Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How To Successfully Survive NaNoWriMo In Five Easy Steps

You will need it for all the late nights spent basking in the glow of your computer screen, half dead because you haven't slept in twenty-nine days, because GOSHDARNIT I WILL FINISH THIS THING IF IT KILLS ME.

Your friends may invite you out to do things (like go to the movies to see that new superhero film starring your favorite actor ever) but you must resist the urge to go along. Three hours might not seem like a lot in the sense that you have an entire month to write 50,000 words, but believe me, you will get much more done staying at home and writing than you will at the movies. And besides, what's the point in going to the movies if you're just going to fall asleep halfway through?

It seems to be contradictory to the last tip, but taking breaks every hour or two to use the bathroom, let family members know that you have not in fact died of electromagnetic waves (or something like that), and grab a snack is generally a good thing. This is also when you go and get more caffeine.

Chocolate, ice cream, skittles, and My Little Pony fruit snacks are generally a good reward for reaching milestones. Nothing like nomming on the face of a pink pony.

Enough said.

Friday, June 21, 2013

They're taking the hobbits to Bloglovin!

Dear followers,

No. Wait.


A day will come when we will cave in to the fall of Google Friend Connect... a day where the lack of blog following platforms will strike fear in the hearts of many. A day will come when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. A day will come when this blog is a veritable desert... BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY.

Long story short: Google Friend Connect is going away. That's the little "followers" gadget on the sidebar. Without GFC, you won't be able to keep up with our posts.


Monday, May 27, 2013

we are wanderers.

I found an article on Pinterest today. Click below to read it.

This. This wins everything. I can't think of anything that more accurately described what I feel about myself, about my entire existence. Don't let the title mislead you: I think every teenager, ever, needs to read this.

Stay awesome. And know that I'm wandering, stuck in this teenager paradox, too. But, to quote Pressing On by Relient K, I think "we're gonna make it after all."

-- Pepper

Friday, May 24, 2013

the story of how i unslumped myself with neil gaiman's help

this last week has been a slump for me.  I called it "writer's block" since that is the easiest way to put it, but if I was to be honest, it would be more properly called "writer's oh my gosh my writing is junk slump".

I go through this slump at least four days out of a month, and while I've gotten used to it now, and realize its just a faze of feeling that will pass before I know it and ill be back to loving what I write.  I used to, however, not realize this. and in the slump time, I would seriously debate my choice to be a writer.  I would think, "maybe I should just give it all up" and then I would feel so empty, even though I hadn't officially given it up yet, I would just feel so very lost.  
I'm a writer, there hasn't been a time in my life where I haven't been one, and the very idea of <I>not</I> writing gives me feelings of despair, like I've lost myself. 

but I'm going off on a wild tangent. I do that a lot. 

anyway, during this week, I again was struggling with "why do I even write if this is my best?" emotions.  I would open documents only to scowl, groan and close them again with a sigh.   my stories weren't wonderful, they weren't special or captivating.  my characters were so very flat, and all seemed like clones of each other and I just wanted to throw everything out the window. 

my little siblings watch this oldish (as in, it ended in 2010 or 2011) children's tv show called "Arthur" which is, if you don't know, about an aardvark with glasses, his animals friends, and it has such a charming and well created cast of characters, and occasionally it had famous guest stars come on. 
this particular occasion, I got on Netflix, queued them up an episode, and as I had nothing better to do, I sat back and watched it with them. 

Neil Gaiman, author of the book Coraline was the guest star this time (he is just a bit adorable as Cat!Neil....*'weird things Chamomile has said' of the day* ) and, as an author, what else could he be guesting about?
writing, for those, who don't want to guess.

In this episode (called falafelosophy, yes I had to google that for the spelling)  Sue Ellen, meets Mr. Gaiman (as a, I swear, pretty cute cat...*second weird thing Chamomile has said of the day*) at a book signing, and he inspires her to write a graphic novel.   The next day, she is disparing over her novel, and how it seems so uninteresting, and she imagines Neil (her personal, inner, Neil) and he encourages her with " Don't judge your story yet, you just started it".


I felt that.
I had been only listening half way, half watching, half just thinking, but when Cat!Neil said that, I leaned forward.  It spoke to me, for what I was going through at that time.  I was judging my novel, and wasn't allowing it to grow to be something great. I was judging my novel by the first chapters, and was discouraging myself from writing any more, and was causing myself to always be in a rut of writing only beginnings, because I would always hate what I had written, and would force myself to restart.

As soon as I could get the computer free to myself, I opened up a document, and wrote four chapters.
and I loved it and it felt bloody wonderful. 
it was like.....like, being freed.
Sure, there were things I would write in those four chapters that made me go, "eh. that needs to be fixed someday" but I continued past them instead of shoving the story away in a frump because it wasn't my vision of perfect.
It doesn't have to be perfect in the start.
I just need to get it out.
(and then, I can make it perfect all I want in the second, third, fourth, drafts)

And now, in my journal, I have almost everything Cat!Neil said related to writing written down, for the days I feel like my writing sucks, for the days I think nobody would ever like the collection of words I've strung together into a story, for the days I just really need a pick me up.

Whodathunk that I would be so inspired by an Author whose books I've never even read, and further more, whodathunk it would be by watching him voice an animated cat on a children's show...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Editing

Hey, there. I haven't really posted much here, and the last time I posted was back in March, so I think I'm long overdo for a blog post. Recently I've been struggling to edit my novel, The Daughter of Robin Hood (I tend to call it TDRH). To be honest, the hardest part was actually starting. Once I started editing, it wasn't as bad as I thought. But then I reached Chapter Six. Around the time I reached Chapter Six, I was discovering more and more things that needed to be fixed and at the same time I got an idea for a new novel. I started planning out the novel while I had the inspiration for it, so I reached the point where I couldn't decide whether to start the novel or edit TDRH. 

Well, I decided to take a break from editing and start the new novel, Archi Pelago. The idea for this novel excites me. It's about Cas Marinus who was named after Prince Caspian because when he was abandoned at the San Francisco orphanage with nothing but Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. One day he goes out sailing and his sailboat is caught in storm winds, and the ocean takes him to this place called Archi Pelago (which means ancient sea in Greek). He meets a girl named Rosemary Nevaeh from 1888 and they have to go on this dangerous adventure to return to the 21st century. 

But the thing I understand most about them is that they're both loners. Cas calls a mime who never talks and has never bothered to tell him his name (well, he's a mime dear) his only friend. On the island where Rosemary lives, there aren't any people her age who understand her. The people her age think she needs to get her head out of the clouds and get back to earth, quite literally. They think she needs to work in the fields instead of daydreaming most of the time and playing the violin. Cas is dying to live, working at a beach rental shack during the day, playing guitar in the park in the evening until nearly eleven, and then staying up late to search for his parents or write poetry or draw. He's barely getting by on loose change from strangers and his weekly wage, but his landlady doesn't yell at him or anything like that. She just wants Cas to move on from searching for his parents.

And then back to Rosemary. She knows that there's something more to life than being stranded in a land out of time, where new people wash ashore from time periods ranging from Ancient Greece to modern day. But she doesn't admit to anyone that she wants more than a routine life of farming and trading and being ordinary. She doesn't want to hurt her adopted family's feelings, especially since her old friend, her adopted father, had come to Archi Pelago when she came. When Cas comes along, she jumps on the chance to see the land he speaks of, the modern day 21st century. She knows it'll be a dangerous journey and people who have tried to leave Archi Pelago were never heard from again, but she also knows she'll never see her family again. She'll be alone, but she'll be with Cas, and they'll be alone together.

See, Rosemary and Cas came out of my loneliness. That's why I was fascinated by this novel. My plan, originally, was to write one chapter of Archi Pelago and then edit the next chapter of TDRH, but of course that didn't happen. I was more interested in writing Archi Pelago. It was like writing close to bedtime and then having someone say it was time to go to bed or get off the computer and then going, "Aww, I just got to the good part!" 

Part of me wants to regret starting Archi Pelago because I put off editing TDRH. The other part of me is happy I started it because I'm no longer torn between editing and starting something new. The idea is out of my head and in a document. I don't have to struggle with it bouncing around in my head anymore. Now I just have to struggle with deciding which to do: write Archi Pelago or edit TDRH. Well, I had a crappy weekend. I'll just say  that. It was really, really crappy. Out of this, out of these problems I had, I realized that TDRH wants to be read. It's never been read by anyone but me. It's an overprotected teenager that wants to go into the world with big wide eyes and experience what it feels like to be loved by someone, not it's parent (me), and get the love it's seen others receiving. Being the writer, I want that for my novel.

I'm ready for my novel to be read. Ever since I've finished it friends at church have been saying that they want to read it and I just kind of brushed them off and said "it needs to be edited first! I'll let you know when I'm finished editing it!" But then I kept getting stuck. I kept saying "I'm tired of fixing things" or "I just need a break and I'll come back to it" even though leaving it go made it even harder to come back. Saturday was a bad day with drama that flowed into this afternoon, but this drama has made me decide one thing: I'm going to put all other projects aside and nothing's going to stop me until my book is published, one way or another.

I'm worrying that I may not be able to keep this promise, but in November, I had this same determination to finish Lee's story in TDRH. I was going to write from the start to the end. And I did. I loved TDRH so much that I was able to complete it. It's been my problem child during the editing phase, like the Terrible Twos, but I'm going to get past that and I'm going to get this thing edited. I found that determination to edit that I found when I was writing it.

I love my novel, and I love these characters, and, well, I want people to know why I do. I want it to be read. I'm ready for it to be read. And I think TDRH wants to be read as well. It wants new people to love it as well. It's been tucked away safely beneath it's security blanket, but now it's time for it to step out of it's comfort zone. It's time for my novel to see the world. And I hope that someday, it will see the world. I just need to edit it first, and now I think I finally will.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

evanescent fireworks

lights will guide you home
and ignite your bones
and i will try to fix you
// coldplay

Yesterday I accidentally started a novel. Again. That seems to be how all my novels start: accidentally. 

 See, I was adamant I wouldn't start another novel. I already have Broken Wings that I need to write, and editing Because I'm Irish and plotting for that book's sequel. As for writing, I'd been hoping to make my main focus on writing the currently four-book fantasy series fondly called The Silverthorne Mafia. I just don't need  to start another project right now. I want to finish what I've already got going, because the Silverthorne Mafia is really important to me.

But that doesn't mean my other projects aren't important to me, either.

It started with a couple of pins, then morphed into a pin board. For some reason the phrase "Evanescent Fireworks" came into my head, so that's what it was called. I wanted to leave it in the transitional planning stage indefinitely.

But that's not the way things work sometimes.

Last night, Scarlett posted in the group calling for a word war. Caroline joined, and they did one word war. I wasn't going to join at first, but then, as it so happens with word wars, they're infectious. Scarlett went to bed, but Caroline and I decided to do another one. There was just one problem: I had no idea what to write.

"Write something from Evanescent Fireworks," she said. "It'll be fun," she said.

All kidding aside, I started it. "I'll just write the beginning, as a snippets," I thought. I write snippets all the time. "And then I'll leave it for when I officially start writing EF."

Hahahaha. Haha. Ha.

That's when Annah and Wren came on, respectively. And five or six word wars later, I had a 2,000 word long beginning to EF.

The premise is this: it's a romance, set in the South. Evyn is my girl main character, who was born into a rich socialite family, but she doesn't fit in and only prefers to watch endless TV shows on Netflix. Don't let her seemingly carefree lifestyle fool you, though: she carries around a lot on her shoulders and has some really deep stuff to sort through. Her penchant for Netflix only disguises the pain she feels. As for the other half of the lovely couple, Chris is the lead singer in a band, and he's being very mysterious thus far. I do know he plays guitar and rides a motorcycle and he has some secrets about his past that I don't think he's telling me. He also sang Part of Your World while dishing up his green bean casserole at Evyn's mom's party.

There's also Alec Mumford, aka Mum, who plays guitar and loves Eragon and wears Ring pops and is an incorrigible flirt. I adore him. (That's him playing banjo on the right.)

I don't know what this story is about in full, and I don't know how I'm going to write this, or what will happen when I do. But I do know that I love Mum and I connect with Evyn more than I ever thought I would and this story does need to be written.

I just don't know how or when. But I do know that my best and most beloved novels happen by accident. I have an inkling that this one will be no different.

(if these images belong to you, please let me know.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Barney Lessons 101: Learning to Share our Stories

If any of you guys have ever watched Barney growing up, then you probably know what sharing is (if you don't then there was something wrong with your childhood). I hate sharing, personally. Well, I don't hate sharing stuff like my shoes or my clothes or my food (unless its chocolate or something), but I hate sharing my work. I think that's a common thing about writers; we are afraid to share our stuff while we are writing it. Even the big name writers have a hard time. Take Stephanie Meyer for example. One of her excerpts leaked out online and she freaked out. At first I was like chill woman, but as time went on I realized that I would have been the same way. I would have been just as protective over my work as she was, and I think that you would too. We are all so greedy and selfish with our stories. Why is that? Why do we have such a hard time sharing our stories? I still don't really understand why, but here is my explanation for it.

Sometimes school really sucks. Let's face it people, its fun for a little bit when you can come home with coloring sheets for homework and reading assignments such as The Magic Treehouse  book series or whatever (you know, the one about Jack and Annie and a totally epic tree house that would put the Tardis to shame). By the way, does Morgana or whats-her-name remind anybody of Revir Song? Anyways, ever since those glory childhood school days ended we all just kind of slipped into the deep, scary, dark world called high school (dun dun dun). Our imaginations were torn out by textbooks, math, bad teachers and worst of all, the lack of Ms. Frizzle (its just Ms. right? she's still single?). But nothing about high school is as terrible as the fact that homework takes the place of doing the things that we love. And for us, that is writing, which, in return, creates monsters out of all of us. When I go for long periods of time without writing due to homework, I turn into a permanent PMS beast. But that's just me.

I'm going to get a little bit personal here. Its been a hard year for me. Heck, its been hard for everyone around here. School is hard enough, and its breaking me down honestly, as it is for all of you (probably). And then there are those like me who not only have to struggle through school, we have to struggle through situations at our homes and in our personal lives. For writers like us, the only thing that gets us through the day is the hope that we can return to our books and our characters, pouring out our pains and our struggles through people who don't even exist. Writing is, in a way, living. We use it to get through the horrors of high school, college, home situations, relationships, and most of all our biggest problems. 

Yeah, see, that's what most people don't get about us authors. They don't get that when we write, we aren't doing it because its a hobby. We aren't doing it because we are bored or because we want to become famous authors someday. We do it because we have to. Inside of all of us lives a creature, a living soul that contains all of our tears and hurts and pains, and it drives us to write. No, it doesn't just drive us to do so, it forces us. And if we stop, it just might eat us up.

Bad analogy? Maybe. But its true that there is so much more to the writer than meets the eyes. There is so much more to our work than simple words and stories and characters. I believe that every character that we create is a part of our lives, a memory pushed into a human body, a piece of ourselves that we didn't notice before reincarnated as a living person. These characters have the power to take our experiences and make them their own, and to take our pain and our suffering away from us. They make us better people; they show us who we can be and the pieces of ourselves that we should avoid.

When I write, I usually do so when crying. Every word contains a small silver tear, and within every tear lives a world of my own regret and my own misery. When a writer puts a pen to the paper, it is not done in the hopes that another could come and read it and then leave it behind forever. When an author begins a story it is not done because they dream of having someone read it and then compliment it or something. No, for me it is much different. I see the writer as a complicated person who cannot understand herself no matter how hard she tries. In order to do so she spills out her soul onto the paper to read and understand. She bleeds out her tears and her hurts caused by the pains that life has to offer her, so that she can know how to overcome her fears and her difficulties. Writing isn't a hobby, its therapy. And without it, I seriously doubt that I would be here right here right now rambling to you guys. I would have been consumed with the bad, dark things in my life, and I'm sure that other writers would have done the same.

See, darkness is a demon that threatens to take the good parts of us away, and writing is a power that we use against it.

When authors write, they put themselves out onto the paper, and if we are placed into the wrong hands, we will get cut. The deepest wounds are made by those who criticize us, and the pains that hurt the most are found on the pieces of ourselves that are the most vulnerable. When we give our books and our stories out to people, we give them the ability to make these types of wounds. That is why it is so difficult for us to share our work. That is why I cannot show some parts of my writing to other people; its too deep and too personal, and it gives the reader too much power over me.

So the next time someone tries to steal your work from you, or bothers you by asking for it over and over again, tell them that its not ready to share yet. Because when you are writing your stories, you aren't writing them for other people. You are writing them for yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that. So don't share yet, and don't feel bad about keeping your work to yourself. Sharing is something that comes with a lovely thing called editing. But that's a topic for another time.

Peace, my lovely Tea Spitters! Don't be afraid to be selfish with your work.
Have fun writing. And thanks for hearing me out.