Jun 28, 2012

odds and ends: compliments of my revision brain

This will be a mostly odds and ends blog post, since I have a case of "revision brain." Which means it probably resembles something like a half-eaten, undercooked omelet. Torn to shreds, with no room left for anything else.

Fortunately, this round of revisions for LUMINANCE HOUR seems to be the last. And light. Which is good, because life decided now would be a good time for ALL THE THINGS TO HAPPEN. Like moving. And having other projects due. And photographing tons of summer weddings.

Husband and I are still trying to woo the Siamese beauty. Which really means we sit on our porch clutching pieces of leftover shrimp and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes while trying not to move for fear of terrifying the kitty. We've had surprising progress actually. She's moved her way up to the porch now and is comfortable eating out of husband's hand.

Baby steps. Just like coaxing a manuscript out of hiding and taming it into a novel. It's a long, slow process.

Music-wise, I've been really fascinated with Jenny Dalton, a very gifted songwriter/pianist. Here's some of my favorite songs by her:

Looted Fires

Colorado Song

Jun 26, 2012

my husband: the cat whisperer

For some reason I have a soft spot for blue-eyed creatures. Huskies. Siamese. My husband! There's a very beautiful but skinny Siamese stray who's been hanging around our apartment. The first few times I sighted it it ran like hellhounds were on its tail. Even when I had pieces of turkey. The husband is a good deal better at wrangling wild creatures and earning their trust. Over the past few days we've been luring it with milk and shrimp. It's even to the point where it will--very tentatively--eat out of our hands. 

Time is not on our side, however, we have only a month left in this apartment before we must move. I'm really hoping Siamese kitty warms up to us before then. We'll see. It already came back today expecting more food.

Have any of you guys had experience coaxing strays? If so please share. 

Here kitty, kitty.

My Volvo makes a great cat-cave.

Jun 25, 2012

will work for food.

I don't spend all of my time writing. Consequently, Husband likes to wrangle me into his wedding photography business. Since we're married and share the moolah with each other, he doesn't actually give me money to lug around cameras and snap pictures of smiling brides. I do however, get paid.

In food.

Delicious, delicious Korean food.

We had a wedding in Atlanta this past weekend and took advantage of the Korean neighborhood there to get some kalbi and dolsot bibimbap! Unfortunately, Charleston isn't quite there with Korean BBQ offerings, and I've been seriously craving some since our return from South Korea almost 2 years ago.

I will say though, it was a smelly, smelly car ride home! Kimchi is very... er... distinct in that department.

Okay, I have to go to the editing cave to perfect LUMINANCE HOUR! *scuttles off*

Jun 19, 2012

A to Z

Remember these? The old questionnaires you filled out and posted on your blogs/Myspace/Facebook? I came across one on Jen Hayley's blog and decided it would be a fun exercise so you guys can get to know me a little better. Me and all of my mortal idiosyncrasies.

Here goes:

A is for age: 25
B is for breakfast today: Cracklin' Oat Bran. I splurged... but it's so good!
C is for currently craving: An overseas adventure. Maybe a tour of South America. Or a few weeks in Iceland. 
D is for dinner tonight: Probably leftovers. Husband is going to an all boys' BBQ. No cooking for me!
E is for favorite type of exercise: I love jogging. It's usually a great time for brainstorming and just stepping away. Plus it helps me fit into my clothes.
F is for an irrational fear: I hate, hate, HATE calling strangers on the phone to make appointments or ask questions about something. This is why I let my hair grow out so much (I don't like calling the salon).
G is for gross food: Cooked raisins. Ugh. It makes me queasy just writing it.
H is for hometown: Charleston, South Carolina.
I is for something important: God. Husband. Family. (Okay, that's three).
J is for current favorite jam: I'm really digging Jenny Dalton right now. I love the piano and strings and drums and yearning female vocals! Colorado Song and Looted Fires are probably my favorites of hers.
K is for kids: Did someone say kids? *hides*
L is for current location: At my desk, watching the infernal fruit flies evade my clever traps.
M is for the most recent way you spent money: I finally finished putting together a photo album of our year in South Korea and ordered it through iPhoto. You know... only two years later.
N is for something you need: I'm pretty un-needy right now. And thankful for it.
O is for occupation: Making up stories and spending hours upon hours typing them. Also, tweeting.
P is for pet peeves: When people slow almost to a stop when turning right. You don't have to stop. You just have to slow. I'm not the most patient driver in the world...
Q is for a quote: "All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know." -J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories"
R is for random fact about you: I sang Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral when I was 17.
S is for favorite healthy snack: Pickled beets with feta cheese sprinkled on top.
T is for favorite treat: A Chai latte from my favorite coffee shop.
U is for something that makes you unique: I was a competitive synchronized swimmer for five years.
V is for favorite vegetable: Butternut squash. Or Pumpkin.
W is for today’s workout: Oh yeah... thanks for reminding me. 1 mile walk. 1 mile jog. 10 crunches.
X is for X-rays you’ve had: I sprained my ankle while skipping merrily down my grandmother's hallway when I was in middle school. And I'm sure I've had a bunch of teeth X-rays done at the dentist.
Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Finding ICEE pops at Walmart and reading the Zombies vs Unicorns anthology.
Z is for your time zone: EST. 

Jun 17, 2012

the power of fathers

Many times in YA fiction, parents get a bad rap. In all of my manuscripts the parents are either:

A) absent
B) angry
C) alcoholic
D) abusive
E) all of the above

While there are reasons for this (it allows for the teenage main characters to have more independence and agency), I often feel guilty for casting parents in such a negative light. This is because I myself had amazing parents--thought you might not immediately think that if you were to read my novels.

So. Disclaimer. My novel parents in NO WAY reflect my REAL parents.

My real parents aren't perfect, but they're pretty wonderful despite that.

And, seeing as it's Father's Day, I'll brag a bit more on my dad.

My dad taught me to appreciate vinyl records and classic rock. My dad sat down every evening after work and patiently tutored me through pre-Algebra even when I burst into tears and ranted about how unfair life was (Math was never, and still shall never be, my friend). My dad slipped us fish-sticks and boiled shrimp whenever my mom worked nights at the hospital. My dad was right there behind me teaching me to ride my bike, running for blocks and blocks until I finally learned to balance on my own. My dad always made time for me, no matter what else was ailing him.

But I think the most important thing my dad did was this: he believed in me. (And still does).

When husband and I decided to get married at the age of 21, my dad believed I was making the right choice when others said we were too young. When I decided to move halfway around the world and teach English, he even traveled over and visited for a week.

He believed in my dream to become a writer (even though he would at times tease me about writing about talking animals). I think this is one of the bigger gifts he gave me-- not pressuring me to "get a practical major" or "find a good job." When I told him I was going to major in creative writing, he nodded and said, "Okay. Good."

For good or for bad, our fathers have a huge impact on our lives. If I hadn't had a dad who was so supportive and encouraging, I might not have made the lunge for my dreams.

So, thanks, Dad (I know you'll read this!). You did good.

Me and my dad in Korea

Jun 13, 2012

back to it

Apparently four days is all I can last sans writing (without a larger purpose, such as a tropical vacation, to distract me). In this time I:

-cleaned the house

-made these delicious coconut-lime sugar cookies:

-gave Goodwill about 1/4th of my closet! It's amazing how many clothes I collect that I no longer wear. About two trashbags full.

-went house-shopping (the very word sends me into cold, non-committal sweats!)

-celebrated my Grandma's 80th birthday. She got an iPad and is incredibly excited about it. In fact, she's probably reading this post on said iPad. Hi, Grandma! Let's hope that when I'm 80 I'll be as spry and technically saavy as her!

-I've also started watching Band of Brothers for the first time. I have a feeling that I will be crying before the end.

Despite all of these wonderful distractions, I can't get this certain storyline out of my head. So I'm in the very early brainstorming/tinkering processes of a story I'm really, really stoked about. I probably won't get too far with it, since I have about a bajillion (or, really, four) other projects that take priority at the moment. But I will finish it. Even if that day happens to be three, four or five years from now!

I have yet to give this project a nickname. I'll have to come up with one. Right now the file name is Tattoos and Motorcycles (which is a bit long, but it will have to do for now).

Jun 12, 2012

where i gush about Avengers and certain songs

Happy Tuesday. What have you guys been up to this week?

I finally "finished" CutthroatNovel last Friday. It's sitting pretty at about 82,000 words. It's also snuggling up to some beta readers at the moment and I'm keeping my distance for a bit. This means I have a spot of free time, a spot I've been thoroughly enjoying for the past few days. 

I've also been discovering some wonderful new music and treating myself to a movie or two. Last week husband and I went to see The Avengers (a bit late, yes, but to be fair we've both been a tad busy!). When I first heard it was coming out I must admit I wasn't tugging at the bit to see it. Superhero movies (while good) have a terrible habit of becoming predictable/repetitive.

But-- The Avengers was magic! Really. Joss Whedon captured my loyalties long ago with Firefly and Serenity (only one of the best sci-fi works of all time...), and it was a big selling point for me that he'd written/directed Avengers. It shone through majestically in the movie. There were kickass women. Clever quips. Wonderful inter-character relationships. Fully realized arcs for the wide array of characters (I can't even imagine how much creative coordination that took).

I walked out of that movie theater wanting very badly to be a superhero. Which means, of course, that Joss Whedon did his as per usual fantastic job. Stuff like that makes me want to write for television/movies. Maybe one day.

Let's see. Music. Here's some of the songs I've had on repeat for the last few days:

Hem - Half Acre

Iron and Wine - Boy With A Coin

If you like them, go buy them!! Good music deserves good money (plus I want these wonderful artists making MORE fabulous music).

Jun 8, 2012

two things

1. Today I'm over at Krazy Book Lady's blog giving my two cents about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing (I've done both!). So go on over, check it out, comment. Etc!

2. I'm on the last and final scene of CutthroatNovel! (AAAAH!) And I stumbled across this video in a bit of my research. I've always been curious about what American English sounds like to foreigners. Harsh? Flowy? Turns out it's a bit of both:

An Italian guy produced an entire song that sounds like English but is actually gibberish. Listening to it is odd, because you feel like you should know what they're saying.

Okay, back to finishing this draft!

Jun 7, 2012

almost there.

As predicted I reached 80k today. And over. But the story isn't quite finished yet.

If I could describe how it feels... well, I tried scouring Pinterest for pictures people clawing through deserts and dying of thirst. But Pinterest is not a place of suffering. It's a happy place. With pictures of wine coolers and lovers leaving a pairing column of footprints as they saunter down the beach.

So yes. It feels like being a dehydrated man, inching his way painfully toward an oasis. Pull by pull. Grain by sandy grain.

Tomorrow then.

Jun 5, 2012

piccolo spoleto short story

Last Saturday I was able to give a reading of a 1000 word short story I wrote called The Leaping Hour for Piccolo Spoleto (an annual arts festival here in Charleston). It's about time-traveling smugglers. And you can see me read it here:

Yes. I stand in front of the microphone most of the time. But you can hear well enough, and that's all that matters!

Jun 4, 2012

excuse me while i fangirl.

It's little secret that I'm a (gushing) fangirl of Maggie Stiefvater. I've been following her blog for over three years now, and seen her explode into the YA scene with fantastic writing, humor and music. Her Wolves of Mercy Falls series (Shiver, Linger, Forever) was a pretty crucial series in helping me realize that I could write commercially and keep a poetic voice. And The Scorpio Races... so good.

So it stands to reason that I'm very much looking forward to The Raven Boys- a four book series that sounds like it will engulf The Dark is Rising epic-ness proportions. The book isn't coming out until the fall (curses!) but Maggie is giving 10 ARCs away on her website. Which is (my selfish) part of the reason for sharing this book trailer with you:

Oh my goodness.

How much are you guys looking forward to The Raven Boys?

Jun 1, 2012

june 2nd reading

If you happen to be in or around Charleston SC tomorrow (June 2nd), you can come to my Piccolo Spoleto reading. I was asked by the people who run the festival's Fiction Open to contribute a 1000 word short story that begins with the line, "I ducked into the alleyway..."

Naturally, I wrote a piece that's YA. And fantastical.

So come on down to Blue Bicycle Books tomorrow at 5pm to meet me and some other authorly people and hear our different takes on the prompt line. I'll even be wearing a dress!