Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Flippant Girl’s Guide to Revising with Dignity

Fact: revision is part of the writer life. Further fact: Revision is fuck all hard.

You can see where this is going.

The point of revision is to take that amazing previous draft and make it that much more awesome. If you Google “how to revise a novel,” you’ll get over 12,000 search results. You can even learn some revision tips here by reading Susan Dennard’s guest post.

While all of these posts give you incredible information to make your revision process smoother, faster, more productive, none of them share tricks to maintain your composure under the red pen. Scenes and characters you have lovingly slaved over are about to be sliced and reformed. How the hell can you go through this without crying?

1. Curse and yell. A lot.  The angrier you get at your WIP, the less painful your revisions will be. Make sure you practice saying, “WHY!?” and “You fucking asshole” to the point where a diagnosis of Tourette’s might be in order. It doesn’t matter, because swearing like a trucker is cathartic.

2. Invest in a swear jar. Especially crucial if you have children, the swear jar is a must. Once you have that bad boy all filled, you’ll have enough money for a massage or pedicure—which you’ll want after you’ve completely rewrote your novel.

3. Drink a lot. The revision will hurt a lot less if you’re under the numbing power of Jack, Jose, or Jim. Imbibe them when you go through your initial read through where you mark shit up. All other revisions can be done under the influence of your favorite non-hard liquor-based beverage. You’ll need to focus, after all.

4. Assume the position. No, not that one. The one where you have your middle finger poised in front of your screen, ready to flip off anything you hate—whether it’s your own craptastic ramble or a comment you disagree with.

5. Cry. With the amount of booze you’ll have in your system, this will be unavoidable. Just like drunk dialing your ex.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Question of Knowing Our Future and The Future of Us

It’s pretty safe to say that at some point in our life, we would give our baby toes to glimpse into our future or hop into the DeLorean to change some instance in our past. Hell, Bestie Danielle and I usually play the “I should’ve” game once a season. So when I read the premise of THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, it definitely made me go “hm.”

Blurb from Goodreads:

“It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.”

THE FUTURE OF US was decent. It didn’t have the wowing power I hoped for, but when you start to get paranoid about what you post on Facebook and Twitter just in case your high school self might stumble upon it, well…

1996. In case you’re math deficient, that’s 16 years ago. While reading this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much has changed in this amount of time: technology, air travel, life. It also got me thinking about what I would post if I had the chance for High School Alicia to see into the future. What the heck would High School Alicia think?

Let’s take a look.


Based off of my banner, it looks like I haven’t left my hometown—something that would make High School Alicia vomit—but it looks like I’ve traveled to Marakesh*. I’m married, which is somewhat of a shock, and I have way more friends than I ever thought possible. Based on my profile picture, I’m a cat owner, which is awesome. It also looks like I went to school to be a teacher. WHY THE HELL DID I DO THAT? I’m supposed to be a fashion designer!**

What would my Facebook statuses tell me? Surely this is where the meat of my future life would be.


Wow. Facebook statuses don’t tell you much. It looks like my book love has transferred into wanting to work at B&N and that I’m also looking for work—absentmindedly from the top status update. I appear to be doing something still with writing, which is good to know especially since I didn’t go on to do fashion design!***

If you look at your Facebook, what would your high school self think?

PS: That playlist mentioned in the final status update? You can see what Bestie Danielle and I have put together here. (If you’re on Spotify, feel free to add any song as long as it is from the time period of 1989ish-1996.)


* Dear High School Alicia, you never went to Marakesh. Facebook is just sort of retarded.

** Trust me, it’s better that you went for the education degree than the design degree. You’ll understand and appreciate this once you hit 29ish.

*** Get over it, HSA, fashion design wouldn’t have worked out. TRUST ME.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Walk on the Contemp Side

Funny thing about me and books: though I write YA contemporary*, I don’t find a lot that jazzes me in that category. In fact, I spent many years actively not reading contemporaries. Oftentimes reading is a means of escape, so why the hell do I want to read something that is based in reality?

But, Alicia, you write contemporary fiction.

Yeah, I know. This might be why I’m so picky about my contemporary. Fortunately, I’ve read some terrific books in the genre over the last year. A few of them DESTROYED ME, but that’s a testament to how powerful the writing and subject matter was.


Out of my top five, 13 REASONS WHY is my favorite. It’s not a light-hearted book and the story seriously left me a sobbing wreck, but it was so well written. I absolutely loved this book.

Do you read contemporary fiction? What’s your favorite?


* The other genre is urban fantasy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Face Off-- Part Two

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Hello, Lurkdom! Sorry for missing last Thursday. Like most people who work "retail" jobs, I have found that my hours have been cut as we enter the post "black" sales season. January and February are very slow and retailers don't need as many people working as many hours. To compensate, I have been working and taking any shift I can get, including giving up my days off. So, last Thursday I picked up a last minute, nine hour shift. Oy!

Today's post isn't particularly about zombies, but it is somewhat zombie related and something I've talked about in the past. The television show Face Off is back on the air for season two! While I was pretty disappointed with season one's finale and the winner the judges chose, I decided to give the second season a shot. Last night was the third episode of the second season, and I highly encourage you to tune in.

Although they haven't specifically done a zombie challenge (but don't worry, they completely will this season... they're already recycling last year's challenge-- for example, next week they are bringing back the "create a horror movie monster" challenge!), now is a good time for you to tune in. A couple of the smaller "Foundation Challenges," challenges in which the contestants aren't eliminated, but win things like immunity, have featured zombies. The contestants are allowed to do whatever they want in these challenges, and of course many of them have already chosen to do some sort of zombie character. Last night, a team of three had to do a makeup relay race of sorts and decided to make a zombie. Their zombie was kind of... odd. I did not really approve. Unfortunately, I cannot find a finished photo, but did find one mid-creation.

Anyway, I highly recommend tuning in to the Syfy network on Wednesday nights and check out the show! Just like last year, to me it is obvious that the producers have a huge hand in who stays and who goes to create more drama and tension on the show. That being said, though, I still really enjoy the things they create, and I think you will too!

For those of you who do watch, who are your favorites and least favorites? Have you agreed with the "judges'" decisions?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What One Life to Live Taught Me About Endings

Back in November (when I confessed how I loved the reality show Dirty Soap), I shared with you all my love of the daytime soap, One Life to Live. OLTL has been off air for over a week, but I finally brought myself to watch the finale on Sunday night. I watched it with mixed feelings: anticipation over how they were going to tie up a show with a 43 year legacy, sadness over the loss of one of my favorite shows, and annoyance that I’ll have to now watch General Hospital*.

One thing I thought I could learn from watching the OLTL finale was how to effectively create an ending. Maybe the writers would show me a few tricks to know where my final scene is.

What I didn’t anticipate in the final minutes was to see someone who we all believed to be dead. And by all, I even mean the supposed killer thought the victim was dead. My shriek of “WHAT!?” may or may not have startled The Stripey One awake**

While a cliffhanger is a possible way to end a story, I consider it sort of cheating. The reader doesn’t get the satisfaction of learning the whole story. When this type of shit happens in books that I’ve devoted hours (sometimes YEARS***) to, I throw the book. For a story to be satisfying, there needs to be completion. A lot of times the cliffhanger ending brings up several new questions which ultimately belong in a new story.

So how do you know when you have a solid ending? If you plot, you have a framework and an ending in mine. If you don’t, you relying more on luck. This is what I’m struggling with on my revisions for Falling to Normal. None of my endings are satisfying, which  means that I’m ending in the wrong place.

The only way to fix something like this is trial and error. And some trucker language. Maybe wine. Lots of it. One thing is definite, I’m not going to have someone come back from the dead in the last minutes.

Tell me, Lurkdom: how do you create the best ending possible?


* Only because a few of my favorite characters from OLTL are moving over in February. That will be interesting.

** It’s my belief that I’ll learn more about that particular bombshell in February when the OLTL characters move over, but until then I’ll scowl whenever I think of it.

*** I’m looking at you, Stephen King.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Susan Dennard and the Revision Process

Today The Pie welcomes Susan Dennard, author of the 2012 debut Something Strange and Deadly. This week, the WOA girls have promoted this fantastic debut and giving you a chance to read it before you can buy it. Read on to learn more about Susan’s revision process.
My revising process is...well, the word "intense" comes to mind.

As I've talked about before, I'm not a particularly good writer. I ramble, backtrack, infodump, and pretty much do everything one shouldn't do to tell a good story.

But you know what? I'm a darn good re-writer and an even better reviser.

The key to my process is having a plan and staying organized. I never dive into revisions without a clear idea of what I need to do next--of what my story needs next in order to reach that goal of book-awesomeness. ;)

You'll notice as I go through the steps of my revising process that I link to various pages. These are the lessons from my "Sooz's Guide to Revisions". I get much more in-depth with each of these steps in that guide, and there are even worksheets for people to follow (in case you wanna give my method a try ;)).

So step 1 is figuring out what the heck I wrote.
To do this, I first print out the entire manuscript, and then I read that entire manuscript in one sitting. As I read, I take copious notes of all the issues (and I also scribble down any solutions that come to mind).

I'm all about the color-coding (as you can see here), and I'm DEFINITELY all about the "Deal With Big Issues First". What's the point in line-editing or tweaking a scene if you decide later on to cut that scene?

Step 2 is getting about getting organized.
I break up the entire book by scene, and I write out index cards that summarize each scene. As I make these scene cards, I try to spot areas where the conflict is non-existent or else there is too much happening in one scene.

Once I've got my cards ready, I move to step 3: figuring out what the "perfect" book is.
I know that The Book I Wrote ≠ The Book I Wanted to Write. And it's also quite possible that The Story I Wanted To Tell Originally ≠ The Story I Want To Tell Now.

That's okay. You've got to be organic in your writing/revising. You have to be able to accept that maybe the way you intended a character or plot point isn't actually what the story needs.
So for this step, I sit down and map out the EXACT book I want now--a.k.a. "the Perfect Book". If my story was finished and on shelves, what would I want it to be like?

Step 4 is turning that Perfect Book into a Plan of Attack.
What do I need to change in order to have the Perfect Book? A more 3D villain? A bigger, more intense climax? A new subplot between the heroine and the hero?

I analyze each change by it's category--plot, character, setting, and "other". Then I go through and leave little color-coded post-its on each of my scene cards. This allows me to go through my scenes one-by-one and handle each problem one-by-one. It also allows me to always know what I've done and what still needs to be done.
The hardest and longest step is step 5: writing in all the necessary changes.
With that manuscript I printed in step 1, I go back through and make changes to my story (you can see what I mean here). As I address each issue, I yank the corresponding post-it off my scene card. :) Again, I always know what problems I've fixed and what I still need to address.
Some scenes require more work than others, and some scenes are so unsalvageable, they require a COMPLETE rewrite.

The key here is to stay focused and not let yourself get overwhelmed. Take one scene card at a time, and don't worry about what comes next.

The final step is to type in those written changes and line edit. This is pretty straightforward--you type in all the handwritten changes, and you line edit as you go. (Or you can try to line edit as you go. I often find I need to print the whole thing out again to do a truly decent job of line editing.)
When you're finished, you SHOULD (in theory) have a solidly revised novel. Now, I say "in theory" because it doesn't always happen in such a straightforward manner. I usually writer 2/3 to 3/4 of the book before I start revisions. After I revise that first chunk, I then go back and write the end (or else I revise the whole chunk again if it's total scheiβe).

At the end of the day, we all have different methods for revising--different means to the same end: a good book. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. All the same, I hope I've managed to give a few helpful pointers--or at least some entertaining insight into my slightly OCD revisions process. ;)

Happy revising!

SusanDennardAuthorSusan is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (she really likes swoon-worthy rogues). She lives in Germany with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on twitter, facebook, or Goodreads. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, will be available from HarperCollins in July of 2012, and you will never believe how happy this makes her!

To enter for a chance to take part in Something Strange and Deadly’s ARC tour, sign up here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Haiku

After a harrowing week of revisions, my brain is ultimate mush. Thank goodness for weeks where the blog writes itself. Like today with yet another bad haiku*.

Water tortures me
Threatening to cleanse my soul
Alack! Bare me not

* I need to start a new library of these, by the way. I have only two left. It's tragic, really.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Head’s Up: Susan Dennard Blog Tour Week

One great thing about the YA community is that everyone is super supportive. We cheer each other on through Twitter and our blogs. We share our successes and disappointments over email and IM.

Something Strange and DeadlyWhen we finally get published, we like to spread the word. That’s what’s happening this week. Debut YA author Susan Dennard is travelling the blogosphere this week to support her novel Something Strange and Deadly, which will be published in July.

But it’s January. Isn’t this a little early?

Not if we have an ARC to give away! All this week, you can enter for a chance to be part of an ARC tour. For more information, check out Holly Dodson’s blog as she is the hostess extraordinaire.

To learn more about Susan and her debut, be sure to check out the blog tour this week. You can find the schedule below.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nomad in the Apartment

On a previous Friday Fives, I shared my favorite writing locations. These still hold true, but sometimes I need a change of scenery within a location, especially when I’m at the apartment. I have different places to work when I’m working on different things.

1. My desk has been a good place as of late. I work here when my focus is really awesome and I’m not under some self-imposed time crunch. Since the desk is right next to the living room, this means Hubby is usually nearby. So if I need his input this is awesome.

2. The kitchen table works out well when I’m revising and creating charts of large sheets of paper. Or working with shrunken manuscripts. Or spreading out a lot. Basically I use this area when I need a large workspace.

3. The couch is generally reserved for emails, blogging, and readthrus; that don’t require a whole lot of attention. If I’m here, it means I’m also watching TV. If I’m doing this, it’s okay to interrupt my process (most of the time).

4. My bed. The bed ends up being the place where I do all of my first drafts. It’s comfy and far enough away from the living room that I don’t get distracted by Hubby. The cats usually come up and cuddle too, which is an added bonus. I will also do a lot of blogging from here, like right now.

5. The front porch. This only works in the summer and when it’s not cluttered, but my enclosed front porch is a great place to work.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let It Snow! Undead Style

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

It's Thursday again, so that means it is time for zombies! I've been checking out the responses to the Pie survey, and it seems as if people want to hear about some zombie science, but also just some zombie musings in general. So today, I will briefly chat about something that came to mind for me, and please feel free to chime in on the comments section.

I live in Chicago and usually by this time of the year we've gotten a bunch of snow already. Today is January 12th and Chicago is getting its first real snow of the year. January 12th. That's insane! To make matters more depressing, yesterday the temperature topped off near 50 degrees. Oh, Mother Nature. I guess I really can't complain too much because we've gotten a free pass so far. It's really only snowed once this season, and nothing actually stuck to the ground.

Cars buried on Lakeshore Drive during the 2011 blizzard

This cold winter weather had me thinking... what would happen to zombies in cold weather? The answer is both simple and complicated. And I'm not a doctor or scientist, so go with me on this and be gentle.

So, I would assume the number one cause of death in cold weather instances would be hypothermia. We can all agree with that, right? Good. So what exactly is hypothermia and why do people eventually die from it (or complications caused by it)? A straight quote off of Wikipedia states, "Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as 35.0 °C (95.0 °F)." Great, sounds simple.

But here's the tricky part... if hypothermia is defined as a drop in core body temperature, is it even possible for zombies to technically get hypothermia? A zombie, while although animated, is dead. They don't maintain a body temperature. Also, I personally believe that a zombie loses most basic functions. The virus reanimates the brain, or sends out basic electrical pulses that allow for movement and muscle function. The heart is a muscle, so it pumps, but other organs will not be functional in the same way. Digestive tracks wouldn't really work, livers, pancreas, skin... these things would rot away. They're not needed. Hypothermia breaks down a body's homeostasis, but homeostasis wouldn't be at work in a zombie anyway!

But this doesn't mean that extreme cold wouldn't take its toll on the undead. I feel extreme cold would affect the tissue present in a zombie, skin, muscles, etc. Since the heart is doing a basic pumping of blood, a zombie would be susceptible to extreme frostbite and eventually their blood would completely freeze. They would be completely immobile and not a threat at all.

So now my biggest musing is-- would a full worldwide zombie apocalypse ever be possible? My answer would have to be a huge no. There are too many areas of the world where the weather just wouldn't allow a horde to take over. Just like Napoleon invading Russia. Bad idea. Of course there would be affected areas, but I just don't think it would be enough to destroy the whole world. How many zombie movies have you seen that actually take place in cold weather? The only one I can really think of is Dead Snow (which is a great film, but in retrospect even more completely unrealistic than before). The only thing society would have to worry about would be zombies that would eventually thaw out in climates that have winters and summers. Viruses typically won't be destroyed, they will just lay dormant, so in warmer weather, there is risk of re-re-animation.

In cold weather, humans and the military would have a huge advantage over the dead. I find it would make the end of the world at the decaying hands of zombies impossible. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Name Game

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or penname be?


I've been with my name for several undisclosed years. I've finally accepted that I don't have a glamorous first name and that I do have a last name that trips up telemarketers*. Not to mention my middle name of Marie must be the most common middle name in my graduating class**.

There has to be a good reason why I'm going to write under an assumed name. I can only think of two that would be acceptable: I undertake erotica writing or I'm under the witness protection plan. In the bizarre case of either of these things happening, I guess I should be prepared...

...By using formulas found on the internet!

Soap Opera Name: Marie Waverley
Porn Name: Norbert Paul
Hillbilly Name: Dolly Walker
Glamrock Name: Charmaine Satellites
Elven Name: Avarhiriel
Hobbit Name: Marigold Underhill from Bywater
Dwarven Name: Thráin Skyanvil
Orkish Name: Púshrót the Ripper 
Star Wars Name: Aligre Ruwat***

So when the need arises, I think I'll write under my Orkish name. It makes me rather badass, yes?

* Combine that with the added married name and not only do I own monopoloy in vowels, but I can sense a telemarketer miles and miles away.
** Coincidentally, it's also the first name of all of my dad's sisters. Yeah, you read that right--ALL OF THEM.
*** There is a honorary name as well, but that was too hard for my brain to handle today. Figure out yours here.
Last.fm hit of the day: Flying by Anathema

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Something to Resolve

If you’ve lurked here long enough, you would know that I’m not big on the resolution thing. You’d also know that I kinda sorta suck at the goal thing. This happens because I usually aim too high* and then get discouraged and kick the whole process out the door. (There’s a reason why the New Year’s resolution to stop resolving is so popular.)

There is something to be said about setting goals and stuff at the start of the new year. It is a fresh start of sorts. And after The Year of Epic Suck, yours truly has decided to give resolutions one more try.

IMG_20120103_151200My resolution for 2012** is broad and simple, yet complex. I resolve to stay on top of things.

Without the routine of a 9 to 5 gig right now, this is crucial. It is so easy to fall into the trap of sleeping until four and do nothing but watch reality TV. Not that I’m really doing that, but it is easy to forgo certain things that should happen like finalizing my summary statement on my resume or actually clean out the basement.

So like The White One, I have to be diligent. I must prioritize and get things done when I say I’m going to get them done.

I know this isn’t going to be easy. It’s way to broad for it to be, but this goal is needed and I’m hoping to see improvement in my life overall.



* Like expecting to drop several pants sizes in 6 months, despite my love of ice cream and my laziness. As you can guess, this didn’t happen. At all.

** The Year of the Final Apocalypse


Last.fm hit of the day: Haulin’ Ass by Bourbon Crow

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Log Lines & First 250 Word Critiques

This week I'm hosting critiques for nonwinning adult entrants from Miss Snark's First Victim's Baker's Dozen contest. We have two entries for this.

If your post is one of the two, please comment on the other. If you're a regular Lurker of The Pie, please delurk and share constructive feedback. Thank you to our two volunteers.

Entry #97

Genre: Fantasy

Log Line:
Half-human Tel has one chance to outwit her world’s brutal colonists, if she can overcome her dishonorable past, the deadly secret sleeping in her blood, and a handsome star-elemental weaving his own mysterious plots.

First 250 Words:
I was ten years old before I learned my absent, nameless father had given me anything more than dark red eyes and fur.

Marikha’s insufferable twins dared me up the most dangerous trail we knew. After convincing them to join me, or be shamed, I realized my mistake. With the twins behind me, I couldn’t turn back.

On a ledge fifty feet below, teal trees caught the sunlight. The rest of the canyon sank into afternoon shadows. But the wind was cool and clean up here, not the stuffy air in our safe den. If we followed the forbidden trail to a ridgeline only a few dozen feet higher, we might glimpse the blue-green grasslands to the south. Northward, the cliffs rose to the uplifted plateau of the Red Hills, wrapped in autumn storms.

Fuzzy white seed-puffs drifted between red sandstone and lavender-blue sky. One puff got too close to my nose. I sneezed.

“Tel’s sick,”said one twin.

“Tel’s always sick,” said the other.

I was small enough to turn on the trail, taunting the bigger twins with sneeze after sneeze, only some of them real. One twin lunged forward to nip me. I hopped back, drew a deep breath to yell a happy insult.

A seed-puff lodged in my throat. My eyes watered. As I felt a coughing fit approach, I wedged my body against the cliff wall. Amid my sneezing and hacking, one of my weak forepaws skidded off the edge. I lost my balance, and dropped headfirst.

Entry #92

Genre: Unspecified

Log Line:
Julie’s best friend Fay disappears soon after their arrival on vacation in Morocco. While awaiting – impatiently – action from the authorities, a bewildered Julie snoops enough to guess Fay’s destination and impetuously rushes after her. Julie’s channeling of her inner Kinsey Millhone deserts her, however, after she gets lost and has to ditch their disabled rental car on a remote desert track. But it’s not until Julie locates Fay – in prison on the Algerian border – that her problems really snowball: Fay’s meddling into Moroccan political secrets means that, unless she can arrange Fay’s escape, both women are about to disappear permanently.

First 250 Words:
A whirlwind with frizzy braids broadsided me. Her momentum carried her past me, sliding along on the slippery tile floor. She landed with an arm tangled in my suitcase strap, purple jumper askew, plump legs in striped tights waving. I toppled next to her. My palm slapped onto the tile and planted there for balance.

A little boy braked to a screeching stop by the girl’s side. The children had been playing tag around the immense pillars that dotted the baggage claim area. As I reached to help her up, the girl’s eyes and mouth opened to matching Os. She looked wildly around before bursting into tears. The boy watched impassively for a second, then his lower lip trembled and he, too, began to wail. Their cries added to the waves of sound. After the quiet hum of the pressurized airplane, the bedlam was crushing.

Without a glance at me, a veiled woman captured each runaway by an arm and, speaking sharply, hustled them away to a distant corner.

My backpack had upended when I fell, spilling my spare lipstick and a bulky jacket belonging to my friend Fay. She had left it with me when she vanished into the crowd, trying to find out when the rest of our luggage would arrive. I imagined my expression looked much like the one on the little girl who had tripped over me – scared to be suddenly alone, searching for a familiar face. Where in the world had Fay gone?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cuteness in Zombies

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Happy New Year, Lurkdom! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a fun and safe New Year. I know I did! It was really nice to rest and recharge and try to think of ways I can improve my life in 2012.

2011 was not a great year for me either. And while I never have "Resolutions" for the new year, this year I have come up with a few things that I think I can try to follow to make my life mentally and physically better. One improvement is to be better at blogging each Thursday! If you haven't already filled out our survey, please take a moment to go to the previous entry and answer a few questions about what you would like to see and read about here on The Pie. All comments and suggestions are welcome!

One thing my boyfriend likes to make fun of me for is my definition of the word 'cute.' I use cute in a lot of ways, but in particular, we'll watch a movie and at the end I'll say, "I liked that! It was really cute!" But the types of movies I say are cute are movies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and recently the movie Attack the Block. These movies usually contain a lot of blood and a lot of death, among other things. But I don't know, I think they're cute!

So who says zombies can't be cute too? I think they can, and many artists prove that they can be cute! While at a friend's house last night, we were talking about the kinds of toys we used to play with as little girls. We're both self-proclaimed tomboys, preferring Legos and action figures to Barbie or American Girl dolls. But one toy we both agreed we loved were My Little Ponies. Weren't they so cool? And I had them all. Talk of the ponies led to her showing me a website where artists have made custom MLP to look like celebrities or other pop culture figures!

And of course, there had to be a Zombie My Little Pony! Since my posts on Zombie Hello Kitty seemed so popular, I know there is an audience for other things that fall under my odd definition of "cute." Below are two photos from an artist named Nicole who goes by the screen/etsy name "Fugsly." She specializes in some cool customized ponies from superheroes to comic characters, and of course zombies! Her blog is pretty cool, although it hasn't been updated since 2009, and she gives some step by step instructions on how to deconstruct the little guys so that you could make your own special MLP.

If you follow the link to this blog, you will find other examples by some more artists who do cool things with this popular kid's toy. So check it out! Which custom My Little Ponies are your favorites?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Retreat, Retreat!

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?

Ah, writer's retreat. The ability to spend every waking moment on your craft without feeling like an utter asshole.The thrill of talking books and nuance and subplots without people's eyes glazing over or waiting for the opportune moment to switch topics to the Red Sox.

To get trashed watching THE ROOM with your friends.

I had such a blast at the last writing retreat, I'm definitely down with another one. As to who I'd retreat with, that's a no brainer: the WOA ladies. We all bonded and it was fuzzy and great. That's why we're talking about this year's retreat.

So if time, money, and location weren't an issue, I'd love to have Weekend of Awesome 2012 to take place somewhere with gorgeous scenery so that way we can being more writerly by staring out of the window and musing. Like this: 
I'm pretty sure Pam, Quita, Erinn, Katharine, and Holly would agree that we should rent this house now. And once the lottery magically lands in my lap, we will.

In terms of what I'd bring, that would be at least 2 books to read, my story bible, my laptop, and my manuscript. Plus all that other necessary stuff like clothes and money. So, Family, if you're reading and wondering what you can get Alicia for her birthday, lottery tickets*.

What about you? What would you take on a retreat?

* Or gift cards to Barnes and Noble. Or Dunkin Donuts. When in doubt, these are best.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Kick Off

We're a few days into the new year and, so far, it's looking slightly nicer than 2011. I'm still working out my goals for the new year, so that post will come later. Today is all about the blog's outlook for 2012. We'd love to hear your feedback on what we should do here. Please fill out the survey below and tell us what to can, what to continue, what to develop. A blog is only as strong as it's lurkers (and maybe it's bloggers).

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