Ready. Set. Write! Update #3

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Monday means check-in time!

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Finish the read through of my manuscript.

~ Done!

2. BETA READING!

~ Begun!

3. Ten screenplay pages.

~ Five Screenplay pages, so I’ll make up for it this week. 

4. One blog post.

~ Done, although, it wasn’t the blog post I wanted to write. I got in an accident and I talked about it here.

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

(From the SCREENPLAY, not the TV PILOT. Takes place at Comic Con.)

Her eyes go to his hand on her arm. He removes it. She leans back against the bar.

ABIGAIL

Why the mask?

HAN SOLO (JACK)

Would you believe me if I told you it was a disguise?

ABIGAIL

I’m pretty sure everyone here is in disguise. Even me.

HAN SOLO (JACK)

But you’re here, even though you claim abivalence. What possessed you?

ABIGAIL

I made a promise.

Biggest Challenge:

After the little accident I was in, I had to fight not to just watch TV all day Wednesday and feel sorry for myself.

Something I love about my WiP:

Screenplay is an R-rated dramady. Writing dialog with this amount of curse words is quite fun. Also, research. The setting is San Diego Comic Con, so scouring message boards and reading articles is really, too much fun.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Screenplay – 15 pages

2. Beta Reading – ONE MS

 

Who’s driving?

I could have lost my leg this evening. You may read that and think I’m being dramatic, or drinking again, and while I am currently nursing a gin and soda, light on the soda, no, that account is pretty accurate.

Today was a good day, and even though North Texas was shrouded in a cloak of storm clouds this afternoon, even though the heat was the kind that made you sigh when you walked out into it, even if I took my first Zumba class and confirmed that all things must be achieved through baby steps and blind faith, I had a sense of rightness. Oneness with my path. Destiny.

On the way home from my son’s art class, the storm hit. Rain pelted us, but we soldiered on, the promise of pasta and red wine (grape juice for Sam) on the horizon. I drove across a bridge, swept up by the wind and heaven’s tears — a fear of mine, one I am acutely aware of — because I felt sure that was the right way.

I don’t consider myself a superstitious person. Sure, I look for meaning in fortune cookies and chance encounters with valuable strangers, but not everything is a sign from On High. Though, I do believe On High speaks in signs and gets your sense of humor.

Life is a mixture of those things: signs, wonders, human error and kitsch.

When my son and I were driving we saw a deer running from the storm. She was magnificently close, her eyes wide with fear, her mind driven by instinct, and I thought, I’m like her, sometimes, afraid of where I find myself, exposed without warning and seeking shelter.

We arrived to the house, safe, sound and ready to eat that pasta. I jumped out of the car, and as I came around to the passenger side I realized I’d left the car on. I opened the passenger door and reached across to turn off the ignition. In that moment I don’t know if I hit the break when I leaned over or if the break had not actually engaged, but the car began to slide.

With my son still strapped in his car seat.

I didn’t think. I just jumped in.

Many things fly through your mind when you’re racing down an incline at a ridiculously fast speed, your leg hanging out, trapped beneath the bottom of the door, scraping along the rock drive.

My leg will be crushed when we hit the gully.

We can’t hit the gully.

I don’t want Sam to know I’m afraid.

I want someone to help me. Please help me.

As long as I can remember I have had this recurring nightmare. I am in the passenger seat of a car that is going too fast and no one is driving. When I realize no one is driving I begin to panic. When I panic the car begins to accelerate, careening uncontrolled away.

In the moment before we hit the gully I turned the wheel away and somehow, even though I couldn’t get my leg in the car before, it was in the car, bruised and screaming with pain, but not crushed. My eyes were locked on Sam, cocooning him away from his fear.

We slammed to a stop, not in the gully, not in the brush, fine, dandy, shaken beings. I am not someone who speaks often publicly of my faith, but this was a moment where that faith was enlivened.

Sometimes we fear things that are beyond our control to begin with. Sometimes that is a fear that will carry us off our path, into some chaos, away from safety. And sometimes, yes, you are hit with the thing you fear when you aren’t looking for it at all. You must jump in anyway, because often, there is something more important than your fear. Something like a little boy strapped in his carseat who doesn’t like roller coasters let alone backward speeding SUVs.

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Ready. Set. Write! Update #2

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

It’s Monday again, which means it’s check-in time. 

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Write 15 screenplay pages. That sounds ambitious, but I plan to spend most of my writing time this week on screenplays.

~ I wrote 10 screenplay pages, and I am REALLY happy with them. Yay!

2. Finish those three new revision points on my manuscript.

~ Finished the revision points on my manuscript and started reading through it. SO, THAT IS EXTRA!

3. Adjust to my son’s new schedule.

~ LOL

4. Finish the beta reading I have lingering on my computer AT ALL COSTS.

~ I forgot that Ruin and Rising came out last week. So, uh, that took up all my reading time. I cannot feel bad, because THAT BOOK! And my CP Susan was threatening my life if I didn’t read it so we could talk about it. I did finish one manuscript, which I throughly enjoyed, so I halfway met my goal.

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

“The heart is deceptive.”

“The heart houses the power to do great and mighty exploits,” she says, tying a piece of thin leather around the end of my braid. “The mind is a faulty device.”

Biggest Challenge:

Anxiety and time.

Something I love about my WiP:

Even with the grim circumstances my main characters face, the story still comes off dreamy and lush and I think that has a lot to do with the setting.

This weeks goals:

1. Finish the read through of my manuscript.

2. BETA READING!

3. Ten screenplay pages.

4. One blog post.

Ready. Set. Write! Update #1

RSWStripe2Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Today, we check in on our goals from last week:

1. Finish the few revision points left on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises.

~ I finished all the revision points but then added three. No big deal. Technically I achieved this goal.

2. Write Five Screenplay pages.

~  I wrote five screenplay pages. They are pretty fabulous.

I should have put a goal in there that reads something like Adjust to my son’s summer schedule of two days a week at his Montessori school. 

~ Tuesday we had a playdate with my niece and sister-in-law that involved swimming. Thursday we went for ice cream and comic book shopping with one of his friends, and then he had an art class. Friday, was the movies and the library…and it was only week one.

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

Cal’s eyes trail across her face. He turns on his heels, begins walking across the court toward his gym bag.

She follows, trying to adjust her expression to appear unruffled.

RUBY

You know me, Cal, I gotta make an entrance.

He whirls on her, a mean smirk on his face, and claps, slowly.

RUBY (Cont.)

Ten years. Still wasn’t enough?

CAL

I asked for forever.

RUBY

Forever isn’t in the cards.

Biggest Challenge:

See above wherein I try to adjust to less writing time.

Something I love about my WiP:

The history between the two main characters is ripe with tension. I love being in the middle of it.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Write 15 screenplay pages. That sounds ambitious, but I plan to spend most of my writing time this week on screenplays.

2. Finish those three new revision points on my manuscript.

3. Adjust to my son’s new schedule.

4. Finish the beta reading I have lingering on my computer AT ALL COSTS.

What does your writing week look like?

 

 

My Ready. Set. Write! Goals

RSWCoffeeReady. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Today is all about setting goals for yourself. Here are mine:

1. Finish a draft of my screenplay. I’d like to have it off to some readers for feedback by the middle of July.

2. Finish a draft for a TV pilot and send off to readers.

3. Begin work on the sequels to both YA manuscripts, as well as further polishing and revisions on the first books, as needed. I would like to have a few chapters written and the books plotted (although, my plotting is pretty loose when drafting) by the end of the summer.

5. Read at least one book a week. I’ve been so busy lately, and so tired at night, that reading has been shoved to the back burner. No more!

4. Have an epic summer with my son.

This weeks goals:

1. Finish the few revision points left on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises.

2. Write Five Screenplay pages.

Ready. Set. Write! helped me stay accountable last summer, and I am so thrilled to do it again this year!

What are your goals for summer? 

 

 

 

A Glimpse at The Truth About Alice Book Launch

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The Truth About Alice is…you will have to read the book to find out. Here is the  description to wet your appetite.

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

~ Goodreads

On May 30th, 2014 a crowd of eager readers, writers, friends, colleagues and family members crowded into the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX to buy a copy of this beautiful novel and congratulate Jennifer Mathieu on the singular achievement of debuting as an author.

I am not local to Houston, but after connecting with Jennifer last fall at Austin Teen Book Fest and becoming friends, I was thrilled to drive down for the book launch and do my part to promote her fabulous work. I received an ARC of the book from Macmillan back in March and devoured my copy in less than a day. The voices and subject matter gripped me from the first line, but it was the desire to uncover Alice’s truth, or to come to an agreement with her that the truth could never fully be ascertained, that pushed me forward at such a manic pace.

By the show of support at the bookstore that Friday night, I was not the only one rabid to get my hands on a copy. The store was packed to the brim.

A look at the crowd

A look at the crowd

Jennifer opened the evening by giving thanks to her husband for encouraging her on the long road to publication, for being her partner and her friend, and for taking care of their son when she needed “just a few hours to write.” She went on to talk about that journey, which was not short nor smooth — as the road to publication rarely is — and cheering others in pursuit to keep on.

She discussed the hot button issue that is the driving force in the plot, but said she didn’t set out to write the “slut-shaming” book. She wanted to write about a girl who was ostracized in a small town, and she wanted to work in multiple points of view. Jennifer closed by reading a small snippet from one of the four POVs — and my very favorite character — Kurt. During the reading, it was evident by glancing at the faces around me that I was not alone in being totally in love. In feeling and swooning and dying for more.

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Which is exactly why you should pick up your own copy as soon as possible. This book is wildly entertaining, but beyond its readability, it carries a weight and relevance that makes it a can’t miss read, no matter your age or walk of life.

Jennifer Mathieu 300dpi, credit George HixsonJennifer Mathieu started writing stories when she was in kindergarten and now teaches English to middle and high schoolers. She lives in Texas with her husband, her son, her dog, and two cats. Nothing bad has ever been written on the bathroom stall about Jennifer. At least she doesn’t think so. This is Jennifer’s debut novel.

Twitter :: Website

Check out the other stops on the tour if you haven’t already! And Macmillan has put together some fun Instagram videos you should definitely watch and share. They can be viewed here and here!

 

I am Not Ashamed to Read YA

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I interrupt an otherwise pleasant Friday morning, to rant for a few moments about an article from Slate. First, you should check it out.

Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read Young Adult books.

Are you back? If you are a reader of this blog, you likely also read Young Adult fiction. Maybe you are a young adult yourself, or maybe you are also a 29-year-old mom and wife living in Texas and taking her kid to swimming lessons.

There is nothing wrong with the article, unless you count everything she says after:

“Not because it is bad—it isn’t—but because it was written for teenagers.”

No doubt her statistics on the amount of adults that choose to read YA fiction over Adult fiction are accurate. On one hand, she speaks to the larger issue of prolonged adolescents among twenty-somethings, which is a topic we should absolutely examine and discuss. The breakdown for me comes a few paragraphs below all that:

Let’s set aside the transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight, which no one defends as serious literature. I’m talking about the genre the publishing industry calls “realistic fiction.”

The two novels she calls out as “trashy” are paranormal romance and dystopian, and she touts realistic YA as being the only sub-genre worth discussing (though, still berating) at all. She then acts as if there is something wrong with reading for escapism or enjoyment. That reading as an adult has to be about more than that.

Reading can be anything you want it to be. It can educate, inform, inspire. It can help you cope with reality, face hard questions, create a new world to push boundaries and challenge accepted truths. Reading can be a form of entertainment, and in a world where entertainment comes by streaming video and instantly downloadable music, the thought that a book can still capture the mind so effectively that it competes with film or music is something we should all support.

I was raised on genre fiction. The first book I remember reading, and loving, was C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, but before that my mother read-aloud Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time and all the Little House books. Genre fiction has shaped my mind and fueled my imagination well into my teens and twenties.

In fact, I still read mostly genre fiction. If it’s not YA then it will likely be science fiction or fantasy, magical realism or paranormal. And if that makes me an immature adult — still being a kid at heart, raising my own son to value his imagination, valuing my own imagination in a very pure way — then fabulous. Then yes.

Life is full of constant pressure to evolve, to suck-it-up, to make hard and fast choices. Reality is plagued by loss, by the reminder that the world we live in requires us to be brave, to work hard. Forgive me —or don’t — if I choose to read fiction for the sheer enjoyment of it. If I choose to write for teenagers, and to read extensively in the genre I write in, not just because I want to give young adults fantastic fiction they can relate to, but because I want fantastic fiction I can relate to.

I am 29-years-old and still honing my identity. I would argue that beyond the teenage experience young adult fiction is about the quest for identity. Who are we and how will we impact our world —whether our world is a small town in Texas or Middle Earth or Hogwarts — and what must we do to find out?

The author of that article goes on to say:

But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia.

Why is that not enough? It seems she, and those who support this idea, expect adults to read fiction for some higher purpose. Many adults do and can. I would argue that I read fiction for a higher purpose. I read for the passion of reading. To look inside the mind of someone unlike me, or to see pieces of myself reflected. That can happen no matter the genre or age category.

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