Writing? What’s that? Oh that’s right… my DREAM.

This photo is kind of a free-association of what my life has been like this past month. Not bad, per se, just so ridiculously busy that when I wasn’t working or stealing a spare few hours to be human with my husband and friends, I was sleeping. But mostly, I was working and sleeping. I have never felt that falling into bed warranted the word “crashed” so often in one month before. There have been many, many days where I intended to do one thing, or six, and instead fell asleep. My last Tales From the Hollow Tree short, “Mooniversary,” was written the day it was supposed to be posted, and last Friday’s still hasn’t been written, and it’s the next Thursday already.

This has largely been because I have recently acquired a full-time job. This full-time job is graveyards. I don’t really blame the full-time job or the graveyards, though both of those things have been factors, but it was the fact that I was (am) still working my first, part-time job that really has been the clincher on my time, because as I said above, whenever I wasn’t working the night job, I was sleeping in preparation or recovery of it, or I was working the other job.

I worked so much this last month that besides missing my Hollow Tree story—which I hate to say I still have not written, but may be written tomorrow… ish… possibly—but I also missed my deadline of having my manuscript completed by the end of June, which was a very important initiative for me that I’m very sorry to have failed at, and I was frustrating people at the part-time job in the meantime. And so, I have decided to part ways with my part-time job. It’s a little sad, because it was a fun job and I’m going to miss interacting with both my coworkers and the customers, but on the other hand, I can’t deny that for the most part I’m counting the days.

Because the fact of the matter is, giving up writing, or postponing the writing of my book is not worth three or four hundred dollars extra each month. And I mean, that’s not an easy thing for me to say, because before I got the full-time position, this part-time one was the first normal job I’d had in… well, years. And the first job either me or my husband had had in a little more than a year. Basically this job saved us in more ways than I can count, and walking away from it feels a little ungrateful, but again… it’s not nearly enough to postpone my dream. Especially when I’m so close I can taste it. I mean, I’m still a long, long way away from being on bookshelves anywhere, but I’m close to having that finished product, that whole, gleaming manuscript.

To be honest, I was expecting my manager to be disappointed in me. To be frustrated that I was walking away when I wasn’t even fully trained. And I was expecting to have to justify myself, to say “No, see, I know it sounds crazy, but I already have two jobs, and I’ve been neglecting my primary one as a writer since I started the third.”

But thankfully it didn’t work out half as dramatically as I was worried it would. I have three shifts left at my part-time job. And a new adeptness at staying up nights. I think this writing thing will work out just fine.

How are you all doing, you lovely people?

The Awesome and the Less Awesome

There are a few adjustments being made in my life at the moment, and things are still changing and needing to settle down, so I’m deciding to cut down my blogging to one day a week. I know, a little lame, but until I have things more figured out, I want to at least be dependable in the things I’ve said I’ll do.

That said, I’ve been negligent about this blog the past few weeks, and I’m so sorry. Here’s a little list of what’s been going on in my life, both the Awesome and the Less Awesome.

Awesome: I’ve started the first “normal” job I’ve ever had in my life. I say “normal” because I’ve been working since high school, just about, but it’s always been in unusual conditions. Single-employee office jobs, online gigs, selling crafts and what have you. I’ve just never had what you might call a normal paycheck, and I’m enjoying the idea of a little bit of stability in my life.

Less Awesome: This does, of course, cut down on my time to write, which is why sacrifices must be made. I know I’ve been rearranging blog schedules as is, but cutting down on blog time is essential in this. This way I can focus on quality, not quantity, and on getting my WIP all finished for my goal at the end of June.

Awesome: The other day I broke 70K, writing over 4600 words in one day. Less time = more focus!

Less Awesome: I’m really worried that my bad guy is one-dimensional.

Awesome: This weekend is the LDS Storymakers Conference here in Utah. A fabu writers’ conference that a lot of my writerly friends will be attending!

Less Awesome: I can’t go. :(

Awesome: I will be able to meet up with a bunch of those same friends on Friday night at the Authors Incognito Mix & Mingle that goes along with the writers’ conference!

So that’s what’s up in my neck of the woods.

Oh, and one more Awesome: I’m giving away a ten-page critique at the Dojo! Enter the Rafflecopter here!

Now a word from you… what are you reading this week? How are you liking it?

Looking Forward…

2012 is right around the corner, and I for one am excited. I know there may be a few out there who are truly worried about this being the last year any of us have… but I’m not worried. In fact, I think 2012 is going to be a great year.

I have a few resolutions this year, and I may as well put them out for the world to see so I can be accountable for them, yes?

1) I want to read one poem every single day.

2) I want to diversify my reading – have at least 1/3 of the books I read be something OTHER than YA—I’ve pigeonholed myself most of the year, but I’m ready to read some other things!

3) I want to finish a full manuscript BY JUNE. And try to finish a second by December.

4) I want to be down to 150 pounds by the end of 2012. I should probably make that something more like 120, but I want to be reasonable, and I don’t want to scare myself out of it. To be clear, that’s about 45 pounds I want to lose.

Oh, and I’ve taken on Tristi Pinkston’s January Challenge – I’m challenging myself to write at least 1K every day in January. Maybe I’ll keep that up through the year?

And that’s the gist of it! Those are the things I’m trying to accomplish in the coming year. How about you?

 

What’s With all the Crickets?

*chirp* *chirp*

It’s been very, very quiet around here. I have a few explanations.

You see, firstly, there was NaNo. I did very well the first few days of NaNo, too… and then I found out that an opportunity had opened up, and my husband and I are going to be moving to Texas. By the end of the month. So, between Thanksgiving and packing/planning… a lot has fallen off the wagon. Including NaNo. And this blog.

So. I’m going to try to be on here more often. At least once a week until the end of the year, then back up to fulltime, okay?

Meanwhile, look forward to our giveaway on Tales From the Hollow Tree as we release our first collection of stories.

Have you seen our cover? Isn’t it pretty?

Here’s to You, Judy Blume.

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? 

The book that did me in was Just as Long as We’re Together, by Judy Blume. Yes, I’m a Blume-r. I started a deep love of reading before I really could read—somewhere there is a VHS of me reciting the picture book Who’s a Pest? from memory when I was four years old, before I knew more than how to spell my name. I raced through book after book after book, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. Fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fantasy, it all had me enthralled. I gobbled up classics like The Secret Garden and Little Women and The Hobbit.

And then, when I was eleven years old, a friend made me read Just as Long as We’re Together. I’d read Judy Blume before, though I didn’t realize that what I was holding now was the same author as the Fudge books—which I loved for a totally different reason—but when I read Just as Long as We’re Together, I knew I’d found the thing I really and truly loved. Teen fiction. Young Adult fiction.

I was too young to even be considered a Young Adult, but Blume’s stories struck such a deep chord with me—maybe because I was on shaky footing with the friends I thought would last forever, maybe because I was an “early bloomer” puberty-wise and Blume dealt with those sensitive subjects so deftly. I couldn’t get attached to the Babysitters’ Club or Sweet Valley High books that friends were reading and loving so much. They seemed so paltry—Blume’s characters seemed real. Three-dimensional people with souls and pasts and lives of their own.

And I wanted to be able to create that. I wanted to write books that people could walk away from feeling like they had new friends, new loves, new people dear to their hearts. Stephanie Hirsh and Rachel Robinson (with her own book as a sequel) are still a part of me today. Insecure teenagers fighting to define themselves and their beliefs and motivations—that feeling, that fight, is what made me want to be a writer. What made me want to examine the struggles of the heart and the complications of loving people but needing to be true to yourself, no matter what.

I drank those books down, every Blume I could get. Deenie. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. Then Again Maybe I Won’t. It’s Not the End of the World. And then I haunted the YA shelves in my local bookstores—you know, back when it really was just a couple of shelves, usually hidden in the kids’ section?—looking every single time for something more. I was starving for young adult books. And there were a few out there… but mostly I was running across things like Lurlene McDaniels‘ books—where somebody always dies and everybody else is left tortured and ruined for it—and that kind of melodrama was not what I was looking for.

I just wanted good characters. Great characters. Characters that I wanted to stay up late at night on the phone with. That’s what I found in Blume’s books, and it took me a long time to find characters as great in YA again—though it’s certainly not hard now. And maybe it’s not because there were other kids out there like me… who heard that voice in the vast wilderness of literature and finally recognized something that was their own.

My writing has taken a different turn than the contemporary Young Adult that I started making stories up for when I was ten or twelve, but the heart behind the writing has been the same—has strengthened, really. I’m trying my best to capture the kind of power that goes behind emotions when you’re a teenager, and I love the way that fantasy highlights that, and I enjoy putting (hopefully) believable people into impossible situations and see how they deal with them. What’s most important to me is the honesty of the emotion.

So here’s to you, Judy Blume. Thanks for giving me my spark. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Poseur

I had dinner with an old friend the other day. I guess you could say my oldest friend. It’s nice to touch base with someone who’s known you since your awkwardest of high school days, and who you still like and can relate to years later. We talked about high school, and our odd little group of friends that we had—a very nerdy, clique-y group of friends that completely imploded our senior year.

Yes, I did say nerdy AND clique-y. We were a fairly elitist back in the day*—we were smart, and likely to go places, and in a barely-accredited high school, that was something. Oh I could talk about how it all stemmed from insecurity and a somewhat fear-driven determination to not only succeed, but soar—about how our need to prove our independence lead us to tear ourselves away from the only foundation we had (each other)—but that’s a whole other post. This friend is the only connection from those days that is upheld on both ends—the only one that has lasted beyond facebook friends.

*I promise I’m not elitist anymore. I did it a lot when I was young… it’s not worth it.

What I’ve always enjoyed about this friendship is that this friend of mine has always given me a steady sounding board for my life, whether he’s realized it or not. I mentioned offhand to him while we were talking about how I’d always felt like a poser in the little liberal arts college I went to in UC Santa Barbara (where his sister also attended—she was at the dinner, too). I’d studied Literature, and most of the students in my classes wanted to be poets or write their own Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius—or whatever. I, meanwhile had always had my heart and mind focused on commercial Young Adult fiction—nothing deep and literary like my classmates wanted to write.

My friend laughed outright at me—”Don’t you think they were all posers?” he asked, outright. “It sounds to me like you’ve stayed true to yourself.”

And just by his saying it, I realized that he was right. As he went on to say, a lot of the people in that school want to be novelists—like the ideology of it, and the “romance” of being kept up all night alone in a room with a typewriter—but instead they’re teaching or holding down tech writing jobs or doing something else that has nothing to do with literature.

Meanwhile, I have made it my business to not only keep writing, but to learn about the publishing business, understanding the querying process, network with other writers and learned the mechanics behind writing a good novel. I also have almost 60K of one WIP, and 55K of another, and am closer than ever to seeing my goal of finishing a novel and querying it out to agents. I’ve also worked hard on building up an online presence, so that if and when I get published, readers will be able to find me and have lots of platforms to interact with me on.

This isn’t to say that none of my other classmates are on that same path, of course. But somehow I don’t feel like much of a poser anymore. Well, except when I actually try to use the word “poser,” that is.

There Are People Watching the Last Harry Potter Movie Right Now.

I, sadly, am not one of them. It’s still two hours to midnight where I am right now, and I don’t have tickets to go, anyhow. Hopefully I’ll see it sometime this week—funds are extremely tight right now and you have to pick your battles.

Also…  I have to admit that I’m not so keen on the idea that this brilliant phenomenon is over. Oh I know, there’s pottermore coming, but the essentials—the books and the movies—they’re done for good now.

I was an extremely reluctant Potter fan. In fact, when the books were getting really popular and the first movie came out I turned my nose up at it all over the place. So much hype could never truly deliver. My sister had read the first three books, and my brother was starting to read them, and I was busy freaking out about starting high school—which had them teasing about me being so much like Hermione behind my back. I rolled my eyes at it then, but looking back, I’m going to choose to take it as a compliment. I think Hermione is pretty dang awesome.

Anyhow, I went along to see the movie—see what the fuss was about. Harry was your basic orphan-turned-something-awesome-in-some-other-world kid, and a bit of a brat, truth be told. I have to confess that I didn’t like him at all in the movie. What I did like, however, was the banter between Ron and Hermione. I have to admit that when I started the books, it was entirely to see how and when Ron and Hermione* were going to get together. For the most part I still didn’t like Harry very much… but that would change.

*(On the way home from the movie I asked my sister, “So, in the end it’ll be Ron and Hermione, and Harry and… Jenny? Was that her name?” I totally called it.)

Each book at first was breath-held anticipation as to whether Ron and Hermione would finally kiss, and then every movie was hoping-beyond-hope that they would portray things faithfully.

I really only started liking Harry a lot during the sixth book. Before that he was always so angry. In the seventh book, I fell in love with him. He’d grown so much, come so far, and was so profoundly grateful for the ones that had helped him get there… and that was what I loved most about him. That he was so thankful for his friends and for the people who’d sacrificed for him, and I was so touched by it all that I wanted to cry.

And because I saw the movie first, I’ve loved the movies just as much as the books. Watching Dan, Emma and Rupert grow up has been a lovely experience… and well, I adore Rupert, always have. Ahem…

But now the last movie is coming out, and it’s all going to end. It’s a good thing… but sad, too. I’m glad that I have a little extra waiting time to see how the last Potter flick turns out.

 

*********

P.S. I’m participating in the Independence Day blogfest tomorrow, details are here, come check it out!

A Few Randomosities About Me

First things first – Go over right now and read my new Friday read over at Tales From the Hollow Tree. It’s called Procession, and it’s my favorite short that I’ve written so far.

Secondly – I’ve been watching Doctor Who with my husband… we’ve just started on Series Three. He misses Rose and sort of hates me for making him watch this show… and he’s not fond of Martha Jones yet (I don’t care for her much either, though I love Freema Agyeman).

Thirdly – We also just finished Veronica Mars. He sort of hates me for that one too… says it’s the worst ending he’s ever seen. I liked it better after being away from it for so long… though it did still leave me wanting more.

Fourthly – I’ve just listened to the audio books for both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess on Librivox.org (which I just love). I was so, so impressed with how much I still loved these books, especially the latter. Sara Crewe is one of my favorite characters, ever.

And lastly! I’ve been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award and The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award by the fabulous Ali Cross.

I’m supposed to give seven random facts about me, and then pass this on to eight other bloggers… I’ll do my best.

SEVEN RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME-

1) When I was a kid, it took me hours to eat a single orange. I’d eat it pulp by pulp. I had a lot of patience, apparently.

2) I learned how to sew when I was four years old, with a needle, DMC floss, and bubble wrap.

3) I collect middle names. (What’s yours?)

4) I am a really slow reader. Well, in comparison to my mom and my sister, at least. It takes me a week or so to finish a book, if I’m not too busy… but I’m usually too busy.

5) I’m considering going back to school to get a library degree, as soon as I finish my book and start querying agents.

6) This is getting closer and closer, as I’ve passed 50K  recently!

7) I have a new idea for a Middle Grade book. So, so, wonderfully new. Never been excited about writing middle grade before, but this idea is too fabulous to ignore!

Now, as to blogs to tag:

- Isabelle Santiago              – Inari Grey                     – Shiny Shiny

- Tristi Pinkston                   – Elizabeth Meuller        – Jordan McCollum

- Shari Bird

2K a day?

Let me start out by saying I’ve never finished NaNoWriMo. I’ve attempted it a good four or five times, too. I’ve never successfully gone a whole week making the daily word count—which in case you’re wondering, is 1667 words per day.

Recently, though, I’ve decided that my biggest goal for writing right now is to get through a first draft, remembering that it’s the second and third drafts that’ll make things pretty and nice. I mentioned this to my husband and said that the thing I had to do was set a word goal per day and stick to it. He asked me how many words I would write per day.

“Um… I don’t know.”

This was not the right answer to give him.

“I was thinking probably a thousand.”

He then challenged me to write two thousand words per day. I tried to explain to him that this would be impossible, and possibly make me cry.

But he asked me to try it… just try it.  I was unsure to say the least, but I agreed.

How is it going so far? Well I’m really only a couple of days into the challenge. Two thousand words, every Monday through Friday, at least until my first draft is done. I started last Wednesday. My first day it took me almost twelve hours, but I hit my goal. The next day I started a little earlier, but it still took me just about all day. Still, I had a very good idea of where my story was going—including a checklist of scenes I needed to write.

Friday I went on a quilt run with my mom. (Well, we dragged the husband along—you know, for extra goodies). A whole day of writing was gone. Saturday was part of the quilt run too. (If you don’t know what a quilt run is, google it. Then imagine it full of crazy old ladies.)

So… now I was 2000 words behind. I was worried this would throw off my momentum, and it’d be a challenge to get started again on Monday—today. Well, it was a challenge to get started today, but not really because I couldn’t find momentum—I just couldn’t find a chance to sit down at first.

I’m happy to say that when I did get to the sitting down, with some persistence I got even more written in a shorter time than I had the other two days—I wrote 3024 words today, and broke 48K in my WIP. This isn’t the most I’ve written of an original piece of fiction, but it is by far the most consecutive writing of an original piece I’ve done. I have one at 56K, but it’s all scattered in scenes, with big gaping holes in between. With the WIP I’m working on now, 95% of it was written consecutively.

Basically, I’m feeling good today. I even made up a good amount of the 2000 words I missed on Friday, so that I’m only a little over 600 words behind now, and now 600 words seems like a piece of cake. Even 2000 words doesn’t seem like a whole lot. After all, I can write 500 words in an hour, if I’m in the right zone. 2000 only takes four of those. That’s totally doable.

Well, right now, when I don’t have a job. I’m sure that has something to do with it. But at the same time, that’s exactly why I need to keep the fire burning.

So whatever your goal is, even if it scares you a little, believe in it. You’re capable. And if you need some support or a cheering section, hit me up. I’m good at that. ;)