Liebster Award Nomination (Thank you!)

Thank you  Delancey Steward


I’ve been really bad about blogging lately. There’s just so much going on. I’m gearing up for WriteOnCon‘s YA March Pitch (and as such, have been spending a lot of time at the critiquing board). I’m also prepping for the NaNo Pitchapalooza and even have a session set up with the Book Doctors (I have no idea what to do about that… ). I’m also preparing for the SCBWI WIP grant, critiquing two full manuscripts for friends, and a member of three different critique groups (I love all three of them so much!). So … yeah.

But I promise to be better about this! I have a new schedule that I’m going to force myself to follow. I’m an avid believer in lists. Plus, Delancey Steward just nominated me for a Liebster Award so I really do need to get better about this!

Liebster Award is an honor bestowed upon relatively new bloggers with followers of fewer than 200. The rules are:

1. You must thank the person who gave you this award (Thanks, Delancey!)
2. You must display the Liebster heart on your blog
3. You should nominate 3 to 5 up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 subscribers
4. Each person must post 11 random things about themselves
5. Answer the questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you
6. Create 11 questions for those you nominate to answer
7. Notify your nominees and provide a link back to your post.
8.  You’re not supposed to do “ping-backs”

For the 3-5 up and coming blogs, I did my best to check if they had more than 200 subscribers, but for some I couldn’t tell so … I nominate the following wonderful bloggers:

Jennie at Life Is Short, Read Fast

Nancy at Banks Writes

Sylvia at Under-Employed & Over-Joyed

My 11 Random Things:

  1. I just bought a Bichon Frise! Though, he was just born on Tuesday so I won’t get him until April…
  2. I love Baja Blasts from Taco Bell. I will just go there to get one and nothing else sometimes.
  3. I’m not a fan of comedy movies. It’s really hard to get me to watch one.
  4. I just got a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy, and it’s awesome.
  5. I’ve had various shades of red hair since my freshman year in high school … but I’m naturally a brunette, which is unfair since my grandmas are gingers.
  6. cannot stand touching styrofoam
  7. I’ve lived in three countries (France, USA, Australia)
  8. Sour patch kids are my favorite candy ever (I’m eating them as I post this)
  9. I only have brothers and boy cousins, which was a big pain growing up.
  10. I’m from Kansas and hate the Wizard of Oz
  11. I went through a goth phase in high school

Here are the questions I have to answer:

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Edinburgh, Scotland. I spent a prolonged weekend there when I was studying abroad in France, and fell in love with the city. It has a castle in the middle of the city, how cool is that?

Who is the most important person in your life?

I’d have to say my mom. She’s always been there for me and even though she can drive me insane a lot, she’s still my mom. I have to call her at least every other day.

What most influenced the person you have become?

This is a hard one. There’s a lot of little things. Dyslexia really influenced my childhood and for a long time I was a very shy girl because of it. Then in middle school I met two crazy girls who brought me out of my shell, and we started to write a book together. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Where were you on 9/11?

I remember my mom driving me to school (I was in sixth grade) and we were listening to these radio DJs that we both hated (I don’t know why we were listening to them) because of their ridiculous pranks, so when they said a plain flew into the twin towers, we thought they had yet again made jackasses of themselves. Then I got to class and my teacher had all of us sit on our desk tops (I don’t remember why) and she explained to us what had happened.

Are you good at math?

Ha. No. Everyone in my family is except for me.

Describe the shoes you are wearing at this moment.

I’m not wearing any. If possible, I prefer not to.

Are you writing anything interesting?

I’m working on a contemporary YA right now that takes place at a teen hospice.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

This is soooooo hard. IF I STAY by Gayle Forman…? CREWEL by Gennifer Albin? THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers? Anything Laini Taylor or Gretchen McNeil writes? SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY by Susan Dennard?

Uh … I have to pick one book, don’t I? I’m going to have to go with EMILY’S DRESS & OTHER MISSING THINGS by Kathryn Burak — at least this week.

What is your favorite word?

Désenchanter.

What is the scariest thing you’ve done?

I could say jumping out of a plane at 14,000 ft and how cruel it was for the guy that I was doing it with to literally hang me out of the plane, ask “Ready?” and when I said “No” instinctively  he was like “OK” and we remained there longer. That almost killed me. I hate heights.

But the scariest thing has to be swimming at the Great Barrier Reef. I know, I know, how is that scary? I’m not a fan of large bodies of water. I have an irrational fear of sharks and jellyfish. My friends had to force me into the water. I saw three sharks and didn’t freak out as much as I thought. Then I saw a jellyfish (I say it was a Box Jellyfish, my friends insist it wasn’t … in hindsight, I’m willing to admit they might be right) and I got the hell out of there and back on the floating platform. I’m glad I did it, though.

What about your best friend makes you love them?

I love my bestie, Heather, but she just got engaged and named me her Maid of Honor so I kind of want to run far, far away from her right now. My idea of the perfect wedding: legalize it and spend all the money on an amazing honey moon (preferably to Bora Bora then cage diving with Great Whites off the coast of Cape Town). Her idea of the perfect wedding: a big frilly thing that will take forever to plan and be a huge vortex that will suck away all my free time. As you can tell, we’re opposites in a lot of ways.

One thing I really love about our friendship is the fact that we don’t have to be around each other for months and we can still be best friends. I’ve spent a lot of time abroad in the last few years but it’s never mattered.

The questions for those who take the challenge after me:

  1. Out of all the places you’ve lived, which has been your favorite?
  2. If you could have any job in the world (aside from being a writer), what would it be?
  3. Do you have pets?
  4. What is your favorite genre to read?
  5. What is your favorite movie of all time?
  6. Have you ever read a book that you were super-super-super excited about, then you read it and you were so, so, so disappointed?
  7. Do you like to travel?
  8. What book do you plan to buy next?
  9. Are you writing anything right now?
  10. Are you a coffee or tea drinker?
  11. What’s your favorite food group?

And there you have it, my first post in ages!

Welcome 2013: Please Be An Awesome Year

welcome20132Welcome 2013, please be an awesome year. It’d be highly appreciated, I assure you. I’ve made my New Year’s Resolutions this year and I hope to keep them all.

I can’t fully control most of them, but I can do my best. I don’t want to reveal them all (I totally believe in jinxing myself!) but I will share a few. I wrote them all last night, sealed them up, and put them in a box in my desk drawer so I won’t be able to see them until I open them next year… and I don’t remember all seven off the top of my head. How bad is that? It was just last night.

Some of my 2013 Resolutions:

  • Read at least a 100 books (genres to focus on: YA, contemporary, horror, steampunk YA, pretty much anything YA, actually…)
  • Do something productive toward my goal of getting published EVERY DAY (things like writing, revising, plotting/outlining story ideas, reading, researching, etc)
  • Get a literary agent this year! (‘Cause that’d be awesome)
  • Start my career (as a recent college graduate, I have a job that’s OK but definitely not something I want to make into my career.)

2012 hasn’t been a bad year. It was the first full year I’ve been out of college. Sometimes I find myself regretting my decision to graduate a year early and not go to graduate school. But I didn’t graduate early or did go to graduate school I wouldn’t have been able to travel and intern in Australia and New Zealand for the first half the year. I made awesome friends and saw beautiful things. I did some ridiculous things that I never thought I’d do like swimming with jellyfish (so scared of those things!) and sharks at the Great Barrier Reef and jumping out of an airplane at about 14,000 ft over the Australian rain forest.

While all of that was amazing, I’m happiest about how much I’ve developed as a writer this year. I’d say I’m considerably better than I was this time last year. I’ve begun to reach out to other writers, attended my first writer’s conference, made some very good friends, and joined a few critique groups. The latter has really helped me see the errors in my own writing. I also finally figured out how the publishing world worked. At the start of the year, I was so scared of query letters, synopsis, and researching literary agents, but now I’m not. Granted, I still don’t like synopsis so much (but I learned the trick is to write them before you write the story!) and I’ve actually developed some love for writing query letters. And I love researching things. I really do, so the whole literary agent research work wasn’t so bad once I reminded myself that. It’s different doing research for something you love versus forced-research-college-stuff.

Overall, 2012 was a good year. I’m not really a big fan of odd numbers (I know, weird) so I’m weary of this oncoming year for no good reason. I do think that more good things are in store for this coming year. I hope that there are a lot of great things in store for you, too!

Good luck!

Goodbye PC, Hello Mac

Two weeks ago I decided I needed a new computer. I got an HP Envy from my parents as a graduation gift when I managed to graduate from college in just three years, which was really nice of them. I had had the same old HP since my senior year in high school and while it still ran, it was going to die soon. I’ve had PCs my entire life. A Dell desktop was my family’s first computer when I was a kid and then another Dell before we realized that they suck and got an HP.

I didn’t get my own personal computer until my senior year in high school, it was a Xmas gift/graduation gift. It served me well, so well I decided when time came for a new computer I wanted another HP. I had heard good things about the new HP Envy like it’s the new Mac or the PC’s equivalent at least. In college I was always envious of my friends that had Mac’s because their battery life was so long and they were so much lighter, but I was too scared to switch from PC. It had always served me well so why change and learn all the new MC stuff…. right?

Well, that HP Envy didn’t serve me so well. I was ridiculously disappointed in my new computer’s battery life. It says it will last up to six hours but if you add on or upgrade at all that battery life cuts down severely (which, of course, I did) and in the end my computer could last unplugged for two hours, if it’s on “battery saver mode” then it might make it to three. Then there was a series of weird and annoying things, like how hard the fan would run, how it would overheat even when it was off (which really makes no sense), and so on. Even though it’s not that old, I decided I’d get a new computer. My mom killed hers (as she does any electronic she owns) and really doesn’t use her computer much so I’m going to get the overheating problem fixed on my Envy and give it to her to use.

I decided I had enough of PC and would give Mac a go. Everyone I know that has one pretty much only has good things to say and I’ve always, always, always wanted a laptop that has a long battery life and I knew Mac could give me that. Plus, I could get a high functioning laptop that’s not extremely heavy either. I bought the Macbook Pro 15 Retina from apple’s website and it arrived last night. It’s taking time to get used to, but so far I like it. It’s battery life is amazing, Word still works on it, and it’s pretty light. The only odd thing is that it has no CD drive so I had to buy something to plug in to use CDs or DVDs, but other than that it’s pretty. I hope a year from now I feel the same way.

Does Miss Popularity Really Exist?

Have you ever heard that song Miss Popularity by Jordan Pruitt? Does it make you think back when you were in high school (or just about it, if you’re still in it)? Do you think about that perfect girl? The one that was pretty, popular, probably head cheerleader, that had any boy she wanted and was the guide of school gossip? The epically popular girl that was all that and an utter nightmare? Who made your life, or the life someone you knew, a living hell?

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about, since it’s a theme of a lot of YA stories that take place in high school or an environment akin to school. The MC is usually the normal Jane, or nerdy Nancy, because most of us can sympathize with them. Then there’s also that character, sometimes a major player in the story, or just a minor one — the perfect girl. The one that has the perfect body, gorgeous face, probably head cheerleader, and is an absolute bitch towards the MC.

Most of the time I’m just like ‘whatever’ and move along with the story. But it always makes me wonder, is that really as big of a problem as the media makes it out to be? In all the teen TV shows that are based around a normal girl (not Gossip Girls or Pretty Little Liars or something like that) there’s always that amazingly popular mega bitch. Same goes for movies.

But does miss popularity really exist? Was there a girl like that at your school? I’m really interested to find out how many people actually had a problem with Miss Popularity.

There wasn’t one at mine. My high school wasn’t anything like the ones on TV or in books, but I guess it wouldn’t make for a good story either. At my high school there were cliques, sure, but they weren’t definite. You could be in the artistic clique, math geek one, Hispanic one, and athletic one.

Granted, I was really pretty much not invested in anything that happened in my high school. I had less than no school spirit. I was pretty oblivious to the “important” things like home coming and prom. I didn’t have a hard time finding friends because I already had my group from middle school. I didn’t just stay with them, I expanded my circle. I met my best friend to this day in my sophomore World History class.

I was a pretty shy kid back then and also going through my demi-goth phase. Yeah, I did that. I tried on personalities like I did clothes through my teen years. I was a preppy little girl that wore bright colors in middle school, a goth-wanna-be my first few years in high school, then I phased into me. I’ve grown as a person since high school, matured in college, learned a lot through my times spent abroad, but I haven’t changed into a completely different person. I’m pretty much the same as I was when I graduated from high school, just more responsible, not as quick as to share my opinion when I don’t know what I’m talking about (oh, I loved doing that in my teen years) and I don’t hold grudges anymore (I was really great at that, too).

Still, I never had any real problems. Sure, when I was in high school I thought I did but it really just boils down to a bunch of pointless, stupid, tiffs I had with my friends over silly things like boys. When it came to the popular kids, at my high school, they were only popular because they were nice to everyone!

Come on, the definition of being popular means lots of people like you. How the hell can you be popular by being a bitch to the little people? The little, normal, people that consist of most of the school. And believe me, they popular kids at my school were the stereotypical beauty queens and kings with really rich parents. I grew up in a very nice county and decided to go to Northwest high school (where all my friends went and my older brother) which is the richest of all schools in my hometown — even though my house was in the East district, which is average.

My little brother, on the other hand, when to North, the poorest school in the district. Trust me, “poor” in that county isn’t really poor — it’s average. I was lucky to grow up in a place that put a lot of money and effort into public schools. Anyway, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who was more nerdy than my kid brother, Nick. When he started high school, he had acne, a huge head, big glasses, and braces. He is also the smartest person I know, so he got easy As in everything. Also, he was awkward — really, really, awkward — in his early years. But did he ever get picked on by the popular kids? No. He had a great time in high school.

Back to my high school: My main clique was the 21st century program clique. I was studying computer animation at the time, so those were my people. Though, I don’t know why I was doing that. It probably had everything to do with the fact that that’s what my older brother picked to do (I even picked Japanese as the language I studied, which he was). You know how that is, older brothers (and his hot friends) are pretty awesome. Especially when you’re at the phase when your big brother want nothing to do with you, that just makes him more fun to be around.

Anyway, my point in saying that is those 21st century folks, including myself, were pretty nerdy. When I took Intro to Fashion (as I was giving up on my demi-goth stuff), I was in the middle of all the popular girls. Everyone but me and my friend Sherrie were in that popular clique in that class, most cheerleaders or on the dance squad. If they were like the ones on TV or in books, then wouldn’t they have been mean to me and my friend? Isolate us out of conversation, tease us when the teacher wasn’t looking, and being general mega bitches?

Guess what? They didn’t do any of that stuff. They never teased us, I doubt they even talked about us behind our backs. I wasn’t cool or into their music (I was staunchly against pop/rap music back then, alternative rock was all I’d listen to) and I was pretty much anti-anything popular just because. Thus, I didn’t watch any of the “cool” shows or movies. Still the most popular girl in my grade (perhaps the whole school) was even in that class with us. And she was the sweetest girl ever, sure she was beautiful, sure she was rich, sure she was dating the best looking guy in the whole school, but she was a very nice girl. Hence why she was so popular.

I’m not saying my school was some fantasy world, where everything was perfect. Teens still did the same shit they always did, but it was just little drama (that seemed big back then). Girls played their mind games with other girls, but it was usually within their group of friends. Bullying did happen, but it was mostly between boys and almost all centered on one boy at my school, Jared.

And before you feel sorry for Jared, keep in mind the only reason he was made fun of was because he was an asshole. A racist, bigot, asshole that thought all Muslims were evil, who thought all Hispanic kids were illegal immigrates, and was ignorant to the fact that most of the Indian population in our area were Hindus and not Muslim. In short, he was a redneck prick that was very annoying to be around. I tried to get along with him, we had a math class together senior year, but I couldn’t. One of my best friends was gay and another was Chinese, and believe me, Jared had a very narrow minded opinion on both things.

I’m sure that there was some other bad stuff going on in my high school. There was this time when this really geeky girl got elected home queen but apparently it was a joke. I completely missed this happening (shows how much I pay attention) but I don’t see how that’s mean. She got to say she was home queen, and I’m sure that there were a lot of nerds that voted for her in good faith. Still, there was never that mega bitch. There were bitches at my school, but they were far from perfect — and probably that’s why they were the way they were.

So, does Miss Popularity really exist? Or is it just one of those things that are made up and help make a story more interesting? (Though, I’m sick of that in YA books. It’s just not original).

School Again…

I swayed while in college back and forth between wanting to go to graduate school and not. In the end, I decided against it. I was lucky to walk away with a bachelor’s degree with little debt and didn’t want to change that. I was so happy to be finished, no more essays, tests, or massive amount of homework.

I avoided entering into the world of working full-time with a real job, though. Instead, on an impulse, I got a work n’ holiday visa for Australia and did that for six months. Then traveled around New Zealand… then I finally came back to the US to become an adult, get a proper job, and started paying off my student loans.

I don’t expect to become rich enough off my writing. I know I’ll probably always have a job. And the one that I would really like to have until I retire is not yet in my reach. I need 18 more business hours to qualify for it so… I’m going back. Sort of, it’s not like I’m committing to two years of graduate school. I’m taking those hours all online and I expect to be done by October at the latest. Getting back in that proper student mental is going to be annoying. I always took at least 18 hours a semester when I was going to college but back then I was just juggling that with a part-time job and writing.

Oh well, I’ll manage.

The only thing that really bothers me is how this will cut in to my spare time. (aka my writing time). I hope to start query by July, and I don’t foresee that being a problem. It’s the new idea for a story I was hoping to begin to write while I queried my current manuscript that’s going to probably suffer. I doubt that’ll be happening until October. It’s just a few months set back but it bothers me still.

Don’t you hate it when life interferes with writing?

Brain = Overload

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Oh, goodness, my brain just feels like it’s on overload. My eyes hurt from reading on a screen all day (and probably from lack of sleep and annoying contacts). I’ve been doing a lot of query research lately, mostly through QueryShark (queryshark.blogspot.com) and while that’s super helpful I still feel boggled…

I’m reading a suspense/horror novel to try and get a better grasp on how to work on creating suspense (which, I’m learning more from QueryShark than the novel) and it makes me want to bash my head against the wall. It’s a bestseller, so it’s gotta be doing something right. I guess I just don’t get bestsellers. Half of them are as good as gold, the other half I don’t get.

Plus I’m doing a couple critiques for other people that I feel very behind on.

I watched MIB (original) a week or so ago and remember there being a line about how they work on some other world’s time schedule which is 68 hours a day. How I wish that were reality.

Hell, I wish I could just write all day every day without worrying about everything else. That pesky personal life, work, and having to do all that other stuff like cleaning get in the way. That’s a tragedy. I’ll probably get over it by tomorrow. Every once and a while I get a wave of anxiety for not juggling my time better, but it passes almost as quickly as it comes. It probably has to do with lack of sleep. If only that’s wasn’t a necessity, just think how productive we’d be if we could use all 24 hours of the day.

ETA: Next day, I’m over it. All it took was sleeping.

Determined Dreamer

Hello all!

I’m Jacqueline Trotter. I have a blogspot (http://jacquelinetrotter.blogspot.com/), too. Right now I’m just seeing which I prefer wordpress or blogspot.

My dream is to get published someday. I know I share that hope with many others. I am determined to achieve it. I don’t care how long it takesI’ll spend the rest of my life on this journey if I must.

I can’t say that ever since I was a little child I had a dream to become an author. I can’t even say that ever since I was a little child I loved reading or writing. I actually hated both of them until Jr. High. Why? I struggled with dyslexia growing up. (By the way, picking a difficult word to spell for a learning disorder that defines people who can’t spell was a bad idea!)

I got horrible grades in elementary school. (I wasn’t even good at math as a back up plan.) I dreaded every spelling quiz, any reading assignments, and pretty much everything school related because of that. I used to fake feeling ill to get out of going. Luckily, I have an amazing mother who realized I had a problem and needed extra help.

So, around third grade she took me out of my public elementary school to home school me. She worked at home as a medical transcriptionist and taught me history, math, and science. Every day she would drive me to a private lesson with a nice woman, Billy, who specialized in learning disabilities. I would spend an hour to two there Monday through Friday.

By the fifth grade I was reading a sixth grader’s level and felt I had the right skill set to overcome my problems. I went back to school for the fifth and sixth grade. I would have rather been there with my friends than at home. Weirdly enough, I didn’t really read anything but biographies for fun (like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and other politicians). I don’t really know why.

Then I went to Jr. High and got into reading other things in my spare time. Still, because of dyslexia, I had a phobia of reading full length books so I got into comic books (I have two brothers and only male cousins) and managas because they had pictures to go along with their stories. It was around then that I made two important friends.

And that’s when I began to write. We decided to write a story together with hopes of making it into a published work (never happened). We worked for almost a year on a collaboration story until we got into a fight over creative differences and stopped that (but stayed friends).

I never stopped working on that story and I’ve never stopped writing. That story was filled with plot holes amongst other novice mistakes so that will never see the light of day. I joined a couple online writing communities and slowly got better. I remember the first character I created was a complete Mary Sue… and how bad I was about telling instead of showing.

From critics and a continuous passion for writing I got better and better. I finished my first novel (which I started the winter of ’08) sometime in my sophomore year of college. I want to eventually publish that paranormal romance story but not right now. Since it was my first attempt it has a lot of plot and character development issues that I need to go back and fix before that ever happens.

I can’t remember when I first came up with the idea for my current manuscript. It’s a modern fantasy, young adult story titled Descendant’s Diary: Vanishing Valerie. I know I was working at the University Press at my college, so that means around the summer of 2009. Whenever I had spare time in between course work and actual work I would be writing that story.

I spent way more time writing than doing normal college extra-circular activities, actually. That definitely helped my writing skills but, at times, put a damper in my social life. It took me until my last year of college to finish the first book (sometime in 2011). I’ve been editing it ever sincewhich seemed like an endless process. I had a huge problem with length.

I haven’t started the querying process yet, but I’m positive that the word length is going to be my biggest problem (after, that is, I get someone interested). I know most YAs are around 40,000 to 70,000 words. Oh… and actually writing a query and two-page synopsis will be a pain.

Currently, I’m researching agents (I have been for over two months now) and avoiding minimizing my manuscript into only three sentences. I would say the most annoying part about it is the advice I keep getting and how different all of them are… in the end, I know it’s all an agent’s personal preference so I’m learning as much as I can about each agent and the market in general so I can tailor my query to each agent individually.

Anyway, that’s my quick life story. I’ I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the only one in this rocky boat. I’m ready for this journey to take a while (probably 1-3 years) and I’m prepared for the painful rejections that are to come, too.