just a thought.

I know that's just scratching the surface of these episodes, but I wanted to clean my PLL slate so that I'm all ready for next week's episode! I can't believe this season is flying by so quickly!


breaking july

This is another "where have I been?" post. The good news is, I've been in my revision cave and almost have a fully revised manuscript ready to send out into the world! And that's always a good thing, right? Oh, and I've also been busy with lots of work-related reading. They don't call it conference season for nothing. Pitches are fun and exciting and they result in piles of submissions to keep you cozy on an already hot summer night.

The bad news is, there's been no Pretty Little Recap because I've been unable to access new episodes! I knew cancelling our cable service would remove our ability to watch our favourite shows "on demand" as opposed to "with a little effort", but it turns out that sometimes (like when you're really busy with other things), that little bit of effort makes all the difference. That and I've been marathoning Breaking Bad to catch up before its final season premieres in less than two weeks. You know you can't blame me for that :) Anyway, all of that is to say that I plan to catch up on PLL imminently and when I do, there will be a catch-up PLR and I will make every effort (since I'm a few episodes away from being caught up on BB) to actually be on a normal PLR schedule again. Plus, yes, the neglected Friday5 will make its glorious return sometime soon. I have to confess, for a while there, the news was pretty heavy, with the passing of fellow Canadian Cory Monteith, plus Comicon, plus lots of Catching Fire and Divergent news, and I actually felt too intimated by it all to try and capture it in such a limited format. But there are book recs to catch up on and fun stuff to discuss so it shall return!

That's the latest with me. How've you been?

pretty little recap: pledging 4 life

4.05 Gamma Zeta Die

In any teen series, I always love the obligatory check out college and hit up a frat party episode! Classic stuff. And of course, nobody does it like PLL with the character drama, the lesbian-straight fake-out, and of course, the creepy torture den, amiright? There's much to discuss so let's dive in!

Going Greek with booze and, of course, murder. Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. We finally return to the Tippy the bird storyline! Huzzuh! I like a good bird-phone number mystery. Yes, some of the answers were convenient, but hey, at least they returned to it! Some shows never follow up on the plot threads they introduce (I'm looking at you, Glee).

2. College party! As I said above, the college party episode always makes for great TV, even if your friends are acting weird or trying to bury evidence. Gotta love all those drunk extras.

3. Best line of the night (and this was not easy, considering Spence's entire chat with the college nerd) goes to Hanna, regarding Hot Caleb spending the weekend camping: "The closest thing he has to a phone is a can of beans."

4. But also, yeah, let's talk about Spence's geektastic convo with nerdboy.Crazy eyes. Hufflepuff. A Lannister always pays his debts. Move over Creeper Toby, I think Spencer has found a new soulmate.

5. I'm actually going to give Aria some points for her tie skirt, which was pretty cool, but she loses them all because of the horrific yellow top she wore with it. You just can't figure it out, can you Aria? Also, you lose even more points for "Four Wheel Hive". That's just bad.

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. Was Aria's brother always this useless? Yeah, I guess he was. He makes Aria look slightly less useless. But only slightly.

2. Speaking of useless people in Aria's family, why did her mom just sit in the car swatting at bees when she could have just opened the door and bailed? Yes, I know. Drama. But I would have been out that door at sight of bee #2. Maybe even bee #1.

3. Oh Hanna. I love you. But bringing a gun to a frat party with a plan to go bury it in the woods is just stupid. It's almost as stupid as trying to sink a cop car. I still love you, but you need to learn to listen to your friends.

4. Emily needs to STOP wandering off on her own. I swear she does that in every episode and when has it ever worked out for her? Okay, to be fair, I'm not putting a lot of thought into whether or not it's ever worked out for her, but I'm fairly certain that more often than not, it's just creepy/scary/awful and she usually hits her head/shoulder/whatever.

5. No Hot Caleb. Yes, the line about his can of  beans was pure gold, but still. Where's Hot Caleb???

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. It ain’t Tippy the bird. I should have known the mystery phone number would lead to a crazy abandoned murder room with claw marks on the inside of the door! Of course. Nice pink phone though.

2. Clearly Housemother Crazy has been up to no good. But what's the connection to Aly? Is Housemother Crazy part of the A team?

3. And finally, the big ZOMGWTF moment of the night--Hanna being cuffed and hauled off by the police for TRYING TO BURY THE GUN THAT PROBABLY MURDERED WILDEN. Not smart, Hanna. Not smart. I know she'll somehow get out of this, but I'm having a hard time imagining what that will entail. Is it next week yet??


pretty little recap: smashing mugs

4.04 Face Time
How are we already on episode four? I feel like the season just started five minutes ago. Oh right. It's because I marathoned the first 3 episodes... Oh well. Another week, another batch of creepy masks!

It's night time! Why wouldn't you hang out at a creepy mask place? Photo credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Highlights

1. Let's get this out of the way up front. Pretty much any episode featuring Hot Caleb means Hot Caleb is going to be a highlight. And it's not just because he's hot (though, yeah, obvs). It's also because he's brave, tries to do what's right, and looks out for Hanna like a boss. I love these two together. Can they please just stay together forever and ever? Please? PLEASE? I DON'T WANT HOT CALEB TO LEAVE THE SHOW! HE IS THE BF MVP OF THE CENTURY!

2. Aria's new dude is turning out to be pretty awesome too. When he was giving her the advice about figuring out if she's hurt or injured, I was thinking, "Man, this guy is too cool for Aria" and then Aria went and proved it by having no clue what the eff he was talking about. It's a pretty basic metaphor, Aria. How has she made it this far in school? Oh right. She was banging her teacher. Zing!

3. Spencer and Aria spying on Melissa was pretty entertaining since they were basically standing RIGHT THERE and Melissa is so dopey that she still didn't see them. I feel like Melissa is the cheerleader version of an evil mastermind. (No offense to cheerleaders--I just needed to stereotype to quickly/easily explain what I mean. You guys are admirably athletic!) Plus Sparia almost always makes for excellent dialogue. Much like Hanna + anyone.

Pretty Little Mistakes (a.k.a What Aria Did)

1. The Emily after school special continues. Something in that storyline needs to either happen or go away. I'm not diggin it.

2. Melissa, why oh why would you desperately (it has to be desperate because it's night time) take the masks from the shop only to dump them in the water nearby? Sure, she's smashing them (poorly), but a) they're still fairly accessible and b) stop littering off that guy's dock! I'm sure he doesn't appreciate waking up for his morning coffee by the lake to find pieces of smashed masks all over his dock and where he likes to swim.

3. Aria's studded sweater and weird pants combo (as partially portrayed above). Enough said.

4. Creeper Toby's Mom blah blah blah. I'm sorry. Usually making fun of Creeper Toby is enough to entertain me during his scenes, but there's nothing to make fun of in this storyline so I need it to end! It almost pains me to say this, but I need good old shirtless-for-no-reason Creeper Toby back!

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. Melissa... killed...Wilden?? Maybe??

2. Or was it Ashley?? I'm so confused right now. Am I the only one who had trouble understanding everything Melissa was talking about?


why there is no excuse

I was planning to do a Friday5 this week. There's been big news in the US, leading to more exciting news (our dear KB aka Veronica Mars pulled a twitter proposal on uber-lovable Dax Shepard!), but there's something else that keeps popping up in my Facebook feed, and my blog feed, and in the news, and, it seems, everywhere I look. So I'm going to talk about that instead. I apologize for being serious and somber on the Friday before a long (at least in Canada--HAPPY CANADA DAY!) weekend, but my thoughts on the subject of Paula Deen have been bouncing around in my head all week and the more I read about the controversy, the more I worry for this society my young daughter is poised to grow up in.

I'll try to keep this brief... 

I get what she did. I get the people who are upset about it. What I don't get, are the people who think it was too small and too distant an incident to fuss over. The people who say nobody is perfect, and everybody has done something they regret, and feel it should therefore be excusable. Why should we hold Deen to a higher standard than the rest of us? Because she's in the public eye. She's in a position to influence our brains and our children and our culture. That's why. Those things you've done that you regret? Odds are, they weren't okay either, but because nobody knows about them (or cares on a society-wide scale), nobody is condemning you to the level they're condemning Deen.

That's why.

Let's set aside for a moment the fact that I personally think Deen's apologies are more PR than they are sincere. Even if it was an isolated incident that happened in the past and she regrets it, as a society who has now been exposed to a concrete example of this type of behaviour, we can't just let it slide. Because the moment we excuse it in ANY FORM is the moment we let our children believe that under some circumstances, that type of thinking is okay. And it's not. It never was. Even back when it was "acceptable", it wasn't actually fine, it was just a bunch of people who were wrong and didn't know any better. That makes it something we can learn from. But it still doesn't make it okay.

If someone is truly sorry and appears to have a firm understanding as to why what they did was wrong, then I think they should be forgiven. Forgiveness is important. And yes, if Deen really is sorry, we should forgive her. But don't try to minimize what she did. Don't claim it's being blown out of proportion. That's damaging to progress. Your excuses are hindering my ability to raise my daughter in a world where she has no reason to question the fact that prejudice and racism are ridiculous and disgusting.

So please, for the sake of evolution, go ahead and forgive Deen if you believe her apologies, but don't try to rationalize what she did. Or downplay it in any way. It doesn't matter when, or where, or why. It's forgivable, but it's not okay.

pretty little recap: new season, new insanity (and a bit of the old too!)

Season Four, Episodes 1-3
Hello my lovely PLLers! I am happy to say that I'm finally all caught up on PLL! I marathoned the first three episodes and my head is still spinning! But before we dive into the juicy deets, welcome to the Pretty Little Recap 2.0 a.k.a. the less stream-of-consciousness version of the PLR. As much as I enjoyed the live-blogging format, I found it was occasionally detracting from my enjoyment of the actual show. My attention was split between the TV and the computer screen and that's not good for a PLLer who wants to absorb every last clue (but still fails miserably cause the crazy is too intense on this show!). So, as promised, the PLR is getting a makeover and I hope this new format will allow me to pay more attention to the show while I'm watching and keep this recap (of sorts) to just the good stuff :) Without further ado, here's a condensed PLR for Season Four, episodes 1-3...

This poster totally makes me think I shouldn't mess with Aria. But I'm going to anyway.

Pretty Little Highlights

1. It took 3 episodes, but Hot Caleb is back on my tv screen! (But seriously PLL, why did it take three episodes?? You're lucky I watched them all at once...) My goodness have I ever missed our resident Rosewood pretty boy/bad boy. And he was in fine form, being all noble and defending Hanna. I know these two are in a comfortable place in their relationship now, but that girl owes him some serious makeouts.

2. Crazy Mona is still being creeptastic, but in a whole new way. I don't know if I should trust the girl or not and I love that about this show.

3. Spencer isn't broken. Our dear girl Spence is back to her old self, and yes, she's back with Creeper Toby (whom I WILL NEVER TRUST), but she's also back to her quippy Spencer self (College rejections aside). I would follow her through another mental breakdown if it came to it (because she's so entertaining to watch), but I'm glad we have our jokey, generally happy Spencer back.

4. Aria has a new sorta-boyfriend! Nothing against Ezra--I really do like the guy and I'm even fine with Aria ending up with him--but that storyline was becoming so boring and repetitive. It's nice to have a new (hot!) guy on the scene to stir the pot. He's not Hot Caleb hot, but he's more than welcome on my screen.

5. Tibby is officially my third favourite liar (after Hanna and Spence, natch). That bird has style. I have to give husband credit (he never watches PLL, but my marathon catch-up session forced him to glance up from his laptop occasionally), he totally called the phone number thing before I did. But to be fair (to me), the bird wasn't even finished whistling the tune once and husband yelled out "It's a phone number!" probably because he watches a lot of TV and is suspicious of everything and randomly guesses that things are phone numbers and when you do that, there's a good chance that eventually you'll be right! At least, that's what I'm telling myself. I was more impressed with how well Tibby managed to impersonate Aly. They should just slap a blonde wig on the bird and take her to school with them!

Pretty Little Missteps (a.k.a. What Aria Did)

1. Oh Emily. I love you, girl, but seriously, taking your mom's painkillers? This is PLL, not an after school special. You need to get your shiz together. If you injured yourself, you should get your own pills (you're already lying about what happened to your shoulder) and leave it at that. Stop being silly, Emily. The Rosewood lesbian swim team community is not impressed with how poorly you're representing them.

2. Aria's wardrobe (I told you she wouldn't escape... this section is dedicated to her after all). Clearly her fashion sense isn't improving with age. Maybe new guy (blanking on his name atm) will take her shopping or at least give her some of his old gym sweats to wear. Anything would be better than that bedazzled dress she wore to Wildren's funeral.

3. And speaking of the funeral, how many times are we going to see the liars, all dressed in black, standing outside the church post-funeral, getting a simultaneous!text from A? I feel like there should be a montage of these scenes set to Graduation by Vitamin C (Because that was the first montage song that popped into my head. Yes, I know it doesn't make much sense.).

4. The Rosewood Moms are up to something... at least Ashley is. Ashely, rule #1 in being a sneaky no-goodnick is to NOT THROW YOUR MURDER PUMPS IN THE GARBAGE! You need to burn those kicks ASAP! You know your daughter is one of the queen sneaks of Rosewood aka Sneaktown and still you pull an amateur move like that! Get your act together, Ashley.

Pretty Little ZOMG WTF?!

1. The masks. Oh God, the masks. Why PLL? Why dolls and masks and other creepy things?? I can't. I just can't. I feel like the writers have a hat with terrifying plot devices and they just randomly draw one on a weekly basis.

2. One of the A-teamers decided to choke a bitch. Yes, Mona was attached. Yes, it was creepy as all get out. Though I do find myself wondering how the attacker managed to jump into the front seat and drive away so quickly after Mona hurled herself out of the car. Does this imply that the attacked is small and nimble? Or am I reading too much into it?

3. Looks like we're in for more spooky plot devices as we end episode 4.3 on an x-ray of Emily's injured shoulder (spooky) and a crackly old recording of Dem Bones (extra spooky, unless it also makes you think of cartoon skeletons dancing around... which, yeah, kinda).

That's it for this week, PLLers! This was a bit of a whirlwind recap, but now that I'm up to speed, things will be a little more focussed with only one episode at a time :)


over the hills and far away

Hello blog friends! How I've missed you! Just a quick update this evening, lest you think I dropped off the face of the earth again (note to self: stop doing that!).

There's a skunk living under our shed this summer. It's an adult, but as a general rule. aren't baby skunks cute??
Things have been busy--last week was the annual husband's birthday/father's day convergence, which meant planning, parties and presents. And cake, but that gets its own sentence cause it doesn't start with a p. And then, as if that wasn't enough busy days in a row, husband is out of town on business, leaving me to solo-parent all while taking on the homestretch of my WIP! In short, yeah, time's been tight.

The good news is, my WIP isn't really a WIP anymore--it's officially a first draft! It's amazing how productive I am when husband isn't here to cause diversions. I'm just going through and checking the formatting on file, and then it's time for the rest period, wherein I take a few days off to let my brain recharge. It allows me to approach phase 2 (revision!) with a semi-fresh pair of eyes. I highly recommend a rest period between drafts. It's like that bit of time you let your steak rest after it comes off the BBQ and I have no idea what it does, but doesn't steak taste good? :)

The second bit of good news is that PLL is back!!!! The bad news is I haven't seen EITHER of the new episodes yet. I know right? What is wrong with me?? How am I supposed to do the Pretty Little Recap if I haven't seen the episodes? Well, the answer is that I'll catch up soon and then all will be well.  You see, we recently made the decision to cancel our cable. We weren't using it very much since we watch so much Netflix and stream so many shows online, but it's made it a little less convenient for me to watch shows like PLL so I need a little time to get myself organized on that front. As soon as I do, the PLR will be back and better than ever! I have big plans for a new format that I think will make it easier for me and hopefully more entertaining for you, my dear bloggie friends.

So that's what's been going on with me. How are you?

the writer's arsenal: you are not an island

I know what you're thinking. Where's the Friday5? Right? ;) Well, I've given it some thought, and right now, I really only have time to blog once a week (I'm hoping that will change one day, but alas, truths are better accepted than denied... Whoa! Where did that come from? I've been watching too much Downton Abbey/Game of Thrones/Britishy stuff). If I blog once a week, and it's always an edition Friday5, I'll never get around to blogging about anything else! So I'm going to switch it up from time to time and do a Friday5 when there's some awesome news to report (not that there isn't this week...) and then throw in a few regular posts for variety. Today, I'm in the mood for a long-overdue edition of The Writer's Arsenal so let's get to it!

You are not an island...but you could end up on one.

I've talked before about writers vs. authors and what I personally think the difference is. In short, writers write to write, while authors write to be published (Huh. That was easy--maybe I didn't need to write that post!). Today I want to touch briefly on the subject of authors in the public space. I say briefly because it’s a topic that’s been covered elsewhere, and covered well, but I want to add my two cents because good advice bears repeating.

If you write to be published, please, please, PLEASE be mindful of the self you portray online--even if you’re not yet published. Yes, even if “nobody reads my blog anyway”. It seems simple and yet so many authors get it wrong. Famed actors will often talk about how the downside to their chosen career is the forfeit of their privacy. The reasonable ones accept it for what it is—part of the job. Others can’t seem to grasp the necessity of a public persona, go on to behave ridiculously and then blame the media for invading their privacy. Is it fair that people should have to take on the burden of being scrutinized to do what they love? No. Of course not. But if privacy is important to you, chose a career that’s not in the public eye.  Being watched is PART of celebrity and celebrity is part of the job.

Authors are also in the public eye, though to a lesser extent. Regardless, people ARE watching and so an author too must be on their very best behavior. It doesn’t matter if you’re still on the journey toward being published, a debut author, or an experienced author with many books under your hat. You must—absolutely must—mind your manners in public. And yes, in this case, public means the internet, public engagements, the line at the supermarket, etc. If people can observe your behavior, you need to make sure you give them every reason to like you and no reason to feel incensed by you. Does this mean you can’t ever let off steam? EVER? No, you can, but be SMART about it. Be diplomatic. Write opinion pieces, not rants and be wary of anything that could be too polarizing. If you feel the need to really dig in bitterly on a subject, do it in private.

How you present yourself in public is part of being an author, just as writing, marketing and sales are also part of the job. Who you are matters to your readers (and potential readers). It’s a saying you’ve heard since you were a child, but it never gets old—if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. At least not in a public arena.   

Of course, all of that is assuming you don’t want to ruin your career ;)


friday5 for May 31, 2013

1. Let's catch up--how have you been? Sorry for the lack of a Friday5 last week. Things have been busy. The early part of summer is a crazy busy time when you work in publishing with conference prep (BEA, a conference I'd love to attend one day, is happening right now!) and lots of exciting stuff happening in-house. We're on summer hours now, which means I get Friday afternoons off (so yay to that!), BUT I plan to use that time to work on my current WIP (which is me finally finishing the back-half of my NaNo project) and do summery things like taking my daughter to the park and gardening and beating the crowd en route to the cottage and you know, summery stuff like that. While the blog isn't going to be on hiatus for the summer, posts will possibly be even more inconsistent than usual. I am hoping to start throwing in more non-Friday5 posts soon as well. I have a few topics for The Writer's Arsenal that I'd love to discuss (cause, whoops, neglect and all that) so those will hopefully happen it the coming weeks too!

2. Before we get to pop culture news, and since I mentioned that my Friday afternoons have kickstarted me lavishing more attention on my WIP, I wanted to share a snippet because--full disclosure--there is some stuff in this book that I find myself giggling at when I'm skimming through it, which yeah, whatever, you're probably not supposed to find your own writing funny, but some of the characters in this one are just so much fun to write. For your reading pleasure, here's a sample:
First I hit up the hardware store. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but when people go about nefarious deeds in movies, they tend to always hit up the hardware store. I’d already thrown some rope, duct tape, a hatchet and a butane lighter into my basket when I dropped the damn thing at the sight of Monica folded over the paint service counter, clutching a coffee, her blonde hair braided down her back as she rested her head in her arms.
She startled at the sound, whirling around to face me as I scrambled to gather everything I’d dropped and duck behind a rack of carpet samples.
“Luce?” She tilted her head forward, her sunglasses falling down the bridge of her nose. “Lucy!”
“Oh hey!” I said, as though I’d only just noticed her. “What, uh, what are you doing here?”
“Dad’s making Stephen and I help him paint the back fence. He got us up at the crack of dawn.” She took a long swig of her coffee. “Stephen’s just arguing with this Cook’s Hardware lifer about whether or not Dad pre-paid for the paint.” She nodded toward the end of the service counter where sure enough, Stephen was looking through an order binder with a thirty-something-year-old guy wearing a yellow Cook’s Hardware apron.
“What about you?” Monica asked. She glanced into my basket, her expression nonplused as she returned her gaze to me. “What’s with the serial killer supplies?”
“Uh…” I stalled, absolutely nothing coming to mind. “Umm…” A total complete blank. “They’re for a friend?”
Monica gasped. “You liar! Lucy Girard, why are you lying to me?”
“Because it’s a surprise? For…you?”

3. This kinda blew my mind. So brilliant. The marketing team behind The Hunger Games franchise continues to impress. If I'm ever lucky enough for there to be a film based on one of my books, it's entirely possible I'll be all "HUNGER GAMES MARKETING TEAM ASSEMBLE!" How cool would that be?!

4. Arrested Development is officially back, y'all! (I think that was the first time I've ever said y'all. It felt wrong. I apologize.) Because of life obligations, I did not marathon the whole thing in one sitting and I think that's kind of good because I've enjoyed digesting it in smaller marathonettes (when you only watch 3-4 episodes in a sitting instead of an entire season like a crazy person). I get the impression from the interwebs that people who tackled the thing as a whole were left unable to appreciate it as much as they might have if they'd spread it out a bit more. There is a lot going on in these episodes and I've personally been very pleased with the quality. I'm ready for more! Is it too early to say bring on season five?

5. Day job represent! Today I'm featuring a new release by one of Harlequin Teen's own--Katie McGarry. Dare You To is the highly anticipated follow up to 2012's Pushing the Limits.
Rainy kisses, amiright?

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
(Summary from
If you're looking for a swoon-worthy (and I mean swoooooon-worthy) summer beach read, look no further. Katie's books are some of the very best contemporary YA romances I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The plot is tight, the characters are fantastic and if you're into YA romance at all, you will not be able to put this one down.

Happy weekend!

friday5 for May 17, 2013

Summer Movie Preview Edition! It's the beginning of the long weekend here in Canada, which basically means summer has arrived! And also means that the summer blockbuster season is upon us! There are plenty of movies to be excited in the coming months (and I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Catching Fire now--alas, it's a fall film), but here are a few that I'm particularly excited about:

(Oh and I'm skipping some of the awesome flicks that are already out, like The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 and the new Star Trek cause, well, they're already out and this is a PREVIEW EDITION!)

1. THE BLING RING. Cause Sophia Coppola can do no wrong in my books. I've talked about my love of The Virgin Suicides before. I've been waiting for another Soph-Cop (yeah, I just made that up, but feel free to use it) film for a while and it's finally here. And it looks great! Plus Hermione! You also can't go wrong with Emma W.

2. THIS IS THE END. Cause it looks hilarious. And how can it not be? If you see one silly/stupid/but still awesome and hilarious comedy this summer, THIS IS THE END is a safe bet for a fun time.

3. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. Cause the original Monsters film is still one of the best Pixar has put out and this one is sure to be a winner too.

4. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Cause Whedon is our God. And if that's not reason enough, it's Wes and Fred together again!

Those are just my absolute top picks--which summer blockbusters are you most excited to see?

5. I thought about using all five slots for my summer movie preview, but I just couldn't skip over a very exciting YA book that was published this week. School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins, the first book spun off from her fantastic Hex Hall series.

Like Hex Hall with a fresh twist
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as theNew York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance! 
(Summary from  (I can't see to get rid of the wonky white highlighting on this.. so whatevs)
As fans of the Hex Hall series know, Izzy was introduced in the third and final volume in that trilogy and now we get to see her story. Rachel is one of my absolute favourite YA authors. Her manuscript for what later became Hex Hall was one of the first YA manuscripts that I completely fell for when I read it as a submission at my day job. She ended up being published by another house, but I've been a big fan ever since. She's hilarious, writes swoonworthy makeout scenes, but doesn't shy away from tightly-plotted dramatic action either. She hit the NYT Children's list with her second book for a reason. These books are fantastic and I'm so excited to keep reading!

Happy weekend!