Thursday, May 30, 2013

Back to Basics and Babyblues

I guess I should count myself lucky. I’ve never had to deal with the full-blown, emotionally/physically debilitating postpartum depression that some mothers have. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of baby blues.  Hormones tend to yo-yo up and down for about a year after giving birth, especially if you’re breastfeeding, which I am.

And for the last three months I’ve felt fiiiine. Completely fiiiiine!

Until, suddenly, I didn’t.

Phoebe turned three months old on Monday and this entire week I’ve felt entirely un-fine. Emotions are pretty much stuck between the irritation and sadness settings, and a part of me would very much like to grab a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of wine, and a block of chocolate and whole up in a shadowy corner to start writing dark poetry about fading beauty or the abyss.

But then, I realized the fact that I suck at poetry would render the whole thing more depressing than I could bear.

So I cleaned my house, thinking that a shiny environment would make things feel better on the inside…Then I realized just how much I hate cleaning and went on to despise every minute of the monotonous tasks before me.

I also felt bad about missing not one, but two blogging days this week. So I decided- who cares if it’s Thursday!? I’m going to blog today. I miss the interaction with my writer friends. I miss opening up my email and reading the comments.

And you know what else I miss? I miss what pushed me to start this blog in the first place.

Writing and Querying

Okay, maybe not querying so much as acting on the perpetual hope that somehow, some way I’ll one day see my books on bookshelves all over the world one day. That hope has been evading me now for quite some time and I need to set its tail on fire.

And then, there’s writing. I’ve had a premise in the back of my mind for awhile but haven’t felt that pull quite yet- the one that makes you want to take a break from your life and go wade in a different world of your own creation. I don’t want to force it, because I’ve tried starting projects just for the sake of writing, in general, and they always remain unfinished. But at the same time, I really miss that thrill and hope inspiration will strike me hard, soon.

Where are you guys at, writing wise?  And for those of you who have ever had to deal with periods of ‘un-fine’, hormonal or not, what are your tried and true pick-me-ups?  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Reading in the Cemetery

Yes, I was just the kind of melodramatic, slightly emo-teenager who used to go to the local cemetery to read in the summertime. It was quiet there, of course, and added ambiance to the spooky stories that were my bread and butter back then.

Plus, when I wanted a break from paranormal love affairs, I could take a walk and let my imagination fill in the blanks behind some of my favorite older-than-dirt headstones.  Who were these people who died so long ago? What were their lives like? Why/how did some of them die so young?

Dianne Salerni’s The Caged Graves reminds me of one of those beautiful days spent in
my cemetery- surrounded by mystery, the scent of fresh-cut grass and the tingle of something other climbing up my back with each warm breeze.

In her book, Dianne captures the fictional story behind two very real graves located in an abandoned cemetery outside the town of Catawissa, Pennsylvania.

SARAH ANN, Wife of Ransloe Boone, Died November 15, 1852, Aged 22 years

ASENATH, Wife of John Thomas, Died November 15, 1852, Aged 17 years

How the young sister-in-laws died and why cages were erected around their graves remains a mystery. But Dianne did a hell of a job filling in the blanks!

The story is told from the point-of-view of the daughter of one of the deceased; 17-year-old Verity Boone, who arrives back in Catawissa to live with her father after fifteen years away.

Her arrival in town stirs up memories and rumors that had been thought long-laid to rest but Verity is determined to learn the truth behind her mother and aunt’s caged graves, despite the reluctance of the townspeople. Were the cages erected to keep someone out? Or make sure the dead remained inside?

Add a hot love triangle between Verity, her intended, and the doctor’s apprentice to the mix and you’ve got everything needed for a fast-paced and engaging YA historical mystery. Congratulations Dianne, on another fantastic story!

Have you ever spent time contemplating the lives of those long-deceased? Why do you think we feel such a pull to explore and ponder the lives of people who lived and died centuries before us?

Monday, May 13, 2013

When Good Series Go Bad...

As one of my favorite television series (based on one of my favorite book series growing up; the original L.J. Smith Vampire Diaries Trilogy) comes to a season 4 series finale, I can’t help my utter dissapointment.- Not because I’ll have to wait four months for the show to start back up again, but because this season was just so... bad.

I don’t know what happened. It's like the writers got so caught up in the plot (which was much weaker than usual), they forgot about the importance of their character arcs and development. Up until now, there had been a steady deepening and growth in each of their main characters over the course of every season that really made the show come alive. This season, however, not only did their characters' development come to a grinding halt, but they actually regressed. Or, when that was too much trouble, they just got killed off altogether. *sigh*

And it got me thinking, when I asked the agent I sent the R&R to why she preferred I make my book a stand-alone rather than the first in a series, she explained that a lot of YA authors today tend to over-do it with a series and it’s definitely felt by their readers. 
I couldn’t help but agree.

After all, when an author is writing a series because they tend to sell more copies than stand-alones, some very scary things can in sue.

The author can get bored and resort to using the same old tried-and-true plots and plot devices. I’ve definitely gotten tired while reading serialized romance books. After the first three or four, I could see the same storylines being used over and over again and lost interest.

The author can get bold. Which can be good thing. Or not so much. Like in the case of poor L.J. Smith, who wanted to stop the Vampire Diaries at three books but was pushed to write more by her fans and publisher. Which led to downright weird plot twists involving things like angel wings, Japanese anime antagonists and other dimensions. Not good.

The author can get cocky. When a series is really popular, some authors take liberties they wouldn’t have otherwise taken with the mindset that anything and everything they do will turn to gold and be appreciated by their fans. Yeah. No.

I think it’s easy for authors to picture writing a series, especially when they feel really close to their characters. They want to spend as much time with them as they can BUT, if the passion and the vision don’t follow, some stories really are better off being wrapped up in one volume.

What do you guys think? Have you ever read a series where the author should have/could have stopped after one or two books? In what cases do you think more books are necessary for the author and the reader?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do You Have to Be Rich to Self-Publish?

Okay, maybe not rich. But am I the only one that feels like, in order to successfully self-publish, you gotta have an extra couple-thousand-dollars lying around?
As I enviously watch many of my writer friends take the giant leap into self-publishing, I’ve seriously considered following their lead and publishing one of my books to amazon. It just seems like the next logical step for someone like me, even though I’m still determined to keep querying agents and get published traditionally someday as well.

However, it feels like all the successful self-published authors I meet agree on the absolute
necessity of a high quality product if you’re going to put something out there. I’m not just talking about the quality of your writing, which has taken years to hone- But of every aspect of your self-published book from formatting, to cover art, to copy-editing. As well we should, I suppose. The majority of readers won’t be drawn to shoddy book covers, weirdo spacing and grammatical errors galore and putting out a less-than-stellar product can diminish the view of self-publishing as a whole.

Now, I could try and do all the work on my own and not spend a dime. But it feels like most self-pubbing resources warn against it. While reading the do’s and don’t’s of self-pubbing, doubts and worries fill my mind. ‘You’ll never be able to successfully copy-edit your book and it will have a ton of errors.’ ‘Your book cover might appeal to you, but won’t appeal to a huge audience like a professional’s would.’ ‘Learning to format correctly and actually formatting your book will take forever and you’ll probably have to go back and fix it a million times, if you’re even successful at all.’ ‘In the end, it will be just so hard and time consuming and you’ll probably fail anyway so why try?’ *sigh*

Except, whenever I look into what kind of budget I’d need to hire someone to make a spectacular book cover (150$-400$), copy-edit my manuscript (450$-1000$), and format my book (100$-300$), I can’t help but feel like ‘the perfect product’ is far beyond my financial reach.

Am I the only one with the impression that in order to make money self-pubbing, you have to spend it? I wish there were some way to see how much money a mixed group of authors put into their first self-published title and if that effected the success of that book in the long run as opposed to someone who put in less money.

And, also, I can’t help but think that a pretty cover and perfect grammar can go a long way, but in the end- isn’t it the genre, concept and story that take center stage when it comes to the success of a title?

What do you guys think? Are ‘do-it-yourself’ SP books of a lesser quality and less popular than those that were invested in financially? Or does the amount of money put into the book not matter at all when it comes to success?

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm BACK, Baby!

So, today is the first time in a long time I’ve sat down in front of the computer to try and put together something coherent. My baby girl, Phoebe, was born February 27th, 2013 and just turned nine weeks old which means I finally have the ‘go ahead’ to start exercising and getting myself back into shape. Therefore I figured it would also be a good time to stretch back out the ole’ writing muscles and get blogging again.
The last 8 weeks have been FILLED with ups and downs so I thought I’d do a brief recap:

Week 1- Baby’s born! First thoughts- ‘Look what I DID!’ *looks around the room
frantically* Do you guys see this? I made this brand new little human practically all by myself AND it feels like my body just broke about a million rules of nature to squeeze the little sucker out! It’s a miracle! I am magical! I should have food and presents brought to me on golden platters and tribes of people should bow down and sing my praises! Or I should at least be given a medal by the mayor, or something. So what if hundreds of thousands of women do this every day!? I still deserve a damn medal!’

Week 2 – ‘Yeah,- still waiting on that medal’.  *Hmph*

Week 3- ‘Boy, this baby sleeps a lot!’. I mean, I practically have time to do whatever I want! Why did I think this was going to be so hard again?’

Week 4- ‘Boy, this baby cries a lot!  What’s wrong? You’re fed, burped, changed and in the loving embrace of your spectacular mother! Why do you hate me?’ *tears*

Week 5- ‘Boy, this baby sleeps great! I mean, she only wakes up once or twice a night. I’ve got this new baby thing totally licked!’

Week 6- ‘Oh my god, I’m never going to get a full night’s sleep again ever for the next seven years. What the hell was I thinking? Why do you HATE me? *tears*’

Week 7- ‘She SMILED! Oh my god, she totally loves me. I’ve got this new baby thing completely licked.’

Week 8- ‘Holy crap, this baby got heavy fast. What are we feeding you? My back is killing me. And now the doctor says I can work out on top of all this? Yay- *fake mini fist pump*.’ *Looks in mirror* ‘I don’t look that bad. But what the hell is going on with my thighs? I mean, I understood when I had that big baby belly to support that my upper legs had to kind of spread out to support the weight but it’s been TWO MONTHS now since the baby jumped ship. Shouldn’t they start, I don’t know, deflating on their own?’

Which brings me to the present- nine weeks later and slowly learning to balance baby care, body care and all the fun things in life in-between. You guys aren’t here to see it, but I just took a nice deep breath and got a little teary. I hadn’t realized just how much I’ve missed this part of my life.  The simple act of writing and sharing.

Well, that and the hormones have me tearing up pretty regularly over things like nutella commercials and realizing we're out of trash bags…But that doesn’t devalue just how much I’ve missed all of you, too!

It’s good to be back! Now, your turn! What have I missed? When you think back on the last 8 weeks what’s the first word/event that comes to mind for you?


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