Dec 3, 2014

Breaking Twitter #PitMad

For those of you who are not aware, tomorrow (Dec 4) is the #PitMad (Pitch Madness) event on Twitter.  In short, it's why your Twitter will be acting a little funny tomorrow.

Why is everyone posting book synopses? 

I've only recently discovered this event.  You learn something new everyday in this business, I swear. 

So, how it works is: authors with polished manuscripts and shiny query letters pitch their project in 140 characters or less, in hopes that an agent or publisher will "Like" it.  And if they do, it's an invitation to submit a query and get that baby out of the slush. 

You can tweet your pitch twice an hour, and you can't tweet the same thing over and over or Twitter will think you're a internet-hacking robot and kick you out.

I like to think of it as an opportunity for an opportunity (for an opportunity, and so on).  Apparently, quite a few people have landed agents going this route.

I have my tweets planned, for the most part.  My query letter is practically sparkling.  The Manuscript is a veritable Beta Reader whore.  I'm ready for liking of my tweets.

(this blog post is going in a strange direction, let's get back on track.)

Anywho, if you are interested in participating in this event, assuming you are at this phase of your project, I've found a ton of helpful info here at Diana Urban's blog (one of the #PitMad hosts). 

I'm excited to do something other than send out query letters.  It can get stuffy here in this office sending out "please love me" letters all day.  I'm sure the agents and publishers feel the same way.

Let's party, Twitter.

Are you participating in #PitMad?  Have you had success with this before?  Do share.


That's right.  I won NaNoWriMo, which basically means I churned out 50,000 words in 30 days or less.

If it sounds like I'm not excited about this, trust me, I am!  I just finished my second novel.  Is this real life?  It feels amazing, and I'm so obsessed with this whole project right now.

I just don't see this as "winning" really.  I see it more as reaching a goal-- a goal toward a career that I work very hard for.  Winning implies that this was a game to me.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it gives folks who've always wanted to write a novel a deadline and time frame and reason to sit down and do it.  It's all about creating that daily writing habit. (i.e., myself one year ago)

This year, I already had that habit in place.  My feet were already wet and I knew my way around Scrivener.  So, when I hit that 50k goal in 30 days, it felt so damn good, but not like winning.

Here's where I am winning:  Last year, I found out that I was not the only writer in our little military community.  In fact, there are FOUR of us.  Once realizing this, I set up some meetings through the library, created a Facebook group and wrote up little writer's club meeting agendas.  Throughout the year, we've gotten to know each other, became friends, colleagues, supporters and fans.

So, truth be told, I didn't win NaNoWriMo, at least not on my own.  I had an arsenal of support that pushed me through.  When I wanted to stop, they pushed me.  When I got stuck, they lent an ear and an idea.  When I didn't want to write, they made me sprint it out.

It doesn't matter that not one of us writes in the same genre or who is published or trained or just having fun.  Writers were not meant to do this alone.

Stay tuned this week for a little post about my WIP.  I have to share something about it.  I'm that excited.

Oct 29, 2014


So, I found this link up over at Chronicles of Chaos called Write or Die Wednesday geared for (you guessed it) writers with writing prompt and all.  Umm…okay I guess it sounds fine or whatever.

Write or Die Wednesdays

Yeah, I'm so in.

So, today's prompt is the word: Cozy.

This seems like the perfect time for me to share with you one of the very greatest things about living in Germany.

So, I'm not a zealous lover of winter.  The snow is lovely and sledding can be fun, but given the option, I'd probably pass on freezing temps, heavy boats and having to shovel anything off my driveway.
But there is one part of winter that I look forward to all year living here in Germany.

Christmas Markets

These country-wide, wildly popular events are magical in a way that I almost cannot describe.  It's the only time that I stop caring that I am freezing, bundled from head to toe in knitted yarn and wool everything.  Whether I'm there to shop for handmade ornaments, gifts for the kids or just to laugh with friends, there is no better place to capture that cozy Christmas feeling.
Every city celebrates, each tiny village and city square adorned with unique Christmas trees and decorations.  The local church coordinates music and performances, and for a moment we forget the work and stress of the holiday season to just cuddle up together in small spaces and get subtly drunk on warm wine and hot food with our neighbors.
No Weihnachtmarkt would be complete without the help of a piping hot mug of gl├╝hwein (mulled wine) held tight between my gloves, gently warming my fingers as I clutch it to my chest.  I slowly meander through crowded aisles and booths selling Christmas treasures and local crafts.  The aroma of roasting chestnuts and grilled brats fill the air.  And every time the cold seeps into my bones, I take a big hot sip from my mug and feel the cider warm me from the inside out.

Oh, Christmas markets.  Please catch on in the states.

This feeling.

As a writer (and this may apply to any creative career) they're come a series of moments, I've found.
The moment you decide to stop screwing around and just do it already.
The moment you realize it's harder than you thought it would be.
The moment you think you suck so bad at this and why (WHY) are you doing this?
The moment you think you are the single most talented creature who ever touched a keyboard in the world.
Then, the moment you complete your first manuscript.

I expect there are many greater moments to come, (getting published, per say) but I'm wholly convinced that nothing beats the feeling of accomplishing something only you could do.  Whether or not you get published or sign an agent or reach the NYT Bestseller status all depend on the actions of others in some way.  Finishing that first novel depends on you and you alone.

Yesterday, I walked on clouds for every blinking minute after 4:00pm because I had finally, for the first time in my life, declared my novel done and believed it.

So, after a full twenty-four hours of doing the "it's done" happy dance, as well as re-read (x10) some overwhelmingly wonderful reviews from beta readers, I'm ready to buckle down and pony up to the query letters.

Okay, maybe I'll soak in my euphoria for just one more minute.  I don't want to let this feeling go.

Oct 26, 2014

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo again.

It's that time of year again!  National Novel Writing Month.  I'm so excited this year and for good reason.

1. I have a stellar local writing group.  Last November, a local writer contacted me wanting to put together a group.  We are in a strange situation here because our "region" on the NaNoWriMo site is Germany.  All well and good except those meeting and forum threads are in, you guessed it, German.  I asked the NaNo admins to give us "Military Writers Abroad" our own region, but they declined.
So, in January, we created our own little writing group and there are four of us that meet once a month and talk about writing, publishing, editing, proofreading, blogging and much much more.  I've never known other writers or met with people to talk about writing at all.  In fact, before last year, I've never owned up to being a writer at all, so this is really so, so great to meet with writers and chat the way we do.  They are so good for my soul.  Words can't describe.  In fact, one of them is actually a published novelist, and ridiculously talented.  Check her out!

2. This will be my SECOND novel.  Yes, it's true, my first novel, Hereafter is complete.  Sort of.  It's complete, but as far as first novels go, I don't know if I'll ever feel it's really complete.  I'm 25% through my "final" round of revisions.  Know one really knows before writing that first novel how incredibly hard it is, or how complex it will be, or how frightening it is to let it go into the world.  My friend, the published one, has assured me that the first one takes the most time, years in her case.  And years in mine too really.  If you had told me in November of last year that I would still be revising Hereafter a year later, I would have frowned, aggressively.  I had dreams of having that thing revised and queried by April.  But writers learn the lessons the hard way.  I rushed it and was too excited.  Now, I'm taking my time.  I'm running it through revisions relentlessly before even sending it back out to Beta readers.  Patience, my friends.  When it does make it into your hands, I want it to be perfect.

3. I have a degree in this shiz.  I did it!  In April, I officially became a college graduate with a fancy diploma saying I have been trained in the ways of writing creatively.  In short, this doesn't mean much. Few other degrees mean less than a creative writing degree.  But I don't care.  I did it and I have the piece of paper to prove it.  I got a degree in the craft that means the very, very most to me.

So, that is why I'm excited about this November.  And I'm so ready.  More ready than I have ever been.   I have been Pinteresting, outlining, character sketching and getting so ready.

Now, the question you've all been waiting for.  What is the novel I'm going to write?

Well, there's a little Steampunk.  In a futuristic Prague.  With street performers.  Some magic, some love, some cute boys playing fiddles and hot ones doing magic.  Pretty girls dressed like angels and gypsies.  Creepy clock-makers and wicked, people-chasing gargoyles.

The working title is The Fiddler and the Angel, and it's the first book in the series: The Bohemia Chronicles.

I'm very excited about this project.  To read the official blurb, check out my NaNoWriMo profile here.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?  Tell me about your project and your username so we can be writing buddies!

Jul 8, 2014

The Writer Within (Looking for writers)

Hey there, fellow bloggers and writers!  I'm looking for a few good writers for my new blog series.

I'm currently in the process of curving my blog toward writers and aspiring authors.  I hope to include more posts on the writing process as well as getting published, finding an agent and all other areas of the industry.  
But mostly, I want to open up a discussion on the topic.  In an effort to include as many perspectives and stories as possible, I am starting a series on my blog entitled, The Writer Within.  The idea here is to share our stories as writers, authors and poets no matter how much you write or if you’ve published or not.  

There is a certain pressure placed on writers and it causes many of us to hesitate before proclaiming our scribe status.  Maybe you're a hobby-writer, or a career-driven writer.  Are you a secret writer keeping journals and stories hidden in the closet...or are you an outed public writer?  Do you blog about writing, and if not, here's your chance.  The idea here is to unveil the writer within.  No pressure.  No judgement.  Just writers supporting other writers.

It will be as simple as answering some interview-style questions and hopefully sharing some insight and/or experience.  

So if you're a writer, or an aspiring one, I'd love to have you!  If you’d like to answer a few of the questions and be showcased on The Tangerine, please let me know!  The beauty of it is that you will also have the chance to promote your work and yourself!

Won’t you join me?

Email me and include in the email:
A little about yourself, the writer.

I cannot wait to hear from you!

Jul 1, 2014

Book Review: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Title: Adaptation
By: Malinda Lo
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal / Sci-Fi / Contemporary
Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
Source: Netgalley (Thanks!)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The story:
Reese is about to get on an airplane when the world goes nuts and birds start taking down planes all over the world.  Suddenly, it turns into a post-apocolyptic nightmare and Reese and David are on the run until they crash their car near Area 51.
From there, life returns to mostly normal...that is until Reese meets Amber.

My thoughts:
Adaptation had a great start!  For the first quarter of the book, I was hooked.  It was fast paced, mysterious, intriguing and a little bit scary.  Then, there was an entire change of pace.

This book is really broken into three parts: thriller, contemporary, paranormal.  The crazy, action packed first part.  The goose-bump inducing romantic and rule-breaking second part.  Then, the dystopian, strange and un-expected third part.

I liked each part independently.  I liked the action when there was action.  I liked the romance between Reese and Amber (yes, two girls).  I liked the tension between Reese and David.

I can't wait to see where this story is going and I want Amber back!

What I didn't like...

I spent most of the book not knowing what was going on.  What are we dealing with here?  Aliens?  Robots?  Super humans?  But honestly, I was so distracted by Amber and Reese that I didn't care about aliens or adaptations or whatever.  And I probably should have.

Malinda Lo is a great writer with a great story here.  I love, love, love that she fearlessly ventured into a girl/girl romance.  I connected with Reese and empathized with her struggle.  Lo proved that a female love connection can be just as hot as a male/female and that the female love interest can be just as swoon-worthy.  For every reader.

Fist-bump, Malinda.

Find it here:
Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Jun 11, 2014

American Indulgences

So, if I haven't mentioned it yet, we're going back to the states for the summer to visit family, go to a wedding, and hit up an epic trip to D-land...because my little family doesn't travel enough.

I'm currently at the hesitantly excited phase.  Like staring at the sun, I can't let my mind focus for too long on the American'ness coming our way.  If you've lived abroad, possibly you are nodding your head right now thinking, yep.  I know exactly what she's talking about.

However, if you've never lived outside the red, white and blue, then you might not fully grasp what I'm implying.  The best metaphor I can pull together to describe my feeling is like this.  You know in books (or movies or real life) when people go a long time without eating, then when they see a bowl of chowder or a big pizza and they scarf it down only to heave it all up ten seconds later.

Well, not to compare America to barf, but that's basically what I'm afraid of.  It took me the better part of ten months to acclimate to this Target-less life, and I'm at that point where I'm cool with it.  In fact, I'd say I'm thriving.  The nearest Starbucks is 45 minutes away, which has made me appreciate and enjoy a good European cappuccino.  We don't do drive-thrus, we eat sandwiches at home.  We watch classic movies from the library because we don't have a Redbox or Netflix.

Struggles for sure, I know.

But the point I'm making is: luxuries are just that, luxuries.  They only fog the view.  Now, we sit in traditional German garb and drink local brews with our neighbors.  We spend more time together, just doing nothing but being together.  When we want to eat out, we find a local family-owned restaurant and pray their kitchen is open so we can eat.  We don't have a lot of choices in our lifestyle, so we make due with what we have and remember to be thankful for it.  Our one tiny gym, our little library, our one-screen movie theater, our beautiful little apartment.

We see our good fortune so much more clearly now.

For the record, wording this post without sounding like a spoiled American was really difficult and I hope I succeeded, at least partially.

And now...I can't close this out without pointing out a few things that I am crazy excited about.
- Going to Barnes and Noble and staying there until 11pm at night.
- The ambient sound of conversation in English
- Taking a yoga class not taught by myself
- Having more than one tiny shelf in the bookstore (again, I'm still thankful for that one tiny shelf in the German bookstore)
- Grandparent/Grandchild bonding time (read: Mommy free time)
- High-speed internet (I just drooled)
- Seeing any movie, whenever I want (basically)
- A/C (drooled again)

To be honest, I could live without  Target and Starbucks and 24 hour gas stations and things open on Sunday...because I have.  And my biggest hesitation is that I'm going to indulge like crazy on this trip and only shoot myself in the foot when it's time to return home.  I don't want to feel European resentment again.  I didn't enjoy that transition; it was painful.  An American detox...not fun.

So, I'm only taking little nibbles.  At first.

Jun 10, 2014

the beauty in the view

There's something about a beautiful piece of the earth that thirty year old me appreciates more than twenty year old me ever did.  Whether it be in the Alps, coastal Italy, or from my own balcony, I get a twinge of something I can't put my finger on when I gaze out at a slice of pure, breathtaking world.
At one point in our trip, exhausted and hauling whiny kids through the hills of Cinque Terre, we saw a path that wound even higher up promising a view beyond compare.  As sore as our feet were, we attempted the trek anyway.  As we walked, painful step after painful step, I kept asking myself, 'why are we doing this?  For a pretty view?' And the answer was undoubtedly, persistently, 'yes.'
Because there is something about a great view that feeds the soul.  That little saying about 'feasting the eyes' is legit.  Photos are essential of course, but they don't do it justice.  Postcards can't compete with standing at the top of a brutal hike, sweaty and smiling, with rocky beaches and mountain side villages to gaze upon.
And it makes me ask myself, what would my life be like if I didn't appreciate this?  What would I be like if I didn't see how beautiful this world can be?  And then I think that seeing all of these beautiful places has inspired me to see the beauty in the unending desert, or a line of picket fences in America or graffiti in the city.  Now, I see it everywhere.

Jun 7, 2014

Wine, Pesto, and Rocky Beaches. oh my.

Sorry I've been a little MIA lately.  It's that end-of-school-year, vacation time, everything at once, time of year.

Also, I'm still in Italy…in spirit.

Over the Memorial Day weekend we jetted off to Pisa and Cinque Terre for five days of the dolce vita. All in all, it was a blast and half.  Trains, planes and rickety city busses finally brought us to coastal Italy and a little area called Cinque Terre, or Five Villages.  There are literally five little villages all in a row built into the rocky coast of Italy.  It's incredible and impossible to describe.

So, of course we saw the Leaning Tower, and it's true, that thing is really freaking leaning.  And it's a crime punishable by the carbonari if you do not take a cheesy "hold up the tower" photo.  

Then, after a day in Pisa, we took the train to the coast.  Rather than stay in Cinque Terre itself, we stayed in a little village about four villages farther down the coast called Deiva Marina.  It was affordable and gorgeous and we even had access to a private beach.  The best part was that it was less touristy than CT, so when I went to the market in town for food, they called me 'madam' and they taught up a little Italian and I begged them to adopt me.  

Let's take a second and talk about the food.  No, actually I take that back.  I can't talk about the food because there are no words.  Every single thing I ate was crazy good.  Even the bad stuff was good.  The pasta, the bread, cheese, wine, gelato and even the fruit was amazing.  

We spent the next few days wandering around Cinque Terre and sitting around the beach.  We saw all five villages and some of them twice.  At times, I just pretended I lived there and for three whole days I felt like I did.   We spent much of the weekend hopping from cafe to cafe, sipping on wine and cappuccinos until sundown, then doing it all over again the next day.  There was a lot of walking, but there was equally as much kicking our feet up.  

So, yeah, I'm still a little bit there.  And I think in a way, I'll always be a little bit there.

Apr 27, 2014

Summer Book Challenge!

I've said it before…I love Megan's book challenges!  So what if I never finish them.  I love participating and making my list.  This list is not set in stone, but I'm going to give it a shot!  Now that I'm over my book slump.  If you haven't participated, you totally should.

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around.

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore.

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it.

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.

15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge.
— TBD :)  But I've really been wanting to read Cinder…so you know…if someone could work that into their challenge…that'd be great. 

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title.

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014.

25 points: Read a book written by a blogger.


25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.


30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles.


So, what do you think?  Have you read any of these?  Which ones would you recommend I tackle first?

Who are you as a writer?

Last week, I shared my goals of being a blogger who writes, and I very much appreciate the feedback from that post.  I was so glad to see how many people "got" what I was trying to convey.  I will try to word this post to avoid sounding redundant.

This week, my course requires me to answer the question, "Who are you as a writer?"

Who am I as a writer? 

The irony of being a creative writing student is wrapped up in this one little question.  To already be someone that you are being trained to be.  To bring so much of myself into a craft I'm trying to sell.  Essentially, to sell myself.

I have poured over this blog post all week, trying to find the words to this impossible question.  Because it is so much different than saying, "who are you as a pilot?" or "who are you as a waitress?"  This isn't a punch-the-clock job.  It is all encompassing and there really isn't a "writer hat" that I can put on and take off.  The same goes for blogging.

But at the same time, it is more than just genre and style.

So, who am I as a writer?

Well, I hope that everything you see under this URL answers that question.  I hope that over these past three years I have conveyed exactly the same person you will see for the next three years, after publishing and becoming ridiculously famous.  I hope you know me well enough to know that that was a joke.

I guess that what I'm trying to say is that who I am as a writer is just me.  Just me, but writing books that hopefully you read and love.

In favor of answering questions articulately, I guess I could say, I will be equal parts professional and casual.  I'll be a public and slightly outspoken advocate of the benefits of reading.  I will be honest and engaging on social media vehicles like Instagram and Twitter so that you can see the person behind the veil.  I will remain in the same readership of the books that I write, always reading, loving and being slightly fanatical about the young adult genre.

Apr 8, 2014

Book Review: The Here and Now

The Here and Now
by Ann Brashares
Delacourte Press
Release date: April 8, 2014

Goodreads / Amazon

Everyone should be aware of my fascination with Brashares' previous novel, My Name is Memory.  Full disclosure: I didn't read The Traveling Pants series.  I only know Brashares for that one heart-wrenching, mind-melding, haunt-me-for-weeks novel.  When I received the invitation to read the ARC for The Here and Now, I was all over it.

First thing's first.  Quick synopsis.
The Here and Now is about Prenna, a young girl from a plagued-ridden future who emigrates to 2010 with a colony of survivors.  They are free and safe in the present-day world, but are forced to live by a certain set of strict rules, to include forbidden relations with time natives.  Well of course, charming and adorable Ethan enters the picture.  Then, a cool mystery involving a death to be prevented and a world to save. Insta-conflict.

My thoughts:
The Here and Now is quick paced.  Not in the action sense but in the "cut straight to the chase" sense.  It's not as epic and drawn out as the other Brashares novel I read, but I'll stop the comparing here (maybe).  It didn't take me long to get into the novel or feel attached to the characters, especially Ethan.  There was not a lot of complicated world-building or background.  The story begins on page one, and I loved that.  It was un-put-down-able.

If you are a time-travel fan, as am I, you will love this fresh perspective.  This time-travel takes place in the past (future?), and the novel is really about the consequences of their travel.  They, of course, try to stop things that haven't happened yet and avoid things that never happen from happening, and it has that always-lovable mind-twist ingredient of the genre.

If I had any complaint about this book, it's that I want more.  I want the story to be a bit deeper and a bit longer. And I want our dear friend Ann to try to write an ending that doesn't leave her readers from shaking, weeping and screaming.  Too much to ask?

You'll like this book if you enjoy:
Young Adult

Apr 6, 2014

A Blogger who Writes Books

I came to a realization recently.  I'm enrolled in a course right now (my last one!) that helps us to explore platform,  marketing, and identity.  I find myself talking a lot about blogging in this course, quite annoyingly I suspect.  I talk about how blogging has put me on the track to writing.  How blogging has helped me to network with other writers, reviewers and book lovers.  How blogging is so important to me.

The realization that came to me was this: I want to be a blogger who writes books, not just a writer with a blog.

If you don't see the distinction there, let me explain.  Many (or all) writers create a blog for platform.  They post book news, bios, and whatever else the universe demands.  It's a great tool to give readers a place to "find" that writer.  It becomes his/her virtual office.  They'll draw in some followers, make a few friends, but the main purpose of the blog is to market and be present.

I don't do this to market, I do it because I'm a blogger.  Yes, I'm trying to become a published author, but I'll still be a blogger.  I'll still want to post Top Ten Tuesdays and Book Chats and check my Bloglovin' obsessively.  I'll still be me.

When I embarked on this career, I considered doing away with The Tangerine.  I considered throwing it all out and starting new with just an author's website.  I thought authors had to be professional, not personal.  I thought I couldn't post our family's travels, my own reviews, link-ups or pictures of the boys.  But times have changed.

These paths have been paved by blogger/authors before me: Amanda Hocking, Jenni Lawson, Jeff Goins, and many, many more.  These days you can follow your favorite authors on Instagram and Vine and get glimpses into their regular, boring lives complete with cat pics and baby giggle videos.  The walls that authors used to once hide behind are now coming down.

I like to think that I'll kill two birds with one stone.  If blogging helps me to create an online presence and I can just keep doing what I've been doing for three years, then I'm set.  If hanging out with you guys is part of the job, I don't know how I could complain.  But I won't sell out.  I won't turn this space into a campaign.  I won't even change the name.

So, if you are a writer who has created a blog for platform alone, I hope you find the love for blogging that I have.  There is so much to be gained from having this space, one to call your own, to publish whatever you want and to see your writing evolve and grow. I hope you see yourself in your own published words.  I hope you find the blogger in you.

Mar 10, 2014

Alpine Weekend

If you follow me on Instagram (@sweetgreent), then you've noticed that we had ourselves a sweet little alpine excursion this weekend.  I booked this weekend out of sheer frustration with our lack of traveling.  In short, we just needed away.  The trip was free of complications thanks to the BE-autiful Military Lodge the have down in Garmisch, at the base of the German alps.  As an added bonus, some friends of ours we rarely get to see happened to be staying there at the same time.  Perfection.

Okay, take a moment away from my rambling to feast your eyes…then, I'll explain it all.

Gorgeous, right?
We basically spent 48 hours in all of that, and it was perfect. We spent Saturday hiking up to some castle ruins.  We rested at the top for a cold brew and a snack, then made our way back down.  Here's the thing about hiking.  In my opinion, there is just nothing not to love about being outdoors and walking through the woods on a  beautiful day.  To just be outside, you're not thinking about emails, deadlines, homework, the gym or money.  It's my reset button.  It really is the most freeing feeling I can find and I would do it everyday if everyday were like this.
Sunday, we took a cable car to the top of one of the mountains in the area.  To give you perspective, this was one of the "small mountains" we were on.  But check out that view.  Heaven on earth right there.

As much as I didn't want to return to real life, I was also feeling so refreshed and ready for the week that Monday morning actually felt great.  Here's to a beautiful week, friends.