Nov 27, 2012

My Favorite Things ... Yep, It's a Monday!

The turkey is masacred. The stuffing ... stuffed and the only thing that remains of the mouth-watering, button-busting, amazeball Pecan Pie is the little tiny flakes of pie crust that even a mouse won't bother with!
Thanksgiving is over and that leads me to the MOST. FAVORITE. Time of the year!!!

I love Christmas and I love the holiday spirit.  I love that New York is like a giant snow globe waiting to shook. The people are friendly and the Rockefellar Tree is getting ready to be lit!


I have my mom to thank for this passion!

So the top 10 reasons why I am such a child at Christmas time:

10. Shrinky Dinks and Easy Bake Ovens!
9.  Footed pajamas.
8. Giant Sized Trees inside the house after your parents have told you to, "Please leave nature outside."
7. Fudge and Divinity and Egg Nog and Pecan Pies and endless sugar highs!
6. The need for scarfs with your flip-flops in Los Angeles
5. Christmas Carols that, past the first verse, NO ONE can remember the words to.
4. The awe in a child's eye when they see Santa in a Christmas parade.
3. Perfect Presents.
2. Family and Friends.
and the number 1 reason why I'm such a child at Christmas...
60's and 70's CLAYMATION SPECIALS!!!!!

Nov 8, 2012

A post 9 years in the making.

Today, I'm going back. Not waaaay back, but back 9 years.  

If you follow me on twitter, which I think you TOTALLY should (shameless plug), I’m about to unmask one of the infamous Ruiz mini-mes that grace my feed.

Twelve years ago, I fought a battle that I wish on no one. I fought cancer. And I won (knock on wood, Thank You, God.) Part of my fight was with the help of radical, experimental chemotherapy mixed together into a potent and potentially deadly chemo cocktail. There were no fancy umbrellas with this cocktail and the side effects were potentially devastating. My dream to be a mommy may have been just that … a dream.

Almost a year after we finished chemo, my oncologist, the ever brilliant and uber amazing Dr. Chawla, said we could start trying to have children. A couple of months later, we got pregnant! The high of being able to get pregnant met with a soul crushing miscarriage on Christmas day. I thought for sure it was because of the chemo. I thought certainly this was going to be how Mark and I spent the next few years.
My brother, Patric, disagreed.
He said, “Mindy, he’s just not perfect yet and he’s stubborn. He’ll get it the second time around.”

I’m not sure how Patric knew the baby was a he.

I’m not sure how Patric knew we would try again, because, at the time, I was certain I couldn’t go through the loss again.

But three months and two pink lines later we were, surprisingly, pregnant.

I held my breath for ten weeks!

And then took only short quick breaths for the remaining thirty weeks.

On November 8th, 2003. Jacob Anthony Ruiz was born.

And just as his Uncle Patric had promised, he was PERFECT!!!

He still is.

He has the tender soul of his Grandpa Doc.

The righteousness of his Daddy.

The adventurous spirit of his Uncle Patric.

The best hugs ever like his Granny Bea.

The persistence of his Granny Carol.

The wiliness of his Uncle Daniel and Uncle Maty

The LOVE for the USC Trojans like his Uncle Josh and Aunt Kat

And he has my smile and imagination.

Happy Birthday, Jacob.

Love, your Momma!

Jul 10, 2012

"You Can Do It!"

This past weekend, Myra McEntire gave a speech at the first annual UtopYA conference.  If you weren't there, Myra posted her keynote on her site.  Click here to read it.  Did you read it?  Seriously, click here and read it ... I'll wait.

Didn't you love the video?!
For those of you who didn't click when I told you to, I'll share it with you.

Love, yes?
Now raise your hand if you didn't dribble a tear or two.  In my case, the faucet was open and ready to pour.
You can do it. 
So simple.
You can do it.

Now go read the keynote... You can do it. Just click here

Jul 9, 2012

Just another Monday. The kind where I kind of strip naked...

Me … naked.
It’s not a pretty thing, but that’s what I did today.  Ripped off all my perfectly plotted clothes and stood there stark naked. 
I hit the send button.
And now, I’m standing there … like this.

It’s only been a couple hours and already I’m looking over my shoulder.
Wondering if anybody’s watching? 
Who’s pointing? 
Praying no one is laughing.
But honestly, I’ve seen myself naked.  Bad commas, dangling participles … the kind that could use a good nip there, maybe a tuck over here.  You know, the Secrets Victoria can’t even hide.  And that modifier!  Good lord it’s a good thing I’ve got a personality to go with that sucker. 
Still naked, probably will be so for the next sixty days.
That’s what the website said.
And I’m okay with that.
I mean what’s the worst that could happen.  A nice lady hands me back my sub-plot with a “not my cup of tea” grin?   Maybe I’d get a parting scone. 
Who am I kidding!
I’m freakin’ naked!
*deep breath*
*hums I’m Sexy and I Know It.*
Wish me luck…
I’ll be reading this awesome keynote by MyraMcEntire.
I won’t be hard to miss ...  I’m the naked one.   

May 17, 2012

The Caterpillar and The Six Year Old. Hankies ready?

It’s not very easy explaining Heaven and death to a six-year-old.  We’ve been blessed not to have the need for this conversation for some time.  So, you can imagine my surprise yesterday morning when my six-year-old mini-me decided the ride to school would be the perfect time and place.  He wanted to confirm his Grandpa Doc and Grandpa Pete were in Heaven.  Both men solidly believed in the Lord. 

“Yes, baby.”  I eyed his reaction in the rear view mirror.  His brows furrowed up with thought for a moment just before his eyes found mine in the mirror.

“Are they like butterflies?”

“How do you mean?”

“In my class we are studying butterflies.”

“Yes, you showed me their cocoons-“

“Chrysalises, mom.  They’re called chrysalises.”  He quickly corrected me.  “And yesterday three butterflies emerged.” 

“I remember!”  The proud smile pulled at my heart because yes, this is exactly how my six-year-old talks.  He loves big words and now big concepts. 

“So, mom, are our bodies like a chrysalis? “

“How do you mean.”  I searched for the nearest shoulder in the road.  Things were about to get heavy.  Six-year-old mini-me wears every emotion he has on his sleeve and in his big look-at-the-wonder-of-the-world eyes.  If he wanted to talk death, then there was no way to steer him around it because he’d been contemplating this conversation for weeks.  And I couldn’t find a place to pull over.

“I think that we are like the caterpillars.  And we live our lives and then, when we die, we go into a chrysalis.”

“I never-“

“Actually, mom. I’m not done.”  His dimpled smile made the cut much easier.  “You know how the butterfly emerges?”

I nod and get another dimpled grin.

“I think that’s how it is.”

“How what is?”

“When we become angels.  We leave the chrysalis and the people who are still caterpillars bury our body, but who we are is now  free ... flying like a butterfly.  Like an angel.”

I still can’t find a place to pull over and, now, I really need to because I can’t see the road through the tears in my eyes.  How precious. How simple.  How utterly right he is.  It doesn’t make death any easier, but to a six year old, and now his mom… we won’t ever look at a butterfly the same way.

He quickly moved on to the newest Lego Ninjago figure he’d like to “acquire” for his collection, he is still only six and I’ll be cherishing his pure thoughts for as long he shares them with me.

May 16, 2012

Wordsmith Wednesday #4

The objective:

Show us a scene from your current project. It can be creepy, adventurous, romantic, etc. Just a snippet to let readers see what they're in for!

The guidelines:

* Must be from a current work-in-progress (WIP). Nothing already published.
* You may choose from any section of the manuscript, but be mindful not to include spoilers.
* Keep it clean and YA audience friendly, please. No erotica.
* Stay under 300 words or about one page. It can be as little as a few lines if you prefer. We just want to give readers a chance to see everyone's selection.
* Link back to Chirenjenzie so we can enjoy others' work as well!
* Include the guidelines in your post.

I've been polishing up the past few weeks and this is one of those moments that I've been working on to get that roller-coaster wheeeee feeling in your stomach.
I hope you all enjoy this snippet
“I think he’s rethinking that error in judgment.”       
            “No,” I looked over my shoulder and found Crystal stomping her foot while Justin stared at Alec and me.  “He just wants what he can’t have anymore.” 
         “Practical.”  I looked back into Alec’s eyes.
         “So you’re a practical girl?”  There was a long pause and I knew that wasn’t the question he wanted me to answer.   Alec leaned forward, his lips a breath of space from ear.  “And what do you want, Cassandra?”
         My heart stuttered again as the double meaning hung in the air, pulsed with bass of the music…and my faltering heart.  Alec pulled back, his crystal blue eyes searched for an answer that I didn’t want to give, because, really, what I wanted at this moment in time was…

May 7, 2012

Birds, Worms, The Vidalia Chopper and Me.

Burning the midnight oil and grabbing that early worm are really kicking my butt! The purplish smudges under my eyes are my only reward, right now. 

Flat tush, round belly, jiggly arms, laundry piles, dust bunnies.  Just a small list of my “accomplishments,” right now. 

Imaginary friends, crazy worlds, reality and fantasy living harmoniously. Rough edges, smoothing; holes, filling; lines, tightening. It’s all coming together.

Eminem, Natasha Bedingfield, and, yes, sometimes Neil Diamond. 

The Vidalia Chopper, make-ahead meals, Post-It notes, correction tape, and my iPhone.
“Saucing the taco.” Eldest of five,  only girl, crazy head shakes and lots of these !!!!!!!!!

Friends with great news, Friends with amazing sales, Friends who understand this *head ca-thunk*
Friends with grown-up girl’s gone crazy alcohol nights (that just means two drinks), friends with O-type blood, friends who make pictures and paper fun.

Warm looks, 123’s, proud of my wife comments, “Best. Book. Ever … I want to play this part.”
Sleepy babies, the snuggle shuffle at two in the morning, I love you, mommy-ies that are only out shined by the occasional, “I’m proud of you, mommy”. 

My favorite things.
And one day, I hope they’re as proud of me as I am of them.

Apr 27, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Norris, author of UNRAVELING!

It’s been a crazy spring break herding mini-mes and stink-eyeing bathing suits, so I thought I‘d head back to the writing cave for another edition of WRITING CAVE CAMP OUT!!!!

I want to welcome to the “cave” (aka my writing room and only clean space in the house) former So Cal, San Diego girl now a NYC pro, Elizabeth Norris!!!!!!
I just finished reading her debut YA novel, UNRAVELING! And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, well, the only thing that should have stopped you from snatching up this awesomeness were a pack of mini-mes that got crazy with the duct tape and strapped you to the dining room chair… not that I know that from personal experience …

Here’s the low down on UNRAVELING:

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
      But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve.   While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

This is a shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

So without further adieu, please welcome to the campfire ELIZABETH NORRIS!!!!!

I’m gonna just get the East Coast vs. West Coast thing out of the way and ask: where is your most favorite place on earth? *wink-nod* *c’mon So Cal!*
That’s tough. There are so many places that I’ve been and really loved.  I would say right now that out of anywhere I’ve ever been, I love Manhattan most. I love that I can walk anywhere I need to, and that there are so many wonderful people and so many interesting things to see.  It’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.
Given the $4.00 a gallon price tag on gas in Mission Beach, I’ve gotta admit, walking options ... they're a plus.  And, you do have Max’s amazing *cash only* Italian restaurant, Rock ‘n New Year’s Eve and Broadway … okay, Manhattan is a solid place to live.  Manhattan is also a lot closer to Bangor, Maine --where one of my all-time favorite author’s, Stephen King.
Speaking of Mr. King, Stephen, —because once you've scared someone to the point of being afraid of the dark, you’re on a first name basis— he once said, “Fiction is a lie. The good fiction is the truth inside the lie.”  In UNRAVELING, is there a character, a scene, a look that came from a real life moment?

Yes. The emotion in certain scenes comes straight from a few real life moments. Janelle’s feelings for Ben are almost exactly how I had been feeling about my relationship at the time, and there are a few conversations between Ben and Janelle that are strikingly similar to conversations I remember having.

I like to call it deja vu in print or closure, depending on which ex-boyfriend you’re vilifying. 
Was there a scene in UNRAVELING that was the hardest to write?
Someone close to Janelle dies in the middle of the book. The scenes after that were incredibly hard for me to right. She was devastated, and I really wanted to make sure that showed, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to be too excessive. And the plot had to keep moving forward. It was also really emotional for me to write. I teared up a number of times while I was writing it.

I teared up, nay, sobbed with snot bubbles at the end of UNRAVELING.  I’m absolutely NOT going to spoil the ending, but girlfriend, holy blankets!  Please, tell me there’s a book two and, if you don’t want bodily harm by way of gummy bears, I’ll need a hint about the storyline! 

The sequel is called Unbreakable and it will be out in 2013. It starts four months after the end of Unraveling and Janelle gets swept up in a new case. We get to see more of Ben, Barclay, Cecily, and Janelle.

Ben *sigh-swoon*!  It’s gotta be the beach sunsets that get me every time.  Being from the land of amazing sunsets and beach blanket bingo,  what is the best girly hopeless romantic scene in a movie that makes you audibly sigh and simultaneously envy tilt your head?
Yes, that sappy.
For me, of course it's a John Hughes movie. The scene in SIXTEEN CANDLES when Jake shows up at church and points to Samantha and says, “Yeah, you!” … I just sighed, again. 

The scene in THE NOTEBOOK where Allie goes to visit Noah, and she’s wearing that blue dress. They talk and catch up and take a boat out on the lake, and it starts to rain, and they argue and then have that wonderful kiss everyone has been waiting for.

Those wonderful kiss moments always get me too.  When I was a kid, my mom told me to stop kissing the T.V. every time Danny Zuko from GREASE came on.  Please don’t let me be the only one to share an embarrassing childhood/teen celebrity crush. 

Leonardo DiCaprio, first from ROMEO AND JULIET and then from TITANIC. I was all about him.

Thank you, Leo!!! Always dying for his woman!  Before we embarrass ourselves anyfurther let’s play the speed round.

Ready. Set. Go!  
                 black or white?

                dog or cat?

               cake or cookies?

                coffee or soda?

                naughty or nice?
                cup ½ full or ½ empty?
               summer or winter?
               favorite g-rated swear word?
               I hardly ever swore until I became a teacher, and then being around high school students who swore all the time, I picked up on a lot of it. Now I’m not sure any of my swear words are g rated.
Okay, I’ll give you the last one as a bye and loan you my HOLY BLANKETS curse word.

I’m not sure if you could tell, but it’s Friday night camp out downstairs for the husband and the  mini-mes, this means I can totally sneak ANYONE in for the Writing Cave Part-ay!  

                Who would come?
                 The cast of Game of Thrones

                Which is just perfect. What would they bring?
                 Stuff to make s’mores

                Hold on!  They’d have to bring the dragons to roast the s’mores, because that would be Aaaaaa-WESOME!!!! Sorry, what junk food must we have?      
                  Tortilla chips and guacamole
Game of Thrones cast, with their dragons roasting s’mores and gorging ourselves on tortilla chips and guacamole?!  That’s my kind of camp out!!!!

We’re about out of time, I hear tiny footsteps climbing the stairs.  Let me ask you two last questions.  What is the best advice you would pass along to up and coming writers?
Write because you love it and don’t ever stop. There are a lot of highs and lows when you write a book and a lot more on the road to publication. I had to learn to savor the highs and let the lows roll off my back.  

And finally, once we’ve devoured UNRAVELING, What two books would you recommend to your readers?

I recently read and loved BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood and SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.

Elizabeth, thank you soo much for stopping by the Writing Cave.
Be sure to follow Elizabeth on Twitter, and Facebook
I'm also going to be giving away two, -- YES, TWO!!!!!-- copies of UNRAVELING!
Fill out the rafflecopter questions and away you go. Contest ends May 1, 2012 and US lovelies only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway I'm going to walk Elizabeth out, but in the mean time, I'll leave you with the UNRAVELING trailer. Also, be sure to click the UNRAVELING banner to your right for tomorrow's stop on the tour, Literary Explorations!

Apr 25, 2012

Wordsmith Wednesday Teaser #2

Welcome one and all to the next greatest meme on the face of the planet! Well, at least to us! :-) It started as the brain child of the great Hope Collier. Thanks, Izzie, for such a great idea!

The objective:

Show us a scene from your current project. It can be creepy, adventurous, romantic, etc. Just a snippet to let readers see what they're in for!

The guidelines:

* Must be from a current work-in-progress (WIP). Nothing already published.
* You may choose from any section of the manuscript, but be mindful not to include spoilers.
* Keep it clean and YA audience friendly, please. No erotica.
* Stay under 300 words or about one page. It can be as little as a few lines if you prefer. We just want to give readers a chance to see everyone's selection.
* Link back to Chirenjenzie so we can enjoy others' work as well!
* Include the guidelines in your post.

Please leave a comment with a link to your Wordsmith Wednesday so we can hop on over to your site!
My eyelids flew wide open, searing white rays of sun and betrayal blinded me.  The soft lapping sounds of the lake beat up against the side of the boat, drowning out my friend’s giggles of freedom, but only amplifying my boyfriend’s ringing phone.   Alec’s eyes shot to the bow of the pontoon, to me, widening with guilt when he met my glare. 
He’d promised me. One day.  That’s all I’d asked.

“You brought. Your phone. On the boat?”  Olivia’s arms planted firmly on her hips, like she was the girlfriend he’d broken another promise to.
Alec’s expression softened with yet another apology then grew hard when mine didn’t accept. 

“Yes,” He said to me, then shot a warning look at Olivia.  “Some of us still have to work.” Alec snatched his backpack from the back bench, pulled out his phone from the easy access front pocket, and read the screen.  Not like we didn’t all know who was looking for him …  then man who still wanted me dead.
His grandfather.

Apr 19, 2012

Wednesday Repeat!

My friends over at Chirenjenzie are having some fun on Wednesdays with

I'm running about a day behind mentally and about two weeks behind physically so, with Beth's permission, I'm posting my WW on Thursday.
Here are the guidelines:

Show us a scene from your current project. It can be creepy, adventurous, romantic, etc. Just a snippet to let readers see what they're in for!

The guidelines:

* Must be from a current work-in-progress (WIP). Nothing already published.
* You may choose from any section of the manuscript, but be mindful not to include spoilers.
* Keep it clean and YA audience friendly, please. No erotica.
* Stay under 300 words or about one page. It can be as little as a few lines if you prefer. We just want to give readers a chance to see everyone's selection.
* Link back to Chirenjenzie so we can enjoy others' work as well!
* Include the guidelines in your post.
This is a small somethin'-somethin' snippet from my ENCHANTED HEART series ... book 2.
(it's really, really, really rough so squint a little ... maybe a lot.)

I knew Alec wouldn’t find me here.  Country music and honky-tonk bars seemed to be the only place he wasn’t these days… and that was okay by me.
“Want a beer?”  a husky voice asked, sending every nerve in my body into spasms. 
All of my friends may have been underage, but we were royalty.
Alec may have been high enough on the patrol to not have to step foot in a country bar, but Beaux, Beaux was everything Alec wasn’t and tonight … that seemed to be exactly what I needed.
“Do you want a beer?”  Beaux asked again, irritation picked at the edge of his words.  
My nose wrinkled with disgust as I stole a quick glance over my shoulder.  
“Figured.”  The newly scabbed cut over his eye pulled as a chuckle died in his throat. 
I spun on the stool and stretched my arms across a small portion of bar.  For some reason, it felt right and that was why it was all so wrong.
 “They don’t sell umbrella drinks here, so…” his eyes searched mine looking for the balk, “I’ll order you a coke.  Diet?”  His eyebrows pulled up like he had me all figured out.
“What’s that?”  I pointed to the dark amber liquid he held in a shot glass.   A daredevil grin pulled at the corners of his lips.
“You can’t handle this.”
“Try me.”
“Already did.”
The double meaning pushed my wannabe bravado into action and I snagged the glass from his hand and tossed it down my throat. My eyes flew wide open, then pinched together as the alcohol seared a path to my stomach.  
“What else you wanna prove me wrong about tonight?”
The burning sensation in my belly warmed and it had nothing to do with the toxic liquid.   I handed him back the shot glass and a bring-it-on smile.  His eyes held mine, tempting, daring, as he pushed the shot glass back to the bar keep.
“Well pour us another round.” Beaux dipped his white cowboy hat at me.
Challenge accepted.

Apr 17, 2012

Spring Break...

In an attempt to further test my sanity, the minis two separate school districts decided that back-to-back Spring Breaks could just send me over the edge or get me ready for summer break.
I'm going to dive back into the week two of Ruiz Minis Gone Wild and leave you with this latest SNL Skit.
For all those who live in California, THE CALIFORNIANS skit may have hit a little too close to home.  Because, I really did know all those short cuts.
For all those who don't live in California, sadly, we could really slip into this skit seamlessly.

Apr 5, 2012

Lie, Lie, Lie, Lieeees! There gonna getchya!


Remember this song?

The Thompson Twins!

The mini-mes are quite the gifted storytellers!
They must get it from their momma, who started at a VERY young age spinning tales.
As the Minis started their journey into storytelling,
I didn't want to repeat my dad's mistake/doctrine:
"If it's not the truth then it's a lie!"
If the Minis had a story inside them, I wanted to hear it. At the same time, I didn't want them to think it was okay to tell a tale and let someone think it was real.
So we came up with a trigger statement.
Before any spinning begins, the phrase: THIS IS MY IMAGINATION STORY, must be proclaimed.
Of course, there are times when they forget to use the trigger statement. It usually takes about five or ten minutes or the arrival of a purple dragon to clue me in, but I ask, "Is this an imagination story?"
And I usually get an impish grin or nod of the head.
I saw this picture online: .

So here's the question:
What was the first/grandest or most believable lie you ever told or were told?
If it's a doozy, leave it in the comment section!

Apr 3, 2012

Eminem, My Mom and Your Characters.

My mom said, "Mindy, you can do anything you set your mind to." 
Funny thing is, she never told me how to set my mind.
I know how to set my character's minds.
Theme songs.
Seems like, these days, before anyone sits down to put their words on paper, they’ve created a playlist for their novel. 
And each character has their own theme song.  
I’m no different. 
I’m plotting a new story and one of the first things I did was pay a quick visit to iTunes, YouTube, and Pandora’s shuffle list.  I surfed through songs until just the right one smacked me between the eyes! 

Why do we do this? 
My answer is simple: It gets me into character. 
All the angst and raw emotion that I need to convey from my brain to my fingers seems to be “juiced up” when I start my writing process with my character's theme song. 
Of course, it got me thinking:  If music can get my brain , and countless others, into character mode, how many other writers have picked out a theme song for themselves?  
And I’m not talking the traditional Natasha Bedingfield: UNWRITTEN. 
I’m talking about the, gut wrenching, this is why I write, theme song that fires you up, brings you to tears and makes you look at the empty page of white and say:
 “BRING IT ON, Bitches!!!” 

Fired up, right? 
So why don't we do this for ourselves? 
My theme song comes from the most unlikely place you could imagine. 
Me, Mindy Ruiz, mom to four boys, woman whose curse repertoire is filled with gems like: “Son of a Blanket” and “Ah, spoons!”, found her theme song in Eminem’s: LOSE YOURSELF! 

I have NOTHING in common with this man.
I grew up in a middle class suburb, clay-tile roof over my head, two dysfunctional parents, no baby-daddy.  Yet, in Eminem's words, I find the guttural roar I need every time I sit down and the cursor is flashing: “YOU SUCK, Mindy!” 
I write with the passion that this is my one shot.
I’ve only got one chance to impress my dream agent.
There is only one moment to seize everything I wanted and I’m not going to let it pass through my fingers!   
My trailer, my 'hood', is a nine to five job that sucks my very essence from my soul; steals my time from my husband and children, trading it for dollars that won't mean a thing once my gas tank is filled; and leaves me at the end of the day determined to tell the stories clawing at my insides! 

And isn’t that how each of should be writing?
And how would that passion translate to your characters?
And how do you think that need to produce would resonate with a prospective agent/editor/reader?

Don’t you owe it to yourself to start every moment of writing with the passion that this is that moment.
The one second in time that could change the course of your life. 
But that's what we're writing!
Drama and believable, fantastic moments that make our readers suspend their reality, for just a few more pages, until those pages end and our readers scream:

What's your theme song?
How will it change your day?
How will it change your writing?
What will you say if that one moment, that one opportunity, slips you by and you weren't ready?
For me, it's not an option ... and I guess I have Eminem and my mom to thank.

Apr 2, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday... COUNTDOWNS TO AWESOMENESS!!!

Here are a few of my favorite books that are counting down to HOLY COW CAN'T WAIT TO READ awesomeness!!!

SPECTRAL by Shannon Duffy

UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth (Book #2)

TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire (Book #2)

INBETWEEN by Tara Fuller

DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine


What books are you looking forward to this summer?

Mar 21, 2012

New Meat & Shiny New Project!

I find it fitting that I grew up a real estate brat.  One of the things my momma always said when I was a Realtor was, “Go find some new meat to chew on!” 
Aside from being crazy cannibalistic because the new meat was code for a new client, she was right!
Have you ever had an amazing piece of steak and about the fifteenth chew go round you’re kind of done with that piece and readying another bite on your fork?  *non-meat-eaters insert something like meat* 
Of course, the next bite up is just as amazing as the bite that’s sliding down your throat until chew fourteen or fifteen.
What if you went to a restaurant and were served one bite of meat at an extremely outrageous price with some sort of fancy kale to fill in the vast amount of plate real estate?  Ya’d chew that sucker till it all but disappeared on your tongue. AND you’d walk away from the experience just kind of deflated, cranky and looking for an In –N-Out burger (no In-N-Outs?  Pleeeease haul your toosh to Cali!) 
Real Estate is a lot like eating meat and therefore a lot like writing books. 
Hold on, bear with me, cuz it sooo is! 
I wasn’t a very patient realtor, mainly because people want to look at more than one house and they kind of act Craaaaazy when they’re in escrow.  I had one client who looked at fifty-two houses before she found one she would consider and then canceled the escrow because of the bird’s flight pattern over said house.  I kid you not!  My mother had a client cancel an escrow because the cat said, ‘No!’  I don’t know how the owner figured out that one, but God’s honest truth, the freakin’ feline said NO! 
Chew, chew, chew = get a new client, get a new client, get a new client!
I’ve been working on a project for-EVER!!! And it’s a great project but I feel like I’ve been chewing the same piece of meat for two years!  I’m ready for that cued up bite/shiny new project sitting on my fork/hard drive to start making its way up to my mouth/putting words on paper!!!
Chew, chew, chew = start new project, start new project, start new project.
So what’s the point to this pretty little post?

      1.       It is entirely possible to over chew your WIP.

2.       Trust your beta’s and critique partners.

3.       Make sure you give yourself time to dream about your SNP!

4.       Don’t procrastinate with your edits!!! It’s like stopping mid-chew and keeping that glob of meat in your cheek!

5.       The next adventure is always as much fun as the one you’re afraid to let go of.

Mar 19, 2012

My Favorite Things ... It's a Monday!

I have TWO favorite things this week!!!
Yes! Two!
It's my birthday tomorrow and I consider it one of my perks of turning f-f-forty to, ya know, have two.
So, obviously I'm embracing my new decade like any woman would, kickin' and  screaming gracefully and well poised like two of my most favorite literary characters: Emerson Cole and Sophie Mercer.
If you haven't eaves dropped read their hijacked posts over at Myra McEntire's blog, YOU MUST!!!
And you'll see WHY these two girls are helping me ease into my forties!
I may have to say "forty" a few more times this post before the gasp and need to fold into the fetal position subsides. 
Inner Never Grow Up Teen.
Back on track.
Emerson & Sophie:
Emerson can time travel.  How cool is that! And how freakin' convenient given tomorrow's, um, big day.  If you could, would you time travel to change history?  What if it would upset the whole space time continuum thing-y.
Sophie is a witch and not the kind that rhymes with 'B'.  Sophie also has some pretty amazing parents that reunite in SPELL BOUND.  And, she has an Archer. Trust me, you sooooo want an Archer in your life.
My two favorite things this Monday, besides turning forty (one more, I may have one more in me.) are Sophie Mercer witch star extraordinaire of the HEX HALL Series and Emerson Cole, the girl who probably time traveled to the future and already knows what I'm going to be giving away, star of the HOURGLASS Series!
What's a pre-party with out favors?
Enter to win:



Feb 27, 2012

Writing With Reckless Abandon!

If you’re like me, always in the back of my head, there is a tiny little voice saying:
“Is this like so and so?”
“Is this too far over the top?”
“Is this publishable?” 
What if for one moment we could write like this:

Now, in the blocks, this runner looks like everyone else. He starts like everyone else, but after the second hurdle, we KNOW he’s not like everyone else.
I’m sure he’s probably having a bad day.
I mean, really, hurdles?
I can barely walk down the stairs without falling headfirst and bouncing down the suckers. Props to hurdle thrower for even being able to squat in the same blocks with the others.   
What I really like is that by hurdle number four, well, we all know he’s NOT gonna win this race so why not finish with a bang. 
Queue the hurdle toss. 
He finished, he took his teammate out with him, but who needs a medal when you’ve got a gazillion views on YouTube? 
I’m sure hurdle thrower didn’t start the morning saying: “I think I’ll just try running through the hurdles.”
He probably woke up thinking he had a decent shot at winning.
A great shot at conforming.  Just look at those snazzy red shorts if you think different.
But come along hurdle number four, when it’s obvious he’s not conforming, he’s not ‘winning’, HT has a choice:  Finish his way or don’t finish. 
I’m not saying if you know your WIP is a pile of shredded hurdles you should rush out and query it, but what I am saying is don’t be afraid to throw few hurdle rules around. 
Write for the passion, not for the commercial success. 
Write the story the way it NEEDS to be told, not the way that is gonna be easy. 
Vampires never sparkled before Stephenie Meyers.
Wizards never played cribbage before J.K. Rowling
And hurdlers never ran like that before. 

Feb 24, 2012

How Plants Can Help Your Writing! They can... I promise...

I have a confession:
I’m a plant killer.
I don’t wanna be … but I am.

Every spring I buy an ungodly amount of flowers and hope, nay, pray, beg and promise to the flower gods that I will remember to water these new bulbs of life.  Sadly, without fail, I kill them three or four weeks later.  I over water them, under water them, forget to water them and ,only once, accidently water them with sudsy water. 
I promise.
My reign of flower carnage was so epic, the eldest mini-me asked the granny, aka my mom, if she could come over and plant the flowers because, “Mommy’s flowers always die…"
"I think all flowers are afraid of mommy.” 
Fruit of my womb right there!  Turned traitor on me for a few petals of pink and chocolate chip cookie.  
So why would this spring be any different?
Because, the flowers I bought last year for my writing room are still BLOOMING!!!!!
I have three plants.  Yes, THREE PLANTS that have survived the curse of my brown thumb and declared an end to the rein of houseplant terror that has plagued me for YEARS….
I spend soooo much time in my writing room.  Sometimes there’s just the mad click of fingers on a keyboard, but often—more frequent than I’ll ever admit— there are times where I just need a sounding board, an ear if you will, that will just sit there and take whatever I dish out. 
Let me introduce you to my cheerleaders:

This is my inspiration plant: 
When I’m feeling full of self-doubt.  This is the plant I turn to: 
It was given to me, not on Mother’s Day, put on an ordinary day by middle-me.  MM came into my room and said, “Momma, Daddy said you weren’t feeling very good so I asked him if we could buy you this.”  Hands me the plant. I weep and give the petals their initial assault of salt watering.  “I know this will make you feel better momma.” 

Now don’t laugh, but this next plant is my whipping plant.  It’s gangly and ugly and really should be shoveled somewhere!  When the WIP or revisions aren’t going as planned… well, just look at this thing! Scrawny little thing needs some love, but when I tell those beany barbs how pretty they look … we both know I’m lying. 

Finally, my OMG-holycow-how is this even existing in the same space as me- plant.

Take a minute.

This beauty’s been with me for almost THIRTEEN MONTHS!!!!!!

I named this plant HR.  This orchid is where I turn to when I think one day, just one day I may sign with the agent of my dreams.  It’s for every book I read that made my head shake in awe; for every passage I’ve written that could be as awesome as those before me.  I talk to THIS plant: 

HR sits right next to the whipping plant to remind me that every line that looked like this…
 could one day look like THIS!

I really do think every writer should have at least one plant in their writing space.  If for no other reason to hold you accountable.  It's easy to let an hour slip into a day.  A day to slip into a week. A week to... well, you know where I'm going with this.  Three very different plants on different watering schedules require my toosh to walk by my computer when I'm in a funk.  If those plants are dying... then so are my dreams of being an author and that's just not acceptable.
Now go water your WIP plant!

Feb 23, 2012

BEA-U-TIFUL Cover Reveal of DEFIANCE!!!

Prepare the edible confetti and champagne! 
The cover reveal of DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine is ....
wait for it ...
and the AMAZING C.J. is hosting a fantastic giveaway ....
This woman is quite amazing...
and I really can't wait to read her debut novel!
I don't want to steal any thunder from C.J or YABC
 so be sure to click the links and check out the loveliness!!!

Feb 13, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday! A royal, A naughty and A favorite!

Living in So. Cal, a glass slipper's throw from LA LA Land, you can only imagine how many friends I have that are aspiring singers, actors, models and/or directors.
You can also imagine how many of the "Amazing Wedding Entrance" videos I see. 
I've narrowed it down to my two favorite.
One you'll remember...

And one includes my favorite bad boy, Harry!

Feb 6, 2012

My Favorite Things = Queries ... yep, it's a Monday! Query???

Like most writers, I hate querying!
HATE. Querying.
Querying is like a giant word problem with variables like: X is to Y like cat is to? 
And the cursor on the screen blinks at you like some psychotic math teacher who KNOWS you have no idea that the answer is Mount Everest.
I hated querying.
Yep, used the past tense on that sucker.
Come closer and I’ll introduce you to the ninja master of Query letters.
First, do you solemnly swear to scream all of the awesomeness about the author from who you are about to learn?
~nod your head and eat this piece of lemon bar~
Second, do you promise to never glare at your screen when asked to write a one-page query?
~nod and put on these stilettos~
TR-uuuu-St me!
Finally, Do you  *insert pen name*  pinky promise that you will tweet, +, Facebook and all other forms of crazy social media this author’s name and book to all of those floundering, query zombified writers who aimlessly bang there head on their desk when attempting to write a query?
~nod and spin three times~
Alright. *glances suspiciously over shoulder while reaching into my Johnny Depp fan club tote bag*
Here it is:
C.J. Redwine’s, QUERY: Everything You Need to Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed. 
I was privileged enough to take C.J.’s weeklong query course of awesomeness. 

The woman takes the word problem of queries and gives you what X is, tells you why you need to have Y and –here’s the best part, after reading QUERY— you will always see why cats are equal to Mount Everest and dogs are likened to underwater basket weaving.

C.J. takes the quandary out of the Query and makes you feel confident when hitting that send button.  At the end of her weeklong class, I had a shiny query letter that I couldn't WAIT to share.
C.J.’s YA debut, DEFIANCE, comes out 8/28/12 from Balzer & Bray, so the girl has some serious success when it comes to the query question.
Still not sold?
You can follow C.J. on Twitter
And I HIGHLY recommend you follow her blog 
I’m so thrilled that C.J. put her Query class into e-book format I’ve already bought one AND I’m going to be giving away a copy of QUERY: Everything You Need to Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed. 
To enter, fill out the form below and if it isn't working, this is my first time using Rafflecopter, shoot me a comment and I'll be sure to beat  fix the problem. Sign in with your name and email so I can notify you if you're the WINNER!

And the winner is......


Stephanie, email me mindyruiz1(at)yahoo(dot)com for your Query book by C.J. Redwine!!!!

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