Faith-ish

woods

I have these amazing women in my life. Women that are bold and brash. Women that are gentle and maternal. Women with voices that can always break through the noise in my head.

I have a woman in my life that sends me Buzzfeed articles. She gets that I will always care about anything Harry Potter and not-so-secretly wish Hogwarts was a place I could live in outside my imagination.

I have a woman in my life that believes I am going to be a famous writer. She believes it sometimes when I do not. She believes in magic but not in a silly way. She is a unicorn.

I have a woman in my life that knows what it’s like to feel trapped by your own dreams. We chase those dreams, and also wonder what our lives would look like living easier dreams. She lets me bitch about. She joins in.

I have a woman in my life that has a new baby. We are in different stages of the same adventure. When I think of her as brave, I remind myself I am too, because we both decided to love a little person more than we love ourselves.

Tonight I was talking with a woman that came into my life through serendipity and became a conduit for miracles. I was telling her how I was scared and tired. How I was just looking for a moment to stop, to breathe because lately it felt like my lungs were full of water.

She told me to remember that we aren’t given more than we can handle, but sometimes the universe has more faith in us than we do.

Everything really comes down to that. Faith. Do you have faith to move mountains? Do you believe you are not alone in your fight?

Sometimes, despite all the women I have, and the husband I know I can lean on, despite my bravery and my stubbornness, despite knowing I’m not really alone at all, I find myself adrift. I worry. I sit on my computer and scroll through Facebook, looking for distraction. I wish I could bypass this traffic jam I’ve been stuck in for longer than I like to admit. I wish I could  just be different. Be settled. Feel easy.

I wonder if I missed something, somewhere on the life road map I keep flipping around hoping to make sense of. Because if I am in the thick of it — if I’m really doing life right — wouldn’t I stop feeling lost?

I’m going to venture out on a precarious limb here and guess that the answer is NO. Moments of clarity come only when you have already decided to believe. This is a problem people without a notion of Faith encounter. Faith is believing without seeing. It’s bang-a-rang. It’s closing your damn eyes and just stepping.

Faith can burn out. It can grow dim and hard to see. Fear can start to look like it, playing your emotions with logic and reason. Anger can mask your need for it. Longing can pull you away from it.

Here’s some honesty, guys: I’m terrified.

I am scared most of the time of everything I’m doing, but I can’t stop. The point of no return is a distant memory. I’m deep in the woods without a flashlight. I can’t get out without moving. I can’t move without faith.

And we know what this means. Raise your empty glass, prepare your handful of imaginary pudding. It’s bang-a-rang time.

What’s Up Wednesday

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.

What I’m Reading

I just started How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blank. I started it about four months ago, forgot about it the hustle of things and it being on my Kindle app which sometimes I hate, and then remembered and opened back up. It was published in the UK and is absolutely adorable. It’s chick lit, which is not normally my bag — I say that, but I have loved quite a few books I’d call chick lit actually — but I’m really enjoying it.

I hope to finish it by the end of the week because as my reward for getting ALL THE REVISING accomplished, I am buying Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and may not speak to another human person until I have devoured it.

What I’m Writing

I am doing a revision on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. Mostly, it was prompted by really incredible notes from an agent I’ve been working with (not signed, don’t get too excited), but then as I considered her notes I began to see so many things come clear that it took on a life of its own. I am kind of killing this revision, and now that my son is in school, I have time to really knock it out.

In the last couple weeks I have witten over 9,000 new words and revised a whole lot more. So, in honor, here is a tiny little excerpt that I revised last week:

I hear Aiken move from the bed, shuffle across the room, and then lean against the door. After another moment he opens it. His face is washed in moonlight, revealing eyes hooded with sleep and hair mussed all over. He wears thin pants that hang from his hips and cling to his thighs, and for the smallest moment I forget myself, the reason Malia and I woke him… reason at all. It is work to force my eyes back to his face.

He glances between us, waiting.

What Inspires Me

I’ve been inspired by some really incredible YA high fantasy. I read The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which are very different brands of high fantasy, and both incredibly well done.

This for tone and emotion:

obandpinspireWhat Else I’m Up To

Still very much adjusting to my son starting Kindergarten. There is no doubt that he is ready, that he will flourish, but it is emotional to realize how big he’s getting, and how fast that’s happening.

I’m started exercising again. I have been mostly eating healthy and not drinking (not having a night cap every night). I really hate working out but I really love the sense of calm I have when I do, and hopefully the result of a cuter ass won’t be so bad either. 😉

Happy Wednesday!

 

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.

 

Word — er, Sentence Structure — uh, Choice?

I am profoundly shocked everyday at how one word can change an entire sentence. One word misused, overused, or poorly placed can throw off a piece of prose faster than an entire bad sentence. This is because a sentence poorly written will usually get scrapped, but a bad word can be overlooked draft after draft after draft. Sometimes this occurs not when a word shouldn’t be there, but when it very much should. Like a sentence not quite finished. For instance—

The wind shifted with new breath, but I couldn’t see anyone.

Ok, that is a fine sentence, nothing wrong on the surface, but something about it just doesn’t sit right. So try it this way.

The wind shifted with new breath, but still I saw no one.

Better — maybe still not perfect, but an improvement nonetheless. Now, this attention to word detail isn’t something I come to naturally. Until I began the arduous task of drafting and rewriting my first novel, I was more of a broad strokes type of writer. I believed in the power of inspiration. I was also a screenwriter, which requires less combing. Strokes of genius occur, ( No mater what Stephenie Meyer says, The Twilight Saga could have cut about 250,000 words, or a whole book) but they still need to be fine tuned.

From Small House Pottery.

Writing is a craft, it requires diligence, not luck. It is something you work at, and then you scream about, and then you grab a bottle of dark liquor and lament over, and then you grow a pair and get back to work.Writing is a job, not a vacation. If you are blessed enough to turn your job of writing into an actual job, then I imagine the ball game changes again. But, no matter what, a wrong word can be why someone stops reading. And no one can afford that.