Monday, February 28, 2011

Chickening Out

On Friday I went back to visit my hometown, Huntsville, Alabama. During the drive up I finished listening to Andrea Cramer's Nightshade. Oh my gosh, was my heart in my throat. That was some ending. And then for the remainder of the drive I sang along at full volume to Taylor Swift's Speak Now. I can't say how much I love this album and how it helps me remember what it's like to be a teenager.

In the afternoon, I dined on delicious Thai food with an old high school friend and her hubs. During lunch my friend taps my shoulder and points to someone behind me.

"Hey, isn't that Mrs. Ward?"

As soon as she said the name, I whirled around in my seat. Mrs. Ward was my junior year high school English teacher and was one of my favorites. I turn in my seat and start waving like a lunatic at Mrs. Ward. She stands from her table with a great big smile and a glint of recognition in her eyes. She hugs my friend and I and asks us what we're doing. My friend, in her official business suit, told Mrs. Ward that she worked for the government. Mrs. Ward turned to me, still beaming. There I am dressed in a green cotton knit dress that I picked up in the juniors section at TJ Maxx, black leggings, and silver sequined ballet flats, and this black sweater with tiny woven windows that expose the green bodice of my dress. I'm freakin' dressed like an eighteen year old. I want to tell her. Mrs. Ward! I'm writing! I still remember the Canterbury Tales because of you! And I still love British poetry because of you. I'm writing a book about teens. And I know she would have been proud. But, instead, I pick at the hem of my sweater and mumble something about being an optometrist and working with kids.

The whole afternoon I regretted not telling her. Why didn't I tell her?
I know, why. I still have trouble thinking of myself as a legitimate writer. I know that a writer is someone who likes to write. Someone who maybe pounds away at it a regular basis. Someone who feels like they can't function unless they don't get words on the page. That's me. It's so me. But, it's sometimes just hard to admit to other people.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Other Story

Lately, when I watch movies I've started to take notice more of the other story. The movie Unstoppable is about a runaway train, but it's also about a man who's estranged from his wife and desperately misses his son. Inception is about dream infiltration, but it's also about a man trying to get home.

I recently watched Disney's Secretariat and this movie is about so much more than horse racing. It's about a woman calling the shots during a time when a woman's place is meant to be only at home. It's a movie about legacy, family, taking risks, and believing in your dreams. A movie or book is exceptional when your heart is one hundred percent pulling for your characters. When Secretariat runs his last race there were tears in my eyes and my fingers were digging into the couch. And even though I finished the movie thirty minutes ago, I'm still on this fictional high. What a feeling. I can only hope to write something one day that evokes so much emotion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writing Quirks

At the beginning of the month I started another rewrite of my novel, which I have now decided to call Trifecta, primarily because it's one of my favorite words. Maybe I can work in a scenario where my main character will have to place her bets on three finishers in exact order. Or maybe the title of my novel will evolve with the increasing page count. But for now, I refer to it as Trifecta because it makes me happy. So during the writing of this manuscript I've developed several interesting quirks.
  • I am writing this novel by hand in a salmon colored notebook
  • I have become preferential to writing in purple ink. Sometimes I'll use shades of pink or magenta if it has enough purple hints in it. I don't know where this purple infatuation is coming from because my favorite color is red.
  • What I write by hand the story comes out in past tense, but when I tweak and transfer it to MS Word it automatically changes to present tense, the intended tense.
  • This isn't so much of a quirk, but I drew up a beat sheet for this novel prior to writing. I'vebeen using it as a loose road map as I write. It has been extremely helpful.
Do you ever discover new, interesting quirks about yourself when you write? I find myself wondering what color ink I'll choose to pen my next novel in, or if instead of a notebook, I'll go back to drafting on a computer instead.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gossip Time...Nightshade

I'm seriously enjoying listening to the audio recording of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (check out her website, it's AMAZING). This book contains epic proportions of hotness. The main character Calla is a Guardian. Not only can she become a wolf, but she's an Alpha wolf, a warrior. 

The line under the title says it all, She can control her pack, but not her heart.

This book is full of tension, hot guys, and lots of kissing. I won't say much more, because I don't want to give anything away.

Andrea Cremer has been touring this past month with some other authors on what is called the Breathless Tour. I was lucky enough to win a tour poster from Beth Revis's blog (Author of Across the Universe).

I've already read (please note that when I say "read" this is synonymous to me as "listen" and I used the terms interchangeably as I please) The Replacement and did a gossip time post about it here.

I am very excited about reading the other three books on the poster, because the first two have just blown my mind (in a good way, of course).  I don't know if this happens to you, but when I read good books, it makes my writing better. Something about my thought process changes. It's as if listening to these books subconsciously fine tunes my brain to become a better writer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yes, You Can

Becca Fitzpatrick wrote a post yesterday titled Suck It Up. I'd like to expand on that theme a bit today.

If you have dreams, yes, sometimes you just have to suck it up and fight for them. Sometimes that means skipping American Idol or waking up an hour early so you can write. Sometimes it means telling that evil voice planting doubts in your head to shove it. Sometimes it means you have to believe in yourself even in the face of rejection. We have dreams people, and we can't give up on them!

Sometimes we don't feel good. Our allergies are haywire and our heads are aching (Me). You still have to grab that pen or boot up your laptop and try. You may be surprised by what you write.

I guess this pep talk was more for me, but if it helps someone else, it'll make me all sorts of happy. Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Please Send Some Good Vibrations

I'm a total nut case because Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) is interviewing at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine TODAY.

I don't want to get into all the details, but this is his third year applying, and getting into dental school is super competitive. There is nothing that I want more than for Sarcastically Delicious to be able to achieve his dream of becoming a dentist.

So if you believe in prayer, I'm asking for your prayers. If you don't, then can you please just send some happy thoughts and good vibrations towards Manhattan. It would really mean ALOT to me, and I know to him as well.

Have a great weekend and happy writing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What If the World Had NO Electricity

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) posed this scenario to me the other day when I was musing about what e-books I wanted to buy with my Barnes & Noble gift card.

"Paper is better," he said.
"Why? I enjoy reading on my Nook so much more."
"Well, what are you going to do when the Barnes and Noble database crashes?"
"No problem. I've got my Nook books saved on my computer AND on my Nook."
"Well, what if there's no electricity and you can't charge your Nook anymore?"
"I'll print my Nook books out on paper then." I don't know if you can actually do this, but I threw it out as an arguing point because I hate it when Sarcastically Delicious wins.
"There's no electricity. How are you going to print things out?"

Oh, snap. He's right.

What if it's the future and the world has completely switched over to e-readers. Paper books are antiquated like the papyrus is to us now. And then, what if, there's some kind of power grid virus, and the world loses all electricity. No one would ever be able to read again, amongst the other problems they'd be dealing with from lack of power.

Yes, these are the weird things that Sarcastically Delicious and I talk about.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Believing Your Dreams Into Reality

On Friday, Shannon Whitney Messenger, answered a few of my questions on her blog. Specifically, she shared the story of how she became a writer. This, of course, got me thinking about my life.

When I was in high school I was a pretty average student. I made A's in most classes, except Math. I could do well at it if I did an insane number of practice problems, but "well" never really got much farther than a B. My engineer father could never really understand this, because in mathematics there is only correct answer.

When it came time to take the ACT and SAT, I only halfheartedly prepared (compared to the people who lived and breathed test preparation). I knew my college career depended on it. But, standardized test preparation was just something I couldn't really get into, despite how important it was. And after taking the ACT three times and getting the same freaking score, I figured that was my number.

My Dad had always told me that if I wanted to go away to college I had to get a scholarship, otherwise I would have to go to the local university that was well known I was fortunate enough to be invited for an interview at UAB's Honor Program. I loved everything about the program. At the Honor's House they had this wall that you could scribble on, write whatever profound musings were tickling your brain at the time (this was before facebook, so the concept seemed ultra cool). We could call the professor's by their first names, and if you didn't like sitting at a desk, they had couches in the back you could sit in instead. And the interview was just plain fun.

When I got home from my interview, there was nothing I wanted more than to attend the UAB Honors Program. I knew that on paper I wasn't the most stellar candidate for a scholarship. But, you know what I did? Everyday, I imagined myself receiving a letter from UAB announcing that I had a full paid scholarship. Every. Day. I even imagined the green logo at the top, the Times New Roman font announcing my good fortune, and I could even feel the texture of that special university fancy paper on my fingertips.

And wouldn't you know it... I got that letter. When I opened the envelope and read it the first time, I felt like I had been reading it for the millionth time, because it was exactly like I had repeatedly imagined.

As writers, we write because we love it. We write because it defines who we are. And a lot of us write because we want to be published. I'm not ashamed to say it. But there are some people who say you shouldn't write with the sole purpose of finding an agent and getting published. And I see what those people are saying. But, what's wrong with having a conviction so strong that you actually believe your dreams into reality? With a lot of hard work, it could happen. Hey, it worked for me once before.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gossip Time... The Replacement

This past week I listened to The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. I had walked past this book several times in the library because I thought the cover looked scary.

I don't do scary.

I can't watch scary things. I don't like talking about scary things, especially realistic scary things, like axe murderers, and alien abductions (I know it's debatable, but come on, can we really be the only people in the universe?)

Do you remember the movie The Blair Witch Project? Yeah, I watched that movie with a blanket over my head and was totally freaked out by just listening to the sounds.

Regardless of my fear of all things scary, I checked out the audio book of The Replacement from my local library. Even though this book has a supernatural element, it reminded me a lot of my high school days (without the creepy things living under ground). And it wasn't that scary. I mean, it's scary, but it was at a level that I could handle. The narrator was excellent.

Amazon describes The Replacement as:
"Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong."

If you're looking for a well written, character-driven, spooky story, I highly recommend The Replacement.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I'm writing again and it makes me all sorts of happy. When I called Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) on the phone today, he noticed a definite difference in my voice.
I've been writing since Saturday and I haven't missed a day. The words are flowing, and life is good. But, as I look back at my self-imposed writing hiatus I've realized a few things:
  • There is no magic formula to writing a good book. I think I've always known this, but I researched it to be sure. Yeah, it doesn't exist. The best advice I found was: read a lot and write a ton.
  • I had placed restrictions and expectations on myself, that in essence were stifling my own creativity. Writing a book is hard enough, I didn't need to make it more difficult.
  • It's ok to write crappy first drafts. It's ok to write problematic second drafts. It's ok to write flawed third drafts. I've heard authors and agents say this many times in the past. But, I never accepted it myself. I needed to make my writing shine so I would edit as I wrote. There were some days I would edit so much that I wouldn't write. No wonder I had so many project stall outs. I've finally accepted that it's more important to just get the darn thing written, mistakes and all, rather than to dampen my creative momentum (a term I'm stealing from K.L. Going). As long as you learn from each draft and make the next one better--that's all that matters. Oh, and have fun while you're at it.
  • I used to think the only way I could finish a polished version of my book was if I could find undisturbed blocks of time where my mind could function at its peak creative performance. I was wrong. And after reading the the excerpt below from Stephen King's On Writing, I've completely changed my game plan. I write here and there. Maybe it's a fifteen minute block or a four hour block. It doesn't matter. I'm writing. I'm enjoying it and I'm slowly progressing towards a finished manuscript.
In truth, I've found that any day's routine interruptions and distractions don't much hurt a work in progress and may actually help in some ways. It is after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl; not pearl-making seminars with other oysters. ~Stephen King
  • I might need to cut back on blogging. At the start of the year, I told myself that I was going to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For the most part I stuck with it. But, since my time is limited (as is everyone else's) I need to use some of my blogging time to write. I love the comments, networking, and visiting other blogs, but at the end of the day having a completed manuscript is going to mean more to me that sticking to my three-posts-a-week blog schedule. This is an example of the self-imposed restrictions I was talking about earlier.
That's all for tonight. Stay tuned for more of what I learned from my writing hiatus.
P.S. Go Steelers!!