My Writing Process

CoverFinalSM-LoveAndCupcakesI was tagged to do the My Writing Process Blog Tour by my ridiculously talented, embarrassingly prolific, fabulous fangirl friend and critique partner Susan Crispell. Susan writes quirky, romantic magical realism and paranormal for both YA and Adult readers. She has a knack for writing friendships you want to replicate and boys you want to jump in the back of a car with —erm, marry. Her debut novel, Love & Cupcakes from Swoon Romance is about a woman who bakes desires into food but can’t get her own romantic life in order.

I am thrilled to be a part of this tour and hope you guys enjoy learning about the writing process from some super cool writers, add some new books to your TBR lists, and gain some knowledge along the way.

1) What am I working on?

My current work-in-progress is a yet-to-be-titled-though-I-have-some-ideas YA fantasy set  in the Islands, a shimmery, ancient world on the brink of early industrialization. The main characters are sixteen-year-olds Aliyah and Aiken, best friends bound by the law to live as brother and sister, forced into circumstances beyond their control by their families, and secretly, desperately in love with each other.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My stories are high fantasy based in worlds not usually explored within that genre. I tend to stay away from stories with easy answers, instead I write big and bold. I meet my characters at the moment their life is about to change, and then they tell me how that makes them feel. While I write about life-altering, global conflict in the worlds I’ve created, the heart of my stories comes from the human experience within that conflict.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because I am a glutton for punishment. No, really? For me to pursue something, I have to feel like I’m in a chase. Either literally, like in my first novel Redhunt, where the main character was being hunted through her dangerous, brutal world with a boy trained to protect her, or in this novel, where the ticking time bomb of change could go off at any moment. I am curious about how people react when they are given no way out. But, really more than anything — and I think this cuts to the core of why I write YA — I am still figuring out who I am, even at twenty-nine, and so I write about that journey, that question, that quest for identity.

4) How does your writing process work?

Hmph. It works for me, I’ll say that. I read this Stephen King quote once— it was in On Writing, but I can’t find the direct quote now so I am paraphrasing — that stories are “found objects” that must be excavated with care, like archaeological finds. And I think that is a beautiful way to relate to your writing.

When I approach a story, I approach it first through the characters. I do what I call “method writing”, much like an actor would, where I see the world through the characters eyes, examining every part as they would. There is time later to add in details necessary for more intricate world building.

I also do not plot. Ever. I usually have a vaguest of vague sense of where I am going and why, but details are no where in that scheme. I write on feeling. I will keep notes of thoughts or things to elaborate, come back to, use later, and when I get to the end I will usually write out little scene synopses to make sure I don’t forget anything. More than that and I start to rebel.

Up Next Week are two super talented writers that also happen to be awesome people: Sara Biren and Adrianne Russell.

Sara is repped by Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency and she writes YA contemporary that is character-driven, heartbreaking, but hopeful.

Adrianne lives in the Midwest but retains claim to her southern roots. She also writes YA contemporary that is edgy, snarky and fearless.

Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to check out their posts next week for more insights into the writer’s cluttered mind.

 

Farewell, Psych

 

psych

This past Wednesday night my family gathered together to say goodbye to our beloved friends, co-conspirators in irreverence, fellow pop culture referencers, and long-time supporters of the pineapple industry.

The menu for the wake was easy to coordinate. A simple spread, largely orange and unhealthy, high in sodium, sugar, and preservatives.

junkfood

The dress was casual, because knowing our friends, they wouldn’t want us to be the stick up Principal Richard Vernon’s ass during Saturday detention.

Sad Gus

Sad Gus

They had given us time to process the loss, to grieve for the years we’d spent hearing it both ways while sucking it until we couldn’t any longer. It wasn’t really over, they’d claimed. Imagine them carrying on in their antics and goodwill, riding off into the sunset in the blueberry.

Only, the blueberry had died long before, her carcass split in two by that assassin that time.

We had to trust them, our friends who once serenaded us to Tears For Fears “Shout” while moonwalking, that they were leaving us with a legacy, a hope…obscure 80s references on a never-ending loop.

Eight years. Eight years ago, I was about to marry my husband. I was 21, a size zero, a girl not yet a woman, eight years ago I was young.

So were they.

My entire marriage thus far we have watched these characters, and I don’t think I’m being dramatic (psh) when I say, this loss is significant. It really is like saying goodbye to friends you learned to lean on, that you feel you’ve shared something — and no, not like I actually think they are real or we know each other or have made them my sons co-Godfather’s —so special and singular it can never be duplicated.

Over the eight seasons, Shawn and Gus have slowly shed their adolescence. Do they still eat like fourteen-year-old athletes, make juvenile jokes and alienate with obscure trivia only they understand? Yes. Thank God. There is a realness to their prolonged adolescence that speaks to my generation. Kids raising kids, or Shawn and Gus being raised by the Santa Barbara Police Department. There is an honesty to the trajectory many of us find ourselves on.

If the series finale is any indication, they aren’t just kids anymore.

And neither am I. The bittersweet sentiment of my goodbye to characters I have, myself, grown up with, is met with my own revelations. My own tentative acceptance of aging and maturity and admittance that I’m not the twenty-one-year-old I was when the show aired in one of the less awkward Pilots ever put on TV.

As Shawn said, in the final moments of the final episode, “I am done cowering from the big decisions.” That statement sums up his internal conflict, his character’s ultimate, overreaching arc. And there is nothing more satisfying for a viewer to see their hero (he’s really co-hero with Gus. Come on, son!) achieve his goal. In terms of closure, this finale delivered.

We leave these character in a good place. We leave them with a future.

smiling

So, even though we say goodbye, and we admit we sort of think you guys are being like “Topher Grace in In Good Company“, we say thank you.

Thank you for eight years of your lives.

Thank you for growing up with us.

Thank you for being our friends.

Thank you for teaching us about the 80s.

We won’t forget about you.

 

What’s Up Wednesday: Writing Cave

TreeWUWWhat’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 or Erin’s blog.

This is my first What’s up Wednesday to use Jaime’s adorable new buttons. Oh geez, I love them.

What I’m Reading

kristen-wigg-hair-twirl

Yeah. Not much right now. I read the awesome and moving and hilarious and awesome Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy last week, then nothin’, nada, nil. I do have an excuse, I will elaborate on that more fully below. All I can say is I have a stack of books by my bed and on my computer that are desperate for my attention and starting to get testy.

What I’m Writing

That thing I said I’d elaborate on, well, prepare for some sweet, sweet knowledge. If you follow me on Twitter, you might know — because it only actually happens if I put it on Twitter — that in the last two weeks I have added 16,000 words to my YET TO BE TITLED work-in-progress. Below is a true-life depiction of what I currently look like.

Ron-Swanson-Dance

I’m so pretty and dainty. I have a self-imposed deadline of April 1st. Why? BecauseIdoshutup. As of today it looks like I need 10-12,000 words until I can type The End. In honor of progress, and even though I get really embarrassed posting my writing anywhere ever, I’m including a tiny, baby snippet. (Be gentle, it’s rough.)

Cheers rise like roaring beasts around the room. In the burst of celebration, I finally look at her. Her eyes are pinned to the King, her hands pinch the fabric of her skirt, nervous, but she smiles. I almost reach for her hands, planning to flatten them against her skirt like always. A gentle reminder that she has nothing to fear — but I can’t touch her now, I can’t help her now.

My place is no longer beside her.

What Inspires Me

I don’t even know because it’s all a haze right now. I think the idea of finishing this book, for one. Requests from agents on my other book and positive feedback, for another. Seeing the word count edge higher everyday, and with it the realization that I will finish this thing before it finishes me.

Daily chats with writer friends that encourage and empower. You ladies know who you are.

I went to the Side Effects May Vary Launch and Signing. The turnout was phenomenal, and so, of course that is super inspirational, but it was seeing how it affected Julie that really hit me. Hard. Writers work so many hours on their books, give so much of their life-force, their soul and heart and brain, to these fictional worlds. Writers, us, we live in the bubble of our worlds and our characters and them mattering to only us for so long, that when it finally comes time for them to matter to others the fact that they do can be shocking — wonderful, but shocking. julieme

 

What Else I’m Up To

A few weeks ago, agent Maria Vincente with P.S. Literary put out a call for contributors, regular or special feature, to her blog I Believe in StoryI applied and was accepted, which was awesome. My first blog post, up today, is a Character Study on Jon Snow. Yeah. You’re gonna want to go read that. Follow I Believe in Story on Twitter to get blog updates. I am really excited to be collaborating with Maria. It has been a fabulous experience thus far.

Binge watching Veronica Mars. Saturday evening my husband and I were supposed to attend a reunion show for our awesome friend’s band. We couldn’t because child-dog care didn’t work out. We had never watched Veronica Mars, and with all the chatter about the movie, and all my friends being hashtag marshmallows, I just had to check it out. Hooked like a kid on phonics, I tell ya.

Lamenting over the soon-to-be loss of Psych (Tonight, 9/8c, USA). My husband and I have watched this show since it began back in July, 2006, or for the entirety of our marriage thus far. It’s a big deal for us. There will be a full blog post on the topic Friday, here on the blog, once I have dealt with my feelings. Or to help me deal with my feelings. Or to bitch about my feelings. Whatever. Stay tuned.

gus

Happy (Sad for me) Wednesday!

 

 

Side Effects of Making a Bucket List

side effects

This coming week, March 18th to be precise, Side Effects May Vary releases from HarperCollins / Balzer & Bray. Debut author Julie Murphy has enlisted friends, bloggers, and her future readers to help with her online launch by sharing snippets from their own Bucket Lists.

Why? In Side Effects May Vary the main character, Alice, is diagnosed with leukemia and decides to spend her remaining months righting wrongs. This results in an unusual Bucket List of sorts that ends up having surprising consequences for Alice when she goes into remission.

When Julie asked us to share our own Bucket List, I’ll admit I was a bit flummoxed. I have never given this subject any real consideration. I haven’t even given my own I’m about to turn 30 list much thought. I am not much of a life planner at all, actually.

This may take a while. I leave you in good hands until I return.

thid

kit-harington-pompeii-abs-2

And….back. These are in no discernible order other than they were jotted down first.

Item #1 —

Get a book Published. I have written one book. Am 90% done with a second. Writing a book never gets easy, but it is something I have done and never thought I would actually do, therefor had I made a previous Bucket List it would be totally crossed off now. (May see the appeal to this phenomenon, now. Am a big fan of crossing things out in general.) Seeing my book in a library, on a booksellers shelf, in the hand of a reader while she waits for the train — that would be pretty sweet.

Item #2 —

Go to San Diego Comic Con. I would ideally like to go before Game of Thrones ends so I can see Jon Snow. I figure that show will be on for a few more years, so  I have some time to make this happen. Hopefully, Jon Snow doesn’t die beforehand.  As a card-carrying member of multiple fandoms, SDCC is like the mothership of Cons, a place where being a fan, a nerd, a person more comfortable with fantasy worlds than real ones, is totally acceptable. I want to see it once. That’s it. Once would be enough.

Item #3 —

Travel to the UK. I have never been to Britain, Scotland, or Ireland. My family roots go straight back there. As a girl, I was pretty much hardwired to love all things British thanks to books (and the amazing movie adaptations) like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Chronicles of Narnia, and so many more. I want to have a real high tea, to drink in a pub, to walk a moor, to stay in a castle. Be it one trip or many, this needs to happen.

Item #4 —

Teach my son to read. I have a four year old who is right on the cusp of learning to read. There is something magical about watching your child begin to recognize not only the language they speak written out, but the joy those words can bring when you discover them for yourself. I want to be there with him as he does. I’m not the most maternal individual. I don’t gush over babies, I don’t feel the urge to nurture, and am in no real danger of overcommitting myself to the PTA or Sunday school. For me, the magic of motherhood is found in the relationship I have with my son, in watching him learn and grow and become who he’s going to be. And what could be more powerful than words?

Item #5 —

Go skydiving. Not that indoor nonsense where you hover in the air for ten minutes inside a giant, concrete building. I want to jump from an airplane, screaming, crying, but flying. If there is one thing I can honestly say I have to do before I die (and hopefully it won’t be the thing that kills me) it’s jumping from an airplane.

Item #6 —

Be involved in a feature film. As a screenwriter, I dream of seeing a script I’ve written on spec turned into a film. As an actor, I have always wanted to be in a film doing some actual acting. As a control freak, I am afraid of all of the above. So, maybe conquer that fear first and then shoot for the stars? Right. This last year, I produced one of my short film scripts through Kickstarter, and it was an incredible learning experience. So more of that, but bigger, longer, and so on.

Item #7 —

I believe every bucket list should have one vague item. One thing to achieve, maybe for the good of mankind, maybe just so, should all else fail, you can say you did something you set out to. Mine? Not take the ones I love for granted. Life is risky, and busy, a jumble of tasks to tick off and dreams to strive for. In the hubbub of everyday life, or because we need to get shit done so we just don’t think about it, it’s easy to forget what’s most important. I want to say thank you, at least once a day, for the people who make my life meaningful, possible, sustainable.

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I realized as I compiled this list that it was merely the tip of the iceberg, the scratch on the surface of all the living I’d like to do, have already done, and can’t begin to imagine I”ll do.  A few years ago we moved to New York City (a place I never planned on living), I wrote a book (a thing I wanted but didn’t think I could achieve), and so, as a side effect of making this list I acknowledge its state of utter incompleteness. It is less a Bucket List and more a To Do Sooner Rather Than Later List. It is a Get Up Off Your Ass and Do List.

It is an If Not Now When List.

For more about Julie’s stunning debut novel follow the links below!

Amazon

The description and link to add it to your Goodreads:

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Julie Murphy Author PhotoJulie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie’s debut novel.

Website :: Tumblr :: Twitter

 

What’s Up Wednesday

wuwPLANEBORDER2What’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 or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I finished the Edelstein Trilogy (the books I was going on about last week) and they were more satisfying, wonderful, scrumptious, happy-making, even than seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Watson present at the Academy Awards. And I was really into that.

From his Twitter feed that evening. Yes. I do Twitter stalk him.

From his Twitter feed that evening. Yes. I do Twitter stalk him.

I then read the ARC of The Truth About Alice, which I received thanks to the author, my friend, Jennifer Mathieu. This book was utterly absorbing, gutting, but somehow sweet and heartwarming at the same time. It comes out in June. Add it to you TBR pronto, guys.

I am now doing All The Beta reading. I also just picked up via the internet a book published in the UK called How To Get a Love Life by Rosie Blake, which looks hilarious, and am reading Mistwood by Leah Cypess, which I picked up at my local library.

What I’m Writing

I added about 9,000 new words to my WiP this week. I have a plan, and a goal, and I am in writing cave mode more often than not at this point. It’s time to finish this thing, it’s so close I can taste it, I just have to get it out.

What Inspires Me

This is going to sound counterproductive to my current goal of finishing my WiP without working on the other projects vying for my attention. But. Contemplating books-to-movie adaptations of books I am reading. I had an extensive conversation about my idea for a remake of the German film adaptation of Ruby Red (called Rubinrot) which I think would be well-suited for Masterpiece Classics to develop.

What Else I’m Up To

We took Sam to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman on Saturday. He definitely enjoyed it, but probably not as much as my husband and I did. There was a lot of giggling on my part.

Trying to adjust to Daylight Savings Time. The first day wasn’t so bad because it was Sunday and I slept in. I was thinking I had avoided the normal crabbery that comes with this particular event, but Monday morning, I had to peel myself out of bed and remind myself it wasn’t my husbands fault that we Sprung Forward.

And, lastly and most embarrassingly, I took the Faction Quiz going around the internet right now. Which one you say? The Aptitude Test. How did I place? Divergent. (Because obviously.) I would be a Dauntless and Candor. The honest and the brave. (Muaha.)

Happy Wednesday!

What’s Up Wednesday

WUWKiteWhat’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 or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

So, guys, if you haven’t read The Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier you should really consider remedying that, pronto. I am about 50% through Emerald Green, the last book in the trilogy, and I am obsessed. Thanks to Sara Biren and Tracey Neithercott, first for introducing me to this series, second for informing me yesterday that there was a movie adaptation done in Germany. (And EXTRA thanks to Sara for getting me a copy.)

What I’m Writing

My work-in-progress. I have gotten a lot of words in the last couple weeks, and a lot of plot issues worked out, and have reworked or rearranged scenes until they are actually in the right spots. I am finishing this thing you guys. My goal is the end of March, but I’d love to finish earlier, and just might be able. It’s crunch time.

What Inspires Me

The great books I’m reading for starters. The great writers I’m friends with who make me want to be a better writer. The amazing feedback I’m getting from agents and the progress in my writing journey overall. It’s an amazing feeling to look at where you are in your process and actually believe it’s the right place at the right time.

What Else I’m Up To

My son had his first belt test in karate last night. His sense of accomplishment and the boost of confidence is invaluable to a kid like Sam. And, geez, is he cute.

Official Yellow Belt!

Official Yellow Belt!

I am spreading the word about what Christa Desir, author of Fault Line, is doing for Lent. Check out this post from me on the subject. She wrote one on her blog yesterday going into greater detail as well. I’ve provided links to everything, and hope you’ll consider picking up a copy.

Writer Recharge Wrap-Up

writer-recharge

For more on Writer Recharge please follow this link. A huge thank you to the brilliant ladies who came up with it. It is always awesome writing with you guys — even if it’s in the virtual sense.

First, my goals for the month:

  • Finish my YA Fantasy WiP. I’ve been steadily building this world and story since August 2013. I need to finish the draft.
  • Finish the TV pilot I began work on in January.
  • Stop starting new ideas until the other ones are finished.
  • Title the YA Fantasy WiP because I’m tired of calling it (awkwardly) Banyan Book.

I met exactly one of my goals. Care to guess which one?

Anybody, anybody?

Bueller? Bueller?

If you guessed, stop starting new ideas until the other ones are finished, then well done. And, to be fair, that was hard for me.

While I didn’t finish my draft, or the TV pilot, of title this manuscript anything less awkward, I did make headway on all fronts. I added word count or scene count. I discovered important layers to my own plot. I had an amazing writers retreat where I connected with other writers I hope to know, support and be enriched by for years to come.

Most importantly, I rediscovered a love of the story. Not just this particular story, but all of them. The undiscovered. The already ignoring. The previously written. February ends with me firmly in love again with just writing. Writing for the mere fact that I must, I am compelled, and I am inspired. That is a huge gift.

I have new goals. Goals to finish this draft in the next two weeks or so, and now I know how to do it thanks to this month. And I am very energized.

Christa Desir is the Shiz : A Goal for the Week

https://twitter.com/ChristaDesir/status/440140746780200960

This is not the first time I’ve shared what Christa is doing. This morning I composed my own Tweet telling my fellow Twitter addicts to spread the word. But I didn’t feel it was enough.  Christa already donates half of everything she earns from Fault Line to rape survivors all the time, but for a stretch of forty days, she will make nothing from the sales of her book. And I want everyone to know it because the reason is an amazing one.

Writers work for years on manuscripts before they ever reach the shelves. Sometimes, we work for years on manuscripts that will never be published. Sometimes we never make any money on the hours of labor, and most writers will tell you, it’s not about the money anyway. (If you want to be rich, this is not the profession for you.) When the time comes for publication, and you actually begin making a profit on your book sales, I can only imagine that the taste of victory is sweet, must be savored, and probably makes your stomach hurt a little.

It is so easy for us as consumers to lose sight of what it is we’re investing in. We’ll spend $6.50 on a coffee, but dammit that ebook for $8.99, that thing that was someone’s life for two years, that thing that just might change our day, month, year, perspective, that thing I’ll buy when it goes on sale, or if it makes it to paperback, or maybe I’ll borrow it from my friend who already has it.

I am not saying we don’t share books. We absolutely share books, in every form and fashion, we give them away so someone else can read them. We gush about them on Twitter or Goodreads or from the rooftops. I am not saying buying a cheaper version of a book makes you a villain. Books are expensive, and the economy is not improving. I get that, I feel it just like you. Anyway it gets into your hands is good.

Books are almost always a wise investment, no matter your method or means, but if there ever was a time to buy the full-cost version a book, this would be it.

Lent begins on March 5 and ends on April 17. (I am providing handy links below to Christa on Twitter and her blog, where I am sure she will talk more about this.) During that time, pick up a few copies of Fault Line. I plan to pick up a handful to donate to libraries in my area (there are several). I plan to give a copy to a friend who might not otherwise pick one up herself. I plan to make my friends who are readers buy at least one copy for themselves.

I plan to do this because it feels right to me. All we can do is what feels right to us. That’s all I’m asking of you here. So, if you’re feeling it, here are some links to get you started!

faultline

Fault Line on Goodreads:

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

Christa’s Blog :: Twitter :: Facebook

Links to where you can buy online or find it in your area:

IndieBound

Barnes and Noble

Amazon