What’s Up Wednesday: It’s MOO. Mostly.

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.

Which FRIEND said, “It’s a moo point. It’s like a cows opinion.” Which I still think makes all kinds of sense.*

What I’m Reading

Well. Still UnSouled by Neal Shusterman. I have made little progress since last week thanks to the fact that I have ALL THE CRITIQUING to do. I did get to see Neal Shusterman this weekend at YAK (Young Adult Keller) Book Festival, where he gave a brilliant key note (more on that below!) and can’t wait to have more time to finish UnSouled. It’s not exactly light reading, so falling asleep with it swirling around my head isn’t the best idea, which means I need to find another time to read it. I also bought Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier, and have been sneaking peaks in my spare time. So pretty.

What I’m Writing

I’ve written about 3,000 words on my WiP since last week. I finally got to a scene I’d been wanting to write, which means I didn’t want to stop until I finished, and so I wore myself out. (But it was worth it!) I also did character sketches for a TV Pilot, and plotted the episode. I’m working on the script with no idea what kind of future it might have. It’s interesting switching between mediums, and voices, and styles. I feel like a sword being sharpened for battle. It’s uncomfortable.

What Inspires Me

YAK Fest took place over the weekend. Unsuprisingly, being surrounded by well-known, debut, and soon-to-debut authors was the very best kind of kick in the pants. I consider myself a motivated person. I take my pursuit of publication seriously, I try to maintain forward motion as much as possible, but still it can be hard to keep it up. Life is distracting — sometimes necessarily so — but a day dedicated to books, to readers, to writing, is a great way to refocus.

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What Else I’m Up To

I did an interview with my friend Susan Bishop Crispell for the release of her Adult Magic Realism novel Love & Cupcakes. Check it out here if you’re interested. We talk fangirling, writing tips, and, of course, cupcakes!

I shared last week about our new puppy, James and the positive effect his presence has had on my son. Sam is also three weeks into his first Karate class and last night he really began to show more focus and less frustration. To quote him, “That was totally awesome!”

sam

Jaime Morrow got the FRIENDS quote last week. It was Chandler Bing. She wins all things.

Whenever+i+win+an+argument+with+my+Girl..+One+of_3e681f_4815626

However, the episode was still undeclared. Ifyourecurious it’s The One with Ross’s Teeth”which, BTW, is a fave.

*Get the FRIENDS quote this week and I’ll send a t-shirt from my short film, Cassie’s Cause, which is  this close to being done!(No cheating!)

What’s up Wednesday

WUW7What’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 blog.

What I’m Reading

I am tantalizingly close to the end of A Game of Thrones. I’m nearing all the craziness that made season one of the show mind-bendingly fabulous, and in book form, it’s even more gut-wrenching. Experiencing the events that surround and propel the shocking ending, again and this time up close and trapped in my brain, is amazing. I haven’t had much time to read this week, but when I have I am happy to say I’m zooming through pages. The first season of the show followed the book almost to the letter, which is really a triumph. I will be finished before the end of the week.

Next up, rereading The Raven Boys and then jumping into The Dream Thieves. So, I have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.

What I’m Writing

My WiP has made a play for my heart, and it is winning. Last week, even with exhaustion looming and laundry replicating as if supernaturally fueled, I wrote. A lot. 4,150 words. I was proud and pleased with this progress. The best part was, these scenes are stepping stones to the next big moment in the story, which I’m happy to say I stand in front of now. Making good progress on scenes that aren’t overwhelmingly exciting to write (read: no kissing, no fights, no deaths) gives me warm fuzzies. I think this book is going to be a winner.

What Inspires Me

This article about five Hawaiian words and their deep meanings. Hawaiian language is fascinating. With no root in Latin, like most language, the foundation for the language is much more about the emotion behind the word, how it is said, and how it is interpreted. Language is linked inextricably to the Hawaiian people, and is both firmly rooted, as well as fluid and moving. There is a lyrical, magical quality to the way they speak. 

Working with my CP’s on their books. I won’t say that I am fabulous at giving writing advice because mostly I give advice like I write: from the gut. Not traditional, but sometimes a different method of attack is just what you need. Plus, the more I get to know other writers, the better writer I become.

The cast and crew of Cassie’s Cause. We filmed Saturday for most of the day. At one point, the Editor, the PA’s and I verbally wrote a Middle Grade book we’ve tentatively titled Hawkland. I ran stop signs and proved why I’m not a role model, which seemed to only make me more exciting to the fourteen and sixteen year old actors in my car. I helped the Director uncover his true nature with the mysterious power of his star sign, and the footage from our first two weekends of shooting is fabulous. 

As with my CP’s, being surrounded by talented and creative people ready for anything, forces me to constantly up my game and never rest on my laurels.

What Else I’m Up To

Juicing. I stole my mom’s underused juicer a couple weeks ago, and Monday I finally got around to using it. My son is particularly fond of it as well, and enjoys coming up with “formulas” for mixing.

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Bachelorette Party. My gorgeous, author friend Lindsay Cummings is getting married in a couple of weeks. I have grown to love and respect her over the last six months of getting to know her, and I was excited to celebrate her impending doom.

(Most photographic evidence of this evening is not approved for general audiences.)

An approved photo.

An approved photo.

Happy Wednesday to all!

A Picture Post of Packing

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”
― Anne LamottPlan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Exhaustion is an overwhelming feeling. It dulls all other sensations. I imagine the next days and weeks, the detox of my emotions will yield an interesting uncovering of my feelings. I don’t know how most people deal with major life changes, but I tend to deal by pushing forward. I set my eyes on where I am going, and little can distract from that.

Some would say that kind of single-mindedness is a gift. I don’t know if I would agree. For me, I know no other way. It just is what it is. It is never comfortable, and then, when it is over, the wave of all I have held at bay rushes over me.

Yesterday we finished packing and loaded a POD to the brim. I’ll easily admit that I was not connected to the process for a lot of its unfolding. I wasn’t crying or laughing. I wasn’t fighting or relaxing. I was only being swept along by the current of events set in motion.

Then my son said goodbye to his best friend. Goodbye, from such little mouths, with such sweet faces, distracted me from my purpose enough to feel it. And I cried. I cried enough to know that there will be more tears.

Tears are funny. (Odd statement, I know.) They come in happiness, in sadness, in anger, in desperation. The breakdown walls we build up with pretense. They remind us we are not machines. We are feeling human beings. We lose and gain. We begin and end. Then we do it all again.

A special thanks goes out to Brian, John, and Stephen. The move would not have happened without you fellas. My love goes to my Brooklyn family — Nadia, Jonah, Sophia, Harold, Julie and Lewis — you gave me gifts everyday by your presence. To my landlord — a huge thanks for the home and the peace-of-mind in having such good people looking out for us. To my Manhattan pals — Amy and Anna — your fabulousness is unmatched.

Now, a sampling of the process by picture!

Thumper

I realize I’ve been a little quiet the last week, which is unusual for me. I have been in Texas since last Saturday working on revisions and proofreading the revisions I have finished. It’s been exhausting and exhilarating. Why Texas? I am originally from the Lonestar State, and both sets of grandparents live in our former hometown. It’s a great place to occupy my son while I am pushing through to finish my novel. I am pushing through everything right now. Through my tired eyes. Through my aching shoulder. Through the other things I could be doing, and the missing my New York apartment and my sweet son who is happily engaged with his family.

Mostly, I am pushing through self-doubt. I think this is a normal emotion to struggle with in the face of rewrites, and the finish line. I had it nicely boxed up inside the corner of my mind reserved for those sorts of thoughts (my weight insecurities and parenting shortcomings also live there) until yesterday. Yesterday I had an experience I would rather not elaborate, but only say, I began to fear my own talent, the positive feedback I’d received from multiple sources, and the truth that I really, really believe this book is worth publishing.

The reason I will not elaborate is I refuse to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve. I refuse to express my anger and frustration at an individual person in a blog that can be read by anyone. I think someone should put this person in line, but I will not be the girl to do it.

I will, however, be the girl to tell you that you can never allow one asshole’s opinion to affect you for more than a glass of wine and a good cry. I do think you should have that glass of wine and good cry, that is super healthy and smart. But after that, and I mean right after, get your ass up and keep moving. Remember what you know to be true. Remember that you can never please everyone. When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me — with her hands on my shoulders: “If everyone likes what you’re doing then you’re doing something wrong.” She was also the one to encourage me to remember what Thumper’s mother said: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I am still reminding myself of this today.

I am remembering it as I tell you to forget critics and remember only true critique. I am remembering it as I curse those who think they know more than Jesus, and may know a lot, but who can still be blind and foolish enough to make asinine statements in an offhand way. Those people are invited to bite me. I do realize that was not something nice to say and have chosen to say it anyway.

I think you have to find kindreds in your life and remember not everyone will be one. Not everyone is super creative or good at knowing their own mind. Some must be told what they like. Those are the ones who followed the popular girls around school and who now ride the coattails of someone else’s brilliance. There is need for those kind of people in life. I will readily admit that. I will also readily admit that I really, really don’t care to be one of them. But that is sort of off point. I am trying to be edifying.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you too wrestle with self-doubt, remember that self-doubt can cripple you into never putting yourself out there. Don’t let it. Let it wash over you and remind you of your self-confidence, your self-worth, and your uniqueness. (Have a glass of wine and cry, too, if you like that sort of thing.)

I feel infinite.

Ok, so I have said before that I don’t particularly like to do reviews on this blog. I am not someone who feels books can necessarily be broken down by a reader for another reader. Reading is incredibly subjective. My agent friend and I recently discussed this in relation to my manuscript and her notes. So that is not what this is. At all.

A couple Road Trip Wednesday’s ago we had to write about our “best book in August”, and a bunch of the other carnival participants had read and chosen The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I had been planning to read it since the movie is coming out soon, but had been putting it off. All those who read it and discussed it on RTW did not necessarily encourage me to bump it up my Goodreads list anytime soon. I was actually dreading reading this book. I was actually terribly afraid of what I would find within the pages.

This week is back to school week, and almost on a whim, I decided it was time. (After thinking in detail about my high school years, both in and out of public school for the most recent Road Trip Wednesday.) I sat down yesterday evening after dinner with my Kindle and began to read. Around seven we had to go get my son diapers, so I had to take a break. We came back and I dove right back in. I didn’t much stop after that. My husband kindly played with Sam while I was absorbed into Charlie’s world. I couldn’t pull myself out. I was afraid of where this story was going, wracked with worry over Charlie and his open, exposed heart. I was torn up by the world he was watching unfold, and in love with it too. In love with him.

I will not give more information about the plot of the book, I will only say this: I cried for all the right reasons. That is all I can say because I don’t want you to miss out on the experience of feeling it all should you choose to read it. And you should choose to read it if you haven’t already. As I said on my Wednesday in response to the RTW question, my experience in high school was not a good one, and my parents took me out rather than subject themselves or anyone else to anymore turmoil.

This problem with school, both socially and disciplinarily, actually began much, much earlier than high school. High school was not the first time my parents took me out. After fifth grade I was home schooled with my best friend for two school years. When we moved to Colorado I went back to public school because I needed a way to make friends. I spent the first six weeks eating lunch with my eighth grade English teacher. She really encouraged me to find my way. I did not do well. I made friends, and enemies, I was a compulsive liar and troublemaker. I liked to create drama and intrigue wherever I went. I did eventually find comfort in the drama kids and a special grammar workshop my English teacher put me in. I loved my Community Service teacher (it was a weird elective, I know), and I terrorized my alcoholic science teacher. A man who never gave me detention even though I really, really deserved it. I made some good friends, and had some poetic interactions.

As I read about Charlie I ached. In my life I have had a few experiences like this with books. Overall I love to read, but not always does a book actually create something new in me. (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, to name a few.) This book was published when I was in eighth grade. I wish I had found it then. I needed it then. Now is OK, but then would have been amazing.

For me, Charlie is a boy I know, and a piece of myself, and someone totally new. I think this book is incredibly relevant to the audience it targets because it is true. Yes, he is deeply intelligent and poetic, but his experience is also filled with honesty and sadness and hope, and that is needed. The concept of being completely present in life is a hard one to hold on to, whether you are fifteen or twenty seven. Charlie holds on to it, even when he comes up against something terribly bleak. This is worth taking to heart.

I am a mom to a son, and a sister to brothers, and a wife to a man who was once a high school wallflower-art-prodigy. I was also an outcast of my own creation. The Perks of Being a Wallflower touched on all those parts of me. If you have read it, I would love to hear your feedback. If you haven’t, do and then write me. For now here is the trailer for the upcoming film.

Filling time

Lately, (and by lately, I mean, since Wednesday) I have been faced with a dilemma. Patience is a virtue I am usually bankrupt in. It is also something I must do as I wait for feedback from early readers of my manuscript, including an agent friend of mine. The first couple of days I felt like my skin was being picked at by tiny, flame fingered trolls. I could still feel my narrator inside, running parallel with me, screaming that I couldn’t leave her that way. I know this sounds insane, but truthfully most writers are a little bonkers.

I also began to balk at the idea that this book I had written with ambitions for publications and widespread distribution (lofty goals in this market) was being read by very close, and trusted friends who wanted me to succeed. There reaction will be real, but they are kindly invested in the future of my work. (I hope, I don’t generally run with backstabbing b*tches.) How will it be for me when others with no care for my well-being or knowledge of who I am, read this.

I know what you’re thinking, “You will suck it up and be thankful they read it at all.” I think you’re right. If you aren’t thinking that, and are giving me a virtual edifying kiss on the cheek, I would like to thank you for the sentiment and promptly cry on your shoulder.

In the whirlwind of writing my manuscript I have often been captured by the narrator, drawn in as prisoner by the world she lives in and the fight she fights. Now that the bulk of the work is behind me — unless the consensus is that my book is not worth reading  at all, a reality writers are faced with everyday — the next step will be much different than the last. There will be times when I will have to actually participate in my life without thinking about my book.

It’s been nine months of solid work. Some authors work years on a manuscript, some spend a decade writing one huge story arch (see JK Rowling), while others still pine away on unfinished projects with no hope of an end. In the grand scheme, this experience so far has been relatively smooth. Though from the inside it felt very messy.

So…what am I doing to alleviate the stress of being patient in earnest?

  • Reading
  • Blogging
  • Gathering knowledge about my genre
  • Watching movies! Finding TV shows on Netflix and harping on about how nothing on TV is as good as Mad Men.
  • Playing with Sam — he has had to endure a lot of Zombie-Mommy since I began writing my book. He has handled it with great grace and piles of new superhero figures.
  • Crying. This is involuntary and not at all helpful.
  • Relaxing. Getting brows necessarily waxed, toes painted, back massaged, hair highlighted. All things I let fall during the mad dash.

Now I leave you, but not empty handed. You can ponder with me the cuteness of this pig. (Where do I get one and how can I sneak it past my landlord? ) Also, what makes a person wear stilettos? And should we petition for Pluto to be a planet again? (Ah, the things I think of when I am not working…)

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RTW Question: My YA Friends

The question for the week is a pretty good one: What in-real-life people can you talk to about YA?

For those who know me well, you will know I have always enjoyed a good book, but until the past few years I wasn’t reading YA much. I had read the obvious (Harry Potter, Twilight) but beyond that, I wasn’t really aware of the genre. I felt like there were so many classics I hadn’t sunk my teeth into yet that I really shouldn’t be wasting time on new works. Also, I went through a historical fiction phase — which I still enjoy — and that can be a little exhausting.

About two years ago I was looking for a new read, and my mom had this middle-age book called Savvy  (check it out on Goodreads) sitting on her coffee table. I zoomed through it in a day, exhilarated by the gentle romance and coming-of-age themes. My mom isn’t really a YA reader, so she’s not one of my people, but I’m getting there. That same weekend I spent time with my sister-in-law Stephanie.

Stephanie is one of the hippest chicks I know. Seriously, here hair was like three shades of red the last time I saw her. She’s up on pop culture references and music, but most of all, Stephanie is a reader, and most commonly she is reading something YA. I mentioned I had read Savvy , and wanted something new in the YA genre. Stephanie was the one to give me The Hunger Games. I read all three books in four days. I was a psycho-zombie-Peeta-groupie. I spent the day after I finished crying like a baby, trying to make sense of what I had just experienced. From that moment on, I was sold, and Steph and I have found yet another reason why we were both so impeccably cool.

This pic features some of my YA friends. Stephanie is the one in purple with the mischievous smile.

Then, through that, I discovered there were a whole heepin’ lot of people in my life who were underground YA readers. Now, as I have said before, I am in the latter part of my 20’s, so you can imagine that most of my people are adults. There are some super clever teens in there too, because I love the teens, which is why I am now trying to write for them. The list is as follows, in no particular order:

Jennifer Petersen

Penny Jackson

Hanah Mayes

Katy Petersen

Anna Howington

Abigail DeHart

Tracey Liggett

Dana Davies

Penny Pierce

Carla Mayes

Erica Schulz

Deborah Drake

Stacie Forest

Thank you to all my YA buddies, you all inspire me to be a better writer, and to write something you will love to read. Keep on being fabulous!