The Writing Perch

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We have been in our house less than two weeks. I have gotten to write in my office a handful of times since then. It has been glorious. Having a workspace in the home, but up a ladder and out of the way of normal household raucous, can do wonders for your writer concentration. There is none of that, “I need to just put on a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, organize the pantry,” nonsense that so often accompanies writing from home. In fact, I am getting an electric kettle and a stash of tea, non-refrigerated snacks, and a slop bucket so I never have to leave. (Okay. Not a slop bucket. But you get the idea.)

Today is a gloomy sort of day. A gray sheet of clouds has formed a cocoon around my hill, allowing me to fold my body around words until something new is formed; a fluttering, living creature, ready to meet the world. The trees have begun to bud out tiny green leaves. They curl in, not yet ready to face the season of growth ahead.

I’m not gloomy at all. Just thoughtful. And thankful.

Writers describe the days they spend hunkered over their computers, pouring their real selves into their fictional world, as being in a writing cave. I like the image that conjures: an expanse of darkness, a glowing lamp, damp glimmering walls. But this is not a cave. It is a perch. My writing perch. As a fledgling writer, not yet ready to fly (or my book not yet ready to be printed) this nest above the ground is a safe place to test my wings out. To nurture my words and the characters created by them. To dot i’s and cross t’s.

To take flight and never look back.

POISON Blog Tour

For my first blog tour, I am happy to be supporting a book as effervescently full of fun as Poison. When I heard about Bridget Zinn’s book — and the untimely passing of the author — I was moved by the groundswell support from the blogging and writing community. I did not know Bridget personally, as some of the other bloggers and authors on the tour did, but from what I can tell from her writing, she was someone I would have loved to grab coffee with. Or Pie. Kyra, the sixteen year old heroine of Poison, really seems to like pie.

As I began reading Poison, I was immediately transported by Bridget’s words and engaged by the thrilling concept of her story. There was a playfulness and zest in her storytelling that reminds me of the earlier Harry Potter books. In fact, that thought actually upset me a bit. As a fairly stingy reader, who can’t consume books fast enough to satisfy my appetite, I was throughly miffed that I won’t get to read more Bridget Zinn books.

Readers, we have been shorted.

It is a huge complement to a writer when readers want more of you. I would have wanted more books from Bridget. Many, many more. I would have bought them and shared them emphatically.

I’m glad we have Poison to enjoy, and I am sure you will enjoy it, but still…

Here is a bit about the book:

poison

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Pick up a copy using one of the handy links below, or by visiting your local bookstore/library.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

iTunes

Powell’s Books 

If you are on Goodreads, add it to your To Be Read list pronto, friends. Here’s a link for that: Poison on Goodreads

Now, a bit of Bridget’s personal story:

bridget_zinn_photoBridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”

Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads. 

I actually, to be incredibly personal with you all and at the risk of TMI, read this in my bath. There are happy dried drops of sudsy water on a handful of the pages.

To Bridget! To first books, first blog tours, and pie!

Five Awesome Things About This Week

via Aaron McFarlane

via Aaron McFarlane

1. We moved into our new house. We have only a handful of boxes left to unpack. Of course, when you are coming from a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, NY, that is not really something to brag about. But still…Yay for this!

2. My son can spell his name. What is even more awesome about this than just the sheer brilliance of him understanding the concept of letters making words, is how epically proud of himself he gets. Not one for humility, he boldly shares this fact with every random stranger he encounters. He’s so stinkin’ cute that said strangers (who are eyed closely by me) smilingly entertain him.

3. I have read three books this week and currently am working on a fourth. Take that Goodreads! Not awesome, however, is that for every one book I finish three appear on my TBR list. I guess it’s saying something awesome about the YA landscape, but it’s a little overwhelming to me.

4. I had dinner with YA author and super cool chick Lindsay Cummings. As Texans, and blondes, and self-professed book nerds, we had A LOT to talk about. I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter @lindsaycwrites and check out her blog by clicking this link. Her book, The Murder Complex is due next year, and she just signed a deal with Katherine Tegen Books for an MG Fantasy called The Balance Keepers. So, yeah, she kicks major writing ass.

5. I have finished a rewrite on three chapters in my novel that I think are, well, awesome. I am now able to dedicate three workdays to writing, which, in itself, is quite possibly one of the most awesome parts of moving back to Texas.
kirk-inspirational-awesome2
Hope you all had as awesome a week as I did, and if you did and want to share (*clears throat* brag) feel free to do so in the comments section. Cheers!

Road Trip Wednesday: #171 Quarterly Check-up…I mean IN.

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: Quarterly check-ins! We’re already 1/4 of the way through the year–where are you on your reading and writing goals?

Ok, first of all — No way! I am bumfuzzled that we are already a quarter through the year. Holy time warp, Batman! The first couple months of this year have been largely consumed with the process of moving from the Big City back to the sprawling lands of Texas.

I have read four books this year, with a few pages of progress on a fifth.

bones

crewel
ravendeerskin

 

According to my Goodreads tracker, I’m 12% behind. If I intend to meet my goal of 70 books, I best get my sweet little behind in gear. However, I’m nonplussed. I’ll make up the time. Insert Tortoise and the Hare analogy here.

As far as writing goals are concerned. I have but one, and I think I’m doing pretty well with it. What is my goal you ask? (Go on, ask.) Get my MS to the point where it’s ready for submission. Now, here’s the thing. That’s not totally on me. When working with an agent, a big part of the process and the relationship is about trusting them to tell you when it is ready. Or at least, trust that you can come to the agreement about its readiness.

Part of my struggle is this: I am obsessive. Someday I plan of finding another outlet for this energy that doesn’t involve making other people nervous. I sent her an email Monday about a particular revision I was going to try. She probably just shrugged and let me do it because, well, see above. So, for my writing goal, I think I am on track. And at some point in the next few months, I hope to have confirmation.

So, I need to get back to work now. I should probably read? Happy Wednesday! To goals!

funny-gif-simon-cat-tree

Share the love.

This is a reblog. I am majorly inspired by this effort, and thrilled to pass the info along to all of you guys. Reposting from Elodie and Peggy Eddleman. Any help you can offer, even if it’s just buying and reading their books (which is what all authors long for), will be wonderful.

From Peggy (Literally, copy and pasted. All credit to her, and you can visit her blog using the above link.):

Two of our very own needs us:

I have always been so amazed at how supportive, loyal, encouraging, and helpful the writing community is. Writers rock, big time. Whenever someone’s in need, writers rally the troops, which is why I’m posting this. Guys– we need to rally the troops for two of our own.

First: Chad Morris.

I’ve gotta say, a debut year is extremely busy and stressful. But there are a lot of very rewarding and fun parts of it, too! Chad Morris, a blogger many of you might know, has willingly given up all the fun and rewarding parts of his debut year for something infinitely more important– his 9 year old daughter. Last Tuesday he and his wife Shelly (a writer who many of you might know, too) took her to one of the best neurosurgeons in the nation to get a tumor removed from her brain. Dang! I’m getting teary-eyed just typing this! *deep breath*

Chad is in a hospital, being there for his daughter as she recovers. He can’t promote his book, but we can! We can give him the book launch that he deserves. His book releases tomorrow. If you feel so inclined, think about mentioning his book on Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, on Pinterest, or on whatever other form of social media you enjoy.

Here’s the quick details:

Book: CRAGBRIDGE HALL: THE INVENTOR’S SECRET (Shadow Mountain, 3/5/13)
The blog post where Chad talks about his daughter:http://writingwithshellyandchad.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-more-important-dream.html
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chad.morris.5
Twitter: @ChadCMorris

The longer details:

About THE INVENTOR’S SECRET:

Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don’t read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar.

Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather’s inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall.

Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather’s greatest secret–a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.

About Chad:

Chad Morris grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from the Muppets, he’s been banging on drums since he was eight years old.) After high school, he wrote and performed sketch comedy while going to college, and eventually he became a teacher and a curriculum writer. He lives in Utah with his wife and five kids. Chad would love to teach at Cragbridge Hall.

Unlike Oscar Cragbridge, however, he hasn’t really invented anything, though his son once sketched out blueprints for a machine that would turn celery into cookies.

Second: Bridget Zinn

Bridget’s debut novel, POISON, releases a week from tomorrow. Sadly, Bridget died from cancer in May of 2011, and never got to hold her book in her hands. Being published was her dream, and her husband and friends would love some help putting the finishing touches on her dream. Her husband has set up a website that talks about all the ways you can help. It’s a pretty awesome thing. You can find his plea for help here: http://bridgetzinn.com/help/index.php

Here’s the quick details:Book: POISON (Hyperion, 3/12/13)
Twitter Hashtag: #poison

The longer details:

About POISON:

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

About Bridget:

Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”

Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.

I am positive that anything you want to do to get the word out about these two fabulous books— no matter how small— will be greatly appreciated.

I’m honored to be part of the troops with you all.

This is me talking now:
Get the books. Read them. Tweet about them. Blog about them. Like Peggy, I am so inspired by the way authors build up other authors. We aren’t out to make everything about us, and our book, and our success. Getting people to read, whether it is your book or someone else’s, is a win for everyone.

Closing

HouseIn a few short hours this will be our house.

Whatever it may seem, I am not bragging. Although, I will be honest. It’s a freakin’ cool house. The third story will be my office hideaway. I anticipate many works of great fiction — or teenage angst ridden fantasy more like — to be written in that room. The wrap around porch provides the perfect vantage point to watch my son play in the woods. From our front windows we will gaze at the glowing sky, dream big dreams, and drink massive cups of coffee. The home sits high on a hill, the ideal location to mow down zombies should the apocalypse be upon us. We will need to install bulletproof window coverings to keep them from walking right into the living room, in the event of an attack, however. There are trees to escape to when the world is too much for me. For Sam. For Nathan.

Life is unpredictable. It’s full of WTF moments. It’s built of tacked together hopes and bandaged dreams. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is blissful. Life is mostly a lot of trying something and hoping you tried the right something instead of the other something you could have done instead.

When you are like me, you believe you are covered. The umbrella keeping the rain out, keeps the faith intact as well. We have weathered a few storms the past couple of years. (Literally. Storms. Two hurricanes, a couple blizzards, and a tornado.) Storms that tried to make us hide inside. That wanted to cut us off from resources we should have. That planned to wipe us out entirely.

Now, here we are in Texas again, and the moment to close is near. We didn’t always think this was the best route. We have wondered if this move was beyond our abilities or our comforts. If it was wise.

We wondered the same thing about moving to New York.

I tend to be a bit of a steamroller. I wish I could say that this color on me is one I hate, but that would be a lie. It suits me. It makes waiters quiver and the faint of heart cringe. In these situations, you will more commonly see be barreling toward my goal with little regard for what gets smashed on the way.

For this move, certain circumstances were at play that made my normal way of dealing with change impossible. A close family member was in the hospital. My son had a sinus infection, and is three, so change for him looks like a four-letter word. There were issues with the underwriter on our loan. (A person I have now likened, on multiple occasions, to Professor Delores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)

dolores-umbridge-harry-potter-large-msg-130869841976-300x200

I did my best to approach people first with kindness. I used my words, as I always tell my son. I remembered the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey.” And at each sharp turn, my resolve was worn away. Chipped away. Chiseled. By the end I felt a little psychotic. See below visual aide.

leslie

So, yeah, it got a little hairy. This is the way of things sometimes. But we persevered. And even thought steamrolling wasn’t the logical approach, I managed. It’s not always easy to see meaning in our hardship. Or to handle our setbacks with grace. At the end of the day, the best you can expect is often, just getting out by the skin of your teeth.

Don’t be discouraged by it. Eventually, it will be over, and you will hold shiny new keys in your hands. (Insert a visual of whatever you struggle with here.) Then you will be about the business of basking. Don’t get hung up on the details. The devil is in those.

* For those of you who follow me on Facebook, we were supposed to close yesterday but were delayed, hence my status indicating we were closing. It’s all good though.