Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Battle of the Weevil

So there I am last week, minding my own business, pouring a bowl of cereal in the kitchen, when I see a little black bug crawl across the counter.

Hmmmmm.... definitely suspicious, and a little undesirable, I think, "But hey. No big deal," says I. It IS July. And I DO live in Houston. Bugs are sort of in Vogue right now. And I also figured that one little black bug was NOTHING compared to ants that swarmed my CLEAN basket of laundry the other day, OR the humungo roach I found crawling across the counter in my friend's bathroom (luckily, we live in different apt. complexes).

So.... what? I have one little harmless black bug. No biggy, right? 



After the first little black bug siting, I kept seeing more.... and MORE. They'd be crawling in the cupboard. On the floor. Over the fruit basket. And although I was--admittedly--more worried about an attack from the ant masses congregating in the walls of my apartment, the little black bug issue started to peak my interest. 

Last night, after returning home from a restocking-our-fridge-with-frozen-foods-because-we-have-no-time-to-make-real-food trip at the grocery store, I happened upon one of the little black bugs crawling across the counter. Since Hubbs was there, I says to him: "Hubbs, what kind of bug is this?"

Of course, Hubbs doesn't know that much more about bugs than I do. But he IS the big, tough man of the house, and I figured I could use his manly prowess to help me figure out the source.

We started poking around the kitchen a little bit, trying to find where they were coming from....

And oh boy... we found 'em all right.

Weevils. Congregating en mass. Inside a bag of rice. SO. GROSS.

Because of the discovery of said weevil hidey hole, I spent this morning bleaching the H-E-double you-know-what outta my pasta cupboard. I found more weevils in the lasagna noodles, in the angel hair pasta noodles, and one blasted little guy that had made his way into a box of my Mac n' Cheese. Grrr.

Now THAT's just getting personal.

For a moment I considered killing the guy and saving the Mac. But then I started wondering... what if a lady weevil circulated through my Mac and lain little baby weevil eggs somewhere in my noodles? [sigh]. I threw the whole box away after that point. Dirty rotten....

However, this whole weevil v. Mac n' Cheese battle gave me a good idea for a blog post. Why? You ask. Because it kind of reminded me of editing a manuscript.

Sometimes when battling with a really tough section of manuscript--a section I secretly know I need to just give the ax to--I draaaaaaaag my feet to the chopping block. I'll sit there trying to justify why I should save the section, thinking something along the lines of: "Self, if you just delete this one paragraph, I think you can save the section." This is usually followed by an arduous process of trying to reword the rest of the section to make it kind-of-sort-of work. I work my butt off trying to save my section, all for the sake of my measly word count.

Basically: laziness.

This is a bad habit. One I'm getting better at fixing, but is still a work in progress. I just have to keep reminding myself that a crappy section of the book can be replaced.... by something weevil-less, something that will ultimately make my book better as a whole. Word count isn't everything. In fact, its nothing compared to the overall scheme of things.

Just ax it.

This, is my new motto for crappy weevil-filled sections of my book.

Weevils, Mac n' Cheese and Editing. Yes, I may have been suffering from a bleach high when I wrote this post...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


My friend, Lauren--the only child in a family of 3--makes it no secret that she suffers from a chronic disease she has affectionately self-diagnosed as: Sibbling Envy.

This, to me, is hilarious. Mostly because my childhood--as the oldest of ten kids--was jam packed with more than a fair share of this:

[SMACK]... "That's MY jump rope! And I WANT IT BACK!!!!"... [Tries to take jump rope back by force]....[SCREECH]...."NOOOOOOO!!!!!".... [Throws jump rope down and proceeds to pull hair and claw eyes out]

Mmmmm. Yeah. Gimme some o' dat!

But I can't fault Lauren for her envy-ing. Because, I'll be honest, I suffer from a little envy myself. Not the I'm envious-because-I-want-to-be-an-only-child-syndrome (although, there were times growing up when I most certainly DID suffer from that!) No, the disease to which I owe my fondest suffering to is a bad case of: Best Friend Envy.

I have no best friend.

Oh, I've had PLENTY of friends, don't get me wrong. And during the different times and seasons in my life, I've always had one friend that I hung out with the most.

But I don't have THAT best friend... the ONE best friend you've had since you were 5 year old kindergarten students drinking the nasty chocolate milk from the school lunch line. The same girl who holds your hand when your crappy boyfriend dumps you in high school. The loyal friend who enrolls in the same college as you, just because you both can't bear the thought of 4 years on separate campuses. And the same girl who is later the maid of honor at your wedding and the godmother to your first baby.

Seriously people, I've got Best Friend Envy. Bad. 

The cruel irony of this, is that my parent's response to my epic I-will-NOT-share-a-room-with-my-little-sister-Lisa-while-in-high-school temper tantrum, was:  

"You know what Julie? Someday, Lisa will be your best friend."

[Boo! Hiss! Moan!]

Just so you know... this is me and my little sister today:

Okay, so maybe they were right.

But that doesn't stop me from being envious.

And because, of course, I'm a nice all-knowing creator of my writing universe, I made CERTAIN that my main character, Essie, had a best friend: Charlize Braxton. 

However, now that I think about it, its so ironic, because after a while [**SPOILER ALERT**] Charlize and Essie eventually lose touch and go their separate ways. And who become Essie's replacement best friend?? The same person who was REALLY her best friend the whole time: her brother Ethan.

So weird how our lives bleed over into our writing. Whether we're writing the exact opposite--giving our characters what we always wanted (a best friend). Or writing a metaphor of our own lives--giving them exactly what we love so that they don't lack (like great siblings), its impossible not to intertwine our lives with our work.

What kinds of life-and-character intertwining have YOU done in your writing?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Awesome Blog Contest!

Check it out peeps... new copy of Divergent on anyone's shopping list??

Click Here!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flash Fiction Blogfest!

Today I'm participating in Ali Cross's Flash Fiction Blogfest! The topic extraordinaire, was to write a 250-word-or-less piece of flash fiction along the theme of:

"Its Independence Day and something unexpected happens..."

Independence Day? Oh yes. I can DO Independence Day!!

The expert I chose to write is from Book 3 of Keepers of the Flame, which, no, has NOT been written. But because I'm smart and all that, I already know what the final battle will be like. And I know who dies. And its very heroic and beautiful and I thought: "Wow, Self, this blogfest would be the perfect opportunity to write a few brief words from the final battle scene!"

Self is very obedient. So self complied.

Below is my 250-word snap shot flash fiction of what happens at the end of my trilogy, Keepers of the Flame. I wrote this in honor of the blogfest, so the rest of the trilogy has not been completed. As such, I reserve the right to CHANGE this scene, once I actually get to it in the writing process. But this is how it looks in my head right now. Enjoy!

The night sky brightened, illuminating the battlefield under a shower of sparks. Flame followed. Tongues of fire billowed, spewing tendrils through the dark as fuel ignited, burning in peculiar patterns of splattering light. Like fireworks.

Nate smiled.

Their plan had worked. The command center was destroyed, and with it, the weapons of the enemy rendered useless.

In the wake of the explosion, an eerie quiet covered the combat zone. Nothing stirred. The night still, like the blanketing calm after a storm.

Nate’s ears pricked up at a soft rumble of sound. He strained to hear over the pop pop of the fire, burning bright behind him.


The sound amplified, rolling through the air like the roar of approaching thunder. The individual voices blended together, gaining strength as they united as one. Louder they sounded, cheers of freedom echoing through the night as Nate’s comrades celebrated the battle’s unexpected turn.

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”

I should be with them. Nate tried to sit and winced, the warmth in his side blossoming. He could feel the blood spilling from his wound, coloring the ground red.

He glanced at his watch. Almost midnight. The timepiece ticked its methodic journey towards a new Independence Day. One to remember and recommit. To honor new sacrifices of the great living and dead who fought for freedom and liberty.

Nate wouldn’t see it.

But the future would. At right now, that was all that mattered.

P.s. For those of you who have a) read Keepers of the Flame and b) are mildly obsessive about spoilers (ahem, LAUREN!), I've changed the names. You'll just have to lose sleep over this scene at night trying to figure out who meets his (or her! I could have changed genders too...) heroic end at the final battle. Bahahahahahaha!!! 

Monday, July 11, 2011


You are a writer.

When you write, write for yourself. Never, ever write to please anyone else. When you write to please other people, you lose yourself as a writer and when that happens the joy, you once had in writing, will disappear.

Yes, people will tell you what they don’t like. However, unless it’s grammar and spelling they are only giving their opinion and that opinion is recyclable. You can adhere to what they suggest or you can cherry pick the important parts that will help you grow as a writer.

When you post your writings on a forum for anonymous comments and you don’t receive a comment do not feel unappreciated or discouraged. Never stop writing because the audience isn’t giving you pats on the back. Someone is always reading but isn’t always speaking up. Write and write and share and share but don’t hold back in fear of someone not liking it. You write what makes you feel good and you share because it’s part of you. Not because you’ll please someone else. The other people are not you. Your thoughts filter through your experiences and exit out your fingers to a screen or a sheet of paper. With all their suggestions and critiques, they are unable to write what you can.

Who is the writer?

You are.

Who decides what you write?

You do.

Who do you write for?


If you are not pleased with your writing then you are not pleased and therefore should fix it to your liking. Do not fix it to someone else’s liking, then read it, and feel awkward because the changes didn’t suit you.

This is not selfish as much as it is self-preserving. You start doing what others say you’ll lose what makes you a unique writer and that is more of a loss than the gain you’ll get from hollow praise for works that are not from your heart.

Make sure the works are from your heart. You should be proud of what you do and not just meh-ok. You put yourself out there and when you put yourself out there, you should be an Olympian and do so with whole spirit of your writing self. Don’t hold back. Don’t only give what you think the subject deserves. Give it everything.

Writers are what the world needs and there’s never going to be an over saturation because everyone has their own set of eyes, ears and minds. You can look at the same thing and see something different, and therefore write something that another writer just didn’t think about because they have not lived your life. Perception is paramount.

Beauty is the writer that writes words that form in his head and are forged in his heart. He writes them with such passion that those that read feel as if they are privileged to have read such.

You wield the pen that’s mightier than the sword, use it wisely and use it often. Believe that someone’s mind is forever changed because they read your words from your unique vantage point. You are the creator of worlds that have yet to be and characters that have not yet been born.

You. Are. A. Writer.  

Write. Write. Write.

Write the wrongs.

Write the feelings.

Write the world.

Write your heart.

Write your pain.

Write your love.

Write your peace.

The most essential thing to remember is to write. You are you and no one else can give what you yourself have to offer.

You are a writer.
--Jay Jay Takahata

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Readaholics Anonymous

I had a mental battle today... a big one...

I was driving to the library today, grumbling, of course, about how I don't make enough money to support my growing book addiction.

Boo, hoo, everyone pity me... I have to borrow books. Boo, hoo, hoo, hoo.

Not that I have anything against libraries... librarians... or even library books, really.

I just have a "thing" for the way a book spine crackles when I open it for the first time.... the delicious wafting of ink and new paper floating out, tickling my senses with the tantalizing anticipation of adventures that I will find within those stark, white, hot-off-the-press pages...

"Hi. My name is Julie. And I'm an addict."

Yeah. For real.

So there I was, bargaining with the Devil about what I'd exchange for a never-ending supply of new books...

"I'd give up chocolate..."

"I'd give up my soul..."

I'd give up new shoes..."




Did I just say shoes?


Let me think.

Idon'tknow. Idon'tknow. Idon'tknow!

There wasn't actually a victor in the epic mental battle of New Shoes v. New Books. I justified my lack of conviction by telling myself: "Pshaw, riiiight... as IF I'd ever get a never-ending supply of new books!"

But in reality, I was just indecisive.

About the shoes, anyway.

I'd totally give up my soul, though. Haha.

Just kidding.

What would YOU give up for a never-ending supply of  new books?!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day!

As the author of a totally rock-awesome YA political thriller, I feel compelled to take a moment today to honor a few men who authored and endorsed with their lives, documents that have shaped our nation, and influenced the nations of others around the world, forever. Men who sacrificed all to proudly declare independence from a tyrannical monarch, and search out a government that would strive to champion values of a higher cause... holding that ALL men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I am a American history major, I did my capstone project on colonial women in the Revolutionary War, one of my favorite movies is the Patriot, I wrote a YA pre-dystopian political thriller, and I chose law school as an appropriate graduate degree path. If all those together don't scream that I'm a fountain of geeky history facts, I don't know what will.  

But I wear my geek-dom proudly!

I love the Revolutionary War. It took such great and inspiring courage to take a stand of that magnitude. My gratitude for the Founding Fathers is deep and profound, and I am honored by their sacrifices and the sacrifices of so many others who have given their lives on the altar of freedom.

Are we perfect? Hardly. But this is the most perfect form of government that imperfect men could create. And I am so thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, praying that we will have the courage to keep those freedoms and elect officers who will strive to keep our government one that is of the people, by the people and for the people.

Happy Fourth of July!!

P.s. Trivia fun: all the surnames in Keepers of the Flame come from signers of the Declaration of Independence! Woot, woot! Yes, I'm a nerd ( :

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ode to a Legend

Here's to Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans, magic wands, flying lessons, Quidditch, and J.K. Rowling, who has changed the dynamics of literature forever!

I have to admit, although its been over a decade since I first picked up that worn, borrowed copy of the Sorcerer's Stone, I still have not lost my Potter enthusiasm! I've devoured the books--more times than I care to admit--have thoroughly enjoyed all the Harry Potter costume parties, midnight book releases, and merchandise I can get my hands on. Have shamelessly paraded my HP obsession to friends, co-workers and anyone else who will listen. And yes, I most definitely DO squeal predictably during the opening credits of EVERY new HP film to hit the big screen!

However, while I'm looking forward to this final installment of HP (Eeek! It looks freakin' amazing!), I can't help but feel a bit melancholy, knowing that this is the end of my beloved HP series.

Of course, I have no doubts that Hollywood and Ms. Rowling will figure out SOME way to keep the cash cow flowing... still, its sad to finally see the more-or-less "official" end of this amazing adventure.

 Harry Potter, you will be missed!

And isn't it amazing that all that came from ONE writer?

I'm curious... what do YOU think makes Harry Potter so amazing? How did one little story about a boy wizard turn into such a world wide phenomenon?