Sometimes, I sit and stare at the blog screen and try to think of cool things to say. Sometimes, I come up with stuff and run to the computer, type it all out, then schedule it as a post for later. And sometimes, I get awards and do a happy dance, spill my coffee, sit it down, then dance some more. Today is one of those days.

Thanks to L. Diane Wolfe at Spun on a Stick, I've received the Versatile Blogger award.

According to, the definition of versatile is capable of or adapted for turning easily from one to another of various tasks, fields of endeavor, ect.: a versatile writer

Did you see that last word? Just checking.

It's the perfect award for me, I think, because typing whilst tweeting whilst drinking coffee whilst writing and whilst reading blogs is as versatile as a person can be.:) I don't get awards often, and I think the last time I got one, actually, I completely lost my mind and forgot to say anything about it. Whoops. (It's not my fault, people, I was depressed, but now that I'm Snippy Snuffulupakins I won't feel that way anymore.)

Anyway. Awards are awesome. I love them. I truly do. And one of the best parts of this award? I get to share seven things about myself. You, my readers, are lucky people. Who says Tuesdays aren't exciting?

Seven things about me that you probably didn't want to know but have no choice because you're reading this blog (or may know if you'll been following this for a while) are...

1) <---- Every time I do this now, I think of this post.

Where was I? Oh, Right. Number one.

1) I have a strange sense of humor. Lovemuffin knows this. Here's an example of what I mean:

Last night I was sitting in front of Henry (my laptop, for any newcomers out there), messing around on twitter. Every few minutes I'd start laughing, and finally he turned away from his Playstation/X-Box/Atari thing and asked what I'd found so amusing, to which I answered, still laughing, "Me!" (Actually his exact words were, "What's so funny?". I don't think I've ever heard him say "amusing". I thought amusing sounded better, so I changed it.)

So to summarize, my humor flies right over most people's heads, but I'm okay with that. At least my jokes amuse me.

2) I write in the dark. A lot. I can't go to sleep unless I write down everything that's swirling around in my head. This is a great habit, from a sleeping standpoint. However, it is dark, and therefore, some mornings I have no clue what I wrote the night before. Case in point:

DSC_1400.jpg picture by munchi5gal

Uh, WHAT? Oh well. At least I got a good night's sleep;)

3) According to Lovemuffin, I have ugly hands and feet. This is due to me being completely grossed out by the feel of any sort of oily, slimy anything (what you weirdos out there call "lotion"). Luckily, writers hands don't have to look good. Long as they can type and hold a pen, that'll do the trick.

4) I'm absent-minded. A little. It's a writerly thing, I think. Friday the girls and I were going to run a few errands, so I walked into the kitchen with my keys, grabbed my wallet, picked up my "free coffee" cards off the dishwasher (thanks, Honey!), walked over to the table, and I'd already lost all three cards and my keys.

The kids came running in the house, saying they were frying (why would they climb into the car during the summer without the keys?), and after going through my wallet ten times, I found the cards in a zipper pocket in my purse. Did I mention that the distance from the dishwasher to the table was no more than five feet? Oh, and the keys were hanging on my arm.

5) Grammatical errors are one of my pet peeves. Disclaimer: I am in know way saying that I'm good with grammer we all make mistakes once and a while but when your going to type words and your not tweeting or texting with a limited amount of characters the leest you can do is remember what you were taught in school

Simply put?

You're = you are
Their = a possessive form of the word they, it's not a place, over there.
Definitely is definitely spelled just like that.

For a longer list of my pet peeves (along with lovely illustrations), check out this *awesome poster* from The Oatmeal.

6) Here's a simple one. I love owls, the internet, and coffee. And Lovemuffin, and my beautiful girls. And writing, and my friends, and reading books, and watching movies.

7) Speaking of movies, I'm obsessed. No really. Ask anyone who's ever watched a movie with me. I have to explain who everyone is, what movies they've been on, what they wore thr past week, everything the actors and director said during the commentary, how different the book was compared to the movie.... The list goes on. And on. And on.

If you're still awake, that's seven plus who knows how many other things about me.

And now it's time to pass the torch. Are you ready?

Here are some bloggers who have entertained me lately. (There are plenty more, but after much deliberation, I decided to mention three.)

Simon C. Larter at Constant Revisions

Tahereh at Stir Your Tea

Again, thanks for the award, Diane! =)

Friday Focus

The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. 
~Raymond Chandler

This week's quote is a good one.  I do better when I let go of expectations because, in my experience, the slower I go, the more I over-think things.  I've found that the best things come to me when I allow the words to flow from my fingers and onto the page.  Ultimately, whether or not it "works" or is perfect for that part of the story is irrelevant.  I'll have plenty of time to worry about that in the editing process, later.

Isn't it Ironic?

Music and me = inspiration.  As far as writers go, that's nothing new, but once in a while a song will come on the radio and make you immediately think of your MC.  (Not "This made me think of something new to write", but "This is exactly like a person I'm writing or have already written about".)

Today it was Ironic, by Alanis Morissette.  Totally made me think of Calli, the main character in my WiP. (Ironic, isn't it?)

Has that happened to you?  Do you have a song that could practically be the theme for your MC?

Repeating these words constantly is so redundant

Hi ho, Snippy Snuffulapakins here. <--- said like Kermit the Frog, but in a more lady-like voice

I'm working on the WiP, and noticing yet another flare up of the same ol' words. Plus a new one or two.  Just shoot me.  And that's my problem, because I don't know how I'm going to make myself stop.  It's too hard, so I'm going to just go ahead and tell you, because the list is pretty short.


Those are the five that seem to pop up the most.  

What are your crutch words?  What did you use instead to change it up, or take their place?

I read a blog this morning where a newly published first time author stated she was able to remove 300 words by deleting most of her "that"s and "just"s.  

That could *so* be me.  (Probably more than 300.)

I'd like to re-introduce myself

So, let me start off by saying that I'm annoyed. Annoyed that I love my name, annoyed that so many other people love my name, annoyed that all of you out there think that naming your kid Jessica and having the last name I have (or marrying into it) is okay. Because it's not.

It's really, truly not.

I blogged about this a long time ago, on my website (which, now that I've mentioned it, I need to update, in a major way) before I decided to come on over to the ol' blogger and blog on here, instead. (Anyone wanna help me figure out how to make a tab on my site that sends people to this blog? I can pay you in uh, in uh... Coffee! Great. Thanks.)

Anyway. I'm not really the kind of person who would think that I'm the only person who deserves to have my name. (Yes I am.) But I went with a friend of mine (who's been a friend for a while now, but I just met today, long story, look for that blog in the next few days) to a writer's meeting Saturday, and on the way home we got on the subject of how popular my name is, and the possibility of a pen name.

Imagine my relief when I Googled the "alternate" name, and it was pretty much as popular as my actual name! *insert frustration, an immediate message sent to her on fb of me ranting, and complaining to my husband (after which he decided we needed to Google his name) here*.

So after much consideration, I've decided to hereby change my writing name to Snippy Snuffulapakins.

Isn't it great?

Friday Focus

So I think every Friday I'm going to focus on a quote that's meant something to me throughout the week. Today's is by Francis Bacon, and it's perfect for me, as I'm going through the beginning stages of the new book (the part I love most), where ideas come out of nowhere throughout the day pretty frequently.

Write down the thoughts of the moment.  Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.  ~Francis Bacon

Happy Friday!

Fix the Orchard of Rules Later

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." 
— William Wordsworth

I was tinkering around on here and just came across this "draft" I never posted way back in MARCH. I'm guessing this must have been right before I went into writing hibernation. Anyway. I read it right now, and felt it was something worth sharing. Not going to edit it or anything, as that may take away from what I was feeling at the time (plus, to be honest, I don't remember this at all and don't want to screw up what I had been trying to say).


I was driving home after dropping the kids off this morning, thinking about going over my oldest's homework last night (adjectives and participles), and as I looked into one of the orchards on the side of the road, an analogy popped into my head.  The rows of trees standing to attention, lined up one right after the other, they reminded me of writing rules.  Each tree could stand as one rule, and no doubt there would have been enough rule trees to cover the bases for writing a novel.  Don't use too many adverbs.  Show, don't tell.  Punctuation, grammar.  Avoid being redundant.  Cliches must not be overused.  Keep the correct point of view, don't change your tense.  And on and on and on.

Sometimes it's hard to write when so many of these "rules" are hanging over our heads.  They become a weight on our shoulders, and erase the fundamental reason for writing in the first place, which, in my opinion, is writing something from your heart.

I just wanted to remind everyone that words from our heart means the most. Telling (or should I say showing?) the story still needs to be the goal, our main focus.  And of course we need to follow the rules, but don't let them get in the way of saying what you need to say.  Write from your heart first, then go back and fix the orchard of rules later.

My Version of the Top Ten Writing List

Today I was going to blog about the writing process and a new tool I've found to keep my erratic thoughts under control. (Because even though I read about this idea plenty of times on this here blogosphere over the past year, I'm stubborn and refused to do it with my first MS, but have totally gotten into it with my WIPs. Needless to say, now I *get* why it's so helpful.) Instead, I'm going to go off on an unrelated subject, because it just came to me, and it's my blog, and I don't always have to stick to the plan (so there).

I have a confession. I'll never be able to say I'm a great blogger. I'm not. I know this, and used to beat myself up about it. That was one of the reasons I fell off the map for over two months not that long ago - because I was feeling the pressure of being interesting, blogging about things people might actually want or need to know.

Most writers blog often about what to do, the right way to do them, and better yet, how to do those things, and do them well. I can't do a whole lot of that yet though, mainly because I'm new to this whole thing and still have a lot to learn. Another reason? Every time I go to type something out, I feel as though I'm writing what fifty bazillion people have already done.

But fear not, my readers! There are a few things I can share with confidence, so hold on to your coffees... 'cuz here I go.

Jessica's Top Ten List of Writing Don'ts:

1. Never write/type/edit when your eyes are tired - unless you actually like the terrible eye wrinkles look. (Don't believe me? See picture below.)

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(How old am I again?)

2. Never a bag of *insert your favorite candy or chip/pretzel/any kind of carb here* sitting next to you while you write each day because, chances are, you'll eat it all during your writing frenzy (or block, it could be either one). Then you'll be sad when the bag is empty, which will throw off your writing, and even sadder after weeks of this when you can't fit into your chair anymore, due to each of your thighs now being the size of a small child. (Sorry. No picture for you on this one.)

3. Do not have old shows blaring from the TV in the next room while you're writing, unless you want to waste precious writing time listening to them, remembering how much you loved AC Slater and how awesome you thought he looked in those ridiculous tank tops.

ac-slater.jpg picture by munchi5gal

(I mean, sure, the occasional walk down memory lane can be nice, but is listening to conversations between Mario Lopez and Mark-Paul Gosselaar really going to be that inspiring?)

4. Never, and I mean NEVER edit first thing in the morning before drinking at least one cup of coffee, first. There's nothing worse than going back when you're actually awake and wondering, "Who the heck wrote this? And what were they thinking?"

5. Don't attempt to write with twitter, facebook, or any other kind of social media websites up in windows next to your WIP on the computer screen (yes, other blogs do count). As Kathy Bates said in "The Waterboy", it's the de-bil. The De-bil, I tell ya! Minutes turn into hours when you're on those things. (What? No way. How can I be the only one with this problem?)

6. Be cautious of your "brilliant" idea to record those late night thoughts with your cell phone video camera (so you don't have to get out of bed, or worse yet, write in the dark), unless you can 100 percent guarantee that some time the next day (before you have a chance to write it down), your kids won't be playing with your phone.

7. It's best not to burn any cookie, vanilla, butter cream, or coffee scented candles while writing, or your writing time may end up sounding like this...

"Once upon a... "


" ...time there lived a... "

ice cream!

"... girl who liked... "

chocolate ice cream with FUDGE!

" eat fudge..."

Oh fudge! Where was I????

8. Yes, you are a writer, which means you're talented (that goes without saying), but don't let that go to your head and make you think you're coordinated enough to type on newly painted nails without destroying them.

9. When writing down ideas and cooking dinner, take your paper and pencil into the kitchen. (That way you won't forget about the potatoes frying in the pan, because your family won't be too happy when you serve a side dish that looks like charcoal.)

DSC03021.jpg picture by munchi5gal
(Incidentally, this is a picture I found on photobucket.
Mine looked much, much worse than this!)

10. If you ever decide to blog about a writing list, make sure the topics involve things you actually know.

I could mention many more don'ts, including writing and driving, not saving your latest changes before logging off the computer, and how bad it is to leave your most recent awesome idea next to the scratch paper your kids use for painting, but I think a ten-item list is good, for now.

So how about you, my fellow writers? Do you have a writing faux pas to add to the list?

How do you choose what's worth writing?

Today's blog title says it all.  How do you choose which story is worth writing?  

Currently I'm working on two projects.  The first one is another women's fiction story (and - yay me! - just two days ago I figured out the title), and as I stated not too long ago, a YA idea has been coming to me lately, as well.  

Being caught up in a young adult story is an entirely different world compared to writing for adults.  There are more possibilities (things can be "out there" a little more and still believable),  difficult conversations to write (for me anyway, I am over thirty twenty-five, you know), a whole new set of relationships (parents, for one), and so on, but I'd have to say that I'm truly enjoying doing both.  Except...

I feel like the absent-minded professor.  I'm jotting things down as they come to me, back and forth, one notebook to the other.  If I get really into one of the stories then I'll spend a few days on it... then eventually move on and the same thing happens with the other one.  

It reminds me of how I clean my house.  If the plan is to dust and do laundry, I usually start out right on track.  Then, next thing I know, odd jobs around the house start to distract me.  The baseboards are dirty.  I never hung those two pictures on the walls.  That one window needs to be cleaned, but I don't really feel like doing the rest.  Before I know it, it's hard to see what's actually being accomplished.

I realize that working on two at the same time isn't what I should be doing.  Time devoted to a specific story line is definitely going to show more progress, and a heck of a lot sooner, to boot.  So how do you decide which one should be occupying your time?  For me, working on an entirely different genre might be a total waste.  Or, it could turn out better than I'd ever imagined.   

So what would you do?  Go with your gut, and stick to what you're used to?  Or take a leap of faith, and do something different for a change?

Gardening and writing are a lot alike

A few weeks ago our family planted a garden. We'll be eating plenty of cucumbers, cantalope, bell peppers, tomatoes, and even yellow watermelon (hopefully) in the next few months. But before spending hours in the backyard cutting out grass, leveling the ground, making a wooden frame and bringing in dirt and soil, we germinated most of the seeds under a grow light in the house.

It took less time than we expected to see plants sprouting out of the soil, and with only a little time, effort and water, our seedlings became big and strong. The next step was transferring them to a larger container so their roots could grow, and then it was time to get them accustomed to the sun. It's been really windy here the past month, so along with getting used to the sunlight, the little plants also needed time to get used to being whipped around.

Planting day was a laborious job, and not a fun one, in my book. I followed the girls around, tsking them for not packing the dirt in enough around the delicate little plants, or getting tired when they were only halfway done. But we survived the long afternoon, and it is now time to deal with the task of weeding and watering, and the enjoying the process as we watch them grow.

Two weeks ago we realized we'd forgotten to germinate our squash. My mother-in-law even came over to help, and we sat around the dining room table, preparing the soil pods, organizing the seeds, and labeling them with little signs. After a week or so, I decided it was time to move them outside. And then... I got preoccupied with my writing.

This is how they ended up.

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See what happens when you don't give them the time and effort that they need?  These plants used to be nice and strong... now they are ugly and weak.  I was staring at them the other day, frustrated with myself for wasting everyone's time, and then I realized...

Gardening and writing are a lot alike. For one, it's easy to see the end result in the distant future, to automatically expect the big, bountiful production that's bound to arrive, eventually, at the end. I'm going to have big juicy watermelon, tons of plump tomatoes, and a bunch of cucumbers. And with the latest piece I'm working on, I'm going to have a neat ending, everything will come together, and the story will be wrapped up all perfect and nice.

But nothing is that easy. Rewards don't come without hard work, and the little things, preparations that go into gardening, like consistently pulling weeds and watering to keep the plants alive can be monotonous and time-consuming.

It's exactly the same with writing. The day to day process may not be fun, but making time everyday to consistently crunch out words and ideas in order for an entire story to come together - well, that can be just as monotonous and time-consuming as gardening, if not more so.

And just like with gardening, it doesn't take long before you start feeling worn down and stop seeing the fun in it, if you forget to look at the work right under your nose and only focus on what should happen in the end.

I'd like to be able to say that after my little gardening epiphany, things picked up and both my garden and my WiP are in tip-top shape. That would be the perfect ending to this post, don't you think? Sure, the garden is doing well, and for the most part I've gotten over the fact that our chance to have squash this year has been squashed. (Ha ha.) My writing, on the other hand? Well, that's a bit of a different story. (Bah-duh-dum)

I know the beginning, I know the end, I know the middle. Actually, I know the entire story line, but the problem is, there are two. The main one has been obvious from the beginning, but the secondary one, yeah, not so much. So instead of looking at the ending and being frustrated that I can't get there as soon as I'd like, I'm going to cultivate my ideas, store them as they come to me, and write them down. Every. Single. Day. And eventually, just like with our garden, I'll have produce. It may take longer than the summer, or who knows, maybe one day I'll go from having a few ideas to suddenly knowing the entire thing.

Either way, I plan on sticking with it, no matter what. You know why? Because nothing feels better than showing off something you grew with your own hands. Well maybe one thing does - showing off something you wrote all by yourself.