Thursday, April 25, 2013

HELLO Hello hello...

That was me, listening for the echo that is surely going to bounce back when I send this post out into the blogosphere. I keep making all these promises about getting back into blogging, and never make good on them. Shame on me. :(

But! I have a good reason. This little creature entered my life a few months ago (We'll call him Beastie Baby...BB for short). :)

He's the most amazing little person ever! I won't say this year has been the easiest for our family. My husband and I both lost our jobs two weeks before BB was born, I had to adjust to being a new mother (which was hard, but I think was more difficult than it would have been had we had an income), and we moved back in with my in-laws to avoid becoming homeless. Yikes. But from all that stress and hardship, some amazing things happened.

I learned that my husband and I can handle anything. We fought. A LOT. And it sucked. A LOT. But we're getting the hang of things now, with the baby and with finding work, and things are running more smoothly. I'm so, so lucky to have someone incredible by my side, someone I know will stick with me even when things are the roughest. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

The most important thing, though, is this: I started writing again. With all this free time I have now, why the heck wouldn't I go back to writing? And I went back to the story I abandoned last year, and I love it. I realized that all this time, when I thought I was writing YA, I was actually writing middle grade. I've embraced that, and I feel much happier with writing in general, knowing that my voice fits better in middle grade. Funny how stepping away from something and coming back to it can make all the difference. Of course, CPs help as well, and I wouldn't trade mine for anything. :)

I'm going to try to get back in the habit of blogging at least once a week, and making sure that I take time to visit YOUR blogs too! I did that today, and boy, have I missed reading other people's blogs...

How has the year been going for you?


Friday, November 30, 2012

it's been a while, hasn't it?

helloooooo blog land! *listens for the echo* it would not surprise me at all if you've all abandoned this blog. it's been...6 months since my last post? which is quite a long time to ask you to stick around and keep checking back for new material. i have a good reason, i swear.

the last time i posted, i talked about shelving the wip i had dedicated 6 years of my time to. it was a decision i wrestled with for a while, and once i made that decision, it seemed like i couldn't get that wip out of my head. i was suddenly bursting with new ideas, ways to make this old manuscript fresh and appealing again, and i couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks. why didn't i write then, you're asking?

this happened.

my word to live by this year was "create," and boy did i! :) this little guy is joining our family in 11 short weeks (which i know are going to fly by with the holiday season in full swing). writing has been the farthest thing from my mind in recent months, and while i definitely miss it, my distraction is so totally worth it.

i did get a chance to meet laini taylor and hear her speak about her writing process a few weeks ago, which was like i'd died and gone to heaven. for those of you who don't know, she's my favorite author of all time, and the one with a writing process most similar to mine. it's uncanny how much we have in common process-wise. it was wonderful to get some advice from her on how to be a better (read: more productive) writer, and i have lots of new things to try once the holidays are over. of course, once the holidays are over i'll be pretty busy, but in light of the fact that i'm losing my day job as a nanny 2 weeks before the babe makes his debut, and will be taking 2 months off (at least) before returning to work, i figure i'll have plenty of spare moments to squeeze some writing in. a girl can dream, right? :)

i hope you've all been well these last 6 months, and that your holidays have been, and will continue to be, spectacular. :D


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the truth is hardest to admit to yourself

i've fallen off the blogging bandwagon in a major way. i'm not here to apologize for it, because i think it was necessary, but there it is. i even missed my own first year blogaversary, which was a little sad. let me try and put the reasons into words.

at first i was on a hiatus. i was a slave to social media, and it wasn't good for me at all. i knew that i needed to live my life for real, instead of living it online, so i put the computer away. but not only did that cut me off from social media, it cut me off from writing. and...i wasn't sad about that.

i thought that meant that i was a bad writer, or not cut out to be a writer, or something else like that, and so i hid it. i went through the motions, and forced myself to write once or twice a week just to say that i had, and pretended like i was making progress. but i wasn't. not even a little bit. then april came along, and i didn't touch my wip at all. and i still wasn't sad about that. i didn't daydream about it, i wasn't brainstorming or outlining or researching. in fact, i buried it and didn't think about it at all. and it took a conversation with one of my crit partners to realize that i was avoiding it.

i don't love that project anymore.

that statement is by far the scariest realization i've ever had. it means that this manuscript, this idea that i've been cultivating and shaping for a little over six years, isn't worth my time anymore. it's not working. i don't love the idea enough to stay with it. and just like with any relationship, you shouldn't stay if it doesn't make you happy. the coolest thing about making the decision to walk away though, is that other authors have done that too. and they're okay. i read two posts today about authors abandoning their first books, and they both went on to be incredibly successful.

and, in the words of my wonderful crit partner, maybe that story served a different purpose than i thought it did. maybe it was meant to teach me how to write. maybe it was meant to introduce me to my writing group. maybe it was meant to teach me how to let go. to say goodbye and move on to a new idea. of which i have none, by the way. O.o

so what will i do now? i'm working on writing prompts until i find an idea i fall in love with. i'm waiting for some passion. i'm writing a short story about a tree that becomes a man, thanks to a young girl's love. it's weird, but beautiful, and i'm finally excited about writing again. i'm daydreaming. i'm making progress.

what are you doing?


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

in which i assure you that i am very much alive, and also talk about heart strings

i know what you're thinking. i haven't blogged in a little over a month, so surely i must have died. i can assure you i did not. rather, my addiction to my computer did. i realized that i was becoming a slave to my laptop, and all of my time was spent thinking about what websites i needed to check up on and what blog posts i needed to read, rather than on how to move my story forward.

anyway, i'm cracking open my laptop because i have something very important to discuss with you. i'll try to keep it from being preachy as much as possible. you see, yesterday i had the misfortune to come across this article. and i wish i were lying when i tell you my eyes watered and i could taste bile in the back of my throat. maybe i was being a little bit naive, but i thought this country was past the whole racism thing. at least, past it to the point where any actor could be cast in a movie and it wouldn't matter what color their skin was. i mean, casting directors know a heck of a lot more than we do about that sort of thing, don't they?

my first reaction to the article was to be angry/shocked/upset, to the point where it was all i could think about. but after talking with some people i love, i realized it isn't worth it to get angry at these people. being angry isn't going to make them better people. being angry isn't going to suddenly fix the problems of the world (which have been piling up lately, i tell you), so really, what's the use?

what i can do is tell you that this is an issue that is very important to me. i grew up as a navy brat, and as such, moved around A LOT. we're talking every 1-3 years, some dudes in a big truck came and boxed up our house while we drove (or flew) to yet another home. i loved every minute of it. why? because it allowed me to see many different ways of life, instead of just one tiny slice of suburbia (or the projects, or a mansion, or wherever it was that you grew up). i've met men and women, rich and poor, fat and thin, gay and straight, black and white and golden and red. and let me tell you something: they all had something to teach me.

i will be the first person to admit that i'm not perfect. i harbor some prejudices, and i'm not proud of it, but it's the truth. however, i try not to let them affect how i interact with people. if i close myself off from an entire group of the population, whether it's based on age or race or intelligence or sexual preference, i'm denying myself a wealth of experiences. where exactly is the sense in that? maybe it's just me, but as a writer, i'm always striving to learn about new people and places and things, because my next obsession just might be the one to fuel my bestseller.

i guess what i'm trying to say is this: a person is a person, regardless of their gender, race, age, sexual preference, intelligence, etc, and they deserve respect as such. i am a firm believer in the old "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" adage, and i think the world would be a lot better off if people could just practice a little tolerance at the very least. as my friend christine put it: "a perfect world isn't one where we all agree. it's one where we regard each other without animosity."

just something to think about. :)


Thursday, February 23, 2012

how i learned to treat my novel like a house

*have you read my campaign entry yet? if you haven't, you can find it here, along with all the links to like it if you choose. :)

man, i have got to get better about scheduling these things... anyway, i discovered something recently that's really helped me with my current wip. i don't remember who wrote the original post i saw (sad face), but i remember most of the information anyway. i'll put my own spin on it. :)

so the original poster talked about how it's easier to draft scenes when you build them from the ground up. she said she starts with a mini inspiration board, something with images or feelings or music or things the scene needs to accomplish. then she writes a bare bones version of the scene, which basically serves to plot out the action of the scene. "so-and-so did this, and then they said this, and this is what they saw." then she goes back in and embellishes more, putting in all that poetic language we all love so well. once that's complete, she goes back a third, or fourth, or even fifth time to make sure that all the necessary themes/foreshadowing/whatever-else-is-subtle are there. and i realized something.

writing a novel is like building a house.

you have to start with the foundation and the framework. you can't very well decide what color you're going to paint the living room if you don't have a wall in the first place. the first stage is like this. you're writing out the action, telling yourself what's happening and who moves where/says what, building your foundation and framing the walls.

then you go back to the house, and you put up the walls, and add windows and doors, maybe some built-in shelves or a hidden staircase (because i would totally do that if i were building a house). the second stage of scene-writing (according to this author) is like this. you're finding the descriptive phrases that best convey the mood of your story. you're adding smells and tastes and sensations, so that your reader is transported, and the house is starting to look pretty good.

you go back again, and this time you're painting the walls, and moving in the furniture, putting artwork up, throwing down the most gorgeous oriental rug in front of your couch. the scene is getting its emotional layers, or having the book's theme woven in, or foreshadowing some big event that's happening three chapters later. you stand back and admire your handiwork.

maybe you go back one more time, to move that funky lamp from the office to the family room, where it'll get a little more attention, or to straighten the duvet cover on the bed. you're tightening sentences, finding better word choices, rearranging events so that the scene flows more smoothly. by the end of it, you have something you want to show your friends, something you can be proud of.

i've been trying this method with my current wip, and i kid you not, it's really helping. i'm finding it easier to just sit down and write, because i know my first pass is just going to be the foundation. i can always go back and make it prettier later. i'm finally starting to get my writing groove back, and it feels wonderful! :)

found any neat tricks to help with your writing lately?


ps if you feel so inclined, give this a listen. it's a recent acquire, and it may end up on repeat for the foreseeable future... :P

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the garden

this post is for the first challenge in the fourth platform building campaign. my piece satisfies all the requirements (it's exactly 200 words, the beginning and ending phrases were used, it contains the word "orange," and it's written in my normal genre), but i'll be posting it with capital letters, mainly because it's being judged and i don't want to cause any confusion for judges who may not follow this blog. so...enjoy!

Shadows crept across the wall of the garden. Alani saw them in her peripheral vision and cursed. Without the moon, a torch was necessary in the black shroud of night. But if the shadows caught her eye, they would surely draw the attention of anyone who glanced into the garden. The torch had to go.
                Alani gave her eyes a few moments to adjust to the dim starlight before heaving herself up and over the stone wall. She landed with a soft thud, rose to her feet, and surveyed the garden.
                The orange tree stood in the center, its leaves rustling in the breeze. It seemed to be whispering to her. Alani wasn’t sure what was so special about these particular oranges, but the man in the tavern had promised a rich reward if she could pilfer a few.
                As she crept closer to the tree, the sweet scent of citrus gripped her. The aroma was intoxicating, and she quickened her pace, desperate to reach the fruit. She snatched an orange from a lower bough. Her fingernails shredded the peel, baring the juicy flesh within. Alani lifted the fruit to her mouth. As the orange touched her tongue, everything faded.

if you enjoyed my piece, you can "like" it here. i'm number 120. :)

ps: i found this song on an old mix cd the other day, and have fallen in love with it all over again. don't you love it when that happens? happy listening!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

can't buy me love

i'm taking a little break from yatt for valentine's day. not that it's a big deal or anything in our house, because it's not. but i have some things to say about this holiday (i know i missed the morning window, but...hopefully some people will still read this).

first of all, i've never really been a fan of valentine's day. as a teenager, i chose not to date, so most valentine's days were spent with my friends, celebrating the fact that we weren't tethered to boys. in college, i wanted a boyfriend but didn't have the time to devote myself to a relationship (plus, let's face it, i hadn't learned how to love myself yet), so the day passed as another mundane day-in-the-life-of-studious-me. now that i've been in a relationship for almost three years, the holiday still goes largely uncelebrated. why?

because we make time to tell (and show) each other that we love each other. every day.

this holiday has become such a commercialized beast. it's a lot of "have these chocolates-that-make-you-fat/flowers-that-die/stuffed-animal-you-won't-play-with because i LOVE you!" it's battling crowds and paying far too much at restaurants. it's lots and lots of red and pink. everywhere. it's all these things that on the exterior, look like love, but underneath are a little hokey.

what it should be is a husband spending a couple hours in the afternoon painting a picture he knows his wife will love. it should be a wife choosing to read on the floor in the office, even though it's uncomfortable, just because she knows it'll make him happy. it should be making dinner together, and snuggling on the couch while you talk for hours, and little kisses in the morning while the other person is still sleeping, so they wake up with the fading imprint of your love on their cheek.

i hope all of you find that one day. :)


ps a song for lovers...