Jul 31, 2012

personal assistants

Sometimes writing is hard when you have such attentive helpers. Especially when they think your hair is delicious.

Jul 25, 2012

feline fun

It's July. Which means that here in Charleston it is very, very hot.

My neighborhood's stray cats know exactly how to stay cool:

Now if only they made those in human size.

Jul 24, 2012

evil and heroes: what i've learned from aurora and the dark knight rises

Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in stories. It's easy to think in hyperboles and get lost in worlds that seem so much more extreme and exciting and thrilling than our own. It's easy to get stuck in the day to day. To get bored and jaded by the world: the 9-5, the morning coffee, happy hour and late-night sitcoms.

It's easy to forget what the world is capable of, until suddenly it isn't. When the news stories flash up about gun massacres and untimely deaths. When things you think are only horrible enough for movies or fiction become terribly, horribly real.

I haven't written anything about the Colorado shooting yet, but I've been truly, deeply sickened by what happened. It's so hard for me to wrap my mind around the realities of it: a man walking into a crowded theatre full of men, women and children and opening fire. Who would do such a thing? What could warp and scar a man so badly that he was driven to such things?

Husband and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises this morning. I've always been a huge fan of the series... there's just something about these movies that set them apart. Christopher Nolan does a very excellent job of portraying evil. Of showing the chaos and darkness that people are capable of on a grandiose scale. In The Dark Knight he perfectly presented a man who only wanted to watch the world burn. In The Dark Knight Rises he shows the power of chaos and anarchy.

But Nolan doesn't stop there. He also shows us that we don't have to abide that darkness. We can stand up to it. Even if there is a cost. A sacrifice. Especially so. I think, this is the truest and most powerful definition of a hero: one who protects others at his or her own expense.

Evil exists in our world. Villains are real. They are chaos and darkness. They are bullets and body armor in a movie theatre crowded with innocent civilians.

Heroes are real too. They exist in people like the 3 men who died by shielding their girlfriends with their own bodies in that movie theatre. Like the 13-year-old-girl who tried to save a 6-year-old through CPR.

It's good to remember these things. That fictional stories like Batman echo real truths.

There is darkness in the world. But people have the power, the choice, to rise above it.

Jul 23, 2012

on the verge of book 2

As I write this I'm standing on the edge, gazing down into the deep, plunging abyss.

The edge, of course, is LUMINANCE HOUR 2 and the deep, plunging abyss are all the words I haven't written yet!

That's... a long way down.

These cliffs aren't foreign to me. I've stood on them many times before, when the stories I dreamed up were no more that images swirling inside my head, waiting to be planted to the page, word by laborious word. I've jumped and let the fragments of words piece themselves into sentences, scenes and stories. It's a really cool thing to see, to realize the world that sprang to life from inside your head.

But sequels... Sequels are strange beasts. You have to take the plot and character arcs you tied up in a neat little bow in book one and unravel them all over again. You have to push your characters and your story further without being gimmicky or predictable. You have to challenge your world-building, your writing, your plot twists and take them to the next level. Add all this with the pressure of writing under contract (with deadlines and editors and fans all piercing you with invisible stares) and you have yourself a book 2 writing scenario.

I'm scaring myself just writing about it!

Apparently I'm not alone in the fear of starting a sequel. A lot of the Luckies (YA and MG authors debuting in 2013) have blogged about this very issue: the paralysis of the blank page. Erin Bowman, author of TAKEN, wrote a great post here about why starting a new novel is terrifying. Ever. Single. Time. It doesn't matter if you've written one book or twenty. Every new project has it's own new string of challenges.

So I'll stand at the edge of this sequel cliff and say, "Okay, Book 2! Bring it on!"

Jul 20, 2012

excuses and recipes.

Happy Friday, loyal readers! You're probably wondering why I haven't been posting quite as much lately (or not, but I'd like to assume you are).

Well, truth be told, I've been swallowed in the revision cave again (this time for Sekrit Project/Cutthroat Novel!), which means that I don't have much leftover creative energy to dedicate to my blog. Plus there's real life: ie. moving from an apartment to a house. Cleaning.

Every time I sit down and stare at this blank box, that's exactly what my brain looks like too! But not to fear. I'll be finished with revisions next week, and this will hopefully leave me with enough excess creativity to entertain you here!

I did try out two new recipes last week though. Both of which are superb! The first is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. A southern classic: Chicken and Dumplings. Made with Apple Cider!!! Soooo good!

The second recipe is a bit healthier and so, so delicious. It tastes very Mediterranean. Chicken patties with a mint Greek yogurt sauce. Yum. You can make them by themselves or eat them with pita bread. Delicious either way.

Jul 15, 2012

top scarring movie moments of my childhood

A few weekends ago I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman, which I was an overall fan of (there were a few non-sequiturs that I won't go into here). But there was a point in the movie that triggered very traumatic flashbacks for me. Closer to the beginning of the movie Bella--I mean, Snow White--is riding a white horse through the wilderness in a medievalized version of a car chase. They end up at the borders of the dark forest and her pale steed gets swallowed in a mud pit and struggles to get out.

As soon as I saw this scene, I immediately thought of Atreyu and his horse Artax, who dies in the swamps of sadness in the exact same way.

Which brings me to my fabulous list of scarring movie moments:

1. Neverending story.

I don't even remember how old I was when I first saw the Neverending Story. But I do know I was a wee-bitty thing, small enough to forget the plot of the entire movie but aware enough to remember that scene in the most scarring way possible. Retrospectively, I think the reason that this moment was so scarring upon my impressionable self is because it was my first real introduction to depression, and the fact that sometimes, people (and animals) do give up fighting. Swallowed in their own despair.

2. Galaxy Quest Aliens.

I couldn't even remember the name of this movie, but this clip did wonders to enlighten me to Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest" theory. I probably spent the night in somber sadness for the cannibalized alien. I've hardened up a bit over the years (a fact my poor characters can attest to).

3. Tauntaun guts.

I don't consider myself an incredibly squeamish person (insert photo proof below), but I will always, always remember the Tauntaun guts from The Empire Strikes Back. Looking back they really aren't that gross, but I couldn't get over how much they looked like bloated worms. Urgh.

And yet I'll eat this:

Yes. That's a giant spider. Nope. I'm not squeamish.

4. The Sixth Sense

This entire movie is a mine-field of scarring movie moments. In fact, I can't even bring myself to scour the net for these moments because I don't want any more terrifying suicidal moms and boys with half-missing heads haunting my dreams. No thank you. It kind of falls into the movie category of I Am Legend in that I love the overall movie, but I don't appreciate being startled/half-terrified by ghosts/zombified people.

5. The Ring

Oh dear God if there's one movie I wish I could go back in time and unsee, this would be it. I went along for a friend's 13th birthday party and promptly learned that my psyche wasn't built to handle horror movies, especially of the supernatural sort. This entire movie was like a nuclear bomb of scarring.

I'm freaking myself out by just typing about it.

I asked around on Twitter about people's top scarring childhood movies. Gremlins was a popular response. As was Jaws. What about y'all? Are there any movie moments that impacted you in a bad way when you were younger? Do they still effect you now? Or do they seem silly?

Jul 9, 2012

intuition: the difference between flexibility and roadkill

My new writing goal: revamp Cutthroat novel by the end of the summer. I've had all my wonderful betas and critiquers get back to me with feed back, and after compiling all their comments and adding some of my own, I have 463 comments to address while whipping it into "letting my agent see it shape."


I think though, that I'm getting to a better point when it comes to mentally handling critiques and revisions. To create anything worthwhile you have to be flexible, willing to listen to others and willing to change things that need to be fixed.

There is however, a fine line between being flexible and being roadkill. I probably won't take every single suggestion that my betas give me. And I shouldn't, because different people will often have vastly different opinions when it comes to a character or a plot line. It's up to me to figure out which comments will make my piece stronger, etc.

And sometimes that job is hard enough to make my head hurt. I can't always describe how I determine this. Mostly it's a matter of intuition. Of feeling in my core whether or not it's something that will make my story shine true.

Anyway, this is me rambling. Here. Listen to a song by the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs that I'm currently obsessing over:

Jul 5, 2012

headless torso. pretty sandals. fair trade.

While making up stories about imaginary people is my day job, I also moon-light as many other things. A preschool teacher, a wedding photographer, and (most recently) a headless model!

My sister-in-law and I are surprisingly similar. When we first met (and she grilled me with about 150 questions because I was dating her little brother) we realized with eerie surprise that we are like long lost twins. Both of us had dreams of becoming novelists and working abroad with NGOs (non-government operations). Both of us wanted huskies and a massive horse ranch in Montana. Both of us had the dream destination of New Zealand.

Well. I became the novelist and she became the adventurous NGO worker in El Alto, Bolivia. It's a town where you cannot breathe because it's at 14,000 feet. 

Give me oxygen!

Oxygen tanks are worth it when this is the view from your porch.

Anyway, adventurous sister-in-law lives in South America and works with women who are trapped in a pretty vicious cycle of poverty and prostitution. For the past few years she's been involved in putting together a program to teach these women how to sew purses (and thus help them earn an alternative income, which makes it miles easier to quit working the streets).

These purses are beautiful, and you can buy them here at http://sutisana.com/. You can also see my headless torso modeling said purses.

Also, on the fair-trade kick, I bought these amazing sandals today:

They're called Ssekos and they're pretty awesome. You can buy interchangeable laces and tie them in tons of different ways. PLUS when you buy them you help women in Uganda earn a living. Like TOMS, but prettier. :)

Jul 3, 2012

finished. again.

Sometimes, for kicks, I go back and read my blog posts from a year ago to see what I was doing.

It's funny how cyclical life is. This time last year I was finishing up edits for my super-agent for Luminance Hour. This time this year I'm finishing up edits for my super-editor for Luminance Hour. Hopefully (hopefully) this will be the last time I'll have to revise Luminance Hour. I would've said edit, but there's this lovely little stage called copy-edits that's looming in my future!!

I know my journey with Luminance Hour is far from over, but it's still very strange to be "almost done" with the brunt of the manuscript work. After over two years of writing, revising, writing, revising... This whole writing a book thing is not for the weak or faint-of-heart.

Good thing I finished in time for the 4th of July!