Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh Autumn Where Art Thou?

Psssst. Hey, California. I'd like to let you in on a little secret.


Actually, it's almost November. So why, WHY is it almost ninety degrees outside today--like it has been all week...and most of the week before that?

I mean, I'm still running my air conditioner--and that's not exactly cheap! My cats are still shedding when they should be growing their winter coats. And I'm SO sick of my summer clothes. Please, no more shorts and tank tops. I'm ready for coats and tights and boots.

Now, I know, my friends in cold states are probably furious at me for complaining, but COME ON! It's supposed to be Fall! I'm supposed to be raking leaves in the brisk, pre-winter breeze. Instead, my trees are growing new leaves. NEW LEAVES. Poor babies think it's Spring...they're so confused. Not to mention that little problem we face here in So Cal called a drought. Sure, two weeks ago we got a few clouds in the sky--which was very exciting. All the news stations went on "Storm Watch!" and the second it started drizzling they issued Flash Flood Warnings. But it never even rained enough to make me turn off my sprinklers!

So please, I am begging you--please, please find a way to turn off Summer. It was very nice and fun and we all enjoyed our time in the sun. But it's over now. We're done with it. It's time to join the rest of the country and change seasons. Do you hear me?

Good. I'm glad we had this little talk. I expect to see results immediately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Won an Award!

Wow! Thank you so much Melane at Chasing The Dream for giving me my very first blog award.

"I'd like to thank the Academy..."

Er--wait--that's the wrong speech, isn't it?

Anyway, thank you so much for the compliment. You really made my day.

And now: The Rules
1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page
2. Thank the person who gave it to you and link back to their blog
3. Write seven things about you that we don't know
4. Choose seven other bloggers that you would like to give the award to
5. Link to the bloggers that you choose
6. Let the winners know that they have the lovely award.

Okay, so the first two are done. Here's number three...

Seven Things You Don't Know About Me
(Are you excited?)

1) When I was 18 I was on a Game Show--and lost (and no, I won't tell you the name of it. One of the other contestants has posted the video on YouTube and there's no way I'm letting you track that down.)

2) I'm extremely claustrophobic. Like--really, really bad. I had a pretty good panic attack on the metro in Rome--crying, shoving, yelling--the works. I don't do small spaces...

3) I went to USC Film School. (Wait, you probably know that.) What you don't know is that I was rejected by UCLA. Good thing I didn't want to go there anyway! *blows raspberry*

4) The first screenplay I ever wrote was about a Boy Band. Really (C'mon, I was sixteen--what do you expect?) Incidentally, my boy band's name was Mach 5. Awesome.

5) Sheesh, I'm not done yet? Okay...I hate Star Wars. (Yikes, I can hear you gasping from here.) I hadn't even seen it until six years ago when my boyfriend (now my husband) insisted that I watch what he calls "The Defining Movie Of His Life." And...I hated it. It's amazing he still married me. For more information on this, see a very old post I wrote here.

6) I went through the mother of all awkward phases in middle school. We're talking short, chubby, mousy brown hair, zits, braces--yeah...I wasn't cute. Then between Freshman and Sophomore year I hit a growth spurt, thinned down, dyed my hair, got better clothes, started wearing make-up and came back to school and no one recognized me. (Maybe someday I'll post my Freshman and Sophomore pictures as proof--but not today.)

7) And...(finally) I once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Okay, Okay--That's not true

7) (for realz) I was almost--accidentally--in a soft core adult film. It's a really long story--and not nearly as bad as it sounds--and a handful of you already know it (it's one of my very early blog posts from back when I had like 5 followers. If you want to know the details you can find them here.)

Phew...that was exhausting.

Okay, now the fun part. I will pass this award on to the following, amazing blogs:
(And this was really tough. I wanted to give it to everyone!)

Frankie Writes - because she cracks me up when she talks to inanimate objects
The Secret Adventures of Writer Girl - because, c'mon, she's a Super Hero.
Southern Princess - because we both went to Project Book Babe and somehow didn't meet
The Curly Q - because her comments crack me up
Word's Etc - because I always look forward to her posts
Heather Dearly - because she likes Robin Brande as much as I do
Beth Revis - because her blog makes me totally jealous

And...done. Wow, who knew winning an award was so much work?

But thank you again very much and congratulations to all the winners. I can't wait to learn seven things about all of you!

The Pressure is On

Up until now, the only deadlines I've had for filling in the holes in my plot and polishing my draft were the arbitrary, end of the month kind of goals I set upon myself.

Well...not anymore.

Yesterday I registered to attend the SDSU Writer's Conference, and I paid the extra money to have three consultation appointments with agents. Which means I now have until January 29th to get my draft shiny enough that if those agents (and yes, I know this is a big "if") ask me to email them pages, I have something worthy to send.

I'll pause here while my head explodes.

Yes, January 29th is still a little over three months away--but time goes quick! And I have a lot of editing to do (and that's after I fill in those last few plot holes, some of which are gapingly huge!) So if I seem a little panicky or stressy in my posts over these next few months, I'm sorry. I don't do well with deadlines. And now I have a big one...

That being said, I think it's high time I get busy writing, don't you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Desperate Plea...

Dear 4am,

I know we've been waking up with each other a lot lately, but I'd really like to see other times.  Sure, we've had our moments over these last few months--and I'll never forget those wonderful scenes you gave me.  But this just isn't working for me anymore.

It's not you, it's me. You deserve someone who will greet you with the eagerness and excitement you deserve--someone who'll share a cup of coffee with you and bask in the glory of your quiet darkness. And that's just not me. I don't drink coffee. I don't like the dark. And I don't go to bed until 1. So I'm sorry, but you're just too early for me.

Plus, I still have feelings for 8:30. What we had was special. What we had was perfect.  So even though he's abandoned me at the moment I'd be happy to take him back. Sometimes I even miss 9:30--my old High School fling. Sure, he didn't fit very well with my grown-up, responsible schedule, but he and I really clicked. I might be willing to find a way to make it work.

So I'm sorry 4am, but I think it's time we go our separate ways.  We can still be friends. I can still stop by and say hi sometimes, especially if I have a deadline or a plane to catch. But I can't go steady anymore. I need more sleep than that.  I hope you can understand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Several Amazing Things...

First of all, I can't even believe I'm already up to 22 followers--you guys are the best. Three more (though, please--the more the merrier) and I'll have no choice but to give away one of my beloved signed books. It really kills me to do it--even though they're extras--but that's just how much I love you guys. *winks* And remember, I'm going to let you guys decide which one I'll give away (I'll post a poll as soon as the contest is officially on) so think about which one you want. If you need a recap, you can find it here.

Also, it looks like another art print has been won (I've seen the blurb, I'm just waiting for her to "officially" post the comment...) so if any of you are hoping to win one you'd better act fast--there's only three left.  And thank you so much for all your support.

Wordathon is now over, and while I didn't finish my draft (Ha! That would've been a miracle) I did manage two amazing feats. One: I added 4013 new words to my draft (and I'm actually pretty happy with them) and two: I made it through another weekend without editing.  Plus I have the house to myself for the rest of the night (my husband is out seeing a movie with friends, and even though I really wanted to go I had to give priority to writing) so hopefully I can bang out a few more scenes.

And, last but not least, a tiny bit of good news I just have to share. Not sure if any of you follow Janette Rallison's blog (she's an amazing YA writer I've had the pleasure of meeting and you can find her blog here if you want to check it out) but last week she was giving away a book of Twilight related essays she contributed to called New Dawn and I can't believe it--I won! I never win anything. But she picked me and I am so excited because I really wanted that book. And while I know my winning a book doesn't do a whole lot for any of you, I just had to announce it to the world because I can't stop smiling about it. (I actually squealed when I read my name and you should have seen the way I happy danced around my house. The cats are still a little scared...)

Anyway, that was my weekend. It was more productive than exciting, but writing is such a joy it never feels like work. Hope you all had great weekends and if you feel like sharing I'd love to know what you were up to!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Also...A poem

I made a foolish promise on Heather Zundel's awesome blog that I would provide a Limerick for National Poetry Day...which was a few days ago and I still haven't thought of anything good.

But a promise is a promise so I will now provide something...bad. (Poetry has never been my strong suit)

Brace yourselves...
*clears throat*

There once was a girl who loved Twitter
And anything covered in glitter
She tweeted all day
In her sparkly way
Till her family chose to commit her

Wow. That's even worse than I thought. Never the less...there you go.

The theme for National Poetry Day was actually Heroes/Heroines, but it seemed wrong to honor that with a Limerick, so I will also provide a Heroes/Heroines Haiku:

Some never give up
Always moving toward their dreams
They are the brave ones

And...that might be worse. Yikes.

Anyway, thanks for listening. Feel free to judge me now...

Wordathon is On!

First of all, I have to say a huge, "Thank you!" and "Welcome!" to all my new followers. I can't believe I'm up to twenty already--you guys are awesome! Five more and I'll be giving away a book. (And there's still four chances left to win a print of one of my drawings. More info here.)

But enough about the contest--I think I've sufficiently pounded that point into the ground this week.

This weekend I've decided to participate in a Twitter Wordathon. For all you non Twitterphiles out there (and you really should think about joining--it's awesome), a wordathon is where a bunch of writers agree to keep track of how many words they write in a specific period of time (in this case, from 6 pm on Friday to 6 pm on Sunday).  There's no prize or winners, it's just a way to stay motivated, link up with other writers, and push yourself to be productive.  And since editing would severely curtail my word count, it's a good way for me to stick to my no editing oath. If you're interested in joining I don't think it's too late. You can find more information here. And if you want to check in on everyone's progress, just search Twitter for the hash tag: #wordathon (though I think #amwriting works too).

Anyway, I started on Friday at 6:00 with a word count of 86274 (I draft is running really long. I'll deal with it later...) and last night I added another 1480 to that--and that was after I killed about 900 words by removing two scenes (It wasn't editing...they belonged to a subplot I dropped a few weeks ago and apparently forgot to remove). So today I'm diving in at 87754. Let's see how many I can get done today...

I'll update you guys on my progress (or maybe I'll see you on Twitter: @packratx). Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Goal is in Sight!

So I went to my first book festival today and I have to say: awesome. I mean, I was tired--and still a little sick--and it was loud, and chaotic, and there were kids running around everywhere hopped up on sugar and bonking people with their balloons. But...

To see so many kids and parents and teachers excited about reading. Talking about booksbuying books, reading books, standing in line to have authors sign their books... makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  

And may I just say: children's writers are pretty much the nicest people on the planet. No egos. No Prima Donnas. No rolling eyes when they hear that you want to be a writer too (hear that Hollywood people? Maybe you should give it a try...). Just enthusiasm and encouragement and overall friendliness.  

They sign the books with comments like, "Can't wait to see you on the Best Seller list" and "Keep Writing!" They give you good advice.  They tell you they hope you make it--and mean it. And sometimes they even offer to help (in fact, one of the writers I met today gave me his email address and said I should try writing one of his webisodes and if he likes it he'll put it on his site. Now if only I had a good idea for a webisode...)

All of which just reaffirms what I already knew: I so want to be one of them.  

Yes, they have to do readings and presentations (and I'll admit, watching them today made me more than a little nervous about my presentation skills...especially when it comes to entertaining a group of hyper kids). And no it wasn't glamorous or "cool." But this is exactly where I belong. 

I belong around people who love books and reading as much as I do. I belong around people who are nice and supportive of each other and cheer each other on. And I really hope that someday there'll be kids who care enough about my book to stand in line and have me sign it. Not because I want to make a lot of money at it (since, let's face it, other than J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer this isn't exactly a big bucks industry). But because it's what I love to do. 

So even though I bought several new books today that I'm totally desperate to read, I'm going to write. One word at a time. One page at a time. Until I finally have something good enough to take me where I want to go.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time For a New Stuffed Animal

Every time I get sick my husband buys me a stuffed animal to cheer me up.  I'm not sure how this tradition started, but since I catch every cold and flu bug that goes around (I swear I have no immune system) I've accumulated quite a collection--so many that about a year ago I had to start requesting only tiny stuffed animals so that I wouldn't run out of storage space. looks like I'll be getting another one today. *coughs*

I know marriage is supposed to be all about sharing...but did my husband really have to share his cold with me? Personally I would have been just fine if he'd been stingy and kept this one to himself.

It's actually not as bad as what I normally get (no fever, no runny nose...just a cough and clogged ears) but combined with the fact that my insomnia is back I'm feeling fairly pathetic today. *coughs*

But don't worry, I'll end my whining there.

And later, when I send him out to get me some Nyquil (so I can battle my cold and my insomnia together-Ha!) I'm sure he'll be bringing home a new stuffed animal for my collection. I wonder what it will be this time....



Friday, October 2, 2009

And the Winner is...


And as a reward for all your wonderful votes and input, I've done a concept sketch (which took forever and totally reminded me why I stopped being an art major!). It's not perfect, and the silver paint scanned kinda dull and gray, but it's as close as my limited artistic skills could create.

Now, I realize some of you have some very strong opinions on this (you know who you are, and I love you for it) so let me just say a few things.

First of all, in case there was any confusion, this creature is not actually a character in my book. It's something I'm going to use as a metaphor for the main character, which is a twelve year old girl who has to leave behind everything she's ever known and start over on her own in a new world.  It may even be her nickname at times. But it's not her name, and it's not something that's going to have a major role in any of the plots or scenes.

Also, I never said that whichever name wins will be the one I use. I still have to put it in the draft and live with it for a few weeks before I'll know if I like it. And if I don't, it gets changed. In fact, it's totally possible I'll come up with something new and end up using that.

So why did I put you all through this, then?

Because I wanted your input. I wanted to hear your thoughts and reactions to the names available, because I knew they'd be very different from my own. And you know what? I learned a lot!

For instance, my favorite was Mooncatcher. I don't know why...I just liked it. But when I put it in the draft it didn't feel right (which was what sparked the idea for this poll in the first place). And thanks to your input I think I know why now.  Someone pointed out that when they hear the names with "catcher" in them it makes them think of a Dream Catcher. And since a dream catcher has nothing to do with a bird, they didn't think it worked. And I think they're right.  So thank you for helping me understand that.

I think it's also funny that none of you voted for Orphanary.  That's the only name on the list that I didn't invent.  This bird is based very loosely off a mythical bird from medieval bestiaries called the Orphanary. But I just didn't think that sounded right, and since I'd changed the bird so much to fit my story I figured it would be okay to change the name too. But I threw it on the list just to see if I was wrong. And apparently you all agree with me. So yay!

I was also surprised so many of you liked the names with "crier" in them, because those were honestly some of my least favorites. I didn't like how weak and sad they sounded. My main character is strong and brave, and even though she has to deal with a lot of difficult things (things that would make me want to sit back and cry) she never gives up. So I don't see her as a "crier."And I guess you guys don't either because those names didn't win after all.

And then there was Moonwing (which has some very outspoken supporters behind it). I like it. I do. The only thing I wasn't sure about was that it made me think of Darkwing Duck--which really isn't the kind of association I want to make.  And then someone else pointed out that in the Batman comics, Robin becomes a hero called Nightwing when he grows up, so when they hear Moonwing it makes them think of a superhero. Which is better than thinking of Darkwing Duck...but still not quite the connection I want to make.  And for that reason I chose to leave it off the final poll, even though it had only one vote less than the others.

Which leaves us with the larks.  You chose Moonlark over Lunelark, which again, surprised me. Lune is the french word for moon, so I thought it might sound more...mysterious...but maybe you didn't get that. Or maybe Moonlark just sounds better. Or maybe you just clicked a button because I asked you to and you don't really care.  But for whatever reason, Moonlark won. And I'm going to try using it because that was honestly one of my favorites.

I liked that "lark" sounds immediately like a bird. Yes, larks aren't quite as majestic as this bird is...but that doesn't necessarily bother me. If anything, I kind of like that it makes you expect one thing and then surprises you when you get so much more.  And I like that the word lark has other meanings. It can mean "to have fun or frolic," it can mean "to create mischief," and it can mean "a game." Not sure what/if I would use any of that for, but I like having it as an option.

So for now I'm going to fill those blank spaces in my draft with "Moonlark," and see how it feels. It may sit wrong and I may be going back to the drawing board. But it may just work.  Only time will really tell. And I promise I'll let you know if I change it.

Thank you again for all your opinions and input. This worked out really well, so I may be doing this again with a few other things I'm having trouble naming. And feel free to let me know what you think of the results.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mission: Failed

Well, September is officially over, which means my "month of no editing" is technically over. So, as promised, here's an update of how it went:

First of all....I didn't finish my draft. Trust me, I'm far more disappointed than you are. And while part of that had to do with a couple of editing relapses (which we'll address in a minute), it also has a lot to do with some extenuating circumstances.

It started on August 29th with a frantic phone call from my mother-in-law at one in the morning, informing us that my husband's father was in the Emergency Room. From there is was back and forth to the hospital for nearly three solid weeks of emergency surgeries, tests, bad news, good news, bad news again, pneumonia, comas, stress, anxiety, disappointment, hope...basically it was Hell.

And as a small, unimportant side effect of all that drama, I lost pretty much all my writing time. I squeezed in a blog in every day, and usually found an hour here and there, but, yeah...not quite the same as my usual 5 hour days and 16 hour weekends. So yeah...I fell way behind on my writing schedule. But that's okay, because in the grand scheme of things what really matters is that my father-in-law pulled through and is now on the road to recovery.

But it means I still have some gaps between my scenes, so I can't call my draft complete.

I did still get quite a few new scenes written, though, and I found and corrected some major flaws with my plot, so I made some good progress.

But I did also break my resolution. I did edit. Several times, in fact. Some of those times I've already copped to. Some of them I'm confessing now. In all, I'd say I probably edited six times this month, and considering how much my writing time was reduced, that's not a good ratio. (What can I say, I'm weak!) So you guys have every right to scold me in your comments. (Go ahead, I can take it).

But I'm not giving up. I think September was just too weird and hectic of a month to really count for the experiment.


(drumroll please)

For the entire month of October I'm going to try it again. No editing. No revising. No touching anything I've already written until I fill in those holes and have a complete first draft.

And I'm going to try really hard to stick to it.

We'll see how it goes. I promise to be honest and confess any transgressions, but I'm hoping there won't be any. And let's all hope that there will be no more drama, that I'll find a way to exercise a little self discipline and I'll finally, finally have a complete draft.

And so it begins....