Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ALA Midwinter 2012

We're so fortunate to have ALA Midwinter in Dallas this year! Of course me and my Literary Lonestar pals will be there, and we cannot wait! We're planning a little blogger get together on Friday night January 20th. If you want to come, please go to Jen's blog and RSVP so we can have a head count. And for more information about ALA itself, visit their website! Will I see you there? :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

So Much to be Thankful For

That Wednesday started out as many normal days do. My husband got up and was getting ready for work, and I was lounging in the bed (it takes me a long time to get awake, I'm a big lounger :p). He came to tell me goodbye and I thought he had left. He came back in the room and as calmly as he could said, "You might want to call your mom... when you get up and get the chance." What? Why? "Their house got hit by a tornado early this morning." You know those moments where your heart plummets so deep down into your stomach, you feel like you'll never be able to breathe properly again? This is one of those moments. I called her and we talked for a while. Well, she talked, I squalled the entire phone conversation. I have never felt so heartbroken, so conflicted. I cannot tell you how painful it is to have your heart reside in two different places, both far away from the other.

Thankfully everyone is fine and escaped the storm unharmed. My mom's truck has to have some repairs, my dad's truck was totaled, and the house had some heavy damage, but nothing that isn't repairable. I can't tell you how many prayers of thankfulness I've uttered since then. Things could have been so much worse than they are. My parents have a long road ahead of them as the repairs are starting on their house, but we're all thankful and grateful.

I have blogged a few pictures about my childhood home previously (click here and here if you're interested), so I'd like to share some of the aftermath pictures with y'all today. Hug your loved ones extra tight this holiday season. Things can (and do) happen in the blink of an eye.

 The front yard before

The front yard after (the house is there, through the debris)

The back yard before

The back yard/back of the house after

Part of our old swing set. It's about 20 years old and made it through Katrina.

There was a covered carport here where my dad's truck was. They have no idea where most of the carport ended up.

 None of the pine trees my dad planted when they built the house survived. :(

One of the few trees that survived. (Along with my nephew's sandbox that wasn't moved an inch.)

Their storage shed. Or what was a storage shed.

Side of the house where a big piece of a tree came down. 

 Damage to the front of the house.

My mom, like me, is obsessed with books. Particularly cookbooks. All of her books are hanging about three inches out, from where the wind sucked them. Crazy.

The insurance company towing my dad's totaled truck away. So sad.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Long Time No See!

I've never said I was the best blogger. On the contrary, I'm probably the worst blogger I know. It's not that I don't enjoy blogging, I do, it's just... effort. And I'll be honest, sometimes (well most of the time) watching Youtube videos about cats is way more entertaining than writing a blog about my boring life. However, people do ask me every now and then how a certain project is going, and I'll realized I haven't blogged in a while. So this is fixing that. Yeah.

I did manage to "win" NaNoWriMo! Unfortunately I did not finish the book yet, but I managed to make it to 50K by November 21st. Yes I'm the idiot who finishes NaNo in three weeks. I don't recommend that any of you do that, but I wanted to "win" before we went home for Thanksgiving, and I did. I worked so hard those three weeks, and it was such a learning experience. It was my first middle grade book, as well as my first third person book (what can I say? I'm a sucker for pain.), so I learned a lot. It's probably one of the worst books I've written, but I also think it's one of the best. Yes, that sounds weird, I know. I started this book mainly as a joke. My goal was to make it as ridiculous and silly as possible. But the more I worked on it and the more I got involved with the characters... the more I thought I may actually have something. I've told the idea to a few people, all of whom are very excited. Which is silly to me. It almost makes me feel like I've cheated, you know? Not that writing this book was anywhere near easy, but it seemed easier. I don't know if it was the book itself or if since I've been writing so much it doesn't seem as daunting of a task anymore. And trust me, nothing is as daunting as that first book you try to finish.

I won't tell you what the book is about, and it doesn't have a name yet, but I call it Dead Santa. (My point with the book was to get in the Christmas spirit, we can see from what I call it that it didn't really work out.) I have about 10K left on Dead Santa, and I'll be done. It's been a bit... difficult. See this book broke all sorts of boundaries for me. Usually when I write a book I write the ending chapter first, then the beginning, then a main plot point that's around the middle of the book and fill in my gaps. But with Dead Santa... I just wrote whatever popped into my head. That was the point right? To make it as ridiculous as possible. I didn't want to give myself time to over-analyze things, so I just wrote. (Seriously, the book has talking gangster penguins and elves that are more like evil fairies than Santa's little helpers.) The problem, you ask? Well since I didn't write the ending first... I don't really know how to end it. I mean yes, I sort of know how it ends, but since I don't know exactly how ahead of time, I just keep rambling on and on. Well, my characters do anyway. They keep talking in circles, repeating the same questions, running around to random places. So as stupid as this sounds, if anyone has any advice on how to end a book, that would be lovely. Ha.

Since I did work so hard in November on Dead Santa, I decided after Thanksgiving to give myself December off.  Seemed like a good idea. I needed time to rest and prepare for the upcoming Christmas holidays. What seemed like a good idea actually made me a little crazy. I had a conversation with someone recently about how I didn't really feel like a "real writer." They said to stop writing for a while and see what happened. The results weren't good. These past two weeks I've been a little crazy. More than a little, actually. Even my poor husband noticed (and bless him, he doesn't notice much) so you know it was bad. I was listless. Restless. I recently made a Pinterest account, and while it was fun, it didn't do anything except help me waste more time. I cannot tell you how many craft projects and new recipes I've tried. No, it doesn't sound bad, does it? (Tell that to the five different wreaths I've made.) And I guess it's really not that bad, but I wasn't putting my time and energy into what's really important: Writing. It's my work, my job. It's what I do. It's how I should spend my days and how I'll eventually (God willing) make my money. I'm a creative person, and without weaving my creativity onto paper (or typing it on to a screen, actually), I felt useless. Apparently my brain and hands still need to do something creative, which is where all the crafting comes in I guess. It's interesting to be able to analyze yourself sometimes. And yes, it's nice to take a step back and get some prospective on your life, take a breather, but it's also good to be able to have the foresight to know when it's time to come back.

With all that being said, I am writing again. I worked a bit on Dead Santa today (yes the characters are still talking in circles, but at least they're doing something), and it feels good to be doing productive things again. Hopefully I'll finish the book before the end of the year. I have a few more topics I wanted to cover in this post, but it's already too long, so those will come later this week and next week. One will be about my 2012 goals, the other will be about how thankful I am for my family after my parent's house was hit by a tornado the week before Thanksgiving. Thank you all for reading my rambling blog posts and supporting me even when I am crazy. <3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ways To Give This Holiday Season

I love the holidays, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than to give to those less fortunate? There are two causes which I support every year, and both are near and dear to my heart.

The first is Operation Christmas Child. OCC takes up donations of shoe boxes filled with goodies and sends them to children around the world who otherwise wouldn't have a Christmas.

I've participated for as long as I can remember. If you'd like to participate, here's what you need to do:

*Find a shoe box (I usually buy the plastic shoe boxes because the family can use it after to store things in or use to get water.)

*Decide if you want it to be for a boy or a girl and fill it with things!

*Print a label from their website and include a donation for shipping (There is a $7 suggested donation per box. You can even check an option and they'll email you letting you know what country your box went to!)

*Wrap a rubber band around your box and drop it off! National Collection week is THIS WEEK so the sooner you do this, the better! (Click here for locations in your area)

Gift ideas:
small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), etc.

School Supplies
pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Hygiene Items
toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

Hard candy and lollipops (please double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps; sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)

A personal note
In a separate envelope, you may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. (If you include your name and address, the child may write back.)

Things not to include:

Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snowglobes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

My shoeboxes are all wrapped up and ready to be dropped off tomorrow! :)

The second charity I love to support at Christmas is St. Jude's. This is a super easy one to support, and also a bit fun. Answer me a question: What do you do with all of the cards you receive once the holidays are over? Did you know that St. Jude's has a card recycling program? They do! You can mail them the fronts of your cards and the kids at St. Jude's make new cards with your unwanted cards. The cards are then sold to raise money for the hospital. How brilliant is that? You can also purchase the handmade Christmas cards from St. Jude's, they're $10 for a pack of 10. As far as I know you cannot purchase the cards online, so call 1-877-977-7572 to place your order. They take donations year round and have a particular need for Birthday and Thank You cards. Already have your Christmas cards all planned for this year? You can also purchase inserts to put in with your Christmas cards. For a donation of your choosing (though a $5 minimum donation per insert is suggested) you can let your friends and family know that you support a great cause by making a donation in their honor. 

To donate your card fronts, please mail them to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

I'm sure you all have charities that you like to support during the holidays (or year round!) so please let me know what they are in the comments so I can check them out! I'm always looking for new ways to give.

Bah Humbug! ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Sorry for the radio silence the past few weeks. I was desperately trying to finish the first round of revisions on my dystopian time travel novel (which I finished at about 10:00 on Monday night) and then I stupidly decided to do NaNoWriMo this year (what can I say, I'm a sucker for The Pain), so I've been a bit busy. I'll be pretty busy for the remainder of the year with the holidays coming up, but I'm going to try to schedule some posts in advance so the blog doesn't just sit empty.

Now on to my Fired Up Friday, which is brought to you today by Fall. Fall is my all time favorite season. I love the colors of the leaves changing, fall festivals, pumpkins, and the crisp, sunny days. The weather has finally started to cool off here in Texas (We caved and turned the heat on last night. Don't judge, it was 34 degrees!) and I am very thankful, those 100+ degree days were starting to make me a little loopy. So without taking up to much of your time, here is why Fall inspires me, brought to you by pictures this week.

Is it weird to be inspired by tights? Because I am. I have bought about six different colors of tights to wear this fall, and I think I need at least two other colors (it's an addiction). Here I am in a dress my husband got me for our anniversary with teal tights. 
As I said earlier, I am digging this cooler weather. High today of 65? YES PLEASE. 
Every year when we carve pumpkins I'm always surprised by how hard and time consuming it is. These are our pumpkins for this year, I did the owl, and my husband did NightMare Moon from My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic.

I love pumpkin anything, pretty much. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie... pumpkin anything. Today I made up a recipe for Pumpkin Harvest Bread, which turned out awesome! I'll share the recipe with you on a later date, but here's a tease picture for now. :)

I love Fall so much I chose to get married in it. My husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary on the 27th. As you saw from the first picture, he got me a lovely dress and I got him a laptop bag. He treated me to my favorite breakfast (Shipley's chocolate filled donuts!) then we drove out to Marble Falls to visit the pumpkin patch there and had dinner at The Melting Pot that evening. The following day we visited San Antonio to go to the Alamo (I've never been, and he's only been as a child) and then spent the day at the Riverwalk. All in all we had a fabulous anniversary and weekend. The rest of the pictures in this post will be of our visit to the pumpkin patch and San Antonio. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Benefit Honoring the Life of Sophie

On September 14, 2010 heaven gained a beautiful angel, my dear friend Lindsay's daughter Sophie. Sophie was just shy of her second birthday when complications from a sudden illness took her too soon. I love Sophie more than words can say, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her and miss her.

If you're in the Austin area and free on Saturday November 5th (Sophie's birthday), please stop by the Gallery Black Lagoon on Guadalupe from 5:00-9:00. All are invited to honor the life of Sophie whether you knew her or not. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door and a silent auction with proceeds going to Any Baby Can. I will be donating one of my book wreaths to the auction. Sophie loved books and loved to read, I can't think of any better way to remember her by making something from a book. If you have an item you'd like to donate for auction, please email me at StephanieNPellegrin@gmail.com and I'll forward your information on to Lindsay.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Special Post For My Grandmother

In lieu of my normal Friday post, I'm going to have a very special blog post for my Memaw today. My grandparents read my blog (Hey Memaw and Pepaw!), and I really wanted to share something special that happened to me with them.

It was no secret that Memaw has a sweet spot for country music singer George Jones, and I have to be honest here: So do I. While other kids my age had their bedroom walls plastered with pictures of New Kids on the Block, I had posters of George Jones, Vince Gill, and Alan Jackson (yes I honestly did), and I blame it all on Memaw. We spent a lot of time at my grandparent's house growing up, so her love affair with The Possum was bound to wear off on me I guess. To this day he's still one of my favorite singers. I always said if I ever got the chance to see him in concert I'd jump at the opportunity, so when he announced an Austin show, you better believe I jumped!

I didn't even think he was touring anymore, but he apparently still does 60 tour dates a year. Owen and I went with my friend Jen and her husband and had a great time. Instead of going on and on about him, I'll just share some pictures and videos that I took. We didn't have the best seats and the video quality isn't wonderful, but just close your eyes and pretend you're there. Hope you enjoy, Memaw.

It's mandatory to wear cowboy boots!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Sadly I do not have time to post a Fired Up Friday post today as I'm up to my eyeballs in Austin Teen Book Festival things (which is TOMORROW!). However, I don't want to leave you empty handed, so I'll leave you with a video of one of my favorite Adele songs. Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Austin Teen Book Festival- reminder

Just wanted to take a quick minute and remind everyone about the Austin Teen Book Festival happening this Saturday from 10AM-5PM at the Palmer Events Center downtown.

 The theme for this year's festival is... steampunk! How awesome is that? Feel free to dress up! Get out your goggles and monocles and hit the town. Or books. Just don't hit the authors, please.

The festival will have five panels, and you'll be able to choose three of the five to attend throughout the day.

PEN FATALE features Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I've Done), Mary Pearson (The Fox Inheritance), Jessica Brody (My Life Undecided), Alyson Noel (Everlasting), and Alexandra Adornetto (Hades); moderated by Margo Rabb (Cures for Heartbreak).

ALTERNAWORLDS (fantasy) features Scott Westerfeld (Goliath), Maureen Johnson (Name of the Star), Jonathan Maberry (Dust & Decay), and Brian Yansky (Alien Invasion); moderated by Rosemary Clement-Moore (The Splendor Falls).

REAL LIFE IS MESSY (edgy fiction) features John Corey Whaley (Where Things Come Back), David Levithan (Every You, Every Me), Melissa Walker (Small Town Sinners), Coe Booth (Bronxwood), and Geoff Herbach (Stupid Fast); moderated by Varian Johnson (Saving Maddie).

I HEART LOVE STORIES (realistic/romance fiction) features Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry), Stephanie Perkins (Lola & the Boy Next Door), Jenny Han (We’ll Always Have Summer), Jennifer Zeigler (Sass & Sensibility), and Christina Mandelski (The Sweetest Thing); moderated by Cristina Garcia (Dreams of Significant Girls).

SUPERNATURAL SUSPENSE (fantasy) features Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod), Jackson Pearce (Sweetly), Tera Lynn Childs (Sweet Venom), Sophie Jordan (Vanish), and Andrea Cremer (Wolfsbane); moderated by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Blessed).

The event is free, but remember it's $7 to park on-site, so bring cash! Also remember to bring cash for lunch (and for books too of course.) Here is a list of what will be available to eat and the price. You can also bring lunch and eat it outside! It should be a beautiful day.

Concessions Menu:

Hot Dog – $3
Cheese Nachos – $3
Sandwiches (turkey & ham) – $3
Whole Fruit – $2
Muffins & Pastries – $3
Garden Salad – $5.25
Bottled Soda, Water, & Juice – $3.50

There is also a list of books that will be available for purchase (with prices!) on Saturday on the ATBF website.

Want to volunteer? We still need you! Click here to to learn more and to sign up. If you have any questions regarding volunteering please email ATBFVolunteer@gmail.com.

Some of us bloggers are meeting up Friday night for a bit. Everyone is welcome! Email me (StephanieNPellegrin@gmail.com) for details. We promise we'll be done in plenty of time for the Nick and Norah showing at the Alamo. If you have any other questions about anything feel free to ask me! I'll be there all day Saturday, if you see me stop me and say hello! :) Hope to see y'all there!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Hey guys! It's Friday, so you know that means it's time for my weekly Fired Up Friday post where I tell you things that have inspired me this week.

I found this picture of a desk on Tumblr and I'm obsessed. It's in an office in a CLOSET! So when you're done working for the day you can close the doors and be done. Not to mention it's also adorable.

I love the idea of using vintage luggage as a coffee table. We're still coffee talbe-less and I think this is a fantastic idea. So much so that I bought a piece of vintage luggage today at Goodwill for $8.

My new piece of luggage! It's a bit smaller than I'd like, so I may have to use it for something else. Or maybe I'll use it as the top part of the "table." Who knows, but for $8 I couldn't pass it up!

Earlier this week I found this picture while looking at fashion blogs. I love how she wears socks with her heels, she looks adorable. When a friend gave me some clothes the other day there was a dress in the stack and I knew I'd wear socks and Mary Janes with it. I probably look like I'm twelve years old, but I don't care, I think it's the cutest thing ever.

I think that about wraps it up for me, what's been your inspiration this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dress sale that benefits a charity? YES PLEASE.

Live in the Austin area? Love vintage dresses? Love donating to charities? Love buying vintage dresses knowing that the proceeds go to charity? Then this is the post for you, my friend.

My dear friend Andrea is involved with a project called 499 dresses. 499 dresses is a project that raises money for the creation of The Winding Road Recovery, a film about disabled returned veterans who have turned to cycling as a means to overcome their injuries and kickstart their own recovery. Be sure to 'like' 499 Dresses on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

499 Dresses will be having a sale this Thursday September 22 at 2nd and Colorado in downtown Austin from 3PM-8PM. If you have a spare few minutes and you're in the area, I urge you to stop by. There will be some fabulous dresses there, and you can leave with a lighter pocketbook knowing that your money is helping out a fantastic cause.  (If you can't make it but would still like to donate, click here.) The best part? All dresses are $15 and under!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fired Up Friday

I'll be honest, I had a hard time feeling inspired this week. I've got quite a few things going on and I feel a bit over committed. It's my own fault, really. I always tell myself I need to learn to say no, but I rarely ever do. It's always hard lesson to learn. It's started to affect my writing quite a bit, too. Since editing this manuscript is the biggest, most frustrating thing on my daily to-do list, I often find myself just not doing it. It's easier to do the smaller (and usually less important) things done for the sake of instant gratification. Does anyone else do this? Yesterday I decided enough was enough so I've reorganized a bit and am trying to get back in the writing/editing groove. Again, another hard lesson to learn. Anyway, with all that being said, I do have a few things to share with you all that inspired me this week. Hope you enjoy, and be sure to tell me what's inspired you in the comments. 

Y'all know I've been thrifting quite a bit lately and this is my favorite find this week. They're vintage cups from the '70s and I knew they'd be perfect for a shelf I have in my bathroom. Originally I was going to put a small plant in each up (lavender or something), but I realized I'd probably forget to water it and have dead plants in my bathroom. So I put a pine cone in each. 

Here is another one of my new crafting ventures. I think it turned out quite well! Only problem is I've found out I'm allergic to old books. I've been feeling gross for a few days and fooling with the books is the only real thing that's changed. I did some research and mold spores can live in the pages. :( So not sure how much more book crafting I'll be able to do. If you know of any other crafting things I could try (that would get my eyes away from a computer screen) let me know! 

I was lucky enough to win tickets to a Coldplay ACL taping last night and it was an amazing show. It will air on PBS on New Year's Eve, so we all had to pretend it was New Year's with a countdown and everything. This is one of my favorite Coldplay songs and I was so excited that they played it last night. I'll have pictures and video of the show up soon hopefully.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Calli! (plus a giveaway!)

I'd like to wish a lovely Happy Birthday to Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson! Welcome to the world, Calli! Jessica is a dear friend of mine, and I'm so excited for this book to be out in the world. To help mark this momentous occasion my friend PJ Hoover made this hilarious video, which I have a brief cameo in. If you're up to date on your Austin area authors, you'll see quite a few familiar faces.

Want to make Jessica's book birthday better? Comment on the video! Congratulate her on Facebook or Twitter!

A few months back Jessica was kind enough to sign a few postcards for me, so I'm passing them on to you! To enter, all you need to do is comment on this post wishing Calli and Jessica a Happy Birthday!

*International giveaway
*You must include your email in the comment
*Contest will end Friday September 16th at midnight CST
*You do NOT have to be a follower to enter
Contest closed! Thanks for all who entered!

Good luck! And I'm so happy for you, Jessica. You are such a lovely friend to me, and I wish you all the luck in the world with Calli.