What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s.

What I’m Reading

The danger in beginning Crown of Midnight when I have so much to do is that I won’t get a lick of it accomplished. I ran out yesterday, after exercising and losing my will to live in one fail swoop, to purchase this book on pub day. To say I was excited doesn’t do justice to my feelings on the subject of this book.

What I’m Writing

I spent a big chunk of time writing content for the blog and Kickstarter dedicated to the short film project I am now fully immersed in. (More on this below!) This kind of writing is actually quite supportive to query writing because it centers around pitching a concept to an audience with no prior knowledge of your project.

I did some other writing as well, though not on my WiP. I worked on the sequel to my novel, which is still in the limbo phase of querying. (I’m handling this well, really, totally at peace. *bites nails to bits*) Sometimes it’s acceptable to go with your inspiration, which is what I did there. Plus, a few thousand words ain’t too shabby either!

What Inspires Me

I have mentioned a few times the workshop I did with Nova Ren Suma through Mediabistro. This class not only introduced me to the wonder that is Nova, but it also acquainted me with some truly talented writers at varying stages in their craft. One of those writers finished revision on the book she was workshopping and is now readying her query. It’s always exciting when this happens.

In the same vein, another friend from that workshop, who is an immensely talented writer herself, chose to take time out of her day —and money from her bank account — to support my short film project. Susan Crispell, your encouragement in this (and your fangirling of my novel before this!!!) is invaluable. I heart you from Texas, and hope we get to meet one day in person! She also has a book coming from Swoon Romance in January titled Love and Cupcakes, and I can’t wait for the rest of you to get to read her fabulous writing.

To cap off, I want to mention the support I received from some of the members of this blog-hop, in the Agent Inbox contest I was a part of last week. I didn’t win, but I do feel it was a valuable experience. Thanks to Katy Upperman and Allison Miller for commenting on my query!

And, lastly but not leastly, Sara Biren took the time to send me some email encouragement after hearing about my rejection. It was the email equivalent to a pep squad and I adore her for it.

It is by the edification of other writers, who love words and books, and who remind us we are all in this together, that we can keep going. If you are feeling discouraged — maybe you received a rejection yourself this week, maybe your revision is fighting tooth and nail to stay shitty — don’t lose heart. The tide can turn at any moment, but we all know how rough it can be before it does.

What Else I’m Up To 

So, yeah, I’m making a movie. If you are interested, here is a blog post I wrote yesterday that details everything, as well as provides all the handy links to learn more! I am featured in the Kickstarter video. I may do a little dance. May be worth checking out just to experience that.

My son’s 4th birthday party was this past Saturday. Sam wanted a Power Rangers/Ninja Turtles Theme. My husband took all the pictures on our “nice” camera, and I haven’t had time to pull them off yet. Be assured, it was quite the shindig. I am glad to be done with it, and next year I will probably rent a place and have it catered because I decided I don’t actually like organizing parties. It gives me anxiety sweats. Also, Sam spent most of the day in tears because the pressure of presents and entertaining and all that sugar is really too much.

Sam's first day of preschool!

Sam’s first day of preschool!

Sam also moved up to the preschool class at his Montessori school. With moving up he began five days a week. It was a difficult decision to put him in full-time, but my husband and I both feel it will be best for all of us. Sam seems to mostly agree, with the exception of this morning when he wanted to watch another episode of Ninja Turtles and couldn’t because he had to leave for school.

Happy Wednesday! What’s up with you?

Let’s Make a Movie!

In case you missed it on my Facebook and Twitter…I am now officially in pre-production for a short film that will begin shooting in October.

A bit about the film:

Cassie’s Cause tells the story of Cassie Duncan, a young, scrappy animal activist whose older brother Gregory has recently passed away. On the night of his burial, Cassie wishes he could return and things could go back to the way they were. Her wish is granted. But there’s a catch. Cassie is now the proud owner of a Zombie.

Together they embark on an unexpected adventure.

Cassie’s Cause examines the ways we cope with loss, the choices we make to do so, and the power we possess to overcome. Told in sweeping black and white, Cassie’s Cause utilizes the visual and emotional, rather than vocal expression of the actors to beautifully illustrate a young girl’s journey toward letting go.

Sound fun? It will be.

Saturday we submitted all our information to Kickstarter for review. I’m happy to report we received approval yesterday! Please follow the link below to view our Kickstarter video and consider making a pledge in support of the film.

We understand that asking for money in this current economic climate is bold, so please know that any contribution to this film will be used honestly and in earnest to make the best movie possible. We have some fun incentives, but those who support this film will get more than shout-outs and buttons and t-shirts. They get to be part of making a dream come true.

If you’re curious, or just want to show your support but can’t pledge:

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Follow the blog

To view our masterfully shot and gorgeously rendered (or to see me dancing) Kickstarter click HERE!

If you have comments or concerns, questions or compliments, you can leave them at any one of those locations. I’ll do my utmost to answer! Have a terrific Tuesday.

 

What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s.

I want to preface this by saying, it’s been a hell of a week.

What I’m Reading

I finished Throne of Glass. I would like a moment of silence to relive some of the spine-tingling feels this book delivers. (Closes eyes and thinks about Chaol, Celeana, and Dorian. Wanders into daydreaming where I am an assassin with killer hair and cat-like reflexes who captures the interest of two beautiful men.)

OK, I’m back. I then decided to read Austenland by Shannon Hale. I love Jane Austen, and Mr.Darcy is still possibly one of the most swoony literary men ever, so this book naturally appeals to me. In much the same way I adored and devoured Bridget Jones’s Diary, I fell headlong in love with Austenland. It’s a quick read at 208 pages. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times, and it delivers the romantic goods. I haven’t read an “adult” book since The Rules of Civility last year, but this book was exactly what I needed in the midst of my crazy week. It was an escape, just as Pembrook Park is for the heroine Jane, and one I was grateful for. 

The film adaptation was recently released, and it looks like a blast!

What I’m Writing

Hmm, what am I not writing? Last week we wrapped the first installments on our web series, now officially titled SUPER TV SHOW. Riding the high of this, the crew and I decided to take a chance on producing our own short film. This film project is one I have had in the works, in varying and evolving forms, for almost seven years. It’s a project I very much believe in. Next week we will launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. I will share all that information as soon as I have the link for it. I am ridiculously excited. Along those lines I’ve been writing proposals, rewriting the script for filming, and sending emails to contacts in the locations we need permission to film in. For instance, we want to use a historical cemetery as one location. There is a Cemetery Board that must approve. It’s morbidly fabulous.

I also made some progress on my WiP, bringing in another 1500 words. I love this story, and now I am doing more in-depth research to flesh out the world-building. I also have some alpha readers who want to know where the hell my next pages are. Sorry!

What Inspires Me

We went to a small town to scout locations and shoot our Kickstarter video on Sunday. We ended up drinking wine in an eclectic antique store with the shop owner, a film buff who studied molecular science, and talking about Fellini. We also caught most of it on film.

The support of the writer community here and on Twitter. When I shared my experience with rejection last week, the response was overwhelmingly encouraging  and edifying. I am always impressed by you.

What Else I’m Up To

My son has been sick with swimmer’s ear and some kind of stomach bug. He also seems to be going through some sort of terrifyingly early pre-adolescent hormone surge. He screams, cries, and pits his will against mine at regular intervals throughout the day. His birthday was today — but his party is Saturday — and for the most part it was a lovely day. I made him a special breakfast, took him to a playground, and spent the afternoon watching Power Rangers Jungle Fury (only available through random vendors on Amazon, so it was a birthday present) with him at my mom’s house. I also had to threaten him repeatedly with time outs and loss of privileges if he didn’t put on his listening ears and get in the damn car. (I did not cuss at him, but in my head there was a string of expletives.) Children are a blessing. And so is alcohol.

I entered the “Agent Inbox” contest through author Krista Van Dolzer’s website. You should all visit the contest, which should be up some time today, and tell them how amazing Post #9 is. Plus, if you are at all curious to find out what my book is about, this is a good opportunity. I have never shared this much information about it on the internet. It’s feels scary.

Last night I went to the midnight release of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. First of all, wow, I am a major fangirl and really too old to be out so late. (Though, when I lived in NYC I spent quite a few wild nights out until 3am. But I was an idiot.) Second, the movie was a little disappointing, but Jace Lightwood in the flesh wasn’t.

mortalinstruments

The most fabulous part of our late, late night was during the previews when this happened:

kitharringtonpompeii

I honestly can’t tell you anything about the teaser trailer that followed this shot. Pompeii comes out February 28, 2014, and I’ll be there. I have already exstensively searched the internet for the teaser trailer from last night with no luck. If you happen to stumble upon it before I do (and I promise, you will know when I do) please Tweet me or post in comments.

Happy Wednesday! Now, if only I could take a nap.

Fire and Thorns Trilogy (Wherein, I make my feelings clear.)

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about Rae Carson’s PHENOMENAL Fire and Thorns trilogy since I finished reading an ARC of The Bitter Kingdom a couple weeks ago. Then I got sidetracked with my own writing dramas and nearly forgot.

Never fear, I am here now to talk about these books and why I think you should all pick them up pronto. No excuses.

Oh, the romance I have with these books! It’s been a little over a year since I first picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns — on a whim due to a particularly glowing review from a fellow YA fiend — and I have salivated for each subsequent sequel since.

As series go, this one starts off at a wonderful place. Elisa — magic stone entrusted princess and role model for all girls who’ve glowered in the shadow of a gorgeous and slim sibling — is married off to the a rather handsome, but slightly weak spirited king, at sixteen. Her life quickly turns upside down and sideways as everything she ever knew about herself is brought into question. The first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is an introduction to Elisa, the magic in her world, the stakes against her, and the beautiful tentativeness of first love.

The journey continues in The Crown of Embers. Elisa is now Queen Regent, her understanding of the power in her Godstone grows, just as her responsibility to her people in the terrible war against the Inviernos and their black-magic. In the midst of grappling with all this, Elisa is falling in love with someone she really can’t have, and we all suffer right along with her. Note: I have discussed this many times on my blog. The make-out scene in this novel is deserving of a re-read. Or ten. I read it again just now.

In the final chapter of this saga, The Bitter Kingdom, we follow Elisa to the gate of the enemy, as she wields a dangerous and volatile power with grave and unpredictable consequences, all to save her land and her love. It’s harrowing, certainly, but mixed with such heart and vibrancy I was invigorated until the wee hours of the night reading. I especially enjoyed the relationship she develops with a horse she wants to hate, as well as a slave girl she takes under her wing. It’s a satisfying end to a series I didn’t want to see end. There is also plenty of delicious romance to make your toes curl and your stomach flip-flop. Ya know, if you like that sort of thing.

Elisa is a heroine I love and admire. Her evolution over the series created an allegiance few have managed with me. In fact, her fierce loyalty and sense of duty is a quality I am drawn to in real life, and something I long to exhibit more accurately myself.

As a writer, I choose books for all sorts of reasons. Research. Swoony boys. World-building. But above all, a book must make me feel. It must take me out of my own world, and the ping of my pinball thoughts, long enough to stop picking my nails and start smiling again. If a book can do that, I will love it forever. I will carry it with me into conversations. I will push it into hands, and write about it on my blog.

Rae Carson managed that so beautifully with these books, that my conscience won’t allow me not to talk about it. And it’s why I’m threatening you (however emptily, because hello, this is the internet) to read them or else.

Read them. They can be found through Indiebound.org as well as most larger online retailers. Or go to your local bookstore. If they don’t have it at your local bookstore, demand why. I did this at mine, and the bookseller kindly explained they had sold out. OK, acceptable.

Write me when you get to that scene in The Crown of Embers. We’ll swoon together.

What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s.

What I’m Reading

I finished reading the ARC of Tandem by Anna Jarzab. I really enjoyed it. If you are a fan of sci-fi that deals with multiverses and has romance simmering beneath the surface, you will love it.

The book I decided to pick up after Tandem, is one I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I heard such praise about the world building and romance, not to mention the protagonist, that I actually became reluctant to start. Maybe because I was afraid I wouldn’t get it. Maybe because the hype was too much. Or maybe just because I knew I would become obsessed. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass has already delivered on the hype and I am officially obsessed. My fear realized, and I’m thrilled.

What I’m Writing

Still working my my new project, though I’ve only written about 1000 words on it since last week. My weekend was sort of…full. I didn’t get as much writing in as I would have liked. Also working on the sequel to my manuscript and plotting some more. Much of my writing on that project is mental and notes right now.

What Inspires Me

The Civil Wars new album, The Civil War. I am largely inspired by music while writing. For me, the emotion that courses through some music ignites the desires in my characters in such a way that I feel what they may feel beneath my own skin. When working on my novel, The Civil War’s song “Poison and Wine” perfectly expressed the conflicted nature of my love story, and provided an ideal platform for writing the tense romantic scenes between my MC and the Romantic Lead.

What Else I’m Up To

Earlier I said my weekend was full…full of preparing to film or filming or being tired from filming.

Swimming. My son has gradually grown bolder in the water as the summer has worn on. I really needed to float in cool water Friday evening, after a day of roller coaster emotions from…

Being Rejected. I wrote about it here, so I won’t go into it again, but will say I did receive a request for a partial the next day. The road to publication is nothing if not unpredictable, a mixture of heartache and elation, and best taken with a shot of tequila.

Have a Wednesday full of unexpected fun! Oh, and tell me what’s up with you too.

Recounting a day of filming

This weekend was a busy one. I spent Saturday evening setting up a fake diner for the shoot on Sunday with our teen actors . My co-teacher and I wondered around the location, searching for a small podium to use as a hostess station for about thirty minutes before we finally found the person who knew where it was. We learned we can’t fold linens with any skill, and decided light switches should all be on the wall right inside the door, not across a dark and perilous room.

To the benefit of us all.

The set was ready Sunday when the kids arrived, mostly in costume and off-script. I say mostly because with teenagers, everything is a little haphazard and mismatched, especially this close to the new school year. Right off, we had casting and costume issues, which led to me playing a street kid with two lines in one of the scenes we were scheduled to shoot.

The two actresses in the scene with me, both teens, informed me I am not thug. I was in agreement, especially when they wanted me to pop-lock (I think that’s what they called it?) and I looked like I had a wedgie instead. It was also 100 degrees outside, where we were shooting this scene in direct sunlight, and I was wearing a hoodie. This was for two reasons 1) my Doctor Who T-shirt had to be covered, 2) I am a 28 year old woman wearing make-up, not a dirty-faced a 14 year old girl.

We managed to get the scene. I never crossed the thug threshold, but that’s ok. I was hot and slightly irritable the rest of the day.

Shooting multiple scenes with quite a bit of blocking takes a while. We shot for five hours, at the end of which we still had four scenes to get and decided to come back for another day to finish.

The kids were troopers. When you’re working with professional actors, shooting is trying, the waiting around is frustrating, and the pressure to perform sets everyones nerves on edge. When you are working with untrained kids, everything feels exponentially harder. That said, they have all my respect and admiration for how they soldiered on. Filming is not glamorous. Getting usable footage is difficult and requires multiple takes, from multiple angles, and a lot of repetition.

I am excited about what we accomplished yesterday, and I know they can’t wait to see the final product.

On the Inevitability of No

I had something happen today that caught me off guard: a rejection from a full request. Now, my agent situation has always been a little weird (and not something I am comfortable openly discussing on my blog), but when I received this rejection, I found myself grappling with a lot of emotions.

The rejection was incredibly kind, and actually, made a point to clarify that it wasn’t the quality of my writing or the interest in the book, but rather the agents belief they weren’t the right advocate that led to them passing.

If you are thinking, “Aw, that’s nice, at least you know it’s not because your book is shit.” Then you and I are very different people. Rejection is rejection. It all comes from the same place: not loving your book enough. Like in romance, a guy telling you it’s not you it’s him may seem like a nice reason for breaking it off, but the fallout is often the same. You, left in a puddle, feeling not pretty/cool/clever enough to hold his attention.

I am not complaining. That’s actually not what this is, though I did ugly cry for a little bit afterward. The agent’s interest and willingness to read my book was an incredible opportunity, as well as a boost to my confidence. A boost that shouldn’t be negated because this agent ultimately decided to pass. A boost I will hold on to despite my melancholy over the rejection.

Receiving a “no” must be weighed very carefully with what you already know about your book, your talent, and your belief that you have done all you can to package it in a way that appeals. You must go back to your core and make sure it remains solid. The wobblier you are on whether your book is worth reading, the more likely you are to give up.

I constantly hear agents and other writers say, “If you can do anything other than write, do it.” They say this because rejection is an inherent part of this process. Just yesterday I was speaking to a friend about books — mine, others, all of them — and I told her that at some point every writer has to get to a place where they accept that not every person is going to love their book, and some may even hate it. It takes one agent to fall in love for it to be repped. It takes one editor to want to make out with it for it to be sold.

There’s a verse in the bible that says, “Woe, when all men speak highly of you.” Not everyone should love your book or you. You will have people telling you no until the one you’re supposed to work with says yes. I remember when I was a teenager, my mother gave me this advice in the context of popularity. I wasn’t very popular, nor was I very mainstream. She always encouraged me that those things weren’t what shaped interesting people, and that embracing the fact that not everyone “got” me would allow me to be more open to the ones that did.

I respect the no I received today. I wrote the agent back to thank them for reading, and for seeing it wasn’t for them. Both things are valuable to me as a writer. Does it still sting? Was I hoping this would be it? Sure, yes, of course. I am not much for lying, I wanted this to work out.

That doesn’t change the fact that I have no choice but to keep trying. When Rae Carson was in Irving earlier last month, she shared how she was repped by an agent before her current agent (the one who was able to sell The Fire and Thorns Trilogy). Nothing was wrong with this agent other than the fact that they ultimately didn’t have the same vision for The Girl of Fire and Thorns as Rae had. This distinction made all the difference in the success of selling her book as YA.

I thought about this story today, again, as I was weeping into my coffee because I received one, very courteous and thoughtful, no. Being a writer goes beyond no’s and yes’, beyond selling or not selling, beyond the ironclad door of the industry, and the shit that you see getting published while your masterpiece sits on your computer unexamined. (Hello, Fifty Effing Shades of Gray. Not the actual title so I will not italicize.) Whether your book is really a masterpiece (it’s probably not, let’s face it, that was hyperbole) or not, isn’t what I’m talking about right now. Your passion is what makes it worthwhile. Your willingness to revise is what takes it from meh to marvelous!

And then, when you’ve done all you can and you wait for more responses — praying, crossing fingers, and jumping backwards in a circle for good measure — you write another book in the hopes that one day you get to do it all again.

What’s Up Wednesday August 7

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s.

What I’m Reading

I finished OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. As I said last week, that book brought up a lot in me. It is worth reading, and it left me feeling hopeful if slightly twitchy.

I am reading another ARC now. (I have racked up the ARCs lately, yay for well connected friends.) Anyway. Currently reading Tandem by Anna Jarzab. I know I love it because I am soaring through it, however, there are things I feel odd about in it. Mostly, POV switching that is a little jarring at first and then a little cop out. I like Sasha, and the plot and concept is riveting, but it’s romantic lead Thomas that does it for me. I recommend giving it a shot when it releases in October!

What I’m Writing

Still working on my sequel, though haven’t touched it in a few days because the other idea I began has taken over. It’s OK, because I am under no current pressure to make headway on the sequel. I just wanted to know I could and start messing with how.

The new WiP is sort of consuming all my waking thoughts right now. I had a banner day Monday, getting close to 4500 words written in one day. Tuesday (even though I was caring for my son and running errands) I managed to squeeze out another 1500 words. Son took a nap because he was up a lot during the night with unknown worries and fears, and so I made him rest in the afternoon. This gave me more writing time than I expected, but then I had to reluctantly wake my son to prevent him staying up until midnight. I am filming today, which will impede my progress, but that is a productive use of time.

What Inspires Me

Pictures from Hawaii. From time to time, I am reminded that I was there and it was magical. Also, my WiP kind of has something to do with it.

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Family Stories. Last weekend, I traveled with my husband’s family to the Austin area. A few weeks ago, my husband’s mother discovered she had an older half-brother. Her mother had given birth to a son who had been adopted before she married my husband’s grandpa. My mother-in-law didn’t know this had happened, but when her mother told her that she had a brother, my mother-in-law was overjoyed. Watching the family open themselves up to this new person, his daughter, his wife, and his grandkids was an incredible experience. Seeing the power of this revelation in my husband’s family manifest without judgement or bitterness, was an incredible example of the kind of people they are, and the kind of legacy passed down to my husband and his siblings.

What Else I’m Up To

Filming. Today we have seven scenes to shoot in about 3.5 hours. I will be powering through, drinking coffee and diet coke, and probably doing a lot of sweating. Wish me luck!

Catching bugs and things. Monday I caught a tiny lizard for my son, which he – in an incredibly humane gesture for a nearly four year old boy — let go the following morning.

Staying out of the sweltering Texas heat. I feel like God is baking us into a cobbler to serve with ice cream at the church pot-luck. I saw the first glimpse of fall clothes at Target yesterday and wanted to cry, but decided to sweat instead and then buy an ICE-E.

Fangirling hard over this clip from The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Oh, the FEELS! Oh, the boy! Oh, Lena Headley not playing Cercei!