Friday, July 31, 2009

Warm Fuzzy Preserves - Anybody Know Where I Can Buy Some?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to store some confidence and good feelings for all the crappy days? When you're feeling down, just pop open a jar of warm fuzzy preserves and you're good to go? It's amazing how fleeting those feelings can be.

Several rejections on my query, combined with a whole slew of other things that have been weighing down on me lately, got me thinking about how quickly we can lose the confidence that’s so necessary in this business. It amazes me how one day I can read something I’ve written and think it’s total crap, but go back to it a week later and think it’s brilliant. And, of course, that works in the reverse as well, probably more frequently. Unfortunately.

It’s difficult to maintain confidence in your own work, especially with the abundance of exceptional work already out there. I often find myself comparing my work to others, even though there should be no comparison. Other than the technical aspect, my writing should be my own and whatever so-n-so does over there, should have no bearing on whether my work is good enough. Yet, even knowing that, I tend to hold myself to unreasonable standards, which only contribute to those ‘am I good enough’ feelings.

Negativity is effortless for me. I wish I could be the kind of person that always looks on the bright side of things. I try, I really do, but some days, the dark, self-destructive thoughts just overpower everything else. Fortunately, I’m blessed to have a loving and supportive family and an undeniable faith in something greater than myself that give me a safe place to fall when I’m feeling the worst. And being able to express myself creatively has provided me with an outlet for those dark thoughts that would otherwise stay locked inside.

Whether it’s through drawing, painting, or writing, the act of creating something has a way of pulling me out of those dark places. Maybe it’s the pride of knowing I made something beautiful, in my mind at least. Maybe it’s that little feeling of power that I’m capable of creation. Whatever it is, creativity is my most effective tool for bringing me back to reality, even if it means I’m totally immersed in some imaginary world.

And of course, I couldn’t do it without all the amazing friends I’ve made through blogging. You guys are all so supportive and totally awesome!

So, do you ever have those days where you feel like nothing you ever do will be good enough? And what do you do to combat it? Is losing yourself in your work enough or do you find you have to step away and come back when you feel like you can have a more objective perspective?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Best Day Ever

Saturday, July 18th, was the Spongebob Day of Happiness at our local Borders bookstore. I didn't know about it before I got there, but, lucky me, I promised my son I would take him to get a new Calvin and Hobbes book if he completed certain chores for me, so we didn't miss it.

We were there for about an hour, just browsing, and the whole time we were there, they had the soundtrack for The Spongebob Squarepants Movie playing. Fortunately for me, my kids love Spongebob, so I have that soundtrack memorized and found myself singing along quite a few times. I got a few strange looks, but whatever. And now I've had The Best Day Ever in my head ever since then and thought I'd share it with all of you. Don't you feel special? Don't worry. It'll be gone tomorrow.

So, why is it the best day ever? Today is the first day of school, I don't have to go to work, and I am completely and utterly alone. Seven hours of uninterrupted writing time. Yeah, I know. Totally awesome!

Guess I'll go check out some blogs. ;D

Sorry, folks. I sent Spongebob home. No more singing today. It's unnatural for anyone to be that happy. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Teaser - You're Outta this World

I’ve been doing some horrible, horrible things to my characters lately, and it’s kind of bumming me out. So, I went through my finished novel, Embrol, searching for a happy moment to share and came up with the scene below. Now, I know it’s not a happy moment, but it’s one of my favorite scenes, so it makes me happy, and it is all about me, after all. ;)

Just a little setup: Olivia’s mother was killed in a car accident, and she’s dealing with it, but Jack, the boy responsible for the accident, won’t leave her alone. He insists he has something important to tell her, and he’s very persistent, so she finally agrees to hear what he has to say to get him off her back. He’s supposed to meet her after her last class. Oh, and she thinks he’s totally hot, but desperately wants to hate him for his role in her mother’s death. Instead she feels drawn to him, and it’s really starting to annoy her.

And go!

Removed. Check back for more Tuesday Teasers. :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

I was awarded the Superior Scribbler Award by my super awesome crit buddy and one of my favorite people ever, Rebecca Knight. Her blog is a must read, so check it out. Thanks, Becca! You’re the coolest!

Here are the rules:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

My five picks are:

All have fabulous blogs, and I am repeatedly inspired and amused by their posts.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

This one was another all-nighter. And I’m really starting to like present tense, despite my previous irritation with it.

I’m not very good at the book review thing. Feels too much like a book report, and there’s something about those that just makes my brain want to shut down.

But I will say that the pacing was incredible, and the love story is super intense. Some other reviews have said it was scary, and I didn’t really get that. BUT, I’m a thriller/horror movie junky and nothing has really scared me since that kid in Pet Sematary with the scalpel. I haven’t seen that movie in like twenty years, but the image of that kid still gives me the creeps and makes me want to hide my ankles. :)

My feelings on the ending are mixed, but the girl who showed me where to find it in the bookstore, said, “It was so good and when I got to the end, I was like ‘Whoa.’” So make of that what you will. :) Overall, I loved it and will probably read it again, which is the true test for me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Since I didn't make much progress this week, I'm taking one from ElanaJ's playbook and reporting on what I learned this week instead.

First off, I learned this morning that it doesn't matter how much you want a cold Dr. Pepper. If you put it in the freezer and forget about it overnight, it's so not worth it. Ugh! And that's only a small part of it.

Most of all, I learned that I have some really great friends out there, and I'm so grateful for all of you and your support. Some days, your kind words mean more than you could ever know. Hope you're all having a fantabulous Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Music to Move Worlds

Have you ever been driving down the road, listening to the radio, and that song comes on? You know, the one that drains all the tension from your body and puts a smile on your face. You crank up the volume, to share with the cars around you, because that song is so awesome, and you know everyone else will love it as much as you do. And for a few minutes at least, you can relax and enjoy the concert of one, starring you, of course. :)

Maybe that song triggers a memory. Whenever I hear Don’t Know What You Got (Till it’s Gone) by Cinderella, I’m transported back to my junior high dances, and I sigh and think, ‘I love this song’. Or maybe that song sets your mind free and you can think deeper and more freely than you normally would. Whatever the result, you feel a physical change from that song.

Music has played a huge role in my life. I grew up watching musicals, and I’ve probably seen or listened to Annie and The Sound of Music at least 100 times each. My mother was always singing or whistling, which is something I picked up on. Though, my kids usually just look bewildered and stare at me like I’m crazy when something they say activates that part of my brain, and I belt out some show tune tidbit.

Now, please don’t think I’m saying I could ever sing on Broadway or anywhere public. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly bad, but that doesn’t mean I’m good either. I’m in that middle ground. Somewhere between the contestants on American Idol that are so incredibly awesome you’re too stunned to speak, and the ones that are so terrible, you can’t help wondering why no one loved them enough to tell they were awful before they humiliated themselves on national television. Sometimes, that show is just so sad.

With the influence music has had on my life, it’s only natural it would play a role in my writing as well. I’ve found that when I’m stuck on a particular point, if I turn on certain songs, it all starts to flow again. Granted, it doesn’t work every single time, but it works most of the time.

Though I have very broad tastes in music, ranging from Bach and Mozart to Pink Floyd and Metallica, my favorite thing to listen to while I’m writing is Evanescence, especially the Open Door album. I don’t know what it is, but it gets me in that groove, and it just feels like my story. There’s no other way to describe it. Even when I’m listening to it in the car, I can’t help thinking about what’s happening next, and how I’m going to work that scene.

So, I want to know. Does music influence your writing? Do the words flow better with something humming in the background or do you need complete silence? And what’s in your playlist?

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Moving to Antarctica

125 below zero has to be better than this.

Okay, so it wasn't technically this hot, but the fact that it registered that even for a few minutes is a little nauseating.

Hello. My name is Abby. And I'm a Lurker.

Over on the QueryTracker blog, there's a really great post about commenting on agent blogs and leaving comments that will be intriguing enough to motivate readers and/or agents to check out your blog.

I personally like to lurk, most of the time. I don't usually comment unless I feel like what I have to say is pertinent or funny, and the things I think are funny, don't always come across as funny to others, even in a face to face conversation. I find that my husband is laughing at me just as often as with me. So, I don't comment much. I know I should, and it will only help my platform (currently my least favorite word), but in the real world, I can't jump into a conversation of strangers, and say something witty and memorable. I like to really think about what I'm going to say and analyze it death first. Unless I know you well, and then I've been told to 'just shut up already' pretty regularly.

Anyway. On some of these blogs, the regulars already seem to have a natural, flowing back and forth going, and I feel like I'm stepping into the middle of a conversation of old friends. Then I picture them all kind of looking at eachother, and with valley girl voices saying things like, "Who is that girl?" "She's wierd." "Did we ask her opinion?" "I don't think so." "Whatever." Lots of hair flipping and noses in the air.

Okay, so maybe the things that happen inside my head are a tad melodramatic, and the rational part of my brain knows that this is not happening. Well, maybe sometimes. See?! But I have an overactive imagination and I've had a lifetime to practice being a shy, withdrawn person and all the insecurities that come with that personality. So, maybe someday.

I know some of you are incredibly witty, and I'll read comment after comment of thoughtful, funny stuff. So, I'm wondering. Do you comment on every blog you read? Or are you like me, and just lurk until you find you have something incredibly insightful and hilarious to say? We're all incredibly insightful and hilarious, at least in our own minds, right?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Writer's Block






Argh! I got nothin'. Not even the desire to try. :-S

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WIP Wednesday - Brain Dead

I intended to do a regular post today (and yesterday), but my brain is fried, and I haven’t been able to write anything since Sunday. So, I will just do a quick progress report on my WIP and try again tomorrow.

Before the brain deadness set in on Monday, I added about 7,500 words to my WIP. I think I’ll be cutting about 1000 of those, because I’ve decided to go a different direction. That change in direction is probably what’s throwing me off, but I’ll get through it. It was bound to slow down at some point.

So, how are things going for all of you? Making progress? Brains fried from the summer heat?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Giveaway

Rebecca Knight is having a book giveaway contest over on her very cool blog. Head on over and snag yourself an entry.

Contest ends Monday, July 13, 2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WIP Wednesday - Order Has Been Restored

The main thing my husband learned, or was reminded of, during my grounding, is Abby gets a little cranky when she doesn’t have her creative outlet, whatever it may be at the time. So, after a super stressful day on Sunday, he caved and lifted the writing ban. Still no blogs, but if I wanted to write, he wouldn’t give me crap about it.

Having ignored my first novel for several days, my mind finally started moving forward to my next project. Now, I know it’s been advised not to write a sequel until the first one’s picked up, but that’s what’s demanding to be written right now, so that’s what I decided to work on.

I already had a measly 400 words down, from a few months ago, but it really was only a very rough beginning. And I’m not an outliner, but this part of the story has been brewing for months now, so when I sat down to write, it all just flowed out, sans outline. Since Sunday, I’ve written close to 7000 words, and I’m having a hard time stepping away from it.

Despite the obsession, I think the best thing to come out of all this progress, is I remembered how much I love to write. So much of my energy has been focused on revisions, and rewrites, and blogging, that I forgot what a release writing is for me.

So, for today, I feel a little more like I have balance, in my brain, at least, and writing has resumed its proper place in the natural order of things as my stress reliever instead of my stress creator. Oddly enough, I’m not even that concerned about whether I get a request from an agent on the first one. Those feelings will most likely change before tomorrow, but for now, I will bask in the glow of my fresh and shiny new WIP. :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pssh! Pacing Shmacing--Who Needs It?

One thing I learned about myself during my time of restriction, is no matter what form of entertainment is available, I will always be able to come up with creative ways to procrastinate housework. Major flaw? Probably. But I’m determined to work on it. As soon as I finish this chapter. :) So, while I didn’t accomplish as much I would have liked, I did get a lot more done than I normally would have, and I managed to find a lot of time to read.

The one major thing that kept me from reading The Hunger Games (THG) was the present tense. Not that there’s anything wrong with present tense, it’s just a little distracting when I’m in heavy editing mode on my own ms--which is in past tense--and I’m feeling compelled to edit instead of read. Obviously, I got over that, because I loved THG.

So, having finished THG and rid my mind of most, if not all, of my frustrations with present tense, I was able to read a book I bought a few months ago. I didn’t realize it was present tense until I got it home and I never got around to returning it. It turned out to be a pretty compelling read, even though I got to the end and noticed something one of the main characters did near the beginning was totally out of character. But, this post is not about characterization. We’ll save that for another day.

That book had a satisfying ending with just a tiny cliffhanger for the sequel, which I was pleased to note would be coming out in August. Not too terribly far away. So, imagine my surprise when I went to Borders last Thursday to pick up another book, and I saw it sitting there on the shelf. Of course, I snatched it up, only to find when I got home that it wasn’t supposed to come out until later this month. Apparently, someone at Borders screwed up. Oops. Worked out to my advantage, or so I thought.

With book one still fresh in my mind, I dove right into book two. As it started out, the pacing was steady. Not too fast, but without a lot of down time. Good tension, which I think is necessary for good pacing. And as the book moved along, the tension continued to build, but nothing was happening. I wanted to know how the book would end, but I found myself mentally screaming, Get on with it already! I’ve read about people throwing books across the room and always thought it sounded like such an extreme reaction, until now.

I did finish it. I even stayed up until 3:30, but only because I had to know how it ended, so I could just be done with it. I needed that closure, so my brain could rest. I actually skipped a whole chapter, to get to the end quicker, and sadly, I don’t think I missed anything. When the book finally ended--or didn’t really end, because there was almost zero resolution--I was so agitated it took me another thirty minutes to fall asleep.

Now, I know that this often happens with sequels, and that cliffhanger endings are more cliffhangery (that is so a word) than in the first one, but there’s nothing worse than getting to the end after feeling so tense for most of the book, and not getting that closure. It’s like all those stupid zombie movies where everyone dies in the end. So annoying. Sorry, I’m veering off subject here. No more ranting. I promise. :)

Anyway. The Hunger Games, IMO, had excellent pacing. I couldn’t put it down. I kept thinking, I’ll stop at the end of this chapter, but there was always just enough there to keep me reading. I would love to be able to find that balance in my writing. Where the tension and the pacing work together in perfect harmony to pull the reader along without making her want to chuck the thing across the room. I think I’m better at it than I used to be, but there’s nothing like reading a really good book to strike a hearty blow at your self esteem. :)

So, how do you maintain the pacing in your work? Without being too intense with nothing happening, or having a lot going on but nobody cares?