Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Treats:
Paranormal Activity 3 & Long Awaited LINK Reveal!


Let's kick off this holiday right with a long awaited costume reveal. You've been patient and now it's time to show you my Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past ensemble...

Not a bad likeness. :D  I wasn't able to make the hat in time, but I'm so excited with the way the sword and shield turned out. The wooden sword was made by Swords of Might and painted silver by me. The shield came painted in azure blue and fitted with a metal grip by Medieval Fantasies Company. I added the designs using oak tag, silver paint, and buttons for the jewels.

The day after the Nintendo themed party - which was a lot of FUN - the hubs and I went to see Paranormal Activity 3! If you've been following this blog, you already know about my love of the Found Footage genre. PA3 is no exception. It met all of my expectations and didn't have the "prequel" stigma one bit. In fact, it felt like a natural extension of the first two films.
My one gripe is the lore behind the newest film. In the first two, we learn about a family curse that's haunted the sisters' bloodline for...well, I don't know exactly how long, but awhile. The women in their family have only given birth to baby girls, but the demon won't be appeased until a boy is born. And the child is "given" to him. They don't go into specifics, and frankly, I don't want to know what a demon would do with a little boy, but there it is. Reminds me too much of Henry VIII's obsession with sons - or was it wives? Anyway, I digress.
So, what does this have to do with PA3? Well, let's just say there are more family secrets than a simple curse. Not that curses are ever simple. But, you get the idea. If you're not a huge fan of the first two films, then save your money until it comes out on DVD. If you're a horror junkie like me, then run to the theater.

Rating: A- (minus for the oversight on the movie mythos)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Freaky Friday: Paranormal Activity 3 & Costume-to-be! (Teaser Alert)

I'm sorry folks, this one is a teaser post. I haven't seen the movie yet and I have to finish up my costume tomorrow. I'll hop on over the weekend and post both for you. But for now, please entertain yourself with these intermission dance numbers...

family guy brian animated gifs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three Ways to Write Through the Slush

Slush: liquid mud; watery mire.

Citation: slush. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from website:

When an agent or editor dives into the pile of query letters or manuscripts in search of that "gem", they dub the mess the "slush" pile. As a writer on the hunt, how can you increase your chances of trudging through this liquid mud, this watery mire to land at the top?

  1. Target the right agent or editor. This means putting on your research cap and investigating everything you can about the person. Use sources like or Follow their Twitter feeds. Use Google Books to see what they rep or publish. Read through their profiles and submission guidelines. Subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace.  
  2. Make your query letter AND manuscript shine. Use writing forums, critique partners, and beta readers. Revise, revise, revise! Take workshops or classes on the elements of the craft. Read through books like Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, Dave King and On Writing by Stephen King. Revise, revise, revise again!
  3. Make connections. Networking may not open THE door, but it can open many windows. Form relationships with other writers. Learn from their journeys. See what's worked and what hasn't worked for them. And most of all, be sincere. Don't ask what they can do for you, ask what you can do for them. Be the giver and you'll be amazed at how much you get back.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cosplay Costumes, Halloween Parties
& Nintendo

Two weeks ago, you all helped me figure out my Halloween costume - a Winter Pixie (courtesy of Heather McCorkle)! Yay! I'm so excited to put together this costume. Below are the pieces that I'm using in this creation. With the Juliet style dress, I'll be removing the gold ribbon and using white instead. The hair clips and wings will remain the same, and then I'll be adding some white faux fur - maybe a boa or hand mittens.
However - and here's the kicker - I have another party to go to that has a Nintendo theme! How cool is that? Oh come on, you know it's awesome. :-D  As a child of the 80s, I'm all about old school Mario Brothers, Zelda and Tetris. *Schemes to go as a walking Tetris puzzle piece.* Nah these guys already rocked it...
Click the pic for the youtube video!
Well, there is really no contest. If I'm going to the party as a Nintendo character, it has to be one from my all time favorite video game, ZELDA (all of them rock, but especially Ocarina of Time originally for N64 and Link's Awakening originally for Gameboy. Love 'em.) Now, no way is this martial artist and urban fantasy writer dressing up as the ultimate damsel in distress princess. (Sorry Zelda, if I was your writer, you'd have your own storyline saving Link. Just saying.) But, since that's not the case, I'm going as the kick butt - albeit slightly effeminate - hero, LINK! Below are the pieces I've come up with so far.
With some brown boots in my collection and a long-sleeved brown shirt, I'll be almost ready. Of course, the shield will hopefully come on time. And I'll need to add some paint, pretty designs and elbow grease to it, but it'll all be in the name of good Halloween fun. By the end, it'll look something like this...
Old School Link from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Yeah, old school Link, is there anything better? Hmm... Maybe I should have looked at the new model. Oh well, maybe next year.
New Link from Twilight Princess

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Celebrating Urban Fantasy:
Best Contest Annoucement

I've got the BEST CONTEST announcement ever for Writer Wednesday. Jaye Wells, author of the Sabina Kane series, has declared October, International Urban Fantasy Month! WOOT! WOOT! She, along with some of the most awesome authors in UF, are giving away five books to each of the five winners. FIVE!
To enter, go HERE and leave a comment stating why you love Urban Fantasy. You can also enter by leaving a love letter to Urban Fantasy on your blogs and linking it back to the contest (Be sure to let Jaye Wells know that you're doing this).
So, what constitutes a love letter? Well from the contest blog, "Talk about your favorite books or characters. Talk about what you love about the genre in general. Write a snarky haiku, romantic sonnet or dirty limerick. Anything goes as long as its about UF and how awesome it is."
Here's my attempt at a fun haiku to Urban Fantasy and a nod to my favorite authors in the writing community.

UF rocks your socks
Right off your big floppy feat
Cheers and bootay shake

I know, I know, it's pathetic. But, that's okay. It's all in the spirit of showing support for the Urban Fantasy genre. So, enter today and show your love!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Halloween Obsession and Not So Scary Decorations

Two weeks and two days until Halloween! Yipee! Did I mention for the umpteenth time how much I love this holiday? A few Freaky Fridays ago, you all helped me figure out my costume - Winter Pixie (pics to come) - and thank you Heather McCorkle for that brilliant suggestion. Now, it's time to review my favorite new decorations for this year that I sadly cannot buy because my husband will spontaneously - in a not so spontaneous way - combust if I put one more decoration into our one bedroom apartment.

*Let the wicked grin and plot to sneak in a few new pieces commence*

My top five favorites...
  1. The Candy Corn Mouse. A ridiculously cute mouse dressed up as a favorite Halloween treat. 
  2. The Witch Sitter. Who needs a babysitter when you've got this little witch? *Disclaimer: Tina does not condone leaving your children home alone with a stuffed animal as guardian.*
  3. Scaredy Cats. Adorable cats in need of a calming belly rub or behind the ears scratch.
  4. The Pumpkin Express. Hitch a ride on the coolest train since Harry left for Hogwarts.
  5. Wise Owl. An owl + a monocle = automatic win. He can even stay up for Thanksgiving.
If you want to buy any of these decorations, please note that I've linked them all to Terry's Village - my favorite store for home decor.

*Another disclaimer: I am not an affiliate of nor have I received money from Terry's Village for this post. I'm just a fan of the store and its adorable decorative items. :D *

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going On Sub...And Expanding Your Waistline

After you go through the hell process that is writing, revising and revising and revising, querying, and finding an agent, you revise some more, and then, go on sub. Unfortunately, it's not some underwater adventure filled extravaganza.

Not this...
Or this...
Or even this.
It's the time when your agent sends out your baby manuscript to editors from various publishing houses. They look over the adorable photos proposal package - usually a pitch letter, sample chapters and author bio, sometimes a synopsis aka bane of a writer's existence - and decide whether or not they want to read more. If they do, then the full manuscript is sent to the editor for review. In the mean time you try not to refresh your inbox, chase down the mailman or hound your agent write the next book.

Being on sub is an amazing time for any writer. It signifies that your work is actively seeking publication. EEP! ACTIVELY SEEKING PUBLICATION. I mean, YAY! In all seriousness, it is pretty surreal and awesome. I hope all you aspiring writers reading this get to experience the blinding fear joy of being on sub. And I promise when it is your turn, I'll happily pass around the virtual waist expanding junk food. Now, bring on some cookies, cupcakes and apple pie!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Celebration Contest Winner is...

Thanks for everyone who participated in the celebratory contest! Out of sixty-two entries, only one could win. And the winner is...

CONGRATULATIONS! Prize is your choice $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Results powered by

Monday, October 10, 2011

Phantom Island Pep Rally!

Go Team Go! I am so excited to introduce you all to Krissi Dallas. She's an amazing author and teacher whose books, Windchaser and Windfall, are being commercially released on December 13, 2011. To celebrate we're having a big pre-release Pep Rally and you can order your copies through the White Island Shoppe today.

To kick off this party in style, Krissi is hopping along the blogs with some special guests. Each day, her teen readers will reveal a little more about Krissi and her books. Today, I have the honor of hosting fellow Pyradorian, Robert! Take it away.

Robert & Krissi at Breaking Dawn Release Party
Hi, Tina! I’m excited to get to visit a fellow Pyradorian’s blog today! I am a senior in high school and, though I have known Krissi since I was in 7th grade, I would say I REALLY got to know her after reading the Phantom Island books! She has some very funny quirks that really come to light in her writing – especially through the main character, Whitnee. One defining quirk of Whitnee’s (and of Krissi’s) is her, um, FISH issues that you learn about in the very beginning of the books. Krissi also has her own flirting habits that come out in the books – and you only recognize them if you pay attention to the relationship between Krissi and Sam, her awesome husband (my youth pastor). They still act like teenagers themselves at times – always teasing each other. I have been on several trips with Krissi and she has a great sense of humor.Even in serious moments, there’s always that little piece of comic relief with her – and that comes through in the books. If you are a guy and thinking this is just a “chick book,” you are so wrong. I’m a guy and I believe this is a great series for guys, girls, teens, young adults, old adults, or whatever. Windchaser and Windfall really do contain everything readers could want – action, romance, suspense, comedy and so much more.

Robert & Krissi 2011
When Whitnee and her friends discover the Island, they also discover they each relate differently to one of the four tribes on the Island. In the same way, I think all of us readers find tribes we relate to more. I am a Pyradorian – the Fire tribe. Pyras are drawn to beauty, artistry, and emotion. We are empathetic listeners, passionate and spontaneous. Like Gabriel, the main Island character and Whitnee’s love interest, I’m “fiercely protective of those whom I love.” To find out what tribe you’re in, go to and take the tribal quiz. You’ll love finding a place for yourself in this series – it’s REALLY good. For more fun stuff about Krissi and Phantom Island, check out my friend, Angie, who will be participating in the Pep Rally on Wednesday at Kristie Cook’s blog! Until then, go have fun on the Island!

Great job, Robert! Pyradorians rock! Find out what tribe you belong to by visiting Krissi's official quiz page HERE. And check out how you can earn Spirit Points for awesome swag along our Pep Rally stops, by visiting HERE. Last but not least, don't forget to check out these both books from the White Island Shoppe. To entice you, here's a teaser of Windchaser and Windfall...


“One fateful summer night, when one rule is broken, five teenagers will discover an unexpected adventure full of magic, romance, and true friendship.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Freaky Friday:
Top Ten Horror Flicks for Halloween!

OCTOBER IS HERE! OCTOBER IS HERE! And that means... HALLOWEEN! It is by far and away my favorite holiday. The fun costumes, the trick-or-treaters, the candy, and the horror movie marathons! I'm giddy for the spooky spirit. To kick off the first Freaky Friday of October, I'm counting down my top ten favorite horror flicks.

10. Blair Witch Project (1999) - The film that capitalized the use of viral videos and shaky camera technology as well as relaunching the found footage genre. If you haven't seen it, it's a must watch, but not more than once.
9. Friday the 13th (1980) - Classic slasher flick meets camp time horror with a villain that rises from Crystal Lake. A lesson for all camp counselors to treat their campers nicely.

8. Sleepaway Camp (1983) - Another camp time horror and an ending image that will haunt your dreams for all time. Trust me. Not pretty.

7. Evil Dead (triology) - Bruce Campbell, demonic possession, creepy trees, a hand with a will of its own, a boom stick, and witty banter. Do you need anything else?
6. Halloween (1978) - Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode faces off against her evil brother, Michael Myers, and launches a series of sequels that propel her career for the next two decades. The haunting piano keys and Myers slow stalking stride create more fear and tension than blood and gore could ever hope to do.

5. Dracula (1931) - Don't mess with the classics. As much as I love Gary Oldman - with the fire of a thousand suns - you can't beat the master, Bela Lugosi, when it comes to portraying the iconic vampire.
I want to suck your blood!
4. Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 (2007 & 2010) - Arguably two of the most successful films in the found footage genre - with a third coming out in two weeks! The clever sequel it beat out its predecessor - Blair Witch Project - in its ability to come up with a film that did not betray the original movie.

3. The Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - "One, two, Freddy's coming for you..." Who hasn't gotten chills down their spine hearing this bastardized version of a children's rhyme?

2. Saw (saga) - Every one of these films in the series is incredible - except maybe for the 3D flick, haven't seen that one. The puzzles, the twisted games, the more than what they seem victims, the endings, it's all incredible.
1. The Exorcist (1974) - Hands down the best of the best. It stays with you long after it ends. It makes you look over your shoulder and squint into the darkness. For over three decades, its claimed a top spot on the majority of horror movies lists, and definitely stays in the number 1 spot for me.

How about you readers? What are your favorite horror films of all time? Not a horror buff, that's okay, tell me about your Halloween plans.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So You're Looking for a Literary Agent...

Thank you to all of you wonderful blog readers, tweeps, family, friends and writers out there who've showed your enthusiasm over last week's agent signing news. I am both humbled by and grateful for each and every one of you.
In the hoopla of the amazing week, I've spoken to many people and received several questions about what being a writer truly means. The question that has been asked the most, however, was the following...

"What do I need to do to get an agent?"

It's a difficult question to tackle, but for this Writer Wednesday I'd like to give you a basic guideline of what that road entails. First, you need to answer every one of these questions with a resounding YES.
  1. Can you write a book, edit it until it sparkles, and send that book out into the world?
  2. When you face hundreds of rejections, can you continue to write?
  3. Can you continue year after year, book after book to write and send out your work if you don't get an agent offer?
  4. Can you narrow down your 50k, 60k, 70k, 80k, 90k, 100+k novel into a 250 word query?
  5. Can you handle criticism at every turn - critique partners, beta readers, agents, editors, etc?
  6. When one of these people tells you that your book is the worst thing they've ever read, can you smile politely and say "Thank you for your time and consideration"?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then you can BEGIN the journey. Now, here's your guidebook.

STEP 1: Write an awesome, amazing, out of the box book.
STEP 2: Edit that book until you can't stand to look at it anymore.
STEP 3: Take the advice of trusted critique partners.
STEP 4: Edit it again.
STEP 5: Test it out on beta readers.
STEP 6: Edit it again!
STEP 7: Pull out your hair. Chew your fingernails. Write your query letter.
STEP 8: Seek advice about your query letter. Visit the FOR WRITERS links, bottom left.
STEP 9: Edit your query letter.
STEP 10: Test out your query letter on a batch of 10 agents.
STEP 11: Wait for responses.
STEP 12: Wait some more.
STEP 13: If you're getting requests, great! If not, revise your query letter and revisit your opening pages.
STEP 14: Repeat steps 10 -13 over and over again.
STEP 14: If all goes well, you'll get an offer from an agent and happy dances ensue. 
Sounds simple, right? HA! I've featured a writer on this blog who spent eight years and six books to land an agent. I've had another who has fought to gain, and then lose, three different agents before finding one that truly "got" her work. My own journey marked one year and one day from querying to agent offer, after I'd spent several years rejected in a different genre. Is it true that some writers get agents in a matter of days? Yes, for some lucky few. But, don't let anyone ever tell you this journey is easy. It takes hard work, dedication, and a oil tanker full of self-confidence - even when you feel like your works sucks.

The best advice, I can give anyone wondering about this journey is simple but oh so important...
If you don't, no one else will.

And remember only two more days left to enter contests!

From Tina & Yelena in celebration of our agent signings HERE and HERE, double the chance to win $10 gift cards from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Winner's choice! Contest open until October 7th.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hairspray Cans Make the Best Weapons

The first official post of Monthly Monday is here. In this segment, I feature stories about the wacky adventures of my family and friends on the first Monday of each month. Since it is October - and that means Halloween time - I'd like to tell you a spooky tale involving me, my friend Lynn* and a can of hairspray.

*Note: All names of human family members may be changed to protect them from horrible embarrassment. Dogs' names remain the same.
On a cold Autumn eve, in the year *cough*, seventeen year olds, Lynn and Tina sat giggling in front of a TV screen - not the flat kind. They laughed as another stupid girl in a horror movie ran up the stairs to get away from the killer instead of using the obvious choice of exit - the front door.

"Why don't they ever learn?" Tina said, shaking her head at the blatant idiocy.
"Because then you wouldn't have a horror movie." Lynn said.
"True, but I don't think the people in these movies could find it even with a blinking EXIT sign."
"You're probably right."
The girls continued their assessment viewing of the horror movie, squealing and tsking at the appropriate moments. By midnight, they finished the film and awaited the arrival of Auntie N back from her date. Tina had been staying with Auntie N for several months by now. As they clicked off the TV, a sudden bang crashed from beyond the front door - one flight down.

"What was that?" Lynn said.
"Dunno. Let's check it out." Tina said, already bolting for the window.

The window and the balcony revealed nothing but tree limbs blowing in the wind as the girls struggled to find the source of the noise. As they were about to shrug it off as a freak occurrence, another bang echoed through the house.
"Is it coming from outside?" Tina said.
"I'm not sure. Should we go check?" Lynn said. "Maybe it's your aunt?"
"Why would she be banging downstairs? She has a key."
"Maybe she forgot it."
"Let's call her first."

The phone rang once, twice, three times before turning to voicemail. Without an answer, the girls decided to brave the unknown and have a look outside, but not without backup. Tina fetched her cousin's baseball bat from his closet and Lynn grabbed a can of hair spray and a lighter. Since Tina volunteered to lead the way, she had one small request of Lynn, "Do NOT light my hair on fire!"
Creeping down the stairs, they checked closets as they passed - Tina bracing the bat in hand and Lynn aiming the hairspray. Finding nothing, they proceeded to the front door. The banging grew louder. Tina gripped the doorknob and steadied the bat. Lynn positioned the hairspray.

"On three?" Tina said.
"Okay," Lynn said.

The girls rushed forward courageously, but found nothing but empty air waiting for them. They thought themselves safe and went to go back inside, but out of the bushes came a creature, hollering and staggering toward them. Courage forgotten, they raced up the stairs - like the stupid girls from horror movies - screaming their heads off. Fortunately, the creature turned out to be Auntie N hidden behind a rain jacket and having, indeed, forgotten her keys.

Thanks for reading this month's monthly Monday story! And don't forget to enter these contests...

From Tina & Yelena in celebration of our agent signings HERE and HERE, double the chance to win $10 gift cards from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Winner's choice! Contest open until October 7th.