About Me

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Hi, I'm Jamie. I'm a writer, reader, and huge TV junkie. I just might post about all three here on this blog. Have a look around. And if you want, drop me an email and tell me what you think. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

waiting on wednesday: The Water Wars

The lovely Jill (a fellow Alabamian!) over at Breaking the Spine created the Waiting on Wednesday meme for us bloggers to showcase books we're waiting on. Like all of you I'm sure, there are tons of upcoming books that I can't wait to read. But one that I'm most anticipating (at least for the month of January!) is The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher.

The Water Wars
By Cameron Stracher
Pub date: 1/1/11

Product Description from Amazon.com

Would you risk everything for someone you just met?

What if he had a secret worth killing for?

Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...

Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.

But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret-something the government is keeping from us...

And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him-and the truth-before it is too late for all of us.

Doesn't it sound amazing? And the best part? It comes out in 3 DAYS! Yes people, on 1/1/11, The Water Wars hits the shelves...and you can bet I'll be first in line to snag a copy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

midwinter's eve giveaway winners!!

That's right people, I said Winners...cause I decided that since I had so many entries (132 total) I would add Two More Winners to the pot! Yay!

A huge Thank You to all of you guys for making the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop such a success! And amazingly, astoundingly, unbelievably, I got more than 100 new followers out of it! That's just insane! So thanks to all of you for that.

And now on to the winners.

I used Randomizer.org to pick the winners because it's the fairest way I think. Each of the three winners below will have the choice of any book from The Book Depository ($10 or less) and need to email me with their book selection and mailing address so I can get those ordered. Being that this weekend is Christmas, it's gonna take me a few days to get it done. But I'll get it done!

So without further ado, here are the winners!




Congratulations to all the winners! Please email me with your mailing address and book choice and I'll get those sent out as soon as I can.

And if you entered and didn't win, don't fret. Please stick around (don't unfollow me...it breaks my heart!) because I'm gonna have another contest when I hit 300 followers - which is right around the corner!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

midwinter's eve giveaway hop!

Hello all, and welcome to the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop! It's hosted by the awesomeness that is I'm A Reader, Not A Writer...go ahead, check it out after you're done here. (And my apologies to you all - I have no clue why this post didn't go up at midnight!)

This hop is a quick one - only two days long - but it's a good one! There will be tons of giveaways over the next two days, so after you've entered mine, hop on over to the next blog on the list and enter theirs. Then the next, and the next...well, you get the idea!

And to celebrate this Midwinter's Eve Giveaway, I'm rewarding one lucky person (US & International, too!) with any book they want from The Book Depository ($10 or less)! Cool, right? I like getting free money, so I thought you guys would, too. My requirement for entry is super simple: Follow my blog and comment on this post. That's it!

So go ahead folks, click the 'Follow' button to the right and leave me a comment below. Tell me your favorite book, what book you're dying to read, or just say "Hi!" and you're entered. Simple, right?

Remember, you only have today and tomorrow to enter all of the blogs on the list, so move fast, folks! I'll (hopefully) announce the winner on Thursday so be on the lookout for that.

So follow this blog, leave a comment, and you could win a book!

Here's the list of all the blogs participating in the giveaway so you can easily move on to the next one! And thanks for visiting!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

don't be a hoarder!

We hear it all the time: Streamline your writing. Take out all the "unnecessary" words, phrases, dialogue, characters...make your writing tight and beautiful and perfect. Yeah. If it were as easy to do as it is to say, we'd all have books on the shelves, right?

But there is a way, I believe, to achieve the goal of tight, beautiful prose. And I think the A&E show Hoarders gives us a prime example how. Just bare with me, I'm not as crazy as I seem.

In some way or another, writing is like this show. The people showcased here collect as much stuff as they can and keep it. Forever. We as writers tend to do that, don't you think? When we start a first draft of "The Next Great American Novel", we are deeply in love with our words. All 150,000 of them. We don't want to lose a single one. We argue with ourselves, our crit partners, our beta readers, that each word means something to the overall story.

It won't make sense without that adjective!
But I need that "that" in there!
I know I used "just" 1,284 times...I meant to!

Sound familiar? Yeah, I do it too. But we can't, people. We just can't. If we do, our WIPs are gonna look like this:

Yeah. Imagine all that stuff is really words, piled from the top of the page to the bottom. Ugly, huh? None of us really want that, no matter how much we say we do. So let's try to not be Hoarders, and clean it up.

Like the experts tell the guests on the show, you have to dig deep to find out what the real root of the problem is, and begin there. Otherwise, you'll end up right back where you started. In our writing, we too need to dig deep. We need to dig deep into the back story of our characters to find what really makes them tick. We need to dig deep through our creative minds to find the words we really want to use instead of those plain, boring, unnecessary ones. We need to dig deep to discover that less really is more. Piece of cake. Done.

If only.

To me, the task of cleaning up my completed first draft was overwhelming when I first stepped into the world of "wanting to be a writer". So overwhelming, in fact, that I completely scrapped my first completed work just so I wouldn't have to edit it. Crazy, I know. But at the time, I just couldn't handle the stress of revision. (See how I like the word 'just'?)

Fast-forward nearly a year, and I'm exactly the same! Nah, just kidding. Now, after "digging deep" into the world of author blogs and agent websites and "How To Write A Book Without Really Writing It" books, I fully understand the all-encompassing need to revise, revise, revise.

That doesn't mean I want to, though.

I know that there are some writers out there who absolutely love revising their work. They speed through the first draft like a meth addict rifling through a stranger's belongings, just so they can get to the editing. I envy those people, I really do. I wish I could have the Gung-ho attitude they possess. But alas, I do not. I have to rely on my own lacking will power to get my butt in the chair and revise. But I have learned something that helps. And I learned it from Hoarders.

All you have to do is break it down room by room. On the show, the expert organizers and therapists that are brought in to help the hoarders usually tackle one room at a time so as not to overwhelm the homeowners. They would take the kitchen you saw earlier in this post and completely empty it, throwing out all the unnecessary junk and trash, putting back only what is necessary for survival. Boy that sounds good, huh? Don't you wanna get rid of the junk and trash in your WIP and leave only what's necessary for it to survive? I know I sure do.

For my current completed first draft, I am in the process of revising. And I've decided to break it down "room by room" - starting with the dreaded adjectives. We all use them, we all love them. And I'm sure we all abuse the heck out of them, too! Overuse, misuse, whatever you wanna label it, we all do it. I'm going through the entire ms, only paying attention to my use of adjectives, nothing else. Once I'm done with that, I'll go back to the beginning and work on something else (word repetition, probably). Then when I'm done with that pass, I'll go back to the beginning and pick another faux pas. And so on and so on and so on...you get the idea.

I'm hoping that revising this way will be much less stressful in my mind, and that I'll actually enjoy it. Who knows? Maybe once I'm done, my ms will look more like this:

So what about all of you? How do you revise? Do you see any of your writing in this kitchen - either before or after?

Friday, December 10, 2010

congrats to the YA cuzzes!

Who knows if "cuzzes" is even a word, but it's my blog and I can use it if I want, right?

Anyway, just wanted to say a quick CONGRATULATIONS!! to Pam Harris at Y(A)? Cuz We Write! She won a FULL MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from the awesome agent Weronica Janczuk!

How cool is that? Pam was one of my very first followers here, so I just had to give her a shout out...way to go Pam!

And her blogging "cuz" and real-life "cuz" Marquita Hockaday was the first on the Honorable Mentions list (which technically means she came in 2nd Place, right? Which is awesome!) and she gets a 50 page critique from the same awesome agent!

I love your blog, ladies, and just wanted to say congrats on your amazing wins!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

bad blogger...or, how my muse moved in with me

Let me start by saying Sorry. My apologies for not posting anything on this blog for sooo long (hides head in shame). I made a post a while back saying I would at least try to post once per week (I know that's lame...forgive me) and so far I'm not holding up my end of the deal. Again, sorry.

But I have a good excuse. You see, my Muse called several days ago. She was traveling across the United States on her way to Arizona to help a certain vampire author pen her next Worldwide Phenomenon and needed a place to crash for the night.

I was giddy with excitement at her call, but then immediately switched to worry when I remembered what happened last time she made that call: She showed up for one day and then was gone, leaving me with a really good premise and nothing else. I cursed her for weeks after that. So needless to say I was a bit apprehensive (well, after the initial elation wore off), but I finally agreed to let her spend the night with me, deciding to not put much into anything she might say or offer up throughout the night. I fully expected to find a quick little note saying "Thanks for the nap!" stuck to my fridge and all my milk gone.

Well, imagine my surprise when I found my Muse nestled right next to me when I woke the next morning. I stayed in bed an extra 20 minutes, unmoving for fear of sending her on her way. But she stayed! Yes folks, she stayed. We got up, had a very nice breakfast, and she immediately went to work.

And she hasn't stopped.

She has basically moved in with me. She's taking showers at my house, washing her clothes, eating up all my food...and filling me with so many wonderful ideas to help with my current WIP revisions that I can't get them down fast enough. And even though I've had to make extra trips to buy milk (boy does she love her milk), I'm loving it! The walks we take, the hours-long talks that spawn major plot points and character developments...agh!

As you can see, even though I've been hugely neglecting my blogger duties, I do have an excellent reason: a new house guest! And it's the good kind of house guest - the kind that gives something in return for your hospitality - not the kind that eats dinner at your place every night without offering to cook first.

So please forgive me everyone. If you've by chance been missing seeing posts from writers write, right? on your blog roll, don't blame me. Blame my muse.

What about you guys? Has your muse inspired you lately? Has she offered up any ideas? Has she moved in for a while? Or has she bypassed your place entirely and taken the red-eye straight to Arizona to inspire that other writer?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

mega-awesome giveaway, folks!

The lovely Larissa over at Larissa's Bookish Life is hosting a 3rd Blogoversary & Christmas giveaway that you all should really check out. She's choosing multiple winners with multiple outstanding prizes. Don't hang out here...go see for yourself here!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Lunarmorte by Sam Young

Welcome to my first book review! I've been wanting to begin reviewing some of the books I read for a while now, but I've never been able to find the time (we all know how that is, right?) But with this 4 day weekend, time suddenly presented itself! So, here's my very first review...

Page count: 298
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Publication Date: July 30, 2010

From Amazon.co.uk :

Amidst the magikal children of the ancient Greek gods lives a girl destined to bring their ancient war to an end. Caia Ribeiro has lived a life of isolation and mystery since the death of her parents and her separation from her lykan pack at the age of seven. Returning ten years later under the supervision of the pack's young leader, Lucien, Caia finds herself seduced by pack life and her enigmatic guardian. But when strange happenings lead to near exposure of their world, Caia begins to realize Lucien and the elders have been keeping unforgiveable secrets, leaving Caia to come to terms with the truth of her dark and unique heritage. Scarcely given time to adjust to her new reality, the war she believed stormed only on distant shores crashes on her doorstep, forcing Caia to put aside her conflict with Lucien in order to save them all from an old enemy and his relentless pursuit. Lunarmorte is the first book in a trilogy.

My review:

I really enjoyed reading Lunarmorte. The plot, though not unique (it's about werewolves), is told in a way that doesn't leave the reader feeling like it's something they've read before. Caia is a great character that changes completely from the beginning of the book to the end and I rooted for her throughout the entire book. I really understood how she felt because her emotions were on the page - from anger to jealousy, happiness to rage...Caia expresses herself well.

The romance in the book will definitely have readers in the YA genre excited, with somewhat of a love triangle between Caia and two of her packmates: The loveable Sebastian, who genuinely cares for Caia and wants to be there for her; and Lucien, the young pack leader who struggles with his feelings for what he considers a child. These two hot-on-the-page wolves keep Caia spinning from one to the other all the way through the story. Since Lunarmorte is the first book in a trilogy, Caia's romantic interest has yet-to-be-determined, but my vote is for Lucien. He's sexy and powerful and the scenes between the two of them are riddled with sexual tension and tenderness all at once. Lucien cares greatly for Caia but has difficulty coming to terms with the attraction he has towards her...which makes for great reading!

The wolf pack is a great part of this story, too. Though I did find it a bit difficult trying to distinguish between all the names in the fairly large pool of characters, the main players in the pack are well written and held my interest. One of them plays a pivotal role in the plot's progression that was a twist I didn't see coming but that I really enjoyed.

There aren't too many problems with Lunarmorte that I can point out - except that it ended and now I have to wait for the 2nd book!

One difficulty that took me a bit to adjust to was the difference in writing style from the US to the UK. Several words are spelled differently [favorite(US) vs. favourite (UK)] and different words altogether are used that posed a tiny problem getting into the story at the beginning. But once I adjusted I rarely noticed them any more.

The only thing I would have enjoyed more would have been an action-packed opening. I'm all for back story and setup, but I like to be dropped in the middle of action from the first page and then fed back story later on. This book did some set-up at the very beginning, but it was in no way discouraging for me. I simply read through it, and a couple pages in I got a feel for the story and was on my way to the end.

Overall, I give Lunarmorte 3.5 stars. It was a highly entertaining read that kept me glued to the pages and eagerly anticipating the next installment. Well done, Ms. Young!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

blog jog giveaway winner!

Thanks to all for stopping by and commenting during Blog Jog Day. There were lots of great blogs on the jog so I hope you all were able to visit many!

And for my giveaway, the lucky winner is...

Linda Henderson!!

I've emailed you, Linda, and you have 24 hours to respond before I have to pick another winner.

And for those of you who didn't win, no worries. Once I hit 200 followers, I'll be hosting another giveaway. And who knows, it may happen during the holidays...wouldn't that be a nice gift!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

She pulled at the chains and then looked at him wildly. "They're strong, husband. Small-time they may be, but they can't be killed easily."

- Lunarmorte by Sam Young, pg. 159

Monday, November 22, 2010

I need your help, guys

So when I opened my email this morning, I received a nice surprise...a partial request! *dances around stupidly*

I know, it's exciting, right? Who knows if it will lead to anything. But the fact someone out there liked my submission (it was a query with ch1 included) and would like to see more is great! It lets me know that I'm doing something right, right?

But, not all is good news in the email, I'm afraid. For you see, this particular person would like to see some more of my writing...in the form of a synopsis! *apologizes for no forewarning of the "S" word* Agh! I know, I hate them, too. But it has been requested, so therefore it shall be written.

But I - and I'm sure a lot of writers out there are with me - have no clue, really, how to write a synopsis. I mean, I know what it is, what purpose it serves, but as far as structure and length and the style in which it should be written is foreign to me.

So that's where I need some help. If any of you know where I can go to find some great synopsis-writing advice, could you please let me know? Maybe some examples of some good ones? I know I could just do a Google search, but I figured someone reading this out there has probably already found the gems in that Google list, so why not ask, right?

Thanks to you all, and wish me luck!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

it's Blog Jog Day!

Hello all, and welcome to Blog Jog Day! It's an annual "running of the blogs" if you will, where lots and lots of people from all over Blogdom join in a "jogging" celebration to spread the word of what blogging is all about. You'll find blogs showcasing everything - not just the ones here in our little world of writing and reading - so please, join in the fun!

When you're done peeking at my site here, please go check out the next blog in the list, Subjective Soup, at http://subjectivesoup.blogspot.com and learn something new!

Remember joggers, if you drift away from the chain of blogs, simply visit the Blog Jog Day blog for a complete list of all participating blogs.

And one more thing...comment on this post between now and midnight CST on Tuesday November 23rd and you'll be automatically entered into my giveaway for a chance to win $10 in books from The Book Depository!

Happy Jogging!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

will you jog with me tomorrow?

If you said "yes" to the question in the title, then stop by my blog tomorrow for National Blog Jog Day...a day when you can hop around to a huge list of bloggers and learn some pretty cool stuff!

So come by any time tomorrow, Sunday November 21st, and join in the blog hop! And I'm probably gonna be giving something away, so you won't wanna miss it!

look what I got!

This was a great week for checking the mail! This is a quick pic of what I received this week, thought I'd share with you all. I won each of these in blog contests (aren't contests great!).

L to R

Haunted Honeymoon by Marta Acosta - Haven't read it yet but heard it's great!

Twilight White by Stephenie Meyer - These are special only to the UK. So now I have a US and a UK set...awesome!

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick - Oh I can't wait to read more of Patch!

Friday, November 19, 2010

old wip, new wip...cool whip!

So I, like thousands of others, am deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo. There's roughly a week and a half left and I have about 12k more words to hit the 50k. But what I'm doing this year - versus the time I entered a couple of years ago - is a bit different. I decided to take my finished MS and completely rewrite it. Yeah.

Old Wip
I knew after I finished my 2nd round of revisions that the story needed a major shift, so when NaNo rolled around, I thought it a perfect time to do what I felt needed to be done. I don't think, however, that I'll be completely done with the manuscript by the end of NaNo (the original version is 70k +), but I should meet the 50k goal (fingers crossed!).

New Wip
Apparently I thought that dealing with a complete MS overhaul wasn't enough to fill my free time, because I decided to start a new wip as well. Yeah, I'm crazy like that. This new wip is still in the beginning stages, however, and I don't have a deadline like NaNo, but I still feel some pressure to get it done. I don't know why I feel that pressure, but it's there; but I am really liking this new piece very much. Don't get me wrong...I love the characters and the story in my old wip, and I'm really enjoying throwing some new troubles their way. So even though it's crazy tackling two stories at once (at least for me it is), it's nice to switch back and forth from one to the other.

Cool Whip!
I know that most people turn to chocolate when they feel stressed but I have a confession to make: I don't really care for chocolate. (Remain calm everyone. Remain calm.). I like some chocolate, of course - Hershey's kisses and Reese's cups are the two that constantly nag at me - but I don't seek it out when I'm feeling overwhelmed. If I did, I'd be in serious trouble health-wise. No, my big thing when it comes to sweets is ice cream...oh how I love my ice cream! And don't even try to give me that sugar-free gunk in a box they try to pass off as real...I ain't buyin' it! I want the sugar-filled, fruit-filled, caramel-filled, whatever-filled stuff that packs on the pounds. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

But of course, like the chocolate, I can only take it in moderation...you know, for my health. So to make a long story short (too late, right?) I have found a pretty good alternative to ice cream. Cool Whip.

'What?!' I hear you all screaming through my computer screen. 'Are you insane?' And I answer those questions with "Yes!" and "No!" respectively. If you've never tried this, give it a shot, okay? Take a container of Cool Whip (even though I hate the sugar-free ice cream, I love the fat-free Cool Whip, so I recommend buying it instead of the fat-filled stuff) and stick it in your freezer. After a couple of hours (if you can hold off that long, which I can't sometimes) pull it out and grab a spoon. Trust me...it tastes like vanilla ice cream! Yeah, crazy, I know. But give it a try and see if you like it. Believe me, it helps curb those sugar cravings you probably get when struggling with your writing. At least, it does for me.

So what about you all? Any weird cravings that you have while writing? And what are you working on right now? One wip? Two? More? Lemme know, and happy writing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

do you know Livy?

First I want to thank you all again for such an outstanding 100 followers giveaway...you guys rock!

And as an additional little 'thanks', I thought I'd introduce you all to someone you may not have heard of...yet. Her name is Anne Michaud, and she's the brains behind a really cool site, Livy Parker's Journal. Anne has created a website from the point of view of her main character, Livy. There are several entries that you guys should go check out, but here's a sample of Anne's writing...enjoy!

The Raid Bell

There was the salty smell of the sea, cold waves hitting my calves, algae swirling around me. The sun was so bright, I’d never seen the sky so blue… and then Dad woke me up. It was the middle of the night, around three, when I heard it. Loud, crazy, all around the Macro: the Raid Bell. There was fear in his voice as he told me to get dressed and bring my identification papers, so I didn’t argue.

The first time it happened, I was ten and Dad was out on an assignment. Uncle Roger was teaching me the rules of chess in his penthouse. I remember how he turned white as a ghost when the first ring reached us – he FREAKED OUT, lost his mind in worry for Dad, and made me go underground without him. His driver came with us to the bunker under the building, everyone so scared, and I thought Dad was dead. I never cried so much in my life, stopped only when he came back the next day. He’d been stuck in another bunker under the Macro, unable to reach us until the Army had given the green light for everything to go back to normal.

Last night, well, last night was quite different. When we made it to the panic room, after many dark flights of stairs – both elevators had stopped working, one with people still inside - we were told our bunker was full. No kidding, I saw it; everyone was standing close together, in their pajamas, looking tired and frightened. They all recognized Dad, of course, but no one said anything. Famous journalist or not, everyone was the same here - trying to hide and avoid the enemy’s incoming planes. And like everyone else, we were both scared. A lot.

‘Where are we supposed to go? What are we supposed to do?’ My dad’s voice became loud, louder than the bell still ringing, getting louder with each minute. There was no need to panic, though; the Army had it all under control.

In a bullet-proof Humvee, we were transferred to another location further into the Macro, away from the coast, deep into the next district, near the factories. The ride was actually cool: no one in the streets, only military personnel running with weapons – plus, the lieutenant was SPEEDING. And I mean, motion-sickness speeding, especially when he turned corners and stopped suddenly to let Army trucks and Jeeps pass. Kinda fun, though, if you forgot about why we were driving so fast.

‘She’d hate it,’ Dad said, waiting for my answer.

‘She would,’ I agreed. As always, our little inside joke about Mother, the-one-who-shall-never-be-mentioned-out-in-the-open.

When we arrived there – I didn’t know where we were, it was so dark and the huge searchlights dancing in the sky were quite distracting - the soldiers made us run into what seemed like an abandoned building: a decoy. They opened the back door onto a curved tunnel, voices coming from beyond, the smell of dust mixed with fear.

Then the door opened on a group of refugees, like Dad and me, people who were caught outside where they shouldn’t have been, far from home or their designated bunkers. This one wasn’t full, and there was even hot tea and those instant coffee crystals Dad loves so much. Someone tapped my shoulder and I thanked whatever god that I’d had time to change out of my cartoon-sushi pajamas. When I turned around, I was facing ERIC.

Of all people, of all places. He’d been out with his friends when the alarm started ringing and the soldiers brought him here, like Dad and me. So I was the only one to get grounded after our little trip to the Civil Security station? Yep. Only Dad. Only me. Great.

‘You recover all right from Saturday?’ he asked me before I could stop him, before I could gesture to him to lower his voice and just Don’t Talk About Saturday. But oh too late.

Dad eyed him up and down then gave me his look: the one where his eyes go red and bulge like mad, as if I suddenly turned into some ghost with a chainsaw. He took one deep breath, chose to ignore Eric (everyone else, too, for that matter) and screamed, at the top of his lungs: ‘You got arrested with a boy?!’ My dad, you had to give it to him, he knew how to make a scene.

What happened next? I blushed (it was actually painful to feel my cheeks in FLAMES) and Eric just went to sit with his friends. I prayed and wished for the raid to be over soon. Twelve hours later, my genie finally heard me and we were able to leave. Dad? He didn’t even look at me for the rest of our stay. Instead, he did what he does best: he talked to his fans and ignored me.

My birthday is in a week. Hope he’ll forget about all this by then…

Monday, November 15, 2010

look what I got!

I just had to post a pic of the AWESOME gift I got in the mail when I got home tonight. The lovely Sam Young sent me her novel Lunarmorte that I won in a contest...but she went all out with the swag! I got the book (which is signed!), a Lunarmorte pen, a Lunarmorte notebook (that is identical to the book cover!), a Lunarmorte keychain and (not pictured cause it's too big) a Lunarmorte poster (which is signed!)!!

How cool is that? If you haven't visited Sam's blog, seriously...go check it out. And pick up a copy of Lunarmorte for yourself. I plan to read it next (right after I'm done with Nightshade!) and post my very first book review right here...so stay tuned for that!

we have a winner!! aaand a few extras!

So I have to start by saying how awesomely awesome (yeah, I said it twice) you guys made my 100 followers giveaway! I now have over 160 followers and there were roughly 95 comments entered for this drawing...how cool is that?

So as promised, I have one winner for the Grand Prize: all 5 Vampire Academy Novels!

But since you guys went above and beyond, I will too. I'm adding 4 MORE WINNERS! That's right, I've decided to increase the winnings 5 fold. Now before anyone gets confused, the additional 4 winners will only be getting 1 book - not 5! I'd go broke trying to buy 5 sets of the VA novels!

So without further ado, here are the winners in my 100 followers giveaway, beginning with fifth place and working my way up (you know, for dramatic purposes...)

5th place

You win a copy of
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening & The Struggle

by LJ Smith!

4th place

Michelle @ Clover Hill!
You win a copy of
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan!

3rd place

Michael Antonio Araujo!!
You win a copy of
Fat Vampire
by Adam Rex!

2nd place

Michelle Davidson Argyle!
You win a copy of
by Kiersten White!

and the Grand Prize winner of all 5
Vampire Academy novels is....

Ginger @ GReads!!!

Congratulations to all of the winners...you guys rock!

You have 72 hours to email me with your address before I must pick new winners, so hurry and contact me so I can send you your prizes! And thanks again to everyone for making this contest great.

And if you didn't win this time, don't worry. As you can see, I'm pretty close to 200 followers, so when I get there I'll be doing another big giveaway!!

it's officially over, folks!

My 100 followers giveaway has officially closed! I'll count up the comments from the beginning to midnight CST and I'll pick a winner tomorrow morning...so be on the lookout, and a HUGE thank you to all of you for making this giveaway a great success! Good Luck to you all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

last day for a giveaway!

Today's the final day to enter my 100 followers giveaway, guys. You have until midnight CST TONIGHT to follow me, comment with your favorite book and spread the word somewhere in internet land.

** Be sure to comment on the contest post below this one!! **

So hurry and tell all your friends so they can take a chance on winning all 5 Vampire Academy Novels!

I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow. And just so you know...since my followers jumped WAY past 100, I'll be throwing in some surprise EXTRA winners, too! And if the number keeps climbing, I'll keep adding winners.

So spread the word!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

my 100 followers giveaway!!

First let me start by saying how awesome you guys are! I put out a message asking you all to go forth and spread the word, and boy did you. My followers quickly jumped from 75 to 101!! So a huge thank you for that!

And now, as promised, it's time to give away some loot! I have 5 Vampire Academy books sitting quietly on my bookshelf, just waiting for someone to read them (I already have). So it's time to get those babies in a box and get them shipped out!

For this giveaway, I'm gonna keep things rather simple. If you wanna be considered "in the running" for the 5 VABs (that's Vampire Academy Books), you only have to do two things.

Number 1: Comment on this post, telling me your favorite book (a great way to learn about books I've never heard of, right?).
And Number 2: Spread the word about my contest.

That's all you gotta do. When you comment, just leave me a link telling me where you mentioned this giveaway - Facebook, Twitter, wherever - and the name of your favorite book and you're in! And you're more than welcome to mention it in multiple places (thanks!), but I'm not gonna do the whole "extra points" thing. Just one entry per person, to keep it simple!

So, comment away guys. Tell me your favorite books, tell me where you mentioned this contest, and in 1 week, on Sunday Nov.14th at 12:00am CST, I'll close the contest and let Randomizer.org pick a winner! Easy peasy, huh? I'll announce said winner on Monday, November 15th, and that person's box o' books will be on its way!

And remember, it's open internationally, so for those of you who live outside the US who follow me, your comments are welcome (and thanks for the follow!).

And as an added bonus, if my follower list keeps growing, I just may throw in a second winner! Not sure yet what that prize would be, but it'll be good, too!

Friday, November 5, 2010

wanna go jogging?

If so, hop on board Blog Jog Day! It's a really cool way to meet some awesome people and blogs, and maybe even gain some new followers!

The event begins on November 21st at midnight, and I would bet there's gonna be some really great giveaways, so you're gonna want to get involved, right? And there's still time to sign up here, so don't wait...get jogging!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I smell a giveaway in our future!

So I've been absolutely surprised with that tiny little box on the right side of my blog. You know the one that says "Followers"? Yeah, I've hit 75! I can't believe it. You guys are totally awesome, and I can't say thanks enough. I promise that this blog is only gonna get better!

And speaking of better, why don't I throw a little something out there, you know, to say thanks. I'm thinking something black and white and "read" all over (yeah, I'm cheezy like that!)

I'm talking about a giveaway, people!

That's right, I'm gonna be holding a super-awesome contest/giveaway for all my followers! I love doing them, and what better way to say "Thank you for being a friend" (cue Golden Girls theme song) than with something free, right?

And since we're all about the books, of course the prize is gonna be a book. But, and this is a big one...I'm not just gonna give away one book, oh no. That would be oh-so-lame. No way...

I'm gonna give away 5 of them!!

Yeah, you read that right. I'm giving one lucky follower of mine 5 books! And which 5 books will that be, you may be wondering? Hmmm....

How about a set of the Vampire Academy novels! (boy I love exclamation points!!)

IT'S TRUE! IT'S TRUE! The winner will be getting all 5 Vampire Academy novels!! How cool is that? (they're not signed unfortunately, but awesome anyway, right?)

But, and my apologies go out to you, there is the tiniest of catches. To actually get this contest/giveaway on the road, I'm gonna need a little help from all of you. Nothing major, really. I just need you all to hit up your fellow blogging friends and tell them to come on over and visit my blog. And, of course, to follow me!

Because I'm gonna be the villain here and hold this awesome prize hostage until I hit


Yes, you read that correctly, too. Think of this post as a teaser. I won't actually be holding the contest/giveaway until that itty-bitty 75 turns into a great big 100. When that happens, I'll make a post telling you all about what you have to do to win these great books. So go forth, tell all your friends, and get them over here, pronto! And once I hit 100, it's on!!

note: Forgot to mention...IT'S INTERNATIONAL, TOO!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

it's a logline contest, people!

That's right. If you have a really cool logline for a novel you've finished (or one you're working on or one you want to write), then head on over to Chocolate Reality and sign up! The wonderful Steena is holding a logline contest for anyone interested, and the grand prize is a critique from Michelle McLean! How cool is that? The awesome Ms. McLean will be offering up either a query or 5-10 page critique for the winner, so go ahead and add your name to the list and compete...you know you want to!

And here is my entry into the logline contest...enjoy!

Title: Scarlet
Genre: YA Paranormal

Ava Prynne walks the line between super cool and total dork, desperate to be popular. But after a video of her being drunk and "flirty" hits the web and she's labeled the school slut, her dead-for-centuries cousin Hester takes over her body and exacts revenge for the women of Prynne.

(rewrite omitted by me...I'm gonna go with my gut and stay with the original!)

Friday, October 29, 2010

spooky swap swag!

So a couple weeks ago I signed up for the Spooky Swap over at Inked Books and I'm glad I did. Because today when I got home I found a sweet little package waiting for me! And inside? Lots o' stuff!

There was of course a book: Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones that sounds really cool.
Some great pencils and erasers: a necessity for someone who loves writing longhand!
A really cool orange skeleton cup that I plan to use all day on Halloween.
A pair of purple socks, a cute necklace, and what looks to be a hand-knitted scarf: Hey, even though I'm a guy (prob my fault for not specifying) it's totally cool - My baby sister (well, she's 30 but still the baby) has already snagged it all!
And some candy: My absolute favorite - Snickers! (they're not in the pic cause they didn't make it to the table!)

So a super-huge thanks to Jessica T. YOU ROCK!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

awesome giveaway, gang!

Hey guys, this contest ends Saturday night, but I think it's a great one. Head on over to Tell Great Stories and enter. Just don't be upset when I win!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm a finalist! Now go forth and vote.

So this morning was a nice surprise for me...I became a finalist in Brenda Drake's Cliffhanger Blogfest (see my previous post)! There were ten finalists chosen and I'm one of 'em. Isn't that great? Well, I guess you all are excited on the inside, right? That's cool.

But now I need you guys to head on over here and vote for me (or someone else if you like theirs better...I won't be mad, promise). Voting only lasts 24 hours, so head on over and cast your vote! And thanks for all the comments on my excerpt...you guys rock!

Monday, October 25, 2010

the never-ending scene blogfest!

When I came across this blogfest (I know, another one...I'm an animal!) I knew I just had to enter it. It sounds like it's gonna be really fun! I can't wait to read all the entries (and vote for my faves!). So here's my entry into Brenda Drake's awesome Never-ending Scene Blogfest...I hope you all enjoy!

“It’s big.” Sophie’s words mirror my thoughts. The Facility looks like a five-star hotel instead of a medical clinic. A glass castle…with armed guards.

“Don’t let it intimidate you.” I grab her hand and pull her with me. The two of us bring up the rear of the group. You can feel the tension in the air. No one wants to step through the security checkpoint; there’s no turning back after that. Not that we have a choice. It’s like the old military draft, when boys went to war against their will, barely trained and ready to kill. Except this isn’t war. This is survival.

I’m behind Sophie as we reach the burly-looking guards and their machine guns. They don’t look at us as we file through the large, grey chamber. Two more soldiers stand to the right of the chamber, staring intently at a small screen. It’s a body scanner. They’re making sure we aren’t concealing weapons. But why? Why would we bring weapons to a place like this? Has that happened before? And why the guns? Are we in danger? My mind swirls the questions together with fear and paranoia about what the innards of The Facility will bring as I wait impatiently for Sophie to be scanned. Once it’s my turn, I cautiously step onto the chamber platform. I barely get three feet inside when an ear-piercing siren sounds and both ends of the chamber seal shut.

My mind clouds with panic. I frantically rush the entrance of the chamber. I pound on the cold surface and scream for someone to help but I know I’m wasting my time. Why are they doing this to me? What did I do wrong? I don’t have a gun hidden anywhere, no other weapons. I didn’t even pack a fingernail file. I’m no threat here. Especially here. The Facility is supposed to be a place of hope. Why do they think I would destroy that?

I give up screaming and scan the chamber. My lungs tighten in my chest as the realization of my enclosed quarters sets in. The walls feel alive, moving, closing in on me. Don’t panic, Hannah. Don’t panic.

I fall against the door. My legs crumple beneath me. I’m defeated. They’ve won. I’ll do whatever they want if someone will just let me out of here. My mind can’t handle the claustrophobia. Reality warps. Shadows gripping the upper corners of the chamber begin to move. Long, black arms reach down, making contact with the cold floor. Lithe bodies peel from the walls. Two of them, equal in size and terror, move toward me. I don’t panic, don’t even acknowledge them. I can’t. I’m frozen with fear. Part of my brain knows this isn’t real; the rest is scared to death. I don’t want to die. I don’t want the shadow monsters to take me and torture me and kill me. As their gangly fingers make contact with my skin, my eyes close and everything goes black.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

cast your villian!

Nicole at WORD for Teens is having a really cool poll and giveaway. She's asking readers to cast their favorite villain. Simply pick a villain in any book and an actor you think should play them in a movie. Easy, right? So run on over and enter...and you could win a copy of The Body Finder and an ARC of Desires of the Dead. How cool is that?

So here's my uber-short job as a Casting Director. I'm choosing High Priestess Neferet from the House of Night series by PC & Kristin Cast. She's super-evil and devilishly wicked. And I think it'll take a tough actress to portray such a devious, menacing character.

If they make a movie (which rumors are they will) I would love to see Neferet played by Darryl Hannah.

I know what you're probably thinking. How could the mermaid from Splash be mean? I have 3 words for you:

Watch Kill Bill

trailers as queries? sounds good to me!

Trailers. You see them everywhere. Books, movies, even some commercials are built like a teaser trailer, designed to get you hooked on something and go out and buy or watch it. Movie studios hire people to do nothing but create trailers for their movies. Those people get paid to pull the best pieces out of movies and put them all together with cool graphics and dramatic voice overs to entice the public to run out and buy a ticket.

Authors have jumped on that bandwagon over the last few years, realizing that creating a trailer for their book would appeal to those who don't really read (yeah, there are non-readers out there). By pulling the best parts of their book and mushing them all together with cool graphics and dramatic voice overs, they've done something really cool: they've turned their query into a movie.

Think about current movie trailers you see on TV. They take tiny snippets from the movie - whether it be a sound clip or a spooky face or whatever - that they know will have viewers saying "hmmm, that sounds interesting" or "I wonder what this is all about", while simultaneously introducing us to the main characters and the basic problem he or she faces. Isn't that what a query is supposed to do? Introduce the main character(s), show what major problem he/she faces, and hook an agent? Sounds like the same premise to me.

So my question is, what about us writing "hopefuls" taking our queries and turning them into book/movie trailers? Maybe agents could make the shift to watching queries instead of reading them...I'm sure they'd be much more interesting! What do you guys think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

my 2nd award!

So the lovely (as I've said before) Erica & Christy are not only running the Half-marathon of Words competition (you really should join, seriously), but they have also given me my Second Blog Award!!!

Yay! It's so exciting! And how cool is it that not only is it an award, but it's the "You're So Cool You're Getting Cupcakes!" Award!

Oh wait, that's not it. That's what I wish I could win.

No, the awesome award the lovelies bestowed upon me is the "Sweet Friend" Award! (at least, I hope that's the name) How cool is that!

So, a HUGE thank you to Erica & Christy for thinking of me...you guys rock!

And in the spirit of giving, I'm passing this along to a few of my blogging "friends"...enjoy!

1. Pam Harris

2. Jen Daiker

3. Bekah

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

half-marathon of words!

I just realized that I haven't even told you guys about this *hangs head in shame* Sorry to the lovely Erica & Christy for not spreading the word about their really cool writing challenge. It's super simple, and I don't know the exact rules/guidelines, but if you guys wanna sign up, I'm sure they wouldn't mind (but it is a competition, so if you're gonna join, you better hurry!).

So I've decided to work on my newly-begun WIP, a YA Dystopian. I've never done dystopian before, but the idea of altering the norm is really fascinating to me, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I began the half-marathon with 4,400 words and I'm only now up to 9,200, but I'm loving it! The story is unfolding nicely and I can see the big picture, which is much better than I can say for my latest completed MS that, frankly, stinks! I'm actually gonna re-write it (as mentioned in my NaNo post just below this one), so maybe I can fix it...we'll see!

But anyway, for those of you wanting to get focused on writing and give yourself a challenge, go sign up on their blog...and join in the controlled chaos!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm nano-ing...are you?

So I'm sure if you're a writer in any form (published, non-published, part-timer, full-timer, whatever) you know exactly what
NaNoWriMo is, right? Yep, it's that time of year again! Time for all of us to slink into our caves and do nothing but put words to paper (or screen) for an entire month.

I've attempted NaNo before, and failed miserably. November is a busy time for me at my day job, so I wasn't able to focus the way I needed to to get things done. But this year, I think I've got a good shot at finishing. Because I'm not exactly starting from scratch, like the rules suggest.

No, this year, I'm going to do a re-write! That's right, I'm going to take my already completed MS and completely rewrite it. I've been thinking about this for a few months now and I honestly feel that it needs it. It's good, but not great. So I've been tossing around some ideas to make it better, and what better time to do that than during NaNoWriMo, right? And I'm not going to be taking large chunks of what I've already written and throwing them in with some new stuff, no. I'm going to be literally starting over, using the same characters and plot that my completed MS has. So basically I'm throwing out the old and starting over. Lord, help me!

So wish me luck, oh faithful followers...cause I'm gonna need it! And tell me, are any of you taking the NaNo plunge this year (friend me! jmanni32)? If so, are you gonna work on something totally new? Or are you gonna pull out one of your oldies but semi-goodies like me? Lemme know!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

animal writes blogfest!

So I guess I should just change the name of my blog to "guy who posts nothing but blogfests" huh? I do have other things to say, honestly. But these are so fun! I really had a good time with this one...hope you like! (the limit was 1k words...I'm way under that!)

4 September

Day 85 of my captivity. I’ve all but given up on escaping this dreadful place. My captors have outdone themselves with thwarting my attempts at freedom. All the scare tactics and combat training I have used they have managed to evade, mocking me with their incessant laughter. The larger, much hairier one has even gone so far as to equip my rather expansive cell with a massive see-through wall that I feel is meant to be a form of torture. I am clearly able to view the outside world for which I so desperately yearn, but I cannot access it. I hate him most.

The smaller of my captors is far nicer than her cohort, but is still on my list of enemies. She does feed me daily, however, so I must control my rage against her. She smiles constantly, and I try to return her enthusiasm, hoping to convey a false sense of complacency as my mind spins with escape plans. I don’t know how much longer I can last.

I swore to myself that I would allow this imprisonment to last no longer than two months, and I am now far past that. This revelation is depressing to say the least, but I will not let it interfere with my desire for freedom. That is my only focus. All the touching and pampering and various objects thrown on the floor to distract me will not deter my objective. I will escape.

I will leave this wretched place and never return. I will feel the grass beneath my feet and the warmth of the sun on my skin once again. I will eat with class, instead of from a bowl on the floor like a parasite. I will no longer be forced to endure hours of torture and abuse by being rubbed and manhandled and tossed around the room like a rag doll. I will survive.

And when I do escape, and I am allowed to roam this world freely the way it was intended, I will no longer be forced to answer to the most deplorable name ever created: Mr. Snufflewinks the Amazing Wonder-Cat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

small packages blogfest!

Boy I'm just eating up the Blogfests, huh? They're so much fun! Seriously folks, if you've never entered one, try it...it's like Text Twist addictive, really!

So anyway, Cerebral Lunchbox is hosting a Small Packages Blogfest, in which you (try to) fondly recall your all-time favorite Halloween episode from a classic TV show. I'm sure those of you old enough can remember that the Halloween episodes of sitcoms were really the highlight episodes of the season. I can remember getting super excited when October rolled around because I knew the shows were gonna go all in to out-do their previous year's episode.

And my all-time favorite of the classic shows was Roseanne. Yes, it was a vulgar, over-the-top, in-your-face show about basically a white-trash (or average, to some) family...which is why it was such a hit! It showcased how "normal" families lived. Don't get me wrong, I loved The Cosby Show and Full House and the like, but Roseanne was more like what you would see in the supermarket or at the beach. So I was instantly hooked. And as far as Halloween episodes go? Yeah, it was the best!

So here's a clip of my very favorite Halloween episode of Roseanne...enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

hook, line & sinker, people!

I’ve joined another blogfest, folks! These are really fun, so head on over to In My Write Mind and join in!

As per the Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest guidelines, here’s the beginning of a new story I’m working on. Please let me know what you think!

The goal of this blogfest is simple (yeah, right): see if you have established the hook that agents and editors scream about.

So as you’re reading my little excerpt, ask yourself these:

Who is the character I am relating to?
Does he/she have a personality that I crave to read?
Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they are introduced?
Are there secondary characters to assist the hook along, with conflict or pace?
Lastly: do I love the character? Do I want to read more about him/her?

And P.S....I had to convert to using the Old way of composing in Blogger, so if this post looks/acts funny, my apologies!

So without further ado, here are my first 1k words!

I want to brand the cow’s hide so bad it hurts. I want to push the glowing-red “G” into the heifer’s large black-and-white rump and hear it sizzle and watch it smoke and hear the cow yell in protest. I want to see my Dad smile and be proud of me for once. But I can’t. I hold the branding iron like a knife, cocked and ready to stab, but my arm won’t move; something is holding it against my body, hard and tight and paralyzed. It’s fear. Fear that one day this cow might come back to haunt me for what I want-to-but-can’t do. Fear that afterward I won’t feel any better…and the cow won’t feel any worse. I drop the iron, its clang against the concrete floor of the barn loud in my ears. I’m a failure once again; my Dad won’t be surprised.

The nagging presence of tomorrow eats at my brain, constant and throbbing. Sixteen. The Day. My life changes tomorrow, for better or worse I don’t know. As I pet the cow’s hide instead of burning it, I wonder if the cameras will be here when I go. Of course they will be; they always are. I never get a break. The short, fine hairs on the cow’s rump are rough and standing on end beneath my hand. Guess she’s as scared as me. I want to move around and look her in the face and tell her I’m sorry for what I almost did, but I can’t. I stay next to her jutted-out hip bone and stick-like hind legs, petting her. I’m not cut out for farm work.

“Hanna Elaina, get your ass in here!” I hear Dad yelling from the house even with three-hundred plus yards and a thick rain between us. I’m actually glad it’s raining – it keeps people from lurking on my front lawn. I smack the heifer’s hind end one last time, say “I’m sorry about that”, and leave the barn. I don’t care about getting wet from the rain or muddy from the sludge sliding down our sloped yard; I stay dirty most of the time already. Even at fifteen, I like being outside more than anything else. That’s why I like Clay so much. He’s an outsider, too. And that doesn’t just mean out-of-doors. I feel like an outsider everywhere: at home, at school, at church. It doesn’t matter…if people are around, I don’t wanna be.

I slosh through the rain puddles and mud and open the rickety screen door of the back porch that sounds like a dying cat every time it moves. I stand there a minute and let most of the rain water run from my hair and face and into my clothes before going inside. The stagnant heat slaps me in the face.

“Yes daddy?” I can always sound sweet when I need to; people might call me trashy, but they’ll never call me rude. My Aunt Lucy taught me how to be nice. Before she got herself pregnant and died having my bitch of a cousin, Margret. I’ve never liked her, never could understand how something so mean could come from someone as nice as Lucy. But there Margret was, red-haired and white-skinned and evil. Even at only ten years old, Margret knows how to get what she wants – and that’s always pissed me off. Some would say I’m jealous, but I don’t think I am. I don’t like her – I’ll be the first to admit it – but we have that my-mama-died-having-me thing in common, so I tolerate her. But I did learn from her how to bat my eyes and smile and talk nice until whatever I liked at the time was mine: new bike, new shoes, Clay. If I wanted it, I always found a way to get it.

“You mind telling me why you had that boy in my house?” I watch as my dad’s head nearly grazes the low ceiling of our kitchen, his wispy hair rubbing the mildew-stained tiles like a thinning feather.

“He wasn’t here, Daddy. I swear.” I know my dad is all talk; he might not like Clay and me together, but he won’t do anything about it. Since my mom died, he kinda lets me do what I want…especially now that I’ve learned how to get my way.

“Don’t lie to me, girl. I know you had that boy here. You two screwin’ around?”

“God no, Daddy! No way.” I had to bite my bottom lip to keep from smiling. Clay and I have been having sex for almost a full year now and I love knowing that my dad has no idea. It’s my way of getting back at him for being so hateful to me. And we’ve done it all over the house – even in his bed and we didn’t change the sheets after – and we plan to keep on doing it every chance we get.

“I ain’t stupid.” My dad smiles a little and smirks and snatches a beer from the fridge, drinking half of it without stopping. “And don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, young lady.” Another large gulp. I don’t have to stand next to him to smell his alcohol stink. It hangs on him like a flashing neon sign that screams “look at me, I’m a lousy drunk”. I’ve never hated him more, but I’m too scared to tell him that. I’m too scared to do what I want to do: to run away and never come back and forget all about my daddy and my dead mama and the cows that always need milking and brushing and branding.

“I know you two are doing it.” My daddy’s voice again, dirty and gross in my ears like rotten wax. He’s finished off his first beer and already on to his second; I know he’ll be done with a six-pack in less than an hour, just like every other night, and I’ll have to lock myself in my room so he won’t hit me again. I’ve gotten used to it. “You’re a whore just like your mama was.”