Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My So Called Creative Life...

This blog post comes straight to you from my guest bathroom. Alabama is being pummeled by tornadoes today and my thoughts and prayers go out to all those that are affected by the natural disaster.

Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) is killing zombies on his phone, Jasmine (kitty #2) is smelling his butt, and Sasha (kitty #1) is napping inside the bathtub, while all four of us are waiting for this tornado warning to pass. 

So now that you're up to date on the weather, here's what's going on in what I like to call my creative life:

1. I've written 41,000 words of my manuscript to date.

2. I'm listening to City of Glass by Cassandra Clare in preparation to read the latest installment, City of Fallen Angels

3. I just finished reading Night Star by Alyson Noel and can't wait for the final book to come out in June.

4. I'm about to start reading Possession by Elana Johnson. I'd like to do a fun give-away/contest on my blog to give away this ARC. Any suggestions?

5. As we rushed to the bathroom for cover from the tornado, Sarcastically Delicious told me to bring a book. I thought it odd that he wanted me to have adequate reading material while we waited out tornadoes, but whatever. So I grab my book bag which contains my laptop, writing journals, etc... When I appear with out a book he scowls at me and points out how he has brought the mammoth sized hard cover book, Atlas Shrugged. He emphasizes that I need to bring a hard cover book. Confused by his persistence, I run out into the hallway, and at first instinct want to grab Deathly Hallows, but then I end up grabbing And the Band Played On. When SD sees this thick book, he's pleased with my choice. And I'm just confused. That's when he points out I'm supposed to put the book over my head, for protection. Sigh. I can be so dense sometimes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I Do When I'm Stuck

I often find the middle of the manuscript is when things get murky.

The beginning is easy when you have that bright, fresh, shiny idea. You're pumping the words out, on an almost artificial high from the prospects of your new story.

And I don't know about you, but I like to know what the ending is before I start writing. Back in March, Maggie Stiefvater, wrote an excellent post about how to start a novel, and she mentions the importance of knowing the ending, but then she also says at the end of her post to ignore all her rules. I think they're valid rules, and I wouldn't ignore them. She's just being humble.

So, I'm not an expert, but these are some things that work for me when I'm stuck in the murky middle.

1. Close the laptop. Whip out some paper and pen and just start writing. It doesn't matter if you write a massive info dump or if you decide to spontaneously give your main character blue hair. In the midst of all the nonsensical words, you will find the answers that you seek to crawl out of the murky deep.

2. Talk it out with a critique partner. I find these conversations extremely helpful. Oh, you don't have a critique partner you say? Here are some links to help you find one: Maggie Stiefvaters Critique Partner Love Connection, and Agent Mary Kole's blog. Natalie Whipple also has some excellent posts about giving and receiving critiques. If you readers know of others critique partner resources please share in the comments section.

3. Sometimes, it's ok to stop writing for a few days. Just let the ideas stew in your head until you figure out where you story needs to go. This is probably my least favorite method. It has worked for me in the past, but the pesky side effect of this route is that sometimes that one or two days can turn into one or two weeks, and then you start to have a disconnect with your story, and then you're setting yourself up for the My story sucks or I don't know if I can write this anymore, etc...

Hope this helps!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Details on the Writing Group I Braved to Visit

Anita Laydon Miller, author of the newly released middle grade e-book Earthling Hero, commented on my last post that she wanted more details about the writer's club meeting I attended at the local library last weekend. It was interesting. A variety of ages were present ranging from teens to retired school teachers. It was an open forum where people could read up to five minutes of their work. Some read poetry and some read excerpts from flash fiction, short stories, novels, and memoirs. Everyone was super encouraging towards each other. It was great.

The piece that I remember the most was from a memoir written by a retired teacher who struggled with a variety of phobias and anxieties in her life. In particular, she struggled with something called scriptophobia, which is fear of writing in public, and she shared a wonderful story of how she had to write her first check for college tuition in front of a line of strangers. It was a story that didn't just enlighten me on what scriptophobia was but was a story that anyone with a phobia or anxiety could relate to.

I have a fear of empty swimming pools or pools that don't have people swimming in it. As part of my ACL surgery rehabilitation, I had to do quite a bit of pool therapy. I didn't mind it at all, and in fact enjoyed it, except for the fact that there was always someone swimming in the lane next to me or a therapist was sitting on a bench beside the pool. Eventually, my work schedule changed and I had to change the time I went to the pool. Unfortunately, this fell during a time when there wasn't anyone in the pool and no therapist. Needless, to say my pool therapy fell to the wayside. And then I had to explain to my trainer that I hadn't done my pool therapy for three weeks because I was scared to be in the pool by myself. I felt so ridiculous explaining it to him. But hearing this retired teacher talk about her phobia, made me feel better somehow.

Over all, I thought the meeting was a positive experience. The only negative thing I had to say was that I felt like the moderator was putting down traditional publishing. Yes, finding and agent and selling a book is hard and you have to write the best story that you can. I've heard some compare it to winning the lottery. But, when you have novice writers, with bright shiny dreams and hopes, don't just come out and tell them that they will have to self-publish because becoming traditionally published is impossible. There is of course nothing wrong with self-publishing. But, give them the choice. Without any bias, both paths should have explained.

I almost felt like the meeting moderator, who was a writer himself, maybe didn't have the best experience pursuing traditional publishing or something and so he was poo pooing it for everyone else. I usually don't like to say negative things about people, books, or really much of anything on my blog (except if it's about Sarcastically Declicious' antics, because, hey, I have the right), but the way the moderator presented publishing left a bad taste in my mouth, and I don't know if I will go to another meeting. Or maybe I will. I don't know. Really torn about it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm not really introverted but if I have the choice to hang out with a large group or with just one or two friends, I will always opt for the situation with the lesser number of people. I suppose I'm more comfortable with  smaller numbers and I feel like the time spent is of greater quality.

Same goes for critique partners. I don't keep many and I enjoy the one on one interaction, the mutual brainstorming, and polishing of manuscripts. I once did a screenwriting workshop and we had to do group pitch sessions and share our work out loud, but never have I participated in an actual critique group.

On the weekends, I like to spend time at my local library. I'm lucky to live near a very cool library. It's like a coffee shop, lounge, and library with out door seating all in one. For the past few months I've seen fliers posted calling for Aspiring Writers. Knowing that this might be a beneficial experience but simultaneously cringing at the thought of attending something that might involve a group, I was able to find reasonable excuses not to go. A majority of the meetings conflicted with my work schedule. What's a girl to do?

But, I'm at the library right now and there's a meeting starting in eleven minutes. I don't really have an excuse, do I? I guess I'm going to put on my big girl panties and check it out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Which I Insult Scarlett O'Hara

Sarcastically Delicious, aka boyfriend, aka I-don't-read-fiction-because-you-don't-learn-anything-from-it, is finally reading fiction. He has decided to take on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. If you haven't seen this book, let me tell you, it is the size of a phone book. He's really enjoying it because he likes politics and is in awe of Ms. Rand because she wrote this book in the 1940's, but much of what she has to say can apply to today's political culture.

Anyway, Sarcastically Delicious wants me to read it. And I'm like no, because my best friend Smelly once told me she tried to read Ayn Rand's work and she said it was somewhere along the line of depressing and boring. So then I tell Sarcastically Delicious that I will only read Atlas Shrugged if he will read a book of my choosing. Fearing that I would make him read Harry Potter, he scowled at this idea. Little does he know, I was going to suggest the Hunger Games, but, whatever.

In an effort to convince me to read Atlas Shrugged, Sarcastically Delicious texted me a link to a website that shows a list based on a study in 1991where respondents named a book that had made a difference in their lives.

1. The Bible- Makes sense.

2. Atlas Shrugged- Sarcastically Delicious hopes that the number two position will entice me to read the book. Not so much.

3. The Road Less Traveled- Never heard of it. Doesn't mean, it's not life changing. I just haven't heard of it.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird- I don't know if it was life changing for me. But it was definitely a good book and Sarcastically Delicious and I had a brief intellectual conversation about it.

5. The Lord of the Rings- Love the movies. Definitely life changing, in that my butt was permanently affixed to a chair for almost eight hours.

6. Gone With the Wind- Sarcastically Delicious, knowing that I've read the epic masterpiece, turns to me and asks, "How did this book change your life?" And I reply, perhaps a little to candidly, "How not to be a bitch."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gossip Time...Matched

So, I know I'm a little late with jumping on the Matched band wagon, but I devoured this book. And the funny thing is I could totally relate to main character Cassia Reyes who grew up in a society where everything is controlled. Obviously, I don't live in a dystopian society where my choices are made for me and everything I do is predicted. But I did grow up as the daughter of immigrants who were raised in a very conservative and strict fashion and wanted their daughter to be the same. Don't get me wrong, I love my parents and they are totally cool. But when I was a teen I felt very suffocated by a lot of their conservative beliefs and fixations. You should have seen how they reacted the first time a boy called my house. Albeit, he was a gay boy, so he was really no threat, but still. My parents had an arranged marriage, just like the characters in Matched do, but instead of the government choosing their life partners, my grandparents chose for them. I've never really talked to my parents about what it was like when they were life partner shopping. I don't know, it's just something we've never talked about.

Anyway, I can't say enough good things about this book, but I also don't want to give away too many details. Ally has a really cool website that you should definitely check out and the sequel, Crossed, is due out November 2011. I don't know how I'm going to wait that long to see what happens next.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Fricassee

I'm sorry that the regular posting thing did not happen this week. I've been battling the sinus infection from hell. Literally. The little germies festering in my ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses are microscopic spawns of Satan, intent on administering headaches of the greatest kind. Fortunately, my pharmacist has concocted a special super antibiotic, anti-fungal, steroid spray that is supposed to wreak havoc on them with the vengeance of a thousand angry angels. Or something like that. I mean, that's basically what the drug package insert said.

If you're looking for a critique partner, super fabulous author Maggie Stiefvater is hosting a critique partner love connection on her blog.

Anita Laydon Miller has decided to go rogue and self publish her middle grade e-book Earthling Hero. She left the much esteemed Nelson Literary Agency to do this. I can't imagine how hard that decision must have been. But, of course, I don't know all the details either. I'm just speculating. You can buy it for $0.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. I plan on purchasing a copy ASAP. And you should too. Stay tuned for a Gossip Time post in the near future about Earthling Hero.

And I don't know if Anita's e-book debut is a coincidence, but this week there has been a lot of talk about Amanda Hocking and her $2 million book deal with St. Martin's Press. After successfully selling  almost 450,000 copies of her e-book in January 2011 alone, she has decided to go with St. Martin's Press because she claims: “I only want to be a writer,” Hocking said. “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” Although, guest authors on Alan Rinzler's blog have some advice for Ms. Hocking that begs to differ.

I hope this fricassee satiates your hunger a bit and I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gossip Time...Cryer's Cross

After reading and LOVING Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy, I was excited when I learned she had a new book out, Cryer's Cross.

Seventeen-year-old Kendall has OCD and lives in a small farming community in Cryer's Cross, Montana. Her best friend/boyfriend is a boy named Nico, who lives across the street. They've known each other since they were babies.

The book opens with a search for a missing teen, Tiffany Quinn. The entire community splits into search parties, and along with law enforcement, scour the small town of Cryer's Cross. Tiffany is never found. Kendall fixates on Tiffany's disappearance, probably more so because of her OCD. It just doesn't make sense. But when another teen disappears from Cryer's Cross, Kendall's OCD kicks into over drive. Could she be the one that solves this mystery?

I never give away any spoilers in my gossip time posts, but I must say that this ending chilled my bones. I finished this book last night, and I'm still thawing from the creepiness of it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why Critique Partners Are Wonderful Reason #947

ME: I'm going through a major case of the I suck... (Insert a couple paragraphs of nonsensical wining about goals not being met by self-imposed deadline that I won't bore you blog readers with).
So when I sit down to write I just chug right along. But, now, because I'm chugging right along, I feel like the words are coming too easy, so that must mean it stinks. I know it's stupid and I should tell these voices to go away, but it's hard.
Any advice?

WONDERFUL CRITIQUE PARTNER: No, no, no! You don't suck. You really don't. (Insert three paragraphs of reason, common sense, and writerly wisdom)
Honestly--don't beat yourself up. Let the words come easily; they're most natural when they do. And being genuine will put your draft so much closer to completion.

Stay tuned for reason #948 why critique partners are wonderful. Have a great weekend!