Hi There. You're Looking Rather Sensational.

I'm in the middle of unpacking and settling into a new home, but I just wanted to say hi to all my new blogging buddies. Hi! Whether you've come from the Campaign, Sparkfest, or another random portal of the internet, I'm glad you're here.

*pushes plate of cookies toward you*

I usually try to reply to each comment through email, but with the aforementioned moving and everything, I've fallen behind, so I'm just going to start from here. If I haven't found you at your blog yet, don't worry. I will find you. I wiiiiiillllll. Pay no attention to the creepyness in my eyes. It's too late. I'm coming.

Oh, and all my not-new followers: *secret handshake that we'll teach the newbies later*

See how much fun we have here?


Music Inspiration

Ahh, unrequited love.

Doesn't it suck?

Don't we all remember that special boy we pined after from third grade to eighth, and even though you came close to being friends, he never saw past the thick glasses and braces and flat chest and second-hand clothes and impossible-to-style-into-popular-poofy-bangs hair and all-consuming talent for making all ordinary moments painfully awkward?

Or is that just me?

Anyhow, that pain of loving someone you simply can't have is a powerful hurt, and this song just throws it in your face. It makes my heart ache. And it really, really helps zero in on the emotions of one of my favorite characters, bless her pitiable little broken heart.

Give it a listen and see what you think.


The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off? (Part Five)

This week I'm participating in Christine Tyler's blogfest and talking about who and what made me decide to be a writer.

 I know this blogfest is all about what got us started as writers, but I wanted to take a moment and talk about some people who keep my enthusiasm spark crackling: my crit partners.

There was a time, early in my writerly journey, that I used to covet a certain critique group that I saw floating around the internet. This group was so cool and funny and smart; I spent all my wittiest comments on their blogs. I just knew that if they noticed me and my funniness, they would beg me to join their group.

It didn't work.

I was dying to have some writer friends who I could share inside jokes with, who I could talk story with, who could assure me that my dread fear of an apocalypse before I'm published is, in fact, a valid and normal fear.

Bit by bit, I found some friends, and bit by bit, I made the connections. Now I have some awesome crit partners and that other group? Eh, they're still cool, but I'm lucky to have the best crit buddies in the world!

Thanks, guys, for keeping me on track!

(a special note to Julie Hunt: I've got my eye on you...you'd better be writing!)


The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off? (Part Four)

This week I'm participating in Christine Tyler's blogfest and talking about who and what made me decide to be a writer.

 When I started writing seriously about a year and a half ago, I was reluctant to tell people what I was doing. I knew I wanted to be a published author, but I was afraid that if I told people, then I was setting myself up for failure. What if it didn't work out? What if I didn't have what it takes? So, I kept it to myself.

Secretly, I bought a book on writing by Gail Carson Levine called Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly. It was geared more toward kids, but something about her words bolstered me up and gave me confidence in myself. I liked that feeling, so I bought more of her books.

Here she is, by the way. Is she not the cutest EVER???

Later, while I was still keeping all writerly things secret and therefore suffering with my self-doubt all alone, I read one of Gail Carson Levine's novels, called The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I don't think I can explain exactly why this book touched me so deeply, I only know that it did. It's about a girl who has to find courage when she doesn't believe she has any, and the strength of sisters, and the importance of bravery when all hope seems lost. I read late into the night and finished with tears of bittersweet joy smeared all over the front of my shirt. (And then the adrenaline rush hit and I was bouncing around the house, but that's not important right now.)

From her books--all her books, but this one especially--I just felt right about writing. I felt like she was personally giving me permission to admit that this is what I wanted to do, and that I could do it in my own way, with my own voice, and that it would be great.

Gail Carson Levine will probably never know the impact she's had on me (unless some day I get the chance to meet her in real life and manage to say more than, "Uh...derr...I'm in love with your pretty books...") but she set off a spark that reminds me when I doubt that I can do it, that what I have to say can be meaningful and perfect to someone else.

So thank you, Gail Carson Levine! I think your books are pretty!


The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off? (Part Three)

This week I'm participating in Christine Tyler's blogfest and talking about who and what made me decide to be a writer.

 Okay, for the past two days I suppose I've done enough psychoanalyzing on defining moments of my childhood and how my mom figures into all this. Let's move on to the big sparks, shall we?

When I was in sixth grade, it became my personal quest to read every book in the school library. It was part of our morning ritual; my teacher, Mr. Banning, would take roll. He'd read any memos from the office, talk about any upcoming events. Karl Tubbs, who sat next to me, would be bouncing in his seat, whispering, "Did you finish? Are you done?" When Mr. Banning called my name for roll call, I would say, "Here...Can I go to the library?" The room would explode with exclamations. Didn't I get a book yesterday? Was I really reading them? Was this some elaborate scheme to skip the first ten minutes of class every day? Why can Jeigh get a pass to the library when I can't even go to the bathroom?? [because you abused the privilege, kid.]

It made me feel really cool at the time, but now I look back on it and realize it's...kinda nerdy.

Moving on.

There was one book a boy in my class did a book report on called "Dragon's Milk", by Susan Fletcher.

I had loved a lot of books by the time I read this one, and I'd written a lot of little stories, but this book ignited that first big bomb in me, and inspired me to attempt my first epic fantasy novel. I shamelessly ripped the story off. In Dragon's Milk, a girl named Kaeldra uses dragon milk to save her little sister and then has to travel with and protect baby dragons. In my story, a girl named Kiera has to travel to find a magical plant called the Heart of Gold, which has healing properties needed to save her little sister's life. She's accompanied on her journey by her pure-white husky named, uh, Journey, I think. Sadly, at the end of the story, she realizes the Heart of Gold is not a plant as was previously thought, but the literal golden heart of her beloved dog, and she must cut it out, sacrificing her pet for her sister.

I never actually finished, but man, that's kind of sick...

Regardless of my early tendency for tragic love stories (some day maybe I'll tell you about "The Oyster and The Pearl"), this book lit the fuse and made me realize that I wanted to write something that could move someone to tears like this had done for me.


The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off? (Part Two)

This week I'm participating in Christine Tyler's blogfest and talking about who and what made me decide to be a writer.

I've mentioned before being painfully shy growing up. It's a bit melodramatic to say, I guess, but there's a reason they call it painful. It's...painful. (See how good I am at writing down the words?? I'm a writer, yo.)

I won't go into particulars, but I pretty much tried to fake-sick my way all through first and second grade. All that shyness did wonders for my imagination, though. I couldn't manage a conversation in real life, but in my head, they were wonderful. My in-my-head friends weren't scary. The situations I imagined myself in weren't uncomfortable. Everything was sunshine cupcakes and daisy popsicles.

Maybe confessing this makes me sound nutty, or like an emerging serial killer, but it's not like I was imagining myself rocking in the middle of a white room, surrounded by my mother. In my head, I was brave. I was strong. In my head, on the first day of school when the teacher inevitably came to my name on the roll and asked how to pronounce it, I could jump up on the desk and shout, "It's JEIGH! Like sleigh and weigh and neigh!!" instead of whispering, "It's just Jeigh," and having to repeat myself five times in my whisper-voice while all the kids stared at me in that annoying and nosy way all kids stare.

Surprisingly, the summer before high school, at a camp for the young women in my church, I just decided one day that I didn't want to be shy anymore. So I wasn't. I got out there and dorked it up in my own, special way and made a ton of new friends. But I never forgot that living in my head was a fine alternative when real life was scary or boring.

It may not have been a defining moment in wanting to be a writer, but every writer needs a kick-a imagination first, right?


The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off? (Part One)

This week I'm participating in Christine Tyler's blogfest and talking about who and what made me decide to be a writer.

I don't think there's one, huge defining moment or person who inspired me to be a writer. As long as I can remember, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I told them an author. (Okay, no, that's only half-true; in my painfully shy days, when someone spoke to me, I would squeak and hide behind my mother. And then she would tell them I wanted to be an author.)

My love for words and books started at a young age, so I might as well start at the beginning. My favorite book when I was little was "A Pocket for Corduroy".

I loved this book with an obsessive love that defines four-year-olds. I wanted it read to me over and over and overandover. My mom was really good about reading to me, but it is a wordy little storybook, and a mom has to make dinner sometime, so one day, after our fifth-in-a-row reading, she set it down and got up from the couch. I begged for another read through. I was denied.

I didn't let it deter me. I don't remember wondering if I could read it myself. I just remember opening it up because I didn't want it to be over.

The first sentence is, "Late one summer afternoon Lisa and her mother took their laundry to the laundromat." I asked my older sister what each of the words were, and then read the rest myself. And then I read it again. And then I read some more. I started reading everything. (side note: early reading is great, but can also cause panic attacks, like when I read the symptoms of prostate cancer [getting up at night to pee!], and, even though I had no idea what a prostate was, convinced myself that I had it.)

I guess loving to read doesn't always equal loving to write, but it's where I started. It was my first spark.

**Also starting today is Rachael Harrie's third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. It's a great way to network and make new friends and Rachael is super-awesome, so go check it out!


Fantasy Casting Call: Who Would Play Your Love-Interest?

*If you missed the rest of this series because of a little thing called WriteOnCon, you can find my fantasy MC pick here and my villain here.

This one is so easy for me.

Aiden is sixteen. He's Tenny's next door neighbor and best friend. He's funny, hotheaded, cute, an excellent liar, and...he can't sing like Blake. Or CAN he?

The obvious choice, because his voice inspired my entire story, is Asher Book.

Guys, have you heard him sing??

Not that Aiden sings. I mean, maybe he does. It's a mystery...

Aiden is also an Eagle Scout. These are his badges. He loves to hike. And rock climb.

And he's always more than willing to help helpless people cross the street.

He's a deep-thinker. And he communes with nature on a regular basis.

And if that's not enough, guys, have you heard him sing? This is the scene that started it all.

Who would play your love-interest?


Fantasy Casting Call: Who Would Play Your Villain?

The villain in my story is a seventeen-year-old boy named Blake. Blake is HOT, you guys. He's charismatic. Remember how music is important in my story? Well, Blake sings. Awesomeness seeps out of his pores.

Also, he's a total poser.

That's right. He may be hot and charismatic and able to sing angels to shame, but he's a creep.

Since music is such a big part of my story, I went off the beaten path and cast this one with my ears.

I would choose Kris Allen.

Because really, you shouldn't trust someone who's that nice AND that good-looking.


Nice try, Blake, but I know better.

Now, we know he can do charisma, but can he do mean? I'm thinking yes. You wouldn't believe how impossible it is to get a picture of this guy not smiling or looking goofy, though.

This will have to do:

What dastardly plans are you forming behind that pretty face, Blake? Don't make me send Tenny after you!

*ahem* I'm not flirting with the villain. I'm not.

So, who would play your villain?


Fantasy Casting Call: Who Would Play Your MC?

This series shamelessly yoinked from Christine Tyler.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who daydreams about who will would play their characters when if their book ever forthelove gets published and makes it to the big screen.

Am I?

Nope, didn't think so. In fact, I waste a lot of time Googling pictures of different actors, agonizing over the different choices so much you'd think it was my sworn duty to find actors IMMEDIATELY to fill the roles of the characters in my...thus far rough, rough first draft story. *cough* Don't worry, I'm working on it. Any day now.

My main character is a sixteen-year-old girl named Tenny. She loves music, and music is a huge part of the story. She's friendly and level-headed, with a girl-next-door vibe, but also naive and yeah, a bit spoiled. She also has an ethereal look about her that makes her freaky at all the right times.

For her I would choose Annasophia Robb.

Not only is she lovely, she's tomboyish, too!

And, she can bring the attitude. BRING IT.

Don't mess with her when she's in this mood. Or if you're the bad guy.

I think Annasophia (did you guys know she pronounces it "AHH-nuh"? I didn't, but it makes me like her even more.) could do it all.

The pretty:

The quirky:

And the cool:

Who would play your MC?


Announcements of an exciting nature

Today I'm being interviewed by Michelle Merrill at Perfecting the Craft. (The eye makeup, you guys! The eye makeup!)

She's totally awesome and I'm really excited that someone actually asked for my opinions. Gosh.

So head over and say hello!

In other news, I'm officially on Twitter! My handle is @jeighmeredith. I'm still getting my feet wet, but I'd love to have some new tweeting buddies.

Have a great weekend!


And now you'll see how insecure I really am

Today I read a really dumb book. I mean, I don't want to be catty or anything, but I really didn't like it.

I read the blurb and thought, "Okay, well, I think I know what's going to happen, but hopefully there will be some good old plot twists to shake up the norm."

Oh, plot twists, where art thou? It played out exactly how I thought it would.

No surprises. Cliches galore. Contrived plot. Stereotypical characters.

It was torture. TORTURE I TELL YOU.

Now, you may be asking why in the world I kept reading if I didn't enjoy it, so I'll tell you: it's good for my self-esteem.

Yeah, I know, that sounds really catty, but let me explain a little better by telling a story. One day I was trying to revise part of my story but I wasn't feeling it. Everything I did felt wrong and I was writing in big, fat, smelly, ugly circles. I decided it was not my day to write, so maybe I should do some reading, because we all know reading inspires writing. Right? We know this. We do this.

I grabbed the first book on my shelf, which just happened to be Hunger Games. Here's a little advice: If you're feeling crappy about your writing ability, don't read Hunger Games. Just don't. My self-esteem, clinging to the edge by a few shaky fingernails, took a lumbering dive into the abyss and I spent the rest of the day stress-eating and sporadically crying.

I love to read awesome books. But sometimes, I don't mind reading a mediocre book, because I can see where it's not working and what I would change if it was my story. Then, my self-esteem can push the Wild Berry Skittles to the side, scuttle away from the edge, and say, "Hey, I'm not doing such a bad job after all! I'm on track! I'm okay!"

Also, after I read it, I was so fired up that I threw down 1,000 words, BA-CHOW, in no time flat. So next time you're reading a book you're not so hot about, try to see the educational aspect in it.

And let's save the Hunger Games for the more stable days, shallll we?


You want whipped cream with that?

There is a charming little shop in my hometown called the Pie Hole. It immediately brought to mind thoughts of this show:

I may have squealed. A PIE HOLE?? Right here in my little town? Visions of bright colors, quirky waitresses, and cute pie-makers filled my imagination.

Cherry pie actually is my favorite! How did he know?
I drove past The Pie Hole several times and noticed that it was open until 5am. More romanticizing began. How awesome would it be, after all, to get a slice of pie in the middle of the night? There would be gingham! And dollops of ice cream! And I would probably get called "Hon", which I don't generally like, but seems to fit in a pie shop.

So for weeks I dreamed of having a reason to be up in the middle of the night and hungry for pie. I told my husband we should just go some night, just go like crazy teenagers in love who didn't care about proper nights sleep or indigestion.

He was totally down with that, but then we kept falling asleep too early.

Finally, my time came. In my town, there is also an awesome theater that has midnight movies for a dollar on the weekends. My husband and I decided to go, so of course we planned on a pie-eating stop on the way home.

The first thing I noticed as we pulled up in front of The Pie Hole was the drunk people. Lots of drunk people. And the place was bumpin', which didn't fit my fantasy of a romantic pie-for-two date.

Nevertheless, I was undaunted. I had primed my belly for pie, and by dang, I was GOING TO GET MY PIE.

We wove our way through who I assume was the entire starting lineup of the local college's football team, loitering on the front stoop of the shop, and stepped through the doors.

Loud music blasted our ears. Bright, graffiti-ed walls seared neon colors onto my retinas. The waitress, who was NOT wearing a gingham apron, was wearing a trucker hat with devil horns and sporting some very impressive cleavage. I looked at my husband. He said, "It smells like beer in here."

Beer and pie didn't make much sense to me, but whatever.

I pulled my husband through the shop to the counter and looked up at the menu, and then I realized...

...this was a pizza joint.

A PIZZA JOINT!!! Seriously?

I didn't want pizza in the middle of the night! Heartburn, people! I'm old now! I have to think of these things!

We left.

And I've been craving cherry pie ever since.

Moral of the story?

First off, seriously have a notebook with you at all times, because The Pie Hole would make an awesome setting in a story and I should have written down all the details.

Second, make sure the details in your story aren't too vague. I feel that you don't have to describe each room down to the brass knobs on the cupboards, but a few well-defined touches brings the whole place to life.

Beer, loud music, brightly painted skateboards doubling for the seat backs of booths, devil hat=obviously a pizza place.

Quirky china plates, gingham aprons, gleaming checkered floor, and sweet little bouquets at each table=my Pie Hole. Let your reader know where they are before they get confused. (Also, if they bothered to peek in the window before they actually went in, all the better for them.)

And third, a pepperoni pizza painted on a shop window can easily be misconstrued as a cherry pie. It's okay.  I won't make fun of you if you make that mistake. (Unlike my parents, who knew the truth about the Pie Hole and didn't tell me.)



I'm starting to think that maybe long, stuttering breaks in my blog posting are good for my writing career. That, or my last post came across pathetic enough that people pity me.

Either way, I got a couple awards, so WOO!!

The first is from Julie, who always has a list of books and TV shows for me to check so that we can geek out about them together. I'm pretty sure her master plan is to own my brain through various types of media, and it's WORKING!

She gave me this one. Did my brain inadvertently tell her I love strawberries best?
The other award is from Christine, without whom I'd be flopping prematurely at the bottom of a slush pile, dying an ignominious death. Also, she's the ONLY person allowed to read my manuscript in an epic fantasy voice. Got that?

She gave me a puppy! My kids will be so excited.

Since I've already done the seven things about me required by the Strawberry Award, I'm skipping right to the Puppy Award and telling about 5 TV shows/books/movies I've enjoyed in the past while.

1. TV: I'll start with the one that's been claiming my evenings lately: Arrested Development. Everyone in my husband's new job told him he HAD to watch it, and since we want to fit in and suck up, we did. Hilarious, guys.

2. BOOKS: I've been reading like a crazy person lately, but one series has really stood out among the masses, and that's Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness. All three books in the series--The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and The Answer, and Monsters of Men--are excellent, so go check them out. Seriously, I would love to be able to write a story like this some day. And come on, how cool are those titles?

3. MOVIE: I went on a date with my husband to this obscure little foreign film called "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." It was pretty good. I mean, England has a whole culture that I wasn't aware of! "Wizards", "Death Eaters", "Horcruxes". It was a fascinating study.

4. BOOK: I also just read Shannon Hale's "Book of A Thousand Days" and liked it very much. Her writing is sweet and unimposing. Also, I love a strong-willed heroine in the style of Gail Carson Levine's characters.

5. TV: I don't know if I've ever mentioned my deep-abiding love for Survivor. Have I? I really love it. It's pretty much the only reason I still own a TV.

Lucky for me, I happen to know quite a few irresistibly sweet and seriously cute bloggers who I'd like to pass these awards on to: 

Ruth Josse from Ruth+Writing. I wiggle like a puppy every time I see a comment from Ruth, because she's so stinking funny. She doesn't just save her funny for me, either. Check out her blog if you don't believe me...and also, check it out even if you do believe me.

Jess from Falling Leaflets.  I like Jess's blog because she links to a lot of valuable information that I don't have to hunt down myself. Plus, look at her profile picture and tell me she's not adorable.

Michelle Merrill from Perfecting the Craft. First off, she has one of the coolest headers I've ever seen and I'm insanely jealous every time I see it. Secondly, Michelle takes the time to interview other aspiring authors, which is awesome.

Lindsay Currie from Tiptoe Kisses. She first won me over with a post about Harry Potter. For the life of me, I can't remember what she said, just that I thought, "Ooh, I need to stalk make friends with this girl."

Carrie from Carrie Keeps Typing. Go ahead and tell me her post, "I Wish Eggs Were Transparent" is not the most brilliant thing you've read.

Madeline Bartos from Capricious Existence. If you're looking for some excellent insight into the mind of a teenager, Madeline is your girl, seeing as she's in the throes of teenagehood-dom. She knows what teens are looking for in a book and she'll let you know! Also, when she's caffeinated, she is ridiculously cute.

Go check out these blogs and maybe, just maybe, they'll share the strawberry cake and let you play with their puppy.

(I...already ate my cake...but my puppy is available.)