Tuesday, July 16, 2013

If my life were like a novel...

I'd meet the man of my dreams while eating this sandwich. Every time I take a bite I get all this goop all over my face. It sends fitting and not at all outside of the realm of my existence.

Friday, July 5, 2013

I'm Not Actually Writing...

... but I felt compelled to check in anyway. I've been doing a ton of reading late late late into the night so I can walk around like a bleary-eyed monster during the day. I've been taking an online economics course that fiiiiiiiinally finished on July 3. YESTERDAY WAS MY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!! (This is why my reading was limited to late late late into the night.) And I've been looking for a place to live, as I start a new job in three weeks and I still have no place to live. :[

If I've read once, I've read a gabillion times that writers need to write, and we need to make time to write, and so-and-so wrote her first novel by getting up at 3am and writing for two hours straight while, I'm assuming, she was hooked up to an IV of coffee and meth. I'm assuming it's in my genes to feel guilty about things I'm not doing, like getting up at 3am to write for two hours before I trudge off to work or for not setting aside my econ homework after two hours in order to read notes for an hour.

The thing is, the more I feel guilty about it, the less likely I am to come back to it, because I'm going to hide from whatever it is that's making me feel guilty. So instead I'm facing my guilt and my writing head on and I'm saying that I need to focus on finding a place to live, because my book will either be published or it won't... but whether I get up in the morning hours after I've turned off the light or not, it will be published or it won't.

So I can either make myself feel like crap about it, or I can focus on things I need to focus on and stay out of the bubbling cauldron of self-loathing that is typically created by all that guilt.

I've made my choice, and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Rec: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

So last week I went to Changing Hands Bookstore for the Summer Lovin' 2013 book tour primarily so I could hear Suzanne Young talk about her amaze-balls novel "The Program." But she's a super awesome local teacher here and wasn't able to go, so I was forced to hear other amazing authors talk instead. Of the bevy of books I purchased while I was there, the first I opted to read (to be honest, the one I picked up without hearing anybody talk about it), was Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.

In the book, Amy's been left home alone for a month in California while her mother moved to Connecticut to start a new life and her brother went to North Carolina for some *ahem* academic enrichment. While alone Amy finished the last month of her junior year, starred in one last school musical, and turned into the veal that Sandra Bullock was afraid of becoming in While You Were Sleeping. Amy's mom decides she needs the car that was left in California, and enlists her friend's college-age son Roger to drive the car and Amy across the country, in the kind of naive mistake we all wish our moms had made when we were 17. As the title suggests, Amy and Roger have an epic detour on their journey that sends Amy's mom into a fury, Roger's ex-girlfriend into a tizzy, and Amy into situations she wasn't ready to face. Also, the detour sent them on a food journey that should be recreated as a special on the Travel Network, which I would totally watch.

Matson did an amazing job toeing the line of pathetic, but not too pathetic with her characterization of Amy. She's sad, and she's angry. She's lonely, but she doesn't want to deal with people either. She's pretty, and she used to know it, but now she doesn't feel pretty, so she's not pretty anymore. Matson could also teach workshops on the slow build and slower reveal of a trauma. I'm sure I'll return again and again to this book for personal enjoyment and for a reminder on how to Do It Right.

Also, as I wrote about Amy, I thought of my favorite Jessica Riddle song, Indifference.

I promised myself I'd read a few of the other books I picked up at the Summer Lovin' Tour, before buzzing through my other Matson purchase right away, so I won't be reading Second Chance Summer right away. But I'm excited to read it, and I'm excited to read whatever Matson has next up her sleeves.

GO NOW. Read this book. Kindle link. Nook link. He's so zazzy.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Rec: The Program

I actually finished The Program almost a week ago. It was released on April 30 and I devoured it in two sittings. Well, layings. Whatever. It's taken me this long to find it in me to talk about it, and I'm still not sure if I can do the novel justice. To be perfectly honest, I've had this window open for over an hour, and I just keep struggling to find the right words to use to talk about it. With my friends I can just shove my hands in their faces and say "read it" a lot and that works.

This is a little trickier...

In Suzanne Young's novel, suicide is the epidemic and The Program is the solution. The Program takes place in an Oregon school district where The Program is being used as a pilot to combat the teen suicide epidemic that is spreading all over the nation and all over the world. We follow Sloane as she navigates an increasingly dangerous high school landscape doing what she can to stay home with her friends and family. But will she be able to hold on until she turns 18 and can refuse to go into The Program?

To make a long story short, The Program punched me right in the feels. As someone who has struggled with depression all her life, I found the characters real and their world devastating. I'm pretty sure at one point I fell asleep reading it, because I couldn't put it down to go to bed. A week later I'm still haunted by the  characters, their story, and the damned epilogue that kicked me in the face while my feels were still hurting. .

Do yourself a favor and read this one if you can. Obvious triggers for suicide, depression, self-injury, and the like, so it's not a book that everybody's going to be able to get through... But if you can, you should. If you've never this type of crippling depression, read it so you can get a better understanding of it. If you have suffered, read it as a reminder that you are not alone.


Here's the trailer, which I pulled form Suzanne's blog and is also found on Youtube.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I was watching the PBS presentation of Les Miserables (and sobbing my eyes out) today and it occurred to me that I may have gotten my obsession with revolutions from that musical. Hear me out! What's my favorite moment (after every single Eponine moment)? "Do You Hear the People Sing" and how they're all RAWR let's go make a revolution! Since then I've enjoyed learning about revolutions and people changing governments. Which inspires my current manuscript and my reading choices. It's not so much the idea of a dystopia or utopia or anything else - it's the fascinating idea that there's a way to say, "Things are wrong, let's change them." And I'd rather read about it in fiction than know that people are getting hurt fighting that same battle. (I'm looking at you, Syria.)

Anyway, that reminded me that I haven't written in the blog for a little while, which also maybe slowed down because I haven't been as inspired to write in general as I had been. But not writing here felt a little like hiding - since I hadn't been working vigorously on any particular works in progress, I should somehow not bring myself around here to say anything.

But after watching today's performance (I wish I had found it on youtube!), I at least want to get back to writing some more. Or maybe it was just watching Eponine singing again. Who knows?

Monday, March 18, 2013

One and (not) done

I finished the first major revision of my novel last night. This morning I immediately jumped back in and began cleaning things up. Little things like making sure that I'm following the rules for eventual manuscript submission, and big things, like making sure that I'm not using a dozen words to say what should only take five.

It's been an interesting transition, coming from a place where the constant upward motion of my word count was a point of glee. Now the opposite occurs - as my word count falls from 66- to 65- to 64- to 63-thousand words, I feel that same glee knowing that I'm making the remaining words stronger. I'm forcing myself to send the draft over to beta readers without doing a third run-through, because like many beginning authors, I can probably go through and re-edit until I wheeze out my last breath.

That got depressing.

Lest I be concerned about leaving this world behind, as I go through on this second revision and figure out exactly what my characters are supposed to be doing and saying, the sequel is already developing in my head. Which is great, because I'm not ready to say goodbye Elleigh, Zee, and Officer Ray just yet. Oh no, we need another 60k words together, at least.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Rec: "The Selection"

I read a lot, too. I had every intention of doing some writing on the plane, but I've been holding onto this book for several weeks now just WAITING to open it up and read it while on vacation. Plus I shoved my laptop bag into the overhead compartment and it also had all my writing notebooks in it.

So instead I devoured "The Selection" by Kiera Cass and uh mah gawd y'all. I was blown away. I was a little hesitant at first because I haaaaaaate any and all dating reality shows (including dating reality shows featuring people with whom I used to be friends). But if all dating reality shows were as well-written as "The Selection" I might actually consider watching them. (Not really.)

In the novel, the selection refers to the televised reality event wherein Prince Maxon must choose his bride from 35 selecteds. We follow America Singer, a musician from Carolina province, as she (spoiler alert) is selected and goes to the capitol city to "vie" for Prince Maxon's heart. I was a little iffy about the subject matter - I'll admit - but I downloaded the Kindle sample and after I zipped through the few chapters I was allowed I immediately purchased the book and then purchased the unpublished (at the time) "The Prince," which like Veronica Roth's "Free Four," is a look into the story from our male hero's eyes. (It was also delightful.)

Much like other *ahem* reality show genre'd novels I've read, this book has an engaging lead character who is as awkward as I am, a cast of likable supporting characters (including characters who may even seem more likable than our heroine), and a hero who in my head is played by Ryan Gosling. Take my advice and read this book. And while you do, picture America looking like Castle's Molly Quinn (and then do yourself a favor and picture her dad as this rakish gentleman).

(picture obviously from Amazon.com)

Sunday, March 10, 2013


This blog post has been bouncing around in my head for quite a while, which is going to be my excuse for shying away from writing in a blog that nobody actually reads anyway. I've been working in earnest to better develop my characters. I'm using background exposition, dialog, and action to do this, and I'm enjoying where this new information about my characters is taking me and this novel. I also like the direction that this new information is taking the novel.

Better yet, I'm feeling more and more confident with the novel. As I flesh things out I have more and more instances where I can sit back and be proud of what I've done. I'm also finding that in a lifestyle full of revelry and merriment, hanging out with girlfriends, and cleaning up at pub trivia, I'm at my best when I'm sitting in front of my laptop and fleshing out my characters. I feel at my best, at my most comfortable, the most alive when I'm developing my characters. This feels like personal character development - I'm developing my me.

My 40-hour a week job leaves me cranky and crotchety and hating the world. It feels good to come "home" to something that I love and that I feel like I'm genuinely good at. I feel better and more like myself when I'm working on my novel, so even if it never goes anywhere, I'll still have gotten the world out of writing it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Delete delete delete

Yesterday I did some major cutting, which hurt my heart. I was so proud and, I'll admit it, so in awe of my brilliance. I carried around the scar on my heart all day afterward, and into the morning. Then today I revised one of my favorite scenes, cleaning it up and giving it some style. Today I know that this favorite section of mine is stronger for the cutting that I did yesterday.

It's a good reminder that when we take out passages that don't belong - no matter how UH-MAY-ZING we think they are when we're writing them or re-reading them. By removing what doesn't belong, we're increasing the value of what does belong. So I'll delete delete delete to my heart's desire!

And if I can't delete delete delete, then I'll at least cut and paste into a blank document to slip under my pillow for the too-much-detail fairy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Show & Tell

I'm struggling right now with showing and not telling. I have this whole world built up in my head, with a constitution (no amendments, it was done right the first time), and a social order, and a judicial system, and castes and... and everything. It's all there, in my head and scribbled into my notebooks interspersed in scenes. I already know that the best way to get this information across is to do it slowly, in bits and pieces as the reader moves through the novel. This is easier said than done.

I'm also having difficulty with being a lady, and not showing too much. Just because the information isn't part of a three-page expositional word-vomit (new phrase!), that doesn't mean that it's suddenly okay. As I go through and make my revisions, I find myself highlighting and deleting one and two paragraphs at a time - yes, just one and two. They're these little gems of information that put the characters into more of a context, but this isn't a history textbook, this is a novel.

My response to this is to go through and find new places to put more action and dialog. I'm not talking about using dialog to tell this same information, but to put more actual action into the pages. Right now the characters are shackled by my own world building, so really, these revisions are a rescue mission to save my novel from early burial.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Satellite office

I like leaving the house so I can get work done. When I'm home I don't feel guilty for wasting my time like surfing through Facebook, cleaning out my Kindle account, or looking for new employment. Sitting in the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Paradise Bakery I feel like I have to justify my butt being in the seat. Empty tables all around me, nobody waiting to order, and still I feel like doing something that isn't part of the writing process is somehow a blow to whatever place I happen to be patronizing.

On the other hand, if I stay at home I usually don't get any work done because it offends Pippin. If Pippin is one of the best things to ever happen to me (he is), he's also one of the worst things to ever happen to my writing. I can be wandering around the house, knitting, playing computer games, reading, whatever and he leaves me alone. As soon as he sees me writing in a notebook or typing on the laptop, he needs to stake his claim in me.

Don't get me wrong. I love having his furry little body curled up on my lap. When I first adopted him, I assumed that he'd sit at the end of the couch, or behind me, or maybe maybe he'd curl up beside me and sleep. Instead I spend most nights with a mound of black fur and a few sparse spots sprawled out on top of me. He's really the most precious.

So I end up contributing to the service sector of the economy by grabbing a table somewhere and getting my writing done. And usually drinking way too much coffee. So if you need me, I'll be the one in the back of CB&TL bouncing off the walls and sometimes landing on the keyboard.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Now what?

I finished the first draft of my novel this weekend. I'm walking around a little numb, knowing what I need to do next and feeling nervous about starting the next step. Really what's on my mind is finding some beta readers who aren't going to be worried about hurting my feelings.

Really what I need to do is sit down and seriously work on editing and adding. I know what I want to include in there and all that needs to be added, and now I just need to get to it. I just wish I could carry around a notebook and do that, like I'm used to doing.

(picture from http://www.todayandtomorrow.net/2009/04/06/the-end/)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mood music

The initial inspiration for my novel was a B-side song by Jimmy Eat World. In 2007 I worked on a NaNoWriMo, which turned out to be a "first draft" that would be eerily similar to the Hunger Games. I guess it was a good thing I never finished it.

When I started working on the revamped version of the novel I spent very little time listening to the inspiration music and a lot of time listening to peaceful folk-esque music. The novel took a very different turn and after a while I wasn't happy with it. I liked the writing, but it wasn't where I wanted my novel to go.

So I went back to the original inspiration album and BABOOM. The novel takes another turn, going exactly where I want it to go. I didn't realize the importance of going back to the original inspiration so that I would be able to write the novel that I wanted to write. I'm at 53,600 words, and I'm most excited to finish the first draft so that I can go back to the beginning and weave the original music back into the pages.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Outline to Freedom

I've never been a fan of outlining. Even as I taught my students to write five paragraph essay by outline, in my head I was poo-pooing the idea of outlining. Then last night, when I was starting at my notebook trying to get myself into my protagonist's shoes, I thought... why not?

Boy, have I been wrong! An activity that took me fewer than thirty minutes, put me onto the path to completion. I would pull out the notebook for some specific examples of how this helped my writing, but Pippin is napping on my wrist. Trust me. It was very helpful.

Now I know how many chapters my novel's going to be, who my protagonist is going to meet along her journey, and how I'm going to include exposition. Now all I need to do is go through and make sure I'm following the rules that I just made up.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pam and Eggs

I'm trying to type with my laptop on half of a thigh and a snugglebug cat sprawled out on my lap. Today's goal is to learn more about egg farming, which includes having a sit down with my mother. She inspired me with the concept of egg farming by never letting me forget my own familial egg-farming past, Verbin's Farm Fresh Eggs.

If I play it right, today will not be rotten.

(Photo from cnn.com)