The Spaces Between

Whoa so hey there, bloggy friends. Did you think I fell off the planet?!

I kind of did! Well, not precisely: here’s some of what happened-

I did NaNoWriMo and wrote 75,000 words between Nov. 1 and Nov. 24. The book morphed from being straight Robin Hood retelling to including magic and switched from third person past tense to first person present 20k in. That should be fun to revise.

I got bronchitis

I finished moving into my new house – well, mostly. Don’t look under the couch. Or in the closets.

I filled a hole in the wall. Yes, it was there when I moved in. Just didn’t know about it before I moved in.

I bought books. Lots of books.

I was in the PitchWars showcase and it was fab! The people I met during that contest are amazing and I will be forever grateful!

 

And now:

Now I’m in a waiting time. I’m taking a break from writing for December. It’s my tradition, because I’m a fast drafter so usually over the course of a year I write 5-6 books and revise 1-2…in other words, there’s a whole lot of output for eleven months, and this year has been incredibly stressful at times in not-writing life too (finished grad school, moved, job hunted, bought a house and moved again, started new job) so December is a really important time for me to decompress, relax, and completely refill the tank.

But it’s hard, y’all. It’s really hard.

I am a writer. I’m many other things, but being a writer shapes my interactions with the world and with other people. I see the world in story, and everything makes me think of characters and plots and things. So to take a break from expressing all of those things is very weird, and I’m finding it alarmingly unsettling. You can ask some of my friends – I’ve been moping, restless, and I’ve eaten a whole lot of cupcakes and peppermint kisses.

But it’s good. It’s important to separate yourself sometimes. I’ve had a million ideas just over the week I’ve been off so far, and I’ve had time to fidget with little projects, play with ideas, daydream, and otherwise toy with concepts. I’m taking some time to think over my hopes for my writing career, what I want it to look like, and what I need to do to get there. I’m making plans for the blog, too, and setting some goals for 2015 writing, and for 2015 life too. You can only do your best writing when you’re connected to yourself and to the world, and sometimes writing itself puts a filter up between you and everything else around you. It’s easy, sometimes, to describe a situation to yourself the way you would write it, or to have a small voice in the back of your mind during an important conversation with a loved one whispering how this conversation would go in a book, or to only process your emotions as you put them into characters.

This makes your writing powerful. But it also keeps you from fully experiencing life. And we need to, sometimes.

Over the next couple weeks I’ll tell you about plans for writing and plans for this blog, and I’m already full of excitement! I’ll also read a whole bunch of awesome books (Just started the Throne of Glass series and kids, this is a good one!) and send out some gifts for the first time since grad school began rendering me impoverished, and I’ll finishing cleaning and arranging my house, and bake, and go Christmas caroling, and be in a Live Nativity, and come up with a million more book ideas.

And then when January comes, I’ll know who I am, and how the world is, and what it all means in it’s realest, tangible sense. And then I’ll be ready to tell a story.

 

Tell me, do you take hiatuses? What do you love/hate about breaks from writing?

Martyrs and Thieves: 1

The serial novel begins today! Part One is below. In case you forgot what it’s all about, here’s the explanation post.

~~~

“The pain of a phoenix burn was somewhere between stabbed in the thigh by a unicorn horn and being slapped in the face by a flying monkey wing. Distracting, but not so much so that Vivian didn’t also notice the way Saul had trapped her dad in the corner again, super serious business face in place and smooth talk flying a thousand words per minute. If Saul had his way, the family business would be exiting the family and into his hot, waiting hands. They’d been together three years and despite his dark good looks and his very convenient habit of giving her little gifts almost every day, he did still try to overreach. Frequently.
Still nursing the burn on her hand, Vivian locked the phoenix’s cage again and wandered through the rows of cages and storage spaces, stopping to stroke a blue dragon’s fragile wing and drop a handful of lemon drops into the waiting claw of the flying monkey they hadn’t had time to name yet. Even with the delays, Saul spotted her coming from a distance. He angled his shoulders away from her and spoke faster.
“Hey, what’s going on here?” Vivian asked, sliding a hand over her dad’s arm and leaning over to kiss Saul’s cheek.
“Your boyfriend thinks he can angle himself into a spot as vice president after the company transfers to you. Why he’s not using your love as a foundation for employment, I’m not sure.”
“He knows it won’t work. I hire people who are good at the thing they’re being hired for.”
Saul’s cocky grin popped into place. “So you’re saying I’m good at other things.”
“Don’t get full of yourself.” Vivian slipped in between them, effectively blocking Saul out of the conversation. “Did you get the rest of the investors on board with the timing?”
When she was a little girl she’d thought her dad would never grow old. He’d always been faster, smarter, harder-working, and quicker to laugh than anyone else in her life. But now the creases around his eyes and mouth weren’t just visible, but deep like scars, and over the last year his hair had gone entirely white. The magic was showing.
“They’re on board. There’s still one or two dragging their feet, whining about the company going to a woman. But they’ll get over it eventually.”
“How soon is eventually?” Vivian grabbed a clean cloth from the stack and begin wiping out food dishes as they talked. The nerves and the tension had helped her make the entire lab cleaner than it had been in the last five years.
“Once you show them what you can do, there won’t be a single one left who’ll mind what gender you are.”
“I don’t see why I should have to prove it. You didn’t have to prove anything.”
Her dad sighed, stacking the dishes she’d finished into the cupboards and starting the presort of herbs and seeds for the nighttime feeding. “I don’t know where you ever got that idea. Everyone has to prove themselves in this business. You don’t get by on anything, not word of mouth, not recommendations. It comes down to keeping the animals producing materials and how well you can mix those materials into magic.”
Saul butted in, leaning on her shoulder and pulling a handful of seeds for his own snack.
“And everyone knows that you’ve already created more magic than people twice as old as twice as well-funded.”
Vivian was ready to encourage the conversation along in the hopes that half a dozen more compliments would wipe out the anxiety curdling in her stomach, when she realized the lab had fallen silent. Every creature was still, and the few techs on duty had paused mid-measurements.
“I didn’t expect to make quite such an impressive entry.”
She couldn’t see the person who spoke around the tall stack of cages holding magician’s rabbits, but Saul’s face was frozen in shock. Her dad was equally silent, standing like one of the magical beanstalk plants from the labs across the street had sprouted through the floor.
There was only one thing terrible enough to render them both silent.

 

NaNo Prep and Who Are You?

Hello my fabulous and lovely friends. How’s things?

Today I thought I’d dive into my most favoritest time of the year – NaNoWriMo! If you don’t know what it is, basically every year a bajillion people take on the challenge of writing 50k or, basically, a short novel, in one month – November. You can read more about it here.

I am doing it this year, as I have for the past three or four – or however many – and, as every year, I am SO EXCITED about the book! You can read a synopsis on my user page here, but basically what you need to know is that it’s a YA fantasy retelling of Robin Hood from the perspective of “Maid Marian”, though her name is Giselle in my book. And I’m so happpyyyy to be writing this, since I’ve been thinking about it forever, but I’m also terrified, and I’ve learned that the best books to write during NaNo are the ones that terrify you because the speed helps eradicate the fear.

Anyways, that’s not the main point of this post. What is the point, is that to get ready, I’ve been doing a lot of freewriting. I’m still not one hundred percent sure where the right starting point is or what the main plots will be,so what I’ve been doing is filling one notebook page per day with my random thoughts and questions. I’m focusing on really developing the characters, so that out of their interactions with one another will arise the plot. I’m hoping that the better I develop this girl who was raised as a warrior and may need to allow herself to feel feminine in order to achieve her goal, and this soft-hearted prince terrified of inheriting his father’s madness and determined to defeat the brother who has always bested him, and this boy who once was a prince and now fancies himself a commoner, but may just be manipulating everyone to his own ends, will become so powerful and so real that they must take certain actions, and that these actions will create a story.

Maybe this will go horrible. It’s quite likely. But it also might not.

So here’s my suggestion to you, whether you plan on doing NaNo or you just are developing a current project: start from the present and work backward. Right now, she’s a princess in a castle with blood red walls. But what if she’s not a true princess? Where did she come from, then? What’s her history? How did she grow up? Why then? Why in that manner? Let the stories develop roots, and let the trunk and branches form naturally out of those roots, and see what it does for your story.

I’ll keep you posted on whether my story tree grows big and strong or shrivels up like Jonah’s bush.

The Serial

Okay, you guys. This is one of the scariest and most adventurous things I’ve ever done with my writing, but I’m going to give it a shot and see how it goes.
I’m going to write a serial.
It might be more of a novella than a novel because hello, books take like a bajillion words and so forth. But as of this very second I don’t even have an idea for one, let alone have an outline or anything ridiculously organized like that!

So I’d like to hear from you – what kind of a book should I write? Urban fantasy? Poorly-researched historical? A contemporary, like the sitcom of little-known Internet stories?

Give me any thoughts you have, anything you’d like to read, and let’s see what we can come up with together 🙂 First installment will appear right in this spot next week…stay tuned!

Pomp and Circumstance

Here’s something I’ve noticed, about both others and myself: we’re getting pretty snazzy about the whole reading thing. I mean this in the most loving sense, because I adore the fact that I can take pictures and pictures and pictures of my book collections and squeal over titles and covers with everyone, and I love that I can ask Twitter what they think of a book and have a decent idea within a relatively short time of if the book is likely to be one I want to get my hands on or not. But sometimes it feels a little…showy.

Sometimes I miss the days when I didn’t know nothing about nobody and – well, nothing. I would just waltz into the library, because I had no money to buy books, grab the first ten that looked interesting, and waltz back out, sinking into the couch for hours per day and soaking myself in words. I had no clue, didn’t even know there were clues to be had, about whether or not the stories were good, if the characters were developed, how well the plot flowed, and if the dialogue was natural or not. I suppose I liked some and didn’t like others, but aside from maybe two or three friends, I was the fastest, if not the only, reader I knew, so it was my solitary pleasure. I read for me and me only, and while it was sometimes lonely, there was zero pressure.

Now I feel a sense of wanting to read what everyone else is reading. Now there have been a MULTITUDE of times this has worked out well, because I have found a gabillion awesome books through others, and though sometimes the need to review books and have them done by certain times feels like unwanted stress, I know I sign myself up for that and I’ve been fortunate to read many amazing books through that avenue as well. But it’s a stress and pressure I would have never, ever associated with reading. Reading was my stronghold and my safe place, where I could tuck myself away when the world was too much, and emerge when I was prepared to deal again. Now it often feels as though the world has invaded my refuge.

Now, I’m not likely to stop taking pictures, tweeting, texting, and otherwise blabbing about my reading anywhere and everywhere. It’s just too fun. But I am making an effort to read what I want. To ignore what others are reading, unless I just really have to get my hands on it, and to set my electronics far away when I dive in. I want to get lost in the story. I want to forget what’s around me and be a part of that literary world again. When I come back out, I’ll light up the Internet with my findings. But I’m going to practice mindfully setting everything else aside in honor of the written word.

What do you think about all the fuss we writing and reading types make over books?

We Share With Friends

This is a conversation I have literally every. single. day. at work. Yes, you’re correct, I do spend a lot of time around kindergartners! Anyways, that’s definitely not the point.
The point is, for this Thursday’s* post, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’m finding inspiring as I work on my new WIP – I hope they spark something for you too! There’s always enough inspiration to go around!

1) This song The video is incredibly weird, but I love the music!

2) This image

3) And also this one:snowy wood

4) This quote: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

5) Thinking about how easy it is to create idols out of things we don’t understand and people we have never met.

Happy words and Happy Friday!

*I now know it is Thursday today and will be Friday tomorrow when you read this, but I thought it was funny so I left it. The end.

New Ventures

Good morning friends! This will be a hasty post because the minutes click away fast before the workday starts, but I wanted to check in with you all and announce that I broke my slump!
Some of you might know I was working on two books, an MG dark comedy and a YA spies book, but I was floundering after the move, feeling like it didn’t make sense anymore and I couldn’t find the characters voices.
A friend gave me a list of five things and challenged me to write a book about them, so I am. I don’t want to tell to much, so as not to jinx the highly superstitious project, but here’s a really quick summary:
He’s driving across the country to say goodbye to the grandpa he never met. She’s struggling to keep the family radio station alive. When a freak snowstorm throws them together, along with his 12-year-old deaf survivalist sister, it makes a Christmas none of them will ever forget.

Happy Thursday friends! And Happy Words!