Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games is here!

It's here!
I'm crazy about the book. I've written about it here, here, and here.  

I haven't been this excited about a movie since Star Wars Episode I...and we all know how that turned out.  

Let's think positive thoughts and focus on the future.

Invite your friends, and...


...host a party with a little help from your online pals.

Shelterrific has an idea for a tracker jay pinata that made me laugh out loud!

Confessions of a Cookbook Queen has great food ideas clearly tied to the story. *Spoiler alert*

Shine from Yahoo has fancier recipes that look delicious and add a bit more style.

OhBrooke: The parachute-like container for her "deadly berries" is cute.


Need some tunes? Check out this article about the soundtrack.

Which district is yours?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Madness Inklings Book Giveaway: Fault Line

April is National Poetry Month.

What better way than to have the final Inkling giveaway be a book of poetry?

And not just any book of poetry. This week's giveaway is Karen Coody Coopers's Fault Line: Vulnerable Landscapes. It was a finalist for the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award and won Best Book of Poetry at Oklahoma Writers' Federation's 2011 ceremony.

If you'd like to win a copy, simply make a comment below.  If you'd like to have two entries, comment and follow my blog. 

Here is an interview with Karen:


You lead a busy life as an artist and director of the Cherokee Heritage Center. Still, you are always submitting and publishing.  What's your secret to keeping all the balls in the air? Do you have advice for those of us who are juggling?

I’m extremely motivated, but I also “waste” time doing crosswords or reading magazines. I try to remember it is valuable to have a mixture of things in life, including physical exercise. I’m old enough (65) to have learned that life is give and take (I didn’t get much creative writing accomplished in the early years of raising my children or when earning my masters degree while working). I used to get very frustrated when I wasn’t meeting personal goals (I thought I’d have a Pulitzer by now!). To find some evening and weekend time for writing, I hardly watch TV, limit how many organizations I join, limit my responsibilities (avoid being an officer or chair), minimize socializing and social media time, and try to be efficient in every thing I do. Many years passed before I had a “room of my own” for writing. Patience is valuable. If you’re not wealthy, you can’t have everything you’d like, so you have to choose what you will sacrifice and what is essential.

How do you go about finding places to submit?  Do you have favorite sources?

Poets and Writers Magazine is the best source for me right now. In the past I’ve bought those huge Writer’s Market books, but too often by the time I got around to using them they were outdated. Instead, a magazine is up to date and inspires you to try a submission quickly. I also search the Internet for markets for certain genres I’m writing. And, I look to local places and publications for opportunities.

You write about sensitive topics, including family.  Is anything off limits? How does your family react?

When my daughter was a teen in the 80s I wrote a lot about her, and she has generously allowed me to use the material. I have an aunt who is sensitive about things I write concerning my mother or grandparents, so I try to keep her concerns in my head when I’m writing or placing those works. When my parents were alive, I used stories and poetry as a way to explore our relationships and to communicate with them. We don’t have any dark secrets in our family, just the normal range of human life where we might have acted rashly and regretted and apologized for it later. The things that are not secret are situations I feel free to say what I think about them. I’m working on a memoir of my mother and how our family dealt with her having Alzheimer’s. In the memoir, I focus on how rich her life had been and focus mostly on my dilemmas in caring for my mother.

Have you always considered yourself an artist?

I always regretted that my small town high school didn’t offer art. I had no opportunity for learning to make art. My parents did take me to lots of museums and I watched a few art programs on 60s television. I entered some pastels in local fairs and won a few prizes. In the 1980s I had the opportunity to learn a rare craft called finger weaving and I have mastered it. I occasionally do a concept art piece. My poetry was published locally when I was in high school and teachers complimented my writing, so I have mainly pursued writing as my art.

You've worked a lot in museums.  How does that field contribute to your life as a writer?

I originally studied journalism. I thought it was the only kind of writing I could do and not starve. I married before finishing college and began a family. Occasionally I worked part-time as a news gather. Then a museum on American Indian life opened in the Connecticut town where I was living and I remembered all the joy I’d had in museums and found a career. Some of the museums I worked for welcomed my writing for newsletters and exhibit labels, and I began offering pieces to museum journals and magazines as well. My first poetry reading occurred in one of the museums I worked at. Museums are creative places so I found them compatible for my creative initiatives.

What's the difference between writing prose and fiction?  Do you have to go to a different place?

I like writing short stories and poetry equally. They’re compact and doable in less time. Poems are actually creative non-fiction while my short stories are fiction (I also do essays). If something real happens that I want to capture in a poignant way, that’s a poem. My short stories are imagined but contain tiny parts of me. Non-fiction, like my Spirited Encounters: American Indians Protest Museum Policies and Practices is the hardest work because I had to back up everything I said with facts, so a lot of time was spent seeking and recording those facts. Memoir is a challenge because you are talking about specifics and have to get it right even though you are emotionally biased. My novel manuscript fell far short of Faulkner or Dickens and I’m going to re-write it since it seems to be percolating in my head at lot. As for writing in any of these genres, I don’t feel I have to change a mindset although I do know each of their boundaries. It all feels creative to me and I’m just trying to make it flow, make it sensible, bring it to life, and create an enjoyable read. I’m always trying to bring a lesson to the reader. There’s an instinctual teacher in me.

Tell about your self publishing journey.  What made it the right choice for you?
 
My style of poetry is not elegant. Rarely will a single poem of mine get selected for an award and they have never been accepted in prestigious journals. But I value them and what they say and thought they’d make an interesting collection. I wanted to write more poetry, but all my unpublished poems seemed like a heavy weight of rejection. I decided if I liberated them, I would feel liberated, too, and could continue writing. I drew a simple cover, my husband got an easy layout program, and I simply took it to Kinko’s and had them print 200 copies of my selection of 48 poems, some of them previously published and most of them never published. I submitted it to two statewide contests and was a finalist in one, and the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. chose it as 2010 Best Book of Poetry. Oklahoma Today magazine then contacted me to write an original poem for them, and when I reported my success to the National Museum of the American Indian, they paid for a submission to their magazine. I’ve done a few readings from the book, a couple of workshops, and gained the confidence to offer to co-edit an anthology of Cherokee writers. I didn’t get on NPR (yet), but self-publishing was what I needed to do at that juncture of my life. And I’m going to realize a little bit of a profit from it, too (or maybe it’s really just breaking even).

As a finalist in the 2011 Oklahoma Book Awards, you obviously know a thing or two about poetry.  What makes a good poem?

I like Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Renascence, Rod McKuen’s Listen to the Warm, everything by Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes’ Dreams, and Joy Harjo’s She Had Some Horses. A poem has to touch me. I like some frantic quality to them, and that’s what most of my poems have in common. For a long while I wanted my life to be less frantic, more idyllic, but after a dozen years I realized that the works of mine I liked best were written due to tension. Whenever I had spans of contentedness, very little was created by me. Beyond that insight, I like sounds of words and use alliteration or repetition of sounds, I like to capture the nugget of a message and lay it precisely into the hands of the reader. I’m not trying to obscure the message and make the reader puzzle it out. I’m trying to reveal something. Sometimes I treat a poem like a short story with beginning, middle, and end. At other times it’s like I’m painting something, building it stroke by stroke, working on an image. Most importantly, a good poem will just sound tight and perfect and leave you feeling enhanced.

And the winner of Beyond the Farthest Star is...

...The Resident Heretic. Congratulations!

Please email me your mailing address at brandiatbrandibarnett.com.

Thanks for entering. Be sure and check back soon and often.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boogie Days

"Oh my gosh." I looked around the waiting room for a tissue. "Is that a booger on your finger?"

Indignant, Max said, "It's not." He cocked his head and grinned. Then he repeated the words to sound like it's snot.

I peer closer to study his finger. We'd had days of fever so, when you add the sleep deprivation, it makes perfect and complete sense I was concerned he'd developed a growth. "What is it then?" I wondered aloud.

He happily thrust his finger into my face. "It's a dried booger!"

Ew.

My warning that nose goblins would bite off his fingers didn't work. Once he realized he kept all his fingers, he decided those nose goblins were dumb.  So...

How do you keep your kids' fingers out of their noses?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Living a Pinteresting Life

Today's Pinteresting Life segment is in honor of Dee Dee's book Beyond the Farthest Star.


For anyone planning a Beyond the Farthest Star event, check out our Novel Idea party and add these star-studded ideas, too. Simply click on the pictures to get to original source.


Who doesn't love a cascade of stars?
 Have a signature cocktail and call it The Doty in (dis)honor of a cocktail sipping mom in the book with the same name.

If you bought a bunch of Christmas lights on deep discount after the holiday just begging to be used, here's your answer.
I can't find original source, so if you have it, let me know!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Madness Inklings Book Giveaway: Beyond the Farthest Star

Sometimes a girl needs a guardian angel.
This week's giveaway is Dee Dee Chumley's Beyond the Farthest Star.

If you'd like to win a copy, simply make a comment on this entry (so I can keep track). If you'd like two entries, follow my blog and leave a comment. Contest ends Sunday. Winner will be announced next Wednesday.

Once I've read a book, I always have questions. Here are a few Dee Dee answered for me. 
Dee Dee,  how did you come up with the idea for this book? 
I once read you're not supposed to say you got an idea for a book from a dream, but that's where I got the idea. Hey, it worked for Stephenie Meyer

What books do you recommend for people who are interested in guardian angels? 
Not all the books I read were Christian-based, but I tried to use only information that wasn't contradictory to Christian beliefs. However, the book is not meant to be a theological treatise on angels and I did apply some artistic license. For what I feel are the most accurate, Christian-based explanations of angels, I would recommend Angels Among Us by Ron Rhodes and Angels by Billy Graham.

What other research did you do?
For such an apparently simple little book, it actually took quite a bit of research. I read several books on angels and also did online research and reading on steroid use and dating violence. In addition, I did research on cars and trucks and even on bicycles!
What has been the most surprising part of your publication journey? 
I think it would be actually getting published! Beyond the Farthest Star was the first novel I ever wrote, and after sending it to about fifteen agents or publishers, I stored it away as a good learning experience and moved on to my next project. Then when I least expected it, I learned (thanks to you!) of a Christian publishing company in California that was accepting new material. I took the chance and submitted my manuscript and hooray! they accepted it.    

What is the part of the writing process you enjoy most? The actual writing! I've always been a kind of a nerd this way. I love taking an idea and experimenting with how many ways it can be expressed and discovering the absolute best way. I love finding the perfect rhythm. And in creative writing, I love coming up with the descriptions--the imagery and metaphors. I haven't perfected the process by any means, but I think it's great fun to think of original ways to get the reader to see, hear, or feel something. 

As a former English teacher, you taught lots of rules.  Since you are now a professional writer, do you break any of those rules? What's the rule you'll never break? 
Ha! You must have been talking to some of my former students! Actually, in his book On Writing, Stephen King offers good advice about grammar rules. He says learn them so you'll know why you're breaking them. There's a huge difference between breaking rules to achieve the effect you want and breaking them because you don't know any better. The first situation makes you look creative; the second makes you look stupid.   
A rule I'd never break? Well, I would never intentionally break a spelling rule...unless it was to acquire a certain effect. For example, in my newest novel, I have a sign written by a shadetree mechanic and instructing customers to Honk for Survice. I really do know how to spell service! Also, it confuses me to read a book in which the author saw no need for quotation marks. So I'd never break that one.

Did you write with a particular audience in mind? 
I began this book while I was still teaching, so I thought teens would be my best audience since I had a connection there. (Also, I didn't want to write explicit sex scenes and thought I could get away with it in YA literature! Ha!) What has come as a surprise to me, though, is that I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from women of all ages. Of course, many of these are my friends, and so I'm thinking, they have to say something nice. But many of them have gone beyond what I feel is the appropriate "friend" response. I think, regardless of age, most women can remember and identify with many of the situations both Darcy and Tiffin face in the novel. Not everything changes with time.  

What do you want people to think or feel when they finish reading your book? 
Regardless of their age, I want them to walk away with the same message Mike gave Darcy: Always remember who you are and Whose you are. This statement has been used time again but I don't think it's cliche. It's an important message that God lays claim to each and every one of us and as His children we are of immeasurable worth. 

In your book, they talk about going "beyond the farthest star."  If you could go anywhere, where would it be? To visit? Any tropical island that hasn't been overrun with tourists! I'm a beach bum at heart. How did I end up in landlocked Oklahoma?

Hmmm.... a beach. Sounds like the perfect place to kick back and read a copy of Dee Dee Chumley's debut novel Beyond the Farthest Star.

And the winner of The Revenant is...


I used random.org to select this week's winner, and it is... Lisa Mc!

Congratulations! Please contact me with information regarding how you would like the book sent.

Thanks for entering. Be sure and check back soon and often.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you chicken?

Thanks to my parents, my kids are learning to connect with the earth.

My mom and dad grew up in the country.  In fact, my father grew up on what his grandmother called "the plantation." (She was from Kentucky. Around here we call it a ranch.)

Some of my favorite books are Gone With the Wind, The Good Earth, and The Grapes of Wrath. So, I'm all about connecting with the land...I just don't really know how.  What little experience I had was hard work, so that's a deterrent. My husband is worse off than I am.  For years he thought the "sale barn" we passed on the way to the lake was where "sails" were made for boats.

Every once in a while, my dad gets an itch to do something out of the ordinary. A nearby Amish community hosts an enormous sale of just about everything under the sun. My hubby, son, and father went to buy...chickens.

Happy boys after finding chickens.







My husband said some of the animal conditions were enough to make him turn vegetarian, but my father purchased some happy, healthy, and dare I say? pretty chickens. (The first batch he wanted to buy were all roosters. Oops! He read a book to teach him everything he didn't already remember from his childhood, but there's nothing like on-the-spot training, right?) 

Now, what do we do?
I know! Let's feed them popcorn!
"Hey! I can do that myself."
Hi there, chicken!
 I'm not sure who is more excited.  Max and my dad think it's fun. Garrett can practically taste the fresh eggs. My mom and I hope the eggs are pretty. And the dogs...well, we're keeping a close eye on them.
Check out the special chicken house. The wheels on the left and wheelbarrow handles on the right allow it to easily move and "fertilize" different areas. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy 1/2 birthday to me!

 Hi.

You may have heard...

It's my 1/2 birthday.

Really, it is. 

No, YOU look fabulous.

In the last six months, I've mastered a plethora of activities. May I demonstrate the Sit Up and Wave?
 

Allow me to show you the Backward Crawl.

So, did I mention it's my 1/2 birthday...
...and that I like jewelry?
 Is that too forward?
 
Oopsie.
 
Let's party!
 

Note: this photo shoot would not have been possible without the amazing hair and makeup team of Maximus Hair and Makeup. Beauty can be a painful process--as the photo shows.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Madness Inklings Book Giveaway: The Revenant

This week's giveaway is Sonia Gensler's debut novel The Revenant

It is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. Hooray for Sonia!

This young adult paranormal is set in the late 19th century at a real Cherokee girl's school right here in Oklahoma. It is now known as Seminary Hall at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

Read below for a little chat Sonia and I had recently.

Congratulations on being a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.  The setting of your book in the Cherokee Seminary is unique.  The Revenant truly could not happen against any other backdrop.  What is it about the place that spoke to you? 


Thank you, Brandi! This is fun to talk about because it involves you. (Note: I did not ask this question for her to mention me, but...I'll take the attention.) I'd always wanted to write a book set in a girls' boarding school. Boarding school settings offer potential for drama and conflict in any era, but I was particularly drawn to the mid to late 19th century because it was during this time that educators finally started taking female intellectual capacity seriously.

But no particular setting or school called out to me until YOU gave me a tour of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

When you (and your mom) pointed out Seminary Hall and told me it used to be a school for Cherokee girls, I knew I had to set a story there. I'd always thought of 19th century Indian schools as oppressive institutions where agents of the church or government forced students to assimilate. This school, on the contrary, was funded and operated by the Cherokee Tribe. To me, that was very exciting, and I had to know more. My research gave rise to the plot of THE REVENANT.


And though this is more superficial, I have to say that the Seminary building itself absolutely captivated me. I love Victorian architecture and this building seemed particularly Gothic and imposing. It really just begged me to write a story! How lucky was I that the history of the building turned out to be so fascinating?

What is it about ghost stories that makes you want to write them? Did you set out to be a writer of ghost stories?

I actually didn't set out to be a writer of ghost stories. In fact, spooky/ghostly things used to scare the crap out of me. (Aren't I eloquent?) At some point during the last decade, however, I began to appreciate the story value of hauntings. Actually, it turned into an obsession. I don't particularly like films or books in which ghosts jump out of corners -- cheap scares like that annoy me. What I love is the idea of an emotion or action so powerful and/or transgressive that it transcends death, lingering in a place or clinging to a particular person. I also like the idea of there being people who are especially sensitive to these remnants or echoes. Great stuff for stories!
What part of the writing process do you enjoy most? Least?

This is an easy one. I love researching and planning a novel. Outlining is great fun for me because everything is shiny and brimming with potential at that stage. I actively dislike the drafting process because of the disconnect between my shiny fantasy of what the novel should be and what actually appears on the page. But I've given myself permission to write very rough first drafts. Things can always be smoothed out during the revision process. 

Did you write with a particular audience in mind? If so, please describe.

Honestly, I write for the teen reader inside me. Of course I want to write something that's sufficiently marketable, and that is appropriate and appealing for today's teens, but I'm writing the sorts of stories I'd like to see on the YA shelves in bookstores and libraries -- gothic tales full of mystery, dark secrets, forbidden romance and struggles for independence.
What book are your recommending to others right now?

My favorite YA novel of 2011 was Franny Billingsley's CHIME. I read it months and months ago, but it's still on my mind -- such a gorgeously written book with a very unique sister relationship and an amazing love interest for the heroine. If you want to read a more detailed slobberfest over this novel, please read my Book End Babes review! :) 
Isn't she fabulous? Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sonia!
To win your very own autographed copy, simply...
1. comment on this entry.
If you'd like TWO entries, then...
1.  follow my blog. (Click that little follow button at the top of the page and follow the instructions.)
2.  comment on this entry.

Contest will end on Sunday at midnight. Winner will be announced on Wednesday--as well as a new contest.

And the winner of Glamour is...


Congratulations to Jennifer Laws!

Please email me your mailing address at brandiatbrandibarnett.com and the way you want your copy of Glamour signed.
 
Thanks to those who visited my blog and entered the contest.  I noticed a LOT more people visited than entered, so I'm changing the entry rules for the next contest. Be sure and enter to win!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Super Tuesday

It's Super Tuesday.

Practice your right to vote.

If you're an American, it's kind of your responsibility.
But, hey, it's a free country.

Want to know which candidate aligns with your beliefs? Take the test at Project Vote Smart.  You might be surprised. I was.

Read 11 Facts about Voting regarding young voters at Do Something.org.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Favorite: Confessions of a Closeted Geek

 
I am a closet geek. At least I think I'm closeted.  Not anymore.


 
A knit hat with Yoda ears for a newborn makes me giggle.


The only outfit I've ever "liked" on Pinterest contains a Superman tee and yellow Converse. When I clicked through to see the source, I realized it was inspired by Leonard on The Big Bang Theory.

 I sincerely believe Firefly was brilliant...and should probably be taught in schools.

So, this morning's conversation with my three-year-old was bound to happen.

Max asked, "Mom, what's in a lightsaver?" (Note: just as he says "grabel" for "gravel," he means "lightsaber," not "lightsaver."

Contemplating the proper answer, I paused.

Do I tell him it's not real? Do I tell him about good and evil using The Force as a metaphor? Is he too young?

"Never mind." He looked at me knowingly and nodded. "Probably plastic."

Um, yeah.   

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Madness Inklings Book Giveaway: Glamour

With all the great writers I know--especially in my own writing group--I'd be "mad" not to share their words with the world.  I can tell you about their books all day long, but I figured, hey, why not give you a book so you can read it? Seeing is believing.

This month I'm giving away an autographed book each week.

Mefirstmefirstmefirst!

How far are you willing to go to look beautiful? Glamour is not your ordinary fairy tale.
To enter to win my young adult novel  Glamour, follow my blog (click the word "follow" at the top of your screen and do whatever else it says) and leave a comment on this entry (so I can keep track).  If you're already a follower, simply comment below.

You can enter until Sunday. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday...and start a new giveaway.

Let's get this party started!