Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Giveaway!

Why is this the most wonderful time of the year? Yep. You guessed it. I'm giving away a MASSIVE stack of books to you- my fellow bloggers!

This Christmas holiday, I want to add a little sparkle and fun to your holidays. I'm giving away three huge stacks of books in the categories of paperback mysteries, paperback girl fun, and hardbacks.

Here's what you'll find:
Paperback Mysteries
- Do You Know the Monkey Man?
- Things Hoped For
- The Case of the Missing Marquess
- Chasing Vermeer
- The Ghost in Room 11
- Pish Posh

Paperback Girl Fun- The Princess and the Peabodys'
- I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
- 10 Ways to Make My Sister Disappear
- Kickoff
- Prada and Prejudice
- The Fashion Disaster that Changed My Life

- Fire
- Braless in Wonderland
- Triple Shot Betty

Are you excited? Feeling the holiday fun? If you are, fill out the form below. This contest ends on Jan. 5th. So spread the word and pass on some sparkles of your own.

Critter's New Destination

It was a tough, really tough choice. But in the end, I decided that Critter would have a blast with Nandini in New England. Critter is itching for some snow and I'm dying to see where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women! (She's one of my favorite authors.)

Nandini, please email me your address at farley dot christinal at gmail dot com. I'll send Critter on the plane over to you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Ride- DMZ or Bust

My husband and his buddies are crazy. Not only did they jump on their scooters in the FREEZING cold, but they rode until they met barriers and machine gun toting guards at the DMZ line (Demilitarized Zone).

Like I said, crazy.

Every year, a group of teachers (the Hill's Angels) from our school jumps on their scooters in the dead of winter and rides as a group to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) 40 km north of our school.

They ride until they get turned back by ROK guards with machine guns (they're nice though).

Doug doesn't have a fancy scooter or motorcycle. In fact, I was worried his bike wouldn't even make it that far (usually it's used for getting the store and avoiding Seoul's traffic by weaving in and out of cars and running red lights). His scooter even got a nickname- The Banana.

After getting stopped at the border, they visited a war memorial with some tanks on display, and then headed back into the next town to eat at Dunkin' Donuts (gotta love capitalism).

You can also go to this link and see a video of their run.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Party Time for My Writing Bud

This is a huge day(s) for my brilliant writing buddy, Beth Revis. She just announced her signing with Writers House, agent Merrilee Heifetz. I'm so excited and thrilled for her. She totally deserves this and her book ROCKS! It will sell and when it does, you need to go out and buy it and read it!

Check out all the details here.

So now it's time to party!!!!!

Here's some delcious Fudgy Milk Chocolate Fondue.

Grown Up Hot Chocolate

And some White Chocolate Party Mix

Notice the chocolate theme?

Congratulations Beth! I'm doing the writer's jig for you.

Note: pictures are taken by recipe creaters. (not me!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where Will Critter Go for the Holidays?

It's time for Critter to leave Korea. Boo hoo! But we've had him so long, it's embarrasing. It's because he's just too cute.

A little background about Critter. He was created by the artistic genius, Ian Sands , and has been sent on a blog tour around the world.

Places he's been so far:
1. Christy's Creative Space
2. Roots in Myth
3. Writing It Out
4. Chocolate for Inspiration- shopping and the palace

And now.....

How would you like to have Critter come see you? Here's what it entails.

1) If you want Critter to visit you, leave a comment in the comments section and tell me why Critter should visit.

2) On Wednesday, EST at midnight (2 pm Korea time) I will choose the lucky winner and announce it on the blog (So exciting!). The winner will need to email me their mailing address so I can send Critter along to you.

3) When you get Critter in the mail, write your name and city location.

4) Now you get to Send Critter someplace else. Host a contest for Critter on your blog and then send Critter to the winner from your blog. (the critter is made of a light weight foam board, so it should not be too expensive to mail.)

5) Christy Evers will track Critter's location so we can see where he has been and where he will be going.

The last person will send Critter back to Christy Evers.

So the big question is, where will Critter go for the holidays. Will it be your house?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Critter Explores the Palace

Critter took on a whole new adventure as he stepped up to the guards of Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is the central and largest palace in Seoul, which I think surpasses the Forbidden City in beauty and the the Golden Temple of Japan in architecture.

It was a cold day, so Caleb kept Critter warm in his arms. We came up to the fierce guards, so fierce that Critter and the boys told me "No Way!" when I tried to get them to take a picture with the guard. But one glimpse of that sword, I had to agree.

We arrived there just in time to see the changing of the guards. Critter liked the Blue Dragon flag.

Then we entered through the massive gates (Haungnyemun). This palace was the royal family's residence during the Joseon Dynasty and is flanked by ragged mountains. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the palace was burned during the Japanese Invasion in 1592 but rebuilt during the reign of King Gojong.

The river flowing inside the palace was frozen. When we crossed the bridge (Yeongjegyo) Critter tried jumping into it (he's dying to ice skate). Don't jump Critter! Caleb caught him just in time. Whew. That was a close one.

Our last stop (before Critter froze to death) was the Sajeongjeon. This is the hall where the king pondered his decisions and met with his officials. The king held a meeting there every day at 3 am and 5 am. We were pretty impressed at that since we were tired just walking to the building.

The ceiling is truly breathtaking.

Critter said he like the dragons.

Luke wanted to sit in the throne and Caleb wanted to do his taekwondo moves in the center.

But there was a sharp wind cutting through (the winds here make the weather seem colder than it is) and we were COLD. Critter suggested hot chocolate. Great idea Critter!

So we headed back home to our cozy, warm apartment for cocoa and cookies. A great end to a fun adventure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Critter is HERE!

Yep. That's right. Critter made the long, long flight over here. He was a little jet lagged when he first arrived, since our days were his night and so forth, but he's now fully recovered and out exploring.

The first order of business was to get him in a hanbok. Luke and I made one for him and he looks so cute in it. Don't you think?

Then we took him shopping.

He debated over which selection of kimchi to choose.

Got a little freaked out by the wide eyed fish and octopus.

He got hungry so I let him choose from dried squid or dried seaweed.

Luke told him to choose the seaweed, because it's salty and yummy.

Critter says shopping is really different in Korea but he had a blast.

Stay tuned in the next few days for more adventures from Critter. Hint: it starts with a p and is a place.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shortbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

Need a totally delicious and EASY Christmas cookie recipe? Bake this and your friends, sweetheart and fam will adore you. (Well, that's if they like chocolate)

Shortbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Mix together butter and powdered sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and flour
3. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir well.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Drop by heaping tsps onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F until the edges just begin to turn golden. About 9 minutes.

While those are baking, head over to Tabitha's blog for a great contest. You can enter, but only I'm allowed to win. Kidding! (Sort of)

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Wow. Time is flying. I can't believe that November is gone. Nano is finished and here we are racing toward the holidays.

Even my hair is windblown. (kidding)

I haven't blogged in a while. Busy with work (my busiest month in a very, very long time). But in spite of the craziness, I managed to write 23,000 words this month. (can you hear me giving myself a little round of applause?) I still have my goal at finishing it in January and revising it for another three months after that if all goes well.

I'm so out of the blogging loop and I'm terribly curious how your November went.

For those of you who did Nano, how did you do?

For those of you who didn't, what's up?

And Critter says "Hi!" He has arrived and been very busy, getting into all kinds of trouble. I had some trouble with the camera with all the pictures but working that out. Will blog soon about Critter!

And the picture is one I took dangling out of the car. It's a Korean drying out gochu (red peppers). He had a giggle over me. I'm sure he's saying something like: "Meecchin waegook!" Translated: "Crazy foreigner!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009


There's lots of ways to outline and different ways work for different people. Some find outlining doesn't work for them at all, others have a fluctuating outline.

I have found I need some type of framework to keep me focused when I write. Especially since I've started fast drafting and I don't have as much time to figure out what I last wrote and think what's supposed to come next. Those of you who are working moms know that time is almost as precious as chocolate.

How it works:
I break my story into 20 grids on a big piece of butcher paper like in the picture. Each grid represents a chapter. Now, this isn't set in stone, but it makes me think what's going to happen first and most importantly how it will all work out in the end.

I number each grid 1-20 in black marker. Then I give each chapter a header like this:
1. MC is in ordinary world. Extraordinary thing happens.
2. MC called to adventure- denies the call
3. MC meets mentor and can no longer deny the call

On the bottom of the grid I write Setting:_______. This keeps my characters from hanging out in the school cafeteria chapter after chapter. I find setting such a great writing tool, so I like to vary it and think of places I've not seen in other books.

Then in the big chunk of space provided, I insert sticky notes. They are color coordinated like this:
Green- main plot
Pink- romantic subplot
Yellow- secondary subplot (for me it's a family situation)
Blue- my antagonist (he's got his own evil agenda going on)

I write what happens during the chapter for each of these onto the papers and stick them into place. I like the sticky notes because they come on and off easily since changes do happen as I write. They also give me a quick visual where the subplots are showing up.

And that's it! This outline works for me because it keeps me from rambling off on some wild tangent (as I like to do), it forces me to think of the story as a whole, it's easy to change, and it's a great visual for what's happening in my story.

Do you outline? If you do, what tips do you have to share?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writer's Shopping List

A while back, I blogged about getting your idea. So now that you've got the idea, the next step is to daydream some more. Love it. I mean, what profession tells you to stare off into space and let your mind wander? Seriously.

Next is shopping!

Here's my writer's shopping list:

1. Very cool journal- big enough to jot all my notes and ideas into for this book. I like to splurge on this one. For my current WIP, I'm using a journal I bought at the gift shop of a French castle. It's got this cool medieval hard cover. Very inspirational.
2. Big piece of butcher paper- I get this from school
3. Colored sticky notes- blue, pink, yellow and purple (you can choose any ones you like)
4. Pens and pencils- they must be the fun kind. I got a heart and a star one.
5. Music- I go to I-tunes. Since my current WIP is set in Asia, I bought a bunch of Asian tunes for my i-pod.
6. Treats- dark chocolate (of course!) and coffee (must be caffeinated for me!)
7. Magazines- I get the old ones from the library that they are giving away

Next time, I'll go into detail on what I do with all this stuff.

So, how about you? What's on your writer's shopping list?

Monday, November 2, 2009

What Do Teens What?

First of all, Happy NaNoWrite to all those participating! I'll be cheering you on! Here's chocolate to inspire you.

I've decided to write 1,000 words a day this month, getting me to 30,000 words. I hope to finish the book in January and do rewrites in the spring. Don't you love new projects?


I wanted to share some more fun stuff that I got from Publisher's Marketplace with you. It's interesting and I think as writers, we need to become experts in our field, and that includes knowing what kids like and are reading. I choose the pictures because I tend to be visual. But for more goodies, go to the link.

Check out these charts: (click on them to enlarge)
What Kids Like To Read

Networking. Facebook was huge. Here's what they want from your facebook page.

What Motivates Kids to Buy:

What Influences Kids?

Chocolate photo by: Cristian andrei Matei

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Starting a New Project- Where to Begin?

Yep. I’ve started a new project. And I’m excited. No, actually, my fingers are tingling with anticipation to write it. In fact, I’m so excited all I can think is why in the world am I blogging when I could be writing IT!

Kidding, I love my blogging buddies. You guys keep me going.

So here’s the thing. It’s not an easy to choose what project you will write about. You’ve heard the stuff, like write what you love, pull it from the heart and all that. It’s true. Absolutely.

But (there’s a but)—

You also need to keep in mind the market, the books that have been recently published or are soon to be published when you are selecting what you’re going to write.

I had three book ideas I thought were pretty good. One that my sister loved, one that my husband loved and another that had been nagging in the back of my mind for 2 years but I couldn’t formulate a gripping enough plot (yeah, I like gripping).
Here’s the lowdown:
1. Idea #1- Great idea and I was pumped to write it. I wrote a synopsis, came up with my one line hook, and even webbed out my characters and started to get to know them. But then I researched the market on this idea. And just this year, a book, quite similar to my topic was released. Too similar, I decided. So I shelved it for later. When I’m famous. (giggle)

2. Idea #2- For this one, I decided to research it first. And there’s nothing on the market that I can find. It’s a cute idea but I wasn’t tingling, itching, biting at the bit to write it. (going back to needing to love it here). I shelved it.

3. Idea #3- This one has been haunting me for two years now, but I didn’t have a good enough plot. And then on one of my runs, it hit me. The perfect plot to go with my perfect characters and story. It won’t be easy to write. I’ll be pushed more than I’ve ever had to push myself, but the story needs to be written. Oh, and I did research this one too and it's good to go. Crossing fingers!

I’m not ready to spill the beans on the plot yet, but I can tell you it’s a multicultural paranormal.

Have you ever had a similar experience as this? Do tell!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Writer's Luck

I wrote on the MiG blog about how to make your writing presentation go smoothly. Check it out!

You see, yesterday, I presented at our Korea chapter's SCBWI meeting on using technology to help you network and promote yourself as a writer. We had such a great time sharing ideas.

But the most important thing I emphasized to the group is my old saying I like to tell my students:

Luck= preparation + opportunity.

In writer language, it means: go and write the most amazing, fantastic novel and then when you see an agent post on twitter or a blog that they are excepting submissions in the very genre that you write, you're ready to seize that opportunity.

So call luck, call it good fortune, call it whatever you like. But I like to call it Prepared for the Opportunity.

So if you had Writer's Luck, what would be your One Wish?

By the way, I thought the book above Just One Wish by Janette Rallison was fitting for this post. Excellent and halarious story dealing with tough issues. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Critter is Coming to Korea!

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Beth is sending the cute, the adorable, and the very famous Critter (created by Ian Sands) on an airplane to visit me and my boys here in Korea!

We are excited.

And now we must decide all the fun stuff we are going to do with Critter. The palace is a definite and he's got to try some kimchi, too. Anything you'd like to see Critter do? Anything in Korea you are terribly curious about?

And other fantastic news, PJ Hoover's The Navel World is released!