Feb 29, 2012

post-season depression

After a mad dash of watching I just finished the second season of Downton Abbey. And I must say. It was good. Very good indeed.

But I am now fending of a bit of sadness that I don't live there. And none of my dresses look quite as fabulous as Lady Mary's.

If you have not partaken of the goodness that is Downton Abbey, then do yourself a favor and watch the 1st season on Netflix and the 2nd season on PBS.com (it's only up for 5 more days or so, hurry!!).

Don't worry, I won't judge if you watch both seasons in 5 days. ;)

Feb 28, 2012

two things on a tuesday

1. My brother is very good at poetry. (Read, much better than I ever will be at it).

2. According to CollegeHumor, Twilight (and other Young Adult novels), will save America. It's not a bad plan if you ask me.

Feb 27, 2012

things that don't happen everyday

Whenever I get word-fatigued from the afternoon of writing I usually go for a jog through the park closest to our apartment. It is generally an uneventful venture (though the walk there is lined with feral cats and nauseatingly oil fried chicken joints). Today was different.

I was jogging along to some Last of the Mohicans music (which, I must say, helps me feel epic when really I'm not) when I saw a man huddled in the bushes. It took a second for my brain to register the fact that he was wearing camouflage fatigues. And another second for me to realize he was holding a gun.

At this point my brain was going, "WTF? oasldkfja;slkdjfa!" But the other joggers/dog-walkers of said park did not seem too phased by the sight. So I kept jogging.

Behind the first set of magnolia trees I sighted even more camouflaged men. Holding more guns. Some were huddled in groups. Others splayed out on the ground in what I imagine is standard military splaying, elbows in the dirt aiming rifles at nothing in particular. (I'm sure there's a more advanced word for these guns, but I am not really a gun person (unless they are rifles from WWII in which case I could probably fumble my way through a description due to some good friends who are happily obsessed with WWII rifles)).

This is odd. I thought to myself and kept on jogging. Soon enough I came across a sign that explained it all: "ROTC training: 4-6."

Even though I knew the guns were fake (well, suspected they were fake, or at least, unloaded), it still felt incredibly strange and wrong jogging past a cadet who had a rifle aimed at me. It's just a reminder to be so thankful that I live in a country where that doesn't happen.

Feb 25, 2012

what makes a good cover?

Happy Saturday! Apparently no one who reads this blog has any questions, so I've decided to write about a subject that's been on my mind lately. (Probably because yesterday was such a huge day for Fall 2012 cover reveals!)

Book covers.

I must confess, that one of the things I'm most impatient/anxious for in the whole process of getting published is the cover of my book. Now that might seem a small thing, but if you think about it, covers can make or break a consumer's decision to pick up a book and look through it's pages. I must confess I've spent many hours inside Barnes and Noble, standing in front of the Young Adult section and picking out covers that I truly fell in love with!

I'll share some with you now, and tell you why I fell in love with them.

The cover for Maggie Stiefvater's werewolf novel Shiver is one of my favorite covers of all time. I'm a huge fan of abstract/symbolic covers, and I feel like this one does a perfect job of conveying the novel's feeling. It's a story that takes place mostly in the woods at the beginning of winter, so the blue branches and leaves are really good at setting the stage for this. I also really love the drop of blood on the i. It's so ominous.

I must confess, I have not read Entwined, but this cover makes is really tempting! I love the foil leaves at the bottom that play into the title. The gown and the castle really lend to the fairy-tale feel that this book is going for.

Another cover I fell head over heels with was the layout for Lauren DeStefano's Wither. I think this is another ballgown cover that does a spectacular job with conveying the novel's emotion (decay and sickness). The bird in the cage also gives such a strong sense of the entrapment the novel's main character. What really sold this cover for me was the geometry of the foil--it's circles and squares that give the cover such a modern feel (which makes sense, because the story is set in the future).

This is another book I have not read, but my critique partner Kate brought it to my attention. Both the title and the layout are just gorgeous. The waves, the tiny symbols entrapped in them... Amazing.

The last two covers are recent reveals for books that won't hit the shelves for several more months. But for some reason their covers really grabbed me.

What really sold me with this cover was how well it plays with the title. The sense of this girl being fragmented and erased is so strong in the image and the words over it.

And this cover. THIS cover. *drools* Just. Just look at it. Obviously it's a story set in Russia (or a world very much like Russia). The colors and the typeset are just ominous and powerful.... So much comes across in such a simple layout (much like Shiver). I am definitely picking this one up as soon as it comes out!

So, in summation, what do I like when it comes to covers? What makes a good cover?

I love Shiver and Shadow and Bone's covers, but that doesn't mean I love every single cover that has graphics.

I love Entwined and Wither's covers, but that doesn't mean I love every single cover that features a ballgown.

I love covers that capture and translate the feeling of the novel under their flaps. Covers that intuitively tell me what I'll be reading before I even open to that first page. What about you? What are some of your favorite covers? I'd love to see!

Feb 22, 2012


Well, it's Wednesday. This week has been a bit weird and wobbly so far (hospital visit (everything is fine), husband swallowed up by Las Vegas), but it seems to be stabilizing now.

I'm back to working on SouthernGothicNovel (which has been hibernating since September). It's always a little jolting, going back to a project you haven't touched in such a long time. I always have to spend a day or two just reading and re-immersing myself in the world and its characters. It's also a little strange, yet encouraging to see how much my writing has grown even in these short months.

I've also had to rely on the magical powers of MacFreedom to keep me away from Pinterest when I should be writing scenes. I have, however, started a board for SouthernGothicNovel, just as I have started one for Luminance Hour. To justify my aimless web browsing time when I DO earn it!

On a totally unrelated note, now that I'm stabilizing (you know, trying not to be a writer-workaholic) I'm likely to be posting here on the blog more! So I have a question:

What are your questions? What would you, dear readers, like to know about me/my writing life/Luminance Hour/anything else? I shall answer at my discretion (of course), but I would love to know what you guys want to know!

Feb 21, 2012

take a peek into emrys's world

Over on the Lucky 13s blog I did a post on the setting of Luminance Hour, which helps explain some of the world I created in this book. Here's a sneak peek picture (but if you want more you should go HERE and read all about it!).

Big Ben may or may not be featured in a crucial book scene!

Feb 19, 2012

bragging on the husband

For those of you who don't know, I happen to be married to quite a talented photographer (which comes in handy for self-indulgent photoshoots and travel documentation!). Last Friday he had the opportunity to display some of his work at an Art Night held by some really great friends. He actually ended up selling several pieces in order to raise money for a crazy, cool documentary he's filming next month. He's actually following several cyclists as they ride from L.A. to Charleston to raise money for reconciliation projects in Burundi (a country in central Africa which shared the same genocide as Rwanda did). You can keep track of the ride here if you want to!

I am so, SO proud of him for doing this, even though it means I'll be flying solo here for about a month!

Right now he doesn't have a website for his non-wedding/portrait stuff (ie. everything that's up on these walls). 

Oh, and also, I finished the chalkboard!!! (YAY!) Here's the finished product (with a bonus note from the husband):

The chalkboard paint gave me a bit of a rough time. It didn't go on very smoothly, but in the end I think it turned out well.

So that was my week off. Back to the wonderful world of writing next week! I have revisions for a *different* novel to work on. So it's back to the revision cave (although I think this one won't be as all encompassing/stressful). Weeh!

Feb 17, 2012

my DIY sunshine coat rack

So my thrift store DIY (do it yourself) project is coming along nicely! I spent a bit of the day painting and watching paint dry and then recycling the process all over again (fun!). This is what happened:

As you remember I started off with the above: a dry erase board with a pretty plain glossy wood frame and some coat hooks. My vision for the piece was this, weathered wood with a bright yellow primary color and a silver accent beneath. As well as a chalkboard in the middle (which I haven't quite accomplished that, but we'll get there.

First things first, I dug out the silver spray paint and coated that puppy in it. There are now several leaves and grass in my yard that looks like the Winter Faery just breathed all over them with silver glamour. Upstairs neighbor was also concerned when she heard the spray paint bottle being shaken and poked her head out to make sure her car wasn't being defaced. Oh almost but not yet gentrified neighborhood...

So I put two good coats of silver on it and then went to our local art supply store in search of the perfect shade of yellow. I ended up using acrylic paint, which was just as well. Before I applied the first coat of sunshine joy I took a candle and waxed up the edges I wanted to show wear with (it helped the yellow paint to stick less.)

 One coat of yellow and it already looks so happy! As you can see I unscrewed the coat hooks and did this:

I was going to leave them, but I figured the silver would match the decor better.

And a second coat of paint. After that dried I got some sandpaper and a brillowpad and got to work. I had to be careful to peel off just the yellow so the silver accent shone through (though in a few spots I did hit the brown wood, but it just makes it look a tad more weathered I think). 

I ended up with this:

Tomorrow I have to go get a roller to apply the chalkboard paint the middle, but so far I'm very pleased with the progress of the piece! It will help the home look a bit cheerier for sure!

Feb 16, 2012

mid-week update

The week of relaxation has come on quite well. Yesterday, aside from stuffing myself almost sick with Sweethearts candy (seriously, those things are the death of me), I:

-Set foot in a thrift store. I did see a dress or two that looked appealing, but nothing I couldn't live without. It's funny how some days the store is full of treasures uncounted and others it's full of... well... junk.

-Went to a plant nursery in search of something bright and fun to help spruce up my house. Seeing as it's February and cold, there weren't too many tropical flowers. I really, really want to pot some bougainvillea for my porch. (I fell in love with the flower after seeing it pretty much everywhere overseas.) For now I settled for a tiny orange flower to put in a fun red pot that I got for Christmas (pictured below).

-I stopped by the bakery and bought a baguette to go with this:

A deliciously delicious soup I found via Pinterest. It's Tomato-Basil-Parmesan slow cooked soup. Yum. You can find the recipe here. It's a very creamy, comforting dish. I enjoyed using the crock-pot, as if filled my apartment with all sorts of sinful smells. Sadly, since I work away from home in the day's early hours, I don't usually use the crock pot. But this time it was certainly worth it. (It's also the first Pinterest recipe I've put to use and I must say, bravo).

And the best part? There's leftovers for tonight!!! (if you knew my husband very well you would know he eats a LOT. How much, you ask? Go to this post and you will see for yourself!)

Today I:

-Ate more Sweetheart candies until my stomach protested.

-Went to two thrift stores and actually bought things this time. Including this outfit:

Gap shirt over a Vera Wang dress (which I found out later is supposed to be a nighty, but whatever.)

I also scrounged up this piece. It's a white-board/coat-hanger made by Pottery Barn (it also happens to be showcasing my lovely orange flower purchase from yesterday). I've decided to get crafty and paint the wood + turn the middle part into a chalkboard (because that's much more writerly in my opinion!!) I'll post the results later if it turns out!

Feb 14, 2012

valentines and goals

Yesterday I:

-Wrote two blog posts for the Lucky 13s about the world of my novel and how I name my characters. They won't start showing up until next week.

-Built a blanket fort with husband on the living room floor. We used this blanket fort for our indoor picnic (husband wanted to go to the beach, but the practically sweltering tropical heat of January has cruelly abandoned us, so it was a no go) of cheese, crackers, olives and wine. Yum.

Today I have:

-Wrote a guest post for Kelsey Sutton's blog which you can read by clicking her name.

-Acquired ridiculous amounts of chocolate and candy from my preschool kids.

-Watched three hours of Downton Abbey (and finished season one. Yay!) Why would I watch Downton Abbey you ask? BECAUSE OF ALL THE PRETTY PRETTY DRESSES!!!

Oh. And Professor McGonagall is in it. Which is awesome too!

Summation? The week off has been good for me thusfar. Tomorrow we shall embark on a few of the more adventurous tasks: ie. recipes and shopping!

Feb 11, 2012

what to do with freedom?

Okay, so it's been 24 hours since I shipped the good old MS off to editor (this makes it sound like I packaged it and sent it via freight, which would be romantic but awfully inefficient. E-mail is the way to go.) I am now looking to the week ahead and what I should be doing with my afternoons (since I'm supposed to be on "vacation" from writing you know). I do not want to get sucked into the great monster that is Pinterest (okay, maybe a little, but not the whole time).

So, this is where you guys come in. In this week of freedom I would like to:

-Try at least 1 new recipe (ie. get out of the rut of stir fry and spaghetti.)

-Go on 1 round of thrifting

-Look into putting plants on my porch (right now it is a sad, plantless place, yearning for green)

-Finish the first season of Downton Abbey (yes, I had to slip this in here. I started it last night and fell in love with the dresses. Don't judge.)

-Write a bunch of blog posts (for both this blog and others)

I will try to blog about many of these ventures. What about you guys? What do you do when you take a break from writing? And for you non-writers, what do you do when you get ambitious about projects/life?

Feb 10, 2012

el fin

*bursts out of the revision cave with squinting eyes and pasty skin*

Guys. I just hit the send button on my first round of revisions. 53 days later.

It's been a full 53 days. With Christmas and the holidays. My 25th birthday. 3 weeks without central heating in the apartment and one case of mild food poisoning.

There was the typical angst. The oh my gosh this is going great stage quickly followed by the is this working i have no idea my eyes are crossing and the words are all blurring together oh gosh stage. Basically I flummoxed between these two extremes and more about three or four times a day.

Here's what I got done:

These are the notes I went by. Each little block on the left-hand side of the paper is a scene and the block on the right side tells me everything I have to do to FIX said scene. As you can see there was a good deal of fixing. And doodling to loosen up the writing block when it struck. 

The final product, which I had bound at Kinko's so I could read through it and make all of my last minute adjustments. My face is both for the weight of said manuscript and the fact that Kinko's wanted to charge 50 cents PER PAGE to print out everything. I almost fainted in the store, but promptly sought out cheaper printing. But printing it out into physical form really helped me get a different sense of it as I was scanning for final errors. I'd recommend it for all your WIPs.

I had a few things that really helped me power through my final days of editing (which gets very wearying, let me tell you.)

 This song Shadowman (which I found via "The Long Way Down" soundtrack) (<-- which is an awesome documentary about Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman motorcycling through Africa) is the perfect blend of African and Celtic sounds. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it's good.

I love La Reux and this remix had just the perfect amount of electronica to get my concentration set.

My Pinterest board for Luminance Hour also really helped keep me sane. Whenever my mind got too fried for words I just started browsing the internet for pretty pictures that reminded me of my characters and settings. A good way to get stress off of the brain!

So... I'm going to go take an entire week off now. I'm sure I'll be around the blog and Twitterverse though. See you soon, loves!

Feb 4, 2012

revision woes #258

I think, sometimes, that the problem with writing in first person is that you have to fully immerse yourself in the emotions of your main character.

I am 15 pages from the end, and I need a box of tissues.

Feb 1, 2012

going with your gut

Hello friends. No. I'm still not done with revisions. But yes, I'm peeking back out of the cave to say "hi" again.

I'm on the tail end of this round of revisions, only a week or two from boomeranging it back into my editor's inbox. And boy, is it painful. Painful in a good way (as in, I'm making my manuscript oodles better than it was before) but also painful in a painful way (as in, my brain is tired).

Anyway, I thought I'd pop back in and write about two of the things I've come to realize in the past however long of revising I've been slogging through.

1. Revising is all about going with your gut.

I'm a highly intuitive person (according to Myers-Briggs and life-experience), and I've come to realize that the intuition which guides me so effectively through every-day life also comes in handy when crafting a story line. I can tell pretty quickly if a conversation between characters or action doesn't "feel right" in the timeline of my story. I've been learning to follow my initial reactions, and so far it's turned out pretty well. I hope.

2. I can take breaks.

Sadly, yes. I have had trouble with this. I am my own worst slave-driver. This kind of ties into "going with your gut," because I've come to learn that there's a very distinct feeling that comes with it being time to stop. The point where my brain says, "No more. You will only hurt your manuscript from here on out." For example, I was aiming at getting 10 pages done last Saturday and I hit this wall at the 4 page point. So I listened. I walked downtown and bought Korean food. And it was lovely.

Also, I found this on Laini Taylor's blog and it very much encapsulates where I'm at right now.

But it will be done. It will be done.