Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Survival 101


This has been a super busy past week, and the next week is still looming with lots of celebration, days off work (and days off routine for kiddo's!), and way too many leftovers, so I'll make today's post quick and easy.

Holiday Survival 101

1. Don't eat the yellow snow
2. Don't eat any fruitcake, ever
3. Know that stocking gifts don't actually have to FIT in the stocking
4. Rejoice that Target currently has all of their organizational bins and storage on sale
5. Realize that extended family members really do leave after awhile ;)
6. You don't have to eat all of the leftovers in one sitting (same with Christmas candy!) but it's okay if you do ;)
7. Know that it's also okay to have more fun with your kid's new toys than they do
8. Consider the possibility that eggnog isn't that bad
9. New Year's resolutions are just goals, and goals are meant to be broken...oh wait...
10. Rejoice that Christmas is now a year away! ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Poem prompt...

T'was the Scribble Chicks night before Christmas,
When all through their homes,
They were scurrying quite wildly
Like little yard gnomes

Their stockings were hung
quite crookedly by the tree
In hopes that Aunt Clara
wouldn't still be OCD.

The toddlers were running
On a sugar high around the room
Sucking on peppermints
And chasing the dog with a broom.

Oh come on, you know you wanna finish it ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wishing You Miracles

I had to pinch myself today when I had the sarcastic thought, "My three-month-old is teething? Really? Merry Christmas to me!"

And then I realized -- last year I was begging God for this three-month-old. I never would have guessed then that after years of infertility, I would be holding a precious babe in my arms this Christmas season.

 Makes it all a little more real for me. Jesus came as a baby. A tiny, screaming, teething tot.

May your Christmas and New Year be full of undeniable, unforgettable miracles…

But especially the greatest Miracle of all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

M is for Marketing

Here's a link to the book trailer my peeps at Barbour made for my new YA release, coming January 1st. (in case you haven't seen it yet)

What do y'all think? :) I'm soooo impressed! And now I wish it was a movie or TV series. LOL!

I wanted to get some feedback today on marketing.

What works for you guys, fellow authors? And what doesn't? Do you still find value in doing blog tours, book giveaways, contests, etc? Sometimes I see contest opportunities for readers to win a chance to stay at an Inn at the hometown of the book's setting, or a free Nook, or something, and I'm like - wow. Who is paying for THAT? I can't! But in my heart, dear reader, you all win a free Nook ;) If the thought still counts, anyway. hehe.

And most importantly when it comes to marketing - readers!! What do YOU respond to? Do you sign up for contest and giveaways? Do you like reading blog posts by the characters in a book? What are you sick of seeing? What could I do to promote my YA that would blow your socks off? Do you attend book signings? Do you like getting freebies such as bookmarks or pens or magnets, or are they annoying?

I have ideas, but I'd love some fresh input straight from where it matters :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing A.D.D.

My house is a wreck and my brain is a muddled mess... all because of too much sleep. You heard that right -- my Tiny Human only got up once last night. My poor nervous system doesn't know what to do with rest anymore.

So it's one of those days when I'm having a really hard time focusing. My writing is experiencing a crazy burst of A.D.D. -- but the deadlines aren't going away.

So what happens when you have trouble focusing? Tell us how you get back in your groove. Can't wait -- you might be helping me today!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joy of Handwritten Christmas Cards

There's a million things to love about the Christmas season—the lovely, pine-y smell of a fresh tree, the gloriously festive music, all the delicious eats and holiday TV specials and of course, the best thing of all, celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

But one of my favorite personal traditions is writing scads of handwritten Christmas cards, even though I'm pretty sure my hand is going to fall off from sheer exhaustion each and every year.

I don't know why, maybe it's the writer in me, but I can't simply sign my name on a card and send it off. Ditto for typing one of those mammoth double-spaced accounts of my entire year in review. On a side note, if you're a fan of either of these scenarios, I forgive you. :)

For whatever reason, I feel compelled to write a personal note in my super-loopy handwriting to each and every person on my card list, and I'll be honest, nothing delights me more than getting one in return. In fact, I tape each and every card, note included or not, on my kitchen cabinets so every card gets its proper due.

Even in the age of iPods, iPads and everything else with a lower-case "i" in front of it, sometimes the simplest of pleasures are the best ones—like a nice handwritten card nestled in the middle of your monthly bills and store catalogs.

A few lessons from Disney World


I'm back from a 9 day vacation to Disney World with my parents and my husband and my three year old (we drove, so there was 4 days of travel and 5 days in the parks total) and I can honestly say I've learned several things.

In no particular order...

1. My 3 year old is more patient than I am when it comes to waiting in lines. Ahem.

2. I can read 2 and 1/2 novels in 4 days when stuck in a van that long.

3. I have more of a thing for Pirates than I realized.

4. Older kids (think ages 5-7) can throw way worse tantrums in public than my 3 year old (who was seriously an angel the majority of the trip!)

5. I'm addicted to Pinapple ice cream

6. Eating everything I want + walking around Disney for 5 days = only a 3 lb temporary weight gain (miracle!)

7. My husband rocks.

8. Vans can hold a lot of luggage.

9. My daughter loves toys. (ha)

10. It's not a good idea to watch a belly dancer in Morroco (Epcot countries) while stuffing your own face with couscous...

11. "It's a Small World After All" really does linger in one's head for 9 days.

12. Never pack for a trip assuming the weather will be one thing and not another (I had to buy short sleeve shirts while there!)

13. The staff at Disney World are truly the nicest and most patient people on Earth.

14. My daughter loves the Little Mermaid as much or more than I did at her age, which makes me smile so big...

15. No matter how old you get, you will never stop wanting a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar or outgrow the giant Lego store in Downtown Disney.

16. No matter how old you get, the Spinning Teacups will always be fun.

17. I actually DON'T have to wear high heels every day (though I did miss them!)

18. Vacations are good for the soul!

19. Coming home from vacation is even better! ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Setting Reasonable Goals

People ask me all the time -- how do you write a book? A book, my friend, is written one e-mail at a time. At least that's what my friend Annette used to tell me as I sent her my chapters.

I know this probably seems over-simplified, but this is my second complete book and here's the system I find works best for me.

I write a vague outline, then I get started. See my little sticky notes? My goal is ten pages a week. I can increase this as my daughter gets less demanding, but 10 pages a week allows me to finish my book in approximately five months.

The publisher's given me seven months to complete the books, so I'll have two months to edit before I turn in the manuscript.

So since I want to do 10 pages a week, I place the sticky notes on my desk calendar. When I'm done with my goal for the day, the sticky note goes on the memo board and I get a mental release of endorphins. :)

Tell me... what works for you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Six Essentials For Every Proposal

I know we've talked a little bit about proposals in the past, but considering they are the first step to ever getting published, I think we can talk a little more about them! :) Here's a quick check-off list of six of the most important things your proposal needs.

1. Your name and contact information

This may seem like a no-brainer, but honestly, I have heard several editors talk about how they found the best proposal in the world and weren't able to publish it because they didn't know who wrote it. Make sure all of your contact info is on the first page and then be sure to put the tentative title of your project and your name at the top of each successive page.

2. Your "elevator speech"

The idea behind an elevator speech is that you can tell someone a basic synopsis of your story in two to three sentences, or in the time it takes to ride an elevator. This can be a great way to open your proposal - don't give everything away in this section!

3. Your credentials

What makes you qualified to write this story? Whether you're the same age as the main character in your story, you have the same occupation, you've written something that was published before (even if it has nothing to do with this particular story), put it down right here.

4. Your marketing ideas

Do you have a blog? A website? If your answers to those questions are no, then go start a blog (it's free!) and register a website domain of your name. Publishers love to see authors who are willing to help out the marketing team. Have you ever done any speaking? Better get practicing in front of the mirror because odds are, you'll be doing some now.

5. Your full length synopsis

No holds barred here - spill every bean your story has. We tend to like to keep a few secrets whenever we're telling people about our stories - but editors don't want to find out big surprises when they're contemplating buying a novel.

6. Sample chapters

Typically, you'll want to include the first three chapters of your story. So, polish, polish, polish those chapters! Some publishers will want the entire manuscript if you are a first time author, so be prepared to be asked for it.

I hope this helps! If you want to see a sample proposal, please email me at and I'd be glad to send you a copy of one I used in the past. :)

Stay warm!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo #Fail

For some reason, I was a little nervous about opening my Inbox today. Now that it's December 1st, and I did not, in fact, write 50,000 words of scintillating novel copy, I half expected the NaNoWriMo folks to chew me out by e-mail.

I imagined something along these lines...

Dear Christa,
Remember the movie Elf and how that big doofus in yellow tights played by Will Ferrell couldn't meet his quota of Etch a Sketches?

Well, I regret to inform you that you and him share something significant in common since you're approximately 46,303 words short of your NaNoWriMo goal of a mere 50,000 words in November.

Basically, unlike your industrious writer peers who lead equally busy lives, you were a ginormous slacker. And for that utter slackdom, we've now nicknamed you, Christa A. Banister, "Epic Fail." We can only hope that next year you'll step up your game in a serious way.

We'd wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays but we're not sure if you deserve that.

The Esteemed NaNoWriMo Team

Of course, I didn't get an e-mail scolding from NaNoWriMo at all—even if I probably should've. But even if I wasn't quite as ambitious as I hoped, however, I still feel that signing up was a good idea because I wrote nearly 3,700 words of new copy. And for the first time in a good, long while, I wasn't meticulously editing myself as I was doing so.

I felt like a third grader in Mrs. Goffin's English class again, you know when I wrote just for the fun of it and savored every delicious moment along the way. I never edited myself then, and writing never felt like "work." So if I learned anything from the whole NaNoWriMo experiment, it's that switching things up can really help your game, even if you didn't make it all the way to the proverbial endzone.