Nov 26, 2012

one step forward. two steps back.

The title of this post is what it has felt like trying to get out the rough draft of my current WIP.

I am a word-count ho. This means that I measure a lot of my writing productivity on how many words I type out in a day, a week, a month, etc. Sometimes this is a good thing, because it forces me to write when I would rather slouch across the couch and watch TV. Other times it is bad.

How can writing lots of words be bad? You might ask. Isn't that your job?

Good point. And yes it is. But my job as an author isn't just writing out a bunch of words. It's writing out a bunch of good words that tie together into a cohesive and hopefully emotionally significant story.

Whenever I get too focused on words, I sometimes forget to stop and make sure they're good. I don't take the time I really need to go back and read what I wrote and reflect on where the story needs to go.

When I started out on Book 2 (ALL THAT GLOWS's sequel), I was determined to write straight through. I wouldn't take time to revise or rewrite. I would get the bulk of the writing out of the way and revise later.

This did not happen.

Around page 75 or so I realized that in order for me to figure out the end of the story, I needed to fix up the beginning (ie revise and figure out what the heck is going on). I tried to follow an outline. I really did. But I will always be a pantser (organic plot finder) when it comes down to it.

As of now, I have about 120 pages in my sequel word document. And 40 pages of scenes I've deleted. It's taken me about two months to work up to this point. I got really upset when I compared my speeds to writing the rough draft of ALL THAT GLOWS (which only took me about four months, and I was working full time). But then husband reminded me that I didn't go back and revise. So I'm guessing this only means good things. It's showing my growth as a writer, that I'm going back and finding my story at the very roots and growing it from there. Something I didn't do the first time around with ALL THAT GLOWS. Hopefully this will cut back the amount of revision I have to do post fact.


But right now I can't worry about that. I can only focus on making my words count. Each and every one of them.

Nov 23, 2012

Lucky 13s Vlog

Today over at the Lucky 13s I made a very detailed vlog about the first "novel" I ever wrote. In my dad's old tax ledgers. It's kind of hilarious, if I do say so myself. So give it a watch.

Happy Black Friday! Try not to get trampled!

Nov 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all find yourselves surrounded by love and warmth this holiday season.

This time of year always has a way of jerking things into perspective for me. I've found that--often--no matter what the circumstances of my life--I can always find something that's not perfect. Or not completely the way I would wish it to be.

I want things I don't have. We all do, I know, but I feel that sometimes it's easier for me to focus on what I don't have then on what I do. Thanksgiving is a great reminder to put things in their place. To show me how much I've been blessed.

I love my husband, my family, my job. I'm not hungry. I have a roof over my head. I live in the number one tourist destination in America. And heck, I get to write books for HarperCollins (ie. live my childhood dream job).

And if I'm not thankful about that... then... well... that's pretty pathetic. So let me start my writing thankfuls here:

I'm thankful for my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin--who took a chance on ALL THAT GLOWS and rescued me like a drowning victim from the slushpile.

I'm thankful for my editor, Alyson Day--who also took a chance on Emrys and her story, and made my childhood dream of being published a reality.

I'm thankful for my critique partners, who have read my novels almost as much as me, and still don't want to throw them out of a window.

I'm thankful for the Lucky 13s, whose advice and support have helped keep me sane through the craziness that is pre-publication and sequel writing. *shudder*

I'm thankful for my husband, who has to put up with me and my craziness in pre-publication and sequel writing. And who loves me anyway.

I'm thankful for my parents, who taught me that anything is possible and that dreams are things to be chased, not laughed at. Who have supported me every step of the way.

I'm thankful for all of my writing teachers--Ms. Miles and Marjorie Wentworth and Bret Lott--for teaching me how to craft words and make them beautiful.

And I'm thankful for YOU, dear blog reader. Your comments and support make me feel much better about sending ALL THAT GLOWS into the wild next year. :)

Nov 20, 2012

in which i tell you what to do with that turkey carcass

Turkey day is almost here! It's one of my favorite parts of the year, the cusp of the holidays, when the air is crisp and the food is rich and I get to hang out with my family (I love them, I'm weird like that!). Also, I get a little break from the preschool, which is nice, and wedding season is pretty much over, which is even nicer! So I can focus purely on sequel writing.

It's been tough going so far, but I think I'm finally reaching a place in the manuscript where the story is starting to tie together and ends that looked loose are now beginning to twine (only took about 32,000+ words). We'll see if this feeling of general goodness lasts. Probably not. But I'll take it when I can.

On the house front I finally finished painting the daybed! Yay! It sits in the same room that the husband and I use for our office, so it's a little bit tempting to take a nap on.

It pretty much ended up the way I envisioned it: bright colors and a lovely, hand-crafted kantha quilt I found on Etsy (the most magical of websites). In addition to housing guests and taking naps, the bed has become a nice little reading nook for me.

As you can see I'm currently devouring Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight (ie trying not to cry whenever I read a sentence that is beautifully impossible. She has lot of those). It's one of those books that takes me back to the feeling I got when I was reading during childhood. There's something about them that draws me in. Makes me hungry for more, more, more. I've found that as I've grown older and become a more critical reader that books like these now seem rare. So when I find one that makes me turn pages long past my (admittedly early) bedtime, I must rejoice and shout it aloud to the world.

Well done, Laini.

Anyway, I also wanted to share with you guys a recipe for Turkey Soup!! Which is a great (and delicious) way to use every last remnant of that turkey carcass. My mom's been making it ever since I was a wee thing, and I've carried the tradition on into my own house.

Delicious Turkey Soup:

turkey bones                            2 ribs celery, chopped
4 qt. water                             1 c. rice (not cooked)

1 c. butter                             2 t. salt

1 c. flour                                      1/2 t. pepper

2 chopped onions                2 c. half n half OR 1 large can evaporated milk

3-4 carrots, sliced

Cook turkey in water using large pot, simmer for 1 hr. covered.  Pick meat off bones.  Measure broth and add water as needed to make 3 qt.  Heat butter in large  pot; add flour and cook over med heat to make light to med. colored roux, stirring often. Stir in veggies and cook another 10 min over med heat.  Slowly add broth (I use a whisk so it isn't lumpy);  add turkey, rice, salt & pepper;  bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 min.  Add milk and cook till heated through.

Also, note to self, when you decide to leave the leftover turkey meat outside for the stray cats to eat, you will wake up and find this in your yard instead.

Should've thought that one through.

Nov 12, 2012

yallfest. round 2.

So this weekend was YALLfest. And it was wonderful. And exhausting.

I had the same job as last year, which was taking care of the Green Room (ie. feeding the authors and making sure they have a nice place to relax between panels). I really loved being able to hang out in the same room as so many accomplished authors. The work of dragging a 35 pound coffee cambro and 10 pizza and 100 cans of soda up various flights of stairs was well worth being able to listen to their conversations and ask them for advice about the debut year.

One particular thing I enjoyed the most was listening to authors talk about writing books 2 and 3 in their series (probably because that's where I am in the process right now). Apparently it's just as hard for everyone else as it is for me. Even New York Times Bestsellers!

I also got to meet some online friends in person for the first time. Like Wendy Higgins, the author of Sweet Evil (which is up for the second round of the Goodreads Choice awards if you want to go vote for it!).

Wendy was even sweeter in person than she is online (and that's saying something). We had a bit of HarperTeen bonding time.

I also got to meet some of the Lucky 13s I've been able to bond with this year! Ashley Elston and Elle Cosimano and I got some dinner and drinks together and talked about the debut year.

By the end of the weekend I was utterly exhausted. The Starbucks barista even told me I looked the part when I returned the coffee cambro. But, just like last year, it was utterly worth it.

And if you were wondering, being a not-yet-published debut author in a room full of 29 New York Times Bestsellers feels a little bit like this:

I am only slightly kidding. :)

Nov 8, 2012

R&R: yankee style

About a week and a half ago the husband and I made a rare "just-for-fun" escape to the north. Our nation's great capital!! Washington DC. The trip was a bit poorly timed due to Hurricane Sandy, but we enjoyed our time up there all the same.  

We stayed with my critique partner, who lives in a wonderfully colorful neighborhood just a bike-ride away from all of the cool sights! I loved all of the row-houses and all of their character. There was also a really amazing coffee shop just around the corner where you could sit leisurely and enjoy cups of Counter Culture Coffee (the best!).

I have nothing but love for this place. If you're ever in DC you should check it out!! (They even have homemade Earl Gray Gin! I never got to try it, but I'm still incredibly intrigued.)
Our first day there we had pretty decent weather, so we decided to ride bikes and look at all of the monuments. 

We pretty much literally biked everywhere. Down the mall, over to Georgetown. We even pedaled all the way to Old Town Alexandria in Virginia! The Mt. Vernon biking trail is incredibly lovely and long.  I remember jogging on it in high school during the summers I stayed with my Grandma in Alexandria. It was just as good this time.

We took in the monuments and the fall colors. (Which we squealed and stared at like southern savages. You just don't get such amazing color down here in the south!)

Pretty leaves!

I took a picture of these berries because they were such strange colors. Does anyone know what kind they are?

And of course we had to take the obligatory "this-monument-would-make-a-great-hat" picture.

On Sunday we went to the National Cathedral and took in all of its very pretty stained glass and quirks. We spotted the Darth Vader Gargoyle and got an impromptu tour of the building by a very eager congregation member! It's amazing to me how close the architects and builders of this church came to imitating the old Gothic European style. But even with all of our modern machines and resources it took almost 100 years to build. I can't even IMAGINE how much work and dedication it took the medieval architects...


This scene reminds me of something from Beauty and the Beast!

Then the weather took a turn for the worse.

Sandy arrived! There was a lot of rain and wind and cold. But that didn't stop us from walking 6 blocks through the storm for Ethiopian food:

Husband was born and mostly raised in Ethiopia, so this food is close to his heart. We don't have any Ethiopian restaurants in Charleston, which was why we decided to walk through a hurricane for it. It was worth it.

So that was DC. A trip cut short by Sandy! Thankfully we weren't too inconvenienced by her. We even caught our flight back home on time, which was miraculous compared to most peoples' experiences. Best wishes to those still dealing with her aftermath!


Apparently this sort of behavior is frowned upon...

Nov 5, 2012

Candy. Zombies. YALLfest.

Hello, hello! And a happy Monday to you all!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Halloween. I got to go Trick-or-Treating for the first time in years with my two and a half-year-old cousin. And I must say, I forgot how scary it can get for little, little kids. One of the porches we went to sported a mechanical scarecrow that pulled off its own head and laugh maniacally while its eyes glowed red. Which meant that I had to tote my cousin around on my hip the rest of the night. Poor guy.

Though I must say, I understand parent tax now. I might have snitched a thing or two out of this bucket.

Too be fair, that is a LOT of Reese's. ;)

So many things are happening this week! The whirlwind never seems to stop! It does seem fitting though that on the tail end of Halloween, my short story Hairline Cracks is being release in the anthology The Fall. There are scary, monstery things in the story. Plus some blood and guts. You can read it and a whole bunch of other cool stories by authors like Mindy McGinnis, Jean Oram and RC Lewis and many, many more HERE.

And, just in case you forgot what the cover looked like, here's another glimpse of the ominous awesomeness!

On a lighter and more pie-filled note: THIS WEEKEND IS YALLFEST! (I'm excited, can't you tell?)

You guys, last year was so much fun! There was pie and books and much celebration about all things young adult! And this year is going to be even better! There are 50 different authors coming in to share their thoughts on everything from spaceships and zombies to movie adaptations.

So if you're coming drop me a note and I'll keep an eye out for you! Last year I met a lot of faces I only knew from the online realm. And it was fabulous.