Dec 26, 2011

fun fact

This time last year I was diving into revisions for Luminance Hour in hopes of wooing a particular agent who sent me an R&R.

One year later and what am I working on? Revisions for Luminance Hour.

A writer's work is never done!

Dec 20, 2011

two things on a tuesday

1. My editorial letter came! Like a ninja in the night (see Friday vlog a while back for the reference). This means that you will be seeing much less of me over the next few weeks, as my energies shall be sucked back into this monstrous manuscript of my own making. *runs off to stock up on tea, cookies and microwaveable dinners*

Here it is folks, 3 solid pages of creative boot camp.

2. Oh weird, I was just looking down at the pile of papers I keep for each of my separate projects and I just realized that my first set of critique notes for this MS were sent to me in October of 2010. Just over a year ago. How much can happen in the space of a year.

To all of my wonderful blog readers: have very happy holidays, a merry Christmas and an amazing new year! I'll see you on the other side!

Dec 19, 2011

monday musings: recycled page art

One of the few thing that I don't like about the holidays are White Elephant gift exchanges. You know, the game where you swap gifts back and forth. I don't like it because I usually see something I really want and I never leave with it. The game makes me rather anxious. Husband and I recently participated in one of these exchanges and I must say, it helps to have a second person on your team. One of the things I was able to walk away with was one of my good friend's pieces of art. I met Brittany McCrea a little under a year ago, but it took a few weeks after our first introduction for me to realize what a talented artist she is! She's very good at hiding the fact. One of her favorite things to do is take pages of old library books and recycle them into sketches like this one:

Amazing details.

Seahorse is happy in his new home on my shelf.
Husband and I played kind of cut-throat to get this. The universe had to balance itself out: therefore our second White Elephant Prize was a 2012 Justin Bieber calendar (which I received after getting both a Harney and Sons Holiday tea pack and a Starbucks giftcard stolen from me). But coffee and tea are replaceable. One of a kind art is not!
Now, my friend Brittany doesn't have a website for her art, but I'm sure if you're interested in one of these sketches she would love to take commissions. She can draw and paint pretty much anything. Comment below if you're interested!

Dec 16, 2011

the incredible pizza eating debaucle

Today's Friday vlog features my husband and our friend attempting the "Gilroy's $500 Pizza Challenge," where they have to eat a 28" pizza in the span of 30 minutes. Do they succeed? Watch to find out!

Dec 15, 2011

luminance hour - in photo form

Today I'm taking a page out of Genn's book (well, not her actual book) and posting a collection of pictures that I think really encompasses Luminance Hour. Enjoy!

[PS. I took these down, but you can see them all on the Pinterest board referenced below!]

If you want to see more pictures as I discover them I have a board on Pinterest dedicated solely to Luminance Hour. It's here.

Dec 13, 2011

two things on a tuesday

1. I think my WIP rough draft is trying to kill me. Why do I think this? Because it has already made me throw out the first 6000 words, and now it is demanding that I rewrite about twenty pages to accommodate the bad guy's cruel whim. And reinforce the MC's character traits. Now, I've done this and much much more with previous novels, but I usually save all of the editing for AFTER the rough draft stage. I'm only 100 pages into this piece (we shall call it CutthroatNovel, no?) and I've already rewritten the beginning twice.

Here's hoping all of the hard work will pay off in the end and it will be something readable. Even memorable!

2. Husband is still hard at work training for his binge on Friday (re: pizza eating contest). Remember the picture of the salad that I showed you guys last week? Well he's been eating one of those every day. The upside? I haven't had to cook dinner all week. The downside is that he's been a ferocious ball of vegetable-fueled energy. Unlike most people, when husband eats lots and lots of food he gets hyper instead of sleepy. And when he's hyper he likes to distract me from my writing.

I'll be looking forward to Friday. And don't worry. I'll be taping it for the blog. You'll all get to see.

Dec 8, 2011

bookshelf tour

You can tell a lot about a person (and a writer especially) from their bookshelves and their workspace. Both of mine are very messy, but they are rather organized (which totally fits the rest of my life upon further introspection...) Today I offer you a glimpse onto these shelves and my desk. Proceed at your own risk.

Behold the chaos that is my primary bookshelf. It's very colorful, which also fits my personality (I love bright, crazy colors). I can't fit all of the books in. Nor are they in any specific order (other than a series). Plus, who said bookshelves are just for books? They also hold all of the OTHER random trinkets I can't find a place for in the rest of the apartment.

Meet my neon llamas. They're real llamas. They were a wedding present from my sister-in-law in Bolivia. They don't have names, which I've just now realized should be rectified. The pink one shall be called Sherbet and the orange one will be known as Mango. I so decree it. Sherbet and Mango are the faithful guardians of my signed YALLfest books. Also, Mango thinks that Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell makes a comfy alternative history bed. Sherbet is a fan of Southern gothic fiction, as well as stories about zombies and space.

Next shelf! In which you can see exactly how much I love Maggie Stiefvater. And Harry Potter. And J.R.R. Tolkien. And Neil Gaiman. And T.S. Eliot. I actually DO own the last three volumes of Harry Potter. They are on loan to my mother who waited until the end of the final movie to read the books. She, like most others in my life, has finally conceded that, "Yes. The books are better than the movies."

Also, did I mention that I loved the Redwall series as a young child? Because I did! These books saw me through the tumultuous years of pre-teen-hood. Because I was in such denial about lip-gloss and spaghetti straps, I decided to instead run off into the forest and pretend to be a staff-wielding hare named Honeydew. Those were good times. Good times.
Hiding in the corner is a really amazing series by Susan Cooper called The Dark is Rising. Read them.

What are you looking at you ask? All of my writing ever. Okay. Maybe not ever, but it's a pretty good representation of my portfolio from kindergarten all of the way through high school. Every time I want to laugh or feel better about my current writing, I dive into this sucker. I even have a snazzy stack of rejection letters. In both cases, the electronic equivalents of these piles are much thicker than the actual thing.
A nice wad of enveloped NOs.

A taste of my non-fiction collection. I feel like this shelf is a pretty good representation of my other hobby. Travel (not the Civil War, though I have been to battle reenactments as a semi-horrified yet ultimately fascinated spectator). Lonely Planet guides have never steered me wrong. If you're looking for detailed guides when you're planning a trip abroad, I definitely recommend them.

But I digress. On to where I spend a good part of my day:

The desk is a recent addition to my life. Until a few months ago my writing location of choice was on the floor by my coffee table (I wrote three novels this way.) Some friends were getting rid of this desk and offered it to me. On it I keep my ever trusty warm beverage (I can't seem to write without hot tea or coffee at my side). I also nurse a not-quite-dead orchid (it has survived for 8 whole months!!) and a pegasus made of wire. Can you spy Nessie?

So there you have it. A glimpse into my chaotically ordered life. Writers, what does your workspace look like? How about your bookshelves? Anything fun?

Dec 7, 2011

and this is what happens AFTER you eat an XXXL salad:

i'm not the only one who loves food.

My husband is training for a pizza-eating contest next week at a local eatery. Apparently training for a food contest looks like this:

Yes, folks. That is a large mixing bowl filled with salad. He's eating it right now as he checks his emails. I'll let you know if he actually finishes it or not.

*update* 24 minutes in and he's about a third of the way through. He says (and I quote), "My jaw is getting tired."

*new update* 49 minutes in. He's got about 70% of the salad in his stomach. Quote of the moment? "I don't think I can finish it all."

*even newer update* 1 hour in.
Husband: "I can't finish."
Me: "C'mon. The Internet is counting on you."
Husband: "Really?"
Me: "Yes."
Husband: *adopts determined look* "I can do this. I love the Internet."

Just so you know, he's finishing for you, cyberspace.

*newest update* 1 hour and 13 minutes in. He has about three bites left. "I'm fighting. Fighting hard."

*final update* 1 hour and 15 minutes in. He's slammed his bowl on the floor as a sign of victory.

And done.
Now he's sitting in front of the computer watching an episode of Epic Mealtime. How can men do this again?

PS. Tune in next week for a recap of the actual pizza eating contest. It's sure to be equally gratuitous!

Dec 6, 2011

two things on a tuesday

1. On her blog yesterday, Mindy McGinnis wrote a lovely post about self-editing and why it isn't always the best idea. As a part of her post she introduced the concept of putting your manuscript into Wordle and figuring out what your crutch words are based on which ones appear. I decided to put in the first three chapters of Luminance Hour and test what came up. Here it is:

Wordle: 3 Chapters of Luminance Hour

Seems that back, face, eyes and away are my biggest crutch words for the first three chapters. (I've always known the eyes thing. I tend to focus on facial expressions when I describe character's emotions.) Curious about your crutch words? You should give Wordle a try.

2. Tis the season to eat lots of sweet treats and spend money! What are your favorite traditions for the holiday season? As I've grown older I find that my taste in Christmas music has changed a bit drastically. As a young child I used to adore Manheim Steamroller (we would always put the CDs in when we decorated the tree). Now that I'm in my 20s I find that I really appreciate all of the traditional Christmas hymns I used to get so tired of when I was singing in the church choir. I don't sing in the choir anymore (something I actually miss from time to time), but I still love high church choral songs. My favorites of the season are probably O Come, O Come, Emmanuel  and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Loreena McKennit does an amazing cover of the latter:

 More Christmas songs and yummies to come later! For now I must write!

Dec 5, 2011

monday musings: three kings

This is, beyond question, my favorite poem ever. I think it's only fitting that I share it on the first week of Advent. I want to write about it and tell you why it's my favorite, but I feel like anything I can say is already conveyed in the final stanza. 

The Journey of the Magi

"A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot (1927)