Monday, March 31, 2014

The Hills are Alive...

First of all, thank you so much to DL Hammons and everyone who participated in Wednesdays Blitz Bombardment. Even though I joined the Blitz team months ago, and try to participate now and then, I never realized just how much being Blitzed could completely change the course of someone’s day; how something so simple as leaving a blog comment could have such an impact, until it happened to me. I’m so glad DL came up with this, and thankful for the hundreds of you who take the time to comment and brighten up your fellow bloggers’ day. It’s just amazing. For those of you who want to know more about what it means to be ‘blitzed’ and would like participate, click here.

In other news, I finally broke 20k on my wip! And it only took me two and a half months! *sigh* It hasn’t helped matters that my one-year-old is cutting her back molars and thought she and I should celebrate by pulling a couple all-nighters last week, from which I’d only barely recovered before France ‘sprang forward’ with the rest of the world and I was forced to get up an hour earlier.

Chronic fatigue aside, I absolutely love this time of year. You know that bone-deep sensation before a big storm when the air feels alive and you can smell change on the horizon? That’s kind of like what Spring is for me, but on a larger, yet less dramatic scale. That smell of change in the air, the warmth, and all the deepening and brightening of landscape colors makes me want to twirl around like Julie Andrews and sing the ‘hills are alive, with the sound of music!’. Hopefully nature’s vibrance will give my muse the boost she needs to finish this damn manuscript before summer vacation.

Do you guys find you’re more or less productive during different seasons? 

Monday, March 24, 2014

If Your Characters Were Real..

It’s one thing to imagine my characters as real people, arguing with me over which way a manuscript should go. It’s another thing to see my characters living and breathing before my very eyes. Because I don’t usually base their appearance on actors or people in my life, so seeing someone who looks exactly like the person I’ve been writing about would freak me out.

It has kind of happened before, on some level—that I’ve crossed paths with people who held a striking resemblance to my imaginary creations. And in those cases, I’d stop, stare, maybe even take mental notes, and then, after further observation, realize they don’t look that much like my character after all.

But what if they not only looked the part, but acted the part? What would you do then? I suppose for some writers it might go a little something like this:

Do you guys tend to base characters on the real people around you? If so, is it weird watching those people live real life, all while orchestrating their fictional lives with a click of the keys?  Have you ever come face to face with someone who seemed to pop straight out of your imagination?

PS- posting next clip just for fun. Love these guys!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Scene Sudoku

I think many of us can agree that when writing a first draft, there are some scenes we’re more excited about than others: The scenes that inspired the story to begin with – The ones that hold a lot of tension or introduce our favorite character, have a shocking revelation or relationship game-changer. Scenes that are funny and full of life or have a setting you just want to wade around in and soak up for awhile.

Sometimes the perfect scene will just fall neatly into your lap; one that combines everything you love about the book, and preforms its allotted task. And other times you have to go at it from different angles before it fits into the fold like a missing piece of a puzzle.

My two least favorites scene situations are:

The ‘you know what needs to happen. You’re just not sure how it should happen’. These are the scenes you really have to think about. Brainstorm about. Because not only do they need to be functional but they also have to function; i.e.- they need to work with the story and not feel like they’re there mainly to get us where we need to go. It’s a complicated balance.

Then there’s the ‘you know how things need to happen, but you’re not sure how to make them important.’ These are the scenes that are in the consequential order of things, but lack function. They are there because they make sense and yet they don’t really add anything to the plot. So now you have to try and give them a purpose.


I’m currently about to enter one of the natural-order-of-things scenes and I think I’ve found a way to give it purpose by bumping up the introduction to a very important character. 

Needless to say, my brain hurts.

What are your Scene Sudoku methods? Do you write a ‘place holder’ so you can keep going until you come up with the perfect situation? Or does your word count come to a grinding halt until you’ve found ‘the scene’? Any other difficult scene situations you can think of?

Monday, March 10, 2014

One Traveler

In order to be published successfully, you need to write for a few years. Anywhere between three and fifty should do. Then you need to write a book that’s new, fresh, unique, but still adheres to a best-selling genre that will set the next new trend without hoping to set a trend or follow a trend. Then you have to write a gripping query and query agents for a few years. Because agents are the gateway to a successful career in publishing. Then get a contract with a big publishing house and hope to sell enough copies to pay back your advance.

Wait, no, stop. Things have changed. In order to be published successfully, you need to write a gripping story about whatever the hell you want. Then get it professionally edited and invest in a flashy cover. And then upload it to a highly successfully e-reader distributer like Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Then use your online platform to market and sell!

Wait, no, stop. Things have changed again. In order to be published successfully, you need to write a gripping story in one of the bestselling genres, and fly on the coat tails of already-established indie authors because the market is saturated and new authors aren’t seeing as much success on their own or with genres that don’t fit the mold.

Wait, no, stop. In order to be a successful author, you need to be both traditionally published and self-publish because, reportedly, ‘hybrid’ authors make the best living.

Wait, no, stop.


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss the days of printing out queries and snail mailing them to London agents found in the year’s Writers’ and Authors’ Yearbook, only to get a rejection card in the mail a few weeks later. I think the direction publishing has taken puts greater value on craft and content, because it’s the masses who decide what rises to the top. Which is a good thing.

And yet, I can’t help wondering, will the dust ever settle? I miss the clarity that publishing used to have. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken a step back from it all because things have just changed and evolved so fast in the last four years, it makes me dizzy. It almost reminds me of a poem we were forced to learn in the seventh grade:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-          Road Less Taken, Robert Frost

I can’t help the feeling that the moment I finally decide to jump in, the winds will change once again, hurling me toward the unknown; caught up and invested in ‘a side’ of this tug of war between indies and tradies and hybrids, oh my!

Anyone else feel like they’re still ‘one traveler’- looking down each path, and uncertain and wondering what direction the industry will take?

Monday, March 3, 2014

When the Snow Won't Come to You...

You go to the snow! Or at least, that’s what I told myself when the family and I began our trek out to the Vosges Mountains, in eastern France last week. While the United States has gotten their fair share of snowfall this season, we poor folk over here in middle Europe haven’t had diddlysquat. Not a single flake!

So we decided to take a ski *ahem* vacation.

To be honest, very little skiing was actually done. Besides my husband, none of us have ever skied. The girls, however, had their first lesson with a professional instructor and we had a great time sledding and snowshoe hiking for the most part.

And yet, after all the non-skiing, my six-year-old Lucy still managed to come home with a cast when she twisted/broke her ankle walking (running) on the cobblestone streets (after the pigeons).

Our visit to Strasbourg was otherwise the highlight of our vacation- what a beautiful, peaceful, pleasant city! I officially want to live there.

And I suppose, in her own way, Lucy enjoyed it, too. She had been pretty high on life all day- running, skipping, and walking into things just for the hell of it (as featured in the photo below). 

And after she snapped her ankle, not only did she continue to walk around as though nothing was wrong, but she also tried to convince her father to climb the 330 steps up to the top of Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral! (he refused, thank goodness) 

It wasn’t until we were all seated in the car that I saw her ankle had swollen to twice its normal size. #parentfail

So here I am, back after a not-so-bad vacation, but also thankful that school is in session again and I’ll have a routine that involves a little more time to relax and work on my writing. It’s been slow going, with all of the interruptions but I’m hoping to hit the gas pedal and still finish this thing before summer vacation!

Have any of you ever broken a bone? Or had the trying task of keeping a crazy kid from hurting themselves?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yer Crampin’ My Style, Kid

I can’t help but feel a little jipped this morning. It’s a Monday. And I’d usually have plenty of time to sit down and blog and work on my current manuscript on a day like today.

But I can kiss that ‘me’ time goodbye because my little angels are on another two-week vacation thanks to France’s six-weeks-on, two-weeks-off school schedule.

I said 'au revoir' to my peaceful morning the moment I awoke to blood-curdling screams because ‘Lucy’s bugging me!’ – this was the only real explanation I was given.

My middle child, Julie, then came in and informed me the baby had peed through her diaper and her crib was wet. Great. With eyes still closed, I grabbed a diaper and new onesie and pj’s and headed into their room. After stripping the baby down and changing her diaper and onesie, I realized everything was perfectly dry and I just changed her clothes for no goddam reason. Thank you, Julie.

I grabbed a much-needed cup of coffee and sat down to relax when Lucy, my six-year-old, came bounding up to me, hands, mouth and pants covered in white-out (which I told her about 2.5 seconds ago not to play with, all while needlessly changing the baby’s clothes).

“I don’t know what happened!”


Her words.

She was really upset. So, naturally, I took a picture with my phone before rubbing her down with olive oil to help remove the white out. I finally sat back down to my (now cold) cup of coffee, looked out the window only to realize my oldest daughter, Lily, left her brand new coat outside in the back yard yesterday. And it had rained. Son of a…!

Out I went, bare foot, with barely a half cup of coffee in my system, to recuperate her soaking mess of a jacket and hang it up to dry, thinking there must be military camps out there with less physically and mentally stressful wake-up calls. And maybe I’ll go there. In any case, this is starting out to be another lovely, long vacation.

What irks me most isn’t even all the calamities that can happen within the first 15 minutes of any given morning. It’s that my writing was actually going really well pre-vacation. I’m nearing the 15k mark and becoming more and more addicted to the story and characters. So taking time out at this crucial point is hard.

But, hey. Guess this is one of those times where I have to remind myself ‘they’re only kids once!’ so best to try and enjoy our time together while I can:)

What’s been keeping you from your writing lately?

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Birthday Party

It has been decided by the fates that Wednesday blogposts just ain’t go’ happen. So, I guess Monday is my day! And what do you know? Here I am! On Monday. Writing a blogha. postah!


Okay, I’m more than a little off my game this morning. You see, my oldest daughter turned ten this weekend. Which marks a decade of parenting for the hubs and me. So, like any normal mother, I spent most of Saturday looking at photos of her (and our) evolution and sporadically bursting into tears.

There was no time to dwell on Sunday, however, because my big 10-year-old decided this year she wanted a party with all of her friends. And not one hosted at school, or our local indoor park, or a restaurant, or anything involving a couple of giant golden arches.


She wanted a themed makeover party done the old fashion way.

At our house.

*insert the sigh that never ends*

There is a reason why I’ve never thrown a class birthday party at our personal dwelling before and some of you who have thrown such a party and lived to tell the tale may know exactly what I’m talking about.

It takes about 80x the preparation, brain power, physical energy, and clean-up that a public-place party does. There are decorations to buy and hang and blow up and hang and roll out and hang. There’s food, cupcake baking, activity planning, and gift bags to prepare. There are awkward phone calls and emails clarifying the theme, and appropriate gifts, and directions to the house. And let’s not forget the eventuality of jubilant, dancing, candy-crazed children doing the cancan while stomping chips into your living room carpet. Yes it was worth it. No, I won’t be repeating the experience for a long long while.

The way I feel this morning, it might as well have been an all-night keger. Emotional milestones + class party = one drained mama.

*yawn* I think it’s time for me to curl up on the couch with some coffee and zone out on guilty-pleasure CW shows...

How was your weekend everybody?


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